After Falsely Stating Trump Won Prez Election, CO Senate Hopeful Wins Vote at GOP Forum

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Conspiracist Ron Hanks wins GOP debate straw poll last Saturday.

By Nick Puckett for the Colorado Times Recorder

In an informal straw poll taken at the Palmer Ridge High School auditorium Saturday, Republicans picked state Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Canon City) as their choice to challenge Michael Bennet for U.S. Senate.

Shortly before the audience that about 150 at the Republican forum had handed in their votes, they cheered Hanks after he restated his belief that Donald Trump won the 2020 election.

“A lot of people say the next election is the most important of our lifetime and it becomes kind of cliché,” Hanks said at the event, hosted by the Sunrise Republican Women. “I still contend the 2020 election was the most important election of our lifetime, and we had better work to fix it.”

Hanks points to baseless evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

The remaining four Senate primary candidates at the event gave their ideas for repairing a system they believe to have been flawed for many years, whereas Hanks continued to emphasize what he believed caused the 2020 election to be rigged in favor of Joe Biden.

None of the other four candidates, Eli Bremer, Gino Campano, Deborah Flora and Peter Yu, went so far as to explicitly say that Trump lost. However, each stated that the country needs to restore election integrity.

Bremer came in second in the straw poll and Campano came in a close third.

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GOP Senate Hopeful, Who’s an Election Conspiracist, Says He’s Training Poll Watchers To Be ‘Bulldogs’

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“And you know, the poll watchers, we’re going to train them to be more aggressive. There’s no more of this, ‘Sit in the corner and don’t touch anything and don’t talk to anybody.’ We’re going to be bulldogs from here forward.”

Speaking to a group of fellow election fraud conspiracists, state Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Canon City), who is running for U.S. Senate, became excited as he talked about his plans for training aggressive poll watchers to monitor the 2022 election.

Hanks is one of a number of candidates who claim without evidence that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump. The details of the conspiracy vary, but generally, it asserts that a foreign power colluded with Dominion Voting Systems, the dominant ballot-machine company in the U.S., to switch votes from Trump to Biden.

Hanks did not respond to multiples inquires requesting details of his training plan and an explanation of his vision of what actions an aggressive “bulldog” poll watcher will take that previous volunteers failed to do. This article will be updated with any response received.

Recruiting and training poll watchers has become a top Republican priority nationwide, as evidenced by the huge increase in GOP volunteers who turned out to monitor the recent Virginia gubernatorial election. Much of the enthusiasm has been driven by mistaken belief, perpetuated by Trump, that fraud was rampant in 2020.

In Colorado, the state GOP has worked with QAnon-linked conspiracist group U.S. Election Integrity Plan to recruit volunteers for its own Election Integrity Operations Action Committee.

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CO Republicans Who Joined the Insurrection: What Were They Doing a Year Ago Today?

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A year after the nation survived its first-ever insurrection, federal law enforcement has so far arrested twelve Coloradans for their participation. While prosecutors are focusing on bringing charges against the most serious offenders, such as those suspects who assaulted police, vandalized federal property, and entered the House itself, it’s worth keeping in mind that the sheer size of the march overwhelmed the Capitol Police who simply didn’t have the numbers to prevent the crowd from surrounding the building. Those protestors who walked past police barriers, but stopped short of entering the Capitol may not have committed as serious crimes as those who broke in, but their presence allowed more aggressive marchers to act with impunity.

You can read about the various charges faced by the 12 Coloradans arrested, but many other residents of our state also took part the day’s tragic events. Several of them are Colorado Republican officials or leaders of conservative groups that have worked closely with the state GOP. Here’s a list, in order of notoriety.

Lauren Boebert

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-CO) is best known for her inflammatory tweets that morning, including her early morning invocation of armed revolt, “Today is 1776,” and another noting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was no longer in the House chamber, which was posted during the assault on the Capitol. https://twitter.com/laurenboebert/status/1346811381878845442

Congresswoman Boebert at Trump’s Jan 6 rally

She holds a unique position on this list as she was inside the Capitol with her colleagues during the armed attack.

However, CSPAN video prior to the speech shows she also attended at least part of the morning rally at which then-President Trump urged thousands of angry supporters to “fight like hell” or else they “wouldn’t have a country anymore.”

Rolling Stone reported that unnamed insurrection organizers say they were in touch with her office in the days prior to Jan. 6, a claim Boebert denies. The House Select Committee on Jan. 6 has requested her phone and text records and at least one major carrier, AT&T, has said it will comply with the request.

Ron Hanks

State Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Penrose), who is running for U.S. Senate, participated in the White House rally and was among the early marchers to walk past police barricades and approach the Capitol. He described his actions in a radio interview with the chair of the Fremont County GOP:

“By the time we walked from the elipse at the White House down to the Capitol building, there were already people climbing on the scaffolding,” said Hanks. “We went right down the road, we got there ahead of 80-90% of the crowd. There’s a solid case to be made that we had people intrude on that [the rally] and that it was a bit of a false flag operation- well let’s not say ‘a bit of’ let’s say false flag. “When we walked from the west side of the Capitol, which facing the Lincoln Memorial back around to the east side, which would be facing the Supreme Court. There were some barriers that had been pulled open. And now we’re walking between the Capitol building and the police force, which is in the parking lot. And this doesn’t feel right to me as a guy who knows a little bit about physical security. And so I kept looking at him. I kept giving him the eye, expecting them to either divert us around or- they never did. They looked straight at us and let us walk.”

 

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Former Colo GOP Legislator And Insurrectionist Lawyer Eastman Discussed Dems ‘Rigging’ Elections With Judges’ Help

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In a June interview with insurrectionist and former University of Colorado professor John Eastman, former Colorado state legislator Matt Knoedler claimed that the election fraud conspiracy lawsuits Eastman was filing on behalf of President Trump were the same “kinds of legal battles” that Republicans in Colorado have been challenging for decades.

Knoedler, who is the founder of Caucus Room, a private social media site for conservatives, also accused Colorado Supreme Court justices of aiding Democrats. Video of their discussion, which took place on Knoedler’s site, was obtained by the Colorado Times Recorder.

“Professor, I know you’ve got some connections here in Colorado,” said Knoedler. “And just for background, I was a former legislator here in the state. And in the years since the Democrats began controlling the state Supreme Court here in Colorado, we’ve learned that we have to win an election by a couple of touchdowns in order to, you know, dispense with the legal battle because we seem to lose every one.

