In a negative race that just won’t quit, U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, who represents Colorado’s 4th district, filed a complaint with the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office last week, alleging her Democratic opponent, Betsy Markey, knowingly made false statements about her in a recent television ad.
In Musgrave’s complaint, the three-term Republican from Fort Morgan said Markey’s recent television ad claimed Musgrave made votes to allow lobbyists to “wine and dine” her and sponsored legislation to reduce capital gains taxes on precious metals, which would have directly benefited her Musgrave’s husband, Steve.
If the Larimer County District Attorney Larry Abrahamson accepts the complaint, it will be forwarded to a six-member, bipartisan commission established by the Colorado District Attorney who will investigate what wrongdoing, if any, occurred.
The filing comes one week after Markey filed the same complaint against Musgrave with the Larimer District Attorney’s Office for a television ad that inferred Markey used her position with Democratic U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar’s office to steer federal contracts to a company she and her husband own.
Colorado law prohibits false statements in print or broadcast political communications:
According to State law, C.R.S. 1-13-109(2)(a) it is a class 2 misdemeanor for any person to “…recklessly make, publish, broadcast, or circulate or cause to be made, published, broadcasted or circulated in any letter, circular, advertisement, or poster or any other communication any false statement designed to affect the vote on any issue submitted to the electors at any election or relating to any candidate for election to public office.” Recklessly is defined as acting “…in conscious disregard of the truth or falsity of the statement made, published, broadcasted, or circulated.”
Filing a complaint with the District Attorney’s Office is just one option political campaigns have when they suspect that they have been falsely maligned. They can also complain to the Federal Communications Commission or appeal directly to the stations to remove misleading ads.
A class 2 misdemeanor carries penalties of up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines.