DA Mark Hurlbert, denied an automatic spot on the Republican state Senate ballot after getting
beaten by Tim Leonard in a 71 to 29 percent defeat, is now trying to petition on the August primary ballot in an unusual behind-the-scenes effort. In an email to at least 400 possible supporters/spam recipients, Hurlbert appeared to be reaching out to home town Summit County Republicans with a call to come by the Frisco Safeway store to sign his petition between 3-6 today and yesterday. The email is aptly titled, “Mark Hurlbert needs your help.”
All other candidates seeking to petition on the Republican primary ballot have announced their intentions publicly through the media. And they did so primarily to gain as much publicity as possible for their petition drives. I can only speculate, but in yet another misguided effort in an inept campaign, Hurlbert may have thought if he failed to gain the needed signatures, he could pretend to the public that he never sought the petition route at all, and had instead bowed out gracefully from the race.
Unfortunately for these potential supporters/spam recipients, Hurlbert failed to blind copy his email list and instead published the names of the people he sent his email to in an open copy listing all recipients and their email addresses. To make matters worse, Hurlbert’s email directs recipients to his own second-in-command at the DA’s office, Assistant District Attorney Scott Turner, as one of his two point persons for those wishing to take up the signature-collection cause. Just as former Colorado Governor Bill Owens appointed Hurlbert DA when his boss moved on to higher office, it would not be a stretch to suggest Scott Turner would be appointed DA by Hurlbert’s kindred spirit, former career DA Bill Ritter, were Hurlbert to cut short his term as DA by winning the state Senate.
I spoke with Turner, whose cell phone number is listed on the email, late in the night on the 24th. Turner stated after much cross examination that he would not be conducting such political business for his boss during DA working hours. Hurlbert’s blast email, however, puts no such restrictions on the contact time, and in fact announces that if a person can’t meet Hurlbert at the Frisco Safeway between 3-6, “give one of us a call and we will come to you.” Talk about customer service!
UPDATE: 5-26 – 3:00 p.m. – New Hurlbert petition email removes mention of ADA Scott Turner. Today I received a new email forwarded to me that Hurlbert appeared to send out at about 9:00 p.m. last night. The email reveals Hurlbert is now on his own in spearheading the signature collection efforts and he seems to have seen the writing on the wall about the impropriety of using his second-in-command at the DA’s office for the petition effort. The email is entitled, “The Last 38 Hours,” and all inquiries are now addressed to him, and ADA Scott Turner’s name is not mentioned. Hurlbert acknowledges the mistake in failing to blind copy the recipients in the May 24 email:
“I also wish to apologize for putting all your e-mails in the “to” line so they could be seen. I was unfortunately tired and not thinking.”
Still, Hurlbert shows more lack of attention to detail in this latest signature-gathering effort when he leaves off one of the digits in his cell phone contact number. Earlier in the campaign, his business cards had his own name spelled incorrectly in his email address.
UPDATE: 5-26 – 2:30 p.m. – Lynn Bartels, the DP’s top political writer at The Spot blog, picked up the story from me and kindly linked to Ex-Pat Ex-Lawyer. Bartels interviewed Hurlbert, who pretended as if he was doing an official announcement of the petition effort, ignoring the stealth effort we pointed out here. In the Bartels piece, Hurlbert maintains despite his 71-29 percent assembly defeat, he felt compelled to petition on the ballot because he claims his gun rights position was distorted by a gun rights group mailing. The mailing simply stated that Hurlbert failed to answer their survey about his specific Second Amendment views. They tried twice to get him to answer, including sending it certified mail.
Based on those non-responses and the absence of any record of Second Amendment support, the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners logically concluded Hurlbert was not a strong supporter. Hurlbert’s views are not in writing anywhere, and no mention is made of the issue on his campaign website. Tim Leonard has always stated his strong support for gun rights on his website, and promptly answered the survey to the RMGO’s satisfaction. They endorsed Leonard and opposed Hurlbert.
Ironically, Hurlbert failed to use this ideal opportunity with Bartels to say exactly what his views are on gun rights, making it even more obvious that this gun rights “distortion” is a pretext for his unwillingness to face the reality of not just the assembly results, but his inability to bring in even less conservative Republicans aboard his campaign as either volunteers or contributors.
And Hurlbert had this same cavalier attitude about signing the taxpayer protection, CUT pledge. He took over three months to fulfill that promise, despite continual reminders. A party activist who holds a leadership position and is sympathetic to Hurlbert, nevertheless told me that he has to take these obligations seriously if he expects to be a viable candidate.
Hurlbert used a particularly inapt analogy for 2010, but a revealing one for this career prosecutor:
“It’s like a court case,” Hurlbert said today. “If you’re not happy with the result you appeal, so I’m appealing to the people.”
For the former Kobe Bryant prosecutor, everything is like a court case and probably always will be. But an appeal usually has a cost, though as a government lawyer he could freely use tax dollars to pay for an appeal of anything he’s “not happy with.” Hurlbert has the perfect legal right under Colorado law to petition. But his disingenuousness and stealth techniques should assure the assembly delegates and other Republicans that the Assembly put the right candidate on the ballot.]
Absent further action by Hurlbert, most Republicans assumed he would not seek to petition on the ballot. Hurlbert must collect 1,000 verified registered Republican signatures by May 27. Experts say to be safe, he would need to collect a total of 2,000 signatures.
I’m not a DA charged with important matters like homicides, or protecting the identity of rape victims or anything, but I do know the difference between “cc” and “bcc” and won’t be so irresponsible as to embarrass those who are on Hurlbert’s email list by publishing the names of the recipients.
I will mention a couple, though. One name that stands out helps confirm what we’ve been saying about Hurlbert’s suspect conservative credentials since he announced his candidacy in January. Norman Brownstein is the lead partner in the liberal Democrat law firm in which popular (but Dem) Boulder DA and AG candidate, Stan Garnett, was a partner. Brownstein’s contribution recipients include Christopher Dodd, Bill Richardson, and Hillary Clinton – something that probably made RINO Hurlbert feel right at home.
Hurlbert’s wife, Cathy Cheroutes, comes from a liberal, activist Democrat legal clan that contributed roughly one-third of Hurlbert’s meagre $10,200 in reported fundraising. They’re on the list. So is Summit County party chair Debra Irvine, a seemingly campaign-free, stealth “candidate” for House District 56 . I was surprised to see her name here since Hurlbert has aligned himself so often with her Democrat opponent, incumbent Christine Scanlan, and also because party chairpersons are supposed to stay neutral.
I was not surprised, though, by this desperate petition drive. Hurlbert has never held a job in the private sector and has made it obvious that he wants no part of having to fend for himself in a market-based economy. Word up in gossipy Summit County is that District Court Judge Terry Ruckriegle is holding off on a his retirement timing to see if Hurlbert needs his judicial post to hang onto that PERA pension.