As the Rocky Mountain News reports:
A GOP activist who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor tax charges received a year’s probation and was fined $3,450 during his appearance today in U.S. District Court.
The case involving Scott Shires, 55, of Aurora, has attracted Democratic attention because of Shires’ ties to Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer.
Shires once worked for Octane International, a firm owned by Parker businessman William Orr who was convicted last month of multiple fraud and other counts. The U.S. attorney’s office said Orr misled investors and falsified documents to obtain a $3.6 million grant to study alternative fuels…
“… he agreed to testify honestly and truthfully. I’ve observed him under oath, and I think he’s done his best to do just that,” [U.S. Judge Lewis] Babcock said on May 5.
Shires, a West Point graduate, has no previous criminal record.
“I have no doubt that I will not see you again,” Judge Marcia Krieger said, after sentencing him.
Shires ran for the state House in 2000, and has worked to get Republicans elected to the legislature. In 2004 he volunteered on Schaffer’s U.S. Senate campaign, and his firm in 2006 was hired by Schaffer’s state Board of Education to handle campaign finance filings.
It was Shires who recruited Schaffer to serve on a nonprofit board that Orr created to administer the federal grant. Schaffer resigned in March 2005, after learning Orr was under investigation.
Several left-leaning blogs and organizations have explored Schaffer’s link to Orr, but Schaffer and attorneys in Orr case said he had nothing to with Orr’s illegal activities.
Nevertheless, the liberal activist group Progress Now tossed out fresh questions about the case this morning (release after the jump), including the Schaffer campaign’s unequivocal denial that he was paid to serve on Orr’s board–contradicted by Schaffer’s own statement in this weekend’s article, discrepancies regarding key dates Schaffer served on the board, as well as why a non-Colorado congressman would care enough about Orr’s operation to slip him a $3.7 million earmark (a “bottle of whiskey” usually isn’t considered a satisfactory explanation). We think they’re questions worth asking, especially since Shires’ attorney Nathan Chambers, who moonlights as chairman of the Arapahoe County Republican Party, has little incentive to clear the air even if it would help his client.
But it appears we have an “answer” for our biggest question about this scandal, which was why Bob Schaffer would continue to closely associate with Shires after being recruited by him to front for Orr’s criminal enterprise–especially since Schaffer was brought in by Shires at the end of the organization’s existence, when the fraud was at its peak–just before the feds move in is logically when the con job is at its most egregious.
Yes, even though the timeline of events invites suspicion that we weren’t told anything near the whole story, and leaves even casual observers uneasy about what actually happened, it will be recorded for posterity that Shires was Orr’s hapless “victim,” just like Schaffer was to Orr, Jack Abramoff, Saddam Hussein, Pete Coors, etc.
It’s true that claiming to have gotten schooled by unscrupulous characters over and over again is not a particularly auspicious defense for someone running for one of the highest offices in the land, but it beats the alternative. Kind of like copping a plea.
Schaffer associate sentenced this morning
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 23, 2008
CONTAC Michael Huttner
(303) 931-4547 cell
Denver: ProgressNowAction called on Bob Schaffer to explain five contradictions related to his dealings with Scott Shires who was sentenced this morning in U.S. Federal District Court. Schaffer served as the “Director” of the Board of the National Alternative Fuel Foundation (NAFF). Shires was a fellow board member and also served as Schaffer’s campaign treasurer. In addition, the Executive Director of the NAFF was found guilty of 23 criminal counts on May 30, 2008 and is due to be sentenced in October.
1. Why did Bob Schaffer initially deny that he was paid for his service on the Board? Why doesn’t Schaffer report the payments in his personal financial disclosures?
On May 30, 2008 Bob Schaffer’s campaign told the Denver Post that Schaffer “was not paid for his nearly six months of service.”
On June 21, 2008, Schaffer admitted to the Rocky Mountain News that he was paid “$1,500 for his service on the board.”
2. Why does Schaffer contradict his own disclosures on when he served on the Board?
According to Schaffer’s own disclosure form, he served as the NAFF “Director” from “10/04” to “03/05.” (Source: Schaffer’s personal financial disclosure forms)
Now Schaffer claims he began his duties Dec. 1, 2004. Schaffer said he “toured the research facility, talked to scientists and read reports.” (RMN, 6/21/2008)
3. Why did Schaffer resign from the NAFF Board?
On May 30, 2008 Schaffer denied any knowledge of fraud to receive the earmark and said he left the nonprofit when he found out Orr was under investigation. (Denver Post, May 30, 2008)
Yet Schaffer now claims he left the board at the same time the investigation became public knowledge, not before. (RMN, 6/21/2008)
4. Why would Schaffer make Shires the treasurer of his State Board of Education Campaign after Shires had been charged on three federal counts?
Schaffer claims that he left the NAFF after he learned that Shires and others were under investigation for possible criminal charges in March 2005. (RMN, 6/21/2008)
Yet in 2006 Schaffer made Shires his campaign treasurer for his State Board of Education Campaign after he was charged. (Schaffer’s 2006 Campaign Disclosure, Colorado Secretary of State)
5. If Bob Schaffer did not get the $3.6 million dollar earmark for the NAFF, who did? Why would an out-of-state Congressman care about pushing for money for a local foundation?
Schaffer claims he had nothing to do with the $3.6 million dollar Congressional earmark for the NAFF and that it was just coincidence that he later served as the “Director” and his campaign treasurer, Scott Shires, served on the Board during the earmark.
Shires stated that the earmark was inserted into the bill by a key House committee staffer at the direction of a non-Colorado congressman, and that a “very expensive bottle of whiskey” changed hands. (RMN, 6/21/2008)
Why would an out-of-state Congressman care about the NAFF, when it was located in Denver, Colorado and had only a small Board which included a close associate of Schaffer?
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