Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to headline El Paso County GOP fundraiser

Four elected Colorado Republicans said they won’t attend. Twelve did not respond.

By: - July 15, 2021 5:00 am

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speaks at a news conference on the “Fire Fauci Act” on Capitol Hill on June 15, 2021, in Washington, D.C. The bill, drafted by Rep. Greene, states that Dr. Anthony Fauci be removed from his position for allegedly deceiving the American people. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Controversial Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is slated as the keynote speaker for the El Paso County Republican Party’s annual fundraising dinner in August.

Who shows up, and who doesn’t, could indicate the willingness of prominent Colorado Republicans to embrace the far right. But local elected officials generally appear to be avoiding that conversation.

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Greene, a fervent supporter of former President Donald Trump, has amassed loyal followers and fierce critics — including some from within her own party — during her first few months in office.

Earlier this year, 11 House Republicans voted with Democrats to strip Greene of her committee assignments due to past social media activity supporting violence against Democratic politicians.

Greene also came under fire for repeatedly using Holocaust comparisons to criticize pandemic mask mandates. After drawing a rebuke from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, and the prospect of a censure by the U.S. House, Greene visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She later acknowledged to reporters that some of her past comments were “offensive” and “hurtful.”

Greene’s El Paso County speaking engagement was first reported by Colorado Politics in June.

I’m just really excited that she is coming — that she’s sharing what is happening on the national level.

– Vickie Tonkins, El Paso GOP chair, on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

“I reached out to many different people that we thought would be good speakers,” Vickie Tonkins, who chairs the county GOP, told Newsline this month. “You just make a decision based on what you think is best.”

Tonkins said she had invited other national figures including Colorado’s own outspoken U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Silt Republican who’s voted with Greene on several issues, such as when they voted against reauthorizing the National Marrow Donor Program and condemning the Myanmar coup. Some people whom the county GOP invited to speak were unavailable, Tonkins said, while others would have charged too high a fee.

Praising Boebert, Tonkins said the 3rd District representative’s amiable relationship with Greene boosted her opinion of the Georgia lawmaker. Both Boebert and Greene vocally embrace hardline immigration policies, gun rights and voting restrictions, while opposing abortion rights and protections for transgender people.

“I’m just really excited that she is coming — that she’s sharing what is happening on the national level,” Tonkins said of Greene. She added that the county GOP expected a “packed” audience for the event at the Hotel Elegante on Aug. 6.

“People are coming to the event and they’re excited to have someone come on this level and actually speak truth to us,” Tonkins said. “You’re always going to have people who aren’t going to be happy” with a choice of speaker, she noted.

State Sen. Bob Gardner, Commissioner Holly Williams plan to skip dinner

Colorado Newsline asked state, local and national Republican elected officials from El Paso County whether they planned to attend the Lincoln Day dinner with Greene as guest speaker. The annual event, which also includes a live auction and silent auction, is an important fundraiser for a county that has traditionally been a GOP stronghold in Colorado.

Most people did not respond, but one official contacted by Newsline, El Paso County Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez, said he planned to attend. Most officials who responded would not comment on Tonkins’ choice of speaker.

“I attend the El Paso County Lincoln Day Dinner every year in support of our local Republican party,” Gonzalez said in an email. “And so yes, I plan on attending this year just as I plan on attending next year.”

Four officials, including Republican County Commissioner Holly Williams, said they would not attend the dinner.

“She is not a speaker I am interested in hearing,” Williams said via text when asked her opinion on Greene.

State Sen. Bob Gardner, a Colorado Springs Republican, told Newsline he wouldn’t have attended regardless of the speaker. “I’m focusing all of my efforts, all of my fundraising and advocacy on taking the state Senate back (from Democrats),” Gardner said.

“I honestly will tell you, the decision doesn’t have anything to do with the invitation of Taylor Greene to the Lincoln Day dinner,” he added, declining to comment on the choice of speaker.

State Rep. Mary Bradfield, a Colorado Springs Republican, said in an email that she would be unable to attend the event as she planned to visit her sister in Florida. Likewise, state Sen. Larry Liston, another Republican from Colorado Springs, said he would be out of town that weekend.

Elected officials who did not respond to requests for comment included: El Paso County Commissioners Carrie Geitner, Stan VanderWerf and Cami Bremer; University of Colorado Regent Chance Hill; state Reps. Shane Sandridge, Dave Williams, Andy Pico, Tim Geitner and Terri Carver; state Sens. Dennis Hisey and Paul Lundeen; and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn.

Greene’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Reservations for the Lincoln Day dinner start at $100 a table and go up to $2,500 at the top level, which includes 10 passes to a VIP reception with Greene. The county’s last Lincoln Day Dinner in 2019 hosted Charlie Kirk, the founder and executive director of national conservative group Turning Point USA.

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Faith Miller
Faith Miller

Reporter Faith Miller covers the Colorado Legislature, immigration and other stories for Colorado Newsline.

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