Thursday, January 10, 2013

Corruption allegation sparks controversy in the local GOP

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 5:09 PM

State Sen. Owen Hill
  • State Sen. Owen Hill

Freshman State Sen. Owen Hill, who swept into the Legislature on a wave of local grassroots support, has made his choice known for the upcoming party elections.

In February, the El Paso County Republican Party will be electing its officials, including the chair, vice chair and secretary. Running for the chair position is the current vice chair, Dave Williams, and Hill has endorsed Williams' bid.

In his letter of support, Hill wrote in part:

As someone who came up through the grassroots myself, I know that at least one thing for sure . . . with Democrats controlling both Legislative Chambers and the Governor’s office, our best chance to retake the majority will begin and end with the largest Republican County in Colorado, El Paso County.

But unless we elect new leadership that can credibly reach out to the new voters we need to win, Colorado will continue to be governed by liberals from Boulder and Denver rather than by genuine conservatives here in Colorado Springs.

That’s why I’m writing to you personally to make a sincere and urgent appeal for you to please join me in voting for David Williams to be our new Republican Party Chairman.

That's all well and good, but Hill's letter also included a more critical eye:

In just a few days, I will be sworn in as El Paso County’s newest Republican State Senator.

But in order for me and other Republicans to succeed at the Capitol, I need your help back here at home to rebuild our County Party that has been discredited by ineffective, out-of-touch, and even corrupt leadership.

...

Unfortunately, failed leaders chose to go their own foolish route and, as a result; we have seen staggering election losses. Thankfully, many of us who ran our own campaigns saw the impending train wreck and avoided the staggering losses that the failed GOP leadership produced for folks like State Rep. Mark Barker and Jennifer George.

If only they listened to Dave Williams, we might still have the Colorado State House in Republican control to offer at least some resistance to the Democrats in the Senate and to Hickenlooper.

Blistering under this criticism of party leadership, the current chairman, Eli Bremer, responded with his own email, stating in part:

As Chairman, one of my responsibilities is to defend the Party against false denunciations.

This week some of you received a letter from newly-elected State Senator Owen Hill accusing the Republican Party of everything from corruption to gross incompetence. His accusations are baseless and unjustified, and Senator Hill is well aware of this. His slanderous and deceitful statements are harmful to the efforts of grassroots Republicans who are working to win elections in El Paso County and in the State of Colorado.

...

As a former military officer, Senator Hill took an oath requiring honesty and integrity. It’s disappointing that Senator Hill has chosen a path of deception, and we encourage him to be more honest with Republicans in the future. Senator Hill could be a powerful force for conservative principles in our state if he changes course and embraces integrity and truth instead of dishonesty and political posturing. We encourage the Republicans of El Paso County to hold Senator Hill and all our Republican elected officials to the highest ethical standards as we fight to preserve our freedom and liberty from those who would take those rights from us.

We've reached out to Hill to ask him about all this; if we hear back, we'll update this post.

In the meantime, though, it's worth noting that the response from Bremer irritated Colorado Springs' state Sen. Kent Lambert, who tells the Indy: "I think that this was a step over the line."

"This was a public attack on Owen Hill on his first day of the Senate," he says. "If nothing else, it was stupid."

Lambert says that he forwarded on Bremer's email to the party's state chairman, Ryan Call. He adds that Call said what Bremer did was "inappropriate."

Reached by the Indy, Call won't discuss the matter, stating: "It is my policy not to discuss the nature of any private conversations I have with Republican candidates or elected officials."

However, according to Lambert, Call considers dealing with this internal feud a "top priority."

"A party chairman at the county level is supposed to be neutral," says Lambert. "Eli's consistently not done that, and has used the same kind of statements against anybody who differs with his opinion. ... this is unacceptable and there is a consistent track record of Eli Bremer doing this."

In an email to the Indy, Bremer responded:

It is surprising that Senator Lambert has taken offense to this. He has continually taken the position that the Party should stand on principle. Integrity, honesty, and being a person of your word should be something we all agree upon as the basic standard of behavior for Republicans and Democrats alike. Weather it is properly representing one's resume or speaking only substantiated truth in political campaigns, the Republican Party believes that truth and character are universals values that all voters, should expect to receive from their elected officials. No one is perfect, but Republicans should always strive to set the example of integrity and truthfulness in our political engagement. It is unrealistic to expect voters to support our policies if they do not view the Republican Party and our Republican candidates and office holders as upholding the truth ahead of political considerations.

