George Brauchler has a problem with George Brauchler.
The Arapahoe County District Attorney who was briefly the best last hope for Colorado Republicans in the 2016 U.S. Senate race is running for Governor in 2018, and he’s not doing particularly well. Brauchler is having a difficult time raising money in a Republican field full of people with lots of cash to throw around — he ended the Q2 fundraising period with just $143,966 in the bank — but Brauchler’s bigger problem is that he just can’t seem to get out of his own way on the campaign trail.
As 9News reported late last week, Brauchler likes to talk about asking for a pay cut when he was first elected as District Attorney in 2012…but he neglects to mention that he later asked for a significant pay raise that more than wipes out whatever money he might have saved the 18th Judicial District. This is not a throwaway line used by Brauchler; as 9News documents, Brauchler uses this story of asking for a pay cut as a key part of his narrative as a “fiscal conservative” candidate for Governor.
In his stump speech, Brauchler will often say something like this: “I went to the County Commissioners, and I said, ‘I want you to make me the lowest paid DA in the state of Colorado.'” Brauchler uses this story so often, in fact, that he has begun to to joke about repeating the yarn; speaking to a group of Aurora Republicans in late July, Brauchler jokes that “some of you are probably tired of hearing this story.”
Brauchler was indeed among the lowest-paid District Attorneys in Colorado…in 2013. But Brauchler’s salary went up about 10% in his second year alone, and last November he asked for — and received — a hefty pay raise. From 9News:
After Brauchler won reelection in 2016, he negotiated a new pay scale:
- 2017: $195,000
- 2018: $200,000
- 2019: $205,000
- 2020: $210,000
“One term later, I went back to them and said, ‘I still want to be the lowest paid District Attorney in the metro area, if not bigger than that’ — even though we had the biggest jurisdiction — ‘but I do think I’m worth more than what I got paid in the first term, just because of the experience and the performance,'” said Brauchler.
“When you tell the story, do you think you’re giving the impression that you currently make the lowest amount a DA can make?” asked Zelinger. [Pols emphasis]
“Not at all. In fact, I always tell the story from the standpoint of — before I got sworn in and after I got elected — I went to the County Commissioners and asked them to make me the lowest paid DA in the state, and they did,” said Brauchler.
Brauchler’s big pay cut story is essentially a political gimmick that was orchestrated to make him appear to be more of a “fiscal conservative” than the facts would dictate. His defense here is the same sort of attorney-speak we’ve seen before from candidates with a background as a lawyer. It is technically true that Brauchler asked for, and received, a pay cut during his first year as District Attorney, but he is implying something else entirely when he spins this yarn on the campaign trail. All told, Brauchler’s pay increases after 2013 amount to somewhere in the neighborhood of $350,000 in total; whatever Brauchler saved the district by asking for a pay cut in his first year was repaid to him in spades.
This is not the first time that Brauchler has fumbled his lines as a candidate for Governor. After the legislature passed a measure to reclassify the “Hospital Provider Fee” in May, Brauchler completely flipped his position on the issue within the span of 24 hours. Whether intentionally or not, Brauchler seems to be following the playbook of Donald Trump in his willingness to tell voters what he thinks they want to hear on any given day. Unfortunately for Brauchler, he doesn’t have the same sort of name ID or personal wealth that could help him get away with a narrative built on half-truths and doublespeak.