The Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson follows up on a growing scandal within the Colorado Republican Party, following an unsuccessful attempt by state party chairman Rep. Ken Buck to coerce a district chair to lie about the results of the Senate District 10 assembly under penalty of perjury in order to qualify a candidate for the June 30th primary ballot:
At least two party executives say they were surprised to learn Buck — who’s also a U.S. representative — defended his position on the state Senate District 10 primary ballot in district court and then appealed that ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court, running up possibly tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Kris Cook, chair of the Denver Republican Party, found out about it Wednesday only to hear hours later that Buck canceled a committee meeting that had been scheduled for Friday.
“We’re touching on something here that’s not quite clean, and it’s not quite the image I have of what the party ought to be,” Cook said, later adding: “I think it’s worth questioning whether him in that role is going to have a negative effect on the rest of this cycle.”
After Rep. Buck attempted to strong-arm GOP SD-10 chair Eli Bremer into falsifying an affidavit to the state allowing primary candidate David Stiver to appear on the ballot against overwhelming district favorite Rep. Larry Liston, Buck was sued and lost–all the way up to the Colorado Supreme Court who refused to hear the case. This legal fight cost the party an unknown but presumably very large amount of money, with Bremer’s attorney’s fees alone estimated around $15,000 in today’s story.
It’s not hard to understand with all of this in mind why more Republicans than ever in the state–and the movement is not new as readers know–want to oust Buck from his position as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. Buck’s term in the job of running the state GOP has been marked by almost continuous failure and controversy, and “absentee boss” Buck has had to grapple with the consequences of terrible decisions made by high-ranking party officials like vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown’s ill-fated recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan he actively encouraged. Buck’s high-profile votes against COVID-19 relief, and backfiring grandstands against wearing face masks and other measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic have helped brand the Colorado GOP as the party of the irresponsible fringe in this pandemic.
Now Buck has been caught red-handed apparently trying to force a party subordinate to commit perjury. As an attorney and as a member of Congress, we have to think that suborning perjury is a bigger problem for Buck than any of these heretofore optical scandals. We’re not Pollyannish about how the assembly process can and probably has been fudged over the years to achieve desired outcomes. But how could a former prosecutor not understand the consequences of lying under oath?
We foresee a future in which Ken Buck wishes he never took this second job. It’s difficult even now to imagine Rep. Buck losing his ultra-safe Republican seat in Congress, but he’s certainly exposed himself to unwelcome scrutiny in a Democratic-controlled House. Short of that, turning the party over to someone with the time and competence to stabilize what’s become an ongoing organizational disaster ahead of another brutal election seems like something smart Colorado Republicans should urgently consider.
At this point, Democrats could honestly be Ken Buck’s biggest fans.