Sunglasses for signatures gets man arrested

4:09 PM, Jul 29, 2008   |    comments
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Investigators say Thomas Craig Coombes, 47, had a folding table set up covered with sunglasses and a sign on it that said "free" at the light rail station at the Auraria Campus while he was collecting signatures for a pending statewide initiative.

According to an affidavit for Coombes arrest, over a 20-minute period 10 to 12 people signed this particular initiative after taking him up on his offer of free sunglasses.

Offering bribes in exchange for signatures on ballot initiatives is illegal in the state of Colorado.

The Denver District Attorney's office told 9NEWS they do not know the specific initiative Coombes was collecting signatures for. However, signature takers work for companies that have employees collecting signatures for several different initiatives at the same time.

When a DA investigator asked Coombes if he knew what he was doing was illegal, he said that he was giving the sunglasses away to anyone who wanted them not as a bribe to those who signed his petition.

Coombes worked for Lamm Consulting. 9NEWS called the company. They have not returned our calls for comment.

Coombes is scheduled to be in court on Wednesday. He could face up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Secretary of State Mike Coffman sent out a statement "applauding" the District Attorney's office for the arrest.

"Voters need to be aware of these kinds of practices and make sure they read the ballot title closely for any petition they agree to sign," Coffman stated in the news release.

If you see a signature gatherer doing something that you don't believe is legal, or if you have a tip for investigative reporter Jace Larson, e-mail him at jace.larson@9news.com

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