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Joshi campaign called on to disclose role in controversial mailer or face complaint to state

Written By: Colorado Government Watch

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June 10, 2016

Joshi campaign called on to disclose role in controversial mailer or face complaint to state

Colorado Government Watch is calling on the re-election campaign of Colorado Springs state Rep. Janak Joshi either to reveal the degree of its involvement in a controversial mass-mailing that accused his opponent of “cross dressing”—or brace for a formal complaint to the Colorado secretary of state.

In a letter sent today to Joshi and his campaign manager, Colorado Springs political consultant Jon Hotaling, Colorado Government Watch Director Dede Laugesen demands that the campaign come clean about its role in orchestrating the mailing. She points out its nominal author, state Sen. Kent Lambert, a Joshi ally, has said he didn’t actually write or pay for the mailing. Yet, she notes, Joshi—a former physician who surrendered his medical license to state authorities for unprofessional conduct—also will not own up to the mailing.

The three-term lawmaker even recently fled in his car when approached by a Colorado Government Watch team after refusing an interview at his Colorado Springs home.

Laugesen warns in her letter to Joshi and Hotaling:

If you continue to stonewall our efforts to achieve clarity on this matter, and absent other information, we will be compelled to reassess Sen. Lambert’s claim that he did not arrange for or pay for the mailer. Accordingly, we will consider filing a complaint with the Colorado secretary of state asking that office to look into whether Sen. Lambert’s effort amounted to a non-monetary contribution to your campaign.

The May 5 attack mailer, sent to voters who had contributed to the campaign of Joshi’s June 28 Republican primary opponent, former state Rep. Larry Liston, has drawn media coverage and raised an uproar among fellow El Paso County Republicans. It endorsed and praised Joshi while urging Liston’s campaign donors to ask for their money back.

A “fact sheet” included in the mailer leads with photos of Liston in women’s clothing and refers to him as “cross dressing on the House floor.” The photos in reality depict scenes from an annual spoof staged at the legislature by the minority party in which Liston and others jokingly had portrayed members of the majority—a fact not mentioned in the mailer. The parody is a tradition in the General Assembly, and members observe a long-standing agreement not to misuse the event for political purposes.

The mailing’s recipients included some prominent Colorado Springs Republicans, who have now lashed out at Joshi and Lambert over the tactic.

Joshi, who has served in the state House since first being elected in 2010, had been a practicing physician until giving up his license. That 2008 development had followed a protracted action against Joshi by state medical authorities, who at one point had ordered him to submit to an assessment of his medical skills and possible remedial medical training, but he failed to comply with that order.

Colorado Government Watch is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical, nonprofit accountability watchdog that takes no stand on the House District 16 primary race. We do not endorse or oppose candidates, have no stake in the election’s outcome and have no connection to either campaign. Our concern in this case is with ethics and public accountability in the election process and the degree to which smear campaigns that distort facts and use other deceptive tactics serve to undermine public confidence in elections and elected officicals.

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