Allegations have surfaced that the Republican Governors Association (RGA), currently chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, worked to pick the winners and losers in the Colorado Republican gubernatorial primary. Documentation uncovered by the left leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) show money funneled from the RGA to other groups in order for the RGA to maintain an appearance of neutrality during party primaries.
Christie is on record as personally endorsing candidate Bob Beauprez during the primary.
According to the RGA Web site, its primary mission is to help elect Republicans to governorships throughout the nation—though on the surface they remain neutral in primaries. It appears however that the RGA isn’t a fan of candidate Tom Tancredo who hoped to become the 2014 Republican nominee for the governorship of Colorado. The money trail shows that RGA funds were moved through other organizations and then used to place attack ads against Tancredo. In a heated four-way primary, Tancredo placed second. Beauprez secured the nomination with 30.3% of the vote, beating Tancredo by less than four percentage points.
Despite its mission of electing Republican governors, the RGA made significant contributions to the Republican Attorneys General Association. According to its Web site, RAGA’s mission is to elect Republican attorney generals—not governors.
In a tangled web of legal money laundering , the RGA (the governors group) gave a total of $175,000 from June 20th to June 27th to RAGA (the attorneys general group). Colorado State Attorney General John Suthers—who is on the executive committee of RAGA and on record as endorsing Beauprez for the primary—denied involvement in the money funneling scheme.
On June 17th, just before the flow of the big donations from the RGA, RAGA sent $155,000 to the Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity (CJO), a Massachusetts based super PAC with ties to the Mitt Romney campaign. Romney is on record giving Beauprez his endorsement in the Colorado primary.
The Massachusetts based CJO funneled the money back to Colorado, making its way to the Colorado Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity (CCJO) and Republicans Who Want to Win, which received $75,000 each. The CCJO funded radio ads and automated calls attacking Tancredo, while Republicans Who Want To Win purchased air time for a video attack ad on Tancredo. These were strategically placed in two counties to help carry Beauprez to victory in the June 24th primary.
Questions have also arisen about potential involvement regarding high ranking officers in the Colorado State Republican Party. Reaction from grassroots Republicans include the demand for state party chair Ryan Call to publicly denounce the actions of the RGA and RAGA in meddling in a party primary. Facebook posts by known Colorado activists have ranged from Ryan Call being called a traitor to demands for his resignation. Some Republicans believe that Call’s refusal to disavow any involvement of Republican Party officials implicates him in orchestrating the election in Beauprez’ favor. Marc Zarlengo, founder of the Republican watchdog Web site OgreExposed, stated in a phone interview,
“Call’s failure to publicly denounce theses activities and his refusal to call for an investigation smacks of complicity, demonstrates a lack of leadership, and is resulting in a further loss of confidence by the Republican base.”
Beauprez denied knowledge of the RGA money laundering and/or election scandal. Tancredo—who is now a Beauprez supporter—told a Denver Post reporter that he is certain Beauprez had no involvement. Tancredo said, “I want Bob to become governor, but I want to blow the whistle on these people. They are despicable.”
It is unclear exactly what if any role Christie played in funneling money to the organizations that placed the Tancredo attack ads. However, this could pose a problem for Christie should he decide to make a bid as a 2016 presidential contender. KDVR Denver news reported Tancredo’s demands for a response from Christie to the scandal:
“Governor Christie was previously accused of using political power as governor of New Jersey to block bridges as an act of political retaliation. So I’m sure he will relish this opportunity to ‘come clean’ and to ‘clear the air’ to avoid new allegations of using his elected position at RGA to carry out a political vendetta in Colorado.”