Lauren Boebert’s GOP challenger fires back after she accuses him of corruption

“Fake headlines” is how Colorado state Sen. Don Coram refers to his primary opponent’s weekly campaign ads that run on the front page of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel’s Sunday edition. The Montrose Republican is challenging U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Silt, to represent Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

Boebert can afford the prominent spot with campaign contributions that dwarf those of her opponents. She has raised nearly $4 million from mostly out-of-state donors, outpacing Coram, who raised $89,000 in the first three months of this year.

“Boebert’s contributions come from out of state, and those people don’t vote,” Coram said.

One campaign ad claims that Coram “used his public office to unleash a multi-year $35 million scheme to line his own pockets” — which Coram said contains “zero truth.”

Colorado voters in 2012 passed Amendment 64, which legalized industrial hemp and psychoactive marijuana. Coram, a state representative at the time, said Democratic Sen. Gail Swartz asked him to co-sponsor a bill in the House regarding regulation of the industry. The bipartisan “Oversight of the Industrial Hemp Program” passed in 2013, directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create a regulatory program governing hemp cultivation.

In 2017, Coram co-sponsored a bill that recognized industrial hemp as an approved agricultural product, thus eligible for federal project water.

Coram said he became interested in hemp after learning from constituents that cannabidiol oil — or CBD — was effective in reducing seizures in children with epilepsy. In 2017 he invested in a 6-acre hemp-growing operation.

An anonymous letter was sent to the Durango Herald that year that said Coram’s processing company, Paradox Venture, would benefit from the legislation and thus was a conflict of interest. However, state statute and legislative rules exempt legislation when it benefits an entire “class,” such as all hemp growers.

In 2019, Coram and his partners expanded cultivation to roughly 20 acres (out of 187,000 acres statewide). By then statewide supply had exceeded demand and most of the product Coram had invested in was not sold, he said.

“Growing hemp is not near as lucrative as what my wife would earn by being a consultant,” he said, referring to Boebert’s husband, an oil rig foreman-turned-consultant for the oil and gas industry.

Boebert initially failed to disclose in 2020 and 2021 her husband’s nearly $500,000 annual consulting income despite ethics and campaign finance laws that require candidates and members of Congress to disclose sources of income of immediate family members, along with major investments and assets, so that voters can determine potential conflicts of interest. Boebert is a fierce proponent of the oil and gas industry.

“I don’t know of a consultant — with no qualifications — who makes $500,000 a year off of one client,” Coram said.

When a Colorado Newsline reporter reached Boebert by phone seeking comment, she answered, saying “I have an idea, don’t call this number again.” Boebert then hung up on the reporter.

Her campaign subsequently declined an email request for an interview.

Comparing records

Another Boebert campaign ad accuses Coram of opposing stricter penalties for fentanyl possession. Coram responded by saying lawmakers worked to improve a bill that would have made possession of any amount a misdemeanor.

A new law was passed in May, which will take effect July 1, making possession of more than 1 gram of a substance containing fentanyl a felony. Coram voted in favor of the bill. But he said he and other lawmakers tried to make possession of any amount of fentanyl a felony.

“Somebody is grasping at straws because she knows she’s in trouble,” Coram said. “I’ve had no ethics violations, and no investigations,” unlike the congresswoman.

Colorado officials are currently looking into allegations that Boebert inflated mileage she logged while campaigning in 2020, and then used more than $20,000 in reimbursements from donors to pay off years of tax liens on her restaurant.

Boebert has been scrutinized after tweeting “Today is 1776,” and for giving a tour of the Capitol complex prior to the rioting on Jan. 6.

Our Revolution, a group associated with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, sent Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold a letter this week, asking her to bar Boebert from running in future elections (such as the general election in November should she win the June 28 primary) for her alleged role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Coram said the main difference between him and Boebert is “I operate through civility and communication.”

Coram, who said he has passed nearly 500 bills as state senator, contrasted his success as a lawmaker with Boebert’s record.

