(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
During 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.
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.
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.
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