Gessler, Brauchler, Still Can’t Make Facts Fit Illegal Voter Narrative

Noooooo!!! Oh, nevermind.

Noooooo!!! Oh, nevermind.

As Election Day gets closer and closer, so, too, does the end of Republican Scott Gessler's contentious term as Colorado's Secretary of State. Perhaps one day we will all look back at this period of time and laugh to ourselves in disbelief that Gessler could have actually been in charge of voting in Colorado.

Back when Gessler first took office in January 2011, he told everyone who would listen that Colorado had a massive problem with illegal voters casting illegal ballots. In fact, Gessler testified before Congress that he was aware of at least 16,270 illegal voter registrations in Colorado, including 5,000 who illegally cast a ballot. Those numbers, of course, never held up to even the slightest level of scrutiny. In July 2013, Gessler's office produced a list of 155 people — yes, just 155 — who were suspected of having registered to vote illegally. What happened to the other 16,115 that Gessler boldly proclaimed to Congress as illegal voters? Perhaps someone in the Secretary of State's office just accidentally cut-and-paste the same names 110 times.

Last November, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, a very partisan Republican DA, announced that his office had indicted a grand total of 4 (four) people alleged to have been involved in illegally registering to vote. In June, charges were dropped in one of those cases, and yesterday, a judge tossed charges in a second Brauchler case. From CBS4 Denver:

A judge dismissed an election-fraud charge against an Aurora man on Wednesday after prosecutors said they could not prove he was the one who illegally registered himself to vote.

Tadesse G. Degefa, who is not a U.S. citizen, had been charged with procuring false registration for allegedly signing up to vote in 2012.

District Attorney George Brauchler said the secretary of state’s voter registration website does not have safeguards to prevent someone from illegally registering someone else to vote.

According to CBS 4, charges are still pending against one canvasser and one noncitizen. In other words, out of Gessler's original claim of 16,270 cases of illegal voter registration, we may (and only possibly) end up with just two people who may have not even intentionally been involved with illegally registering a voter. And guess how many people look to have actually voted illegally?

At this point, none. As in, zero.

So, Scott Gessler was pretty close in his estimation of voter fraud — give or take 16,270 people.

What To Make of Gessler Harrassment Allegations?

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

Earlier this week, Westword's Melanie Asmar posted a story about the former chief financial officer in Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's office–who claims she was harassed, intimidated, and ultimately demoted after she raised questions about Gessler's use of discretionary account funds. You'll recall that Gessler's use of taxpayer money to attend partisan political events resulted in a ruling from the state's Independent Ethics Commission that he had "breached the public trust for private gain."

As published at Westword Tuesday afternoon:

The former chief financial officer for the Colorado Secretary of State's Office is accusing Secretary Scott Gessler of harassing her, retaliating against her and eventually demoting her after she "began to push back on the financial mismanagement" she reportedly saw in the office. Heather Lizotte took issue with Gessler's use of the office's $5,000 discretionary fund and federal grant funds meant to improve state elections, according to a lengthy claim notice filed with the Colorado Attorney General's Office.

According to the notice, Lizotte began working for the secretary of state's office in 2003 and got excellent performance reviews for many years. The trouble started shortly after Gessler took office in 2010, the notice says. Gessler made headlines for wanting to moonlight at his previous law firm because, he claimed, the secretary of state's salary wasn't enough. Meanwhile, the notice says, Gessler didn't always provide receipts in connection with his use of the office's $5,000 discretionary fund; at the end of fiscal years 2011 and 2012, he also asked Lizotte to give him all of the money left in the fund.

Lizotte told Gessler's staff "that the casual practices being used were not appropriate," the notice says. In a November 2011 e-mail to two staffers, Lizotte wrote that all expenditures from the discretionary fund "should have supporting documentation (for example meal receipts etc.)" and that memos for "blanket expenditures" are not allowed. Lizotte's insistence on the rules, the notice says, caused "ongoing tension" between her and Gessler.

