GRAND JUNCTION — The chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, has formed a special commission to review the party’s assembly nomination and ballot designation processes, some of which the 4th District congressman is deeply involved with himself, The Daily Sentinel reports.
Controversies in the party’s nomination process first came to light in a Denver Post story last week that included a recording of Buck ordering Eli Bremer, the GOP chairman for El Paso County’s Senate District 10, to place a candidate on the June primary ballot who only received 24% of the vote at the district’s assembly in March. His opponent, state Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, received 76%.
By law, to qualify for the ballot a candidate needs at least 30% of voting delegates.
That candidate, David Stiver, later complained to the party that the voting process was unfair because it was done largely remotely, as allowed under emergency rules adopted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Buck and the party’s central committee agreed. That prompted a call from Buck to Bremer, a recording of which was obtained by the Post:
“Do you understand the order of the executive committee and the central committee that you will submit the paperwork to include Mr. Stiver and Mr. Liston on the ballot, with Mr. Liston receiving the top-line vote?” Buck said on the call.
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“Uh, yes sir, I understand the central committee has adopted a resolution that requires me to sign a false affidavit to the state, yes,” Bremer replied.
“And will you do so?” Buck said.
“I will seek legal counsel as I am being asked to sign an affidavit that states Mr. Stiver received 30% of the vote,” Bremer responded. “I need to seek legal counsel to find out if I am putting myself in jeopardy of a misdemeanor for doing that.”
“And you understand that it is the order of the central committee that you do so?” Buck pressed.
“Yes sir,” Bremer said. “I understand the central committee has ordered me to sign an affidavit stating that a candidate got 30% who did not.”
Bremer never filed that affidavit, and a Denver District Court judge later said that if he had done so, it would have been in violation of the state’s election laws.
The Mesa County GOP, too, held its assembly largely remotely, but participants agreed that it was done correctly.
At that March event, one candidate for county commission seat District 3, Palisade businessman JJ Fletcher, fell short of his 30% by five votes. He didn’t formally complain about those results, and decided instead to run in the June primary as a write-in candidate.
A third candidate for that seat, Robert Prescott, tried to petition on, but failed to get enough valid signatures to do so. He attempted to protest that finding from the Mesa County Clerk’s Office, but was blocked by Mesa County District Judge Brian Flynn, who ruled that the courts cannot decide such matters even though other courts have said the opposite.
The second GOP controversy came out of Weld County in a story first reported by The Colorado Sun.
There, an aide to Buck, along with three other county GOP party officials, were accused of mishandling the process for naming delegates to the state party convention.
The story said that a party official had a precinct committee person falsely enter the names of two party members who received no votes to be delegates instead of the two people who actually did.