This afternoon, as Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports, the other shoe dropped in a situation we’ve been following for a number of days–an erroneous story at CBS4 Denver about post cards sent to non-voters outlining eligibility requirements to register to vote, since deleted, which has caused a nationwide wave of misplaced anxiety on the right, “confirming” their groundless fears that mail ballots are an impending disaster:
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, on Tuesday demanded an explanation about allegations contained in a TV news story that was retracted over the weekend concerning a mailing sent to potential voters by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat…
CBS4 news director Tim Wieland pulled the story Sunday afternoon and replaced it later that night with an interview with Griswold meant to “[set] the record straight,” but not until after conservative news outlets and Republican personalities had blown up the misleading account across the internet.
The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who chairs the Colorado Republican Party, has asked the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission to investigate postcards sent by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, the latest escalation in a dispute that began with a debunked and retracted television news story.
“The American people deserve to know that the 2020 election will be conducted in a fair and transparent manner,” Buck wrote to the federal officials Wednesday. “As such, I urge the DOJ and FEC to open an investigation into the Colorado Secretary of State’s efforts to register individuals who are ineligible to vote.”
Somewhere in here, Buck either became or always was fully aware that this entire story was wrong. If he needed any further confirmation, he could have asked Republican Secretaries of State Wayne Williams and Scott Gessler–both of whom sent similar post cards during their own terms in office. From Luning’s story:
[Betsy Hart, the secretary of state’s communications director] added that the election information postcard was first sent out using a similarly compiled list by Griswold’s GOP predecessor Scott Gessler, and former Secretary of State Wayne Williams, also a Republican, continued the practice through his four-year term. [Pols emphasis]
Given that this entire nontroversy is based on a news report which has been retracted by the original outlet, a fact which every subsequent story has been diligent in noting, Buck’s request for a formal investigation into the Colorado Secretary of State by the Justice Department isn’t off to what you’d call a good start. In fact, barreling forward with this grandstand regardless of what facts emerge subsequently is a pretty good indicator that it was all a setup.
And the timing isn’t the only thing that looks canned:
Buck said the state party heard from a woman who received the postcard addressed to her late mother, who died in 2016 and hadn’t lived in the state since 1967. [Pols emphasis]
Flashback to the now-deleted original CBS4 report from Shaun Boyd:
Karen Anderson says she opened her mail about a week ago to find one of the postcards. It was addressed to her mom.
“Which sounds really nice except my mother has been dead four years and she hasn’t lived, voted, owned property, worked, or done anything other than visit Colorado since 1967.” [Pols emphasis]
That would be, barring a remarkable coincidence, the same person.
While this isn’t enough to prove that Buck and the state GOP are the ones who shopped this bogus story to CBS4 to begin with, it’s pretty likely the case based on the available information. It looks to us like Buck engineered the original story for the purpose of justifying his groundless investigation request to the Justice Department against Colorado’s Secretary of State–and when the story fell apart due to lacking a factual basis, Buck simply carried on with his plan.
The bottom line is the same, and it will be the same no matter how many times it needs to be repeated: this post card wasn’t sent to anyone on the “voter rolls.” Eligibility requirements to vote have not changed. As much as Republicans, even Colorado Republicans who are supposed to know better wish it were so, there is no scandal.
Only partisan distractions, boosted by bad journalism.