Search Results for: gessler

D’Oh! Republicans Looking at Serious Campaign Finance Violation

Kit Roupe Oops

Illegal coordination? In-kind campaign contribution? Take your pick!

Colorado Republicans have had quite a bit of trouble with campaign finance violations during this election cycle, and the hits just keep on coming. The variety of violations has been curious — from Tim Neville's open courting of anonymous donations to Secretary of State candidate Wayne Williams accepting obviously illegal donations — but sometimes the biggest problems can come from simple sloppiness.

Take a look at this recent mail piece in support of Republican Kit Roupe in HD-17 (Colorado Springs). The mailer comes from the Colorado Leadership Fund, which is a GOP "soft side" political 527 committee formed to help elect Republican candidates to the State House.

The problem here should be fairly obvious to the politically-astute reader: Side two of the mailer directs readers to CatherineRoupe.com, which is the official campaign website for Kit Roupe. Official campaign materials produced or created by the candidate's campaign falls into the category of "hard side" campaign finances.

It is illegal for the "soft side" and "hard side" to coordinate together, of course, but this would likely qualify as an "in-kind" contribution to Roupe's campaign (because it promotes her official campaign website). By making this "in-kind" contribution, the Colorado Leadership Fund (CLF) just inadvertently changed its legal definition from a non-profit "527" committee to an official political committee.

Why does that matter? Without getting too technical here, "527" committees operate under different rules as political committees. By making this unsolicited "in-kind" contribution to Roupe's campaign and changing its legal definition to a political committee, every contribution the CLF has received in the last 180 days (and henceforth) that exceeds the $550 limit for State House candidates is now a campaign finance violation subject to penalties that are 2-5 times the amount of the violation. Not only that, but the CLF probably now has to file regular contribution and expenditure reports that are much more frequent — and much more transparent — than anything that is done through a "527" committee.

This is a silly, silly, silly mistake that may prove incredibly costly to Republicans even if Secretary of State Scott Gessler lets them off the hook for campaign finance penalties. The bigger issue for the GOP is that it now has a serious credibility problem with major donors who are most definitely not interested in having a big spotlight shone in their eyes.

Republicans have been playing fast and loose with campaign finance rules during the entire 2014 election season, and it's possible that this particular problem will have crossover effect with the GOP's shiny new "soft side" organization charged with winning control of the State Senate.

The GOP had little hope of winning control of the State House this year, but we're guessing that Republican Reps. Libby Szabo and Brian DelGrosso won't be put in charge of anything more important than making coffee in 2016.

 

View the full PDF of the Roupe mailer here: Page 1 (KitRoupe-Mail1) and Page 2 (KitRoupe-Mail2).

 

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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How GOP Brass Punked The Colorado Grassroots Once Again

UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

“Now that we know who was behind many of the false and slanderous ads that were purchased in Colorado in the final days of our primary season, there are many questions that Colorado Republicans deserve to have answered,” Tancredo said. “Voters deserve transparency and they deserve to have a full accounting as to why the RGA would secretly funnel money into our Colorado Republican primary.”

Tancredo called on Christie to release all communications between the RGA and RAGA, disclose who authorized what appears to be $175,000 funneled into the primary, and to say who was involved with coordinating efforts between the RGA and two issues committees formed to help Beauprez through the primary.

“Governor Christie was previously accused of using political power as governor of New Jersey to block bridges as an act of political retaliation. So I’m sure he will relish this opportunity to ‘come clean’ and to ‘clear the air’ to avoid new allegations of using his elected position at RGA to carry out a political vendetta in Colorado.” [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE: We have yet to confirm this report from AM radio host Ken Clark, but very interesting if true–Colorado Republican Party vice-chairman Mark Baisley, a "Tea Party" insurgent, calling for an investigation?

—–

tancgov

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post breaks an important, if unsurprising development–the Republican Governors Association worked actively behind the scenes to ensure one-time Colorado GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Tom Tancredo did not win that party's primary. Far from a neutral observer, it looks like the RGA was in the tank (pardon the pun) for Bob Beauprez the whole time, and pretty darn sneaky about it too:

Tancredo, considered the front-runner for much of the primary, finished second in the June 24 four-way GOP primary for governor. Beauprez faces the Democrat incumbent, Gov. John Hickenlooper, in November.

