Coffmangate Update: Nothing Changed, Coffman Still in Serious Trouble

UPDATE #2: Conservative opinion site RedState has a lengthy story and interview with Steve House up today that’s worth a read–in which this blog is referred to as the “Daily Kos” of Colorado.

An audio interview performed by former federal agent, and current Vice Chair from Adams County, John Sampson with Julie Naye – the alleged mistress, and her close friend, Lana Fore, was published by the state’s version of Daily Kos yesterday. In the interview Naye adamantly denies the allegations of having an affair with Steve house, and damn if she doesn’t sound convincing. In fact, even the lefty outlet that published the audio noted that if she is lying, she is incredibly good at it.

As it stands now, barring any additional evidence provided by the accusers, it appears that Steve House has been falsely accused by some of the most powerful Republicans in Colorado.

We doubt that’s a compliment, but Kos does get a lot of traffic.

Original post follows…

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New Report: Massive Teacher Exodus From Jeffco Schools

While they can.

While they can.

A disturbing story from 9NEWS’ Nelson Garcia last night about a parent group in Jefferson County tracking the departure of teachers and staff from Jeffco Public Schools–according to Jeffco Exodus and new data from the Colorado Department of Education, a mass departure of teachers from what was once one of the state’s highest-performing school districts is now underway:

As both the teachers union and school district expect the teacher turnover numbers to increase this summer, a website run by parents is chronicling the stories of why teachers are leaving.

“What we’d like to do with JeffCo Exodus is to give them a chance to voice their opinions to get their feelings out in the open so that they feel people are listening to them,” Tina Gurdikian, JeffCo Exodus co-founder, said…

She says many teachers say they are leaving because they don’t feel respected. Gurdikian blames the actions of Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams who were elected to the school board in 2013. She says the actions of this conservative board majority are driving teachers away from the district.

Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk

Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk

The last two years in Jeffco have been fraught with battles between the new conservative board majority and the community they were elected to serve. In addition to annual fights over teacher and staff contracts, Jeffco schools have been beset by controversies that have nothing to do with the much-maligned “teacher’s union”–the questionable hiring of Dan McMinimee from the far-right Douglas County school district, McMinimee’s hiring of controversial now-ex communications director Lisa Pinto, the literal global news coverage of Julie Williams’ politically-tainted “review” of AP History curriculum–and recently, highly troubling incidents of bullying by board members against underage Jeffco students.

But in all of those incidents, as embarrassing as they were to the board and district as a whole, one could at least make the argument that for most students, nothing had really changed. Jeffco kids still went to the same schools every morning, to learn the same subjects from the same teachers.

As of yesterday, you can’t say that anymore:

The Colorado Department of Education tracks turnover numbers and says in the 2014-2015 school year, 710 teachers left the district, which signifies an increase in the turnover rate of about 50 percent compared to the previous year. [Pols emphasis]

Superintendent Dan McMinimee says he expects the turnover numbers to top 800 for the 2015-2016 school year.

The story quotes a conservative Jefferson County parent in support of the board majority downplaying this tremendous spike in teacher turnover, but for parents who send their kids to Jeffco schools every day, these numbers are nothing short of disastrous. This throws staffing decisions for next year into chaos, potentially resulting in larger class sizes. For students, this means the loss of trusted mentors and advisors. For some, the loss of a favored teacher could mean the difference between staying in school and dropping out.

And there’s nothing the board majority can point to as a positive effect. Right-wing public education opponents will assert for boilerplate reasons that these teachers “deserve to go,” but there’s nothing we’ve seen to indicate the teachers leaving are poor performers. There’s just no positive way to spin an attrition rate that’s up 50% from the previous year, with another big spike anticipated this year.

Bottom line: you can make the case that nearly two years of controversy in Jefferson County under the new school board majority have been foreshadowing this moment. This massive departure of teachers from a school district previously held up as a high-performing model is immutable proof of the harm being done by the conservative board majority. Real harm, affecting real people on a large scale. It’s the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back, except more of a sledgehammer.

And if this isn’t enough to push Jeffco parents to take action, we don’t know what is.

Buck to be removed as president of the freshmen House Republican

According to The Hill, Congressman Ken Buck’s vote against the trade bill will cost him his position as president of the freshman Republicans in the House.

phttp://thehill.com/homenews/house/245989-conservative-freshman-class-president-on-verge-of-being-ousted

Speaker Boehner is letting it be known that he is sick and tired of the extreme right-wing Republicans blocking everything and everything the President requests.  I realize many subscribers to Coloradopols are against the trade bill but this may be a sign that Mr. Boehner, who in the past was always a deal maker, wants the House to actually function again. 

Coffmangate: Ted Harvey is a Live Grenade

Ted Harvey and Cynthia Coffman in House of Cards likeness.

Ted Harvey and Cynthia Coffman in “House of Cards” likeness.

One of the central curiosities surrounding the Coffmangate scandal is that all parties involved in the alleged coup attempt against State Republican Party Chair Steve House have continually refused to go into any detail about why they were so intent on forcing House to resign after less than three months on the job. While details are scarce, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman did offer a strange statement of sorts yesterday in an interview with the Denver Post that is worth further examination:

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman talked publicly for the first time about what led her to meet with House and tell him he had lost her confidence. She said he was being untruthful and leaving the party open to potential litigation.

“He had promised people jobs and turned and maligned those people and made up false accusations to justify not offering them employment,” Coffman told The Denver Post. [Pols emphasis]

She said that happened in more than one instance.

It is unclear exactly how prevalent this issue may have been with House, but one of the people Coffman is undoubtedly referencing is former State Senator Ted Harvey. Let’s go back to last week and House’s original bombshell statement alleging attempted blackmail:

The rumors started last night [Monday, June 15], when I was scheduled to meet with Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. When I arrived to our meeting, I was surprised to see that former Congressman Tom Tancredo and Pueblo County Chair Becky Mizel were also in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was initially unknown to me and I believed it was a routine strategy discussion by the Attorney General and myself. Congressman Tancredo confronted me about not hiring former state Sen. Ted Harvey as the Party’s executive director, and demanded that I resign my post. If I refused to meet their demand to resign, they threatened that a potential lawsuit may be filed and that false rumors that I have been unfaithful to my wife would be made public. [Pols emphasis]

Back on March 14th, when House was officially elected Republican Party Chair over incumbent Ryan Call, Colorado Pols reported that Harvey was set to be named as the new Executive Director of the State GOP. Harvey was overheard (repeatedly) telling Republicans that he would assume the ED role as soon as the following Monday (March 16). Harvey did not ultimately get the top paid job in the State GOP, in part because Harvey spoke up too soon and made it appear as though House might have made a promise that he should not have made.

Now, let’s go back to Coffman’s statement to the Denver Post that attempting to oust House was, at least in part, because he may not have followed through on promises to elevate the likes of Harvey. If the attempted coup against House was at least partially motivated by employment promises to Ted Harvey — and it certainly appears that way — then it leads to even greater concerns about the judgment of Cynthia Coffman and her merry band of extortionists.

Former Republican State Sen. Ted Harvey

Former Republican State Sen. Ted Harvey

It is possible that House and the Colorado GOP could face some sort of civil lawsuit from Harvey if he can prove that he was offered a job that he never received. But if House and the Colorado GOP had hired Harvey as Executive Director, they would have been walking into an entirely different legal minefield.

As we noted in January, Harvey is the registered chair of The Stop Hillary PAC, a fundraising organization that may not exactly be on the up-and-up. Harvey’s involvement with The Stop Hillary PAC puts him in the company of notable “SCAM PAC” founders such as Washington D.C.-based lawyer Dan Becker. As Politico reported in January, Becker’s previous PACs have been known to spend less than 12% of their fundraising efforts to fund political advertisements and other actions, while essentially pocketing the rest of the money for “operating expenses.”

If House and the State GOP had hired Harvey to be the Party’s Executive Director, they would have opened the door to a much more extensive list of legal problems. Can you imagine the illegal coordination charges that the GOP would be facing if the same guy in charge of a national Stop Hillary PAC — potentially a scam in itself — was also concurrently running operations for the Colorado Republican Party?

Was Cynthia Coffman not aware of this massive conflict of interest? Or was she unknowingly advocating for something that would place the Republican Party in significant legal trouble? Perhaps this is one reason why Coffman and others have been reluctant to get into details about their concerns with House and not hiring Harvey: Those details actually hurt their argument for getting rid of House.

Maybe House promised Harvey the ED job, and maybe he didn’t; either way, Republicans should be glad it never happened.

