I Don’t Suffer Fools

Mike Angley for Sheriff of El Paso County, Colorado Official Air Force Photograph as a Colonel Message to the Troops: Happy Veterans Day 11/11/17I spent 26 years as a senior member of the United States Intelligence and Federal Law Enforcement Communities, serving as a Chief Executive multiple times. I’ve led men and women in counterterrorism operations in the U.S., Middle East, and Far East. I didn’t do these things or rise to the rank of Colonel in the Air Force by suffering fools.

Nor am I about to start.

When I first ran for Sheriff of El Paso County, I made it clear on many occasions how much I disdain politics and the political class. Politics was a necessary evil path to my objective: to once again lead men and women in law enforcement while cleaning up the cancerous political corruption in El Paso County.

As such, I’ve always placed principle over party. I am an American patriot first, a conservative second, and a Republican third. When you consider this and the fact I am not a shrinking violet, you get in me someone who calls out corruption, unethical behavior, duplicity, phoniness, and fake conservatism when I see it.

This post will be no different.

Did New El Paso County Republican Party Chairwoman Put Thumb on Scale?

On Feb 18, 2019, El Paso County GOP Chair Tamra Farah, barely one week into the new job, sent an email to the party faithful, urging people to get involved early in the 2020 election. Nothing wrong with that, except she singled out one elected official for special campaign “contribution” support, stating:

“Our County is the second largest and most Republican County in Colorado. This gives us the unique opportunity to contribute to Senator Cory Gardner’s reelection. How can we do that? By increasing voter turn-out to help make up the difference in other parts of the state that have gone blue.”

The problem, of course, is that Cory Gardner isn’t guaranteed he’ll be the GOP nominee in 2020. He must first survive the primary – for which he may be challenged by another Republican. It appears the El Paso County GOP Chair essentially endorsed a candidate for a primary race long before the primary, a violation of party by-laws. Anyone who might challenge Gardner is already disadvantaged by the Republican Party ahead of the primary.

I complained to Ms. Farah that same day via email, citing my concerns and asking for a retraction. I also asked her if her endorsement of Gardner violated party by-laws.

What Do El Paso County GOP By-laws State?

Section 2.03 Primary Contests:

“No candidate for any designation or nomination for partisan public office should be endorsed, supported, or opposed by the El Paso County Republican Central Committee, acting as an entity, or its elected officers individually or as a group, or committees before the Primary Election, unless such candidate is unopposed in the Primary Election. The elected officers shall supervise staff to prevent the appearance these provisions are being violated. [Source: CRS Bylaws III C].”

This is very clear. By putting her thumb on the scale for Cory Gardner before a primary, by asking people to “contribute” to his re-election, Chairwoman Farah seems to have endorsed him over every potential future primary challenger.

This isn’t even an instance of the “appearance” of violating these provisions as the last line above cautions. It would appear to be the wholesale, blatant, inappropriate, and flagrant violation of them. How is Ms. Farah expected to “supervise staff” to prevent what she herself has so consciously violated?

I never received a response in the two weeks since asking for her retraction. But something else happened that seemingly doubled down on her apparent violation of by-laws and endorsement of Gardner.

Mean Girls Episode: Middle School Edition

It’s no secret that I’m no fan of Cory Gardner. He’s a typical establishment Republican, the kind who campaigns from the right, only to govern from center left. He’s of the John McCain, Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney brand, the ever-never-Trumper class that fights our President harder than any of them ever fought Obama.

There are other words like, Republican-in-Name-Only (RINO), “moderate” (that’s too far right for Gardner in my judgment)…you get the point.

On Feb 26th, I tweeted a snarky compliment of Gardner for his rare conservative vote on the bill to provide medical care to babies who survive abortion. I included in it a “mention” to the official El Paso County GOP Twitter account.

Sometime after that, I discovered the El Paso County GOP blocked me on Twitter. I found that response humorous (because it was petulant and childish) but also disconcerting from a few perspectives:

  • True conservatives value free speech and the First Amendment, but by blocking mine, what does that suggest about the County GOP’s respect for the Constitution?
  • If criticizing the party’s inappropriately-endorsed primary favorite leads to a Twitter block, then that’s yet another party thumb on the Gardner scale (as if we needed more evidence).
  • By blocking the voices of those who might want someone other than Gardner to be the party’s nominee in 2020, the party is signaling its mind is closed to any challenger.
  • I am still an official candidate for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office race, haven’t ended my campaign.
    • The optics of the county party blocking the free speech of a county candidate is incredibly unprofessional.
    • Recall from the by-laws that the party cannot endorse or OPPOSE any candidate for office. But this reaction to my free speech suggests opposition to me before the primary.

Here is a bit of irony. On the County GOP’s Twitter page is a cover picture of the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln once said:

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision.”

Lincoln didn’t say elections belong to party elites, the country club establishment political class. But that’s how it seems structured in El Paso County with these apparent by-law violations and the marginalization of the conservative base.

If this were a one-off rookie mistake by a new party chair, it might be excusable, but it’s not. Farah is an entrenched party insider with a long history of establishment “Republican” activism. She knows better.

Even before her current tenure, the party leadership engaged in similar shenanigans. During my campaign I chronicled several instances of many thumbs of the scale in favor of my establishment opponent and efforts to impugn me.

  • Will Ms. Farah issue a retraction of her premature endorsement of Cory Gardner?
  • Will Gardner reject or rebuke the support?
  • Will the state GOP get involved and correct the violation?

I won’t hold my breath. It seems the by-laws are “meant for thee, and not me” when it comes to the party elites.

Does that sound like something from the Democrat Party Playbook? Perhaps because it is.

Bigger Issues: Non-stop Leadership Failures

The establishment push for Cory Gardner is symptomatic of a bigger issue. Colorado Republicans have been losing elections for years, but rather than making a serious attempt at understanding why, the party elders keep repeating the same failed process.

What the elites are missing is the heartbeat of the conservative base and our abject disappointment with THEM. Our discontent is boiling over into anger with the broken promises of RINO politicians, like Gardner. Party officials will swear they have nothing to do with election outcomes, that it’s all on the shoulders of the candidates.

But what they won’t admit is that when they front load the primaries with thumbs of scales, they propel lousy candidates to the general election. The base is fed up with the manipulation of the primary process to push establishment hacks to the forefront.

I’ve written about this before. In a November 2018 op-ed, ‘Why Republicans LOSE Elections (Colorado, Pay Attention),’ in The Conservative Pundit, I go into great detail about the origins of the conservative base’s frustration with the party.

Farah’s email is just the latest in the series of disgust we’ve had with the party’s failed leadership.

Nothing’s changed.