Buying your vote? Dispensary discount dispute

Election

PUEBLO, Colo. — Buying your vote? A text message called into question.

Two Pueblo County Commissioner Campaigns wrapped up in what those behind the text are saying is a miscommunication.

The NuVue Pharma dispensary sent out a text message that said:

Pueblo cannabis voters fire Garrison Ortiz. He supports prohibition. Protect your rights, elect Abel Tapia & return your ballot by Tuesday 6/30. Show this text for happy hour any hour @ NuVue thru 6/18.

They say the text message was sent to all NuVue customers; however, now both County Commissioners’ names are getting some heat.

Current Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Oritz says he prides himself on being ethical.

“I’ve always said there is nothing that surprises me anymore in politics, but unfortunately something like this certainly did,” said Commissioner Garrison Ortiz. “I just want to be clear, that this race is not about marijuana, this race is not about a jail, it’s not about all these other sorts of things that they’ve drawn out. This race is about integrity and good sound government that represents the people, holds folks accountable and we need good ethical and honest leaders in county government now more than ever.”

Pueblo County Commissioners adopted an ethics-based resolution, creating a path of accountability for county leaders.

Commissioner Garrison Ortiz led the effort for this resolution.

“I don’t have to have someone sign a pledge that they not going to lie, cheat, and steal, which my opponent is having their top managers do. I think that’s very insulting,” said candidate Abel Tapia.

The text sent just a few days before the election on June 30.

A video that was sent to Ortiz shows someone showing the text for a discount on pot.

Ortiz calls it a campaign finance violation.

“Offering a discount, which is of monetary value in exchange for a vote, is just flat out unacceptable,” Ortiz said. “I’ve never seen anything like this. This is not just desperate, but it is corrupt, it’s illegal, and I think the public expects much better than that.”

Abel Tapia said his campaign had nothing to do with it, and the group Build Pueblo not Jails is not in communication with him.

FOX21 caught up with the Tapia campaign at an event Wednesday. The southern Colorado Labor Council said they support Tapia’s vision.

“I’ve read election law. We are following it, we are following everything about it,” Tapia said. “These other groups are independent of me; I don’t control them. So you have to ask them what motive they had to do that.”

A spokesperson for the NuVue Dispensary, Paul Julian, said the messages weren’t supposed to be sent together.

“‘Show this text, for the happy hour’ that was supposed to be sent independently from that first part,” Julian said. “In an effort to save costs, [Katharine Avery, the senior vice president of marketing] combined the two parts of the message one dealing with campaign, the other dealing with the happy hour into one.”

“I just don’t believe that. I don’t think I, or a majority of the public believes, they are two separate campaigns, and I don’t think they believe the intent was to have two separate text messages,” Ortiz said.

“I believe, I can stand in front of you and tell you I’m one of the highest persons with integrity,” Tapia said.

FOX21 reached out to the Attorney General’s office to see if a formal campaign violation complaint has been filed and he sent this statement:

The Attorney General does not confirm complaints or investigations.

Attorney General’s Office

However the Julian is under the impression the Attorney General is not pursuing the complaint.

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