This campaign season has seen a number of politicians caught embellishing their military records — but this is a new one. The Denver Post has forced Colorado Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes to back off his claim that he once worked undercover with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation on a drug and gambling case.
So what exactly did Maes claim? As the Post reports:
A statement he wrote on his campaign website that was later removed said: “At one point in my 2 years there I was place (sic) undercover by the Kansas Bureau of Investigations (sic) to gather information inside a bookmaking ring that was also allegedly selling drugs. I got too close to some significant people in the community who were involved in these activities and abruptly was dismissed from my position. I was blindsided and stunned to say the least.”
Maes did work as a police officer in Liberal, Kansas, from 1983 to 1985. But Bob Blecha, the director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, told the Post the agency has no record of working with Maes. Blecha said it was possible Maes worked with agents on small matters, like any ordinary officer. Rick Kistner, who was the chief of police in Liberal when Maes was an officer, said he did not remember Maes, and did not remember an investigation of the kind described by Maes.
After law enforcement officials in Kansas shot down Maes’ claims, the Post asked the candidate to produce records backing them up. He said he could not.
“This was 25 years ago,” Maes told the Post. “It’s just not worth covering that much. It’s a nonissue.”
“Those comments might have been incorrect comments,” Maes said.
Who wrote them on the website?
“Whoever typed it, typed it. That’s all I’ve got to say,” Maes said, before referring questions to his campaign spokesman.
Later, his spokesman, Nate Strauch, confirmed that Maes had written the comments.
Read the rest here.
The TPM Poll Average for the Colorado gubernatorial race shows Maes (30.8%) trailing Democrat John Hickenlooper (41.9%), but leading third-party candidate Tom Tancredo (12.2%).
Late Update: Maes spokesperson Nate Strauch tells TPM that the campaign “completely disputes” the Post’s story.
“We stand by the facts,” Strauch said. “He was asked by state authorities to provide intelligence.”
“Just because they don’t have a record of it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” Strauch added.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com