A Colorado sheriff has until Oct. 4 to “cure” a complaint alleging campaign finance violations over emails and videos that appear to support Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) filed by a political operative accused of harassing the congresswoman.
The Enforcement Team of the Elections Division in the office of the Colorado Secretary of State (SOS), Jena Griswold, is currently reviewing the complaint against Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.
The complaint was filed by David Wheeler, the president of American Muckrakers PAC, who leads efforts to “fire” Boebert and is touted as spearheading a similar campaign targeting former Republican North Carolina congressman Madison Cawthorn.
Wheeler accuses Vallario of using his official email account to “send a political message supporting Lauren Boebert for Congress and deriding her opponent.” Vallario is also accused of referring to Wheeler as “a loon” in an email to staff, among other things.
In a statement to The Epoch Times, Vallario confirmed that he had until Oct. 4 to “cure” Wheeler’s “one-sided” complaint.
“There is currently an investigation where the SOS has stated that there ‘may’ be one or more violations as a result of the one-sided information provided so far,” Vallario said.
“There are three or four emails he has provided as ‘evidence’ of his claims. I will be addressing those in my response to the SOS,” he added.
Complaints brought to the SOS’s office are initially reviewed by the Enforcement Team of the Elections Division independently to determine whether to pursue it, according to the SOS’s office. Griswold and her deputy are “walled off” from the investigative phase of all complaints.
The Epoch Times understands the complaint against Vallario is in the “notice of initial review and opportunity to cure” phase.
After an initial review of the complaint, the Elections Division found that if the allegations are proven they “may” constitute campaign finance violations under Colorado law.
Opportunity to Cure
The Elections Division determined after its initial review that “one or more” of the allegations “may be curable,” according to filings. Vallario can also dispute the complaint.
Under Colorado law, if a respondent is offered the opportunity to cure, or resolve, an alleged violation, the respondent will have 10 business days to submit their evidence. This is the first step before an investigation is launched.
To determine compliance with the law, the Elections Division will look at the extent of Vallario’s alleged noncompliance, the purpose of the provision violated, and whether the purpose was substantially achieved despite the noncompliance. It also looks into whether the noncompliance can properly be viewed as an intentional attempt to mislead the electorate or election officials.
Among its initial findings, the Elections Division noted that Colorado law doesn’t prohibit an elected official from expressing a personal opinion on any issue.
Boebert’s Office Accuses Wheeler of Harassment
Boebert’s office has accused Wheeler of harassment, according to a trove of emails Wheeler published on a website his PAC runs calling for the Republican congresswoman to be fired.
In an email on June 20, Jay Misany, the field director for “Lauren Boebert for Congress,” informed Vallario that Wheeler “has been harassing” the congresswoman in Garfield County. He included photos and links to Twitter posts of Wheeler’s efforts to track down Boebert’s physical location at certain times.
Misany said Wheeler posted a photo of himself standing in front of a sign leading to Boebert’s house and “some other pictures close to her house.”
In a follow up email on June 21, Jeff Small, Boebert’s chief of staff, informed Vallario that Wheeler showed up at locations where the Republican congresswoman dined or attended church to protest her.
He included a June 19 post on Twitter as evidence the political action committee president, who says he is “paid by the PAC to run a campaign against Boebert,” planned to “crash her church” on June 26.
In his complaint, Wheeler disputed the claim of harassment, writing, “Wheeler was not harassing Boebert nor were there any police reports or complaints filed against Wheeler that week.”
In a further statement to The Epoch Times, Wheeler said: “This political stunt case was dismissed by the Judge. I never harassed anyone and she knows it. Boebert filed that case as retaliation and I’ve filed an ethics complaint with the U.S. House.”
American Muckraker PAC’s campaign to have Boebert fired has seen a significant drop in donations since June, when it received over $25,000, its highest figure this year. The PAC received no donations in July and less than $5,000 in August, according to a plea for support Wheeler posted on Twitter.
This report was updated to include Wheeler’s comments.