Today is the last Friday the 13th of 2016, so relax. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).
► The Colorado Supreme Court will hear a case from the campaign of Republican Senate candidate Ryan Frazier, who is trying to remain on the Senate ballot despite coming up short in the signature-gathering process.
Then things got weird. In a flash of recognition, he asks the reporter whether he was the one who “was creeping around my house yesterday?” The reporter confirms he knocked on Keyser’s door. Keyser says the reporter woke his kids up and then asks, “Did you get to meet my dog?” He then mentions how big and protective his dog is, to which Zelinger replies: “I don’t know what that meant, but okay.”…
…Here’s why we’re bringing this to your attention. Not even two weeks ago, we asked whether Republicans were blowing their chance to unseat Bennet, who is Senate Democrats’ most vulnerable incumbent and one of Republicans’ best pick-up opportunities in a year they’re largely playing defense. But things hadn’t gone so smoothly for Republicans in Colorado. Recruiting problems. Ballot problems. A chaotic primary with no clear front-runner.
UPDATE #3: We’ve updated The Big Line, and for the first time in Colorado Pols history, we’ve assigned a negative percentage to a candidate.
UPDATE #2: Jon Keyser’s astonishing self-destruction today is going viral, with news outlets across the country picking up the story. It would take a miracle from several gods for Keyser to even be competitive in the June Primary (if he’s even still a candidate then).
UPDATE: Denver7’s Marshall Zelinger just posted astonishing raw video of his questions for Jon Keyser at today’s debate. It is possible we have never seen a candidate implode this spectacularly in all our years of Colorado politics–no exaggeration.
How do you recover from that? He actually threatened Zelinger with his dog.
This man’s political career can be measured in hours, not days.
Embattled U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser, facing a new request for a criminal investigation after Denver7 reporter Marshall Zelinger’smulti-day revelations of extensive fraud in Keyser’s primary ballot petitions, appeared at a Republican candidate debate this morning after hiding for days without comment on the rapidly developing scandal.
Today, Keyser was confronted on camera for the first time about the allegations.
And it was a disaster.
Keyser refused to answer any questions about these forged petitions, reciting the words “I’m on the ballot” and canned language about defeating Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. As FOX 31 reporter Joe St. George pressed the question, Keyser fell into a positively Mike Coffman-like robot repetition of rote talking points that had nothing to do with the allegations in any substantive way.
The event is still going on as of this writing, so we’ll update if any of the reporters in the room–we’re told that everybody is there, and for Keyser–manage to get more than this out of him. Or if there’s footage of him running through the parking lot. Or whatever happens next in this increasingly crazy story.
One thing we’re pretty sure is not happening is Keyser becoming a U.S. Senator. Ever.
Denver7 and the Denver Post both had new stories Wednesday on the ongoing ballot fraud scandal involving the Senate campaign of Republican Jon Keyser, and we don’t expect the coverage of this continually-breaking news to stop anytime soon.
Keyser has been silent and invisible since this story started breaking last week, and reporters are getting a little bit irritated at his disappearing act, as you can see from some of the Tweets below. Keyser’s campaign has clearly decided to go radio silent as long as possible, but that approach will be tested today.
The five candidates running for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination are scheduled to participate in two different debates today. The first debate, sponsored by the Foothills Republicans, takes place from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at Pinehurst Country Club in Southwest Denver. The second debate is tonight in Centennial (7pm at the Whipplewood CPAs Conference Center) hosted by the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. Keyser’s campaign confirmed his participation in both debates…but that was before the fraud story exploded.
If Keyser is a no-show at today’s debates out of concern that he will be cornered by reporters seeking his side of the story, you can go ahead and drop that last shovel of dirt on his campaign. You can’t declare yourself ready to be a U.S. Senator if you can’t even stand up for your own campaign problems.
We’re awaiting the video from Denver7 reporter Marshall Zelinger’s latest gobsmacking story on alleged petition fraud committed by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser’s campaign, but the 6PM teaser we just watched is just the preview for tonight’s main event at 10PM.
So as not to bury the lede, we’ll get right to the point: the petition gatherer at the center of Jon Keyser’s forgery crisis was convicted of attempted forgery in New York State.
Keyser petition gatherer “Maureen” also has a significant record of other criminal convictions on her record that Zelinger briefly described in tonight’s teaser segment. Needless to say, this clearly indicates that no meaningful background check of any kind was conducted on Keyser’s petition gatherers before they were sent into the neighborhoods of Colorado to knock on unsuspecting Republican doors. Or in Maureen’s case, not.
Unless, of course, forgery skills were considered a job skill.
In other news from Denver7, Zelinger’s crew has set up a searchable index of not just Keyser’s petition signers, but those of all four Republican U.S. Senate candidates who petitioned on to the ballot:
Prior to Zelinger’s report yesterday, Keyser had been scheduled to attend two primary-race events tomorrow. As of now his appearance is a big question mark–but either way, no-show or not, will be a story all its own now.
