Um, You’re Breaking the Law, Don Suppes

THURSDAY UPDATE: The Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby:

Suppes said the town long has had a policy of allowing town trustees to use town hall for personal reasons as long as no taxpayer dollars are spent.

“Under town policy, board members can use town hall free of charge,” he said. “We all have a key to town hall, and as long as we don’t have to have somebody open or close, there is no policy against it.”

But Donovan said this is about state law, not local policies.

“The rules that I operate under are not to use any of my professional assets to run for a public office,” Donovan said. “I don’t know what the letter of the law says, but my interpretation of the color of the law is, if you’re a public official, you don’t use any of those assets to run for another office. You can’t use the power of an office to influence voters. It’s not just about tax dollars.”

—–

Donald Suppes

Republican Don Suppes

When we last left Republican Don Suppes, the Orchard City mayor running for the open seat in SD-5, he and his campaign were still trying to add to their list of reasons why his Twitter account would be linking to a white supremacist website (It was hacked! It was identity theft! It was a rogue staffer!) 

We already know that Suppes isn't very good at 1) the Internet, and 2) messaging. Now we can add 3) posing for pictures, and 4) following the law.

According to a complaint submitted to the Trustees of the Town of Orchard City (Suppes-Complaint PDF), Suppes has been using the Orchard City Town Hall as a campaign office. That's right, the Mayor of Orchard City is using the Town Hall as part of his campaign for a State Senate seat.

It doesn't appear as though Suppes' campaign finance records include reimbursements to Orchard City for using its Town Hall, which is such an obvious violation of the law that Suppes should be disqualified from the SD-5 race just for being so inexcusably stupid. But if you think that's dumb, wait 'til you see how the violation was uncovered…

…Hey, there's Don Suppes himself, grinning away in a photo taken in front of a table full of campaign literature and next to a giant poster that proclaims "Town of Orchard City!" What could go wrong? And what are the odds that Suppes' campaign has been using other town property for his campaign (quick, somebody destroy the photocopier!)

Don Suppes campaign office

1) Town of Orchard City poster. 2) Mayor and candidate Don Suppes. 3) Table full of Suppes campaign literature.

 

 

 

 

2014′s “Swing Issue?” Public Education

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

We've all heard it before: "As goes Jefferson County, so goes Colorado." 

In an election year where national developments such as Ebola and ISIS have created more generalized voter angst than focused anger, Colorado's 2014 state legislative races seemed destined to enter the final stretch with no clear definition or rallying cry.

Meanwhile, in Jeffco – which has four targeted races that will ultimately determine which party will control the state Senate – the new school board majority that was elected last year was conducting itself in a way that created some concern among parents and teachers, but didn't set off particularly potent alarms outside the education community.

But, just as ballots were dropped off in mailboxes, the defining moment came: Julie Williams' proposal to sanitize AP US history. Once she tipped the board majority's hand, the deep concerns among parents about what the Jeffco School board might be planning turned into a nationally broadcast, student-protest-fueled, laser-focused rejection of what the majority was proposing. 

That's how defining issues are born. Jeffco voters who currently have no way to take direct electoral action against the board majority are looking for ways to make their voices heard. They're asking about it when candidates come to the door and, judging from a spate of new video ads from the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund, Senator Andy Kerr, Senator Rachel Zenzinger, Citizens Alliance for Accountable Leadership, and Great Education Colorado Independent Expenditure Committee, supporting public education must be polling pretty well.

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The Orwellian Desperation of Jefferson County Republicans

SATURDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post's Eric Gorski, who took the photo of Jefferson County protesters that was crudely doctored for this Republican mailer to remove their original protest message, is most unhappy to see it being misused:

The photo on the fliers appears to blur out the faces of the students. The sign messages were changed to reflect … it’s not clear.

But one thing that is clear is students took to the streets because they are unhappy with a school board controlled by three Republicans who won office in 2013… [Pols emphasis]

Neville, Sanchez and Woods won GOP primaries and had the backing of the strongly conservative Rocky Mountain Gun Owners organization. Neville’s son, Joe, is a lobbyist for the gun group. Neville’s sister-in-law, Julie Williams, sits on the Jeffco school board.

In addition to Jefferson County Public Schools' demand that these candidates stop using the district's trademarked logo, the Post's lawyers are demanding they stop using the doctored image of these students:

“Not only does the use of the photograph infringe copyright interests, it violates other intellectual property laws by unlawfully associating The Denver Post with your campaign. It also violates basic transparency principles by altering a photograph without informing the readers. Finally, it offends the Fair Use policies in place by Twitter and creates an actionable claim by the person pictured in the photograph holding the sign.” [Pols emphasis]

If we were one of the kids in this doctored photo, we'd be talking to Mom and Dad about a lawyer.

—–

nevillemailer

7NEWS reports:

Attorneys representing Jeffco Public Schools have sent a cease and desist letter to candidates for state senate who used the district's logo in a campaign mailing.

