2019 Complaint to the Colorado Secretary Of State
Colorado Secretary of State’s Office
I am writing to express my concerns about authoritarianism and corruption by Green Party of Colorado State Co-Chair Andrea Merida and her supporters. I don’t know what, if anything, your office can or would do about this situation. However, I think you should be aware of this situation if you are not already.
More than two years ago, some members of the Green Party of Colorado filed a formal complaint about corruption and authoritarianism in the operation of the Green Party of Colorado with the National Accreditation Committee of the Green Party of the United States. That complaint sought revocation of the Colorado Green Party’s accreditation as a chapter of the national Green Party if their grievances were not resolved. The situation has become far worse since then. The original Caucus to Restore Green Values complaint and supporting materials may be seen at www.restoregreenvalues.org
Sixteen months after this complaint was submitted to the Green Party’s national Accreditation Committee, a subcommittee consisting of all members who were on the committee at the time the complaint was filed ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. However, in the meantime, Andrea and her supporters had packed the committee with their allies, increasing the number of committee members from 8 to 49, thereby obstructing action to redress the grievances of Colorado Green Party members. The subcommittee report stated:
“The GPCO/Respondents dealt with the RGV complaint by revoking the rights of participation of RGV-associated GPCO members, stating that the reason for the revocations was because they filed a grievance. This is a violation of the key value of grassroots democracy. In a democracy, many ideas and stances are entertained and considered. The substance of the complaint is immaterial to this concern. We use 10 key values to guide our work. These values may inform our platform, but they do not completely eliminate differences. The value of respecting diversity refers to respecting a diversity of ethnic and class backgrounds and experiences, as well as the ideas associated with these experiences. The members who were ousted from participation in the GPCO were recognized GP candidates, they had served the party in leadership roles, and one was voted state party co-chair by fellow members. The revocations were clearly personal attacks in retaliation to their raising the points of concern regarding bylaws violations and exclusionary practices.”
“Escalation of actions by GPCO/Respondents have resulted in alienation of a significant group of experienced and active members, exclusion of members from state meetings, abusive control of access to the state website discussion boards, concentration of state offices in a small group, manipulation of locals allowed to vote, violation of the letter and spirit of state bylaws, silencing and purging of members, and refusal to participate in conflict resolution in good faith. The manner and scale are unprecedented in the history of the GPUS, and will result in further difficulties and embarrassment for the national party.”
Letter to Margaret Flowers
I wrote the following letter to Margaret Flowers after she was elected as a National Co-Chair of the Green Party of the United States. She wrote back to me only to say that she would not read my letter.
Dear Dr. Flowers,
I read your statement titled “Unity and Principled Disagreement in the Green Party.” In that statement, you wrote some things that would be excellent and positive if you sincerely meant what you said. However, considering your association with Andrea Merida Cuellar and Kevin Zeese, I do not believe that there was an ounce of sincerity in your statement.
Words have meaning. I can’t speak with personal knowledge about whatever conflicts have been going on within the national Green Party. However, from the perspective of a Green from Colorado, I see that your commentary states or implies perspectives that are diametrically opposed to the truth.
You wrote: “While some would degenerate into accusations of factionalism and calling some Greens “the opposition,” these differences in opinion are normal. We can disagree with each other, even publicly. However, what is not healthy is name calling, finger pointing and other immature behaviors. I hope we can strive for principled and constructive discussions rather than tearing each other down. Let’s model the world we are striving to create.”
However, you have chosen to align yourself with a group of people who have orchestrated a hostile takeover of the Green Party of Colorado’s State Council. These people have operated through bullying, intimidation, character assassination, hate speech, authoritarianism, and corruption to transform the Green Party of Colorado’s organizational structure into a totalitarian hate group that systematically suppresses any dissent through censorship, libel, slander, rigged elections, systematic organizational restructuring, restriction of voting rights, and purges of Green Party members who dare to express differences of opinion.
Your partner, Kevin Zeese, published a false and defamatory commentary in Counterpunch in which he brazenly committed libel against unidentified members of the Green Party of Colorado, accusing these unidentified people of being “white supremacists” with zero evidence. This story presented a bizarre and totally unfounded false narrative, accusing these unnamed members of the Green Party of Colorado of conspiring with David Cobb and Jill Stein against Andrea Merida Cuellar because they didn’t want to have a woman of color in a position of strong leadership. Kevin Zeese’s libelous commentary asserted that this alleged conspiracy was motivated by a backlash against Andrea Merida Cuellar’s efforts to block the use of the GPUS as a conduit for funding Jill Stein’s proposed presidential election recount.
It was obvious from reading Kevin Zeese’s article, that he did not bother to speak to any of the unidentified Green Party of Colorado members whom he libelously branded as “white supremacists” to ask for their perspective about the internal conflict within the state Green Party.
The conflict within the Green Party of Colorado existed long before the presidential recount effort. It had nothing whatsoever to do with the recount, with Jill Stein, or with David Cobb. Nor did the conflict have anything to do with race — at least not on the part of the unidentified people that Kevin Zeese libelously branded as “white supremacists.”
The conflict within the Green Party of Colorado developed due to the failure of certain Green Party members to treat each other with respect, a failure to discuss disagreements in a civil manner, a failure to follow a grassroots democracy process of consensus building. This conflict grew out of a disagreement concerning a proposed state ballot initiative, Amendment 69, which would have instituted a universal health care system for Colorado based upon a single-payer model.
Green Party of Colorado State Co-Chair Andrea Merida opposed Amendment 69. I don’t know why she took this position. Other Greens wanted the Green Party of Colorado to endorse this initiative. Advocates for this position included Bill Bartlett (the other GPOC state co-chair who had been Andrea’s running mate), Harry Hempy (the GPOC nominee for Governor in 2014, who had run for state-chair in 2015 in opposition to Andrea and Bill), and Arn Menconi (the GPOC nominee for US Senator in 2016). Rather than debate the merits of Amendment 69, Andrea Merida and her supporters chose to engage in vicious character assassination against Bill, Harry, and Arn. Andrea habitually attacks white people who disagree with her by accusing them of being white supremacists.
Just over a year ago, several members of the Green Party of Colorado filed a 373 page complaint against Andrea Merida Cuellar and her supporters with the GPUS National Steering Committee and the GPUS National Accreditation Committee. This complaint expressed deep concerns about the conduct of the Green Party of Colorado State Council, including a long-standing pattern of authoritarianism, insults, character assassination, and systematic breakdown of the consensus building process that had previously been used by the state party. See www.restoregreenvalues.org for details, documentation, and some updates.
Two of the people who were involved in compiling, filing, and representing this complaint were Harry Hempy and Judy Harrington, who was the co-chair of the Larimer County Green Party. Harry Hempy and Judy Harrington’s rights to participate in the activities of the Green Party of Colorado were revoked without due process, in violation of state party bylaws because they filed this complaint. A state party meeting to elect party officers was scheduled by an illegitimate process, in violation of state bylaws. Eight party offices were up for election, but only six of the eight offices up for election were included in announcements for the metting. Andrea Merida Cuellar ran both for re-election as state co-chair and for one of the unannounced seats for alternate to the GPUS. The “Caucus to Restore Green Values” put up a slate of reform candidates for the six announced offices that was up for election. I agreed to be part of this slate as one of our candidates for state co-chair.
The GPUS National Accreditation Committee made several recommendations to reform the Green Party of Colorado. Andrea’s faction, which was controlling the organizational structure of the state party, violated every one of their recommendations. They suppressed candidate
nominations, withheld information about the election of party officers, refused to allow independent observation or monitoring, and restricted voting rights. Andrea’s husband, Jason Justice, sent out an announcement to friends in an effort to recruit temporary “Greens” and pack the meeting with them, libelously claiming that a group of white supremacist men were trying to oust Andrea because she was a woman of color. There was absolutely no truth to that claim. Andrea was initially welcomed into leadership within the state Green Party with open arms. However, Andrea and Jason chose to make enemies out of people who should have been their friends and allies, through a long-standing pattern of insults and abuse.
The Caucus to Restore Green Values proposed eleven changes to the bylaws of the Green Party of Colorado to reform the party’s internal process and to restore voting rights that had been revoked from Harry Hempy, Judy Harrington, and the Jefferson and Weld County chapters of the Green Party. I proposed that the GPOC adopt the positively worded anti-oppression statement of the Friends of the Earth rather than the derogatory and insulting language that Andrea’s faction called an “anti-oppression” statement. The controlling faction refused to discuss alternative anti-oppression language or to discuss any of our proposed bylaws changes. They refused to discuss overturning the illegitimate expulsion of Judy Harrington. They viciously crucified Harry Hempy, refusing to overturn his illegitimate expulsion from the state Green Party. The Jefferson County chapter was reinstated. The proposal to reinstate the Weld County chapter was dropped due to lack of participation.
