Griffin accused of campaign finance violation

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By AJ Vicens

Jefferson County Treasurer Faye Griffin will go before an administrative judge Sept. 30 after being accused of a campaign finance violation in her quest to become the next District 1 county commissioner.

Nancy C. Johnson, a Lakewood attorney, filed a formal complaint with the Colorado secretary of state's office Sept. 17 alleging that Griffin broke the law by not listing the occupations and employers of 11 donors who gave her campaign $1,550. The donations were listed in a state campaign-finance filing through July 17.

State law requires political candidates to list the occupation and employer of a contributor who gives $100 or more in one donation. If the required information isn't disclosed within 30 days of the contribution, the full donation has to be returned to the donor.

The matter will be reviewed by an administrative law judge at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 30, the same day Griffin and the other four county commissioner candidates will gather for a League of Women Voters forum in Arvada.

Griffin said she is aware of the complaint, and thought she had cleared up any problems.

"What the original complaint was is basically that I received some campaign money from some people, and I didn't put where they worked," Griffin said Sept. 26. "I didn't know, so I put ‘unknown.’ "

She said she thought the situation was corrected after an initial "request for clarification/investigation" was filed with Jeffco Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson on Aug. 14. The inquiry, filed by Betsy Loeff of Golden, was returned to Loeff by Anderson, who said that the secretary of state had to handle the matter. Loeff filed her request with the secretary of state Aug. 21.

Anderson informed Griffin that the inquiry was filed, Griffin said.

"I did try to find out what they did, but I still didn't know where they worked. Maybe that was not as thorough as it should have been," Griffin said. She added that if a judge reviews the situation and determines she should return the money, "I could do that."

Johnson would not comment on the matter when reached by phone Sept. 25. She wouldn't say if anyone hired her or if she filed the complaint on her own, and referred to her formal complaint as the only comment she would have.

Johnson has donated $100 to state Sen. Sue Windels — Griffin's opponent — in this reporting period in two donations of $50, according to state elections records.

Johnson wrote in her complaint that, as the former Jeffco clerk and recorder, Griffin should have known better.

"That the candidate involved is a former Clerk and Recorder, and thus a former chief election official within Jefferson County further militates in favor of a maximum sanction," Johnson wrote.

"I probably should have a real campaign manager," Griffin said in response to Johnson's statement. "I really never considered myself as a politician; I never have. When I file these, I think I am following the rules. I was formerly clerk and recorder, as you know. I don't know what to say. I just need to wait and see."

Windels said she was aware of the complaint but had nothing to do with it.

"If she corrected her report after the 30-day window, that could be a problem for her," Windels said Sept. 25. But Windels said she's "torn" on whether Griffin should have to give the donations back.

"I guess my hesitation is that no, I wouldn't want her to have to because it's too late for her to have to rebuild everything, but also I'm very concerned that we pass laws and make rules only to ignore them," Windels said. She added that she'll let the process play out, and doesn't want any "mudslinging."

"Faye and I have done really well at running a really nice, calm campaign, and I hope we can make it to the end like that," Windels said.

"If I made I mistake, I certainly will own up to it," Griffin said.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com.