“And I tell you that a lot of these things that you all were challenging were the kinds of legal battles I know that my legal friends here in the state have challenged for a couple of decades now. And it seems that the cases always go the way that the other side was asking for.”

Via email, Knoedler says his comparison of Eastman’s lawsuits and previous Republican election-related challenges in Colorado were based upon a particular nuance of legal terminology:

“I believe I was referring to Colorado’s legal precedent of ‘substantial compliance,’ which replaces “strict compliance” standards for election laws, and provides courts with the flexibility to ignore violations of an election law that it considers inconsequential to the overarching right to vote,” says Knoedler. “I was struck that under such a flexible standard, any possible election law violation provides a left-leaning court with a ‘heads-you-lose, tails-we-win’ capacity to decide cases in favor of the Dems.”

Knoedler’s full response is included at the end of this article. He did not respond to a follow-up email asking simply if he believes the 2020 election results are legitimate.

Eastman responded by joking, “But wait! I thought Colorado [election law and administration] was the gold standard?” The lawyer then offered incorrect information about those same two subjects.

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MyPillow CEO Hires Colorado Conspiracists to Jet Around Country Pushing Big Lie

(“Big Pillow” money in action — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado election fraud conspiracists pose with their new employer Mike Lindell in front of his jet on Nov. 29

Mike Lindell isn’t just paying Colorado election fraud conspiracists to push the Big Lie locally, he’s also flying them around the country on his private jet.

Last night, Dr. Douglas Frank, a statistician and teacher from Ohio, posted a photo to his Telegram channel of Lindell and a group he called the “FrankSpeech team” on the tarmac in front of a private jet, “after 96 hours in Tennessee.”

The group included U.S. Election Integrity Plan (USEIP) conspiracists Ashley Epp, Holly Kasun, and Shawn Smith– along with Congresswoman Lauren Boebert’s former campaign manager Sherronna Bishop, who is currently under federal investigation for wire fraud. The FBI searched Bishop’s house last week as part of the ongoing investigation into the leak of confidential Mesa County election data by QAnon blogger Ron Watkins.

Sherronna Bishop & Mike Lindell

Bishop also posted photos and video of her with Lindell at his television studio to her Facebook page.

Yesterday Lindell also confirmed that he has hired Epp, Kasun, and Smith to run a new national group called Cause Of America, the launch of which was first reported by Colorado Newsline last week, interviewing the trio on his podcast.

Lindell says he’s hired them to work full-time on promoting the Big Lie because “they need to focus because the country needs them.”

As Kasun explains the origin of USEIP, Lindell interjects about how it was a volunteer operation.

“I ran into them and said who’s financing this and they said, ‘Oh no, we’re not getting paid we have other jobs we work night and day,” said Lindell. “So I say, we’ve got to put this together, and they’re getting paid for now. I said, you guys need to focus, the country needs you. So they’ve left jobs they’ve had for a long time.”

Epp and Bishop appeared in another FrankSpeech segment in which they shared numerous videos of various Big Lie organizing efforts both in Colorado and in several other states around the country, all using the USEIP election fraud conspiracy template of alleging the existence of phantom votes and then recruiting teams of volunteers to knock on voters’ doors to find so-called proof of said fraud. One video highlighted the efforts of another Mesa County group, Stand For The Constitution to elect Congresswoman Boebert. After the election that group worked with USEIP to “find voter fraud,” though presumably not in Boebert’s own race.

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Election Fraud Conspiracists Still Knocking on Colorado Voters’ Doors

(STILL coming to your town — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It’s over a year since the 2020 election, but teams of election fraud conspiracists are still going door-to-door in counties all over Colorado, searching for so-called “phantom votes” that they remain convinced — without evidence— actually exist.

Late last month, U.S. Election Integrity Project (USEIP) representative James Peabody, updated the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club on the group’s field efforts in counties all over the state.

“I was instrumental in getting walk lists [of voters] put together for counties all across the Eastern Plains, from Otero up to Larimer,” says Peabody. “El Paso & Douglas Counties are done. In Jefferson County we through one precinct, we have four precincts we’re targeting. Weld is done. In Boulder, I think they’re wrapping up as well. We’ve got a really good cross-section of the population of Colorado already covered. Then they’re going to start generating reports from their intelligence gathering uh in the next month or two. So we can see some progress there”

The “intelligence gathering” Peabody mentions is the canvassing effort. Volunteers wear homemade badges, which identify them as being part of an official-sounding group such as the “Voter Integrity Committee,” and tell people election fraud was committed in their name or using their address, thus promoting a conspiracy that election officials and experts say simply isn’t true.

USEIP’s own documents and internal chat logs reveal that at least some of the door-knockers are armed, and, furthermore, they show that at one point the group had at least two volunteers who were sex criminals.

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Colorado GOP Vice Chair Speaks to Conspiracist Group FEC United

(Today’s Republican Party — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: Vice Chair Rahn returned CTR’s request for comment soon after publication. Her comments have been added.

The ties between the Colorado Republican Party and FEC United, a far-right conspiracy group that includes a militia division, are still going strong. The recent revelation that state GOP chair Kristi Burton Brown previously served as president of the extremist group that has promoted numerous conspiracy theories hasn’t dissuaded the party from sending one of its top officials to headline FEC United events twice in the past month.

Vice-Chair Priscilla Rahn spoke to FEC United’s Denver chapter yesterday evening, giving a speech called “Unpacking CRT” that purports to explain Critical Race Theory. She gave the same speech to the group’s El Paso County chapter Oct. 19.

CRT is a graduate-school-level theory that addresses racial bias and injustice throughout the American legal system. Over the past year conservative media has transformed it into talking point encompassing any and all efforts to address history, race and social justice in K-12 schools.

Rahn’s speech falsely equates CRT with Marxism and “Cancel Culture” with concentration camps. Rahn has given this talk to other conservative groups before. The Colorado Times Recorder reported and fact-checked a slide from the same presentation she gave in Larimer County this past July.

Her decision to share this FEC United and its militia division, the United American Defense Force, is notable considering that both FEC and UADF are organizing members to attend local school board meetings and voice objections not only to public health regulations such as mask requirements but also to curriculum.

