Stephany Rose for Congress
On Wednesday afternoon, we heard from Stephany Rose Spaulding — a Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in Colorado’s 5th District. It's been a rough past few days for her, since, as the Independent
reported, three volunteers, including the committee chair, abandoned Spaulding's campaign over the weekend. On the way out, they raised suspicions about the first-time candidate's handling of her campaign's finances. You can read about their allegations and overall rationale here
News of their departure was "sudden" and "heart-breaking," says Spaulding, who counted at least one of those volunteers as a close friend. Spaulding is steadfast, however, in her position that the campaign's finances are fine shape.
"They wanted me to completely come off of the bank account and have no control over the finances ... no candidate worth their wisdom has or would do that," she told the Independent
. "People are really investing their hope in this campaign and I am responsible for that."
Technically, the campaign's treasurer, Sarah McCollim is also responsible for that. According to multiple ex-volunteers, she's currently out of the country, even though the campaign is due to report its first quarter of receipts and disbursements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Sunday, Oct. 15.
Spaulding herself didn't know whether McCollim is in town or where she is, having not spoken with her for two weeks. (We've tried and failed to get in touch with her ourselves.) Spaulding says she's totally satisfied with McCollim's service to the campaign, but has nonetheless brought on a new treasurer/adviser/spokesperson.
That would be Jason Christiansen — a nonprofit consultant who currently lives in Colorado's 6th Congressional District. He last lived in this district in 2014. Notably, he also used to be a Republican, having worked for the former Congressman from Illinois, Don Manzullo, during the first half of his decade-long tenure in the House that ended in 2013.
So, why is Christiansen working for the other party now?
"Well, I switched my affiliation to Independent on January 20 of this year," he says. (Recall, this happened
on that day.)
And, why work for this particular Democrat?
Practically speaking, because Carolyn Cathey, longtime Democrat, local realtor and one of Spaulding's most trusted advisers, asked him to. Philosophically speaking, "[Spaulding] is the kind of representation we need in this district," he says, adding that with so many volunteers ditching right before the campaign's first FEC filing deadline, "they needed some hands-on help from people with experience."
Indeed, Christiansen's LinkedIn profile describes him as a "turnaround specialist" which, in his words, means "going into organizations that have issues and putting structures in place." In this case, he says, he's "making sure there's discipline with the money." That said, he reviewed the campaign's October Quarterly filing and found, besides a few minor, clerical omissions, everything to be in order. They'll submit their filing to the FEC on Sunday. It usually takes a few days for the agency to review and publish filings.
Meanwhile, Dawn Haliburton-Rudy, the former campaign committee chair behind the recent allegations, says she filed a complaint to the FEC on Wednesday. Find information on the adjudication process here
Spaulding says that, contrary to the ex-volunteers' telling, she has been listening to experienced campaigners from the start. Because the campaign is such a grassroots operation, Spaulding says she didn't feel the need to disclose every conversation or relationship to every volunteer. Given that, she acknowledges the recent fallout could boil down to a miscommunication, especially since it went down over text message.
Still, Spaulding is feeling bolstered by the friends, supporters and advisers who have stuck by her.
"I've been able to see the real heart of this community," she says, adding that "this campaign from the beginning was doubted by a lot of people. They said I have no name recognition because I've never been a candidate before [so] I would be better suited to run for smaller office. But we've defied expectations."
Evidence of that, she says, is in the numbers. The campaign is preparing to report over $68,000 in receipts during their first quarter. And Spaulding says the majority of donors aren't "the usual suspects" but rather, "everyday people" who give in small amounts. There are no loans listed, she says, nor has she heard that anybody took out a second mortgage to donate. The donor who cashed in their life insurance policy
, she says, is her sister.
"So they can drag my name through the mud, but we still have people willing to rise above for this district," Spaulding says, acknowledging that the name dragging tends only to get worse as campaigns move into general election season. And actually holding office? This may be good preparation.
The election is in 2018. Democrat Betty Field and Republicans Tom Strand, Owen Hill, Darryl Glenn and Bill Rhea (as of yesterday)
are all also vying to unseat incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn.