Fmr. Colo. Republican Party official improperly downloaded national e-mail list

4:41 PM, Nov 5, 2009   |    comments
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Multiple sources say Mike Britt, who is now the campaign manager for gubernatorial candidate Josh Penry, paid someone $500 to manipulate the software being used by the national party and to put the names and e-mails of 160,000 Coloradans on a computer disc that remains in the state party's hands.

Britt, 30, was named to run Penry's campaign in August. He is a New Jersey native who worked for President George W. Bush in the White House and who was regional director for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 2008 campaign for President.

None of the sources say party chairman Dick Wadhams had any knowledge that the e-mail list was improperly obtained. That seems to be confirmed by internal e-mails seen by 9NEWS.

"I'm not going to get into deals made while I was at the State Party," Britt said in a phone conversation on Thursday morning. "I had an excellent relationship with the RNC and that continues to this day."

He refused to comment on paying someone to download the data.

The disc containing the 160,000 e-mail addresses was offered for thousands of dollars to multiple Republican candidates for office over the summer by a former employee of the party. None of the campaigns contacted by 9NEWS purchased the list. In response, the state party attorney, Ryan Call, sent cease and desist letters to numerous individuals who had access to the e-mail list, claiming it was the property of the state party and not for sale.

However, the list is actually the property of the national Republican Party. The state party and the Republican National Committee signed a contract in January 2008 that allowed Colorado Republicans to send e-mails to addresses the national party had accumulated. At the time, Colorado Republicans had a list that only contained 10,000 names, according to the state party.

Section 5 of the 7-page contract states: "Ownership of and shall remain the property of the RNC. It is hereby understood that the RNC owns all right, title and interest in any and all data incorporated into the Platform List."

Contacted by phone and e-mail on Wednesday, the RNC's Regional Press Secretary Sara Sendek said "as of right now we are not commenting on this story."

On Thursday, after the story was released, Sendek sent 9NEWS another e-mail that said: "As we do with other state parties, the Republican National Committee entered into a list exchange agreement with the Colorado Republican Party to maximize the state party's ability to communicate with their voters. The state party's use of the list was consistent with the goals of the RNC. As a matter of policy, the RNC does not discuss specific terms of any contract or agreement or any amendment thereto."

Sendek continued, "Downloading this data was an attempt by the state party to use enhanced technology and was done in good faith. We do not feel that the use of the list was counter to the goals of the RNC. Again, as stated earlier, as a matter of policy, the RNC does not comment on the specifics terms of any contract or agreement and any amendments thereto."  

When asked specifically about whether he had the right to the list, Britt said, "I'm not going to get into specific list exchange agreements. They are working documents, living documents and there are amendments made to them throughout the election cycle."

He would not provide any amendments to the contract to 9NEWS.

GOP Party chairman Dick Wadhams said of the downloading of data, "We're all on the same team and the same family. The RNC and the Colorado Republican Party are two entities within the same family. It's a special kind of relationship.

"We have the same agenda, to elect Republicans. That's what this was all about, electing Republicans in Colorado," he said.

Penry's campaign, as well as those of his rivals Republican Scott McInnis and Gov. Bill Ritter (D-Colorado), has accidentally sent campaign e-mails to government workers. Colorado law bans state agencies and its workers from contributing to campaigns at the workplace.

Britt said in a text message to 9NEWS, the RNC list was not being used on the current Penry campaign.

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