Currently in its eighth season, NBC’s "The Blacklist" — starring James Spader as Raymond Reddington, the most endearing, humorous criminal mastermind you’ll ever see on TV — is an exceptional crime thriller. It features intricate plotlines week-to-week and frequent edge-of-your-seat episodes. Among its long-running plot instruments is The Cabal, a corrupt shadow government that reaches the halls of the White House.
Unfortunately, what was once the stuff of television has apparently taken shape in real-world conspiracy theories here in Colorado. The latest plotline even has a name almost ripped from "The Blacklist": The Election Establishment Cabal!
In a blog post that’s been circulating among Republican activists, Holly Casen, aka “Holly At Altitude,” advances a conspiracy narrative also promoted by FEC United founder Joe Oltmann: Colorado’s elections are rigged in a bipartisan scheme. The post even includes a handy diagram of the key players!
Blacklisters in this Cabal allegedly include former Arapahoe Clerk Matt Crane and his wife Lisa Flanagan-Crane, former Secretaries of State Scott Gessler and Wayne Williams, and Colorado's 4th Congressional District U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who are all in league with Democrat SOS Jena Griswold and Dominion executive Eric Coomer to steal elections and make money. Or something like that, anyway.
It’s hard to tell: Good luck following the rambling storyline, incoherent plot-threads and factual inaccuracies — but somehow people whom Republicans used to look to for secure elections are now corrupt Cabal members. The twists and turns of a TV crime thriller!
For example, the so-called “Heart of the Web” in the Cabalists’ innuendo-drenched storyline is former clerk Crane and his wife, Lisa, who worked for Sequoia/Dominion Voting systems for years until she left in Sept. 2019.
This must have been a closely-held secret, hidden from public view, and only now discovered by extraordinary, Reddington-level sleuthing on LinkedIn! “At the very least,” they claim, Crane has a “serious conflict of interest problem.”
Sorry guys, this is old news. Like, eight years old. In 2013, the Arapahoe County Ethics Committee examined this purported conflict of interest when Crane was one of three finalists to fill the clerk vacancy left by Nancy Doty.
The committee dismissed the claims in a report written by its then-chairman, attorney Randy Corporon (my 710KNUS colleague and current RNC committeeman). The exoneration concluded that Crane “has no past or present conflicts of interest, no past or present ethical issues and no past or present appearances of impropriety that should impact his ability to conduct the activities of the office of Arapahoe county clerk and recorder.”
Cabalists offer zero evidence indicating anything has changed regarding Crane’s trustworthiness since 2013. In reality, it’s simply a red herring.
Another fact about Crane: Casen’s post declares that he was a board member for Voatz, a mobile voting company, and she raises several direct questions about that. Problem is, it’s not true. Crane told me, “I’m on a board for the National Cyber Center in Colorado Springs to study mobile voting, and I did some advising for Global Mobile helping them with political party elections last year. But I’ve never been affiliated with Voatz at all.”
This is no small point: If the heart of the conspiracy theory is false, doesn’t that unravel all the other threads? To paraphrase the blog, “There’s no spoiler alert needed — once the ball of thread is unwound, it reveals a baseless conspiracy theory.”
Let’s pull one more thread: The claim that then-SOS Williams unilaterally mandated Dominion Voting machines be used in every county. The insinuation is that Williams did this to advance Dominion’s interests until two counties, including Douglas, sued Williams and stopped the corruption in its tracks.
Au contraire. Then-SOS Gessler originally set up a commission to examine new voting machine standards. The results were concluded under Williams. From that, standards were created and approved. At the time, Dominion was the only provider that met the new standards. DougCo clerk Merlin Klotz wanted his preexisting system to stay, but it didn’t meet the standards. The court upheld that ability.
In the end, Clear Ballot (the system Klotz ultimately preferred) got a provisional all-clear. Klotz stopped protesting for his previous system. Thus, two options became available.
In truth, there’s nothing inherently unethical or untoward about setting and enforcing statewide election standards. Furthermore, if the standards Williams set, which introduced the Dominion tabulators, are a problem for Cabalists, do they have the same issues with Williams vis-à-vis Clear Ballot?
Say what you will about 2020 elections in other states. Here in Colorado, there are far too many baseless claims rooted in innuendo and intended to dismiss and discredit reliable election officials who dissent from Cabalists’ views.
Unfortunately, this kind of tall tale keeps gaining traction, yet the “Election Establishment Cabal” is a far cry from the believable fiction of "The Blacklist." It is more like silly fan fiction written by a middle schooler. It ought not be taken seriously.