Another Petition Gathering Scandal for Republicans

UPDATE: Mitt Romney’s Nephew issues a stern statement based on the Denver7 report:

“If these allegations against Walker Stapleton’s circulators are even half true, they call into question the validity of thousands of petitions submitted by the Stapleton campaign.

There is the right way to gather petitions, and there’s the illegal way. Ryan Luby’s piece shows that Stapleton’s signatures were gathered illegally, with total disregard and disrespect for state law. Not only is this unfair to the candidates who collected signatures legally and with the proper circulators, but it’s a gross breach of trust with Colorado voters, who rely on petition gatherers to be trustworthy conduits for their political voice.

I strongly urge the Secretary of State’s office to investigate who actually circulated these petitions, and just how many of them were circulated in violation of Colorado law. As Republicans, we have to demand the same integrity in our primary process as we do in the General Election. Colorado voters should be able to have full faith in their election process from start to finish, and the Stapleton campaign has undermined that trust with their underhanded tactics and lazy behavior.”

—–

From Denver7

It was right about this time two years ago when the Republican race for the U.S. Senate nomination began to spiral into a signature-gathering scandal that became a top story for weeks and ultimately led to the demise of Jon Keyser, the GOP’s great hope for defeating incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) in 2016.

While Keyser eventually made it onto the Primary ballot after a protracted legal battle, the avalanche of negative press from his shady signature-gathering process crippled his campaign…though not before birthing one of the greatest political interviews in Colorado history (and a national award for then-Denver7 reporter Mitchell Marshall Zelinger). The petition fiasco even prompted new legislation designed to mitigate some of these problems in the future, which will forever be known as “Keyser’s Law.”

You might think that Republicans in Colorado would have learned a lesson from that 2016 disaster, but as Ryan Luby reports for Denver7…maybe not:

A secret recording has had the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office and the Denver7 Investigates team questioning if people paid to collect signatures for Colorado political candidates are following the law.

Are shady petition gatherers connected to Walker Stapleton? (Image from Denver7)

Ruh-roh. Dustin Olson, co-founder of the petition-gathering firm “Signature Gathering Company” (which includes Mitt Romney’s Nephew as a client), apparently recorded an interview with a “self-identified signature gatherer” who claims to have been collecting signatures for Walker Stapleton’s gubernatorial campaign:

“Most of my people can’t even register to vote because they’re all felons. You know, most of them,” the man, who identified himself as “Daniel Velasquez,” said in the call, which Denver7 Investigates reviewed. “That’s just me being honest with you. If you want to work with me, you’re going to get those [signature] numbers, you’re going to work with a whole bunch of rowdy individuals. You know, a whole bunch of rowdy individuals from the hood.”…

Velasquez said in the call he’s from Florida, but also said he’s a Colorado resident and registered Republican. He also said he was collecting signatures for, at the very least, the Walker Stapleton gubernatorial campaign in Pueblo. However, Colorado voter data does not show any Daniel Velasquez registered as a Republican in Colorado. [Pols emphasis]

Furthermore, and equally as concerning, is that Velasquez told Olson he wants to work in a “lenient” workplace.

“You’ll let me do almost whatever I want as long as I turn in, you know, papers,” Velasquez told Olson. “Because as far as I’m concerned … we’re all just trying to make money out here.”

According to Denver7, the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office has been investigating this case and has yet to find evidence of a “Daniel Velasquez” submitting petition signatures, though Velasquez says on the recording that he “has someone else helping him clear legal hurdles” in the process.

Stapleton’s campaign fired back with a statement questioning the motives of Olson because of his affiliation with the campaign of Doug Robinson (Mitt’s Nephew). It’s worth noting here that Mitt’s Nephew took some veiled shots at Stapleton’s petitions when he submitted his own signatures in early March, and as we wrote last week, it’s certainly curious that Stapleton’s petitions have yet to be cleared by the SOS.

The full Denver7 story is well worth watching for more details on these allegations, as well as a potentially-critical nugget near the end of the report:

…a Denver7 Investigates analysis of recent voter data found supposed Colorado residents registered to vote at hotels at the same time signature petitions went into circulation.

For instance, people registered to vote at a Quality Inn in Pueblo on the exact same day in January. Though there isn’t a “Daniel Velasquez” on that list, there are 9 people altogether — all registered as Republicans.  All their registrations later became inactive because government mail sent to them bounced back.

This certainly feels like a thread worth pulling. Much like the fiasco in the 2016 U.S. Senate race, this could be only the beginning of a bigger problem for Republican candidates running for statewide office.

8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. When ambition outreaches societal call to duty.

  2. JohnInDenver says:

    Nice that we had the 2016 experience to trigger increased scrutiny of signatures.

    If this one pans out, perhaps we can go to "petition signatures" that must be accompanied by thumbprint or photograph.

  3. unnamed says:

    Prediction: Before 1:00 PM, Kleenex Boy will be on here to defend his man Jon Keyser, and about how we totally screwed him because, apparently, we had the power to do so. He will provide no proof to that claim.

    Then he will talk about how Cynthia Coffman will be the next Governor <he he>  and end it with "Stay the course Cynthia.  They'll thank you.

    Then we will ask him to back up what he says and he will run away like the little chicken he is.

  4. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    Petition signature potential mess adding to Cambridge Analytica……   not looking good right now for my fellow Republicans. Too bad they can't just focus on a sound fiscal message instead of getting all wrapped up in sexual harassment scandals. Speaking of sexual harassment, anyone notice the lack of evangelical criticism for those scandals?

  5. Diogenesdemar says:

    How big is Stapleton’s dog?

  6. mamajama55 says:

    How hard will Secretary of State Williams come down on his buddy and fellow Republican Walker Stapleton? Williams isn’t known for being too hard-line with his friends.

    Luckily, we have an excellent Secretary of state candidate in Jena Griswold. She is young and gorgeous, but fricking sharp as a tack. She knows her administrative and management chops, and is hard-core committed to access for all voters and fair elections.

    Griswold can win the Secretary of State race, this year of all years in Colorado, if turnout isn't suppressed. Wayne Williams' favoritism scandals should dampen enthusiasm for him among independent / unaffiliated voters.

     

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