Uh, About that 527 Committee…

According to the Republican website Complete Colorado, GOP Gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis made a big boo-boo. While Complete Colorado may look like it was designed by your 8-year-old niece, and this is clearly an orchestrated attack on McInnis, they do appear to have the goods on a major mistake by the Republican contender:

Moments into the message, McInnis describes people who have joined the “team,” specifically mentioning Sean Tonner. McInnis also mentions that Tonner is running a “527.” The mention of Tonner being on the team and also running a 527 could be problematic. It is illegal for a candidate committee to coordinate with a 527 “issues” committee.

Futhermore, towards the middle of the message, McInnis mentions that “we’ve been out in the field, we’ve done extensive polling.” If true, McInnis might need to show what funds were used to perform said polling.

Finally, McInnis mentions that Mike Hesse is performing the “day-to-day” operations of the campaign. Again, if true, it is then unclear how or if Hesse might be receiving compensation for this work, especially since McInnis has not filed any paperwork which would allow for paid work to be done on his behalf for a gubernatorial run.

The biggest problem here is the first one – the direct acknowledgment by McInnis of a 527 committee raising money to support his campaign. Under federal law, McInnis can’t have anything to do with a 527 relating to his own campaign, and this would appear to be pretty strong proof of that.

The rest of the accusations aren’t that big of a deal. McInnis may have someone doing day-to-day operations that is not offically being paid yet, which happens all the time. And if he’s done polling, that doesn’t mean that the polling firm has billed his campaign yet; if that expense doesn’t show up on his next report, then you can raise a few eyebrows.

But on the other hand, if the 527 committee paid for the polling, then McInnis is in deep shit – because that is more proof that he is illegally coordinating with a 527 committee. No doubt there will be some sort of investigation that looks into this deeper, which will lead to more bad press and a potentially large electioneering fine.

Either way, a professional politician like McInnis should know better than this. That he would make an amateur mistake of this caliber – leaving a voicemail message acknowledging his own 527 committee – says a lot about his readiness for a statewide race.  

52 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. It's Me says:

    …it’s the sound of chirping crickets…

    Where is everyone?  

  2. Lafayettedem says:

    is that he says Monica Owens is working for him through Sean Tonner.  And he almost says that Tonner is running “our” then “a” 527.  I think there is a lot of fodder here for possible complaint.

  3. SSG_Dan says:

    I’m definitely not a fan of the Colorado Flat Earth party, but all we’ve got is the posting on a Repub shill website, and a bad audio file I could fake in iTunes.

    I’m taking a wait and see approach to this – it sounds like the fake hack job of a pissed-off Dickwad Hams…

  4. AnCap says:

    McInnis admits that he left the voicemail.  Nothing is doctored at all.

    Look at the Denver Post coverage:


    And Politics West coverage:


  5. Constitutionalist1776 says:

    It’s a pretty obvious attempt to slam Scott McInnis by those who want the seat for themselves.  I was on the fence about who I thought would make a better candidate for Governor on the Republican ticket, but now I think I know exactly who I will support in a primary, and it’s not someone who will create a bigger rift in our party. I find it pretty interesting and convenient for Josh Penry that this comes out (on a Republican website) only a few days after a poll showing him to be a lot weaker against the Governor then McInnis. Frankly, this type of mud throwing only benefits Ritter in my mind, and THAT is UNACCEPTABLE!

    I may not be the sharpest political tool in the shed, but my basic understanding is that there is no wrong doing on Scott’s part since there is no candidacy.  Since all I’ve seen is speculation.  Though he does say he intends to run, it doesn’t really matter since as far as I know he hasn’t raised or spent any money for a campaign.

    It’s not exactly a secret that the Allards, Sean Tonner, Barb Card or Mike Hesse are supporting him, what else is new?

    Furthermore I just don’t see an issue since he doesn’t ask for money, only input and counsel.  Is listening to people’s ideas and input a violation of campaign finance laws?

    Anyway, those are my two cents on the matter.  I look forward to everyone eleses input too.

    • Doppleganger says:

      Furthermore I just don’t see an issue since he doesn’t ask for money, only input and counsel.  Is listening to people’s ideas and input a violation of campaign finance laws?

      Coordination is against the law.

      McInnis just killed his campaign before it got started.

      Not a judgment of the merits of his candidacy, just a legal and PR disaster.

      • Constitutionalist1776 says:

        how there is coordination there?  McInnis has no candidate committee or 527 (Tonner has a 527 apparently).  Does mentioning Tonner and the fact he has a 527 really mean anything but just that?  I don’t see much there personally.

        • Colorado Pols says:

          It’s enough evidence for an investigation, at the very least. It’s candidate 101 – you don’t ever, ever, ever acknowledge a 527 that supports you.

      • Half Glass Full says:

        McInnis just killed his campaign before it got started.

        Is it really THAT big a deal? Won’t he just get a slap on the wrist?

