The snowballing signature petition scandal for Jon Keyser is inviting speculation of exactly where and how it all ends for the young Republican, who just two short months ago appeared to be the GOP favorite from a field of 15 contenders vying to retire U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, fulfill the only viable hope for flipping a seat in the Senate, and holding or growing a Republican majority in the chamber this November.
Last Saturday, Keyser appeared on The Jimmy Sengenberger Show (KNUS, 710am) to update listeners on his campaign and dispel any characterization that the scandal has crippled him in the run-up to the primary.
In deflecting any doomsday implications to his run, Keyser cited a cumbersome state bureaucracy, minimized the scandal as a political attack from the left, blamed the liberal media, shifted blame to the signature gathering company hired by his campaign and the subcontractor who employed Maureen Moss who allegedly submitted the forged signatures, and deftly pivoted to attack Senator Bennet.
Here’s what he said in the interview with Sengenberger:
HOST JIMMY SENGENBERGER: I do want to take just a moment – I think I’d be remiss not to give you chance to say –. I’ve been reading in the Denver Post. I saw comments that you made in regards to these allegations about fraudulent signatures that have been put forward on your petitions — about 13, or so, — suspect, or along those lines. What can you tell us about that?
GOP CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATE, JON KEYSER: Sure. I’d be happy to talk about that. You know, what happened was, just like every other statewide candidate that runs, my campaign hired a company to help us navigate a – the — probably the most complicated process to get onto a ballot in the entire United States. Out of any of the states, Colorado is probably the most difficult. So, we hired a company. That company hired another company. And that company, acting as a subcontractor, hired an employee who passed their background check and went through their training but apparently, it looks like may have forged some signatures. And that woman, acting on behalf of the subcontractor — it is my understanding that no one has been able to find her. But those are very serious allegations, and you know, I take them seriously. And what she did was certainly wrong, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that we have hundreds more signatures than were required – than were necessary. And you know what’s really kind of concerning to me about that is, you know, the Democrats and the liberal-leaning media here in the Denver area have been overjoyed, frankly, to talk about anything except for Michael Bennet’s failed record. You know, during the same week when a lot of this stuff about this woman who was hired by the subcontractor was in the news, Michael Bennet was over on the Western Slope where I grew up, and he told the Grand Junction Sentinel editorial board that he understands how devastating Obamacare has been for Colorado families but he doesn’t have any answers. That was literally a quote. He doesn’t have any answers for us here in Colorado. And that didn’t get covered at all. So, it’s really apparent to me that, you know, the liberal media wants to make sure they’re not talking about Michael Bennet or his failed record. They want to talk about anything but that. And so, I think it was a pretty good indicator. And, talk radio and a lot of people are coming up to me and saying, “You know, Jon, it’s very apparent that the Democrats are only worried about one person facing Michael Bennet, and that’s you.” So, I think that is probably the case.
Buried in Keyser’s response is a notable and misleading suggestion that the forged signatures have no bearing on whether he’ll be allowed to remain on the ballot.
The required 1,500 signatures from registered Republicans in each of Colorado’s seven Congressional districts presented an earlier stumbling block to the Keyser campaign when the Secretary of State rejected his petition due to insufficient signatures in the 3rd district, according to an article in Politico. A Denver district court later overturned that ruling, identifying a minor omission in the registration information of another signature gather as a technicality which invalidated many of the signatures from CD 3, and which should not preclude him from the primary election.
However, since that ruling, the forgeries were uncovered. And the signatures in question come from another Congressional District – the 1st – from which 1,520 signatures were submitted by the Keyser campaign. Marshall Zelinger from The Denver Channel (KMGH Channel 7) verified that 13 of those signatures were likely forged, before he ran out of time to investigate any more forgeries from the CD-1 petitions. Subsequently, signatures have been identified from a deceased individual, with the possibility that more forged signatures will be surface.
In the interview with Sengenberger, Keyser dismisses the likelihood of falling below the 1,500 signature threshold, saying “we have hundreds more signatures than were required – than were necessary.”
However, Steve Adams of Black Diamond Outreach, LLC – the subcontractor who hired the petition circulators for Keyser—alleged in an interview with Zelinger that approximately 200 signatures from CD-1 had originally been disqualified by the Secretary of State, due to a similar technicality with a signature collector as occurred in CD-3. Adams believes that those 200 signatures could be validated if needed, presumably by the same district court.
Keyser was validated as a candidate in the GOP primary on April 25, more than a month ago. The primary is to be held June 28th. If Keyser does not have 1,500 valid signatures from CD-1, if more forged signatures are to surface, if previously invalidated signatures need to be ruled valid by the district court, and considering that the petitions were originally due on April 4, Keyser’s future in the GOP race remains very uncertain, to say nothing of his chances to prevail against Michael Bennet in November.