For the past few weeks, the race in Senate District 10 has been quiet. Friday, that quiet ended.
Rep. Larry Liston, who is running for the Senate now that he's term-limited out of the House, was the guest of honor at a fundraiser in Denver that was hosted by a number of state lobbyists. And a number of these lobbyists, say the the campaign of Liston's opponent, Owen Hill, were big-government, pay-to-play liberals.
And as we'll find out, it's not just Liston who the Hill campaign believes has some explaining to do.
The groups represented by these lobbyists include some of the most ardent supporters of big government, liberal causes, and pay-to-play politics, including:
- Planned Parenthood
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- Trial Lawyers
- Obamacare proponents
- Union bosses
The host committee also includes my favorite of the group, the Director for a special interest group formed to support “the election of Democrats to the office of attorney general in all of the states and territories of the United States.”
Now why would these people want to support a Republican candidate for office? Perhaps it is because he is closely aligned with the big-government agenda? Perhaps because they can trust him to remain silent on issues that are importantant [sic] to conservatives?
Hill has a link to the flier for the event on his website, and from the list of 42 people endorsing the event, he pulled three who have represented the "liberal agenda."
Liston lobbyist/donor Jeff Thormodsgaard – Notable principals/clients and liberal causes include ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Trial Lawyers, Obamacare, and One Colorado (Homosexual Advocacy). See a complete list of Jeff’s clients here.
Liston lobbyist/donor Diana Protopapa – Notable principals/clients include the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL Pro-Choice America). See a complete list of Diana’s clients here.
"There are some lobbyists who have some very clear progressive ties that are supporting Larry Liston," says Hill's campaign manager, Jeremy Isaac. "Whatever the merit of their positions aside, it's somewhat of an odd marriage."
But politics does make strange bedfellows, a point that is clearly made when you scan the contributions made by many of the attendees at Liston's fundraiser.
Let's take, for example, Thormodsgaard. In the past, he has donated money to the campaigns of Republicans Rep. Marsha Looper and House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, as well as Democrats Senate Majority Leader John Morse and Sen. Pat Steadman.
Looper and Stephens are locked in a heated primary of their own in House District 19, and it is doubtful that either would appreciate being painted as sympathetic to Planned Parenthood, or the gay-rights organization One Colorado.
"This just shows how desperate my own opponent is," says Liston. "Two years ago, these very people who he is trying to condemn me for, he was taking money from."
While Hill never took money from the three lobbyists he highlights on his website, it appears that he has taken money from some of the people in the past who were at this event: Dan Anglin; Jason Hopfer, who also donated money to Hill's 2010 state Senate opponent, Democrat John Morse; Jenifer Brandeberry; and Julie McKenna, a supporter of Democrats Michael Merrifield and Gov. John Hickenlooper.
"Were there some there [at the fundraiser] that you would be on the same side with, possibly so," says Isaac. "I am not going to say some of them don't lobby for some good causes. But clearly some of the associations ventured quite far to the left."
Why, Issac asks, is someone lobbying for Planned Parenthood supporting a candidate who purports to be pro-life?
"Perhaps," he says, "they see something that we don't."
Does that mean that, perhaps, Planned Parenthood lobbyist Thormodsgaard sees something in Reps. Looper and Stephens as well?
"I'll let them answer for themselves," Issac says. "Every candidate has to answer for the donations that they receive."