The Grafters Club

The Membership


Dewey C. Bailey


A friend in need is a friend indeed.


Dewey C. Bailey

Bailey is a familiar name, serving as he does as Denver's mayor at the end of Lou's career. It's reasonable to assume Lou's infamous private line to the mayor connected to Bailey's office. Van Cise only referred to him as "the Mayor" in Fighting the Underworld.

When it was said that Lou could set a man free with a phone call, Bailey was at the other end of the line.

Bailey was United States Marshal for Colorado from 1897 to 1915, a post undoubtedly useful to Lou for many years. As a matter of fact, we had previously been told Lou was shielded from prosecution in the Council Bluffs, Iowa trial of the Maybray gang in 1910 in part by the presence in the courtroom of a US Marshal. Bailey makes a great candidate for that honor.

In 1913, Lou sold some hay to Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Far East. The show was in receivership, having been attached by Bonfils and Tammen of the Post. The receipt for the hay was signed by Bailey.

Bailey was noted as having turned a blind eye to both prostitution and bootlegging after the advent of Prohibition. Mayor Speer appointed Bailey Manager of Safety (police) in 1916, and was then handily elected mayor in 1919 as a Republican promising bipartisanship.

It was, in fact, Bailey's loose rein on Denver morals that helped pave the way for the "reform" promised by the Denver Klan as it took shape in the early Twenties. And the arrest of the Bunko Gang in many ways heralded their ascendance — despite DA Van Cise's clear opposition to everything for which they stood.

Rocky Mountain News, March 27, 1923

To Mayor Dewey C. Bailey:
Yesterday you caused to be printed in the paid advertising columns of the Denver papers an announcement of your candidacy for re-election as mayor of Denver.
In justice to the main prominent and law-abiding citizens whose names you caused to be printed in your paid ad you might give publicity to your views on certain things that at this minute are agitating Denver.
CAN YOU AND WILL YOU EXPLAIN your silence in the face of repeated sworn statements on the witness stand that the alleged bunko ring on trial in the West Side court was working under protection of your police department?
CAN YOU AND WILL YOU EXPLAIN why law-abiding citizens without prison records are thrown into jail on the least pretext and held there—in some cases allowed to die without medical care—while certain members of the alleged bunko ring, boasting long jail sentences, are given more consideration and treated with more courtesy by your personal appointees than could or would be commanded by highly respected citizens?
CAN YOU AND WILL YOU EXPLAIN why Tom Clarke, your deputy sheriff, was permitted to make honor guests of certain members of this alleged confidence gang and turn over to them a room in the West Side court building for the staging of a wild orgy, when in all justice they shoud be behind bars the same as any other alleged law violator awaiting decision of a jury?
CAN YOU AND WILL YOU EXPLAIN why your warden of the county jail made special arrangements for these same members of the alleged bunk ring, placing cots in the office of the jail for their comfort during the time they were in custody?
You are responsible to the people of Denver for the acts of your appointees, and if you are not willing to accept this responsibility you have no right to be mayor of Denver.
The attitude of your administration thruout the trial of the alleged bunko ring has been one of opposition toward the district attorney and the special prosecutors and one of protection and condolence toward the accused men.
Denver's fair name is at stake. The open operations of an international bunko ring in Denver is a paramount issue in the coming city election. If you are to be a candidate for re-election, the people of Denver demand to know and have a right to know where you stand on this question.

Dewey Bailey
Illustration by Lee Raen