Cynthia’s House of Cards: Dial “B” For “Blackmail”

UPDATE #3: Republican radio host Michael “Brownie” Brown throws down:

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UPDATE #2: Roll Call’s Emily Cahn writes Cynthia Coffman’s political epitaph:

State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, along with former Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., tried to oust state Republican Party Chairman Steve House, according to multiple local reports. The two reportedly threatened to reveal — what House said were false claims — that he cheated on his wife if he didn’t step down.

Coffman was often mentioned as a possible Bennet challenger, especially after her husband, Colorado GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, decided against running earlier this month. The congressman was courted by both local and national Republicans, who viewed him as their best shot at defeating Bennet next fall.

But Cynthia Coffman’s involvement in the state party dust-up likely takes her off the table as Republicans search for a challenger. [Pols emphasis] And she’s the second potential recruit to receive negative headlines in the past few weeks.

And if that’s not enough, check out how the story ends–a hard red-on-red jab at both Coffmans:

“The Coffmans, both Cynthia and Congressman Coffman, came with a lot of unknowns and risks, and I think that was one of the reasons why it wasn’t a bad thing that they both decided not to run for Senate,” said one national Republican operative. “I think behind the scenes this is sort of a scary public display of what the rumors had been; it’s pretty troubling that the attorney general is going around threatening people.” [Pols emphasis]

Wow, folks. This is a major disaster.

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harveyhoc

UPDATE: An unrepentant statement this afternoon from one of the ringleaders of Steve House’s attempted ouster, Pueblo County GOP chair Becky Mizel:

It is inappropriate to comment on the specific details of the concerns at this time, as the concerns will first be communicated to the Executive Committee for their deliberation and recommendations to Chairman House and the membership of the Central Committee. The Central Committee members will then determine by membership vote whether removal from office is prudent. However, I can say that House’s public statements to date concerning the meeting and his resignation are generally untrue and a gross misrepresentation of the facts, as I will communicate to the Executive Committee of the party. Based House’s poor judgment in making such false allegations, I am more committed than ever to seeking his resignation, with every effort to avoid a publicly humiliating experience for House and the party that would result from a forced removal. 

Meanwhile, the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels finally got a comment from Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who naturally denies making blackmail-y threats to House:

Obviously, the whole episode is very sad. I don’t relish the hardship for Steve or the party, nor was anyone involved in that meeting eager to have the conversation at all. But as someone who was being inundated with information raising some very serious questions, I had no choice but to sit down and lay out the accusations to Steve. There was no joy in this, there were no threats, nor was there any desire for the meeting to become public fodder…

A bit late for that now, isn’t it? Original post follows.

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9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman has a follow-up story today on the growing scandal over the attempted overthrow of Colorado Republican Party chairman Steve House by high-ranking GOP luminaries, including former Rep. Tom Tancredo and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman–the latter of whom appears to have devastated her future political prospects after, as the saying goes, striking at a king but not killing him.

And at this point, Coffman’s political career may not be the only casualty. Let’s briefly revisit House’s statement yesterday in response to questions about Monday’s events:

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. [Pols emphasis] 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.

As Rittiman reports, there’s a word to describe this sort of thing:

A written statement from House described the encounter as what would appear, if true, to amount to political blackmail for failing to award a job to a state senator… [Pols emphasis]

He did not refute that the specter of marital infidelity was raised in the meeting with House, but said that was not the impetus for the meeting.

Tancredo said the trio had “grave and serious concerns” about a matter involving House which were shared by a larger group of Republicans in the state.

He would not elaborate further on what caused concerns, other than to say it was false that the group sought House’s ouster over a job appointment for Harvey.

Steve House.

Steve House.

There’s an simple reason why Tom Tancredo would deny after the fact that this meeting pertained to former Sen. Ted Harvey’s failure to he hired by House as the Colorado GOP’s executive director–it could easily be interpreted as blackmail. As our readers know, from the moment Steve House won the election as party chairman, Harvey’s presumptive hire as executive director–which we first broke word of–was widely understood. We never heard why Harvey did not ultimately get the job, but it’s obvious now there was controversy related to the decision.

Apparently, more controversy than anybody thought.

Colorado’s felony criminal extortion law, C.R.S. 18-3-207, seems pretty clear on the seriousness of what just happened:

(1) A person commits criminal extortion if:

(a) The person, without legal authority and with the intent to induce another person against that other person’s will to perform an act or to refrain from performing a lawful act, makes a substantial threat to confine or restrain, cause economic hardship or bodily injury to, or damage the property or reputation of, the threatened person [Pols emphasis] or another person…

Having read the statute, if you’re thinking this was a really, really bad thing for Colorado’s new Attorney General Cynthia Coffman to get mixed up with, you’re not alone. Rittiman:

Tancredo said he was concerned that legal action may be coming in the case, a possibility raised by numerous Republican sources who spoke with 9NEWS, many of whom were puzzled at the lack of an early response from Cynthia Coffman to deny the accusation.

“Our state party chair basically just accused the state’s chief law enforcement officer of at least participating in, and possibly coordinating, an extortion scheme,” one source told 9NEWS. “Who cares if [House] actually had an affair or not?” [Pols emphasis]

It’s hard to say exactly what happens next, not least because this alleged felony involves the state’s chief law enforcement officer. There’s also the possibility that House might buckle under pressure and change his story–or maybe Tancredo or Harvey take the fall instead, opting to sacrifice themselves to protect a sitting statewide officeholder and apparent political ally. We ourselves weren’t aware that Cynthia Coffman was so close to Tancredo, Harvey, Pueblo County GOP chairwoman Becky Mizel, or others in the hard-right GOP dissident wing. Now that this is known, it would be logical for these people, whose political careers are basically over, to try and protect Cynthia Coffman’s.

