Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Joel Miller cries foul over non-endorsement endorsement

Posted By on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Editor's note: To correct an editing error, and make the post more clear, some text has been removed from the fifth paragraph.

The El Paso County Republican Party is not endorsing Colorado Springs City Councilor Angela Dougan.

Bill Roy couldn't be more emphatic on this point.

"Only as a private citizen, me, Bill Roy, one Colorado Springs citizen, I'm endorsing her. It doesn't mean a lot," he says. "The party is not endorsing her. There's no party communications, resources, materials, people, volunteers, time — there is no party endorsement. There's absolutely no party endorsement."

If Dougan's use of Roy's title — executive director of the El Paso County GOP — on the endorsements page of her campaign website gives the wrong impression, that's not his fault, he says.

Jeff Hays is not endorsing Angela Dougan. The new chairman of the county GOP couldn't be more emphatic on this point.

Jeff Hays during last years elections
  • Jeff Hays during last year's elections.

So when an invitation to a Dougan campaign event was emailed last month to Republican voters in Pine Creek, Hays says, he had not given the event's host permission to include this line: "We have a new El Paso County GOP Chairman, Jeff Hayes [sic] (Pine Creek resident). Jeff and Mayor Bach will make an appearance in support of Angela."

Hays called the impression that he was supporting Dougan a "misunderstanding" and quickly went to Facebook to clarify the error, stating:

"I want to make it crystal clear that I am not endorsing or otherwise supporting any particular city council candidate, but I am trying to attend as many of the different candidates' functions to meet folks and show my support for all candidates willing to stick their necks out to run for office and serve our community."

Misunderstanding(s) aside, none of this has sat too well with Dougan's Republican opponent in the race, Joel Miller.

On Sunday, Miller sent an email to Roy and Hays, which stated in part:

It puzzles me, then, why members of the El Paso County Central Committee would continue to support or have the appearance of supporting Angela Dougan (in violation of the bylaws). An invitation to hundreds of Pine Creek residents to a Dougan event stated that "Jeff Hayes, our new County GOP Chairman will be making an appearance to support Angela." While you agreed to place a retraction, it was only placed on your personal Facebook page and I was not able to see it even when looking for it. In Bill's GOP email last week, he made clear that "The El Paso County Republican Party is not associated with the conduct of this election, nor do we endorse any candidate...," yet on Angela Dougan's website under "endorsements" is listed "Bill Roy - El Paso County GOP Executive Director" (http://angeladougan.wpannex.com/endorsements/)

In an email to the Indy, Roy writes, in part, "neither Jeff nor I have violated any Bylaw . . . not technically, not virtually, not in spirit, not legally, not in any way. Both Jeff and I have made it clear in multiple public communications that the El Paso County Republican Party is not involved in the City Council Race, nor does the Party endorse any of the City Council Candidates."

Furthermore, the section of the bylaws that would restrict a party official from making a public endorsement only applies to primaries, and not to the nonpartisan City Council races.

From the bylaws:

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.

Miller understands that this is not technically a primary race in which he's involved; however, he says, it still doesn't sit well that Roy, a GOP functionary, would wade in.

"Having read the bylaws, I thought that the endorsement of Mr. Roy, and the unrefuted — even though it wasn't intentional — endorsement of Mr. Hays contradicts the bylaws," he says. "The spirit of it should be in any race where there's multiple Republicans; that's not the way it's being interpreted, apparently."

Miller says that he brought his concern to Hays' attention back in February, and wasn't satisfied that Hays addressed it only by making a statement on his personal Facebook page.

When asked about this, Roy argues that the party did address this via email as well. Indeed, a few paragraphs into a (rather dense) March 13 housekeeping message to its entire membership list of 13,000 active Republicans, you find this statement: "The El Paso County Republican Party is not associated with the conduct of this election, nor do we endorse any candidate. However, we are extremely proud of our citizens' propensity to vote, and we strongly encourage you to participate in this hallowed act!"

Regardless, Miller says that he thinks that the bylaws could be re-written to ensure that this confusion doesn't happen again.

"The last thing we need is to create a confusion in our party right now," he says. "There are members of the party who feel like they've been eliminated from the process ... For the health of the party, and the future of the party, I think it's very important that we clarify this."

As for his endorsement, Roy calls Miller's concern over the use of his title "a very legitimate viewpoint." Roy says he didn't know beforehand that his title was going to be used.

"I am considering calling Angela," says Roy, "and saying, 'Just so you can stay unencumbered by this, or stay out of the fray, perhaps you could remove my title.' ... If I do, that's only because I want to remove that impression that people might have."

For Miller, Roy has some advice.

"Joel Miller, you know, he's in a tough race," he adds, "and of course the candidates are very touchy at this time of the campaign, but he needs to focus on his own campaign and his opponent. We are not the enemy, we're not the opposition."

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