In a June interview with insurrectionist and former University of Colorado professor John Eastman, former Colorado state legislator Matt Knoedler claimed that the election fraud conspiracy lawsuits Eastman was filing on behalf of President Trump were the same “kinds of legal battles” that Republicans in Colorado have been challenging for decades.
Knoedler, who is the founder of Caucus Room, a private social media site for conservatives, also accused Colorado Supreme Court justices of aiding Democrats. Video of their discussion, which took place on Knoedler’s site, was obtained by the Colorado Times Recorder.
“Professor, I know you’ve got some connections here in Colorado,” said Knoedler. “And just for background, I was a former legislator here in the state. And in the years since the Democrats began controlling the state Supreme Court here in Colorado, we’ve learned that we have to win an election by a couple of touchdowns in order to, you know, dispense with the legal battle because we seem to lose every one.
“And I tell you that a lot of these things that you all were challenging were the kinds of legal battles I know that my legal friends here in the state have challenged for a couple of decades now. And it seems that the cases always go the way that the other side was asking for.”
Via email, Knoedler says his comparison of Eastman’s lawsuits and previous Republican election-related challenges in Colorado were based upon a particular nuance of legal terminology:
“I believe I was referring to Colorado’s legal precedent of ‘substantial compliance,’ which replaces “strict compliance” standards for election laws, and provides courts with the flexibility to ignore violations of an election law that it considers inconsequential to the overarching right to vote,” says Knoedler. “I was struck that under such a flexible standard, any possible election law violation provides a left-leaning court with a ‘heads-you-lose, tails-we-win’ capacity to decide cases in favor of the Dems.”
Knoedler’s full response is included at the end of this article. He did not respond to a follow-up email asking simply if he believes the 2020 election results are legitimate.
Eastman responded by joking, “But wait! I thought Colorado [election law and administration] was the gold standard?” The lawyer then offered incorrect information about those same two subjects.
“I’ll give you one example of Colorado law,” said Eastman. “It very explicitly prohibits students who are only in state to attend university from using Colorado as their domicile and being able to vote. Right? Very explicit. The statute is unambiguous. And yet the County Clerk in Boulder County, where the University of Colorado is — and a lot of other places — allows students to prove their eligibility by showing them the University of Colorado Buff card, which of course just tells them that they’re a student. It doesn’t tell that they’re domiciled in Colorado.
“So then they put drop boxes unmanned on campuses, which are heavily Democrat strongholds for voters. And they don’t put those kind of drop boxes and facilitate voting elsewhere in the state. So this kind of shenanigans goes on all over the country and it went on on steroids in this last election.”
Reached for comment Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold dismissed Eastman’s misinformation.
“Eastman was one of the architects of the insurrection and is not a reliable source of election information,” says Griswold. “We must stand up to the election conspiracists who continue to spread lies as a means to undermine confidence in elections and suppress the right to vote. As Secretary of State, I will always protect the right to vote and ensure that every Coloradan — Republican, Democrat, and Unaffiliated, alike — can have their voices heard in secure and accessible elections.”
Colorado law does not “explicitly prohibit” college students from voting. In fact, it does the opposite. The Secretary of State’s office explains that Colorado law clearly states that a person does not gain or lose residence in Colorado due to their status as a student at an institute of higher education. Furthermore, every student in Colorado who registers to vote in the state affirms that they reside here. They affirm it again every single time they vote. The Secretary of State’s office also notes that Colorado law also allows any person to challenge a vote or registration of someone who they believe is not a lawful resident of the state. If someone believes people are registered to vote in Colorado who should not be, they are free to make use of this process.
As for ballot drop boxes, clerks across Colorado, most of whom are Republicans, oversee 24-hour drop boxes located all over, not just on college campuses. According to the Secretary of State’s office, deep-red El Paso County had 37 drop boxes open on election day in 2020. Those boxes were placed at rec centers, malls, transportation hubs, and libraries, just to name a few locations.
Eastman went on to imply that powerhouse political law firm Perkins Coie, which handled most of the Democratic Party’s legal efforts opposing the Trump campaign’s lawsuits trying to overturn the election, was somehow playing dirty because of how much the firm has been paid, claiming “they were paid by various Democrat entities over $60 million for legal compliance services. It doesn’t take $60 million to comply with the Federal Election Commission forms that you have to send in, so obviously they’re being paid for something other than legal compliance services.”
Eastman is correct about one thing; Perkins Coie wasn’t just doing compliance. The firm was defending the barrage of lawsuits that Trump lawyers — including Eastman — filed in state after state, attempting to overturn the results of an American election.
Knoedler repeated his analogy of candidates’ need to “win by a few touchdowns” earlier this week on Twitter.
He came to the defense of GOP gubernatorial hopeful Heidi Ganahl, who was caught privately using the Big Lie of election fraud to a group of supporters (and apparently one Democratic tracker) as a means of drumming up support for her campaign. In a back and forth with 9News anchor Kyle Clark, Knoedler refused to answer the question of exactly who is fixing Colorado’s elections, instead claiming that objections about polling stations closing early or ballot curing disputes count as “rigging.”
“Would you like me to pull election lawsuits for the past 20 years? Every single one alleges an injury (i.e. rigging),” tweeted Knoedler. “If you close the polls in Denver at 7 you’re rigging it.” “If you DON’T close the polls you are rigging it.” Etc. Etc…
“Win big, and that lawsuit matters less. But no candidate wants to leave the judgement call on when to close the polls, or how to qualify a few signatures, to a partisan clerk or even a nonpartisan court. That is a completely reasonable and often repeated sentiment.”
Here is Knoedler’s complete response to the Colorado Times Recorder’s request for comment:
“I believe I was referring to Colorado’s legal precedent of ‘substantial compliance,’ which replaces “strict compliance” standards for election laws, and provides courts with the flexibility to ignore violations of an election law that it considers inconsequential to the overarching right to vote,” says Knoedler. “Specifically, I remember a case in which a tax increase was headed to the ballot — maybe 2015? — but some of the paid petition gatherers were unqualified. Under CO law, it clearly stated that any signatures gathered by an unqualified circulator become invalid. A conservative group sued to challenge the signatures, but the court found that the tax increase campaign ‘substantially complied’ despite acknowledging the strict violations did occur, so the injunction was denied and the ballot initiative went on the ballot.
“I was struck that under such a flexible standard, any possible election law violation provides a left-leaning court with a ‘heads-you-lose, tails-we-win’ capacity to decide cases in favor of the Dems. Somehow, pro-life groups do not substantially comply when there’s a paperwork violation, but Pro-tax groups do ‘substantially comply’ in similar circumstances. I believe other ‘substantial compliance’ decisions favored Dems on matters like provisional ballots and ballot signature requirements over the years.”
“If ‘substantial compliance’ gives campaigns and sympathetic judges added flexibility in a close race, it’s better to win ‘by a few touchdowns.’ Just because a campaign finds a clear violation of ‘strict compliance,’ it does not mean they will win relief in court. It also might embolden campaigns to bend or even break election laws if they think their actions still meet the ‘substantial compliance’ standard. Substantial compliance is legal precedent in many states. In the interview, many of the violations Mr. Eastman alleged were, at best, ‘strict violations,’ and I speculated that even if they did prove a strict violation, that might not be enough to overcome the ‘substantial compliance’ precedent. That’s why, in Colorado, we can’t assume that finding a clear violation of an election law will invalidate any votes generated from the violation. In a close race, that can be the difference between winning and losing, so [it is] better for the race to not be close.”