Following an investigation into campaign contributions for two mayoral candidates, the Colorado Springs city clerk has said that the two candidates need return their corporate donations and have the money donated a different way.
Monday, the "Committee to Elect Brian Bahr" filed a formal complaint with the Colorado Springs City Clerk and City Attorney's office, accusing two competitors in the strong-mayor race of accepting illegal, corporate contributions.
City officials confirmed that the complaint was filed. Bahr's campaign committee claims that the campaigns for candidates Richard Skorman and Steven Bach have accepted corporate donations, which the campaign claims is illegal under state finance laws.
City officials tell 11 News that it is state law that it is illegal for the mayoral campaigns to accept corporate contributions. Only personal or individual contributions can be accepted.
Colorado Springs is a home-rule municipality, but it’s not clear if the city will follow the state's campaign finance laws, or allow the candidates to operate outside of those rules based on Colorado Springs ordinances.
Meanwhile, Bahr’s campaign officials say this complaint is not a step toward negative campaign tactics. "This isn't about the other campaigns. This is about asking the city clerk who oversees municipal elections, to engage, to do her job, to enforce the law, and to ensure a fair playing field for every candidate in the race," said Fisk.
KKTV 11 News spoke with the campaign manager for Richard Skorman’s mayoral run, Kyle Blakely. Blakely says he is unaware of any corporate contributions or violations of finance laws made by his committee, but says if the City Clerk decides that they have accepted money illegally, the campaign will gladly return the contribution. Blakeley says Skorman's campaign would never knowingly accept an illegal contribution or violate the law.
The campaign for the other mayoral contender included in this complaint, Steve Bach, openly says that they have accepted money from businesses and corporations. But they also say, that according to the Home Rule reading of the state constitution, and the documents they were given before entering the race by the city clerk’s office, that they have done nothing wrong.
Laura Carno, Chief of Staff of the Steve Bach Mayor Committee, says they have followed all of the rules laid out by the city regarding campaign finance laws, however, Carno says if the city clerk, Kathryn Young, finds that they have violated some sort of statute, then they would be willing to refund that money to those corporations.
Young says that receiving corporate donations is illegal, but written in a confusing way.
Along with Bahr, Bach and Skorman, there are six other candidates listed for Mayor on the city's election web site. They are: Kenneth Duncan, Dave Munger, Phil McDonald, Tom Gallagher, Mitch Christiansen and Buddy Gilmore.
Below this story are links to the candidates' websites, where one was available.