This story is cross-posted at Jeffco Pols, but it’s so bizarre that we had to post it here as well:
Lakewood City Councilman Dave Wiechman is responsible for 78% of all contributions to Pete Roybal’s campaign in Ward 3, according to recently released campaign finance reports.
Roybal raised a grand total of about $5,800 in monetary contributions for his campaign against Carolyn Evans and Mark Barrington. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s respectable for a Lakewood City Council race. He gathered a decent number of small contributions between $10 and $100 from campaign supporters. That’s standard fare for a city council campaign.
Of the $13,157.71 that Roybal raised including loans and in-kind contributions, David Wiechman contributed $10,326.71. That’s 78% of the total. Wiechman clearly looks to be trying to “buy” Roybal a seat — for what political reason, we’ll leave you to speculate.
Wiechman first gave $1000 in February, around the time that Roybal kicked off his campaign. That thousand bucks alone would raise eyebrows, coming from a sitting councilperson, but a grand is chump change in the scope of Wiechman’s other contributions.
Wiechman also donated about $7,300 in “non-monetary” contributions to Roybal. $7,300 of in-kind donations struck us at odd, until we realized that Wiechman was simply paying for Roybal’s campaign expenditures. According to the campaign finance filing, Wiechman’s in-kind contributions were “payments to Endpoint Direct for print and mail.”
Get that? Sitting Lakewood City Councilor David Wiechman directly paid for Roybal’s mailings. Rather than donating an additional $7,300 to Roybal’s campaign, Wiechman instead footed the bill for most – if not all – of Roybal’s print and direct mail services. We’ve never seen anything like that happen before, and while we don’t think it’s illegal, it certainly raises questions about the ethics of Councilman Wiechman trying to buy his friend a council seat.
Then things get a little more strange and a little less legal. On August 1, 2011, Wiechman loaned Roybal’s campaign $2,000. Roybal probably thought he was getting a pretty good deal with this loan: Wiechmann didn’t ask for repayment until July 2013, more than enough time to repay two grand at 2% interest.
Unfortunately for Roybal, and by extension Weichman, that loan is against the law. Even worse, it says it’s against the law on the very form on which it’s reported. According to Section 3(8) of Article 28 of the Colorado Constitution, “a candidate’s committee may receive a loan from a financial institution organized under state or federal law.”
Sure, Roybal can accept a campaign loan. But he can only, logically, accept a loan from a bank or other organized federal institution. Last we checked, David Wiechman isn’t a bank, no matter how much he’d like to be.
A complaint against Wiechman’s loan to Roybal was filed with the Secretary of State’s office early last week, and is pending review from an administrative law judge. We have no doubts that the administrative law courts will find Wiechman’s loan illegal.
This is an asinine move, particularly for David Wiechman. What kind of message does it send when an elected official can’t follow the letter of the law, even when it’s spelled out in front of him? By loaning this kind of money to Roybal, at best both end up looking incompetent to the point of criminality. At worst, it makes Wiechman look like the kind of guy who’ll disregard the law to finally have an ally on City Council.
Greater politicians than Dave Wiechman have resigned for lesser offenses. If anything, this whole mess demonstrates Wiechman’s total lack of political perception: if he doesn’t know what he’s doing is illegal in one sense and can be perceived as corrupt in another, he’s inept.
If Wiechman does know what he’s doing, though, he’s the worst kind of local elected official: he knows how bad things look, and he doesn’t care.
Of course, maybe none of that matters for Wiechman so long as he wins the approval of at least one of Lakewood’s politicians.