Mar 212006
 
Authors: By James Baetke

A Fort Collins woman says she is unfairly being pitted between two battling lawmakers vying for a seat in the U.S. Congress.

Earlier this month, Sally Fox filed a complaint against State Rep. Angie Paccione, D-Fort Collins, along with the signatures of 11 other local Republicans. The complaint claimed Paccione violated state ethics rules by offering prizes to top campaign donors by being introduced on the House floor.

Calling the complaint “frivolous,” her partisan colleagues eventually cleared Paccione of any wrongdoing, and the charges were dismissed. Paccione said the contest was the idea of an overzealous volunteer and escaped in some campaign brochures and e-mails.

Paccione, who is also a CSU faculty member, said she nixed the contest idea once she became aware of it, never allowing it to come to fruition. Paccione said U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave actually has committed the same ethics violation accused upon her.

“No contest was conducted and no offers were made,” Paccione said.

Paccione is trying to unseat Musgrave in the 4th Congressional District in November.

In a short speech on the House floor on Friday, Paccione took it further and called out Musgrave and “political activist” Sally Fox for doing exactly what Fox’s complaint said was wrong.

On Feb. 16, about one week before Paccione learned about the complaint against her, Musgrave mentioned Sally Fox on the Congressional floor as a constituent devoted to grassroots efforts and her family.

The Congressional Record printed Musgrave’s comments: “Mr. Speaker, the grassroots involvement and love of family by women like Mrs. Sally Fox is what makes our country great. I urge my colleagues to join me in recognizing Mrs. Fox and her tremendous contributions to her community.”

Fox was not present for her Washington tribute, but Paccione said it might be time to look at Musgrave’s own ethics.

According to campaign finance records, Fox and her husband contributed more than $800 to Musgrave’s campaign. This doesn’t sit well with Paccione.

“(Musgrave) has her outrage misplaced,” Paccione said.

Fox told the Collegian that Musgrave was merely honoring her because she was the recipient of an award, and Musgrave simply was paying respect to her as a constituent, not a campaign donor.

“I spent 26 years working for the Republican Party of Larimer County, and I was awarded for it,” Fox said.

Fox, 62, said she was unsure where the award was coming from and couldn’t comment on whether it was from Musgrave or the Larimer County Republican Party.

Fox said she never meant the complaint to get the attention of the Capitol ethics committee, but to raise concerns.

“I wanted to alert the public that this had been done, not by Angie, but by one of her aids,” Fox said.

Fox said she met Paccione only once and doesn’t have anything to say to her for outing her Friday. Fox won’t be able to try to reelect Musgrave this year because she is moving to Florida next month, she said.

“I do not go out and attack people,” she said. “There is enough meanness and hatred in the world.”

Musgrave’s office did not return calls Tuesday, but Musgrave told the Rocky Mountain News in a Feb. 25 statement that Paccione was lying and the brochure incident was not an accident.

“The last thing we need in Washington, D.C., are bankrupt ethics and dishonest actions of Ms. Paccione,” Musgrave told the News.

James Baetke can be reached at regional@collegian.com.

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