Donors question Polis recall committee’s disbursements to board members

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DENVER — The chairwoman of an issue committee developed to recall Colorado Gov. Jared Polis says she is feeling lots of backlash over how her group is spending left-over funds.

"I feel just beat up, and the reporting – it’s literally fake news,” said Juli-Andra Fuentes, the chairwoman of Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis, a committee established to explore a recall.

In state filings earlier this week, the group reported $11,000 in expenditures  — called “gifts”  — for its own board members.  Two members each received $3,000 and one person, to whom Fuentes referred as a manager, received $5,000.

In a later, amended filing, the payments were described as “consultant and professional services.”

“There was a couple of board members — one has a sister with stage four cancer and she really needs it. We’ve got another one who, you know, her husband lost his job in oil and gas, and they now have to leave the state. They really need it,” said Fuentes.

Fuentes said other board members opted to donate their money to charity, including organizations that benefit single parents, children, and homeless women.

She blamed the initial filing that referred to the payments as “gifts” on an error made by an intern who was working with her.

Fuentes’ group raised more than $100,000 in an effort to explore the possibility of recalling the governor, but it never filed a petition.  Fuentes said she believes her group was sabotaged by others.

“There is a lot of consequences to having a recall, and we planned on having a successful recall,” she said.

Paul Haberman, who donated some money to the effort, said he would prefer the left-over funds be paid back to the donors or given to a nonprofit.

“I don’t think anyone should have profited individually from it,” he said.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, a new law passed in 2019 gives the Elections Division discretion to initiate an investigation within 180 days.  It may also investigate if a member of the public filed a formal complaint about the spending, but so far, no one has filed a complaint about the recent expenditure filings.

-- Lori Jane Gliha wrote this report

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