Around the Fourth of July, Alison "Sunny" Maynard opened a letter from the Independence Institute. "Congratulations on your candidacy!" think tank president Jon Caldara told the Green Party candidate for Colorado attorney general. "To assist you in learning about the many issues facing Colorado, you are invited to a 'Candidates' Briefing' at the Independence Institute on Tuesday, July 30. This event is closed to the public and the press -- it's your chance to ask the questions. If you want to win and serve your constituents well, you need to know the issues."
There was more, of course, including the promise that "experts will be on hand to discuss the issues you will face this fall." Caldara, former RTD chairman and sometime radio talk-show host, always has plenty to say. But he has yet to reply to the fax that an unsunny Maynard fired off in response.
After thanking him for his letter, Maynard wrote: "I would like to invite you and all the fellows at the Independence Institute to come learn about the many issues facing Colorado at an 'Independence Institute Briefing' which will be held at my home on July 30. It's your chance to ask questions and learn from an expert about the many ways in which Colorado subsidizes real estate development and sprawl, both legally and illegally; about how our high public officials from both major parties are actively giving away our public lands to developers, mining companies, ski resorts and the like; and similar topics!...
"Please be assured that, as an experienced lawyer and Ivy League graduate, I have all the intellectual ammunition I need and am well able to articulate my policy views for myself! Indeed, if your letter hadn't been quite so imperious, I might have come for the fun of the debate! Unfortunately, I don't get the impression that a debate is what you have in mind."
She ended her missive with this zinger: "By the way, some time ago I e-mailed a question to the Independence Institute, asking who funds your operation. I have yet to get an answer!"
It's no secret who's been funding Maynard in 2002. Green Party candidates don't accept PAC contributions, and while Maynard's collected donations from individuals -- none over $500, since she and Green Party gubernatorial candidate Ron Forthofer have agreed to abide by the Common Cause ballot proposal that individual donations be capped at that level -- so far, she's financed the majority of her campaign. What she lacks in funding, though, she makes up for in fervor. (For the record, Maynard and I lived in the same freshman dorm at that Ivy League school -- and I can testify to her quixotic tenacity.)
Caldara isn't the only one in Maynard's sights. On Monday she filed a complaint with the Colorado secretary of state against incumbent Attorney General Ken Salazar, as well as the Coca-Cola Company and Multimedia Holdings Corp., the parent company of KUSA-TV.
"From approximately October through December 2001," her complaint alleges, "a series of advertisements aired on Channel 9 in Colorado, promoting the so-called 'anti-bullying initiative in the schools.' At the close of these ads...a notice was flashed on the screen, stating something to the effect of, 'Supported by Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar.'
"These were nothing but a brazen promotion of Mr. Salazar's bid, intended to increase his name recognition with the public and 'give him an issue,'" Maynard says.
Maynard's the one looking for an issue, counters Salazar campaign spokesman Ken Lane. "Sunny Maynard is a pathetic individual," he says. "She's an embarrassment. She is no credit to the Green Party. For anyone to be attacking a program that's an effort by the attorney general to try to help troubled youth and their parents deal with the very real problem of bullying in our schools is despicable."
"These were ads, not public-service announcements," Maynard's complaint continues. "Payment for them was made by Coca-Cola to Channel 9, with a contribution towards costs made by Channel 9 itself. The 'anti-bullying initiative in the schools' was, in fact, a campaign directed at increasing name recognition of Ken Salazar among voters, and placing him in a favorable light, to promise his re-election as Attorney General in 2002."
Roger Ogden, president and general manager of KUSA-TV, begs to differ. "We're comfortable that we handled the spots properly," he says. "It's not unusual that we get involved in campaigns that involve public officials. We decided that Ken had a worthwhile project there. We agreed that we would run some spots in support of the message, and Coca-Cola decided to get involved to extend the reach."
