DENVER (KDVR) — The head of Colorado’s Republican party is accusing Gov. Jared Polis of campaign finance violations, specifically for the letter the governor is sending out with Coloradans’ TABOR refund checks.
The complaint claims the letter violates electioneering law and does not include a campaign disclaimer. It accuses the governor of failing to report an expenditure and using funds that are prohibited for campaigns.
“Today, Gov. Polis released a letter he is sending to every taxpayer in Colorado, along with their $750 TABOR refund check,” Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown writes in the complaint. “The letter blatantly misleads voters by refusing to say the word ‘TABOR’ or ‘Taxpayer Bill of Rights.'”
The governor was criticized for rebranding the checks as “Colorado Cashback” checks at a recent news conference.
Polis accused of electioneering through TABOR checks
The complaint argues the $2.7 million the state is spending on sending the TABOR checks out early amounts to prohibited campaign contributions from the state or government entities. It further argues the governor “failed to report the $2.7 million in state funds as a campaign contribution.”
Burton Brown claims Polis’ letter accompanying the checks can be considered as a campaign mailer, which requires disclosure. She argues the letter counts as electioneering.
The complaint argues the $2.7 million in public money spent on sending the checks out early violates a Colorado law that says no more than $50 in public money may be spent on a campaign.
A spokesperson for Polis shared the following statement with FOX31 on the filing:
“It’s unfortunate the Republican Party is wasting taxpayer money by filing this baseless complaint. The Governor wants to assure Coloradans he will not allow these baseless attacks from preventing him from faithfully enacting the bi-partisan new law that is putting $750 back in the pockets of taxpayers faster.”Conor Cahill
Polis’ opponent, Republican Heidi Ganahl, issued the following statement on the complaint:
“Using taxpayer dollars for a very expensive campaign ploy is unacceptable. I call on Jared Polis to report this as a campaign expenditure and pay back the people of Colorado. Jared Polis has said he’s willing to spend up to 70 million of his own dollars on this election. He should use some his money to pay Coloradans back for this campaign stunt.”Heidi Ganahl
FOX31 has reached out to the Secretary of State’s Office for more perspective on what happens next with the campaign finance complaint process and how common it is for major races and elections in Colorado.
Background on TABOR refund
These checks are mainly thanks to the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), which basically means Colorado can’t spend more taxpayer money than it generates. Every time the state has a tax surplus and brings in more taxes than it plans to spend, that money is refunded.
The bill sends the money out early, distributes an even amount for every taxpayer instead of a proportional refund and sends that refund out earlier than the spring of 2023.