Colorado District Attorney fined $1,000 for breaking state disclosure law

As the chief prosecutor and enforcer of the law in Colorado’s twenty-two judicial districts, the District Attorney should be held to the highest standard in complying with the laws of our state. However, the District Attorney for Colorado’s 13th Judicial District, Brittny Lewton, was recently found guilty of violating state campaign finance disclosure laws and fined $1,000 for failing to follow the rules.

The presiding Administrative Law Judge chastened the District Attorney in his ruling:

“Specifically, given that the yard signs clearly amounted to express advocacy, the duty to report the expenditure to buy them should have been obvious. This fact, combined with Ms. Lewton’s history of untimely campaign finance reporting, suggests a certain amount of indifference on her part toward the Committee’s reporting obligations. A sanction of $1,000 is therefore warranted.”

The failure to disclose the campaign’s financial activity, violating the public interest in campaign transparency, is bad enough.  However, Lewton’s campaign committee also requested (and received) multiple waivers of penalties from the Secretary of State, which are normally imposed automatically for delinquent filings, on the basis of claiming a lack of campaign financial activity
– the very campaign activity not reported in the first place.

Obtaining waivers of penalty on such apparently false pretenses would seem to be…
less than candid, even unethical.

Worse, D.A. Lewton apparently represented to local media that she had not been fined for her violations – a knowingly false statement that falls far short of the candor the public should expect, and as required by the ethical rules governing attorneys in the state of Colorado.

CIW’s officer, Matt Arnold, stated that “candidates for office who deliberately evade the legal disclosure requirements for campaign activity – particularly those seeking office to make or, even worse, to enforce the law – betray the public trust.  Elected officials – and those seeking to obtain or retain elected office – cannot be above the laws they impose on the rest of us.  Such “official” violators must be held accountable to the law, so that “some animals – are not more equal than others.”

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