Maynard's concerns stretch beyond Salazar's candidacy. She's worried about how minor-party candidates are treated, not just by the media (which largely ignores them), but by the secretary of state's office. Colorado's voter-registration form allows you to register as Democrat, Republican, Unaffiliated or Other, and while you can designate which "Other" party you belong to -- Green, Natural Law, Libertarian Party, Reform Party, American Constitution Party -- the procedure isn't always made clear.
Maynard would like to see the form list all qualified parties, but that "would require massive -- and expensive -- programming changes in the Department of Revenue because of Motor Voter," says Bill Compton, director of elections for the state. Even so, voters can choose a specific affiliation when they register. "The clerks all have a list of the qualified parties in the state," he adds. "We sent out an updated list last week."
And not a moment too soon, apparently. "Counties don't know how to handle third-party registration," agrees Betty Rose Ryan, an activist with the Libertarian Party. To find such obstacles in Colorado is particularly galling for Libertarians, since that party got its start here thirty years ago. And it hopes to make a big finish in the polls in November, as voters grow increasingly discontented with the two major parties, which are sucked into one influence-peddling scandal after another.
Maynard's banking on that, too. "It's corporate control of every institution and every aspect of our life," she says. "All our high public officials have taken money. It's sick, and it's a concerted activity, and that's why I'm a Green."
Even if it's not easy being Green.
The Life of the Party
The liberated Ladies of Liberty.
BY PATRICIA CALHOUN
Rick Stanley, the Colorado Libertarian Party's senatorial candidate, grabs what few headlines that party gets through his willingness to shoot off not just guns, but his mouth. "I don't give a rat's ass what this judge thinks or what he does," Stanley says of the judge who'll sentence him on a weapons-violation conviction next week. "Quite simply, this man is a traitor to America, and he will be getting an earful from me and everyone else in this country for the way that he and most of the judiciary in this country choose to conduct their courtrooms."
So rather than simply wave the flag, Betty Rose Ryan, treasurer of the Victory in Colorado Now PAC, decided to wrap a few comely Libertarians in the flag when she wanted to raise the party's profile -- and, no doubt, a few eyebrows. Inspired by a calendar put out by a group of middle-aged Englishwomen who decided to bare all (or close enough) for a Leukemia Foundation fundraiser, Ryan rounded up her own "Ladies for Liberty."
"We were going to do one just like the one from England," she recalls. "I really wanted to do that, but we had a couple of people who thought they didn't want their party to be associated with it." So Ryan settled for a cover girl seen "repairing the union" -- sewing a flag that's draped over her apparently naked body.
Amber, the September 2002 Lady, poses in a negligee in a library, confirmation that "Libertarians fully support the First Amendment and oppose all government banning of books and the creation of 'reading lists' by government agencies." Pam, Lady July, is wrapped in red tape in the office of Stanley Fasteners & Shop Supply (yep, it's that Stanley), as proof that "Libertarians believe in more freedom for both employees and employers." And just in time for the holidays, a quintet of bare-backed Ladies in December 2003 confirm that "Libertarians believe the government must neither support nor regulate any particular religion."
Besides the politically correct pinup pictures, the seventeen-month calendar includes historic notes unearthed by Ryan and her husband, Tony. The September 3 entry, for example, notes that in 1752, that particular day "never happened, nor the next 10 days as England adopts the Gregorian Calendar. People riot, thinking the English government stole 11 days of their lives." Explains Ryan: "Things we considered freedom-inhibiting are in red; things we considered freedom-expanding are in blue; and things just of interest are in purple."
"Ladies for Liberty" was the talk of the Libertarian Party's national convention earlier this month in Indianapolis. "People came up and said, 'Can we get our girls in it?'" Ryan recalls.
They can talk to her after the current calendar runs out in January 2004. For now, Ryan's concentrating on pushing the premier "Ladies for Liberty" (anyone who donates $10 to the PAC gets one) and, in the process, promoting the Colorado Libertarian Party.
A party that clearly supports all constitutional rights -- including the right to bare arms.
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.