Tim Neville, a self-described "Independent Republican," is running for office in Senate District 16. The campaign flier in question criticizes incumbent State Senator Jeanne Nicholson.

Beside the district's logo, the flyer states: "Jeffco schools are in crisis because Denver politicians like Jeanne Nicholson are keeping funding from the classroom while giving more power to corrupt union bosses."

Neville's statement of "crisis" in the district references recent widespread protesting over the conservative board majority's decisions regarding teacher compensation and a plan to review the AP US History Curriculum…

As you can see above, the mailer plainly makes use of the Jefferson County Public Schools' copyrighted logo, and that's obviously not okay. But there are other aspects to this mailer that make it vastly more deceptive. For starters, a sign held by a student in the photo has been crudely doctored to replace their protest message with the words "I want my future back." The original photo, taken by the Denver Post's Eric Gorski, clearly displays the student's original message: "my education, my voice, save AP U.S. history." We assume nobody has spoken with that student about this mailer yet, but we rather doubt she would approve of her sign being altered in this manner.

We think she'll be especially outraged to learn, as 7NEWS continues, that

Neville is the brother-in-law of Jeffco School Board Member Julie Williams. [Pols emphasis]

That's right, folks–the brother-in-law of Julie Williams, the school board member at the heart of the recent internationally-publicized controversy over "reviewing" the district's AP history curriculum, is himself altering the history of the recent protests against Williams to make it look like he sympathizes. The mailer includes a photo of Tim Neville with his wife Barb, Julie Williams' sister, who also runs Williams' political action committee (PAC). The deception here is so over the top brazen that it just leaves you shaking your head in disbelief. It's not much better for two other Jefferson County Republican Senate candidates who sent out similar mailers, Laura Waters Woods in SD-19 and Tony Sanchez in SD-22, both of whom have been supported by Williams and vice versa–but in Neville's case it's so outlandishly hypocritical and insulting to have doctored this student's protest sign that we have to think it will end in disaster.

That, or history is in greater danger than anyone ever imagined.

Ballots drop into the mail; $51,000 from two donors drops to Jefferson County race

Two donors, oil and gas investor Mitchell Solich and mozzarella billionaire James Leprino, dropped a total of $40,000 in late September into the Jefferson County Commissioner race supporting Commissioner Don Rosier over US Marine Lt. Colonel and Delta pilot John Flerlage.  Solich's money is on top of $11,000 he pitched in earlier and $1000 from Solich's business partner Roger Flahive.

 This cold blast to the Democrats shows two things: the impact of unlimited contributions on a race, especially late to the party, and how dicey everything is in Jeffco. Rosier's total campaign dollars at the end of the previous reporting period were $29,808.

 James Leprino pitches $10,000 to Commissioner Rosier
James Leprino's $10,000 comes after the August completion of a $350,000 improvement to his jet hangar at Jefferson County Airport, paid for in a budget supplemental by the county.  The county put $200,000 into fuel line construction and $150,000 into taxi-lane improvements. (See August 5, 2014 report).
 
Mitchell Solich tosses $41,000 to Rosier
Mitchell Solich is senior managing director and Roger Flahive is managing director of SFC Energy Partners.  The company holds many investments in oil and gas development enterprises.

 Solich's late September $30,000 comes just after county commissioners voted on changes to oil and gas set back rules for drilling from 600 feet to 500 feet. The change conforms Jeffco to state regulations, but locals wonder "why now" when the Governor's oil and gas task force will report in March.  

 Voters in south Jeffco will be most affected by drilling, as some early oil and gas exploration is going on behind the Hog Back, near the Ken Caryl Valley in the south on up to Red Rocks and Morrison.  "The Turkey Creek outcrop is oil-saturated," said Dr. Steve Sonnenberg from Colorado School of Mines in an article in the Columbine Courier.  

 Drilling in these areas hits three highly contested Senate seats in addition to the commissioner race:  SD 20 Jahn v Queen, SD 16 Nicholson v Neville, and SD 22 Kerr v Sanchez.  The County owns open space but may or may not own mineral rights, depending on location.

 Rosier was earlier under pressure from south Jeffco voters outraged by a possible flag-pole annexation of Southwest Plaza to the tiny town of BowMar.  Rosier supported the county's further exploration of the deal, but BowMar eventually bowed out.  Rosier also did not step in to protect Chatfield Reservoir from its deployment away from its recreational purpose of 45 years.

 Dems hold candidate campaign funds advantage

Despite this late influx of cash into Jeffco, Democratic state Senate candidates overall have a 3:1 advantage over Republicans running for the legislature.  Republicans, following the GOP Jeffco commissioner race model, have the big pockets of big PACS to do late ads and mail, however.

 Individual Democrats have to spend more time raising money.  But that also puts them in touch with many more voters.  This election cycle tests the logic of the divergent strategies.

