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Secretary of State moves forward with investigation into El Paso County GOP finances

KRDO

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Colorado Secretary of State's Office is moving forward with its investigation into alleged campaign finance law violations by the El Paso County Republican Party.

The alleged campaign finance law violations, including the possibility that at least $50,000 and high price auction items from a summer fundraiser are missing, were first revealed in a complaint by El Paso County Republican Party Vice-Chair Karl Scheider.

"The Division initially determines that Complainant identified potential violations of Colorado campaign finance law and alleged sufficient facts to support a legal and factual basis regarding the alleged violations. Accordingly, the Division will investigate the allegations contained in the Complaint pursuant to section," the Secretary of State's Office said following its review of the Schneider's complaint.

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.

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."

After echoing calls for an audit of the summer fundraising dinner following Pitchford's October email, Schneider tells 13 Investigates his official party email account was turned off.

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.

Despite his previous email in October saying he was having difficulty finding records from the summer fundraising dinner, Pitchford told us on Monday there was nothing to the campaign finance complaint.

"It's absolutely completely bogus," Pitchford said.

Pitchford says he resigned for reasons unrelated to the campaign finance issues.

"Our books are balanced. So, there's no issue with our books. We just have an issue with figuring out who the donors are and getting that information input to the state. It's a common thing," Pitchford said.

Last week, El Paso County GOP Chairwoman Vickie Tonkins said the allegations of missing money were untrue.

"We are not breaking the law," Tonkins said. "Ludicrous ... that is an absolute, and total and complete lie. Let's be clear on that."

Tonkins said after Monday night's Republican Party meeting she believed the complaint would be "thrown out" on December 9.

"There's nothing there," Tonkins said.

13 Investigates has reached out to Tonkins following the Secretary of State's Office decision to move forward with further investigation.

The Secretary of State's Office declined to comment but added in a response that the enforcement division has "sole discretion, without the Secretary's or Deputy [Secretary of State's] input, as to which complaints are sent to the OAC for further evaluation by a third-party hearing officer."

Chelsea Brentzel

Chelsea is an investigative reporter for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about Chelsea here.

Comments

7 Comments

  1. “The keynote speaker for that fundraising event was Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.”
    .
    Why not ask her about the goods that disappeared? She’s really good at providing conspiracy theories for things she knows nothing about.

  2. “Last week, El Paso County GOP Chairwoman Vickie Tonkins said the allegations of missing money were untrue.
    “We are not breaking the law,” Tonkins said. “Ludicrous … that is an absolute, and total and complete lie. Let’s be clear on that.”
    Tonkins said after Monday night’s Republican Party meeting she believed the complaint would be “thrown out” on December 9.”
    Clearly the Secretary of State felt otherwise as they moving forward with the investigation.
    In Law enforcement we called this a clue.
    I’m just waiting for Maury Povich to come out with the “BS test” to tell us that this was a lie.
    Republican politician, Democrat Politician, they are all criminals just better at covering up their crimes against the American Populace.

    1. You’re always saying you’re an independent, but you sure do moan about Democrats every time the Republicans get caught doing something wrong, and you certainly carry water for all the GOP talking points. Gotta wonder, AMZ.

      1. Yeah my pro-choice goes over really well with them, as well as speaking out every time they screw up. Or my outward view regarding the last president… Again, I am objective and based upon my beliefs I have found both parties inept and both do not regard the best for the people. I am sure the other side feels the same way about me at times when I disagree with them too (to include the topic I originally posted about). That’s ok though, I have always been an outlier and I know I cannot please everyone, and I don’t try to, I just speak as I see things based upon my life’s experiences. But I do thank you for your perspective, as that is what is truly wonderful part of the 1st Amendment, we can share our opinions, even when we don’t always agree, know that I will still respect you as long as the conversation doesn’t turn toxic.

        1. I do appreciate the tone and respect you have for others. You are surely an independent in that sense. I try to do the same, but sometimes it is hard. I intended no offense, just so much dumping on dems on these threads, it can be frustrating when they are not even in the story. I hope you have a nice day!

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