Pundits Plead With Stapleton To Address KKK Great-Grandpa


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

A story this weekend from the Denver Post’s John Aguilar and Ben Botkin once again revisits the story that Walker Stapleton used to lead with, and now runs away from: his great grandfather Benjamin Stapleton, who gives Walker most of his “Colorado native” bonafides but also saddles him with a legacy of Ku Klux Klan dominance of local politics during Benjamin Stapleton’s time in office.

This latest recap takes a fairly amusing turn as local members of the pseudo-centrist pundit class practically beg Stapleton to address the situation, after his responses to previous inquiries on the subject have revealed he really doesn’t know what to say:

“You can’t just ignore it,” said Eric Sondermann, a political analyst who has long kept an eye on state politics. “In this era of independent expenditures, it’s going to continue to come up.”

By independent expenditures, Sondermann is referring to the millions of dollars that interest groups not affiliated with political candidates have pumped into Colorado elections in recent years and will undoubtedly do again in 2018. Whether a third-party group decides to run an ad attempting to link Stapleton to his great-grandfather’s racist leanings, the candidate needs to be prepared — even proactive — about blunting any such attack, he said…

Pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli said Stapleton need not shine a light on the issue unsolicited but should have a response ready to go if the topic comes up.

The problem with this too-public telegraphing of concern to Stapleton’s campaign is that it’s already well past time to address the story. This weekend’s prominent piece in the Denver Post follows a similarly high-profile write-up in the New York Times two weeks ago, and Stapleton’s response to that story was totally inadequate. Stapleton has staked his dubious “Colorado native” identity on his great-grandfather, and in the 2009 campaign video you can watch above he celebrated Ben Stapleton’s leadership of Denver with no mention whatsoever of the Ku Klux Klan’s control of the city.

It’s not just that Walker Stapleton wants to have it both ways on his family’s KKK ties. For almost a decade, Stapleton has had it both ways. He has freely traded on his Stapleton family name to advance in Colorado politics without having to answer for the dark side of that legacy. Stapleton has had innumerable chances to address this, and has chosen not to.

At this point, any change of course looks like an election-season ploy–because it is. Maybe six months ago, it could have been different. Or in 2010.

19 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. PseudonymousPseudonymous says:

    The press is trying to burn into his brain the importance of crossing this problem of his long list of issues.  Things are not "all good in the hood," as he seems to think.

    • ModeratusModeratus says:

      The KKK was a Democrat organization. Why doesn't Jared Poli$ denounce his own party?

      • RepealAndReplace says:

        Back when we also had the misfortune to have Strom Thurmond and Lester Maddox among our members. But you know what? In the 60's, Lyndon Johnson showed them the door with civil rights legislation. 

        One man's trash is another man's treasure.

        Now, would you rather we talk about something more contemporary … like Stapleton's hit-and-run, DUI case?

      • unnamed says:

        Here is some "light reading" on the history of the Klan for you courtesy of The Washington Post

        Here's an excerpt of it for you too:

        Klansmen were influential inside both major parties, pushing racism, nativism, Prohibition and especially anti-Catholicism. In the South, Jim Crow-supporting Democrats made a natural fit for the KKK. But in Midwestern industrial towns full of immigrant Catholics and Jews who voted Democratic, the Klan took root largely among Republicans. The Klan was Democratic in Oregon and Republican in Indiana — two of its biggest strongholds. By the end of the decade, the organization, whose membership remained semi-secret, claimed 11 governors, 16 senators and as many as 75 congressmen —roughly split between Republicans and Democrats.

        Its initial successes in state and local elections prompted the Klan to turn its attention toward the White House in 1924. Its imperial wizard, Hiram W. Evans, first descended on Cleveland, where Republicans had gathered to nominate Calvin Coolidge. There, about 60 Klan leaders and lobbyists prevailed upon party officials to smother a resolution condemning the Klan before it ever went to a floor vote, a move called a “brilliant victory” by The Fiery Cross, a Klan newspaper in Indianapolis that also described the Republican convention as having a “real, genuine Klan atmosphere.”

         

        Emboldened by its success in Cleveland, Klan leaders appeared two weeks later at the Democratic convention in New York City. There was great support for the Klan among many state delegations, but bitter opposition from others. The conflict was exacerbated by the party’s hopeless division over Prohibition, with the “wet” wing of the party hoping to nominate New York Gov. Al Smith, a Catholic.

