Editor did right thing to post Coffman info but decision to pull original article was wrong

Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett wrote a blog post yesterday titled, “No Facts Hidden From Coffman Story.”

The most effective way to convince us that no facts were hidden would be for Plunkett to explain his thinking as well as re-publish the entire Coffman article, which Plunkett removed from The Post’s website Tuesday night. The article, which offered new information about Coffman’s abortion stance, is readily available on the web anyway.

But in two blog posts, yesterday’s and in one the day before, Plunkett has instead been offering up key facts from the article, and to Plunkett’s credit, all the new information contained in Kurtis Lee’s original article is now living on The Post’s website. That’s good.

What’s still inexplicable, is Plunkett’s logic in spiking the article in the first place.

In trying again yesterday to explain his decision to remove the article, which was newsworthy for eight big, fat reasons, Plunkett wrote:

When I discovered near our print deadline that Coffman had been on the record for months with some of the same information we gained in a recent interview, I had to act quickly.

It’s true, Coffman supported an anti-abortion House bill, allowing for abortion-for-rape-and-incest, even though he’s opposed this exception throughout his career.

And at the same time Coffman continued to be on record (for years) in support of the personhood amendment, which bans abortion-for-rape-and-incest. He didn’t un-endorse personhood when he decided to support the House bill.

Given the totality of Coffman’s anti-abortion record, you’d still conclude that Coffman was opposed to abortion-for-rape-and-incest, even though you found out he voted for the House bill.

That is, until Post reporter Kurtis Lee asked Coffman about it on Saturday and wrote his deleted article, which was headlined: “Mike Coffman adjusts abortion stance in cases of rape and incest.”

In his blog post Wednesday, Plunkett suggested The Post might “write a different story,” based on the Coffman interview.

That’s a good idea, particularly if the article would go deeper into Coffman’s thinking about abortion, getting into why such a passionate anti-abortion advocate could have such a serious change of heart, as well as explaining what Coffman’s abortion position is now.

What do Teacher Union Leaders Get in Return for Supporting Breach of PERA Pension Contracts? Unnecessarily Stingy K-12 Funding.

Rhode Island Court: "Upon retirement, under Rhode Island law, COLAs and pension benefits are one and the same, providing retirees with a vested interest in the benefits which may not be altered retroactively."

Just as politics was in the driver's seat in 2009/2010 during the Colorado PERA pension contract breach (SB10-001), politics was in the driver's seat in Rhode Island during the 2011 Rhode Island pension contract breach attempt.

In Rhode Island, State Treasurer Gina Raimondo hoped to ride the pension contract breach she championed all the way to the Rhode Island Governor's mansion.

(Note that unlike Colorado's public sector unions, public sector unions in Rhode Island sued the state over their Legislature's attempted pension COLA-taking.)

Colorado public sector unions sold their soul in 2009/2010 by going along with an attempt to let Colorado state and local government employers off the hook for their contractual obligations to pay accrued PERA pension benefits.  Colorado teacher union officials let PERA-affiliated employers off the hook for their failure to pay annual PERA pension bills for a decade, for their failure to make PERA actuarially required contributions (ARC), identified by PERA's own actuaries.

Colorado public sector union leaders agreed with (or initiated?) the attempted PERA pension contract breach in SB10-001.  What thanks have union-represented Colorado teachers received for supporting breach of PERA pension contracts in 2010?  Here is their answer:  Minimal state legislative support for restoration of K-12 funding as the Colorado economy continues to improve, unnecessarily minimal buy down of the K-12 "negative-factor" by the Colorado Legislature.

Here's what union-represented teachers agreed to in 2010: teacher union leaders agreed to the attempt to shift state and local government financial obligations onto the backs of "fully-vested" PERA retirees, breaking written, statutory PERA contracts.  For many, since this backroom deal tarnished the spirit of the U.S. Labor Movement itself, and took money from the state's elderly to keep taxes low in our state, the deal was hard to swallow.

So, how have teachers been repaid?  In return, in 2014, the State Legislature is providing minimal support for K-12 education going forward, and with lots of strings attached to the proposed miserly funding effort.  Such a deal!!

What Colorado politician has the stones to stand up and publicly state the obvious?  TABOR is crushing our state.  TABOR does not sanction breach of state contracts!

A few days ago a Rhode Island court confirmed the contractual nature of public pension COLA benefits in Rhode Island.  Here is media coverage of the Rhode Island court decision, from Plansponsor.com:

"In its opinion, the court rejected the state’s argument that no contractual relationship existed between it and the plaintiffs at the time the pension reform was enacted.  The court noted that under Rhode Island law, retirees are provided benefits and cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) which may not be altered retroactively."

"The court found that in exchange for the offer, the retirees had fully performed their duties as public-sector employees for the required number of years and had already retired before the reform was enacted.  'Plaintiffs’ pension benefits constitute part of their compensation for the services which they have already rendered to the State,' the opinion says."

http://www.plansponsor.com/RI_Retirees_Pension_Reform_Challenge_Moved_Forward.aspx

More press coverage:

"In her ruling, Taft-Carter found that there is 'an implied in-fact contract' between the state and the public employees challenging the pension overhaul."

http://ripr.org/post/taft-carter-rejects-state-motion-dismiss-pension-lawsuit

"In deciding Wednesday to reject the state’s 2012 motion to dismiss the case, Taft-Carter noted that the plaintiffs had served the public and contributed the required amount toward their pensions."

http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20140416-judge-denies-motion-to-dismiss-lawsuit-over-r.i.-pension-overhaul.ece

Link to the recent Rhode Island court's opinion on a motion to dismiss:

http://www.courts.ri.gov/Courts/SuperiorCourt/DecisionsOrders/decisions/12-3166.pdf

Excerpts from the Rhode Island court opinion:

"The General Assembly, in November 2011, enacted the RIRSA, which overhauled the public pension system.  Specifically, the legislation reduced the pension benefits, including the COLA, for retired employees."

"It also provides that no annual COLAs will be paid to retired teachers and state employees until the retirement system is eighty percent funded, which is not estimated to occur for about sixteen years."

(Note that the union plaintiffs in Rhode Island are also defending rights to "partially-vested" pension contracts until an 80 percent pension funding ratio is reached, unlike Colorado where "fully-vested" pension contracts were targeted in 2010 until a ridiculous and unnecessary 100 percent pension funding ratio is achieved.)

Court decision:

"This Court denied Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on September 13, 2011, holding that the plaintiffs had a unilateral implied-in-fact contractual right arising from their partial performance by working at least ten years."

"Plaintiffs urge the Court to follow its analysis in Pension I, wherein this Court found that vested employees possessed implied-in-fact contract rights to their pension benefits."

"It is well-settled, however, that these doctrines may not be used by government simply 'as a means to escape from contracts that it subsequently concluded were unwise.'”

"Specifically, 'a statute is itself treated as a contract when the language and circumstances evince a legislative intent to create private rights of a contractual nature enforceable against the State.'”

"Accordingly, this Court will consider whether the State made an offer to the Plaintiffs, whether the Plaintiffs accepted the offer, and whether the offer and acceptance were supported by consideration and a valid contract."

"There is no doubt, however, that in Rhode Island pensions are not gratuities of the State."

(As we have seen, the Colorado Constitution prohibits the payment of gratuities.  If a PERA pension COLA benefit is a gratuity, it is unconstitutional.)

"Indeed, the only difference between deferred compensation and contract theories is the time at which pension rights vest."

"Upon retirement, under Rhode Island law, COLAs and pension benefits are one and the same, providing retirees with a vested interest in the benefits which may not be altered retroactively."

"Courts have long accepted the importance of pension benefits as a 'term and condition of public employment.'"

"Here, Plaintiffs accepted the State’s offer of pension benefits by beginning their employment with the State and continued their service for the required time."

