Messner charity complaint withdrawn after legal threat

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Bryant “Corky” Messner

The Colorado regulatory complaint filed against Bryant Corky Messner’s charitable foundation has been withdrawn after Messner’s camp threatened to sue the six complainants.

Retired Colorado Supreme Court Judges Mary Mullarkey, and Jean Dubofsky, as well as Rollie Heath, Josie Heath, Adele Phelan and Tom Korson filed complaints in August with the Colorado Secretary of State and the Colorado Attorney General’s office asking for an investigation into the Messner Foundation.

The Messner Foundation operations raised eyebrows this summer after a Washington Post investigation found that the charity was started in 2009, purportedly to raise money to pay for scholarships for low-income students. However, its first scholarship didn’t get paid out until 2014, and the Foundation gave a large sum of money to pay for athletic facilities at the private school Messner’s son attended, according to the Washington Post.

Messner hired a law firm to audit the foundation, and after getting what Messner said is a clean bill from that audit, he had attorney Stanley Garnett threaten to sue the six complainants.

“I reviewed every aspect of The Messner Foundation’s operations since its founding in 2009, including its conduct of automobile raffles referenced in your complaint. Simply put, the allegations in your complaint are unsupported by the facts,” Garnett wrote in a letter demanding that the six withdraw their complaint.

The audit reportedly found that the payment to the private school came from the Messner Reeves law firm, and not from the Messner Foundation, as had been alleged.

Garnett accused the complainants of playing politics with their filing, and using it to harm Messner’s Senate bid in New Hampshire.

“The timing of the complaint and related media coverage suggests the complaint was drafted based purely on partisan politics and with the intent to taint Corky Messner’s name and to undermine his ongoing political campaign – all of which is evidenced by the fact that you, or someone working on your behalf, provided the complaint to the media, perhaps even before it was filed with the Colorado Secretary of State and the Colorado Attorney General. Given the demonstrable falsity of the allegations in the complaint, should you not withdraw the allegations you make in the complaint, my clients reserve their rights to take legal action against each of you individually for this harm,” Garnett wrote.

According to a subsequent Denver Post story, five of the six complainants have ties to the Democratic Party. Attorney Terrence Kelly, representing the complainants, agreed to have the August complaint withdrawn to avoid any legal action from Messner.

“You and I agreed on behalf of our respective clients that if the aforesaid Notice of Withdrawal was filed promptly as set out above, no legal action against any or all of the parties I represent will be filed by the Messner Foundation, the Messner law firm or any Messner-related parties,” Kelly wrote.

Messner’s campaign team was unable to provide a statement as of Tuesday night.