Associated Press Expands State Government Reporting

Good news here in Colorado and around the country: The Associated Press is beefing up its state government reporting. From "The Definitive Source," the AP news blog:

Building on The Associated Press’ unmatched presence in all 50 U.S. statehouses, we are adding to our competitive advantage by creating a team of state government specialists.

As announced today to the AP staff, the specialists will collaborate with statehouse reporters, as well as on their own projects and stories focused on government accountability and strong explanatory reporting. Their over-arching goal will be “to show how state government is impacting the lives of people across the country,” said Brian Carovillano, managing editor for U.S. news.

Here's how Carovillano explains what this means in terms of how state government is covered by the AP:

Let’s say there’s a trend emerging from several statehouses that our folks on the ground identify. The state government team will work with reporters in those states — and with the data team, if necessary — to bring depth and a national perspective to that issue and show how it’s playing out across the country.

They’ll be a resource to our statehouse reporters looking for help broadening the scope of their reporting, and a projects team that will partner with folks in the states to pursue bigger and more ambitious enterprise on the business of state government. And the focus really needs to be on how that impacts peoples’ lives. We don’t cover state government for the state government; we cover it for all the people of the state. The message here is that state government coverage is essential to AP and its members, and we are doubling down on that commitment, which should benefit the entire cooperative. [Pols emphasis]

This is good news all around, but particularly in states such as Colorado where the number of reporters covering the state legislature alone has dwindled to just a handful of people in the last 5 years. As we've seen in the aftermath of the demise of the Rocky Mountain News, there are fewer and fewer reporters able to focus on state government stories that really do affect a majority of Coloradans — whether they realize it or not. Robust reporting is crucial to maintaining good government and keeping a watchful eye on our elected and appointed officials.

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.

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.

ALEC: Keeping Kevin Lundberg Relevant (Among Other Things)

ALEC_Logo

David Weigel writes at Bloomberg Politics about an organization we've talked about quite a bit in this space, possessing a great deal of underreported influence in the Colorado General Assembly–the right wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which just concluded its annual meetings in Washington:

"I'm fairly satisfied with the oil and gas industry's treatment," said Colorado State Senator Kevin Lundberg. "When they're doing it for themselves, they do a good job."

It's December 5, and Lundberg is standing in the emptying ballroom of the Hyatt near Capitol Hill. The American Legislative Exchange Council's 2014 Washington summit, a post-election tradition, has just ended after a speech by former Secretary of Interior Gale Norton, who now runs an eponymous firm that helps businesses overcome "regulatory challenges." Lundberg, whose Republicans took back the state Senate in November's races, is telling me the story of how a drilling company once goofed on his family's  property — they put up two wells after fumbling the first one — then fixed it themselves. That contrasted with the ways national and local Democrats had tangled up businesses.

"One of the first things [former governor Bill] Ritter did was expand the oil and gas commission from nine to 13 members — oh, and by the way, he got to appoint the extra four — and regulation got tighter and tighter," recalled Lundberg.

The Coloradan, unsurprisingly, was very representative of ALEC membership's mood. The 2014 elections were very good to Republican state legislators, and to the party's state attorney general candidates…

The article goes on to discuss a host of new ALEC policy initiatives to "fight back" against regulation of the energy industry. As we've discussed before, ALEC has a highly influential role in policymaking in the Colorado legislature, a role set only to grow as longtime ALEC member and incoming Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman prepares to take over one chamber of the General Assembly next month. ALEC's friendlier climate in Colorado next year, as with so many states where Republicans made significant gains in this year's elections, comes despite the fact that the organization is hemorrhaging corporate sponsors after years of scandal. ALEC's role in controversial gun legislation caused a major exodus of corporate partners in 2012, and more recently the organization's stance against climate change has alienated major tech company members like Microsoft, Facebook, and Google.

Indeed, it seems the only place ALEC still wields much influence today is in Republican-controlled state legislatures across the nation. We can't speak for its role in other states, but in this state, ALEC has also been a haven for…there's no nice way to say this, some of the less effective members of the Colorado legislature–like Sen. Kevin "Crazypants" Lundberg, or former ALEC state co-chair Rep. Libby Szabo. Honestly, we've never been able to understand why ALEC doesn't get the kind of media attention in Colorado that it does in other states, especially as the organization's influence has become nationally scandalous.

But each new session is a fresh opportunity.

Republican Recount Agitation Fizzles

Marilyn Marks.

Marilyn Marks.

The Pueblo Chieftain reports today on a swift abort to talk of a paid recount of two (not really) close races there:

The local GOP had by the end of the day on Monday to deposit $17,000 into an escrow account to pay for the recount, a figure quoted to the GOP by County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz and disputed by the party.

Becky Mizel, chairwoman of the local GOP, said her members came close to raising the money and lamented that part of Ortiz’s quote included an outside consultant to be on hand to answer any questions about the tabulating machinery when the GOP asked for that during the actual election.

“Ethically, I can’t justify spending the hard-earned money of my membership on this,” Mizel said. [Pols emphasis]

This comes after a lengthy period of nit-picking by Pueblo Republicans and eccentric former Aspen mayoral candidate Marilyn Marks, who insisted without evidence–even as they appear to have not hurt Republicans a bit–that mail ballots were wreaking havoc with Colorado elections.

Likewise, the Denver Post's John Aguilar reported this morning about a push to recount Adams County races we first broke word of last Friday:

Gary Mikes, chairman of the Adams County Republican Party, said Monday he suspects that invalid ballots were turned in by voters during the Nov. 4 election in the race for House District 31, in which Democrat Joseph Salazar ended up with a 221-vote lead over Republican challenger Carol Beckler. The same goes for the Adams County commissioner race, in which Steve O'Dorisio, a Democrat, bested GOP candidate Joseph Domenico by 597 votes, Mikes said.

In an email to Adams County elections officials earlier today, Adams County GOP chairman Gary Mikes withdrew that request with an apology "for any inconvenience." As for Pueblo, the margins in the two races in question, one House race and the county clerk race, were significantly larger than the extremely narrow races in Adams County–which themselves still fell outside the allowable range for a recount paid for with state funds.

What we've heard, as with Pueblo, is that the "concerns" in Adams County boiled down to baseless James O'Keefe speculation about vote fraud, none of which has been substantiated anywhere, and as we've discussed at length would have been impossible to pull off due to the safeguards clearly outlined in last year's election modernization law. Overall Republicans did very well in this year's elections, to include surprisingly strong performance in traditionally Democratic Adams County. If anything, we can imagine why Republicans wouldn't want to start looking under rocks up there, lest they endanger some of their own close wins.

Bottom line: the real problem may be that reality in our elections this year completely failed to live up to conspiracy theorists' hype, and they've just been a little slow to catch on to this fact. But when it comes time to put your money where there mouth is, reality has a way of snapping back into focus.

Watchdog reporting needed on Gardner

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

Yesterday, Rep. Cory Gardner voted to halt Obama's program to defer deportation of millions of immigrants who have children in our country.

Gardner voted in Aug. (during the election campaign) against halting Obama's  program to defer deportations of young immigrants.

The two votes weren't exactly identical, but they're close enough to  make you wonder how Gardner reconciles the two. Yet, I can't find a single reporter who asked him directly about the inconsistency.

Instead,  the Associated PressDurango HeraldFox 31 Denver, the Grand Junction Sentinel,  and The Denver Post all apparently relied on Gardner's self-serving statement saying, in part, that "we owe it to generations past and generations to come to find a solution to our broken immigration system."

It's possible some reporters asked to speak with Gardner himself, but they didn't report this. If so, they should have.

But it's not too late to insist on talking to Gardner, if you're a journalist who has access to him, to cover the basic journalistic function of calling out public officials on their inconsistencies between what's done on the campaign trail and what happens in office.

A baby step in the right direction was provided during a Gardner interview Dec. 3 on SeriusXM's new show, Yahoo! News on POTUS

Host Olivier Knox had the presence of mind to ask Gardner whether his "campaign talk" about making birth control pills available over the counter "can translate into legislative action."

Gardner replied:

It needs to translate into policy action. The FDA has their approval process when it comes to prescription, over-the-counter move. I will certainly continue to support and urge, whether it’s legislative action. We’ve got to figure out the best policy option, the best way forward in making sure we have the continued fight for over-the-counter contraceptives, which I continue and will continue to support and push for. And so, we’ll be talking to the FDA and talking about how best to make that happen. It’s something Gov. Jindal first proposed, ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, supported the move to over-the-counter contraceptions and it’s something we’ve got to encourage to happen here.

