McLobbyist: “I Should Probably Retract That”

Wow, you think? As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

A Front Range political watchdog group says it will investigate a phone message left by former Republican Congressman Scott McInnis with a supporter.

McInnis’ message suggests he’s working with a 527, the term borrowed from the IRS code for an independent political organization…

McInnis mentioned no organization by name in the phone message and told The Daily Sentinel that he knew of no such organizations operating in connection with the 2010 election in which Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, is up for election.

The transcription begins with, “Wanna visit with you on this two-thousand-and-ten governor’s race.” The transcription later purports that McInnis is talking about an organizational team and that “Sean Tonner” is “doin’ our 5-uh … (cough) … or a 527. …”

He said he did nothing wrong because he’s not officially a candidate, although he has made no secret of his ambitions.

He said he is collecting no contributions and making his efforts “on my own dime.”

Of his use of the term “527,” he said, “I should probably retract that.”

He meant to refer generally to campaign organizations, he said…

Another longtime associate, state Sen. Josh Penry of Grand Junction, has emerged as McInnis’ likely opponent in a primary contest.

One day after the “leaking” of presumed gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis’ phone message to an as-yet unknown Republican who, we should all be able to agree by this point, does not support McInnis, let’s summarize where we are with this little scandal:

First of all, this will probably do far more damage in terms of general impressions about McInnis’ ability to successfully run a statewide race than it will in actual legal terms. Although the message is pretty bald-facedly damning to even casual readers who understand the spirit of campaign finance law, there is enough wiggle room, particularly for someone who hasn’t formally filed as a candidate, to leave the question of actionable violations of the law kind of murky–note even the Ethics Watch lawyers are somewhat equivocal about this. If it was an open-and-shut matter you can be assured they wouldn’t be. And there is still the matter of how far this investigation goes, and whether McInnis’ mentioning of a 527 committee will lead to more records being sought (not just by Ethics Watch, but by Republican opponents).

But above all, the problem here is that what McInnis says makes him sound like an idiot who doesn’t know the elementary CYA rules of modern political campaigns. And the idea that he would make such a cardinal error on a recorded message, to somebody he clearly should not have counted upon to, you know, keep it off the internet…

We’re also amazed that McInnis thinks “I’m not yet a candidate” is some sort of defense. You can’t run around raising money and soliciting support for a specific office without filing paperwork to run – that’s sort of the reason we have campaign finance laws.

It’s pretty clear that the “leak” of this recorded message was the work of supporters of McInnis’ upcoming primary opponent Josh Penry, based on this private message intended for an influential Republican instead broadcast on a right-wing blog–obviously, McInnis knows who he left it for. That fact alone should settle any remaining questions about a friendly resolution to their emerging rivalry–it’s, as they say, on now. Or McInnis is toast, punked once again, the next few days of fallout and damage control (we see nothing to suggest this story is going away) will tell.

27 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. high schoolers really shouldn’t be starting at QB for the Denver Broncos……

    …then again, Kyle Orton isn’t that great either….

    • Constitutionalist1776 says:

      Ali, I recall a stump speech of yours I attended when you ran last fall.  The use of the F-word and other inappropriate behavior definitely with us long after.  

      • ….can’t deny that I didn’t say very silly things to the press, which I deeply regret and was not becoming of a public servant (a lesson that I learned later in the campaign), but I never used such language in public stump speeches

        I take this very seriously – Constitutionalist, if you’d be so kind, please share with me the venue, date, time, and city that this speech was given – I understand date and time might be off, but if you could estimate, that would be great

        peace and love – ALI

  2. WestSloper says:

    Will the oil and gas industry sit on their wallets for a while to watch how McInnis scoots on this issue?

  3. Constitutionalist1776 says:

    this should be a non-issue, considering he’s done nothing illegal.

    As stated in this posting, it’s a pretty obvious hit piece by Penry. This type of thing only hurts the Republicans as a whole and helps Ritter.

      • Constitutionalist1776 says:

        It’s pretty clear that the “leak” of this recorded message was the work of supporters of McInnis’ upcoming primary opponent Josh Penry, based on this private message intended for an influential Republican instead broadcast on a right-wing blog

        That’s the part I meant to reference.  His supporters then, which I believe in all reality to be pretty close to the man himself.

        • Libertad says:

          C1776 is a corrupt little staffer of those related to the corrupt McInnis 527 or a Dem hack posing as a little staffer.

