Campaign watchdog says McInnis put self in ‘ethical quagmire’
The director of a Colorado campaign watchdog group on Thursday said 3rd District Rep. Scott McInnis, D-Colo., put himself in an “ethical quagmire” by hiring his wife to manage a nonexistent campaign. Pete Maysmith, director of Common Cause Colorado – a nonprofit organization that Maysmith says works on “good government” issues – questioned McInnis’ use of campaign funds to pay his wife, Lori, to be his campaign manager in 2004 when McInnis had previously announced he wouldn’t be running for office. “I think hiring a close family member in general is stepping into a murky ethical area,” Maysmith said. “Then when you hire a family member to run a campaign when there’s not a campaign, I think it goes past murky into an ethical quagmire.”The situation was first brought to light Wednesday in a Washington Post article.Mike Hesse, McInnis’ chief of staff, defended the congressman’s campaign spending on Wednesday by saying much of the $150,000 in campaign spending was donated to other Republican campaigns and that Lori McInnis had plenty of work to keep her busy during 2004. Maysmith said Hesse was mixing issues in his defense of McInnis’ spending. He said McInnis is allowed to give campaign money to other candidates, but that has noting to do with hiring his wife to run a nonexistent campaign. “To me it seems like they’re conflating two issues,” he said. “That’s not the same thing as hiring your wife on to be a campaign manager where your name is not on the ballot.”Maysmith said he’s seen other situations where campaign money was spent under questionable circumstances, but he’s never seen a situation quite like this.”I think it’s a fundamental disconnect,” he said.
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There are a few extra stories being shared around the tables at the Village Smithy restaurant in Carbondale this week following the death of restaurant founder and longtime community leader Chris Chacos.