Dan Maes: The Check

It's just the latest mini-scandal surrounding Dan Maes:

Former Greenwood Village Mayor Freda Poundstone claims to have given Dan Maes some amount over $300 as a personal gift because Maes was having trouble paying his mortgage.  Maes claims the money, apparently paid to him in cash, was a campaign contribution.

Here's my guess...and it's only a guess:  It was a gift but Maes thought that the political ramifications of needing a gift/loan to pay his mortgage would be politically damaging. So when the story came out, Maes said it was a campaign contribution.

If true, this carries a whole host of problems for Maes, including:

  • The amount exceeds the maximum legal cash contribution to a campaign. (From the beginning, Ms. Poundstone said she was aware of that and would therefore never give a cash contribution to a campaign.)
  • Ms. Poundstone is not listed as a campaign contributor, an error which could lead to yet another substantial fine against Maes' campaign.  (A caller to the Peter Boyles radio show on Wednesday morning said that he too donated to the Maes campaign and is not listed as a contributor.)

So, the story goes, at a Jefferson County Republican meeting at which Ms. Poundstone was speaking and Mr. Maes was in attendance, Maes dropped a check into Mrs. Poundstone's purse.  A picture of the check was obtained by Peter Boyles, and can be seen here:

The check has raised quite a bit of controversy, not least for:

  • It's not signed
  • There is not (as yet) a known entity called "Dan Maes for Governor", which is typed into the name section of this "counter" or "starter" check
  • It's written with two different pens

So here's my theory:

1) The actual campaign must already have real checks and wouldn't need this starter check. This is probably not campaign money, at least not directly.  Maybe from money he "reimbursed" himself. Perhaps, he or someone with him, happened to have one of the original starter checks from the campaign account, but I think it's more likely this is not a campaign account.

2) Given the fines he's already paid, Maes probably knows that he must thread the needle on this.

3) Legally, he can't say that Freda's money was a campaign contribution without risking fines and worse.  Politically, he doesn't want to say he took a gift because he couldn't pay his mortgage.  That would make it look even more like he's a guy running for governor because it's his best chance at earning a decent living.

4) Therefore, I repeat, I think he's set up a new account which is a personal account, not a campaign account, and wrote the check on that account.  Someone, probably his daughter, put the "Dan Maes for Governor" on the check without any thought as to the ramifications of that name.

5) If the account name is not actually "Dan Maes for Governor", and I bet it's not, I don't think there is any sort of violation of the law.  What matters is whose money it is, not the name typed on the check.  Again, I suspect it's just a personal account which someone put "Dan Maes for Governor" on just to try to make Maes look like a bigshot.

6) Instead, the whole thing simply reinforces the appearance of the Maes campaign as the Keystone Cops, as a paradigm of incompetence, and as unfit to be governor of Colorado.  (And I say that as a Republican.)

I'd also note that if he did use campaign funds to repay money which the original donor says was NOT a campaign contribution, one can only imagine the possible legal ramifications.  While Maes is in sort of a no-win situation here, it strikes me that yet again he is making the situation look as bad as it could.

  • airbus
    Comment from: airbus
    09/02/10 @ 07:27:02 am

    Mr Kaminsky nails it in this post. What is even more evident with Maes is his failure to grasp how the new Media works and has never been a part of it. If this was 1990, there would be no check issue going on, no question about his employment in the PD. With bloggers, talk radio and cell phone cameras, it is impossible to escape scrutiny in a political race.

  • joe harrington
    Comment from: joe harrington
    09/02/10 @ 10:26:04 am

    Ross, I have given two checks (totaling 1050) to the Friends of Dan Maes for Governor campaign, both of them made out to Dan Maes for Governor, both cashed, both recorded at the SoS website as credited to the campaign account. My wife has done the same. So have two other relatives of mine. I admit that some amateur things have been done by the Maes Campaign, probably most of them done by an over-worked Dan Maes, but I do not believe any of the mistakes have been intentional, criminal, or done to line his own pockets. I know many of your readers give money to campaigns... Anyone know exactly what to make the check out to for Hillary Clinton for President? Would Clinton for President have worked? How about Hillary for President, or maybe just Hilary for President (missing an L)... Obama collected more than $50 million in "small, unmarked bills" from sources unknown... Yeah right... Any opinion on http://www.theconstitutionalisttoday.com/tancredo-raceno-joke-fluckiger/ Saying that Tancredo had to have been a member of the ACP by January 1 of this year in order to be a candidate for the ACP on the ballot? I'm not a lawyer - so anyone able to weigh in on this would be helpful...

  • Comment from: Rossputin
    09/02/10 @ 10:32:12 am

    Joe, It gives me no pleasure to say, but your guy is toast. And deservedly so.

  • J
    Comment from: J
    09/02/10 @ 12:49:02 pm

    Not only was the check unsigned, the payee was filled in by Freda. That is her handwriting. Dan should have kept his promise to support all 3 tax reform measures, Prop 101, #60 and #61. Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned. Dan, the tea party used the casus to nominate a person who is honest, fiscally conservative, a strong supporter of Tabor, a Ref C hater, etc. Your mate is Tambor Willams who supported Ref C and a slew of other less than fiscal conservative positions. You have distorted the truth and embellished so many times you no longer meet the original criteria that garnered you the nomination. Get out and let Tancredo take the lead. I would prefer that both Tank and Maes exit and a new face take the lead, but sane, competent individuals are too smart to run for public office. Tank it is. Regardless of who runs, The Denver Post will make sure a Democrat wins. The pitfalls of a one paper town.

  • Comment from: Rossputin
    09/02/10 @ 12:54:01 pm

    J, While I am in agreement with much of what you wrote, I do not think the Denver Post has the influence you ascribe to it.

  • J
    Comment from: J
    09/02/10 @ 01:15:00 pm

    Ross, Let us hope the Post does not have the power to determine the outcome of a major election or any election. The Post certainly has a large following of useful idiots.