Fake Reporter Art Kane Back With Another Bogus Story

Art Kane.

Art Kane.

Local freelance “journalist” Art Kane came under heavy criticism last year after writing a series of news articles for the Denver Post that inaccurately disparaged the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a Obamacare, in Colorado. And these weren’t small inaccuracies, either, but wild factual exaggerations and totally unsubstantiated hearsay horror stories that fell apart under casual scrutiny.

Since then, Kane has taken up with a “news” outlet much better suited to his particular brand of hackery: the conservative Watchdog.org website run by the Franklin Center for Public Integrity. The stories may not be any more accurate–but Kane’s new bosses aren’t concerned with, you know, accuracy.

Today’s Art Kane feature story on per diem pay for Colorado state legislators at Colorado Watchdog is an excellent case in point:

Colorado lawmakers who live outside the metro area will get a bump in their per diem next session, making that state’s reimbursements the second highest in the country and costing taxpayers an additional $35,000 next year…

The per diem rate for lawmakers living outside the metro area will go up to $195 a day next session; state law sets it at 85 percent of the federal government per diem for the Denver Metro area, which also increased this year. The cost to taxpayers is an additional $35,000 a year, legislative staff wrote in an email exchange with Watchdog.org.

Colorado Union of Taxpayers president Gregory Golyansky said he was upset when he learned from last week’s Watchdog.org story the per diem expenses cost taxpayers so much money, and that raising the costs next year isn’t appropriate.

Gregory Golyansky.

Gregory Golyansky.

Setting aside Colorado Union of Taxpayers president Gregory Golyansky’s major credibility problems, with which our readers are very well acquainted, there’s a very large part of the story of this increase in per diem that Art Kane isn’t telling you:

National Conference of State Legislatures data shows the increase will skyrocket Colorado to the second highest per diem after Alaska, which pays lawmakers $235 a day if they live outside the capital area…

This year, Kentucky, Alaska and Tennessee had higher per diems, but Colorado will surpass those states unless their per diem rates increase. Expensive states such as Hawaii, New York and California reimbursed their lawmakers less than Colorado, NCSL data shows. [Pols emphasis]

As we read this story claiming that “expensive states” like Hawaii, New York, and California “reimbursed their lawmakers less than Colorado,” we remembered something very important: in Colorado, legislators don’t even make enough to survive. Here’s what the National Conference of State Legislatures really says about the salaries of lawmakers in the states listed above:

Base Salary

California: $90,526 per year
Hawaii: $57,852 per year
New York: $79,500 per year
Colorado: $30,000 per year [Pols emphasis]

This list doesn’t take into account which of these legislatures are “part time” versus “full time,” but that really doesn’t matter: Colorado legislators routinely draw per diem pay for events they attend throughout the year. Most of our lawmakers in either party will tell you that serving in the Colorado General Assembly is very much a full-time commitment. And that means except for the very young and very rich, it’s a huge financial hardship.

And in terms of their total compensation, which is of course the bottom line, Colorado lawmakers earn a tiny fraction of what legislators in these other states make. And that makes Art Kane’s latest big story…well, another steaming pile of bullshit.

Back in 2012, we were critical of a bill to raise per diem pay for legislators, mostly because at that time state employees had not received a raise in several years due to recession-forced pay freezes. Then-majority House Republicans rushing the bill through with no debate didn’t help the optics either. With that said, there’s no question that pay for lawmakers in Colorado is, at this point, a major disincentive to public service.

If Art Kane would like to write a factual story, perhaps he should start there instead.

Brauchler Says He’s More Like Ken Buck than Cory Gardner

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Who’s most like you, Sen. Cory Gardner or Rep. Ken Buck?

Many see Buck and Gardner as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, one wearing a smile the other seething with anger. But if you’re a Tea-Party activist in Colorado, the answer is “Ken Buck.”

So it’s not surprising that Tea-Party radio host Chuck Bonniwell put this question to failed theater-shooter prosecutor George Brauchler, who’s considering a U.S. Senate run: Are you more like Ken Buck or Cory Gardner?

Brauchler’s answer, according to Bonniwell, was, “Oh God, Ken Buck!” Here’s Bonniwell’s story, told with co-host Julie Hayden, who’s also a Fox 31 Denver reporter:

Julie Hayden (@4:40 below): We were at a function and Chuck, in Chuck’s way [laughs]. Standing-around-drinking-wine-just-put-it-to-you way, said to George, “Okay. Who do you like better – Ken Buck or Cory Gardner?”

