The story of the anarchist(s) who smashed up the headquarters of the Colorado Democratic Party is spreading rapidly–at least as fast as the original news of the crime spread around the country yesterday. And as one could have reasonably expected, every bit as much as Democrats would be in full war paint if the circumstances had been different, the story is being creatively retold to service partisan attacks: in this case, the building charges from the right that this crime was staged to discredit Republican opponents of health care reform.
Unfortunately from Democrats, there’s just enough “there” there to make the whole thing really interesting to Republicans.
Early Tuesday, Democratic Party chairwoman Pat Waak said the damage to her building in Denver’s art district was a consequence of “an effort on the other side to stir up hate.” She tempered her statement after Schwenkler’s political history was revealed…
On the last day of the 2008 Republican National Convention, he was charged with misdemeanor unlawful assembly in St. Paul, Minn.
Court records provided through the St. Paul Pioneer Press show he was jailed about 2 a.m.
Schwenkler received $500 in November 2008 to walk door-to-door in support of Democrat Mollie Cullom, who lost her race to Republican state Rep. David Balmer of Centennial.
Waak, who was not involved with the group that paid Schwenkler, said she’s never heard of the suspect and pointed out that just because he canvassed “doesn’t mean he’s a good Democrat.”
Schwenkler was one of dozens of paid canvassers bankrolled by the Colorado Citizens’ Coalition, a political 527 committee funded by labor groups and well-known, wealthy liberal donors.
In those disclosures, Schwenkler’s address is listed as Derailer Bicycle Cooperative, a free community bicycle collective that operates just around the corner from the Democratic headquarters. Multiple volunteers at the collective declined to discuss Schwenkler, though they said he was affiliated with the group.
It’s true that in the last days before the election there were many, many temporary hires, most of whom were not exactly well-screened. $500 to walk precincts for a few days does not by any stretch a “Democrat operative” make, but that detail is not likely to matter much to lay news consumers. As we’ve said repeatedly about all kinds of scandals, when the accusation is sexier than the defense you’re starting out at a major disadvantage.
But from everything we can find about Schwenkler and this “bicycle collective” he’s affiliated with, these are no friends of Democrats and it’s pretty hard to believe there was any coordination between them. There were far fewer arrests at DNC in Denver last year than the Republican convention, but the “Reclaim the Streets” anarchist bike protesters were ubiquitous in Denver. These are the people we’re talking about–like we said yesterday, closer to “Recreate ’68,” who if you recall once vowed to “shut the DNC down,” than anybody else.
But these are details, folks–details get lost. They get lost for all kinds of reasons. And for groups like the arch-conservative Heritage Foundation, the details appear to simply be an inconvenience. Here’s the amazingly fact-challenged talking point on Schwenkler they emailed out today:
The woman [Pols emphasis] arrested by Denver police on suspicion of smashing 11 windows at Colorado Democratic Party headquarters appears to be the same woman who handles the books for many other Democratic-leaning political committees [Pols emphasis] and was paid $500 by the leftist Colorado Citizens Coalition for “communications” in November 2008.
Now of course if you read the article they cite, it’s clear that it wasn’t a woman, and the woman who “handles the books” for “Democratic-leaning organizations” is not accused of having any involvement in this crime whatsoever. The Heritage Foundation took the facts of the matter, which you would think were bad enough, and re-arranged them into a completely fictional story.
But which version do you think Rush Limbaugh is going to tell his audience of millions today?
Bottom line: we don’t know what was going through this punk’s head when he hatched this incredibly bad idea. But whatever his intentions were before he got caught in the act are irrelevant–he’s done more to screw over the Democrats now than “Recreate ’68” could ever have dreamed of.