 HD-22 Dem candidate Parker has her own strategy
State House candidate Mary Parker, a Democrat in a non-targeted race, is running her own course against Rep. Justin Everett.  She's focusing on Everett's records for the 2014 session:  most NO votes, most missed committee hearings until his party got on him in March, most snoozes, and 49 general assembly tardies over 32 weeks.  Her "Justin Everett Absent" video  on her opponent's late attendance to the House assembly is both funny and not funny.
 
Here's the latest Senate count:
  • 15 Senate seats are to the Republicans  (doesn't include Sens. Herpin and Rivera)
  • 13 Senate seats are to the Dems (includes Garcia)
  • 3 seats are likely Dem:  Merrifield-Herpin ($1.8:1), Jahn-Queen ($4:1), Solano-Humenik ($4:1)
  • 4 seats are up in the air: Zenzinger-Woods/Waters ($2:1); Donovan-Suppes ($1.5:1); Kerr-Sanchez ($2.5:1); Nicholson-Neville ($2:1)
To capture a majority, Republicans need to win 3 of 4 up-in-the-air seats or grab some number of the likely Dem seats.   If Dems carry the 3 likely seats, they need to capture 2 of 4 toss-up seats. 

 Contested Senate races give Dems the edge

Sen. Kerr in SD-22 has a money and campaign experience advantage over Sanchez.  He gets the edge.  The Donovan-Suppes race may turn on some of Suppes' twitter postings on ethnicity and debate statements about the United Nations. 

 The Jeffco Nicholson-Neville and Zenzinger-Woods/Waters races, along with Kerr's and Jahn's, may turn on impacts of the AP history controversy in Jeffco. Neville's wife Barb has helped sharpen her sister's school board message, but that's very bad timing for Neville.

 Right now, the Democratic betting line for state Senate simple majority is 60-40; for a majority of 20-15, it's 50-50.   

 House secure for Dems

The Democratic majority on the House side is secure at 34.  Republicans have 24 safe seats.  The following seats are toss-ups:
  • McLachlan-Brown; money advantage McLachlan, registration advantage Brown; performance advantage McLachlan
  • Primavera-Tinlin; money advantage Primavera; registration even; performance advantage Primavera
Contested House races include:
  • Kagan-Benge; money and performance advantage Kagan; registration even
  • Doyle-Keyser; registration advantage Keyser, party flip advantage Doyle, money close
  • Cronk-Tate; registration advantage Tate, slight money advantage Cronk because of primary
  • Young-Aricayos; registration, performance, and money advantage Young
  • Tyler-Barnes; registration, performance, and money advantage Tyler
  • Parker-Everett; registration and performance advantage Everett; party flip advantage Parker; money close

Pollsters (Still) Getting Latino Vote Wrong in Colorado

The rollercoaster of polling results in Colorado has been of the more prominent stories of the 2014 election cycle, and it is a story we would expect to see many media outlets revisit once Election Day has finally come and gone. Polling results for various races have been all over the map in the last two months — some more obviously ridiculous than others (we're looking at you, Quinnipiac) — and politicos on both sides of the aisle have been scratching their heads at the mix of numbers. 

One of the more consistent inconsistencies, however, appears to be a result of errors trying to survey Latino Voters. We mentioned this last week as well, but here's more from Buzzfeed News:

In 2010, Sen. Harry Reid was engaged in a bitter battle with Sharron Angle. He was headed for a loss, polls said.

Despite polls showing him down about 3% on average, he won by 5.6%. The surprise was largely attributed to Latino voters being polled incorrectly. Nate Silver wrote about this after hearing from Matt Barreto, of Latino Decisions, a polling firm focused on the Latino vote.

Now with the 2014 midterm election looming, Barreto argues to BuzzFeed News that it’s happening again, this time in Colorado where polls show Republican Rep. Cory Gardner leading Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

“Even if you give other polls the benefit of the doubt and assume the rest of their statewide numbers are correct — if you pull their Latino numbers out and put ours in — instead of Udall being down by 3, he’s up 3 to 4,” Barreto said. [Pols emphasis]

That's a pretty significant swing that is beyond the margin of error in most polls. So how does it happen?

Latino Decisions says that mainstream polls fail in capturing the nuance of the Latino vote because many only poll in English, with small samples of Latinos somewhere in the 40-60 range, whereas they survey 400-600 bilingually. Cell-phone only, Spanish-speaking, lower socio-economic status Latinos are the most Democratic of all Latino voters, they argue, and are the most difficult and costly voters to include in a poll, according to a recent blog post. Polls in English, on the other hand, oversample higher income Latinos who are more likely to lean Republican, according to Barreto.

A recent Latino Decisions/NCLR Action Fund poll found that 66% of Latinos say they will or are likely to vote for Udall, while only 17% said they would definitely or are likely to vote for Gardner. But of those who were interviewed in Spanish, 76% said they will vote for or are likely to vote for Udall.