Need a Coffmangate Refresher? Catch up with these links:

The Strange Story of the Coup Attempt Within the Colorado Republican Party

Cynthia Coffman’s Political Career is Over. Done. Kaput.

Cynthia’s House of Cards: Dial ‘B’ for Blackmail

Mystery Character #4 Revealed in Coffmangate Scandal

EXCLUSIVE: Coffman-gate Scandal is About to go Nuclear

Right-Wing Blog Unwittingly Confirms Steve House Blackmail (Now, With Audio!)

Proposed BLM Rule Could Recoup Billions for U.S. Taxpayers, Help Avert Climate Catastrophe

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Like a number of communities in Colorado, the valley where I live has been engaged in an effort to constrain oil and gas development to keep it out of our water supplies, our favorite recreational areas, our towns, farms and communities. 

This effort has been met with mixed success.  We banded together to stop an ill-advised Bureau of Land Management lease sale, deferring it twice.  We compelled the BLM to consider a community-based alternative as it revises its very stale 1980s era land use plan, and local conservation groups have successfully challenged some other projects—sending them back for a time to the drawing board. 

But more than 80,000 acres of public lands are leased in the upper reaches of the North Fork, many private lands are already under industry control, and Texas billionaires with privately held gas companies have their sights on acquiring more.

When Halliburton rolled a fracking convoy up the valley last week, to do the completion work on some wells on private lands and blocking traffic for a mile on our narrow two-lane road, the Paonia Message Board on Facebook erupted. 

Meanwhile, as small communities like my own face off against the world’s richest industry, each year in Colorado approximately 8.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas is wasted from oil and gas development on public lands, often vented raw or flared at the source.

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Right-Wing Blog Unwittingly Confirms Steve House Blackmail (Now, With Audio!)

UPDATE #2: There has been a flurry of phone calls and back-and-forth conversations among reporters and other officials today, much of it confusing. But you can read between the lines of Steve House’s statement to the Durango Herald:

I personally am not contacting the offices because I leave those decisions to the state party attorney and my personal attorney, I’ve not actively been involved with that,” House said in an interview with The Durango Herald. “I don’t know the law; I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t know what rises to the level of criminal activity.” 

—–

UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman, finally some mainstream media confirmation of what we’ve been reporting for days:

From Rittiman’s story:

Steve House, the chairman of the Colorado Republican party, has reached out to federal and state prosecutors about his allegations of a coup attempt to remove him from his leadership post at the state party, led by Republican state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

State party spokesman Owen Loftus confirmed that House reached out to both the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Denver District Attorney’s office in the wake of the scandal, which has dominated Colorado political conversation since House’s allegations last week…

His office is refuting a story posted to a conservative blog purporting to be a confession from his mistress.

—–

UPDATE: Here is the complete interview with Steve House’s alleged mistress, recorded the day after House’s confrontation with Cynthia Coffman, in which she categorically denies any affair. A wealth of information about this story in this over 47-minute conversation. See below for audio cue points to key moments. The voices on the recording are John Sampson, a private investigator and an Adams County Republican, Julie Naye, House’s alleged mistress, and Lana Fore, former secretary of the Colorado GOP.

With Julie Naye, Steve House’s alleged mistress:

9:13   How do you know House?
12:39 How often would you see House?
13:02 Have you ever meet Donna House?
13:43 Have you ever been alone with House?
14:00 Have you ever been in the same town overnight as House?
15:02 Why is the opposition pointing at you?
15:18  Is there any evidence (text, email voicemail) for these claims?
18:39 Has House ever paid you for work?
20:00 “House is innocent… I’ve never been alone with him”
29:00 “Steve need to take it to their doorstep.”
31:50 “People are making stuff up. Cannot be something there that there isn’t. House has to fight this.”
35:00 Lana Fore? “She’s sitting right here next to me.”
36:00 “Want to press charges against people who are claiming to have an affair.”

With Lana Fore, former Colorado GOP secretary:

38:00 What is going on?
40:00 “Personal vendetta”
40:30 Who is trying to force you to say something that is not true? McAlpine, Harvey, Mizel, Herzfeldt all named.
41:30 “House made promises and didn’t keep them.”
41:50 What were those promises?
44:00 Tom Tancredo was at the meeting on Monday night.
45:15  “I’m not a big fan of Colorado Pols, but I think they got it right.”

To be fair, this recording is addressed in the blog post by Porter below:

Naye confessed that she lied to help cover the affair. She said that House texted her with instructions to deny their relationship to his friend who would be phoning her. Naye said that she was unaware at the time that this friend was also a private investigator.

To which we can only say, if she’s lying in this recording, she’s a very good liar. In any event, all we’re talking about here is scenery for the main event–criminal extortion.

Original post follows–big updates coming soon.

—–

Ted Harvey, Cynthia Coffman.

Ted Harvey, Cynthia Coffman.

As the controversy has swirled in the last few days over the alleged extortion of Colorado Republican Party chairman Steve House by high-ranking fellow Republicans including Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, one of the central details was the purported existence of an extramarital affair between House and an unknown party. House responded to the allegation by denying the existence of an affair, and claiming that he was confronted with it only after the conversation turned from why House didn’t hire Ted Harvey to serve as the state party’s executive director to demands that House resign his position.

House’s version of events is very important to the investigation now underway, as it meets the legal definition of criminal extortion. It would be one thing if House had committed some kind of actual malfeasance in his official capacity–though the manner in which House was confronted is still legally questionable–but to blackmail this man over an alleged love affair is contemptible in addition to potentially criminal.

Fast-forward to today–conservative blogger Kathryn Porter, who has obviously been tasked by someone close to Coffman to run damage control as the likelihood of a criminal investigation grows, published her “shocking expose” of House’s alleged affair:

“I had no expectations of a future with him. I thought this would eventually end and we would remain friends,” said [the woman]. She shared that House was easy to talk to and that they had a special trust between them. “I wasn’t looking for him to take care of me. And he had a wife. I trusted him to be kind to me and stick around as my friend.”

She became more guarded when confronted about her feelings for House. “I care about him a great deal, like you would care about a close friend with additional feelings,” she stated, carefully choosing her words…

She described the submission to their sexual desires as an organic evolution of their friendship.

Steve House.

Steve House.

Missing from Porter’s poorly-written screed is, well, anything particularly nefarious. Nowhere does the story of House’s alleged affair claim to involve his official duties as GOP chairman. Instead of helping, this hit piece would seem to confirm House’s version of the blackmail story, which we have to believe was not the intended purpose. 

And that’s perhaps not the worst part. Today, we were forwarded audio from a conversation between House’s alleged mistress and a private investigator from the day after House’s meeting with Coffman in which she denies the affair repeatedly and categorically. Late in the nearly 50-minute conversation, the investigator interviewing the woman in question says:

It’s called “character assassination 101.” What it all boils down to is, and I’m not a big fan of Colorado Pols, but I think they got it right. This is an attempt to have a coup d’etat. [Pols emphasis]

We are processing the audio from this conversation now and will post shortly, but we wanted to be sure the existence of these denials was quickly noted in the record.

How does this square with the quotes printed in Porter’s blog? Simple: it doesn’t. Sources tell us that House has turned his cell phone text records over to the U.S. Attorney’s office, and there’s nothing to indicate that House asked this woman to lie. And even of these hotly disputed allegations of an affair were true? That can’t justify blackmailing Steve House to get him to resign from his job as Colorado GOP chairman. Remember, it doesn’t make any difference whether House did or did not have an actual affair; it’s still blackmail to threaten him with it.

You can’t ever justify blackmail–it’s a crime as soon as you make the threat.

Because Elections Matter – Why We Should Care about “ChairGate”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call, AG Cynthia Coffman.

Former Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call, AG Cynthia Coffman.

In the Politichicks article “Sex, Lies, and the GOP“, Kathryn Porter has given readers an explanation for why Marilyn Marks and Becky Mizel were motivated to force House to resign. I can’t speak for the motivations of others who may or may not have been involved, but I contend that Marks and Mizel needed for Steve House to step down as Chair of the Colorado GOP, in order to keep their positions of influence within the GOP, and within Colorado’s conservative base.

Quoting from Porter’s article:

One of those [Steve House’s] critics is elections integrity expert, Marilyn Marks who shared her experience as a member of a state party elections oversight committee. She said that some members walked off due to the inexplicable decision to replace the committee vice-chair and the invitation to include county clerks—holding different agendas—whom the committee was seeking to hold accountable.

Steve House, as Chair, chose to open up the party’s Elections Oversight Committee, of which both Marks and Mizel were members. He was seeking to have a less antagonistic, less litigious relationship with the County Election Clerks.  However, antagonism and lawsuits against the Clerks, complaints to the Secretary of State,  are how Marks and Mizel roll. This is their schtick, their raison d’etre. In the narrative Marks has carefully built up for the last few years, no public election official of any party can be trusted. The election system is full of gaping holes and opportunities for fraud, and only she, the “election watchdog“, can protect vulnerable votes.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 23)

Get More SmarterIf you blink this week, you’re going to miss a big story. 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…

► Slowly but surely, the mainstream media is picking up the second phase of the Coffmangate story. News reports today confirm that Colorado GOP chairman Steve House has contacted both local and federal prosecutors about being allegedly blackmailed by a group of Republican politicos headed up by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. AP’s Nick Riccardi:

A lawyer for the Colorado Republican Party has spoken with prosecutors about the state party chairman’s accusation that the attorney general and others tried to blackmail him into resigning, a spokesman said Tuesday…

The scandal has roiled Colorado Republicans and cast a shadow over the party’s hopes for a successful 2016 election in a pivotal swing state. It’s also damaged Coffman, a rising star in the party.

Meanwhile, a conservative blog posted a story claiming to “expose” House’s alleged affair, but we also received a lengthy audio clip of the same person denying the affair categorically. Neither of which really matters, since extortion is still illegal even if you’ve cheated on your wife.

► President Barack Obama’s controversial trade agenda caught a break from the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate (and Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado):

The trade bill advanced by a 60-37 margin, with the minimum votes needed to break a Democratic-led filibuster against so-called Trade Promotion Authority. Thirteen Democrats sided with GOP leaders on the vote, and five Republicans, including presidential contenders Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, voted against the legislation.

► An hour after we helpfully brought it to his attention, Rep. Ken Buck announced yesterday that he will return donations from a white supremacist believed to have helped inspire the Charleston church shooter.

Ellen Roberts, in an act of mercy towards her gaffe-prone self, opts out of running for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Ellen Roberts, Save(s) Thyself

Ellen Roberts can finally stop arguing with Ellen Roberts now that she is no longer considering a U.S. Senate run.

Ellen Roberts can finally stop arguing with Ellen Roberts now that she is no longer considering a U.S. Senate run.

Today State Senator Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) made her first logical statement to the press in literally weeks when she announced that she will not run for U.S. Senate in 2016. This is, undoubtedly, the wisest political move she has made in a month filled with ridiculous self-inflicted political wounds.

As Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reports on the Roberts announcement:

State Sen. Ellen Roberts announced Tuesday she won’t seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate next year, saying the “hurdle of immediate, massive fundraising” was the single biggest factor in her decision.

“A Senate race would also require full-time attention for the next 16 months and I am committed to carrying out well my existing duties this interim,” Roberts said in a statement…

Roberts was seen as an attractive candidate in part because she is a woman and also she has bipartisan support in southwestern Colorado. But even some party members questioned whether she was ready for prime time after a couple of gaffs. She told a conservative talk radio host she never said she was a “pro-choice Republican,” prompting the liberal blog ColoradoPols to display a video of Roberts on the Senate floor saying she was a pro-choice Republican. [Pols emphasis]

In case you missed the video clip mentioned above, here’s the original post “Seven Seconds That Could End Ellen Roberts’ Political Career.”

Roberts really wanted to run for Congress or U.S. Senate in 2016, but she proved to be spectacularly bad when trying to move to a larger stage. From the time she first publicly floated her name in early May, telling the Durango Herald that she was a “long-shot” candidate, Roberts made one silly gaffe after another, flip-flopping on abortion like a spawning salmon, and her hometown Durango Herald eventually jabbed her for taking part in political theater that was “not compromise, but Kabuki.

Democrats were admittedly nervous about a potential Roberts campaign against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, but it was always a “theoretical concern,” since nobody really knew how she might handle a statewide run. Once Roberts started actually talking about running for higher office, she torpedoed her own career before Democrats could even lift a finger.

But, hey, it could be worse.

Tuesday Open Thread

“If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.”

–Carl Sagan

Mystery Character #4 Revealed in Coffmangate Scandal

Cynthia Coffman

Coffmangate apparel.