Bonniwell: No, hat’s not what I said!  I said, “If we put a gun to your head, and said, ‘Who are you closer to on the continuum of  Ken Buck to Gardner. Which one?  You have to choose one.  You can’t sit. And to his credit, I mean I expected a kind of weasely answer, he said, “Oh, God! Ken Buck!”

Hayden: And Chuck went, “Yea!”…He didn’t hesitate at all, nor did he mince any words. He didn’t put conditions on, like “Ken Buck on Tuesday. Cory Gardner on Thursday. No, he said, “Ken Buck.”

Bonniwell: Ken Buck.

It would be interesting to know what issues draw Brauchler to Buck. Good fodder for a future radio show.

Listen to Bonniwell and Hayden discuss George Brauchler on KNUS 710-AM Saturday:

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Sept. 1)

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World War II began on this day 76 years ago. 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 Republicans continue their search for a viable U.S. Senate candidate in 2016, and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler is the latest name floating about in the scuttlebutt machine. As Manu Raju reports for Politico, GOP leaders are fretting over their inability to find a candidate to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet — and Brauchler doesn’t sound like a candidate who is ready for tough fairly simple questions:

Asked about his ideology, Brauchler said, “I feel like I’m a conservative.”

He went on to note that he opposes abortion, when asked about his position.

“This is something that nobody cares about when you run for DA,” Brauchler said with a laugh. “Nobody ever asks you if you are in favor of Roe vs. Wade. I’m a DA, man! We don’t prosecute that, that’s not my thing.” [Pols emphasis]

Um, yeah. That’s…not a good answer. First, Brauchler brings up his opposition to abortion, and then in the next breath tries to downplay it? Fun fact: Brauchler is already on the record as being opposed to Roe v. Wade, an answer he provided in a questionnaire while running for district attorney in 2012.

► David Olinger reports on the results from the Colorado Health Access Survey for the Denver Post:

A record number of Colorado residents now carry health insurance.

Statewide, the uninsured rate plummeted from 14.3 percent in 2013 to 6.7 percent this year — the lowest ever, according to a report being released Tuesday. Nearly 5 million people are covered now.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Health Department To Colorado Republicans: You’ve Got Nothing

Rep. Dan Nordberg (R).

Rep. Dan Nordberg (R).

Last week, following the announcement by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman that there would be no investigation into the fetal tissue donation practices of Planned Parenthood in Colorado–a formerly uncontroversial practice, recently scandalized by an hidden camera sting campaign against the organization–some 30 Republican Colorado legislators headed up by Rep. Dan Nordberg of Colorado Springs responded with a letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment demanding they investigate anyway.

Yesterday, they got their response from CDPHE:

Dear Representative Nordberg:

As requested by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Executive Director Dr. Larry Wolk, this letter responds to your August 26, 2015 request for an investigation of Planned Parenthood and its affiliates for alleged violations of Section 25-2-111.5 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Upon review of your letter, we note that your request is based solely on a reference to a brief and edited video distributed by the Center for Medical Progress. [Pols emphasis] We appreciate your concerns and are committed to upholding the laws we are charged with enforcing. At this time, CDPHE has received insufficient information to commence an investigation. Should full, unedited, and raw footage, or other material evidence, be provided to CDPHE, the Department will consider such information and determine whether further action is warranted.

Numerous states have already conducted their own “investigations” of Planned Parenthood in the wake of the so-called Center for Medical Progress’ releases of heavily edited videos they claim provide evidence that Planned Parenthood “sells” fetal tissue for medical research. Although selling such tissue for profit is illegal, both federal and Colorado state laws specifically allow for costs of handling and transportation to doctors and health care organizations to be reimbursed. Every single one of the videos released so far have either been edited into investigatory uselessness–or, when released unedited, feature Planned Parenthood employees clearly and repeatedly affirming these tissue donations follow the law.

As a result, the states that have finished their “investigations,” even red states like Indiana and Georgia, have found no violations of the law. That’s not a hinderance for other red states like Arkansas, though, who aren’t even bothering with an inquiry before simply electing to cut off Planned Parenthood’s funding. Which is, of course, something that state’s Republican governor would be happy to do under basically any pretext.

The truth is, Colorado’s reality-based refusal to join the Planned Parenthood bashing party is exactly what’s frustrating Rep. Dan Nordberg and the dozens of Colorado Republican lawmakers who signed his letter asking CDPHE to reconsider. Their request isn’t about the facts, it’s about capitalizing on the emotional reaction to these overhyped, deceitfully edited videos. Indeed, the objective is for the emotional reaction to trump the facts.

And no, it’s not a responsible way to govern. But this isn’t about that either.

Tuesday Open Thread

“Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.”

–Frederick Douglass

Guandolo, you fool, I like hummus, not HAMAS….

