Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 31)

March is going “out like a lamb” in Colorado, but April is waiting to kick our ass. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► State Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt is the gift that keeps on giving…if you like really, really ridiculous gifts. Somehow former Congressman Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin even merits a mention. Is a recall in the works?

► The State House approved legislation (HB-1300) to allow local governments to increase the minimum wage from Colorado’s current level of $8.23 per hour. A separate proposal, HCR-1001, would have placed a minimum wage increase on the 2015 ballot, but failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority needed for ballot measures. 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Are Klingenschmitt’s campaign endorsers standing by him now?

Now that one State Representative, Justin Everett, is arguing that Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt should not lose legislative clout for comments he’s made outside of the legislature, reporters should track down Klingenschmitt’s endorsers from his campaign last year and find out what they think of their embattled friend.

Their words of praise for Dr. Chaps, as Klingenschmitt calls himself, can be found on his campaign website:

“Gordon Klingenschmitt has demonstrated to me strength of character and resolve to maximize our individual liberties.  He is definitely a warrior who will fight the constant intrusion of government which constantly erodes our freedoms.  “Thank You,” Gordon for your willingness to represent us.”  — Fmr. Colorado Senator Dave Schultheis

“I like Gordon Klingenschmitt!  His Academy and military experiences have nurtured a mental toughness to stand and fight for conservative principles when others don’t.  We need that in the Colorado General Assembly.”  — Colorado Senator Kent Lambert

“Gordon Klingenschmitt is a proven leader who has the principles and values we need in the Colorado legislature.” — Colorado Senator Kevin Lundberg

“Today, we are living in a climate of moral and financial confusion.  Gordon Klingenschmitt will help direct the State back to principled conscience and economic prosperity.” — Colorado Senator Vicki Marble

Hate: It’s Still Bad For Business

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R).

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R).

It’s not directly pertinent to Colorado politics, but the controversy over the state of Indiana’s passage of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act–which as a result of the state’s lack of discrimination protections for LGBT residents could open the door to lawful discrimination in the name of religious freedom–is worth a thread of its own. Politico’s Adam Lerner has a smart take on the situation today, and the political implications for potential 2016 presidential contender Indiana Gov. Mike Pence:

Indiana’s Republican governor has become the left’s favorite punching bag after passing a Religious Freedom Restoration Act last Thursday at a ceremony featuring a number of conservative religious leaders.

“Many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence warned. The law, he said, ensures that “government action will always be subject to the highest level of scrutiny.”

The bill’s backers say it’s almost identical to any of the 19 other RFRA laws currently on the books, including for the federal government and in deep blue states like Illinois and Connecticut. Critics counter that this bill’s specific language, when coupled with Indiana’s lack of a civil rights law protecting LGBT citizens, makes it a vehicle for discrimination. They say it would allow businesses to deny services to gay and lesbian couples by claiming a religious compulsion.

Although similar laws exist in many states (not in Colorado, of course, where our state’s decade-long Democratic control has made every attempt at a RFRA-type bill a politically toxic nonstarter), it’s the absence of affirmative discrimination protections in Indiana law alongside a law like RFRA that make it a bigger problem there.

But there’s something more important at work in the nationwide backlash against RFRA’s passage in Indiana, which could become a much greater threat to the career aspirations of Gov. Pence than passage of RFRA could ever have helped him. We saw this last when Arizona’s legislature passed a similar bill, and basically the entire American corporate culture went to war to prevent that state’s governor from signing it into law.

It is rapidly becoming no longer cool, in objective, hard economic terms, to discriminate against gay people. What this cultural change represents, regardless of what happens in Indiana in the short term, is a tremendous long-term victory for LGBT rights proponents over the religious right and their political benefactors. And unfortunately for Republicans who would like to end this particular war, which has cost them a generation of voters even as gay marriage bans passed across the nation in the last 15 years, they are still the party of discrimination.

We’ve said it before, and Colorado politics bear it out: either the GOP catches up with the rest of America on this issue, with deeds not words, or it becomes part of their long-term destruction. This is not a partisan attack, it’s advice that Republicans everywhere should take.

Justin Everett is Mad as Heck About Dr. Chaps — But Not Like You’d Guess

Republican Rep. Justin Everett got out of bed early enough this morning to make it to the House floor, where he used a motion of personal privilege to chastise Republican House leaders for removing Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt from a House committee yesterday.

You may recall that Everett was removed by Republicans from two committee assignments last March, when Everett was having trouble making it to the State Capitol on time and staying awake when he did arrive. With that background in mind, it is interesting to listen to Everett complaining about a House decision to punish Dr. Chaps over something he said while away from the Capitol.

