Punting Ryan Frazier

Round and round and round he goes...

Round and round and round he goes…

There are five Republican names on the June 28th Primary ballot. We still don’t know if all of them are official candidates.

Jack Graham, Robert Blaha, and Darryl Glenn are on the ballot and any votes they receive will almost certainly be counted. Jon Keyser is on the ballot (no, really, just ask him), but there are so many problems with his petition signatures that it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was ultimately forced to withdraw from the race before the election.

And then there’s Ryan Frazier. The Secretary of State’s office originally ruled that Frazier did not submit enough valid petition signatures to qualify for the Primary ballot. Frazier then filed a lawsuit in a Denver court to get his name on the ballot anyway; with the deadline to print ballots looming, a judge ruled that Frazier could remain on the ballot under the condition that if he loses, he must withdraw from the race. Confused? Check out this story from the Grand Junction Sentinel on Sunday for more background.

Today, the Colorado Supreme Court issued an “opinion” on Frazier’s legal challenge that basically amounted to another punt. The Supreme Court “ruled” that 49 more signatures for Frazier should be counted…but then kicked the case back to a lower court. So it looks like the Frazier case will go back to a courtroom where a judge couldn’t make a decision in the first place. Good times!

If we’ve learned anything from the last month of political Primary ballot football, it’s that judges in Colorado don’t want anything to do with any of these questions. This is not very helpful, since asking for guidance from the Secretary of State’s office is like giving money to a fortune teller on the 16th Street Mall.  

Ballots for the June 28th Primary are supposed to be arriving in voters’ mailboxes in about two weeks. Ryan Frazier still doesn’t even know if he is really a candidate. This is beyond absurd. 

Sucks To Be Wayne Williams

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s John Frank:

“In retrospect we could have done a better job on the review of the individual lines and I think we all admit that,” said Judd Choate, the elections director in the secretary of state’s office. “And that’s why we are trying to develop better policies.”

At the same time, state election officials acknowledged that the scope of the controversy involving forged signatures is still unknown. The secretary of state’s office has not yet conducted a review of other petitions submitted by the same collector who submitted the questionable signatures for Keyser. [Pols emphasis]

“We haven’t looked at it,” Choate said.

“We haven’t looked at it.” That’s encouraging. Maybe the Secretary of State’s office can get around to doing their job later this summer.

—–

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

The office of Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams held a press conference today, to respond to this week’s shocking update in the ongoing scandal over forged petition signatures submitted on behalf of Senate candidate Jon Keyser: the revelation that Williams’ office was made aware of a deceased voter who had “signed” Keyser’s petition over a month ago, weeks before a local liberal group exposed the initial forgeries on May 3. As the Aurora Sentinel’s Chris Harrop reports:

Judd Choate, state election director in the Secretary of State’s office, addressed an array of questions Thursday, May 19, over the petition process after U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyer’s campaign became embroiled in a controversy over forged signatures discovered on his petitions.

One signature in particular — that of Judy DeSantis, who died in January — was found on Keyser’s petition, dated March 28. An elections worker was notified of the anomaly in April, but the issue was not brought to the attention of Secretary of State Wayne Williams until Tuesday, May 17.

“Under state law we are permitted to evaluate the content of a signature … we are not permitted under state law to compare signatures,” Choate told reporters, explaining that the reporting procedures at the time did not call for checking the date of the signature against the date of the voter’s death.

“We would have no reason to believe they have done anything wrong here,” Choate said, later adding that “the assumption was that they had died after signing the petition.”

liarliarkeyserReaders will be pleased to learn that the Secretary of State’s office is moving to correct this rather stupefying gap in their signature verification process for petitions. Again, what we’re talking about is routine verification of a voters’ identity and valid signature that already occurs with actual ballots–just not with petition signatures. We know exactly what needs to be done to catch fraud like the forgeries in Keyser’s petitions, it simply wasn’t done due to the “cost and effort” involved. And because, well, the law didn’t say the Secretary of State had to.

From there, things got a bit more defensive:

As to the larger issue of signature verification, Choate said that his office is prohibited by law from taking that step while some county elections officials — such as those in Denver — have implemented signature verification under their county charters.

“It would require a change in law, we would need a statutory change … we have very, very limited authority to pursue someone for a violation like this,” Choate said.

Secretary of State spokeswoman Lynn Bartels added that the office does not have criminal prosecutorial authority. The forgery complaints to date have been referred to the Denver and Jefferson County district attorneys, respectively.