Interesting food for thought as field operations take over the spotlight.

New Ads Slam Jeffco Republicans Over School Board Antics

Hard shots continue against Jefferson County Republican candidates tied to the controversy surrounding the new conservative school board majority. Check out new ads ad targeting SD-19 GOP candidate Laura Waters Woods (above) and SD-16's Tim Neville (below). Neville, as we've discussed, is the brother-in-law of lightning-rod Jeffco board member Julie Williams.

The Huffington Post's Samantha Lachman published a great story yesterday evening on the potential effects of the school board's recent history review drama on the upcoming elections. The school board majority is not on the ballot this year, but many Republicans demonstrably tied to Williams and the school board are. The protests against the majority's history review proposal are arguably the highest-visibility grassroots actions in Jeffco in years, uniting citizens with a variety of political views against the common enemy of ideological censorship. And as we've been opining for some weeks, the Jeffco school board's ideological flight of fancy could be the game-changer of 2014 in Colorado's foremost bellwether county.

"For the first time in my life, I will probably vote a straight Democratic ticket." [Pols emphasis]

That realization came as something of a surprise to non-practicing attorney Wendy McCord, who has always thought of herself as a Republican. The mother of two children in Jefferson County's public school system, McCord told The Huffington Post that she has been politically transformed by the actions of the new conservative majority on the county school board, which presides over the state's second-largest school district.

Here in Jefferson County, a bellwether battleground that is almost evenly split between Republicans, Democrats and independents, a local educational controversy is resonating with county voters who otherwise might not have been engaged in this year's elections. Frustrated Republicans like McCord could be the deciding votes in Colorado's gubernatorial race, in which Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) faces a strong challenge from former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R), as well as its Senate race, in which Democratic Sen. Mark Udall is in danger of being unseated by Republican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner…

The school board controversy is especially relevant given the pivotal role Jefferson County plays in statewide elections. An informal saying here is "As Jeffco goes, so goes Colorado," referencing the fact that the county, which encompasses the suburbs west of Denver, has voted with the winners in U.S. Senate races since 1992 and gubernatorial contests since 1978. [Pols emphasis]

The story quotes Democratic Sen. Andy Kerr, himself fighting off Julie Williams-endorsed Tony Sanchez in SD-22 (new ad in that race follows after the jump) saying that the actions of the new Jefferson County school board majority are at the top of Jeffco voters' minds as he walks neighborhoods. That's consistent with what we're hearing in terms of polling results–which is driving the ads you see here hammering away at Jefferson County Republicans tied to Williams. It does appear Jefferson County voters understand that the controversy at the school board has partisan Republican origins.

Michael Clark, a registered independent who was educated in Jefferson County, suggested that the school board issue could impact November's statewide races if voters take their frustrations out on candidates who are politically aligned with the conservative board members. (No recall election has been initiated for the board itself.) For instance, Beauprez said in an interview earlier this month that the student protesters were being manipulated by their teachers.

"A lot of people were put off by his comments," Clark told HuffPost.

Bottom line: if the anecdotes in this story manifest on Election Night as votes, Julie Williams could play a bigger role in the 2014 elections than anyone who supported her election to this school board ever imagined. The decision to plunge headlong into a radical agenda of "reform" by this board, in a politically moderate and divided place like Jefferson County, could go down in history as a cardinal error; the step too far that provokes a blowback much bigger than anything a school board can achieve would ever be worth.

For Republicans in and outside Jefferson County, we're talking major disaster.

(more…)

Money trail indicates RMGO recognizes the toxicity of its own brand

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

RMGOPistol

With all the negative attention on Rocky Mountain Gun Owners of late, you'd think the outfit might want to hide its name when it attempts to influence voters. On the other hand, RMGO isn't known to care about what normal people think.

It appears, though, RMGO has actually gotten the message that its RMGO name scares people. Instead of simply using its independent expenditure committee "RMGO SUPERPAC" to oppose at least one state senate candidate, RMGO is sending money to do so to an entity called "Colorado Liberty PAC."

Exactly $55,000 of the $60,000 donated to Colorado Liberty PAC comes from RMGO, according to campaign finance records. (The other $5,000 came from the "Colorado Tea Party.")

And the designated filing agent for Colorado Liberty PAC is Joseph Neville, who runs RMGO in Colorado and serves as its notorious lobbyist here. So RMGO apparently controls Colorado Liberty PAC. Neville did not return an email seeking comment.

In turn, Colorado Liberty PAC is sending mailers attacking SD 22 candidate Andy Kerr, who's Jeffco district is populated by people whom, RMGO has apparently concluded, don't like the RMGO brand.

See a Colorado Liberty PAC mailer attacking Andy Kerr 10-2014.

And another one attacking Kerr.

What is Proposition 104?

*Colorado Pols is profiling ballot measures that will appear on the 2014 Colorado statewide ballot. See also:
- What is Amendment 67 in Colorado?
- What is Amendment 68 in Colorado?
- What is Proposition 104 in Colorado?
- What is Proposition 105 in Colorado?
 


