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June 16, 2015 06:48 PM UTC

Cynthia Coffman's Political Career is Over. Done. Kaput.

  • by: Colorado Pols
Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. Photo taken back when she had a political future.
Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. This photo was taken when Coffman still had a political future.

UPDATE: Interesting choice of words from Coffman’s spokesperson in response to a request for comment from the Associated Press:

House’s statement, about three months after he became party chair, was prompted in part by an email Coffman sent to The Denver Post saying he was resigning Tuesday, but she didn’t explain why.

She declined to comment to The Associated Press. “I think we’re going to pass on commenting,” said Michelle Lyng, a spokeswoman for Coffman. [Pols emphasis]

“I think we’re going to pass” is something we expect Coffman will be hearing a lot in the near future.


On Monday, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman was one of the Colorado Republican Party’s brightest stars, a newly-elected statewide officeholder who was already being mentioned as a candidate for Governor in 2018 or even U.S. Senate in 2016.

That’s over now.

The completely bizarre attempted coup against State Republican Party Chair Steve House — just three months after his election — that began on Monday night ended on Tuesday evening with House still standing and Coffman’s political career in ruins (click here to read our initial coverage of GOP Coup 2015).

On Monday, House was lured into a honeypot meeting with Coffman in which he was ambushed by several Republicans in a clumsy and ill-considered attempt to force him to resign. Less than 24 hours later, House issued this statement via the State Republican Party:

The rumors started last night, when I was scheduled to meet with Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. When I arrived to our meeting, I was surprised to see that former Congressman Tom Tancredo and Pueblo County Chair Becky Mizel were also in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was initially unknown to me and I believed it was a routine strategy discussion by the Attorney General and myself. Congressman Tancredo confronted me about not hiring former state Sen. Ted Harvey as the Party’s executive director, and demanded that I resign my post. If I refused to meet their demand to resign, they threatened that a potential lawsuit may be filed and that false rumors that I have been unfaithful to my wife would be made public. [Pols emphasis]

Neither I, my family, nor anyone else serving our Party deserves this type of treatment.

In my frustration, I sent the Attorney General a text stating that I would resign, because I did not want my family, nor our Party to be dragged through this. No individual, myself included, is more important than the Party. After speaking with my wife and my closest advisers, I informed the Attorney General that I will not resign. [Pols emphasis]

No one should be bullied out of running for office, or serving as a leader in our Party. It is clear that our Party has some challenges ahead and that is what I was elected to address. These types of divisive and bullying tactics are why so many Americans are sick of politics as usual.

My biggest fault is probably the belief that I could unite all factions of the Party. Unfortunately, there are some who are more concerned with their own personal gain than doing what is best for our Party as a whole. These are the same exact people who fought against past chairmen, and they are going to try to take out the next chair as well.

As the state Chairman of the GOP, I represent over 1 million registered Colorado Republicans. I will not give in to a vicious and vocal minority that seeks to bring down the Party from within. That is why I am committed to staying on as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, to ensure success in 2016 and beyond.

This is an absolute disaster for Cynthia Coffman, and here’s why: Nobody in their right mind is ever going to trust Coffman again. Nobody is going to want anything to do with her politically. She’s Richard Nixon spying on his own political party. Linda Tripp. Salvatore Tessio.

Steve House for the win...
Republican Party Chairman Steve House (not shown: his gigantic…)

Coffman just tried to oust her second Republican Party Chair in three months, which is bad enough, but the level of betrayal and iciness she displayed is despicable. Take a look at what Coffman wrote in January when she formally endorsed House for GOP Chair over Ryan Call, who had helped her get elected in 2014:

As I worked alongside Steve, I saw a uniquely talented leader whose passion for conservatism and our party is infectious. His speeches are inspired and motivating. His ideas are forward thinking and common sense. I was so impressed that I asked Steve to speak on my behalf on the campaign trail. After my election as Attorney General, I brought Steve in to serve on my transition team. These experiences convinced me that Steve House should be our next party chair… [Pols emphasis]

…Even more important to me is Steve House’s gift for bringing together people who have diverse beliefs, identifying their common interests while respecting their differences, and moving them forward to achieve a shared goal. I believe our party still is fractured among different groups, all of whom call themselves conservatives and Republicans. I struggle with the fact that grassroots supporters feel alienated from the party organization and can’t find a way back into the family that once welcomed them. I want a leader who respects all of our voices and creates an environment that leads to victory. [Pols emphasis]

Yeah, wow! On Monday night, Coffman lured House — the same guy she praised so effusively just a few months ago — into a meeting that was supposed to end with his resignation. When House refused to resign, Coffman took things one step further, telling Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post that House had informed her he would resign. She told this to Bartels on Tuesday morning, by which time Coffman had to have known that House was not, in fact, resigning as State Party Chair. She stabbed House in the back twice in the span of about 12 hours.