Two members of our slate were elected as party officers. I was elected as a state co-chair. (I had agreed to run to take a stand against hatred, corruption, and authoritarianism, with the understanding that there was no possibility of winning this rigged election.) Susan Hall was elected as a national delegate. Immediately after the election, Andrea tried to bully and intimidate me into getting the Caucus to Restore Green Values to withdraw its complaint against her. I told her I had no authority to do that. Andrea sent me abusive and insulting emails. She tried to blackmail me into getting the Caucus to Restore Green Values to withdraw its complaint against her. I blocked her on Facebook and on my email accounts. Andrea and I never saw each other again or spoke to each other again after we were elected to serve as state party co-chairs together. I was blocked from posting or commenting on the official Green Party of Colorado state website or Facebook page before, during, and after the time that I was supposedly a state co-chair — an office that I held in name only (if that). It was obvious to me that Andrea’s faction would never allow me to function in the role of state co-chair.
I resigned three months after I was elected as state party co-chair, concluding that the Green Party of Colorado had become a totalitarian, extremist hate group and a lost cause. Andrea’s faction changed the party’s bylaws to bind Susan Hall’s vote to their will. If Susan didn’t vote the way she was ordered to vote, she would be removed from office and Andrea would automatically assume her office as a national delegate. Susan bravely carried on until she was eventually expelled from the right to participate in the state party by the rogue state council.
Over the past year, the GPUS national steering committee and national accreditation committee have continued to drag their feet in dealing with the complaint against the Green Party of Colorado. In the meantime, the hate group faction that has taken absolute control over the Green Party of Colorado has consolidated its power. They have carried out a series of purges to expel fifteen people and three local chapters from the right to participate in the state party. The people who have been expelled from the state party include candidates who were nominated by the state party for statewide and federal offices in the past three general elections, long-time organizers of local chapters, and dedicated Green Party campaign volunteers. The chapter representing Jefferson County — Colorado’s most populous county — has been “deactivated.” The Greater Boulder Green Party — which had established itself as a “sanctuary chapter” open to Greens from all over the state who felt unwelcome in their local chapters — was “deactivated.” So was the Douglas County chapter.
The 2018 state nominating convention of the Green Party of Colorado was held in Boulder County without the involvement or participation of the Greater Boulder Green Party, and without notifying or inviting the Boulder or Jefferson County chapters. The elected representatives of the Boulder and Jefferson County chapters had already been illegitimately expelled from the right to participate in the Green Party of Colorado without cause and without due process by the rogue “State Council.” The Green Party of Colorado has had automatic ballot status since 1998, with the ability to nominate candidates by party assembly for all county, state, and federal offices. The Green Party of Colorado has nominated candidates in every election since 1994. However, 2018 is the first time that the state party has failed to nominate any candidates for statewide or federal offices. The only “Green Party” candidate nominated to the 2018 ballot in Colorado is Cliff Willmeng, who was nominated for Boulder County Commissioner — without seeking the endorsement or support of the Boulder Greens.
Seven “Green Values Coalition” candidates have filed as write-ins for Congress in 2018, one for each of the state’s Congressional Districts. Six of us have qualified. (One missed the filing deadline.)
Voting rights have been restricted so that only dues paying members may vote on Green Party candidate nominations, officers, or bylaws. More than 99 percent of registered Green Party members have been systematically excluded from voting rights, making the Green Party the most blatently authoritarian and corrupt political party in Colorado.
This is what you have chosen to embrace, Dr. Flowers. You wrote that “we are all Greens.” No. That is not true. Words have meaning, even if the words you choose express falsehoods. The Green Party was founded upon a set of values. These values include nonviolence, social justice, and respect for diversity. The people who have taken absolute control over the Green Party of Colorado’s organizational structure are diametrically opposed to these values. They are not Greens.
We have the interest to build a Green Party in Colorado, if we could move beyond the hatred of those who want to set the Green Party on fire and burn it to the ground.
ADDENDUM: This statement from Harry Hempy, the 2014 Green Party of Colorado nominee for Governor explains the conflict within Colorado’s Green Party concerning a citizen initiative for universal health care:
This is an accurate account of actions taken by Andrea Merida to suppress discussion of ColoradoCare or endorsement of ColoradoCare by the Green Party of Colorado 2015 and 2016, leading up to the recall of Bill Bartlett. -Harry Hempy
I’ve known Andrea Merida to be corrupt in her dealings with the Green Party since July 2015.
At that time Andrea was a cochair in the Denver Green Party and editor of the Denver chapter’s monthly newsletter. I was a cochair in the Boulder Green Party and a subscriber to the Denver newsletter.
