Republican “Study Committee” Heads For The Border (Again)

UPDATE: Bonus round–check out this photo from 2010's "fact-finding tour" and tell us how many guns you see.

ColoGroupBorder
From left: 2010 House candidate Chris Holbert, then-Rep. Kent Lambert, Sen. Scott Renfroe, then-Rep. Laura Bradford, 2010 House candidate Janak Joshi, then-Rep. Randy Baumgardner.

A press release this week from the arch-conservative Republican Study Committee of Colorado, a social club for the more right-leaning among Republican legislators in this state, announces they are taking another field trip to the Mexican border. In 2006 and 2010, both years like 2014 when immigration was in the headlines, a gaggle of Republican elected officials and candidates undertook similar border "fact-finding tours."

The Republican Study Committee of Colorado (RSCC) has planned a fact-finding trip to Texas to gain firsthand knowledge of the situation with respect to U.S. border security in southern Texas. In just a few weeks (October 5-7), Colorado legislators plan to meet with representatives from the Texas State Legislature, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Military Forces (Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard, Texas State Guard), and perhaps even some local citizen groups during a brief three-day visit.

"With all of the information and misinformation that we see on the topics of immigration and border security, and what they mean to Colorado citizens, we thought that the best approach would be to go gather some real-time information for ourselves," said RSCC Chairman and State Senator Kevin Lundberg, representing Colorado Senate District 15. 

No taxpayer funds will be used for the trip. 

Republican legislators have a history of traveling to the southern border, having made similar visits in 2006 and again in 2010. For legislators, there have been some things that have changed dramatically, and some that haven't changed much at all. The 2010 trip revealed a porous border, some unsettled locals, increasing criminal activity, and frustrated officials. Local ranchers, veterinarians, and others who used to work regularly with their neighbors on the border had seen a dramatic shift in the nature of activity over the years. 

For some legislators, the place to start is to define just what the issues are. "When people talk about immigration', I think it's important to define what we're talking about. Does that mean Naturalization and citizenship? Does it refer to the movement of labor and capital? Does it refer to national security? Does it refer to criminal activity, particularly in drug, slave or sex trafficking? Does it refer to the availability of entitlement programs? Defining and parsing out the issues is an important place to start before we can craft good policy for Colorado," stated Senator Lundberg.

During their 2010 trip to Arizona, RSCC members were "briefed" on that state's new anti-immigrant law SB-1070 by its principal backer, then-Sen. Russell Pearce. Pearce enjoyed brief popularity for his role in passing SB-1070, but within a few years his political career had completely unraveled. Pearce was ousted from his seat in 2011 is Arizona's first-ever successful recall of a sitting legislator. Then just this week, Pearce resigned as vice chairman of Arizona Republican Party after saying this on a local radio show:

"You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I'd do is get [female recipients] Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations,” Pearce said, according to the Phoenix New Times. “Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job."

We assume the RSCC will not be meeting with Mr. Pearce during their trip to the Texas border. With that said, RSCC members who took the trip to see Pearce in 2010 introduced numerous pieces of legislation the following year–both mimicking Arizona's SB-1070 anti-immigrant law, along with other ideas they had heard about on their "fact-finding tour." In the summer of 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down most of SB-1070 as unconstitutional in the landmark case of Arizona vs. United States.

And of course, in the fall of 2012, Democrats retook the Colorado House from the GOP, crushing that party's single-seat, single-term majority in the one chamber they had managed to wrest control of in 2010–and helping lock down what has been the state of affairs in the General Assembly for going on a decade. Immigration wasn't the only factor in the GOP's significant legislative defeats in Colorado last election, but we can safely say that the Colorado GOP's image was not helped by the RSCC's antics in any way. Whatever disappointment Latino voters feel with Democrats for being unable to pass immigration reform, this is the stuff that reminds America's fastest growing bloc of voters who their enemies are in the starkest possible terms.

So, you know, take lots of pictures in Texas.

Weekend Open Thread

"One is never so dangerous when one has no shame, than when one has grown too old to blush."

