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Erik Aadland’s No Good, Very Weird Super PAC Problem


Republican Erik Aadland is a strange dude with strange friends and awful policy positions who is running for Congress in CO-07 behind a vague narrative centered around a picture of a lion and his belief that Erik Aadland should be in Congress (Aadland has said that he “doesn’t have time” to start out running for a smaller office, because “freedom” or something).

Aadland began the 2022 election cycle as a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, kicking off that campaign on 9/11 alongside Tom FREAKING Tancredo, before switching to run in CO-07 following the announcement that longtime Congressman Ed Perlmutter had decided to retire. Aadland has only been a registered voter in Colorado since March 2021, but he was trained in the ways of Colorado politics by Casper Stockham, who himself has failed as a candidate in more election cycles than we can even remember.

The Washington Post recently included Aadland as one of five notable Republican candidates in Colorado who are full-on election deniers, which is the closest he is going to come to being endorsed by a reputable media outlet. In fact, the only positive thing anyone seems to be able to say about Aadland is that at least he’s not as creepy as Tim Reichert.

Aadland’s campaign isn’t getting much help from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) because he is a MAGA Republican weirdo who came out of nowhere and is likely going to be directed back toward irrelevance by Democrat Brittany Pettersen in November. But Aadland is getting some assistance from an unusual political action committee (PAC) that is almost certainly breaking several laws.

Erik Aadland probably thinks this is going to be a problem for him.

As Andrew Kenney explains for Colorado Public Radio:

For Colorado’s Future, an independent spending committee supporting Colorado congressional candidate Erik Aadland, may have received an illegal donation from a company doing business with the federal government. It has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it has collected, leaving significant sums of money unaccounted for, according to campaign finance records…

A Colorado company, Pericle Communications, gave about $25,000 to For Colorado’s Future. Public records show Pericle works on projects for the federal government, and federal contractors are banned from spending money on federal elections. [Pols emphasis]

“This is a prohibition that has been around for decades. The basic idea is that if you’re a federal contractor and you are benefiting from taxpayer-funded contracts, then … it’s either actually corruption or creates the appearance of corruption for you to be able to make political contributions,” said Saurav Ghosh, director for federal reform at Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit government watchdog.

Stay with us here, because this story gets into some territory that we have honestly never encountered before.

Pericle is a Colorado Springs-based engineering firm that specializes in wireless communications and has received several contracts with the Department of Defense and the Commerce Department dating back to 2007. It’s not clear how or why Aadland is connected with Pericle, but here’s where this story veers into unusual territory:

As of June 30, the last day for which complete data is available, the super PAC has taken in a total of $80,000 in donations, but it had spent $338,000 in support of Aadland in the primary election. The organization had not reported taking out any loans, so it’s unclear where the extra $250,000-plus came from. The committee has spent tens of thousands more since then, according to its interim financial reports. [Pols emphasis]

“The receipts just don’t explain how they’re paying for the independent expenditures that they’ve made … It just doesn’t really add up,” Ghosh said. “Voters have a right to know who is spending on elections, and when a committee fails to provide complete and accurate transparency of what they’re receiving and what they’re spending on, they’re denying voters their right, and essentially pulling the wool over their eyes.”…

For Colorado’s Future PAC has spent all $393,000 of its reported expenditures with Telephone Town Hall Meeting, based in Golden. The Aadland campaign also had spent about $37,000 with the company as of June 30, or about 8 percent of its total spending, which raised other questions for Ghosh.

Sharing a vendor would be illegal if the company is helping the campaign and the super PAC to coordinate their advertising. Campaigns and independent groups are not allowed to work together. [Pols emphasis]

Let’s recap:

♦ The Super PAC “For Colorado’s Future” is carrying at least $250,000 in debt for Aadland. What would compel the people behind this PAC to take on such a hefty burden for an unknown candidate running in a Democratic-leaning district that he almost certainly cannot win?


♦ “For Colorado’s Future” PAC has spent nearly $400,000 with a company called Telephone Town Hall Meeting (TTHM). Aadland’s campaign has paid this same company $37,000. Setting aside the issue of illegal coordination, why is TTHM the SOLE VENDOR for this Super PAC?


