Running for political office is an expensive endeavor, even at the local level. Delving into current Adams County Commissioner candidates’ donor records reveals big contributions from special interest groups and even from the same disgraced politicians we are trying to rid ourselves of.
Every election year I write a story about campaign contributions to the local candidates and invariably it raises someone’s hackles. I greet that with amusement as the information is publically available and voters have a right – and a need – to know. Politicians however seem to prefer this information be kept under wraps.
This year more than ever before it is important for voters to know where candidates are getting their money from as it can point toward where the person’s loyalties lie.
Most of those who currently hold political office in the county and many who have departed are tainted by scandal. Just as scandals tie them all together, so too does money from unions and from each other. Clearly money from these same sources has now trickled into some of this year’s crop of candidates and that is troubling.
With that said, I offer this insight into where the money to fund campaigns for Adams County Commissioner are coming from.
Adams County District 1 – Gary Mikes versus Eva Henry
This race has a big disparity in campaign funding between the candidates as Henry is the winner hands down of all local candidates. In her October 16 filing the Thornton City Councilperson reports a staggering $47,650.19 in contributions.
Where that money comes from is telling. The biggest chunk of money given to Henry is from labor unions, the same folks who have historically financed the disgraced crop of Democrat candidates that we are currently running out of office.
A total of $4,500 was been contributed to Henry’s campaign by AFSCME, SEIU and the pipe fitters’ union among others. That is an awful lot of money unions are spending in a local election.
The Carlson family which owns and develops a great deal of land in the north metro area also appears frequently on Henry’s donor rolls. Clarke, Clay, Scott and Kent Carlson have combined to contribute $2,000 to her, far more than they gave to any other candidate.
Fellow Democrats on Thornton City Council also have been generous. Val Vigil has given $75 and Eric Tade $200. Lynne Fox leads however with $450 contributed.
Interestingly, Henry was the recipient of a $100 donation from former Adams County Commissioner Larry Pace. Pace was roundly defeated two years ago in his reelection attempt in the wake of the scandals that rocked (and continue to rock) the county.
Lastly we come to a donation from Congressman Jared Polis (CO, CD2). It is well known that he and Henry are close and he was the single biggest contributor to her campaign with a $2,700 contribution.
Local businessman Gary Mikes is putting on a challenge with less funding but also without the ties to current politicians or special interests.
Mikes has raised $38,808.74 as he campaigns on a platform advocating reform for the county and a promise to return ethical governance to Brighton. He is a political outsider and that shows in his campaign contributions.
Looking at Mikes’ donor list you will not find unions, you will not find special interests and you will not find donations from questionable current or former office holders. This is commendable indeed.
Adams County District 2 – Donnia Howell versus Chaz Tedesco
Unions are working hard to buy influence in this crucial race to replace the disgraced Alice Nichol, current occupant of this seat. Charles “Chaz” Tedesco is reaping the benefits of his current job as a labor union boss.
Tedesco has raised $40,204.00 of which a stunning $10,250.00 has been dropped into his campaign coffers from unions alone. AFSCME, USW, SEIU and all of the usual suspects are there giving money to him. We can’t recall a larger amount from labor ever having been given to a local candidate and have to wonder what all that money would buy if Tedesco was elected.
Smaller contributions to Tedesco’s campaign are also very interesting and include a slate of folks involved in the scandals of recent years in the county.
Among those is lawyer Gene Ciancio who defended a key figure in the Quality Paving scandal. State Representative Judy Solano gave $250. Solano’s husband Manny defended another criminal in the scheme that defrauded taxpayers out of millions of dollars.
Another familiar name appears on Tedesco’s donor rolls, that of Robert ‘Bob’ Fleming. Fleming is the former county planning director whose firm now conducts a great deal of business in front of the Board of Adjustment. That board includes the husband of Commissioner Alice Nichol, Ron, who is also Fleming’s former employee.
Given the show of questionable ethics Tedesco put on recently, these contributions are disconcerting to say the least.
Feisty reformist Donnia Howell opposes Tedesco on the ballot in District 2 and has raised $28,338.94 according to the last filing.
Howell has been one of the most outspoken candidates advocating for the need for extensive reform in Adams County. She is a political outsider not only removed from scandal but also from the biases and ties to questionable contributions.
Like with Gary Mikes, it is most notable what is missing from Howell’s donor rolls rather than what is in them. There are no special interests or labor unions and not one person tied to scandal is on there. Howell is simply doing it her way without potentially corrupting influences and that is duly noted.
Colorado TRACER Reports: