Randy Corporon is an election denier.
He’s not lukewarm on the matter. He’s not kind of an election denier. He’s not the sort who cast doubt on the 2020 election results during the overheated weeks around the Jan. 6 insurrection and has since moved on.
He is explicit in his stolen-election rhetoric, and to this day he hasn’t softened it.
In this way, Corporon — unfortunately for Americans who care about democracy — is not unlike millions of far-right Republicans who remain cultishly loyal to former President Donald Trump.
But in other essential ways Corporon stands out.
He’s an attorney, licensed to practice in Colorado. And he’s not just any lawyer — he’s a Republican national committeeman who represents the Colorado Republican Party and other clients on election-related matters. Most significantly, he wields outsize influence on everyday Coloradans as a talk radio host, whose weekly program on KNUS is rife with messaging about purported fraud in the 2020 election and other conspiracy theories.
At a time when a reckoning has arrived for lawyers who propagated the lie that Trump won the 2020 election, with many facing punishment for their professional misconduct, Corporon so far appears to believe that he is invulnerable to professional sanction, despite his hand in putting democracy at risk with his repeated expressions of unalloyed falsehoods to a broad public.
Maybe he has committed no violation of the legal code of professional standards in Colorado. That is for attorney-discipline authorities to decide. But the rest of us can hand down this moral judgment: Corporon, as a prolific source of disinformation about elections, is a disgrace to the legal profession and should face at least popular ridicule, resistance and accountability.
Lawyers in Colorado are subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct, which cover how lawyers behave both in and out of the courtroom. The rules are sweeping.
“There are Rules that apply to lawyers who are not active in the practice of law or to practicing lawyers even when they are acting in a nonprofessional capacity,” says the preamble to the rules.
The rules govern how a lawyer interacts with clients, how a lawyer interacts with the court, and how a lawyer interacts with third parties. And there’s a whole set of rules for “maintaining the integrity of the profession” — these are so-called 24-7 rules, applicable to a lawyer’s conduct at all times, even when they’re, say, standing in line at the grocery store. This brings us to rule 8.4(c), an at-all-times rule that says it’s professional misconduct for a lawyer to “engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”
This is the rule that snagged Jenna Ellis. She is the former Trump attorney whom the Colorado attorney regulation counsel investigated and the state’s presiding disciplinary judge agreed to publicly censure over her “big lie” election rhetoric on broadcasts and social media in November and December 2020. She’s just one of many Trump-allied lawyers who have faced professional repercussions for pushing election falsehoods.
There are some limits to the rule. It has to be balanced against free speech rights, and context matters. A lawyer who fibs to a spouse or voices baseless conspiracy theories at a backyard barbecue will not face sanction. And such factors as state of mind and potential for or lack of harm have bearing on whether a lawyer’s dishonesty might be deemed professional misconduct.
But the rule recognizes that lawyers have special responsibilities as public citizens in a constitutional democracy.
Now let’s look at Corporon.
“Randy believes the 2020 election was stolen and those of us fighting to prove it will soon be news, not conspiracy.” Those words, which appear as part of Corporon’s own description of one of his radio shows, exemplify a primary theme of his program, which with almost limitless allusions and outright assertions advances the lie that Trump won the 2020 election. That particular show aired on May 6 — this year — demonstrating Corporon’s unwillingness to moderate in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence over several years.
A lawyer who spreads conspiracy theories about our elections — whether it’s in the media or in the courtroom — undermines our democracy and stains the legal profession as a whole.Christine P. Sun, of States United Democracy Center
Here is just a sampling of other instances when Corporon spread election disinformation:
- Corporon on Nov. 6, 2020, posts on social media about the 2020 election, “More evidence of fraud, machines changing ballots, workers filling them in. It’s 3rd World crap.”
- Corporon on Nov. 9, 2020, posts on social media, “@realDonaldTrump will resume rallies and be showing proof of election fraud, dead voters, etc. as we fight to #stopthesteal #ProtectTheVote & count every legal vote.”
- Corporon on Dec. 11, 2020, posts on social media, “ANYBODY who tells u this election is over, it’s time to throw in the towel, let’s be a good sport, is wrong! America is worth fighting for.”
- Corporon on Aug. 23, 2022, retweets a video of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, in which Jones says about 2020, “We know the election was stolen” and wrote about Jones, “… he’s right on the election steal.”
- Corporon on April 22, 2023, refers on air to the last presidential contest as “the I-believe-to-be-stolen election of 2020.”
- Corporon on May 6, 2023, refers on air to the “stolen election” of 2020, dismissing the notion that Biden received 81 million votes, and later, on air, refers to “… this lying head of a criminal organization, current putative president Joe Biden.”
- Corporon on May 6, 2023, discusses on air how he pushed the Republican National Committee to stop using the phrase “election integrity” and instead use the phrase “election fraud,” adding, “Why are we afraid to say we’re investigating election fraud?”
- Corporon on Aug. 19, 2023, affirms on air during an exchange with a caller that the 2020 election was “messed with” and that it’s “nonsense” to say there’s no evidence of it, adding that such evidence includes “court cases that are being won.”
- Corporon on Sept. 2, 2023, states in writing in the description of that day’s show, “Randy is worn out. But, the battle to expose the truth on election fraud fires him up every time.”
- Corporon on Oct. 14, 2023, blasts Rep. Ken Buck’s recent rejection of election lies and on air cites purported evidence that the 2020 election was “stolen,” such as “people who have been charged and now convicted of election fraud,” videos of “ballots being pulled out from under tables” and “ballots being taken out of the back of trucks.”
Corporon has not wavered on saying, against all evidence, that the 2020 election was stolen, even after multiple experts, courts and even Trump’s own campaign and administration officials discredited such claims, as Corporon must know. Furthermore, Corporon’s dishonesty, as the country heads into a fraught new presidential election year with Trump the near-certain GOP nominee, has the potential to persuade thousands of his listeners to distrust legitimate elections. Election lies since 2020 have already weakened democratic institutions in America, and their persistence threatens to finally eliminate democracy.
The complaint against Ellis that culminated in her censure was filed by States United Democracy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. Christine P. Sun, the organization’s senior vice president of legal, told Newsline this month in a statement that when a lawyer violates their oath to uphold the Constitution and follow the law “they must be held accountable.”
“A lawyer who spreads conspiracy theories about our elections — whether it’s in the media or in the courtroom — undermines our democracy and stains the legal profession as a whole,” Sun said. “It confuses voters, hurts public trust in our elections, and as we saw on Jan. 6, can contribute to violence. It’s critical to protecting the rule of law that the legal profession hold its members to the highest ethical and moral standards.”
Corporon spreads conspiracy theories about our elections, and, week after week, undermines democracy. He must be held accountable.
This article initially appeared in Colorado Newsline, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: [email protected]. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.