Recall Cashola: From Grifting To “Gifting”

FRIDAY UPDATE: Amateur hour continues, writes Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette:

After Colorado Politics reported that a Polis recall committee had disclosed distributing $11,000 in contributed funds as gifts to people involved in the group, the committee has amended state filings to say that the payments were for “consultant and professional services” instead of “gifts.”

The amended report from “Official Recall Governor Jared Polis” group — filed at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, hours after CoPo’s story was posted — labels the purpose of those expenditures as “BOARD APPROVED – THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT COLORADO.”

The previous filing identified the purpose as as “BOARD GIFT – THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT COLORADO.” Other information about the payments was not changed.

That’s a swell amendment, but we’d say the grounds for the mother of all campaign finance complaints have only been reinforced by this act of ex post facto backside covering. We assume that will be the next shoe to drop–unless it just plain becomes time to start arresting people for fraud! We’ll leave that question to the lawyers, who should be coming directly.

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As the Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports, the end of the road has come for the Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis Issue Committee–and after diverting $29,000 into a committee calling itself Colorado For Trump, thousands of dollars in donations to the committee are being given out as “gifts” to the abortive campaign’s organizers:

The Official Recall of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis group — which didn’t participate in the recent failed recall attempt by two other groups — has given $11,000 of the money it raised for the effort as gifts to staffers.

According to online campaign finance records filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, committee manager Shane Donnelley got $5,000 as a “thank you for caring about Colorado” gift, and secretary Lisa Pascoe and Weld County lead Rene McGill both received $3,000.

“Whether you call it a grift or a gift, this is just the latest in a string of events that show these recalls are being driven by scammers who are looking out for their own interests at the expense of unwitting voters,” said Curtis Hubbard, the spokesman for the Democratic group working against the recalls, Democracy First.

When we last checked in on the ashes of the failed push to recall Gov. Jared Polis earlier this month, the chair of the committee Juli-Andra Fuentes said she was waiting for a phone call (that wasn’t coming) from President Donald Trump personally before deciding what next to do with the $29,000 she diverted to “Colorado For Trump” from the Recall Polis committee–which might include legal defense if she’s sued by the Trump campaign for misuse of their brand.  Shane Donnelley, as readers know, is one of the original organizers of the committee, but stepped back from a public role after anti-Semitic posts from Donnelley and another principal organizer Judy Spady wound up on the evening news.

The diversion of tens of thousands of dollars into the bogus Trump committee, and the thousands paid to local political operatives like Jon Caldara and Scott Gessler for their “Freedomfy” fundraising platform and legal fees respectively are well-known scandals at this point. But this latest disclosure of $11,000 given away as “gifts” to organizers after a campaign that accomplished absolutely nothing–helping principally to discredit the Polis recall petition drive after it commenced–is absolutely gobsmacking in its audacity.

This is a campaign whose donors literally contributed their SSI checks.

And they’re pocketing the money.

It may not be on a grand scale, but it is easily as disgraceful as anything we’ve seen in this business.

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8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    Are those getting the "gifts" a part of the decision makers who decide what gifts the campaign should make?  If they are, it would seem likely to be an ethical "self-dealing" breach.

    • Awen says:

      At least one of them was — the board secretary, Lisa Pascoe — unless they can prove she didn't vote on the payments. The updated campaign finance filing from late yesterday said the gifts were "board approved."

  2. MADCO says:

    douche weasels are real and all over the place.

  3. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    Why the hell isn't this just fucking theft?

  4. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    Hoping someone will monitor the organization to make certain they issue 1099-MISC forms.

    Don't know about political committees, but in 501(c)3s, according to one law firm's summary:

    So long as the potential conflict of interest is handled properly, material facts are disclosed, the transaction is fair to organization, the transaction is in the best interest of organization, compensation is reasonable, and the decision is documented, this arrangement may be acceptable. It may be a wonderful opportunity for the nonprofit.

    The key question should always be: What is in the best interest of nonprofit?

    In one nonprofit board I volunteered for, we needed to decide and document at every step BEFORE we entered into an agreement to pay that

    • people did not have a vote in determining whether they would be "hired" or not,
    • if the people would be considered employees or independent contractors,
    • how services would be paid for (hourly or by completion of a task),
    • how their compensation compared to others in the market who could have done the work and why variation (more or less) was justified, and 
    • how they would be on our books so they would be issued the correct tax forms at the end of their employment or the end of the year.

    I wonder if this committee missed one or two of those steps.

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