"The RGA wanted to play in the Republican primary without anyone knowing about it," CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said.

"To avoid any fingerprints, the group ran the money through RAGA, an organization that typically doesn't weigh in on gubernatorial races. Despite a public posture to the contrary, it seems the RGA is, indeed, willing to pick sides in at least some Republican primaries."

beauprezdemsfear

​There were plenty of signs during the GOP primary that the RGA was actively working against Tancredo and for Beauprez. Early press reports after Beauprez's entry into the race described him as the "prohibitive favorite" of the RGA, and Beauprez himself made it clear he was getting in because the field of candidates as it stood then wasn't considered competitive. As we've discussed at length, Beauprez's loony-tunes record since leaving electoral politics in 2006 makes him almost as great a liability as Tancredo–the biggest difference being that Beauprez's nutty statements haven't been as widely publicized. But the judgment of GOP insiders at the time was that Beauprez hurts them less.

Either way, as Bartels continues, Tancredo is not a happy camper now that the truth is out:

"I am trying my very, very level best to figure out how to deal with my anger with them and exactly what to do about this without hurting Bob," Tancredo said. "I want Bob to become governor, but I want to blow the whistle on these people. They are despicable."

Tancredo said he's certain Beauprez knew nothing about the funding behind the attack ads, and Beauprez's campaign on Monday agreed.

Now folks, without getting too far into the whys and wherefors, let us just postulate right here that Bob Beauprez knew full well the RGA would back him in this primary. When Tom Tancredo says he's "certain" Beauprez didn't know the RGA was helping out, we submit Tancredo knows it's not true. Everybody with an ounce of political understanding knows it's not true. Tancredo can't say that, of course, because that would "hurt Bob." But the report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) demonstrates clearly how the money flowed from the RGA into the Colorado GOP gubernatorial race:

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Political TV talk show airs five days a week through Election Day in Denver

For those of you who used to complain about the shrinking length of TV sound bites, but now you’re grateful for any political blip on TV at all, take this: A local TV public-affairs show that airs five days a week.

That’s what Aaron Harber, who’s hosted public affairs programs here for years, in a unique partnership with The Denver Post, is bringing you this election season. That’s about 100 shows, some of which may be candidate debates like Harber has moderated in past elections.

The “Aaron Harber Show: Colorado Election 2014″ launched about three weeks ago, and the string of guests continues to impress: Ryan Call, Scott Gessler, Ken Buck, Diane Carman, Dick Lamm, Tom Tancredo, Steve Welchert, John Andrews, Mike Littwin, among others. (Okay, maybe they’re all not so impressive, but still.)

You can catch former State House Speaker (and impressive to boot) Mark Ferrandino Monday. The show is available in the morning (and first) on The Post website, and then broadcast on Denver commercial TV station KCDO-TV Channel 3 at 6:30 p.m. (3 p.m. next week) through Election Day. Below, see how else it’s being distributed.

Harbor is particularly excited about the partnership with The Post, which he hopes will push the show out to a much wider audience than you’d expect for a local TV public affairs program, like others produced locally.

The show “is the nation’s first daily political news show on a commercial over-the-air broadcast television station in conjunction with a major newspaper,” according to the show’s promotional materials, and, as such, “could be a model for the country to promote civil and mutually-respectful debate.”

“Can you have a partnership with a television station and a newspaper, where the newspaper gets the program first?” asks Harber. “In this case The Denver Post gets it in the morning and the television station gets it at 6:30 p.m. (3 p.m. next week). Can we make this work? The newspaper loves having the content first, and will that actually help viewing when the television broadcasts the show later? We think it can.”

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with Aaron and provide our readers and viewers with additional information for evaluating candidates and issues this election cycle,” Post Editor Greg Moore said in a Post article about the series. “We are impressed with Aaron’s ability to get political players to come to the table and discuss their views and we look forward to what we can create together.”

“Viewers get to see the guests in a more in-depth manner than they do on an average TV news program, where the average sound bite is 9 seconds,” Harber told me. “We’re trying to present people with a fact-based program that allows them to see various candidates and representatives of ballot initiatives.”

Harber says he’s gotten positive feedback on the show so far, but he’s tweaking it as it goes along, He’s had suggestions for improvement, like “maybe a new host,” he joked.

