Document details numerous allegations against State GOP Chair Steve House

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Harvey Coffman HOCDuring a six-hour Republican Party meeting, held June 26 to gauge support for GOP State Chair Steve House, former Rep. Tom Tancredo sat with Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman in the hallway outside the meeting room. Tancredo was holding copies of a document that listed grievances against House.

Coffman was eventually given the chance to talk briefly to the executive committee, but, as I reported last week, Tancredo said that House blocked him and Pueblo County GOP Chair Becky Mizel from distributing the document to committee members, who voted 22-1 to support House.

Yet, mysteriously, given the speed at which GOP allegations can fly around Facebook, I couldn’t find the document anywhere until someone graciously leaked it to me yesterday. (See below.)

But is it the real thing? The document Tancredo wanted to hand out at the meeting?

I can’t say for sure, but my source says so, and I emailed it to Tancredo, who responded with, “Looks like the same one to me.”

Tancredo pointed out that there was nothing secret about the document, as evidenced by the fact that he and others gave it to various reporters at the meeting and elsewhere. The document asks House to resign.

I asked Owen Loftus, communications director for the state Republican Party, to respond to the allegations in the document. I’ve been waiting since yesterday and have heard nothing from him.

Without the cooperation of Loftus, it’s hard for me to assess whether many the grievances are true–but since reporters haven’t posted the document or reported on it, omitting a key piece of information in the story, I’ve posted it for all to see. It’s a big part of the story, and reporters were remiss by failing to get it out there.

It addresses Dick Wadhams’ sniper-like comment in The Denver Post, in which he told the folks who want House to resign to “reveal the charges.”

“They need to put up or shut up,” Wadhams told The Post, reflecting the thoughts of many folks who’ve been watching this controversy unfold. 

Here’s the “putting up” part, but no one’s covered it. As you can see, the document describes numerous failures by House, relating to party finances, communication, personnel, and more.

For his part, Tancredo told me, “What’s inaccurate is the allegation that we wanted [House] to hire Ted Harvey and that if he didn’t, we would go public with his dalliances.” Tancredo told me. “That is totally, completely untrue. It’s a false narrative. There was an issue with Ted Harvey, but it had nothing to do with him not getting the job.”

Tancredo says House’s actions after the private meeting where Tancredo, Coffman, and Mizel asked him to resign, have been “even more egregious than what he did up to that time.”

Statement of Friends and Supporters to Chairman Steve House

June 25, 2015

Chairman Steve House
Colorado Republican Party

Dear Chairman House:

The controversy swirling around you and your leadership of the party is taking a toll on the party’s health. With the great potential and challenges ahead of us for 2016, we must find a leader who can regain the confidence of the stakeholders of the party and repair the damage you have caused. We request that you tender your resignation immediately for the reasons listed below.

Party finances

Trust is essential for donors large and small. The following jeopardizes the trust needed for successful and sustained fundraising.

  • You claim to have inherited over $300,000 in debt, but supporting information is required on campaign finance reports and does not appear there.
  • May expenditures exceeded donations by $21,974. May donations decreased $28,464 from April’s donations.
  • The budget, which was due June 15, has not been provided to the Executive Committee as required by the bylaws. A draft was presented to them at the last meeting. Required quarterly financial statements have not been provided to the Central Committee.
  • You were informed in writing that the $100,000 line of credit with a $60,000 draw had disappeared from the FEC reports, that there were no payments listed and that amended reports needed to be filed.  However, you did not see that they were.
  • The most recent FEC report lists $10,000 paid to American Express. The individual charges must be listed as “memo entries.” No memo entries were reported.

Lack of consistency and clarity in communication

The state party must be clear and consistent in its public policy positions. The chair must behave professionally and not undermine elected Republicans. We are aware of many such instances on your watch—too many to repeat here. Examples include:

  • You gave mixed, confusing, and changing statements to legislators, the general public, and the press regarding a presidential primary. This publicly embarrassed Republican legislators and led to a scathing Denver Post op-ed.
  • After you rescinded your intent to resign on June 15, you issued a press release that included: “If I refused to meet their demand to resign, they threatened…that false rumors that I have been unfaithful to my wife would be made public.”  The Colorado GOP issued a statement, one you later paraphrased, that said, “These false rumors are coming from the same people who continually try to bring down the party for their own gain, year after year.”  It is inconceivable that a state party chair would refer to the Republican Attorney General that way and attempt to cause severe damage to her stellar reputation.
  • You refused to call a special Executive Committee meeting for June 22, well before this weekend with all the national press and attention surrounding the WCS.  You did so after committing to Douglas County Chair Jim Pfaff that you would and after receiving the requisite signatures. Defiance of the wishes of the members requesting a special meeting is unacceptable. The result has been more discord than had you called the meeting as promised.  Though the call was late, you possessed the authority to waive the delay.
  • We have recently heard that you claimed to national media that there was a grievance process that should have been utilized. We are aware of no such process.
  • You have made commitments both for and against a straw poll that would bind Colorado’s delegation. In email you have expressed a willingness to hold caucus in February and reduce Colorado’s delegation from 34 delegates to 9.

