Mike Coffman. Down With Torture.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

In the aftermath of the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's summary report on "enhanced" interrogation methods employed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, we took note of the fact that Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, a retired Marine officer who has served in Iraq, had issued no statement either way on whether these actions were permissible.

That is, until yesterday:

As a retired military officer with combat experience, Rep. Coffman's opinion is of particular note. One of the reasons why the United States (and most other nations) obey the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of warfare is the hope that doing so will result in better reciprocal treatment for our own soldiers and citizens who are captured by our enemies. The New York Times wrote in October about the torture of journalist James Foley by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) prior to his execution:

At one point, their jailers arrived with a collection of orange jumpsuits.

In a video, they lined up the French hostages in their brightly colored uniforms, mimicking those worn by prisoners at the United States’ facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

They also began waterboarding a select few, just as C.I.A. interrogators had treated Muslim prisoners at so-called black sites during the George W. Bush administration, former hostages and witnesses said…

Within this subset, the person who suffered the cruelest treatment, the former hostages said, was Mr. Foley. In addition to receiving prolonged beatings, he underwent mock executions and was repeatedly waterboarded.

Waterboarding torture.

Waterboarding torture.

The "KSM" Mike Coffman referred to in his Tweet about is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged high-level Al Qaeda operative who was routinely waterboarded and subjected to other harsh measures after his capture in 2003. Coffman's citing of "KSM" is clearly meant to legitimize the interrogation methods he was subjected to–which works until you remember that the CIA tortured many more people than KSM.

There is a veteran Republican who understands the destructive cause and effect of engaging in torture–Sen. John McCain, who was himself subjected to torture as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese:

I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence. I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. I know they will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering. Most of all, I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights, which are protected by international conventions the U.S. not only joined, but for the most part authored…

Our enemies act without conscience. We must not.

It is essential to our success in this war that we ask those who fight it for us to remember at all times that they are defending a sacred ideal of how nations should be governed and conduct their relations with others – even our enemies.

As a military officer with combat experience, we're genuinely surprised that Coffman doesn't have a better appreciation for the problems with torturing prisoners–the moral dilemma, or even the self-interested motive to protect our own troops and citizens from similar treatment. It's true that there are persons and organizations in the world who would still torture American prisoners even if we didn't–but America's credibility to hold them accountable is compromised when we are guilty of the same offenses.

Bottom line: torture shouldn't be a partisan issue, as John McCain makes abundantly clear. These are basic principles that a powerful and ethical nation should always uphold. And perhaps more than any other member of Colorado's congressional delegation, retired Marine officer Mike Coffman should get this too.

It's a real shame that he apparently does not.

Owen Hill Has a Different Story for You (and Cory Gardner)

Rewriting History with Owen Hill

In 2014, Owen Hill won the U.S. Senate race but then decided to let Cory Gardner have it instead.

We were recently forwarded an email that State Sen. Owen Hill sent to supporters this week, and we must admit to being impressed; when it comes to self-promotional nonsense messaging that ignores history, Hill is a true talent.

Hill spends most of his email discussing Republican victories in the 2014 election, though he adds unnecessarily, "The election results were not what I set out to achieve personally…" You may recall that Hill was a candidate for the U.S. Senate before Republican Rep. Cory Gardner kicked his ball over the fence and told him to go home. Here's how Hill prefers that you remember the events of March 2014:

When I stepped out of the Senate race in March, I was vocal about the importance of working together as a Republican team. Representative Cory Gardner was the right person for the Senate race this year, and Colorado is better for it.

Hill was most definitely not excited to see Gardner enter the race for Senate last spring, telling reporters that he was "pressured" to drop out of the race. As the Colorado Springs Gazette reported in March:

Hill said Gardner came to him weeks ago and pressured him to drop out of the race. '

'It's party leadership trying to decide who gets to run," Hill said…

"This is the exact same corruption and back-room deals that have caused the Republican party to lose elections year after year," Hill said. [Pols emphasis]

Even after Gardner had entered the race for Senate, the national Tea Party Express made it clear that they were still backing Hill. While Gardner probably would have had little trouble dispatching Hill in a Republican Primary, a contested GOP Primary would have significantly complicated Gardner's backtracking on issues such as Personhood. Gardner's surprise flip-flop on support for Personhood occurred just a few weeks after he announced his bid for the Senate…but more tellingly, just a few days after Hill finally backed out of the race.