    • twas brillig says:

      I always love these–“It’s dirty tricks point out the law-breaking of the other guy. I’m against dirty tricks. So I’m going to support that law-breaking guy!”–proclamations.  

      They usually tell me the tricksters are on to something, and we better keep digging!  

      • Constitutionalist1776 says:

        I didn’t mean for my post to sound that way, but in reality that is how I feel right now.  As a Republican I am sad to see how often our own guys hurt each other to benefit themselves.  It just seems to me that the case here is that, and Penry seems to be trying to capitalize.

        I don’t think it does anyone any good to make these types of accusations when in reality there is nothing there but a wish for something bad to be found.  It is shameful politics.  And I just think there has been enough of that lately.

    • JeffcoBlue says:

      Really, I didn’t wear my waders. Sweeps week drama is for TV!

      It’s not tough to understand what just happened, repeat after me: “Josh Penry jacked Scott McInnis with a recording of Scott McInnis.”

      If anything I don’t want this to end so fast, they need to bloody each other up for another 8 months at least.

    • Libertad says:

      You want to give this guy a free pass; do you subscribe to the soft bigotry of low expectations too?

      You probably supported Garcia’s attempted excuse when he whipped it out and Hanna’s excuse for her reparations demands.

  6. The Angry Trucker says:

    Sure Scott McInnis MIGHT have made a mistake, but what if Sean Tonner’s 527’s purpose is like the Senate Majority Fund etc that has nothing to do with the Governor’s Race.  Sean Tonner has been associated with a lot of 527’s.  Does that mean he can’t support a candidate?  Or that a candidate cant mention his support knowing Sean Tonner may be influential in the “inside baseball” crowd of Republican politics?    

    I know you guys are hoping this is that silver bullet to take Scott McInnis out so Josh Penry can get creamed by Ritter, but its a bit early.  

    Should’ve held that card for a few more mile on this long road trip.  Once Scott McInnis was an announced, filed candidate this would’ve been worse.  Timing is everything.  

    • Colorado Pols says:

      Candidates CANNOT be involved with 527 committees. McInnis says that they have a 527 committee. Not only can he not admit that, technically he shouldn’t even really know it exists. This is a real violation of a real campaign law that will create real problems for McInnis. And there’s nobody to blame but McInnis.  

      • Constitutionalist1776 says:

        So that law doesn’t apply yet until he has officially announced or formed a committee.

        • Doppleganger says:

          You have pointed out another violation by the campaign

          Futhermore, towards the middle of the message, McInnis mentions that “we’ve been out in the field, we’ve done extensive polling.” If true, McInnis might need to show what funds were used to perform said polling.

          It is improper to say “we’ve been out in the field, we’ve done extensive polling” without a committee.  

          Who is this “we”?  Scotty Mac and the mouse in his pocket? Spending money on campaign related activities is very dangerous and he will have to explain who “we” is and whose money “we” used.

          The most likely explanation, that “we” is the 527 he is coordinating with, makes this a double fault.

          It’s over.  Too bad, he’s not a bad guy and I can’t say the same about Penry.

          • Constitutionalist1776 says:

            since currently the only facts are that there is no committee, a general reference to Sean Tonner operating a 527 (which means nothing), and a reference to some polling (could have been the PPP poll from the other day for all we know).

          • Karate Kid says:

            I’ve been pounding Ritter on this site for days about “internal” polling that doesn’t show up on his finance reports.  To be fair, now Bill Ritter and Scott McInnis both need to tell us where the money came from to pay for their polling.

            • Libertad says:

              No free passes

            • redstateblues says:

              I said it before, why don’t you call his office and just ask?

              I find that usually works a lot better than frantically shouting into the blogosphere about it.

              • DavidThi808 says:

                I emailed Evan Dryer – no response.

                • redstateblues says:

                  One non-response doesn’t mean anything.

                  If he thinks there’s that much meat to the story, why not e-mail some reporters. 9 wants to know or whatnot.

                  All he’s doing is whining about how the Governor isn’t responding to an accusation based on an anonymous blogger on a political rumor mill.

                  We have no idea, other than R36’s assertion, that this poll even exists, let alone that it was commissioned in a way that breaks the law. Considering that, it’s not surprising that Evan Dryer didn’t respond.

                  All I’m saying is that he has the power to find something real out about it, but that until he does, he should just give it a freaking rest.

                  Let’s see some evidence, otherwise it’s all a bunch of chattering from the chattering class.

                • Ralphie says:

                  No matter how important David thinks he is.

        • twas brillig says:

          A person is a candidate for election if the person has publicly announced and thereafter has received a contribution or made an expenditure in support of his/her candidacy.

          http://www.elections.colorado…. (PDF)

        • Half Glass Full says:

          Of course the law applies – otherwise you could just evade it by denying you’re a candidate – while raising zillions of dollars and hiring staff.

          My question is: assuming McInnis broke the law, what sort of trouble is he in? I mean seriously, he won’t go to jail or anything will he? Won’t he just get fined a couple hundred bucks?

