Steamboat Springs Bob Maddox, the owner and operator of Mountain Flight Service, has filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's Office saying that Combined Airports Now LLC has violated Colorado's campaign finance laws.
Combined Airports Now is registered with the Secretary of State's Office as a limited liability corporation. But the group has not registered with the city as a committee advocating for a ballot issue, as state law requires of groups who want to raise funds for an election campaign.
Maddox argues that the group should have been registered with the city since June 16. Maddox said the group meets the state's definition of an "issue committee" because it is comprised of at least two people, has a stated purpose of lobbying to get a question placed on a Steamboat Springs election ballot and has spent at least $200 in the procurement of services for attorneys, including its registered agent, Steamboat Springs attorney Mark Freirich.
"That LLC has made numerous public appearances through its agent Freirich with the stated goal of effecting the creation of a ballot referendum to put a question before the Steamboat Springs electorate regarding the Steamboat Springs Airport and/or to cause the Steamboat Springs Airport to close through an action of the City Council," Maddox wrote in his complaint.
In a response to Maddox's claims, Freirich said the group has accepted no contributions and is neither supporting nor opposing any ballot measure. Freirich said his work on behalf of the group has been voluntary and that he is not being compensated.
"The registration requirements are tied to contributions," Freirich said. "We don't have any contributions."
Freirich has appeared before the City Council on behalf of Combined Airports Now LLC in recent months, asking that the council stop all development at the Steamboat Springs Airport until residents can vote on whether the Steamboat Springs Airport should remain open. Combined Airports Now LLC officials have said in a letter to the council that they advocate consolidating airport operations at Yampa Valley Regional Airport. However, Freirich said the group has not officially made the decision to pursue a ballot issue.
"All I can say is there are several drafts of petitions, but I don't know where they are at this point," Freirich said.
In a letter dated Aug. 27, William A. Hobbs, deputy secretary of state, referred Maddox's complaint to an administrative law judge for review. Such referrals are standard procedure, said Lisa Doran, public information specialist for the Secretary of State's Office.
"The referral doesn't mean the case has or does not have merit. The administrative law judge makes that determination. We are simply the receiving agent (for the complaint)."
The Division of Administrative Hearings has not scheduled a hearing on the complaint.
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