If Gardner had to face a June Primary against Hill (or anyone else, for that matter), he probably could never have dropped his support for Personhood; it may not have cost Gardner the GOP nomination for Senate, but it certainly would have made it considerably more difficult to maintain the backing of that portion of the Republican base that keeps abortion issues first and foremost in their minds. Even a small erosion of support from that base could have been enough for Democratic Sen. Mark Udall to hold his seat.

Now that Gardner has been elected to the U.S. Senate, Hill has to be careful to un-burn any bridges while still promoting himself as a potential rising star in the Republican Party. Hence this paragraph:

While I am excited for Senator-elect Gardner's political future, I am also encouraged to continue to play a key role in Colorado politics as the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. I am excited to be working in a realm that has such tangible effects on our children's futures. Here is one article published about me that was encouraging.

We left the link in place in the paragraph above because it is a perfect example of everything that Hill is trying to accomplish in his own re-branding. Check out the date on the link — it's from a CBS4 story on March 20, 2014.

Gessler’s Anti-Mail Ballot Talking Points Grow Awfully Thin

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

Reid Wilson writes at the Washington Post today about the differing experiences of states that have switched to mail ballots. Two states, Washington state and Colorado, both have Republican Secretaries of State. In Washington, Secretary of State Kim Wyman says the switch to mail balloting has been highly successful. After the state allowed mail ballots in the 1990s, it emerged as by far the most popular–and cost effective–option.

But here in Colorado, outgoing Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler is duty bound to disparage mail ballots as he has since the legislation broadening their use passed in 2013–and no positive experience can shake him.

To Gessler, whose state only began conducting elections entirely by mail this year, the system creates the potential for what he calls a “single point of failure” — the U.S. Postal Service.

“The Postal Service is cutting back service for cost-cutting measures,” Gessler said. “You’re seeing some disenfranchisement of voters where the post office is just so slow.”

“I think more people are disenfranchised through all-mail ballots because of the post office than anything else in the country,” he said.

Richard Coolidge, a spokesman for Gessler’s office, said the secretary of state worked overtime to collect mail from the central processing facility in Denver to meet the Election Day deadline. They found 366 ballots that would have otherwise been thrown out for arriving too late.

We have no doubt that some number of voters disregarded the deadline to mail in ballots that was clearly indicated on every ballot as well as other election-related correspondence. Even factoring that inevitable issue, it's just silly to claim that the Postal Service is a "single point of failure" in Colorado elections. For one thing, a large percentage of "mail ballots" aren't mailed back to clerks at all, but dropped off at ballot collection boxes. Counties are apparently not required to track the percentage of ballots returned by postal mail as opposed to being dropped off directly but we've heard in Denver the percentage may be 70% or more deposited in drop boxes. Beyond that, there are other options available, like early voting and vote centers, that make this "single point of failure" business just plain silly.

But the best evidence that Gessler is off base with his ongoing complaints about mail ballots are the results of this year's elections. Neither mail balloting, nor other new election provisions Gessler complains about like same-day voter registration, prevented Republicans from having a pretty good election in Colorado in 2014. There is no evidence that Colorado's updated election laws resulted in anything other than better turnout in a midterm election that nationwide saw the worst turnout since the 1940s. Republicans won the U.S. Senate race, dominated the downticket statewide races except Bob Beauprez's gubernatorial defeat, and made Democrats work for legislative races all over the state. What about this experience speaks badly of Colorado's new election laws, which happen to have been passed by Democrats?

Democrats are bruised from this year's election results, but one thing we can all say for sure today is that Gessler's wild predictions of fraud and chaos as a result of House Bill 13-1303 were totally unfounded. Next year, when new Secretary of State Wayne Williams tries to claim otherwise, hopefully someone reminds him that he won his election in 2014 comfortably too.

