DENVER– Hoping to avoid stiff fines for campaign finance violations, state Senator Evie Hudak said she corrected errors in reports filed in January and returned $1,250 to contributors. The Arvada Democrat blamed mistakes on a former campaign treasurer who was replaced in May – yet more errors were found this week on Hudak’s finance reports.
In addition to failing to identify eight occupations of donors giving $100 or more in January, the recent report omitted that information for another three contributors and under reported at least 18 individual contributions that by law are capped at $400.
“I’m pretty sure everything is fixed. We’re following all the rules now,” said Hudak of the errors on reports filed in January.
However, Hudak was unaware of at least 18 other errors on finance disclosure reports that include:
Clara Jane Banzin of Westminsterhas made eight contributions totaling $349 during the election cycle that began in December 2008. Yet, the campaign filing reported an aggregate amount of $25.
Adam Eichberg, a Headwaters Strategies political consultant, contributed a total of $400 to Hudak’s campaign, but was reported as $300.
William Coyne, also of Headwaters Strategies, gave $400 but the aggregate was reported as $50.
Lobbyist Steven Balcerovich’s occupation was listed as “Business Consultant” and his contributions totaling $400 were reported as $300.
The complaint filed with the Secretary of State’s office last week by Andrew Struttmann cited other violations including failure to identify the occupations of eight individuals who had contributed at least $100 to Hudak’s campaign. The finance law violations could result in a $50-per-day penalty and climb as high as $18,000.
Listed as “unknown” occupations were campaign contributors:
Steven Adams, lobbyist and former president of Colorado AFL-CIO union;
Jason Bane, founder of the liberal ColoradoPols website;
Lynea Hansen, past president of the Blueflower fund that contributed $1,000 to Hudak’s campaign;
Karen Kellen, a member of Lakewood City Council and past president of the American Federal of Government Employees Local 3607, a public employee union;
Scott Wilensky, general counsel for Xcel Energy;
Annalee Schorr, a Denver artist;
Kelly Johnson of Golden; and
Neil Halprin of Loveland.
A blog post by Colorado Peak Politics raised questions about whether Hudak had attempted to hide the contributors’ identities or “did she simply think … her constituency wasn’t worth the 15 seconds it would take to Google these folks?”
Hudak told The Colorado Observer that the former campaign treasurer Deb Fischer didn’t know the individuals and she had hastily filed the reports to meet the deadlines and avoid late fees.
“We entered that information, returned the money and changed our (accounting) system so it doesn’t happen again,” said Hudak, adding that Fischer was replaced by Les Canzes in the spring.
In May, Canzes asked the Secretary of State’s office waive a $50 fine for filing late. He said Fischer “was some six minutes late in filing… and it was her first offense in the five years that she was Evie Hudak’s agent.” His appeal was rejected.
“The buck stops with Evie Hudak,” said Compass Colorado President Tyler Q. Houlton. “Blaming staffers for substantial campaign finance violations is either an excuse for Senator Hudak’s negligence or brazen attempts to skirt the law.”
The complaint filed July 13 against Hudak will be scheduled for an administrative court hearing.
Hudak reported more than $67,000 cash on hand last month.
Hudak is facing GOP challenger and former Top Gun instructor Lang Sias in what promises to be one of the most pivotal down-ticket races of the the cycle.