Right-Wing Blog Unwittingly Confirms Steve House Blackmail (Now, With Audio!)

UPDATE #2: There has been a flurry of phone calls and back-and-forth conversations among reporters and other officials today, much of it confusing. But you can read between the lines of Steve House’s statement to the Durango Herald:

I personally am not contacting the offices because I leave those decisions to the state party attorney and my personal attorney, I’ve not actively been involved with that,” House said in an interview with The Durango Herald. “I don’t know the law; I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t know what rises to the level of criminal activity.” 

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UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman, finally some mainstream media confirmation of what we’ve been reporting for days:

From Rittiman’s story:

Steve House, the chairman of the Colorado Republican party, has reached out to federal and state prosecutors about his allegations of a coup attempt to remove him from his leadership post at the state party, led by Republican state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

State party spokesman Owen Loftus confirmed that House reached out to both the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Denver District Attorney’s office in the wake of the scandal, which has dominated Colorado political conversation since House’s allegations last week…

His office is refuting a story posted to a conservative blog purporting to be a confession from his mistress.

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UPDATE: Here is the complete interview with Steve House’s alleged mistress, recorded the day after House’s confrontation with Cynthia Coffman, in which she categorically denies any affair. A wealth of information about this story in this over 47-minute conversation. See below for audio cue points to key moments. The voices on the recording are John Sampson, a private investigator and an Adams County Republican, Julie Naye, House’s alleged mistress, and Lana Fore, former secretary of the Colorado GOP.

With Julie Naye, Steve House’s alleged mistress:

9:13   How do you know House?
12:39 How often would you see House?
13:02 Have you ever meet Donna House?
13:43 Have you ever been alone with House?
14:00 Have you ever been in the same town overnight as House?
15:02 Why is the opposition pointing at you?
15:18  Is there any evidence (text, email voicemail) for these claims?
18:39 Has House ever paid you for work?
20:00 “House is innocent… I’ve never been alone with him”
29:00 “Steve need to take it to their doorstep.”
31:50 “People are making stuff up. Cannot be something there that there isn’t. House has to fight this.”
35:00 Lana Fore? “She’s sitting right here next to me.”
36:00 “Want to press charges against people who are claiming to have an affair.”

With Lana Fore, former Colorado GOP secretary:

38:00 What is going on?
40:00 “Personal vendetta”
40:30 Who is trying to force you to say something that is not true? McAlpine, Harvey, Mizel, Herzfeldt all named.
41:30 “House made promises and didn’t keep them.”
41:50 What were those promises?
44:00 Tom Tancredo was at the meeting on Monday night.
45:15  “I’m not a big fan of Colorado Pols, but I think they got it right.”

To be fair, this recording is addressed in the blog post by Porter below:

Naye confessed that she lied to help cover the affair. She said that House texted her with instructions to deny their relationship to his friend who would be phoning her. Naye said that she was unaware at the time that this friend was also a private investigator.

To which we can only say, if she’s lying in this recording, she’s a very good liar. In any event, all we’re talking about here is scenery for the main event–criminal extortion.

Original post follows–big updates coming soon.

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Ted Harvey, Cynthia Coffman.

Ted Harvey, Cynthia Coffman.

As the controversy has swirled in the last few days over the alleged extortion of Colorado Republican Party chairman Steve House by high-ranking fellow Republicans including Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, one of the central details was the purported existence of an extramarital affair between House and an unknown party. House responded to the allegation by denying the existence of an affair, and claiming that he was confronted with it only after the conversation turned from why House didn’t hire Ted Harvey to serve as the state party’s executive director to demands that House resign his position.

House’s version of events is very important to the investigation now underway, as it meets the legal definition of criminal extortion. It would be one thing if House had committed some kind of actual malfeasance in his official capacity–though the manner in which House was confronted is still legally questionable–but to blackmail this man over an alleged love affair is contemptible in addition to potentially criminal.

Fast-forward to today–conservative blogger Kathryn Porter, who has obviously been tasked by someone close to Coffman to run damage control as the likelihood of a criminal investigation grows, published her “shocking expose” of House’s alleged affair:

“I had no expectations of a future with him. I thought this would eventually end and we would remain friends,” said [the woman]. She shared that House was easy to talk to and that they had a special trust between them. “I wasn’t looking for him to take care of me. And he had a wife. I trusted him to be kind to me and stick around as my friend.”

She became more guarded when confronted about her feelings for House. “I care about him a great deal, like you would care about a close friend with additional feelings,” she stated, carefully choosing her words…

She described the submission to their sexual desires as an organic evolution of their friendship.

Steve House.

Steve House.

Missing from Porter’s poorly-written screed is, well, anything particularly nefarious. Nowhere does the story of House’s alleged affair claim to involve his official duties as GOP chairman. Instead of helping, this hit piece would seem to confirm House’s version of the blackmail story, which we have to believe was not the intended purpose. 

