Douglas County Sheriff Candidate Admits Campaign Finance Violations
DENVER (CBS4) – Douglas County Undersheriff Tony Spurlock, who is hoping to become the next Douglas County sheriff, has admitted to a series of campaign finance violations which he characterizes as “clerical errors.”
“What we did is wrong,” Spurlock told CBS4. “I take full responsibility for the error as it is my committee.”
In a Feb. 11 ruling, a State of Colorado administrative law judge ordered Spurlock’s campaign to pay a penalty of $4,050 for the violations, but says that amount will be reduced to $1,000 if Spurlock’s campaign files a correct, amended campaign report.
The judge ruled Spurlock’s campaign inadequately disclosed information about multiple contributors and inadequately reported campaign expenditures.
“Respondent violated the fair campaign finance laws,” wrote Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer. “There is no evidence that respondent willfully intended to evade its reporting obligations,” concluded the judge.
“We made clerical mistakes with regards to the employment status of two people,” said Spurlock, who said his campaign also failed to properly note that some of his contributors were retired. “I wasn’t trying to hide anyone giving me money or cash from a PAC. I followed the rules except for a minor clerical error.”
Spurlock said his campaign planned to file an amended financial disclosure form Tuesday and would also seek to have the monetary penalty reduced.
In a hotly contested race for Douglas County sheriff, Spurlock said he would not be surprised if his campaign finance bobbles became an issue.
“It’s good fodder for my opponents,” he said. “I’m completely transparent and I’m completely open, and when we make a mistake we own up to it right off the bat and share all the information. We’re not trying to hide anything from the people of Douglas County, and I think they will appreciate that.”
The campaign finance investigation was triggered by a complaint from a group calling itself Campaign Integrity Watchdog, run by Matt Arnold, who filed the complaint Jan. 22. Arnold told CBS4 he found the campaign violations in Spurlock’s Nov. 1, 2013 contribution and expenditure report. Arnold told CBS4 he had reviewed similar documentation from the other two candidates for Douglas County sheriff, Lora Thomas and John Anderson, but had not found problems with their disclosure forms.
“I believe justice was served, upholding the integrity of Colorado’s campaign finance rules,” Arnold said.
The three Republican candidates are running to replace Sheriff Dave Weaver, who is term limited. The Republican primary will be held in June and the winner of that contest will likely be Douglas County’s next sheriff.