“She’s never passed a single piece of legislation,” Coram said. “I’ve been in the minority for eight years, and the majority for four years and have had the same amount of successes both times. I’ve passed bills dealing with teen suicide, water, natural resources. Broadband, infrastructure, lower prices for prescription drugs, health care for rural areas.”

Not only has she not had any legislative success, she’s taken credit for passed bills that she’s voted against, he said.

Coram and Boebert held their first debate last month at the Sky Ute Resort and Casino in Ignacio. Although the two campaigns had agreed to use paper for notetaking purposes only, Boebert brought a three-ring binder she referenced throughout the debate, Coram said.

“Anytime a question was asked she thumbed through it trying to find the answer her staff had prepared,” he said. “I’d like to know if she’s qualified — or is it her staff? I was hoping to use the debates to show that. She fumbled, it was embarrassing. There were a lot of negative comments on how she handled herself, and her use of notes. I wasn’t expecting a prepared three-ring binder she’s been carrying around for a year. It shows she’s not prepared.”

Although Coram said he would have preferred a different outcome in the 2020 presidential election, he disagrees with Boebert regarding the debunked claim that there was widespread election fraud and that former President Donald Trump actually won the election.

“There’s no evidence that has come forward that Joe Biden is not the duly elected president,” Coram said.


Colorado Newsline 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: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

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Beating Lauren Boebert a top theme of debate among 3 Democrats in Colorado’s 3rd District

Unseating U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Silt who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, is a strong motivator for three Democratic primary candidates who spoke at a candidate forum in Grand Junction on Wednesday.

Boebert will first have to beat her primary challenger, Don Coram, a Republican state senator and former state representative from Montrose.

“I’m running as a father, businessman, local community activist, former city council member, and to make sure Lauren Boebert doesn’t win a second term,” said Aspen businessman Adam Frisch. “She’s an embarrassment and not fighting for the people who voted her in.”

“She did not win her home county,” he added.

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The candidate forum held at Colorado Mesa University also included Sol Sandoval, a community organizer from Pueblo, and Alex Walker, who runs a tech business in Grand Junction.

Approximately 140 people attended the event.

Sandoval shared that she didn’t sleep well the night before, with the recent school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, on her mind, and concern for own children attending school.

“I’m here today as a mother, and a daughter of courageous immigrants,” Sandoval said. “I’m from a pro-union working family. I’ve worked as a social worker and community organizer” and have been trained to listen to people’s issues, she said.

Sandoval, who announced her candidacy within a month after Boebert took office, has spent the last year-and-a-half traveling around Colorado visiting with both Republicans and Democrats who are struggling to make ends meet.

“We have to work across party lines,” she said. “As an organizer, my friends throughout the district will make a difference. I’m here because know I know we can win this district. I have $800,000 from voters in the district — that demonstrates my grassroots campaign.”

Walker, expressed anger at the Democratic Party for being too “polite” and occasionally used expletives as he conveyed his frustration with Democrats playing too nice.

“I’m running for my survival,” Walker said. “Since Lauren Boebert and Donald Trump were elected I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been called a (slur for “gay”). They’ve emboldened a hateful streak in people. I’m here to work like hell for my survival. And for a future of clean jobs, real wages, basic human rights and accessible health care. We need people to stand up to Lauren Boebert.”

After mentioning “the two horrific acts in the past two weeks,” the forum moderator asked each candidate if they would support a ban on assault rifles. On May 14, a man killed 10 people in a Buffalo, N.Y. supermarket in an apparent racist attack.

The Second Amendment topic comes up a lot during his visits with people in the district, and there needs to be a respect for gun ownership, Frisch said. He said he’s not sure what the answer is to stopping America’s all-too-common mass shootings but that certain people should be restricted from accessing firearms.

Sandoval said she’s a gun owner and recognizes the importance of the Second Amendment for rural Coloradans. However, “there are practical things we can support in the bill in the Senate that addresses background checks,” she added.

The Bipartisan Background Checks Act would expand federal background checks required for gun purchases and ensure that individuals experiencing a mental health crisis would not be able to access guns, she said.

Walker said he would close the loophole for background checks, ban assault rifles, and send to prison people who bring guns to schools.

