Third Strike for Lawbreaking Lawmaker K.C. Becker Nets Wrist-Slap
The Campaign Integrity Watchdog (CIW) hitting streak of prosecutorial victories stayed hot with yet another courtroom victory, this time against third-time violator Rep. KC Becker (D-HD13). The Boulder Democrat, House Majority Leader, was found to have violated Colorado campaign finance laws on three counts (as alleged by CIW), ordered to return an illegally unreported campaign contribution and fined $100 for each of two remaining disclosure violations.
Rep. Becker, represented by Democrat Party attorney Ed Ramey, did not contest the violations but pleaded for mercy in the imposition of penalties – which the presiding administrative law judge (ALJ) Hollyce H. Farrell exercised discretion in granting despite it being Becker’s third violation within as many months, and the Secretary of State rules noting that for such repeat offenders “reduction in penalty will not be granted” in the normal course of administering penalties.
Although the ruling noted that according to statute Becker was subject to thousands of dollars in penalties, the ALJ exercised discretion granted by law to impose only minimal penalties ($100 per violation) as well as an Order to return the illegal contribution, each within 30 days.
Campaign Integrity Watchdog Director Matt Arnold stated, “the results of this case highlight the often arbitrary nature of penalties imposed for violations of our state’s campaign finance disclosure laws. Although a certain amount of judicial discretion is warranted, the expressly stated purpose of our state’s campaign finance laws – “full and timely disclosure, and strong enforcement” – are undermined when violators can essentially shrug off the cost of being caught breaking the law as a minor cost of doing business. Such minimal penalties discourage compliance – particularly in the case of demonstrably repeat offenders such as Rep. Becker.”
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.