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

John Guandolo.

John Guandolo.

John Guandolo, professional Muslim-hater, is pumping up the pity party. After his “Understanding the Threat” presentation at the Centennial Gun Club didn’t get quite the attendance he would have liked, he blamed HAMAS. According to Guandolo the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Southern Poverty Law Center, and anyone else who published articles calling him an “Islamophobe”….including me – is working with HAMAS.

Yes, dear readers, your very own middle-aged schoolmarm blogger is now, according to Mr.Guandolo, in league with HAMAS. And I thought I had only expressed a preference for hummus. Because hummus is yummus.

In fact, I did call Guandolo an Islamophobe, which means someone with an irrational fear of Islam. I don’t know how I could have been more precise. However, his headline blared:

UTT Trains Hundreds in Colorado Despite Efforts by Hamas

Guandolo falsely contends that Islamophobia is a capital crime under Sharia law, and that therefore, his life is in danger. He also claims to have called the FBI to defend him from these “threats”, but, alas,

Calls and emails to the FBI by UTT concerning these threats continue to be ignored.

(Perhaps it has something to do with him shagging a witness and getting kicked out of the FBI?)

I never received any confirmation from the Denver Police Department about whether or not they were granting officers inservice credit for attending Mr. Guandolo’s “training” on how to racially profile Muslims. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman never returned my calls or emails, either.

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The race for Pueblo County GOP chair should be interesting

(Best and brightest? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A couple candidates have announced their intention to run for the Pueblo County GOP chair, recently vacated by Becky Mizel, who resigned.

First, there’s Dr. Thomas Ready, who wrote, according to a Facebook post by Brian Matar:

“I am running to be the Pueblo County Republican Party Chairman. My goal is to bring the party back together and to include all that want to be there. I’m asking for your support at the next election. Thank you in advance. Tom”

Ready made headlines last year when he asserted, during a debate, that there’s no proof the Sandy Hook school shooting happened at all. At the time, The Pueblo Chieftain quoted him as saying:

“I don’t think (the Sandy Hook shootings have) been proven. And what’s wrong with open discussion?”

A call to Ready to confirm his entry in the race was not immediately returned.

But you wouldn’t think Pueblo Republicans would let an election go by without a fight.

Yesterday, former State Sen. George Rivera announced he’s also running. Rivera, you recall, took the seat from Sen. Angela Giron in a recall election in 2013. Leroy Garcia defeated Rivera last November.

Sign the petition: CU students deserve to be there

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

AP GOP 2016 CPAC A USA MDYou’ve probably heard by now that the whole gaggle of Republican candidates for President will debate at the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus in late October.

We’re asking debate organizers to promise that at least 50% of the tickets to the debate will be made available to CU students. Sign our petition now.

The Republican presidential debate at CU Boulder is a chance to hear first-hand the positions of over a dozen presidential candidates. It’s a great opportunity to be involved with our political process that CU students have come to expect from their world-class educational institution.

But it’s critical that students be given the chance to attend.

The Boulder Daily Camera reports that no decisions regarding the distribution of tickets have yet been made. The Coors Event Center on the CU Boulder campus seats over 11,000 people.

The Republican Party is partnering with the University of Colorado to host this debate, and enlisting the credibility of Colorado’s flagship educational institution to elevate the GOP and the participating candidates. That’s why it’s so important that the audience for the debate include students of the University of Colorado. Anything less would be a deception.

Sign our petition: tell organizers of the October presidential debate at CU to make at least 50% of the tickets available to CU students.

Thanks for your quick response to this important petition. Let’s make sure that CU’s reputation is protected by making this debate open and accessible to CU students. It’s only fair.

Bennet Leans “Yes” As Iran Deal Opposition Sputters

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

Politico:

Critics of the Iran deal believed the August congressional recess was their best chance to scuttle the nuclear accord, as wavering lawmakers returned home to angry protesters and a barrage of TV ads. The longer the deal hung out there, they figured, the worse it would be for President Barack Obama.

Instead, the monthlong break has been a major bust…

The anti-deal side also enlisted prominent former lawmakers, like ex-Democratic Sens. Joe Lieberman and Mary Landrieu, to head up opposition groups, ginned up letters from retired military leaders and sent well-connected donors and activists to personally meet with Democrats still on the fence.

None of it has worked. Instead, a parade of House and Senate Democrats — even in red states — came out in favor of the deal. That eight-figure TV ad campaign has moved few, if any, Democratic lawmakers, and dovish groups like MoveOn.org are experiencing a surprising victory.

Iranian Shahab missile.

Iranian Shahab missile.

