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GOP state senate candidate accused of campaign finance violations

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Former state Sen. Tim Neville, a Republican who is challenging Democratic Sen. Jeanne Nicholson for her seat this fall.

DENVER — Tim Neville, a Republican running for a Jefferson County state senate that could determine which party controls the chamber next year, has been accused of violating Colorado’s campaign finance laws — by a fellow Republican.

Christopher O’Dell, a former Jefferson County GOP chairman, sent Neville a letter Monday asking him to explain apparent violations of campaign finance laws allowing for anonymous contributions of no more than $20 and individual contributions of no more than $400.

According to fundraising information linked publicly on Neville’s own campaign website, Neville has received around a dozen anonymous contributions exceeding the $20 limit, including one as large as $400.

Neville, who was appointed to fill the vacant District 22 seat in 2011 only to see his seat disappear during reapportionment in 2012 when he was drawn into S.D. 16, also appears to have received at least three contributions from individuals that exceed the $400 limit.

The letter, sent by attorney Ed Ramey on behalf of O’Dell, asks Neville to clarify how the money received in anonymous contributions — a total of roughly $1,500 — is being used and why it hasn’t been included on Neville’s finance reports filed with the Secretary of State’s office.

“Tim Neville is not a rookie candidate,” O’Dell said. “There’s a difference between a filing error and blatantly misleading in a filing.”

“Candidates are legally prohibited from accepting anonymous contributions of $20 or more,” Ramey added. “If Mr. Neville is doing that, he’s violating the law. If he’s doing something else with these contributions, that would appear equally illegal and incredibly misleading to his supporters.”

In his letter to Neville, Ramey raises the possibility of filing an official campaign finance complaint with the Secretary of State if the apparent violations aren’t explained to his and his client’s satisfaction.

Neville responded Tuesday in a letter to Ramey and O’Dell, pushing back at their accusation that he’s violated the law.

“All donations received through the Fundly website are accurately stored with all necessary information and have been reported by our campaign on the Colorado Secretary of State website,” Neville writes. “The ‘anonymous’ you mention refers to the listing of names on the Fundly website only.

“Regarding the three contribution amounts you questioned which you felt were over the aggregate limit:  Please refer to the Colorado Secretary of State’s campaign reports for clarification.  Two of these contributions were from married couples and are reported accordingly on the Colorado Secretary of State website, both being under the aggregate limit.

“The third donation was over the individual limit by $100 and $100 was refunded to the donor to maintain compliance.”

Neville, who is backed by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, is challenging Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, D-Blackhawk, for the Senate District 16 seat, one of three competitive districts in bellwether Jefferson County.

Those races will likely determine which party controls the senate, where Democrats now hold a slim 18-17 majority, next year.