Will the Real Trailhead Group Stand Up?

This week the Republican Trailhead Group announced that it has a new and improved name. Perhaps the Denver-based political hit squad thinks that will make all of their troubles disappear – including complaints alleging possible money laundering filed with the Secretary of State’s office and the Internal Revenue Service.

We’re supposed to now call them “Coloradans for Justice.” But  the name “Coloradans for Justice” has already been reserved in Colorado by someone else – just as the name Trailhead Group, LLC has already been reserved by yours truly.

You would have thought that the brains behind the Republican Trailhead Group would have learned an invaluable lesson, to register the name before going public, the first go ’round.

But in the latest identity crisis, the group that reserved the name “Coloradans for Justice” is likely to send the agents of the organization formerly known as the Trailhead Group a letter to cease and desist – or risk a lawsuit. And they should probably think twice about using at least two other names in Colorado – Colorado Citizens for Justice and Coloradans for Change. Because, though Alan Philp, the executive director of the big-money Republican 527, registered those names in the state of Delaware, he didn’t bother to reserve them to do business in Colorado.

In addition, Philp’s group has still not registered the entity as a foreign company doing business in the state of Colorado, which is also required by law. Failing to register can result in fines and other penalties, The state’s attorney general has jurisdiction.

John Willard, who is on the payroll of the Democratic 527 Clear Peak, organized in part to shine light on the activities of the Republican Trailhead Group, confirmed this week that he reserved Coloradans for Justice, Colorado Citizens for Justice and Coloradans for Change.

“We’re going to forcefully protect the rights of these names,” Willard said. “We’re not going to use these companies for political purposes, we’re going to use the them to keep Trailhead honest.”

Willard says he was inspired to lay claim to the names after Colorado Confidential last week reserved the name Trailhead Group, LLC with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Though Philp’s group filed paperwork identifying itself as a Colorado business with the Internal Revenue Service in June, 2005, it never registered in this state either as “homegrown” organization – or as a “foreign” company conducting business here.

Trailhead’s founder is Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and its financial backers include wealthy Coloradans Bruce Benson and Pete Coors, but Willard suspects that Philp registered in Delaware because the disclosure laws for 527 groups there aren’t as stringent as in Colorado.

“They thought they were being sneaky,” he says.

Reserving a business name in Colorado is easy – all it takes is $25, a credit card and online access. And it’s not like the Trailhead Group’s attorneys didn’t realize they must be registered with the state to conduct business in the state.

Here is the chronology of registered listings with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office:

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