I give Knox credit here for asking the question, even though I'd have pressed Gardner to clarify his plan for implementation of a major campaign promise. Will he seek legislation if necessary? How long will he press the Administration? Etc.

Ditto for Gardner's plan on immigration. If he's against deferring deportations, then what's he for? And how does it comport to his campaign promises?

I'm hoping we get this type of watch-dog attitude from reporters going forward on Gardner.

Immigration Reformers Await Gardner, Coffman Votes Today

UPDATE #2: Salon.com's Luke Brinker:

Endorsing Rep. Cory Gardner’s campaign against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado this fall, the editorial board of the Denver Post assured readers that Gardner was not the extremist Udall and Democrats depicted…

It turns out that maybe Gardner didn’t really mean all that stuff about being warm and fuzzy and moderate. Sure, he did what he needed to do during the campaign — voting against a bill, sponsored by Tennessee congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, that would have blocked deportation relief for those who came to the U.S. as youth. But today, Gardner lined up with Tea Party conservatives to support Florida Rep. Ted Yoho’s bill to prevent President Obama from carrying out his executive order granting deportation reprieves to unauthorized immigrants with family ties and expanding the program that allows migrants brought to the country as youth to remain in the U.S.

—–

UPDATE: Rep. Mike Coffman one of only seven Republicans to vote against today's bill symbolically chastising President Barack Obama for his immigration executive order, while Cory Gardner votes yes–FOX 31:

Gardner, who defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and is positioning himself as a moderate within the GOP Senate caucus, voted with a majority of House Republicans in support of Rep. Ted Yoho’s bill that seeks to bar the executive branch from delaying deportations.

Coffman, who pummeled Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff in a re-drawn and newly diverse 6th Congressional District largely on the strength of his outreach to Latinos and other immigrant communities, was one of just seven House Republicans to vote against Yoho’s bill.

Gardner immediately released a statement following the vote, explaining that he opposes the president’s unilateral action but not comprehensive immigration reform overall…

“I voted against H.R. 5759 because, although I strongly believe that it is unconstitutional to have immigration policy made through executive orders and without the 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 appropriation’s process,” Coffman said.

—–

Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

A press release from local immigration reform advocates and the Service Employees International Union challenges Colorado Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman to align their votes with their campaign rhetoric this year, as the House prepares to vote in symbolic opposition to President Barack Obama's executive order later today:

After two years of failing to take up any attempt at meaningful immigration reform in the House, now Republicans have announced that in response to President Obama’s executive action on immigration, they’ll be voting tomorrow to undo the action. While the vote is largely symbolic as it would not pass in the US Senate, it’s a gesture that Republicans see as a way to express their anger at the President for taking steps within his authority to fix the immigration system on his own.

However, the bill is a direct attack on millions of immigrant families and DREAMers whose lives changed because of this new program and the President’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The bill set to be voted on tomorrow was introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and it would undo both the programs initiated by the President that have and will allow millions to come out of the shadows and apply for legal status and work permits…

Juan Carlos de la Cruz, SEIU Local 105 Executive Board Member, said “Tens of thousands of undocumented Colorado immigrants have lived here for years, worked hard to provide for their families and do their part. With the President’s new program, they’ll finally be able to get papers and contribute more to this state that’s become their home. I can’t believe that Republicans are already trying to take this away and subject them to deportation all over again. I call on Cory Gardner and his fellow Republicans to reject this extremist bill and stand up for immigrants and their families.”

“President Obama just stepped up to begin solving a problem that Republicans have been refusing to address for years. And, he’s improved the lives of millions by taking action. If Republicans don’t like what he did, nothing is stopping them from passing the bipartisan bill sitting on their desk that would solve this problem once and for all,” said Patty Kupfer, Denver-based Managing Director of America’s Voice. “Cory Gardner has said he’s a new kind of Republican. Well, these are the same old Republican tactics to do nothing and then blame Obama. Tomorrow we’ll see whether or not he’s willing to stand up to his party and do the right thing.”

We haven't heard anything from either Gardner or Coffman on how they intend to vote today, but Gardner's previous statements about President Obama's executive order are not encouraging. Most debate over the legality of Obama's order is among conservatives, including 17 red states that filed suit yesterday–this despite persuasive arguments from legal experts that the executive order was not just legal, but in line with similar actions taken by Republican presidents.

