Tag Archive for Alex Sammoury

Violations of Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act

The following is the complete text of the complaints filed with Longmont City Clerk Valeria Skitt. Exhibits are available from the Longmont City Clerk’s office.

Report on Alleged Violation of LFCPA

Submitted by Kaye Fissinger
July 13, 2010

The LFCPA defines an “issue committee” as follows: (2.04.203)

“Issue committee” means two or more persons who are elected, appointed, or chosen, or have associated themselves for the purpose of accepting contributions and making expenditures to support or oppose any ballot issue or ballot question. “Issue committee” does not include political committees or candidate committees. A married couple shall not be considered an “issue committee.”

The LFCPA defines a “political committee” as follows: (2.04.203)

“Political committee” means two or more persons who are elected, appointed, or chosen, or have associated themselves for the purpose of making contributions to candidate committees, issue committees, or other political committees, or for the purpose of making independent expenditures. “Political committee” does not include issue committees, candidate committees, or married couples.

I hereby allege that the issue committee known as Longmont Watch has violated the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act (LFCPA). Longmont Watch came into existence to oppose collective bargaining for Longmont’s fire and police employees, an issue on the November 2008 ballot, and is, therefore, an issue committee. At the time of its formation, there were no local candidates running for office. Further, Longmont Watch, made no contribution to any candidate that was running for any office during the 2008 election cycle, as evidenced by their expenditure reports. (Exhibit A)

Longmont Watch had a balance of $791.85 in its report December 3, 2008 and the balanced remained until it was dispersed in three equal portions to three candidates for Longmont City Council on September 24, 2009. (Exhibit B)

Section 2.04.205 Section C of LFCPA states: “Unexpended contribution to an issue committee may be donated to any charitable organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service or returned to the contributor.

Longmont Watch dispersed the remaining balance in their account to each of three candidate committees divided equally ($263.95) to Katie Witt, Alex Sammoury and Gabe Santos. The LFPCA does not permit an issue committee to disperse unexpended funds to a candidate committee.

The LFCPA defines “conduit” as follows: (2.04.203)

“Conduit” means a person who transmits any contribution from another person directly to a candidate, candidate committee or issue committee with the intent of hiding the identity of the contributor.

By dispersing funds to the three candidate committees, the registered agent acted as a conduit for contributions made by individuals to the issue committee. Further, an examination of the names of contributors to Longmont Watch certain names were also contributors to these candidates.

Section 2.04.104 Section F parts 1 and 2 of the LFCPA set contribution limits as follows:

1. A natural person shall not contribute more than $200.00 to any one candidate committee for an election or special election, except that this limit shall not apply to contributions by a candidate to the candidate’s own committee.
2. Persons, other than natural persons, shall not contribute more than $500.00 to any one candidate
committee for an election or special election.

Three contributors to Longmont Watch made maximum contributions to a candidate(s) committee:

Chris Treharne: $200 to Alex Sammoury
Stephen Strong : $200 to Katie Witt
Steve Strong: $200 to Gabe Santos
Frontier Companies: $500 to Gabe Santos

Inasmuch as contributions accepted by Longmont Watch were not segregated by contributor, subsequent contributions made to the afore-mentioned candidates resulted in excess contributions received by said candidates from the named individuals and company. Gabe Santos, Katie Witt and Alex Sammoury failed to return the illegal contributions either within the designated 72-hour time period or as disallowed by LFCPA 2.04.205 Section C.

The LFCPA provides for penalties for violations in 2.04.211 Section C as follows:

• Use of unexpended campaign funds in violation of this Act – $400.
• Acting as a conduit in violation of this Act – $400 for each violation.
• Accepting contributions in excess of the amounts allowed by this Act – $400, except that it shall not be considered a violation if the candidate or issue committee returns the contribution within 72 hours of its receipt. Each such contribution accepted in excess of the amounts allowed by this Act shall be a separate violation.

No legal or formal changes to the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act have yet been made. Therefore, the outlined violations must be pursued and prosecuted under the LFCPA as it currently exists.

The following are attached:

Exhibit A: Expenditure Reports for Longmont Watch
Exhibit B: Expenditure Report for Longmont Watch documenting contributions to Alex Sammoury, Katie Witt and Gabe Santos
Exhibit C: Summary of Longmont Watch contributors with highlighted names who also contributed to the candidates named above.
Exhibit D: Evidence of maximum contributions by Frontier Companies, Steven Strong, and Chris Treharne to candidates Sammoury, Witt and/or Santos

Coincidence or Coordination?

The Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act is explicit in its definition of an “independent expenditure.” It certainly covers all the bases so that there can be no misunderstanding or wriggle room.

“Independent expenditure” means any expenditure supporting or opposing a candidate that is not made with the cooperation or with the prior consent of, or in consultation with, or in coordination with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, candidate’s agent or candidate’s committee.

Cooperation – Consent – Consultation – Coordination – Request – Suggestion

Any or all of the above are unlikely to ever be provable in any judicial setting unless there is a whistleblower or an email that went astray.

But we humans often make our determinations with circumstantial evidence. Even the courts use this type of evidence on occasion.

Former Council Member Karen Benker was attacked week in and week out during the 2009 election season. Vying to replace her was now-Council Member Katie Witt. Forum after forum raised the issue of Witt’s knowledge and complicity in these attacks. Witt resorted to playing Monkey in this Monkey Business: Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

Really?

Voters seldom look closely at campaign reports. But they should. They tell a lot about who, what, where, when, why and how.

So let’s play connect-the-dots. Longmont Leadership Committee (funded by Western Tradition Partnership) paid Advanced Direct Marketing Inc. (ADMI) $10,873.49 for several post card mailings attacking Benker and for a pretend newspaper “Longmont Leader” attacking Benker, Fissinger, McCoy and Lange and promoting Baum, Santos, Witt and Sammoury.

Guess who else used ADMI? Lo and behold, it was Ms. Witt! Add $2,006.60.

Citizens for a Brighter Future (funded by Coloradans for Economic Growth) also used ADMI $6,671.36 for three mailers, in support of Alex Sammoury and the other three.

So was there A WINK AND A NOD? Or was it more than that? The unprecedented dirty politics of the last campaign strongly suggest it was more. And without an independent quasi-judicial body composed of citizens from across the political spectrum, there will never be the transparency and accountability needed for truly clean campaigns.

The floodgates have been opened and the dirty water may never be dammed up again, Longmont. They’ll be back in 2011 and thereafter, unless and until the Longmont voters make it undeniably clear that they reject both outside influence and not-so-uncoordinated campaigns by attack groups.

Did Money Buy Longmont Council Elections? You Decide.

Hard Cash, Hard Facts from the last municipal election…

The November 2009 Longmont City Council elections will go down in the history books as the most unscrupulous campaign in recent memory.  (See Boulder Weekly, 4/29/10 “Best Example of Dirty Politics”.)

Compare those who spent the most and who had the most spent on their behalf with those who won the office, and the connection between money and politics becomes vividly apparent.

Candidates Who Lost
CashIn-Kind
Bill Van DusenCity Council-At-Large$3,051$605
Kaye FissingerCity Council-At-Large$4,242$503
Karen BenkerCity Council Ward 2$7,533$474
Roger LangeMayor$4,838
Independent Expenditure from Deb Gardner$208

Candidates Who Won
CashIn-Kind
Gabe SantosCity Council-At-Large$14,620$605
Alex SammouryCity Council-At-Large$13,718$503
Katie WittCity Council Ward 2$16,557$474
Bryan BaumMayor$4,246$9,137

Political Action Committees (PAC) that supported the “winners”
Longmont Leadership
(Western Tradition Partnership)
$12,800
Citizens to Elect the Baum$775
Longmont Citizens for a Brighter Future
(Coloradans for Economic Growth)
$6,700
Longmont Watch$792

Those who won the election and their supporters spent $82,519

Those that lost the election spent $21,454

~ 4 : 1

Almost all of the money spent by the above-identified PACs on the winning candidates was funneled to them through tax-exempt, non-profit 501c4 organizations who can, and do, keep the names of their contributors secret.

It wasn’t the first time that huge amounts were contributed to the winning candidate. The Longmont Realtor PAC gave Councilmember Santos $5,000 for the special election in January 2008.

Whether it’s called quid pro quo or “pay to play,” something very interesting happened when the well-funded, and secretly-funded, candidates claimed their majority. The bank account of the City of Longmont was opened wide. Three lawsuits brought with the intent of providing a false platform for the new majority candidates were settled:

Political money/muscle
Western Tradition Partnership, Longmont Leadership Committee, Longmont Area Realtors Association, et al$68,500
Times-Call, Dean Lehman$13,500
LifeBridge Church aka Town of Firestone$100,000
$182,000

$182,000 – Not a bad return on investment

Who won the November 2009 election?

Certainly not Longmont’s citizens.