Breckenridge candidate offering free lunch to voters retracts offer
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BRECKENRIDGE – The committee to elect Mike Dudick to town council offered free lunch at Fatty’s Pizzeria to 88 people for voting early on Thursday – but retracted the offer after finding out it was a bad idea.
“The ability to make sound judgments comes not from always being right but also being able to admit when a mistake has been made, and, I made a mistake,” Dudick said in a letter retracting the offer.
Any person offering any “valuable consideration” to induce an elector to vote commits a misdemeanor violation of Colorado’s municipal election laws, according to Colorado Revised Statutes 31-10-1524.
Dudick said in a phone interview Thursday that he had sent the invitations Monday morning before meeting with town staff later that afternoon, when he “decided it was not worth doing.”
On Tuesday, Dudick sent the same 88 people a letter saying the event was canceled and there would be no free lunch.
He said Thursday that it seems “there’s not a whole lot of difference between this canceled event and many of the meet-and-greets where candidates are buying beer and buying food for votes.”
Fatty’s Pizzeria owner John Daisy said he’s embarrassed and didn’t realize the gesture might break the law.
“It was innocent,” he said. “We didn’t plan on doing anything illegal. It was a roundtable of us just figuring out how to get people more aware (of the elections).”
Town Councilman Rob Millisor, Dudick’s business partner, did not run to be re-elected this term. He is part of the committee to elect Dudick.
Millisor said apparently someone is “trying to make a negative campaign in Breckenridge” by publicizing information about the offer and retraction.
“I’m just appalled that someone would try to make an issue of this,” he said. “Obviously we made a mistake … I can assure you that it was 100 percent innocent and once Mike understood, he immediately corrected the mistake.”
If someone suspects an election offense has been committed, an affidavit is submitted to the district attorney – who is required to investigate. District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said he is not familiar with any election offenses in the district regarding unlawful offers for voting.
Noah Klug, a local attorney, said that according to statute, anyone who makes or is the recipient of such an offer could face a $1,000 fine or a year in county jail. He said it appears Dudick violated the statute.
“That was risky, because he’s basically admitting liability for it,” he said of the retraction letter. “Props to him for stepping up and apologizing for it.”
Klug said that while Dudick or his supporters may not be familiar with the election laws, “the law still applies.”
The invitations stated that voters could vote at town hall then go to Fatty’s Pizzeria with an “I voted” sticker, and lunch would be free. Committee members listed on the invitations include Daisy, Dick Carleton, town Councilman Eric Mamula, Guy Bigelow, John Hendryson, Steve Lapinsohn, Millisor and Dudick.
Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or email@example.com.