Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Waller: DA candidate cries foul after major player endorses unannounced candidate

Posted By on Wed, Jul 3, 2019 at 5:19 PM

click to enlarge Commissioner Waller: Seeking the DA post. - COURTESY OF MARK WALLER
  • Courtesy of Mark Waller
  • Commissioner Waller: Seeking the DA post.
El Paso County Commission Chair Mark Waller, a Republican, filed to run for 4th Judicial District Attorney in 2020 on June 17. That's recorded in Secretary of State records, and he remains the only candidate to declare or file.

So imagine his surprise when he learned that some heavyweight  political players, including term-limited incumbent DA Dan May, also a Republican, have come out in support of someone else.

That's what happened when the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association issued an email on July 3 to an undisclosed list of recipients advocating for Michael J. Allen, a deputy DA serving under May.

Waller calls the endorsements the result of "backroom dealings" for which, he says, voters have a low tolerance.

The CSPPA's email obtained by the Independent outlines Allen's credentials and announces the CSPPA board voted to support him in the 2020 election. The email said the board favored Allen, a Republican, as early as February but solidified the endorsement after meeting with him again on June 28.

The CSPPA did not meet with Waller. "They never called me, never asked me for an interview," Waller says.
There's no rule or requirement that endorsers give all candidates equal time, but it's common practice to interview more than one candidate seeking a certain office.

Add to that some peculiarities in the email, such as claiming that Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers has already endorsed Allen when he has not, at least not yet.

click to enlarge Mayor Suthers: No endorsement yet. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Mayor Suthers: No endorsement yet.
Asked to confirm his endorsement, Suthers, who served as DA from 1989 to 1997, tells the Indy via email on July 3, "I haven’t endorsed Mr. Allen yet, but intend to do so at his campaign kickoff." He didn't elaborate on why he's backing Allen.

Sheryl Dillon, the CSPPA executive director, said in the email:
In addition to the PPA, Mr. Allen has been endorsed by Mayor Suthers, District Attorney Dan May and the Teller County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr. Allen has been a prosecutor for 15 years, and has been with the 4th Judicial District for the past eight years. He’s prosecuted DV, DUI, TA and homicides cases, and is held in very high esteem by PPA members having a major crimes background. He is described as an ethical, sharp trial attorney who is highly supportive of police. Mr. Allen has testified before the state legislature opposing bills moving drug convictions from felonies to misdemeanors, recognizing the impact that decriminalization has on area crime rates.

We hope you will join us in supporting Michael as he kicks off his campaign in the coming weeks.
While the email says the Teller County Sheriff's Office has also endorsed Allen, it's not kosher for a government agency to pick sides in political races. The Indy contacted the Teller Sheriff's Office and Commander Greg Couch says that Sheriff Jason Mikesell endorses Allen, but the office has taken no position in the race.

We tried to ask several questions regarding the CSPPA's email, but Dillon said, "We are not prepared to give any statements at this time."

According to campaign finance records, Allen, of Monument, has given small contributions to GOP committees and Republican candidates, including Sheriff Bill Elder. State records show he's never run for public office in Colorado. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in September 2005, and in Colorado in December 2010.

Waller is dumbfounded by the endorsements of a candidate who isn't even a candidate yet.
"This is absolutely unbelievable. It's shocking," he says, "that an organization would endorse a candidate before the candidate's in the race. It's unfortunate that we're in a circumstance that people feel that backroom deals have to happen to create success for candidates.

"This is why [President] Trump ran," he adds. "This is why I served as deputy director in Colorado for Trump [his campaign] — to put some integrity and transparency back into the process, because we can't have politicians and labor unions engaging in this kind of behavior."

Waller, who served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2009 to 2014 and served as a prosecutor as well, points out that while the CSPPA's email notes Allen is ethical, the email "is full of lies and inaccuracies. That doesn't speak to integrity at all."

All that said, Waller claims he's not bothered by the sitting DA and a former DA endorsing a person who could wind up a primary election opponent.

"I'm not worried about this at all," he says. "I think the voters will be able to see right through this. They don't like people choosing the successor in backroom deals."

We heard back on our call to Allen and have the story on his candidacy here.

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