Serial Scofflaws Robert Gardner and Sarah Jack headed back to Court
Former Rep. Bob Gardner, current state senate candidate and campaign finance case loser, faces separate charges for defying court orders to pay penalties and for new violations of state law.
Just over a year ago, then-State Representative Bob Gardner lost a major campaign finance case brought by Campaign Integrity Watchdog against a sham “social welfare organization” formed by Gardner and his very close associate, longtime political operative Sarah Brittain Jack. (See “The Lawmaker is a Lawbreaker?” published 8 August 2014)
The self-styled “nonprofit” group, Alliance for a Safe and Independent Woodman Hills (ASIWH), was held to have violated campaign finance law by not registering as a political committee and for failing to disclose contributions and spending as required by law in their vicious, smear campaign, character-assassinating attacks on a Republican candidate for a special district election. Gardner/Jack’s committee was ordered to pay penalties of just under $10,000 – due within 30 days of the ruling. A year later, Gardner still hasn’t paid.
Following multiple inquiries to the Office of Secretary of State over several months asking why the Bob Gardner/Sarah Jack ASIWH political committee had not been referred to state collections (as per standard practice) or otherwise referred for enforcement of the penalty, Campaign Integrity Watchdog filed an enforcement action in District Court (4th District) to hold the organization, its officer (Sarah Jack) and registered agent/attorney (Gardner) accountable for failure to pay the assessed penalty in willful defiance of the Court Order.
“It truly is remarkable that a former state representative, who is again running for legislative office, and who is also (as an attorney) an officer of the court so blatantly disregards an Order of the Court to pay the penalties imposed after he lost at trial,” stated Campaign Integrity Watchdog Director Matt Arnold. “Perhaps Bob Gardner believes that ‘Some Animals are More Equal than Others’ – and that he’s among the ‘more equal’ pigs able to make rules for others that he can ignore for himself.”
Gardner’s (and Jack’s) woes don’t end with being held accountable for past transgressions alone; their ASIWH ““social welfare organization” (er, political committee) has meanwhile committed new violations, for which they must also answer in another campaign finance complaint now pending before the Office of Administrative Courts (Case OS2015-0014). Potential fines and penalties in this case could reach as high as $227,000 – $350,000 for the nearly two dozen counts of violating state law as alleged in the Complaint. (As repeat and multiple offenders, and in light of their year-long defiance of court orders, Bob Gardner and Sarah Jack’s ASIWH organization is unlikely to receive much mercy or leniency from the court).
As if their state legal woes weren’t enough, both Bob Gardner and his very close associate Sarah Brittain Jack are reportedly also under investigation by the IRS for alleged tax fraud associated with the case and their “social welfare” organization claiming tax exemption.
“Clearly,” CIW Director Matt Arnold stated, “Bob Gardner has… issues with legal compliance.”