The top Republican in the Colorado House of Representatives worked to conceal his involvement with a political consulting firm from his colleagues in the legislature, according to hundreds of pages of never-before-published sworn testimony. The documents, which stem from Minority Leader Hugh McKean’s divorce proceedings in September 2020, include firsthand testimony from McKean regarding his work with a number of Republican candidates, including at least one primary within his own caucus, his rationale for attempting to keep this work out of the public record for ethical reasons, and the outline of a campaign finance scheme which may violate Colorado law.
The documents were released to the Times Recorder with the approval of a Larimer County judge, and are reported here for the first time. The existence of the consulting firm, AhHa Strategies, which McKean created in large part to influence primary elections within his own party, is also reported here for the first time.
The transcripts, amounting to 389 pages of testimony given over the course of two days, provide a rare glimpse inside a political operation which the Minority Leader attempted to hide from his colleagues, and raise significant ethical and legal questions about the nature of the services McKean has provided to clients. All testimony was provided under oath.
The revelations from the court documents are the latest in a string of unusual happenings involving McKean this year. The legislator came under scrutiny in February for apparently being registered to vote at a vacant plot of land after his primary opponent, Austin Hein, filed a complaint against him with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. The complaint has since been dismissed, and all available evidence suggests McKean is in the process of building a house on the lot.
In late May, Republican Secretary of State candidate Tina Peters’ campaign made a $50,000 payment to PIN Business Network, a marketing company with ties to election conspiracist and podcast host Joe Oltmann. The payment was marked in the state’s campaign finance database as being for “internet advertising,” and amounts to nearly one-third of Peters’ total campaign expenditures to date.
The Peters campaign’s $50,000 payment is the latest, and largest, in a string of payments made to the company by far-right political campaigns. While the payments are notable on account of the company being owned by a man with a fixation on the mass murder of elected officials, they are noteworthy for another reason: PIN Business Network does not specialize in political advertising. According to case studies available on the company’s website, the bulk of PIN’s work appears to have been dedicated to improving the sales volume of car dealerships.
The seeming mismatch between the company’s profile and the services the Peters campaign is ostensibly paying for raises questions about the underlying purpose of the large payment, and about the connection between PIN, Peters, and Joe Oltmann.