The former chair of the Colorado Republican Party is facing potential legal disciplinary sanctions over allegations that he “misappropriated” nearly $280,000 from a pro-Donald Trump super PAC between 2016 and 2019.
The allegations against Ryan Call, who served two terms as state chair of the Colorado GOP between 2011 and 2015, were disclosed in a complaint filed against him this month by the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, a division of the Colorado Supreme Court that handles attorney disciplinary matters. The OARC’s complaint was obtained by Newsline through a public records request.
The complaint’s allegations center on Call’s involvement with Rebuilding America Now, a super PAC created to support Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Call, a former attorney with the Denver-based law firm Hale Westfall,served as the group’s treasurer between June 2016 and June 2019.
Filed with the state Supreme Court’s Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge on June 2, the complaint alleges that Call embezzled nearly $280,000 from Rebuilding America Now through a variety of methods, including by secretly awarding himself a $5,000-per-month consulting contract and reporting false campaign-expenditure information to the Federal Election Commission. The complaint describes Call’s actions as criminal theft.
“Respondent knowingly misappropriated $278,169.45 from (Rebuilding America Now),” the complaint states. “Specifically, he transferred $278,169.45 of RAN funds to himself, knowing that the funds belonged to RAN, and knowing that he was not entitled to the funds and that RAN had not authorized him to take the funds for his own purposes.”
Call, a formerly prominent figure in Colorado Republican circles who has maintained a low profile since 2019, did not return multiple calls and emails seeking comment.
Questions over discrepancies in Rebuilding America Now’s campaign-finance records first arose in early 2019, according to the complaint. The super PAC removed Call as treasurer in June of that year, and in a letter to Hale Westfall expressed its concerns over “erratic and potentially unauthorized” campaign disbursements.
Hale Westfall, a partnership between veteran Denver attorneys Allan Hale and Richard Westfall, terminated Call’s employment in August 2019. Neither Hale nor Westfall responded to requests for comment.
Following a hearing, if Presiding Disciplinary Judge William Lucero determines that the OARC has proved its claims against Call, “available sanctions include private admonition, public censure, probation, suspension, or disbarment,” according to the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge’s website.
The allegations against Call made by the OARC have not been previously reported and do not appear to have been the subject of any civil or criminal actions to date, according to multiple state and federal court records searches. A representative of Rebuilding America Now declined to comment.
The OARC’s complaint states that the super PAC filed a formal FEC complaint against Call and Hale Westfall in April 2020. By law, complaints to the FEC are kept confidential until they are resolved.
Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform for the Campaign Legal Center, a campaign-finance watchdog group that filed an FEC complaint of its own against Rebuilding America Now in 2016, said in an interview that there was “all sorts of shady stuff happening” with the group at the time.
“There are a number of still-pending complaints before the FEC pertaining to Rebuilding America Now,” Fischer said. “So it’s possible that there are other, related enforcement matters proceeding through the civil process, or potentially even through the criminal process.”
Reached by Newsline, multiple staff members at the OARC said that Attorney Regulation Counsel Jessica Yates was out of the office for the week and that no one else in the office is authorized to speak to the media. The office’s chief deputy did not respond to a request for comment.
Million-dollar contribution went unreported
Rebuilding America Now retained Hale Westfall’s services shortly after its registration with the FEC in June 2016. As part of the agreement, Call served as the group’s treasurer, a common arrangement for attorneys hired to provide legal and compliance services for campaign entities.
Super PACs, also known as independent expenditure committees, are federal campaign entities that are allowed to raise and spend unlimited sums of money on behalf of a political candidate, as long as their activities are not “coordinated” with the candidate or their campaign.
One of several super PACs created to support Trump’s campaign, Rebuilding America Now raised more than $23 million between June and November 2016, according to FEC records, including $4 million from top Trump donor Geoffrey Palmer, a Los Angeles billionaire and real estate developer.
The OARC’s complaint states, however, that Call failed for more than two years to report a $1 million contribution to the super PAC made by Palmer on Oct. 31, 2016.
Subsequently, the complaint alleges, Call entered into a contract with Rebuilding America Now “in his personal capacity,” and “signed for both parties.” The contract awarded him a fee of $5,000 per month for “political strategy and fundraising support and assistance.” Call didn’t disclose the contract to either his partners at Hale Westfall or representatives of Rebuilding America Now.
Between September 2016 and January 2019, Call transferred a total of $278,169.45 in Rebuilding America Now funds to himself in 37 separate transactions, the OARC’s complaint alleges. For some of the transactions, the largest of which was more than $23,000, Call falsely reported Hale Westfall as the payee on FEC disclosure forms. In other instances, he did not report the disbursements at all.
Call ultimately reported the missing $1 million contribution in an updated disclosure report to the FEC in November 2018. That triggered a request for additional information from the FEC, which are issued when the agency “needs additional clarification or identifies an error, omission or possible prohibited activity.”
Following the request, the complaint says that Chris Marston, who was listed as the group’s custodian of records and assistant treasurer, and Cleta Mitchell, another lawyer retained separately by the group, began examining records and “discovered discrepancies between RAN’s disbursements and the FEC reports filed by (Call).”
Marston declined to comment. Mitchell — a veteran GOP campaign lawyer who played a key role in Trump’s attempts to spread baseless conspiracy theories and overturn the results of the 2020 election — did not respond to a request for comment.
Separately in 2019, Rebuilding America Now came under scrutiny from special prosecutor Robert Mueller for a $125,000 payment made through the super PAC to an attorney representing former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Rebuilding America Now’s director, lobbyist Laurence Gay, is a longtime Manafort ally, according to CNBC.
Call’s license to practice law in Colorado is no longer active, according to state records. He purchased a home in Utah County, Utah, in October 2019, two months after his termination by Hale Westfall and shortly before selling his previous home in Aurora, according to public records searches.
Call was admitted to the Colorado Bar in 2006 and has faced no previous disciplinary actions, state records show. According to the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, an answer to the complaint against Call is due by June 28, after which an initial hearing date will be set.
This story was originally published in Colorado Newsline.