Republican Turns Joke into Attack

An advertisement mailed to some Colorado Springs residents includes actual factual photos of state house candidate Larry Liston cross-dressing, but the attack letter fails to mention that Liston's foray into women's garb was all part of a joke.

One page of the letter includes two photos of Liston from Hummers, a skit put on by the minority party in the House chambers every year skewering the majority party. It also includes a link to a story about criticism Liston faced for calling unwed mother's "sluts." Liston later apologized for the statement. Another link in the letter takes readers to the 2011 voting log on Senate Bill 200, which created the state exchange for the Affordable Care Act and shows Liston voted for the legislation.

Liston said those are "gross misrepresentations." [Former State Rep. Amy] Stephens said there is a "long-standing House and Senate agreement" that anything in Hummers would not be used for or against someone in political campaigns.

"It's just reprehensible that this would be violated," Stephens said.

The mailer appears to be the work of GOP consultant Jon Hotaling in support of Rep. Janak Joshi (R-Colorado Springs), who's facing a primary challenge from Liston. Hotaling defended the letter in the Gazette's story.

Hotaling, who has ties to Jeffco State Senators Tim Neville (SD-16) and Laura Woods (SD-19), as well as failed GOP candidate Tony Sanchez (SD-22),  reportedly orchestrated similar dirty tricks in support of Rep. Doug Lamborn's primary victory in over KVOR talk-show host Jeff Crank.

In that 2006 race, a mailer linked to Hotaling and his brother accused the ultra-conservative Crank of supporting the "homosexual agenda." Crank still talks bitterly about the race.

On his radio show May 14, Crank said, "I think Joshi is hanging out with the wrong people. I think he's hanging out with the wrong crowd. His campaign manager is known for these dirty, divisive tactics."

"This kind of stuff is tearing our party apart," said Crank on air, calling Joshi and his backers the "Pharasies," slimy holier than thou characters from the Bible.

Colorado Springs Republican Bernie Herpin, appearing on Crank's show, said State Sen. Kent Lambert, also of Colorado Springs, has admitted to signing the Liston mailer. But the mailer wasn't Lambert's idea, Herpin said. .Listen to Herpin on KVOR 5-14-16 here.

It adds up to some nasty politicis in a place that prides itself on faith and family.