We are pleased to have potential CD-7 candidate Mark Paschall with us for a "live" Q&A today.
Paschall, a Republican, is the Jefferson County Treasurer and a former member of the Colorado House of Representatives.
Mr. Paschall has graciously agreed to answer your questions today, so feel free to ask away in the COMMENTS section below. You don't have to agree with Mr. Paschall, but we do ask that you be respecful in your questions.
And so, without further ado, click below to read our first 11 questions and answers with Mr. Paschall, and then ask your own questions...
1. Are you running for congress in CD-7 in 2006?
I have formed an exploratory committee and am very interested in running for the 7th CD, though many in the establishment are trying to discourage it. I think, however, I need to wait for Rep. Beauprez to publicly and personally announce his intentions. I do not rely on third party mouthpieces.
2. What would be your reasons for running for congress in 2006?
My only reason for running would be to be another voice and vote for the Constitution and for America. Too many are toeing a party line instead of considering what is best for the country and interpreting the Constitution to fit their own agendas and dole out favors. Those who know me, have served with me and worked with me, understand that I take principled stands on issues, deferring always to the Constitution as my guide. If you look at Congress, we have granted the power to declare war to the President, have allowed our borders to remain wide open, have usurped people’s civil rights through the Patriot Act, just to name a few. Furthermore, when we talk about judicial activism, we must examine how we got to this point. We got here because Congress was first to abdicate their powers. The judicial body is simply following what Congress has allowed. And we the people went to sleep and allowed this to happen on our watch.
3. What do you offer a Republican voter that Rick O’Donnell does not?
I have been elected. I have campaigned and won. I have a family and have raised three boys into adulthood. Through my sons, I experienced the public education system as well as the offerings of charter schools, private colleges and state colleges. These weren’t numbers on a stat sheet, this was real life experience raising a family, struggling to make ends meet, feeling the repercussions of high taxes and knowing the strain it puts on a family. Look, I like Rick O’Donnell. I know him and find him to be a good guy. However, the fact that I have a voting record that anyone can research, the fact that I have taken controversial stands and stood by my beliefs and the Constitution, and frankly, I believe that people on both sides of the aisle are disenfranchised with the party establishment.
Whether you like me or not, there is no arguing that I am not part of a party establishment. At this point in our country, I believe that’s a strong point. The voters are tired of their elected officials putting party before country. How many people have been up in arms over illegal immigration? What has been done about it? How many people have been upset by deficit spending? What has been done about it? How many people see the country being sold out to foreign interests and corporations? What has been done about it? Now you know why I am not part of the establishment.
4. There is a school of thought (which Colorado Pols has also repeated) that says while you could win in a congressional primary you could not win in a general election because you are too right-wing. How do you respond to this?
My track record speaks for itself. Again, you can research my record, both voting and election. I have never lost a race. I ran in a House District which had a Democrat voter registration advantage. I was told I couldn’t win. Not only did I win the primary, I won the general. After my first term in office, the district went from a Democrat advantage to a Republican advantage. This House District is a microcosm of the 7th Congressional. And about being right wing, if people think that believing in the Constitution and actually voting and working to uphold it is right wing, then so be it. But the truth is, we (both parties) have drifted so far from our founding documents and have tried so hard to achieve consensus, that we abandoned our principles as a country.
You have an unusually long and publicized history of criticisms that have gotten wide coverage in the media. We want to hear your side of the story on some of them…
5. After you were elected Jefferson County Treasurer in 2002, you were criticized for asking the county to buy you a used Cadillac Escalade, and when that failed, a Nissan Pathfinder. Eventually you settled on another vehicle. What happened here?
Finally, I get to say my peace over all of this. Thanks for asking this. The people who put forth those lies have either been term limited out or resigned. They were manifested in order to keep Jim Congrove and myself from becoming Commissioner once their term of office had ended. Should any of you, and I mean this, want to come look at the endless documentation and witness accounts from those who sat in these meetings which were little more than political strategy based in lies (you normally leave those to the 527s and not your own party) I do welcome you into the office.
At any rate, I am an eBay shopper. I asked the commissioners if there was a policy regarding the purchase of used vehicles. I cited the fact that even a Cadillac Escalade is $25,000 used which fell way under the budget offered for purchasing a new car. Regardless, I never looked into a Nissan Pathfinder. In fact, I decided to do something different and actually purchase a vehicle from the lowest, responsible bidder inside Jefferson County rather than the normal methods of using a business outside Jefferson County. As Jeffco Treasurer I think it is good public policy to support the businesses who live, operate and pay taxes within Jefferson County.
6. You hired friends for high-paying appointed positions that critics charged were unnecessary, and asked for a large amount of money to renovate your office that was also deemed by critics to be unnecessary. What was your response?
