Former Colorado state treasurer Walker Stapleton prevailed Friday in a lawsuit alleging his 2018 gubernatorial campaign was nearly derailed because he was deceived by a signature-gathering firm he hired.
A Denver judge ordered Kennedy Enterprises to refund money paid by Stapleton to collect voter signatures to get him on the Republican primary ballot, The Colorado Sun reports.
Stapleton qualified for the primary by submitting petitions to the secretary of state's office, only to withdraw them after questions arose about whether they'd been collected legally.
At the time, Stapleton cited reports by KMGH-TV about allegations that a signature gatherer hired by Kennedy Enterprises had circulated petitions under the guise of being a different person.
Stapleton did qualify days later by getting enough support at a party assembly. He eventually won the party's nomination but lost to Democrat Jared Polis in November.
Stapleton's lawsuit alleged Kennedy lied to the campaign when asked about the reports.
District Court Judge Morris B. Hoffman found that Kennedy Enterprises breached its Stapleton contract by failing to investigate the claims.
Kennedy's attorney, Susan Klopman, insisted her client followed Colorado law. She said firm owner Dan Kennedy hadn't decided whether to appeal the ruling.
Stapleton had hired the Colorado Springs-based firm for about $235,000. The judge ordered repayment plus additional costs.
Stapleton said Friday he wanted to highlight the potential vulnerabilities of a costly signature-gathering process used by many statewide candidates to get on the ballot.