Allegations of election fraud and corruption made against several Weld County Republicans, including an aide to U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, have been referred to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
Four complaints that Weld County GOP Chair Will Sander filed last week — claiming three people were falsely listed as party delegates — were forwarded to Attorney General Phil Weiser, the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed Wednesday.
Also Wednesday, Buck, who is chair of the state Republican Party, announced the creation of a new internal commission to investigate the party’s assembly nomination and ballot designation processes. He has denied interfering in local party issues.
The formation of the commission comes after both the Weld County accusations and a controversy over the GOP primary ballot in El Paso County garnered national attention. The El Paso County situation led to a recorded conference call in mid-April during which Buck pressured a local party leader to submit incorrect election results to the state.
Meanwhile, new details are emerging about conflicts within the party in Weld County and Buck’s interactions in his home county, where his ex-wife, state Rep. Perry Buck, is running for commissioner. Several local leaders have spoken to The Denver Post, and an email obtained by The Post shows that some in the party were warned of possible fraud and corruption in the Weld GOP’s caucus/assembly process weeks ago.
The complaints in Weld County point to an attempt to manipulate the system to give insider politicians the advantage against other Republicans in primaries, said Weld County GOP Treasurer Calida Troxell.
“We call it stacking the caucus, and it’s an ugly thing to do, but it happens a lot,” she said. “I’ve been fighting it for 10 years, so it’s not going to go away overnight.”
Party members elect delegates in caucuses and assemblies, and the delegates in turn select candidates to be placed before voters in the primary election. In Republican strongholds like Weld County, controlling GOP candidate access to ballots can ultimately determine who will win the seat.
One of those accused of being named a delegate improperly, Cody LeBlanc, works as a local representative for Ken Buck’s 4th Congressional District. Another, Lois Rice, is a county party vice chair.
Before Sander filed his complaints, Troxell said, she had complained about LeBlanc and Rice. Troxell said she found discrepancies in their spending, that they would omit certain candidates from party functions and would bring people to work as precinct officials even though they had not been elected.
“They would make careless mistakes that were all one-sided, that favored the candidates they preferred,” she said.
Their preferences typically aligned with those of Ken Buck, among others, Troxell said.
Others have previously told The Post that Ken Buck called them regarding the seat on the Weld County board of commissioners that his ex-wife is seeking, though they declined to elaborate on the nature of those conversations.
Troxell said she also heard from Ken Buck: “He calls me out of the blue one day, says, ‘I can get you tickets to the Trump rally. I hear there’s a lot of problems going on there, and I just want everybody to get along. You’ll be able to do things like meet the vice president, maybe meet the president.’”
The treasurer interpreted the call as an attempt to get her to stop voicing her concerns.
“I don’t want to get along with liars and cheaters and thieves. I turned him down with the tickets,” she said.
Neither Ken Buck, Perry Buck, LeBlanc, Rice nor others named in the complaints returned multiple messages from The Post seeking comment.
Buck told Colorado Politics he offered rally tickets to Sander in an attempt to “bridge divides” within the county party.
And while the congressman told Colorado Politics that LeBlanc is a 22-year-old kid “just fired up about politics,” the aide had been on the radar of county party officials for weeks.
An email Sander sent in mid-April warned other county officials of the issues at hand and asked for LeBlanc’s and Rice’s resignations.
“It does not make me happy to have to ask for two resignations during this critical year and when volunteers are at a premium,” Sander wrote. “However, we need to hold our Executive Committee members to a higher moral and ethical standard. Our candidates deserve it. The public demands it. Election law requires it.”
The email went out before Sander filed his complaints, said county party Vice Chair Anthony Groeger.
However, LeBlanc and Rice kept their jobs, and Groeger said he’s still unsure of what happened. He said he hasn’t spoken with LeBlanc or Rice about it and would like to hear their side of the story.
“If they didn’t follow the rules there needs to be consequences,” Groeger said. “If I had done something wrong, I’d admit it and ask for mercy. If there was a misunderstanding, I’d explain it.”
Troxell said her complaints were so poorly received that she and her family received threats from anonymous social media accounts and elsewhere.
“There have been nights where I’ve literally done chores with my husband standing on our front porch with a weapon,” she said. “They’re just social hitmen, but they know where we live, they know who we are and they like to intimidate.”
A state party spokesperson did not respond when asked whether Buck’s new commission will examine the Weld County complaints. It will, however, investigate the El Paso County controversy, where Buck pressured Eli Bremer, state Senate District 10 chairman, to submit incorrect election results to the state.
“After talking to party leaders and activists throughout the state, I am appointing a commission to review the issues involved in the Assembly ballot designation process, including the recent Senate District 10 nomination controversy,” Buck said in a statement Wednesday. “This commission will be expected to analyze the issues and provide recommendations so that the Party does not face similar problems going forward.”
Bremer gave his blessing for the commission. Political campaigns like the one for U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner have taken notice of the controversy, which many called a distraction from the fast-approaching November election.
“I spoke with the Gardner campaign, and they agreed this was a situation that should be resolved so that everyone could focus on this important election,” Bremer said. “As we move forward with the commission, I’m confident that we will quickly make progress and free up resources to support Senator Gardner and President Trump in their re-election campaigns.”
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