Conflict of Interest Exposed

The Dead Governors appear to be the first on the story of alleged conflict of interest going on in the Republican primary. And there’s a LOT of disinformation floating around in the comment section, as usual. There is only one essential disagreement between the Holtzman campaign and the State Republican Party: is it proper for a professional political vendor to work for two clients with overlapping interests?

I hate airing dirty Republican laundry like this, but when you are close enough to the sources to know what’s going on, and the whole thing needs to be cleared up, well… the choice was easy.

The story came to life when the highly trustworthy Sean McCarthy of Pueblo County gave the following account to Holtzman’s staff:

Re: Telephone solicitation, Tuesday, March 1, 2006
I received a phone call from a telemarketer at approximately 8:23pm on the aforementioned date. The caller said she was calling on behalf of the Colorado Republican Party. I listened while she went through her prepared pitch. She asked for my donation of $600. I told her that I was not able to donate that much at present, as I was focused on local elections, but, I intended to donate at a later date. She immediately went into her “overcome the objection” pitch. She told me that she understood, but that timing was critical as every dollar carried the weight of two dollars during this particular period. She said that we were winning in the polls, “Bob Beauprez is ahead 58% to 13%.” This last statement caught me off guard, but she continued her line without allowing me to question her. She continued by saying that any contribution would help us win this election. At this point I asked her if she was calling on behalf of the party, or Bob Beauprez. She seemed to stumble a bit. By this time I was very agitated. The call had interrupted my preparations for bed, and this caller was not making sense. I told her that I was supporting Marc Holtzman, and that I was not interested. I hung up the phone.

When confronted with the facts, State Party officials conceded that they had contracted with the same telephone fundraising vendor as the Beauprez campaign. They claim that the problem was with one rogue caller employed by the vendor who stepped over the line, and nothing more. The Holtzman team was not aware of any evidence to show that the problem had been more widespread than the one caller, though they have received numerous reports from supporters who had a similar experience.

There are no serious allegations of which I am aware that charge either the State Party or the Beauprez campaign with malicious intent. However, the Holtzman team does have a legitimate concern about conflict of interest, and no guarantee can be made that further incidents like this will not occur. It’s standard best practice within the field not to do work in overlapping cases. Regardless, it reflects poorly on the GOP, some of whose operatives appear to have learned nothing from the disastrous seeds they sowed during the 2004 Coors-Schaffer Senate campaign. Holtzman’s people should be praised for shining the light of day on the situation (read running mate Lola Spradley’s letter to State GOP Chairman Bob Martinez) , not cowing to underhanded tactics used by one or more to pressure them out of the race, and running strong on a platform of internal state party reform.

I hope this is just an isolated incident of an overambitious caller and poor judgment by State Party officials. But if it can be shown that more extensive elements operating within the Republican Party structure are concerned enough about Holtzman’s candidacy to run underhanded tactics like these against him, they must have someone quite formidable on their hands.

One final note: it’s cases like these that have tremendous potential to push good people from participating more actively in the political process. And that, my friend, is sad, indeed.

Cross posted at Holtzman v Beauprez

Editor’s note: Sean’s direct quote was substituted for the paraphrase when the quote became available to Mount Virtus.

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