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One of three candidates for the special election for Englewood City Council's District 1 seat has filed an updated campaign-spending report that detailed more than $2,500 that his first report left out.
Carson Green, a candidate to represent the north-northwestern district of Englewood, said he was following the rules for campaign finance as he understood them.
“I'm completely for transparency and openness,” Green said May 12. “My understanding was that the form was specifically for what contributions covered, separate from what I paid for myself.”
Green filed an initial spending report for the May 1 deadline, as the candidates must do under a state law called the Fair Campaign Practices Act. Green's report detailed a total of $25 — for advertising through Facebook — in spending for his campaign through April 26. Election Day is May 22.
Green filed an amended report dated May 10 that detailed a spending total of $2,592, including about $904 for yard signs, $536 for printing for mailers and $298 for postage for mailers.
On Nextdoor, a social-media website for residents within a common area, a user posted on May 10 about Green's initial spending report and reports for his opponents, Scott Danford and Othoniel Sierra. The post questioned who paid for Green's mailers and yard signs, given that his first report did not detail the expenditures.
“Yes, I've had campaign signs that I personally paid for up since March 15,” Green said in an online response to the post the same day. “As you can see by the filings, I didn't even form the candidate committee, which created my ability to take in contributions, until March 26.”
Green said his understanding was that he needed to report expenditures that were covered by outside contributions of money from supporters. He said he didn't think he needed to report money he spent on his own until later receiving contributions that made up for it, and he expected to report those contributions, if they came in, on his next report. Candidates are required to report their spending over three parts of the campaign.
Another user on Nextdoor suggested he talk to the Colorado Secretary of State's Office, which told Green he should report personal spending regardless of whether he takes in contributions that cover it, Green said.
Registration for Green's committee was filed on March 26, according to the registration form. Green spent money before and after March 26 that was not reported on his first finance report. That includes the expenditures of about $904 for yard signs March 8 and, on April 23, the $536 for printing mailers and $298 for postage.
“The first filing has the Facebook advertising (cost) because it's the only one paid for by the Vote Carson Green committee out of (its) bank account,” Green said.
In both the first and updated report, the contributions he listed receiving were $100 for a deposit to open the bank account and about $5 in non-itemized contributions, which he said he used to test his donation system. Only contributions of $20 or more must be itemized.
He paid for the advertising but not other costs, like for the yard signs, through the campaign-committee funds because that cost was less than the amount he had in the account, and he knew he wanted to spend the $100 somehow, Green said.
Candidates can list themselves as making contributions to their own campaigns on the spending reports. Candidates can also use a form to report personal expenditures only, but Green said he expected to be taking in contributions, and he has had a contribution since April 26, after the reporting period for the initial filing.
Green said he read the guidelines on campaign finance when he formed his committee, but he feels it's unclear how spending should be reported.
“I'm putting (my spending) on there for the sake of transparency,” said Green, who filed his amended report a few hours after the Nextdoor conversation.
Residents responded with appreciation for his correction, Green said.
District 1's special election will choose an individual to serve the remainder of the term of the city-council seat vacated by former Mayor Joe Jefferson, which ends in November 2019. Jefferson stepped down Jan. 8 to take the municipal judge seat he won in the Nov. 7 election.
Jefferson's absence from the now six-member council created a deadlock among councilmembers in appointing a replacement for him. Green, Sierra and Danford were among the applicants the city council narrowed the choice down to before declaring the impasse that made the special election necessary.
The winner of the election may break the 3-3 split on a council that has not yet chosen a councilmember to succeed Jefferson as mayor. The council can technically choose a mayor without a seventh member seated but has preferred to wait.
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