Mountain GOP candidates dogged by ethics and Internet challenges

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]onservative Republicans running for the state legislature in mountain districts have faced an array of ethical and technical difficulties this campaign season, including judgment calls glitches that may have violated Colorado’s Fair Campaign Practices Act.

Senate District 5 hopeful and Orchard City Mayor Don Suppes says he doesn’t think he broke any election laws when he gathered a group of campaign volunteers to sort mailers in the town hall late last month.

But a Hotchkiss resident complained in a letter last week that accompanied a photo of Suppes with a group of volunteers clearly doing campaign work in the government building. Colorado law prohibits the use of public resources for political campaigns.

Suppes defends the campaign gathering by noting that no taxpayer dollars were spent.

“In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best choice to do it there. But if that’s the case, then I think the media need to start getting after every time any candidate uses the courthouse steps as a means to promote their campaign or if you have a political group that’s having a picnic in the park using park benches and park pavilions,” Suppes said the conservative statehouse candidate.

“Can you tell me [Gov. John] Hicklooper’s never had any political meetings in the governor’s mansion? I don’t believe that,” added Suppes, who went on to say the mailer-sorting meeting was a one-time occurrence due to limited space.

Suppes’s Democratic opponent, former Vail Town Council member Kerry Donovan, says her understanding of the law is that it bans facilities like a town hall for electioneering, even if it doesn’t technically cost taxpayers a dime.

“If you’re a public official, you don’t use any of those assets to run for another office,” said Donovan, who last year decided not to run for a second term in Vail in order to campaign for the state senate. “You can’t use the power of an office to influence voters. It’s not just about tax dollars.”

Election Day will come and go, but not the questions surrounding Suppes’ town hall campaign work. Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint Monday morning with the secretary of state’s office.

“Don Suppes’ blatant misuse of his position as Mayor to get free office space for his campaign is exactly the kind of misconduct our state law is meant to prohibit,” said Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro.

Suppes over the summer fired a campaign staffer for tweeting a link to a racist website in May and commenting that the story linked to on the website was an “interesting read.” Suppes said the views expressed on were “appalling” and “disturbing,” but he added that the Twitter account, which was subsequently taken down, also may have been hacked.

Suppes told The Colorado Independent last month his campaign was conducting an investigation and would pursue the matter with the attorney general if the evidence warranted such action.

“We went to a third-party source who’s an expert in this type of IP data mining and research and everything, and this guy basically told us it was our own stupidity for not having a better password,” he said, adding it wasn’t worth the additional time and expense of pursuing the matter any further. Suppes never filed any formal complaint with the state.

In another mountain region state legislative race, House District 61 Republican candidate Debra Irvine claims that a political opponent – whom she declines to name – disabled her campaign website with a computer virus.

“Sometime during the last week or so a virus was injected into my website and it doesn’t take a genius IQ to figure out what group was the cause of it,” Irvine’s campaign website reads. “We’re working hard to restore all the prior content, please be patient.”

genius IQ

Irvine declined to expand on who she thinks launched the cyber attack and why she is discounting other less nefarious explanations. Her husband and campaign manager, Rob Irvine, said he didn’t know anything about the campaign website being hacked.

“Not ours,” he said of the website. “There was some issues with a guy that lives out in Delta that’s running for the Senate,” he said, referring to Suppes. Irvine added he does not think there’s a pattern of Republican Twitter accounts and websites being hacked.

Note: This post was updated to include reference to the Ethics Watch complaint.

[Top photo courtesy Don Suppes campaign; lower screen grab of Irvine campaign website. ]



    For decades I refused to believe it, but it is now incontrovertibly established. The Colorado Supreme Court is indisputably a political actor. Our Colorado Supreme Court exists to serve Colorado political parties. At present, the Colorado Supreme Court is more rightly considered an adjunct of the Colorado Legislative Branch, than a check on the Colorado Legislative Branch. Rather than “truth-seeking,” the Colorado Supreme Court now sees its role as “political-outcome seeking.” Litigants successfully use the Colorado Supreme Court to achieve political purposes. In the Ralph Carr Justice Center, rather than meeting impartial guardians of the law, litigants meet their political allies on the bench.

    “I think there are many who think of judges as politicians in robes. In many states, that’s what they are.” “They seem to think judges should be a reflex of the popular will.”

    Sandra Day O’Connor

    In this article, I provide an example of the political and partisan role of the Colorado Supreme Court. I describe a case in which the Colorado Supreme Court summarily erases billions of dollars of debt owed by Colorado state and local governments. That is, one branch of Colorado state government relieves another branch of Colorado government of its legal debts.

    The case involves Colorado statutory contracts that create financial obligations on the part of Colorado governments. Over decades, political considerations induced the Colorado Legislature to mismanage those financial obligations. In recent years, the terms of those statutory contracts were deemed politically inconvenient and politically unpopular. The Legislative Branch asked the Colorado Supreme Court to discard the contracts.

    In 2010, the Colorado Legislative Branch requested that the Colorado Supreme Court grant this political favor by ignoring the Contract Clause of the US Constitution, ignoring the history of legislative mismanagement of these state financial obligations, and relieving Colorado governments of their accrued legal debts.

    In this article, I address the Colorado Supreme Court’s lack of independence, integrity, and impartiality. I provide a brief history of the efforts of the Colorado Legislature and the Colorado Supreme Court to escape Colorado governmental financial obligations. I comment on the recent (October, 2014) Colorado Supreme Court Decision itself, which summarily erased these billions of dollars of Colorado public sector debt. I highlight some of the numerous factual and logical errors that exist in the Colorado Supreme Court’s Decision in the case. I express incredulity at the Colorado Supreme Court’s willful ignorance of public pension administration, knowledge that was necessary to any court claiming to “seek truth” in the case.

    My intent in writing this article is to enhance the public record of, and further document, what I consider to be one of the greatest “crimes” in Colorado history.

    Visit the following link for the complete article:

Comments are closed.