Last month a Colorado Springs District 20 spokesperson noted that other attendees of its Oct. 21 board meeting complained that UADF members were combative and intimidating. The group issued a similar call to action for a Douglas Conty School Board meeting the following week. Though more visible recently, FEC/UADF organizing to “pack school board meetings” has been going on for months. Militia members wearing UADF attire attended a Cherry Creek School Board meeting in July.

Thursday evening, Rahn dismissed CRT as merely a theory of “brainiacs” at universities. She went to recount her school’s staff meeting immediately after Jan. 6 insurrection, mocking her principal’s decision to hold an emergency meeting about the storming of the U.S. Capitol as hypocritical since there hadn’t been a similar call following the George Floyd protests in May 2020 that included clashes between activists and law enforcement.

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Colorado Republican Statehouse Candidate Promotes Numerous Conspiracy Theories

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GOP candidate for HD55 Cindy Ficklin, attends QAnon-linked conspiracy conference in Salt Lake City, Oct. 21, 2021

Cindy Ficklin, a Grand Junction realtor and conservative activist who is now running for the Colorado House of Representatives, believes that by listening to people and fighting for constitutional rights, she can bring the people of Mesa County together. She also believes that a small group of billionaires including George Soros and the Rothschild family may secretly control global banking and are pushing to subjugate America under a “New World Order.”

Ficklin, a former math teacher and principal, says her political activism began in 2015 with the Obama administration’s Common Core math curriculum. Unwilling to implement what she saw as ineffective lessons, Ficklin says she resigned her position running a juvenile corrections school, walked into the Mesa County Republican Party office, and asked how she could help. There she says she was welcomed into political activism.

Ficklin was already an avid Facebook user with a large audience. Her frequent posts teeming with energy and peppered with emojis effectively engage the reader, but mostly focused on family and her real estate business. She posted on politics more often as the 2016 presidential campaign heated up.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, however, Ficklin’s Facebook posts promote a dizzying array of conspiracies, most focusing on either the “New World Order” or COVID. She describes her process of “researching” these claims as “going down the rabbit hole.” She’s posted dozens of conspiracy related posts since March of last year, often referring to them as conspiracy theories, or writing “not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but…”

A post from last September dives deep into one the oldest and more pervasive conspiracies, that powerful Jewish men such as George Soros and the Rothschild family control the global economy.

“BLOWING THE LID OFF the Rabbit Hole to Hell,” posted Ficklin in September 2020. “George Soros seems to be very much at the center of ALL this craziness in 2020.  — (It’s the culmination of his ‘Great Campaigns.’) If you don’t know who George Soros is … You’re not alone.  — (He’s one of the monsters in the shadows). Soros seems to control even the Rothschilds … (who control all the banks of the world). Bill Gates is a Rothchild, btw. — (I included his family tree as evidence)…” 

She described the 2020 election as “fraud on a stick.” She claims the government public health response to the pandemic is intended to crash the economy to usher in the “New World Order.”

Other conspiracies she’s promoted include the possibility that COVID vaccines are both ineffective and/or deadly, and that they carry nanotechnology devices.

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CO County Clerk Speaks at QAnon-Linked Election Conspiracy Conference

(You’re damn right I’m guilty! — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, banned from administering next week’s election, found the time last week to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, to speak at a QAnon-linked conference.

In her speech, Peters claimed without evidence that her deputy clerk Belinda Knisley, currently facing felony burglary and misdemeanor cybercrime charges, had been “framed.”

“Since I came forward with this evidence, the political establishment on both sides of the aisle had been in high gear to demonize me and all my staff and to delegitimize the findings of the investigation,” said Peters. “My office has been raided. There have been threats on my life. My staff, whom I love, have been harassed and put on leave. In the case of my deputy clerk, she was framed and charged with felonies and unrelated crimes, I believe to relieve her from serving in my stead.”

In addition to Peters, numerous conspiracists, including prominent QAnon promoters Anne Vandersteel and former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn, spoke at the event, called the “Western Conservative Action Network” Conference. Headliner Flynn openly promotes QAnon, selling merchandise and posting video of he and his family taking the “Digital Soldier Oath.” Colorado politicos will recognize Vandersteel as the online host who first asked U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo) about QAnon, prompting the congresswoman to say she hopes it “is real.”

Reached for comment on Peters’ claim that Knisley was framed, Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubenstein noted that he can’t make extrajudicial comments on a pending case, but suggested that Knisley’s attorney, not Peters, be Knisley’s spokesperson on any defenses she may have.

Sworn testimony contained in Knisley’s arrest affidavit asserts that she was caught attempting to print files from Clerk Peters’ computer after re-entering the county office despite having been suspended from her job and told not to be on the premises nor conduct any county work.

Peters also accused Dominion Voting Systems of conspiring with the secretary of state to delete files from the county election machines, presumably to destroy evidence of election fraud, something she later described as “one of if not the worst crime in America.” Peters waved a stack of papers she says is an 80-page report of the files she claims were deleted.

The “report,” compiled by the election conspiracy group U.S. Election Integrity Project (USEIP), is an inscrutable list of computer files that doesn’t distinguish between election software files and routine updates of a computer’s operating system.

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“Schools Are Poison Factories!” Heidi Ganahl Helped Dennis Prager Spread More Than Just COVID

(So much self-inflicted misery — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Heidi Ganahl.

Last week, CU Regent Heidi Ganahl interviewed far-right radio host Dennis Prager at an invite-only event hosted by her gubernatorial campaign. Prager shared numerous eye-popping statements, including dangerous misinformation about COVID vaccines, an assortment of racial clichés, multiple diatribes attacking transgender people, concluding at one point, “the Left hates children’s innocence because they hate people.”

His musing on race included mischaracterizing an all-Black dorm option, such as the one offered by CU Boulder, as “segregation” favored by only “the Ku Klux Klan and the Left. ” He later explained how unconcerned with race he is by noting that he doesn’t have any problem with the fact that classical orchestras are “disproportionately Asian” and that there isn’t any “racial parity on NBA teams.”

Prager shared his most extreme vitriol, however, for American schools, which he called “poison factories” that damage children from kindergarten through college.

“I thank God both my kids share my values,” said Prager. “I thank God because I know how many good people there are who have kids who don’t. It’s actually the norm, and I understand why: they sent their kids to school. That’s it- simple as that! You send your kids to study poison, they get poisoned. It’s very hard to undo the damage of schooling from five until 23. It’s very, very hard. That’s where their peers are. That’s where their teachers are. That’s where their time is. They spent much less time with you. Schools are poison factories.”

At no point did Ganahl, the most prominent member of the board charged with directing Colorado’s flagship educational system, object or question Prager’s characterization of schools. In fact, she heaped praise on him in her introduction, during which she indicated that they’d spent considerable time together in the days prior to the interview.

“I’m Heidi Ganahl. I’m so happy to have you here today, and I am so excited for you to hear Dennis,” said Ganahl. “I mean, I’m sure many of you listen. But just soaking up his wisdom over the last couple of days, I’ve so enjoyed it.”

Ganahl also asked Prager for advice on how college students could push back against campus vaccine mandates, a position she herself has unsuccessfully advocated. Prager answered that giving the vaccine to children, including college students, was “pure undiluted child abuse.”

Prager said parents shouldn’t send their children to college, nor should they send them to “90% of America’s elementary and high schools.”

The talk show host, whose Prager University Foundation declared revenue of over $37 million last year, also called on grandparents to foot the bill for their grandchildren’s homeschooling, presumably to prevent them from being “poisoned.”

Less than a week later, Prager announced on his radio show that he had finally succeeded in his 18-month-long quest to contract COVID, a goal he had already explained to Ganahl during the interview, saying, “I’ve been trying to get COVID for a year and a half!”

Her campaign has since said it’s contacting all the attendees to encourage them to get tested.

Ganahl did not immediately respond to an email request for comment as to whether she believes all American schools, including the University of Colorado, are “poison factories.” This article will be updated with any response received.

Watch Ganahl’s full interview with Dennis Prager here.

Colorado Christian University Hosting Antisemitic Conspiracist Jack Posobiec Who Has Ties to White Nationalism

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Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute has hosted many far-right speakers over the years, but next Monday the public policy think tank will see its most extreme guest ever, when it gives its podium to antisemitic conspiracist Jack Posobiec. Posobiec, whose antisemitic tweets and promotion of white supremacy have been extensively documented, is speaking on Monday Oct. 18 as part of his book tour. Reached for comment, ADL Mountain States Regional Director Scott Levin expressed concern at CCU’s decision to host Posobiec.

“It is difficult to understand how someone who peddles conspiracy theories, disinformation and Islamophobia, and who targets Jewish journalists online, would be given any airtime,” said Levin. “We encourage the Centennial Institute to review its policies to determine if someone with documented ties to white supremacists should be invited to speak on the Colorado Christian University campus.”

Antisemitic tweet by Jack Posobiec, Oct. 31, 2016

Posobiec repeatedly used the “echo,” adding (((triple parentheses))) to a person or group of people in a tweet, a meme popularized by white supremacists in 2016 to target Jews.

More recently, Posobiec used the Boulder grocery store shooting to promote false anti-immigrant sentiment. He falsely claimed on Twitter that the man who murdered ten Coloradans including a police officer immigrated to America as part of an Obama-era refugee program. Politifact debunked his statement.

Posobiec is also an enthusiastic election fraud conspiracist. He tweeted the #StopTheSteal hashtag numerous times up to and after the 2020 election. Following the Jan. 6 insurrection Posobiec deleted all of those tweets.

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Heidi Ganahl’s Colorful Campaign Finance Corporation

(“Heidi’s Dark Money” doesn’t sound as warm and fuzzy — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Still frame from Heidi Ganahl’s podcast “b-roll” video

More than six months prior to announcing her candidacy for Governor, University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl launched a podcast called Heidi’s Colorful Colorado (HCC). In her introductory video, Ganahl says, “In typical Heidi fashion, we’re doing things out of the box!”

Out of the box, indeed. While the project’s purpose is ostensibly “to bring the people of Colorado together,” the podcast is registered as a 501c4 “social welfare” nonprofit, i.e., a dark money group that can raise and spend essentially unlimited money indirectly supporting her campaign without disclosing its donors.

Ganahl poses with supporters at her campaign kickoff event

Ganahl’s podcast nonprofit corporation was registered by Gwen Benevento, an attorney at Maven Law Group, a favored firm of Colorado Republicans.

Benevento, who specializes in political, election, and campaign finance law, also filed the paperwork for Ganahl’s official campaign committee.

Ganahl’s gubernatorial campaign uses a very similar color scheme and logo as the podcast, so the podcast’s early launch gave her campaign a half-year head-start on building crucial name and brand identity.

She gave numerous press interviews and made radio and public appearances promoting the podcast, which Colorado pundits generally agreed was a prelude to running for higher office.

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Court Documents Reveal Colorado GOP Chair Led Conspiracy Group in 2020

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Recently released Court documents from the defamation lawsuit against election conspiracist Joe Oltmann reveal that Colorado GOP Chair Kristi Burton Brown last year served as President of FEC United, Oltmann’s far-right conspiracy group, at the same time she was serving as vice-chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

According to Oltmann, who is being sued for defamation by a former employee of Dominion Voting Systems, Brown stepped down from leading FEC United when she decided to run for chair of the state party. Brown announced her candidacy for that position on Jan. 21 of this year. 

Transcript of Joe Oltmann’s deposition in a defamation lawsuit, Sept. 9, 2021

This information, revealed by Oltmann in a virtual deposition taken on Sept. 9, confirms the statement of another FEC United representative, Stu Butler, who as of June serves as the group’s temporary president. At Oltmann’s request, Butler appeared at an Aug. 11 deposition of FEC United. In it, he also named Brown as the former president of FEC United.

The transcripts of Butler’s and Oltmann’s depositions were recently made public, along with numerous other depositions and exhibits, including the Colorado Times Recorder’s first article about Oltmann and FEC United.


Last Oct. 6, as reported by the Colorado Times Recorder,  Brown gave a presentation in Colorado Springs on the group’s “Law & Policy Center,” an as yet unrealized project for which Brown provided the “conceptual framework.”

Its inaugural project was supposed to be a series of lawsuits against journalists for “unequal treatment,” which never happened. Oltmann has threatened to sue the Colorado Times Recorder on numerous occasions. 

Brown did not respond to a voicemail request for comment asking to clarify the specific dates of her FEC United presidency, but her activity with the group indicates she was leading the group when it, along with its affiliated militia, United American Defense Force, co-hosted a “Patriot Muster” rally in Denver’s Civic Center Park Oct. 10 that turned deadly when a group member sprayed bear repellant and slapped a man who subsequently shot and killed him. The shooter, who was carrying a concealed handgun, was working as a security guard for a 9News reporter.

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Colorado Election Fraud Group Is Training Conspiracists in Other States to Knock Doors in Search of ‘Phantom Ballots’

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Photos of voters’ homes taken by election conspiracist volunteers trained with USEIP resources

Election conspiracists in Colorado who pioneered a field campaign that involves volunteers, some of whom are potentially armed, going door-to-door in search of phantom ballots, are now helping to export that tactic across the country, perhaps in as many as 30 states.

More accurately, volunteers for the U.S. Election Integrity Plan (USEIP) aren’t “looking for fraud” that they believe may have occurred, rather they are intent on “exposing fraud” they are convinced took place. Their certainty comes in large part from the man behind the pseudo-science underlying this conspiracy, Dr. Douglas Frank.

On Sept. 13, he explained the conspiracists’ reasoning and motivation for door-to-door canvassing to his followers on Telegram, which is currently the favorite social media platform of extremists and conspiracists who’ve been removed from mainstream platforms.

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Election Fraud Conspiracist Told Trump Lawyer ‘Several County Clerks’ Were Helping Him Access CO Voting Machines ‘Under the Radar’

(Hope that’s not true – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters may not be the only Colorado clerk to have possibly tampered with voting machines at the behest of election fraud conspiracy theorists, at least according to one of the state’s leading conspiracists.

Months before the Mesa County District Attorney filed felony charges against Peters’ deputy for her role in confidential voting data being released publicly, election fraud conspiracist Joe Oltmann emailed Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell.

“Catching up,” indeed.

“Might be a good idea to connect,” Oltmann emailed to Powell on Jan. 22 “We have some interesting information on Eric Coomer. You also need to be aware of what we are doing in Colorado in gaining access to the Dominion systems under the radar. We have several county clerks cooperating. Need to settle down the chaos so you can get a grasp on all of the information. The audit in Antrim county is something that will help you in your lawsuit against Dominion as well. They are puffing their chest but the reality is we already have the data to show they are a fraudulent company with a system that is designed to defraud the American people.” [emphasis added]

Oltmann’s Jan. 22 email appears in a legal document filed by former Dominion Voting Systems employee Eric Coomer, as part of his defamation lawsuit against Oltmann, Powell, the Trump Campaign, former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, conservative pundit Michelle Malkin, and numerous other defendants for their roles in falsely accusing him of conspiring to rig the 2020 election for President Biden.

The legal filing also features another Oltmann email from Jan. 22, in which he offers Powell and her colleagues 103GB of raw files from Antrim County, Michigan voting machines. Coomer’s lawyers conclude their summary of these emails by noting, “If true, these are both potentially felonious acts.”

Powell is best known as the Trump campaign attorney who promoted QAnon and whose “Kraken” lawsuits were derided by legal experts. Trump nevertheless promoted her debunked claims even after his campaign’s legal team had fired her.

As reported earlier today by the New York Times, another document included in this response brief makes it clear that the Trump campaign knew the election fraud conspiracy theories related to Dominion Voting Systems were groundless, even as its lawyers Powell, Giuliani, and Coloradan Jenna Ellis continued to promote them publicly.

Oltmann has stated that he first learned of Coomer while attempting to expose journalists (including this one) he believed to be members of Antifa. After promoting the conspiracy on his podcast, it was then amplified by the other defendants, who are either far-right media personalities or linked to the Trump campaign.

Oltmann did not respond to an inquiry asking for comment about which other clerks were cooperating with him or to elaborate on his attempts to “gain access to the Dominion Systems under the radar.” This article will be updated with any response received.

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VIDEO: ‘Redistricting 2021’ Presentation by Colorado State Rep Matt Soper

(The quiet part, except out loud – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Last month, Colorado Politics’ Evan Wyloge broke the story of Rep. Matt Soper’s redistricting presentation, in which the legislator provided local Republican party officers and activists with alternate maps and testimony intended to keep him and at least one of his Western Slope colleagues in their current districts. Wyloge’s story and subsequent reporting covered Soper’s request to his audience that they never mention that he was the one providing their talking points, as well as his frustration with the consultants running the Colorado Neighborhood Coalition, the conservative lobbying group that he said was hired by the Colorado House & Senate Republicans. CNC lobbyist Alan Philp denied that claim and Soper retracted that statement, saying he was mistaken.

The Colorado Times Recorder has obtained video of Soper’s nearly hour-long July 18 presentation. It’s split into three videos. (Part 1, is here, Part 2 & Part 3 are embedded below within the full transcript.)

Hosted by longtime Aspen conservative activist Maurice Emmer, the virtual meeting also included Mesa County GOP Chair Kevin McCarney, Pitkin County GOP Vice Chair Frieda Wallison, and election fraud conspiracist Sherronna Bishop, who formerly served as Congresswoman Lauren Boebert’s campaign manager.

Two previously unreported sections are noteworthy, including Soper’s comments about specific commission members and his belief that the preliminary legislative map drawn by the commission’s nonpartisan staff was “gerrymandered” to favor Democrats.

Soper expressed concerns with four members of the state legislative commission: two Democrats from Steamboat and Aspen, and two recent CU Boulder graduates, one Republican and one Unaffiliated, whom he describes as “relatively new to the state.”

“What really concerns me is the two members on the legislative redistricting commission,” said Soper. “One is from Steamboat Springs, one is from Aspen; both are the two Democrats or I should say, two of the Democrats on the committee. We also have two recent graduates from CU Boulder who came out of different states. They’re relatively new to the state. One is a Republican, one is unaffiliated. This is also a bit concerning to me because they don’t necessarily know the history of the state or the geography or the culture. I’m going to emphasize geography and culture quite a bit in this presentation because the commission does not want to hear about we’ve we’ve always done it this way, so therefore we should continue to do it this way. I find that a persuasive argument that’s probably from being a lawyer in my background before I became a legislator.”

Robin Schepper of Steamboat and Blanca Uzeta O’Leary of Aspen are the first two members Soper flagged as problematic. His concerns are presumably based upon the fact that both members from CD3 are ski town Democrats. The Commission’s make-up was determined by a complex set of rules prioritizing geographic, congressional district, and partisan considerations following a lottery from a pool of self-selected applicants- i.e. people had to sign up in the first place.

