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Eagle County commissioner candidate Debbie Buckley, of Avon, works the crowd Friday during the Vail America Days Fourth of July Parade in Vail.
Eagle County commissioner candidate Debbie Buckley, of Avon, works the crowd Friday during the Vail America Days Fourth of July Parade in Vail.
By David O. Williams 
Moderate Republicans say Buckleys should come clean about conservative blog
Avon Mayor Ron Wolfe among those who claim commissioner candidate has a conflict
By David O. Williams

July 7, 2008 — A growing number of disaffected moderate Eagle County Republicans are calling for the outing of a former Avon town councilman who they claim is behind an anonymous conservative Web site and whose wife is running for Eagle County commissioner.

Republican Peter Buckley, whose wife Debbie is running for county commissioner in November, is believed to be the primary writer for the anonymous Web site, the self-proclaimed “online home for the Conservative Voice in Eagle County.” Debbie Buckley is also a former Avon council member.

“We recognize Peter’s style,” said Avon Mayor Ron Wolfe, a Republican. “We know how Peter talks, how Peter writes, we know his photographs, we know the spelling mistakes that he habitually makes, so yes, he may have help, but there is no question in anyone’s mind that he is behind [the Web site] and he is using it to damage anything that town government or county government tries to do, any person who is not on his list of appropriate politicians or candidates.”

Republican Don Cohen, executive director of the Economic Council of Eagle County, a publicly and privately funded nonprofit economic development organization, said that while the site is generally viewed by those in the know as a rant that’s of dubious journalistic value, other readers may not understand the agenda behind the site and may take it at face value.

“It’s real important he be outed because (the site) is a serious tool of the right-wing mean machine to go after candidates here, not only to get Debbie Buckley elected but to defeat Peter Runyon,” Cohen said of the other county commissioner race in November, which pits the incumbent Democrat Runyon against Republican former Commissioner Dick Gustafson.

“The linkage between the core Republican crazies and that site is pretty high, and so it is important that people understand that because these sites, while they’re inaccurate, tend to foment rumor and that rumor tends to take on the odor of truth over time, and people need to know who’s starting the rumors and understand why,” Cohen said.

Debbie Buckley’s opponent in the commissioner race, Democrat and former Eagle Mayor Jon Stavney, said he isn’t too concerned about the influence of the Web site on the outcome of the election, but did want to make sure that it adheres to all state election laws if there’s a campaign contribution value associated with Peter Buckley’s advocacy for his wife.

While there have been several positive posts about Debbie Buckley on the site and several negative shots taken at Stavney, the site does not contain any traditional election advertising.

“I’ve seen the Eagle County Times website, and outside of that I have no comment,” Peter Buckley said. Debbie Buckley didn’t return numerous phone calls requesting comment.

The site has taken on Stavney and Wolfe for endorsing stringent new Eagle County affordable housing guidelines requiring developers to build more work-force homes and has relentlessly dogged Runyon and term-limited Democrat commissioner Arn Menconi for the perceived waste of taxpayer funds for everything from early childhood education programs to open-space preservation.

After Stavney appeared on a local talk radio show, an anonymous e-mail from distributed a fake ringtone for Stavney’s cell phone with an MP3 clip of the Allman Brothers Band’s Ramblin’ Man -- “When it’s time for leavin’, I hope you’ll understand … that I was born a ramblin’ man” – a commentary on how Stavney did on the show and how he’ll fare in the commissioner race.

But this was the site’s treatment of Debbie Buckley and Gustafson getting the Republican Party nod in the commissioner race: “Congratulations to Eagle County Commissioner candidates Debbie Buckley and Dick Gustafson both voted in by unanimous ‘Acclamation’ at their Republican Assembly. Over a week ago, the ECT broke the story and promised you two experienced politicians for County Commissioner, one of each gender.

“The ECT staff met with both candidates this past week and are convinced, that these two candidates, elected together, are the solution to having our County taxes lowered. Much more on these two, over the next several months.”

Wolfe said the personal attack-dog agenda driving the site undermines the local political process, and he added that’s been the modus operandi behind the Eagle County Republican Party for years.

