A tool for keeping up with the PUC….

Hello all! For your edification, amusement, and commentary, I'm reposting from the Colorado Renewable Energy Society newsletter. CRES is a chapter-based membership org dedicated to the advancement of all forms of renewable energy (RE), energy efficiency (EE), and their synergy with sustainability and economic development.

We do a lot of awareness and public engagement, and one of the things we do is maintain a tracker of current and past activity at the Public Utilities Commission about renewable energy… more detail below….

 

CRES’ Colorado Legislative Tracker—Explained

By Rick Coen, CRES Policy Committee

 

The CRES Legislative Tracker is an interactive spreadsheet tool CRES members have access to (by request) which provides a simple review of the current session’s bills related to energy issues in our State. It covers all current and past legislative activity on bills related to renewables and fossils. You’ll find a link to the text of the bill, it’s sponsors, a summary of the what the bill would do, and when the next hearing or action is scheduled for so you can watch, listen, or run down to the Capitol and participate! Also, for ease of evaluation, there’s color coding indicating CRES support levels and a column just for Insider Information.

There are two ways to get access. One is at http://www.lrrlaw.com/. Periodically, static versions of the Tracker are posted so you can see what has been happening. The other is to drop CRES an email requesting access permission. CRES members will have their email address added to the site permissions and will be sent a link so you can see and contribute to the live Tracker.

That’s right. This tool is meant to be interactive and participatory. Those who have access are encouraged to update the information as they have knowledge of ongoing activity.

So jump in, get involved and who knows, you might find yourself testifying before a Senate Committee. Anyone can do it. The door’s always open.

Original post here.

GOP Plays Dirty To Kill Concealed Weapon Background Checks

Concealed handgun.

Concealed handgun.

As the Denver Post's John Frank reports, House Democrats ended a major standoff with Republicans over the issue of funding for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to close a backlog of background checks for concealed weapons permits yesterday, essentially by capitulating to the GOP's curious refusal to increase this funding and thereby accommodate the surging demand for CCW permits in the state:

A Washington-style budget standoff at the state Capitol ended Wednesday as the House conceded to the Senate's position on a $2 million spending bill for the public safety department.

The unanimous vote removed the final hurdle for a measure that includes money for testing evidence in drunken-driving and rape cases but jettisoned a provision allowing the agency to hire more staffers to reduce the wait time for concealed-carry background checks.

The Democratic-controlled House insisted on the $370,000 for background checks, but the Republican-led Senate objected and refused to negotiate on the bill, creating what one lawmaker described as a "high-stakes game of chicken" that drew comparisons to congressional gridlock.

If the House didn't pass the supplemental spending bill, it would have died — a reality House Democrats said was too steep to accept.

Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, speaking to reporters afterward, acknowledged this as a tactical defeat, but defended the decision to fold in the face of determined GOP opposition to the CBI funding request. The Durango Herald's Peter Marcus:

House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, said it simply was too important to let the bill die, noting money for the state’s toxicology lab, law-enforcement training and testing for rape kits.

“I call it being the adults in the room,” [Pols emphasis] Hullinghorst said after the vote Wednesday, which passed unanimously. “There was very little alternative.”

As we discussed last month regarding this same controversy, Republican opposition to funding the CBI's request for additional funds to close the concealed-carry background check backlog is not easy to explain at first blush. After all, Republicans are supposed to be the defenders of Coloradans' right to own and carry weapons for self-defense. Why would they not want the CBI to close the backlog of background checks, and get these applicants their permits faster? Wouldn't that be the pro-Second Amendment thing to do?

The answer to this curious question lies in the law–CRS 18-12-206. Which reads:

(1) Within ninety days after the date of receipt of the items specified in section 18-12-205, a sheriff shall:

(a) Approve the permit application and issue the permit; or

(b) Deny the permit application based solely on the ground that the applicant fails to qualify under the criteria listed in section 18-12-203 (1) or that the applicant would be a danger as described in section 18-12-203 (2). If the sheriff denies the permit application, he or she shall notify the applicant in writing, stating the grounds for denial and informing the applicant of the right to seek a second review of the application by the sheriff, to submit additional information for the record, and to seek judicial review pursuant to section 18-12-207.