Here’s Everett’s speech from the floor in its entirety. Whether he’s right or wrong, Everett does succeed in proving that there is still a very large rift in the Republican Party:

 

 

Cadman promotes bill previously torpedoed by anti-abortion forces in GOP caucus

(Those who don’t learn from history…something, something. — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senate President Bill Cadman.

Senate President Bill Cadman.

Republican Senate President Bill Cadman took to the radio yesterday to announce plans to introduce a bill allowing prosecutors to treat a fetus as the victim of a crime but, apparently, with specific language allowing for abortion.

Cadman told KNUS 710-AM that his bill “does provide a protection for a woman to do with her body as she desires.”

Colorado already has a law, passed in 2013, allowing prosecutors to file additional charges, but not murder, in a crime involving the destruction of a fetus.

To ensure that the law does not turn into a back-door abortion ban, the measure specifically identifies the pregnant woman as the victim of the crime and states that nothing “shall be construed to confer the status of ‘person’ upon a human embryo, fetus or unborn child at any state of development prior to live birth.”

This anti-personhood language enraged anti-choice Republicans, like Sen. Scott Renfroe, who during a 2013 committee hearing, called the legislation the “Let’s-Go-on-Killing-Babies” bill.

In 2011, a bipartisan attempt to pass a similar bill was killed over similar objections by abortion foes.

Yet, when asked on the radio yesterday about why these types of measures did not become law, Cadman blamed pro-choice legislators.

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Tuesday Open Thread

“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”

–Kurt Vonnegut

The “New Kind Of Republican?”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Remember last November?

I know, I know, a lot has happened since then — Katy Perry rode into the Super Bowl on a giant mechanical lion, James Inhofe tried to instigate a snowball fight on the U.S. Senate floor, and Peyton Manning turned 39.

Election season wasn’t too long ago, though. When campaign advertisements were absolutely everywhere, canvassers were showing up at your house, and flyers for this or that candidate were overwhelming recycling bins all over the country. It was a hectic time, to be sure, but one advertisement stands out: the now-infamous bit in which Cory Gardner, standing in front of a wind farm, claimed to be a new kind of Republican, one who was concerned with the future, preserving Colorado’s clean energy economy, and safeguarding the next generation.

For a new kind of Republican, he sure votes a lot like the old kind. In a recent series of votes on amendments to the 2016 budget resolution, Gardner voted against a key climate amendment that was sponsored by our other Senator, Michael Bennet. This was an acknowledgment that climate change is human-induced and would prepare federal agencies to prepare for it in a deficit-neutral way. The vote was far from party-line. No fewer than seven of Gardner’s Republican colleagues voted for it. Several of them hail from states that have historically shown less commitment to climate issues than Colorado has, such as South Carolina, Nevada, and Ohio, among others. This makes Gardner’s no vote even more baffling.  

However, it is not time to discredit his election-season promises quite yet. He also voted against an amendment that would enable the sale or transfer of national public lands. He has shown an interest in protecting our natural areas in the past, and these votes are certainly heartening. It’s clear that he has the wisdom to recognize that Colorado’s public lands define us as a state, and threatening them would be a reckless and costly move.

But Gardner’s votes against common sense  climate change issues (i.e., humans cause climate change so let’s do something about it) are a disservice to the millions of Coloradans who care deeply about our clean energy economy and combating climate change. Polls consistently show that Colorado stands firmly in support of action on climate, and Gardner’s votes should reflect that support.

It’s too early to issue a verdict on Senator Gardner’s term in office. He has only been our senator for a few months, but now does seem like a good time to remind him that he is in office in part because of his efforts to show Coloradans that he cares about clean energy and the next generation. Coloradans are still waiting for Cory Gardner to be the new kind of Republican he promised in the fall.

 

Dr. Chaps Attacks Reporters, Praises Todd Akin in Sort-Of Apology

UPDATE: Via Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post:




Republican Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt has been getting hammered over the last several days because of comments he made in the aftermath of the Michelle Wilkins attack in Longmont. Now, he’s speaking out about speaking out, and it’s not going well.

Today, Dr. Chaps posted a special edition of his “PIJN News” that offered a sort-of apology for his statements last week about the shocking attack of a pregnant woman in Longmont. In a video lasting nearly 29 minutes, Dr Chaps goes “Full Klingenschmitt” on a variety of subjects — including his clarification of what the word “this” really means — before saying that he was wrong about everything he did (but not really) and apologizing to “anyone who was offended.”

Dr. Chaps on MondayAs 9News reports, Dr. Chaps’ cries of “dishonest reporting” aren’t earning many sympathetic ears…though he is doing a heck of a job in continuing to promote his own idiotic remarks:

9NEWS reporting on the subject included Klingenschmitt’s exact quote, with the source video being played multiple times on television.