And that’s perhaps not the worst part. Today, we were forwarded audio from a conversation between House’s alleged mistress and a private investigator from the day after House’s meeting with Coffman in which she denies the affair repeatedly and categorically. Late in the nearly 50-minute conversation, the investigator interviewing the woman in question says:

It’s called “character assassination 101.” What it all boils down to is, and I’m not a big fan of Colorado Pols, but I think they got it right. This is an attempt to have a coup d’etat. [Pols emphasis]

We are processing the audio from this conversation now and will post shortly, but we wanted to be sure the existence of these denials was quickly noted in the record.

How does this square with the quotes printed in Porter’s blog? Simple: it doesn’t. Sources tell us that House has turned his cell phone text records over to the U.S. Attorney’s office, and there’s nothing to indicate that House asked this woman to lie. And even of these hotly disputed allegations of an affair were true? That can’t justify blackmailing Steve House to get him to resign from his job as Colorado GOP chairman. Remember, it doesn’t make any difference whether House did or did not have an actual affair; it’s still blackmail to threaten him with it.

You can’t ever justify blackmail–it’s a crime as soon as you make the threat.

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41 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Early WormEarly Worm says:

    I hate to defend Tancredo or Coffman, but I still am missing the blackmail angle. They contend (and it sure sounds credible) that they were advised by third parties of House's indiscretions. They were his allies.  They were told that these accusations were going to be made public. They told House. Does repeating the allegations to the accused constitute extortion?  It seems closer to blackmail/extortion if they are demanding his resignation because of his failure to hire Harvey, but that is House's version.  He is outnumbered, has reason to lie (or at least shade the truth), and it appears that he is lying about the affair.  If he had resigned, end of story. If he had refused to resign, it would have been a tabloid story.  But, because he agreed to resign, then reneged, he is working the victim card hard.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      If they were using the allegations as leverage to get him to resign it certainly does have a blackmail angle. And remember, we don't yet know who is lying about what. Have you listened to any of this audio? My guess would be that no one is being completely 100% honest but if one of the things the Coffman camp is not being honest about is threatening to expose an affair if House refuses to resign, no matter why they want that resignation, that's the only one that really matters and that is still in question. We'll just have to wait and see if anyone can present definitive proof to answer that question or to expose which side is lying more about which disputed points. In the mean time… yes, it's a big deal and big entertainment here on the blog. Enjoy.

    • SocialisticatProgressicat says:

      Hey Early Worm, I have information that you're having an affair.  It would be better for the party if you resigned before that becomes public. (pretty unlikely to be extortion absent other efforts).

      Hey Early Worm, I have information that you're having an affair.  You need to resign or I'll make that public.  (more likely to be extortion).

      Extortion doesn't require the information to be false, true and damaging information is fine.  Extortion is about instilling the fear of negative consequences in someone if they don't comply with your desires.  As far as resigning and reneging, well, that's a perfectly reasonable reaction to having been extorted.

      • Early WormEarly Worm says:

        I agree and understand that the information can be true and damaging, but if it is used to gain compliance, it is still extortion. Whether he had an affair or not does not prove or disprove extortion, but does go to his credibility. He says that he did not. If he is lying about that, he is probably lying about the substance of the conversation with Coffman, Tancredo, and Mizel.  My point is that your first scenario in your comment (identified as unlikely to be extortion) is the story that Coffman, et al. are going to stick with.  A prosecutor will have a hard time proving the second scenario.

        • SocialisticatProgressicat says:

          I find it reasonable that someone would lie about an affair to protect his marriage or his spouse from the ill effects of his transgression and still honestly relate the circumstances of an effort to extort him over it.  I don't see any reason to give Coffman, et. al. preference in the reliability sweepstakes.

          • BlueCatBlueCat says:

            Agree, including that lying to cover up an affair is pretty much the usual way such things go and we don't even know that's what House did at this point.

            In fact right now I'm tending to give Team Coffman less credibility since, unlike House who has been quite specific, they are tying themselves in knots to avoid saying exactly why they wanted House to resign (unspecified concerns) and exactly how it was handled at that meeting except to say that the truth will come out. If the facts, once they come out, will make it so obvious that they did nothing wrong why not just tell us now exactly what those perfectly OK not at all black maily things that they did were? Lawyering up?

    • I don't buy it, EW. If it was coming out anyway, the timing of House's resignation wouldn't have mattered to the party. Resign before, resign after – doesn't make a difference. In fact, resigning after would have given state party Republicans the chance to act indignant and demand a defense of their party's moral values.

      No – in this part at least I think House is telling the truth. They confronted him in an attempt to get him to resign in order to prevent the scandal from coming out. At my most charitable, perhaps they thought the affair wouldn't come out if he was no longer in a position of power.

