Post yet to cover financial complaints against Trailhead

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As of September 21, The Denver Post had yet to publish an article about recent complaints filed against the Republican-backed Trailhead Group over reported financial transactions. But the Rocky Mountain News has covered those complaints.

As of September 21, The Denver Post had yet to publish a story about recent complaints filed against the Republican-backed Trailhead Group in response to the group's reported financial transactions, despite the Rocky Mountain News's coverage of those complaints.

Trailhead is an independent political organization founded by Gov. Bill Owens (R-CO), former Republican senatorial candidate Pete Coors, and former Colorado Republican Party chairman Bruce Benson.

The News reported in a September 20 article by reporter Lynn Bartels that "[a]s a result of" investigative reporting by the Colorado Confidential weblog, "separate complaints [against Trailhead] were filed with the IRS and the secretary of state." In a September 19 web-only version of Bartels's article, the News reported that "complaints were filed with the IRS by Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government and with the secretary of state by the Democratic political group Colorado Clear Peak."

The News reported September 20 that "Colorado Confidential examined Trailhead's financial records filed with the IRS." As noted by the News, Colorado Confidential stated on September 15, "Contributions to other political committees that Trailhead claims in its IRS filings are not found on the recipient's books, and contributions from those committees back to Trailhead either don't match Trailhead's records or don't appear at all."

The News reported that "experts on campaign finance laws say the transactions appear to have something to do with rules that limit when corporate contributions can be spent on candidates" and that "[t]he question is whether Trailhead is exploiting a loophole in the state's complex campaign finance rules or breaking the law."

The News reported that Trailhead director Alan Philp said, "Not only did we do everything by the book, we took the utmost caution."

From the News' September 20 article:

Colorado Confidential examined Trailhead's financial records filed with the IRS.

"Contributions to other political committees that Trailhead claims in its IRS filings are not found on the recipient's books, and contributions from those committees back to Trailhead either don't match Trailhead's records or don't appear at all," the blog reported.

For example, Trailhead reported making a $50,000 contribution to the Colorado Leadership Fund, another GOP group. Only two days later, the Leadership fund donated $50,000 to Trailhead.

But the Leadership Fund's records don't list the contribution or the expenditure, Colorado Confidential reported.

Asked why the groups exchanged money, Philp would only say, "We chose to invest in each other."

But experts on campaign finance laws say the transactions appear to have something to do with rules that limit when corporate contributions can be spent on candidates.

Political groups such as Trailhead can donate corporate money to another political group, but once that money is donated it is no longer considered corporate funding and, thus, has no restrictions.

The question is whether Trailhead is exploiting a loophole in the state's complex campaign finance rules or breaking the law.

[...]

Said Philp: "Not only did we do everything by the book, we took the utmost caution."

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