It is clear that a lot of people underestimated Steve House as this drama unfolded. A lot of people made a lot of bad decisions that are backfiring on them now, but none will fall as far and as certainly as Cynthia Coffman. It is baffling that Coffman would have agreed to take part in this nonsense, particularly in targeting someone thought to be her friend and political confidant. Coffman will never be able to muster enough support to run for higher office — not now — and we’d almost guarantee that she will face a Republican Primary if she seeks re-election as Attorney General in 2018.

Thus ends Cynthia Coffman.


82 thoughts on “Cynthia Coffman’s Political Career is Over. Done. Kaput.

  1. Give it UP, Pols, Steve House is to blame here NOT Cynthia Coffman. The truth is going to come out soon.

    Don't believe everything you read, fellow conservatives. That is all.

    1. "Don't believe everything you read, fellow conservatives." Conservatives, plural? You and Elliott are the only two left on this site.

      As for Steve House, far be it for me to defend this teabagger, but the guy was duly elected by a wide margin to be the leader of your party only 3 months ago. Oh, and Cynthia was one of his biggest cheerleaders.

      Even if you had good grounds to get rid of him (and IMHO, refusing to hire Ted Harvey doesn't sound like good grounds), don't you people have rules and procedures for removing a chair other than this process?

        1. Indeed you are, C.H.B. You're an old school, principled conservative. I can disagree with you on stuff but still respect you.

          I'm referring to the nouveau conservatives a/k/a the shilling teabaggers like Moderatus, Andrew Carnegie and Elliott spewing their talking points they receive from the Borg Queen.

        1. Never thought I'd say this, but I agree with you on this, Modster.  It's a mistake to lump all conservatives, or all Republicans, together, just as it is a mistake to lump all liberals or Democrats together.

          From what I can tell, Modster, you are a hard-right GOP soldier who sides with the Tea Party, and what has become the mainstream of the GOP, but are not necessarily an RMGO secessionist.

          Elliot is a social liberal (at least on gay rights, abortion/contraception, and immigration), but a traditional libertarian "private property uber alles" Republican.

          Andrew Carnegie is a corporatist conservative, and probably occasionally is paid to comment and stir up trouble on here. He's a better manipulator than most of the others. Who knows what his actual principles are, other than "Get Republicans elected!"

          People and organizations I've been investigating lately, some of which are funded by really big money, fall all along this spectrum.

          Jonathan Lockwood of Advancing Colorado is a young LGBT advocate, experienced right wing operative, has been paid by the Koch brothers directly or indirectly for the last three years, but actually agrees with most Dems on stopping the TPP, limiting surveillance from the NSA,  and having more oversight on police abuses. It sounds strange, but I could see bipartisan action on these issues, which in fact we did see on the TPP, and that is why it's been halted temporarily.

          So when we use words like "Rethugs" or dismiss all Republicans as having the same backward ideology, we  also minimize what little progress can be made on a few select issues.


        1. Then why aren't they talking about just how Steve House is to blame? You'd think if it was so bad that Coffman, Tancredo, and Mizel all had to get together to have a "come to Jesus" meeting with House and House balked, that their side of the story would be out on the street today.

          1. I agree, PR. I've been perusing right wing pages and listening to right wing radio today, procrastinating on what I need to be doing, and all I see and hear is vague insinuations that something awful is being held back, that House will really regret that he didn't resign, bla bla.

            If that were true, it would have to be on the level of a "dead girl or a live boy", as they say, and if that were the case, it would already be a public scandal. The AG at least would be open to criminal charges if she covered something like that up.

            So maybe Steve House had an affair.  Unless the person was underage, not female, some nonconsensual stuff went down, or ???, GOP politicians are Teflon with that stuff. Apologize, ask for "thoughts and prayers", go to rehab, then get right back on the job.

            Dragging out the suspense with shadowy threats of some unnamed accusations against House are just keeping the suspense and press going. If they want the public to move on, they need to open up. But maybe they don’t want the public to move on.

            Maybe House made a contribution to Obama some years back? That would be considered to be as bad as the dead girl or live boy, in some circles.

            1. And maybe Steve promoted somebody he had (or is having) an affair with, which is prolly a no-no even for the GOP.

              But, better yet, what if Steve had an affair with a stinkin' librul?

                1. That got me thinking:  what would right wing nuts find more offensive:  a married Republican man having an affair with a liberal woman, or a conservative man?