Proposition 104 (Colorado)
OFFICIAL TITLE: School Board Open Meetings
ALSO KNOWN AS: "Proposition 104"…There is Very Little Buzz Either Way Here

 

Official Ballot Language for Proposition 104:
"Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes requiring any meeting of a board of education, or any meeting between any representative of a school district and any representative of employees, at which a collective bargaining agreement is discussed to be open to the public?”

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Investigating Miscarriages? It’s Baked In The Personhood Cake

Tim Neville.

Tim Neville.

9NEWS' Steve Staeger has an interesting story up about a mailer hitting SD-16 Republican Senate candidate Tim Neville on his longstanding (and as far as we know, ongoing) support for the Colorado Personhood abortion ban amendments. As has emerged as a major controversy in Colorado's U.S. Senate race this year, the language in the Personhood measures conferring rights from "the moment of fertilization" could have a broad range of consequences, including outlawing common forms of so-called "abortifacient" birth control.

And as the mailer in question from Mainstream Colorado explains to SD-16 voters, Personhood could do something else, too:

The mailer, sent to women in the 16th State Senate District, claims Tim Neville supports a plan that could allow the government to investigate women who have suffered a miscarriage.

"Why would anyone in their right mind try to do something like that," Neville responded to the ad…

"We know that Tim Neville has supported personhood measures in the past," said Cathy Alderman, VP of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.

Alderman says personhood measures can lead to investigations into miscarriages by police or district attorneys.

"If a woman were to lose that pregnancy or choose to terminate that pregnancy that is then determined to be the death of a person, and so any actions she takes in regards to that pregnancy could be investigated as a potential felony or a manslaughter claim," she said. [Pols emphasis]

Alderman admits the bill does not specifically allow investigations into miscarriages, as the ad seems to claim…

That's technically true. As we've noted repeatedly, the Personhood abortion ban amendments that Colorado voters have rejected over and over are very short–one or two sentences defining unborn as persons with rights from "the moment of fertilization." But as experts, fact checkers, and even the proponents of the Personhood measures agree, those words would have very broad effects: outlawing all abortions including in cases of rape or incest, and even outlawing birth control that would have the effect of "killing" a fertilized egg.

It is precisely those "penumbral" conseqeunces of Personhood that led Cory Gardner to publicly abandon support for the measures soon after entering the U.S. Senate race. The exact interpretation of the law if passed would be hashed out by the courts and enabling legislation, but it's the very same language granting rights from "the moment of fertilization" that creates the potential for a ban on "abortifacient" birth control–and yes, even criminal investigations of miscarriages.

In Wednesday's U.S. Senate debate, moderator Kyle Clark coolly informed Gardner that "we will not debate" the effects of his federal Life at Conception Act–Gardner's federal Personhood bill with the same "moment of fertilization" language that opens the door to the measure's worst hypothetical effects. Meaning that for the purposes of that debate, Clark was not interested in hearing diversionary arguments that conflict with the plain and very simple language of the bill.

Well, folks, if it's true for Cory Gardner, it's true for Tim Neville too.

“Sobbing” Suppes Staffer Raises Many New Questions

Don Suppes Twitter

UPDATE: According to campaign finance records available online via the Colorado Secretary of State's office, "Anna Villoch-Jolly" was only paid twice by Suppes' campaign. A list of expenditures shows that Jolly received $410 on 6/4/14 and $208.48 on 6/27/14. Yet Suppes claims that he fired Jolly in September when he first learned about the Tweets in question. If you believe Suppes, he fired someone he wasn't paying anyway.

—–

The controversy over a Tweet sent from an account owned by SD-5 GOP candidate Don Suppes linking to a white supremacist website has made a lot of waves in one of the state's hottest legislative races, and is now the subject of mailers arriving in the district. In a story late yesterday, the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports on an alleged former campaign staffer who contacted her, hoping to jump on this proverbial grenade before it sinks Suppes' campaign:

A 47-year-old Castle Rock woman sobbed today when she outed herself as the person who posted a tweet from state Senate candidate Don Suppes’ account that linked to a neo-confederate website critical of women, blacks and others…

The inconsolable Jolly said she came forward today because a friend forwarded her a campaign mailer attacking Suppes that asked, “Did Don Suppes promote a white supremacist website?” The mailer, from a Democratic-funded group, includes a confederate flag, the tweet she wrote under the twitter handle @DonSuppes2014 and unflattering reports about Suppes from two liberal outfits, Mother Jones and ColoradoPols…

Suppes said he would have preferred Jolly stay behind the scenes because he fears she will be attacked.

“It’s done. The left is not going to change its campaign tactics,” he said. “My concern is I’m the candidate. I signed up for this. She didn’t.”