And here's where it all starts to make an ugly kind of sense:

(2) If the sheriff does not receive the results of the fingerprint checks conducted by the bureau and by the federal bureau of investigation within ninety days after receiving a permit application, the sheriff shall determine whether to grant or deny the permit application without considering the fingerprint check information. [Pols emphasis]

The Republican-controlled Colorado Senate has already passed legislation that would eliminate the background check requirement entirely for carrying concealed weapons. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the legislators they control are all on record in opposition to any additional background checks for CCW permits. That legislation is set to die in the Democratic-controlled House State Affairs committee sometime this month.

But as you can see, Republicans have a backup plan for killing CCW background checks, in the form of starving the CBI of the funds it needs to conduct them in a timely manner. It's not necessary to repeal the law requiring CCW checks, if they can simply push the backlog for their approval beyond the ninety days specified in the law–after which the sheriff approving the CCW permit simply doesn't have to use the information.

This is just another example of Colorado Republicans using the budget process to wield legislative power that they don't otherwise have with only narrow control of a single chamber of the legislature. Much like defunding the driver license program for undocumented immigrants, it results in a situation no one in authority should ever want: a program that remains legal but is in practice not functional. In both cases, this achieves Republican policy goals, but subversively and without regard to the hardship it causes in the meantime.

In this case, the GOP may be going too far. If Democrats can demonstrate to voters that the GOP's true objective here is to get rid of background checks for CCW permits, we think that can be turned into a significant political liability. Because it's not the way the process is supposed to work, and the public won't support the real objective here if it's fully explained to them.

Once Again, Mike Coffman Takes Every Side on Important Legislation

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has spent more than 25 years in elected office, which is an impressive feat no matter how you break it down. But how does a partisan Republican like Mad MIke Coffman manage to appeal to a different group of voters time and time again?

The answer is fiendishly simple and requires a calculated approach that Coffman has honed to a science over the years: You present yourself as all things to all people. When a controversial issue pops up, Coffman often takes the same approach of wandering an erratic path that allows him to select "All of the Above" on issues that require real decisions from most everybody else. Coffman doesn't sit on the fence; he stands in an open gate so that he can pop in and out on both sides. He's done it before, many times, in fact,, and he did it again during the recent debate over immigration reform and funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

This is not a new criticism; we're talking about the same guy who penned an Op-Ed for the Denver Post in July 2013 calling for "comprehensive immigration reform." While campaigning for re-election a few months later, Coffman was suddenly telling everyone who would listen that a comprehensive immigration reform approach was the wrong way to go. Mad Mike Coffman is always on your side, at some point.

So how did Coffman manage to be all things to all people on the immigration/DHS funding debate? We outline the process below:

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman

Perhaps Mike Coffman spent a little too much time reading Bill Keane’s Family Circus cartoon strip.

1. Coffman Calls for Budget Battle Over Immigration Policy (Dec. 4, 2014)

Coffman opposes Republican legislation targeting President Obama's Executive Action on immigration — and gets to claim a "pro-immigrant" vote — while calling for a budget battle over immigration policy instead. Here it is, straight from Coffman's mouth:

“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." [Pols emphasis]

2. Coffman Opposes First Budget BIll Tied to Immigration Policy…Sort Of (Jan. 14, 2015)

Coffman actually voted NO on the first attempt by Congress to tie funding for DHS to plans aimed at crippling Obama's immigration policy (Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act), but he deftly maneuvered to make sure he was on record taking multiple positions here.

Now, here's where he gets really slick. Coffman voted NO on the Blackburn Amendment, which sought to defund DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Again, from his own mouth:

“The President’s executive actions are clearly unconstitutional and I strongly oppose his unilateral decisions on immigration but my party needs to stop just saying what we are against and start saying what we are for when it comes to fixing our broken immigration system.”

Aww, how sweet. Of course, Coffman fails to mention that he also voted YES on the Aderholt Amendment, which blocked funding for President Obama's enforcement relief efforts announced in November. Coffman opposed the Blackburn Amendment aimed at deporting DREAMERs, but voted YES on the Aderholt Amendment that sought to deport basically everyone else. In other words, Coffman voted NO on the final bill, but supported an amendment to basically block funding for Obama's Execitive Order. Coffman's votes were not missed by immigrant advocacy group "America's Voice," which said this in a press release:

While Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) voted against final passage of the bill and an amendment to end the 2012 DACA program, he lined up with his party on a critical amendment that tainted and defined the entire bill. [Pols emphasis] The Aderholt amendment, which Coffman supported, would block the President from expanding DACA to others who came to this country at a very young age. The amendment also prevents the Department of Homeland Security from allowing individuals who have lived in the U.S. for years, raising children who are U.S. citizens, to come forward and apply for temporary immigration papers.