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Congressman Lamborn’s Top Priority for Military Bill: Stopping Critical Race Theory

(At least he’s not your…oops, sorry Colorado Springs – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a Facebook post yesterday, Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) listed his five priorities for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual military budget bill. Topping the to-do list of the Representative whose district boasts the highest percentage of veterans in the nation: “Preventing the expansion of critical race theory in the military. Yesterday’s House Armed Services Committee mark-up hearing ran late into the night as members debated amendments to the NDAA.

Well over an hour of the 16-hour debate was devoted to amendment relating to critical race theory and diversity training, which Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), a veteran and Naval Academy graduate, decried as “a waste of time and do not do a damn thing to improve our national security.” She called her colleagues proposing the amendments “completely unserious.”

Critical race theory is a collegiate and graduate school academic frame taught largely in law schools as a means of examining racial disparity throughout the American legal system. According to a Military Times report, “The only clear example of critical race theory being taught in the military is at the U.S. Military Academy.”

CRT simply isn’t taught to enlisted troops, but conservative media outlets and some members of Congress conflate it with basic diversity training common in any workplace, including the Armed Forces. In July U.S. Senator Tom Cotton railed against “CRT-influenced training which singles out troops based on skin color.”

Lamborn voted for a failed amendment offered by U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), which proposed banning critical race theory in any form not only from being taught to service members but also at “academic institutions operated or controlled by the Department of Defense.”

In an example of the conflation of CRT with general diversity training, Lamborn offered his own amendment that would require all diversity training to be conducted by a single Department of Defense office, the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute. He argued that this would allow all training to be uniform and to be reviewed by Congress.

Two other committee members, U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Lamborn’s Colorado colleague Jason Crow, a Democrat, both veterans, objected to the amendment. Khanna noted the unrealistic expectation that DEOMI could handle that volume of work, an argument supported by committee Chair Adam Smith, who predicted that Lamborn’s proposal would kill off approximately 90% of the military’s current diversity training programs. Crow cited his own experience as a platoon leader, explaining the importance of unit leaders having the ability to convene discussions on any topic creating tension among their troops.

Following the vote, Lamborn’s released a statement saying he was pleased to vote for the bill that, while “not perfect, will improve our national security. He cited numerous aspects of the bill that he supports but made no mention of the failed amendments addressing critical race theory or diversity training.

Lamborn’s press office did not immediately return an email request for comment. This article will be updated with any response received.

Arapahoe County Colorado GOP Official Has Promoted QAnon For Years

(Everybody’s going Q-razy these days – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Stills from Arapahoe GOP Secretary Navarro’s TikTok video of promoting QAnon at Trump’s Feb. 2020 rally in Colorado Springs.

 

On Jan. 19, the evening before Inauguration Day, Schumé Navarro, who is running for Cherry Creek School Board and was recently elected Secretary of the Arapahoe County Republican Party, recorded a video in which she promised her followers that the inevitable wouldn’t happen.

“I want you to know that Joe Biden — ‘President-Elect’ — is not going to become the President,” said Navarro. “This has been an ongoing coup that has been perpetrated by China. Everything — I’m talking about the virus. I’m talking the lockdowns.”

Over the course of a two-part video, Navarro continued to speak for over an hour, promoting a variety of conspiracy theories and quoting Bible verses.

“I’ve just been watchful and this has been the craziest ride I’ve ever been on,” said Navarro. “After that stuff happened, that’s when I fell on to the QAnon stuff and that has been given such a bad rep! And I say that and I feel people’s— ‘Ooo don’t say that!’ I feel people say that! I’m gonna tell you- I’ve held that lightly! I’ve held that like — let’s see, people say, ‘you’re a conspiracy theorist! No more conspiracy theories! I’m tired of conspiracy theories!’ You want to know what? You also have people who are like, ‘I believe science!’ Okay well, have you heard of the scientific method? What you do is you have a hypothesis or a theory. You state the theory and then you find facts that prove or disprove the theory. If they’re supporting things that prove it, then — it’s not a con –it’s like literally a conspiracy. It’s like I mean, it’s like legit. It’s a conspiracy.”

She recounted how she “fell into QAnon” by explaining that she began “doing research” online after she and her husband had fortuitously called off a planned trip to the 2017 Las Vegas country music festival that became the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history.

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Lauren Boebert Posts Unmasked Video Inside Denver Airport in Violation of Federal Law

(Superspreading the love – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert posted a video from inside Denver’s airport on Monday morning. During the video she is not wearing a mask, in violation of federal law, which states that masks are to be worn at all times on airport property.

The Transportation Security Administration, charged with keeping people safe at airports, is responsible for enforcing the mask law. Denver International Airport’s website explains the law on its COVID safety page:

“While face masks have been required at DEN since May 2020, federal law now requires anyone over the age of 2, to wear a mask at all times in and on airport property. Failure to comply may result in removal from airport property and denial of re-entry. Refusing to wear a mask in or on the airport is a violation of federal law and individuals may be subject to penalties under federal law.”

Of the dozens of people walking past Boebert during her 40-second video, everyone who is close enough to have the front of their head visible appears to be wearing a mask.

In July Boebert gleefully tweeted that the Texas statehouse Democrats who were seen flying without masks “will now be known as #FugitiveSuperspreaders

She has called out Speaker Nancy Pelosi for failing to wear a mask in public.

Boebert’s press office did not immediately return an email request for comment. This article will be updated with any response received.

This article first appeared in the Colorado Times Recorder.

Citing ‘Censorship Idiots,’ CO GOP Group Won’t Remove Facebook Post Featuring QAnon & Proud Boys

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A spokesperson for a prominent Denver Metro Republican club says it won’t remove a post featuring the Proud Boys and QAnon from its Facebook page.

Formerly known as the North Suburban Republican Forum, the Forum has served as a local club of the Colorado GOP encompassing Adams County and the broader north metro region since 1995.

The meme features a photo originally taken by photojournalist John Rudoff of Proud Boy leaders Enrique Tarrio and Joe Biggs.

A QAnon logo, the words “Q Sent Me,” and the acronym “WWG1WGA,” which stands for the QAnon slogan “Where We Go One, We Go All” are superimposed the photo.

During the Trump administration, the FBI classified the conspiracy group QAnon as a “domestic terror threat” and the Proud Boys as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism.”

Federal law enforcement charged both Tarrio and Biggs with crimes related to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Biggs, who live-streamed himself inside the Capitol building, potentially faces decades in prison. Tarrio was already in jail during the riot, having been arrested on Jan. 4 on weapons and destruction of property charges. He pled guilty on Monday and is now serving a five-month prison sentence.

