LONGMONT — Critics and an opponent of Mayor Julia Pirnack say they are planning to file formal complaints with Colorado’s secretary of state over what they say are repeated violations of the city’s campaign -finance disclosure laws.
Two separate complaints are being prepared: one by mayoral hopeful Glenn Spagnuolo and his support-
ers, and one by Chris Colelli, who once ran afoul of the city’s disclosure law himself and now keeps a close eye on other candidates.
Both complaints suggest that the repeatedly amended finance disclosures by the mayor violate the city’s law requiring complete, accurate reports. The city clerk has declined to pursue the matters, saying she believes the mayor’s campaign has complied with the law.
“We pointed out the clear violations to the city clerk,” Spagnuolo said Thursday. “If they don’t summons her by Friday, we’re going to report this to the secretary of state. We’re not dropping the issue.”
Both Spagnuolo and Colelli say Pirnack’s campaign violated the law by:
Filing her first required disclosure on time but omitting approximately $5,000 in spending on newspaper advertisements. The report was amended after Colelli pointed out the omission, and Pirnack apologized.
Filing portions of the second required disclosure late. Pirnack’s campaign filed the main report before the noon deadline and submitted two additional pages at 1:17 p.m. The campaign then corrected and resubmitted those two pages and added another two pages at 1:59 p.m. Then, on Thursday, Pirnack’s campaign amended the second report after a contributor said the amount of her pledge was misreported by $3,000.
City clerk Valeria Skitt said neither of the omissions warranted fines under the city’s Fair Campaign Practices Act.
Skitt said that in the first instance, Pirnack’s campaign quickly amended the report to reflect the correct spending total. In the second case, Pirnack’s accountant, Debra Edwards, correctly reported the total contributions but simply forgot to send in several supporting pages, Skitt said.
“I don’t believe there’s been a violation in anything she has filed,” Skitt said. “She corrected what we asked her to correct.”
Pirnack could not be reached Thursday afternoon.
Colelli said that if the first omission — filing a complete but inaccurate report — isn’t a violation, then the second should be because the report was incomplete even if it was correct. But he maintains both are violations.
“By my estimation, the Pirnack campaign is delinquent on five counts, and the city clerk still cannot find any reason to forward this to the city attorney for prosecution,” Colelli said. “I think the law is very clear.”
The law says: “It is also unlawful under this Act for any person to fail to disclose any contribution or expenditure on any report filed under this Act. The court shall impose a fine of at least three hundred dollars for each violation.”
But the law also gives candidates five days to correct any errors, as judged by Skitt. And she says Pirnack’s campaign is following the rules.
Colelli was fined by the city after he failed to file a report disclosing funds remaining in his campaign account after he lost his City Council race.
Last year, a political committee formed to oppose a police officer and firefighter unionization charter amendment was fined $300 by Skitt because it filed a campaign-finance disclosure an hour late.
Spagnuolo said he plans to file his complaint with Secretary of State Gigi Dennis, the state’s top elections monitor, as early as today.
Colelli said his complaint will be ready by Monday or Tuesday, which is Election Day.
Spagnuolo and fellow mayoral challengers Tom McCoy and Les Pierce have reported accepting no contributions in their campaigns and little spending.
Pirnack’s campaign corrects error
Mayor Julia Pirnack’s campaign on Thursday filed an amended campaign-finance disclosure to reflect an error in Wednesday’s required filing. The report was amended to reflect that Susan Pratt has pledged $1,000, not $4,000, to Pirnack’s campaign. Pirnack’s campaign accountant, Debra Edwards, said she misheard the amount of the pledge. The amended report shows Pirnack has $5,750 in contributions and pledges, down from $8,750
Trevor Hughes can be reached at 303-684-5220, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.