Now, despite Coffman’s attempt at a face-saving vote on final passage, the DHS bill moves forward to the Senate with both anti-DACA and anti-expansion provisions intact. It will be up to Colorado Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) to ensure these mean-spirited provisions are gutted and replaced with responsible homeland security funding measures.

3. Coffman Says he Supports a "Clean" Funding Bill for DHS (Feb. 23, 2015)

Yes, you read that correctly. Coffman says he supports a "clean" funding bill… just two months after he said Congress should use the budget process to derail Obama's immigration policy.

4. House Rejects DHS Funding Extension (Feb. 27, 2015)

Two days after Coffman says he supports a "clean" funding bill, the U.S. Senate votes in favor of a clean bill to send back to the House. In a stunning move two days later (Feb. 27), the House rejects a proposal to extend funding for DHS for three more weeks. Coffman votes YES on the extension.

5. House Approves "Clean" Funding Bill for DHS; Coffman Votes YES (March 3, 2015)

After getting hammered from all sides for weeks, House Speaker John Boehner finally comes to the conclusion that this battle has been lost. Coffman, meanwhile, has now come full circle — from calling for a budget fight to ending up as the only Republican from Colorado to vote YES on a clean funding bill. Along the way, of course, Coffman supported an amendment favored by hardline anti-immigrant factions, which allows him to come back to Colorado and spin this whole debacle in whatever direction best suits his audience.

Coffman's endless run-around on the issues has served him well in more than 25 years in office, and this latest fiasco may be an indicator of what Coffman is planning for 2016. In a potential Republican Primary for Senate in 2016, Rep. Scott Tipton (R-West Slope) can tell the party faithful that he remained firm in his decision to oppose Obama's immigration policies by whatever means necessary, while Coffman's message would need to be much more nuanced. You can try to be all things to all people, but not in a Republican Primary.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 5)

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TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce announced its opposition to so-called "Right to Discriminate" legislation being pushed by Colorado Republicans. This will put a dent in the GOP argument that businesses should be allowed to discriminate for financial reasons.

► As the Colorado legislature nears halftime, 9News reporter Brandon Rittiman takes a look at what to expect in the coming months. Colorado Senate Democrats talked up their mid-session accomplishments yesterday. “We said we would fight for middle class families, and that is what we have done," said Senate Democratic Leader Morgan Carroll. "While we have had several partisan defeats, we are not deterred."

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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How Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg Keeps The Government Out of Your Business (But Not His)

Wiz-quiz.

Wiz-quiz.

THURSDAY UPDATE: A reader pointed out this 2012 Denver Post story about Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg that you might find relevant to discussion of his $628,000+ in federal cash subsidy payments:

Poor Coloradans who apply for monthly cash assistance would first have to pass a drug test before receiving benefits under a bill that cleared a House committee Thursday.

House Bill 1046, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, [Pols emphasis] requires anyone applying for benefits under the federally funded Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, or TANF, to first pay the $45 cost of taking a drug test.

Those who pass the drug test would be reimbursed by the state and could get TANF benefits. Those who fail, though, would be denied reimbursement and any benefits and could not reapply for TANF again for a year.

Those who fail a second time wouldn't be eligible to reapply for three years.

"If you can spend money on drugs, why do you need the government's check?" Sonnenberg asked members of the House Health and Environment Committee. [Pols emphasis]

Indeed, Senator! You first. Original post follows.

—–

UPDATE #2: None of former Sen. Greg Brophy's $113,000 in federal crop subsidy payments came from melons, which is good because he shoots those. 

—–

UPDATE: Republican Rep. J. Paul Brown, a top 2016 Democratic target and another co-sponsor of legislation to repeal Colorado's health insurance exchange and subsidies, pulled down over $180,000 in direct cash subsidy payments from the federal government between 1995 and 2012–almost $130,000 of which was subsidy payments for wool and "sheep meat."

Got that? No health insurance subsidy for you, but sheep meat subsidies for J. Paul Brown. That's going to make for one hell of a direct mail piece.