Donors, volunteers, appointees, and employees have shared many other examples. These same people have expressed frustration in your rapidly changing direction in decisions and communications, from the mundane to issues of national significance like the primary bill. A loss of confidence has ensued for those who work closely with the party. That loss of confidence must reverse under new leadership.

Defamation of character in your official capacity

The state party chair must be above gossip and defamation of character. Yet we have seen many instances including:

  • You made irresponsible false claims about Ted Harvey’s personal life and finances to members of the media and others in the context of your official reasons for not offering Harvey employment. You fabricated and promoted the notion that Harvey’s personal circumstances could lead him to embezzle from the party. None of your statements are true.
  • You falsely asserted another state party officer would be resigning soon because of personal financial stress and alleged pending bankruptcy. Spreading such information about another party officer is inexcusable.
  • After the meeting with your former key supporters, you communicated to 9News that no “criminal charges” would likely be filed. This incorrectly implied that Coffman, Tancredo, and Mizel had been involved in illegal acts.  Your themes of blackmail and extortion were picked up widely in the press causing unnecessary harm to the party and respected members.  Now, a formal request for investigation against the three has been made with the Denver District Attorney as a result of your statements and actions.
  • Through Colorado GOP spokesman Owen Loftus, you communicated that attorneys for the party had contacted the US Attorney’s office and, according to KUSA 9News, the Denver District Attorney. This public announcement gave the impression that there is merit to the “criminal charges” you have been promoting. At that time, the Denver District Attorney categorically denied that they were contacted and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has stated they are not involved in any aspect of this.  This was an attempt to defame through innuendo. You used of party funds and resources to further your personal agenda and caused significant damage within the party.
  • You told many people that both Ted Harvey and Kim Herzfeldt threatened the Attorney General. A friend contacted the Attorney General and was told that was false.

In all of these instances and others, your behavior exposes the party to substantial legal liability. Additionally, the state party cannot tolerate the chairman engaging in character defamation of any person or using party resources for a personal agenda.

Personnel

No one wishes to second guess the hiring of Tyler Hart or the retention of Shana Kohn. However, significant concerns have been raised by your handling of employment discussions with other individuals.

  • You promised Ted Harvey the Executive Director’s job in front of others. Almost immediately after your election when this decision was questioned, you posted on Facebook that no one had been promised a job.
  • You continued to string Ted Harvey along with promises of the Executive Director’s job at a later date.
  • You mischaracterized the position of the Attorney General to explain why you rescinded the job offer to Ted Harvey. When called on it, you resorted to defaming Harvey.
  • You also have represented that on June 15, Tancredo, Coffman, and Mizel demanded you hire Harvey on the state party staff.  This is untrue; the discussion of Harvey concerned the slanderous statements you made about him.
  • You told at least 3 members of the transition team, who expected to be paid, that no pay would be forthcoming because of the serious nature of the party’s debt. You then paid 2 of the 3. Not only did you pay 2 of the 3, but this contract labor was not disclosed to the Executive Committee nor disclosed in the budget.
  • Because of your conflicting communications, there is confusion about who is on the state party payroll, who may have a side deal, and who may speak for the party.

In all of the above instances and others, such behavior exposes the party to substantial legal liability. Additionally, the party cannot tolerate the chairman engaging in character defamation of any person, particularly in the context of employment denial.

Untruthful statements concerning your extra-marital affair and unethical reaction to exposure

Everyone has a right to privacy in their personal life. You made your extramarital liaison with a Colorado Springs woman the fodder for unseemly gossip and public scrutiny, now implicating the reputation of the party. Your false and proactive denials of the affair to the press escalated your private unprofessional and duplicitous behavior to a public level and created an unnecessary specter of scandal marring the party’s reputation.

  • Your involvement in the affair has not been discreet or separate from party business. The affair was known in wide enough circles to generate inquiries and investigations from the press, including at political events where you were representing the party.
  • You denied an affair which is unquestionably true and the source of distractions in your official capacity.
  • We understand that at your direction, Adams County Vice Chair John Sampson contacted the woman involved. She followed your demand that she deny the affair on an audio recording Mr. Sampson made. When the chairman engages in this level of duplicitous and unethical behavior, such tactics escalate the scandal and increase damage to the party’s reputation. It is impossible to separate your private actions as an individual and the actions you were taking to purportedly protect your official position.