We'll update after today's vote. Did Gardner and Coffman's newfound support for immigrant rights survive November 4th? We're about to get our first indication.

Marble, Lundberg suggest CO should help pay for TX border security program

(But would they give up TABOR refunds to do it? - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

As House Republicans are poised to vote to stop Obama's executive order to halt deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, two Colorado State Senators are saying Colorado should contribute tax dollars to Texas Governor Rick Perry's efforts to secure the southern border.

Calling Obama's action "nuts" and arguing that "you've got to first secure the border," Assistant Republican Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg said in a recent radio interview that Texas has "spent probably $100 million in the last several months helping to show that you can secure the border. I’m all for Colorado stepping up and being a part of the solution."

Tea Party radio host Ken Clark, who asked Lundberg about immigration during the interview, aired Nov. 19 on KLZ 560-AM, responded enthusiastically to Lundberg's idea to give state money to Texas.

"Senator, that is something I would definitely applaud funding. I think that is very important," Clark told Lundberg on air. "I think it affects all of us, even here in the state of Colorado. Senator Marble, what say you?"

"…I agree. It’s exactly the way I feel," responded State Sen. Vicki Marble, who's the new Republican State Senate Caucus Chair.

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Both Marble and Lundberg told Clark they believe Texas is demonstrating to the federal government how to secure the border.

"We could secure the border if the federal government would show some backbone, even as the state of Texas has," Lundberg told Clark.

"If people could just go down [to Texas] and see, and have the opportunity to see what we saw and do what we did, they would understand," Marble told Clark. "This is so critical. And I agree with Senator Lundberg on what he said about the steps to take. I believe it is very necessary."

Lundberg said Texas legislators asked him, during a November fact-finding mission to the Texas, if Colorado could help pay for Texas' border security efforts.

Listen to Marble and Lundberg here:

(more…)

East High Students Walk Out In Ferguson Protest

UPDATE #2: Four Denver Police officers were injured by a motorist suffering "medical issues" while they were escorting students from downtown Denver back to East High SchoolDenver Post:

The officers and the driver were transported to Denver Health. One officer in critical condition was taken into surgery, Police Chief Robert White said. Another officer had serious injuries. The two other officers were treated for "minor injuries," White said.

White added it is "not our best day."

Four mangled bicycles were seen on the north side of Colfax Avenue between High Street and Williams Street. A nurse on the scene was covered in blood, and a wide area was cordoned off by police.

—–

UPDATE: FOX 31:

The Denver Post reported about 1,000 students took part in the march.

As they marched, students chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “Justice for Michael,” according to several accounts on Twitter.

After reaching Civic Center Park, the crowd moved toward downtown along the 16th Street Mall.  They mostly spread out and dispersed after that.

Around 11:30 a.m., the students regathered at Colfax and Broadway, where they held a 4 1/2-minute moment of silence, marking every hour Brown was in the street. The group then began a march back to the high school.

—–

Just getting word of this, apparently a huge crowd of students from Denver's East High School have walked out of class this morning, shutting down Colfax Avenue near the Colorado state capitol in protest over the shooting of African-American teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri:

We'll update with coverage once available–looks like a pretty big event.

More on why we know immigrants aren’t spreading disease

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Last week I reported that Tea-Party radio hosts Ken Clark (KLZ 560-AM) and Peter Boyles (KNUS 710-AM), along with Colorado's GOP State Senate Caucus Chair Vicki Marble, believe undocumented immigrants, as Marble put it, "bring the diseases. They bring whatever from across the border — things we haven’t seen in decades and thought we eradicated. Our whole country is at risk.”

There's no credible evidence for this, like there wasn't for attacks on immigrants throughout American history, but how do we know this?

"You have to assume that if [undocumented immigrants] get sick they are going to get medical care or die," said Dr. Michelle Barron in the infectious disease department of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.. "There is a long list of diseases that hospitals must report to the health department. Tuberculosis. Measles. Let’s say you came to the emergency room after traveling in Russia, and you have measles. That’s considered 24-hour-reportable. You would then be contacted by the health department and asked questions about vaccinations and where you’ve been. They would identify how big of a scope this would be."

