Midweek Update – more harassment from Colorado Ethics Watch (CEW, pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) vs. Clear The Bench Colorado
The politically motivated attack (er, “complaint”) by complaint factory “Colorado Ethics Watch” (CEW, pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) against Clear The Bench Colorado reached a new low this week when CEW (pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) Director Luis Toro attempted to file a subpoena (appearance to testify) for a date on which he knew in advance of filing that the subject (Clear The Bench Colorado Director Matt Arnold) would be unavailable due to performance of military service out of state. Such behavior is utterly despicable and beneath contempt – and may constitute harassment and breach of legal ethical standards.
How did CEW (pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) Director Luis Toro know this in advance of filing? Simple – because we told him, at the conclusion of nearly three hours of being harangued in a deposition this Monday (mentioning that I would be out of town the following week for my annual military training obligation). Toro’s co-counsel Aaron Goldhamer (of Sherman & Howard, LLC) graciously expressed his thanks for my service, while Toro was conspicuously silent (apparently, my hearing was insufficiently acute to pick up on the gears grinding behind his beady little eyes as he devised his next opportunity for harassment).
For those of our readers who have never experienced the dubious pleasure of being the subject of a legal ‘deposition’ (hopefully most of you), allow me to briefly describe the process (somewhat akin to an EPW interrogation, but without forced sleep deprivation (other than any prep time) or stress positions, (other than wearing a coat & tie).
Like an interrogator, the opposing attorney gets to ask all the questions. Often the attorney will ask the same question, repeatedly (perhaps changing the phrasing, or putting it in a different context) in an attempt to catch (or create) an inconsistency in the response. The respondent is not allowed to challenge the line of questioning, or ask “why do you want to know?” (although the respondent’s attorney may raise objections as to relevance and scope of particular questions or line of argument). Also like an interrogation, the respondent can be compelled to answer (albeit by legal, rather than physical, force).
Going through CEW’s interrogation (er, deposition) was an interesting experience. CEW (pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) Director Luis Toro did indeed spend a lot of time asking questions to which he already knew (or had previously received) the answer; over the course of the deposition, his frustration with my consistent responses (including documented references) became increasingly apparent. Toro then resorted to the ol’ “restate the answer the way I want it” game (“So what you said was X” when the actual statement was Y or Z). I called him on this trick on several occasions and stated my objections to his attempts to put (false) words in my mouth (wonder how Toro’s tactics will sit with the judge reviewing the transcript?). Toro also attempted on several occasions to “go fish” for information outside the scope of what was allowable in the deposition. When he did, my attorney (I have possibly the best campaign law attorney team in the state – Scott Gessler and Mario Nicolais – in my corner) challenged Toro, who backed down each time he was invited to “call the judge” to resolve the dispute. (In poker, that’s referred to as “calling his bluff”).
The bigger picture here, however, is the abuse of campaign finance rules and regulations via suits and “complaints” by a secretly funded attack group (CEW, pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do), unaccountable to the public, with a pattern of filing frivolous, groundless, and vexatious lawsuits and “complaints” against grassroots groups and citizen initiatives in an attempt to deny popular participation in civic activity. Attacks such as these – abusing the courts and the legal “complaint” process to drive up the cost of civic participation – further tilts the balance in favor of entrenched big-money interests and violates the constitutional rights of citizens to exercise free speech (particularly in the political arena, where those protections are most precious).
CEW’s attacks against Clear The Bench Colorado fit an ongoing pattern of unsuccessful, politically motivated “ethics” complaints designed to distract, disorient, and sling mud in the (vain) hope that something might stick. Ultimately, they don’t care if they win or lose the case (their lopsided loss-win ratio bears this out), since their priorities are (1) smear, (2) frame the media debate and gain attention, (3) divert resources & attention, (4) intimidate, and (5) maybe (if they get lucky) occasionally win a case. As many publications noted at the time, CEW’s attack was just another cheap political stunt. Even the Secretary of State’s office called CEW Director Toro’s statements “disingenuous” (which is a polite way of saying, ‘lying through your teeth’).
So why is “Colorado Ethics Watch” (CEW, pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) still in business, despite their abysmal success rate in winning judgments? Shouldn’t they have run out of (other peoples) money by now?
Not when the “other people” funding CEW (pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) include multi-billionaire activists Tim Gill, Pat Stryker, Jared Polis, and Rutt Bridges – facilitated by political operatives Al Yates and Mark Grueskin – and a host of other well-heeled attorneys and politically-connected powerhouses who’s identities are kept secret because CEW won’t open their financial records to public scrutiny (in contrast to the open financial records of citizen-led accountability efforts such as Clear The Bench Colorado). Operating at the edges of public awareness (skirting transparency, public accountability, and the ragged edges of campaign finance and other laws), groups like CEW (pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) coordinate their actions towards advancing the “progressive” agenda statewide (with significant success so far; read The Colorado Model (by Fred Barnes) and, more recently, The Blueprint (by former Rep. Rob Witwer & 9News Reporter Adam Schrager) for an analysis of the success of these groups in Colorado – and beyond).
Unfortunately, even when they lose, they win – by tying up time & talent, diverting resources, and discouraging honest people from participation in the civic arena. Groups such as the grossly misnamed “Colorado Ethics Watch” (CEW, pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) are a blight on the body politic, an insult to everyone who believes that citizens should be able to speak freely.
Fortunately, they can be stopped – by citizens with the courage to fight back. Show your support today – stand up to unethical attorneys and sleazy solicitors, and contribute to help provide the resources for Clear The Bench Colorado to prevail against what are ultimately attacks on YOUR freedom. Also, since sweet success is the best revenge – spread the word about why the four (er, three remaining) incumbent justices of the Mullarkey Majority (Michael Bender, Alex Martinez, Nancy Rice, and soon to be minus Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey) deserve a “NO” vote in November (and why CEW has been sicced on Clear The Bench Colorado to cover for special interests who benefit from keeping them on the bench). Remember, they need YOUR approval to continue taking away your constitutional rights: your right to vote on tax increases, your right to defend your home or business from against eminent domain abuse, your right to fair representation in government, and your right to enjoy the benefits of the rule of law, instead of suffering under rule by activist, agenda-driven “justices.” Support Clear The Bench Colorado with your comments (Sound Off!) and your contributions - and exercise your right to vote “NO” on retaining these unjust justices on the bench for another 10-year term!