                  I remember back in the early '80's there was a racist, homophobic Republican Congressman from Mississippi who was busted in – you guessed – a public rest room. IIRC his name was Jon Hinson. He initially tried to ride it out, citing the usual explanations (i.e., I'm not gay, I wasworking too hard, it was the alcohol, etc.) but when it came out that his assignation was with an African-American man, that became too much for the Party of Lincoln in Mississippi.

          2. And where were the other movers and shakers in the CO GOP during this come to Jesus meeting? Cynthia isn't even the most senior GOP constitutional officer:  Walker Moreland Stapleton holds that title.

            One would think that with the fate of the party at stake, the big three (Coffman, Stapleton and Williams) along with Con Man Cory would meet with House for the intervention.

            And Tank is ancient history. He last held elective office before Obama was sworn in as president. Since '08, he has:  run a pathetic race for president, offered himself as the party's savior during the Dan Maes disaster, endorsed Mitten in '12 and run for – and lose – the gubernatorial primary to BWB. Nice resume, Tank.


  2. Who needs soap operas? Hell, who needs House of Cards? We have the Colorado Republican Party to watch.

    If this was supposed to be a coup by Coffman, it failed badly. If it was supposed to be an intervention because House really has some bad baggage that's going to come out soon, it failed badly. Regardless of what it was or will be, it has failed badly – noisily and messily.

    1. Now, now… don't want to stop watching "House of Cards" altogether. Don't you want to know how things turn out for Claire and me?

      But while we are shooting Season Four, the Colorado GOP does provide for some good drama, intrigue, and backstabbing.

  3. And here Cynthia's stock had been soring what with her hubby passing on the '16 senate race and Either Way Ellen initiating her political auto destruct sequence.

  4. We now know why Rep. Coffman maintains a separate residence from AG Coffman. I imagine he wouldn't be able to sleep with both eyes shut living under the same roof as Cynthia.

    1. You may very well be right, PR. If there were threats made to disclose rumors of infidelity with the purpose of extracting a resignation from House, not only is  there a very ugly word for that, but a crime may have been committed to which Coffman appears to have been a party. 

  5. The 2015 Darwin Award

    Category:  Political – Elected Officials

    Winner:  Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

    Political Survival:  Doubtful

  6. In situations like this it is awfully premature to write the political obituary of somebody.  I personally like Steve House a lot along with his family.  I have a high level of respect for House's wife (and a particular platonic affection for her as well for her watching my kids during the state party convention).  

    I don't have the same feelings towards Coffman. That said, I cannot believe that Coffman would act in the purported way she did unless there was a reason (in her eyes) for her alleged actions.  And for reason, I mean something beyond power or fulfilling a promise.  Coffman is not (I would think) going to jeopardize her political career over a mere state party chairmanship on a wild "gamble" (which is what a coup attempt often is) when she holds statewide office, is a possible candidate for future higher office, and has a husband who is a sitting congressman.  You don't get to where her family is by making those kind of gambles. 

    But speculation like this is not a substitute for an actual response to the gravity of what House has alleged. Coffman will need to explain her purported actions.  The charges against her demand as much.  But that explanation will not be to me and certainly not ColoradoPols.  It will be to a private and confidential executive session of the GOP is my sense.  

    1. Much of this is "insider baseball" that the public doesn't care much about, but Ms. Coffman should answer in public. I think you're correct she had a reason and probably thought it was a good one, but her reasons aren't the key question. Her judgment is what she needs to explain because, at the moment, based on what has come to light, her judgment looks very poor.

      1. I disagree.  Regarding whatever purported red flags she had, such information should be handled and discussed privately to protect Steve and his family unless Steve/his family demand the charges be made public. 

        1. House has made the allegations public. At this point, trust in our elected officials – especially such a legally responsible office as the Attorney General – is more important than a private discussion.

          1. Guess Eliot missed the part where House made the alleged deception and threats completely public. In the Post story today it does say that "others" deny that threats about disclosing alleged affairs were made but I would assume the only others present were in on the attempt to force his resignation. If there is no audio, twitter or e-mail record of the alleged threats it will remain he said/she said. With hard evidence such threats would constitute a crime.

            In any case the whole thing absolutely demonstrates unsavory behavior, poor judgement and all round ineptitude. Why were Coffman and allies not open about what they wanted to discuss with House in the first place? Why would they demand he resign for not acting as their puppet and hiring whomever they told him to hire? If they didn't, as he alleges, attempt to blackmail him into resigning by threatening to expose alleged affairs, what made them confident he would go quietly?

