WEB EXCLUSIVE: Candidates could face penalty for late filing
Two candidates for Rifle City Council will have to prove that they did not violate Colorado campaign finance law when they filed their expenditure reports late.
City Clerk Lisa Hamilton sent a letter to Joe Elliott and Brent Buss notifying them of the potential violation last week. Buss filed on Aug. 24, while Elliott filed on Aug. 26. An initial spending report was due Aug. 18.
Under Colorado law, both are required to submit written statements explaining why the report was filed late. Both have until Sept. 17 to submit the letter.
Elliott said he has already submitted his letter, explaining that he had been out of town for medical reasons, which he declined to expand on. In addition to the letter, Elliott submitted his final spending report due before the Sept. 8 election. He reported no additional expenditures for the period between Aug. 19 and Sept. 4.
Buss, who reported $329 in his initial spending report, said he would comply with the rules and submit his letter before the deadline. He would not comment on why he submitted the report late, but said he will file his report Friday, Sept. 4, and should not have any additional expenditures to report.
State law requires the election officer — the city clerk in this instance — to determine a possible penalty based on scenarios outlined in a chart.
A complete waiver can be granted if the candidate can establish a firm reason for the late filing, such as a car crash or medical emergency. If a candidate fails to do so the penalty will be based on whether or not they reported any donations and/or expenses, and any past violations in the past 24 months.
Since both Elliott and Buss reported expenditures and this would be a first delinquent filing in the past 24 months for both, the penalty would be $50 if they fail to establish solid reasoning for the late file.
Four of the seven candidates running for council reported zero expenditures or donations for the initial reporting period. In addition to the report due Friday, candidates will have to submit a final report to the city clerk by Oct. 8.
Along with selecting five candidates to council, voters are being asked to answer a ballot question that would allow the city to borrow up to $5 million for road repairs and the street maintenance program. Ballots must be returned to Hamilton at City Hall by 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8.
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