The problem is, the Secretary of State’s office is not who referred the overwhelming majority of evidence to prosecutors–a “liberal attack group” did that. The only item “referred” to investigators by Williams’ office to our knowledge was the deceased voter they reportedly knew about for a month, and we seriously doubt we would have ever heard about that were it not for the larger scandal. Excepting that action the Secretary of State’s office has mostly outright defended Jon Keyser, making assumptions about the case that investigators have in no way determined, and reaffirming with a shrug that Keyser is “on the ballot” regardless of any evidence of fraud that has been or might be uncovered.

In short, Williams has done very little to help resolve this situation, and a great deal to make it worse. He made it worse though his own ill-advised defense of Keyser, coupled with the belated admission his office failed: not just to catch these forgeries, but to heed warnings about forgeries and even dead voters coming from their own workers looking at Keyser’s petitions. And we can’t help but wonder what else may be out there we don’t yet know.

Everyone needs to do better next time, starting with the Secretary of State.

Who Hasn’t Jon Keyser Blamed For His Forged Petitions?

Jon Keyser.

Jon Keyser.

An hilarious press release from the Colorado Democratic Party spokesman Chris Meagher today seems comprehensive, but you never know:

Denver, Colorado – Remember when Jon Keyser himself said that “we double and triple checked our petition signatures”? Well, it seems like he’s unwilling to take personal responsibility for what happens in his own campaign, even after revelations that the Secretary of State’s office was informed about potential forgeries a month ago.

Since it has been easy to lose track of everyone and everything Jon Keyser has blamed for his campaign’s submission of forged signatures to qualify for the ballot (it seems only his dog Duke escapes blame), we decided to compile a helpful list. One person in particular though is conspicuously missing from the list—himself:

List of everyone Keyser has blamed for his signature snafu:

Employee of a subcontractor of a company of a company his campaign hired

Mitchell (Marshall?) Zelinger

Democrats

“the media”

Sinfulness

ProgressNow Colorado

He’s on the ballot

He’s taking the bark off Michael Bennet

George Soros

Anyone but himself“Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser said Tuesday he won’t quit his campaign if it’s found his primary bid was marred by fraudulent petitions to get him onto the ballot.”

Hey, they missed George Soros! Oh wait, no they didn’t. It’s worth nothing, with the possible exception of blaming Michael Bennet and liberal attack groups, that this string of excuses from Jon Keyser’s campaign over allegations of petition fraud has mostly come in just the past few days that Keyser has been willing to discuss the subject at all. And even as Keyser has begrudgingly acknowledged the seriousness of the situation, he continues to throw shade at the “liberal media” as if he hadn’t acknowledged anything.

Putting it all together like this really helps show how Keyser has flailed away with excuses instead of taking what everybody wanted to see: on ounce of responsibility, for forgeries that appear to have directly helped qualify Keyser–and just barely at that–for the 2016 U.S. Senate primary ballot. Had he done so immediately and forthrightly, we might be having a very different conversation today. But after two weeks of some of the worst press we have ever seen in Colorado politics, it’s too late for that now.

As much as the crime itself, Keyser’s refusal to take ownership of this scandal is what killed him.

Keyser says “liberal media is not going to give up”

(It’s kind of pathetic – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jon Keyser.

Jon Keyser.

U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser has proven to be a horrible media critic, threatening a reporter with his dog and saying the media is out to get him, without offering any evidence for his anger. In fact, I can’t identify a single question from reporters that’s been unfair to Keyser or unreasonable given the facts on the table.

If anyone doubts this, I offer the following exchange between Keyser and KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis, beginning at 28:50 May 18 Hour 2 here.

Caplis: Obviously you’ve been getting a lot of questions over the way you handled an interview with a particular reporter from Channel 7. Give folks your perspective of that conversation through your eyes.

Keyser: The interview that you’re talking about, it actually took place during the middle of a debate. We were in a debate, a candidate debate. We took a five-minute stretch-your-legs break, and then of course this guy  [Denver7’s Marshall Zelinger] came and shoved a camera in my face. We were in the middle of the debate!

You know, I think it takes a lot of discipline to stick you your guns and say, ‘Here’s what I know. I know that I’m on the ballot. The Secretary of State has looked at that. A judge has looked at that again and again.’