"Through Plaintiffs’ faithful service, the State had already received the full benefits it expected from creating the ERSRI.  Plaintiffs’ pension benefits constitute part of their compensation for the services which they have already rendered to the State."

"Because there has been a bargained-for exchange, supported by consideration, this Court finds that there is an enforceable implied-in-fact contract between Plaintiffs and the State."

"Furthermore, our Supreme Court’s jurisprudence supports a finding that Plaintiffs possess protected contractual rights in receiving a pension and a COLA."

"Here, having retired, the Plaintiffs have fully performed.  A valid contract exists between Plaintiffs and the State, entitling Plaintiffs to their pension benefits."

Visit saveperacola.com, defend the Colorado Constitution, defend public employee contracts.  Colorado is better than breach of contract.

GOP American Crossroads Poll Shows Udall Up By 2 Points

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

The conservative Daily Caller reports on a new poll conducted for Republican-aligned SuperPAC American Crossroads on the Colorado U.S. Senate race:

Incumbent Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall has a slim lead over his challenger, Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, according to a new poll from American Crossroads.

Forty-five percent of those polled said they would vote for Udall, compared to 43 percent for Gardner. Twelve percent of respondents aren’t sure who they will vote for.

Udall’s lead is well within the poll’s 4.35 percent margin of error, meaning that the contest remains a dead heat.

In terms of favorability, voters’ opinion of Udall is almost evenly split, with 41 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of him to 42 percent unfavorable.

Their opinion of Gardner, however, is more clearly divided, with 38 percent unfavorable to 30 percent favorable. But 32 percent aren’t sure.

Here's the memo from Harper Polling.

This conservative leaning poll has a fairly high margin of error at 4.35%, and uses automated methodology that we really don't think is as accurate as live interviews. Despite these caveats, it's interesting that a month of high-volume attacks on incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall do not appear to have moved the needle against him at all–Udall still polls narrowly ahead of challenger Cory Gardner. We'll want to see more polling to establish that clearly, but as a Republican strategist, you can't look at unchanged polls after shoveling money into attack ads against Udall over "Obamacare" for a month and feel good about it. If that's right, Americans for Prosperity and friends just wasted a pile of Koch Brothers money.

Don’t Even Study Fracking? Really?

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

​The Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports on passage yesterday of House Bill 14-1297, a bill to study the health impacts of hydraulic fracture drilling ("fracking") in certain affected Front Range counties:

The Colorado House approved a controversial bill Thursday that some Republicans believe is designed to give opponents of hydraulic fracturing fodder to ban the practice in the state…

The measure, HB1297, cleared the House on a 38-27 vote. It calls for a study of the health and “quality of life” impacts of hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells.

Although the bill, which heads to the Senate for more debate, confines that study to six Front Range counties around the Denver metropolitan area, it is seen by some Republicans as a plan by Democrats to slant it to be anti-fracking.

Interestingly, a single Republican legislator did vote in favor of this bill yesterday, outgoing Rep. Jared Wright of Fruita. We've been hard on Wright over the scandals that nearly cost him election in the first place and appear to have now ended his brief legislative career–not to mention leaving a loaded gun unattended in a Capitol committee hearing room–but we'll be damned if Wright doesn't make perfectly good sense regarding this bill.

“We want to know that we’re not just blindly going forward with technology. That we do it the right way,” Wright said. “I believe it can be done the right way, and frankly, I don’t have a doubt that it is being done the right way. I think the results of this study will be that our operators are doing their jobs and doing it in the careful way that we ask them.”

Rep. Wright tells Ashby that while he shares traditional GOP skepticism about government studies, he has "read this bill in-depth and I feel like it’s well laid-out, and I think it’s certainly the intention that it’s done the right way." Obviously, if Wright is right, Republicans and their energy industry benefactors have nothing to fear from an objective study of the health effects of fracking in Colorado. It will reinforce the argument they make about the safety of the practice. And if Wright is wrong, and fracking is not being done "the right way"…what responsible lawmaker would argue against finding that out?

