BY DORIS B. TRUHLAR
A Centennial resident has filed three Fair Campaign Practices Act complaints with the Centennial city clerk, alleging violations of that act, related to the issue of more car dealers on East Arapahoe Road. The resident making the complaint states that he believes opposition to new dealerships is an attempt by an existing Littleton car dealer to quash competition.
The basis of the complaints is that they are improper because the entity that was reported to have made contributions to an organization titled “No New Dealerships on Arapahoe” (NNDA) did not exist at the time the alleged donations were made.
City Clerk Barbara Setterlind told The Villager that it is not her responsibility to enforce the campaign laws. She said her responsibility is to make a record of the complaints. The city keeps the complaints on file for one year after the complaints are made.
The resident who filed the complaints is Uriel Akiva, who lives in the Southglenn Subdivision. This is in the far western area of the city. Akiva is an employee of the City of Commerce City, where he works as the parks project and program coordinator.
Akiva alleges in two of his complaints that NNDA, through its registered agent Katie Kennedy, “did knowingly and willfully falsely complete a written instrument that violates state law.” Adding that a report that Sequoia Community Partners, LLC, made two in-kind contributions totaling $97,540.36. Akiva says that is improper because such an entity “did not exist at that time.”
In an interview, Akiva told The Villager that he might also file complaints with the district attorneys office because in 2016, a similar petition process was also illegal because Centennial violated state law. He said that NNDA filed false reports in regard to the identity of entities that contributed to NNDA. “While the election laws cover some aspects of this, willfully falsely completing the reports not only violates election law but also violates criminal statutes,” he stated in an email.
Basically, his claim is that there was “a conspiracy to hide the identity of the entity who made the contributions,” Akiva said. He also alleges that there is “an unregistered committee” that has “spent money in opposition” to a new dealership.
Akiva said his “goal is to get these organizations to follow the state laws and ensure that citizens get the funding information” to which they are entitled. In regard to the controversy surrounding additional car dealerships on East Arapahoe Road, some residents have stated at Centennial City Council meetings that Mercedes-Benz of Littleton, located at 8070 S. Broadway in Littleton, was backing the opposition to the new dealership, in order to keep competition at bay.
Akiva said that when an expenditure is made in violation of the Colorado Revised Statutes, the committee or individual must report that expenditure to the city clerk or secretary of state and that no report was made to either one.
Setterlind said in response to written questions that her responsibility is to accept the complaints. The city follows its own municipal code in reviewing the complaints to determine whether there are violations of the Fair Campaign Practices Act, she stated. Records of complaints are “kept in accordance with the Colorado Municipal Retention Schedule,” which is for one year “after termination of the committee at issue,” she stated.
Citizens have “a right to financial disclosure,” Akiva stated. He also said he has no personal ax to grind, is not thinking of running for public office, does not drive a Mercedes, and has never had any connection with Centennial, other than living there. The fact is that there were falsehoods “on government forms,” he said. Such falsehoods are not acceptable.
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