In an unsigned email, the group’s spokesperson says it won’t remove the meme, insisting that the quote attributed Candace Owens that appears below the image is a significant part of the post.

“The post is about a Candace Owens quote,” said the spokesperson. “‘What the left fears more than anything are white people and black people coming together and loving their country.’ “Quit trying to read conspiracy things into innocent posts. “Are you implying that we should’ve censored it, like the left-leaning Facebook “fact checkers” or Twitter censorship idiots? “If that’s the case, why are the CCP [Chinese Communist Party], Iran’s Ayatollah, the Taliban, and other enemies allowed to post any and everything on social media? That’s a much better question that needs to be answered. But thank you for writing and following The Forum.”

The Forum hosts monthly meetings featuring prominent Republican speakers; State GOP Chair Kristi Burton Brown headlined the July event.

Prominent Republican officials among the group’s 533 Facebook members include CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, former state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, former Secretaries of State Scott Gessler and Wayne Williams, state Sens. Kevin Priola (R-Brighton) and Barbara Kirkmeyer (R-Weld County), former state Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs), Colorado RNC Committeeman Randy Corporon, and longtime Adams GOP activist Maria Del Carmen Guzman-Weese, who just received the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s Champion of Freedom award.

This isn’t the first time this meme has appeared on a local Colorado GOP Facebook page. In February the Colorado Springs Republican Women shared it. Hours after the Colorado Times Recorder reached out for comment, the group’s president, Vickie Tonkins, who also chairs the El Paso County Republican Party, replaced it with a new version displaying only the Owens quote. She also said she’d mistakenly shared a “doctored” image, referring to the QAnon logo added to the photo in the original meme.

This article first appeared in the Colorado Times Recorder.

MyPillow CEO: CO Election Official’s “Office Gets Raided As She’s In the Air on My Plane”

(So much confessing – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In an interview last week with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell confirmed the Colorado Times Recorder’s previous reporting that embattled Mesa County, Colorado, Clerk Tina Peters flew to Lindell’s election fraud conference on the millionaire’s private jet.

“So Tina,” Lindell told Jones. “I’m flying her in and her office gets raided as she’s in the air on my plane.”

In introducing Peters, Lindell mentions unspecified problems with Mesa County’s 2020 election.

“They voted her in — the new clerk and the top lady that takes care of everything for the election,” said Lindell, “Well that transition didn’t go well in November because they had a lot of stuff hid but anyway…”

Lindell is presumably referencing the primary conspiracy theory promoted at his recent “Cyber Symposium,” that Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems rigged its own machines to ensure President Trump lost the election. He flew Peters’ to his conference because of the confidential election data she allegedly helped copy and steal from her own office.

According to the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby, it appears Peters was already prepared to attend the conference on her own. She purchased a commercial airline ticket to South Dakota and charged the cost of the flight to Mesa County taxpayers.

Instead, Peters joined the Mesa GOP First Vice-Chair Jaqueline Anderson, her husband Cory (a Three Percenter militia supporter who has been training U.S. Election Integrity Plan conspiracists to knock doors in search of voter fraud), Congresswoman Lauren Boebert’s former campaign manager Sherronna Bishop, and other USEIP volunteers on Lindell’s private jet.

All but Peters presumably returned to Colorado two days later, when flight records show Lindell’s jet flying from Sioux Falls to Grand Junction and then Centennial before returning to South Dakota.

The following day, the jet made an early morning lap from Sioux Falls to Fort Worth, TX. Lindell has said that he is helping Peters hide out in Texas as the criminal investigation into her alleged actions heats up.

The “raid” Lindell says took place is the Aug 10 inspection of Peters’ office and election equipment conducted by the Colorado Secretary of State’s staff, accompanied by Mesa Clerk staff, though not Peters herself, who had indeed left for South Dakota that day.

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters boards Mike Lindell’s jet en route to his election fraud conspiracy conference. Photo courtesy Mesa GOP First Vice Chair Jacqueline Anderson

Read the complete transcript of Lindell’s recounting of Tina Peters’ trip to South Dakota below:

“And that day then it really got crazy! I was flying in Tina Peters from Colorado,” said Lindell. “I don’t know if you’ve heard about her. Everybody — you need to look it up! She is a whistleblower. Now all this stuff the Secretary of State and Dominion have done to her — I’m gonna cover that in a minute — but they raided — she’s the head of all the election in Mesa County. She got voted — I mean they voted her in — the new clerk and the top lady that takes care of everything for the election. Well, that transition didn’t go well in November because they had a lot of stuff hid but anyway… .

“So Tina, I’m flying her in and her office gets raided as she’s in the air on my plane. Her office gets completely raided and then another guy, the same day now. Or no, the next day. It gets to be the night of the second night of the symposium, and I get wind that another house was raided with four little kids- they raided this guy’s house. I don’t know if he’s a friend of Tina’s or what or just in that office. Raided his house! Now he’s scared, he doesn’t want to go public, he doesn’t want his name out there!”

Colorado Election Conspiracy Group Going Door-to-Door in Search of ‘Phantom Ballots’

(We told you this was coming – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

USEIP field leader Cory Anderson of Grand Junction and election fraud conspiracist Dr. Douglas Frank

Members of a QAnon-linked election fraud conspiracy group — some of whom are armed — are knocking on doors of voters across Colorado, attempting to find evidence of voter fraud.

The group, called the U.S. Election Integrity Plan (USEIP), states unequivocally that the 2020 election was stolen and that members “do not consent to be governed by those elected through fraud.”

Volunteers are going door-to-door all over the state, including Mesa, El Paso, and Weld counties, using public voter lists to identify precincts from which they believe ballots were fraudulently cast and asking residents to confirm their addresses, whether they participated in the 2020 election, and if so how they cast their vote.

The USEIP, which has partnered with the Colorado GOP on local events, just released its “County & Local Organizing Playbook.” The manual states that some of its early volunteers were sex criminals, but that it has since implemented a background check as part of its vetting process. USEIP did not respond to an email request for comment submitted via its website. This article will be updated with any response received.

