Douglas County Republicans ramp up the rhetoric in school board fight
School board races are typically nonpartisan, but not this year in Douglas County. The Republican party there has endorsed a slate of four candidates -- an unusual move the Denver Post took note of in an October 20 article that focused more on conflicts and complaints from the likes of Colorado Ethics Watch than on the reasons for the Republicans' action. But two days later, John Ransom, the volunteer chairman of the Douglas County Republican Central Committee, more than compensated with a remarkable e-mail that made it seem as if the peaceful area was under attack from one of the most insidious threats to humanity imaginable: rampant progressivism.
"I write you with disturbing news," he began. "Liberal outside special interests are trying to influence our local Douglas County elections. They have contributed thousands of dollars to their hand-picked candidates. They set up shadowy groups to send mailers to Douglas County mailboxes. They are organizing to win local elections. I am surprised as you are with their activities."
The e-mail (on view below in its entirety) features many more passages like this one, several of them underlined or reproduced in bold-print or all-caps -- like, for instance, a whopping five donation links urging recipients to help "DEFEAT THE OUTSIDE SPECIAL INTERESTS TRYING TO CONTROL OUR LOCAL ELECTIONS."
Ask Ransom about this hide-the-children approach and he quickly gets defensive. "That's your interpretation," he grumbles, subsequently adding, "To be honest with you, the tone of your questions isn't designed to make me talk about this." But after a while, he warms up -- and makes it clear that the Republicans wouldn't have taken the action they did if unions hadn't forced their hand.
"This really has nothing to do with the Republican Party," Ransom argues. "It has everything to do with the fact that if you're a candidate for a school board and you take money from the teachers union you're negotiating with, you either need to not take that money or recuse yourself from any negotiations.
"This is Douglas County," he goes on. "If you're a union in Douglas County and you try to pay off our school board to enhance your negotiating position, the Republicans are going to say, 'No.' I don't know why that's so hard for the candidates who took this money to understand. If this was happening in a corporate setting, and someone tried to pay off the board, they would be saying it's a conflict of interest. But this is a conflict of interest, too, and now that we've stood up to them, they don't like it."
Ransom insists that he doesn't think Douglas County is "under siege." Instead, he believes the Democrats are simply "overreaching. They want to roll back the charter schools, unionize the charter schools, and we're saying, 'Don't even think about that here. That's not the way we do things in Douglas County.'"
Here's the aforementioned e-mail:
As Chairman of the Douglas County Colorado Republican Party I write you with disturbing news.
Liberal outside special interests are trying to influence our local Douglas County elections.
They have contributed thousands of dollars to their hand-picked candidates. They set up shadowy groups to send mailers to Douglas County mailboxes. They are organizing to win local elections.
I am surprised as you are with their activities.
Their entire goal is to win the local Douglas County School Board election and -- likely -- to use this a spring board to win more elections in the future.
We cannot allow that to happen.
You may have read out this issue in the Denver Post on Tuesday.
The DENVER POST reported that as a result of our work to stop these special interests it has, "turned what is normally a routine nonpartisan election into a pitched battle." They are right.
When we first found at that groups who have ties to ACORN and other extreme left-wing causes were organizing in Douglas County I knew we had to fight back.
This, I believe, could just be the tip of the Iceberg.
If these groups defeat our Republican-endorsed local School Board candidates: Doug Benevento, John Carson, Dan Gerken and Meghann Silverthorn; then there is no telling what else they will try to do in our County.
One of the major backers who works with these groups is the AFL-CIO. As you probably know they have been spending millions upon millions to push a far left agenda nationally -- they pushed Congress to pass the hugely wasteful $1 trillion taxpayer-funded stimulus plan that has done nothing to grow jobs. They are pushing to get Congress to pass a "public option" health care plan that will not only cost another $1 trillion but put government between doctors and patients.
If that is what they are doing on a national level... what could they possibly want to do here -- on the local level in Douglas County? I shudder to think...
One group you may hear about is "Accountability for Kids".
This is a fake new group, set up by a left-wing special interest lobbyist. Their goal, it has been reported, is to use this shadow group to funnel union money into our Douglas County school board election.
They think they can trick local people into voting for their candidates, and against ours, if they disguise their real motives behind fake groups with names like these.
However, we know what they are up to. Now, we just need the tools to fight back.
That is why we need your help, now. We need your direct support to fight back against the thousands of dollars they are spending against us.
Some have said this is part of an effort to have complete union control of schools in Douglas County.
In some parts of the country unions work to limit parent influences, to control teaching materials and, as some have alleged, inject biases in the classroom that they work to protect.
We do not need that kind of influence here.
In addition it is critical to remember that our tax money -- the money that you and I pay to keep Douglas County schools running -- is controlled by the School Board. If the big labor unions get their way it might be impossible to even know how must waste is falling into budgets, and in turn, into the union's coffers. Their goal might be just to spend thousands now in this election, to in turn reap it all back later with higher taxes paid for by Douglas County taxpayers.
Please help us fight back these special interests.
Who would think that those connected with these extreme, liberal outside special interests would be at work, doing their dirty work, right here in Douglas County.
When I took on the job as volunteer Republican Party Chairman for the county I had no idea this is what we would face.
However, I am committed to ensure that our endorsed candidates get all of the support they deserve so we can win and protect the taxpayers and children in our county.
I appreciate your willingness to help us, here now.
John Ransom Chairman, Douglas County Republians
P.S. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines and let our county slip into the grip of these outside special interest groups. Their radical ties can do nothing but harm to our schools and to our local area. We need to send them packing now before they fully set up shop. PLEASE HELP YOUR LOCAL DOUGLAS COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.
PAID FOR BY THE DOUGLAS COUNTY REPUBLICANS http://www.dcgop.org/
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.