As the Aurora Sentinelreports, following up the story of fundraising in the SD-27 race between Democratic challenger Tom Sullivan and appointed Republican Jack Tate–we had last reported on a big fundraising quarter for “Sully,” contrasted against a campaign finance complaint against Tate for transferring too much money to his Senate campaign:
The Democratic Senate Campaign Fund and Tate’s opponent, Tom Sullivan, said this week that the Republican violated state campaign finance rules when he rolled over more than $27,000 from his former state House campaign to his Senate campaign. State rules put the limit on those transactions at about $22,000.
In a letter to Tate on May 5, Williams said his office gave bad advice when they explained to him how to move money from his House campaign committee to a Senate campaign committee.
“My office mistakenly gave you erroneous information regarding the effect of the committee change on the contribution limits,” the letter said…
The Republican Secretary of State said in his letter that Balmer approached his office asking how Tate could roll the money over and the Secretary’s office didn’t explain the process correctly.
Obviously, it would be better if the Secretary of State could give, you know, accurate information about the campaign finance limits it is charged with administering. Do you suppose Williams would have been as forthcoming about giving “erroneous information” to a Democrat? Either way, in a release from the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund, you can see the fun with Tate regarding his campaign funds isn’t quite over yet:
Tate has yet to make an official public statement on the matter. Tate did respond to the DSCF’s May 3rd tweet that he needs to give the illegal overage back and “play by the rules” with, “nope. contact secretary of states office. know your rules regarding same campaign year transfers. [sic].”
In his last May 2nd filing, Tate raised $4,150.00 – well under the $5,611 he needs to either give back to donors or donate to charity, according to campaign finance laws.
In addition to having to make several thousand dollars go away unproductively, Tate isn’t raising any money. Certainly not compared to Sullivan’s big start to the race. We’ve already seen evidence that Tate is nervous about his election prospects, to include backing away from sponsorship of a predatory lending bill after he sponsored one last year.
If he can’t raise money, he’s got a lot more to be nervous about.
“Sine Die” sounds a lot more foreboding than it should. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► The race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Colorado continues to get weirder. On Tuesday, Marshall Zelinger of Denver7 broke the news in a series of reports that Jon Keyser appears to have qualified for the June 28th Primary ballot despite apparent widespread fraud on his signature petitions. Keyser’s name will likely remain on the ballot, but he has much bigger problems right now.
The biggest issue of the session — reclassifying the so-called “Hospital Provider Fee” to provide more money for key infrastructure needs — finally met its end in a Senate committee after Senate President Bill Cadman basically ran out the clock on making a decision. As the Colorado Springs Independent reports, there was wide support for the HPF issue…but it couldn’t overcome Cadman’s allegiance to the Koch Brothers-funded “Americans for Prosperity.”
►Voters in West Virginia and Nebraska got to pull some levers in the Presidential Primary on Tuesday. Democrat Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in West Virginia, though the result doesn’t put much of a dent in Clinton’s delegate lead. On the Republican side, Donald Trump was victorious in both West Virginia and Nebraska, which wasn’t a huge surprise since he’s the only GOP candidate still standing.
If you haven’t been following one of the biggest political stories in recent Colorado history, click here to get caught up. We’re talking, of course, about allegations of ballot fraud and forgery connected to the Jon Keyser for Senate campaign revealed in an an absolutely devastating series of reports from Marshall Zelinger of Denver7.
There are plenty of questions swirling around Keyser today, but here’s the important one: Whether or not his name remains on the GOP Primary ballot for U.S. Senate, does Jon Keyser have any chance at winning this election?
Here’s the real answer: Nope. Jon Keyser’s campaign for U.S. Senate is essentially finished.
There are 26 days until ballots start going out in the mail to Primary voters, and the only thing an average voter would know about Keyser from the last month of media coverage is that he has been on and off the ballot and faces serious accusations of fraud and forgery. Keyser’s fundraising in the first quarter of 2016 was awful, and unless he somehow received a major infusion of cash, it is likely that the campaign is paying bills on a check-by-check basis.
On top of all that, Keyser’s campaign has spent most of the last month making legal arguments about ballot access instead of talking to voters. Republican opponents Darryl Glenn and Jack Graham have spent the last month hitting the stump and raising money, and even Robert Blaha now has a big head start on Keyser entering the final stretch of the campaign.
We’re sure you have more questions, and so do we. Below, we also provide some answers:
UPDATE: Marshall Zelinger’sstory is up. It is without exaggeration one of the most devastating Colorado political news stories we have ever read. Excerpt, needless to say you need to click through and read it in its entirety:
Forged signatures appear on the petition that may have helped former State Rep. Jon Keyser qualify for the U.S. Senate Republican primary ballot…
Denver7 has now confirmed with 10 voters that they did not write their names, addresses and signatures that appear on his petition.
The 10 signatures that voters told Denver7 were forged were collected in Congressional District One, where Keyser was credited with 1,520 valid signatures. If he had turned in fewer than 1,500, he would not have qualified for the primary ballot. [Pols emphasis]…
…”I don’t think this is a liberal stunt, I think it’s backpedalling by the Keyser group to cover their tracks. They got caught and they’re trying to cover it now,” said Niemczyk.
