By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – The Republican candidate for governor of Colorado is confronting questions about his family’s past.

For the first time, Walker Stapleton is talking candidly about his great grandfather’s role in the KKK, his views on racism, and his endorsement by a man who defended a white nationalist organization.

Walker Stapleton (left) and Benjamin Stapleton (right)(credit: CBS)

Stapleton’s ancestral roots run deep in Colorado. The family has a history of public service dating back more than a century, something Stapleton touted in a campaign ad for treasurer.

He noted his great grandfather served five terms as Denver’s mayor and helped build the first civic center in Colorado, the first municipal airport in the Mile High City and helped build parks like Red Rocks.

(credit: CBS)

But Benjamin Stapleton’s legacy also includes a dark chapter. He was a high ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920’s, which had infiltrated both parties and virtually all levels of government.

Stapleton says he’s not his great grandfather — he was born 25 years after the elder Stapleton died — but he hasn’t expressly denounced Benjamin Stapleton’s involvement in the KKK, until now.

“I categorically condemn racism of all forms and I categorically condemn hate organizations and they will have no place in my administration as governor,” he said in a sit-down interview with CBS4’s Shaun Boyd.

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd interviews Walker Stapleton. (credit: CBS)

But Stapleton’s critics note the man who introduced him at the state assembly — former Congressman and immigration hardliner Tom Tancredo — sat on the board of a white nationalist organization.

They insist Stapleton is associating with Tancredo for the same reason his great grandfather did the KKK – for political gain.

Stapleton denied that saying, “Just because someone makes the decision to endorse me does not mean I endorse all of their views.” He called the notion of Tancredo being a part of his administration “laughable.”

(credit: CBS)

But in an interview with KNUS radio last April before the state assembly, Stapleton said of Tancredo, “I’d love to utilize him because Tom has been invaluable on law and order issues, not just sanctuary cities, but what has happened to our Department of Corrections under our current governor.”

Tom Tancredo (credit: CBS)

When asked in the same interview if he would consider Tancredo for Lieutenant Governor, Stapleton replied, “We’ll see. Everybody is a candidate right now.”

His answer on Monday is different.

“He will have no role in my administration. He never expected a role. I never promised him a role so that is just a bunch of hogwash.”

Tancredo reacted to Stapleton’s comments by saying he was an asset before the state assembly because Stapleton needed his supporters to make the ballot. Now, he says, he’s probably a liability. But, he says at no point was he offered a role in a Stapleton administration and he wouldn’t take one. He says the two simply share a mutual goal of ending sanctuary cities.

Tancredo responded with the following statement to CBS4 the day after the initial story was broadcast. The statement has been published in its entirety.

In last night’s Channel 4 story about Walker Stapleton, there was an insinuation that because of my defense and relationship to an immigration reform group, erroneously defined as a “white nationalist” organization, that my support Mr. Stapleton taints his candidacy.

Let me say again for the umpteenth thousand time, I hate identity politics. In my support or criticism of public policies I make no distinction based on anyone’s race or color of skin. A friend and colleague of mine and an icon in Denver’s Hispanic community, the late Sen. Paul Sandoval, gave an interview to the Denver Post shortly before his untimely death. He talked about our friendship of many years and said although we argued many issues and that I could be called a lot of things but “racist is not one of them.” My love for America and my steadfast desire to help preserve its promise – and indeed the promise of freedom and opportunity for all people — has never been about race.

My Congressional office assisted thousands of Americans of every imaginable racial, religious and ethnic background, helping them navigate Social Security and Medicare, secure Veterans Benefits, and secure legal immigration benefits for their families, friends and prospective employees. No request for support was ever turned down because of the anyone’s race, sexual orientation or ethnicity.

I have worked with and Iranian dissidents, Taiwanese independence supporters, persecuted Burmese and black Africans. Indeed, one of my proudest achievements in public life was authoring the Sudan Peace Act, which helped bring an end to a brutal civil war and genocide that claimed the lives of countless Africans. It also paved the way for the founding of a new nation: South Sudan.

