Friday, September 24, 2004
Steamboat Springs Bob Maddox, the owner and operator of Mountain Flight Service, has dropped a campaign finance complaint against Combined Airports Now LLC.
Cindy Maddox, Bob Maddox's wife, said the complaint was dropped because it was cost prohibitive to pursue the case. Maddox entered into a joint stipulation earlier this week dismissing the complaint.
Maddox filed the complaint last month with the Secretary of State's Office. He argued that Combined Airports Now LLC violated campaign finance laws by not registering with the city as an issues committee raising funds on behalf of an election issue.
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 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.
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.
Freirich said he is confident Combined Airports Now LLC would have prevailed in the matter.
"Certainly, my position is that (Maddox) entered that stipulation through his attorney because his complaint never had any merit to start with," Freirich said.
But Cindy Maddox said the decision to drop the case was purely financial.
"Freirich filed so many motions that we simply did not have the resources to hire an attorney and get anywhere with this thing," she said. "We looked at what it would have cost, and it was going to be $10,000 or more. Unfortunately, we could not afford to pursue it."
Freirich has appeared before the Steamboat Springs 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 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 made an official decision to pursue a ballot issue. The deadline for placing an initiative on the city ballot was Sept. 7.
The Maddoxes, whose business is based at the Steamboat Springs Airport, are advocates for the facility. They think Combined Airports Now and others have unfairly attacked the airport.