Iraq veteran ruse fooled local media and politicians
An elaborate story of military service and multiple Iraq deployments concocted by a Colorado man to curry favor on the 2008 political campaign stump unraveled after his arrest on a traffic warrant.
Richard Strandlof, who went by the name Rick Duncan and purported to be the founder of Colorado Veterans Alliance, a group that “… empowers Veterans to use their credibility and experiences to speak truth to power …”, fooled international media as well as then-Democratic candidates Jared Polis and Hal Bidlack.
As Duncan, Strandlof actively pursued the limelight in many veterans’ issues. As the founder of the Colorado Veteran’s Alliance, he campaigned for the homeless in Colorado Springs. He made appearances at anti-war rallies and was interviewed by a number of media outlets during those rallies.
His anti-war stance apparently appealed to a number of campaigns as well. Last summer, Duncan/Strandlof appeared on an anti-Bob Schaffer television ad. When Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) was running for Congress last year, he appeared with Duncan at a rally at the Colorado Veteran’s Monument. When Democrat Hal Bidlack was trying to unseat Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) down in Colorado Springs last year, his campaign opted to put Duncan in one of its television ads.
Thursday, some of the politicians worked to distance themselves from Duncan/Strandlof. A spokesperson for Polis’ office told 9NEWS through a written statement, “He [Duncan/Strandlof] obviously has some serious problems and needs to seek help. Duncan was never a member of my staff or paid by my campaign, but represented the Colorado Veterans Alliance (CVA), which endorsed several campaigns, including my own. His fraud is a slap in the face to veterans everywhere.”
Duncan/Strandlof apparently came to Colorado from Reno, Nevada, where he headed up a racing organization. Newspaper articles attach his name to the “Nevada-Tahoe Grand Prix.” He was arrested in 2005, according to court records, for “unlawful taking of a motor vehicle” in Washoe County. The case was referred to a mental health court and a spokesperson for the clerk’s office in Washoe County said on Thursday that in October 2006 he was “discharged from probation.”
In Oct. 2008, the Colorado Independent cited stories by the Colorado Springs Gazette about a dispute between the city and Strandlof’s veterans group over raids of homeless camps purportedly sheltering former servicemembers.
Strandlof, who was nicked on an El Paso County warrant, remains in the Denver County Jail on a $1,000 bond.