On Saturday, Colorado Pols was first to report details about the rapidly-growing Coffmangate scandal involving Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and a handful of other Republicans (for more background on this rapidly-evolving story, see the links at the bottom of the page). One of the revelations from our Saturday post was about the emergence of another key player in this scandal:

Player #4 Has Entered
Apparently there is a fourth person who was heavily involved in the alleged extortion attempt of House; as of now, only Cynthia Coffman, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, and Pueblo County Republican Party Chair Becky Mizel have been publicly named. It would be a logical guess to say that former state Sen. Ted Harvey will be pulled into this before long — Harvey’s desire to be appointed Executive Director of the State Party has reportedly been a key piece of the extortion attempt — and perhaps he is the so-called “fourth person” now involved.

We can now report that the fourth “mystery player” is in fact Tea Party activist Mike McAlpine, who was in charge of the 2013 recall attempt against Democratic Sen. Evie Hudak. From what we hear, McAlpine may have played a key role in potentially manufacturing evidence to be used in an effort to convince Steve House to resign as GOP Chair. For what it’s worth, McAlpine also has close ties to State Sen. Laura Waters Woods (R-Arvada), who won the SD-19 seat in November 2014.

(Note: This doesn’t mean that Ted Harvey was not involved — it seems logical that he is, given that he was the topic of the reported threats — but only that Harvey is not officially the “4th person as we had previously described on Saturday.”)

So when does the big hammer of an investigation/indictment come crashing down? It could be as soon as tomorrow, from what we’re hearing, though it might be pushed into Wednesday. We hear that law enforcement/prosecutors are taking a little extra time to make preparations for what will undoubtedly be a media circus when all is revealed.

Need to get caught up on Coffmangate?

♦ More background on how this scandal started with an attempted coup of State Republican Party Chair Steve House.

♦ Read up on why Cynthia Coffman’s political career is already over.

 As always, you heard it here on Colorado Pols first.

The Charleston Shooting: Six Degrees of Earl Holt

UPDATE: One hour and twenty minutes after this post went up, 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman reports:

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colorado) will part with money he received from the leader of a white supremacist group which appears to have inspired the shooter who killed 9 people in an attack on an historically black church in South Carolina.

We’re happy to have brought this to his attention five years after the fact.

—–

Earl Holt.

Earl Holt.

Politico’s Nick Gass has a story today that, it’s safe to say, a number of Republican candidates for President don’t want you to read–but you probably should:

The leader of a white supremacist group mentioned by Dylann Roof in his alleged manifesto has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns in recent years.

Earl Holt, president of the St. Louis-based Council of Conservative Citizens, has given to prominent 2016 candidates Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum over the years, among others, while provocative statements in his name were posted online over the years, including on the conservative news site The Blaze, under the user name Earl P Holt III…

“If you think you can educate them, or embarrass them, or reason with them, or that your Christian compassion will be reciprocated, then you are the kind of person who will be completely baffled when they kill you, rape your entire family, and burn your house to the ground,” Earl P. Holt III wrote in a comment last year.

According to one account of a witness’ report, Roof said before opening fire, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country.” Roof stands charged with the murders of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last Wednesday night.

According to this story, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz intends to return his donation from the Council of Conservative Citizens’ Earl Holt, as does Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Rick Santorum’s quote doesn’t expressly say he’s returning the money, but we’d be surprised if he didn’t at this point. With South Carolina Republicans (and even Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado) calling for the Confederate flag’s removal from the state capitol grounds in the wake of last week’s shootings, to not return these severely tainted moneys would be politically suicidal.

Rep. Ken Buck.

Rep. Ken Buck.

The local connection: a quick search of donations also reveals a donation from the same Earl Holt to–you guessed it–Ken Buck’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2010! We haven’t found any other donations from Holt to Colorado candidates, but we can’t call ourselves surprised that Holt took a shine to Buck’s unrepentant far-right Senate campaign. Heck, now that we know Buck can’t tell the difference between “Hispanic” and Native American students, he seems even more up Holt’s alley! We’d assume that the present controversy following last week’s tragic shooting would motivate even Buck to return Holt’s donation.

Then again, it is Ken Buck we’re talking about. So maybe he keeps it in, you know, Freedom’s™ name.

EXCLUSIVE: Coffman-Gate Scandal is About to Go Nuclear

Cynthia Coffman

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman may soon be waving a white flag instead.

