Will Sander, the chairman of the Weld County Republican Party, filed election fraud complaints Friday against four members of the party including one who is an aide to U.S. Congressman Ken Buck.
Sander’s complaints originate from events in connection with the party caucus on March 7, according to a news release from the Weld County Republican Party.
Sander alleges Lois Rice, Buck aide Cody LeBlanc, Todd Sargent and Evelyn Harlan intentionally changed results of who were elected as delegates to the county assembly from their respective districts.
Rice is the party’s second vice chairwoman, the 22-year-old LeBlanc and Sargent are district captains and Harlan is a precinct committeeperson. Buck is the state Republican Party chairman, and he came under fire earlier this week by the party for pressuring a Denver-area official to submit incorrect election results.
Buck said Friday evening he needed to recuse himself from any case involving one of his staffers and fraud allegations, given his role as state party chair. Buck said he instructed his chief of staff, Ritika Robertson, to be the point person with Sander for any necessary action.
Buck said while Robertson has followed the situation, he needs to continue to remain impartial with an employee in his office getting possibly caught up with the state party.
“I still don’t want to influence this process and it would be terribly unfair to pre-judge,” Buck said. “It would be unfair to get involved in a county issue with my employee.”
Buck added the timing of the complaints being filed is important, given he was accused this week of pressuring a Denver-area party official of submitting incorrect election results for a state Senate ballot in El Paso County.
State Rep. Larry Liston and David Stiver are vying for the District 10 seat currently held by Sen. Owen Hill. Liston and Stiver faced off in a district election earlier this year, but only Liston (75%) received more than the required 30% of the district vote to get his name on the general election ballot in June.
Sitver received 24% of the district vote and maintained there were “irregularities” with his results.
Buck said he wan’t pressuring Eli Bremer, the party chairman for state Senate District 10, to add Stiver’s name to the ballot. Stiver’s inclusion on the general-election ballot was upheld by a 500-person state central committee, and Buck said he told Bremer he had to uphold the committee’s order.
The Colorado Supreme Court ultimately overturned the state central committee ruling and Stiver’s name will not be on the June ballot.
“I don’t question the integrity of the chairman of the senate district,” Buck said. “I believe we move on and focus on winning elections. It was resolved. To suggest I ordered him to do something illegal is nonsense.”
As for Sander’s complaint, it says a March 10 audit of the caucus paperwork revealed several discrepancies in two precincts, and adds that Rice, LeBlanc and Sargent had Harlan “not enter the results of the election of the delegates from the caucus into the Colorado State Party Caucus Database (CRCAS), but rather they had her enter their names, removing and replacing three duly elected delegates.”
Specifically the complaint alleges:
* Sargent, who was elected as an alternate, was moved and elevated to a delegate position and the rightfully elected delegate was downgraded to alternate status.
* LeBlanc, who was not elected as either a delegate or an alternate, was entered as a delegate and the rightfully elected delegate was removed and downgraded to third-alternate.
* Rice, who was not elected as either a delegate or an alternate, was entered as a delegate and the rightfully elected delegate was removed and downgraded to first-alternate.
* Harlan was not authorized to use the CRCAS system. She fraudulently entered the system and the information using her son’s password.
According to Colorado statutes, any person in caucus, assembly or convention who engages in fraud will be guilty of a misdemeanor.
In the complaint, Sander says the changes were found during a routine audit of the caucus process and entries. The county party executive committee members refused to resign when requested, and Buck failed to take action when contacted by Sander.
“While I know a lot of people would like this swept under the rug, I think it’s very, very important,” Sander said in the release. “After getting no support at the state level, I felt I had no other choice but to file a complaint. You see the corruption in our election process, the public won’t stand for it. The elected officials won’t stand for it. And frankly, I believe it’s against the law.”
Anne Delaney covers breaking news and features for the Greeley Tribune. Contact Anne at [email protected], (970) 392-5647 or on Twitter @AnneGDelaney.
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