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El Paso County Commissioner ponders independent investigation centering around alleged campaign complaint

County Assessor faces campaign complaint

Colorado Springs, Colo. - An El Paso County Commissioner may call for an independent investigation after campaign violation complaints surface against the County Assessor who's hoping to be the next County Treasurer.

Two weeks before the primary election County Assessor Mark Lowderman faces allegations made by a fellow republican voter that Lowderman used taxpayer money to send out campaign mailer to a group of seniors detailing how to reduce property taxes and get prescription drug coverage. At issue is whether Lowderman intentionally sent those letters to arrive in the mail at the same time as mail-in primary ballots.

Through an email, Commissioner Darryl Glenn learned one of his colleagues, Commissioner Sallie Clark may have played a role in helping get that letter out to the public. Both Clark and Lowderman maintain the letter is not campaign related, but simply a effective way to communicate with a key portion of the community.

But, Glenn wants to ensure no one stepped out of bounds.

"Especially in light of everything we've gone through with the Sheriff's situation," Glenn said, "when we're put on notice about certain activities, we have an obligation to investigate in a fair manner, fair to Commissioner Clark and fair to the entire process."

Sallie Clark is out of town but KRDO Newschannel 13 received this statement from the District 3 Commissioner: "The State's Senior Homestead Property Tax Exemption was approved for funding by the State Legislature in this year's session. In this communication, El Paso County was able to ensure that our citizens, especially those without email or web access, were informed about this potential tax break to all qualifying seniors. Through the mailer, it was a great opportunity to share at no additional cost, a program that offers all citizens a chance to save from 20-50% on prescription medications and introduce them to new health discounts available in partnership with National Association of Counties (NACo). El Paso County has participated in NACo's prescription discount plan since 2009 and as a result, our El Paso County citizens have saved over half-a-million dollars. This was a win-win situation to communicate not only an important program which gives tax breaks to senior citizens, but also provides information to citizens that might otherwise not have prescription coverage, so needed during these tough economic times."

Lowderman argues this complaint is a campaign ploy by his opponent, Duncan Bremmer and his team.

The assessor maintains he did nothing wrong and says the letters went out a week before mail-in primary ballots.

Commissioner Glenn hopes to put this item on the agenda at next week's meeting.

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