Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn claims she called campaign strategists from her office to book them for a conference
January 16, 2018
Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn is claiming the phone calls she made from her office last year to political campaign strategists she retained for her state treasurer’s campaign were made to book the campaign consultants for a June 2018 treasurer’s conference in Steamboat Springs.
Horn initially claimed on Thursday she couldn’t remember the 52-minute phone call she made on May 17 to Magellan Strategies, the Louisville, Colorado-based company Horn started paying in June to help manage her campaign for state treasurer.
The first call, which Steamboat Today found after obtaining phone records through an open records request, occurred about three weeks before Horn announced her campaign for state treasurer.
Additional records obtained on Friday showed a second call Horn made to Magellan Strategies on Dec. 1.
When she was asked about the 21-minute phone call that she made to the campaign consultants in December, Horn said Friday she thought about the initial call more and remembered the reason for calling Magellan.
She also took to Facebook to label the initial story about the first phone call, which quoted County Manager Tom Sullivan as saying he thought the call violated a state law that prevents elected officials from using public money and resources on political campaigns, as “fake news.”
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“I mentioned to you the last time that I have thousands of conversations in 2017 and did not remember that specific call topic,” Horn wrote in a Friday email when asked about the second call to Magellan, which occurred after she started paying them to work on her campaign.
“However, now that I think about it, calling Magellan is for being a presenter at the county treasurer and public trustee associations in June (2018). Our conference is being held in Steamboat Springs this year and it is my responsibility to get speakers and presenters for the four day event.”
Horn did not respond to follow-up questions, including what topic Magellan Strategies would be speaking about at the conference.
On its website, Magellan Strategies says its mission “is to provide actionable voter survey research, superior voter data modeling, and campaign strategy and consulting services to a diversified client base.”
The company’s client list includes several prominent Republicans, including Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez and Pennsylvania senator Pat Toomey.
Two phone messages Steamboat Today left for Horn’s campaign contact at Magellan Strategies on Thursday and Monday to discuss the company’s calls with the county treasurer have not been returned.
Routt County Commissioners had mixed reactions to the reports of Horn’s phone call to Magellan Strategies from her office.
Commission Chairman Tim Corrigan said Monday he didn’t think Horn using county resources to call a campaign consulting firm was “egregious.”
But Commissioner Doug Monger appeared to share Sullivan’s concerns about the call.
“It smells. It stinks,” Monger said of the call at a county work session.
The commissioners started discussing the call Horn made to Magellan after they learned that Chuck McConnell, a former chairman of Routt County’s Republican Party, had requested the phone records of county commissioner Cari Hermacinski, deputy county clerk Lane Iacovetto and District Attorney Brett Barkey.
Iacovetto is running for county treasurer, and Barkey is running against Horn in a Republican primary for state treasurer.
Hermacinski last month filed to run for reelection as a county commissioner.
McConnell recently sat in on a phone interview Steamboat Today conducted with Horn about concerns about the work environment in Horn’s office.
Commissioners were told Monday that McConnell did not specifically request the phone records of Patrick Karschner, Horn’s chief deputy treasurer who is running to succeed her as county treasurer.
A former employee accused Karschner and Horn of doing campaign work in the office.
Horn and Karschner denied those allegations.