Candidate’s use of town e-mail questioned
Avon Mayor Buz Reynolds, Jr. may have violated campaign finance laws when he used the town’s e-mail server to announce his candidacy for county commissioner.
The press release, sent out Thursday by assistant town manager Jacquie Halburnt, states that Reynolds is running as an independent candidate against County Commissioner Arn Menconi and former sheriff A.J. Johnson for the District 2 county commission seat. The election is Nov. 2.
By using the town’s e-mail, and by having a public employee distribute the message, Reynolds may have violated Colorado’s campaign finance laws, said Lisa Doran, spokeswoman for the Colorado state election office. Article 1-45-117 forbids candidates from using public dollars to pay for campaign activities.
“Not looking at all the documents, I’d say it’s a pretty fair case for an administrative law judge to review,” Doran said.
But Avon town attorney John Dunn said the release was a town press release, not a campaign activity. “As far as I’m concerned it was legitimate town information that the mayor of the town had announced his candidacy for county commissioner,” he said. “The town was simply providing information.”
The town is not and cannot be involved in Reynolds campaign, Dunn said.
Reynolds wrote the release himself and asked Halburnt to send it out because she already keeps an e-mail address book for media and Avon residents. He was advised by Dunn that sending out the release would not violate any campaign laws.
“I think they are making a mountain out of a molehill,” Reynolds said, adding that he would check with Dunn again to make sure.
Any future correspondence about his candidacy would not come from the town or from town staff, Reynolds said.
A citizen would have to ask the state’s election office to look into a possible violation, Doran said. If personnel in that office felt the incident violated campaign finance requirements, they would forward the case to an administrative law judge to review.
Typically, when a candidate is found guilty of using public funds for campaign use, he or she must reimburse the cost of performing that activity, she said.
Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at: email@example.com or by calling 949-0555 ext. 607.