Elections, Sherrie Peif, Weld County

Weld County issue committees battling to the wire

GREELEY – If campaign donations and spending continue on the same path as they are currently, the vote yes and vote no campaigns concerning a ballot initiative to disband the Weld County Council may cost more than the annual cost of the council itself.

According to campaign finance reports released by the Secretary of State’s office this week, “We the People,” the group pushing to disband the Weld County Council, have collected $5,200 in donations during the first reporting period, which ended Oct. 12.

Of that, $3,500 came through one major donation from water developer Bob Lembke of CAW Equities LLC in Greenwood Village.

Other donors to the yes side mostly come from Ault, which is Freeman’s hometown, including Candice Clem ($200), Gail Fiolkowski ($100), Ault Mayor Gary (Butch) White ($200), and Lennard Simpson ($200). Eaton residents Melanie Van Dorin ($400) and Ryan Gallatin ($200) also donated. Nancy Fichter from Brighton donated $300. Kirkmeyer herself donated $100 to the effort.

However, Kirkmeyer also collected $919.55 from the group for “signs.”

Commissioner Kirkmeyer has been an open and driving force behind the vote yes campaign. She has long complained about the county council oversight of her. She’s been openly unhappy with the salary they set for her, upset by being audited and upset by the scrutiny over her mileage claims from home to work, a possible IRS violation that landed the county in an IRS audit.

Other than bank charges, no other expenditures are shown for the group. But Lembke’s donation didn’t come in until late last week, so it is unknown where the group will spend the money.

The vote no campaign hasn’t filed a report with the Secretary of State’s office because they organized as a small-scale committee. Under Colorado law, unless their donations exceed $5,000 they do not have to report donors.

The designation, which came out of a 2016 legislative change, is designed to avoid paperwork if the committee collects less than $5,000, a relatively small amount of money.

It appears the group, “The Committee to Save the Weld County Council” will reach that threshold, as it has radio ads on two local radio stations, they also have both yard and road signs around the county and they placed a full-page color ad in a local magazine.

Under state law, if the committee collects or spends more than $5,000 they have 15 days to report that to the state. They then have another five days to file a disclosure of all donations and expenses.

By that timeline and the current reporting period ending Oct. 12, the earliest The Committee to Save the Weld County Council would be required to file a report if it goes over the $5,000 would be Oct. 31.

If they do reach $5,000, the combined groups donations are nearly equal the average cost of the council, which is around $12,000 per year. There is still three weeks to the election.

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