Former state Sen. Charles Duke -- who once accused Newt Gingrich of breaking into his home and later quit public office at the Lord's bequest -- is now accusing Congressman Joel Hefley and his wife, state Rep. Lynn Hefley, of conspiring to manipulate the stock market.
Duke, who gave up his Senate seat in the middle of his term in 1998, is challenging Rep. Hefley, a Republican who represents House District 20, which includes the Town of Monument. Hefley's up for reelection in November.
Earlier this week, Duke outlined the gist of his claim, which allegedly involves the President of the United States, the Mafia and an international Jewish banking conspiracy.
"The Hefleys are undermining me by manipulating the [stock] market," Duke said. "They are not doing it personally, they are asking the president to do it, and he's asking the Mafia. The Mafia controls the options rating and, as you know, the Mafia was created by the Rothchilds many centuries ago.
"[Lynn Hefley] and her husband have a lot to answer for, I'll put it that way," Duke said. "I'm leaving it in the Lord's hands."
Rep. Lynn Hefley did not return repeated telephone calls seeking comment on her alleged complicity in the scheme. However, Rep. Joel Hefley's spokeswoman Sarah Shelden called the allegations ridiculous.
"Obviously, these are baseless and crazy charges," Shelden said. "[The Congressman] has heard about fabricated accounts that he, along with Alan Greenspan and Clinton and Newt Gingrich, is preventing Mr. Duke from making more money and the reality is, they don't know who Charlie Duke is."
"No one member of Congress swings the stock market."
Duke, however, insists that "the Hefleys and the Clintons have built this entire stock market on my back. I am the number one political target of the Democrats and I expect every day someone is going to knock on my door."
The Gingrich break-ins
It's far from the first time that Duke, who was first elected to office in Colorado in 1988, has leveled allegations against Republican office holders.
Nearly a year before he resigned his state senate seat in January, 1998, Duke contacted the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, claiming that then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Drug Czar William Bennett had orchestrated repeated break-ins into his townhouse. They had, Duke said, made off with his 1996 tax files, a lucky pocket knife, a part from his laser printer and a tie-clip microphone.
In addition, Duke accused U.S. West of tapping his phone.
For several years, Duke basked in the national spotlight as a leader of the Patriot Movement, a group of activists that included tax resisters, common-law court proponents, gun-rights activists, citizen militias, white separatists and religious extremists.
The movement gained public infamy when it was linked to the bombing of the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.
Three days later, Duke stood on the steps of Colorado's state Capitol at a gun-rights rally and suggested the government had been involved in blowing up its own building.
The only local Republican who publicly denounced Duke's statements was then-El Paso County GOP Chairman Bob Gardner, who was chastised for criticizing a fellow Republican.
When asked this week to comment on Duke's latest charges against the Hefleys, Gardner said he was not astonished at all.
"I don't feel vindicated, I just wish people would have stood foursquare with me at the time when I separated the Republican Party from his rantings and ravings," Gardner said.
The party's current chairman, Chuck Broerman, said he found the comments "very interesting."
"Reasonable people will be able to weigh the candidate's statements and determine whether they are valid or not," he said.
Wwhen Gardner was getting hit for publicly criticizing Duke, neither of the Hefleys offered criticism over the then-senator's claims. Duke subsequently participated in Hefley fundraisers, along with the rest of El Paso County's delegation.
This week, Shelden defended her boss's silence over past Duke transgressions, claiming that the "Hefley can't respond to every allegation that comes his way. I guess people can be critical if no one is backing up the [GOP] chairman, but not that many people were backing up Charlie Duke."
That's not exactly accurate. After all, Duke was elected to public office twice as a state representative and twice more as a senator. In 1996, he launched a bid for the U.S. Senate, and won more votes in the El Paso County Assembly than either of the two main contenders, former Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton and Wayne Allard, who went on to win the seat.
Duke resigned his state senate office a year later, the result of what he said was a religious conversion. God told him to leave politics, he said, after he had spent three days in the kitchen of a friend's home, curled in the fetal position underneath a table, fasting and drinking fruit juice.
For the past two years, Duke has lived in Oklahoma, where he said he got married. But the marriage didn't work out, Duke said, when President Clinton, through the "twisted, demonic minds" of the Internal Revenue Service, came after him and his wife.
"They were using spiritual and psychic and financial weapons, doing everything they could because I represent the Constitution to people," he said.
Duke said God then gave him two options. He could return to Texarcana, Ark., where he is originally from. Or he could come back to Colorado, get down on his knees, ask forgiveness for leaving his Senate seat and go back to the statehouse as a representative.
"Our Constitution is being taken away from us," Duke said. "The Lord said, 'the Constitution, she is a'burning.' That's exactly what He said to me."
After he lost money in the stock market, Duke said he became a trucker. But then "the Lord told me the spiritual overhead it's taking to keep you safe on these roads is very heavy, and I could keep you safer if you were tied down somewhere," he said.
So he quit driving a truck and said he now works for a local company, which he declined to identify.