Secretary of State’s office takes blame for campaign finance flub by state Sen. Jack Tate


AURORA | Secretary of State Wayne Williams’s office is taking the blame for a campaign finance mistake by state Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial.

The Democratic Senate Campaign Fund and Tate’s opponent, Tom Sullivan, said this week that the Republican violated state campaign finance rules when he rolled over more than $27,000 from his former state House campaign to his Senate campaign. State rules put the limit on those transactions at about $22,000.

State Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial
State Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial

In a letter to Tate on May 5, Williams said his office gave bad advice when they explained to him how to move money from his House campaign committee to a Senate campaign committee.

“My office mistakenly gave you erroneous information regarding the effect of the committee change on the contribution limits,” the letter said.

Tate served in the state House before he was tabbed in December 2015 to replace former Sen. David Balmer in Senate District 27.

The Republican Secretary of State said in his letter that Balmer approached his office asking how Tate could roll the money over and the Secretary’s office didn’t explain the process correctly.

The letter said Tate can now donate the $5,611.67 to a charity, give it to a political party or give it back to original donors.

In a Saturday, May 7, Facebook post, Tate noted that the situation “reveals how complicated our campaign finance regulations are.

“I worked assiduously in good faith last year with the Secretary of State’s office in order to handle a complicated matter properly. The staff there is very kind and conscientious,” Tate wrote. “Even the best efforts at teamwork can fall short. We have all taken our lumps over this, had lessons learned, and have moved forward in a positive way. It was ultimately my responsibility.

Williams’ office said this week that complaints are regularly sent to an administrative law judge, but on Friday, Secretary of State spokeswoman Lynn Bartels said the case hasn’t been sent to a judge because the complainant, Ali Vail, didn’t properly file the paperwork.

According to the latest campaign finance filings, Tate’s campaign had about $35,000 on hand, thanks largely to the money rolled over from his House campaign. Without the money he wasn’t supposed to roll over, Tate has less than $30,000 compared to Sullivan’s $23,000.

Sullivan, whose son, Alex, was killed in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting and who is running for office for the first time, out raised the incumbent Tate through the first quarter of 2016. Sullivan brought in $30,876 this year compared to Tate’s $4,150.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story misidentified the original campaign finance complainant.