By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
A prominent conservative blogger and Tom Tancredo supporter yesterday denied that he attempted to break Colorado law by offering a monetary deal to Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes to drop out of the race.
Blogger Ross Kaminsky yesterday responded to a Facebook post by Joseph Harrington, a Colorado conservative activist and Maes supporter, in which Harrington claimed that he was approached by a “well-known blogger, two Metro-Denver area GOP county chairs, two senior operatives for Tom Tancredo” and others who presented a deal in which Maes would “be offered a bunch of money” by an anonymous wealthy donor via a non-profit in exchange for dropping out of the race. Harrington wrote that he believed the deals at their core were illegal.
However, Kaminsky fired back at Harrington yesterday and announced that he was the “well-known blogger” Harrington was referring to. But Kaminsky wrote on his blog that he didn’t present an illegal deal to Harrington, and wrote that the following is what happened:
» On Oct. 4, Kaminsky sent an e-mail to Harrington asking him “what would have to happen for you to vote for Tancredo?” Harrington responded with a short list of things, which Kaminsky said would never happen, such as Tancredo naming Maes as Lt. Governor and giving Maes two cabinet picks;
» Harrington added an e-mail p.s., asking: “do you think a deal could be made? Or are they both idealistic purists who will die on the field of battle.” Kaminsky responded, “The latter…Tom is idealistic and Maes is narcissistic.”
» Harrington then responded asking about a deal for Maes, writing in the e-mail: “I’ll bring Maes along and you bring (Tancredo) and let’s try…it has to happen before ballots drop on the 12th…”
Following the e-mail exchanges, Kaminsky spoke with a friend of Tancredo and told him that “one of Maes’ strongest supporters” wanted to know if any “deal” could be made. The friend, who said he wasn’t authorized to speak for Tancredo, said he had heard of an idea being floated of giving a non-state-funded job to Maes if he would drop out.
Kaminsky the next day called Harrington about the idea of the privately funded job. According to Kaminsky, he emphasized that he didn’t want to be a part of anything illegal and would consult with an election law attorney if they wanted to move forward.
When Harrington relayed the possible deal to Maes, he responded: “Tell that hypocritical, draft dodging, TARP voting, pot endorsing thug to get out of the race and let the people’s choice win this thing for real conservatives!”
Harrington yesterday wrote a follow-up on his Facebook post yesterday saying that he agrees with about 90 percent of Kaminsky’s account. He pointed out that Kaminsky’s blog post confirms that someone was floating the idea of offering Maes a job at a privately funded commission, his main original claim.
Meanwhile, Colorado Ethics Watch (CEW) — a watchdog agency — yesterday called on Maes to disclose any documents and details about the alleged deal. Colorado law states: “No person shall offer or give any candidate or candidate committee any money or any other thing of value for the purpose of encouraging the withdrawal of the candidate’s candidacy, nor shall any candidate offer to withdraw a candidacy in return for money or any other thing of value.” Under this law, a person who made a financial offer to Maes or his campaign in order to encourage him to withdraw would violate Colorado campaign finance law even if the offer were rejected, according to CEW.
“If, as it appears, Dan Maes has evidence that someone offered him money to drop out of the election, he should reveal it,” said a statement from Luis Toro, director of CEW. “Because even making an offer is illegal, it is incumbent on Maes and his campaign to disclose everything they know about any alleged offers to get him to drop out of the governor’s race.”
Former Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, a Democrat, was blasted by Republicans this summer after it was revealed that he was offered a job by President Barack Obama’s administration if he would drop out of the Senate primary race against Michael Bennet. Colorado Republican Party chair Richard Wadhams said at the time that backroom deals are especially rare in Colorado.