Embattled Colorado Republican candidate for governor Scott McInnis has so far avoided making any arrangements to pay back to the influential conservative Hasan Family Foundation the $300,000 he was paid to produce a series of water articles he plagiarized. After repeated failed attempts to recover the money or to workout a payment plan with McInnis, the foundation has now handed the matter over to its attorneys.
“The general consensus was that he is trying to wiggle out of this,” said Dr. Aliya Hasan, a foundation board member. “We didn’t hear anything from him at all. So finally we asked our lawyer this week to send a letter formally asking for our money back.“We heard back from Scott’s lawyer,” she continued. “There was nothing in his letter about paying us back or about proposing a way to pay us back. The letter said that Scott wants to meet with you to make this right. You know, what he always says, ‘I want to make this right.’”
Hasan said the foundation doesn’t want to hurt Republicans but that McInnis’ evasiveness has forced the foundation to turn to its lawyers.
“He’s spoken to my dad already, and we’ve made it quite clear what our position is. There’s nothing more to discuss except the terms for how he is going to pay us back, which we felt our lawyer could do. And our lawyer advised us that it’s probably not a good idea to meet with him, since we are considering legal action, and we agreed. It’s one of those anything-you-say-can-be-used-against-you situations.”
“And so we’ve basically said that we are not going to meet with him,” she said. “We want our money back. Tell us how you are going to do this. And if we don’t hear back from you, then we are going to proceed to legal action. There’s no point in dragging this out further.”
In an interview aired Wednesday, Colorado Public Radio asked McInnis if he had kept his promise, which he made 14 days ago, to repay the money. McInnis only said he had not given the money back yet and that he might do so later.
“I’ve got to make it right,” he said. “That’s my point. What shape that takes, whether it’s the funds or whatever it is, it’s going to have to be done. I have got to make it right.”
Hasan said the foundation was ready to work with McInnis to get the money back, as he had promised publicly, but McInnis never contacted the foundation to work out the details. She said that the foundation wants to use the McInnis money for projects that benefit the community, which is the purpose of the foundation, and that’s the underlying motivation for the potential legal action.
“We’re not vindictive about what happened. We’re upset, yes, but we just want our money back.”
There’s no firm date for filing the lawsuit, Hasan said.