Republicans in Colorado are accusing the Democratic candidate for attorney general of cronyism, citing a history of granting favors to politicians and operatives in the state.
When the Obama administration was on the cusp of coming into power in 2008, former Democratic majority leader of the Colorado House of Representatives Alice Madden emailed John Podesta, touting a young lawyer named Phil Weiser as a possible candidate for one of the many jobs the administration would need to fill if they won.
Years after receiving that job, Weiser—now the Democratic nominee for attorney general in Colorado—would do Madden a favor when he was dean of the University of Colorado Law School.
Weiser recommended Madden and helped negotiate a break so that her new position would only be 75 percent of full time, which would allow her to campaign to become a regent of the university.
"Will work ¾ time so have time to campaign," Madden said in an email obtained via an open records request. "Dream job for me!"
A separate email detailed Weiser's effort on behalf of Madden.
"I talked to the Provost today and he agreed that the [Getches-Wilkinson Center] Exec Director position could be 75% time and 110K," Weiser wrote in an email to the law school's human resources department, noting that the salary would be lowered correspondingly.
Although the position was advertised as a full-time job, Madden defended the arrangement, telling the Washington Free Beacon by email, "My predecessor worked part-time, as do I (75%)."
One long-time Republican lawmaker says the episodes should call into question Weiser's claims that he's a political "outsider."
"That's unbelievably swampy for Colorado. To give someone a $110,000-a-year part-time job so that they could afford to run for office—not only that, but for office that would be overseeing the institution that hired her," said former state senator and Republican consultant Greg Brophy.
"What that says is that [Weiser has] basically been part of the backroom dealing that we've been well aware of in Colorado since 2004. Whether you're running for office or running the back room, or participating in running the back room, you're still a part of the machine. And it sure appears now that he has a long history of doing that."
The Weiser team declined to comment. Madden denied that the two incidents were related to each other, and also denied the charge by Brophy that the emails prove Weiser has been a cog in the Democrat party machinery.
Her pitch to the Obama team on behalf of Weiser came two days before the general election in 2008. Podesta would become a co-chair for the Obama transition team weeks later.
"Hi John, Hope you are well!" Madden wrote to Podesta in a hacked email published by Wikileaks. "You may already have Phil Weiser on your radar but thought I would send you some background. His areas of expertise are both telecom and anti-trust. He teaches at CU Law in Boulder but is visiting at NYU this semester. A brilliant mind living in the real world—always a great combo!"
President Obama appointed Weiser as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, and Weiser later went on to serve a brief stint on the National Economic Council before returning to the CU Law School to become its dean in 2011
Madden's familiarity with Podesta may have given her voice extra weight.
Madden's financial disclosures while serving in a government position in the cabinet of a Democrat governor in 2009 showed she was earning $3,000 a month from the Center for American Progress, Podesta’s think tank. She later resigned from the CAP position but kept her government role after the Denver Post editorialized holding both positions was a "clear conflict of interest."
According to one of Madden's resumes, she started with CAP in January of 2008 while she was still serving as a member of Colorado's house of representatives.
Madden, who ultimately lost the 2016 race for CU regent, is listed among those politicians who have endorsed Weiser's candidacy on his website.
Weiser faces Republican George Brauchler in the general election, who serves as the district attorney for the state's 18th judicial district. Brauchler is best known for his prosecution of the Aurora theater shooting of 2012.
The Republican Attorneys General Association also took aim at Weiser.
"Phil Weiser needs to stop pretending," said Zack Roday, communications director for RAGA. "We've all heard Weiser call himself a ‘newbie'—a guy who is new to politics—but that's simply not true. Weiser hooked up his political buddy with a six-figure job at Colorado University and let her work part-time work, so she could campaign. I can see why Weiser needs to pretend so much; the real Phil Weiser is an establishment, insider politician who will do and say anything to get elected."
Published under: Colorado