One week after the failed coup attempt on the newly elected Chairman of the Colorado GOP details have begun to leak out, and it doesn’t look good for those who tried to take out Steve House.
You may not have yet heard about shenanigans that have occurred in Colorado over the last few weeks, so allow me to give you a quick back brief to catch you up. After two election cycles under the leadership of Ryan Call huge divisions still remained in the Colorado GOP between conservative activists, establishment republicans, the liberty movement, and all the other regular players, the only thing they really agreed on was that Ryan Call had to go. March 14 of this year everyone got what they wanted when Steve House defeated Ryan Call and became the new Chairman of the GOP.
Fast forward three months to last week when House gets asked to a meeting by Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman that turns out to be an attempt by Coffman, Tom Tancredo, and Becky Mizel – Chairman of the Pueblo GOP, to oust House from his position as Chair of the Colorado GOP. Though early reports from this meeting mentioned grave concerns about how House has run the state party, Coffman, Tancredo and Mizel haven’t yet publicly detailed these grave concerns. Instead what we have seen is a campaign of innuendo and slander devoid of fact or any actual evidence, circumstantial or otherwise.
I should note now that the manner in which this meeting went down has been described by media outlets and others as a blackmail attempt by Coffman, Tancredo, and Mizel. In fact, it has been confirmed by House’s spokesperson to local reporter Brandon Rittiman that they have “reached out to federal and state prosecutors about his allegations of a coup attempt to remove him from his leadership post at the state party, led by Republican state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.”
You read that correctly, Rittiman report that the Colorado GOP Chair has reached out to the authorities because the highest law officer in the state allegedly may have tried to blackmail him over allegations of an affair.
This is an incredibly serious allegation, more serious than that of of affair by House, which was reportedly alleged by Coffman, Tancredo, and Mizel during their coup attempt last week.
So why is all of this happening, and are any of the allegations of marital infidelity by Steve House true? Both of these questions will need a bit of unpacking, so please stay with me all the way to the end.
Let’s start with why all of this is happening. In Colorado there are multiple power brokers, but there is one faction that embraces the no holds barred knife fighting style of politics that often drives good people out of politics. That faction is headed up by Dudley Brown, Guy Short and Ted Harvey. Some of these names may be familiar to you from those scam PAC fundraising emails you get from StopHillary. Or maybe you saw one of those names attached to Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. Or maybe you remember Guy Short from Representative Michelle Bachman’s campaign. Regardless of where you’ve heard these names, what you should know is that these groups raise really large sums of cash in and out of the election cycle while never really moving the ball forward on issues or via elections. When you take a look at the different reports for the various groups you will consistently find that the salaries they pay themselves often eat up most of the donor money that has flowed to them.
When House was elected Chair of the party Ted Harvey sent out a press release which stated he would become Executive Director, preemptively it turned out. This is from which all the ensuing controversy actually stems. Ted Harvey claimed that Steve House promised him the position during the campaign for Chair. This may or may not have actually happened, it is possible that future positions were mentioned, that said, I think there is somewhat an unwritten rule that all offers during a campaign are soft and open to being pulled in their entirety.
Steve House, wisely in the opinion of many that I spoke to, decided against Ted Harvey for the post. That easily explains the motivations of Tom Tancredo and Becky Mizel to turn on House, but that doesn’t really explain why Coffman would risk her career, her position as Attorney General, and, quite honestly, expose her husband, Congressman [mc_name name=’Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001077′ ], to this sort of scandal. Rumors and theories abound as to why Coffman got involved, but frankly I am not yet comfortable repeating any of them, even if they are known secrets locally. Suffice to say, I expect her participation had something to do with her personal and political beliefs on SSM being leveraged against her, but this is mostly informed speculation on my part.
I reached out the former state Representative BJ Nikkel who worked closely with the Dudley, Ted Harvey faction during her time on staff with former Representative Marylyn Musgrave, and asked what she thought about the coup attempt on House. “The subversive attempt to oust Steve House, thwart the political process and votes of state GOP delegates has the fingerprints of Dudley Brown, his good friend Ted Harvey, and their band of bullies all over it. These guys will attempt to smear you and primary you if they can’t control you. Steve House obviously decided he didn’t want the likes of those guys – and they do come as a package deal – on his team.”, Nikkel said.
As for the allegations of an affair? I sat down for an interview with Chairman House last week and asked him directly about the allegations of an affair. The full interview, which includes a lot of great information about what House has done to move the party forward in Data & Infrastructure, is at the end of this post, but I want to highlight House’s denial of an affair right now.
