Ethics Watch Requests McInnis Investigation

Government watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch formally asked the Secretary of State’s office for an investigation of gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis today, regarding the now-infamous voice mail message left by McInnis for an as-yet unidentified Republican where he makes reference to “my, ah…a 527.”

Says Ethics Watch Director Chantell Taylor, “This voice message reveals Mr. McInnis’ brazen attempts to skirt campaign finance laws by planning to illegally coordinate with a 527 and engaging in campaign activity without disclosing money he has raised or spent.” Release follows.


May 7, 2009

CONTACT: Chantell Taylor – 303-626-2100 /

Allison McGee Johnson – 303-507-8355 /


DENVER – Colorado Ethics Watch, a nonpartisan, nonprofit legal watchdog group, today called on Secretary of State Bernie Buescher to launch an immediate inquiry into whether former U.S. Congressman Scott McInnis is in violation of state campaign finance law by announcing his candidacy for governor and subsequently soliciting, receiving or expending campaign funds before registering a candidate committee.  Ethics Watch also asked the secretary of state to investigate whether Mr. McInnis violated laws prohibiting coordination between a candidate and a 527 political organization.

Last week, an internet news source posted a recording of a voice message left by Mr. McInnis that could run afoul of campaign finance laws.  Specifically, Mr. McInnis announced his candidacy and then solicited support for his campaign by touting the “extensive polling” he had done and the people working on his “finances” and “day-to-day operations.”  According to state law, a candidate must register with the secretary of state’s office before engaging in such campaign activities.  Worst still, Mr. McInnis indicated that he is working with Sean Tonner of Phaseline Strategies to handle “our… ah 527,” a flagrant violation of state and federal laws prohibiting coordination between a candidate and a 527 political organization.

According to the secretary of state’s rules, if the secretary discovers a possible violation of state campaign finance laws he shall provide notice to the person allegedly in violation and the person, within seven days of the notice, must correct the violation or explain in writing why no violation was committed.  If the person does not adequately respond, the secretary can file a campaign finance complaint.

“This voice message reveals Mr. McInnis’ brazen attempts to skirt campaign finance laws by planning to illegally coordinate with a 527 and engaging in campaign activity without disclosing money he has raised or spent,” said Ethics Watch Director Chantell Taylor.  “Ethics Watch is calling on Secretary Buescher to exercise his authority and demand an explanation from Mr. McInnis for these apparent violations of campaign finance laws.”

The letter to the Colorado Secretary of State and the recording of McInnis’ voice mail are both available on the Colorado Ethics Watch website at  

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17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. wade norris says:

    no that’s not for his campaign, that’s the 527 to help expand Pinon Canon.

    See – that’s a smart candidate!

  2. Karate Kid says:

    Does that constitute a non-sequiter or an oxymoron or both?  I can’t think of more than 1 or 2 Democrats they’ve called on for investigation.  Certainly, Cary Kennedy’s violations of state law (fundraising from lobbyists during the session) should constitute grounds for calling for an investigation by a “nonpartisan” group, should they not?

    • Half Glass FullHalf Glass Full says:

      Chantell Taylor has lost pretty much all credibility by making some really lame “charges” that were readily dismissed.

      Colorado Ethics Watch is “nonpartisan” like the Independence Institute is, or Peter Boyles…

      And I’m a Democrat!

  3. MesaModerate says:

    Why are you still talking about Congressman McInnis and his illegal coordination with a 527?  Didn’t you get the memo that we’re supposed to all be talking about Pinon Canyon now instead of his slimeball law breaking?  

    Get your head straight.

  4. shocked that Scott McInnis would be ignoring the law and would be coordinating with Tonner and Hesse’s 527s.

    CEW is a partisan Mickey Mouse organization, but at least they’re willing to tell McInnis that the emperor wears no clothes.

  5. Ralphie says:

    seems to be forever grasping at straws.

    I support what they’re trying to do, but bringing weak cases only hurts their credibility.

    How many times can you cry “Wolf” before nobody listens?

    • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

      They may have a very valid point, but it’s an uphill battle when they bring it up because even on the left we think they generally are on wild fishing expeditions.

    • BlueCat says:

      Its at the point where, as soon as people see it’s from completely partisan CEW, they just dismiss it.  They are getting to be like a lefty version of the rightie groups that keep screaming about acorn and Obama not being born here.

      The supposed absolute walling off of 527s from candidates is a joke. Keeping up appearances of complying with the rules is a game.  McInnis was just sloppy and stupid about it.  

      Even so, CEW isn’t going to get very far with this as a legal matter and, as far as the electorate is concerned, it’s just boring inside baseball stuff.  Progressives can all tell each other how outraged we are and that’s about it.

      • Karate Kid says:

        I agree the Obama citizenship stuff is out there, but ACORN?  Heck, they are getting prosecuted in many states.  In others, their officials have pled guilty.  What they have done in recent election cycles should bar them from ever getting government funding again, in my opinion.

  6. jmatt12 says:

    It is telling that they only requested an investigation rather than filing a complaint.  If CEW doesn’t have enough to file a complaint and can only request an investigation against a Republican … that should REALLY tell you something

  7. WestSloper says:

    In the last election, McInnis was allegedly behind some of the 527’s that targeted Western Slope Democratic county commissioners and state rep candidates — including Bernie Buescher….

    McInnis lived by the sword, er 527’s, and it looks like he’s going to “die” by them, as well.

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