Briefline

Progressive group alleges GOP attorney general candidate accepted illegal campaign donation

By: - May 20, 2022 2:16 pm

18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner is a Republican candidate for Colorado Attorney General.

A recently filed campaign finance complaint alleges that Republican Attorney General candidate John Kellner accepted a contribution from a lobbyist during the legislative session, in violation of state campaign finance laws.

The complaint, filed by left-leaning organization ProgressNow Colorado, shows that Kellner accepted a $500 contribution from Michael Fields on Jan. 27, 15 days after the start of the legislative session.

Kellner disclosed the contribution in a May 2 campaign finance filing, which showed about $106,000 in total monetary contributions for the first four months of the year.

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Fields is a registered lobbyist for the conservative group Advance Colorado Action. State law prohibits lobbyists like Fields from donating to candidates for statewide office while the General Assembly is in session.

“Given the office he seeks, Kellner’s violation is particularly egregious as it demonstrates either an ignorance of or total disregard for Colorado’s election and campaign laws. Such a cavalier approach to complying with Colorado’s campaign finance laws is especially alarming as Kellner, if elected Attorney General, would be charged with enforcing in court the very laws he violated,” the complaint reads.

The complaint notes that the acceptance of the contribution is a non-curable offense, meaning Kellner cannot correct it by updating any reports or disclosures. The organization urged the Campaign Finance Enforcement Team to “apply all relevant penalties for such a violation.”

“John Kellner has displayed a disturbing pattern of ethically questionable behavior when it comes to his campaign donors,” ProgressNow Colorado Executive Director Sara Loflin said in a statement. “He either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that he’s breaking the law, which means he’s either incompetent or thinks he’s above law. Both conclusions are problematic.”

Neither Kellner nor Fields responded to a request for comment in time for publication.

ProgressNow Colorado has also called for an investigation by the state’s Independent Ethics Commission to look into Kellner’s decision not to file charges against former Douglas County undersheriff and Republican Sheriff candidate Holly Kluth, who was a donor to Kellner’s 2020 campaign for district attorney.

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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