Well, actually, if she signed up to work on his campaign, and Tweeted out this link to a white supremacist website, she surely did "sign up" for whatever followed–including, as the latest version of the story is reported by Bartels, getting fired by Suppes for sending it.

The problem, and we're shocked that Bartels failed to mention any of this, is that Suppes has changed his entire story about what happened. When it was originally discovered back in September, you'll recall, Suppes tried to blame the whole thing on a Democratic "hack" attempt.

Candidate for Colorado Senate District 5 Don Suppes has suspended his Twitter account after noticing unauthorized activity. According to a press release from the Suppes campaign the Republican claims "The Democrats have utilized this opportunity to run a smear campaign"… [Pols emphasis]

Campaign Manager Matt Soper said, "The account hacking had been reported to the appropriate authorities."

A few days later, Suppes claimed he had "taken steps recommended for victims of identity theft," while introducing the possibility that the Tweet was the responsibility of "a staffer who has since been terminated." This came after we and others had found the "hacking" allegations to be pretty much laughable.

With all of that in mind, this latest attempt at cover raises many new questions. When exactly did Suppes figure out that he wasn't hacked by Democrats after all? Where is the evidence that this was ever reported to the "appropriate authorities?" Why would Suppes claim this was "Democrats running a smear campaign," and that he was monitoring his identity for theft, when the origin of this Tweet should have been clear to him from minute one? Why, after Suppes allegedly fired this staffer, didn't he admit that he was never "hacked" at all?

Obviously we're not going to get those answers from the Denver Post–so hopefully if another outlet gets a call from Suppes' bawling ex-staffer, they'll ask a few more questions.

Fact Check: Gardner opposes Dream Act and blocked immigration reform

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

Rep. Cory Gardner continues to misrepresent his record on immigration, and reporters have failed to call him out on it.

During an Oct. 6 debate, Gardner was asked if he'd vote for the DREAM Act, which would grant a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants who attend college or serve in the U.S. military.

Instead of answering the question, Gardner used the dodge tactic of stating his opinion on what will happen to the DREAM Act.

"Ultimately, I think the Dream Act will be part of the solution of immigration reform," Gardner said. "It has to be. Look, I believe in immigration reform."

If Gardner had answered the question, instead of predicting the future, he'd have said that he's long opposed the Dream Act.

Gardner: "I think if you pass the DREAM Act today, you’re still not fixing the problem,’ Gardner told the Boulder Daily Camera last year. "I want to create a fair system so people who want to be here legally can be here legally.”

Last year, Gardner even opposed a proposed state law, so-called ASSET, to grant in-state tuition for young immigrants in Colorado.

Gardner: "But we can’t start putting in place in-state tuition, whether it’s other things that are being placed by the states, without actually addressing the root problem that will only continue more illegal immigration into this country," Gardner told KNUS' Steve Kelly last year." And so, that’s why we’ve got to have a policy that actually works, and I believe it starts with border security."

On this very day, as I type this blog post, Gardner's website states that the Congressman opposes "giving those people [who are here illegally] benefits that will only encourage more illegal immigration."

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Survey of Latino Voters Finds Gardner Deeply Underwater

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R) practicing the face that Latino voters make when they hear his name.

Via the Public News Service, a new survey of Colorado Latino voters that every pollster concerned about their sampling of this critical segment of the electorate should take note of:

Latinos now make up 21 percent of Coloradans, and experts forecast this voting bloc could have a significant impact on the November midterm election. 

A survey released on Tuesday by the National Council of La Raza Action Fund and Latino Decisions finds 55 percent of Latino voters support incumbent Senator Mark Udall, and 14 percent support challenger Cory Gardner. The rest said they're undecided. 

Matthew McClellan, executive director of the NCLR Action Fund, says the Latino community appears to be reacting to several years of policy action or on some issues, lack of action. 

"The Latino community has seen a lot of inaction over the last couple years, and they're blaming the Republican party quite a bit more than the Democratic party, and I think that's probably what's hurting Gardner the most," he says.

We haven't seen hard numbers to confirm it yet, but anecdotally we do believe much more attention is being paid to Latino voters in Colorado this year than in prior elections. There is more advertising in Spanish, and more field campaign focus on turning out Latino voters on both sides. Despite well-publicized attempts earlier this year to "reach out" to Latinos by Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call and others, and even meddling in the primary process to help ensure anti-immigrant poster child Tom Tancredo did not win, there's little to suggest in these numbers that it's helped them. There's just no way you can separate the Republican Party's long hostile record with Latinos, or the anti-immigrant icons like Tancredo who are almost exclusively Republican partisans, from the GOP ticket on the ballot today. Certainly not just with idle platitudes like Cory Gardner, in stark contrast with his record.

