Republican Maes deflects ‘deceptions’

Maes, money & Primary mania

By Leslie Jorgensen
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes has often promoted himself as a successful businessman who is capable of turning around dying companies — now, his acumen is being questioned by supporters. Their concerns stem from Maes agreeing to pay a $17,500 penalty for campaign finance reporting violations, tax returns that reveal more years of struggle than success and switching positions on illegal immigration and gun rights.

Nearly two dozen supporters hand delivered a letter to the Maes campaign office on Saturday, July 17, that questioned why the candidate had reimbursed himself more than $40,000 for mileage in the past 12 months — at least 25 percent of the campaign funds. The mileage reimbursement was one of several violations cited in a complaint against Maes and his campaign committee filed by attorney Erik Groves on behalf of Christopher Klitzke of Grand Junction that was settled earlier this month.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes with his wife, Karen.
Photo by Leslie Jorgensen/The Colorado Statesman

“We’re further concerned that rather than standing up against these claims, you agreed to pay a fine of $17,500, thereby preventing a judge or the public access to your committee’s financial records and gas log,” stated the letter that the writers had published on the Complete Colorado website.

“Where is YOUR transparency?” asked the authors of the letter who reminded Maes that he’d campaigned on the compelling message of an open and transparent government. They demanded that Maes make public, at the very least, his 2009 tax return filing.

The letter was signed by Hugh J. Campbell, Claudette Campbell, Robert R. Hering, Sharon Layne Kidd, Mary F. Mernah, Richard O’Brien, Jackie O’Brien, Jonathan O’Leary, Mary O’Leary, Lynne Ann Pasion, Philip Pasion, Denis Perron, Margaret Perron, Barbara Piper, Cynthia E. Post, Loretta Ragsdale, Scott A. Rogers, Patty Ross, George Vajda, Sonja Vajda, Katherine Vitale and Richard Vitale.

According to Maes’ campaign finance reports, the individual campaign contributions range from $30 given by Ragsdale to $500 from Claudette Campbell, both of Parker.

During the Caplis & Silverman talk radio show on KHOW Monday, Maes shrugged it off as a stunt. The candidate said one woman had bugged his campaign so much that he plans to refund her contribution so she’ll quit calling headquarters.

Maes, who called the violations “clerical errors,” said that he paid a reduced fine to avoid a legal battle that would detract from campaigning in the final weeks before the Aug. 10 primary. The candidate viewed himself as a victim of a political conspiracy to sabotage his campaign against Republican opponent Scott McInnis, former 3rd District Congressman, who recently became snarled in plagiarism charges.

On July 2, Maes urged his supporters to “stand strong!!” against the campaign finance violations complaint that he called “deception.”

The message was embraced by passionate Maes supporters — and rejected by fence sitters, some of whom began questioning the candidate’s professional history, political positions and qualifications to be governor.

After Maes agreed to pay the campaign violation fine, reduced from potentially $27,000 to $17,500, he issued a press release on July 13 that proclaimed, “Maes Campaign Finance Matter Closed — No Misuse of Funds Occurred.”

“… Groves re-approached Maes’ attorney Steve Jones with a proposal to reduce the fine amount,” stated the campaign press release that called Maes, the “Republican Designee for Governor of Colorado.”

The release said that Maes had agreed to pay fines for improperly reporting an in-kind donation, stating occupations of nine contributors and failing to disclose expenditures in a timely manner.

“Allegations of improper payments to Dan Maes by the campaign account proved untrue,” declared the campaign statement.

Not so, said Groves. The reduced fine included $8,150 and $3,000 for violations listed under the third and fourth claims that addressed undocumented expenditures, including disbursements to the candidate that appeared to be monetary advances.

“I didn’t call them, they called me to negotiate a reduced fine,” said Groves of Maes’ attorneys Ross Pulkrabek and Daniel Wartell of the Jones & Keller law firm. Had Maes contested the complaint, Groves said he would have asked to depose the candidate and others and review the campaign financial records including the mileage log.

“(Maes) labels himself as ‘Republican designee for Governor.’

“Did he win the primary already and I just didn’t get notified?” asked Groves with a laugh.

Donna Jack of Evergreen said she initially was impressed by Maes, but now questions who is deceiving who and called for “truth.” Jack is not alone.

Concerns about the complaint and Maes’ switching positions on key issues, such as illegal immigration, appeared to be addressed in a July 2 e-mail that he sent to supporters.

“The manipulation of facts, bending the truth, and blatant lies will be used to win. Words will be twisted to make you question what you have heard previously. Honest mistakes will be turned into alleged crimes,” asserted Maes on July 2.

Jen Raiffie said that she jumped off the campaign bandwagon because Maes originally said he supported amnesty for illegal immigrants and opposed the e-verify system to identify illegal workers because it was too cumbersome for businesses. Maes later reversed his positions.

“He said that he was never for amnesty… and anyone who says he did is a liar,” said Raiffe, who works for Republican former 6th District Congressman Tom Tancredo, an ardent opponent of amnesty.

Raiffe, who also writes a blog, said that was “untrue” and has continued to discuss Maes’ movement on positions with other conservatives. Perhaps that caused Maes to send a terse e-mail to Raiffe in January.

“Jen, you better have your ducks in a row moving forward. You better speak the truth. You are getting in over your head and being used. There are legal consequences for your actions if they are not truthful. You will get hung out to dry by those who you are looking to for your paycheck.

“I know how smart you are. Don’t let them use you like this. I have copied my attorney on this communication. His name is Steve Jones. If I see one erroneous report about my background, work history, etc. there will be consequences,” signed Dan Maes, “The Peoples Candidate — Re-energizing Colorado’s Economy.”

The message didn’t deter Raiffe, who with others have dispatched e-mails with links to online news articles that quote Maes on the immigration issues. His original positions have been removed from the campaign website.

This week, Maes released portions of his income tax statements filed between 2000 and 2007, through The Constitutionalist Today newspaper based in Colorado Springs. The newspaper has endorsed Maes in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

According to the monthly newspaper, Maes earned about $89,000 a year between 2000 and 2004. His income hovered at roughly $20,000 in 2005 and 2006, and increased to nearly $52,000 in 2007, a time period that corresponds to the establishment of his business, Amaesing Credit Solutions, LLC. Since March 2007, the business has been deemed “delinquent” in filing annual reports with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

Maes earned $11,000 in 2008, the year that he organized Advantage Credit Bureau of Colorado, LLC, which was formed by transferring 49 percent of the assets from Amaesing Credit Solutions in order to sell the credit company in January. Maes told The Colorado Statesman that he kept 51 percent of the Amaesing Credit Solutions and that a separate company, Amaesing Educational Resources, was formed but never made money.

According to Jordan Maes, the candidate’s daughter and campaign aide, The Constitutionalist Today Publisher Lana Warkocz has handled “all of the media” for the Maes campaign, including radio ads. Warkocz has contributed $540 to the Maes campaign according to the most recent filing. There was no report of an in-kind donation.

“That looks like a conflict of interest,” said Jack. “The truth will prevail.”

Maes did not return multiple calls to The Colorado Statesman for a response.

Leslie@coloradostatesman.com