Coloradoan continues to ignore FEC's clearance of Paccione; Tribune reported it after Colorado Media Matters item

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Following a September 5 Colorado Media Matters item documenting the failures of the Greeley Tribune and the Fort Collins Coloradoan to report that Rep. Angie Paccione (D) was cleared of a Republican complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Tribune published an article reporting the matter. The Tribune and Coloradoan previously had published stories covering the complaint against Paccione, but neither had reported she had been cleared.

Following a September 5 Colorado Media Matters item documenting the failures of the Greeley Tribune and the Fort Collins Coloradoan to report that 4th Congressional District candidate Rep. Angie Paccione (D) was cleared of a Republican complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Tribune published an article reporting the matter. As Colorado Media Matters noted, the Tribune and Coloradoan previously had published stories covering the complaint against Paccione, but neither had reported she had been cleared. As of its September 7 issue, the Coloradoan still had not reported that the complaint has been dismissed.

On August 30, the Rocky Mountain News website ran an Associated Press story noting that the FEC cleared the Paccione campaign of campaign fraud charges. The AP story also was published August 31 on the website of the Boulder Daily Camera.

The Tribune posted the AP story on its website on the evening of September 6. The AP story reported that the FEC "recently" cleared "Paccione of charges that she improperly offered potential campaign donors gifts" and that the FEC "dismissed the matter, saying Paccione took immediate action to retract the offer." The article also noted that, "Paccione's campaign spokesman James Thompson said the charges were politically motivated and the FEC decision proves they were 'frivolous'."

On April 13, the Tribune reported (registration required) that, "Ron Buxman, 50, of Greeley filed [a] complaint with the Federal Election Commission to protest e-mails that promised free vacations to campaign contributors." The article noted that Paccione said the emails were sent out by "a misguided staff member" and that she wasn't alerted to the emails "until after they'd been sent." The article also noted that Buxman is "vice president of the Weld County Republicans" and his family has donated $1,650 to Paccione's Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave.

According to the FEC, the complaint about an allegedly illegal email was dismissed July 14. In an August 28 statement, the FEC wrote, "Once she [Paccione] learned of the e-mail's existence, she sent a follow-up e-mail roughly three hours and forty-five minutes later retracting the first e-mail. In light of the action taken by the respondents and the fact that the offer never came to fruition, the Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter."

Colorado Media Matters noted on September 5 that neither the Coloradoan nor the Tribune had covered the story despite having reported allegations that led to the complaint.

As of September 7, the Coloradoan still had not reported that the Paccione campaign was cleared of the fraud allegations, despite reporting that Musgrave called the email "some of the worst political corruption she has seen in state politics," according to a February 25 article in the Coloradoan by reporter Lindsay Renick Mayer. The article further reported that:

The dispute surrounds [an email] brochure that offers rewards to fundraising teams involved in Paccione's campaign. According to the brochure - which Paccione said was a draft that hadn't yet received her approval - the reward for the second-place team is a day at the statehouse and an introduction on the House floor.

Such introductions are traditional and allow members to introduce constituents during the first half hour of every session in the House.

From the September 5 AP article in the Greeley Tribune:

The Federal Election Commission recently cleared Colorado Democratic congressional hopeful Angie Paccione of charges that she improperly offered potential campaign donors gifts -- including trips to Washington for her swearing-in ceremony.

[...]

Republicans complained to the FEC that the Paccione campaign sent an illegal e-mail in February offering trips, dinners and other prizes in exchange for donations of $5,000 or more. Such an offer is illegal, the complaint contended.

The FEC dismissed the matter, saying Paccione took immediate action to retract the offer. According to a statement from the FEC, Paccione and her campaign had not authorized the e-mail messages. She also sent an e-mail correcting the situation less than four hours after learning about it.

State House leaders dismissed a similar ethics complaint against Paccione earlier this year, saying there was no evidence she abused her office by offering prizes for contributions to her congressional campaign, including an introduction on the state house floor.

Paccione's campaign spokesman, James Thompson, said the charges were politically motivated and the FEC decision proves they were "frivolous."

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