Taxpayers group in hot water over electioneering snafu

Once again a local political advocacy group headed by GOP operative Scott Shires is the subject of a campaign-finance complaint for its involvement in a bitter 2008 Garfield County commissioners race that attracted lots of energy industry dough and carpetbagger activists.

Colorado Ethics Watch claims that the Aurora-based Colorado League of Taxpayers failed to file a mandatory electioneering report to the Colorado secretary of state for a pricey mailer against a Democratic candidate. Controversy magnet Shires serves as the organization’s agent of record and is responsible for filing its campaign finance reports.

From the Ethics Watch statement:

On or about September 19, 2008, the Colorado League of Taxpayers mailed to voters in Garfield County a mail piece advocating against the election of Steve Carter, a candidate for Garfield County Commissioner. State law requires any organization advocating for or against a candidate for elected office, within 60 days before a general election, to file an electioneering communication report with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office or, in this case, with the Garfield County Clerk. There is no report on file at either office from the Colorado League of Taxpayers.

By failing to file a report by the September 29 deadline, the Colorado League of Taxpayers could be liable for fines of $50 per day for each day the report is delinquent. As of February 20, these penalties amount to more than $7,000.

“The Colorado League of Taxpayers is skirting the law and ignoring requirements for transparency,” said Luis Toro, senior counsel for Colorado Ethics Watch. “The election might be over, but groups that refuse to follow the law must still be held accountable.”

Ironically, as an agent for the taxpayers group, Shires pleaded guilty to three federal corporate tax charges in June 2008 for an unrelated business endeavor.

Shortly after Shires’ June federal court sentencing where he was nicked for $3,450 in fines and one year’s probation, he was answering to a state administrative law judge in August on a private citizen’s complaint that the Colorado Taxpayers League failed to register as a political organization and file an electioneering report for an opposition mailer it sent out in a 2008 Weld County commissioners GOP primary race.

Ethics Watch’s complaint echoes an aspect of August charges, which dismissed the registration count on a technicality but levied a $650 fine for failing to file an electioneering report.

Somebody buy this man some twine for his finger.

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Wendy Norris

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