After we published a post yesterday about Colorado Democrats spending official campaign funds more than a decade after leaving office, an especially troubling situation came to light about a $500,000 expenditure from Salazar for Senate.
With a moderate amount of fanfare last year, Ken Salazar seeded an endowed center at CSU bearing his name, not with his own money, as normal alumni benefactors would do, but rather with cash out of his zombie campaign account.
That’s right – Ken Salazar used donor funds from a campaign that ended nine years ago to enrich himself by purchasing the prestige of an endowed center at CSU bearing his name.
CSU may have been complicit in this arrangement as well by possibly intentionally concealing the true nature of the donated funds by using nonsensical language in its own press release. From the CSU press release announcing the donation that seeded The Salazar Center for North American Conservation:
“Salazar endorsed a founding gift of $500,000 to get the project off the ground.”
How in the world does someone “endorse” a gift, and what does that mean? It means that CSU probably understood, just as Salazar did, that it was inappropriate to accept campaign funds for the purpose of naming an endowed institute at the university after Salazar, and CSU was willing to be as opaque as possible to conceal this breach of public trust.
Their plan worked, until now, with multiple media outlets not picking up on the nuance, and running stories that gave the impression that Salazar made the donation, such as this story that ran in the Denver Business Journal:
“He also provided a founding gift of $500,000 to get the project off the ground, the university said.”
We must hold accountable politicians who personally enrich themselves, as Salazar did, using campaign funds. While this may not be illegal, it is unethical and the manner in which Salazar and CSU obscured the true nature of the donation is despicable and it further diminishes public trust in civic institutions.