Bloomberg News has a fascinating update to a story that we followed regularly in this space last year about Republican mega donor Robert Mercer and his pay-to-play posse scheme in Yuma, Colorado. As Zachary Mider writes for Bloomberg, Mercer will have to go play cops and robbers somewhere else:
The New York hedge fund magnate and conservative donor had his status as a volunteer deputy sheriff revoked by Yuma County, Colorado, Sheriff Chad Day on Monday, his last day in office. Day lost his re-election bid last year after Bloomberg News reported on Mercer’s role and his purchase of a new pickup truck for the sheriff’s official use. [Pols emphasis]
The arrangement provoked controversy in the prairie county that borders Kansas and Nebraska. Day submitted papers last week ending the appointments of Mercer, 72, and at least a dozen other volunteer posse members, effective Jan. 7, according to documents signed by Day and filed with the county clerk. Day also revoked the appointment of William Koch, 78, though a spokesman for the billionaire industrialist said he was never a posse member.
County records that became public in recent months show that four Mercer associates, including a bodyguard who says on LinkedIn that he’s a former “Cuban Special Operations Commander,” had also received badges from Day and that the value of Mercer’s donations of cash and equipment to the sheriff’s office totaled more than $135,000. Mercer declined to comment, and Day didn’t respond to multiple inquiries.
Chad Day is now the former Sheriff of Yuma County (and presumably the outgoing President of the Colorado County Sheriffs’ Association) in large part because he sold out his county in exchange for a new truck and a bunch of stun guns so that Mercer — who owns one of the world’s largest private collections of machine guns — and his buddies would be able to carry concealed weapons anywhere in the country. Day had insisted to Blair Miller of Denver7 that there was no quid, pro, or quo in this deal, but that’s not how it looks from Bloomberg’s follow-up investigation.
Mercer was apparently connected to Day via Rocky Mountain Gun Owners head honcho Dudley Brown, who is also associated with a certain U.S. Senator from Yuma. A spokesman for Sen. Cory Gardner told Miller at the time that “he didn’t know anything about the story aside from what he’d read in Bloomberg.”
For his part, Day had refused to answer detailed questions about the arrangement when it was first reported last spring, making the absurd claim that some of his “volunteer resources” were “directly involved in confidential undercover operations that involve direct ties and associations with the Mexican Cartel which has a presence in [the Yuma area].” No doubt the 78-year-old William Koch (yes, that Koch brother) was also a tremendous deterrent to any potential Mexican cartel operations.
The Bloomberg update to this story also provides more disconcerting details on some of the individuals involved in the arrangement Mercer had with Day and Yuma County.
In 2016, a foundation Mercer controls bought the pickup truck for Day’s agency. The foundation’s goals include educating local police forces about H.R. 218. At a county meeting, Day reported that he’d connected with Mercer through Brown, according to minutes of the meeting. It was a nicer truck, Day remarked, than the county would have spent its own money on.
That November, county records show, Mercer and four associates took oaths of office in Yuma, swearing “before the ever living God” to support the U.S. and Colorado constitutions. The crew included a Mercer son-in-law and three employees with backgrounds in bodyguard work, including the Cuban veteran; a self-described martial arts master; and a former Army Ranger whose LinkedIn page says he once guarded Afghan president Hamid Karzai.
The Cuban, Julio Garcia, had recently accompanied Mercer’s daughter Rebekah to the 2016 Republican convention. Garcia’s LinkedIn page boasts of training by Russian and Vietnamese special operations forces. An essay posted on a martial-arts website says he once served as a bodyguard to Fidel Castro. Garcia declined to comment.
In exchange for a shiny new truck and some other toys, Yuma County’s Sheriff deputized a guy who once guarded Afghan president Hamid Karzai and another man who served as a bodyguard to Fidel Freaking Castro!
Viva la revolución, Yuma County.