The Boulder chapter had been working to get a citizens initiative for universal health care financing on the ballot in Colorado. The Boulder chapter collected more than 1000 petition signatures. ColoradoCare, also known as Amendment 69 and Initiative 20, did make the ballot in the 2016 general election.
The July 2015 issue of the Denver newsletter reported on a discussion of Initiative 20 (ColoradoCare), held at the Denver Green Party meeting on June 17, 2015. The article concluded with the statement, “Andrea Merida is writing a proposal for a formal vote for both this chapter and the state party, with a recommendation for a NO vote. All voting members will have the chance to discuss and vote.”
I was shocked by this announcement. How could Greens be against a publicly funded health care payment system for all Colorado residents (citizen or not)? The newsletter article shows that no one in the discussion had read the text of the initiative. The discussion and the newsletter article misrepresented ColoradoCare in several ways, most importantly by stating that workers would pay a larger share of health premium payroll taxes than their employer. This was a huge mistake. In fact, under ColoradoCare the employer would pay 2/3 of the tax and the employee would pay 1/3.
I responded to the newsletter editor with correct information about the ColoradoCare initiative and asked for a correction to be posted in the next newsletter. The editor turned out to be Andrea Merida and she flatly refused to correct the article or tell her chapter that their discussion of ColoradoCare and their decision to oppose it had been based on misinformation. This was corrupt.
So I attempted to post accurate information about ColoradoCare on the Denver chapter’s FB page. This is what I posted on July 15, 2015:
“Initiative 20 would establish a people’s cooperative named ColoradoCare to provide comprehensive, universal health care coverage in Colorado.
• Comprehensive health care financing for ALL Colorado residents (not just US citizens).
• Eliminates the need for private health insurance; puts people’s health before corporate profits.
• Saves Coloradans $5B per year in health care costs.
• The tax structure is progressive, because unearned income is taxed.
• A 15-member interim board, appointed by the 2 CO House leaders, 2 CO Senate leaders and the governor, will define a non-partisan election system, not subject to CO election statutes, for an elected ColoradoCare Board of Trustees.”
Andrea immediately deleted this post and wrote an email letter to me and Denver Green Party Cochair Laura Clark, dated July 16, 2015 1:07 AM.
The letter threatened to ban me from the Denver chapter’s FB page if I ever attempted to make another pro-Initiative 20 comment. The final paragraph of her email reads, “I am taken aback by your repeated disregard for the collaborative nature in which I have always interacted with you. Please respect my wishes and stay in your lane.”
I call BS. When Andrea refused to correct the Denver newsletter article about Initiative 20, she wasn’t being collaborative. When she used her FB admin authority to shut down honest discussion of a universal health care initiative on Green Party social media, she wasn’t being collaborative. She was being corrupt.
Andrea Merida was elected state cochair in August 2015, together with Bill Bartlett. Andrea used her state party positions to quash discussion of ColoradoCare (amendment 69 in the 2016 general election). Andrea coerced me not to submit a proposal to endorse ColoradoCare at the 2015 annual meeting. And she coerced Bob Kinsey not to submit a proposal to endorse ColoradoCare at the 2016 annual meeting. Andrea fought Arn Menconi tooth and nail over endorsing ColoradoCare when Arn was the GP candidate for U.S. Senator from Colorado. Bill Bartlett and Susan Hall did, finally, submit a proposal on Aug. 31, 2016 to state Council to endorse ColoradoCare, without consulting Andrea.
Andrea retaliated with a proposal on Sep. 22, 2016 to recall Bill Bartlett as state cochair.
The most heinous thing about the proposal to recall Bill was the deception as to its motivation. Andrea could have simply said she wanted Bill out because he disrespected her wishes and got out of line by submitting a proposal he knew she did not support. That would have been honest.
Instead, the proposal to recall Bill cited insensitive social media activity by Bill and a story told by Andrea’s husband, Jason Justice, in which he claims Bill had an intent to physically assault Andrea. To the best of my knowledge, Andrea has never confirmed Jason’s story, but she did stand by and let her husband, her state secretary Sean Friend, and her future state cochair Dave Bell drag Bill’s reputation through the mud in discussion of the proposal on the state party Forum. Disgusting and corrupt.
A toxic atmosphere quickly developed in the Green Party of Colorado, leading to the complaint filed with the national party by the Restore Green Values group on June 14, 2017 and the subsequent purge by state Council of at least 15 Colorado greens from the party who have publicly expressed support of the complaint. Assigning guilt by association is corrupt.