Colorado Ethics Watch Tuesday waded into the convoluted controversy surrounding accusations that Republican stalwarts offered GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes monetary compensation to withdraw from the race, calling on Maes to disclose any information he might have about such offers.
The watchdog group told the Colorado Independent that despite recent twists in the story, as a former law enforcement officer, Maes should want to unveil any improprieties.
“The point is that this is illegal,” said Luis Toro, executive director of Ethics Watch. “If people are scheming behind the scenes to offer money to get somebody to drop out of the race, that is illegal.”
The Denver Post this week reported that, according to Maes’ supporter Joe Harrington, Maes was offered “deals that were at their core illegal.” Harrington said the deal was to provide Maes funds from a 501(c)4 non-profit foundation in exchange for exiting the governor’s race against American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo and Democrat John Hickenlooper. The money was to have come from an unnamed donor.
According to Harrington, the deals were offered in “three discussion threads” that may have included a “a well-known blogger [and] two metro-Denver area GOP county chairs.” Harrington wrote that Maes turned down the deals.
Colorado law (C.R.S. § 1-45-115) provides that “No person shall offer or give any candidate or candidate committee any money or any other thing of value for the purpose of encouraging the withdrawal of the candidate’s candidacy.”
Toro said the penalty for offering a candidate money to drop out could be as steep as two to five times the illegal contribution.
While Maes told the Post that Harrington’s account was accurate, Ross Kaminsky, free-market blogger and Tancredo supporter, responded that he was the mystery blogger and that he made no such offer.
Kaminsky wrote on his website that it was Harrington who initiated requests for deals but added that after speaking with a friend of Tancredo’s about Harrington’s desire for a deal, he was told that something could be out there to get Maes to step down.
Kaminsky said that he was told that one idea being bounced around was offering Maes a non-state commission job in exchange for Maes dropping out. He said he told this to Harrington.
Kaminsky released his email communications with Harrington, which he says prove Harrington‘s desire to make a deal.
Toro explained that because the story has become convoluted with differing accounts of the events, it is more imperative now than when Ethics Watch initially released its statement that Maes release any information he has. He said that while Kaminsky noted that he had not offered Maes any deal specifically, there were two other “threads” still to be explored.
“If [Maes] is endorsing Harrington’s story, and obviously he is, than you know there is some illegal stuff going on. He is a former law enforcer right? You would think that it would appeal to him to get that out in public.”