Early in the month of August, the question being debated by the pundit class was whether President Barack Obama could marshal enough support for the “P5+1” nuclear weapons agreement with Iran to prevent an override of his veto of what everyone expected would be a motion of disapproval passed out of the GOP-controlled Congress.

Today, a veto override looks completely out of reach, and the question is now whether President Obama will have to veto anything. Key to that question is an undecided ally of Obama’s and Senator from Colorado, Michael Bennet–whose caution stems from being one of the only Democratic Senate seats needing protection in 2016, and may just now be getting comfortable with the idea of supporting the agreement as the opposition fizzles:

Iran deal opponents need only four of 14 undecided Democratic senators to put President Barack Obama in the awkward spot of vetoing an attempt to scuttle a crowning foreign policy achievement. That’s set off a complicated race between hawks and the White House to win over an eclectic group of senators, each with his or her own particular concerns…

The sole vulnerable Democratic senator up for reelection in 2016, Bennet faces an added layer of pressure that’s made him a prime target for both sides ahead of the Senate vote in September.

The first-term senator hinted this week he’s leaning “yes.”

“I have come to the conclusion that there is not a better deal available,” he said at an energy event in Denver, though he added he’s still making up his mind. “We are faced with a lot of bad choices now because we eliminated a lot of choices along the way.”

Bennet’s slow arrival at support for the Iran nuclear agreement may not go down as a profile in courage, but it’s very important to the White House’s whip count going into any vote on a resolution to disapprove the treaty. Even as opponents to this agreement have dramatically ramped up the scare tactics through the August recess, warning in hyperbolic terms of the risks of negotiating with Iran, they have failed to develop the kind of meaningful pressure to either peel off supporters of the deal or turn a sufficient number of undecided lawmakers into opponents.

In the end, if Congress can’t even pass a bill disapproving the Iran treaty, let alone override its inevitable veto, the extreme fearmongering rhetoric used to oppose it is going to look awfully silly. And they’ll have no one to blame but themselves. By failing to stoke enough opposition to kill the deal, and also failing to offer any alternative beyond the broken status quo or war against Iran, the treaty’s mostly Republican opponents have made themselves irrelevant to the final outcome.

This Really Isn’t That Complicated, Brauchlerites

George Brauchler and TwitterThis is not a story about the death penalty.

This is not a commentary on the American legal system.

This is about a very simple, logical, and straightforward concept that seems to be eluding Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler and his political defenders who have been working hard to move the goalposts in the wake of the Aurora Theater Shooting Trial. Brauchler did not get the outcome he was seeking in the trial, and any attempt to spin this as something other than a political loss is nonsense.

We normally don’t pay much attention to the inane crayon scribbles over at Colorado Peak Politics, but their recent rantings about Brauchler and his political future are actually a pretty good example of the absurdly illogical spin that we’ve seen in the last week or so.

We’ve written several times in this space that Brauchler’s political future was dealt a severe blow when an Aurora jury declined to recommend the death penalty for convinced shooter James Holmes (Judge Carlos Samour Jr. ultimately sentenced Holmes to 12 consecutive life sentences, and another 3,318 years in prison for good measure). The politically-ambitious Brauchler made a controversial decision last year to seek the death penalty for Holmes instead of accepting a plea deal that would have sent Holmes to prison for the rest of his life. Reaction was mixed to Brauchler’s decision, because accepting a plea agreement would have saved millions of dollars in taxpayer money and spared some of the victims and their families who didn’t want to relive that fateful night in July 2012.

Politically-speaking, Brauchler had a lot to gain from a successful death penalty prosecution, and you can’t seriously argue otherwise. It’s only logical, then, that Brauchler would lose some political luster if he did not get the verdict he was seeking. We’re not talking about anybody (other than Holmes) being viewed as a moral loser here — this is strictly politics, laid out from the perspective of a political blog

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Get More Smarter on Monday (Aug. 31)

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How’d that Labor Day prank work out for you? 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 Attorney General Cynthia Coffman says that Colorado will join in a multi-state lawsuit in an effort to stall President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. As the Denver Business Journal reports, Coffman is going heavy on the right-wing rhetoric:

“The rule is an unprecedented attempt to expand the federal government’s regulatory control over the states’ energy economy,” Coffman said. “The EPA appears unwilling to accept limits set by Congress in the Clean Air Act and instead is pushing its agenda forward through regulatory rewrites that overreach its legal authority.”

