UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:
“Now that we know who was behind many of the false and slanderous ads that were purchased in Colorado in the final days of our primary season, there are many questions that Colorado Republicans deserve to have answered,” Tancredo said. “Voters deserve transparency and they deserve to have a full accounting as to why the RGA would secretly funnel money into our Colorado Republican primary.”
Tancredo called on Christie to release all communications between the RGA and RAGA, disclose who authorized what appears to be $175,000 funneled into the primary, and to say who was involved with coordinating efforts between the RGA and two issues committees formed to help Beauprez through the primary.
“Governor Christie was previously accused of using political power as governor of New Jersey to block bridges as an act of political retaliation. So I’m sure he will relish this opportunity to ‘come clean’ and to ‘clear the air’ to avoid new allegations of using his elected position at RGA to carry out a political vendetta in Colorado.” [Pols emphasis]
UPDATE: We have yet to confirm this report from AM radio host Ken Clark, but very interesting if true–Colorado Republican Party vice-chairman Mark Baisley, a "Tea Party" insurgent, calling for an investigation?
— Ken Clark (@KenFRDM560) July 29, 2014
Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post breaks an important, if unsurprising development–the Republican Governors Association worked actively behind the scenes to ensure one-time Colorado GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Tom Tancredo did not win that party's primary. Far from a neutral observer, it looks like the RGA was in the tank (pardon the pun) for Bob Beauprez the whole time, and pretty darn sneaky about it too:
Tancredo, considered the front-runner for much of the primary, finished second in the June 24 four-way GOP primary for governor. Beauprez faces the Democrat incumbent, Gov. John Hickenlooper, in November.
"The RGA wanted to play in the Republican primary without anyone knowing about it," CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said.
"To avoid any fingerprints, the group ran the money through RAGA, an organization that typically doesn't weigh in on gubernatorial races. Despite a public posture to the contrary, it seems the RGA is, indeed, willing to pick sides in at least some Republican primaries."
There were plenty of signs during the GOP primary that the RGA was actively working against Tancredo and for Beauprez. Early press reports after Beauprez's entry into the race described him as the "prohibitive favorite" of the RGA, and Beauprez himself made it clear he was getting in because the field of candidates as it stood then wasn't considered competitive. As we've discussed at length, Beauprez's loony-tunes record since leaving electoral politics in 2006 makes him almost as great a liability as Tancredo–the biggest difference being that Beauprez's nutty statements haven't been as widely publicized. But the judgment of GOP insiders at the time was that Beauprez hurts them less.
Either way, as Bartels continues, Tancredo is not a happy camper now that the truth is out:
"I am trying my very, very level best to figure out how to deal with my anger with them and exactly what to do about this without hurting Bob," Tancredo said. "I want Bob to become governor, but I want to blow the whistle on these people. They are despicable."
Tancredo said he's certain Beauprez knew nothing about the funding behind the attack ads, and Beauprez's campaign on Monday agreed.
Now folks, without getting too far into the whys and wherefors, let us just postulate right here that Bob Beauprez knew full well the RGA would back him in this primary. When Tom Tancredo says he's "certain" Beauprez didn't know the RGA was helping out, we submit Tancredo knows it's not true. Everybody with an ounce of political understanding knows it's not true. Tancredo can't say that, of course, because that would "hurt Bob." But the report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) demonstrates clearly how the money flowed from the RGA into the Colorado GOP gubernatorial race:
The RGA, a political committee chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie whose “primary mission is to help elect Republicans to governorships throughout the nation,” appears to have quietly taken sides in Colorado’s gubernatorial primary by funneling money to third-party groups through the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA).
On June 17, the RAGA contributed $155,000 to the Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity (CJO), a super PAC based in Massachusetts. The RAGA contribution accounted for more than half of CJO’s fundraising haul during its first quarter of existence, with the rest coming from big name Republican donors such as Paul Singer and Ken Griffin, both of whom are also top donors to the RGA. Between June 20 and June 27, the RGA made three contributions to the RAGA totaling $175,000, an amount that looks suspiciously as if it is paying the RAGA back for its big CJO contribution. [Pols emphasis] The contributions were the first the RGA has made to the RAGA since the group began operating independently at the beginning of the year, though the RGA contributed $440,000 to the RAGA’s old parent group, the Republican State Leadership Committee, between 2011 and 2013.
Almost immediately after the RAGA contribution to CJO, Colorado radio listeners began hearing ads accusing Mr. Tancredo of being a flip-flopper. According to the ad, Mr. Tancredo was “once a fiscal hawk,” but had become a “big-spending Republican” after serving in Washington. The ads ran under the banner of the Colorado Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity (CCJO).
Colorado campaign finance records show that CCJO never directly raised money. Instead, it took in almost $175,000 in “non-monetary contributions,” most of which came from the national CJO. [Pols emphasis]
Here's the Q2 fundraising report for the national Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity. It's worth noting that CJO reported its expenses quarterly, so there was no way to know where their local affiliate was getting their money from before the June 24th primary. The key transactions came in the final week of June, when the RGA gave some $175,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association. And with that, the loop is closed.
Before the late surge of insider support for Beauprez just ahead of last month's primary, Tancredo was indeed set to win the nomination. Yes, Beauprez's supporters also capitalized on media buys by Democrats that attempted to boost Tancredo at Beauprez's expense, successfully hyping that to Beauprez's advantage by implying Democrats were "afraid" of him and desirous of Tancredo. In truth it was an incremental cost/benefit calculation at most, and Democrats were hoping to avoid Beauprez's wallet more than the man.
Now that the facts are known, the most lasting impact of this episode is likely to be between the GOP brass and their grassroots–who have been chumped once again by their "betters." The history of Republican insiders intervening in primaries in this state is long and ugly, and the base's ongoing resentment of this is very great. If Beauprez does flame out between now and November as many who know him expect, 2015 could be a tumultuous year within an already fractious Colorado Republican Party.