And it takes a lot of discipline to not give the left what they want, which is — it’s not the 24-hour news cycle anymore–it’s something that will feed into the 24-minute news cycle.

They wanted me to misspeak, or they wanted to have me say something that they could run with or that would hurt me later. But I was focused on not stoking that fire, because, frankly, that is a very serious thing. And we wanted to make sure that we had the truth, that we knew exactly what happened. And that takes a little while sometimes. Now that doesn’t satisfy 24-minute news cycle.

But, you know, I think it was important that I stood in there, and frankly, we got to have a Republican who can stand there and take the punches, because the liberal media is not going to give up. They are not going to give me a free pass. That’s for sure. So, I’ve got to be able to stay on message, stay disciplined and be able to take the punches. And I’ve shown again and again that I can. I’ve answered more questions in the four months that I’ve been running for the United States Senate than Michael Bennet has in 4 years…

Caplis: This reporter who went to your home during the day?

Keyser: Yeah, certainly I think there are boundaries. And like any dad, I’m protective of my family. And if it seemed in that interview that I was agitated or somewhat upset, it’s because I was! It’s because I’m a dad. I’m very protective.  He scared my kids. My baby cried for another hour after they left. Nobody’s jumping out of Michael Bennet’s bushes to ask him questions.

Keyser is correct. The media isn’t going to give up. Why should it, when it’s just doing its job?

BREAKING: Keyser Breaks Silence…Badly

Jon Keyser.

Jon Keyser.

After nearly two weeks since a scandal over forged petitions broke in Denver media, embattled Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser gave an extended interview to the Denver Post’s John Frank that went up a short while ago:

The former state lawmaker blamed an employee hired by a canvassing firm connected to his campaign and suggested the issue will not hurt his once-promising bid because he collected more than enough voter signatures to qualify for the race.

“It appears, in fact, that some of those signatures were turned in in an improper manner and that’s a very, very serious thing,” Keyser said in an exclusive interview with The Denver Post two weeks after questions enveloped his campaign. “It’s an extremely serious allegation. I think that speaks to why I was very measured and very disciplined in talking about this.” [Pols emphasis]

By “very disciplined,” we assume he means repeating the words “I’m on the ballot” over and over again while claiming the whole business is a Democratic plot. Repeating those words thirteen times between the Thursday debate and his confrontation with Denver7 reporter Marshall Zelinger during a break has become by orders of magnitude Keyser’s biggest-ever press hit–far bigger than the original shock that he had initially missed the ballot before his court challenge got him restored.

Meanwhile, Zelinger reports today on increasing law enforcement activity on the case:

On Monday, investigators with multiple District Attorneys offices met to discuss complaints received from voters who said they did not sign petitions for Keyser.

Two voters contacted the 18th Judicial District in Arapahoe County to complain about their signatures being forged.

Denver7’s online list of petition signers has reportedly produced many more tips to that news station, as well as the independent contacts by voters who found their names on that list to the Arapahoe County District Attorney. Sources tell us that the Denver DA’s office is taking the lead in the active investigation into the Keyser campaign’s alleged petition fraud, working with the Jeffco and Arapahoe DAs. Speaking to the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning Friday, Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler sounds pretty serious about prosecuting:

“It is illegal to forge a name on a nominating petition that is filed with the State of Colorado,” Bruachler told The Statesman. “Under Colorado law,” he said, citing C.R.S. 1-13-106, “any person who ‘forges any name of a person as a signor or witness to a petition or nomination paper’ commits the crime of forgery,” which is a Class 5 felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. In certain cases, he noted, the potential prison time could increase to six years.

“We consider forgery of candidate petitions to be a serious matter that we would diligently investigate if an instance of it occurring in this judicial district was brought to our attention, and we will prosecute those cases where there is sufficient evidence,” Brauchler continued. “We encourage any persons with knowledge of this or any other election offense occurring in the 18th Judicial District to report it to us. If it happened outside of this judicial district, we encourage citizens to report violations to the appropriate District Attorney’s office.”

Looks like that’s happening all over the place, folks. The political questions and now criminal investigations into whether Keyser qualified for the ballot due to fraud have effectively ended Keyser’s U.S. Senate bid, helped in no small part by his worst-case-scenario initial reaction to them. But even as Keyser finally admits after nearly two weeks that he indeed has a serious problem, albeit taking no responsibility for it, he defends the part of the story that might have done as much to off-put potential supporters as the petition fraud. It certainly helped made him the butt of nationwide jokes. Frank:

Asked why he invoked his 165-pound Great Dane, Duke, in an interview with a local TV reporter — a comment some found menacing — Keyser pushed back.