Except it’s too late for that now.

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26 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. FrankUnderwood says:

    My, my…….They're even scarier than Claire and me.

  2. ModeratusModeratus says:

    Please keep digging your hole, Pols. Cynthia Coffman is blameless. Steve House will resign before this is over. And you will all look like fools.

    Mark my words!

  3. ModeratusModeratus says:

    Too bad, so sad. Find another fake scandal, libs.

    Update: Charges unlikely after attempt to oust state GOP chairman. http://t.co/e0u0CbHzWT #COpolitics #9NEWS

    — Brandon Rittiman (@BrandonRittiman) June 17, 2015

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      Tancredo comment about grave & serious concerns…………    If these concerns were present, then why did they elect Steve House? Regardless of one's political leanings, no one should be able to deny that Ryan Call ran a successful election for the Republicans last fall. Captured a US Senate seat; pushed Hickenlooper almost to the wall; kept Mike Coffman in the US House; and took back the State Senate. Call's reward for his success was to get booted out.

      Is it a "fake scandal" as proposed by Moderatus? Only time will tell. And the question nobody is asking……..how did Dudley Brown manage to keep his name out of all this?

      When “stuff” happens in the R Party, good old Dudster is usually right in the middle of things.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      OK. Checked your link. Your point?

  4. ZappateroZappatero says:

    Mongo says all R's bad, all D's good. 

  5. flatiron says:

    House was at least smart enough to get his narrative out first. who know what the truth is, though House's detailed version seems more plausible than the vague denials of the other people who now appear to be scampering to come up with a better story.

    Either way, I bet Mr House is shown the door in the long run

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Yep. Let's say there is an infidelity scandal.  What are Tanc and Coffman going to do with it now?  It's only value to them was to get House to go quietly, if it exists. Now they can't use it without looking like blackmailers. Not to mention that infidelity doesn't exactly pack the punch it used to, once again, if there's a there there. So far House has taken the high ground and left everyone else issuing I can't say anything more weak ass denials.

  6. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Damage control for Cynthia Coffman, and undermining House's chairmanship has been delegated to the right wing talk show hosts. Peter Boyles show on KNUS (June 17, 2015, Hour 4) on KNUS had John Ransom, former Chair of the Douglas County GOP and Townhall Finance writer, and Tom Tancredo as guests.

    Basically, Ransom's contentions are that House is "too weak" to lead the GOP. Evidence? He resigned when confronted by Tancredo, Mizel, and Coffman. At around 13:00, Ransom said that he understood that Coffman was "the arbiter between House and Harvey".

    25:30 JR When he (House) was put to the test, his first instinct was to resign. So that means that he a) had an affair, or b, he’s a coward.

    Tom Tancredo came on Boyles' show next, (at about 41 minutes in), had little to add, except that he says that Coffman set up the meeting, and he and Mizel showed to "bring the concerns of a lot of people" to Steve House, and to ask him to resign. TT would not say what these concerns are, other than to state that they are serious and "may end up in court".

    So basically, we have a lot of innuendo, shadowy threats of a damning shoe that is yet to drop, no specifics, and this will all go to the Republican Executive Committee meeting for action.

     

     

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      There doesn't seem to be any question in my mind that House will very shortly be resigning his chairmanship.  However, keeping in mind that we are talking GOPers here, the only question that remains unanswered for me is just what's it going to take now to buy him off so that he goes mostly quietly?

      Summer is pool time, people – what say you? 

      • BlueCatBlueCat says:

        Too late for him to go quietly. There will be digging regardless. The media is enjoying this.

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        I say House gets Immunity from prosecution, for starters. If there was in fact a crime.  Remember the timing on the meeting with House was the first working day after another GOP operative, Tyler Harber, got a two year jail sentence for illegally coordinating with a SuperPAC. I still think that there must be some connection, because of the timing, if nothing else.

         

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        Next Monday is the emergency Executive meeting to resolve this, or pass it on to membership for a vote to remove House.

      • ajb says:

        House will go out the same way Dan Maes did, fighting to the very end. Ya gotta hand it to the Teapublicans, they're suspicious of everybody, and apparently for good reason, proving the old adage that just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

        And if it takes 70% to oust him, as Tanc says, you can bet House will find at least 31%. Without specifics it'll be ugly rumor-mongering and a lot of people (myself included) just hate that sort of thing.

        • FrankUnderwood says:

          Maybe Tank, Ted, Becky and Cynthia can hijack the American Constitutional Party's Central Committee and establish themselves as an alternative to the CO GOP.

  7. Gilpin Guy says:

    And they threw Call overboard for this soap opera.  Leave it to Republicans to fuck up a good thing.  No wonder you can't trust them with the economy.

    • FrankUnderwood says:

      I've been asking the same question, G.G.  Ryan Call got a nice result for the CO GOP last November and tossing him overboard was the thanks they gave him.  

      I will say this for House:  he's handling this really well. Getting out with his side of what happened while the other side evaded (Cynthia's statement that she would have no comment) or dissembled (Tank's rambling interview in which he made a vague statement about lots of legislators being behind him). It's hard for these clowns to blackmail him when he's called their bluff and disclosed what they tried to do.

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