Heather Lizotte testified before the Independent Ethics Commission about the matter of Gessler's discretionary funds account. As Westword reports, Lizotte claims that after her testimony, Gessler and his close staff started shutting her out of meetings. Within a few months, Lizotte was on the wrong side of performance evaluations, and in June she was demoted with loss of pay. While we can't claim to know all of the particulars, there are plenty of circumstances in play here that could add up to plausible claim of retaliation.

Between Tuesday and yesterday afternoon, though, something interesting happened. In a new story, Asmar writes about SoS employees, in interviews "facilitated by Gessler's office," coming out of the woodwork to throw Gessler's former CFO under the bus:

[A] document signed by Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert gives different reasons, including that Lizotte abruptly left the office in December 2013 on sick leave without giving her staff any direction. Lizotte claims that she left because Gessler treated her "so aggressively that she became frightened and seriously ill" and that she did brief her staff on how to handle the meetings scheduled during her absence…

Ryan Moyle, who worked for Lizotte from April 2011 until he left the department in November 2013, says that it seemed to him that Lizotte was in over her head. "In my experience, we were doing a lot of her work," says Moyle, who was a budget analyst.

Moyle says he never saw Gessler mistreat Lizotte; instead, he was "supportive" and "patient" with her. However, Moyle recalls Lizotte saying things that made it clear she didn't see things the same way. "She would always make comments about how it was a boys' club and the men didn't respect her," Moyle says…

Deana Wiedemann, an account tech who worked under Lizotte for eight years, agrees. "It's been a rough road to work with her," Wiedemann says in a conversation facilitated by Gessler's office. "Nothing has been consistent with how she makes decisions."

Bottom line: we don't know Heather Lizotte. We don't know any of the people in the story above who question her performance in these downright ad hominem terms. We do know that Lizotte's employment with the Secretary of State's office predates Gessler's term, meaning she wasn't part of the team that Gessler brought in when he took office. And we know that Gessler was found by the IEC, with their judgment upheld in court, to have improperly spent his office's discretionary funds–which could quite reasonably upset his CFO. The Colorado Civil Rights Division, which is currently investigating, will eventually make a judgment. Until then, yesterday's story ends this way:

Laura Schwartz, one of Lizotte's attorneys, says that Lizotte disagrees with the statements made by the other employees but does not want to comment on them further. Adds Schwartz: "These people who are coming out against Heather are the very people who want to stay in touch with a powerful person. And Gessler is." [Pols emphasis]

Perhaps Gessler will be vindicated. But if he is not vindicated, these subsequent actions, marshaling current and former employees to smear this woman even as the investigation of her claims is underway, could turn out to be one of the very worst of "Honey Badger's" many misdeeds.

Tom Tancredo is His Own Consultant

Tom Tancredo with top consultant, Tom Tancredo

Tom Tancredo with top campaign consultant, Tom Tancredo (left or right, doesn’t matter).

The June 24th Primary Election may be pretty far in our collective rear-view mirrors, but Election Day doesn't mean that losing campaigns immediately shut down. There are bills left to pay, offices to mothball, rhetoric to file away, etc. And for losing campaigns, there is often cash left over to spend on…stuff. Occasionally, that "stuff" ends up back in the hands of the candidate.

After looking through campaign finance reports from losing campaigns filed in July and August, we found some interesting (if not particularly legal) expenditures. Republican Tom Tancredo's campaign for Governor, for example, lists a total of about 121 separate expenditures made to one "Thomas Tancredo," including out personal favorite, which was reported on June 30, 2014: Tom Tancredo's campaign paid Tom Tancredo $1,300 for "Consultant and Professional Services." 

We're assuming this wasn't considered a bonus for Tancredo's consulting advice that resulted in a Primary loss to Bob Beauprez. It is telling, however, that Beauprez had trouble dispatching a man in Tancredo who apparently wasn't overly interested in running a serious campaign for Governor.

All told, Tancredo's campaign paid Tom Tancredo about $10,501.99 in the year or so that he ran for Governor as a Republican. That's a lot of money to pay yourself for various items, though it pales in comparison to the money that 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes somehow squirreled away.