Auctioning Access: You Think This Was a Bad Idea? Maybe?

AG-elect Cynthia Coffman.

AG-elect Cynthia Coffman.

Associated Press reports–oops!

A Colorado business group on Tuesday said it would back out of a lunch with the state's new attorney general after questions were raised about it winning the meal at an auction.

The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association won the lunch with Cynthia Coffman after bidding $500 at an auction at the Colorado Lincoln Club's holiday gathering, which it hosted at its Denver offices last week. On Tuesday, however, association president Tim Jackson said he would give the lunch away to another organization or person. He said the group bid on the meal solely to help out the Lincoln Club and did not need special access to Coffman, a Republican…

The auctioning of access to Attorney General-elect Cynthia Coffman by the GOP-aligned Lincoln Club of Colorado's annual holiday party was originally reported last week by the Colorado Statesman's Ernest Luning. And Luning reports that Cynthia Coffman was not the only Republican politician selling off personal access at this party:

The top bids went for lunch with State Treasurer Walker Stapleton after two competing consortiums, led by former Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan and Lincoln Club board member Barb Piper ramped bidding up to $725 for the honor, at which point Wiens and Stapleton decided he’d have lunch with each group for that sum…

The club also auctioned off lunches with state Sen.-elect Tim Neville, R-Littleton, and state Rep.-elect Kit Roupe, R-Colorado Springs, who was joined by neighboring state Rep.-elect Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, to sweeten the deal. State Rep.-elect Jon Keyser, R-Evergreen, was called away on duty with the Air Force Reserves so was unable to take part in a planned live auction, though lunch with the new lawmaker was sold in the silent auction.

As for Tim Jackson and the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, according to Luning he did have an agenda for his lunch with AG-elect Coffman, before the whole idea of it became…well, you know, scandalous:

Jackson told The Colorado Statesman that he plans to take the opportunity to discuss the importance of automobile dealerships with Coffman, part of a continuous outreach effort with policy-makers and elected leaders. A full 20 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue is generated from the sale of new and used cars, Jackson noted…

Well now! That would have been rather productive lunch after all. Of course, no one is alleging that the Republicans who auctioned access to themselves to the highest bidder did so for personal financial gain. But just so everybody's clear about what the Lincoln Club is, from their own "About Us" page:

The Lincoln Club of Colorado is Colorado's oldest Republican Organization.  Based on the humanitarian principles of President Abraham Lincoln and founded in 1918, the club's mission has always been to promote the educational and social programs of the Republican party and to support the election of Republican candidates.

Bottom line: it may not be illegal, or even unprecedented, but the optics of lobbyists bidding for access to GOP politicians to fund a GOP campaign organization are about as bad as it gets–and CADA was wise to immediately cancel once word got out about it. If the other GOP politicians named in this story have any sense, they'll follow suit quickly.

Luis Toro, executive director of Colorado Ethics Watch, said he did not know if the meals were legal, but he said it was inherently questionable. "It is literally paying for access," he said. [Pols emphasis]

Next time, just hold an old-fashioned fundraiser.

Politifact’s Lie of the Year: Cory Gardner’s Ebola Scare Tactics

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner (R).

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner (R).

From Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checker Politifact–no shortage of lies on the campaign trail in 2014, but here's what they chose as the biggest whopper of this almost-concluded midterm election year:

[Since the first Ebola case in America], more Americans — at least nine, and likely many more — have died from the flu.

Yet fear of the disease stretched to every corner of America this fall, stoked by exaggerated claims from politicians and pundits. They said Ebola was easy to catch, that illegal immigrants may be carrying the virus across the southern border, that it was all part of a government or corporate conspiracy.

