It’s Okay If You’re a Republican

Double standards are a tricky business. And Fort Collins-based Republican political consultant Andrew Boucher is about to learn a hard “do as I say, not as I do” lesson. Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government (CCEG), a non-partisan, non-profit, legal watchdog group, filed complaints last week with the Internal Revenue Service and Colorado secretary of state for campaign finance violations by Boucher’s pet political committee, the Northern Colorado Victory Fund. The fund, which turned out to be less than victorious on Election Day, failed to report its sources of income and expenditures.

According to CCEG, state law requires “anyone who spends over $1,000 on ads that refer to a candidate and are broadcast to voters within 60 days before a general election must file ‘electioneering communication’ reports with the secretary of state’s office no later than 30 days after the election. The reports must disclose the amount spent, the candidate referred to and the name and address of any person who contributes more than $250 to the person making the ad. The IRS requires similar disclosures for tax-exempt political organizations.”

Victory Fund could be fined $50 per day for each day the reports are overdue. As of this story’s publication date, Boucher’s committee has racked up $4,200 in penalties.

The Rocky Mountain Chronicle obtained a copy of the not-so-victorious Victory Fund’s contract with Comcast and discovered that Boucher purchased $29,958.25 worth of television spots – for attack ads that attempted to smear Rep. John Kefalas, who at the time was running for Fort Collins’ House District 52 seat against incumbent Republican Bob McCluskey. Kefalas won the election despite the insipid “Hank and Lois” spots that are still available for viewing on YouTube.com.

Unfortunately, this is just the latest example of Boucher snubbing his nose at the public’s right to know the people behind local political groups. On Feb.14, 2005, he formed two political groups – Colorado Community Alliance and Northern Colorado Neighborhood Committee – neither of which have ever filed the required reports with the IRS nor the secretary of state in the two years they have existed. The groups have each received three notices from the secretary of state’s office demanding an annual report of activities. Both are now listed as delinquent organizations. That’s quite the Valentine’s Day kiss-off to the public, Mr. Boucher.

In February 2006, he registered with the state yet another limited-liability company called The Enterprise Group. Its purpose is unknown. If it is, in fact, operating as a political committee, it would also be delinquent, since no campaign finance reports have been filed with the proper state or federal authorities.

It doesn’t stop there.

In 2002, Boucher was the campaign manager for a failed Republican congressional candidate in Massachusetts. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) notes multiple communications over several reporting periods in which it demanded compliance with campaign finance law requirements to identify its donors.

Likewise, Boucher’s first consulting gig in Colorado was the 2004 primary candidacy of Greg Rippy, a Republican from Glenwood Springs vying for the nod to run against Democrat John Salazar in Colorado’s Third Congressional District. Rippy’s FEC reports were riddled with basic math errors, violations for failing to identify donors and expenditures, and questions about personal loans made to the campaign.

Now, one could conceivably argue that it was hard work financing a series of vicious attack ads against Rep. Kefalas last fall. Exhausting even. But missing the filing deadlines for several state and federal reports – and doing so for years on end – is apparently fine and dandy if you’re a Republican.

In French, “Boucher” means “to stop.” Andrew Boucher may want to ponder his namesake the next time he decides to rail about the lack of transparency in politics in his conservative political column for the Fort Collins Weekly.

This editorial orginally appeared in the Rocky Mountain Chronicle on March 1, 2007 and is published here with permission.

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Wendy Norris

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