UPDATE: Eli Stokols tweets that Carroll’s gig is voluntary. No comment from Andy Kerr yet as to why he needed Rick Palacio to bribe his opponent out of the race with a political appointment.
OUR VIEW: The whole situation has the foul aroma of pay-to-play politics emanating from it.
Yesterday we reported on the Colorado Democrat Party's pushing a gay veteran, Brian Carroll, out of a state House primary against Rep. Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood). Now questions are being raised about the legality of how the state Party got Carroll to drop his primary bid. A number of sources have contacted the Peak to say they think a law may have been broken by offering Carroll the job as Interim Chair.
The sources say that a big unanswered question in the whole fiasco revolves around whether Carroll will be paid for this gig on the Veterans' Council. We asked state Democrat Party Chairman Rick Palacio via Twitter this morning whether it was paid, but have yet to receive a response. Even if Carroll isn't paid, but money is spent on the Council, a law may still have been broken.
The whole situation has the foul aroma of pay-to-play politics emanating from it, similar to the Obama White House's reported attempts to offer Andrew Romanoff a government job in exchange for dropping out of the race against incumbent Democrat US Senator Michael Bennet last year.
The Council didn't previously exist until Carroll was announced as Interim Chair and it is so new it wasn't (and still isn't) listed on the state Democrat Party's website, making it appear that the gig was invented for the sole purpose of bribing Carroll to drop his primary bid against Rep. Kerr.
What we've been told is it's illegal to offer "anything of value" to a candidate for the purpose of causing them to withdraw their candidacy. Carroll's press release announcing he was dropping his candidacy makes it seem pretty clear the offer of the Interim Chair gig was directly tied to him dropping out. You can see the full press release after the jump, but this line in particular makes it reek of quid pro quo:
While I must discontinue my campaign for the State House of Representatives, the opportunity to help nearly half-a-million Veterans statewide is an immediate challenge that I cannot back-down from.
In our post, which was quoted in Fox31 Eli Stokols' write up of the issue, we said the job offer amounted to a bribe of Carroll to drop out of the race. The question now becomes…was it an illegal bribe?
The Democrat Party was trying to protect an incumbent, Andy Kerr, from having to face Democrat primary voters next year in order to lock up the nomination. But the manner in which they did so may have violated Colorado law.
Rick Palacio, Andy Kerr and Brian Carroll all have some serious questions to answer.
***Brian Carroll Appointed Interim Chair of Colorado Democratic Veterans and Military Council***
Carroll steps out of State House Race to focus on Veterans Affairs Statewide
Denver, CO – Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio announced today that he has appointed former State House Candidate Brian Carroll as the interim Chair of the first Colorado Democratic Veterans and Military Council for the Colorado Democratic Party.
An active Colorado National Guardsman, Carroll will forgo his bid for the Colorado State House and will immediately take over as the interim Chair of the Colorado Democratic Veterans and Military Council. As interim Chair, Carroll will lead statewide efforts to support the nearly 425,000 Veterans in the State of Colorado and the thousands of additional service members that are anticipated to return to the State with the draw-down of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"As of 2010, Colorado ranked in the bottom third nationally in funding per Veteran," commented Brian Carroll. Carroll continued, "Veterans in the State of Colorado and across the nation have struggled to get the resources they deserve and the Colorado Democratic Party is showing its commitment to our Armed Forces with the creation of this Veterans and Military Council."
"As a three tour Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, I understand firsthand the challenges that our service members face when they return from active duty," said Brian. He concluded, "After selflessly serving our country, many Veterans are not enjoying the healthy and secure lives they deserve. As interim Chair of the Colorado Democratic Veterans and Military Council, I will work tirelessly to provide the necessary leadership on Veterans' issues and make certain that those returning to Colorado get the support they need. While I must discontinue my campaign for the State House of Representatives, the opportunity to help nearly half-a-million Veterans statewide is an immediate challenge that I cannot back-down from. I will continue my commitment to Lakewood and House District 28 as we tackle the challenges we face and I look forward to bringing my experience and leadership to the Colorado Democratic Party to support Veterans across Colorado."