El Paso County GOP, once the Republican stronghold of Colorado, is falling apart at every turn, thanks to Vickie Tonkins, it’s embattled Chair, and her allies.
Tonkins has failed at her position of Party Chairwoman; she has not helped conservatives get elected, and she’s caused more strife in El Paso County than the Executive Committee has seen for decades. Since Tonkins and her allies couldn’t solidify her re-election ahead of the February 6th county reorganizational meeting, she and treasurer John Pitchford illegally stacked the deck to ensure a Tonkins win.
On January 24th, a text went out to FEC United members, a text which did not go out to the rest of the El Paso County GOP.
The text called for FEC members to email John Pitchford to sign up as precinct leaders or show up at El Paso County GOP headquarters that same day to enroll as GOP leaders, no questions asked. The text wasn’t sent to the rest of the county GOP members, just FEC United members, causing a bylaw violation which could strike down the election results on February 6th. Additionally, Pitchford, not an elected party official, cannot sign off on precinct or division leader forms.
While the El Paso County GOP is in the midst of a massive power change and potential party split, the chaos of the last few weeks raises dozens of red flags about the integrity of local elections as well as the integrity of Vickie Tonkins and John Pitchford themselves. Party insiders plan to challenge the election results, and the single text and subsequent meeting held on January 24th should be sufficient to challenge.
At that meeting for FEC members only, Vickie Tonkins and John Pitchford called FEC United members, one by one, into Pitchford’s office to sign them up as party leaders. Those who weren’t invited, as in the rest of the El Paso County GOP, have a solid argument that they weren’t given the opportunity to attend the meeting, thus leaving them with no ability to vote out Tonkins as Chair.
Vickie Tonkins won her re-election as Chair by only seven votes. At the illegal vote stacking soirée held by FEC, Tonkins, and Pitchford on January 24th, she and Pitchford signed up at least fifteen FEC United members as party leaders, ensuring a Tonkins win, and that’s not Tonkins’s only misstep with FEC United or otherwise.
The rest of this year’s party elections were riddled with rumors of improprieties, and when party officials showed up at headquarters on January 30th to verify the allegedly illegally signed leader forms, John Pitchford called the police on the officials and refused to let anyone see the paperwork, not even State Rep Tim Geitner. Not one elected official, even at the state level, has been able to verify the paper forms that placed over fifteen FEC members in leadership positions on January 24th, let alone dozens of other allegedly forged forms.
Aaron Salt, House District 14 Chairman, went to party officials with concerns about Tonkins and Pitchford’s vote stacking in January; Salt found several unaffiliated voters and Democrats, friends of Pitchford, registered as GOP leaders and quickly challenged those positions. Salt represents just one district, however; party insiders express concerns that such illegal vote stacking is happening all over El Paso County.
Tonkins may have violated state emergency bylaws, additionally, by requiring that anyone who didn’t feel safe attending the meeting in person submit for her approval for remote attendance. Members who wished to participate in the February 6th meeting via Zoom were required to email Tonkins by January 30th for approval, a clause Tonkins herself added to the county’s meeting rules without a vote of the executive committee (also a bylaw violation). If a member fell ill between January 30th and February 6th or became otherwise unable to attend, Tonkins offered no remedy for him, rendering him unable to vote. Party insiders say that dozens of elderly GOP members decided the event had become too large and wished to attend virtually; they were unable to do so, thanks to Tonkins.
Although only forty people ran for men and women bonus members for the GOP, Tonkins and her allies allege that the votes could not be counted Sunday morning and needed to be handled later on Sunday evening. By Sunday evening, Tonkins still had not sent out Bonus Member results. When questioned on social media and via emails, Tonkins, true to her tendency to blame others for her shortcomings, claimed that the State GOP was delaying Bonus Member results.
Missy Ward, a former GOP Bonus Member, contacted the state GOP and was given an entirely different story, which was that the state party was waiting for Tonkins to release results. Tonkins emailed the Bonus Member results Monday evening, and she and her husband were allegedly both re-elected as Bonus Members. It’s hard to say who was really elected when officials had under three-hundred ballots to count and had to take an over twenty-four hour break to count those ballots.
Dave Williams, a Tonkins ally, explained in a Facebook comment that the votes were hand counted. The process took more time than anticipated (he believes), and possibly everyone needed a break on Sunday and stopped counting ballots.
Nobody inside the GOP knows where the ballots went from Sunday morning through Monday evening, but Vickie Tonkins and John Pitchford were in total control of those ballots, a premise party insiders call hypocritical. Tonkins and her allies have stood steadfast in their allegations of voter fraud during the 2020 Presidential Election, especially in states where ballot counting was delayed until the next day or days later, so their willingness to break the party’s bylaws for the sake of Tonkins’s re-election adds insult to injury for those wishing to finally be rid of the Chairwomen who many believe is intentionally destroying the party.
Elected officials and candidates across the state have called for the GOP to sever ties with FEC, but those calls have fallen on deaf ears. Thanks to Tonkins and her allies’ holding co-sponsored events with the group, FEC United is more involved than ever. Sunday morning, John Foley of House District 14, who has not won an election, called for the GOP to denounce FEC and it’s “Taliban-like” tactics, and that’s the least the county party should be doing regarding FEC United.
FEC United, though it claims to have raised $198,000 for local candidates, has not raised any money for candidates and has instead caused intra-party strife, aligned the party with a right wing militia, and organized an event that the entire city of Denver knew would be disastrous. In fact, it was, and the October Patriot Muster left one man dead. Additionally, FEC United has helped Tonkins commit illegal acts to ensure an election went her way, adding to insider feelings that a party split may be imminent.