Shires-backed tax group admits to campaign-law violation in Garfield County

A political advocacy group headed by GOP operative Scott Shires confessed Monday to violating campaign finance laws by not filing an electioneering communications report last fall and possibly skewing a close commissioner’s race in gas-rich Garfield County.

Colorado Ethics Watch, which filed a complaint against the Aurora-based Colorado League of Taxpayers in February, issued a statement Wednesday blasting the Shires front for a mailer it sent out in September urging Garfield County voters not to back Democrat Steve Carter, who was running in part on an anti-oil-and-gas platform.

Carter, a Rifle attorney, narrowly lost to Republican Mike Samson, an administrator at Rifle High School. Carter was incredulous during the election at the “new low” established in a local race, telling the Aspen Daily News, “These folks are funded by the CEOs of the energy companies. They must be getting desperate if that’s the best they’re coming up with.”

Despite admitting to wrongdoing (state law requires a report within 60 days of the general election), the group still hasn’t complied, according to Ethics Watch, and that could lead to fines of $50 a day dating back to Sept. 29. The penalty now tops $9,750 and counting.

Shires likely isn’t sweating the prospect of such fines, as he has a long history of campaign-law violations. Cold comfort, no doubt, to Carter and other conservation-minded voters in Garfield County.

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