MONDAY UPDATE: We’ve heard from a number of people regarding a potential special election, which we originally noted could be held in November 2015. Should Cynthia Coffman resign in the near future, State Statutes indicate that Gov. John Hickenlooper would appoint a temporary replacement Attorney General until the State Senate reconvenes in Jan. 2016 (the Senate is required to approve an appointment), and a special election for the final two years of Coffman’s original 4-year-term would be held in November 2016.

Original post follows (6/20/15 at 4:38 pm):

—–

The “Coffman-Gate” extortion/blackmail scandal was first coming to light late last Monday evening, and by Tuesday afternoon it was already clear that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman had essentially ended her political career by stabbing former ally Steve House in the back — twice — over a span of about 12 hours. When we wrote that Coffman’s political career was over, we figured that she’d likely finish her four-year term before declining to run for re-election or finding herself defeated in a Republican Primary in 2018.

We may have been too optimistic. It now seems possible that Coffman will not make it through the summer as Attorney General…and that might be the least of her concerns.

Player #4 Has Entered
Apparently there is a fourth person who was heavily involved in the alleged extortion attempt of House; as of now, only Cynthia Coffman, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, and Pueblo County Republican Party Chair Becky Mizel have been publicly named. It would be a logical guess to say that former state Sen. Ted Harvey will be pulled into this before long — Harvey’s desire to be appointed Executive Director of the State Party has reportedly been a key piece of the extortion attempt — and perhaps he is the so-called “fourth person” now involved.

Federal Investigation Coming?
Behind the scenes, there has been a flurry of action involving the “Coffman-Gate” scandal over the past few days. We’re hearing that all parties involved are lawyering up in anticipation of a full-fledged criminal investigation — perhaps even a federal investigation (the FBI often handles investigations involving high-level elected officials, and we are talking about the top law enforcement officer in Colorado here). We’re still trying to gather details about the exact nature of a potential investigation, but it would almost certainly involve Coffman.

It now seems possible that Coffman will not make it through the summer as Attorney General…and that might be the least of her concerns.

The fact that everybody is scurrying for legal representation may indicate that someone involved in the extortion scandal is trying to make a deal ahead of any potential prosecution. It also explains why Coffman, Tancredo, and Mizel were being so cagey all week about the exact nature of their “grave and serious concerns” regarding House’s leadership of the State Party.


Significant Evidence
We’re also hearing that there is “significant evidence” (our phrase) that could elevate this case even further. From what we understand, there is a sizable amount of evidence indicating that the alleged extortion scheme was much more elaborate than has been reported. Depending on the type of evidence available, we could be talking about serious felony charges.


November Special Election Possible

Coffman’s political career is over — it’s really just a matter of how and when at this point. Coffman would almost certainly have to step down as Attorney General if she is facing felony charges, and replacing her would not be as simple as an appointment by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Coffman hasn’t even reached the 6-month mark of her first term in office, so her resignation would likely trigger a new, special election in November for Attorney General. Both Republicans and Democrats would likely have to find candidates and put together a full-on campaign sprint for the rest of the year.

 

We’ll continue to update this story as it develops, but you heard it here first on Colorado Pols.

Get More Smarter on Monday (June 22)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218You think it’s hot outside? You should be in Cynthia Coffman’s office today. 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…

Coffmangate is about to become international news. ProgressNow Colorado is asking the Attorney General’s office to preserve all official records related to the blackmail scandal engulfing AG Cynthia Coffman. The Associated Press, meanwhile, examines how the scandal may impact the 2016 election season for Republicans.

► Denver celebrated its 40th PrideFest over the weekend, and as Anthony Cotton writes for the Denver Post, the GLBT event takes on particular relevance with the U.S. Supreme Court set to rule on gay marriage any day now.

► Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders spoke to a crowd of more than 5,000 people in Denver as part of his bid to become the Democratic Presidential nominee. Our friends at “The Fix” try to break down what it means that Sanders could attract such a huge crowd this early in the race:

Here’s what we know for sure: That Sanders — and the populist, anti-big business message he is championing — is driving more excitement in the Democratic base than I certainly thought it would.  While polling suggested that there was a growing bloc of liberals who wanted a liberal candidate to fully embrace their agenda, that the rallying behind Sanders among that group has happened so quickly is surprising.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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