He said the reporter crossed a line by knocking on the door of his home to request an interview in the middle of the afternoon.

“Like any father, I was upset that my privacy was invaded at my house while I wasn’t there,” he said.

The problem with this, of course, is that it’s totally ridiculous. Marshall Zelinger has reported that his attempts to contact Keyser for days to get a response were fruitless–and that the address given by the campaign went to a rental mailbox. After trying the state GOP and other intermediaries without success, Zelinger did what any reporter on a hot story would do. He knocked on Keyser’s door.

That is not an invasion of privacy. That does not rise to the level of threatening a reporter with your dog. If you don’t agree, the thing we would suggest to ensure you are not likely to be contacted by a reporter is this simple.

Do not run for the United States Senate.

Caption This Photo: The Face of Fear

MONDAY UPDATE: TBS’ Samantha Bee immortalizes Jon Keyser’s meltdown:

—–

UPDATE: You knew the remix would not be far behind. From a real high school student, so you know it’s cool:

 

 

—–

Here’s an animated .GIF to remember: the first few telling seconds of Denver7 reporter Marshall Zelinger’s confrontation with GOP U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser over allegedly fraudulent petition signatures submitted by his campaign. It’s all about that subtle look of sheer terror that breaks across Keyser’s face, for just a brief fleeting moment until he regains his robotic composure:

keyserfear

No matter how little sympathy you may feel for Keyser, you know that look.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Destroys Jon Keyser

After a wild week in local news, the rapidly escalating scandal over allegedly forged petitions that helped Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser qualify for the 2016 primary ballot made its way to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last night.

There’s really nothing quite like an in-depth Rachel Maddow takedown:

Maddow replays lots of details from Denver7 reporter Marshall Zelinger’s reports this week, including Tuesday’s story breaking the existence of many more forged petitions than the first example uncovered over a week before. She goes on to discuss Keyser’s disastrous public appearances Thursday, in which Maddow reports Keyser’s recitation of the words “I’m on the ballot” a total of thirteen times between the debate and Keyser’s calamitous interview with Zelinger afterward.

The point of all this, and this is where Maddow takes the question above the back-and-forth of local news and punditry, is that Colorado’s U.S. Senate race is pretty much the only GOP hope of picking up a Senate seat–in a year that is increasingly looking like a rout for the Republican Party, from Donald Trump all the way down the ticket. Keyser has been successfully sold to the Republican Party elite in Colorado and Washington, D.C. as the only contender who can challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in November. With the national Republican Party much more straightforward these days about “meddling” in primary races to avert further Todd Akin (or for that matter, Ken Buck) catastrophes, and with no big name like Cory Gardner to turn to, the decision had already been made to fall in behind Keyser.

Today, after almost two weeks of nightmarishly bad press, and having metastasized into a nationwide press spectacle after Keyser boorishly horrified every reporter in America on Thursday, the decision by Republican kingpins to vest their hopes for taking out Bennet in Jon Keyser looks like a very bad decision indeed. Whether Keyser is forced to withdraw from the race or he limps on to defeat in June, this once-promising “wunderkind” is politically done for. At best, maybe he takes a Scott McInnis-style sabbatical and reappears someday to run for Delta County Jefferson County commissioner.

And to Democrats reveling in Keyser’s destruction, we’d say it’s time to shift focus to the candidates left standing.

BREAKING: Extensive Fraud Uncovered In Keyser Senate Petitions


UPDATE: Marshall Zelinger’s story 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 Colorado held 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 Zelinger went 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.

BREAKING: Apparent Fraud Uncovered in U.S. Senate Race

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE #4: The Denver Post’s John Frank:

The signature of one voter, Pam Niemczyk of Littleton, raised particular questions because it appeared on two petitions in different handwriting.

Niemczyk said she remembers signing a petition for Graham outside a local grocery store but not Keyser.

“I have seen my signature for Jack Graham and I have seen my signature for Jon Keyser and I can definitely say the one for Jon Keyser is not my signature,” she said in an interview. “It’s forged.” [Pols emphasis]

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POLS UPDATE #3: Coincidentally, a former candidate for Denver city council was just sentenced today by the Denver District Attorney’s office for falsifying signatures on a petition for ballot access.