We ask rhetorically, since 27 Colorado Republicans voted against this bill yesterday.

Friday Open Thread

"People will tell you anything but what they do is always the truth."

–P. J. O'Rourke

Chuck Plunkett and the First Rule of Holes

Chuck Plunkett holes

Chuck Plunkett hopes to escape this hole by digging furiously.

Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett has obviously never heard about the number one rule of holes: STOP DIGGING!

Yesterday we followed a rather bizarre decision by Plunkett to remove a story posted to the newspaper's political blog "The Spot." Plunkett took down a story Tuesday night about Republican Congressman Mike Coffman written by reporter Kurtis Lee (you can read about that original post here) that had appeared earlier in the day. Plunkett then offered up a rambling blog post of his own in an effort to explain his decision…which made absolutely no sense.

Well, on Thursday afternoon, Plunkett doubled-down on his own defense with an even more confusion explanation of his other explanation. Only in this explanation, Plunkett concludes with a convincing argument for why the story should have never been removed in the first place (which was clearly not his intention, but, whatever). Here's the lede of Plunkett's post this afternoon, titled, "No Facts Hidden from Mike Coffman Story."

On Wednesday I published a post on this site that meant to explain why a story about Mike Coffman’s views on personhood and abortion was taken off The Denver Post’s online edition the night before.

A day later I see that some are suggesting that the story has somehow been suppressed.

I submit that this is not accurate.

My blog post on Wednesday was written and published to provide the central facts that had been in the story that I had taken down. I provided these facts in the context that I felt the story lacked.

We'd like to give Plunkett the benefit of the doubt here, but it speaks volumes about his decision when he feels compelled to write two separate blog posts about why he pulled a story after it appeared online — and then titles it, "No Facts Hidden." This is sort of like a little kid standing over a mess on the floor saying, "I didn't do it" even before you had a chance to ask.

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Faced With Catholic/GOP Uprising, Dems Kill Pro-Choice Bill

Protesters against SB-175 Tuesday. Photo credit: Peter Zelasko, Catholic News Agency

Protesters against SB-175 Tuesday. Photo credit: Peter Zelasko, Catholic News Agency

The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee reports on drama yesterday in the Colorado Senate over Senate Bill 14-175, the Reproductive Health Freedom Act. After several days of intense controversy, what was once an important bill for at least some Democrats to close out this year's legislative session is now dead–and the finger-pointing is well underway:

Rather than battle Republicans over a proposal they stressed would help protect reproductive rights, Senate Democrats on Wednesday spiked the legislation — a move that drew applause from some religious groups packed into the chamber's gallery who strongly opposed it…

All Senate Republicans, alongside the Archdiocese of Denver, denounced the legislation as "overreaching" and "ambiguous," saying the measure was not needed.

"It's a solution in search of a problem," said Sen. Bernie Herpin, R-Colorado Springs. "There is no one, no evidence, that has said there's a denial of things like contraception to women in Colorado."

Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, who sponsored the measure, said he carried it because constituents expressed at town halls and forums concerns over efforts in other states to make it more difficult for women to seek guidance on abortions and receive common forms of contraception.

From Senate President Morgan Carroll's statement after Senate Bill 175 was killed:

We were optimistic that the Republicans would come on board with a proposal that would ensure all women are able to make private and personal reproductive health decisions with freedom from government interference. But we are disappointed that we were unable to get bi-partisan support to acknowledge and uphold the values of the majority of Coloradans.
 
With 21 days left in the legislative session and 269 bills still pending, having a GOP filibuster would bring D.C. style dysfunction to Colorado.  We have made our point and in the interest of getting the remaining work done, on education, jobs, higher education affordability and childcare, we laid the bill over. 
 
We will continue to fight against attacks on women and their private healthcare decisions and uphold the values of Colorado women and families.

