As the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, El Paso County clerk and Secretary of State candidate Wayne Williams is returning a contribution made improperly to his campaign, from a Republican group that isn't properly set up to donate to candidates:
Colorado Secretary of State candidate Wayne Williams says he will return a $550 campaign contribution from a federal group because it wasn't an appropriate donation under the state's campaign finance rules…
The issue is how the RSLC is registered in Colorado.
Currently, the group's Colorado arm – the Republican State Leadership Committee-Colorado Account – is a 527 political organization, which can receive unlimited contributions from its federal namesake but cannot contribute directly to a candidate…
"We let people know what the rules are ahead of time and we thought everything was fine when we accepted it," [Pols emphasis] Williams said of the donation. "When we followed up with them, it didn't meet all the technical requirements so we're sending it back to them."
But as Williams' Democratic opponent Joe Neguse fires back in a press release today, the only reason Williams "followed up" with this donor from June is because he was contacted by the media about the donation. Since it's likely that either Neguse's campaign or somebody allied with them gave the information about this improper donation to the press, they'd be the ones to know:
Joe Neguse's campaign manager Elisabeth Mabus released the following statement, "We need a Secretary of State that understands campaign finance laws. Wayne Williams' campaign was perfectly happy to keep this donation until the media pointed out the issues with it, and only then did he agree to return an improper campaign donation from this shady out of state Republican organization." [Pols emphasis]
Fortunately for Williams, the friendly local newspaper allowed the story to be about Williams' returning the contribution, not the fact that he took an improper donation to begin with. That's kind of strange, since normally newspapers bust politicians in these circumstances instead of helping them put the story to bed. And given that we're talking about a candidate for the state's chief elections officer, don't these details matter more?
They should matter–and Williams shouldn't get a pass for this.