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McInnis staff defend spending

Greg Massé

Staff members for 3rd District Congressman Scott McInnis defended their boss Wednesday after a Washington Post article raised ethical questions about McInnis’ campaign spending in 2004. The article, which appeared in the Washington Post on Wednesday, asked why McInnis spent nearly $150,000 on a campaign that – because McInnis wasn’t seeking re-election – didn’t exist. The article also points out that more than $40,000 in salary, plus additional perks, were given to McInnis’ wife, Lori, for her role as campaign manager in what Post writer T.R. Reid calls “the campaign without a candidate.” McInnis’ chief of staff, Mike Hesse, on Wednesday said the spending was all legitimate and Lori McInnis’ duties could go on for up to six months after the end of the campaign.Hesse also pointed out that much of the money documented in McInnis’ post-election finance report was donated to other Republican campaigns. “He was helping the Republican team,” Hesse said. “Most of it went to the candidates.”The Washington Post article said that aside from Lori McInnis getting a $40,000 salary and $1,150 in monthly benefits, money for her car and cell phone were also taken from the campaign fund. Hesse said her duties over the past year have included archiving records from McInnis’ past campaigns for a planned library at Fort Lewis College in Durango and shutting down the campaign. “Lori is a very hard worker and she’s done this for eight years and has only been paid for four of them,” Hesse said. Fred Wertheimer, who works for the campaign watchdog group Democracy 21, criticized McInnis in the Washington Post article. “At best, this is an effort to skim the system,” he said. “At worst, it raises potentially serious legal questions.”Hesse on Wednesday said McInnis always went above requirements when detailing how the campaign money was spent.McInnis: see page 3McInnis: from page 1That detailed spending disclosure, while meant to promote openness, wound up being used in the Washington Post article as ammunition, Hesse said. The article points out expenditures of $3.23 at the deli counter of the Grand Junction Safeway and other expenditures ranging from $6 to $30 at a Washington Starbucks. Hesse said those types of expenditures are legitimate because, in the case of the Safeway deli counter, it could have been a situation when a staff member was traveling and needed something to eat. He said McInnis often held campaign-related discussions at Starbucks because it’s illegal for such talks to take place on federal property. “We disclosed every dime we spent, which we were not required to disclose,” Hesse said. The Post Independent requested a copy of McInnis’ campaign expenditure report, but both Hesse and McInnis spokesman Blair Jones said they didn’t have a copy of it.McInnis leaves office in January and will be succeeded by Democrat John Salazar.Contact Greg Massé: 945-8515, ext. 511gmasse@postindependent.com


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