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El Paso County GOP accused of breaking campaign finance laws by its own Vice Chair

KRDO

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- High ranking Republican Party members in El Paso County say tens of thousands of dollars and high price auction items are missing following a fundraiser.

El Paso County GOP Vice-Chair Karl Schneider filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's Office on Tuesday. He accuses the El Paso County GOP and Chair Vicki Tonkins of breaking campaign finance laws.

In the complaint obtained by 13 Investigates, Schneider alleges the party's failure to report expenditures or contributions for the Lincoln Day Dinner on August 6th. The keynote speaker for that fundraising event was Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.

"We know this was a very successful dinner," said Schneider in a letter to Kristi Burton Brown Chair of the Colorado Republican Committee. "It was attended by over 400 people with many auction items, and allegedly grossed approximately $50,000. All receipts should be properly accounted for."

According to emails in the complaint, then-treasurer of the El Paso County GOP John Pitchford told high ranking members of the party on Oct. 1 that he was having difficulty finding accurate records from the event, and requested a ‘full inventory of all Lincoln Day items sold and unsold.’

“I don’t understand what’s going on. There seems to be a lot of instability,” said Schneider to 13 Investigates on Wednesday. "There were missing (auction) items. Some high-dollar value jewelry. (The treasurer) was unable to account for donations.”

The El Paso County GOP Vice Chair tells 13 Investigates he doesn't know where at least $50,000 in fundraising money currently is.

In the complaint, Schneider says he is concerned the 'party has violated and is violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act.'

Eleven days after the initial email asking for a complete inventory of the items, Pitchford announced his retirement to the El Paso County GOP leadership via email.

Schneider says El Paso County GOP Chair Tonkins has ignored any requests to hand over receipts from the fundraising event.

“It is very important we have a full detailed audit of all the monies collected and all the donations collected," said Schneider. "We make sure they are accounted for and we can move forward from there.”

Schneider is now calling a for a special session for the El Paso County Republican Executive Committee to discuss the missing campaign funds and auction items. So far, Schneider says the party chair has ignored these calls.

13 Investigates reached out to El Paso County GOP Chair Vickie Tonkins multiple times. She did not respond.

The Colorado Secretary of State's Office is currently reviewing the complaint. They have ten business days to review it. 13 Investigates reached out to the Secretary of State's Office to ask what comes after a determination is made. We are still waiting on a response.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story said Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Brown Burton sent a letter asking for an audit of the alleged missing funds in the El Paso County GOP. The letter was written by El Paso County GOP Vice Chair Karl Schneider and sent to Kristi Brown Burton.

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Dan Beedie

Dan is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about Dan here.

Comments

8 Comments

      1. It’s funny how someone inclined to frequently make uninformed judgements suddenly becomes a proponent of silence when it involves likely wrongdoing by one of his own. A fine example of the pot calling the kettle black.

        1. You’re the champ of pushing false narrative Reality. Let’s see, Trump/Russian collusion, Covid, both Trump impeachments, and Rittenhouse. The list keeps growing.

          1. Ha! Case and point. That was easy. I just made a comment about finger pointers. GOP is notorious for it. Both parties drive me up the wall, but I’m also not blind. Party loyalists are absolutely a plague within the right in a much more aggressive manner. To the point you people will sent death threats *to your own people* over an *infrastructure Bill* XD You people only hate it because it came from Democrats. That’s just insane. You people are all nuts, but the right is just a whole ‘nother level.

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