Klingenschmitt’s words in the original video are:

“This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb. Part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open.” [Pols emphasis]

In an interview with 9NEWS on Thursday, Klingenschmitt declined multiple opportunities to offer an alternate interpretation of his remarks.

Many Colorado Republicans were upset last week when Dr. Chaps used his weekly PIJN News show to discuss the attack on the pregnant Michelle Wilkins and attempting to link the crime to a call for policies restricting abortion access. Dr. Chaps even earned a rare rebuke of his own GOP Caucus on Friday.

Nothing that Dr. Chaps says in his video really comes across as a heartfelt apology — particularly when the first 20 minutes are spent on ripping his critics. Dr. Chaps also spends a lot of time talking about being misquoted, before later putting on-screen the words that he said (which are almost exactly how he was quoted). In the end, the only real benefit here is to promote himself and to keep advancing a story (the story about Dr. Chaps, not about the crime)  that is not helpful to him or Republicans in general.

You can watch the entire video after the jump, and here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll find:

♦ 4:14: Dr. Chaps says he will apologize later in the video
♦ 5:30: Says Mike Littwin of the Colorado Independent is a “dishonest reporter.”
♦ 7:00: Calls Brandon Rittiman of 9News a “dishonest reporterand demands a retraction.
♦ 9:00:
Fox 31’s Eli Stokols is added to Dr. Chaps’ list of “dishonest reporters” of whom he demands a retraction.
♦ 11:27: Attacks El Paso County Republican activist Laura Carno and calls her a “pro-homosexual activist.”
13:31: Dr. Chaps praises former Missouri Congressman Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin.
♦ 13:47: Claims to have beaten Westboro Baptist Church in a debate, or something.
♦ 14:42: Talks about Colorado Springs Gazette reporter Megan Schrader and praises her for being an “honest reporter” because she issued some sort of retraction.
♦ 16:26: Praises Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels for being an “honest reporter” because she quoted him directly?
19:26: Tries explaining what he actually said, with specific pieces of quotes aired on-screen. Watch this part of the video and see if you can make sense of what he just said about the word “this.”
23:20: The apology at last? Dr. Chaps says, “I do want to apologize for my words last week,” after saying that he would not apologize for things he didn’t say. Uh, okay.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 30)

Your NCAA Tourney bracket is officially worthless. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The “Long Bill” will begin to suck up all the oxygen out of the State Capitol this week. The Associated Press previews the arguments and decimal points. The Senate is expected to vote on the budget by Thursday before passing it along to the House. John Frank of the Denver Post has more on the budget battle.

► Aurora City Manager Skip Noe needs to make a good impression in a closed-door meeting with the Aurora City Council today.

► Indiana Republicans are working on legislation to clarify previously-approved legislation that would make it easier for businesses to discriminate against gay, lesbian, and transgendered people. Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed the original bill, and he swears he actually read the language first.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Steve House’s First At-Bat: Swing and a Miss

Steve House.

Steve House.

As the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reports, newly elected Colorado Republican Party chairman Steve House got right to work last week, firing up the Republican faithful to oppose the rascally agenda of those villainous “Denver Democrats” in the state legislature.

The problem is, House’s appeal for donations to the Colorado GOP to stop the “Denver Democrats” appears to rely on making stuff up.

House, who beat Ryan Call for the chairman’s post earlier this month, outlined the “common sense conservative bills” that “Democrat obstructionists” in the state House have killed. (Republicans control the Senate; Democrats the House.) The chairman included in the list of dead bills Senate Bill 1 from Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, “which puts TABOR money into the pockets of the working families.”

Really? That’s news to everybody else at the Capitol:

Senate Republicans are waiting until the legislature passes the budget before taking up the measure which, by the way, the left-leaning Colorado Fiscal Institute actually likes. [Pols emphasis]

Got that? Not only is Senate Bill 15-001 still alive, there’s bipartisan support for it. That means not only does Steve House look foolish to mourn the bill’s death prematurely, he could be making it harder to pass by needlessly injecting partisanship into the debate over the bill. Either way, it’s an inauspicious start for the man who just kicked Ryan Call to the proverbial curb on a wave of “we can do better.”

Because “better” should include having your facts straight.

Let’s appreciate The Post’s coverage of city council races–while we can

God love The Denver Post for actually factually covering Denver’s city council races with a little bit of breadth and a little bit of depth.

You can find a story here and there by other news entities, including the neighborhood newspapers. But to understand what’s happening  city-wide you have to turn to The Post.