When I asked House about the allegations of an affair with a GOP activist, House replied with the following, “I absolutely, unequivocally, am not having an affair. I love my wife, we have a wonderful marriage, the rumors are out there, I’m not sure who starts them, I don’t know why they think they, you know, they have the right to do that.”
There really isn’t any wiggle room there. That is a 100% denial. If this turns out to be a lie and evidence can be provided, that will be another story in an of itself,
With that said, what about the other woman? What has she said?
Well, I am glad you asked. An audio interview performed by former federal agent, and current Vice Chair from Adams County, John Sampson with Julie Naye – the alleged mistress, and her close friend, Lana Fore, was published by the state’s version of Daily Kos yesterday. In the interview Naye adamantly denies the allegations of having an affair with Steve house, and damn if she doesn’t sound convincing. In fact, even the lefty outlet that published the audio noted that if she is lying, she is incredibly good at it.
As it stands now, barring any additional evidence provided by the accusers, it appears that Steve House has been falsely accused by some of the most powerful Republicans in Colorado.
This Friday there will be a meeting of the Colorado Executive Committee where these issues will be discussed. Hopefully we can find a way to put all of this behind us and put our efforts towards winning in 2016. I know for a fact from my interview with Chairman House that he has pushed hard to enhance our GOP organization as a statewide machine that can not only lead when needed, but also assist local GOP orgs to lead on their own.
FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT FROM JUNE 19, 2016 BELOW
AG: Tell me about you and your election, your campaign, election to chair, what your vision was for the party, and how do you think you have progressed so far.
SH: I just made the decision to run for Chair in late December of 2014, uh, at the urging of a number of people um who really felt like there needed to be competition, , we need to offer, we needed to have multiple visions to consider um in terms of going forward with the republican party itself. And so I got into the race and it became a race between Ryan and I and I think part of the vision there was, in my mind, the definition of winning was something the Republican party needed to change it was great that we won the us senate race and it was great that we had senate back but essentially we are playing defense in both cases. We are playing defense in washington and we are playing defense in the statehouse because we don’t control the majority. And so my def of winning was and is that you have to control the agenda that is going on in these legislative bodies to be able to provide what conservatives and republicans want. Which is a lower more qualified regulatory environment with limited government and less taxes, and until we get to that point winning can only be defined as the ability to control those agendas. We obviously won in march. On march 14. Bigger victory than I expected. I’m not, I don’t really get, have any understanding of why its just people want a change in leadership. Um when I took over the party, like any party, Im not gonna dog my predecessor regarding debt and financial challenges but ever single party that comes out of an election year has debt and financial challenges.
As did we, so that first month was relatively stressful as we were starting to build relationships with donors and you know, getting enough money in to pay payroll starting to reorganize staff, we lost a number of people from the staff, uh, we moved some people around to make sure that we were financially able to pay our bills and get caught up on some of the debt that we inherited and so in the first 3 months our focus became not only paying the bills and developing relationships with donors and fundraising but also to start to build the date and infrastructure we need as a party Im a personal believer, I tell people this all the time, my first press vote was 80 for Ronald Reagan, in 84 I voted for Ronald Reagan, I’ve been waiting for him to come back ever since. And thats not a winning strategy in elections, you got to actually build the data, the infrastructure, the county organizations, and the things necessary to drive the boat in the direction we need it when elections come along. So, as part of this first 3 months data and infrastructure are a huge factor.
I also made the decision to place a gentleman named Jeff Pioter on the staff as the Chief Information Officer Jeff is a volunteer, just like I am neither of us get paid for this and what Jeff’s job to do is to figure out how to build the best data & infrastructure we can to put in the hands of everyone from county chairs to volunteers and everybody in between to help build this 64 franchise organization that is our state. The 64 counties are the 64 franchises, from my business mind. That we would be able to do that with everybody using the same datasets brain able to capture data and use data in a way that will help us communicate to voters, get them out to vote, we can use it for fundraising, we can do a lot of things with this data structure. So that’s been gong on this first 3 months, and frankly its been going very very well.
AG: You know, if I could interject just one point here for the readers at RedState and the listeners … I want to just note how important that is, because, we saw in 2014 what a well run county can do with data and getting out the vote, uh, with El Paso County and also Douglas County, we saw big pushes in both those counties that were really critical to us winning that senate seat for [mc_name name=’Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’G000562′ ]. So I want to reitterate the importance of that, and that you are focusing on that, that really shows a different sort of perspective than where our party has been for the last couple of cycles.