If you're wondering, Tancredo is actually a bit of an outlier when it comes to odd expenditures. The campaign for Republican Scott Gessler wrote at least two separate checks to Scott Gessler for $3,468.38 for services described as "Other." On the other hand, Mike Kopp, the other losing GOP candidate for Governor, does not appear to have received any odd expenditure checks from his own campaign.

You can check out some of our more interesting campaign finance findings for Tancredo after the jump…

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Debate Diary: Blogging the Secretary of State Debate

MaxHeadroom

Kids, ask your parents.

It’s time to fire up the Colorado Pols Debate Diary once again.

It has become something of a tradition here at Colorado Pols for us to give you, our loyal readers, a live blog, play-by-play of political debates in Colorado. Yesterday in Grand Junction, Secretary of State candidates Joe Neguse (D) and Wayne Williams (R) took to the stage for the first SOS debate hosted by the Colorado Clerks Association. Colorado Pols was not in attendance at the debate (you wouldn’t drive to Grand Junction on a Monday, either), but thanks to the miracle of YouTube, we’re watching the video and providing a blow-by-blow rundown of the action.

*NOTE: Unlike a regular “live blog” Debate Diary, we're posting the most recent update at the bottom of the page, so you can read like a normal person. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time.

 

0:15
We’re looking at the stage at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction. El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams is to the left of the screen, while CU Regent Joe Neguse is on the right. Maybe it’s just a weird camera angle, or maybe Williams is standing on a couple of phone books, but he looks absolutely ginormous. Williams looks like Godzilla preparing to destroy the convention center.

Our moderator is Gary Harmon from the Grand Junction Sentinel, who is sitting at his own table between the two candidates.

0:20
Let’s get right to the opening statements. Each candidate is allowed 3 minutes to start, which seems kind of excessive. If either candidate is able to coherently talk about the Secretary of State’s office for 3 consecutive minutes, we should just let them have the job.

0:27
Neguse is up first. He’s wearing a dark suit, with a white button-up shirt and a white t-shirt underneath. That’s a lot of layers, but maybe he just likes to be prepared.

1:04
“My name is Joe Neguse, and I’m running for Secretary of State for a pretty simple reason. I believe the right to vote is sacred.” Neguse talks about how his parents immigrated from East Africa.

1:39
And…we have our first Scott Gessler mention. Neguse criticizes the current SOS and makes sure to mention that Gessler has endorsed Williams.

[SIDE NOTE: Is there a lightbulb shortage on the West Slope? Neguse looks like he’s speaking from a dark alley, with half of his face shrouded in shadow.]

2:16
Neguse says that Williams is the only county clerk in the state who is NOT a member of the Colorado Clerks Association. That’s really strange – it will be interesting to see what Williams says about this. Why would the El Paso County Clerk not be a member of the Colorado Clerks Association? Is there a competing organization in which Williams is the sole member?

3:24
Neguse finishes up his opening statement with a story about doing bipartisan work as a CU Regent.

3:42
Now it’s time for Williams to speak. He’s wearing a brown jacket, a shirt of indeterminate color, and Max Headroom’s tie from 1984. He also has a “Wayne Williams” campaign sticker on his lapel, just in case.

“I had an interesting conversation in 2011 with my wife. I explained to Holly that I would not be at our house for her birthday.” Seriously, that’s the first thing he said.

Williams says that the Saguache County Commissioners scheduled a recall for January 24 (the same day as Holly Williams’ birthday) and asked him to run the recall election. So he sacrificed his wife’s birthday for the greater good of Saguache County, or something.

“I have been committed for many decades to working hard to ensure that everybody has the ability to vote.” Good work on the English, Wayne. Maybe he really IS Max Headroom.

4:45
Williams is now telling a story about serving on the Canvas Board in El Paso County for the first time in 1997. This is going to be a looonnggg 45 minutes.

5:15
Williams criticizes the 2000 election process in Florida, which resulted in a team of lawyers making sure that Al Gore George W. Bush was elected President. Didn’t see that one coming.

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Can “Honey Badger” Sneak In a Win?