            In the event, he obviously didn't go quietly and did make public what they must have wished to keep in house. Whether they are blackmailers or not probably can't be proved but there's no doubt they exercised ridiculously poor judgement as evidenced by the messy outcome, including but not limited to the fact that they failed to achieve their objective; House's resignation. 

            1. He made the part about the alleged affair public.  He also said there was a threatened lawsuit.  No details about the latter were forthcoming and Cynthia has not confirmed that this is what occurred.  And regarding the former, that is simply low IF the threat of revealing it (assuming true) occurred.

              1. You're splitting hairs. The result is that everything is public or soon will be, as is the inevitable case when cans of worms are opened. This certainly can't be the outcome Coffman had in mind. Their plan to oust House, for whatever reason, is a now a messy failure. The proof of poor judgement and ineptitude is in the pudding. House is still standing and the only thing their plan has succeeded in raising is a stench. Unless that was what you think they were going for in which case it's a brilliant success.

                1. Not sure that everything gets revealed publicly or even if there is anything substantial to reveal.  Moreover – and here is a point to consider – even IF there is something substantial, I'm not sure how that helps Cynthia.  Because EVEN if she had substantial dirt why (a) did she not reveal it sooner (i.e. pre-election); or (b) if she just got it, why didn't she do better vetting pre-endorsement? 

                  Possibility "(a)" raises issues of corruption.  Possibility "(b)" raises issues of incompetence.  

                  1. And BTW the can of worms may or may not include any infidelity scandals which may or may not exist. It includes this whole fiasco coming to light in the first place instead of staying quietly in house and anything further about the attempt that  they intended to keep quiet.

                    However they tried to engineer a nice quiet "family issues" and say no more House resignation they failed. That's where the incompetence comes in. If they tried to do it with threats, that would be where the sleaze/corruption/possible criminality would come in.  What we already know is that they stunk up the joint while failing to achieve their goal. That's the absolute kindest interpretation.

      2. Agree with you totally.  Of the over 1,000,000 Republicans in this state only about 5,000 know enough about politics to even care about this nonsense.  It does again point out that Coffman is a light-weight when it comes to politics, though I understand that she is a very good attorney.

        1. But only an inside handful determine who is seriously considered to run for what and who gets big financial support. That's what ColPols is talking about. 

      3. The public doesn't care about it now, but the ads and the mailers write themselves, and they will care in 2018. 

        "Coffman once threatened to spread infidelity rumors about the State Party Chair if he didn't step down. Is that the type of person you want as Colorado's top lawyer?"

    2. Becky Mizel's political career is also toast. She was begged to stay on as Pueblo County Chair, (she said), but now, who can trust her? Even her backers have to be uneasy about how she set this up as a trap for House.

      She thought she was doing something to empower grass roots Republicans. In her world view, they all think as she does, worked up about guns and conspiracies to let immigrants vote. Even the Pueblo Chieftain, usually in Mizel's corner, finds that all it can do to help her is to leave her name out of the threesome who cornered House:

      According to the Chieftain, Coffman and Tancredo set this up on their own.

      Mizel is done. Even if she retains her chairmanship, her loss of credibility will limit how much she influences Pueblo politics, let alone state politics. She overreached, and fell flat on her face. (Sad trombone sound)


    3. Coffman is not (I would think) going to jeopardize her political career over a mere state party chairmanship on a wild "gamble"

      Or she did exactly that.  Politicians, even smart ones (which I have no idea if she is), overestimate their power all the time and make stupid decisions out of a feeling of obligation or to advance themselves.  Besides, in your effort to make a "defense" you forgot to mention the part where Tommy Tanc berates House for not hiring Ted "Even the Nutbags Say, Really, That Guy? When They See Me" Harvey.  If Coffman thought this was about a "private matter" that was her clue it wasn't and to end the meeting.

      Sorry counselor, Operation Foot Bullet has been executed more effectively than any excuse you could make.  Let the blowback commence…

      1. Not a defense.  Just my thoughts.  If Cynthia didn't have something significant and this was simply a power play, I don't see how this ends as other than disasterous for her.

        1. Agree that either way, it's now lose-lose-lose.

          After so strongly advocating and campaigning for House as replacement for the largely-seen-as-successful Call, that's by itself a huge problem.

          And, the Office of AG that Suthers admirably ran for what, 10 years?, by mostly avoiding silly politicization and internecine squabbles (or, at least engaging in those quietly behind closed doors) . . .

          . . . not a good day for Colorado regardless of your political views!  

          On the bright side, however, it sucks more for certain GOPers and nutters than for the rest of my us, so hakuna matata, I suppose . . . 