You can read all of these emails after the jump.

Hill's recommendation, from Williams' Facebook page:

Date: Saturday, January 05, 2013

"In just a few days, I will be sworn in as El Paso County’s newest Republican State Senator.

But in order for me and other Republicans to succeed at the Capitol, I need your help back here at home to rebuild our County Party that has been discredited by ineffective, out-of-touch, and even corrupt leadership.

As someone who came up through the grassroots myself, I know that at least one thing for sure . . . with Democrats controlling both Legislative Chambers and the Governor’s office, our best chance to retake the majority will begin and end with the largest Republican County in Colorado, El Paso County.

But unless we elect new leadership that can credibly reach out to the new voters we need to win, Colorado will continue to be governed by liberals from Boulder and Denver rather than by genuine conservatives here in Colorado Springs.

That’s why I’m writing to you personally to make a sincere and urgent appeal for you to please join me in voting for David Williams to be our new Republican Party Chairman.

David Williams was elected two years ago to be our Vice-Chairman and has done a superb job in trying to return our party to our conservative roots while and reaching out to potential new Hispanic and female voters whom we need to win again.

Unfortunately, failed leaders chose to go their own foolish route and, as a result; we have seen staggering election losses. Thankfully, many of us who ran our own campaigns saw the impending train wreck and avoided the staggering losses that the failed GOP leadership produced for folks like State Rep. Mark Barker and Jennifer George.

If only they listened to Dave Williams, we might still have the Colorado State House in Republican control to offer at least some resistance to the Democrats in the Senate and to Hickenlooper.

The election has come and gone and we must chart a new course to victory. The alternative is just unthinkable — complete Democrat control of Colorado for decades to come. Dave Williams is an energetic, honorable, and successful professional who has worked tirelessly for our party, never for his own benefit, but always for the benefit of others.

Dave understands and lives out the Biblical value that true leadership is synonymous with service to others. Republicans get in trouble when we forget this crucial fact and nominate leaders who are really only interested in themselves… voters can tell the difference.

History has shown that when decisions are made by selfish leaders, they sell us out on principle, turn-off voters on election-day, and hand our opponents the victory. In fact, it seems they have been repeating this same failed model over the past several years with the same result - a less relevant Republican Party that swing voters don’t trust.

With Dave Williams, we can restore trust in the party and begin to win over the swing voters we need to get Republicans back in the majority.

Dave Williams is half-hispanic himself and is our best spokesman to win over Hispanic families who should be voting Republican but instead decide that Democrats are more interested in their well-being than typical insider Republicans are. Sadly, these Party elitists spent most of their time losing elections to Democrats while fighting to keep out new conservative activists instead of welcoming them with open arms.

As a successful businessman in the real world, Dave Williams is a VP of Logistics for a small business in town. Given his broad experience, Dave is the most qualified of anyone running to put in to place effective programs and logistics that will get the GOP back on track and restore our conservative brand.

Service to others first, complete accountability, and open transparency will be the hallmarks of Dave Williams’ leadership as our new Chairman.

With the new Legislature starting just a few days, please help me return the Republican Party to the majority by joining me in support of Dave Williams for El Paso Chair.

Without unified support for Dave’s leadership to restore our party, we can be assured of getting more of the same failed results that the GOP has suffered over and over again.

If Dave and I can count on your support, or if you’d like to talk to me or Dave personally about your important vote in February, please call my cell any time at 210-1086. Then, please fill out and return the enclosed “Reply Memo” so we know we can count on you.

Thanks for your time today and for continued prayers and support as our new Republican team moves forward toward a bright future.

Warmly,
Owen"

Bremer's response:

Dear El Paso County Republican Central Committee Members:

As Chairman, one of my responsibilities is to defend the Party against false denunciations.

This week some of you received a letter from newly-elected State Senator Owen Hill accusing the Republican Party of everything from corruption to gross incompetence. His accusations are baseless and unjustified, and Senator Hill is well aware of this. His slanderous and deceitful statements are harmful to the efforts of grassroots Republicans who are working to win elections in El Paso County and in the State of Colorado.