Or…the EPA and the federal government might just think it’s a good idea to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

► Colorado Republicans may be reconsidering a plan to opt-out of choosing a nominee for President in 2016. Thanks a lot, Rick Santorum.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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GOP’s Caucus Poll Rectal/Cranial Inversion Deepens

clueless-poster-artwork-alicia-silverstone-stacey-dash-brittany-murphy-smallRemember when the Colorado Republican Party’s executive committee led by embattled chairman Steve House decided to nix the party’s caucus night preference poll last week?

As could easily have been predicted, the reaction from the party’s activist base has been considerably less than positive–and with the state party already in disarray after a failed palace coup attempt and subsequent infighting over alleged financial troubles, news that the party was canceling the foremost opportunity for Colorado to weigh in on the GOP’s burgeoning presidential field was fuel for an already raging metaphorical fire.

And as the Denver Post’s John Frank reports, the stated rationale behind the decision might be, well, just pain wrong:

A controversial move to cancel the GOP presidential poll at the 2016 caucus is facing new questions that may lead to reconsideration of the Colorado Republican Party’s decision.

Mike Kopp, one of two RNC committee members from Colorado, told The Denver Post on Friday that the party misinterpreted how the new national rules work…

Rick Santorum.

Rick Santorum.

As the story goes, House and top GOP officials were “worried” that the winner of the party’s caucus poll might drop out of the race before the party’s nominating convention. This is a nice way of saying that the state’s Republican faithful caucusgoers have a tendency to pick losers like Rick Santorum, who beat out eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney in Colorado on caucus night in 2012.

But says Republican National Committee member Mike Kopp, whom we would expect to have made the right phone calls to know what he’s talking about, says a recent rule change by the national GOP would not oblige those delegates to vote for a candidate no longer running. Because, you know, duh!

But Kopp said that rationale is incorrect. He said national party rules allow delegates committed to a candidate who quits to go elsewhere. “You can unbind your delegates if the candidate is no longer in the race,” he said.

Kopp missed the GOP executive committee meeting Aug. 21 when the vote was taken. But knowing what he knows now, he opposes the decision. The new system, he said, means the “delegates get to vote their conscience, but the downside is you leave tens of thousands of potential Republican straw poll voters on the sidelines.”

He said the move “basically negates” the state’s importance in the 2016 political primary contest…

Bottom line: the present situation is an outcome that nobody wants. Republicans certainly do not want to be relegated to flyover status in the upcoming GOP presidential primary, and to be honest, Democrats relish the opportunity to send in the trackers. Especially in light of the decision being factually clueless, it’s simply a public relations disaster for party chair Steve House and the state party executive committee any way you slice it. It will remain a sore point in an already fractured party going into next year’s elections.

Because of course the real intent was to squelch the rank and file. And of course that’s going to backfire.

Local GOP Operative Steps Down From The Gifted Class

GOP operative Caleb Bonham, who is somewhat less creepy than this photo suggests.

GOP operative Caleb Bonham, who is somewhat less creepy than this photo suggests.

Folks in the business will recognize the name Caleb Bonham, a local conservative activist and graduate from Colorado State University, who made the jump from the bush leagues of our local Revealing Politics blog to the quasi-big time of the conservative online ranks with his work for the Campus Reform project of the D.C.-based “Leadership Institute.” Campus Reform has spent a great deal of time in recent years attempting to police college campuses for what they see as “liberal bias,” as well as raging against such terrible burdens placed on strapping young college men as the University of Minnesota’s new affirmative consent policy for sexual relations between students.

Because obviously, real men know when no means yes! We digress.

Today, Bonham announced his last day with the Campus Reform project, and the launch of his new Denver-based consultant business with fellow local Republican usual suspects Kyle Forti and Lee Hopper. Hopefully this isn’t a demotion, but you never know when folks decide to join the consultant class:

Friends, today is a big day for me. Today I get to close a wonderful chapter in my life as Editor-in-Chief of Campus Reform.

It was a fun and hectic ride. We accomplished so much. I am especially proud of the leaders we assisted along the way – over 60 correspondents nationwide – activated, trained, and empowered to bring change and better equip themselves to thrive in life…

Kyle and Lee Hopper have done amazing things in Colorado and together, the three of us, are excited to bring our creativity to a new venture servicing the corporate and political space.

As a startup local business, we’re happy to give DCO Consulting some free promotion. And we’ll say in all honesty that Bonham is a true asset to the conservative activist industrial complex. Just last weekend, he spoke on a panel at the Americans for Prosperity Defending the American Dream Summit in Columbus, Ohio–and the subject was “How To Talk To Millennials.” As you can see from his photo of the audience,

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 1.18.21 PM

AFP really benefits from Bonham explaining “how to talk to millennials.”

Because apparently they don’t have any.

Welcome home, Mr. Bonham. You’re going to fit right in.