POLS NOTE: What follows may well be the most incredibly ridiculous story we've heard in 2015. So sit back, relax, and try not to get lost in this bizarre tale…
As readers of Colorado Pols should know by now, Colorado Republicans are in the midst of a heated battle over who should become their next State Party Chair. Two-term incumbent Chair Ryan Call is facing a serious challenge from former Adams County GOP Chair Steve House, who was also a Republican candidate for governor in 2014.
Well, apparently things have escalated in the GOP Chair's race as we near the March 14 date of the Republican State Central Committee meeting. It seems that paid trackers — the kind you would normally find in a campaign for Senate, Governor or Congress — are such a concern now that people who aren't trackers are being kicked out of Republican meetings by people who are political trackers. No, seriously, this is actually happening, and the stories are more convoluted than that various voices in Dr. Chaps' head. There will be no quiz afterward, but kudos if you can follow along without re-reading at least some section of this post.
Here's the details (and we mean details) from Kathryn Porter writing for the website Politichicks:
When 20-year old Meaghan Croghan, a registered Republican, visited the January 27th meeting of the Denver Metro Young Republicans (DMYR), she never thought she would be unwelcome. Amid concerns that Croghan was there to track a candidate for state party elections, board members had her tossed from their meeting. [Pols emphasis]
Newly elected DMYR President Ellie Reynolds formally endorsed state chair Ryan Call for re-election and may have been trying to protect her candidate. The endorsement was signed with her title as DMYR President which may also be in violation of the group bylaws. A 2014 cached version of the DMYR bylaws show that Reynolds acted in direct violation of section 10.1, titled Endorsement of Republican Primary Candidates…
See, we told you it was detailed. You can go to Politichicks.com to read the relevant sections of the DMYR bylaws, if you're into that sort of thing, but we're going to skip ahead (according to Politichicks, DMYR is an independent Republican club that is "not affiliated with the Young Republican National Federation." In case you were wondering). Moving on:
Aside from her position as DMYR President, Ellie Reynolds is a paid tracker for Revealing Politics. Croghan was incorrectly identified as a tracker for challenger and former gubernatorial candidate Steve House.
So…Ellie Reynolds is the President of DMYR (not affiliated with YRNF, as a reminder), and she is also a paid tracker for the right-wing political group Revealing Politics. Reynolds has endorsed Call for State Party Chair (which she may or may not have been allowed to do because of bylaws, or whatever). Meaghan Croghan, meanwhile, was kicked out of the meeting for allegedly working as a tracker for Steve House, which she is not. Croghan posted the detailed details on her Facebook page, which you can see after the jump.
We realize that you have now been reading this story for several minutes now, but believe us when we say that it gets even weirder. If Colorado Pols were a TV show, this is the part where we would say, "Don't touch that dial!"
Okay, now, let's pick things back up with Politichicks:
Croghan said that she asked for permission to video tape the speakers, but was told by past-president Matt Zielinski that the speakers were unaware of recording taking place and that the group valued the privacy of their speakers. Croghan said that she obtained permission to take still photos before being escorted out of the meeting.
A staff member at Cap City Tavern confirmed that group leadership told restaurant staff they wanted Croghan removed from the meeting because she was not part of their Young Republicans group. However, an investigation by Politichicks revealed that other visitors and non-members were allowed to stay.
Typically, political groups welcome visitors—so long as they are not disruptive. After Croghan posted her account of the events at the meeting on Facebook, Reynolds’ colleague Devan Crean of Revealing Politics came to Reynolds defense, accusing Croghan of behavior unbecoming of a young Republican. [Pols emphasis]
In her Facebook post, Devean Crean defends Reynolds and tracking in general (so long as it you are only tracking Democrats):
Ellie Reynolds is NOT tracking Steve House. The organization Ellie and I both work for ONLY tracks politicians and policy makers who are left-leaning. We DO NOT track fellow Republicans. Meaghan, it is my understanding that you were sent to the DMYR meeting to track fellow Republicans. If that is truly the case, any negative attention should be directed towards you, NOT Ellie or Matt or DMYR, as that is just sickening.
So, to recap, Ellie Reynolds "is NOT tracking Steve House" — apparently this was also a concern at the meeting — but Crean stands by her allegation that Croghan was sent to the DMYR meeting to track "fellow Republicans." Ryan Call was, in fact, present at this meeting, but in an interview with Politichicks, he says he was not aware of anyone being asked to leave the meeting. Call then essentially accuses the author of the story, Kathryn Porter, of intentionally and maliciously trying to report that the meeting was not all rainbows and sunshine.
For his part, Steve House says that he did not send a tracker to the meeting, so if Croghan was tracking a Republican, she may have been tracking someone else. Also, Ellie Reynolds is not tracking Steve House. Nor, presumably, is Devan Crean.
Now, there was another witness at the meeting who confirmed that Croghan was not a tracker. This witness, of course, is a tracker.
That's right — there really was a tracker at the meeting. The following paragraph is straight from Politichicks — we couldn't make this up in our wildest imagination:
However, the investigation uncovered that a tracker was indeed present. The real tracker, who asked not to be identified, reported that Croghan’s presence was obvious because she did not “look the part” when compared to how member females typically dress, noting that she appeared more conservative and modest. The tracker stated that Croghan did not engage in any inappropriate behavior and witnessed her walking compliantly out the door. The tracker confirmed that a few minutes afterwards, past-president Matt Zielinski approached Croghan’s seat and grabbed her purse for her. Prepared to secretly audio record the meeting, the tracker listened for controversial statements by candidates running for state or county party positions. When asked if working for a candidate, the tracker said that no candidates were aware of any tracking and that it was solely a grassroots initiative. [Pols emphasis]
This whole story is so completely ridiculous that we would have thought it was a work of fiction were it not for the absurd level of detail reported by Politichicks. This story must be true. It has to be true.
We love this story.