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Jane Norton’s sleazy smear of Ken Buck

Posted by Richard on July 1, 2010

There's lots of interest in the Colorado Senate race these days. All the pundits' eyebrows were raised by Bill Clinton's endorsement of Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff over the establishment candidate, appointed Sen. Michael Bennet. I guess now we know that when the Obama administration tried to bribe Romanoff into dropping his challenge, they didn't use Clinton as an emissary like they did when they tried to bribe Sestak in Pennsylvania.

But I'm more interested in the Republican race. Establishment candidate Jane Norton once had about a 25-point lead over challenger Ken Buck, but the latest RealClearPolitics average has Buck up by 7. So recently, a desperate Norton began airing a scurrilous attack ad, long on weasel words and short on accuracy, challenging Buck's ethics record. 

The ad is about the late-1990s prosecution (I'd call it persecution) of Gregory and Leonid Golyansky, two hard-working Russian immigrants who own a pawn shop, for alleged firearms law violations. It followed closely on the heels of a convenient and one-sided 6/24 Denver Post story about the case. 

This was during the Clinton years when the BATF was engaged in a concerted nationwide campaign to put gun dealers out of business (and in fact cut the number in half). My good friend David is a friend of Greg Golyansky, and I remember he kept our little Saturday breakfast club informed about the sordid tale, which dragged on for years. As I recall, there was much chicanery by BATF and Justice, including false testimony and arranging for approval of background checks that should never have been approved in order to try to set up the Golyanskys. Maybe David, who checks in here from time to time, will fill in some details. 

I know that after several years of repeated BATF sting operations, a 37-count felony indictment, and the eventual ill-advised prosecution, Greg Golyansky cut his losses (over half a million dollars in legal expenses) and pled guilty to a single trivial misdemeanor paperwork violation, and was sentenced to one day of probation. The cases against the other defendants were dismissed. 

Ari Armstrong has a good post about this, in which he says:

Senate hopeful Jane Norton’s vicious attacks on GOP rival Ken Buck regarding Buck’s service in the U.S. Attorney’s office may deeply hurt Norton’s campaign, as I have already indicated. The problem is that Norton is attacking Buck for standing up against a political railroading in a gun case.

He also has a transcript of the David Kopel's comments about the case on Colorado Inside Out (video here). Here's a portion that summarizes the whole situation well (emphasis added): 

Greg was a pawn dealer. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms brought a case against him. The U.S. Attorney office declined to prosecute. Henry Solano, the Clinton-appointed United States Attorney, agreed with that, said there’s nothing here. Indeed, the only witness against him (Golyansky) was a mentally ill homeless drug addict with severe credibility problems.

And then Tom Strickland comes in on the theory that “I’m going to be the big tough U.S. Attorney and prosecute gun cases.” And he takes a case that not one single career attorney in the United States Attorney’s office in Colorado was willing to prosecute, so he brings in two of his little hand-picked minions who came in with him to bring felony charges against three people.

It was an outrageous abuse of power.

Now Ken Buck violated the protocol by talking about it outside the office. And I agree that was a violation of the U.S. Attorney’s protocol.

But when you say, when is a guy going to make a mistake, I like a guy who makes a mistake on behalf of someone who was being unfairly, unjustly, and politically persecuted.

And then for Jane Norton to turn around and say this is some terrible issue against Ken Buck — well, it just reminds me that Jane Norton’s husband was the guy who before Strickland came into office, probably had the worst record in Colorado history of being an abusive, out-of-control, way over the line, United States Attorney, Mike Norton.

I'm 100% with Dave and Ari. The airing of this issue and Norton's sleazy attempt to smear Buck make me likely to send a contribution to Ken Buck for Senate. I've been a registered Libertarian since the mid-80s, but I'm tempted to switch to Republican (temporarily) just to vote for Buck and against Norton. 

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4 Responses to “Jane Norton’s sleazy smear of Ken Buck”

  1. Gregory Golyansky said

    The only reason I pled guilty to a single trivial misdemeanor paperwork violation was because after spending $600,000.00 in legal expences and seeing my business ruined, I seemply had no more money to fight the Federal government’s goons. If I had more money, they would have got nothing from me!

    Gregory Golyansky.

  2. rgcombs said

    Gregory, thank you for your comment. You have both my sympathy and my deep admiration. Best wishes to you.

  3. Gregory Golyansky said

    For full story, see this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEx6MBSOTsQ

  4. rgcombs said

    An excellent video! Simply outstanding! Thank you for the link. I’ve given it its own post here.

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