I agree, I think you said it well. I think the other thing about data & infrastructure thats so important is that voters from millennials, back to the builders and the silent generation of my parents, voters still require the feeling that they have a relationship with a candidate or with a party in order to support it. And it means fundraising support, voting support and everything, and I think part of what makes data & infrastructure so important is that it helps you develop relationships by getting to know people in the limited amount of time you have to interact with them in a voting scenario. If you can get to know them by having more information about what their preferrences are, from how they like to be talked to, how, they like to be contacted, to, you know, when you can stop by their house. Those are all things that are important in developing those relationships.
AG: Absolutely. Now, you said you guys have been making some pretty good advances with this data, tech surge so far … Are there any points of interest or highlights that you’d want to let us in on in Colorado right now?
SH: Yeah, we have an agreement between the National Republican Committee and their data team and our team as well as a third party who actually has installed, I think its 9 or 10 of the counties are using this system built by Craig Steiner. Craig’s a great guy, and they love the technology and we don’t want to take it out of their hands, so we established that an interface is being built between the GOP Data and Craig’s system so that there can be a bidirectional interaction between Craig’s system and GOP Data, while other counties may directly use GOP Data, at least we know that everyone’s going to be having the same data. So when Craig goes out, or somebody from one of the counties he supports goes out and gathers data, that data will then be uploaded into GOP Data, and the same thing will happen with GOP Data. It will be uploaded into GOP Data and then it will be downloaded back into Craig’s system. So, even if the users see a different user interface, we know the data is the same, and that way we eliminate redundancy, we not going to the same house too many times because we didn’t know somebody else was already there, and we learn and we take out redundancy and we add efficiency into the process as we go.
AG: Absolutely. Um, now, uh, just like any other party chair is going to have, uh, you have a few detractors, not everybody, uh, can always get along. Um, and, the other night there was a, a coup attempt, we;’ll say … that’s what’s being pushed in the media. Uh, I want to give you an opportunity to go ahead and address that, uh, and let the people know what happened from your perspective, and what you think needs to be done to get past it and focus on 2016 and getting Colorado back on the right track.
SH: Ok, before we address that can I go back and address one other thing done at the party that I think is really important?
AG: Oh, absolutely, yes. Sorry about that.
SH: Yeah, so. So besides data & infrastructure the other thing that we focused on, or that we are focusing on, is how we do messaging and branding, because we think during the season where there is not an election going on, although we muni eletions are also important to us for many reasons, we’ve hired as a volunteer as well, a chief Marketing Officer. In this particular case that Chief Marketing Officer is, um, Jim Cook, out of Larimer County, and Jim has got a Masters and PHD and he teaches at CSU. So, we’re sitting down looking at those generations of voters and figuring out how we communicate with them. And I think its really really critical, not only to be able to communicate with them, but to know what to say and what the messaging should be, so that people can identify what the Republican brand is. And so, thats been one of our key things, and the one staff member we added, even though we’ve lost most of our staff in the transition, we added Tyler Hart and we gave her the title of Chief of Staff, and a lot of people struggle with that, but what a Chief of Staff really is is, in my book, in the business world, she works for me and she is outward facing, so she takes care of problems the counties have, the candidates have, her job is really just to service outside of the republican party for those who have needs, as opposed to having any internal staff working for her, and she’s doing a fabulous job, so we’ve become a more service oriented party as well.
AG: Almost like the constituent service model for Congress.
SH: Yeah, very much like that.
AG: Excellent, excellent. Um, so, uh, all of those are very good, and I love that you, like you said, you brought in a Chief Technology Officer, you’ve brought in a marketeer, you’ve brought in someone to help with constituent services for the republican party, outside of the internal needs of the republican party. These are all great things.
Now, like I said before, everybody is going to have their detractors at certain points,
AG: … And you’ve garnered a few, already. Um, honestly, from my perspective it seems a little early, after just getting you elected to orchestrate a coup against you. I think you’ve done some pretty good things right off the bat, and uh, are working towards a positive goal for our party and for our State. So, why don’t you go ahead like I said and address this attempted coup, as it has been called in the media, and give us your perspective on what happened, and how this came about.
