Media omission: Personhood ties run deep in Jeffco GOP campaigns

I wrote last week about how senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s support for Colorado’s personhood abortion ban was part of his formula for winning the 2010 Republican caucus process, which was a big step to his being elected to Congress.

If you look at the State Senate races in Jefferson County today, you see that the influence of key personhood backers persists, meaning that Cory Gardner would have likely faced the same pressure to embrace personhood positions today as he did then. Gardner, of course, did not run in Jeffco, but similar dynamics play out statewide.

And don’t forget that Jefferson County is the most critical battleground between Democrats and Republicans for control of the state legislature. The swing district could also decide Colorado’s Governor and U.S. Senate races, and the outcome of Colorado’s Senate contest could put the entire U.S. Senate in Democratic or Republican hands.

The latest campaign finance reports reveal that Jeffco Republican candidates Tim Neville (SD-16), Laura Woods (SD-19), and Tony Sanchez (SD-22) all have notorious GOP strategic consultant Jon Hotaling on the payroll via his company, “Liberty Service Corporation.” Liberty Service Corporation was Sanchez’s largest expenditure ($1,750) during the latest campaign-finance-reporting period and the second largest for Woods ($1,000) and Neville ($1,000).

Hotaling’s firm has worked over the years for Rep. Janak Joshi, gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo, and other personhood supporters, most notably for Colorado For Equal Rights, which ran the pro-personhood campaign, fronted by Kristi Burton, in 2008, according to campaign-finance reports. In 2008, Hotaling collected about $12,000 from Colorado For Equal Rights.

So a major consultant for Personhood is deeply integrated into the campaigns of the three Republican senate candidates in Jeffco. Neville, Sanchez, and Woods all support personhood, as defined by Colorado Right to Life, based on their responses to its candidate survey this year.

Using what Republicans themselves called unethical tactics, Woods and Sanchez hammered their Republican primary opponents on the abortion issue during their primary campaigns against Lang Sias and Mario Nicolais.

In one flyer produced by “Colorado for Family Values,” (see link below), Nicolais was pictured next to openly-gay Democrat Pat Steadman and accused of advancing the “radical agenda of gay marriage” by supporting civil unions.

A search for Colorado for Family Values on the Secretary of State’s website returns, “Decommissioning Colorado for Family Values,” which was previously called “Colorado for Family Values.” Its agent is Mark Hotaling, Jon’s brother. No expenditures are listed, apparently indicating a campaign-finance violation, like the one that prompted a complaint Tuesday by Colorado Ethics Watch against Colorado Campaign for Life and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

The bulk mail permit (#255) used for 2014 mailers against Sias by the Christian Coalition of Colorado, a staunch anti-abortion group previously directed by both Jon and his brother Mark Hotaling, is identical to the bulk mail permit number used by Colorado for Family Values for Gosnell mailers against Nicolais.

(Click here to see the Christian Coalition of Colorado mailer using bulk permit #255 and the Colorado for Family Values mailer using bulk permit #255.)

pile of accusations point to Hotaling as using similar mailers and messaging to destroy his past opponents, Republicans or Democrats.

For example, Hotaling was accused of orchestrating dirty tricks in support of Rep. Doug Lamborn’s primary victory in 2006 over talk-show host Jeff Crank and CO Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera. In that race, a mailer linked to Hotaling and his brother accused the ultra-conservative Crank and Rivera, of supporting the “homosexual agenda.” And you can imagine how that was received by Colorado Springs Republicans. On his KVOR radio show, Crank still talks bitterly about the race.

The mailed advertisement against Crank came from the Christian Coalition of Colorado, directed at the time by Jon Hotaling’s brother Mark, who’d just taken over the organization from brother Jon, who’d left to run Lamborn’s campaign.

Hotaling, who was once Marilyn Musgrave’s campaign manager, has been investigated by the Federal Election Commission (See graphic on page 9.).

I didn’t receive a response to phone and/or email messages offering Jon and Mark Hotaling, Sanchez, Woods, and Neville a chance to respond to the issues raised in this blog post.

I’m not saying all personhood backers are anything like Jon Hotaling.

My point in this short blog post, and there’s more where this came from, is that the personhood pressure, in its various forms, faced by Gardner as he worked his way to power, is still very much alive within Colorado’s GOP, even in Jeffco, one of the entire country’s most critical swing counties.

This post was updated 9/13/2014

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