$5,000 penalty dished out to Save Our Lakewood

Save Our Lakewood found to have violated city code during this past election

Joseph Rios
jrios@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/17/19

Save Our Lakewood, an independent expenditure committee registered in Lakewood with the purpose to support candidates who favor slower growth, has been fined $5,000 after a complaint against the …

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$5,000 penalty dished out to Save Our Lakewood

Save Our Lakewood found to have violated city code during this past election

Posted

Save Our Lakewood, an independent expenditure committee registered in Lakewood with the purpose to support candidates who favor slower growth, has been fined $5,000 after a complaint against the committee was ruled to be valid.

On Nov. 22, Kendra Carberry, a Lakewood hearing officer for the complaint, ruled that Save Our Lakewood violated city code by paying for an independent expenditure within 30 days before recent Lakewood City Council elections and that it failed to file a notice with the city within 48 hours after spending the election-related money. As a result, the $5,000 penalty was handed out to Save Our Lakewood.

Ray Milhollin, who represents Save Our Lakewood, said he didn’t feel comfortable giving a public statement when contacted on Dec. 12. He did say that Save Our Lakewood plans to file an appeal against Carberry’s order.

Save Our Lakewood made an “independent expenditure” when it produced and sent out a mail flyer critical of Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul in a construction helmet. It arrived in Lakewood mailboxes on Oct. 16, according to the complaint, filed by Lakewood resident Tom Keefe. Paul was up for reelection on Nov. 5.

The mailing accuses Paul of encouraging developers to “sue his own citizens” to stop the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative, a ballot measure passed in July that limits new home construction to 1% and requires Lakewood City Council to approve residential projects with 40 units or more. Other parts of the mailing include allegations that Paul illegally gave away sections of Hutchinson Park in Lakewood, that he pushed for zoning changes that led to higher density development and that he encouraged “special district abuse.”

“We have ordinances on the book, and they’ve been spoken about as being ideal campaign finance ordinance models, and they don’t seem to be being enforced. It’s up to the citizens to file a complaint,” said Keefe.

The complaint also alleged that Save Our Lakewood violated city code by failing to include a statement saying who paid for the mailing. That allegation was deemed to be true, Carberry wrote in her order.

“After agreeing to move forward with the hearing, (Save Our Lakewood) essentially admitted the allegations in the complaint but alleged that the city’s campaign finance ordinance and related rules are ambiguous and difficult to understand,” Carberry’s order says.

“However, (Carberry found) that both violations were minor and unintentional and agrees with (Save Our Lakewood) that some of the language in the city’s campaign finance ordinance is difficult for laypersons and nonlawyers to understand,” Carberry added in her order.

The complaint against Save Our Lakewood isn’t the only one Keefe has filed this year. In October, he filed a complaint against the Lakewood Watchdog citizen-driven newspaper, alleging that the Watchdog violated city campaign and political finance code. The matter has yet to have been resolved.

“If we don’t do our part to stand up even locally for misleading information and slander, then it’s really hard for me to sit at home and complain about people, whether it be in Denver or Washington. I’m just trying to do my job to make sure that news is news, and that election engineering is labeled as such so that people know what the facts are,” said Keefe.

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