It's no secret that the Grand Old Party rules El Paso County. Ten years ago, exactly one Democrat, Daphne Greenwood, held a partisan elected office. Now, one Democrat, Michael Merrifield, holds office. Amid a sea of Republicans, many have earned widespread respect. But there have been some whose antics have shocked and awed even their most strident supporters. This is a list of 10 of the best.
This up-and-comer had it all: A sweet $63,000 a year tax-paid gig from Gov. Bill Owens as the regional liaison for economic development (the chief job qualification, according to his boss, was that he knew the names of other area ecodevo leaders).
He had a license to practice law, had interned in the District Attorney's Office, had been a fellow at the prestigious El Pomar Foundation, and had worked on and run numerous political campaigns. At 30, Ankeney was a county co-chair for Gov. Owens' 2002 re-election campaign, was elected to a leadership position in the state GOP and was being groomed for his own run for political office. He was so Republican he named his dogs Reagan and Nixon.
Everything unraveled on July 31, 2001. That was the day Ankeney was arrested for picking up a 13-year-old girl he had met on the Internet, taking her home, getting her drunk and stoned, coercing her into playing strip poker, taking topless photos of her and trying to have sex with her. He then told her if she told anyone that he would "ruin her life" and dropped her off in the middle of the night at a fast-food restaurant.
For four glorious years beginning in 1996, Beedy represented eastern Colorado Springs and El Paso County.
During her campaign, Beedy, who had close ties to anti-government militias, funneled much of her campaign cash into her and her husband's T-shirt business, not bothering to register with the state of Colorado. Once elected, this patriot charged county taxpayers for the mileage she accumulated driving to work downtown and back home to Calhan.
But her work extravagances were nothing compared to what came out of her mouth. She referred to single mothers who date as "sluts" and stridently opposed naming a stretch of concrete highway after civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr., claiming he was nothing better than a philanderer. She boycotted a statewide gathering of politicians on moral grounds, complaining that the host mountain town of Crested Butte informally sponsors a "ski naked" day in the winter. (Beedy, notably, did not raise similar complaints when it came to traveling at taxpayer expense to the rural Hawaiian island of Kauai, notorious, among other things, for its nude beaches. The trip, Beedy explained, would enable her to learn invaluable tips that she could apply to her own rural eastern El Paso County district.)
Beedy's saucy tongue generated such controversy that she was invited to appear on a live national television show, where, composed as always, she informed her slack-jawed interviewer Starr Jones, an African-American woman, and the rest of the country, that only white people are normal.
El Paso County's top Republican official replaced Randy Ankeney as Gov. Bill Owens appointed area director of economic development (Broerman's chief qualification apparently was that he had recently been laid off from his high-tech job).
Broerman isn't known for creating jobs in Colorado Springs, but for his illegal scheme obtaining parking meter hoods for "construction work" from the city to promote his favored political candidateslast fall. In his application with the city's parking administrator, Broerman identified the "job site" as 210 S. Cascade Ave. -- a nonexistent address near Centennial Hall downtown. Broerman signed off on the rules and regulations that specify he understood they were to be used for construction work only, and that any other use "shall be considered cause for revocation ... in addition to fines provided for illegal parking."
On the first day of early voting, Broerman filled two primo spaces in front of Centennial Hall with pickup trucks displaying oversized posters of Republican candidates. When the Independent exposed the scheme, the city yanked the hoods.
Though offering false information is a crime under state and city laws, District Attorney Jeanne Smith, a Republican, declined to pursue charges against the chairman of the Republican Party.
Colorado Republicans rewarded Broerman for his illegal activities by electing him in January as vice chairman of the state's Grand Old Party.
Doug Dean was a married-with-children house painter whose first run for public office, sanctioned by his wife's employer Focus on the Family, landed him in the Colorado House of Representatives in 1994. Dean's hot issue was chemical castration for child molesters and he also preached about abstinence-only education, claiming that sex outside marriage is dehumanizing and demeaning. But colleagues soon viewed Dean as quite the ladies' man, with a penchant for pretty lobbyists.
