The Denver newspaper published their interview today with the victim of an alleged rape committed in 2005, a crime that now-GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck dismissively refused to prosecute, telling newspapers at the time that that a jury might conclude it was a case of “buyer’s remorse.” Today’s story by reporter Allison Sherry is just the latest in a series of damaging revelations about this case, which began Monday with a story in the online Colorado Independent.
Today’s story accurately relays the view of this alleged rape victim, as reported by the Independent yesterday in their interview, that Buck immediately cast the circumstances of her case under a cloud of prejudicial suspicion–she believes that Buck focused unfairly on, in her words, “what I did wrong.”
“It sounds like he’s threatening me,” the alleged victim says of her recorded conversation with Buck.
Like we said yesterday, the alleged victim’s willingness to come forward and talk to the press destroys the Buck campaign’s “shoot the messenger” defense against this scandal–you can’t continue to impugn this story as the work of “liberal smear merchants” when this victim is telling her side of the story all by herself. What’s more, as the Independent reported in their interview but the Denver paper missed, the alleged perpetrator was recorded admitting to the crime. Lingering questions about the admissibility of that recording, and what affect that admission may or may not have had on Buck’s decision not to prosecute the case, remain unanswered.
In addition, Buck’s campaign told Sherry, and other media outlets this week, that his “buyer’s remorse” quote was merely intended to illustrate what a potential jury might conclude in the case, not his personal view of it. Unfortunately, the recording of that conversation totally undermines this defense (from yesterday’s Independent story):
“I’m telling you that’s what circumstances suggest to people, including myself, [Pols emphasis] who have looked at it. Although you never said the word ‘yes,’ the appearance is of consent.” Buck said.
Also of note, apparently the Buck campaign responded yesterday with a rape victim of their own, whose case Buck did choose to prosecute. Now, the circumstances of that case appear very different–it was a random assault, not a date rape, therefore a much clearer-cut case–and for reasons unknown, this person didn’t make it into the Denver newspaper’s report. Perhaps because the circumstances were so different? Perhaps because it was plainly a defensive move by Buck’s campaign to muddy this story? We can’t say for sure, but we’ll be watching for developments. We expect to see more of this defense, even if it’s apples-to-oranges compared to the case in question–not to mention that their prior “exploiting a rape victim” defense is rendered hypocritical.
None of this changes the fundamental point of why the original story is harmful to Buck; it’s not about whether he was or was not justified in not prosecuting the case, but about his statements to, and treatment of, the alleged victim.
Bottom line: the story can’t be contained at this point–it’s been covered from coast to coast, online, on local and cable news, and now in the state’s newspaper of record. We’ve heard that very potent TV spots on this scandal are imminent, and could start rolling before the weekend is out. We have also heard that internal daily tracking numbers are showing heavy damage to Buck from this, especially among women. This is reinforced by the shrill and defensive response to the story from conservative-leaning media–they know this is a potentially race-ending situation. Once the ads roll out, watch for that trajectory to steepen, both in terms of shrill responses and damage done.
We’ve maintained from the moment this scandal broke that we could be looking at the end of the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Colorado. Nothing has happened since Monday to change our minds.