Francisco Reina served a summons Wednesday
City attorney does not expect to seek jail time
A Craig Police Department officer delivered Francisco Reina’s municipal court summons Wednesday morning, less than 12 hours after city officials decided to prosecute the former candidate for spending too much of his own money in the city election last month.
Reina, who ran for one of four Craig City Council seats, submitted a spending report to City Clerk Shirley Seely that declared he spent $1,512.78 of his personal money on his campaign, more than three times the $500 limit stated in the charter.
Reina came in last in the council race and did not win a seat.
He is charged with a Class A municipal violation, which carries a possible sentence of a fine between $75 to $1,000 and/or as many as 180 days in jail.
However, City Attorney Kenny Wohl has said he does not expect to seek jail time, which Police Officer Frank Schmedeke also told Reina when he delivered the summons.
Reina said he would be all right with paying a small fine and moving on with his life rather than battle the issue in court.
“It’s not worth it to move forward and back,” Reina said.
He is scheduled to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. June 17.
When he addressed the situation at the council meeting Tuesday, Reina said he was sorry about what happened.
Some of the advertisements he bought with the Craig Daily Press did not contain any mention of his campaign, but rather told what he called his “life story,” and he did not intend them to be political ads.
City officials and Daily Press representatives told him they had to be considered political in nature because of his ongoing candidacy, at which point Reina said he stopped spending money on his campaign.
“Everybody makes mistakes; what can I say?” Reina told the council Tuesday.
Then, his voice started to crack, and he added, “My only purpose in this was to better serve our children and our families.”
Reina may not be the only person who violated terms of the city charter.
Councilor Terry Carwile, who was re-elected to his second term this year, did not turn in an itemized account of his campaign expenses within 30 days of the election, as the city charter requires.
Seely said Carwile submitted his expense receipts last week, after a story ran in the Daily Press about Reina’s potential court case.
Seely added that she felt Carwile’s failure to submit the details of his expenses was partially her fault.
“I didn’t remind him of that, so I guess it was probably my fault, too,” she said.
Carwile denied any wrongdoing. He said he completed the campaign expenditure form approved by the Colorado Secretary of State, adding, “that should be sufficient.”
Carwile’s original spending report does not contain an itemized expense list, but indicates he spent a total of $363.34.
Wohl said he did not think Carwile should be charged with violating the city charter because the councilor amended his spending report by submitting his receipts.
Wohl added that amended spending reports are common at the state and federal levels and normally are not prosecuted.
Carwile’s situation was not discussed at the council meeting Tuesday night, when the members voted, 6-0, to recommend the city attorney prosecute Reina for his violation of the same ordinance in the city charter.
Carwile said at that meeting he was afraid the general public would lose trust in their public officials if they did not follow the city charter’s ordinances, which voters approved in 2006.
He voted in favor of prosecution, along with the other council members, despite Wohl’s recommendation that the city let Reina’s case go.
The city attorney said prosecuting the former candidate could become a lengthy court battle concerning whether the city’s spending limit violates Reina’s right to free speech.
After a discussion about the issues, during which several council members made it known they thought it was wrong to not prosecute Reina, Wohl said he thought he understood and had a clear idea of what he would do.
However, Craig resident Dave DeRose, who was in the audience, said he did not think the attorney had sufficient direction.
From his seat, DeRose said, “This is a charter. You’re sworn to protect it. (Wohl) needs to prosecute the case.”
After his words, the council agreed to make a formal motion stating their position, a step Wohl encouraged.
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