Denver Post letter writers debate relevance of Stapleton’s KKK family ties

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Members of the Ku Klux Klan march in a parade on Larimer Street in Denver, Colorado May 31, 1926.

The Denver Post published a few thoughtful letters over the weekend about whether the New York Times erred in reporting on the potential impact of Republican candidate for governor Walker Stapleton’s family ties to the KKK.

The letters responded to Post columnist Mario Nicolais’ June 29 piece titled “The New York Times kneecaps Walker Stapleton.”

In his column, Nicolais complained that the Times article, titled “Family History Haunts G.O.P. Candidate for Governor in Colorado” by Julie Turkewitz, was a “hit piece.” “It’s dirty, it’s wrong, and it contributes to the dumbing-down of the electoral process,” wrote Nicolais.

One letter writer, Ryan Bauer of Thornton, points out that Nicolais, who’s normally super detail-oriented, somehow failed to note that Walker Stapleton once bragged about his great-grandfather, Benjamin Stapleton, who was a leader of the Colorado KKK in the 1920s,

As the Times article points out, Stapleton touted his great-grandfather’s public service in at least one campaign ad as a candidate for state treasurer in 2009. He has avoided the issue more recently with rising public awareness of Benjamin Stapleton’s Klan affiliation, i.e. efforts to rename the Stapleton neighborhood as well as an eponymous school.

If Walker Stapleton felt it was appropriate to highlight his great-grandfather’s accomplishments for electoral gain, he also must decry the ugly, racist side of that legacy. It’s a loose end that, unless Stapleton officially comments, voters will be left to wonder whether his sympathies lie with the white nationalist bloc under the Trump-GOP tent.

A second letter, by Nancy Banks, states. in part:

Nicolais correctly argues that Walker Stapleton isn’t responsible for the sins of his great-grandfather; however, he ignores the fact that Walker Stapleton is not a self-made politician, but instead is the beneficiary of the political dynasty started by his great-grandfather — a dynasty that had initial success based on Benjamin Stapleton’s support for white supremacy and his support by white supremacists.

Voters are entirely within their rights to ask Walker Stapleton what that dynasty means to him, and to get a clear answer from him.

A third letter writer wrote:

I note that Denver attorney Mario Nicolais in his op-ed justifiably lambastes the New York Times for its association of Colorado gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton with the membership of his great grandfather Benjamin Stapleton in the Ku Klux Klan.

It is rather ironic to say the least that on the very next page George Will begins his criticism of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez by noting that “For three months in 1917, Leon Trotsky lived in the Bronx, just south of the congressional district where Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez recently defeated a 10-term incumbent in a Democratic primary.” C’mon George.


7 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    What makes this relevant is the fact that Stapleton refuses to deal with it. Every time he says it doesn't matter, it matters more. But he's too stupid to realize it.

  2. MADCO says:

    Vote for me – I am more than qualified , look at my family history.
    Vote for me – my family history doesn't matter and no one should be allowed to bring itup.

    Hey- vote for me, I will say whatever you want to hear, so just assume I already said it and besides, I'm from Maine or Connecticut, not crazy Boulder.


  3. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Staplegun's family loves them some Klanpappy Benjamin – otherwise, they wouldn't keep naming their firstborn sons after him.

    Klanpappy Benjamin F Stapleton 1869-1950.

    Benjamin F Stapleton, Jr. banker and philanthropist. (1919- 1993)

    Benjamin F Stapleton III, corporate New York lawyer and administrator of the Harmes Fishback foundation (the one that pressured the Colorado History museum to whitewash his grandfather's Denver Klan history).

    Then there is Benjamin F Stapleton IV, who was married in a fashionable New York society wedding in 2007.

    If they were ashamed of Klanpappy's legacy, they sure don't show it.

    • JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

      do they keep the name out of some sort of enthusiasm for Benjamin Franklin? Do they think they are descendants? I did a bit of looking, but couldn't find any claim or explanation of why the original got the name.

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        There's much to emulate in the original Ben Franklin; his wit and wisdom, his polymath inventiveness, his eventual renunciation of slavery (although he did, in fact, own slaves like every other Founding Father). He was also a notorious skirt chaser, and may have fathered any number of illlegitimate children in addition to the one (William), whom he acknowledged.

        But I looked, too, and didn't see any indication that the Bush / Stapleton clan had any connection with the  Revolutionary era Ben Franklin. Klanpappy's pappy probably just thought the name lent a statesmanlike quality to its future politicians-to-be.


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