Today, the Open Government Institute of Colorado (OGI) released an investigative report on Senator Linda Newell, which found that Sen. Newell has violated state law on several occasions since she established her candidate committee for the 2008 race. 

While OGI cites several instances of clear campaign finance violations, the one that made us laugh was the $5,600 she reimbursed and paid to her daughters.  Yes, we know.  Colorado law allows candidates and legislators to hire their family members.  That said, we've never heard of a win bonus for a State Senate race – hey, if that's the new norm, sign us up!

Another that made us laugh – her $600+ on Christmas Eve.  Was someone writing off mileage and expenses for Christmas shopping?

Here are just a few of her other violations:

1)Failure to properly disclose required information for reimbursements made by her campaign committee to her, personally.  On several occasions, she simply noted “miscellaneous” as the reason for reimbursements in the thousands of dollars.

2)Unlawful bundling of reimbursement requests, as campaign finance law stipulates that reimbursements over $20 must be itemized.  We suppose it's pointless to note that the Colorado Restaurant Association doesn't have valet parking.  Or is that even what she meant?  It's just unclear:

3)Reimbursement for expenditures possibly non-reimbursable under Colorado law. Of course, since she failed to comply, we have no idea for what she was reimbursing herself. Our favorite in this category was at the end of 2009, when she purchased $500 gift cards to Costco and Office Depot.  It was just a few days before Christmas.  Was she…Christmas shopping again?????  At Office Depot? We can just picture Christmas morning.  "Wow, Mom. …It's a paper shredder….  Thanks….  I think."

Fortunately for Linda Newell (and unfortunately for her constituents), state law also mandates the statute of limitations for campaign finance fines at just 180 days.  The majority of her violations have occurred more than 180 days ago, which is why we will not see Newell in court, despite the fact that she flagrantly flouted campaign finance laws.  Newell's constituents deserve a transparent candidate, and a responsible steward of their hard-earned campaign donations.  We think Newell should come clean about her shady campaign expenses.