Campaign finance complaint filed against Resign DPS Board’s anti-incumbent ads

Lawn signs rest on a sidewalk
Resign DPS Board lawn signs rest on the sidewalk outside Denver Public Schools headquarters during a protest by the group. (Melanie Asmar/Chalkbeat)

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Google ads encouraging Denver voters to oust the incumbents on the school board in the Nov. 7 election are the subject of a campaign finance complaint against the group Resign DPS Board, a document filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office shows.

The complaint alleges that Resign DPS Board, a parent group formed in the wake of a March shooting inside East High School, failed to disclose spending $2,000 on Google ads that say “vote out incumbent candidates up for re-election.” The ads popped up at the top of a Google search for Scott Baldermann, a board member running for re-election in southeast Denver’s District 1, according to a screenshot attached to the complaint.

Baldermann faces challenger Kimberlee Sia for the District 1 seat.

The ads included a link to the Resign DPS Board website, which also encourages voters to oust the incumbents. Charmaine Lindsay is the other incumbent; she is running against Marlene De La Rosa and Adam Slutzker to keep her seat representing northwest Denver’s District 5.

This close to an election, state law requires candidates or groups to file reports within 48 hours disclosing “electioneering communications” that cost more than $1,000. The complaint alleges that Resign DPS Board failed to do so. The complaint was filed Wednesday by a person named Kevin Williams. Williams did not return a phone call or email seeking comment.

Heather Lamm, a founder of Resign DPS Board, said via text message that the group disagrees that the ads are electioneering communications, but has pulled them down anyway.

“We believe we are promoting voter education,” she wrote.

Resign DPS Board is not registered as a political committee with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Lamm said the group didn’t think it was necessary since its message is mostly focused on advocating for the current school board to resign.

The complaint alleges that the group’s website contains numerous examples of “express advocacy” in the Nov. 7 school board election without disclosing who paid for the advocacy or saying it was not authorized by any candidate, as is required.

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, covering Denver Public Schools. Contact Melanie at masmar@chalkbeat.org.

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