He’s a layman who does his own lawyering for the many court claims he has filed. Though not a lobbyist, he isn’t shy about pestering pols at the Capitol to vote against a bill that could be bad for his business.
So, you’d think Matt Arnold — possibly the most outspoken and in-your-face gadfly on Colorado’s political right — would leap at the chance to deliver his own subpoenas, as well. Surely, Arnold, a major in the Army Reserve per his LinkedIn profile, wouldn’t fear a little face time with one of his civilian targets. Even if it is someone in the news media.
Yet, it wasn’t Arnold who approached this humble blogger’s front door shortly after 7 this morning with a subpoena in hand. It was a workaday process server who wasn’t even familiar with the complainant. Arnold’s name was sure enough on the document, though, as was his business, Campaign Integrity Watchdog LLC.
Arnold is well known to many in Colorado political circles as the Republican political operative who has filed more campaign complaints than anyone else since the adoption of the state’s current campaign-finance rules. He was profiled recently in a Reason magazine expośe of Colorado’s law and how it invites abuse by those who manipulate it to clobber — and silence — political foes. The article characterized Arnold as a serial complainant who files pretextual and vindictive actions based on minor clerical errors found in campaign disclosures.
It turns out he has filed yet another campaign finance complaint, this time, against a nonprofit for which I once did some work in my former calling as an independent consultant. The nonprofit, Colorado Pioneer Action, is headed by prominent Republican and former Colorado U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez. Pioneer’s website says it is, “…committed to advancing conservative policy and positive change to create a more free, more prosperous Colorado.”
Like other such organizations, it aims to “identify, encourage and support leaders” who share its world view, in Pioneer’s case, “pro-growth, pro-freedom principles.” Such groups pursue their goals through wide-ranging outreach but steer clear, by law, from involvement in any candidates’ campaigns or any coordination with them. And they don’t advocate for or against candidates, either.
Arnold’s complaint alleges assorted violations of the state’s campaign finance laws by Pioneer — a lot of the allegations come across as his usual fare — including that it had failed to register as a political committee under the law. Pioneer denies the allegations. Citing the ongoing proceedings before an administrative law judge, Beauprez declined to comment.
My work for Pioneer involved using investigative journalism to expose ethical issues surrounding some public officials. Never mind that it didn’t have anything to do with the allegations Arnold makes in his complaint against Pioneer; it had nothing to do with any election at all.
Which is what I’ll tell Arnold in court, as well. Nothing there to substantiate his claims regarding Pioneer; if anything, it seems it would serve to undermine his case.
So, what does he really want with me? Could it be he just doesn’t like some of the recent coverage he has gotten from this blogger? And this is his way of striking back?
Over the past couple of months, I’ve blogged on the Reason magazine artlcle; on how Arnold then filed a complaint against the El Paso County Republican Party, whose current chair is a candidate for state GOP chair — and is opposed by Arnold; and on how Arnold is fighting a pending legislative reform of Colorado’s much-abused campaign regs.
Although that most recent blog post was published a day after a judge gave Arnold permission to subpoena me, I actually had emailed Arnold a day before the subpoena was OK’d because I was seeking a comment from him for that story.
I’ve since then reached out to Arnold to ask about his strategy behind the subpoena and — sorry, had to ask — whether he was using it as retaliation for unflattering press. So far, no word from him.
Guess I’ll see him in court. Literally. He’ll be the guy playing lawyer.