Sheriff's candidate fined for fundraising report

Tony Spurlock says 'clerical errors' behind mistakes

By Virginia Grantier

Douglas County Undersheriff Tony Spurlock, one of four candidates for sheriff, was fined last month by an administrative law judge for violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act. He has since settled up.

Judge Robert N. Spencer, of the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts in Denver, ruled Feb. 11 that Spurlock "failed to report all required information for several contributions of $100 or more and failed to report all required information for several expenditures in violation of the FCPA."

"No one was hurt (and) it wasn't that we were trying to trick anyone," Spurlock said, adding that he wasn't trying to hide information. It was simply "clerical errors" that resulted in inaccurate and incomplete information in his contributions and expenditures report filed on Nov. 1, 2013.

Matt Arnold of Campaign Integrity Watchdog first discovered the problems, after which he filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's office in January.

Spencer agreed that there was missing information and ordered Spurlock to file an amended report, which according to Spurlock, he did on Feb. 25. Spurlock was fined by Spencer $4,050, but only required to pay $1,000 as he paid up within 30 days.

The Republican undersheriff said that despite the fact he has already paid, he is considering appealing the fine.

Spurlock got in trouble because, in the contributions portion of the report, two donors had occupations listed as "unknown," including one who works for the sheriff's office. Spurlock said he was not trying to hide where the donors worked and that he has other contributors who work for the sheriff's office and that he correctly listed their occupations.

Additionally, the occupations of several retired contributors were also listed as "unknown" when they should have been described as "retired."

Spurlock said the person responsible for creating the report didn't know the contributors, but when he, who does know the donors, looked over the report he didn't look at it "line by line." He said that he would in the future, however.

In the expenditures section of the report, payees of three expenditures totaling $252 were also listed as "unknown." The type of expense was listed as "miscellaneous" for one of the expenditures and "office supplies" for the other two.

The candidate said all three were actually expenses for Douglas County Republican groups and events and should have been described as such. He also said some of the problems with the expenditures report were caused because PayPal doesn't provide sufficient payee information.

Douglas County Coroner Lora Thomas, also a Republican candidate for sheriff, said she took three classes to learn how to do the requisite report, and reviewed it with an assistant before filing it. Thomas said the Secretary of State's Office "was very helpful," in helping her learn how to do the report and that hers is "perfect."

"It's not as difficult as handling a $48 million budget," she said, referring to the sheriff's office's budget, which the successful candidate will have to manage.

Castle Rock Police Cmdr. John Anderson, the third Republican candidate, said his report is also complete, without any problems. He said anyone could make a mistake but that for sensitive materials like this, one should take additional precautions.

"I feel bad for him. I really do," Anderson said. "I don't like to see someone get hurt or embarrassed."

In addition to the aforementioned problems, Spurlock was also supposed to attend a Feb. 7 hearing on Arnold's complaint. The undersheriff said he didn't show up because he hadn't been informed it was taking place.

He said he didn't show because the notice about the hearing, mailed by the Colorado Secretary of State's office, didn't reach him and was returned to sender. That, he said, is because his campaign headquarters' suite number wasn't listed on the documents he filed with the state.

Highlands Ranch Libertarian Brock McCoy Sr. became the fourth candidate to file for the office when he submitted his paperwork Feb. 25.