Schmuck of the Week

Shmuck: Mike Coffman

Block the vote.

Mike Coffman, Colorado’s secretary of state and the Republican candidate for the 6th Congressional District seat, beat out Democratic rival Hang Eng this week in an election that Coffman himself supervised.

Weird? Yes. A conflict of interest? Perhaps. And it’s one of several voting- and election-related charges leveled against Coffman in the past year and a half – leading right up to the election itself, when Coffman was still deleting names from the state’s voter rolls.

Colorado Common Cause and several other groups sued Coffman’s office last week, accusing the state of illegally purging names from the list within ninety days of a federal general election and leaving out people who tried to register with addresses that post offices showed as “undeliverable.” Coffman was also criticized roundly for his actions by Greg Palast, co-author of a Rolling Stone report on voter suppression.

On the Friday before the election, U.S. District Judge John Kane ordered Coffman to stop purging names, saying Coffman was breaking federal law and warned that if he didn't stop the practice, "he'll be listening to me personally," according to news reports.

Oh, and then there was Coffman's 2007 decision to certify only the voting machines belonging to Premier Election Systems, which has connections to Coffman’s campaign.

Coffman will replace arch-conservative Representative Tom Tancredo who is retiring after ten years. Tancredo, an anti-immigration lightning rod, was a Westword Hall of Shame inductee. It looks like his successor already has his own strategy for filling those Shmucky shoes.

Coffman will have to leave his position as secretary of state in order to head to Washington, D.C. – a purge that many Coloradans will be happy see.

For previous Shmucks, see our Shmuck of the Week archive.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes