‘To remove any doubt,’ Health Services District campaign returns money to municipal supporters | CraigDailyPress.com

‘To remove any doubt,’ Health Services District campaign returns money to municipal supporters

One of the Memorial Regional Hospital ambulances sits in its garage near the hospital.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

Questions about campaign funding that were raised Wednesday by opponents to the ballot measures 6A and 6B have been addressed with word and action by the campaign to pass those same measures.

The taskforce and campaign working to bring to pass a Health Services District in Moffat County, which would provide ambulance services through creation of a new special taxing district, indicated in a statement that they were returning $13,140 to three local municipal entities in order to clarify that the money was not an inappropriate funding source for the campaign.

The issue was raised by a Facebook profile under the name Fred Knott, which, according to a post under the name of Karen Burley, a vocal opponent of the ballot measures, was an account created by Burley.

The “Knott“ account posted in a Facebook group called “Craig Freedom Chat America!” on Wednesday, the eighth time the account posted there about the HSD since Sept. 14. The post featured a photograph of a sheet of paper with details apparently obtained from the Colorado Secretary of State’s TRACER database, which tracks, among other things, campaign finances.

The sheet showed a number of donations to the Yes on 6A and 6B campaign, including the following:

-City of Craig: $4,380

-Craig Rural Fire and Protection District: $4,380

-Memorial Regional Health: $6,860

-Moffat County: $4,380

This money, equal to exactly $20,000, was shown as campaign contributions on the TRACER printout. The text of the post from “Fred Knott” seemed to believe that it was unlikely these were actual campaign contributions, though.

“Now, we do not believe these government agencies donated to the campaign fund. That would be disturbing. Colorado law, Title 1-45-117 prohibits any political subdivision of the state from making campaign contributions,” the post from “Knott” reads. “We believe it is left over funds from the original contributions of $17,500.00 from each entity, to pay for consultant and attorney fees associated with finding solutions to sustaining EMS. We have no issue with these funds being used for that purpose. However, once the courts approved the ballot question the purpose was achieved.”

The post goes on to call for the money to be returned. It has been.

In a statement from HSD spokesperson Melissa Doubrava, that’s exactly what the HSD did.

“Not a penny of public funds have been spent to support the Yes on 6A and 6B campaign,” Doubrava’s emailed statement read. “We have been transparent throughout this entire campaign. That is reflected in the countless meetings we’ve conducted with the community, the amount of questions we’ve answered from voters, and through our campaign finance reporting.”

The funds in question, the statement reads, were a “remainder” of funds that were to be saved and donated in the event that the district is approved, “so our newly created EMS service would have start-up funding and would not be left in the dust.” If the ballot measures were to have failed, the plan was to return the money.

The statement continued to say that, in light of these questions, the $13,140 coming from the three taxing entities — the city, the county and the fire district — will be returned ahead of Election Day.

“To remove any doubt about how the funds will be used, we will remove them from the account and issue a refund,” Doubrava wrote. “Our hope would be that they save the funds to donate back to the Health Services District if it is approved.”

Upon request, Doubrava substantiated the claim by producing a photo of a receipt and photocopy of a check from one of the four entities, the City of Craig. The receipt, dated Oct. 21, 2021, does appear to be from the City of Craig, and indicates a “return of unused campaign contributions” in the amount of $4,380.

“We know that our community supports our EMS,” Doubrava wrote on behalf of the campaign. “We have an opportunity in front of us right now to save our EMS from reduced funding and service capacity. Moffat County residents currently do not have a voice in how our EMS services are delivered and funded.

“We are locked out of the decision-making process because for years we’ve given that power to outside entities who have been ultimately unsuccessful due to unreliable funding mechanisms. That is not a failure of those entities, rather a realization that we can do this differently and in a way that gives us the power.”

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