  7. Yet once again, Colorado's Democrats appear to owe an unrepayabe debt of gratitude to crazy Uncle Tancredo . . . 

    . . . You da' man, Tom !!

      1. DP, you could be right. Tanc's involvement is baffling in any other context. So, in your opinion, this was a triple power play:

        Extort House out of his Chairmanship.

        Appoint Becky Mizel to the Chairman's position.

        She would then choose Ted Harvey as Executive Director.

        The CO Republican Party would then back Tancredo as the preferred nominee to defeat Bennet.

        This all makes sense, except that I think Tancredo would have no chance in the general election – he's widely known as extremely anti-immigrant, if not as an outright racist.  But if the state GOP wants to avoid backing the "black guy", i.e. Darryl Glenn, who has declared his candidacy for the Senate, is running and fundraising for the seat, it does add up to a perverse kind of logic.

        1. Oh please, Election Gods, let Tanc run against Bennet! And maybe Wadhams could return to "rescue" the party as Chair? Please pleasepleasepleaseplease….

  8. Progressicat's corollary to Reagan's 11th commandment:

    Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican, unless thou makest thine accusations in a dark room, out of the public eye, and thou thinkest thou canst convince others that he bangest someone other than hys wyfe.

  9. If the public had an attention span and memory better than a goldfish, maybe, but in a few months everyone but the most diehard political insiders will have forgotten this little tiff entirely.

    Coffman, by virtue of being a statewide elected official and wife of a Congressman, will be on the political inside in the Colorado GOP indefinitely, while her righteous accusers will be forgotten and the coup incident will blow over for her, with the blame placed on FORMER Congressman Tom Tancredo, FORMER State Senator Ted Harvey, and least important GOP county chairman in the state from a county that is a Democratic stronghold Becky Mizel.  Coffman will claim that she just arranged the meeting and had no idea that this confrontation would go down the way that it did.

    Power always trumps virtue in politics.  The Pols, for the fairly obvious reason of wanting to take down a GOP top dog, are doing their damndest to spin this as something more, but the dog won't hunt.

      1. This isn't just about whether average voters remember. You can't stab somebody in the back like this and then expect to receive a lot of support from donors and other elected officials later on. Nobody will want anything to do with Coffman.

      2. Where do you think nominees for office come from, CHB? Low info voters can't vote for you if a healthy contingent of your party insiders don't put you out there. 

  10. Old Cynthia will take a page from her hubby's playbook and re-emerge Phoenix-like as New Cynthia, with her past transgressions forgiven and forgotten.

  11. House obviously made a wise decision not to appoint Harvey as Executive Director, not because of any fault in Harvey, but because the Elected Chair must be able to fire the unelected ED. House's acumen is pretty clear here, too. He drew fire from Tanc & Co by letting them publicly proclaim his resignation. Then he blew them away by refusing to resign. Like Bush, he was grossly mis-underestimated. Not bad for a neophyte. 

  12. Before Mr. House was elected chair, he demonstrated his commitment by helping other races and following through. After he was elected, people of all stripes began to notice disturbing patterns of behavior. Not hiring decisions or infidelity. A public lynch mob was being formed. So, 3 people met privately with him to air those concerns. That seems prudent, but the results were unfortunate. The executive committee will consider those concerns in the near future. The process will be followed. I maintain a cordial relationship with Mr. House, but have learned not to trust the truth of anything he says without verifying with others.  

    1. I too have noticed the disturbing and erratic patterns of behavior among Republicans – god only knows why anyone ever votes for them? 

  13. Has Mark Waller announced another go at being AG in '18 yet? Bet he's kicking himself in the ass for dropping out of the race against Cynthia last year. Had he known she was capable of something like this, he could have set her up during the primary campaign.

  14. Mr. Waller did try dirty tactics. They failed because Ms. Coffman has integrity. I find it insane that folks are assuming she is somehow upset because Mr. House did not hire Mr. Harvey. She didn't think that was necessarily the wisest move. Mr. House offered the  job to Mr. Harvey. When Mr. House caught flak on the day he was elected chair, he took to Facebook to proclaim that he had made offers to no one. Lie. Later he told people that Ms. Coffman was the reason he couldn't hire Mr. Harvey. Lie. Then Mr. House moved on to attacking Mr. Harvey on personal issues. When Mr. House is in a subordinate role, he meets eexpectations. Now that he is in charge, he does not. Easy.

  15. One part of the story did not make sense to me. Why would Cynthia Coffman be upset that Ted Harvey was not offered a job by House?  Didn't Ted Harvey have the temerity to run against Ms. Coffman's husband in 2008?

    Nevertheless, I'm enjoying watching this side show overtake the circus……

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