Wildfire protection

Candidates were also asked if they’ve considered the fate of oil and gas, as well as coal industry workers as Colorado moves toward achieving 100% renewable energy by 2040.

Walker responded that there’s a demand for clean energy and that people will actually earn more money in the renewable energy industry.

“Embracing clean technology is an incredible opportunity for Colorado’s future,” he said.

Sandoval, who mentioned growing up in poverty and is sympathetic to people’s fears about job losses, said she would support the training needed to transition away from fossil fuel development and into renewable energy.

Frisch said a lot of people working in the fossil fuel industry are aware of changes in weather, implying that workers are aware that the future will require learning new skills.

When asked about current federal legislation that would protect employees’ rights to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace, Frisch agreed that there must be protections for wages and benefits and that he would not stand in the way of workers who want to organize.

Sandoval contended that an entire region improves when there’s a union employer in the area.

“Pueblo is a union town,” she said. “Everyone’s lives improve. I know the importance of collective power and standing up to corporations.”

Candidates were also asked how they would protect Colorado during an era of unprecedented wildfires. Walker said he would protect Colorado with carbon tax incentives and reforestation. He also emphasized the importance of renegotiating the Colorado River Compact guidelines for sharing water with downstream users.

Sandoval mentioned the need for conserving water and protecting the water that originates in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, while Frisch added that Coloradans should not turn down funding that would help states deal with forest fires — a reference to Boebert, who voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act.

Frisch said Democrats have a unique opportunity to beat Boebert if she wins the primary but that Democrats must build a coalition that includes unaffiliated voters.

“It would be a shame if this district blows this opportunity,” he said. “Lauren Boebert is more vulnerable than people realize.”

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Colorado Newsline 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: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

Boebert gloats on role in the Big Lie at GOP assembly where indicted criminal tells crowd 'they’re coming after you'

After opening the Mesa County Republican Assembly in Grand Junction with a prayer, a singing of the national anthem, and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, county GOP chairman Kevin McCarney invited his “adopted daughter” Rep. Lauren Boebert to the stage.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is being one of 147 who voted against certification of the 2020 election,” Boebert told the crowd of delegates and alternates gathered at the DoubleTree by Hilton on March 26. “It’s why we need Republicans in the majority. We can’t work with Biden, but we can sure investigate Biden.”

Local, state and national candidates were invited to speak for three minutes to the approximately 390 people attending the assembly. Delegates elected during the GOP caucus in early March were there to vote on county candidates they want on the primary ballot in June. State candidates will be decided in April at the Republican Convention and Assembly in Colorado Springs.

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Boebert briefly referred to the COVID-19 pandemic as the “Chinese virus funded by Fauci” — a slam that former President Donald Trump used during his presidency that some say fueled ongoing hate crimes against Asian Americans.

Boebert received a standing ovation with chants of “Lauren, Lauren, Lauren” after she touted “Biden ignored 13 men and women who died on his watch.” Boebert heckled President Joe Biden with a similar phrase during the State of the Union address while he was speaking about his veteran son’s death to cancer and the many veterans who may have suffered injuries from toxic military burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tina Peters, the embattled Mesa County clerk and recorder, who was indicted earlier this month on 10 criminal counts of alleged tampering with election equipment, was also present, seeking supporters for her bid for Colorado secretary of state. While Peters remains the county clerk until the end of the year, Secretary of State Jena Griswold intends to strip her of election responsibilities.

Before Peters addressed the crowd, Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis spoke on behalf of Peters’ GOP opponent in the secretary of state race — former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson.

“Something all Republicans can agree on is that we have the most radical secretary of state in Colorado,” Davis said. “We have a real opportunity to take this seat away from Jena Griswold. (Anderson) is the best option to beat Jena Griswold in the fall.”

Peters disagreed after she took the stage following Davis.

“I’m running as the only choice for secretary of state,” Peters said, adding that she is “a Christian and a Gold Star mom” who is being persecuted for opposing corruption.

“(Mesa County Sheriff Todd Rowell) suspended my concealed carry,” she said. “I could go on about the night I spent in jail while my father was dying. I could go on and on about two lawsuits against me, but I won’t. What God has called you to, he will call you through.