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

The two most likely scenarios in tomorrow's Republican gubernatorial primary elections, based on all polling of the race, is either a win by former Congressman Bob Beauprez or his colleague Tom Tancredo. But there is a third possible outcome that we do want to note for the record, as the Denver Post's Joey Bunch reported last week:

[Scott Gessler] embraces the nickname "Honey Badger" — even calling his campaign Team Honey Badger — which came from the Internet meme about "the most fearless animal in the animal kingdom."

"He has less baggage than Tancredo, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have any," University of Denver political scientist Peter Hanson said of Gessler's primary opponent, who is known for controversy.

To his credit, Gessler has a well-organized, disciplined campaign, Hanson said. [Pols emphasis]

One thing we know from elections past is that polling is notoriously problematic in a low-turnout primary election, because a disciplined get-out-the-vote field campaign can turn polling results on their head on Election Night. And that possibility remains for tomorrow night: even though Beauprez and Tancredo are hogging the spotlight for earned media in this race, Gessler's by all accounts quality campaign, staffed by smart up-and-coming intelligentsia Republicans, just might be getting the ballots in from their well-targeted voters.

This possibilty prevents us from completely writing off any of the three viable contenders in this nominally four-man, widely regarded as a two-man race. Mike Kopp has no ability to pull off a steal himself, having never raised the minimum needed to undertake a field campaign. We don't even think his Rocky Mountain Gun Owners endorsement can help him at this point, with Kopp basically in vanity mode after winning the state assembly.

If there's an upset brewing in this race, Gessler will be it.

GOP Gubernatorial Candidates on Local Control: Yeah, Right

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

The Denver Business Journal’s Ed Sealover reports, not that there was ever much doubt, but for the record:

None of Colorado’s four Republican gubernatorial candidates support Gov. John Hickenlooper’s current effort to give local governments more regulatory authority over drilling operations in exchange for U.S. Rep. Jared Polis yanking down his nine proposed regulatory ballot initiatives, with all of them saying that doing so would be, in essence, capitulating to the wealthy Democratic congressman.

Only one of the quartet — former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo — said that he would be open to some measure of local control on some oil and gas issues, while another, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, said he believes drilling restrictions already are too harsh and should be rolled back in order to boost the energy economy in Colorado…

Hickenlooper, Polis and the state’s two largest drillers have agreed on a compromise proposal, but the governor is seeking more industry and business support — enough, administration sources say, to get a number of Republicans to vote for the bill — before he calls a special session.

If one of the four Republican gubernatorial candidates were in office right now, it’s pretty clear that no such negotiations would be underway. [Pols emphasis]

Of the four responses, we have to say that Tom Tancredo’s comes the closest to a reasonable position, at least acknowledging the desire of local communities to have some control over heavy industrial operations like oil and gas drilling within their boundaries. All of them employ Rep. Jared Polis as a scapegoat, although Sealover notes correctly that the resistance blocking the local control compromise legislation is from the energy industry.

As for Scott Gessler’s contention that regulations on oil and gas in Colorado are already “too strict” and should be rolled back to “boost the energy economy,” well, that’s the Honey Badger for you! That will almost certainly be a minority viewpoint among general election voters, but for the purposes of moving out of distant third place in this primary, Gessler’s ready to pander and pander hard.

Bottom line: Gov. John Hickenlooper’s friendly relations with the energy industry are a matter of record, about which we’ve had plenty to say in this space–the good, like bringing the industry and conservationists to the table for strong new air quality rules, and the bad like Hickenlooper’s dubious taste for fracking fluid. Fortunately for Hickenlooper, one of these guys will be the alternative in November–and there will be a clear, or at least clear enough, distinction.

One Week Out: Who Will Win The GOP Gubernatorial Primary?

With one week remaining until next Tuesday's primary election, here's a poll of our registered users (click here to create an account if you don't have one already) on who will win the Colorado Republican gubernatorial primary: former Congressman Bob Beauprez, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, former state Sen. Mike Kopp, or former Congressman Tom Tancredo. For this poll, we ask that you not vote your preference–we'd like to know who you honestly believe will win the election.

Who will win the Colorado GOP gubernatorial primary?

 

After Cantor’s fall, who’s the tea-partiest of them all?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's crash, you naturally wonder which Republicans in Colorado's gubernatorial primary are out-of-the-closet tea partiers. Arguably, they're all closeted tea-party types, at a minimum, but who lets his tea-party flag fly?

