To resign or not to resign: That is the question that is beginning to dog George Brauchler in a crowded Republican Primary for Governor.
Brauchler serves as the District Attorney in Arapahoe County (technically the 18th Judicial District, which is one of the largest DA offices in the state), a job that he continues to maintain while seeking the GOP nomination for Governor. It certainly isn’t unusual for a statewide candidate to hold a different elected office while campaigning, but the issue seems to be coming up more often for Brauchler in Republican circles. Earlier this month, Brauchler spoke to a group of Castle Rock Republicans and was asked some pointed questions about running for governor while simultaneously holding a job that pays $190,000 per year (his salary was specifically mentioned in one of two follow-up questions).
The topic is a multi-edged sword for Brauchler; it creates doubt about his ability to run an effective campaign for governor, but also questions whether he is effectively performing his duties as the elected District Attorney.
In late September, the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman published a guest editorial signed by former state representative Jim Kerr and well-known Republican agitator Steve Durham (also a former legislator and a current member of the Colorado Board of Education) that was aimed squarely at Brauchler:
Down in Texas, the state legislature is considering measures to require local governments to seek voter approval before raising taxes, along the lines of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). Here in Colorado, we might want to return the favor by adopting a version of Texas’s “resign-to-run” law, a measure that requires some state and local officials to resign their present office before running for a different office.
This is a common-sense measure, already law in five states, that Colorado should have adopted long ago. Campaigning for another office takes a lot of time and almost certainly means that the candidate will neglect current responsibilities, shortchanging taxpayers. Ask yourself, “Why should taxpayers continue to pay an officeholder when he or she is spending considerable time on the campaign trail seeking a new office?”…
… Let’s look at some current races to see the effect of this. George Brauchler, the Arapahoe District Attorney is campaigning nearly full time for the office of governor these days. If you don’t believe us, check out his Facebook page. Almost every day, sometimes twice or three times a day lately, he’s here or there in Colorado, making speeches and pressing the flesh, soliciting campaign contributions. Recent disclosures regarding his salary have shown that taxpayers are paying him $195,000 a year to be D.A. Is he devoting his “undivided attention” to being D.A. and earning his paycheck? No.
Hey, we don’t protest Brauchler running, but he should resign his well-paid current post to do so. [Pols emphasis]
Brauchler typically answers these questions by making a joke about not sleeping much and then pivoting to talk about wealthy candidates (like Victor Mitchell, Walker Stapleton, and Mitt Romney’s Nephew) who have personal fortunes they can draw upon for campaign support; he is normally very direct in saying that he is not going to resign from his current job. But it’s clear that this is dangerous territory for Brauchler, and he’s setting himself up for trouble with his own actions.
For one example of where this becomes problematic for Brauchler, take a look at what he said during an appearance on the Dan Caplis Show on 710 KNUS in late June. Guest host Casey Bloyer asks Brauchler about juggling a full-time job with a statewide campaign, and Brauchler trips up on the answer:
“I’m at my desk right now. [Pols emphasis] In between 18 million emails and trying coordinate stuff between HR issues, trying to stay on top of case cases we have…like right now, we have a large case going on in Colorado Springs, where we’re the special prosecution, where our office is prosecuting the former sheriff [Terry Maketa]. We’ve got some other officer-involved things that we take care of. It’s refreshing to not have to campaign all day every day.”
Brauchler is most certainly not supposed to be campaigning for another office while working his day job, but that’s what he seems to be indicating here. He also brings up the fact that his office is overseeing a high-profile case involving former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa; a re-trial for Maketa will happen early next year after Brauchler’s office failed to come up with a conviction on multiple charges in July (the Colorado Springs Gazette ran a story about Brauchler’s potential conflicts with a retrial after Maketa escaped penalty).
On the campaign side, Brauchler’s inability to raise money is a significant concern that plays into the narrative of a man who is over-extending himself, but it is the time constraints with his day job that could prove most problematic. Brauchler has repeatedly said that the buck stops with him on all decisions out of the DA’s office, which means that he owns the outcomes in the Maketa trial and other high-profile cases (including recent allegations of sexual assault at South High School in Denver, which Brauchler’s office is now investigating).
Republicans could make similar complaints about job effectiveness with Walker Stapleton, who is running for Governor while serving as State Treasurer, but it’s much easier to explain wins and losses for a prosecutor’s office than for the relatively-obscure work handled by the Treasurer. On the Democratic side, a comparable argument for Rep. Jared Polis doesn’t really get off the ground, either; for all its faults, Congress actually does keep a pretty thorough attendance record.
Because it works as a negative message about both his campaigning and his job effectiveness, Republicans are likely to keep pressing this attack on Brauchler ahead of the GOP Primary next June.