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Republican state Senate candidate Matt Solomon says lines from his book “Fortunate Accidents” are being taken out of context and used against him by his opponents in the Nov. 8 election, but that’s not stopping his campaign from buying the book to distribute on the campaign trail.
According to an expense report on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website, Solomon’s campaign paid $2,613.45 for his 2021 book “Fortunate Accidents,” for advertising purposes.
In an email on Thursday, Solomon wrote that “131 copies of the book [were] given away at no charge during the campaign. These were purchased directly from the publisher, not through Amazon.” That comes to $19.95 a copy for a book that lists for $24.95 hardcover on Amazon.
Buying directly from the publisher at a discount is a critical distinction. The campaign for Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert was recently scrutinized for possibly violating Federal Election Commission rules by advertising her book “My American Life” and directing supporters to buy it from Amazon or other retailers, which could lead to royalties.
Federal law prohibits campaigns from using donor funds for personal reasons, but Solomon seems to be in the clear for buying the book from the publisher and giving it away.
“There doesn’t really appear to be any issue with that,” CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) research director Robert Maguire wrote in an email. “As long as the campaign is buying the book to distribute it, they’re free to do so. They can also do some promotion of the book or speaking events related to the book.”
That’s at the federal level, where politicians from both parties regularly use campaign donor money to buy their own books, but what about Colorado law?
“I don’t know of any Colorado restrictions,” said Jane Feldman of Rocky Mountain Ethics Consulting, the former executive director of the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission. “Colorado is fairly broad in terms of what you can use campaign money for. I don’t think that there are any laws that I know of that were violated. If I was a contributor to his campaign, it would upset me that my money isn’t going directly to the campaign but in fact is going to increase his own sales.”
A far more clearcut case of self-dealing in an expense report was caught and cleared up quickly after Solomon was contacted by the Colorado Times Recorder on Oct. 4. On a Sept. 28 expense report, his campaign paid $3,500 to Solomon’s company, Tactical 101, for “consultant and professional services.” After an email from the Colorado Times Recorder, Solomon replied that “it was an error that was amended and corrected.”
As for his book, Solomon was very open about past mistakes and how he learned from them and became a stronger person. Contacted by Colorado Times Recorder prior to the June primary, Solomon said people need to read the whole book to understand his discussion of “selling drugs” in college.
More recently, Solomon told the Steamboat Pilot that lines from “Fortunate Accidents” are being taken out of context by independent expenditure committees having nothing to do with his Democratic opponent, state Rep. Dylan Roberts, to “mischaracterize him to voters.” Roberts said a similar group not connected to Solomon is running ads attacking him.
“The anecdotes that they are using are lies,” Solomon told the paper. “They have twisted what’s in my book and misused words to create a false dialogue.”
Editor’s note: This story first appeared on the Colorado Times Recorder website.