—–

POLS UPDATE #2: Marshall Zelinger at 7NEWS reports, bad news for Jon Keyser:

Pamela Niemczyk of Littleton told Denver7’s Marshall Zelinger on Tuesday that she had signed a petition for Jack Graham, another Republican U.S. Senate candidate. She said the signature on the Keyser petition was not hers, calling it a “fraud.” [Pols emphasis]

…The Keyser campaign issued a statement blasting U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, the Democratic incumbent whom he and other Republican candidates are vying to challenge in the November general election.

“Senator Michael Bennet’s liberal friends, ProgressNow Colorado, embarrassed his campaign yet again today with a flailing stunt that clearly telegraphs to the entire political world how scared Michael Bennet is to face Jon Keyser in November,” Keyser spokesman Matt Connelly said in the statement. “…The entire political world knows Jon Keyser will be on the ballot and we appreciate Progress Now’s invitation to highlight for conservatives across the country that Jon Keyser is Senator Bennet’s worst nightmare.”

Whether or not it was political stunt, Denver7 confirmed that the Littleton voter said someone forged her signature on the Keyser petition.

—–

POLS UPDATE: This could be about to get very serious for Jon Keyser, as 7NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger confirms apparent fraud in Keyser’s submitted petitions:

Watch this space for updates, uh-oh…

—–

With time running out on a temporary injunction against the finalization of the 2016 Republican U.S. Senate primary ballot, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, called on the Colorado Secretary of State’s office to re-examine petition signatures submitted in the U.S. Senate race. This request comes after a cursory investigation of the Secretary of State’s own data revealed several invalid petition signatures that evidently slipped through the cracks, and at least one wrongly accepted duplicate signature that appears to be fraudulent.

“Our review of just a sample of Jon Keyser’s petitions in one congressional district has found enough uncaught invalid signatures to raise serious questions about whether Jon Keyser has in fact qualified for the Republican primary ballot,” said ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin. “The Secretary of State must immediately rescind their statement of sufficiency for Jon Keyser, and request an extension of the temporary injunction now in place to revisit errors and potential fraud in the signature validation process. ‘Close enough’ isn’t good enough for Colorado voters.”

After petition documents were made available for inspection by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, a cursory review of Jon Keyser’s signatures in one congressional district found at least six invalid duplicate signatures that were not discarded in the Secretary of State’s signature validation process. The signatories appear in the accepted signature reports for both U.S. Senate candidates Jack Graham and Jon Keyser. Based on Keyser’s total validated petition signatures in one congressional district (CD-1), fourteen additional invalid signatures would put Keyser below the minimum number required to appear on the 2016 ballot.

At least one duplicate signature accepted for Keyser, a voter whose signature was also accepted for Jack Graham, appears to be fraudulent. A visual inspection of the signatures plainly shows the same name filled out in different handwriting. [1]

“Our brief look at the petitions for Jon Keyser has raised serious questions, and after he barely qualified for the ballot, every single signature matters,” said Franklin. “Our sample of petition signatures has revealed previously uncaught errors, as well as a potential for outright fraud, that could change everything in this race. Unless the Secretary of State takes the time to re-verify every petition signature, no one can have confidence in the Republican U.S. Senate primary ballot.”

So You Want a Presidential Primary, Do You?

Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos."

Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos.”

The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports on debate over House Bill 16-1454, legislation that would restore the state’s presidential primary elections–a timely push after both Republicans and Democrats found their own things to hate about the caucus process in 2016:

While the legislation has bipartisan sponsorship, it passed the Democratic-controlled committee on a party-line vote.

Sponsors of the legislation introduced the measure after chaotic March 1 caucuses, where many voters expressed frustration. Reports of long lines and confusion swept the state…

Most everyone agrees that the long lines, low participation rates, and general confusion in the party-operated caucus process stymie the voting public’s access to the presidential nomination process. With that agreed upon, restoring a presidential primary comes down to a much stickier question–who would be able to participate? Presently voters must declare their party affiliation well in advance of the caucus.

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton.

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton.

Under the proposed new system, there would be at least some opportunity for crossover voting shenanigans–but proponents say it beats the alternative.

The legislation would stop short of creating a full, open primary, but it would allow unaffiliated voters to temporarily choose a party preference in order to participate.

Thirty days after the election, the preference would default back to unaffiliated. There would, however, be a public record of what preference that voter chose for the election.

