Republican and former speaker of the state House of Representatives Russ George of Rifle already wasn’t a big fan of fellow Garfield County resident and new U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, having endorsed Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush over the Republican Boebert in the November race for Congress.
On Thursday, George again sided with Democrats when it comes to Boebert. This time he voiced his agreement with the view of some Democrats that Boebert and other elected officials who questioned the results of the presidential election share blame for the riot that took place Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol. The disruption came as Congress was working toward formally approving the results of the presidential election in which Democrat Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump.
“My position as a citizen is that everything that happened (Wednesday), that disrupted the normal process of government, was wrong,” George said in an interview. “And anyone who participated, enabled the objections to the process, the normal process, is just wrong and I totally disagree with them.”
George said the system proved that it is resilient, and he’s proud of Congress going back to work Wednesday and not letting the attempts to disrupt government succeed.
But he added, “I agree with the commentary that this was one of the saddest days of behavior by citizens. I’m inclined to hold everybody who had any role in (Wednesday’s events) accountable and responsible, and that includes Boebert. It’s unforgivable and I need to hear from her and the others what they’re going to do about it, to rectify … the damage that was done.”
George became a state lawmaker in the 1990s and later served in Cabinet positions for two Colorado governors, and as president of Colorado Northwestern Community College.
Some other Republicans in Garfield County on Thursday drew a distinction between Boebert’s stance on the presidential election outcome and Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol. Longtime Garfield County Commissioner John Martin said Boebert and others in Congress who challenged the outcome were following the protocol set in Congress, and voicing their disagreement.
“That happens to be their constitutional right to do so. … They followed the Constitution, they spoke what they believed in,” Martin said.
“… Kind of like on the other side, Black Lives Matter, it doesn’t matter how much destruction you do, how much protest you do, etc., everything seems to be OK because you’re looking for justice. It needs to be weighed equally on both sides of those issues.
“Death and destruction is not the way to go. That’s against the law and the people that did that need to be prosecuted for that on both sides of that issue.”
Boebert said on Twitter Wednesday that she supports peaceful protests and denounces acts of violence. Earlier in the day she promised in a tweet to “fight with everything I have to ensure the fairness of the election.” She challenged the results of the presidential race in Arizona on the House floor and in a vote.
George said of Boebert’s challenge, “She was wrong to do it. It had no legal basis and to challenge (the result) was a wrongful act by an elected official.”
George also criticized what he considers inadequate security at the Capitol.
“But for the president to incite the riot is absolutely — I think it’s a violation of so many laws and his duties, and anyone who supported him on that … is accountable,” George said.
He said he “absolutely” counts Boebert in that category and believes she played a role in provoking the riot.
“It was all a part of it, all of it rolled together,” said George.
Boebert’s office didn’t respond by late Thursday afternoon to an emailed request for comment. A message at her Washington office phone number said the mailbox was full and not accepting new messages. Her staff also couldn’t be reached at numbers her office has given for her Grand Junction and Pueblo offices. Notably, the numbers for those two offices have been removed from her congressional website after previously being listed there.
On Thursday, five Colorado state senators joined some city council members from cities such as Denver and Aurora, the Colorado AFL-CIO and a total of more than 60 groups and individuals, among them Indivisible Grand Junction, in signing a letter calling on Boebert and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., to resign. The letter says the two, in endorsing Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, helped incite the violence against Congress.
Rifle resident Leslie Robinson, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully this fall for county commissioner, said Boebert was only recently sworn into office for her two-year term, “and she’s already made a political miscalculation by supporting Trump in this election fiasco and it’s going to be a rough two years, is all I can say.”
She said Boebert “is going to be used and abused by her fellow Republicans and they are going to definitely encourage her to keep being outspoken on the far right.” That means Boebert will stray far to the right of the 3rd Congressional District in Colorado, making her a useless representative of the district, Robinson said.
Rifle-area resident and Boebert supporter Scott Brynildson said he backs Boebert’s challenge of the presidential election outcome and doesn’t feel it helped instigate the riot Wednesday.
“I don’t understand how they allow all those riots that went on for so long and people’s stores being broken into, how they allowed that and now they’re making as big deal out of this riot. It seems like the media makes a big deal out of this riot but they seem to have forgotten about the other riots,” Brynildson said.
“… I don’t think riots are good either way but they’re happening and that’ll probably continue to happen until the truth comes out here on what really happened,” said Brynildson, who said he’s suspicious of the presidential election results.
“I sure don’t mind losing an election. That doesn’t bother me one bit, but as long as it was done honestly. Too many things went on (in this election).”
Garfield County Treasurer Carrie Couey is a former Republican Party chair in the county whose husband Kelly this summer voiced disappointment in Boebert’s upset over incumbent Scott Tipton in the Republican primary and raised doubts about her credibility as a candidate. Couey questions blaming the riots on anyone other than the rioters.
“My thoughts are that people are responsible for their own individual behavior,” she said.
“I make my own decisions, as should everyone. Allowing someone else to guide your actions is not a good way to go,” she said.
Asked if she felt Trump and Boebert were trying to guide people’s actions, she said, “I can’t speak to them. I don’t live in their heads.”
Couey said of George’s comments, “Leadership is all about responsibility. I can’t disagree with him on that, but as far as individual actions you’re still responsible for your own behavior.”
George said that while he’s still a registered Republican, he stopped being active in the Republican Party quite a while ago, in part because those “who seem to be speaking for the party, more often than not, I don’t share their views on issues.”
He said he didn’t vote for Trump in November, and never was a proponent of him, even before he was elected president.
“So those in the Republican Party who have enabled him to lead in the way he has would continue to cause me to not want to be active as a Republican,” he said.
Asked if he voted for Biden, George said, “I don’t need to say how I voted. You can guess. There’s nothing that would have made me vote for Trump.”
As for comments by Biden that he will work to try to heal the country, George said.
“He has said that in a number of ways for weeks. I believe he gets it and he intends to do it and that’s what I expect to see from his administration, and immediately.”