Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Campaign / Inaugural problems for Ritter

Gov. Bill Ritter today said his campaign committee has taken out a $200,000 loan to repay campaign expenses that were incorrectly paid out of his inaugural committee's account.
The incorrect payments were discovered in February 2008 as the inaugural committee's accountant began trying to prepare a federal Form 990. A comprehensive financial review was then conducted at Gov. Ritter's request in March and April 2008 by the outside accounting firm Patten, MacPhee and Associates.
The review found that up to $217,164.56 in legitimate campaign expenses were incorrectly paid out of the inaugural account to 28 vendors. The review also found that Greg Kolomitz, manager of the Ritter for Governor campaign and subsequent inaugural events, overpaid himself and his company $83,250 out of the inaugural account. Mr. Kolomitz repaid those funds to the inaugural account on April 14.
"This is an extremely disappointing and unfortunate set of circumstances," Gov. Ritter said. "These are the facts and I have taken personal responsibility for remedying the situation. As soon as we discovered these problems, we asked an outside accounting firm to conduct a financial review. We have taken numerous steps to correct these problems, and we are providing the appropriate authorities with all of this information for their review as well."
The $200,000 commercial loan was obtained March 31 from Vectra Bank. Gov. Ritter and First Lady Jeannie Ritter have personally secured the loan with a deed of trust on their private home. The loan funds are being used to correctly pay 28 vendors for various services rendered during the 2006 gubernatorial campaign and ongoing political expenses incurred in 2007. Those vendors are being asked to then return their original payment amounts to the Ritter inaugural account.
This information, including the accounting report, was submitted today to the Secretary of State as part of a quarterly campaign finance report. It also was provided to the Attorney General and Denver District Attorney today for their review.
Nov. 7, 2006: Bill Ritter elected Governor.
Jan. 9, 2007: Bill Ritter sworn in as Colorado's 41st Governor.
Jan. 12, 13, 19-21: Inaugural celebration events are held.
Early February 2008: Inaugural committee accountant Bob Fowler begins preparing Form 990 for the IRS, which is due Feb. 15.
Feb. 11: Mr. Fowler contacts Trey Rogers, the Governor's legal counsel, seeking assistance in obtaining documents necessary to complete Form 990. Mr. Rogers calls Greg Kolomitz, who managed the Ritter for Governor campaign and the inaugural events, asking him to provide all the documents to Mr. Fowler.
Feb. 15: Mr. Fowler still does not have all the necessary documents and files for an extension for Form 990. 
Feb. 25: Mr. Rogers calls First Bank and requests copies of checks and bank statements for the Ritter inaugural account.
Feb. 29: First Bank provides documents.
March 3: Gov. Ritter asks attorney Jim Lyons to oversee a review of the inaugural account.
March 6: Mr. Lyons retains the accounting firm of Patten, MacPhee and Associates.
March 31: Ritter campaign obtains $200,000 loan from Vectra Bank, personally backed by Gov. Ritter and the First Lady.
April 14: Patten, MacPhee report completed.
April 14: Mr. Kolomitz returns $83,250 to inaugural account.
April 15: Ritter campaign files campaign finance report with the Secretary of State's Office. Accounting report is also provided to the Attorney General's Office and Denver District Attorney's Office for their review.