The Campaign Integrity Watchdog (CIW) hitting streak of prosecutorial victories stayed hot with yet another victory against self-described “superlawyer” Mario Nicolais and three-time loser Dan Thurlow (HD-55) with a ruling released Tuesday, 16 May entering judgment against the Dan Thurlow/55 candidate committee for eight violations of state campaign finance law. Thurlow was penalized $500 and ordered to return an illegally received $200 contribution from a lobbyist organization.
Nicolais, who has lost every case in which he represented parties prosecuted by CIW, argued that a website URL sufficed to meet the “payee address” disclosure requirement or that alternatively it was “impossible” for the Thurlow committee to determine a mailing address for online purchases (despite the fact that literally dozens of other committees had achieved this “impossible” task over the past decade or more of elections). Nicolais also frivolously argued that no such disclosure requirement even exists, despite clear and unambiguous regulatory language spelling out the requirement. Needless to say, the Administrative Law Judge wasn’t buying what Nicolais/Thurlow were selling.
The Court did exercise leniency in imposing penalties; the Thurlow campaign committee was only fined $100 for each report containing (multiple) violations, rather than the statutorily applicable amount of $50 per day per individual violation, and imposed a penalty equal to the amount of the illegal contribution received ($200) along with ordering the contribution’s return (again, rather than the full $50/day amount which could have applied per law). Thurlow has 30 days from the date of the ruling (16 May 2017) to pay the penalty and return the illegal contribution.
Campaign Integrity Watchdog Director Matt Arnold stated, “Justice in this case, although delayed – the case was originally scheduled to be heard in December, then March, before being conducted in April – has been (mostly) served. State Representative Thurlow has been held accountable to the law, despite his protestations of ignorance and sneering characterization of his violations as “inconsequential.” We should expect our elected officials to know, understand, and obey the laws they foist upon the rest of Colorado, in accordance with their oath of office (and sworn candidate affirmation). The law must apply equally to all… accountability is key to a representative government.”
Campaign Integrity Watchdog is a non-partisan organization who has taken both legislators, candidates, and other political committees to task on both sides of the aisle. Earlier this year, CIW won a pair of blockbuster judgments (setting, then surpassing, new records for penalty amounts imposed by courts in campaign finance cases) against sham “social welfare” 501(c)4 organizations formed by two-time failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez (penalty amount: $17,735) and by ousted former Colorado Republican Party Chair Ryan Call (penalty amount: $23,147,86), respectively.