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As soon as Lauren Boebert announced she was leaving her hometown congressional district in favor of redder pastures on the Eastern Plains, politicos began wondering whether the relatively unknown Jeff Hurd would be able to secure the Republican nomination without a better-known challenger jumping in the race. With the current state of the Colorado GOP favoring the most MAGA candidates, finding someone Trump-y enough for the base, but with enough gravitas and name ID to raise real money is a challenging proposition.
One possibility has emerged: Former Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, who’s once again working for Denver-based law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber & Shreck as an oil and gas lobbyist.
Like Boebert, Bernhardt grew up in Garfield County, outside of Rifle, though his law firm page lists him as currently working out of a Washington, D.C. office.
Two weeks ago, on Dec. 27, someone registered the following six websites, all at the exact same time:
davidbernhardtforcolorado.com, bernhardtforcolorado.com, davidbernhardtforcongress.com, davidbernhardt4congress.com, bernhardtforcongress.com, bernhardt4congress.com
Accusations of ethical conflicts dogged Bernhardt from the beginning of his tenure in the Trump administration, with the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General opening an investigation into various complaints just four days after his confirmation.
During his time working first as Trump’s deputy director of Interior under Ryan Zinke, and then, after Zinke resigned in disgrace, as secretary of Interior, Bernhardt was notorious for bending the rules for the benefit of both Trump and his former oil and gas clients.
After winning her first election in 2020, Boebert hired two members of then-Deputy Director Bernhardt’s staff to top positions in her congressional office. Her current Chief of Staff Jeff Small was previously a senior advisor to Bernhardt. Her first Communications Director Ben Goldey, who quit after Jan. 6, also came over from his press secretary position at Interior.
Bernhardt has also demonstrated a financial commitment to helping Republicans retain control of the U.S. House. On Sept. 26, just a week before then-Speaker McCarthy was ousted by a group of far-right members that notably did not include Boebert, he donated a total of $50,000 to McCarthy’s campaign committee, joint fundraising committee, leadership PAC, and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
His donations to the NRCC and Protect The House 2024 were the two largest contributions he’s ever made, according to FEC records.
Tuesday, Hurd received endorsements from Scott Tipton and Scott McInnis, the two previous U.S. representatives from Colorado’s Third Congressional District (CD3) before Boebert. Other declared candidates for CD3 include former state Rep. Ron Hanks, who is an unabashed election fraud conspiracist, and three first-time candidates.
Editor’s note: This story first appeared on the Colorado Times Recorder website.