“There are three reasons I am running — report No. 1, report No. 2 and report No. 3,” a reference to reports that claim to demonstrate vulnerabilities with the Mesa County election system written by a member of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s cyber investigation team — reports debunked by election officials.

“Make no mistake; they’re coming after you,” Peters said. “You’re the real target. I’m just standing in the way.”

Replacing Peters

Hoping to succeed Peters as county clerk and recorder are Bobbie Gross and Julie Fisher. Both women accepted primary ballot nominations on Saturday. Gross currently serves as Mesa County treasurer and public trustee technician. She worked previously in the clerk and recorder’s office for 13 years and is a nationally certified elections administrator.

Fisher is currently employed in the clerk and recorder’s office where Peters promoted Fisher to “second chief deputy clerk” after Peters’ chief deputy, Belinda Knisley, was barred from the office pending criminal investigations against her.

Delegates voted for Fisher over Gross, 205 to 146. However, Gross received at least 30% of the votes, which qualifies her to be added to the primary ballot along with Fisher.

There are three routes candidates can take to secure a spot on the primary ballot: They can petition on by collecting, for a county office, 1,000 party signatures; attend a county assembly where a candidate must win at least 30% of the delegate votes; or participate in both the assembly and do a petition — the path that Gross took. The signature threshold is greater for statewide offices.

However, there’s a risk to doing both, said Gross. If you petition successfully, but don’t receive at least 10% of the vote at the assembly your petition doesn’t count, she said.

“I took the risk because the party process is dear to me and I felt I should do both,” she said.

Fisher also petitioned to get on the ballot but fell short collecting enough signatures. Chief Deputy Attorney General Natalie Leh has said Fisher is unfit to oversee elections in the county, because – like Peters and Knisley – she has not completed required state training on how to run elections.

Delegates also voted for Mesa County sheriff and District 2 county commissioner. Incumbent Rowell, who suspended Peters’ concealed weapons permit, received 191 precinct votes compared to challenger Bob Dalley’s 160. Both men will be on the primary ballot.

In the county commissioner election Bobbie Daniel won the delegate vote in a landslide, 261 to 87, against Mesa County Assessor Ken Brownlee.

Andrea Haitz, 1 of 3 of a conservative bloc elected to the Mesa County Valley School District 51 board in November, nominated Daniel, who described herself as “a sixth-generation coal miner’s daughter,” who is tired of career politicians ruling our lives.

“I’ll work to keep the far-left policies at bay to keep our way of life,” Daniel said. “Freedom is not a gift from man or government. It’s up to this generation to preserve it. God is my foundation.”

Other candidates who spoke Saturday included U.S. Senate candidates state Rep. Ron Hanks, U.S. Air Force veteran Eli Bremer, Colorado Christian University professor Greg Moore, small business owner Deborah Flora, and entrepreneur Gino Campana.

Gubernatorial candidate Danielle Neuschwanger also spoke.

“Do we have any God-fearing, gun-toting, MAGA supporters in the house?” Neuschwanger yelled. “On day one I will fire all special appointees of Gov. (Jared) Polis. We need a criminal justice cowgirl who can stand up to D.C. Every law enforcement must also be an immigration agent. I’m the only candidate that openly supports Tina Peters.”

State Party platform resolutions

The assembly distributed 2022 resolution ballots that included 46 state party platform resolutions to be voted on in April, including: “The Republican party supports the registration and regulation of journalism to protect against the Marxist agenda.”

Other resolutions included:

  • “The Republican party supports the abolition of mail-in voting, reducing or eliminating early in-person voting, and requiring that all votes be cast in person on paper ballots after state-issued ID has been shown at a polling location (exceptions only for military members, or those physically disable who present written justification).”
  • “The Republican party supports protecting religious speech, and specifically protecting it from being labeled ‘hate’ speech.”
  • “The Republican Party opposes socialist and communist policies and tyranny, and publicly denounces Democrats and the Democratic Party as communists.”

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Colorado Newsline 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: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

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