Whiskers are twitching in Boulder, CO, after disclosure that one of the candidates for City Council, Rob Smoke, used campaign funds to buy food for his volunteers. Nothing against the law in doing that, but it attracted attention when it was disclosed that the food was purchased at Only Natural Pet Store.
Campaign finance reports showed that Smoke spent $14.37 of the $236 he’s raised on “dinner for campaign staff” from the pet store. But don’t worry; he wasn’t feeding college interns; his campaign manager, Sita the Cat, was the recipient of the free meals.
“It’s just a general protest against the way expenditures are handled,” he said of his billing his campaign for a household expense. “You have people dumping road signs all over the right-of-way, forcing the city to spend money to clean it up, all by candidates who give lip service to caring about the environment.”
He said his few donations came from personal friends, and he’s not going to hear from real estate developers about how he’s spent their money.
“My taking care of my cat is above what some of the people have done,” he said, referring to candidates donating money to each other to get more matching funds from the city, and candidates accepting money from developers with business in front of the city. “I think there are a lot of abuses, and I don’t partake of any of them.”
Boulder campaign finance administrator Dianne Marshall said the city code doesn’t say which campaign expenses are legitimate, only that expenses have to be disclosed.
“It’s not unusual that he would buy food for campaign helpers,” she said.
Later, Sita became a national sensation when she was the subject of one of the questions on National Public Radio’s popular quiz show “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!”
In the “Lightning Fill in the Blank” round, host Peter Segal asked comedian Paula Poundstone to guess what justification Smoke gave for using campaign funds to feed his cat.
Sita could not be reached for comment.