SH: I was asked to attend a meeting, which has been made public in may outlets today, um, bt the AG, and I ended up going to the meeting expecting to be with her in a meeting and end up with her and Tom Tancredo and Becky Mizel, who it the county chair in Pueblo. And during the meeting they expressed to me that they had concerns that they felt were grave enough after 90 days, that I should resign. And, um, I obviously didn’t` agree with that, and you know, the meeting, I’ve heard people say the meeting ended abruptly, it didn’t really end abruptly it was a moment in which Mr. Tancredo felt he was done speaking and that it was time to go, and so we essentially all left at the same time. But later that night 2 people from the meeting, and I guess in this case it was Cynthia via tweet, it was either that night or the next morning, but certainly via Facebook, Becky Mizel, even though we’d had this conversation and it was intended to be private, um, posted on FB that I was resigning which was not true and I had published the fact I texted them saying that I wasn’t going to resign, So you know, the nut of it is, those are sort of the base details of the meeting, but in the republican party, like any other membership org that has` a reasonable set of bylaws, theres a process you can go through to file a grievance. A grievance, against a chair, a vice chair, anyone you want, and that process should be followed, should’ve been followed. I mean, look, my management style is not going to fit everybody. I’ve managed a lot of people in my life but its not going to fit everybody. And the dynamics of running the republican party, or any political party, are very complicated because you inherit the job, or you win the job, and you have it virtually that day with very little transition that goes on, so there are a lot of moving parts and nuances, and the need to raise money, and apparently they have some grievances on how I have conducted that in the first 90 days, and those grievances need to be raised at an Executive Committee meeting and I am certain that they will in the very near future.
AG: Well, um, beyond the nuts and bolts of running a party and the grievances they have over this, there’s also reports in the media of something much more personal and less professional. Um, and its rumors and innuendo, and I don’t really like giving it any legitimacy by mentioning it but, I would like to give you the opportunity to address it, and let people know unequivocally, what the truth is on this. So, um, there were allegations, or rumors of infidelity on your part in your marriage, so if you would please address that, I would appreciate it.
SH: I absolutely, unequivocally, am not having an affair. I love my wife, we have a wonderful marriage, the rumors are out there, I’m not sure who starts them, I don’t know why they think they, you know, they have the right to do that. I have a fundamental belief in how I operate with the people that work for me, and I think we as a party should adopt this … So I’ve got a vice chair and I got a secretary. The day that they were elected, which was on March 14, from that day forward, they are responsible as professionals in this party, just as I am, if something occurs in their personal life during that period of time that puts the reputation of the party in jeopardy, then they may be held responsible for that. But this party, political people in general, have no right to dig into people’s lives, truth or fiction, either way is wrong. It’s absolutely wrong for people to do that, and so, um,for anyone to come out there and first of all start a rumor that’ s not true addressing my marriage and my life with Donna, it’s none of their, its not of their business, flat out. But had I done something in this time as chair, or had my vice chair or secretary done something, we absolutely can be held accountable, otherwise it’s nobodies business how you conduct your personal life. Period.
AG: Absolutely, and um, so with that, ok … so there are factions within our party. These are acknowledged pretty widely within the repubilican party here in Colorado, um, some factions are hardball tactics, um, some factions are a little bit less hardball tactics, to be generous. Um, so how do we, how can you, after this incident, um, move forward with the republican party, how can the republican party move forward together in unity towards 2016 to really leverage the early work you’ve done in these first 3 months, setting us up with messaging and data, and you know, somebody there to help run the show with you?
SH: You know, I think that these kinds of things where you have internal squabbles, and this is a pretty serious one, they set you up o be better going forward as long as you can lead your way through it. I have seen it at companies, and my entire life’s been in business not politics, but, once we sit down, we talk about the grievances and what the issues are in their mind, um, we’ll either come to an agreement or to a disagreement or some mix of both. And I think as long as I treat people with the respect they deserve and the positions they’re in, even my biggest detractors need to be treated the right way, because there here because they have a passionate belief about politics and winning. And we may disagree on how to manage the party and things like that, but my intention would be to try and bring the party back together at that point and you know, acknowledge if there are changes i need to make in how I manage the party because they give me feedback. That’ ow I got to be a pretty good leader to begin with, is taking feedback from people and then evolving how I manage business or lead business. So, I expect that we get through it and then once we do, you know we’ll take an honest look at what the grievances are well deal with them and move on and run the party the same way we’ve intended. I believe at that point in time this will be looked back on as say a week or two that we lost time, but we gained confidence in each other and we dealt with a cultural issue that apparently was bound to bubble up one way or the other.
AG: Well, I appreciate you taking the time to come on today and talk through this coup and talk about where the republican party in Colorado is heading. I think once we get through this there are bright times ahead, you have a good plan, and we just need get everyone rowing in the same direction and really working towards the same goal. and we could really make something happen in 2016. So, I appreciate you making the time to come on and talk about this.
SH: Thank you Aaron I appreciate the fact that you called and asked me about it. And uh, anytime you need it just give me a call.