U.S. Senate candidate and former state Rep. Jon Keyser of Morrison has another problem that his opponents claim goes to his credibility. And it’s no small deal – incomplete and missing financial disclosures that could carry criminal penalties.
State lawmakers and lawmaker wannabes are required every year to file personal financial disclosure documents that show their major assets, debts and sources of income for themselves and spouses.
The disclosures are supposed to cover assets like the lawmaker’s home and any other real estate property owned with a value of above $5,000, including investment or rental properties and ownership of mineral or water rights. Disclosure statements are also supposed to show the debts of a lawmaker and spouse over $1,000; where the lawmaker and spouse work; and other assets of more than $5,000, such as insurance policies.
It’s no small matter to ignore the requirements of the personal financial disclosures, at least based on state law. Not filing the documents, which Keyser didn’t do in 2016; or filing them with inaccurate or incomplete information, as he did in 2015, is a misdemeanor, punishable by $1,000 to $5,000 per occurrence.
Keyser filed his first personal financial disclosure document in August 2013. In his 2013 filing, Keyser listed two properties: one in Cedaredge, Colorado and the other, his home in his Morrison district.
The next required filing was on January 10, 2015, after Keyser was elected to the state House. It was filed on March 20, 2015, more than two months late.
That document did not include the Morrison home as an asset, although he still lived there; the mailing address listed was a post office box.
The 2016 filing was due on January 10. And although he announced he would resign on January 11 of this year from his state House seat, Keyser was still casting votes in the House until January 22.
The 2016 disclosure was finally filed last Friday, June 10, after The Colorado Independent contacted the Keyser campaign to ask about the documents. Keyser also amended his 2015 disclosure to include his Morrison home in his assets.
Keyser spokesman Matt Connelly told The Independent that the Secretary of State’s office never notified Keyser of any shortcomings with his disclosures, and allowed Keyser to amend the forms. “We’re happy to have the opportunity to amend it to explicitly show what is already obvious,” Connelly said.
These disclosure statements are important, says Luis Toro of Colorado Ethics Watch. This is “the only way people can determine whether or not a legislator has a conflict of interest on votes,” he told The Independent. “That’s why they have to disclose their financial interests.”
But a spokesperson for Keyser opponent Darryl Glenn, an El Paso County Commissioner, said the the issue is more than whether state law is followed: it’s also about whether Keyser is trustworthy.
Jillian Likness, who handles communications for Glenn, said the gaps in Keyser’s disclosure documents point to the same questions that have surfaced about Keyser throughout the campaign. Is he someone voters “can count on to do the right thing?” Likness asked. “Is he someone who keeps his word? That’s what it comes down to — integrity and strength of character. It’s certainly a question that continues to be raised,” she said.