“I’m a Republican and I’m ashamed of it,” Wolfe said. “The [local] Republican Party is controlled by a bunch of extreme wackos who will do everything from pandering to lying in order to make their point. This is the kind of thing that undermines a good strong democratic process in small communities where you have citizen leaders, not professional, career politicians.”

Randy Milhoan, chairman of the Eagle County Republican Party, said in a previous interview that the heated rhetoric on both sides of issues needs to be reined in and that he’s trying to expand the party in general. Eagle County currently has 6,000 registered Republicans, 5,000 Democrats and 8,300 independents.

“I’d like to see the discourse be more civil,” Milhoan said. “But I’m not necessarily trying to add more moderates; I’m just trying to grow the party, and we’re hoping by increasing the number of Eagle County women and Young Republicans we can grow the party and get people to be more active.”

Ali Hasan, Republican candidate for state House District 56, which includes Eagle County, is a founder of the local Young Republican chapter. He said he has no problem with, whether Peter Buckley’s behind it or not.

“When you have a name on who’s reporting it does lend to greater credibility, but by the same token you also have to think about maybe they don’t want to put a name to it,” Hasan said. “There’s a lot of anonymous blogs out there and a lot of people agree that they serve a good function, so I would never force anyone to put their name on it. I don’t think it takes away from the facts. Everyone’s allowed to express their opinion, and if we believe them, then so be it.”

Asked if he would have a problem with the husband of his Democrat opponent for the state House, Christine Scanlan, writing an anonymous blog attacking him and couching it as a news site, Hasan said that wouldn’t be an issue.

“If Christine Scanlan’s husband did that, it just means he loves his wife. I can’t fault a guy for that,” Hasan said. “I think Pete’s a very energetic and wonderful activist, and I think Debbie’s a very wonderful and honorable person too.”



Comment on article  7 Comments on "Moderate Republicans say Buckleys should come clean about conservative blog"


Chris Salmon — July 7, 2008

I don't really grasp the purpose behind this article. It appears that the intention is to trash a competing website by giving press to people calling your competitor names like "a rant thatís of dubious journalistic value" and "a serious tool of the right-wing mean machine " And, yes, I know this was a quote from someone else - someone YOU chose to interview and publish.

It amazes me how left wing socialists love free speech for themselves and for every piece of junk that Hollywood or academia, (or the U.N.) puts out, but not for those who oppose them.

Why not "out" the Vail Daily and Vail Trail as the far-left rantings of a bunch of socialist journalism majors who want to turn this country into some kind of European socialist nightmare? Isn't that the same thing? Does the name "Miller" on everything make any difference over it being anonymous? I wouldn't care if they wrote anonymously or not - it still looks like a publication of the socialist worker's party.

The Vail Daily actually said recently that they favored changing the constitution to forbid private ownersip of firearms! Why not "out" that?

This new website, is apparently following the same kind of socialist position as the Vail Daily. So why not "out" yourselves as a "tool of the left-wing mean machine" - people who want to point a policeman's gun at people's heads and force them to pay for day care for other people's kids, force them to pay for "open space," force them to ban smoking from the businesses they own, force them to pay for "worker housing", force them to build their house the "green" way that YOU think is best for them, etc., etc., ??? The list of things the left is willing to force upon people using the threat of violence and incarceration ("for the good of the community" a socialist would say), is endless. So "out" that why don't you?

Free speech is the concept here. Anonymous publishing is definitely necessary for true free speech.

Now, I don't want to compare the quality of writing of the ECT to Ben Franklin, but let's not forget that figures like Benjamin Franklin published numerous history-changing articles anonymously. He published anonymous articles in his brother James' newspaper that were so contrary and offensive to the Puritan political establishment that James was actually arrested and incarcerated!

Today we have "green" puritans and "socially conscious" and out-and-out "hippy" puritans in Eagle Valley. But it's the same basic human nature, whereby what are really merely a person's opinions become a group orthodoxy and dogma, and dissent needs to be "rooted out" or "outed" by those with the local majority view.

I thought those close-minded whitebread Baptist Republican bigots I grew up with in rural Texas were bad. But I see the same kind of behavior here in Eagle Valley - just as bad in the opposite direction. I feel like I've jumped from the Yin into the Yang here - and they both have a core of the other side in them.