The claims — all wrong — distorted the debate about a serious public health issue. Together, they earn our Lie of the Year for 2014…

When combined, the claims edged the nation toward panic. Governors fought Washington over the federal response. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stumbled to explain details about transmission of the virus and its own prevention measures. American universities turned away people from Africa, whether they were near the outbreak or not.

mostlyfalse

Here in Colorado, the chief promoter of Ebola as a campaign issue this fall was GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner. In October, Gardner's claims about the federal government's response to the Ebola outbreak were slammed by the very same Politifact:

Gardner said the CDC is "spending money on things like jazzercise, urban gardening and massage therapy" that could be redirected [to] Ebola.

We weren’t able to document such expenditures, but given the agency’s spending parameters, it’s certainly possible they’ve been made. However, by cherry-picking three chuckle- (or outrage-) inducing spending items, Gardner presents a misleading description of what the fund does. Those efforts almost certainly represent a tiny fraction of spending from the prevention fund, which is dominated by efforts to attack diseases that kill more than 1.4 million people every year, rather than one so far with Ebola.

The claim contains some element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression, so we rate it Mostly False.

about-ebola

The Hill covered Gardner's as-it-turned-out needless clamor for a travel ban from West African countries in campaign debates against Sen. Mark Udall:

Gardner used the debate to criticize Obama for his response to Ebola and calling for a travel ban.

“If the president’s not willing to put into place a travel ban, then we should have 100 percent screening of the people who are coming from those affected areas,” Gardner said at the debate. 

The conservative Daily Caller dutifully picked up Gardner's refrain:

The administration’s screening plan for flights from West Africa will miss 2,000 to 3,000 people from Ebola-affected countries a year, Rep. Cory Gardner pointed out during the hearing.

The CDC is taking the temperatures of travelers from West Africa at five international airports, but that will capture just 94 percent of incoming passengers from affected countries.

Gardner announced on FOX News on October 16th that the Ebola scare is all Obama's fault:

GARDNER: Well, I don't understand why the White House, why the CDC is opposed to a travel ban.

In fact, if you listen to the excuses the CDC director gave today, he said, we can't do it because of personnel and supplies. When I asked what number of flights, personnel and supplies were entering the area from the U.S., he said he didn't know. So, how can he oppose a travel ban on something that he doesn't even know the answer to?

But not to worry, Gardner continued:

I think we have to make sure that we're not — we're not frightening the American people. This is a very serious situation…

Without question, the outbreak of deadly Ebola virus in West Africa this year is a very serious public health crisis with impacts throughout the world. With that said, the nature of Ebola's communicability limits its ability to spread when properly dealt with by trained and well-equipped medical personnel. The ill-informed panic over Ebola that gripped the nation just weeks before the elections contributed to a climate of fear–that Republicans like Cory Gardner eagerly sought to exploit for electoral gain, even as they insisted they weren't.

Did Ebola scare tactics win the election for Cory Gardner? Not on their own, of course.

But Gardner willingness to go there speaks volumes–especially now that we know how wrong it was.

“Dr. Chaps” Makes GQ’s “20 Craziest Politicians”

UPDATE: Rep.-elect Klingenschmitt keeps the hits coming post-election, Right Wing Watch:

On Friday's "Pray In Jesus Name" program, Gordon Klingenschmitt was trying to make the case that male-on-male sexual assault in the military has increased as a result of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and, in doing so, pointed to former Petty Officer Third Class Brian Lewis, who testified last year about having been assaulted when he served in the Navy.

Of course, the assault against Lewis took place back in 2000, more than a decade before DADT was repealed, so we are not sure how that helps to prove Klingenschmitt's point. Nonetheless, he demanded that the military reinstate DADT in order to push gay people "back in the closet, [Pols emphasis] especially if they're so flagrant that they want to violate one another when they're openly serving."

—–

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

In the just-released January 2015 issue of GQ magazine, there's a freshly updated list of "America's 20 Craziest Politicians"–updated, we assume at least in part, because Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt has won his election to represent Colorado Springs in the Colorado General Assembly. Coming in at #8 in this national list of political freaks and ghouls, here's what GQ has to say about the Colorado GOP's new unwanted poster child:

JUST HOW CRAZY?

