UPDATE #3: Republican radio host Michael “Brownie” Brown throws down:
UPDATE #2: Roll Call’s Emily Cahn writes Cynthia Coffman’s political epitaph:
State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, along with former Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., tried to oust state Republican Party Chairman Steve House, according to multiple local reports. The two reportedly threatened to reveal — what House said were false claims — that he cheated on his wife if he didn’t step down.
Coffman was often mentioned as a possible Bennet challenger, especially after her husband, Colorado GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, decided against running earlier this month. The congressman was courted by both local and national Republicans, who viewed him as their best shot at defeating Bennet next fall.
But Cynthia Coffman’s involvement in the state party dust-up likely takes her off the table as Republicans search for a challenger. [Pols emphasis] And she’s the second potential recruit to receive negative headlines in the past few weeks.
And if that’s not enough, check out how the story ends–a hard red-on-red jab at both Coffmans:
“The Coffmans, both Cynthia and Congressman Coffman, came with a lot of unknowns and risks, and I think that was one of the reasons why it wasn’t a bad thing that they both decided not to run for Senate,” said one national Republican operative. “I think behind the scenes this is sort of a scary public display of what the rumors had been; it’s pretty troubling that the attorney general is going around threatening people.” [Pols emphasis]
Wow, folks. This is a major disaster.
UPDATE: An unrepentant statement this afternoon from one of the ringleaders of Steve House’s attempted ouster, Pueblo County GOP chair Becky Mizel:
It is inappropriate to comment on the specific details of the concerns at this time, as the concerns will first be communicated to the Executive Committee for their deliberation and recommendations to Chairman House and the membership of the Central Committee. The Central Committee members will then determine by membership vote whether removal from office is prudent. However, I can say that House’s public statements to date concerning the meeting and his resignation are generally untrue and a gross misrepresentation of the facts, as I will communicate to the Executive Committee of the party. Based House’s poor judgment in making such false allegations, I am more committed than ever to seeking his resignation, with every effort to avoid a publicly humiliating experience for House and the party that would result from a forced removal.
Meanwhile, the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels finally got a comment from Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who naturally denies making blackmail-y threats to House:
Obviously, the whole episode is very sad. I don’t relish the hardship for Steve or the party, nor was anyone involved in that meeting eager to have the conversation at all. But as someone who was being inundated with information raising some very serious questions, I had no choice but to sit down and lay out the accusations to Steve. There was no joy in this, there were no threats, nor was there any desire for the meeting to become public fodder…
A bit late for that now, isn’t it? Original post follows.
9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman has a follow-up story today on the growing scandal over the attempted overthrow of Colorado Republican Party chairman Steve House by high-ranking GOP luminaries, including former Rep. Tom Tancredo and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman–the latter of whom appears to have devastated her future political prospects after, as the saying goes, striking at a king but not killing him.
And at this point, Coffman’s political career may not be the only casualty. Let’s briefly revisit House’s statement yesterday in response to questions about Monday’s events:
I was scheduled to meet with Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. When I arrived to our meeting, I was surprised to see that former Congressman Tom Tancredo and Pueblo County Chair Becky Mizel were also in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was initially unknown to me and I believed it was a routine strategy discussion by the Attorney General and myself. Congressman Tancredo confronted me about not hiring former state Sen. Ted Harvey as the Party’s executive director, and demanded that I resign my post. [Pols emphasis] If I refused to meet their demand to resign, they threatened that a potential lawsuit may be filed and that false rumors that I have been unfaithful to my wife would be made public.
As Rittiman reports, there’s a word to describe this sort of thing:
A written statement from House described the encounter as what would appear, if true, to amount to political blackmail for failing to award a job to a state senator… [Pols emphasis]
He did not refute that the specter of marital infidelity was raised in the meeting with House, but said that was not the impetus for the meeting.
Tancredo said the trio had “grave and serious concerns” about a matter involving House which were shared by a larger group of Republicans in the state.
He would not elaborate further on what caused concerns, other than to say it was false that the group sought House’s ouster over a job appointment for Harvey.
There’s an simple reason why Tom Tancredo would deny after the fact that this meeting pertained to former Sen. Ted Harvey’s failure to he hired by House as the Colorado GOP’s executive director–it could easily be interpreted as blackmail. As our readers know, from the moment Steve House won the election as party chairman, Harvey’s presumptive hire as executive director–which we first broke word of–was widely understood. We never heard why Harvey did not ultimately get the job, but it’s obvious now there was controversy related to the decision.
Apparently, more controversy than anybody thought.
Colorado’s felony criminal extortion law, C.R.S. 18-3-207, seems pretty clear on the seriousness of what just happened:
(1) A person commits criminal extortion if:
(a) The person, without legal authority and with the intent to induce another person against that other person’s will to perform an act or to refrain from performing a lawful act, makes a substantial threat to confine or restrain, cause economic hardship or bodily injury to, or damage the property or reputation of, the threatened person [Pols emphasis] or another person…
Having read the statute, if you’re thinking this was a really, really bad thing for Colorado’s new Attorney General Cynthia Coffman to get mixed up with, you’re not alone. Rittiman:
Tancredo said he was concerned that legal action may be coming in the case, a possibility raised by numerous Republican sources who spoke with 9NEWS, many of whom were puzzled at the lack of an early response from Cynthia Coffman to deny the accusation.
“Our state party chair basically just accused the state’s chief law enforcement officer of at least participating in, and possibly coordinating, an extortion scheme,” one source told 9NEWS. “Who cares if [House] actually had an affair or not?” [Pols emphasis]
It’s hard to say exactly what happens next, not least because this alleged felony involves the state’s chief law enforcement officer. There’s also the possibility that House might buckle under pressure and change his story–or maybe Tancredo or Harvey take the fall instead, opting to sacrifice themselves to protect a sitting statewide officeholder and apparent political ally. We ourselves weren’t aware that Cynthia Coffman was so close to Tancredo, Harvey, Pueblo County GOP chairwoman Becky Mizel, or others in the hard-right GOP dissident wing. Now that this is known, it would be logical for these people, whose political careers are basically over, to try and protect Cynthia Coffman’s.
Except it’s too late for that now.