In a second reporting lapse on a personal financial statement required for his campaign for governor, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton failed to disclose $30,000 in income from his wife’s job at the Harmes C. Fishback Foundation, which is Stapleton’s family’s foundation.
Colorado law requires state candidates to report not only their own personal financial information, including sources of income and assets, but also that of their “spouse.”
Jenna Stapleton, Walker Stapleton’s wife, is listed on tax documents as the “executive director” of the Fishback Foundation since 2011. Her address on the tax form matches that of Walker Stapleton. In 2016, she earned $30,000 for working 15 hours per week; in 2011, she earned $25,000 for 10 hours of weekly work as a “co-trustee.”
Walker Stapleton omitted Jenna Stapleton’s income not only in his 2017 disclosure for the governor’s race and the last month’s updated version, but it’s also not listed on his 2012 financial disclosure form, which was an update from the 2011 form, and on subsequent updates. Stapleton’s latest disclosure lists 12 sources of income, but the Fishback Foundation is not one of them.
Stapleton’s campaign did not return multiple emails seeking comment on this apparent omission or to explain it. This blog post will be updated immediately, and even removed if necessary, if Stapleton responds with an explanation.
In discussing his financial disclosures with the Colorado Independent, Stapleton said he’s “taken pride” in comporting himself with “integrity through an ethical code” since entering office.
Reasons for failing to disclose Jenna Stapleton’s income could range from a clerical oversight or poor legal representation to deliberate obfuscation or a belief that $30,000 income is too paltry an amount of money to bother disclosing, amid the ginormous assets that Stapleton has amassed. Such speculation is necessary due to the lack of response by Stapleton.
Regardless, Jenna Stapleton’s income was left off the disclosure, so Stapleton must amend his form or face a possible fine of $50 per day from the Secretary of State’s office or possibly misdemeanor charges and additional fines if he doesn’t comply.
Last month, Stapleton corrected his 2017 financial disclosure document, after the Colorado Independent informed Stapleton that his disclosure form failed to mention a trust, called Rocky Mountain Trust, LLC, that Stapleton says holds his assets, such as his stock in Wells Fargo, a public company and Sonoma West, a private entity controlled by the Stapleton family.
“For clarification, all assets listed in my October 2017 candidate financial form are currently owned by Rocky Mountain Trust, LLC, as noted in my 2012 office holder financial disclosure, and are managed by the trustees of the trust,” Stapleton wrote in his May 25 “clarification” to the Colorado secretary of state.
Asked by the Independent in May about his income other than his state paycheck, Stapleton replied that he has “a lot” of passive business investments but said nothing about his wife’s $30,000 annual income.
“Do I have alternate sources of income? You bet I do,” he told the Independent. “And I would say that’s because of my business acumen, which Colorado needs more of, specifically in the governor’s office.”
The Harmes C. Fishback Foundation shows annual revenue ranging from $175,000 to $2 million. Its trustees are Craig R. Stapleton and Benjamin F. Stapleton III.
Among about 75 grants awarded by the foundation in 2016 were: $200,000 to the YMCA of Metro Denver, $50,100 to the University of Denver, $10,000 to Graland Country Day School, $10,000 to the Mizel Museum, $5,000 to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, $3,500 to the Gathering Place, $50,00 to the US Air Force Endowment Fund, $10,000 to Denver Debutante Ball, $5,000 to Step 13, and $5,000 to the Colorado Historical Society, which receives money for the Colorado History Museum or History Colorado.
The foundation’s donations to History Colorado led former Republican candidate for governor Steve Barlock to accuse Walker Stapleton of directing the Fishback foundation to donate to the museum to cover up the Stapleton’s white supremacist roots.
An investigation by the Colorado Times Recorder revealed that History Colorado, in fact, removed references to Walker Stapleton’s great-grandfather, Benjamin F. Stapleton, in its Ku Klux Klan exhibit, even though former Denver Mayor Benjamin Stapleton is one of the most prominent Klansmen in Colorado history. The museum has stated that it has discussed Stapleton’s role in the KKK in Denver and that the accusation that it deliberately omitted mentioning Stapleton’s KKK involvement as a result of a donation is absolutely incorrect.
Corrections: This blog post was corrected to state that Sonoma West is a private company, and the denial of Barlock’s accusation against History Colorado was also added.