“Do you know who Jon Keyser is?” said Zelinger.
“I do not,” said Niemczyk.
“Do you want to know who he is?” asked Zelinger.
“I do. Probably not for the reasons Jon Keyser wants me to know who he is. I don’t know how anyone could trust you after this,” said Niemczyk.
Last week, liberal group ProgressNow Coloradoheld a news conference to announce petition signatures for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser that were wrongly validated by the Secretary of State’s office–a potentially very serious development for Keyser, after he barely qualified for the ballot via a court challenge. GOP Secretary of State Wayne Williams initially ruled Keyser’s petitions insufficient due to problems with a circulator’s credentials, and in addition, Keyser came perilously close to failing to qualify in several congressional districts including Denver’s CD-1.
And then the story got worse.
One of the CD-1 duplicate signatures wrongly accepted for Keyser’s campaign, a Republican voter in Littleton named Pamela Niemczyk. But on easy visual examination, Niemczyk’s signature on the petition for Senate candidate Jack Graham looked nothing like the signature on the petition for Keyser. Using this information, KMGH-TV reporter Marshall Zelingerwent to Niemczyk’s home, and obtained a devastating video of this Republican voter accusing Keyser’s campaign of forging her signature.
In the U.S. Senate race, the last week since ProgressNow Colorado’s presser has mostly been focused on the legal challenges from Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier–but behind the scenes Zelinger has been working to figure out how many forged signatures we may be talking about. It’s simple reasoning to conclude that, with one fraudulent signature in hand, there must be more. After all, when does something like that only happen once?
Well folks, as it turns out, there’s more. A lot more. We’re waiting for Zelinger’s full reports at 6 and 10PM tonight, but what we can tell you now based on Zelinger’s initial reports is that Jon Keyser’s Senate campaign is now officially on the brink of disaster. Zelinger is reporting at least ten cases now of Republican voters identifying validated Keyser petition signatures as fraudulent.
If that’s true, this is the biggest scandal to impact Colorado Republican electoral politics in many years–far worse than 2010 gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis’ race-ending plagiarism scandal. The implications for Keyser and the high-level Republican operatives he hired to run his petition drive and campaign are nothing short of calamitous. Without any real scrutiny, the extent of the fraud in these petitions a real criminal investigation may uncover could shake the entire Colorado political world to its foundations.
Withdrawing from the race could be just the beginning of Keyser’s problems now. Stay tuned.
Invisible jury prepares to hear case against unknown person for unspecified damages.
UPDATE: We’re getting our first glimpse of the invisible jury that could hear this case (as soon as they find someone to charge). Don’t forget to send in your invisible check to the Colorado Republican Party!
As the Denver Post’sKirk Mitchellreports, following up on a story that has bedeviled the Colorado Republican Party ever since the state convention last month:
The Colorado Republican Party has filed a federal lawsuit against the unknown person officials say tapped its twitter account and wrote the controversial tweet “We did it. #Never Trump” at the culmination of its state assembly in Colorado Springs…
The lawsuit filed Monday seeks unspecified monetary damages against John Doe, the yet unidentified perpetrator who either used the Colorado Republican Committee’s computer without authorization or hacked into the committee’s Twitter account.
Party spokesman Kyle Kohli told The Denver Post Tuesday the lawsuit was intended to send a public message and clarify the party didn’t publish the post on Twitter. [Pols emphasis]
The headline of the story, “Colorado GOP sues alleged sender of ‘We did it. #NeverTrump’ tweet,” certainly makes it sound as though the party had made some kind of actual progress in identifying the Tweet’s origin. When we last reported on this story, it was to expose a considerable falsehood from Colorado GOP chairman Steve House. House had initially claimed after the Tweet was published that the party “had the IP address” of the sender, but later admitted to the Colorado Statesman’sErnest Luning that wasn’t true.
Despite the splashy headline, it’s clear from the full story that the Colorado GOP has made no progress whatsoever in identifying the alleged “rogue” sender. It’s possible they could get a court order via this suit for Twitter to give up additional log data in their possession, but as we’ve said previously, that might not do any good since the perpetrator could have connected from any number of public networks.
And the bottom line is, the whole “scandal” is increasingly moot. Donald Trump is now the de facto Republican nominee for President, and whatever shenanigans that may or may not have taken place to corral all of Colorado’s delegates for Ted Cruz are now an historical footnote. We’re not sure what kind of monetary damages the party would even be able to recover over this quickly-deleted and disavowed Tweet, although we suppose not being in Trump’s good graces as a Republican functionary, you know, has its price.
Besides, before 2016 is over, the “Never Trump” folks may feel rather vindicated.
Today is the final full day of the 2016 Colorado legislative session. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).
The biggest outstanding question for the legislature — the “Hospital Provider Fee” (HPF) issue — appears likely to fizzle as Senate President Bill Cadman tries to run out the clock on the 2016 session instead. As John Frank of the Denver Post reports via Twitter:
W/ 2 days remaining, GOP Senate prez lifts his hold on @hickforco hospital provider fee bill, assigns to two committees #copolitics#coleg