The truth is that over the past two years, the El Paso County Republican Party has grown and thrived as an organization. When my term began in February, 2011, the Republican Party had been run into the ground by the same group that Senator Hill endorses. We were deeply in debt, encumbered by anemic phone and IT systems, and our volunteers were disorganized and discouraged. Financial accounting was conducted largely with pen and paper, and we had lost 95% of our donor base.

Two years later, we are a highly credible organization. We have earned back the trust of our donors and grassroots volunteers, and the numbers show it. Republican voter turnout in 2012 was at all-time high, nearly 90%. Republican volunteerism in 2012 was at an all-time high. Donors have carefully investigated our operations and finances and invested their hard-earned money in the El Paso County Republican Party at near-record levels. The grassroots activists who actually work with the Republican Party have given us the highest marks for customer service and effective use of volunteer time.

As a former military officer, Senator Hill took an oath requiring honesty and integrity. It’s disappointing that Senator Hill has chosen a path of deception, and we encourage him to be more honest with Republicans in the future. Senator Hill could be a powerful force for conservative principles in our state if he changes course and embraces integrity and truth instead of dishonesty and political posturing. We encourage the Republicans of El Paso County to hold Senator Hill and all our Republican elected officials to the highest ethical standards as we fight to preserve our freedom and liberty from those who would take those rights from us.

As the election for a new Party Chairman approaches, we encourage vibrant discussions on the issues but we implore all sides to be honest with you, the Central Committee members. We need a discourse about the best way to work together to defeat Democrats and advance our values; we do not need false aspersions from within our own organization.

If you have questions about any aspect of our operations, do not hesitate to contact me — I’ll be pleased to have a discussion with one of the most important people in the Party: You.

Eli

Bremer's email to the Indy:

First, I want to say that the Republican Party is committed to supporting all of our Republican elected officials in El Paso County, including Senator Owen Hill in their elected positions. We believe one of our core roles is to support those individuals who the primary voters have selected as our standard bearers on the County Commission, in Denver, and in Washington. Nothing I have said or will say changes my and the El Paso County Republican Party's position of support for all our elected officials in the discharge of their duties.

With this said, there were gross inaccuracies and false allegations in Senator Hill's letter to the El Paso Central Committee. Bill Roy personally called Senator Hill to see if there was something we were unaware of that Senator Hill was referencing in his public letter. Senator Hill admitted that he had no factual basis for the allegations and could not substantiate the accusations he made in his letter. In further flushing out his comments, Senator Hill referenced Party finances as what he was referring to as corrupt in his letter. He admitted to Mr. Roy that he had no knowledge of any financial mismanagement when he sent the letter to the Central Committee. Sending such a letter with false information hurts the Republican Party and the Republican image as a whole. The leadership of the El Paso County Republican Party determined that it was important to set the record straight on these false accusations before they went any further. To conclude this topic, I would like to categorically deny that there has been any financial wrongdoing or any credible accusation of financial mismanagement of El Paso County Republican Party finances. Our finances are disclosed monthly to the Executive Committee and filed with the Secretary of State where they are on public display. Despite objections from David Williams who insisted on unaccountable access to financial data, I instilled industry standard controls on the finances and ensured that multiple people must verify expenses. Furthermore, we have given donors unprecedented access to tracking their donations and oversight into our financial management processes. The El Paso County Republican Party is a model of proper oversight of finances.

It is surprising that Senator Lambert has taken offense to this. He has continually taken the position that the Party should stand on principle. Integrity, honesty, and being a person of your word should be something we all agree upon as the basic standard of behavior for Republicans and Democrats alike. Weather it is properly representing one's resume or speaking only substantiated truth in political campaigns, the Republican Party believes that truth and character are universals values that all voters, should expect to receive from their elected officials. No one is perfect, but Republicans should always strive to set the example of integrity and truthfulness in our political engagement. It is unrealistic to expect voters to support our policies if they do not view the Republican Party and our Republican candidates and office holders as upholding the truth ahead of political considerations.

As we move forward, we encourage Senator Hill and Senator Lambert to work with other Republicans to affect conservative policy in Denver. This is the job their constituents expected of them, and I believe they are both well prepared to work with other Republicans in and effort to block the radical agenda of Colorado Democrats. As with all our elected officials, these individuals have our full support to discharge their duties and fight for conservative values.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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