Mayor will not be fined after contributions complaint found invalid

City staff say allegations not applicable to Arvada

Casey Van Divier
cvandivier@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/24/19

In a determination dated Dec. 20, city staff ruled Marc Williams will face no penalty after a citizen-filed complaint alleged the mayor had accepted illegal campaign donations. The complaint was …

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Mayor will not be fined after contributions complaint found invalid

City staff say allegations not applicable to Arvada

Posted

In a determination dated Dec. 20, city staff ruled Marc Williams will face no penalty after a citizen-filed complaint alleged the mayor had accepted illegal campaign donations.

The complaint was filed by Arvada resident Cindi Kreutzer, who was the campaign manager for Williams' opponent Harriet Hall in the 2019 election. The complaint was signed by a total of 19 people, not all Arvada residents.

In their complaint, the citizens questioned 10 donations of $750 — the maximum an individual or business can donate to an Arvada mayoral candidate — made to Williams' campaign by different LLCs. Williams was running for reelection, and won another term as mayor on Nov. 5.

All 10 LLCs had the same registered agent, Chris Elliott, and operate out of the same address in the Englewood and Centennial area. Some of the LLCs have been part of developments in Arvada, such as Haskins Station and Ralston Ridge.

The complaint pointed to a section of the state's Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA), which says that the aggregate amount of contributions from limited liability companies that are attributed to the same individual should be restricted to the donation limit. The complaint suggested that, under this law, all 10 LLCs should collectively be limited to a $750 contribution.

The complaint also alleged that developer Remington Homes, which has developed in the Candelas area, violated the “spirit of the law.”

President Regan Hauptman, founder Paul Hauptman, several family members to the Hauptmans and other Remington Homes employees each contributed $750 to the campaign.

“We question if these contributions all came from one entity, using individuals as a technical loophole to meet contribution rules,” the complaint said.

Between these contributions and those from the LLCs, the complaint alleged Williams may have accepted up to $19,500 in violating contributions.

Kreutzer filed the complaint Dec. 3. It was reviewed by the city's attorney Rachel Morris and City Clerk Kristen Rush who ruled on Dec. 20 that the complaint was not valid.

PREVIOUSLY: Complaint filed against Arvada mayor

If the complaint had been found valid, a hearing would have been held within 60 days to determine whether a penalty would be issued; under Arvada law, the minimum penalty would have been double the $19,500 amount — a $39,000 fine.

However, the Dec. 20 determination found “the allegations contained therein, even if true, do not amount to a violation of the Arvada City Code."

Regarding the allegation surrounding the 10 LLCs, the FCPA section referenced in the complaint does not apply to Arvada elections, the determination said. Arvada is a home rule city, giving it power to set its own election guidelines in its charter.

Under Arvada's law, “so long as an entity is independently created and recognized under the law,” it is permitted to contribute the maximum to a campaign, the determination said. “Each of the 10 entities … appear to be separate entities for legal purposes,” it said.

The city attorney and city clerk also determined the contributions from Remington Homes employees and Hauptman family members were legal because “it appears that each contribution was from a separate person or entity.”

The determination went on to say that “the city must be careful about implying requirements into its code that are not explicitly contained therein.”

Because the code does not prohibit family members from contributing to the same campaign, it would be “unfair” to penalize the contributors or Williams, the determination said.

The matter will not require an investigation or hearing, according to Morris and Rush.

"The decision was consistent with what I'd always been advised before on how this matter should be handled," Williams said. "I'm glad to be vindicated."

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