One thing that makes it more difficult to “protect” the partisan primary from malicious “Operation Chaos” style meddling by the other party is Colorado’s progressive voter registration law passed in 2013–which allows eligible voters to register and vote on Election Day. If you want same-day registration, some other provision must be made for primary elections unless you want to throw the doors wide open and have a fully “open” primary. The “temporary affiliation” proposal is an admittedly awkward workaround, but would at least try to uphold these competing ideals of access vs. party participation.

Ted Cruz, Donald Trump.

Ted Cruz, Donald Trump.

We recognize that one’s preference for or against an open primary in this presidential election year may well be biased by circumstances that might help or hurt a favored candidate. But insofar as political parties continue to exist, the logical argument still resolves in favor of parties retaining control over their nominating process–including preferring primary voters be bonafide party members.

And as the Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports, if you don’t like this idea, there are much worse ideas in the wings:

A group called Let Colorado Vote is proposing a ballot initiative to allow unaffiliated voters to vote in every race and receive ballots from major parties.

“I think the proposed system is infinitely better than the system that has gone through my office during the ballot-title setting that would involve sending everyone multiple ballots,” said Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

There’s no question that mailing both primary ballots to every voter would be a much more sinister blow to the power of political parties in Colorado, and an open invitation to crossover voting games beyond Rush Limbaugh’s wildest dreams. Even if you rankle at the idea of weakening party membership requirements to vote in a presidential primary, the compromise represented in HB16-1454 may well be your best shot at retaining some measure of control in today’s fluid political landscape.

Because whether you’re a fan of the status quo or not, it’s going to change. Whatever the solution is, the train wreck of this year’s caucuses for both parties is not to be repeated.

It’s Official: The Colorado GOP Lied About #NeverTrump Tweet

Two weeks ago this coming Saturday, a Tweet from the Colorado Republican Party’s official Twitter account sent aggrieved local supporters of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump into an outraged tizzie:

nevertrump1

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

Eli Stokols, local political correspondent now writing for Politico, was quick to report the party’s denial of any responsibility for the Tweet, but the moment it appeared the damage was done:

Even though it only existed in the ether of cyberspace for a few minutes, the optics of such a tweet coming from the neutral arbiter of Saturday’s delegate selection process amidst a hard-fought trench war between Cruz and Donald Trump to secure the Republican presidential nomination rankled a number of Colorado Republicans.

In the immediate aftermath, the party claimed to have insight into the Tweet’s origin, as 7NEWS reported at the time:

House wouldn’t say how many people on staff have access to the account, but said they “had a process going on to find out who actually knew the password to the account.” House added “it’s only a matter of time,” before they find out who sent that tweet, as they knew the IP address the tweet went out from. [Pols emphasis]

But as the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reported yesterday (paywalled), that’s not true.

Saying that the state GOP “has been engaged in dialogue with Twitter in an attempt to identify the source of the Tweet,” Colorado Republican Party Chairman Steve House wrote in an email sent Tuesday evening that it appears Twitter will require state Republicans to “initiate a lawsuit and issue a subpoena” before the social media company will reveal more information about where the #NeverTrump tweet originated…

“Because of the seriousness of this matter, the party intends to pursue such legal process to compel Twitter to produce the IP address from which the tweet originated,” the email reads. [Pols emphasis] “The Colorado GOP is confident that once it has the IP address it will be able to identify the individual or company that issued the tweet. It will then seek recovery from the individual and/or company that issued the tweet for the cost associated with its investigation, legal efforts and the harassment of its officials and staff.”

So…they were lying when they said they had the IP address the first time? These statements can’t both be true. But wait, there’s more!

According to the email — sent to individuals and companies who “have had access to the @ColoGOP Twitter account” — the state GOP has turned up “evidence this tweet was sent via Twitter for iPhone” [Pols emphasis] but is unable to determine more without filing a lawsuit and obtaining a subpoena.

Now, where do you suppose they obtained “evidence” the Tweet was sent via an iPhone?

Oh, wait, never mind. It’s in the Tweet.

nevertrumpiphone

In short, the Colorado Republican Party has learned absolutely nothing about the origin of the #NeverTrump Tweet, and lied when they claimed to have the IP address. We’re not sure what the grounds would be for a legal action for compel Twitter to produce that information, but it should be noted that the IP address of the sending device may not help identify the sender at all–more likely simply identifying what cellular carrier was used, or if they’re lucky, maybe the IP address to a hard-line internet service provider. Presumably, another legal action would be necessary to compel that company to produce its logs.