      And getting him to resign over the threat of revealing the affair would seem to me to be a clear case of extortion under Colorado law. (IANALAIDPOOTV)

  2. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    How stupid of them not to realize that it doesn't matter a bit whether there was an affair or not.  In fact, if their story is that there was no blackmail, why would they think proving an affair is a good thing? Can't wait for the next new development. Love you, ColPols!

    • Half Glass FullHalf Glass Full says:

      Great point.

      And as for Porter, all I can say is she better have it all on tape. It sounds ridiculously lurid as she's paraphrasing it: "the submission to their sexual desires …" Sounds like something Jaxine Bubis would have written.

  3. Chickenheed says:

    The last time I saw this many people inflict this much damage on themselves and those around them, I was watching a show called Jackass.

  4. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    And really, with a few exceptions, hasn't "unwittingly" been the Colorado Republican Party's middle name going back to the Wadhams era?

  5. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    You know what really raises questions? Why is team Coffman still refusing to say exactly why it was that it was so important to them that House resign in the first place and how they they approached him about it? So far they're being very coy. If they had perfectly good reasons and there was nothing nefarious in the way they attempted to talk House into resigning why didn't they counter all of these rumors by coming out with their side of the story as soon as House withdrew his resignation and made his accusations? Why all this hesitancy to say anything concrete? Why just vague promises that the truth will come out followed by… nothing.

    If they've done nothing wrong Tanc's radio performance was pretty inexplicably awkward and defensive. He's not known for pulling his punches, even (well "even" is really an unnecessary qualifier) when spouting nonsense. That interview certainly gave off more than a whiff of flop sweat. Both sides may be found to be less than completely honest but the Coffman side seems very concerned about…. something.  House is offense and team Coffman is defense. Interesting. Staying tuned for more with relish.

  6. FrankUnderwood says:

    I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Tea Partier. And I wasn't a big fan of House when he took on Ryan Call. (I couldn't understand why the Republicans wanted to replace the party chair after taking out Mark Udall, taking a majority in the state senate, nearly taking the state house and Both Ways running a relatively competitive race, but no good deed goes unpunished.)

    I have to say, I'm impressed with this guy House. He's not taking any crap from these people. He not only called their bluff, but he's raised them!

  7. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    I've listened to about 20 minutes of the recording. Have to say, Ms. Naye's story sounds quite credible. The Soundcloud link plays it back with less bandwidth than listening to it on this page.

    The proof will be in those texts and emails that House has sent to the US Attorney. If those bear out his story that there was no romance, no payoff of "hush money" to Naye, then Coffman, Tanc, Mizel, McAlpine, et al look worse than ever.

    And, it doesn't really matter whether House and Naye had an affair or not. It shouldn't impact his ability to perform his job as Chair, and it doesn't clear his accusers of the crimes of extortion and blackmail.

    I'm working on a diary about what I think is the motivation for Mizel and Marks to cook this scheme up – it's about power and position.

  8. Half Glass FullHalf Glass Full says:

    The extortion is worse than the coverup is worse than the crime.

  9. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    So far this is as specific as Coffman gets. Denies extortion but doesn't have anything to say about what did lead to the resignation/unresignation.  After all this time, this still isn't much of an explanation.

    "He had promised people jobs and turned and maligned those people and made up false accusations to justify not offering them employment," Coffman told The Denver Post.

    She said that happened in more than one instance.

    "I stepped forward at great personal and political cost," Coffman said. "My intent in talking to Steve is he is the chairman of the state party and people expect him to speak the truth. I felt that his behavior and his statements were undermining his ability to lead the party."

    The disarray before the 2016 election has delighted Democrats and displeased some Republicans.

    "I am concerned that this makes the Republican Party in Colorado look foolish," said former House Speaker Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch.

    http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_28368276/ag-cynthia-coffman-breaks-her-silence-gop-chairman

    • DavieDavie says:

      So Coffman is implying that House slandered applicants for GOP party jobs to justify not hiring them, thus exposing himself and the party to lawsuits.'

      Uh, huh… sure, that explains everything (not)

      The problem with Coffman’s story is that it isn’t slander if the assertions by House are, you know, true.

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        So here's my latest take on all this:

        1. Julie Naye did not have an affair with House. Her recording referenced in this diary sounds authentic; the quotes in the Politichicks "exclusive" seem cliched and stilted.

        Maybe she was paid off to allow her name to be used by Politichicks; she states that she is a single mom with 4 kids and a deadbeat dad.Or maybe there was other leverage used.  We know by now that these folks are unscrupulous.