One possible show in the future, or a segment of future shows, might involve assembling a panel to critique political ads, kind of like the fact-checks on local TV stations but done in a discussion format, said Harber.

Here’s a summary, provided by Harber, of where you can catch the program:

The program will be highlighted in the morning newspaper every weekday and broadcast first on The Denver Post’s Website and made available 24/7 thereafter on DenverPost.com through the General Election.

After each daily premiere on The Denver Post, the show will be broadcast over-the-air as well as on cable and satellite from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm by KCDO-TV Channel 3 (K3 Colorado).

COMCAST Entertainment Television has agreed to carry the entire series statewide (with two broadcasts daily after the KCDO-TV Channel 3 broadcast).

To ensure even broader availability to voters, ION Television has agreed to carry the best shows of the series.

K3 will preempt the regular Sunday morning program 11:00 am time-slot for “The Aaron Harber Show” (right after most of the national political news shows) and re-broadcast the “best” program from the previous week to give the series even more exposure.

COMCAST also will make the entire series available 24/7 at no charge via its XFINITY [Video] on Demand service so all Colorado COMCAST customers can view the programs in HD at their convenience.

In conjunction with the Colorado Press Association, full-length programs and short segments also will be available to the 44 Colorado print and electronic participants in the Publishers Advantage Initiative (representing an additional 625,000 readers and viewers).

In conjunction with the Colorado Broadcasters Association, full-length programs and short segments also will be available to the every radio and television station in Colorado at no charge for use on their Websites (potentially representing an additional 1,725,000 viewers and readers).

2014 Colorado Primary Election Night Open Thread

UPDATE 10:00PM: Democratic Governors Association chair, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin:

"Under Governor John Hickenlooper's bipartisan, business-oriented leadership, Colorado has made tremendous economic progress over the last four years. The unemployment rate has dropped from 9.1 percent to 5.8 percent, the state has improved from 40th to 4th in the nation for job creation, and we've seen 31 consecutive months of job growth. By working with business leaders to drive Colorado-based ideas, innovations, and solutions, Governor Hickenlooper has helped build an economy that's stronger and fairer for the middle class.

"In stark contrast, Republicans have nominated longtime Congressman Bob Beauprez. Since his historic, 17-point defeat eight years ago, Beauprez has given voice to extremism and rigid partisanship as a fringe radio host. While Both Ways Bob will spend the next few months trying to use the double-talk he mastered as a Washington politician trying to explain away his troubling record and radical views on everything from the imminent threat of Sharia law to the 'hoax' of climate change, voters won't be fooled. We look forward to Governor Hickenlooper's reelection in November." 

—–

UPDATE 8:00PM: a very, very familiar face you'll be seeing a lot of until November:

beauprez

UPDATE 7:45PM: Multiple news outlets now calling the GOP gubernatorial primary for Bob Beauprez.

——

UPDATE 7:27PM: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners are celebrating a hard-fought primary victory here tonight, as newcomer Tony Sanchez appears headed to victory over attorney Mario Nicolais in the race for the GOP nomination in state senate district 22.

Sanchez has doubled up Nicolais 66-33 percent with around 8,000 votes counted.

Senate Democrats are also celebrating Sanchez’s likely win, which may help them hold onto a senate majority this November.

While Sanchez, along with the RMGO-backed Laura Woods, who’s holding a narrower lead in her primary battle with Lang Sias in senate district 19, hold strong appeal to the conservative base on primary night, most observers believe they’re far too conservative for the districts they seek to represent.

—–

UPDATE 7:25PM: In CD-4, Ken Buck rapidly pulling away from Scott Renfroe. This race will be called soon.

—–

UPDATE 7:20PM: Tight race emerging in CD-5 with Rep. Doug Lamborn barely ahead of challenger Bentley Rayburn in early returns. In the HD-15 GOP primary, Gordon Klingenschmitt and Dave Williams are too close to call.

—–

UPDATE 7:15PM: Rocky Mountain Gun Owners having a good night so far, endorsed candidates Laura Waters Woods and Tony Sanchez leading in the SD-19 and SD-22 GOP primaries respectively.

In the HD-24 Democratic primary, Jessie Danielson beating Kristian Teegardin. Alec Garnett ahead of Owen Perkins in the HD-2 Democratic race.

