UPDATE: Are Dems counting their chickens before they hatch? Sources report Dems delayed normally scheduled votes on the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) for the second day in a row, yesterday. Our sources wonder if that is because Dems think they’ll take the House majority with Bradford’s support and are trying to ensure little gets done before they take over the JBC.
Is a corrupt bargain in the works down at the Capitol? State Representative Laura Bradford (R-Collbran) is openly debating whether to leave the Republican Party over Speaker Frank McNulty's decision to impanel an ethics investigation into Rep. Bradford's traffic stop last week where she was suspected of drunk driving. The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reported that Bradford and House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) have met to discuss her situation.
If Bradford left the GOP, it would deprive the Republicans of their one-seat majority in the State House, and potentially trigger a new vote for Speaker of the House. Should Bradford seek to exact revenge on Speaker McNulty, she could vote for Ferrandino for Speaker, thus giving the House majority to Democrats.
Our sources say Ferrandino and Bradford have met at least twice, but Bradford has refused to meet with McNulty.
While Ferrandino denied to Bartels that he offered anything to Bradford in exchange for her support, saying "I mostly listened to where she was at. She needs to think through her thoughts and what she decides to do."
If he mostly listened, then what did he say? Did he offer her a chairmanship of a committee? Was anything of value offered to her to make the switch?
Bradford was stripped of her chairmanship on the House Local Government Committee last week by Speaker McNulty after news of her run-in with Denver police came to light.
While losing the House majority due to a Bradford defection is not a favorable turn of events, some Republicans are saying that if push comes to shove they will be glad to let Ferrandino own the corrupt bargain.
Even if Ferrandino isn't found to have offered a quid pro quo, the public is not likely to look fondly upon a shift in power due to the vote of a vindictive lawmaker accused of drunk driving and who claimed on the House floor she was driving from a "legislative function" that turned out to be a reception with lobbyists at the bar Prohibition.
As corruption or allegations of corruption can be one of the most damning charges in politics, it is clear Democrats would be playing with fire.
On the one hand, they'd be able to force their legislative priorities through, as they already have the majority in the state Senate and the Governor's office. But on the flip side, they'd have to defend taking power through a legislator caught up in an ethics investigation praised by their own party.
Not only that, but Democrats would own the budget in a tough economy. They would lose the ability to attack Republicans for proposing budget cuts and other legislation that would pass the House under a Republican majority.
It is a tough trade for Democrats. Do they accept the corrupt bargain to get their bills passed or avoid having to own yet another scandal involving driving (Suzanne Williams) and Colfax (Sal Pace)?
(Ferrandino pic via Colorado News Agency)