The fact that the party demonstrably lied about what it knew regarding this Tweet, with this admission that they don’t have the IP address, is just another blow to the Colorado GOP’s credibility with Trump supporters who already deeply suspect foul play. It’s possible that the party’s legal action (if any) will at some point bear fruit, and belatedly reveal the identity of the person with access to the party’s official GOP account who committed this “unauthorized” action.

If and when that ever happens, there’s a good chance nobody will care. Because they’ve seen enough.

Wayne Williams Touts Colorado Election Law But Still Opposes It

(Chutzpah, baby – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Last month, on Rocky Mountain Community Radio, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams praised a Pew study for, as Williams put it, “highlighting some of the improvements and the innovations that we try to look at in Colorado.”

The Pew study gushed about Colorado’s 2013 law, which, among other things, mandated that mail-in ballots be sent to all voters, authorized same-day registration, and shortened the length of residency required for voter registration.

The reforms, according to Pew, reduced election costs by 40 percent, and over 95 percent of voters surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied.

Even though he opposed Colorado’s election-modernization law when it passed in 2013, Williams subsequently praised Colorado’s election reforms, well before the Pew Study was published. For example, he lauded the new voting centers and options in Colorado Springs.  And prior to touting Colorado’s wide use of mail-in ballots at a 2015 conference, he issued a news release saying, “Colorado continues to lead in a host of areas.”

So it was an interesting journalistic moment, after the Pew study came out last month, when Colorado Community Radio’s Bente Birkeland asked Williams if he’d oppose Colorado’s election law again, after seeing how it’s worked.

Yes, Williams said he would oppose it, “Because it didn’t include the kind of give-and-take that we’ve tried to do since I’ve been Secretary of State, which is to sit down with the stakeholders of both sides ahead of time and work things out.”

I wondered if Williams had substantive reasons for his opposition, or if it was just a procedural problem for him. His office provided a detailed list of alleged “improvements” made after the 2013 bill, which was referred to as HB13-1303, passed. A list of  bills that would fix current “issues” was also provided, as well as a list of “additional issues that still need to be addressed.” (See these lists below.)

“HB13-1303 made a number of good changes,” Williams said in a statement,  “but because of the above issues and because it violates Colorado’s Constitution with respect to recall (even with the changes made), I could not support it because of my oath to uphold the Constitution. If introduced today, I would work to fix the above issues through the amendment process—something that was denied in 2013 because of lockstep votes to approve by the controlling party.”

Asked to respond to Williams’ lists, Elena Nunez, Director of Colorado Common Cause, told me via email:

Secretary of State Williams has shown a great willingness to partner with stakeholders on election issues, and we’re proud of the work we’ve done together this year.

Having said that, it is discouraging to hear the Secretary laud Colorado’s election law nationally while trying to roll back the parts of the law that make it such a success. Our approach is innovative because it gives Coloradans convenient options to both register to vote and cast ballots, while creating administrative efficiencies.

…All of his examples of “1303 fixes” in the bipartisan cleanup bill, SB16-142, are election issues that would need to be addressed even if HB13-1303 had never become law.

Here’s is Williams’ statement and list in its entirety.

(more…)

At Least He’s Not Your Congressman (Spilling The Beans Edition)


Milwaukee’s WTMJ-TV reports on a Republican member of Congress from Wisconsin, Glenn Grothman, who waxed a bit too honest about how requiring voters to present a photo ID in his state will help his fellow Republican candidates:

In comments made to TODAY’S TMJ4’s Charles Benson on election night, U.S. congressman Glenn Grothman (R-Campbellsport) said he thinks Wisconsin’s new voter ID law will help the eventual GOP nominee win in the state…

“You know that a lot of Republicans, since 1984 in the presidential races, have not been able to win in Wisconsin,” Benson said. “Why would it be any different for Ted Cruz, or a Donald Trump?”

After explaining he thought Hillary Clinton would be a weak nominee for the Democrats, Grothman said “now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is gonna make a little bit of a difference as well.”

As anyone who has followed the debate over voter ID here in Colorado or elsewhere knows, requiring such identification to exercise one’s right to vote creates a significant barrier: especially for elderly and low-income voters. Because those populations have a demonstrated tendency to vote Democratic, voter ID laws tend to reduce Democratic turnout and boost Republican turnout.

But of course, you’re not supposed to say that. There is no evidence of systemic voter fraud in American elections, including any evidence beyond the highly occasional anecdote of fraud that might actually be thwarted by presenting a photo ID. On the other hand, many more otherwise eligible voters who can’t obtain an acceptable ID are effectively disenfranchised.

In short, either Rep. Grothman is alleging there was fraud in Wisconsin elections that this law is now stopping, a claim for which there is no evidence, or he’s admitting that voter ID laws will have the effect of suppressing Democratic votes.

Seems like it’s probably the latter one, folks.

Redistrictpalooza: The Faces Tell The Story

Updating our occasional track of the growing number of proposals and counterproposals for “reform” of the state’s congressional redistricting and legislative reapportionment process that have piled up at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office since last year’s disastrous effort spearheaded by former GOP House Speaker Frank McNulty. As of Friday’s deadline for ballot initiatives there are a total of seven–seven–proposals under consideration not including last year’s.

Rather than trying to explain all the technical details of these different proposals, what we can tell you is that four of them originate from a single source–McNulty’s coalition of lawmakers and former elected officials. What hasn’t been widely discussed is the much less-known political hack working behind the scenes:

GOP operative Alan Philp.

GOP operative Alan Philp.

Alan Philp is a longtime conservative operative in Colorado politics. Philp is an employee of the Koch network through Aegis Strategies along with Jeff Crank and Dustin Zvonek–both with their own longtime associations with right-wing Koch ubergroup Americans for Prosperity. Philp’s ties to Colorado Republican political strategies go back many years before AFP set up shop in Colorado–just as one example, Philp helped run the failed Trailhead Group, set up in 2006 to “synchronize electioneering efforts” for Republicans.

Philp was also a major player in the last redistricting and reapportionment cycle in 2011, which witnessed innumerable attempts by Republicans to skew the process toward maps more favorable to their incumbents and long-term strategy. Philp’s firm also appears to have been paid by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), which has played a big role in redistricting fights through their Redistricting Majority Project.

In short, there’s a straightforward reason why Philp and McNulty have relied on surrogates–including some token Democrats. It’s very difficult to trust “nonpartisan” motives for anything Alan Philp is involved with.

And that means anyone looking at these proposals, no matter who the public face may be, needs to be very skeptical.

Trump Slushes Up Controversial Local Mail Vendor

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

As the Washington Post reports, a Commerce City-based Republican aligned political mail shop known as WizBang Solutions keeps popping back up as a major vendor, for both Donald Trump’s official presidential campaign and a “SuperPAC” set up to help him:

Donald Trump’s campaign has paid more than $1.2 million to a small Colorado printing firm connected to a Republican operative who ran a short-lived super PAC in support of Trump — shelling out $624,000 to the company just last month, new filings show.

That made WizBang Solutions, where GOP operative Mike Ciletti works as a director, the campaign’s third-highest paid vendor in February. The Commerce City-based company — which was paid for printing and design services — collected more from the Trump campaign last month than it had in all previous months combined.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not respond to a request for details about what work WizBang Solutions is doing for the campaign. Ciletti did not return a call seeking comment.

As the story explains, Mike Ciletti also ran the Make America Great Again SuperPAC, who was closed recently after it became obvious that this PAC using Trump’s slogan was indeed closely connected to his campaign. And that’s not the only connection between Team Trump and WizBang:

Ciletti, the super PAC’s lead consultant, is a longtime business associate of Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager. The two men worked together when Lewandowski was a top official at the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. WizBang Solutions was a major vendor to the organization.

While the super PAC was active last year, the Trump campaign paid two firms connected to Ciletti, including WizBang Solutions.

Now, we haven’t seen any examples of WizBang’s work product for the Trump campaign, but they have a dubious history. Back in 2013, the very same WizBang Solutions was caught sending mail pieces into Southwest Colorado in which numerous black faces in a crowd had been Photoshopped out of the image and replaced with white faces:

You’ll recall that WizBang came in for substantial criticism over this mailer, including national cable news. An employee of WizBang named “Mike,” who could be Mike Ciletti but we don’t know as he didn’t give a last name in 2013, responded (badly) to reporter questions.  We haven’t seen the connection made between Donald Trump’s mail vendor and these racially controversial Photoshopped mailers in the current news cycle.

Based on Trump’s increasingly unstoppable trajectory, it’s probably time to make the connection. Loudly.