Integrity has long defined Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.
It explains why 100 percent of his colleagues on the Colorado pension board failed to keep him quiet about growing unfunded liabilities that threaten retirement futures of public employees. Stapleton has been the board's lone voice of reason for years, defending taxpayers and pensioners from a pompous bureaucratic establishment.
Integrity guided Stapleton's crusade against a billion-dollar-a-year tax increase disguised as money for children and schools.
It caused Stapleton to lead the campaign against single-payer health care, and a 10-percent increase in the state payroll tax.
Integrity led Stapleton to call out the Colorado Department of Transportation for neglecting roads while spending $150 million on new offices.
His adherence to ethical and moral principles explains why he asked the Colorado secretary of state's office Tuesday to disqualify all petitions the agency had approved to put him on the primary ballot.
Stapleton learned a Colorado Springs-based petition gathering firm he hired, Kennedy Enterprises, used a contract worker who was not a registered to vote in Colorado. By state law, only registered voters qualify to gather petitions. Stapleton says the firm previously assured him all petition workers qualified. Upon learning otherwise, he abandoned the petitions instead of preparing to defend them in a potential court challenge.
The treasurer will take his case to Republican delegates who gather Saturday in Boulder for the Colorado Republican state assembly. He will appear on the primary ballot, only if they choose to make it so. Stapleton needs votes of at least 30 percent of 4,200 delegates to qualify.
He did not have to go this route. Stapleton could have taken his chances with the petitions, and any challenge that may have ensued. While doing so, he could have also gone through the assembly. In other words, he could have hedged his bets and counted on two possibilities for making the ballot.
At a spontaneous news conference Tuesday, shortly after learning of the petition concern, Stapleton said he would rather fail to make the ballot than continue under the shadow of a questionable process.
"In good conscience, I cannot be put on the ballot in this manner and I will not be," Stapleton said. "My campaign plans to go through assembly — to take our message of economic opportunity... directly to the voters at assembly, and we intend to win there."
During two terms as state treasurer, the fourth-generation Coloradan has visited every Colorado county. He knows, better than most, the issues facing residents in cities, on ranches and farms, and in small agricultural and mining towns. He has consistently shown his unwavering loyalty to taxpayers and small businesses over government excess and special interests.
We are not surprised Stapleton, a small business owner, made the quick executive decision to risk his candidacy and ditch questionable petitions. He cares about the people of Colorado. Win or lose, he wants a process that is fair for us all.
Integrity. Pass it on.
The Gazette editorial board