On Monday we posted screenshots from Facebook accounts of Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes and supporter Joseph Harrington about alleged continued attempts by American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo to negotiate a way for Maes to exit the race for Governor. Tancredo and friends denied the accusations, naturally, but the story is far from over.
As Fox 31 reports, Harrington claims to have “proof” of the discussions via a voicemail from Tancredo campaign manager Bay Buchanan:
A voicemail has surfaced in which Bay Buchanan, Tom Tancredo’s campaign manager, can be heard inviting Dan Maes to come to the negotiating table, apparently contradicting the Tancredo campaign’s statements this week that they have not been looking to make a deal to get the embattled GOP nominee to quit the governor’s race.
The recorded voicemail was sent to Joe Harrington of Highlands Ranch, a Maes confidant, who posted a video of himself playing the voicemail on Facebook Thursday morning.
“Tom is within four points of Hickenlooper,” Buchanan says in the message, which was sent at 12:56 p.m. last Friday. “It’s the time. He’s got to find somebody he trusts to talk to us, somebody who he trusts their word.
“Give me a call if you’re interested. I won’t bother you any more if you guys aren’t, but the time is now. The time is absolutely now.”
So what does Tancredo’s campaign have to say about this voicemail? That it’s all Harrington’s fault…or something:
But, Buchanan says that Harrington first opened the door to negotiations last week when he walked into Tancredo’s campaign office and met with [Cliff Dodge (a Tancredo advisor)] last week — and that her voicemail was a response to his initial inquiry about a way for Maes to exit the race.
“He came to us and indicated that Dan was tired and might be interested in getting out,” Buchanan told FOX 31. “We do not deny having many conversations with them, because we felt like we had a contact with Maes and that we might be able to work this all out. [Harrington] wanted us to put something in writing, he even mentioned specific jobs. And I sent him the law that states it’s illegal to even talk about those types of things. We said he could be involved in the campaign, but beyond that we were very clear that we couldn’t offer him a job.
“When he asked what we could do, we told him ‘nothing’.”
None of this is going to change the fact that Democrat John Hickenlooper is going to be elected Governor in two weeks. But at the rate this spat is going, somebody (if not several somebodies) may be looking at serious legal problems.
It’s bad enough for Republicans that they have essentially given away the Governor’s race for a second straight cycle, but what they really don’t need is for this mess to produce serious legal challenges that include various GOP officials ending up giving depositions on potential backroom deals. From all indications, there are a lot of different people who had conversations with Maes over the last few months about getting out of the race for governor, and it’s not out of the question that many of them could be dragged in front of lawyers over the next 12 months.
Colorado Ethics Watch earlier this week called on Maes to disclose details of any potential offers in a press release:
Colorado law (C.R.S. § 1-45-115) provides that “No person shall offer or give any candidate or candidate committee any money or any other thing of value for the purpose of encouraging the withdrawal of the candidate’s candidacy, nor shall any candidate offer to withdraw a candidacy in return for money or any other thing of value.” Under this law, a person who made a financial offer to Maes or his campaign in order to induce him to withdraw would violate Colorado campaign finance law even if the offer were rejected.
“If, as it appears, Dan Maes has evidence that someone offered him money to drop out of the election, he should reveal it,” said Luis Toro, Director of Colorado Ethics Watch. “Because even making an offer is illegal, it is incumbent on Maes and his campaign to disclose everything they know about any alleged offers to get him to drop out of the governor’s race.”