Colorado's gubernatorial race has been spotlighted nationally as the next big test of tea-party strength, post Eric Cantor. So Republican voters may want to know which of the leading candidates self-identify as tea party.

Local talk-radio hosts have been out in front on this story.

Despite his tea-party record, Bob Beauprez has ducked the question in different ways. In one instance, on KOA's Mike Rosen show, he said:

Caller Doug: My question for Rep Beauprez: Is he more aligned with the traditional Republican Party or more aligned with the tea p?

Beauprez: I'm more aligned with, some people would call them, conservative values, traditional values. I think both of the groups that you highlight, in general, adhere to the same.

On the other hand, Tom Tancredo told KNUS' Steve Kelley Wednesday:

Tancredo: I love the tea party. I believe they have been a very healthy force inside this body politic, especially for Republicans. I believe it has helped move the party to the right, although it's been done begrudgingly on the part the party itself. A lot of people resent it and resist it. No, I think they've been helpful.

Listen to Tancredo discusses the tea party on KNUS Kelley and Company 06-11-14

GOP Gubernatorial Candidates (Mostly) Get Bratty

Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo.

Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on the continuing reverberations from Tuesday's stunning ouster of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by an underdog Tea Party-backed challenger:

With precious days left to sway primary voters, three of the four Colorado Republicans seeking their party’s gubernatorial nomination are aligning themselves with the anti-establishment wave that just toppled the second most powerful Republican in the U.S. House, majority leader Eric Cantor.

After Cantor lost his seat Tuesday night to a virtually unknown professor, Dave Brat, due to strong support from anti-Cantor forces within conservative talk radio and beyond, Tom Tancredo, Scott Gessler and Mike Kopp openly celebrated.

“If I were a drinking man, I’d have been drunk last night. I’d have been celebrating like crazy,” Tancredo said on the Peter Boyles Show Wednesday morning after the host referred to Cantor’s defeat as a “bitch-slapping.”

Eric Cantor (R-Toxicity).

Eric Cantor (R-Toxicity).

Jason Salzman has more on Tancredo's jubilation after Cantor's defeat, being a perceived validation of Tancredo's own anti-immigration brand. As for the one Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate who is conspicuously not celebrating Cantor's defeat–the one Cantor endorsed, longtime Washington, D.C. insider Bob Beauprez? The Denver Post's Joey Bunch reports:

Beauprez characterized Cantor as “colleague and a friend.”

“”We worked together to pass the Bush tax cuts in 2003 and to support Israel,” he said, then referenced his ballot petition signatures. “While I appreciate his endorsement of our campaign, I’ve also been endorsed by more than 23,000 Coloradans who believe that I will be a conservative voice for them as Colorado’s next governor.”

Democrats and Republicans opposing Beauprez in e-mails and on Twitter Tuesday night challenged whether the Cantor loss signaled a distaste for such establishment candidates. Beauprez’s campaign spokesman, Roger Hudson, pointed out that Cantor made tactical campaign mistakes — essentially not campaigning nearly enough — that Beauprez won’t repeat…

One of these responses is definitely not like the others. Beauprez couldn't be in a worse position today, as a friend of Cantor's from Congress who sought and won Cantor's early endorsement in the Colorado gubernatorial race. Today, Eric Cantor's endorsement is the kiss of death in a Republican primary, of even less value than the Mitt Romney endorsement Beauprez was so oddly proud of last month. Rep. Cory Gardner faces similar problems as another erstwhile Cantor ally, which is probably why we haven't heard anything from Gardner about Cantor's defeat. Judging from Beauprez's response, Gardner's not going to have an easy time spinning this one.

What's the opposite of "coattails," again?

Charges Dropped In First of Gessler’s Four Vote Fraud Cases

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

As the Colorado Independent's John Tomasic reports:

The charge has been dropped in what’s believed to be the first voter fraud case set for trial since Secretary of State Scott Gessler urged district attorneys statewide to prosecute people who purportedly are cheating Colorado’s election system.

