Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports on a surprising fumble by a well-known local Republican lobbyist and astroturf advocacy group honcho, Michael Fields, who made an illegal campaign donation to the Republican candidate for Attorney General John Kellner:
Fields, a registered lobbyist for Advance Colorado Action, gave three contributions during the legislative session to three Republican statewide candidates. Two of those contributions may have violated campaign finance laws.
State law bars professional or volunteer lobbyists from giving contributions to statewide candidates during the legislative session. That prohibition applies to candidates or incumbents for governor, secretary of state, treasurer and attorney general, as well as to state House or Senate candidates.
Now fortunately for John Kellner, Colorado campaign finance law also gives candidates who negligently take an illegal campaign donation an opportunity to “cure” the violation without incurring a penalty, in this case by returning Fields’ $500 donation, which Kellner’s campaign did at the end of May when notified about the problem:
But under state law that was changed several years ago, candidates have the opportunity to fix the violation before a penalty is assessed. Kellner has 10 days to respond. As noted earlier, he he has already returned the contribution.
“If I was aware of it, I obviously wouldn’t have done it,” Fields, who has been a lobbyist for various Republican-affiliated groups since at least 2019, earlier told Colorado Politics. [Pols emphasis]
Ignorance of the law is of course no excuse for breaking the law, and that’s true even for people without law degrees. Michael Fields has been up in the business of the Colorado General Assembly long enough to have no excuse for ignorance of the laws governing his behavior as a registered lobbyist, and Kellner’s campaign should likewise be doing more due diligence on the back end to make sure the campaign donations they’re bringing in are lawful.
That’s how it reads if you’re not inclined to make excuses for lawyers bungling lawyerly matters, and we see no reason to do that.