"Public health departments actually report these things," Barron continued. "There's public reporting. The information wouldn’t be hidden in the background because of a political agenda. It’s part of the reporting that has to happen. If there is a trend, that would be investigated."

And, she added, if a serious disease outbreak or threat existed, it would be "all over the news," not left to the investigators on talk radio only.

But what happens if we can’t find the immigrants, I asked.

"The public health department has lots of experience hunting people down," she said. "They will go to your door. There are always the few people who won’t talk or answer the door, but they have their networks of people who will talk, even in homeless communities. Homeless people don’t want to get disease either. They will talk. The public health department is more savvy than people realize."

How to convince skeptics like Clark and Marble?

"Really and truly, you have to trust that the health care workers are doing the right thing," said Barron. "If you have already decided what you feel about this, no matter what evidence you are presented with, you are not going to believe it."

For more information, including a transcript of the Marble interview, click here.

 

Marble invites Tea-Party radio host to report from Senate chambers

(This is certain to end well - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

criticized conservative KLZ talk-radio host Ken Clark yesterday for spreading misinformation about undocumented immigrants, but one thing Clark and I agree on is that the Colorado General Assembly should figure out a way to be more open to non-journalists who report or comment on the happenings there.

And it looks like the new Republican leadership in the Colorado Senate may be planning to shake things up, and help guys like Clark get more access.

I'm not sure what the fairest way to handle access and/or press credentials is, but whatever Senate Republicans do, I hope it's even-handed.

Judging from this interesting conversation on the topic (below), there are hints it will be fair (a promise to give everyone a "even shot" and hints that it won't be (a personal invitation to Clark to report from the Senate "chambers").

The discussion occurred Nov. 19 on KLZ's 560-AM's nooner show, Freedom 560, among Clark, Sen. Kevin Lundberg, Assistant Majority Leader, and Sen. Vicki Marble, GOP Senate Caucus Chair. The topic was Clark's desire to have more access at the Capitol:

CLARK: Well, and I’m going to ask you one more question, and this is on a personal note, because as you are both painfully aware, I have been personally kicked off the floor of the House. I’ve been personally kicked off the floor of the Senate, and I was denied press credentials, because — whatever. They came up with a whole bunch of different excuses, and the press credentialing is controlled through the Senate. So, I guess I can assume that you guys aren’t going to kick me off the floor of the Senate this year.

LUNDBERG: [laughs] Ken, I have no intention of doing that. We need that transparency that allows everybody on, including incredibly popular radio hosts who talk about political issues every day of the week.

CLARK: Senator Marble?

MARBLE: I agree. I think you should have a seat right next to the [Senate] President, Bill Cadman.

CLARK: [laughs] We’ll see if Bill goes for that!

LUNDBERG: Well, I’m just going to give you an even shot with everybody else, Ken.

CLARK: Well, Senator Lundberg and Senator Marble, it was you two that went to bat to make sure that that [ban] was revoked, and it didn’t last very long. I think on the floor of the Senate, it was maybe a fifteen minute ban. That was it, because you guys raised holy hell and got that reversed. So, I appreciate that, I really do. I’m not holding out any hope for what might happen to me on the floor of the House. I will wear Kevlar. I will make sure that I am well protected. So, that will be good.

LUNDBERG: [laughs] Say no more.

CLARK: I think it’s going to also be imperative—and I’ll leave you with this, and I’ll give you each the last word. Senator Marble, I’ll start with you. It is going to be imperative that when you guys have bills that are coming through the Senate that you let people like me, Rich Bratten, Randy Corporon, Kris Cook, John Rush, —people know what is coming through. And I will be down there, fighting the battles with you guys on a daily basis. but it’s imperative that you reach out to us and make sure that we know the good things that you guys are doing so we can spread the word. And Senator Marble, how are you going to do that?

MARBLE: By keeping in very close touch with you, which, having you down at the Senate — you know — chambers, and having you at the Capitol everyday isn’t going to be very hard. If you don’t have the information, then it’s our fault. And I definitely can’t wait for the people of the state of Colorado to have a front and center seat with you, right there, giving the play by play. It’s about transparency, and believe me, we could not applaud your efforts of making everything transparent more. I thank you so much.

