Two Can Play At That Game, Says Marilyn Musgrave

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, desperately attempting to beat back the most credible challenge to her re-election she has ever faced, is jumping on the criminal complaint bus before it pulls away with her opponent Betsy Markey in the driver’s seat. As the Greeley Tribune reports:

Musgrave’s campaign filed a letter with the Larimer district attorney alleging that a television advertisement that Markey started running last week is in violation of Colorado law that makes it a crime to knowingly provide false information to voters to influence an election — a misdemeanor.

It’s the same allegation Markey leveled at Musgrave last week.

In Markey’s ad, she alleges that Musgrave voted to let lobbyists “wine and dine” her, which Musgrave campaign spokesman Jason Thielman says is false, adding that Markey’s campaign knew it was false when they asserted that Musgrave voted against lobbying reform in Congress in 2006…

Naturally,

Thielman also defended Musgrave’s ad campaign that levied charges that Markey illegally took millions of dollars in contracts for her company, Syscom Services, while working for Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., from 2005-2007.

“Ours isn’t false,” Thielman said. “I can show the lies and confrontations exist.”

We said before that these criminal complaints are useful because they give candidates another earned-media location to refute charges leveled by their opponents. Having said that, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck rightfully doesn’t want to get in the middle of it, and does a great job keeping things real:

Weld District Attorney Ken Buck said he didn’t want to comment about specifics of the case, but he said federal law supercedes state law when it comes to federal elections, like this one. State law isn’t the proper venue for such complaints, he said.

Buck said both Markey and Musgrave really have no way to file complaints federally, however, because federal law doesn’t prohibit speech because of constitutional concerns and that Colorado law on the subject may be unconstitutional.

“The remedy is in the political process,” Buck said.

If what a candidate says turns out to be untrue “the candidate will lose credibility with the public,” and that’s their punishment, Buck said. [Pols emphasis]

That’s more or less the bottom line, and CD-4 voters remember that last-minute flamethrowing attacks from Musgrave’s campaign have narrowly saved her seat for three consecutive elections. Are they done buying it? Polls showing one candidate up by 9 over the other would seem to underscore DA Buck’s point.

20 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Half Glass Full says:

    So there’s a state law out there, but no one can take advantage of it?

    Either Buck is failing to enforce an enforceable law – including examining and dismissing baseless charges – or our legislators who passed the law in the first place were hypocritical in doing so (knowing that the law couldn’t be enforced) or ignorant (failing to consider taht the law couldn’t be enforced).

    Not a good picture any way you look at it.

    • Colorado Pols says:

      Is that the Colorado law is trumped by federal law in federal races. We’re not necessarily saying that’s right, but that’s what he says. And we express the same confidence that these issues tend to work themselves out.

    • One Queer Dude says:

         My guess is that it was six of one and half dozen of the other.  Some knew it was unconstitutional and the rest actually believed such a law would stand up.

  2. sxp151 says:

    Uh, what? If I can get those sentences to mean anything in my head, it’s that he’s contradicting himself.

  3. themonk77 says:

    The new form of political mass destruction.  Law suiting each other to death.  Its going to be a fun month.

  4. waltzeswithdog says:

    There is both state and federal law governing the content of elections.  Buck’s suggestion that if a candidate’s ad turns out to be untrue they will pay at the pols is frightening.  I am reminded of the criminal activity of the trailhead group, and their slander of both John Morse and Bernie Buescher.  I understand the reluctance of the judiciary to intervene in any way in elections, but blatant criminal lies should be stopped.  How will the public know what is untrue if there is never an investigation?

  5. shrubsrock says:

    that I’ve seen the second “Millionaire Markey” ad, I’ve been reading the documents that they put on screen.  Not to get bogged down in the details, but what the scary voice man says and what they say are different.

    The document says that Markey’s business can’t work with anyone she has, or may, come in contact with, as a result of her Senate employment.

    Scary Voice Man says that her company couldn’t except contracts period.

    Granted that’s not such a HUGE difference, but it is a misstatement.

  6. twas brillig says:

    Are all in Musgrave’s pocket, anyway. Abrahamson, Buck, and Bob Watson all did op-eds for Musgrave in ’06. Watson even cut a radio ad, and Musgrave helped in fundraise back when he first ran.  

  7. Hugh Jorgen 2008 says:

    Ken Buck is 100% right on the law.

    It is also a blessing in disguise for Betsy Markey. Ken Buck could have very well found that what Musgrave said was factually accurate because it was.  It was a stupid course of action for Markey to take and it is lucky that Buck did the right thing legally.

    Markey if she avoids foolish mistakes  may be on her way to Congress.

  8. DavidThi808 says:

    No one is going to pay attention to this today. If it had been a slow news day, then it would have been a somewhat useful way to dilute the impact of Betsy’s initial claim.

  9. Hugh Jorgen 2008 says:

    Cold hard facts.

    Markey is up by eight. The Republican Congressional Committee is broke. The NRCC never really liked Musgrave. Obama is pulling ahead in Colorado which will help Markey.

    Unless Markey slips up she is on her way to the big dance.

    That will make it one of the most Republican districts in the Country represented in Congress by a Democrat. If Markey as now expected wins

    who will run against her in 2010:

    Ken Buck or will he run for Attorney General?

    Mark Hillman

    Cory Gardner

    Scott Renfro

    All or none of the above?

    Markey is really lucky that DA Buck did not rip her to shreds for filing a bogus complaint with his office.

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