          Usually I only reserve these words for dues sucking union bosses, but I need to make an exception here.

          C1776 accepts, supports and promotes corruption – its sicking and s/he is my target for the next few weeks … it will be so fun.

    • DavidThi808 says:

      If McInnis is another Beauprez or Schaffer better to find out now and nominate someone else who can run without being their own worse enemy.

      • Fidel's dirt nap says:

        This is a byproduct of Penry having worked for McInnis in the past, so I am guessing we are going to see a lot of infighting amongst them in the future with one group dropping the dime on the other, which is going to make them both look bad.  Very Holtzy-Beauprez-esque.


      • A-bob says:

        yet he could never win the primary in the shape he’s in.

    • BlueCat says:

      he did say “our, ah, 527″ and he did  say “We’ve done extensive polling” which, if true, qualifies as a campaign expenditure indicative of the existence of a campaign. If nothing else, leaving these and other nuggets on voice mail indicates a certain, shall we say, profound stupidity? You’re right about who it hurts regardless of whether or not putting the story out was Penry’s doing. They deserve each other.

  4. WesternSlopeThought says:

    supporting Penry’s opponent in his previous primary?  The same primary in which McInnis embarrassed Penry by working to assure that the Mesa County Republican Caucus did not support Penry.  

    Out of state Oil and Gas desires and money are behind Penry, not McInnis.  It’s much like how O&G got behind George Bush the Lesser.  Get a not-so-smart candidate which you know you can control.  Just as out-of-state interests were the people providing the money to support Penry’s failed Amendment 52 pork project, I suspect they are the same ones who wish to control Colorado from afar through their puppet and will do what they can to get another Bush type candidate.   And as they see an opportunity to twist the knife in the McInnis back by exposing his screw-ups, I suspect their hope of controlling Colorado from out-of-state rises with each drop of blood.  

    As Penry continues to play the role of E. B. Farnum to O&G’s George Hurst, expect more of these attacks from the extremist camps.  

  5. WestSloper says:

    I would think that Oil & Gas likes Penry just where he is. That is why Penry is more apt to run for re-election as state senator — but he’s certainly not going to turn down the publicity as a possible gubernatorial candidate.

    Wadhams was probably behind the McInnis leak. Those two don’t play nice together.

    • WesternSlopeThought says:

      that Penry probably does not have the cojones to run against a powerful incumbent this time.  And if McInnis fails big time this time around, which such Penry camp would want in order for Penry to bring his brand of extremism to the race 4 years hence, then anything they can do to undermine McInnis now helps Penry in the long run.  After all, Penry’s huge ego and ambition would probably drive him psychotic if he had to wait 8 years to get what he seems to believe is his right to the Governorship.  

      • Karate Kid says:

        “Powerful incumbent?”  Dems would be better off replacing the guy at this point.

        “Extremism” and “huge ego”?  Subjective terms that only a fringe Lefty would embrace in their description of Penry.

        • WesternSlopeThought says:

          Ego and ambition are what Republicans used to describe Penry when members of the Mesa County Republican Caucus claimed his move to the Senate was too soon.  That is why his own hometown caucus failed to support him.  And Penry’s many and continuing extremist failures have proven those R’s right.

          • MesaModerate says:

            You know…the ones that chose Penry over Scott McInnis’ brother-in-law by a 2 to 1 margin when he ran for the Senate.  

            Get your facts straight, WST.  It’s true that Smith came out of the Mesa CO Assembly with top-line status but Penry went on to trounce him (and McInnis who appeared in TV ads for Smith) 2 to 1.  

    • westernconservative says:

      Like, I don’t know, say Bob Shaffer, Bob Beauprez, Bill Owens (and numerous staffers tied to each) after his rants about Republicans who lost during the last two cycles.

  6. Retired says:

    The dots connect…from today’s GJ paper, we are not this bad even in North Denver.

    McInnis’ voice mail posted at site run by supporters of possible rival

    “A voice-mail message left by Scott McInnis to someone he hoped would support his bid for governor was posted on a Web site operated by two Front Range residents who are supporting McInnis’ likely intraparty rival, Josh Penry…”The Web site on which the voice mail was posted,, is owned by Todd Shepherd and Justin Longo, both of whom are listed on a Facebook page, “Draft Josh Penry for Colorado Governor.”

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