Lamborn Campaign Banking Badmouth May Be Illegal

In every election cycle we all hear and read about paid advertisements that activists on both sides of aisle claim are illegal because they go too far in stretching the truth. Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn is in the midst of a surprisingly-difficult Primary battle with Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha, and he may have violated a law in one of his ads that we haven’t heard of before.

As The Colorado Springs Independent:

on May 18, the law firm of Stinson Morrison Hecker sent a letter to Lamborn, on behalf of the bank, demanding that the congressman pull all ads that make claims about its client.

“We understand you have claimed that Integrity Bank ‘is currently rated below average by the widely cited BankRate.com,'” the letter reads. “This assertion about Integrity Bank & Trust is simply false.”…

…The letter continues by demanding that the false information be taken down from Lamborn’s website, as “its continuing appearance there poses a threat to the public’s sense of confidence in the bank.”

And just for some added incentive, the letter points to a Sec. 11-102-508 of Colorado Revised Statute, which makes it a class 2 misdemeanor to make false and damaging statements about a state bank (who knew?) [Pols emphasis].

The Independent kindly supplied the wording in the statute:

Any person who willfully makes, circulates, or transmits to another any false statement, written or oral, that is directly or by inference derogatory to the financial condition of any state bank and that results in an extraordinary withdrawal of funds from such bank or that results in impairing public confidence in such bank and any person who shall counsel, aid, procure, or induce another to start, transmit, or circulate any such statement knowing the statement to be false commits a class 2 misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in section 18-1.3-501, C.R.S.

All you legal Polsters out there, what say you? Is there a real claim to be made here?

8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    that results in an extraordinary withdrawal of funds from such bank or that results in impairing public confidence in such bank and any person who shall counsel, aid, procure, or induce another to start, transmit, or circulate any such statement knowing the statement to be false

    This portion makes me think that the statute is probably intended to punish people who intentionally and maliciously cause a run on the banks, statewide panic, or other extraordinarily damaging circumstances.

    There are a few problems with trying to apply this to Lamborn’s statement:

    1. Bank Rate gives the bank in question three stars. I’m not convinced that it isn’t in some way possible to construe this as below average. There are so many possible averages — average of all banks? Average of CO banks? Average of banks that offer a particular account type?

    2. Integrity Bank doesn’t seem to even be trying to prove that Lamborn has caused a run on the bank or damaged public confidence — their letter says he could.

    3. Even if his statement was false and it did damage the bank as set out in the statute, it’s not clear that he knew the statement was false when he made it.

    That said, he should probably try to quietly pull the ads.

    • harrydoby says:

      The Bankrate.com Memo shows both above and below average detailed ratings.

      Probably the most worrisome might be this:

      Asset quality highlights

      Asset quality is a major determinant of the viability of any banking institution. Poor asset quality will have a very direct impact upon the other components and bank regulators invest substantial amounts of time and resources in gauging the quality of a bank’s loans and investments.

      Key Asset Quality information and ratios:

      Ratio (%) Assessment

      Nonperforming Asset Ratio (2) 73.35 Highly Problematic

      Loss Reserve Coverage (3) 33.99 Substantially Below Normal

      So, while at a glance, the lawyers have a point that Lamborn’s ad is misleading, Lamborn could make an equally convincing case that they were talking about those pesky details.

      • DavidThi808 says:

        Is if Lamborn pushes back and makes an argument that the bank is below average.

        • harrydoby says:

          That’s exactly what the lawyers for the bank are complaining about.  But Lamborn’s not an FDIC examiner.  He’s cherry-picking the information.

          He’ll get away with it in all probability.  The only question is, will it save his job?

          Lamborn is a reliable GOP vote, but otherwise useless.  As Democrats, are we better off if Bla-bla-bla is his replacement?

  2. Gray in Mountains says:

    I think the wisest thing is for posters to NOT comment on this particular bank

  3. Danny the Red (hair) says:

    Even if it applies, the mental state requirement  is unlikely to be met.

    Even if the mental state requirement is met, political speech has special constitutional protections.

  4. Early Worm says:

    the statements are “false” or whether they “result in impairment of public confidence,” the statute provide for a criminal violation, but no civil remedy. The alleged criminal offense is of no consequence, unless and until the district attorney determines to pursue charges. When that happens, I will eat my hat (if I wore a hat). No DA will touch this, nor should they.  

  5. richardmyers says:

    here:

    GOP Ally of Big Coal Smears Environmental Activist With Kiddie Porn Accusation

    http://www.motherjones.com/blu

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