—–

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

Republican state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling is one of the louder voices in the Colorado Senate GOP delegation, both literally and figuratively. Sonnenberg can be reliably counted upon to introduce some of the more combative pieces of legsialation in any given session, and he hasn't disappointed this year as sponsor of bills to roll back Colorado's renewable energy standards and to speculatively "compensate" mineral rights owners if local governments prohibit fracking operations on the surface. On the latter effort, the Craig Daily Press quoted Sonnenberg in typical form:

Sonnenberg said if counties or local government entities cannot afford to pay for what they take, they shouldn’t make regulations limiting mineral rights.

“If you can’t buy it, don’t ban it,” Sonnenberg said.

Got that? The last thing you need is the government up in your business, folks. Let the free market reign!

And then we got to thinking about it: what does Jerry Sonnenberg do for a living?

Jerry Sonnenberg is a Colorado native who has been farming and ranching in northeastern Colorado his entire life. He continues to live and work on the same farm that both his father and he were raised on growing wheat, corn, sunflowers, millet and cattle.

Jerry Sonnenberg is a farmer. Certainly an honorable profession and an important part of Colorado's economy. But in modern American agriculture, as America's growing resource-disconnected urban population is increasingly oblivious to, there's a catch.

The catch is government subsidies.

You see, the agricultural commodities market as we know it today is very far from what you'd call "free." The U.S. Department of Agriculture closely monitors the supply and demand of farm products, and pays billions of dollars each year in direct subsidy payments to farmers to protect their incomes from price volatility. We could write a very long post on how this all works, but the overall goal is to keep food prices in the United States low while keeping farmers gainfully employed. There is a great deal of debate about the efficacy and true beneficiaries of farm subsidies, but the political power wielded by farm states has protected the status quo for the last two decades.

The amount paid to farmers by the USDA in direct subsidies is a public record. The Environmental Working Group maintains a searchable index of receipients of direct farm subsidies since 1995. So we clicked here, and entered the name Jerry Sonnenberg:

sonnenbergsubsidies

That's right! Jerry Sonnenberg received almost SIX HUNDRED TWENTY-NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS in direct cash subsidy payments from the USDA between 1995 and 2012. Clicking through to the breakdown of his subsidy payments shows that over $300,000 was paid to Sonnenberg in wheat crop subsidies alone, with smaller amounts for land conservation and periodic crop disaster declarations.

Again, our purpose here is not to disparage the practice of subsidizing farmers to stabilize the agricultural products market. But when you think about things like Sonnenberg's co-sponsorship of legislation to repeal Colorado's health insurance marketplace, which could deprive thousands of Coloradans of their subsidies to buy health insurance…well, how is that not as utterly hypocritical as it looks?

We have no doubt that Sonnenberg has a blowhard answer ready, but it is what it is. And the questions this kind of hypocrisy provokes are, in our view, pretty fundamental to debates he is having right now at the state capitol.

Bonus round: search for the names Greg Brophy and Mark Hillman! Or try some others.

Thursday Open Thread

"Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing."

–Edmund Burke

Bruce Ben$on’s CU Loves Its Climate Skeptics

CU President Bruce Benson.

CU President Bruce Benson.

Since becoming President of the University of Colorado, former GOP gubernatorial candidate and major political donor Bruce Benson has slowly but steadily nudged Colorado's flagship education institution into a place much more accommodating to conservatives. We've talked in the past about CU's former "visiting professor of conservative thought" Stephen Hayward, whose guest professorship didn't really go so well in retrospect. And then there's the recent habit of CU's Leeds School of Business churning out pro-fracking position papers that don't stand up to elementary critical thinking.

The Boulder Daily Camera's Mitchell Byars reports on another example–but this one may have lessons for both sides of the debate:

The Arizona Congressman who last week asked the University of Colorado to disclose the sources of funding for professor Roger Pielke Jr. now admits an additional request for communications regarding such funding was an "overreach" — but defended the search as an effort to seek important disclosures for figures in the climate change debate.

Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva last week sent letters to seven different universities — including CU — that employed researchers who have been skeptical or controversial in their positions on climate change in an effort to determine whether any had received research funding from fossil fuel companies.

In the letters, Grijalva asked the universities to disclose all sources and amounts of external funding for those professors, as well as any communications regarding the funding or testimony by the professors to Congress or other bodies…

At the time of Grijalva's request, Pielke wrote that he has disclosed all possible conflicts of interest and has no funding "declared or undeclared, with any fossil fuel company or interest."