Mike Michaelis was scheduled to be tried today for allegedly procuring false information on a voter registration form. Michaelis, 41 and now in construction, registered voters in 2012 on behalf of Work for Progress, a nonprofit that, as its website states, campaigns “for social justice, a fair economy, consumer protection, clean energy, and the environment.”

On a voter registration form submitted to Michaelis by Aurora resident Lydie Kouadio, a box was marked saying she is a U.S. citizen. Gessler’s office determined she isn’t. Her name was among 155 voters the Secretary of State deemed to be suspicious. Last June, Gessler sent prosecutors lists of residents in their districts for possible prosecution…

Winnowing down from Secretary of State Scott Gessler's original breathless claim that "thousands" of noncitizens had voted illegally in Colorado elections, we are finally at the bottom line after countless man-hours spent by his office, county clerks, and local law enforcement in pursuit of this alleged epidemic of vote fraud–four incidents where Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler, far and away the state's most partisan political district attorney, managed to put together enough of a case to file charges.

And now there are three.

Soon after taking office in 2011, Gessler, a longtime Republican election lawyer, claimed there were 16,000 noncitizens registered to vote in Colorado. Soon after, he said he identified 11,805 people as potentially fraudulent voters because they used noncitizen identification for drivers’ licenses with which they registered to vote.

Those figures, he said, backed up his claims that there was a “gaping hole” in the state’s voting system.

But Gessler’s numbers were off — way off – even as he alerted a congressional panel about Colorado’s purported rash of voter fraud.

Far from being a major systemic problem, the "illegal voters" Gessler actually uncovered amount to far less than the number of ballots and voter registrations Gessler's office routinely loses. Gessler's original insistence that many thousands of illegally registered voters were lurking in the rolls has become one of the most thoroughly discredited claims put forward by a Colorado politician in recent years. It's tough to understand why the near-total failure to substantiate a problem Gessler warned about in such certain and ominous terms has not ended his political career.

Perhaps it has, but we can't write that eulogy until after the primary.

Mike Kopp Makes Pointless Announcement of Running Mate

Former Sen. Mike Kopp (R).

Mike Kopp now has a running mate. So, whatever.

You've got to hand it to Republican gubernatorial hopeful Mike Kopp: Nobody drinks more of his own Kool-Aid.

Kopp, one of four candidates running for the GOP nomination for Governor (and the fourth-most likely to win), held a press conference today in Denver to announce he has selected a "running mate" for a campaign that will almost certainly come to an unhappy ending in two weeks.  As Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reports:

Former Sen. Mike Kopp has chosen former Pueblo city councilwoman Vera Ortegon, a Colombia-born microbiologist, as his running mate.

Kopp is the first of the four Republican candidates for governor to announce his selection for lieutentant governor.

He introduced Ortegon in Denver on Friday morning, and then prepared to make campaign stops in Pueblo and Colorado Springs. Before the official announcement, Ortegon hugged excited family and friends.

"I'm ready to unleash the Colombian hurricane," Kopp said as he introduced Ortegon, referring to her energy.

Um…yeah.

The Post has a great picture of Ortegon "pumping her fist" in front of Kopp at today's announcement, looking about as thrilled as someone whose table just got called at Red Lobster. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall for this conversation when Kopp convinced Ortegon to be his "running mate." This is a candidate, after all, who just finished a bicycle tour of Colorado's least-populated areas. Ortegon seems like she might be a nice choice for a GOP running mate, since she could conceivably help attract both women and Hispanic voters. This is a completely theoretical exercise, however, because Kopp is not going to be the Republican nominee for Governor…which means Ortegon gets to run around the state with him for two weeks for no real reason.

So, that sucks for Ortegon. But at least he waited until after his "bicycle tour" to officially include her in his campaign.

Boxed Into a Corner, Beauprez Starts Swinging

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez is holding a press conference this afternoon to react to the news that a group of Democrats are going to start running negative ads against both Beauprez and fellow GOP candidate Tom Tancredo. If you missed the earlier story this morning, click here to read up.

