The party is digging itself into an inescapable hole, and it’s all thanks to one woman and her protégés who could be counted on one hand. She’s burned every bridge in the state and beyond, and she’s burning the entire party down on her way out.
Vickie Tonkins is on her way out.
While it’s evident she won’t be re-elected as El Paso County GOP chairwoman due to the near collapse of the Republican Party in EPC, rumors swirl amongst political locals that she could be running for State Chair since Ken Buck won’t be running for another term.
Vickie has proven herself incapable of running one county’s GOP office, and not kind of incapable…totally incapable. Therefore, the idea of Tonkins running for the Chair of the entire state is alarming to EPC conservatives who are reminiscent of better days, days when competent chairs like Josh Hosler ran the county office.
EMBARASSING THE LOCAL PARTY
Tonkins previously called Coronavirus “a psy-op” on Facebook. The issue arose from the fact that she solely operated the county Facebook page and often speaks for the entire party in her posts. When several members of the legislature called for her to apologize and/or resign, Tonkins called those officials “racist” in an email and later statement.
She sparred with Jefferson Thomas, Donald Trump’s state campaign leader, and she made a mess of the Spring virtual assemblies. In August, local officials and the Executive Committee stripped Tonkins of most of her powers, prohibiting her from spending over $250 without approval or sending communications on behalf of the El Paso County GOP.
A week after her duties were stripped and the EPC GOP Executive Committee voted to remove John Pitchford, Vickie’s comrade, as EPC Treasurer, Vickie and John filed a police report stating that documents and passwords were stolen from the EPC GOP office. The report states:
“I am the treasurer of the El Paso County Republican Central Committee and I have been aware of multiple thefts of records, documents, $1,000 dollars’ worth of ID badges, and a laptop computer which have occurred since September of 2019. Additionally, 75% to 90% of all of our operational documents have been stolen out of the office. These include numerous financial documents. Numerous computer files have been deleted. All check register information prior 3 April 18 has been removed. All financial / bank records prior to 2017 are missing
All of the materials above are vital to our operation. We are wanting to perform a full audit of our financial records and we are unable to do an effective audit of our books due to the missing bank records. The following individuals have knowledge of the events and actions listed above and can provide more information.
Complainant 1: Vickie Tonkins
Chairwoman, El Paso County Republican Central Committee
Complainant 2: John PitchfordTreasurer, El Paso County Republican Central Committee.”
The only four people who had keys to the building at the time of the “theft” were Vickie, John, Elizabeth Riggs, Secretary, and and Wendy Miller, Vice Chair. When police officers attempted to follow-up with Vickie and John, neither were cooperative. Neither Elizabeth Riggs or Dave Williams, curiously listed as witnesses on the police report, had any additional information.
Instead of cooperating with the police, in fact, Tonkins waited until December 3rd, almost four months after the police report was filed, to send an email to the El Paso County GOP list offering a $1000 dollar reward for information leading to the missing documents and passwords. She titled the email “El Paso County GOP Chairwoman offers $1,000 Dollar Reward for Missing Records and Passwords,” reading like a ready-made headline.
The email is problematic for the following reasons:
- If the intent is to find the missing information, why not follow up with the police? Party insiders believe the answer is because Tonkins and/or Pitchford have filed a false report and don’t wish to risk getting caught.
- If the missing passwords are so crucial, then why not pay an IT expert to obtain them? A party insider on the executive committee states that this service could be provided for about $75 dollars, far less than Vickie’s $1000 dollar expenditure.
- Is this Vickie’s personal money? If not, she certainly doesn’t have permission to spend the party’s money. Vickie isn’t allowed to spend over $250 dollars without permission.
- The email only went out to the EPC GOP list. Is Tonkins alleging that someone in the party has information on the theft? If she wanted to reach a wider audience, why didn’t Tonkins utilize social media or print ads?
Tonkins is behaving less like a party chair and more like a serial killer visiting the scene of her crime and offering to “help” search the area for clues.
MAIL IN BALLOTS
In a recent email dated October 15th, Tonkins told El Paso County voters to vote in person or via drop box. She stressed the idea, nineteen days pre-election, not to vote by mail. While the entire party was chasing ballots for weeks prior to the election, Tonkins played games. The Colorado GOP stressed that mail in ballots are safe, and to return ballots via whatever means necessary. As per usual, Tonkins had her own agenda.