CU officials also stood behind Pielke last week, stressing that, "None of his research has been funded by oil companies or fossil fuel interests."

We've heard different opinions of the academic work of Roger Pielke, but by most accounts he very intelligent and no stooge for the fossil fuel industry. To the extent that his testimony is sometimes used to promote climate change denial, often much more broadly than anything Pielke himself has claimed, that's an issue. But we can't call that Pielke's fault, and we don't like the idea of academics' motives being questioned the way that Rep. Raul Grijalva did in this case–especially when you consider how that has happened in recent Colorado history in the other direction. We take Pielke and CU at their word when they say his work is not funded by the oil and gas industry, and we're confident their response will document that.

The only thing we can add is that under Bruce Benson, professors at CU whose scholarship just so happens to reinforce the oil and gas industry's position probably don't need to get special funding. With that in mind, we might suggest that Rep. Grijalva inquire somewhat above the level of individual academics, and consider the possibility of a more systemic problem.

Ben Carson: Prison Makes You Gay

Ben Carson

Ben Carson may be a neurosurgeon, but he’s no rocket scientist.

It was a bit of a surprise last summer when Ben Carson won a Presidential straw poll at the Western Conservative Summit in Colorado (hosted annually by Colorado Christian University), though perhaps it shouldn't have raised too many eyebrows. After all, the Western Conservative Summit is the same place where Herman Cain won a Presidential straw poll in 2011, supercharging the Herminator's brief bid for the GOP nomination in 2012.

A retired neurosurgeon with no real political resume, Carson is not well known among average American voters. But he is a darling of the far right because…well, he's the kind of guy who will say shit like this:

"A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they're gay."

Carson believes that sexual orientation is a choice that people make. Carson has also watched too many prison movies, as CNN reports:

Asked whether being gay is a choice, Carson responded: "Absolutely."

"Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they're gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question," Carson said. [Pols emphasis]

That argument, Carson said, "thwarts" the notion that homosexuality isn't a choice, which is at odds with the majority of the medical community, including the American Psychological Association, who says "most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation." Slate's Mark Joseph Stern also outlined the scientific arguments against this particular belief last year.

Carson's comment comes as Republicans try to avoid the kinds of incendiary comments on cultural issues that cost the party two Senate races — when Missouri's Todd Akin and Indiana's Richard Mourdock drew national attention for their remarks on rape — and hurt Mitt Romney in 2012.

CNN was unable to find other Republican Presidential candidates willing to respond to Carson's nonsense.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 4)

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How exactly is weather forecasting any different than gambling at this point? It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senate Democrats are holding a mid-session legislative briefing this afternoon for the media. Saturday, March 7 marks the official halfway point of the Colorado legislative session. Gov. John Hickenlooper is taking a more hands-on approach to this legislative session compared to years past.

► This probably won't surprise you, but several Republican lawmakers who present staunch anti-government platforms actually receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal subsidies for their farms. They don't want to kill the golden goose — they just want it for themselves.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Anti-choice activists step up accusation that “pro-choicers” want to kill “newborns”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Infanticide is rare in America and has few advocates, yet anti-choice activists are leveling an accusation that more and more "pro-choicers" favor this form of murder.

American Right to Life, a national anti-choice organization, is stepping up a campaign accusing pro-choice activists of favoring the killing of "newborns and toddlers."

"An increasing number of well-known leaders and organizations who are pro-choice are also coming out publicly in favor of killing children, not only before they are born, but also after they are born," Bob Enyart, board member and spokesman for American Right to Life, told me via email.

American Right to Life is promoting an online document, titled "Pro-Choicers who Want to Legalize Infanticide." It's a list of about 10 articles and videos, some of which date back a decade or longer, that contain statements favoring infanticide.

The people cited on American Right to Life's website are not leaders of pro-choice organizations, and they aren't obviously linked with the pro-choice movement at all.

(more…)

House (Finally) Passes DHS Funding Bill as Republicans Abandon Ship

UPDATE: Statement from Rep. Diana DeGette:

“Finally, Republican leaders recognized what has been clear for weeks: whatever their disagreements with President Obama and his actions to address our broken immigration system, Congress must provide the necessary resources to protect our homeland from attacks and be prepared to respond to natural disasters. While we should have taken this action weeks ago, I am pleased to see this get done at last.”