As I explained to the Channel 4 reporter when she called me about this story, I support Mr. Stapleton because of his opposition to the travesty of Sanctuary Cities. I have no idea what his opinions are on issues that are not pertinent to state jurisdiction. I believe he would be a competent and capable Governor of Colorado.

By the way I welcomed left wing groups on college campuses to my speeches and no one has ever accused me of being left leaning. Unfortunately most of the time, these groups caused disturbances that were intended to stop me from expressing my views. I would still defend their right to hold meetings of their supporters – as I did for the group referred by channel 4 as “white nationalists.” A group, by the way that has never attempted to stop leftists from expressing their views, or caused a riot, or advocated for same.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

Comments (9)
  1. Mike Maish says:

    HACK JOB! Boyd never mentions she is criticizing DEMOCRATS! PROPAGANDA!!!!!

  2. Jimmy Esquibel says:

    I am a proud American. I also happen to be Mexican, a veteran, and an ex-police officer of 20 years. I am no real fan of Mr. Stapleton but I can recognize an unfair story when I see it. Why do you attack him for his family history he had no say in? Why even mention it? I do not watch local news or local tv. I work and do what I can to help a few in my close circle of family and friends. I am a Trump supporter because I want my children and grand children to have a great and safe country to grow up in. I also want your children and great grand children to have the same. I was fortunate to have traveled the world thanks to our great Navy. Our country is definitely not perfect but I know this, it is the greatest country in the world. We must fight to protect our sovereignty, our constitution, and our rule of law. Fact, not all immigrants are criminals, but too many are and must be kept out. Our economy is doing great which is benefitting all Americans! Please do a story on that. Viva el Trump!

  3. Earth to Jimmy. The economy has been on the rise for years, an now it continues to do well despite Donald Trump and his ridiculous tariffs. Personally, I support candidates who represent ALL of their constituents–candidates who believe in a living wage for all Americans, good healthcare for everyone, clean air and water, candidates who don’t put Medicare and Medicaid on the line to pay for tax breaks for the top 1%. And, certainly, those who don’t condone separating families fleeing violence and attempting to seek asylum at the border.

    Not Stapleton.

  4. Robert Olsen says:

    Robert Olsen
    Won’t ever watch 4 news again! Unless you also interview Jared Pollis and have him denounce the past KKK history OF THE DEMCRATIC PARTY!

  5. Darlene Meunier- Howell says:

    Shame on you for the hatchet job you did on Walker Stapleton! You never mentioned that his great great-grandfather was a democrat and that the KKK was created by and was an organization of the democratic party! How about connecting Polis to the KKK since he’s a democrat? I’m done with channel 4 news.

    1. Angie Gibbs says:

      The article DID mention that the KKK infiltrated BOTH parties and all levels of government at that time.

  6. John Tyburczy says:

    Shaun Boyd’s bias continues to be identical to most past and present local news “readers” (not journalists with unbiased institutional bias). Following in the footsteps of Eli Stockels and many other liberal “hacks”.Call up Julie Hayden at 710 KNUS to get the truth. The Southern Poverty Law Center is but another Soros type of affiliation with no credibility.

  7. Ah Clem says:

    Why didn’t Channel 4 just come out and endorse Jared Polis? The only way a story like this could have come to air was if the news director and Ms. Boyd conspired to create a hit piece on Walker Stapleton. They used the Southern Poverty Law Center as a reference…what else need be said?

    This piece is the polar opposite of ”investigative journalism.” It utilized totally unreliable sources to ambush a major gubernatorial candidate. The only fair thing to do, at this point, would be to have the reporter correct the factual errors of her story, on the air. Now, what do you reckon the odds of that happening are?

  8. Wm Layer says:

    What relevance does his grandfather have on his running for governor? Is this guilt by association, some contamination of the blood. a dog whistle in the night to some dark conspiracy? The Southern Poverty Law Center? That fraud was exposed in the Atlantic years ago. I spent most of my career dealing with the media. Now they might as well be a dept. of the DNC.

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