CLARK: Well, you know, that’s just kind of what we do. I go down there to watch how the sausage is made, and it ain’t pretty. It’s not. Senator Lundberg?

LUNDBERG: Ken, you’re right! It’s a pretty ugly process. And, as it Winston Churchill observed, it’s the worst form of government except for everything else. And so, it’s got it’s wrinkles and warts that we have to look past and work beyond. But my goal is to —as it always has been— to make sure people can see as much of what is happening as possible. I continue to publish during session, a weekly email report that if anybody goes to my website — KevinLundberg.com —they can sign up directly, there. And of course, Ken, any time I can be on the air and talking with you, I’d be glad to, as well as everybody else there at KLZ. And I’ll admit, I talk on a few other radio stations as well, because I want the entire state to know what we are doing.

Listen to Clark, Marble and Lundberg talk about about press access at state Capitol 11-19-2014

Sen. Marble delivers falsehood that immigrants bring eradicated “disease”

(Your Senate majority leadership in action - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Warning: KLZ talk-radio host Ken Clark tells me the following blog post is a "hit piece consisting of lies and deceit in order to continue to manipulate the public and your readers at the expense of an elected official who is simply tying to protect her constituents." If only this were true….

The elected official Clark refers to is Republican State Sen. Vicki Marble. At issue is a searing falsehood Marble delivered to Clark on his nooner Freedom 560 show on KLZ 560-AM Nov. 19:

Marble: “Those illegals infiltrate into the system, of the United States, and they bring the disease. They bring whatever from across the border — things we haven’t seen in decades and thought we eradicated. Our whole country is at risk.”

A lengthy search (still in progress) for a factual basis backing up Marble yielded nothing, and I asked Clark why he didn't correct her on air:

Clark: The evidence is overwhelming that we are facing a health risk due to our administrations failure to protect our boarders and as a result are continuing to put our citizens at risk. Senator Marble is 100% correct when she states this fact and by failing to accept the truth and the evidence you are simply attempting to attack a public servant rather than seek the truth. She has been briefed by the Colorado Center for Disease Control as well and is privy to information that is not public, maybe you should try to get some information from them. [BigMedia emphasis]

I asked the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment if there was any evidence that undocumented immigrants are bringing any disease, much less ones that we thought were eradicated, into Colorado.

"CDPHE is not aware of any such evidence," was the simple answer from Mark Salley, CDPHE spokesperson.

(more…)

Latinos Slam Hickenlooper’s “Path To Citizenship” Dismissal

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, the controversy over Gov. John Hickenlooper's remarks earlier this week, in which he appeared to dismiss the aspirations of immigrants to obtain American citizenship, appears to be growing. After giving Hickenlooper a suitable period to retract his comments, the Colorado Latino Forum has run out of patience, issuing a strongly-worded statement this afternoon:

As the nation's Hispanic community Friday celebrated President Obama's executive order sparing 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, Colorado Latinos expressed their frustration with another politician — the state's Democratic governor…

"The Colorado Latino Forum is extremely disappointed in Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper's recent statement regarding Latinos and citizenship," the statement began.

"The Colorado Latino Forum has long underscored that access to a path to citizenship is a key value that must be included in any meaningful future comprehensive immigration reform package that Congress debates.

"We are disappointed that immediately following his narrow re-election in which our community voted overwhelmingly for Governor Hickenlooper, his first comments regarding Latino issues demonstrate that he is out of touch with our community's priorities and values."

What we've heard is that just about every Latino interest and immigrant rights group in the state has called Gov. Hickenlooper's office to express their displeasure over what he said, and there has been no satisfactory response. The fact is, an eventual pathway to American citizenship for otherwise law-abiding, long term immigrants is a central goal of immigration reform proponents–who are deeply skeptical of the various "guest worker" programs that have been proposed as alternatives. We don't think Hickenlooper was trying to disparage immigrants' motives, but his statement that the "vast majority" of immigrants simply want to "get paid over the table" and "don't care about a pathway to citizenship" could be interpreted disparagingly. Either way, it's directly at odds with what immigration reformers are advocating for.

Whatever his intentions, this comment — and a wealthy, white politician purporting to tell a minority community what they really want — isn’t sitting well with Colorado’s Latino community…

Bottom line: the pressure may be off Hickenlooper electorally for four years, but since his re-election we've been wondering if that might result in more rigorous accountability from his left–on a variety of issues where Hickenlooper has run afoul of base Democrats, or even good politics. There has been a tendency this election season to pull punches on Hickenlooper, so as to not assist Bob Beauprez's campaign.