—–

UPDATE 7:10PM: Early results with 18% of precincts now reporting:

Beauprez 32.5%     
Gessler 25.2%     
Tancredo 24.0%     
Kopp 18.1%

Still very preliminary. Tom Tancredo presently leading in bellwether Jefferson County.

—–

"We always want the best man to win an election. Unfortunately, he never runs."

–Will Rogers

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.

Campaign Finance Complaint Filed Against GOP’s Robert Ramirez

UPDATE: That's that, folks–via the Denver Post's John Aguilar, so much for Robert Ramirez:

—–

Robert Ramirez.

Robert Ramirez.

​A press release from the House Majority Project announces a complaint filed against defeated former Rep. Robert Ramirez, who is (at least on paper) once again running for House District 29 in Arvada and Westminster:

In total, Mr. Ramirez has skipped out on filing 12 legally required campaign finance disclosure reports, and hasn't submitted a single report since his candidate affidavit was filed on March 19, 2014.  The Secretary of State fines campaigns $50 per day for these violations, bringing Ramirez's total delinquency bill to a whopping $57,200 in penalties owed.  

Pursuant to Colorado Constitution Article XXVIII, a candidate is personally liable for penalties imposed on his or her candidate committee.  State law only allows complainants to pursue violations occurring within 180 days of a complaint, bringing the total amount that Ramirez and his campaign are liable for to $12,300. 

"As Treasurer of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, I filed countless campaign finance disclosure reports, it's not that hard" said [Jefferson County resident Liz]​ Geiselman.  "Robert Ramirez is once again asking voters to put their trust in him to make the law, yet he breaks the law 12 times in a row.  That's simply unacceptable to the people of Jefferson County.  Jeffco residents want the Ramirez campaign held fully accountable for these violations."

It's anybody's guess what's going on here–did Ramirez file as a candidate and then decide not to go through with it? Is he just thumbing his nose at campaign finance disclosure law? Or is he just assuming that Secretary of State Scott Gessler would help him raise money to pay off any fines that he couldn't get dismissed?

Ramirez was originally elected in 2010 in a razor-thin victory over Democrat Debbie Benefield, but quickly lost standing after a long string of gaffes and oddities that gave current Democratic incumbent Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp an opening to send Ramirez into early retirement in the subsequent 2012 election. Back in March when we learned he had filed to run again, we speculated whether Ramirez was actually serious about it, or had just recycled his 2010 campaign materials for a placeholder rematch.

Whichever it is, filing his legally required campaign finance disclosures…would be nice.

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?

 

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.

Mario Nicolais Gets Two Ads For The Price of One

An interesting twist on the usual primary wrangling–check out the mailer below, sent by a GOP message group in support of Democratic HD-24 primary candidate Kristian Teegardin to Democratic primary voters:

teegardinmario

This mailing raises eyebrows for a couple of reasons. There's the obvious question about a Republican aligned and operated group getting involved in a Democratic primary. In this case, we think that can be adequately explained by Teegardin's Democratic opponent, Jessie Danielson, who worked for the progressive America Votes organization and is a natural enemy of the Scott Gessler vote suppression "integrity" set. One such friend and political ally of Gessler is the registered agent of the group in question, GOP attorney Mario Nicolais.

As one of the principal election law attorneys for local Republicans, Nicolais' name appears as the registered agent for lots of Republican-aligned political groups–for example, the organization that attacked Republican county clerks over election reform legislation using photos of voters with African-American faces Photoshopped out. In this case, though, there's an added bonus: Nicolais is a Republican candidate for the Colorado Senate in SD-22. SD-22 and HD-24, the House district Teegardin is running in, overlap for much of the town of Edgewater west of Sheridan Boulevard! It's not a huge overlap, but it's the first instance we've ever seen of a mailer sent to voters in one district with the name of another candidate for the same voters as the registered agent.

Building name ID among Democrats wouldn't help Nicolais in his heated primary against Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-endorsed Tony Sanchez, of course, in fact we could easily see meddling in a Democratic primary being used against Nicolais with SD-22 primary voters. We'd say that any one of the pieces of this story by itself isn't terribly remarkable, but the combination of these storylines makes, at the very least, for some interesting trivia.

For HD-24 Democrats and SD-22 Republicans especially.

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.