Republican Walker Stapleton acknowledged the “mistakes” his great-grandfather made in leading the KKK in the 1920s and tried to distance himself from Tom Tancredo in a major TV interview.
“For the record, I categorically condemn racism of all forms. I categorically condemn hate organizations and they will have no place in my administration as governor,” the candidate for governor said.
Stapleton’s remarks to CBS4’s Shaun Boyd represent his most extensive to date on the topic of his family’s dark history, a topic he for weeks avoided discussing on the campaign trail. Stapleton’s great-grandfather was Benjamin Stapleton, a five-term mayor of Denver and a leader in the local KKK.
“The fact of the matter is he is not me, I am not him,” Stapleton said. “He passed away almost a quarter century before I was born, and to hold me in any way accountable for the mistakes that he made in the early 1920s is to hold all Democrats accountable because he was a Democrat at the time.”
In the same interview with CBS4 — The Colorado Sun’s television partner — Stapleton discusses whether he would tap Tancredo, a former congressman and hard-liner on immigration, for his administration if elected.
Tancredo briefly entered the governor’s race because he was upset about the treatment of a group that promoted white nationalist authors, but he later endorsed Stapleton.
Stapleton denies he ever talked about Tancredo as member of his administration.
“I never did. That is not true. That is laughable,” Stapleton says, adding Tancredo “will have no role in my administration.”
But, in fact, he did.
A radio show host asked Stapleton earlier this year about considering Tancredo for cabinet or lieutenant governor. In the radio interview, Stapleton said:
- “I’d love to utilize him because Tom has been invaluable on law-and-order issues.
- “… That’s why I’m proud to have Tom’s support and I will absolutely utilize his expertise, hopefully I’ll be in a position to.”
- A possible lieutenant governor candidate: “We’ll see. Everybody is a candidate right now.”
This story first appeared in The Colorado Sun’s politics newsletter, The Unaffiliated. You can subscribe here: cosun.co/unaffiliated.