During his eight years in the House of Representatives, Dean never had a serious opponent, yet the seriously ambitious politician raked in top-dollar contributions, which he spent freely on golf tournaments and golf balls -- and on himself, reimbursing himself for mileage, computers and meals.
In 2000, by then recently divorced, Dean became speaker of the House, a job he relished. Then, on the last day of the legislative session in 2001, his live-in girlfriend Gloria Sanak, a pharmaceutical lobbyist, dumped him. Dean, using a screwdriver, broke into her home. When Sanak came home, he was waiting for her in the dark. Still wielding the screwdriver, Dean then chased Sanak down the street in the middle of the night as she sought safety from a neighbor. The police were called but despite Colorado law that requires one person to be arrested in domestic violence calls, they let Dean go.
Dean was term-limited from office in 2002, but he didn't go back to painting houses. Instead, Gov. Bill Owens appointed Dean to be Colorado's insurance commissioner.
Elected to the Colorado Senate in 1994, state Sen. Charlie Duke sought, and got, support from the Christian Coalition and from citizen militia groups. He warned them of the satanic forces at work under the golden dome. "If you listen real close, if you really turn up your sensitivity, you can feel the evil that flows through the [legislative] body," Duke said. "You can hear cackling in the ceiling, you can hear smiles of the beast as it's trying to force its puppets to do its bidding -- and is successful at it."
Duke was easily re-elected to a second term and rose to prominence as a states' rights guru. His immersion in the anti-government Patriot Movement left him positively swaggering in the spotlight of national notoriety. Soon he was keynoting at citizen militia gatherings, telling the crowds that the United States Constitution had been suspended by a treasonous government. After the Oklahoma City bombing, he stood on the steps of the state Capitol and suggested to a crowd of gun activists that the government had done it.
Duke's paranoia reached a zenith on April 27, 1997, when he reported to police that he believed then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former drug czar Bill Bennett had broken into his Monument townhome and stolen, among other things, his lucky pocket knife.
Four months later, Duke reported that he had spent three days curled up in the fetal position under a friend's kitchen table, Bible in one hand and gun in the other, fasting and praying and drinking fruit juice. During that time, God told him to quit the Senate, which he did. El Paso County Republicans picked Doug Lamborn to fill out the Senate term, but the next year Duke showed up at the state Capitol and told Lamborn God wanted him to have his old seat back. "Sorry Charlie," Lamborn told him. "God didn't tell me that."
The retired military dentist appeared positively staid when he was challenging Betty Beedy in her re-election effort three years ago. He was conservative, thoughtful and witty, with a full head of hair (which he had grown out during the campaign so as not to scare women and children, he says).
After whupping Beedy, Huffman took back his shaved head look and, some say, the transformation into Dr. Evil was complete. A short year later, Huffman had commandeered the chairmanship of the Board of County Commissioners and led the campaign to gut the Department of Health and Environment. He shrugged off criticism over massive cuts in public health that mostly benefited the working poor, dismissing such services as "socialized medicine."
When county taxpayers rejected a bond for a jail expansion last November, Huffman responded by helping to concoct a secret plan to build a jail and courthouse anyway, in part by slashing funds for parks and transportation.
His battles with his Republican colleague Jeri Howells, as well as Gazette reporter Pam Zubeck (whom he refuses to talk to), are legendary. Huffman doesn't care what people think. He's sick of the hassle and will probably not finish out his first term. "I don't care if I get re-elected and that makes me dangerous," he says.
Last fall, then-county commissioner Ed Jones proved that he could hang out in any f****** bar he wants to, every day, on the taxpayers' clock, in the middle of the afternoon, and still get elected senator!
Throughout his campaign, Jones liked to talk about his "tough on crime" stance and his commitment to personal responsibility. But Jones didn't like to discuss his own history of breaking the law -- including his failure to pay federal taxes for eight years and a series of traffic violations that includes driving without insurance and not having valid license plates on his car. During one of those occasions in 1989, he hit a Colorado Springs man, resulting in a $111,000 judgment that Jones had yet to pay off.
And Jones really didn't like to chat about Leonard's Bar II, the notorious now-closed bar on East Platte Avenue where owner Leonard Carlo -- Jones' close friend of 30 years -- liked to prominently display signs displaying the words "f***" and "c**t" and where Jones was a regular.
