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Ballot boxes at the Arapahoe County elections facility, June 9, 2022, in Littleton. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

A Republican candidate for a state House district in Colorado Springs falsely says Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted fetuses and that the FBI instigated the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Pastor Scott Bottoms, who calls himself anti-establishment and part of the “far right,” is expected to cruise to victory Tuesday in the GOP-leaning House District 15, which takes in eastern Colorado Springs and the communities of eastern El Paso County. According to a nonpartisan analysis of election results in the district dating back to 2016, the district favors Republicans by 26 percentage points.

If Bottoms wins, he’ll follow a line of controversial predecessors into the House District 15 seat, including former Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a Republican who said homosexuality is a sin and compared President Barack Obama to a demon. The office is now held by Rep. Dave Williams, who has cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election and mounted an unsuccessful GOP primary challenge this year to U.S. House Rep. Doug Lamborn. 

Before Klingenschmitt, the district was represented by Douglas Bruce, a Republican as famous for his authorship of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which limits government growth and requires voter approval for all tax increases, as for his bombast in office. In 2008, Bruce was censured by the Colorado legislature after he kicked a photographer for the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News during the legislature’s morning prayer. 

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In an interview with The Colorado Sun, Bottoms characterized a law passed in April affirming access to abortion and contraception in Colorado as “demonic.” He used the same term to describe transgender people and gender-affirming care. 

Bottoms previously told The Colorado Springs Independent he would pursue legislation to prosecute school administrators and teachers if they were to encourage students to seek gender-affirming care. He also described critical race theory, which he claims is shaping school curricula, as demonic. The theory, which holds that racism is systemic in the U.S. and inherent in institutions like the courts and broader criminal justice system, is generally taught in higher education, and many K-12 schools across the state and U.S. have denied teaching the concept.

The staunchly anti-abortion Bottoms, in his interview with The Sun, also repeated debunked claims that Planned Parenthood profits from selling body parts of aborted fetuses. Investigations in multiple states have found no evidence the organization sells fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has said in the past that a small number of their affiliates have donated fetal tissue for medical research, but did not accept payment.

Bottoms claimed the FBI helped foment the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and that federal agents “lured” people into the Capitol building. In reality, supporters of former President Donald Trump invaded the Capitol as a joint session of Congress was in the process of certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

In this Nov. 3, 2015, file photo, the gold-covered dome on the state Capitol shines in the late afternoon sun in downtown Denver. (David Zalubowski, AP Photo, File)

The Republican candidate also said, without providing factual support, the country is seeing human trafficking at “the highest levels of Washington, D.C.,” and he claimed without evidence that former President Bill Clinton has committed crimes against children. 

The accusations echo those of QAnon, a conspiracy theory that pushes false claims about politicians and celebrities engaged in secret child sex rings. When asked about the QAnon conspiracy, Bottoms said he wasn’t aware of it and asked for it to be explained to him. Told the conspiracy involves claims of a child sex ring run by elites, Bottoms said “it would be naive to assume that there’s no child molesters in Washington, D.C.”

Since 2014, no Democratic candidate has won more than 39% of the vote in House District 15. 

Bottoms’ Democratic challenger is Alvin Sexton, a first-time candidate and mechanic who is hopeful he’ll win the Republican-leaning district. “Ninety-nine percent of the comments that my opponent has said, it’s just manufactured outrage,” Sexton said. “The things that he’s upset about and talking about are not happening.”

Bottoms’ candidacy comes as Republicans hope to build a more unified GOP caucus in the House now that “internal dissidents” like Williams are out of office. Then-House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, told The Denver Post earlier this month that he thinks this will be the “most cohesive, cooperative and just dynamic group of people” in the House in a while. McKean died Sunday of a heart attack. He didn’t respond to Colorado Sun messages seeking comment about Bottoms before his death.

The Colorado Republican Party did not respond to requests for comment on Bottoms’ candidacy and his beliefs. 

The party unity McKean hoped for may be challenged, though, by a candidate such as Bottoms, who speaks witheringly of his political opponents — often in stark, biblical terms — and accuses them of harboring dark motives. 

“I will never, ever work alongside anyone that thinks that murdering babies is OK,” Bottoms told The Sun, referring to abortion. “Anybody that does not see that is immoral, ungodly, demonic, destructive. … I will never, ever, ever work with those people. That is not going to be something I compromise on. It’s not going to be something I cave on, under any circumstance.”

Bottoms said he would work only with those politicians who agreed to back what he called “sane legislation,” citing traditional Republican concerns such as shrinking government and cutting taxes.

Democrats hold a significant advantage in the Colorado House, and while their majority in the chamber is expected to shrink after the November election, Bottoms would still have to work with Democrats to pass any legislation.

Despite the Republican tilt of District 15, roughly half of the district’s registered voters are unaffiliated, meaning Bottoms must attract support from outside the party faithful. Just under 32% of the district’s registered voters are Republicans and nearly 18% are Democrats, according to nonpartisan staff for Colorado’s Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission. 

Bottoms is endorsed by the El Paso County Republican Party leadership. 

Karl Schneider, the organization’s vice chairman, said he supports Bottoms but declined to comment on the Republican candidate’s claims. 

“As the vice chair of the party, it’s my duty and responsibility to say, ‘Vote Republican’ and to support all the Republicans. So in that capacity, I support Scott and I support all the other candidates who are on the ballot,” Schneider said. “I would have no comment as to his political ideologies.”

Election Day is Nov. 8.

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Delaney Nelson

Delaney Nelson is The Colorado Sun's 2022 Medill School of Journalism Fellow.