Has repeatedly bragged about performing a gay exorcism (he's a former Navy chaplain) to rid a woman of "the foul spirit of lesbianism," and also tried to perform a long-distance exorcism on President Obama because of something about the NSA. Believes that Obamacare "causes cancer" and that Obama's former FCC chairman was driven by the Devil to "molest and visually rape your children."

ACTUAL THING HE SAID:

"Father in Heaven, we pray against the domestic enemies of the Constitution, against this demon of tyranny who is using the White House occupant, and that demonic spirit is oppressing us."

FUN FACT:

Calls himself Dr. Chaps, which is not the least bit creepy.

How crazy? That crazy, America! Our readers know all about "Dr. Chaps," but each new segment of the American public introduced to him gets to experience the rude shock all over again. It remains bewildering to us how much national coverage "Dr. Chaps" is getting–while the local media basically ignores Klingenschmitt, and the fact that he won his election by almost 70% of the HD-15 vote.

But in January, Honorable Representative Klingenschmitt will be harder to ignore.

Jeb Bush “Actively Exploring” 2016 Presidential Bid

Jeb Bush.

Jeb Bush.

As posted to former Florida governor Jeb Bush's Facebook page this morning:

Columba and I are so proud of the wonderful adults our children have become, and we loved spending time with our three precious grandchildren.

We shared good food and watched a whole lot of football.

We also talked about the future of our nation. As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.

In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC’s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.

In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America.

dealinwalkerfin

Ernest Luning at the Colorado Statesman reports that Jeb Bush is a (very) preliminary favorite among Colorado Republicans too, having won an informal preference poll last week at the Lincoln Club of Colorado's holiday party.

A Jeb Bush run for President in 2016 could prove interesting for Colorado, for more reasons than the prospect of a Clinton vs. Bush rematch for the job of leader of the free world. As a first cousin and close confidant of the Bush family, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton's viability as a candidate for the U.S. Senate next election, which he is widely rumored to be considering, could be greatly boosted or damaged by Cousin Jeb at the top of the ticket. It's tough to say today which effect it would have, though we note that Stapleton has carefully avoided mention of his Bush family ties in both of his campaigns for office. That makes sense when you consider Stapleton first ran for office when "Bush fatigue" was much fresher in voters' minds.

But perhaps 2016 will be the year Walker Stapleton finally owns the Bush family brand?

Ken Buck: Stop Protesting Police Brutality Because 9/11

TUESDAY UPDATE: Raw Story:

Buck did not mention that protests against the grand jury decisions in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases have remained largely peaceful. He also failed to mention data showing that African-American men constitute a higher percentage of victims in fatal shootings involving police.

Instead, he accused the media of giving “activists, athletes and members of Congress” a wide platform through which to question police officers’ motives…

Buck did not mention officers like Richmond, California Police Chief Chris Magnus or retired Philadelphia captain Ray Lewis, who have both joined in demonstrations in their respective cities.

—–

Rep.-elect Ken Buck.

Rep.-elect Ken Buck.

A fascinating guest opinion column published this weekend in the Colorado Springs Gazette by Rep.-elect Ken Buck, the outgoing arch-conservative Weld County district attorney now headed for Congress. The subject? All those big meanie protesters out there demonstrating against recent killings by police of unarmed African-American men and young boys. Are you aware that these protesters are totally hurting cops' feelings?

Have we forgotten 9/11? Do we remember the police officers, firefighters and EMS teams who died trying to save innocent victims of a terrorist attack? Alongside brave firefighters and selfless EMS teams, 23 courageous New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority officers gave their lives that day without hesitation. As district attorney, I see that courage every day from our law enforcement officers and know the price they pay…

It's easy for activists, athletes and members of Congress to question the motives of police officers. The media provides them with a broad platform to perpetuate their hateful tone, harsh criticisms, and mistruths. But when was the last time you heard someone call 911 to report an intruder in their home and ask for a congressman to come help them? Heck, Congress doesn't have the courage to tackle tough issues, much less a fleeing felon.

Got that, folks? Some cops died on 9/11. And none of these wussy members of Congress will save you from a burglar, with the obvious possible exception of Ken Buck. So stop complaining about cops blowing away unarmed brown people, will you? They all look alike to Buck anyway.