In 2000, Colorado Springs police busted Carlo. According to a former deputy district attorney, the police detective in charge of the pre-raid undercover sting had reported that on at least one occasion, Jones had been sitting with him and an informant when they openly purchased cocaine across the bar. The cop also told the district attorney that there was no way that Jones could not have known what was going on. District Attorney Jeanne Smith, an elected Republican, decided, due to insufficient evidence, not to pursue any charges against Jones.
In 2000, when Dave Schultheis was running for the state House of Representatives, he sent out a letter to supporters claiming he was being targeted for his Christian beliefs.
"Since I announced my candidacy ... my wife and I have been the subject of extreme intolerance for our conservative views," Schultheis wrote. "On several occasions we have been vandalized by perpetrators who have left decapitated rabbits and entrails on the front porch of our home. We see this as a form of extreme intolerance for people who hold our Judeo-Christian values."
Schultheis, a personal friend of Focus on the Family's James Dobson, didn't explain the connection between headless rabbit vandalism and anti-Christian sentiments. But he made it clear he suspected the "extremely liberal wing of the Republican Party" was attempting to thwart him.
He handily won the election.
Under the golden dome, Schultheis is best known for his so-called "Dr. Laura Bill," which he introduces every year and which would require parents and parents-to-be who want to get a divorce to undergo a full year of counseling.
The proposal was nicknamed after the conservative radio psychologist Laura Schlessinger because she had agreed to provide testimony in support.
This spring, Schultheis was the keynote speaker at a dinner to celebrate the academic successes of students at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He spent the evening insulting many of them by preaching against homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, and drug and alcohol use.
We miss MaryAnne Tebedo, former state senator, matriarch of the Tebedo dynasty and veritable walking quote machine.
She outraged minorities when she went on television and claimed their culture encourages sexual promiscuity for girls.
She dropped jaws when she told her colleagues under the dome that it's a fact that teen pregnancy "drops off significantly after age 25."
An ardent concealed weapons advocate, Tebedo once explained why women wouldn't want to openly display a sidearm. "It just isn't fashionable."
When her grown kids, Kevin and Linda, got involved in the anti-government Patriot Movement, Tebedo attended one of their gatherings and listened as they claimed the Constitution had been rendered null and void by lawmakers such as herself. "I was just freaked out when I heard the Constitution has been suspended," she said.
In 2002, her last year in office, Tebedo was the chair of a committee that killed state background checks for gun purchasers. Several months later, a man who would not have passed such a background check bought a gun, which he used to kill his three young daughters and then himself in Castle Rock. "You cannot blame my committee for the deaths of those three little girls," Tebedo angrily told the press.
Political pundits still relish the Tebedo story of when she was still a state representative. Traditionally, on the last day of the legislative session, Democrats present their Republican counterparts with spoofs and gag gifts. One year, they gave Tebedo half a deck of cards, presumably so she would have a full deck. She thanked them sweetly.
How many felonies can a Republican stalwart rack up before he has no choice but to resign? For Charles Wingate, it took 16, plus two misdemeanors, before he threw in the towel.
Wingate's troubles started not long after he was elected to the Colorado Springs City Council in 2001. Someone had been surfing long and hard, pulling up pages and pages of eye-popping porn sites on Wingate's city-issued computer. The councilman denied culpability. Several months later, the city accused Wingate of charging a number of unauthorized Pizza Hut pies, delivered to his home over a five-day period, to a Colorado Springs Utilities credit card. Again, Wingate denied, denied, denied. "I didn't do it; I'm not in jail, am I?" By then, Wingate had lost his other job as a stockbroker. He had also been sued for not paying off his campaign debts and for bouncing personal checks to Popeye's Chicken and yes, Pizza Hut. Wingate took it lightly: "This is the training on the path of becoming a millionaire," he explained.
This May, the District Attorney's Office slapped more charges against Wingate for stealing and illegally pawning city equipment, including his computer, a printer and fellow Councilwoman Margaret Radford's clock radio. He finally resigned, all along complaining about the unfair treatment. "Everyone in the Republican Party can break the rules except me," he noted.