Bottom line: yesterday, SurveyUSA released two polls in Colorado with slightly different methodology. One of those polls came up with a Latino sample of only six percent–a ridiculously small figure in a state that is 21% Latino. The other actually showed Gardner with a lead among Latino voters, an inexplicable result that threw the entire poll into question. A fascinating interview by the New York Times yesterday of SurveyUSA's Jay Leve in response to questions about their polling in Colorado reveals that pollsters just aren't any good at sampling for Latino voters–and they know it.

I get that criticism; I understand it. And the Hispanic data that you’re looking at in Colorado, that shows a Republican ahead among Hispanics, is also at odds with common sense. So I can’t defend it except that we give people the opportunity to self-identify as Hispanic, and we record it.

We have been accused in the past as having blacks who are not “black enough.” I get that criticism. Our black respondents, instead of being 90-10 Democratic, are sometimes 67-33. Do I think it turns out that way on way on Election Day? No, I think we’re too Republican on black voters, just as we are sometimes too Republican on Hispanic voters. This is not unique to SurveyUSA. [Pols emphasis]

Are there people who specialize in Latino polling who conduct elaborate studies and then in turn prove, to their satisfaction and probably mine, that the Latino population is overwhelmingly Democratic? Yes. Is there something that we can do better? I’m sure that there is. At the moment, though, it is what it is.

That's a very candid admission–and if this survey of Latino voters is right, it's a huge blind spot for anyone trying to understand what's really going to happen in Colorado on Election Day.

Jefferson County: The Key to the State, Now More Than Ever

Jefferson County key to Colorado elections

This kid can’t vote. But his parents, relatives, and neighbors have a new reason to get involved.

We've seen plenty of stories both locally and nationally about the continuing controversy with the Jefferson County School Board — a controversy that will almost certainly impact the outcome of several key races in November, as we pointed out early and often.

Today the Denver Post takes a deeper look — on the front page of the paper, no less — into the political consequences of a right-wing school board angering a community that is always paying attention to education issues. As John Frank writes for the Post, the crossover into the 2014 election is impossible to ignore:

It's dark and a moth circles the halo of a porch light as state lawmaker Brittany Pettersen knocks on the door of a potential swing voter in this all-important Denver suburb. Hours of canvassing ended at the home of Brian Leffler, a 36-year-old independent voter. Pettersen, a first-term Democratic House member, asks him what issue is foremost in his mind this election year. A chorus of insects fills the silence as Leffler thinks. It doesn't take him more than a moment to name a top issue. "The whole schools thing going on in Jefferson County — that's the main thing right now," Leffler said. "I know that has very little to do with you, but they are talking about taking things out of the curriculum."

Door after door, the same refrain. The turmoil at the Jefferson County school board regarding the conservative majority's plans to revamp teacher pay and curriculum is emerging as a key issue in the November elections.

"The fact it comes up naturally in conversations is really reflective of what's happening," Pettersen said. [Pols emphasis]

In an election season with no single national issue dominating the conversation, Jefferson County's vote is a volatile political cocktail that proves all politics is local.

Education. The Democratic Party enthusiasm gap. Abortion. Marijuana. The Republican Party rift. Guns. The economy.

And the stakes couldn't get much higher: The county is likely to decide which party controls the state Senate, the governor's mansion and the U.S. Senate, a combination with far-reaching implications in Colorado and Washington.

Both Democrats and Republicans have figured out that the 2014 elections may hinge on the actions of Jeffco's screwy school board, though Democrats were much quicker to respond. Republicans have tried to push back with a ridiculous message accusing the teacher's union of, well, everything, but that attempted pivot isn't going to work in a county where students, parents, and teachers have taken to the streets in protest for more than a month now. As Frank astutely points out in his story above, this is an issue that is moving along under its own power — which is going to make it awfully difficult for Republicans to redirect as ballots start landing in mailboxes this week.

 

Not Even Trying To Be Truthful–Isn’t There A Law?

zenzingerchina

The Colorado Independent's Tessa Cheek reports on an ad running against SD-19 Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger from the Republican group Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government that is so totally false, even by political advertising standards, that it's kind of ridiculous:

Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government, a conservative politics organization, is back, spending heavily in state elections this cycle. And some of the rough $200,000 they’ve poured into the messaging market so far is behind a false attack advertisement directed at state Senator Rachel Zenzinger, a Democrat from a swing district based around Arvada.

The ad, “China Girl,” alleges that while serving as Arvada city councilwoman, Zenzinger voted to use taxpayer money to fund a visit to sister city Jinzhou, China…

To backup the claim that Zenzinger spent or even tried to spend taxpayer dollars for an international junket, the ad sites Arvada City Council minutes from April of 2013, as well as an article by The Colorado Independent.

The problem is,

Not only does neither source support the claim — our article, for example, only reports Zenzinger’s appointment to the state Senate — the council minutes themselves expose the ad as blatantly false.