On the other side, here's the story as told by the Catholic News Agency:

Amid growing protests led in large part by the Catholic Church, the Colorado Senate on April 16 killed a controversial bill that could have banned all pro-life laws in the state…

Originally introduced March 31, the controversial bill – S.B. 175 – only gained wide publicity last week. It sought to ban all new pro-life laws and regulations, including requirements for pre-abortion ultrasounds and restrictions on the RU-486 abortion drug.

With the bill now dead, there are reporters and Republicans who say this was a "quixotic effort"–but clearly the bill's religious opponents didn't agree while they massed crowds at the Capitol to oppose it. Proponents point to new restrictions on abortion being passed around the nation, as well as other so-called "pre-emptive" bills, like a bill signed in Oklahoma just this week that pre-emptively bans future minimum wage increases and paid sick day laws, to justify both the intent and functional precedent for the Reproductive Health Freedom Act.

It's our understanding and has been reported, though victorious Republicans deny it today, that threats were leveled by the Senate Minority to bring the entire chamber to a halt for the rest of the legislative session if Senate Bill 175 passed–which could have endangered dozens of important bills. The fact is, Democrats are on solid ground, given the polling on the abortion issue and the overwhelming defeat of abortion ban initiatives in Colorado, pushing a bill to affirmatively protect reproductive choice rights. For that reason alone, predictions that the defeat of Senate Bill 175 has major ramifications seem overblown–certainly not to the degree that Republicans harmed themselves by killing the popular civil unions bill two years ago. In the eyes of voters, questions about efficacy and timing aside, Democrats were on the right side of the issue.

If anything? If you have to take on the Catholic Church, Holy Week might not be the best timing…

It Would Be Difficult to be a Worse Politician than Doug Lamborn

Doug Lamborn (R).

Rep. Doug Lamborn must work harder in order to do the minimum.

Fundraising reports for the first quarter of 2014 became available this week, and Colorado's own Rep. Doug Lamborn has reached a new pinnacle of shittiness: No incumbent Member of Congress raised less money than Lamborn in the first three months of the year. Nobody. In the entire United States.

Lamborn raised a grand total of $38,253 in Q1, an amount so miniscule that the four-term Congressman had to loan his campaign $100,000. As Megan Schrader of the Colorado Springs Gazette reported on April 15:

Lamborn was forced into an unexpected primary last week when Republican challenger Bentley Rayburn won support from enough state delegates to get his name on the June 24 primary ballot.

Rayburn, who entered the race late, won't be required to file a quarterly report showing his campaign finances to the Federal Elections Commission until after the primary election. Rayburn said he'll begin filing his official candidate paperwork in late May.

In the meantime, Lamborn may also be feeling pressure from Democratic candidate Irv Halter, a retired Air Force major general, who last quarter brought in $165,095 in contributions and had $217,432 cash on hand at the end of March. Records indicate Halter has given himself about $32,000 since he entered the race.

We've been wondering aloud if 2014 might be the year that Lamborn's overall ineptitude (both as a candidate and a Congressman) catches up to him. Lamborn has survived challenges from the right, left, and everywhere between since he was first elected in 2006, so perhaps it is hard for him to really gear up for election season. But there is no reason for Lamborn to be this bad at raising money — so bad that he has to guarantee a $100,000 loan to his own campaign. Keep in mind here that Lamborn is not independently wealthy, so a $100k loan is a very real amount of money for him that is a bit of a risk; if Lamborn doesn't win the June Primary, he's going to have a hell of a time trying to convince anyone to give him donations to help pay off his campaign debt. All of this could have been avoided had Lamborn just taken a little time each quarter to raise money and build up a modest warchest larger than the $123,000 he had in the bank before his loan.

Maybe Lamborn defeats Rayburn and holds off Democrat Irv Halter to win re-election in November. But what Lamborn is doing is exactly how an incumbent ends up losing an otherwise safe seat.

It only requires a little bit of effort to maintain your hold on a district like CD-5. Lamborn has yet to reach that minimum.

