Colorado’s Republican Party chairwoman navigated some rough press last year, after it was revealed she previously served as president of far-right conspiracist group FEC United, which has its own militia. She has since attempted to distance herself from that group, but is apparently still willing to do public events with other conspiracists.

Schumé Navarro is a QAnon-promoting former school board candidate who attended the Jan. 6 insurrection and who resigned last week as secretary of the Arapahoe County Republican Party.

She just launched a new podcast, and Burton Brown appeared as her first guest.

Navarro’s public resignation from the Arapahoe GOP leadership team last Friday was notable for her eye-popping claims against her fellow officers; she called fellow party executives “corrupt” and said it was “a toxic environment.”

Apparently undeterred by Navarro’s previous conspiracy promotion, insurrection participation, or serious allegations against other party officials in her chain of command, Burton Brown joined Navarro on her podcast entitled “Don’t Tread on Mae” to discuss the caucus, assembly, and primary processes in anticipation of this year’s election.

The interview itself was a straightforward explanation of Colorado’s caucus process. Navarro says she has been involved “for two years, now” when she attended her first caucus, met Burton Brown, and was elected to be a precinct leader. Burton Brown first participated in caucus as a teenager and in 2008 organized Colorado’s first Personhood abortion-ban referendum, which failed. Each of them recounted their experiences with the caucus and spoke enthusiastically about its ability to get regular people involved with party politics.

Burton Brown explained the caucus nomination and selection process for candidates hoping to make the primary ballot, citing the risks of multiple candidates all gunning for at least 30% of delegate votes. She also noted that at least in recent years, “it’s rare for candidates that skip the assembly and solely petition on to the [primary] ballot make it to the general election. It can happen and it’s totally fair if it does, but it’s typical for Colorado Repubilcans that those who go on as our general election candidates.”

Kristi Burton Brown and Schumé Navarro together in March 2020

Both women graduated from the conservative leadership development program, Leadership Program of the Rockies, rising through party ranks as grassroots activists after their initiation into politics by way of the GOP caucuses, where citizens elect representatives to select the party’s candidates and leaders in local organizing and administrative positions.

In a Facebook epistle from last Friday, Navarro explained her sudden resignation from party leadership after holding an executive position for 11 months:

“To be honest It was a toxic environment,” Navarro wrote. “I was stonewalled and lied about often from Suzanne & Caroline…Well, in violation of our bylaws the County Chairs took an opposing stance with me among other things she spread an exaggerated hit piece on me to other County Candidates as a warning of working with me, she also reached out to State GOP to discipline me based on this article, even contacted The Leadership Program of the Rockies in hopes that they disavow me, a recent graduate… “Since ‘returning’ as Secretary after my race none of my previous responsibilities were returned to me I’ve been given the silent treatment from the Chair and had a “liaison” as a work between. I’ve been iced out from meetings, lied about and barred from my responsibilities. When I pushed to understand why this was happening I was told she’s upset I referred to my experience with them as Corrupt. Well- I’m sorry but the definition of CORRUPT is to bend the rules or to be dishonest for self-gain… I guess If you don’t want to be referred to as corrupt then act in a way that’s opposite of it….”

Navarro’s account of her tenure and resignation illuminates the tight rope that Burton Brown must navigate to retain party solidarity and effectively lead feuding factions of Republicans to electoral victory in a state where their prospects have dwindled dramatically over the past 15 years.

Among her reasons for resigning, Navarro alleged back-room deals brokered by the county chairwoman, said she was directed to lie and deceive in her meeting minutes, claimed she was stonewalled, sidelined, smeared, and lied to as an executive officer, specifically mentioning “Suzanne” — presumably referring to Arapahoe GOP chairwoman Suzanne Taheri — as a primary participant in actions Navarro called out as “corrupt.”

Last November, Navarro lost her bid for Cherry Creek School District board of education. According to her resignation post, she blames Taheri in part, accusing her of colluding in negative campaign hits against her, in favor of cronyism support for a more moderate candidate, Kelly Bates, who ran against Navarro for that seat.

Her campaign centered on hot-button issues in school curriculum. She opposed instruction which she deems as congruent with Critical Race Theory (which is not taught in K-12 schools), and she favored a focus on American exceptionalism. She questioned the intentions of school-based clinics and worried about creating gender dysphoria among students with policies that reflect diversity, equity, and inclusion.