After partnering with the new conservative organization FEC United during the election season, Colorado Republicans are now forced to choose sides between their own party’s officials and the conspiracy theorist leader of the grassroots group, Joe Oltmann.
Oltmann appeared on George Brauchler’s radio show and claimed that not only was the presidential election stolen, but that there was “ginormous” corruption and fraud in Arapahoe, Denver and Jefferson county elections.
Oltmann was recounting his anger over what he saw as Congressman and Colorado Republican Party Chair Ken Buck’s implicit dismissal of local voter fraud during an “election security” panel discussion with three Republican clerks last week.
“This is the reason why people don’t trust Republican leadership,” Oltmann said to Brauchler. “It’s because they don’t question things, because you can explain it away in an hour, an hour and a half. Right?”
Brauchler, who’s the sitting District Attorney for the 18th District, responded by sharing his experience touring Arapahoe and Denver’s vote centers and said he saw “a significant amount of oversight” that made the election “pretty darn safe.”
Oltmann, who is a paying advertiser of Brauchler’s show, replied with a litany of unsubstantiated but very specific claims about fraud. He even alleged fraud in Colorado’s 2018 election, saying he believed Brauchler actually won the race for Attorney General. Democrat Phil Weiser defeated Brauchler by six points, a margin of over 160,000 votes, in an election administered and certified by Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams.
“With all due respect George, you’re wrong,” Oltmann countered. “I think you won the election in 2018. I think the amount of corruption that happens in Arapahoe, Denver, Jefferson County specifically is ginormous. And I think that we have to start looking at how they actually have these audit systems so they can do full audits where they took out samples and say, OK, did this person vote for this person, goes vote for this person? But I think that if you do a hand count, especially this year, you will find a drastic change in what is the election results for Jefferson, Denver and Arapahoe County versus what the Scanners 4.0 tabulation system for Dominion shows.”
Brauchler never disputed or questioned Oltmann’s claims, instead returning the conversation to the false allegations of fraud in Georgia he promoted to start the segment. Those claims had already been publicly debunked in the days prior to the radio show. Brauchler later offered to invite Oltmann back on the show along with former Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane, (a Republican who administered his county’s portion of the state’s 2018 attorney general election which Oltmann alleges Brauchler rightly won). Crane has publicly supported Dominion voting machines and the Colorado election process as secure.
Brauchler concluded the conversation by thanking Oltmann for both appearing and advertising on his show:
“And you know, right after we get off the phone, when we come back, you’re going to hear me pitch your awesome business PIN Business Network,” said Brauchler. “Thank you for doing this, Joe. I appreciate it, man.”
Reached by phone, Brauchler declined to comment, saying he was currently “on orders” as part of his military service and had nothing to say about the issue while in uniform. He is a Colonel in the Colorado National Guard and last year was selected to serve as the Guard’s first military judge.
Oltmann declined to comment to a Facebook message requesting proof of his allegations, stating only, “I don’t talk to Antifa.”
Oltmann has been one of the leading voices attacking the Dominion Voting Company, whose machines are used by county clerks in 62 of 64 Colorado counties as well as dozens of other states. He has also repeatedly made unsubstantiated personal attacks against an executive at the company. Oltmann’s claims were amplified by social media and far-right media outlets and generated so many threats that they forced him and his family into hiding and lead him to publicly deny the accusations in a Denver Post column.
Meanwhile, several Republican members of Colorado’s legislature, led by former House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, who has appeared at FEC United events, wrote a letter echoing Oltmann’s attacks on Dominion’s software and demanding a third-party investigation.
Colorado Democratic Party chair Morgan Carroll called on GOP Chair Ken Buck to disavow the letter, calling it “a blatant attempt by House Republicans to undermine confidence in our elections.”
“Ken Buck needs to put his money where his mouth is,” said Carroll. “Just days ago, he rightfully defended the integrity of Colorado’s election systems. Will he call on Pat Neville and House Republicans to end their dangerous attempts to spread misinformation about the 2020 election, or will he stay quiet? Buck can’t have it both ways. Colorado has the gold standard of election convenience and security, and Coloradans deserve to know if both major parties understand this fact.”
The Colorado Republican party is itself partially responsible for the disconnect over election fraud that exists between Republican election officials and grassroots conservatives like FEC United. The party sent multiple fundraising emails, signed by Chairman Buck, asking for funds for an “Election Integrity Fund to protect Coloradans’ votes” because of “reports of potential fraud taking place across America.”
Several county parties have also publicly shared fake news stories that insist without evidence that fraud occurred.
Furthermore, the party worked closely with Oltmann’s FEC United group throughout the 2020 election, including FEC sending fundraising emails and hosting an event for GOP candidates. Members of FEC’s militia, the United American Defense Force, provided security for the event. Beyond electoral efforts, Colorado Republican Party Vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown is working with FEC to launch a Law & Policy Center to advance conservative policies through advocacy, lobbying and lawsuits.