It gets better:

To foist generalizations and wild accusations of racial bias on them is hypocritical, disrespectful, and dangerous. Doing so won't make minority communities safer – it will simply harm the morale of our law enforcement officers and endanger them.

The United States is fortunate to have one of the most equitable justice systems in the world, even if it is not perfect. Those casting stones at police officers show an incredible lack of foresight about the problems they are causing by stoking racial divisions. We should appreciate the sacrifices police officers make to keep America safe and peaceful, not add fuel to the fire that is dividing our country.

You see, America, the problem is not that unarmed minority males get shot, chokeholded, beaten, and otherwise abused by police at vastly higher rates than whites in America–including here in Colorado, where black and Hispanic men are much more likely to be shot by police than white men. The real problem is that by taking note of these brown people getting killed by police, protesters are "harming the morale" of…the police. In Buck's world, it's not the shooting of black and Hispanic men that stokes "racial divisions"–it's complaining about it!

And with that, our nation can finally begin to heal.

Tuesday Open Thread

"If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month."

–Theodore Roosevelt

House Republicans Announce Committee Assignments

Rep. Janak Joshi (R).

Rep. Janak Joshi (R).

A press release from the Colorado House GOP Minority Office today announces that party's assignments to legislative committees fot the 2015 session. Some interesting selections here to say the least:

Today, House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland) announced committee assignments for members of the House Republican caucus.
 
“We are fortunate to have so many talented new and returning members in our caucus,” said DelGrosso. “Our members’ wealth of knowledge and experience from the private sector will be an invaluable contribution to the legislative process and help us achieve a more prosperous Colorado.”

In terms of "knowledge and experience," some of these committee assignments make sense. Rancher and miner Don Coram is a good fit as ranking member of the Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee–much more so than fellow committee member J. Paul Brown, who allegedly transported horses to Texas for slaughter before the practice was outlawed. Likewise, former Ford Aerospace VP Rep. Bob Rankin should serve well as ranking minority member of the House Appropriations Committee.

One appointment we can't say anything good about, however, is Rep. Janak Joshi as ranking member of the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee. For those who don't know, Rep. Joshi was once a practicing physician, but was forced to surrender his medical license in 2008 after refusing to take remedial training–following a determination by the State Board of Medical Examiners that Joshi failed "to properly evaluate and adequately treat a patient." To say that Joshi is unqualified to serve as ranking GOP member on this important committee is, depending on how forgiving you are of medical malpractice, a considerable understatement.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

In other news, Rep.-elect Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt drew an assignment to the same House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee, where presumably he will advise on how Obamacare causes cancer and exorcism is a worthwhile treatment for all kinds of ailments? "Dr. Chaps" was also appointed to the House Local Government Committee–please don't ask us why, because we have no idea.

There are plenty of other appointments here that could prove entertaining next session: Lori "Chickengate" Saine as ranking member of Local Government, or Libby Szabo as the top Republican on the Business Affairs and Labor Committee. We'll have to wait and see who among these makes headlines first and why.

But for Democrats, safe to say this will be, like Tom Cruise said in Top Gun, a "target-rich environment."

Some reporters frame Coffman vote as pro-immigrant, when it wasn’t

(Words mean things - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Mike Coffman (left).

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Mike Coffman (left).

Rep. Mike Coffman got a lot of credit from Denver media earlier this month when he voted against blocking Obama's executive order allowing millions of immigrants with family ties in American to temporarily avoid deportation.

The Associated Press, for example, reported Dec. 4 that "Mike Coffman, who has also tacked to the center on immigration, was one of only seven House Republicans to vote to uphold Obama's order from last month." And the Durango Herald offered similar reporting.

But Coffman made it clear in a statement after the vote that he thought Obama's executive order was unconstitutional, and that he was only voting against the legislation because, if passed, the bill would deceive Americans into believing Congress had but a check on Obama's "overreach."

So he managed to cast a pro-immigrant vote, even though he maintained and reiterated his anti-immigrant position in opposition to Obama's initiative.

