The Denver Post
Lynn Bartles
September 10, 2014
Congressman Cory Gardner and Sen. Mark Udall face separate complaints filed against them this week as Colorado’s U.S. Senate race heats up.

Both sides said the complaints — filed by members of the opposite party — were political.

Udall, a Democrat running for a second term, is accused of violating campaign finance laws in connection with a fundraiser for a state House candidate. The complaint was filed with the secretary of state by Kelly Maher, director of the conservative group Compass Colorado.

Gardener, a Republican trying to unseat Udall, is accused of using taxpayer-funded resources, such as linking to official press releases, in political campaign materials. The complaint was filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Committee on Ethics by the Colorado Democratic Party.

The Gardner complaint:

“Today’s complaint filed by Democratic party operatives is nothing more than a political publicity stunt designed to distract voters from Sen. Udall’s flawed record,” said Gardner’s campaign spokesman, Alex Siciliano.

Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party, said the complaint is legitimate.

“Ethics rules play a critical role in ensuring taxpayer dollars aren’t inappropriately used to aid the self-serving political aims of members of both parties,” Palacio said. “Congressman Cory Gardner owes Coloradans an explanation for blatantly ignoring House ethics rules to aid his campaign. He showed us long ago that he’d do anything to get elected, but I never expected him to go this far.”

I never expected him to go this far?

“Everyone makes mistakes, but 16 times is no mistake,” Palacio said, when asked about that seemingly over the top sentence.

Udall’s senatorial campaign committed a similar boo boo in his first Senate run. His campaign linked to a video of Udall’s speech on the floor of the U.S. House concerning troop surges in Iraq. The video was yanked after I inquired about it.

“We weren’t aware that it violated the rules,” Mike Melanson, Udall’s campaign manager in the 2008 election, said at the time. “It was an inadvertent mistake.”

The Udall complaint:

A complaint also was filed against Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, saying she violated the constitution by taking in-kind corporation donations at her fundraiser. The Denver Post then pointed out to Maher that the Post’s invitation read that the fundraiser benefited Duran’s campaign and PAC, which is allowed to take corporate contributions. Maher said other invitations from Duran did not include that disclaimer.

At the same party, Udall took to the stage and urged the crowed to donate to Duran.

“She’s a 30-something and you multiply by three. That means that every one of you should have written at least a hundred-dollar check, is that right? ‘Cuz we need to send her back to the state House and we need to keep the state House in the majority,” Udall said, according to footage obtained by a tracker.

Maher said Federal Election Commission rules allow for federal candidates and officials to attend non-federal events, but prohibit the solicitation of non-federal dollars.

“It’s ironic that the same Sen. Udall who is trying to pass new laws about campaign finance can’t seem to follow the law currently on the books,” Maher said.

Udall spokesman Chris Harris said the complaint is unfounded. “They’re misinterpreting the FEC rules,” he said. “The FEC explicitly allows Mark to do what he did.”