          • redstateblues says:

            They wish it was that easy.

            Politics would be a lot funnier if it was like that.

            “I want to say, in no uncertain terms, that I am not, nor will I ever be, a candidate in this race…

            …Now let me lay out my plan for getting the state back on track.”

          • Grandpa Fred was let off the hook for his extended exploratory committee, complete with big-bucks fundraising.  Of course, that was Federal and this is not…

            I think the campaign finance laws need some revamping.

        • MesaModerate says:

          If I listen to his own words it sounds like at the beginning of the message he clearly states that he’s running for Gov.  I don’t know the law but isn’t there something about the first time you “represent yourself as a candidate” or something?  

          • redstateblues says:

            This is a voicemail that was leaked, mot likely by Senator Penry or his surrogates, not a public announcement.

            Even you can’t be so daft as to insinuate a private phone message is a public announcement.

  7. WestSloper says:

    Of course he is going to set up 527’s to funnel through oil and gas contributions. This guy doesn’t play by the rules. However, will the Secretary of State think Scooter officially announced….?

    • Roger D says:

      If a complaint is eventually filed, it will end up going before an administrative law judge.  Was he a candidate?  Was there a 527 related to his campaign?  Did he have knowledge/coordinate?  Those are the potential questions a law judge will rule on in the event complaint(s) are filed related to anything related to the tape.

      • Libertad says:

        He’s shot himself in the foot. Its not life threatening, but it will cause his political death.

        Lets get real, who’s going to fund him and when the 527 comes around no one will give.

        This is equal to testicular strangulation for his (un)announced campaign.

  8. venividivici303 says:

    The facts aren’t good.  I’m stunned that he would make this kind of mistake.

    1.  Everyone is talking about Sean Tonner’s 527 and his coordination problems.  Big Problem.

    2.  What nobody has caught on to is that McInnis stated that Mike Hesse is conducting the “day-to-day” operations of the campaign.  The problem is, Mike Hesse is the agent of a 527 registered last September out of his home called Western Heritage.  It’s filed with both the IRS and the Colorado Secretary of State.



    Mike Hesse’s Western Heritage 527 received $10k from Scott McInnis’ federal political action committee The Western Way PAC on September 29, 2008.


    In case you want to double check here is the link to The Western Way PAC showing it is Scott McInnis’.


    So what does that mean?  Scott McInnis’ “day-to-day” campaign is being run by a guy who is the registered agent of a 527 that received money from Scott McInnis’ PAC, the same PAC that has all of the money left over from McInnis’ federal congressional campaigns.

    Scott McInnis has not one, but TWO 527 problems.

    In addition, McInnis flat out states in the call that he’s running for governor.  Under state law, he’s required to file with the SoS and start reporting the instant he represents himself as a candidate.  So he’s hired Barb Card to fundraise for a campaign that doesn’t exist, but does?  He’s had polling done, paid for either by himself, an in-kind (which would be WAY over the amendment 27 limit) or coordinated with a 527…again for a campaign that doesn’t exist, but does?

    Generally when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.  Scott McInnis has fired up the back-hoe.

    • jmatt12 says:

      Unfortunately, it appears that there hasn’t been any activity in Western Heritage since before the last election.  The 527 filed for the period ending 3/31 and there was no activity.  I don’t see the coordinated expenditures that you would need to constitute a campaign finance violation… but why let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory?

  9. ClubTwitty says:

    Excerpts from the Ethically-challenged:

    A Front Range political watchdog group says it will investigate a phone message left by former Republican Congressman Scott McInnis with a supporter.

    McInnis’ message suggests he’s working with a 527, the term borrowed from the IRS code for an independent political organization.

    Colorado Ethics Watch said it would mean that McInnis was illegally coordinating his gubernatorial campaign with a 527.

    McInnis mentioned no organization by name in the phone message and told The Daily Sentinel that he knew of no such organizations operating in connection with the 2010 election in which Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, is up for election.

    The tape of the message was posted on Complete Colorado.com. The Web site did not indicate how it obtained the phone message. The Web site provides an “estimated transcription” because of the audio quality of the message.

    The CompleteColorado.com transcription begins with, “Wanna visit with you on this two-thousand-and-ten governor’s race.” The transcription later purports that McInnis is talking about an organizational team and that “Sean Tonner” is “doin’ our 5-uh … (cough) … or a 527. …”

    McInnis did not say whom he was trying to call.

    He said he did nothing wrong because he’s not officially a candidate, although he has made no secret of his ambitions.

    He said he is collecting no contributions and making his efforts “on my own dime.”

    Of his use of the term “527,” he said, “I should probably retract that.”

    He meant to refer generally to campaign organizations, he said.

    The million-dollar lawyer-lobbyist goes on to note that he is doing all this on ‘his own dime.’  Could that be the millions of dimes he stashed away as a Congressman, laundered through Hesse’s 527?  

    Inquiring minds need to know, Scott.  

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