DENVER– In the Senate District 26 race, Republican candidate Dave Kerber has more cash in his campaign coffers than incumbent Democrat Sen. Linda Newell, but Newell has raised and spent more money including campaign reimbursements – nearly $27,000 – to herself and her family.
Both candidates have been reimbursed by their campaigns for expenditures, but Newell of Littleton has claimed expenses of nearly $19,500 since July 2008, including $12,585 in this election cycle, and another $6,702.91 that was paid to her daughters.
Many of Newell’s reimbursements violated state campaign regulations that require expenses of $20 or more are to be separately disclosed and notate the date, cost, detail of what was purchased, purpose of the expenditure and to whom it was paid, an individual or vendor.
In contrast, Kerber was reimbursed $882.24 for expenditures, and one reported $614.57 bundled expense for meals, parade supplies and office supplies on July 26.
“We’re amending that to categorize the expenditures by the receipts,” said Kerber.
A former Arapahoe County GOP chairman and Greenwood Village Council member, Kerber said the campaign finance laws are complex and he wouldn’t criticize anyone – including his opponent – for not fully understanding the requirements.
Emails and calls to Newell, her campaign committee Treasurer Jack Lintz and Registered Agent Arnold Schultz were not returned.
A sampling of more than 36 questionable expenditures paid to Newell and her family include:
June 8, 2012, Newell was reimbursed $931.82 for “miscellaneous” expenditures made March through May without any notation of what the exact nature of the expenses were and identify the vendor or recipient.
January 11, March 17 andMarch 19, 2011, the campaign reimbursed $1,753.45 to Newell for “miscellaneous” type expenditures – two explanations stated, “expense report,” and one was blank.
August 16, 2010, described as “travel and lodging,” Newell received $1, 767.45 for a phone bill and expense to attend a seminar at Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, which has been added to her resume under education on LinkedIn.
January 10, 2010, Newell claimed $1,277.25 for “telephone” expenses but it actually was for phone bills, valet parking at a restaurant, unstated mileage and staff lunches.
December 5, 2009, the campaign paid $728.72 to Newell for “gift cards” and the type of expenditure was “unknown.” As the Open Government Institute of Colorado (OGIC) noted this week, Newell’s campaign made payments to Office Depot and Costco to purchase $500 gift cards without documentation of how they were used or who received them.
September 15, 2009, Newell’s $568.43 reimbursement is typical of many on the reports; the expenditure category is “unknown” and purpose was parking, lunches, cell phone, etc.
Of the $6,702.91 paid to the Senator’s college-age daughters, Katherine “Kate” Newell was paid $5,508.30 in 2009 and 2010. Her sister Brittany received gas reimbursements in 2008.
According to Kate Newell’s LinkedIn resume, she has been a student at Regis College since August 2009, and worked as “PR Campaign Manager” for Senator Newell from June 2008 through October 2009. The campaign paid her $74 for parking expenses in March, $400 in August 2009 for staffing Western Welcome Week in Littleton, and $3,704 in December 2009.
Kate Newell’s resume stated that she served as “Legislative Chief of Staff” for her mother during the legislative session, January to June 2009, and was presumably paid by the state of Colorado as other legislative aides.
However, Senator Newell’s campaign reported five payments to Kate Newell in 2010 for “Capitol services” and Capitol District aide” that included $170 in March, $200 in June, $400 in July, $400 in August and $250 in September. The legislative session ended in May.
Newell’s campaign is currently fighting a $600 penalty assessed July 6 by the Secretary of State’s Office for failing to file a Notice of Major Contributor report on June 23. Schultz, registered agent for Newell’s campaign, told the Secretary of State’s office that he’d corrected the report on July 5.
Unclear is whether that $50-a-day penalty is related to the committee’s delayed filing of a Notice of Major Contributor report on June 14. The penalty was waived after Schultz explained, “I just became treasurer of Citizens for Linda Newell yesterday” and made an error in reporting the contribution online.
Since July 2008, Schultz has been the campaign committee’s registered and signed all of the finance reports. Typically a registered agent serves as treasurer, but Newell’s campaign has had at least two past campaign treasurers who compile the reports.
In April 2010, the campaign paid a $250 penalty for filing a late report.
It’s easier for the Secretary of State’s office to catch delinquent filings because that information is programmed into the computer system. Other mistakes can go undetected, and as the OGIC report noted, most of Newell’s campaign committee’s reporting missteps have passed the 180-day deadline to file a complaint.