Shadowy GOP group guilty of breaking campaign laws (again)

(Look under any rock and Scott Shires smiles back – promoted by Colorado Pols)



In November 2008, Democrats came within a few hundred votes of two county commission races in Garfield County.  Oil and gas funding, along with that of other Republican interests, made for one of the nastiest local elections in recent memory.  Tens of thousands of dollars poured into the county, mostly backed by shadowy GOP smear groups.  

Now what was long suspected is known, several papers are reporting today. For instance, the Post-Independent

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado – A group that slimed a Democratic Garfield County Commission candidate admitted last week to violating campaign finance laws.

The nonprofit Colorado League of Taxpayers sent a mailing to Garfield County residents in September telling people not to vote for Democrat Steve Carter. The mailing included an image of a howling wolf and said, “Steve Carter … His massive tax-and-spend agenda is making taxpayers howl!”

Carter and Democrat Stephen Bershenyi have called that attack and others including attacks in a fake newspaper false and libelous.

Scott Shires, the infamous and ethically-challenged GOP operative wallowing in the darkest gray–and downright illegal–sleaze of libel and attack (as well as regular involvement in other shady dealings) is the ‘registered agent’ behind the questionable activity.

The Colorado Independent provided a brief recap of Shires recent past in March:

Shires, who has served as the registered agent for dozens of Republican political committees and 527s for more than a decade, has quite the colorful professional history.

He is currently under probation for failing to file federal taxes for the National Alternative Fuel Foundation (NAFF), which was accused of running an elaborate Ponzi scheme that defrauded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and 56 private investors of more than $4 million. Shires was sentenced in June 2008 and nicked for $3,450 in fines.

…In July 2008, after Shires’ tax-fraud sentence was handed down, Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint that the Senate Majority Fund, a Republican 527 political committee linked to Shires, violated state and federal law by failing to disclose media buys that supported Senate District 19 candidate Libby Szabo.

Shires was also hauled into court again to answer a state administrative law judge in August 2008 on a private citizen’s complaint that the Colorado Taxpayers League failed to register as a political organization and file an electioneering report for an opposition mailer it sent out in a 2008 Weld County commissioners GOP primary race.

As John Andrews and Josh Penry, Bob Shaffer and Bob Beauprez prattle on about open government and ethical standards, speaking with the arrogance of moral certitude, let’s not forget who some of the players are behind the underhanded tactics of apparent criminals like Scott Shires: The ‘elite’ of the Colorado GOP.  Consider this September 2006 story from unbossed.com:

Some of the heaviest hitters in Colorado Republican politics – including Gov. Bill Owens, former gubernatorial candidate Bruce Benson and former U.S. Senate candidate Pete Coors – created Trailhead Group as a means to help Republican candidates get elected to office in Colorado. High-profile donors give millions of dollars to Trailhead, making it one of the richest so-called “527 committees” in the entire country.

Shire’s fingerprints were all over the messy financial dealings of Trailhead, as the unbossed.com article notes.

On April 12, 2006, Trailhead reports making a $20,000 donation to the Senate Majority Fund, another separate 527 organization. One day later, Trailhead reports receiving a whopping $55,000 from the Senate Majority Fund (SMF). A review of financial reports made by SMF, however, show only a $30,000 donation made to Trailhead. Not only does SMF fail to report receiving a dime from Trailhead (which also claims to have given SMF a $5,000 contribution on May 10), it never reports donating a sum of $55,000 back to Trailhead.

Scott Shires, the custodian of record for the Senate Majority Fund, LLC, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

A couple of weeks later, unbossed.com was back with this follow-up:

On Monday, Colorado Confidential broke the news that Republican political operative, Scott Shires, was charged with multiple counts of federal corporate tax crimes.

These revelations add to an interesting pattern of unreported financial transactions and noncompliance with filing legal documents among some of the political committees that Shires manages in Colorado.

Colorado Confidential first reported that Shires’ Senate Majority Fund failed to account for $100,000 in transactions with GOP fundraising powerhouse Trailhead Group, LLC, earlier this year.

Colorado’s GOP should denounce the slimy tactics of their hit men like Scott Shires.  Garfield County commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson, who both benefited from this illegal activity, should make a statement that such behavior will not be tolerated in our elections.

2 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. WestSloper says:

    In Rove-style politics it’s not how you play by the rules, it’s how you break the rules to win.

    Many elections across the state were affected by these Republican supported 527′s and non-complying organizations. Hopefully, the judge will back the $50/day fine on the GarCo case, otherwise the abuse will not only continue, it will expand.

    Oil and gas monies fueled a lot of these Republican-led efforts that were successful in defeating Democratic commissioner and state representative candidates (like Bernie Buescher.) Oil and gas lawyer/lobbyist Scott McInnis supposidly played a big part in the fundraising for these entities here on the Western Slope. (Guess he’s going to call in those chips for his run for gov.) If these O&G donors had to be reported for these “non-profit” campaign organizations, there might have been less abuse.

    If the Republican 527′s get a free pass on breaking campaign rules, then it’s time to either strengthen campaign rules and penalties or drop all campaign rules to make an even playing field.  

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