As of today, it looks like Hickenlooper's second honeymoon is over.

GOP Responds to Obama Immigration Action…With Lawsuit About Healthcare

We wrote earlier this week about the immigration issue and President Barack Obama's pending executive order to address the topic as Congress refuses to act. Here's the final paragraph from our post on Wednesday:

There's no way around it for the GOP: When they take control of both the House and Senate in January, they can either move forward with immigration reform or not. There is nobody left for Republicans to blame if they don't take action themselves. The GOP painted themselves into a corner with inaction on immigration, and the only way out is to make their own footprints. Ultimately, if Republicans don't actually move on the issue, 2016 voters aren't going to care why they failed to act with their Congressional majority — as Yoda might say, there is only "do" or "do not."

Facepalm city in Congress

Sigh. As CNN reports, House Speaker John Boehner just…WTF?

House Speaker John Boehner said Friday he has sued the Obama Administration in federal court over its decisions to make changes to the President's health care law, which congressional Republicans argue were unconstitutional.

The move was expected for months — the GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted to approve the lawsuit in July. But Boehner had trouble retaining a law firm that would take the case because of the political furor over the controversial health care law…

…News of the lawsuit came just minutes after Boehner held a press conference on Friday to respond to the President's plan to circumvent Congress in order to make sweeping changes to the nation's immigration system by executive order.

The one-two punch from Boehner marks a new era of tension between Republicans who will officially take over Congress in January, and the President who has signaled that despite his party's losses in the midterms, he plans to proceed with his agenda without GOP cooperation. [Pols emphasis]

As CNN points out, Boehner struck out — twice — on trying to find a law firm to sue over Obamacare until convincing a George Washington law professor to take the case. But the very fact that Republicans would allow this lawsuit to become their de-facto response to Obama's executive order on immigration absolutely boggles the mind.

Aside from making some folks in the Tea Party happy, what do Republicans possibly think they can accomplish here?

Talk-radio hosts broadcast from Denver, but where do their hearts reside?

If you live in Denver or send your kid to public school or get involved in our community in even the most limited way, you probably know families who will benefit from Obama's announcement to stop the deportation of some undocumented immigrants with family ties to our country. And you know we'll be better for it, our humanity, our economy, our soccer teams. It gives you hope.

The Republican radio hosts, quoted below, broadcast their shows from Denver, but you wonder if their hearts reside somewhere else:

KHOW's Michael "Heck-of-a-Job" Brown Nov. 19:

Brownie: The people who are, you know, mowing your yards, or fixing your roof, or doing whatever they happen to be doing – those low-skilled workers. I ran into one today over at the Sonic, bless her heart. I’m not sure she could read or write, but she managed to get the order straight, so I guess I should be happy, right? Listen to Brown 11.19.14

KOA 850-AM's Mike Rosen Nov. 19:

Rosen: I think the chip [Obama] has on his shoulder is that he doesn’t want to be pushed around by these white Republicans in the House when they had a majority, and now he doesn’t want to be pushed around by white Republicans in the Senate, now that they’ll have a majority in January. He’s looking at so much of this through a racial prism, and I think that’s his hangup. Listen to Rosen 11.19.14

KNUS 710-AM's Dan Caplis on Wednesday:

Caplis: But we have the President now on the brink, on the brink of essentially tearing up the Constitution. Looks like that “tearing up ceremony”– you know, we get so upset, as we should about flag burning. You know, this president is just going to burn the Constitution. And it’s going to be formally scheduled Friday in Las Vegas. Listen to Caplis 11.19.14

To be fair, most outraged talk-radio hosts say they want something done about immigration, just like many of the Republicans in Washington.

Rosen: We’ve waited so long to address the problem of the 11 or 12 million people who are here illegally, we can wait a little longer. We can wait another year. And a year should give us time to make some real progress on border security. Once that’s done, then the Republicans will be willing to compromise.

Nothing Obama did yesterday stops Congress from passing immigration-reform legislation, Mike. Meanwhile, this allows some families to be home together for the holidays and then get back to work without fear of their lives being torn apart.