Twitter Rittiman

We are anxiously awaiting the press conference because we're curious just how Beauprez is going to try to deal with this situation. 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman tweeted this morning (at right) about one approach Beauprez will pursue — claiming that the ads show that Gov. John Hickenlooper is scared of Beauprez — but there's not much cattle to go with that hat.

The reality here is that Beauprez is facing a heck of a Catch-22 here. Let's take a look at his options:

1. Use the Democratic Ads to Claim Strength in Your Campaign
There are a whole bunch of reasons why this doesn't work, and all of them are related. Beauprez will try to say that the ads prove that Democrats are scared to face him in the General Election, but that response flies in the face of, well, reality. Beauprez's own campaign pollster just announced this week that he is trailing Tancredo for the Republican nomination. Magellan Strategies is the same organization that Beauprez used to conduct a likely voter survey in mid-April that showed him LOSING to Hickenlooper by a 50-35 margin.

If you are a glass-half-full kind of person, you could say that Beauprez isn't polling as bad as his 17-point loss to Democrat Bill Ritter in 2006. Of course, you would also have to acknowledge Beauprez's problems raising money and his $320,000 worth of "loans" to his campaign coffers. How and why any of this adds up to Hickenlooper being "afraid" to run against Beauprez is difficult to determine. Beauprez will try to show strength as a result of this ad, but nobody will believe him. The negative ads running against Beauprez are a reflection of his weakness as a candidate. Not the other way around.
 

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

2. Try to Clarify Your Position on Obamacare — Which You Have Already Botched
If you haven't seen the Beauprez ad, take a look after the jump. This is where Beauprez plunges headfirst into the thorn bush with no exit in sight. As Colorado Pols first reported last month, Beauprez's own words on health insurance reform are in stark contrast to his anti-Obamacare message today. In fact, the second half of the Democratic ad targeting Beauprez focuses on his double-speak on health insurance reform. Or, if you rather, it's "Both Ways Bob" being "Both Ways Bob."

In other words, Beauprez is going to hold a press conference about a negative ad which he cannot refute because it is all in his own words. How, exactly, is that going to turn out well?
 

3. Use the Press Conference to Talk About Tancredo
As we've noted before in this space, one of the smartest things Tancredo did this election cycle was to refuse all debate invitations. Tancredo has been the de-facto winner of recent GOP Gubernatorial debates simply by not being in attendance; when Republicans talk about Tancredo not being there, all they are doing is making the story about Tom Tancredo. Beauprez might try to use his press conference to go after Tancredo and the Democratic ad running against him — but all that would do is draw more attention to Tancredo ad that calls him "too conservative" for Colorado.

Team Beauprez is doing its dardnest to make lemonade out of today's lemons. We don't see how Beauprez can possibly come out ahead here, but we're excited to find out what he has planned.

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Dem Coalition Goes Up with Ads Targeting Beauprez & Tancredo

As Eli Stokols of Fox 31 reports:

A newly-formed group called “Protect Colorado Values” is about to hit the airwaves with two different ads focused on the two Republican front-runners, Tom Tancredo and Bob Beauprez.

Both appear to be attack ads, but a single viewing of the two spots makes it clear what the group, a partnership between the independent expenditure committee of the Democratic Governors Association and other Colorado-based progressive donor organizations, is trying to do.

Simply put, the one-two punch is a thinly-veiled effort to help Tom Tancredo win the GOP gubernatorial nomination…

…A similar situation played out in 2010, when Democrats spent $500,000 near the end of a Republican primary to help finish off the scandal-tarnished Scott McInnis.

Republicans, left with Dan Maes as the party’s gubernatorial nominee, struggled to regroup and split further when Tancredo, running on a third party line, entered the race but failed to convince Maes to drop out.

As we wrote yesterday, the four Republican candidates for Governor are struggling to find the resources to promote their own campaigns, which makes this an ideal situation for other interested groups to get involved. By any estimation, Bob Beauprez and Tom Tancredo are the clear favorites for the Republican nomination for Governor, which makes them both the obvious targets in this case. It's not like the DGA and a coalition of local donors is going to spend a lot of money going after Scott Gessler or Mike Kopp.

