In our recent blogs we noted the introduction of “independent expenditure committees” into city politics to get around the problem of Lakewood’s $2,500 limit on donations to candidates. These committees also allow donors who wish to remain unknown (such as the marijuana retailers funding mailers in support of Kyra DeGruy in Ward 1) to cover their tracks by funneling donations through a number of pass-through groups. Following the money trail is complicated and designed to ensure voters will not figure it until after their ballots are cast.
The obvious question is why doesn’t someone file a complaint about this skirting of the city’s campaign funding disclosure process. That may now be happening. We have received a copy of a complaint filed with the City Clerk last week. The complaint was filed by Mike Muller against the campaign of Ward 3 Council candidate Michael Gifford. Rather than focusing on the dark money this complaint noted the Gifford campaign violated the campaign rules requiring a campaign to “register” with the City Clerk within ten days of: (1) declaring a candidacy, (2) receiving donations or (3) or expending funds.
The complaint notes Gifford reports he received his first donation on June 30, 2017. However, his campaign did not make the required registration with the City Clerk until September 11, 2017. The time between the required registration and the actual registration was 73 days. During that two month period Gifford raised $29,000. The complaint argues Gifford failed to follow the law and “misled dozens of contributors who contributed to a non-existent and illegal campaign fund”.
The complaint was accepted by the City Clerk and a hearing has been scheduled for mid-November, well after the election is over. Mike Muller is no stranger to Lakewood campaign finance disclosure laws. A decade ago, Muller filed a complaint against then-Mayor Steve Burkholder and won the case against the City