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As Stapleton-SonomaWest purchase steams ahead, transparency recedes

Details concerning Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton's lucrative moonlighting arrangement with the California real estate firm he used to head will soon move out of public view. Stapleton's family finance business, Denver-based Stapleton Acquisitions Company, has announced it has completed its tender offer to purchase all SonomaWest common stock not presently held by the Stapleton family and Stapleton Acquisitions and that the deal to take SonomaWest private will likely be completed in the coming weeks.

Stapleton business deal would raise new round of questions for Colorado...

Weeks after Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton took office this past January he drew a flurry of questions about a lucrative consulting contract he made with SonomaWest Holdings, the Northern California real-estate firm he headed for years as CEO. Stapleton arranged to work for up to 250 hours per year with Sonoma for $150,000 while acting as Colorado's treasurer. Colorado AOL reporter Sandra Fish discovered the arrangement by looking at paperwork SonomaWest had to file as a public company, and government watchdogs took comfort from the fact that those public records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission or SEC would continue to provide some level of transparency. Now Stapleton's family finance business, Denver-based Stapleton Acquisitions Company, is proposing to buy out shareholders of SonomaWest (pdf) and take the company private. That would mean no more filing with the SEC. It would mean no more public records from which to monitor Stapleton's moonlighting as a consultant.