—–

House Speaker John Boehner (R).

This picture of House Speaker John Boehner is a good summation of his last couple of weeks in Congress.

As CNN reports, the House of Representatives finally voted to approve a "clean" funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but all is not well in the GOP caucus:

The House cleared legislation Tuesday that will keep the agency operating through the end of September after a standoff last week threatened to shutter the agency and furlough thousands of workers. The 257-167 vote sends the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who rarely casts votes, backed the bill, along with his top lieutenants. A majority of House Republicans opposed the bill. Just 75 GOP lawmakers joined with 182 Democrats to push it across the finish line. [Pols emphasis]

The legislation does nothing to rein in Obama's immigration executive orders — a top priority of conservatives. That issue was a sticking point for weeks as Republicans tried to tie DHS funding to the repeal of the orders but the party couldn't overcome Democratic filibusters in the Senate…

…Boehner told his members Tuesday morning that he had run out of options and the Senate couldn't pass a bill with immigration language attached.

It's nice to see the House doing its job and actually, you know, governing, though the political damage has been considerable on the GOP side. After weeks of arguing, House Speaker John Boehner seems to have all but given up on trying to work with his fractured caucus, which didn't help him anyway; despite holding the largest majority in Congress since the New Freakin' Deal, Republicans couldn't even fund a critical department without the support of Democrats. Colorado's Congressional delegation reflected this divide, with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) the only Republican to vote YES, along with Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter, and Jared Polis.

How bad have things gotten for House Republicans? Bad enough that the American Action Network, a political group aligned with House leadership, spent $400,000 this week on TV and radio ads targeted at Republican dissenters. As Politico reported yesterday:

So, that worked out well.

So, that worked out well.

The nonprofit American Action Network is airing an ad in three states — Kansas, Oklahoma and Ohio — urging Reps. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to back funding for the anti-terrorism agency. The 30-second spot will run at least 50 times in each district — on broadcast, in prime slots — Tuesday and Wednesday as the House is expected to take up a DHS funding bill.

The group says the ad campaign, which also includes radio ads on nationally syndicated shows and digital ads in dozens of other districts represented by House conservatives, is the opening salvo of a larger effort to help Republican leaders pass center-right legislation. American Action Network says it will spend millions of dollars to contact voters in the coming months. The move appears designed to give Boehner cover to end the months-long impasse over homeland security funding.

The TV ad feature images of what appear to be terrorists and says that “some in Washington are willing to put our security at risk by jeopardizing critical security funding. That’s the wrong message to send to our enemies.” [Pols emphasis]

Jordan is the leader of the House Freedom Caucus, which led last week's effort to oppose Boehner's vote on DHS funding, and he voted NO today along with Reps. Huelskamp and Bridenstine. Republicans are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars going after fellow Republicans in their home districts just to try to get them to not shoot their own toes off. It's safe to say they aren't listening.

Republicans have been getting hammered for weeks by local and national media over an ideologic battle against President Obama's immigration policies…but they didn't do anything to stunt Obama's plans, either. Hell, Brian Shaw might be a better leader for House Republicans at this point.

It was obvious to anyone who could read that Republicans were not going to win this fight, but the degree to which they completely bungled this mess is stunning. This is an absolute disaster for Boehner and Congressional Republicans. It's difficult to see how things won't just get worse from here.

Jeffco School Board Snaps Up GOP Media Consultants

Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call, Jefferson County Communications Officer Lisa Pinto.

Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call, Jefferson County Communications Officer Lisa Pinto.

We talked just over a month ago about the hiring by Jefferson County Public Schools of one Lisa Pinto, a right-wing Leadership Program of the Rockies graduate and former board member of the embattled Colorado Republican independent expenditure committee, as the new Chief Communications Officer of the district. Pinto appears to have been hired due to her political affiliations, as she was apparently rejected by a number of people involved in the hiring process as unqualified–yet somehow in the end deserving of a higher salary than her more qualified predecessor. We've heard that unflattering information about the process that led to Pinto's hiring by the district may shortly be disclosed, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, Jefferson County School Board Watch reported last month that Pinto is getting some extra reinforcements on the public-relations front, having hired a usual-suspect Republican aligned communications firm Novitas Communications to…well, it seems like they were more or less hired to do Pinto's job:

a) Set measureable objectives against which Novitas and the District Communications
Department efforts can be evaluated. For example, if the mix of media coverage of the district is 50% negative and 50% positive, work toward shifting that percentage to 25% negative and 75% positive.

