As Justin Robbins wrote on Monday, Tea Party legislator Art Wittich is now on trial for campaign finance violations. This prosecution could result in his being removed from office. The prosecutors are representing the commissioner of political practices, Jon Motl. Wittich is not the first to be tried for his role in this tawdry affair, informally known as the Meth House Scandal because incriminating documents were found in a meth house in Colorado.
Many Tea Party legislators were caught up in it. Several of them have been convicted by Motl or pled guilty and settled. Wittich has sworn to fight it to the end. The facts are these: A few years ago, a national conservative group called Right To Work, which tries to defeat pro-union legislation in state legislatures, decided to create several front groups to which it funneled huge amounts of money to help support anti-union Tea Party candidates in their primary campaigns against moderate Republicans. The legislators who were receiving this largess, like Wittich, didn’t seem to bother reading the law, which says that if you coordinate with such a group, and it results in your campaign receiving something of greater than a value of $170 (the campaign donation limit for a legislator) you are taking an illegal contribution. It’s that simple.
That means when the Right to Work group started spending tens of thousands of dollars on Wittich’s campaign, they were required to keep entirely separate and apart from him. Instead, they (allegedly) communicated and coordinated with Wittich and also performed contract work for his campaign at heavily reduced, sweetheart rates.
Wittich’s defense will be largely about conspiracy theories. In a pretrial motion he has accused Motl of “destroying evidence.” Previously Wittich has accused Motl of being a part of a grand conspiracy involving the Governor and the Democratic Party.
One thing to keep in mind, and I’ll quote KXLH here:
So in a sense, this is Wittich in his continued civil war between moderate Republicans and Tea Partiers, except that that Wittich has decided to blame not the moderates who are coming after him, but Democrats, simply because Motl was appointed by a democratic Governor.