It is a bit too easy for us to wag our fingers at the people of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy for choosing the likes of Hitler and Mussolini. It is a little more difficult to reconcile and understand our own political shortcomings right here in Colorado. In one of the more embarrassing chapters of Colorado conservative history, Clarence Morley, the Ku Klux Klan-picked Republican candidate, became Governor of Colorado in 1925.
Jason Brockman and Erin McDanal, staff archivists for the Colorado State Archive, said Morley’s
Under the charismatic and persuasive tutelage of Grand Dragon John Galen Locke, the Klan was able to create one of strongest political machines in state history. Locke, the short, extremely overweight Denver physician, ran the Klan and much of the state from his office at 1345 Glenarm Place.
Although, on cue Locke espoused the usual Klan nonsense messages of hate and bigotry in public, but didn’t seem to live the life himself.
He was also known to look the other way in additional examples. Catholics in the northwest Denver were able to build St. Catherine of Siena parish by holding lavish and lucrative bingo parties that eventually led to the nick-naming of “the carnival parish” in the Harkness Heights area of North Denver.
“Even the Ku Klux Klan could not stop St. Catherine’s,” noted Thomas J. Noel of the Archdiocese of Denver. “According to Judge John J. Dunn, whose mother was John Galen Locke’s nurse, and his father happened to be a long-time patient of Dr. Locke, it was Locke who arranged bingo permits for St. Catherine’s with Denver’s anti-Catholic chief of police, William Clandish.”
Locke was also known to have contributed philanthropically to Jewish and Black charities as well, and is widely considered to have promoted the Klan as a means to political power rather than committed universally to its philosophies of hate and bigotry.
Most of the Klan-sponsored legislation during the time of Morley’s Governorship was effectively killed in committee by anti-Klan Republicans and a small but tenacious group of Democrats which included future Governor Billy Adams.
After Morley left office, he established a stock brokerage in Indiana. In 1935, however he returned to Denver to reestablish his law practice.