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OFF LIMITS

Seeing redskins: Would Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell have switched parties if he'd realized it had been a while since Abe Lincoln was an active Republican? Maybe Campbell would have thought twice if he'd checked out the Jeffco GOP Men's Club, the regular breakfast gathering in the largest and most powerful Republican county in the state.

Last August 29, during the height of the primary campaign, state representative and self-styled "patriot" Charlie Duke--who had just finished rapping about states' rights on Rush Limbaugh's show--was the club's guest speaker. Duke, who was running for state senator, declared that Campbell was "history" and said of the country's only Native American U.S. senator, "We need to send him back to the reservation!" That got Duke a round of applause from the forty white men in attendance, especially when he added, "He's like Clinton. Clinton has no character."

Then the blustery tyro from Monument confirmed everyone's suspicions when he announced that the daily newspapers "are not going to tell you the truth" about his self-proclaimed movement to get the federal government to mind its own bidness. "This isn't a conservative vs. liberal movement," Duke cried. "It's a patriot vs. federalism movement. We're going to get control of this government one way or another! We don't recognize the authority of the federal government [and its] unelected bureaucrats...and we sure as hell don't recognize the authority of the United Nations."

Sounds like Lincoln, all right.
Duke told the group he was "tired of liberals coming into our party." And now Duke, who won his race, is joined in the GOP by Campbell, who's voted with Clinton 80 percent of the time.

"Just imagine," Duke mused back in August, "what a world it would be if we got government out of our lives."

We'd settle for just losing a few crackpots. Welcome to the party, Ben.

Pandermoanium: Last fall, when he was running for the Regional Transportation District board of directors, Nederland town councilman David Shortridge insisted he'd never been convicted of a crime. Although Westword had turned up some old court papers showing that a man with his name, his date of birth and his rare congenital eye disease had been convicted of trying to get two women to work for him as prostitutes back in the Seventies, Shortridge insisted that man wasn't him. "I have no criminal record," he said then.

Now, though, Shortridge is telling a different story. In last week's Boulder Weekly, Shortridge admitted he'd been convicted of "pandering"--but blamed his misfortune on bad luck.

Shortridge told the paper that at the time, his wife had recently left him and he was more than $1 million in debt because his stock brokerage had gone belly up. "I started dating around and ended up dating a woman who told me later she wanted to set up an escort service," Shortridge explained. "She wanted to know if I would refer some of my financial clients to her business. At the time, I honestly did not know what an escort service was."

Nor, apparently, did he realize that a friend of his new girlfriend was really a female vice cop. Shortridge ended up pleading guilty to the pandering charge. He later convinced a judge to have his record sealed, but Westword located copies of papers related to the case on file in district courts in Boulder and Denver.

Unlike Duke, who clearly knows how to pander to a crowd, Shortridge lost his election.

 
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