It’s apparently put Jon Murray, one of the paper’s top political reporters on the beat. And he, along with other skilled reporters, are offering real coverage of the election, at the end of which we will have six of 13 new faces on the council. So it’s a big deal.

The Post is running a series spotlighting the major issues and candidates in the races, including, so far, District 1, District 2, and District 3.  The newspaper is dutifully following the money, as well as major developments.

The Post, for example, reported details this week of possible campaign-finance violations by District 10 candidate Wayne New, who admitted to omitting information from his official signs and not reporting in-kind donations .

But Wayne New denies that he is required to report the obvious advertising value of large campaign signs he’s placed in parking lots owned by Buzz Geller, a businessman who supports New.

Luis Toro, director Colorado Ethics Watch, which filed a complaint against Wayne New, says the failure to disclose the value of the use of parking lots is a “real, substantive violation” of Denver’s campaign finance laws. Toro told The Post his group’s action against New has nothing to do with the fact that New has donated to Republican candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain. [Disclosure: I support one of New’s District 10 opponents, Anna Jones, though I live outside the district.]

Anyway, wouldn’t it be great if the media were full of blow-by-blow accounts of low-level political battles like these? The best we have is The Post. And you wonder, who’s gonna do it when/if The Post is gone? It’s something that should not go unappreciated today, while we still have it.

Get More Smarter on Friday (March 27)

Get More Smarter

Stop telling your out of state friends and family about our perfect weather, they’re moving here too fast! It’s time again to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Former Taliban prisoner Bowe Bergdahl charged with desertion, but the story has some twists that could complicate things quite a bit if true:

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl told the military he left his unit in eastern Afghanistan in July 2009 intending to walk to the nearest U.S. military outpost to report wrongdoing, believing he could not trust his own commanders to deal with his concerns, according to sources familiar with the Army investigation. It is the clearest indication yet of the motive behind his decision to leave his post.

Bergdahl was planning to report what he believed to be problems with “order and discipline” in his unit, a senior Defense official tells CNN. A second official says Bergdahl had “concerns about leadership issues at his base.”

This information is part of the report presented to General Mark Milley who this week decided to charge Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. This information outlines what could be a key part of Bergdahl’s defense, which the army is already aware of.

► In Washington, D.C. political news, iconic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada will retire in 2016.

► Early 2016 states may be giving Ted Cruz the stink eye.

► Turning to Colorado, Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt’s latest outrageous–possibly most outrageous everremarks about the horrific fetal abduction case in Longmont last week are sending his fellow Republicans running for cover.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Leaving local TV news for Politico, Stokols looks forward to never being told “that’s too inside baseball”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Eli Stokols.

Eli Stokols.

Eli Stokols, who came to Denver as a general assignment reporter in 2005, is leaving KDVR-TV Fox 31 Tuesday as one of the state’s top political reporters. He also became a Fox 31 anchor, launched his own public-policy TV show, and wrote nonstop on multiple platforms.

I had coffee with Stokols, and we talked about his ten-year run in Denver and his future job at Politico in Washington DC. Here’s an edited version of our conversation:

Why Politico?

Stokols: I’ve been looking for an opportunity to report on politics from a national platform. I don’t think that’s any secret. And, frankly, part of that is because in Colorado you get a taste of doing that, because every campaign here is nationalized. There is no shortage of great political stories to cover here, which helped me to broaden my work. You come to a point in your professional career when you need a different challenge. On some level, because I’d been here for so long and was considered one of the veterans, a lot of people come to you with information, and it gets easier. And you can find yourself not working as hard because stuff comes to you. Or you find yourself not as excited when the campaign cycle comes around because you’ve done a ton of them.

And what are you going to do there?

I’m going to cover 2016, mostly write about it. I imagine I’ll cover a lot of the presidential candidates early on.

On the trail?

Yeah. I’ll be traveling a lot. That’s going to be exciting. I’ve been joking with people. It’s about time someone gives up statehouse reporting and goes and covers the presidential race, because what America really needs is more reporters covering the presidential race. You understand going into it that it’s going be hard to come up with stories and angles, but it’s exciting. It’s probably a cliche, but if you’re a political reporter, and that’s what you’re interested in, the opportunity to cover a presidential race and be on the trail is a bucket list thing.

Speaking of the state legislature, will Fox 31 replace you?

The upshot is, this was never a position we had because management said we had to cover politics. I don’t know what they will do. [See CJR’s Corey Hutchins’ take on this here.] It’s disappointing. You get this opportunity, and then you leave. And you look at what you built. And I know [9News political reporter Adam Schrager] felt the same way when he left. You want it to continue. And so it’s bittersweet.

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