Ongoing indiscretions and lies about those indiscretions can only result in further injury to the party.  We refuse to knowingly allow such indiscreet behavior to become ammunition for our opponents in the 2016 elections.

Summary

While we could list many additional seriously damaging examples and complaints from volunteers and donors, the above examples alone are more than enough to have shattered our confidence in your ability to lead this party in crucial years. The party’s goals cannot be met if our members, the Central Committee, the Executive Committee, and Colorado voters have lost confidence in our chairman. We therefore ask for your immediate resignation. We wish to avoid the process to involuntarily remove you from office, but we will pursue that if needed.

We regret the necessity to take this action.

cc: Exec Comm
County Chairs
Reince Priebus

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19 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Progressicat says:

    I like how Tancredo says Harvey's hiring was not part of the reason for the confrontation and half the personnel section of the letter deals with House having promised Harvey a job and stiffing him.

  2. davebarnes says:

    Not Tommy the Tank, but Tommy the Bulldozer.
    This letter is so awesome.
    One can only hope that some version of this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Long_Knives_(1934) will occur in the Colorado GOP (Party of Hate®).

  3. mamajama55 says:

    Finally!

    Thanks, Jason, for putting this up and putting some specifics to all of the rumors.  Looks like the main charges are 1) that the books are not in order, 2)  that House has changed his mind on important policies, and 3) that he made the "blackmail session" public.

    I find it interesting that House's policy on meeting with the election clerks, which, as I wrote,  was the crucial issue motivating Becky Mizel, and her backer, Marilyn Marks, to promote House's resignation, is not mentioned here at all.

    Finances:

    House's finance person, who is also his daughter's boyfriend, said that the finances were "a mess" when he was hired. I can't tell…someone who knows accounting is welcome to cross check out the allegations vs. the filings at the FEC site for the Colorado Republican Committee..

    If House said that the party owed $300K in debt, more than likely, that is legal fees to Ryan Call's old law firm, and now the firm of Brownstein, Harber, Schreck , representing the Colorado Republican Party (CRP)  in continuing litigation with Colorado Ethics Watch (CEW) regarding Harber's CORE IEC group. When you hire lawyers to do a job, they usually don't stop billing for work donewhen you change party chairmen.

    The Independent Expenditure Committee set up by Call with Harber is still very much under litigation. Colorado Ethics Watch brief may be viewed here.   CRP's latest answer brief, in which they basically argue that the CRP's IEC is a "person" per Citizens United, and therefore is fine to accept unlimited contributions, can be viewed here. Current briefs and filings can be viewed through the ScribD link at CEW. In few words, the case against the CRP is about:

    2. The Party establishes an independent expenditure committee subject to political party limits, dissolves it, then establishes a new independent committee for the purpose of accepting contributions not subject to those.

    In sum, the decision to set up an independent expenditure committee is still costing the Republican Party plenty. Trying to blame it all on House is probably not going to work well.

    One further note – there is a connection between this IEC case, which the CRP is still paying for, AG Cynthia Coffman, and former Rep. Tom Tancredo. Harber's IEC funneled money into the Republican Attorney General's Association (RAGA) through the  Republican Governors Association  and from there, into attack ads against Tom Tancredo. RAGA also made a 2.6 million TV ad buy for Cynthia Coffman. If this was an "electioneering communication", it would be illegal, because RAGA is a 527 group. I don't know how a 2.6 million ad buy telling viewers to vote for Cynthia Coffman is not an electioneering communication. 

    Decisions and Commmunication

    For the other "charges" – it looks like House changes his mind often. That may or may not be a desirable trait in a leader – depends whether he changes it for good reasons.

    3) House's decision to make the June 15 "blackmail" meeting public: So much has been written about this – I have nothing new to add. I personally don't think House had an affair with "Julie", based on "Julie"'s recorded interview. But it's hardly relevant.

    Understand me, please – if House had resigned, it would be a good thing for Dems.  It's not likely that the Colorado Republican Party could have pulled itself together and run an effective 2016 election without a strong leader at the helm. And I'm quite aware that House, or whoever the CRP Chair is, will run numerous candidates which my preferred candidates will be running against, as well as supporting or opposing ballot initiatives, etc. So nobody on this site “supports House”, as has been alleged.

    None of this, in my opinion, would be grounds for calling for resignation, although it certainly should be talked about openly. No wonder they kept this under wraps for so long – it's pretty weak sauce, altogether. Thanks, Jason, for following up and getting this out there.