Curt Cerveny

It’s also interesting to note that TTHM was founded in part by Curt Cerveny, a longtime Republican consultant with a history of shady political maneuverings. Cerveny was once a co-owner of a company called “Politically Direct” — in which he worked alongside disgraced former Republican State Rep. Rob Fairbankwhich was accused in 2008 of receiving taxpayer money funneled through the offices of a then-freshman Congressman named Doug Lamborn. That same year, Cerveny came under fire from Republicans for producing mailers that attacked Mike Coffman, who was then one of several candidates running for an open congressional seat [these are older stories that can still be read in the Colorado Pols archives by clicking HERE].

Colorado Public Radio reached out to Pericle, the Super PAC “For Colorado’s Future,” and TTHM but did not get a response.

Perhaps it will turn out that all of this maneuvering is perfectly legal and aboveboard, but it sure looks shady as hell.

There was never much upside to assisting Aadland’s silly campaign, and this mess doesn’t help his cause. We wouldn’t want anything to do with whatever is going on here, either.

Coffman Files FEC Complaint Over 501(c)4 Hit Piece

It’s beginning to look like this year’s contentious primary contests are battling it out in court instead of at the ballot box. Republican Mike Coffman today filed a complaint with the FEC alleging Protect Colorado Jobs, a 501 c 4 non-profit, laundered corporate money to pay for an attack mailer last week.

Politicker CO reports:

The complaint alleges that the group, Protect Colorado Jobs, broke federal law when one of its officers, Denver consultant Curt Cerveny, arranged for and produced a mailer sent to every registered Republican in the 6th District late last month.

The Coffman campaign cited federal election law stating that it’s illegal for federal political campaigns to launder campaign funds through a non-profit corporation to evade contribution limits. …

The $15,000 mailer was paid for by two supporters of Coffman primary opponent Wil Armstrong, a source previously told However, Armstrong’s campaign has repeatedly denied having any knowledge about or involvement with the piece.

Armstrong manager Jack Stansbery declined to comment on the complaint Thursday.

Protect Colorado Jobs said Cerveny raised the money for the piece and produced it without their knowledge. Cerveny resigned from the group soon after his role in the piece was made public.

Protect Colorado Jobs immediately disavowed the mailer last week and forced Cerveny to resign as chairman, claiming he’d acted on his own without the organization’s blessing (the “rogue chairman” defense).

The Coffman campaign’s press release and gist of the complaint follow.

Here’s the Coffman release on its FEC complaint, as posted by Politicker CO:

Complaint with Federal Elections Commission

Highlands Ranch, CO – Secretary of State Mike Coffman, who is a candidate for Congress in the 6th District, has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), today, alleging that “Protect Colorado Jobs” a nonprofit 501(C) 4 committee violated federal campaign finance laws.

It is illegal under federal campaign finance laws for political campaigns for federal office to launder campaign funds through a nonprofit corporation in order to evade contribution limits.  The complaint will enable the Federal Election Commission to subpoena the bank records of “Protect Colorado Jobs” to see where the money came from to pay for the mailing against Coffman.

According to the complaint, Cerveny used the nonprofit 501(C) 4 committee, “Protect Colorado Jobs,” as a cover to pay for and send out a mass mailing against Coffman.  Curt Cerveny, was the treasurer for a nonprofit 501(C) 4 committee called, “Protect Colorado Jobs.”  John Berry, the attorney for “Protect Colorado Jobs” has publicly apologized to Coffman stating that the mailing was inaccurate and that Cerveny did not have the authority to do the mailing.  Cerveny has since resigned from the committee.

“Protect Colorado Jobs” has not come clean on who prepared the mailing, how it was paid for, and on whose behalf it was sent out.  Until they do, this mailing is their responsibility and they should bear whatever penalties are associated with having violated federal campaign finance laws,” said Coffman’s campaign manager Dustin Zvonek.

In a statement released earlier through the Coffman campaign, Congressman Tom Tancredo condemned the mailing as an underhanded attack against Coffman.  He said in a statement released thought the Coffman campaign “I will speak out against what I consider to be underhanded attacks on any candidate by individuals hiding behind the shield of an organization from which, they hope to obtain “cover.”  Apparently such an attack was launched against Mike Coffman.