        Unlike in Cleveland, however, the KKK confronted vigorous pushback at the Democratic convention, first in a raucous debate over whether to condemn the Klan by name (a resolution to do so lost by a razor-thin margin amid numerous last-minute vote changes) and then in a bitter fight over the presidential nomination itself, in which both the Klan and anti-Klan candidates ultimately withdrew.

        By all accounts, Klan representatives had expected to influence the Democratic convention the same way they had the Republican one — by quietly building support for their preferred nominations and policy planks behind the scenes, while picking up what H.L. Mencken called “a lot of free and gaudy advertising.” But vocal opposition caught the organization off guard. “There is such a thing, it appears,” wrote Mencken, “as being burnt by the spotlights.”

      • PseudonymousPseudonymous says:

        The KKK was a Democrat organization. Why doesn't Jared Poli$ denounce his own party?

        Because the KKK isn't a Democratic organization.  Verb tenses are fun!

  2. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    At this point, I'm more interested if Dubya Stapleton wants to emulate his great grandfather's accomplishments.  I think it would be interesting for a Republican urging a much larger park system, building more Civic Centers, creating one or more new transportation hubs (like the Municipal Airport build in the 1930s). If there are Federal labor resources like the CCC, will Dubya make certain to use them for the benefit of Colorado? Will he commit to major water projects to meet the needs of cities?

    In short, what is it about his great grandfather’s legacy that he is justly proud about?

  3. ModeratusModeratus says:

    What a pile of garbage. Ciruli is a Democrat and Sondermann is an idiot. Both are glad to suck up to Poli$.

    • unnamed says:

      First off, you have no business calling anybody an idiot, MAGAt.  Second, weren't you the one whining at us last week about how we dismiss sources like Faux Noise and their ilk with extreme prejudice?  And yet, you do that here.

      Finally, I just think you're mad because for arguments sake, if we have nothing on Stapleton, you have less than nothing on Polis.  You have no argument that doesn't bounce off  us and stick to you.  And even you know that.

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      But Walker has you Moddy, so can we just call it a draw? You bring enough stupid to a conversation to average out the combined intelligence of Ciruli and Sondermann to a zero sum nothing.

      You seem more tense than usual today. Those dollar signs in Polis’ name, is that your subconscious telling you that your tax break didn’t quite play out like you thought it would? A plea for help? Blink twice to let us know you’re OK?

      • unnamed says:

        Glad I'm not the only one who picked up on it.  You know he's clinging onto that last hope he has that Stapler face-plants early enough that his girlfriend can parachute in to save the day, because we're so afraid of her.  At least that's what I hear from one non-credible source.  Sorry MAGAt, your girlfriend would have face-planted too.

        • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

          He just 'can't not'.  I'm guessing he's stressed enough at this point about his taller Coffman thing not working out he's resorted to drawing phallic symbols on the stall walls with a sharpie, complete with jazzy little zingers. Is there any better way to promote Colorado values?   It's unfortunate there's no S in phallic, he'd have an opportunity to double his new vocabulary.  

  4. davebarnesdavebarnes says:

    How about Wayne (cousin to Silverado Neil Bush) Stapleton?

  5. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    I don't see a need for Stapleton to say anything at all about his great-grandfather.

    Yes, Indiana KKK was Republican. I recall many times as a kid walking past the house that belonged, in the 1920s, to Grand Wizard D.C. Stephenson, on the east side of Indianapolis.

    “What a pile of garbage……” Interesting term. I often assign it to pronouncements from Moderatus. Hard to consider him a real conservative. But, yes, M is a modern day Republican who can’t resist sucking up to Putin-loving Trump.

    • unnamed says:

      The thing that bothers me most with respect to Stapleton/KKK is that his family paid History of Colorado Museum to whitewash Ben Stapleton out of their KKK exhibit.  That bothers me that if not the candidate himself, his family paid to for the museum to tell a lie of omission about Colorado history.

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      Our Catholic church in Wray was burned down during that dark period of time and it was believed to be the work of the local klan. We had an active chapter, confirmed when an embossing seal from the group was found in a box at a garage sale in town about 30 years ago. 

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