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Democrats continue to spoof alleged Stapleton absenteeism

Author: Joey Bunch - September 5, 2018 - Updated: September 5, 2018


Colorado Democrats made it clear Wednesday they’d prefer Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton eat lunch at his desk.

A campaign fundraiser from noontime to 1:30 p.m. was too much for the party to tolerate, sending a press release and video about the alleged offense to the press.

“Earlier today, we were wondering Where Is Walker? — since he doesn’t seem to show up for work very often,” the release stated. “Well, we found him!”

Going to lunch.

The gotcha business ain’t what it used to be.

A tracker captures video of Stapleton walking past and into The Palm Restaurant in Denver for a scheduled $250-a-plate fundraiser. His opponent, Democrat Jared Polis, is plowing his personal fortune into his campaign, out-raising Stapleton more than 4 to 1. That means the Republican has to sing for his campaign supper, well, in this case lunch.

“For the record, Jared Polis is in Washington, D.C. today doing his job representing the people of Colorado,” the Democratic press release stated.

RELATED: A showdown over showing up: Stapleton, Polis trade digs on absenteeism

Democrats are trying to feed a malnourished narrative that Stapleton has been a no-show treasurer.

The proof of that is anecdotal and dizzy with spin. Elected officials don’t punch a clock and are technically always on the job. Democrats most often cite his 55 percent attendance record at board meetings of the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association, but that’s a tad misleading.

Stapleton attends important meetings as he sees fit and dispatches the deputy state treasurer, who has full voting privileges, to others. Other statewide officeholders send their deputies — the department’s chief administrator in most cases — to state budget hearings and other legislative meetings way more than that, in the experience of Colorado Politics’ experienced statehouse reporters.

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, for instance, routinely represents Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, including signing bills into law.

What Stapleton does is not at all unusual, in context.

On the other hand, last week Colorado Politics was the first to report that Polis, a U.S. House member from Boulder, has missed more than twice the median of floor votes of other members of Congress. That’s hard numbers, not anecdotal assertions.

Polis’ campaign explained it’s a long way from Colorado to D.C., and he has still managed to make more than 95 percent of his votes. A state Democratic Party spokesman neglected to provide a comment on Polis’s absenteeism when Colorado Politics ask for a response last week.

Last week, however, Joe St. George in his “Trust Check” segment for  Fox31 in Denver flaggedGood Jobs Colorado, the super PAC supporting Polis, for “false” and “misleading” claims in a TV ad about Stapleton’s attendance.

Colorado Politics’ broadcast partner, 9News, called the ad “tardy on context” and went a step further in alleging the ad makes stuff up about where Walker’s been when he allegedly wasn’t at work.

“The ad does not give citations on screen for the references to ‘political events, golf outings and lunching with campaign donors.'” reported the dogged and proficient Marshall Zelinger. “We requested the backup information Good Jobs Colorado, and also requested Stapleton’s official Treasurer calendar from his office. There are two PERA meetings that Stapleton personally missed when he was scheduled to talk to rotary clubs.”

Westword reported Wednesday that the state Democratic Party has created a spoof website, called Where’s Walker?

Apparently the answer Wednesday is: having lunch.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.