Jan. 27—A campaign finance complaint filed against a former Boulder City Council candidate has been scheduled for a quasi-judicial hearing in Boulder Municipal Court.
Boulder residents Mark McIntyre, Regina Cowles and Jane Hummer filed the complaint, arguing former City Council candidate Steve Rosenblum exceeded the city's expenditure limits when he sought legal assistance to research, prepare and file a lawsuit against the Boulder Progressives and a group of community members.
Rosenblum's lawsuit, which will be heard in Boulder District Court on Monday, alleges a coordinated campaign against Rosenblum's candidacy as well as a coordinated effort to block his endorsements. It also alleges that websites and social media accounts were set up using Rosenblum's likeness without his permission.
Regarding the campaign finance complaint, the Boulder City Clerk's Office found there is probable cause and additional facts are necessary to determine whether the complaint's claim that Rosenblum took legal action to benefit himself as a candidate rather than himself as an individual is valid.
The three residents argue Rosenblum failed to disclose his attorney's fees as well as the public relations and investigation fees paid on behalf of his campaign. They argue paid work in support of a candidate's campaign for public relations, investigative work and/or legal fees is a campaign expense similar to the purchase of yard signs and printing costs.
Rosenblum could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. However, he provided some insight into his thinking in a response to the City Clerk's Office.
"I engaged Brownstein in my individual capacity, not on behalf of my campaign, to perform legal services, not lobbying or political communications work," Rosenblum wrote.
He said the city should be wary of accepting such campaign finance complaints, requiring candidates to disclose personal legal services as campaign expenditures.
"If all of a candidate's personal legal work during a campaign was considered a campaign expenditure, it would be impossible for candidates to defend themselves in personal lawsuits during a political campaign," Rosenblum wrote.
Former Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett, who is representing Rosenblum in his lawsuit, said he'd likely be a witness in the campaign finance hearing so a colleague would be serving as legal counsel.
In previous interviews, Garnett echoed Rosenblum's argument in his written response to the city, saying that the lawsuit was filed by Rosenblum in his personal capacity, not as part of his role as a City Council candidate.
Darren O'Connor, who is representing McIntyre, Cowles and Hummer, disputes this, in part because the defendants in that case were involved with other candidates' campaigns and the lawsuit was filed in the midst of Rosenblum's candidacy.
"It was clearly an effort to get messaging out, including through multiple press releases, to impugn people that were having legitimate conversations about their concerns regarding a City Council candidate," O'Connor said.
The hearing will be at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 14. Though it will be conducted much like a trial, it is not one. The judge will be tasked with determining whether the claims made in the complaint have merit but will not be the one to establish a penalty. That is the purview of the City Clerk's Office.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify language.