Local company faces FEC complaint over $25,000 donation in support of Erik Aadland

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Seventh Congressional District GOP candidate Erik Aadland at a Republican Party of Colorado campaign event Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Denver.

A complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission alleges that the main outside group supporting Republican congressional candidate Erik Aadland received an illegal donation from a federal contractor.

The complaint, filed by campaign finance attorney Mario Nicolais, alleges that donor Pericle Communications violated campaign finance law when it gave $25,000 in June to an independent political group called For Colorado’s Future. 

The complaint states that Pericle is a federal contractor, and therefore is banned from making donations related to federal elections. 

Nicolais supports Aadland’s Democratic opponent in the 7th Congressional District, Brittany Pettersen. But he contends that the complaint is about ethics, not politics.

“It’s important that when companies like Pericle make these donations as federal contractors, that we hold them to account,” said Nicolais, a former Republican who is now unaffiliated. “That's the exact kind of thing we created these laws to stop from happening.”

Pericle, based in Colorado Springs, has had numerous business contracts with federal agencies, including one this year with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, according to the Federal Procurement Data System. Its latest purchase order was signed on April 8, with a completion date of Aug. 31 — a period that encompasses the donation in question.

A representative for Pericle did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday, nor for a previous CPR News article about the donation. Representatives for the super PAC also did not respond to comment.

The FEC on Friday acknowledged receiving the complaint in a letter to Nicolais. But it could take anywhere from several weeks to several months for the commission to look into the complaint and make a decision, Nicolais said.

Pericle is one of the largest supporters of For Colorado’s Future. Besides the original donation, Pericle gave the group another $25,000 on Sept. 23, according to FEC filings.

For Colorado’s Future has reported a total of about $122,000 in contributions. The group remains active in support of Aadland, spending tens of thousands recently on mailings and text messages.

In some cases, companies making similarly sized donations have faced penalties. Federal contractor TonerQuest was fined $4,700 this year after it gave a $25,000 donation to a super PAC, Insider reported.

Pettersen, the Democratic candidate in the race, also has received support from outside groups. Some of those groups conceal the source of their funds altogether.

For example, Fair Share Action has received nearly $2 million from the Sixteen Thirty Fund — a Democrat-aligned dark money group that allows donors to anonymously funnel money into politics.

Those kinds of anonymous donations are allowed under federal election laws.