        2. Marilyn Marks and Becky Mizel signed onto this clusterf*ck in order to protect their own positions and power base as election "watchdogs", when House threatened to undercut that by meeting directly with the County Election Clerks. Marilyn Marks is aggressively promoting the idea that "Steve House must go" on social media, on Randy Corporon's KLZ AM show, with CApartygirl Jennifer Kerns.

        3. Cynthia Coffman and Tom Tancredo had some kind of financial misdeeds to cover up, and Steve House's commitment to straightening out the books and hiring a competent financial manager made them nervous, especially in light of the GOP's quasi-legal independent expenditure committee expenditures examined as its CEO, Tyler Harber, faces two years in prison. 

        Other than my own outsider perspective, the Colorado Statesman's Ernest Luning has connected dots between Tancredo, Coffman, and the Tyler Harber/ Harden Enterprises financial mess. From a February 2015 article, "GOP consultant's guilty plea riles some Colorado Republicans":

        “I want to conduct a full outside audit. I have to have transparency. I cannot stand these back room deals,” Fore told The Statesman. “This has to happen. We won’t have the trust of the people. Donors and grassroots activists won’t trust the state Republicans because of this. All around, it’s putting a bad light on the Republican Party.”

         

        and later in the article…

        Some Republicans cried foul when it turned out that the national Republican Governors Association funneled $175,000 through other groups, including the national Republican Attorneys General Association, to support gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez in his June primary against three other Republicans, including former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo.

        So there's the connections between Coffman's professional association and Tancredo.

        Coffman would not have been AG when these funds went through the AG association, but could have found out about it afterwards. And we know that Tancredo vowed revenge.  It's a tenuous and somewhat illogical connection, but there had to be something larger at stake here than a possible affair.

         

         

         

        • DavieDavie says:

          Interesting point about the AG group's funding.  As Assistant AG, it is quite likely Coffman had knowledge of (if not outright involvement with) this transaction.  But besides pissing off Tancredo, doesn't appear to break any laws.

          But at this point, unless the State GOP attorney hands over to the DA hard evidence, or can get the DA to open a formal investigation to subpoena Coffman's, Mizel's or Tancredo's records (written or electronic), this remains a "he said/she said" case, unlikely to result in any prosecutions.

          But it is a massive stain on the already tarnished reputation of the state party and all involved in this fiasco.  I wonder how many years and elections will pass before they recover…

        • BlueCatBlueCat says:

          And BTW, mama. Your take is the first comprehensive bringing together of the various threads, especially the Harber related one, that makes sense of the whole thing, including the fact that they aren't coming forward with anything but weak vague accusations against House. If you're correct this would be very, very big, much bigger than just trying to oust a Chair who isn't playing ball on hiring promises, big enough to be motivation for a desperate blackmail attempt to shut House up followed by a character assassination campaign to discredit him once the blackmail backfired. No wonder the rest of the party insiders aren't exactly rushing to take the coup members' side. Distancing seems to be well under way. Our very own super investigative reporter strikes yet again! 

          • BlueCatBlueCat says:

            PS Could dreams of indictment come true after all? Definitely will stay tuned.

          • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

            Thanks, BC. That and $3.50 will get this super reporter a cup of coffee! But yes, on the substance – I'm pretty confident that Marks and Mizel were just trying to keep their power bases, and Tancredo is such a loon that he may have only been trying to stay relevant as the GOP "fixer" – but Coffman's involvement is impossible to explain without zooming out to a much bigger picture.

            I'm happy to find the rocks and turn them over to see what crawls out from underneath, but it will take a mainstream media reporter to follow through to make this go anywhere. It has happened.

      • BlueCatBlueCat says:

        She doesn't offer anything concrete. Who are these slandered people who were promised jobs? Haven't heard from any of them. And just when were these promises allegedly made? Was Coffman's support for House initially based on factors including an understanding that he would be her boy and hire the people she wanted him to hire? Is this why she helped oust Call after he headed the party during the most successful election cycle they've had in years? Basically her explanation seems to be that House told her and everybody else what they wanted to hear and how was she to know she was being played instead of being the smart player she thought she was. 

        Maybe neither side has anything on record about who broke what promises or made what threats to whom and there won't be any criminal investigations or indictments (so sad) but it sure seems likely that, with the party's attorneys giving it a try on House's behalf and complaints from party stalwarts about how this is making the party look stupid, ColPols called it right. It may be inside baseball and voters may not care but before you get to to the voters you have to be supported by the state party. It seems very unlikely Coffman's political future will recover from this fiasco. She is indeed stick a fork in it done. Looks like a case of some very dim bulbs imagining themselves to be brilliant, powerful operators and having it blow up in their faces.

        • DavieDavie says:

          Yep, really inspires confidence in our top law enforcement official to know she is naive, easily taken in by a smooth operator like House, and then dances on or over the edge of legality to bully him into resigning a mere 3 months later.

          How's Coffman's judgement?  Not so good, I'd say.

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