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Mesa County Clerk Almost Certainly Took My Pillow CEO’s Private Jet to Election Conspiracy Conference

(Who says crime doesn’t pay? -Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“Cuz we’re leaving on (private) jet plane. Details to come… #TruthWillAlwaysPrevail”

That playful caption to Mesa County Republican Party Vice Chair Jacqueline Anderson’s Aug 10 now-deleted Facebook post accompanied several photos of herself, her husband Cory, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-CO) former campaign manager, Sherronna Bishop, and three other women, one of who is almost certainly Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, all seated in a private jet.

The group flew from Grand Junction, CO, to Sioux Falls, SD, to speak at Mike Lindell’s Cyber Symposium, a three-day election fraud conspiracy conference hosted by the jet’s owner, My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, who has spent all of 2021 promoting the Big Lie of election fraud, after failing to convince Trump to use the military to remain in power.

In addition to the selfie taken in the plane’s cabin, Ms. Anderson posted a photo of the jet’s tail number, logs for which correspond with previously reported flights Lindell’s jet made earlier this year.

Flight log of Lindell’s private jet traveling to and from Grand Junction on Tuesday, Aug 10.

Furthermore, Lindell told Colorado Newsline that Peters is scheduled to return to Colorado today, which matches the itinerary shared by jet passenger Bishop on a recent YouTube video, in which she said her group would be at the conference, “Tuesday, Wednesday and get back Thursday.”

Clerk Peters’ office is currently the subject of an administrative investigation by the Colorado Secretary of State as well as a criminal investigation by the Mesa County District Attorney (referred from Colorado SOS) for any role in the recent leak of passwords and voting machine information. Conspiracist blogger Ron Watkins, who is considered the most likely author of the QAnon posts, published screenshots featuring unique passwords from Mesa County election machines on his blog last week.

Other Colorado attendees at the symposium include state Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Canon City), who has promoted the Big Lie and admitted to crossing police lines at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, conspiracy theorist Joe Oltmann founder of the far-right group FEC United, and conspiracist Sean Smith, of Colorado Springs. Smith, Cory Anderson and Bishop all work with QAnon-linked election fraud conspiracy group U.S. Election Integrity Plan.

Clerk Peters did not respond to a Facebook message requesting comment nor did her office immediately return a voicemail. This article will be updated with any response received.

CO GOP Selects Member of QAnon-Linked Conspiracy Group That Organized Jan 6 Caravan As Its ‘Election Integrity’ Chair

(The asylum is under new management – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

One of USEIP’s map for its Jan 6 caravan featured white nationalist meme Pepe the Frog.

The chair of the Colorado Republican Party’s new committee to safeguard the state’s elections is also a member of and working closely with a QAnon-linked election fraud conspiracy group.

The group, the U.S. Election Integrity Plan (USEIP), was founded in Colorado last November. It not only promotes the debunked “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, but coordinated a caravan of protestors from Denver to Washington D.C. for the January 6 protest at the U.S. Capitol, providing routes, racial maps of the city, and a forum where attendees discussed tactics and weapons to bring to the event, which they expected to be, as President Trump called it, a “wild protest.”

Colorado’s Republican Party leader, Kristi Burton Brown appointed USEIP member Emily Brake, a Boulder County GOP member, earlier this year to run the party’s “Election Integrity Operations Action Committee.” Brown herself has questioned the validity of the 2020 election results both nationally and in Colorado.

USEIP organized several election fraud conspiracy rallies at the Colorado Capitol in late 2020 and early this year. and also coordinated a caravan of members. Its planning for the caravan to attend the “Stop the Steal” January 6 rally in Washington DC included not only logistical support such as carpooling, routes and lodging options, but also discussion of which weapons would be best suited for carrying during the event.

In a USEIP chat room, member Theresa Watson, who also serves as the Boulder County GOP Chair, referenced videos about how to use a “tactical pen,” which is a heavy metal pen intended not to be used as a writing instrument but as a weapon for stabbing an opponent.

“A tactical pen is a good equalizer to carry in a crowd,” posted Watson. “Jason Hanson, former CIA agent has a good quality one — I’d avoid Amazon and Walmart versions –and he has many videos about how to use and getting away quick. Plus things you thought you’d never need to know.”

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Hugely Popular Paid Leave Program Makes Up Most of Heidi Ganahl’s Favorite ‘Whopping’ Public Spending Amount

(“Adding all of this stuff up without any actual kind of analysis underneath it doesn’t really tell anybody anything. You’re just adding up unlike numbers.” — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

By Madeleine Schmidt for the Colorado Times Recorder

CU Regent and fledgling podcaster Heidi Ganahl

 

“1.8 Billion!”

University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, the only Republican elected to a statewide office in Colorado and a rumored 2022 governor candidate, has been metaphorically shouting that figure from the rooftops recently.

In recent newspaper columns, Ganahl has repeatedly cited a report from the Common Sense Institute (CSI), a business-oriented research organization in Denver, that tallied the cost of new taxes and fees resulting from state policy changes over the last few years on individuals and businesses.

The report, titled “Colorado’s Competitiveness: The Challenge of Economic Recovery Under More than $1.8 Billion in New Regulations, Taxes and Fees,” adds up fiscal notes for a wide variety of ballot measures and laws passed since 2018, including measures related to affordable housing, health care, and, notably, the paid family and medical leave program that Colorado voters approved in 2020.

In a column penned for the Colorado Springs Gazette earlier this month titled “Colorado Drops Out of the Jobs Race,” Ganahl writes that “every onerous regulation comes with a cost — lost jobs, more red tape and money taken from the family budget. The costs are taking a toll. In fact, earlier this year, Common Sense Institute estimated the cumulative cost of new taxes and fees will reach a whopping $1.8 billion in the next three to five years.”

She also underscores the $1.8 billion number in another Gazette column from June, this time erroneously stating that the costs tallied in CSI’s report come from “this last legislative session alone,” when, in fact, it includes both laws and voter-approved ballot measures over the past few years.

“The Common Sense Institute issued a study calculating the cost of proposed regulations, taxes and fees from this last legislative session alone,” she writes. “Hold on to your hat — it’s a whopping $1.8 billion. That’s billion with a B. That’s bad news for our economy, for businesses and for families.”

Here’s what she isn’t saying: CSI attributes more than two-thirds of that $1.8 billion to Proposition 118, which created a state-run insurance program that allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for personal medical reasons or care for a new child or family member. The program, which was overwhelmingly approved by Colorado voters (58%-42%) last year, is funded by a payroll tax split evenly between employers and employees and amounts to 0.9 percent of an employee’s total wages.

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