Elbert County commissioner could face sanctions for failure to pay a fine

Elbert County Commissioner Robert Rowland, and his fellow commissioners, could find themselves back in court sooner rather than later.

This morning, Jill Duvall, who launched the original campaign finance complaint against Rowland, filed a motion for sanctions against Rowland and the Elbert County Board of County Commissioners.

Duvall’s motion claims that Rowland did not really pay the $1,000 fine assessed against him by Administrative Law Judge Robert N. Spencer in 2014.

See also: “State Supreme Court weighs Colorado Ethics Commission secrecy

Spencer found Rowland and the board guilty of a campaign finance violation in December, 2013. That violation was tied to use of county funds by the board to lobby for an increase in property taxes, a ballot measure in Elbert County for the November 5, 2013, election. The ballot measure was defeated when 85 percent of the county residents voted it down.

Spencer said in his ruling that he would not levy fines against the board, because taxpayers would have to foot the bill. Instead, he ordered Rowland to personally pay a $1,000 fine to the county.

On April 27, 2015, a cashier’s check with Rowland identified as purchaser was paid to Elbert County. But on the same day, Rowland gave the county a request for reimbursement of that fine. The reimbursement check was issued on April 30, with Rowland as signatory, as chair of the commission.

Rowland was authorized to seek that reimbursement through a resolution passed by the board on April 8, although just one commissioner, Kelly Dore, voted on it. Rowland and fellow commissioner Larry Ross both excused themselves from the vote.

Duvall’s motion states that Rowland has misrepresented the facts when he claimed in a court filing on June 9 that he had paid the fine to comply with Spencer’s order. In fact, Duvall’s motion says, the reimbursement proves that the entire transaction was conducted in a way to defy the order.

Rowland did not return a call or email for comment.

Photo credit: Jeff Ruane, Creative Commons, Flickr

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.