b) Evaluate objectives’ metrics regularly and help the District Communications Department shift strategies and tactics to keep the department on track to meeting its objectives.

c) Develop strategies to address hot-button or controversial issues to ensure that District constituencies (e.g., parents, teachers, community leaders) are engaged and empowered in District decisions, and to ensure that the District is driving the narrative on these issues.

d) With District staff, develop core messaging for the District as well as on controversial issues that will help ensure spokespersons and staff are unified in their communications to District stakeholders.

e) Develop/enhance a crisis communications plan for rapid response action, as needed…

You know, the stuff Chief Communications Officers are supposed to do!

And here's the "ah-ha" reveal: Novitas Communications is run by Michelle Balch Lyng, a longtime Republican operative and former head of the Denver Republican Party–the same urban Republican social circle as Pinto herself. Lyng's staff includes Devan Crean, the Republican "tracker" who got embarrassingly mixed up in the state GOP chairmanship election battle early last month. You'll recall what Crean said about her work then:

The organization Ellie and I both work for ONLY tracks politicians and policy makers who are left-leaning. We DO NOT track fellow Republicans…

We haven't heard if Ms. Crean still works for Revealing Politics after that little fiasco, but we assume her Republican loyalties remain firmly intact. Given Pinto's background, we expect none of this will trouble her.

The obvious question is, why does the district have a need for so many conservative PR consultants? And that's an easy answer: in addition to having repeatedly stepped into controversy over such things as the conservative school board majority's ill-fated AP history "review" proposal, negotiations with the district's teachers on a new contract are about to get underway. A preliminary meeting just last night began to set the timetable for those negotiations. Following the antics of the Republican school board majority up to this point, fears that they will not enter negotiations with teachers in anything resembling good faith are well-founded. One need only look at Douglas County to see the worst-case scenario.

If these negotiations get ugly, the district's new army of GOP media flacks is going to be very busy indeed.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 3)

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Today is "303" day! Some of you may have to wait until July 20 to celebrate. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Colorado's Congressional delegation — minus Rep. Diana DeGette — was on hand today as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress. House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak to Congress so that Republicans would stop yelling at him for a few hours. 

► Like just about everything else these days in the Colorado legislature, partisan lines are forming over the Parental Leave BIll. Either that, or Republicans really don't want to go to that ballet recital.

► The Denver Nuggets have finally fired head coach Brian Shaw. The Nuggets were just 56-85 during Shaw's tenure, or what Congressional Republicans might call a "winning record."

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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GOP Anti-Abortion Bill #3 (!) Up Today

Creepy Uncle Sam holding a speculum.

Creepy Uncle Sam holding a speculum.

9NEWS' Amy Crowfoot reports, they just can't help themselves:

HB15-1112, sponsored by Rep. Lois Landgraf (R-Fountain), would require a physician to "take all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life of a born-alive infant" and prohibits denying nourishment to a born-alive infant with the intent of ending the infant's life. It also prohibits using a born-alive infant for scientific research or other experimentation.

Landgraf said that because there are no reporting requirements for abortions, there is no way of knowing what happens to born-alive infants at this time. "The baby," she said, "can be set on a shelf and allowed to die."

Back in reality,

"It is already illegal to kill a living human being," [Pols emphasis] [Rep. Lois] Court said, also adding, "I am really tired of my Republican colleagues bringing forward divisive social issues when we really should be focused on rebuilding our middle class here in Colorado."

The same arguments apply here as with the other GOP anti-abortion bills that have been introduced to certain death in the Democratic-controlled House. The motivation must be deeply emotional and ideological, because politically, it's just disastrous. Whatever marginal benefit running these bills have with motivating the conservative anti-abortion base is totally undone by the moderate voters these bills alienate. Politically, it's a tremendous gift to Democrats, proof positive that the "War on Women" is no myth.

There seems to be this idea that Republicans can insulate themselves from criticism over abortion, perhaps following Cory Gardner's example of gumming the issue to death, even as they run anti-abortion legislation year after year.

2014's experience notwithstanding, we do not share their optimism.