And here’s the footnoted meat of the FEC complaint, also posted by Politicker CO:

Recital of Facts:

During the last week of July, 2008, approximately three weeks before the Republican primary for the 6th Congressional District, PCJ used corporate funds 1 to pay for an attack mailing against Coffman. 2  The attack piece was mailed to every Republican voter who requested a primary absentee ballot. 3  Cerveny signed PCJ’s corporate check to pay for the mailing .4

1 Information and belief based on statements from John Berry and Andrew Zuppa

2 Copy of mailing is attached as “Exhibit A”

3 Information and belief based on a sampling of Coffman supporters who received the mailing

4 Information and belief based on statements from John Berry and Andrew Zuppa

Independent Group Attacks Coffman

UPDATE: The group identified in this mailing, Protect Colorado Jobs, claims that the “rogue” chairman (note inherent contradiction) of the group Curt Cerveny produced and sent this mailing without approval. As Politics West reports:

A mailing attacking Sixth Congressional District candidate Mike Coffman went haywire this morning when the registered agent for the group that took credit for the attack claimed it was done without knowledge of the group’s contributors and most of its officers.

Instead, John Berry, the registered agent and secretary-treasurer for the group Protect Colorado Jobs, said the group’s chairman, political consultant Curt Cerveny, went rogue and mailed out the attack on his own.

“Curt had failed to run this by myself and the contributors to Protect Colorado Jobs,” Berry said. “It was really a surprise to us, and it was outside what Protect Colorado Jobs was set up to do.”

Cerveny couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Berry said Cerveny has resigned from Protect Colorado Jobs, and Berry has apologized to the Coffman campaign…

As the Rocky Mountain News reports:

A mailing to Republicans in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District brands Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman “a big government professional politician.”

The mailing is the first negative campaigning in the four- way race for the Republican nomination to succeed U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Littleton, who is stepping down.

The mailing was sent by the group Protect Colorado Jobs, a 501(c)(4) group. Such organizations are not permitted to back candidates but may attack them.

John W. Berry, a Denver attorney who is the registered agent for Protect Colorado Jobs, could not be reached for comment.

“We were always expecting some sort of negative campaigning,” said Coffman’s campaign manager, Dustin Zvonek.

The mailing says Coffman “increased his office’s budget by a whopping 33 percent” when he was treasurer.

In fact, elected officials cannot increase their budgets, which are set by the legislature under Colorado law…

Tough to know which candidate this independent group is looking to help, but maybe they’re working the “Anybody but Coffman” contingent–backers of one of the other 3 candidates, but more importantly Republicans hoping to “keep” Coffman in the Secretary of State’s office.

Lamborn: “No link between donation, job, contractor says.”

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)


Excerpt from The Colorado Springs GAZETTE

Page A-3  March 8, 2008

Rep. Doug Lamborn paid $40,000 in taxpayer money for constituent services to a consultant who’s donated $2,000 to his election campaigns.

Curt Cerveny, an owner of Denver-based Politically Direct, which “is in the business of winning elections,” its Web site says, gave Lamborn $1,000 during the 2006 election cycle and $1,000 on Nov. 11 for his reelection campaign.

Politically Direct was paid to conduct electronic town hall meetings for Lamborn starting last year and continuing through this month.

Cerveny said there was no quid pro quo, although he said he’s provided the same service to other Congress members and didn’t contribute to their campaigns. He said he planned to do so soon, however.


  Lamborn’s communications director Kristen Hainen said Lamborn conducted six or seven tele-town halls this year but didn’t know how many in 2007.

  Cerveny said his firm handled about eight calls for Lamborn in 2007 and 2008. Politically Direct was paid $5,049 on June 26 for “telecommunications charges,” House records of Lamborn’s expenses show.

  Cerveny said he also has earned about $35,000 that hasn’t shown up on Lamborn’s disbursements statement.

  Hainen said the calls are an electronic version of “franking,” a taxpayer-funded mailing privilege used by Congress to communicate with constituents about federal issues.