  4. BlueCat says:

    Well House got full support so apparently the Committee had not lost confidence in him.  On the other hand after fully supporting House and Coffman in a great big fat "never mind, let's just make this go away" fest, they can't be too thrilled about this document going completely public as it's sure to do now. The part with the yes you are so having an affair stuff is priceless. Sounds like mean girls in High School.  And why have those reporters he distributed it to been sitting on it all this time?  Oh, and I thought there were "pages and pages" with hard fact details beyond what mainly unnamed people are saying.  Really big type? The dog ate some of the pages?

    I remember some concern on the part of leading Republicans when this all broke that the tiff was making the party a laughing stock. Yep.

     

  5. Craig says:

    A bunch of nothingness.  If these guys can vet their champions before they get involved in a contest to oust a sitting chair who brought the party to victory and still wants the job, well my view is that they have no right to complain.  PS ——- well, I guess I'm in a good mood and I won't say what I know about all of these other people.

  6. ajb says:

    I know it's petty, but I love this line:

    "We are aware of no such process."

    Wait…what?

  7. everydayischaos says:

    Well I have to give kuddos to Pols for getting this story out there when no one else has- Our local media had been a disappointment on this and other issues of late.  

    I disagree with how Coffman, Tancredo and Mizel have been characterized by Pols throughout this crazy story based on unsubstantiated accusations from what i can tell but it is helpful to see this letter and finally see some context so thank you.  This gives a much better understanding of why Coffman made the comment "that I will swing strategically". If the letter is authentic and accurate then the comments and statements about Tancredo, Coffman, Mizel and Harvey by House and party spokesman could very well be considered slander/libel.  This stuff isn't criminal but oh boy it could be civil and imagine if the Republican Party had to pay out to their own members/elected official.  What a mess.  

    I just realized that House did bring different fractions of the party together… All united against him.  

    • mamajama55 says:

      Chaos,

       

      I just realized that House did bring different fractions of the party together… All united against him.

      Yup. That's why they voted 22-1 to keep House as Chair – because they were "all united against him." In Republican la-la land, up is down and pro means con. Sheesh.

  8. hawkeye says:

    House denials of affair reminds me of the Big Lie.  Tell the same lie over and over again until it's accepted as truthful by non-insiders.

  9. Diogenesdemar says:

    I gotta' admit, there's few things in Colorado politics that I enjoy more than Tommy the Tanc getting all righteously indignant mewly and butthurt!!  Ah, now this a good day. . .

  10. FrankUnderwood says:

    So THIS is the truth that Moderatus told us would come out?  

    Has Ryan Call expressed his thoughts on all of this?

    Reference to Ted Harvey's "personal" circumstances are financial, not sexual, right?

    It's not quite "House of Cards" or "Scandal", but it will have to hold us over entertainment-wise until those shows come back……

  11. Not Dame Edna2 says:

    So, the Tanc wanted to air his grievances. Did he have a festivus pole? 

  12. ElliotFladen says:

    New on Pols: Allegations that talking about a story on Pols is slander.  

    Wow. 

    http://coloradopols.com/diary/67194/former-gop-sen-ted-harvey-scam-pac-artist#sthash.9rFpznpm.dpbs

    • BlueCat says:

      ummm….OK Elliot. Don't see anything there that supports your point (whatever it is) but…. that's nothing new except that usually your lame "look over there"s are slightly less irrelevant.

      I sympathize. Really I do. It must be so hard figuring out which way to jump on this one. Do you go with the party line that House has full support, so does Coffman, whatever happened is forgiven, nothing to see here so let's shut this fiasco that's making us all look ridiculous down or do you go with Tank, Coffman, Marks and all the rest of the failed coup actors who can't seem to shut up and (hopefully for the red faced party) let the stench fade away? Tough choice for a rightie apologist. Which righties do you do your apologist thing for?

      No good option? OK then…. SQUIRREL!

  13. mamajama55 says:

    I don't get it. Other than the anonymous "Chaos" above, positing that B, M, and T could accuse H of libel, I'm not seeing anyone accusing anyone.

    • BlueCat says:

      They've got nothing so…SQUIRREL!

    • BlueCat says:

      Wonder if chaos and Elliot have seen today's Coffmangate story, another by Bartels, in the Sunday Post. It's all R on R, not mean Dems.

      Whether or not AG Coffman is forced to resign or this has any effect on Mike Coffman's career one thing is clear. From day one Colpols has said that Cindy Coffman has no future in politics after this and it sure looks like they were right on the money. Whatever happens, AG is the last elected office modster's goddess is ever going to hold, not because voters are going to care but because she's become a major turd in the punch bowl within her party. She's stick a fork in it done no matter how much or little voters know or care about it. She won't even be on offer to the voters again after this.

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