LCV Hits Gardner With $1 Million Ad Campaign

UPDATE: The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee has a response from Republican Cory Gardner's campaign:

“The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is an extreme anti-fracking group that works every day to attack Colorado’s energy economy and calls Senator Udall one of their ‘staunchest allies in the U.S. Senate.’ While Senator Udall says he is a ‘champion of natural gas,’ the LCV has called this resource ‘dirty energy,’ said Alex Siciliano, Gardner’s spokesman. “If Senator Udall and the LCV had their way, Colorado would lose tens of thousands of jobs, and working families across the state would see huge increases in their energy bills. The LCV and Mark Udall are out of touch with Colorado’s economy and energy resources.”

—–

From a League of Conservation Voters release today, a big media buy hitting GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner on his environmental record:

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) today announced that they’ve added Congressman Cory Gardner to their Dirty Dozen program and kicked off a $1 million television ad campaign highlighting his Big Oil ties. The first ad, “Wrong Way,” reminds Colorado voters that Gardner has taken more than $450,000 in contributions from the oil and gas industry while repeatedly voting to protect their tax breaks, subsidies and giveaways. It begins airing this week in the Denver media market. 

“It’s no surprise that corporate polluters are already trying to buy climate change denier Cory Gardner a Senate seat in November. Cory Gardner has repeatedly helped Big Oil avoid paying their fair share while taking contributions from them hand over fist,” said Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters.

“Cory Gardner’s extreme agenda may work for his special interest allies, but it’s the wrong path for Colorado. With Cory Gardner, Big Oil wins and Colorado families lose,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado.

The ad highlights that Gardner has repeatedly sided with Big Oil by voting against eliminating billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to the nation’s most profitable oil companies. Gardner also voted for the extreme fiscal year 2012 Ryan budget, which would retain $40 billion in oil subsidies, and even signed a pledge that would protect billions in Big Oil subsidies. Gardner’s votes have come at a time of record profits for the oil and gas industry. Documentation for the ad can be found here.

Eight reasons why a Denver Post reporter’s scrubbed blog post was newsworthy and should be re-posted on Post’s website

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here are eight reasons why Denver Post reporter Kurtis Lee's blog post, quoting Rep. Mike Coffman about personhood and abortion-for-rape-and-incest, was newsworthy and should not have been deleted from The Post's website.

1. It was news! The core of Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett's written explanation for scrubbing the piece is that it was basically old news. But Lee's piece advanced our understanding of Coffman's thinking both on the personhood amendment (he opposes it under any circumstances; see number four below.) and on abortion-for-rape-and-incest (he supports it beyond his previous narrow support of it in a specific piece of legislation; see number three.)

2. It was the first time Coffman made a public statement himself about un-endorsing the personhood amendment and withdrawing his longstanding opposition to abortion-for-rape-and-incest. These are major flips, and journalism is all about providing a record of actual statements by public officials, not their mouthpieces.

3. Lee's deleted piece, for the first time, informed the public that Coffman has completely changed a long-held position and now broadly favors allowing a woman raped by her father to have an abortion. Last year, as Lee noted in his piece, Coffman supported a provision in a bill allowing abortion for rape and incest. But this anti-choice bill focused narrowly on banning abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, and no news outlets covered Coffman's position. It was completely unknown, until Lee asked Coffman about it, if Coffman favors broad rape-and-incest exceptions to his overall extreme opposition to abortion. It turns out his flip was complete. So Lee's headline for his post reflected actual news: "Mike Coffman adjusts abortion stance in cases of rape and incest."

4. Lee's deleted piece reported, for the first time, that Coffman is opposed to any version of the personhood amendment, even of it were narrowed. In his deleted piece. Lee reported that "Coffman said there is no language he would change in the ballot initiative that would make him support it." This advances Lee's March 25 story, which quoted Coffman's spokesperson, Tyler Sandberg, as saying only that Coffman did not support the personhood amendment in 2012 or this year, and the matter is settled because voters rejected it (not that Coffman's thinking had changed).

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Thursday Open Thread

"Delay always breeds danger; and to protract a great design is often to ruin it."

