Runyon taken off Eagle Co. TV
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” County Commissioner Peter Runyon illegally used a taxpayer-funded Eagle County television station to support his re-election efforts, according to local Republicans.
And even though Eagle County’s attorney felt Runyon, who’s running for re-election, didn’t violate any campaign laws, the Democratic commissioner has agreed to stop appearing on the ECO TV18 show “Up Front with Peter Runyon.”
The Eagle County Republicans filed a complaint to the Secretary of State, claiming Runyon was violating the state’s Fair Campaign Practices Act by appearing on a taxpayer funded station.
On the monthly show, county commissioners talk to a guest about county issues. On the show in question, Runyon interviewed state transportation official Weldon Allen.
ECO TV also broadcasts all the county commissioners meetings and work sessions.
After the complaint was filed on June 10, Runyon agreed to stop appearing on the show until after the November elections.
The county’s position was that Runyon was not breaking any election laws by being on the show, but both parties wanted to resolve the dispute, County Attorney Bryan Treu said.
“Just because you become a candidate doesn’t mean you stop being a county commissioner,” Treu said.
Runyon said he wasn’t discussing any election issues on the show, but the compromise was an “attempt at reconciliation.”
“I don’t want what I call ‘silly news’ to distract from the real issues, which I think are growth and management,” he said.
Eagle County Republicans Chairman Randy Milhoan agreed that while Runyon was not promoting his campaign on the show, it was inappropriate for him to host the show when the two other commissioners who were not running for re-election could have done so instead.
“We have no problem with the Eagle County issues TV program being hosted by the county commissioners not running for re-election this November, provided they don’t talk about Commissioner Runyon, while the taxpayer is paying for this TV program,” Milhoan wrote in his letter of complaint.
The county and the Republican party agreed to dismiss the complaint under a new set of rules for ECO TV so that incumbents do not have unfair access to the station. According to the agreement, no public office candidate can appear on the station until after the elections.
Exceptions are made if the appearance is for regular commissioner meetings or if all the candidates for the position are invited to attend. The restrictions apply to local, state and national candidates of both parties.
Milhoan said Republican party members sent several e-mails to commissioners complaining about Runyon’s appearance on the show before the party protested to the state, but the problem was not addressed.
“We’re delighted we’ve reach an agreement, but we’re disappointed we had to litigate,” Milhoan said.
The act states that no agency, department, board, commission or council of the state or any subdivision can make any contribution in the campaign of anyone in public office.
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or email@example.com.
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