Garfield County commissioner candidates decry smear tactics |

Garfield County commissioner candidates decry smear tactics

Phillip Yates
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” A political mailer sent to area residents that blasts Garfield County commissioner candidate Steve Carter has him and his challenger calling the ad a “smear” tactic.

Carter, a Democrat, and Mike Samson, his Republican opponent, both expressed surprise and disgust at the ad, which was recently mailed to area voters. Carter said the ad was addressed to independent and Republican voters.

The political mailer calls Carter a “Boulder liberal” and argues that he is planning to “greedily spend millions more of your tax dollars.” The “Boulder liberal” tag is a phrase Republicans have used to criticize U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, who is running against Bob Schaffer to replace Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo.

Carter hasn’t lived in Boulder for more than 37 years since he received his law degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has been a Garfield County judge for about 32 years.

The mailer also claimed that Carter’s own words and agenda call to “create the largest expansion of burdensome government in Garfield County history ‘costing taxpayers millions more in higher taxes and personal fees.'”

However, the mailer attributes that quote to what it claims is Carter’s official website, which is actually a separate political blog called the Western Slope Independent. That site, which has criticized Carter on several issues, did not have language similar to what was used in the mailer as of late Thursday. Nor does the website have a post for the date the mailer cites.

Carter said it was likely he is the very first candidate running for elected office in the county to get “slimed.”

“And in some ways it was an honor,” Carter said. “They must figure this race really counts.”

The mailer indicates that the Colorado League of Taxpayers, which listed an address out of Fort Collins, paid for the ad. Secretary of State records show that the group is a nonprofit corporation in good standing with the state.

A complaint was filed against the Colorado League of Taxpayers after the group circulated an ad against Mike Freeman, a candidate for county commissioner in an Aug. 12 Republican primary in Weld County, that was very similar to the Carter mailer. That complaint was later dismissed, according to an August decision by Judith F. Schulman, a Colorado administrative law judge.

On one side of the Freeman mailer was the charge that his “$6 billion tax increase is making taxpayers howl!” and on the other side was a picture of Freeman with “Taxer” printed in large letters across the bottom half of the photograph. The ad that criticized Carter contains similar features.

Schulman’s opinion reported that the group had spent about $7,000 to pay for the Freeman ad. Secretary of State records indicate Scott Shires is the registered agent for the Colorado League of Taxpayers. A phone call seeking comment from Shires wasn’t immediately returned late Thursday.

Samson, Carter’s Republican opponent, said he was “outraged” when he saw the ad.

“It was a clear cheap shot and smear tactic at Steve Carter,” he said. “It was garbage. We don’t need that. We don’t want that.”

Samson said he had no knowledge of the letter until he read it.

“I wanted to make sure, everyone in the county knows that,” he said of the mailer. “I don’t want anything to do with it.”

Carter said the current campaign between Samson and him doesn’t need the “intervention of people on the (Front Range) who follow the Karl Rove playbook.”

“The people out here are independent enough to be able to make up their own minds,” he said.

Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117

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