–Miguel de Cervantes

Denver Post Pulls Story with Coffman Interview on Personhood

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: In a very unusual development, the story referred to in the blog post below has been taken down by Denver Post politics editor Chuck Plunkett. In a post this afternoon on The Spot blog, Plunkett explains:

Tuesday night I pulled a story from The Denver Post’s online edition that had been up for several minutes. The story dealt with the abortion stances of Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman.

It shouldn’t have run. I had it taken down because a key piece of information that came to us late contradicted the original point of pursuing the story…

[T]he story launched with an important fact that I had not been privy too. That fact is that on June 18, 2013, Coffman’s office issued this statement in a press release available also to the public on his congressional webpage that clearly complicated my earlier understanding of our story.

“I voted today in favor of H.R. 1797 to limit late term abortion,” Coffman said in the statement. “I strongly support the exceptions for rape, incest, and protecting the life of the mother that have been included in this legislation.”

Had I known about that public statement, my news judgment would have been different.

This explanation is strange to say the least, since the story by reporter Kurtis Lee (now deleted) does refer to Coffman's 2013 vote for H.R. 1797:

Over the weekend, in a brief interview at the state GOP assembly, Coffman broadened his position on abortion, saying he now supports it in cases of rape and incest — a position he did not voice in 2012, when he supported abortions only to protect the life of the mother. In 2013, Coffman backed a House bill and noted his support for exceptions in the case of rape and incest. [Pols emphasis]

We also took note Coffman's June 2013 vote for a late term abortion ban when it happened, and how it represented a marked shift from his prior opposition to all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. This is not new information, and nothing in Lee's now-removed story is invalidated by this detail. Coffman previously supported banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and now he doesn't. That's the story.

We do not understand Plunkett's reasoning here at all–unless he simply, in his capacity as political news editor of the Denver Post, did a favor for Mike Coffman. Needless to say, that would be a big problem.

If so, it was also a big mistake, because now he has drawn even more attention to the real story here.

Original post follows.

—–

Mike Coffman.

Mike Coffman.

The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee has done what no other reporter in Colorado could manage to do for three long weeks since Rep. Mike Coffman's spokesperson sort of told Lee that Coffman had un-endorsed the personhood amendment–sort of because it hasn't been clear if Coffman opposes personhood per se, or just the amendment.

And, after reading Coffman's comments to Lee, it's still not clear, though it appear Coffman still supports the personhood concept, at least to some degree, but not the amendment.

Lee tracked down Coffman at last weekend's Republican assembly and asked him to confirm his new-found opposition to the personhood amendment and to explain why his stance had changed:

Coffman: "There are parts of it that are unintended. … I think it's too overbroad and that the voters have spoken."

Lee noted that Coffman received high praise from personhood organizers in the past. (It's true, plus personhood supporters don't point to any elements of their amendment that are unintended, and Coffman didn't point out any unintended consequence less than two years ago, when he was last lauded by personhood organizers.)

Lee also asked Coffman whether he opposes abortion, even in the case of rape and incest. Coffman has never personally backtracked from his steadfast opposition to abortion under these circumstances.

In fact, Coffman went out of his way in the past to underline his opposition to rape-and-incest exceptions.

But he told Lee that he now supports abortion for rape or incest victims, putting an exclamation point on an about-face that started last year when, as Lee points out, his office put out a statement saying Coffman supported such exceptions in a House bill. Still, this is the first time Coffman has talked about his flip himself.

Lee described his Coffman interview as "brief," and there are still big questions hanging out there for the next reporter that manages to snag Coffman. These include: What is Coffman's current abortion stance, beyond being "pro-life?" Does he support Roe v. Wade? Does he support the personhood concept? If he still believes life begins at the zygote (fertilized eggs) stage. Does he oppose forms of birth control, like IUDs, that threaten zygotes?

The headline of Lee's article reads, "Mike Coffman adjusts abortion stance in cases of rape and incest." Trouble is, we still don't know what his abortion stance is, except he opposes a women's right to choose pretty much all the time.