Steamboat Springs resident files campaign finance complaint against Republican House District 26 candidate
Steamboat Springs — A Steamboat Springs Democrat is crying foul over a Republican Colorado House candidate’s use of his own newspaper to support his political campaign.
In a complaint he recently sent to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, Paul Reynolds alleges that candidate Michael Cacioppo should have disclosed in his campaign finance reports the value of some pro-Cacioppo content that has recently run in the newspaper Cacioppo owns.
Reynolds thinks Cacioppo, who is running to represent Routt and Eagle counties, violated the state’s Fair Campaign Practices Act by failing to report the political content as campaign expenses and contributions.
The content under scrutiny included three pieces attacking Cacioppo’s opponent, Diane Mitsch Bush, and a letter to the editor supporting Cacioppo’s campaign.
Reynolds estimates the value of the content under Cacioppo’s advertising rates amounts to more than $1,000 in campaign expenditures and should have been disclosed.
“He’s not following the rules,” Reynolds said Wednesday.
Reynolds cited state rules that show only the editorials, letters or commentary that run in newspapers that are not owned or controlled by a political candidate or party are exempt from disclosure.
Cacioppo said he doesn’t believe he violated any laws under his First Amendment rights.
He added he felt the complaint sounded like it was “much ado about nothing.”
“Silly season has begun, as I predicted it would, closer to the election,” Cacioppo said.
The candidate pointed out that Mitsch Bush in 2014 was fined by the Secretary of State’s Office for initially failing to report some major campaign contributions.
Records show Mitsch Bush’s fine was reduced from $1,150 to $50 after Mitsch Bush apologized for the mistake and explained how she made it.
Mitsch Bush said Wednesday she made the mistake two years ago because she thought she had more time to report a contribution she made to her own campaign.
A hearing on the complaint filed against Cacioppo will be held Oct. 18 in Denver.
Mitsch Bush held a large fundraising advantage over Cacioppo heading into the homestretch of the election season.
As of Sept. 28, the incumbent Democrat had $46,246 in cash on hand, compared to Cacioppo’s $2,514.
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It is going to be a hot week in Steamboat Springs.