Again, one of our budget people who is still here sat in on these meetings, as well as the meeting over the Escalade. All I asked for was security for our Treasurer’s Office. I submitted a request for an estimate and never saw it until I read the ridiculous estimate in the paper. By the way, the person who put forth this estimate and the PIO who called the papers immediately after the meeting to determine this astronomical price have since been terminated or resigned. What I did find out though was that for $13,000 I could have just taken what I needed from surplus. I never did see the final estimate per the county. I only saw it in the papers. Again, if you want further facts and documentation of this, please come into the office. I never spent a dime on this. The people of Jeffco know that I would never spend a dime of their money without having a solid foundation for the requested expenditure. It’s not my money.
About the “friends.” As part of my transition team I employed Jim Congrove, the current county commissioner, part time, an economic analyst, part time, and an assistant. These weren’t highly paid by any means and an elected official is afforded two appointees. I needed them to help me navigate this new arena for me. And yet, I have remained one of the few departments that is constantly under budget. I also reduced FTE’s when the county was increasing them. And when the renovation rumor was being circulated, a $1 million dollar ACTUAL renovation was taking place on the 4th floor that went against the building code. The people who oversaw that have since resigned or been terminated. Yes, we did alert the press to this. No, they did not report it. I have the facts here in this office should you want the truth.
7. You engaged in a much-publicized action of passing out flyers in the county courthouse that encouraged prospective jurors to obey the law of God over the law of the courts. What were you trying to do? Why did you feel that it was not inappropriate for you to do this as an elected official?
I did not pass out flyers. The Jefferson County Courts and Administration Building was a memorial to Thomas Jefferson and we were celebrating its tenth anniversary. They were laid out on a table, in a display, in front of my office, in the admin side of the building. I was out of town. The booklets were paid for with personal funds. They are called Citizen Rule Books and I felt that during this time when it seems Congress doesn’t even know their enumerated powers, that the citizens must be educated on their rights. For reference sake, these booklets contain the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights and quotes from our founders regarding rights and powers of jurors.
8. You were dropped by the American Legion for failing to provide documentation about your military service. What happened?
The American Legion asked me to join. I said I do not qualify since I was not a Vietnam Era Veteran. They told me to give it a shot anyway since I was a friend. So, where they have the area on the application to check a box for your era of service, I made my own box and wrote in my service dates. They submitted the request, the American Legion said no and next thing I know, one of my political detractors, who serves in the same American Legion post, has handed it to a reporter. Though I sent the application to the reporter, the story was still published. I do have a copy of the application here at the office as well. The silver lining is that the American Legion received some publicity over the ordeal and hopefully benefited from it.
9. You’ve managed to get elected to public office repeatedly (state legislature, Jeffco Treasurer). What’s your secret?
By being honest and taking principled stands. People don’t like empty rhetoric, they like elected officials who have a backbone and take some heat on their behalf. Just like the media stories and the way I was targeted on my first day as Jefferson County Treasurer – anyone remember the “bounced checks?” Our Jefferson County PIO was standing in front of me during the press conference, tape recorder in hand, whispering questions to reporters. In fact, Rick Sallinger left saying, “There’s no story here.” Yet, I did not back down. The political world is a tough, shrewd, corrupt world. There’s no question about that. But if you show the people that you truly are out for their best interest and not out for the interests of a party, corporation, special interest, etc. they know that and they in turn are loyal. The public trust is so hard to gain and easy to lose. I realize that.
As for campaign secrets, I am not sharing! I am not going to tell my opponent how to defeat me!
10. A lot of voters might not understand what a county treasurer does. How would you describe the job?
The job, as I define it, is more than just processing tax payments, disbursing funds to the taxing authorities and investing the funds prior to disbursement, although these are the specific statutory duties of the County Treasurer. I am the county banker. My first duty is to uphold and defend the Constitution and next, to faithfully perform the duties of my office. I work to get the best rates of return on investments with regard to safety, liquidity, and yield. I also search out the best vendors for the taxpayers, and conduct my office in the most efficient, accountable manner possible. That’s why the people I have on my staff feel accountable to the taxpayers. It comes from the top down and if I am not accountable, my office will not be. The buck stops here all the time.
Yes, I follow tax initiatives and have tried to inform the taxpayers of the increased burden of taxes if ballot measures are approved. Let me tell you, when you have seniors calling to ask why you raised their taxes and hear their stories of having to leave their homes of 30 years because the government is growing at a rate larger than their incomes, then yes, the obligation to me is clear. I can’t just sit back and watch it happen and take the attitude that it’s not my business, just shut up and pay your taxes. Too many people shirk their responsibilities as citizens and human beings because it is “not my business.” Well, look at our world today.
11. There’s an old line in politics that it’s hard to get elected if you have facial hair, though you seem to have proved that wrong to some degree. Is there any basis to that idea that voters don’t like facial hair?
The first time I ran for office, I ran and I won. I think Coloradans are independent enough to accept a person for what they are and not what they look like. When I announce, you’ll be the first to know. Right now, I have gone from a full beard to a goatee. Once the goatee comes off, you’ll know I am in the race (though my wife tells me I need to lose 10 lbs first).
Do you have a question for Mark Paschall? Ask it in the COMMENTS section below…