by Pam Zubeck
UPDATE: A spokesman for Attorney General John Suthers denies that Suthers favored the payday lending industry in rewriting the rules while accepting campaign contributions from the industry.
The allegation came Monday from Democrat Stan Garnett, who's trying to unseat Republican Suthers. Garnett challenged Suthers to return money he's collected from payday lenders.
Neither Garnett nor Suthers had primary opposition, so the race for the seat is heating up for the Nov. 2 general election.
"John's explanation is that donations had nothing to do with the regulations," Suthers' campaign spokesman Andrew Cole says in an interview. "The regulator who works for John but has statutory independence was the one who actually wrote the regulations. She's a non-political employee. Everyone who knows John knows he can't be bought."
Here's Garnett's press release:
Colorado Attorney General candidate Stan Garnett today called on his opponent to return the $10,350 he recently received from payday lenders at the same time that his office was writing new regulations for that industry. A list of those contributions is attached.
“This is a simple but critical matter of maintaining public confidence in the Attorney General’s office, and eliminating even the appearance of impropriety or a conflict of interest,” said Garnett.
Garnett, currently the District Attorney for Colorado’s 20th Judicial District, also said, “The Governor and our lawmakers are forbidden from taking money from those who lobby them while the Legislature is in session. The same principle should apply in this case.”
In a recent interview on this subject, the incumbent said bankers and the credit unions “get a fair shake” under his tenure. But Stan Garnett said it’s his intention to make sure it is the people of Colorado who get the fair shake - and the protection — that they deserve.
“This highlights the clear choice now before the state’s voters,” said Garnett. “From day one, I have been highlighting how hard-working Coloradans need an Attorney General on their side. I am not accepting PAC money because of situations such as this one involving my opponent.”