  Lamborn has been criticized for using frank mail, on which he spent $68,068 in the first three quarters of 2007, House records show.

  Hainen said the phone messages and the numbers to be called “have to go through franking (oversight) to make sure it’s factual and it adheres to the franking guidelines and that it’s a constituent contact.”

Cerveny said Politically Direct handles electronic franking for other members of Congress and said 85 percent of federal lawmakers conduct tele-town hall meetings.

Here’s how they work: Politically Direct buys registered voter lists from vendors who got them from county election officials of the 5th District’s six counties. Those records are then compared with other records to develop a phone list.

  Thousands of voters are called and invited to listen to Lamborn talk about federal issues from his Washington, D.C., office. If listeners have a question, they press *3, and a screener asks for the question, which is posted on a computer screen for Lamborn to read and answer. Listeners can hang up anytime during the one-hour meetings.

  Cerveny said Lamborn has reached up to 200,000 voters using tele-town hall meetings, and that the average voter listens for six to seven minutes.

  He said the government’s franking office can audit calls to verify that Republican, Democrat and unaffiliated voters are contacted.

  “If we were ever audited on it, we could prove it,” Cerveny said. “The last thing you want to do is get cross-wise with the federal government. A lot of Democrats have gotten calls from Lamborn,” who’s a Republican.

  Cerveny said there’s no connection between his campaign contributions to Lamborn and Lamborn’s hiring him.

  “When I gave Doug his first check (in 2006), I didn’t have the service to offer him,” he said. “After that, I brought this to his attention as something he could use. He was gracious to give it to a Colorado firm. To be consistent to what I had donated before, I gave him another $1,000 contribution (in November 2007).

  “Was it a quid pro quo? I don’t think that’s a fair connection one way or another,” he said. “I think he still would have considered us, because we’re the only Colorado vendor that does this.”

Lamborn and Crank Duke it Out

The dust-up over CD-5 candidate Jeff Crank’s Web site follies continues. From the Rocky Mountain News:

A $1,000 donation provoked the latest dust-up among conservative Republicans in southern Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, with only eight days until party activists choose their top-line candidate for the August primary. The $1,000 check was written to candidate Doug Lamborn by GOP operative Curt Cerveny, who said the contribution “doesn’t mean a hill of beans to me.”

“I’ve donated thousands of dollars over the past couple of years, and it’s all public record,” said Cerveny. He said his bipartisan largesse has extended even to Denver mayor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.

But the donation has prompted one of Lamborn’s opponents to renew a charge of dirty politics. Cerveny’s partner in a Denver political strategy firm, Rob Fairbank, last month blew the whistle on what he called plagiarism by candidate Jeff Crank, another of the seven GOP candidates trying to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., whose district includes Colorado Springs, the rest of El Paso County and Park, Lake, Chaffee, Fremont and Teller counties.

Fairbank charged that Crank’s Web site copied position statements from Hefley and other GOP politicians. Crank, who once worked for Hefley, promptly removed the position statements on such issues as health care and the war on terror from his Web site. A campaign volunteer took responsibility for drafting them.

Jim Banks, Crank’s campaign manager, contended Wednesday that Cerveny’s donation and Fairbank’s whistle-blowing make them Lamborn’s lackeys. The party operatives said they do not have a contract with any of the seven GOP candidates in the race and are simply concerned Republicans working to keep the right wing of their party strong.

Crank and Lamborn, Cerveny said, “are the two guys who are probably the most logical winners. Or, they could dilute themselves and a moderate could slip in.”

He said he wasn’t “doing anything for Lamborn,” but, in the next breath, challenged Crank “to take responsibility for the plagiarism.”

Banks contended that “Jeff continues to talk about issues with delegates,” while Lamborn and his camp “continue to sling mud and play dirty politics.”

John Hotaling, Lamborn’s campaign manager, countered that Crank’s questioning of Cerveny’s $1,000 donation “is a hilarious spin from a desperate and flailing campaign.”

“If Jeff Crank wants to keep bringing up his plagiarism on this issue, we will let him,” Hotaling said.