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John Colson: Is lying all right if Republicans do it?

John Colson
Hit & Run

For those of us concerned that the Republican party leadership has gone wholesale for the idea that cheating is the only way to win elections, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (Republican from Windsor and chairman of the Colorado state party) has just added a large pile of proof for us to contemplate.

Like President Donald Trump and many others, Buck seemingly believes that free, open and broadly accessible voting would be bad news for the Republican party.

A week ago, news surfaced that Buck had pressured a Republican party functionary to illegally and fraudulently override election results in order to put GOP hack David Stiver on the upcoming primary ballot for the District 10 (Weld County) seat in the state senate.

Buck’s move came even though Stiver did not get enough caucus votes to make the ballot in the upcoming statewide party primary.

According to stories in The Denver Post and other outlets, while State Rep. Larry Liston won 75% of the relevant Republican votes in the district assembly, Stiver received only 24%, well under the 30% minimum for getting a place on the state ballot.

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The primary race at issue is to replace term-limited GOP State Sen. Owen Hill. According to news accounts of a phone conversation between Buck and Eli Bremer, GOP chair for District 10, Buck and the party’s central committee wanted Stiver on the ballot regardless of what the party rules said.

When Bremer declined to accede to Buck’s demand, and announced he would consult a lawyer about the matter, Buck backed off.

Buck, who with a couple of others are accused of election fraud and corruption, now says that he was just following the central committee’s lead, and that it could not be considered election fraud because “It wasn’t like I have a personal stake” in the outcome.

But Buck is a lawyer, and he undoubtedly knew he was on legal shaky ground with his demand of Bremer, even though he was following the lead of his president, who in May warned that greater voter participation would hurt the GOP.

Referring to relatively modest election reforms proposed by Democrats, Trump said on his favorite “news” show, “Fox & Friends”: “They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

I’m not sure what, specifically, Buck hoped to accomplish in trying to get Stiver on the ballot by fraud, but I’m pretty sure it was not an effort to broaden election fairness or voter participation. If anything, such a cynical ploy would only add to the declining faith in our elections that has become a sad but forceful part of politics in America.

Now, of course, Buck has taken his place in the long line of Trump loyalists willing to break laws or otherwise undermine voter confidence as a way of boosting the GOP, loyalists who range from former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Rep. John Ratcliffe, Trump’s nominee for the job of director of National Intelligence, to our current U.S. Attorney General, William Barr.

I know, it’s hard to keep it all straight without a political-scam scorecard, but I’ll try.

Barr, who is the equivalent of a mob consigliere in the corrupt swamp of Trump world, recently forced his minions to drop charges against Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about meeting with Russians during the controversy over Russian meddling on Trump’s behalf in the 2016 election.

Flynn subsequently “recanted” his plea, meaning he admitted to lying again, but this time he was just lying about lying, so I guess he figures that two lies must equal the truth.

As for Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican who reportedly is a follower of the rabid, right-wing conspiracy-mongers called QAnon, he is now in his second round of being the nominee for the DNI job. He lied about his record the first time around, and had to withdraw his name from consideration, but now he’s back.

The inescapable conclusion from all this is that the GOP leadership, which is still smarting from any number of electoral defeats in the middle of the 20th century, believes that lying in the cause of electoral victory is OK if Republicans do it.

It appears they have taken to heart the dictum of President Richard M. Nixon, who once famously told TV host Dick Cavett, talking about crimes committed in the Nixon White House, “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

Now, though, that standard applies to anyone in the GOP leadership.

Email at jbcolson51@gmail.com.


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