Gossip: 3/13/09

FRANKLY MY DEAR, I DON’T GIVE A DAMN

When the Executive Committee of Colorado Legislature considers which “admonitions” to recommend against lobbyist Erik Groves, House Minority Leader Mike May will be sitting on the front bench.

“I plan to vote,” said May.

Some observers perceive a conflict in May voting in a matter in which he became involved.

“I don’t give a damn,” he declared.

In December, May helped Rep. Cindy Acree, R-Aurora, file an ethics complaint against Groves. On basis of Acree’s charges, May filed a complaint of possible collusion against Assistant Minority Leader David Balmer, R-Centennial. The complaint against Balmer was later dismissed for lack of probable cause.

The complaints stemmed from a hotly contested leadership race between Balmer and Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch. Both were running to replace May, who had planned to retire the leadership post.

“This was very serious,” said May. “It gave the impression that votes could be bought in the House.”

Groves, a lobbyist for the Colorado Chiropractic Association, testified that a fundraiser for Acree’s campaign was cancelled in October, so the association offered a campaign donation. The $300 check was written to Acree in mid-December — during the brief race between Balmer and McNulty.

Acree said the lobbyist mentioned the check and solicited a vote for Balmer. Groves said he did want to discuss the leadership race, but that he never mentioned Balmer’s name or attempted to sway her vote. The check was voided after the lobbyist learned of Acree’s ethics complaint.

A bipartisan committee recommended that Groves receive a verbal and written admonition for having discussed an internal leadership race with a legislator, in violation of a rule that governs lobbyists. Groves has said he was unaware of the rule.

COLORADO GOP CHAIR CONTEST HEATS UP!

“Nobody wanted my job two years ago when I inherited a mountain of debt,” said state GOP Chair Dick Wadhams. “Now that we have money in the bank, it’s an attractive job to other people.”

When he took office in 2007, Wadhams said he had to grapple with a $600,000 debt and vowed to get the party out of debt.

“I’m proud to say that now we don’t owe money to anybody and we have money in the bank,” Wadhams told Colorado Federation of Republican Women members this week at their legislative day luncheon.

Wadhams also took a swipe at his opponent, former Eagle County Commissioner Tom Stone. Stone criticized the state GOP for running the party like a dictatorship with orders coming down from the top. Stone said he plans to run the party from the grassroots up — conferring with party chairs in every county.

“County party chairs did feel disenfranchised in the past years, but we restored that connection with our chairs around the state,” said Wadhams.

Over the past two years, Wadhams said that he’s worked with the grassroots Republicans, county chairs and legislators, and that he plans to continue to do so.

Stone introduced himself to the CFRW members as a candidate who learned a lot from having served as an Eagle County Commissioner from 1998 to 2006.

“When I decided to run for the office of Eagle County commissioner, I looked for a Republican woman to be my campaign manager. As a matter of fact, I slept with my campaign manager,” declared Stone.

After a pause and chuckle, he clarified, “My campaign manager is my wife… and I want to thank her.”

His wife, Henri-Karen Stone, was a lecturer for the Regional Women’s Campaign School in Kuwait in 2006. Stone told the Vail Daily that her objective was to give Iraqi women the tools to spread democracy and women’s rights.

Henri-Karen Stone, CFRW 3rd vice president, also made news last month when Westword (and The Colorado Statesman) photographed her skillfully carving a pig at the “porkulus bill” protest on the state Capitol steps. The rally was held to protest President Barack Obama’s signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Her husband said he’s running for state GOP chair to return the party to Republican values, utilize technology such as Facebook for communications and build coalitions to pull in Libertarians and pro-choice Republicans.

He said he became concerned about the Republican Party when former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis retired and his 3rd Congressional District seat was won by Democrat U.S. Rep. John Salazar. Stone said things became progressively worse in 2006 and 2008.

“I wish Stone would run for the 3rd CD seat instead of state party chair,” moaned Joy Wood, herself a former candidate for Congress in CD 1. “That would make more sense.”

Both Wadhams and Stone aim to unseat the top dog Democrats: Gov. Bill Ritter and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

State GOP Vice Chair Perry Buck is not seeking another term. So far, three candidates are vying for her seat: Curt Grina, Leondray Gholston and Nathan Chambers.

Grina is vice chair of the Teller County GOP and previously served as chair. He is chairman of the Colorado Heritage Foundation.

Gholston spoke at the state Republican Party Convention and ran for Republican National Committeeman. He lost to former state Treasurer Mark Hillman, but came in second, edging even past Sen. Dave Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs.

Chambers, an attorney, served as Arapahoe County GOP chair and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention.

The state GOP Central Committee will make its selections on March 21 at the Douglas County High School in Castle Rock.

CHARLIE BROWN DUMPS THE ‘D’

Considerable confusion seems to surround the political affiliation of District 6 Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown.

There were no doubts, of course, back in 1983-1984, when he represented South Denver in the Colorado House as a Democrat.

Brown — who took our questions with good grace despite the fact that he was home recovering from painful foot surgery when we phoned — said the uncertainty might be rooted in his fiscal conservatism.

“People tend to think Democrats can’t be fiscal conservatives,” he noted with a wince in his voice.

Whatever the root cause, Brown says MSNBC host Keith Olbermann boosted the bafflement quotient considerably by introducing him on his show as a Republican.

“The MSNBC Web site even had me listed as Republican, but I never have been,” said Brown, who believes Olbermann’s error might have led the Denver Post to err.

The Post called him a Republican in an April 26 article about Denver’s reaction to a pronouncement by radio host Rush Limbaugh, who had said he hoped there would be riots during the then-upcoming Democratic National Convention.

The inaccuracy was particularly galling considering that Suzanne Brown, Charlie’s wife, has been the Post’s fashion editor for quite some time now.

The “correction” of that piece is still posted on the newspaper’s Web site.

“This article has been corrected in this online archive,” it reads. “Originally, due to a reporting error, an incorrect party affiliation, name and listening habit was given for councilman Charlie Brown, who is a Democrat and an occasional (Limbaugh) listener.”

Which would be all well and good were it not for the fact that, according to both Brown and the Office of the Denver County Clerk and Recorder, the councilman had abandoned the Democratic Party earlier in April.

Apparently, the confusion had helped him focus on the issue. These days, he’s proudly unaffiliated.

“The Denver City Charter says City Council is unaffiliated, and I wanted to respect that,” Brown said. “I got tired of reading newspaper stories that said Jeanne Faatz was the only Republican on the Council, as if the rest of us were all the same.

“And some want Council to be all partisan, but I think that would be a disaster,” he said. “Then we’d be just like Chicago.”

Brown says dumping the “D” has freed his mind.

“I got tired of the party telling me how to vote,” he said. “Sometimes I agreed. Sometimes I didn’t. But when you put that ‘D’ or ‘R’ by your name, you’re pigeonholed.

“I should have changed it years ago,” he said. “It just wasn’t a priority. Labels don’t solve problems. Reasonable, rational people solve problems.”