This is not an unprecedented move; in fact, it is quite precedented. Stokols cites Democrats spending $500k in the 2010 Republican Primary, but the most well-known example in recent history is the decision by President Obama’s campaign in late 2011 to start running negative ads against Republican Mitt Romney – long before the Primary had been decided. With Republican candidates drawing attention to themselves as much as possible, Obama’s team reasoned that it was a good time to try to build the narrative they wanted around potential opponents such as Romney. Democrats appear to be doing the same thing in Colorado — taking advantage of a wide-open TV ad market to begin defining both Beauprez and Tancredo.

GOP Candidates for Governor: What’s Left in the Bank?

UPDATE: And…here comes our first 527 Committee, "Republicans Who Want to Win," which is supporting Beauprez.

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Ballots are beginning to criss-cross in the mail in advance of the June 24th Primary, so it's time for candidates to empty their campaign warchests into various forms of voter outreach. The most recent fundraising reports were made available on Monday, covering the last two weeks of May, and they offer an interesting look at what the four Republican gubernatorial candidates might be able to do to (or not do) as the Primary comes to an end.

Here's how each of the Republican candidates for Governor compare in terms of resources as of June 2, 2014 (Note: All expenditures listed are for the two-week period of 5/15-5/28)

Tom Tancredo
Tom Tancredo.

Expenditures: $73,700
Cash On Hand: $63,412
Bottom Line: If Tancredo can bring in enough money to air his motorcycle-riding TV ad, this race should be in the bag.
 

 

Bob Beauprez
BeauprezExpenditures: $69,900
Loans: $100,000
Cash On Hand: $115,995
Bottom Line: This is the moment of truth for Beauprez. If he can self-fund his campaign — and he thinks it will matter — now is the time to write that check (and $100k isn't enough).

Scott Gessler
Scott Gessler. Expenditures: $12,608
Cash On Hand: $69,142
Bottom Line: If Gessler has any hope at winning the June 24th Primary, it's going to come from outside PACs or 527 Committees. Gessler doesn't have the resources to win based on what he's got in his campaign account.

Mike Kopp
Former State Sen. Mike Kopp (R). Expenditures: $26,737
Cash On Hand: $30,034
Bottom Line: Do you know what kind of candidate goes on a week-long bicycle tour in June through some of the least-populated parts of the state? The kind that doesn't have any money and knows he won't can't win.
 

 

 

Citizens United: We are “The Media”

UPDATE: Victory! Thursday, June 5, 2014, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert denied  Citizens United's petition to "be the media", i.e., to run political ads masquerading as documentaries, without disclosing donors.

From Brandon Rittiman's reporting on 9news:

The Colorado Secretary of State's office ruled that an upcoming documentary featuring state politicians "is an electioneering communication" and that it does not fall under any of the exemptions to state laws requiring political groups to disclose financial donors when running ads that mention candidates within 60 days of an election.

Practically, this means that Citizens United will have to disclose that it is a political organization in any TV ads running 60 days before the election. CU can still run a planned film documentary which "focuses on left-leaning groups and their influence on Colorado politicians and policies", according to David Bossie,  President of Citizens United.

Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch, which challenged the Citizens United petition, said that CU could sue Secretary of State Gessler in Federal Court and get an injunction. It's all speculation at this point, stated Toro. David Bossie signalled his intent to take the case back to the Supreme Court, which has ruled in favor of Citizens United.

CitiCartoon by Kip Lyall at http://kiplyall.blogspot.com/2011/12/cartoon-citizens-united.htmlzens United,  the conservative "non-profit" which won a landmark Supreme Court decision allowing for unlimited dark money in politics, wants to spend big on political attack ads in Colorado without disclosing any donors.  

 

 

 

As an end-run around campaign finance laws, Citizens United is claiming to be a media organization,  composed of independent journalists just like Michael Moore, according to CU President David Bossie, quoted in the  9News interview below. CU  petitioned the Secretary of State to determine that its proposed political films should not be considered "electioneering" or "political expenditures".

Colorado Ethics Watch  pushed back in a hearing  through the Secretary of State's Office, which is  no friend to Colorado Ethics Watch.  That makes this decision pleasantly surprising.

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