To the Members of LPEA:
At the LPEA Annual Meeting held on May 12, 2018, a member asked a question during the public comment section of the meeting regarding the use of LPEA’s membership list by candidates running for Board positions. The member was concerned that the membership list may have been disclosed to an unauthorized third party.
LPEA Board elections are non-partisan and are governed by LPEA’s bylaws adopted by the membership and policies and procedures adopted by the LPEA Board of Directors.
LPEA takes protecting its member’s information very seriously and has always taken a proactive approach to limiting how our member’s information may be used during a campaign. I wanted to take this opportunity to set forth the steps that LPEA has taken to protect our member’s information.
As you know, LPEA is governed in accordance with policies and procedures approved by the LPEA Board of Directors. A copy of our policies and procedures can be found on the LPEA website at the following address: https://lpea.coop/policies . Policy 117 addresses the disclosure of information by LPEA and sets a process by which a candidate can receive a copy of the membership list for use in the candidate’s campaign.
In pertinent part, Policy 117 states: “[a] list of members of the Cooperative and their addresses are available to . . . bona fide candidates for director at the next annual meeting pursuant to C.R.S. Section 40-9.5-110(1)(b).” In accordance with Policy 117, a candidate requesting the list of members is required to sign a nondisclosure agreement and must attest that that the purpose of receiving the list is for the distribution of candidate position statements.
In order to receive the membership list, the candidate must also promise to destroy or return the list after the annual meeting. The list cannot be used for any other purpose, including advertising, marketing, solicitation, or use in computerized auto dialer systems even though phone numbers are not included in the membership list provided to candidates.
All candidates that requested the list for the purposes of running for a Board position at this year’s election signed a nondisclosure agreement preventing the candidate from using the membership list for any purpose other than what was set forth in the request for information that the candidate filed with LPEA pursuant to Policy 117. Please note that disclosing, disseminating, or using the list for any other reason would be a violation of the nondisclosure agreement signed by each of the candidates.
At this time, LPEA has no evidence to show that a candidate has violated the provisions of Policy 117 or breached the obligations set forth in the required nondisclosure agreement by using the membership list for any use outside of the campaign. LPEA will continue to investigate this matter and should such evidence come to light, LPEA will take appropriate steps to enforce the terms of the nondisclosure agreement and ensure that its member’s information continues to be protected.
Based upon my investigation thus far, I can tell you that some director candidates used businesses, organizations, or services to mail and distribute their campaign materials. The member that raised the question during the annual meeting stated that the member list had been provided to an organization that has taken a position of support for certain director candidates. It was further alleged that this organization has provided or facilitated the providing of campaign funds to those candidates. LPEA does not have a policy or bylaw prohibiting director candidates from receiving campaign funds or assistance from these types of organizations. In addition, it does not appear that the disclosure of the membership list to the organization for the limited purpose of preparing campaign materials violated either Policy 117 or the nondisclosure agreement, provided that additional evidence does not surface that demonstrates that the political organization in question used the member list for any purpose other than the candidates’ campaign mailers.
LPEA is also in the process of confirming that each candidate has taken affirmative steps to destroy or return the membership list now that the annual meeting has been completed.
LPEA will reexamine Policy 117 to determine if director candidates should be allowed to provide the membership lists to organizations that take a position or fund candidates in one of our elections. We welcome your input. LPEA’s Board will discuss this at the Wednesday, May 16 LPEA Board meeting, but no action will be taken until we’ve thoroughly reviewed the issues and completed our investigation.
Should any member have a question about the disclosure or use of membership lists for campaign purposes, please feel free to contact me at 970-382-3509 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you believe that any third party has obtained and used your information as a result of the LPEA Board elections, please contact LPEA immediately at 970-247-5786.
I want to underscore that protecting membership information is one of LPEA’s highest priorities and that we will continue to act to protect your information from unauthorized disclosure.