We need some libertarian press in this Valley to bring some kind of sanity to the place, I'm sure the ECT is not it, and neither is the Vail Socialist Daily, nor "RealVail" ...

- Chris Salmon


Debbie Marquez — July 8, 2008

I have been keeping a record of monthly party registration since 2004 on a spreadsheet. It is SOS data available to the public.

The Eagle County Republican party has fewer voters now than in February 2004 - almost 4%. And an even greater percentage (5.8%) since January 2006.

There is no question that unafilliated voters continue to dominate voter registration in Eagle County. However while the Republican voter registration has decreased, the Democratic Party has shown growth throughout this four year period - over 22% of both measurements.

I beleive the Buckley effect is taking it's toll on the local Republican Party and it is about time that someone in the local press wrote about it and that local Republicans made their views public.

In 2006 when Sara Fisher ran for office there was an absolutely disgusting piece of mail sent to voters and to this date, there is no record of where the expenditures came from.

These tactics have no room in Eagle County politics as demonstrated by the decline in Republican voter registration.

And to Mr. Salmon, I think the fact that Republican officials are making a public statement that they object to their party website and tactics is newsworthy. Thank you Real Vail for reporting this news. Here is a link to the graph that tells the story. I don't know that it will display here, but I think you can view it online.



Debbie Marquez — July 8, 2008

Click on this link to display a larger image that doesn't need x-ray vision to read!


Debbie Marquez — July 8, 2008

I do want to clarify that I don't attribute the entire decline in Republican party registration to the Buckley effect. Two local Republicans are making the statement and haven't left their party.

I beleive the war in Iraq and ineptness of the current administration has also contributed.


David O. Williams — July 8, 2008

Debbie and Chris, thanks for your comments and thanks for reading The intent of this story was to discuss a campaign issue heading into the Eagle County commissioners race. The news here is a that several prominent Republican members of the community are concerned that the husband of a candidate from their own party for the highest local office is anonymously running a political blog site. Notice I did not quote Democrats for this piece, but trust me, they would have been lined up to comment (on the record and with their names on it). Anonymous commentary has its place but in this case seems entirely unnecessary unless it's to cover something up. If Debbie Buckley, a candidate for county commissioner, refuses to comment for this story and therefore seems to think this is not a conflict, then what will she do if elected? If this was a Democrat or Libertarian candidate with the same conflict, would write about it. And, Ben Franklin aside, and without an extremely compelling reason not to name a source (such as Deep Throat), anonymous journalism can result in some very irresponsible reporting (Jayson Blair).


Chris Salmon — July 9, 2008


"The news here is a that several prominent Republican members of the community are concerned that the husband of a candidate from their own party for the highest local office is anonymously running a political blog site."

Why is that any of their business as to who runs what blogs and whether it's done anonymously or not? Can't they publish their own blog with their own competing views? Can't they choose to write anonymously if they so wish? Is there anything stopping them from publishing a website or blog that they consider to be better than ECT that promotes their point of view?

Complaining that something is written anonymously basically a version of the ad-hominem logical fallacy. The claims made and the positions held by the ECT are arguments that are separate from the author themselves. These arguments stand or fall on their own, regardless of who wrote them.

If you don't agree with what they write, then you write your own counter-argument. You don't attack the person, or the website/blog, or the fact that it's anonymous, because that has NOTHING to do with the veracity of the claims made of positions held.

This is a free speech issue and if you don't like what they say, you publish your own blog, anonymous or not. You don't tell them how to run their blog or say they can't or shouldn't remain anonymous. I can't resist using another Founding Father here - my favorite, Thomas Jefferson:

"... truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate ; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them. "


David O. Williams — July 9, 2008

No one is advocating we curtail free speech. If you're running for public office, though, your name should be on everything you say or are associated with publishing. Just as Peter Runyon rightly stepped down from hosting a publicly funded TV show, Debbie Buckley should tell us if she or her husband is involved with so the voters can judge her candidacy accordingly. Not quite as high-brow at TJ, but here's a quote from someone old enough to have interviewed Jefferson, CNN's Larry King: "Anonymous sources are to journalism what silicon enhancements are to the feminine figure; they look impressive to the gullible, but something doesn't feel right."



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