Some news outlets handled Coffman's duplicity better than the AP did. The Denver Post and Fox 31 Denver, for example, ran Coffman's entire statement, at least giving readers the chance to scratch their heads and wonder about it.

The Post's Nancy Lofholm reported Coffman's vote against blocking Obama's program, but informed readers:

[I]n a statement on his nay vote on the Yoho bill, Coffman made clear his vote had nothing to do with support for Obama's executive orders.

"I voted against H.R. 5797 because, although I strongly believe it is unconstitutional to have immigration policy made through executive orders and without consent of Congress, this legislation will only mislead the American people into believing that we are taking care of the problem when the only way to address President Obama's overreach is either through the U.S. Supreme Court or through the appropriations process," Coffman's statement read

I'm hoping more reporters take notice next time, if Coffman's position on a bill runs counter to his actual vote on it.

What is a CRomnibus?

We've been discussing the so-called "CRomnibus" quite often in this space, but what does the term "CRomnibus" actually mean?

As a public service to our readers here at Colorado Pols, here's the definition: The term "CRomnibus" refers to Congressional legislation that is something of a combination of an "omnibus bill"–which is how Congress often funds the government in recent years, in lieu of some or all of twelve "regular" appropriations bills from the respective Appropriations subcommittees. A "Continuing Resolution," or "CR," is how Congress ends up temporarily funding the government while they bicker and argue over specific issues. That's more of what we've seen lately.

 

Jeffco Commissioner Vacancy Attracting Lots of Interest

Faye Griffin

Last week we told you about the upcoming Republican vacancy committee in Jefferson County to fill the seat of serial office-jumper Faye Griffin (left). We've since heard a number of rumored candidates who may apply before the Dec. 29th deadline, as well as some interesting — if not terribly surprising — news about the vacancy committee itself.

First off, the Jefferson County Republican Party website claims that they have a 7-member vacancy committee that will decide Griffin's replacement (once she is sworn-in, again, as Clerk and Recorder on Jan. 13). But the vacancy committee could be ripe for a challenge itself; according to results from a Central Committee Meeting in June, the Jeffco GOP only appointed five people to its vacancy committee after Bill Tucker resigned as Party Chair following a bitter and contentious battle with supporters of Dudley Brown's Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) group. E.V. Leyendecker is the current chair of the Jeffco GOP, which makes county government matters particularly sticky given that Leyendecker publicly called on Republican Assessor candidate Ron Sandstrom to resign as a candidate in September when it was revealed that Sandstom owes the federal and state government nearly $100k in back taxes.

This could create quite a conundrum for Jeffco Republicans as the list of potential County Commissioner candidates grows longer. Current County Treasurer Tim Kauffman is indeed eligible to be selected by the vacancy committee, having met the minimum residency requirement. Two other well-known Republican names surfaced over the weekend as likely applicants to fill the vacancy: HD-27 Rep. Libby Szabo and failed 2014 State Senate candidate (SD-20) Larry Queen.

As we have discussed before in this space, Jeffco Republicans could actually end up filling two of the top county government jobs depending on how things shake out. If Republicans elect to go with Kauffman as Griffin's replacement, they would then need to fill (via vacancy committee) the County Treasurer position that Kauffman would subsequently vacate. In that scenario, term-limited Jeffco Assessor Jim Everson will likely campaign to replace Kauffman as Treasurer. Of course, all of this assumes that there is not a mix-up with the formation of the vacancy committee, which would only bring more clowns to the circus.

There's a good reason why you should care about all of this — we're talking about a complete runaround on Democracy that Jeffco Republicans have been influencing for the last decade-plus. Jefferson County is home to more people than the entire state of Wyoming, yet a 3-person majority may soon decide how to fill 2 of the 7 countywide elected positions in Jeffco. We understand that this is how the process has been set up to deal with vacancies, but maybe it's time to take another look at those rules and regulations. For a Republican Party that spent countless hours crowing about ballot integrity in 2014, they've been awfully quiet about a pending vacancy committee that will effectively disenfranchise every voter in Jefferson County.