Zenzinger never went to China and she herself filed a motion in that city council meeting requiring that private funds available through nonprofit group Sister Cities of Arvada, not public dollars, must be used if either elected officials or staff were to go on the trip. [Pols emphasis]

In short, now-Sen. Zenzinger did the exact opposite of what this ad suggests. Not only did she insist that taxpayer funds not be used on the trip, she didn't even go. It's frequently alleged/presumed in these situations that "both sides do it," but this ad goes beyond just about anything we've seen this year in terms of making stuff up–and given the wildly inaccurate ads from Americans For Prosperity on Obamacare as just one of so many examples, that is no small statement.

In Colorado, there is a law on the books against knowingly making false statements in political ads. Zenzinger's campaign reportedly has not yet gone to the Jefferson County DA for a criminal investigation, thus far hoping a cease-and-desist letter to Comcast, combined with the clear evidence that the spot is knowingly false, will be enough to get it pulled. There is debate as to whether or not the law against lying in political communications in Colorado is enforceable, or should be, but it does put some theoretical teeth into these requests.

We will say that in this case, the ad is so inexcusably false that it morally does not deserve airtime.

Making Julie Williams The Face of The GOP

GOP state senate candidate Tony Sanchez and Jeffco board member Julie Williams.

GOP state senate candidate Tony Sanchez and Jeffco board member Julie Williams.

As the months-long protests against actions of the new conservative Jefferson County school board majority have raged on, and in the last few weeks gained international media coverage, we've tried to stay focused on the next logical question for a political blog–what effect these highly visible and popular protests will have on next month's elections. Jefferson County is considered one of the state's (and for that matter, the nation's) foremost political bellwethers, and a win in Jefferson County is generally considered to be mandatory to winning any statewide race.

In addition to the general fact that the Jeffco school board is now controlled by identifiably partisan Republicans, board member Julie Williams has close ties to the Neville family of well-known conservative Republican Jefferson County activists. As Williams has emerged as the central figure in the recent AP history curriculum review controversy, her personal connections to Republican state legislative candidates–along with the damage to the GOP brand her proposal caused just ahead of a major election–are a legitimate concern for Republicans who want to win elections next month.

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reported last night, Democrats are doing what they can to bring about the GOP's worst-case scenario:

In a new television ad, Colorado Democrats attempt to draw a line between the three conservative Jefferson County School Board members whose effort to square the district’s AP U.S. History curriculum with their idea of “American exceptionalism” has sparked weeks of protest, with four Republican state senate candidates looking to oust Democratic incumbents.

The Democratic Senate Campaign Fund, an initiative of the Colorado Democratic Party, is behind the ad, the most serious effort yet to leverage the ongoing controversy over the Jefferson County School Board into a political advantage in next month’s election.

The group is betting that swing voters in Colorado’s biggest bellwether county will side with the students and teachers who have protested the board’s move — and that linking four GOP senate hopefuls to the conservative board majority could swing these competitive races that are certain to affect the balance of power within the Capitol’s upper chamber come January.

“Jefferson County families are against the extreme Tea Party slate pushing their ideological agenda on families. That’s not how we do things in Colorado, said Andrew Short, the DSCF’s executive director. “They have nationally embarrassed us and they will pay for it in November.” [Pols emphasis]

UPDATE: From the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund's press release:

Tim Neville’s sister-in-law, school board member Julie Williams is trying to push her extreme agenda into the State Senate. She has the backing of her brother-in-law, Tim Neville and is also supporting Laura Woods, Tony Sanchez, and Larry Queen.
 
“We stand on the side of students, parents, and teachers – and against the extreme Tea Party agenda.  This isn’t about party politics.  This is about what is right.  The Tea Party won all the Jefferson County primaries last June and is now pushing their ideological agenda on Jefferson County families. This will not be accepted by middle of the road, Jefferson County voters,” said Short.
 
Beginning with a pop quiz, the ad asks, “The censoring of textbooks and rewriting of history recently resulted in public protests, where?”  The answer is Jefferson County.  The ad outlines how the new school board extremists nationally embarrassed Jefferson County families. It also highlights Julie Williams’ support for the Jefferson County Tea Party slate for State Senate.

Williams' original proposal to review Jeffco's new AP history curriculum to ensure it "promotes patriotism" and does not "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law" was, it's safe to say today, politically disastrous. The literally worldwide attention it received precipitated anger that transcended party lines–at least with the overwhelming majority created by Democrats, independent voters, and yes, even Republicans who draw a bright white line at political censorship of history. It's another case where this new majority has tried to impose a right-wing agenda item that's simply out of step in a moderate place like Jefferson County. And with so much bad blood between this new board majority and the community already, stripping the review committee proposal of Williams' incendiary language did little to assuage fears.

Voters can already see, and will find it easily if they haven't, that this is a partisan political battle unfolding. The ad above supplies important data points that connect what's happening on the streets of Jefferson County with Republicans on the ballots going out next week.

We'll say it again: as Jefferson County goes, so goes Colorado. There is a possibility, and it is growing, that Republicans well above the county level will pay a dear price for Julie Williams on Election Night.