Maes: Campaign finance irregularities reflect payment for early expenses

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes Monday said all of his campaign expenses are absolutely legitimate. Referring to a complaint filed against his campaign by a Republican activist from Grand Junction, he said, “It is frivolous and it needs to go away.”

Maes said the reason his campaign has paid him $33,135 in mileage reimbursement since October is because when he began campaigning in March, 2009, he paid for most of his mileage out of pocket because the campaign had very little money.

Once the campaign began generating sufficient cash flow last fall, he said, the campaign began reimbursing him retroactively for past expenses. He said Colorado Republican Party attorney Ryan Call told him that he could do that. Call had not returned messages by Tuesday morning.

Dan Maes

As the Colorado Independent reported Friday, documents filed with the Secretary of State reveal that, since October, Maes has been paid $33,135 by his campaign for mileage. Since January, the campaign paid him $7,599 for other expenses, and since February, the campaign has paid his daughter Jordan $5,200 to be his assistant. Also since February, Maes has received a flat $5,000 a month for mileage.

Erik Groves, the attorney who filed the complaint with the secretary of state’s office, said the law forbids using money raised today to reimburse a candidate for expenses incurred many months ago.

“He says he’s just paying himself back but these are scary, ridiculous numbers,” said Groves, who filed the complaint on behalf of Christopher Klitzke. “It looks like he is paying himself a salary. We looked at where he has traveled and it doesn’t match up in terms of justifying such high mileage reimbursement.”

The complaint is now before an administrative law judge. It had been scheduled for a hearing May 20, but has been postponed. Groves said he asked to have it postponed because they didn’t think it was fair to Maes to have it right before the Colorado Republican Convention. “We really have nothing against Maes, but we have legitimate concerns about his expenses.”

The complaint, as filed, deals only with expenses from the last quarter of 2009, but Groves said they will probably amend it to include the first quarter of 2010.

Groves, who said he’s a Republican, described his client as a young activist who wants to make the Republican Party stronger by ensuring that its candidates are free of taint. “I have clients who support Maes, so I’ve gotten some grief over this, but we are just trying to ensure that the truth comes out.”

He says he is not concerned that Maes has paid his daughter $5200 so far as a campaign staff member.

Maes said he understood how putting his daughter on the payroll “might raise some eyebrows, but I tell you she works 16 or 17 hours a day.”

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Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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