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.
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]
♦ 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?
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 Fairbank — which 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.