DELETION OF PARTY SOCIAL MEDIA
On November 7th, Tonkins sent an email to the El Paso County GOP list. The email stated that Facebook is censoring conservatives, so there’s no longer an El Paso County GOP Facebook page. However, the email states the party would have mewe and parler accounts in the near future. Neither of those accounts have been created as of today because Vickie is the only person in the entire El Paso County GOP, apparently, who can speak on social media, and she doesn’t want to do so. Tonkins doesn’t feel it’s important to reach social media users at a time when Americans spend an average of three to four hours per day on their phones, and one in five Americans rely solely on social media for political news.
Vickie hasn’t done anything for the El Paso County GOP, at least not anything positive or productive. On the contrary, she’s worked every step of the way to destroy the party from within. A post election New York Times article pointed out that the Colorado Springs metro area was one of the leading areas in the nation turning increasingly blue last election, a notion previously unheard of in the area.
Tonkins’ latest efforts are focused on gifts and gift cards for local families in need. Tonkins lauded during a December 17th Executive Committee meeting that “people need to know that we care about the community.”
In reality, Tonkins should be spending her time picking up the pieces from her failed spring assembly, where she was blasted by the local party, and putting energy into the next elections. However, helping conservatives get elected has never been something Tonkins was good at or spent much time doing…almost as if she doesn’t want to see conservatives get elected.
Local party officials would be wise to ask for a full accounting of all gifts, wrapped or monetary, that come into the GOP office this season. Important items seem to go missing lately at headquarters.
Tonkins, instead of focusing on creating a Parler account, reactivating the county party’s Facebook, following up on the police report she filed in August, or helping conservatives get elected, turned her focus in the last month to the EPC GOP Executive Committee and ousting anyone who’s sidelined her in the last year.
This Thursday, Tonkins, in her wake of destruction, aimed to remove Missy Ward, Holly Williams, and Eli Bremer from the committee. The reason? Vickie claimed the trio’s “charges” include misquoting her, feeding stories about her alleged incompetence to the media, and not working in the way Vickie wants them to do so.
Fortunately for the three members, Wayne Williams reminded Tonkins that since a majority of the committee wasn’t present for the meeting, there wasn’t a quorum to complete any actions such as ousting the committee members. After Wayne’s comments, Vickie became visibly upset and lectured the few attendees that other members weren’t fulfilling their elected duties.
The missing committee members declined to attend the Zoom meeting because it wasn’t necessary; the party’s bylaws allow for in-person meetings. Vickie simply didn’t want to have an in-person meeting. Additionally, rumors swirled for a month prior to the meeting that Tonkins would attempt such a dumpster fire. Party insiders say that the members came to a consensus before the meeting that they would abstain from Tonkins’ meeting because the vast majority of the committee wished not to work with Tonkins any further, at least not this week.
By Saturday morning, Tonkins had moved onto priorities other than ousting her foes. She sent an email to the EPC GOP list informing people that they should donate to a toy drive as part of a protest not staged by the local GOP but by FEC United.
Tonkins doesn’t speak for the party as a whole, a lesson she hasn’t yet learned, and committee members and county GOP voters are left to question what the relationship is between FEC United and the EPC GOP. Is there a relationship? If so, what does that relationship look like? Is any money exchanged?
Is FEC United representative of the direction that party officials want to go? It may very well be, but that was never discussed. Is that the right direction for local EPC GOP voters? Vickie decided that it is, leaving many EPC GOP insiders with more questions.
How is the EPC GOP’s insurance policy affected by such events, not planned or controlled by the party itself? If an injury or violent act occurs, who gets sued, FEC or the EPC GOP?
While working with another organization doesn’t automatically pose a problem, Tonkins’ failure to discuss the merged event and merged communications and failure to consider political, financial, and communal repercussions is indicative of her massive failure in general. Tonkins should have consulted with elected officials and committee members to determine if such an event is both desired and wise.
She didn’t do any of those things because she doesn’t care about the party in fact, she must loathe the party itself. Tonkins has never been a party leader. Instead, she’s served to rip up the El Paso County GOP from the inside, almost as if that were her original intent.
She should not run for her current position again. One possible contender, Eli Bremer, is a successful former chair, Olympian athlete, and Air Force graduate. Other candidates may surface between now and the 2021 election. Since Tonkins isn’t qualified to run as a county chair again, the premise of a Tonkins state chair run is laughable around El Paso County. Colorado is a large state with plenty of conservatives; any one of them would be better at either position than Tonkins.