–Marquis de Sade

Gardner all in on federal personhood bill

(The die is cast – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

The House of Representatives adjourned at noon today, meaning Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner has officially missed his chance to withdraw his name from the Life at Conception Act, a federal personhood bill, prior to the Nov. election.

To uncosponsor the bill, Gardner would have had to make a statement from the House floor, and now the House is out of session until Nov. 12.

In March, Gardner reversed his longstanding support of state personhood amendments.

But in an endlessly puzzling move, the congressman did not also remove his name from the federal personhood bill, saying instead that the federal bill is a toothless symbol–even though numerous fact checkers, like Factcheck.org, think otherwise.

The mystery of why Gardner thinks the Life at Conception Act is symbolic remains unanswered because, well, Gardner won't answer it, saying stuff like, "There is no federal personhood bill."

I guess, if you're a reporter, all you can do is ask the question again and see if a factual explanation emerges.

Betsy Markey Busts Walker Stapleton: Yes You Did Say That

A fundraising email from Democratic state treasurer candidate Betsy Markey today catches Republican Walker Stapleton in a whopper of a lie from their recent debate on Colorado Public Television. As sent to her supporters earlier today:

Tonight is your chance to catch my first debate with Walker Stapleton. It’s airing on Colorado Public Television-12 tonight at 7:30 p.m., or you can catch it on their website…I told you everything we didn’t hear from Walker Stapleton at the debate…no answers on his PERA attacks, his lack of transparency or his embarrassing absenteeism.
 
Of course it wasn’t all silence. Back in 2010, when Walker Stapleton first ran for Treasurer, he had this to say:
 
“It’s time, unfortunately, that everyone that benefits from PERA suffers.”
 
But when he was pushed on those statements at the debate, here’s how he answered:
 
“I never said that.”

Here's the video of the exchange in question:

MARKEY: I'd like to see you come up with a specific solution, instead of suing the PERA board on which you sit for records of the top 20% of the beneficiaries–which is quite frankly privacy information–and uses it as a political football. instead of coming up with a specific change you would like to make, and then you bring it to the state legislature as was done with Senate Bill #1. And it was supported by both Democrats and Republicans. And that's how you make changes, instead of, of basically saying, which you have said, 'it's time for people under PERA to suffer.' Well, I don't want  half a million people, who rely…

STAPLETON: I never said it's time for people to suffer…

MARKEY: Yeah, the Canon City editorial, it was from…

STAPLETON: I said, the only way to fix the problem is shared sacrifice. It's shared sacrifice.

MARKEY: I mean, I'm making, I'm not making, I'm not making this up…

We do have one small correction: Walker Stapleton didn't say "it's time for people under PERA to suffer" in an editorial. As the Canon City Daily Record's Rachel Alexander reported in February of 2010, he said it at a forum hosted by the Fremont County Republicans.

[Stapleton] said he would focus on shoring up the state pension system and that he would be an activist on PERA's board. 

"It's time, unfortunately, that everyone that benefits from PERA suffers," he said. [Pols emphasis]

But folks, he most certainly did say it. We referenced this story back in 2010–the same story in which Stapleton infamously told the soccer moms of Colorado "it’s time education competes for funds." Now, maybe Stapleton doesn't remember all the crazy things he said on the 2010 campaign trail, like warning of "hyperinflation" Glenn Beck-style and claiming the state needed to hoard gold to stay afloat.

The moral of the story? If you say these kinds of embarrassing things, own up to them, even if it's just to admit you were wrong–because denying the permanent record that anyone can find is much worse.

At Least He’s Not Your Secretary of State

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R).

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R).

Our neighbors in Kansas have got a real pickle on their hands trying to sort out that state's U.S. Senate race–a situation that could endanger Republican hopes of taking control of the U.S. Senate this year. The Democratic candidate, prosecutor Chad Taylor, withdrew to avoid splitting votes with independent candidate Greg Orman–a popular candidate with a decent shot at unseating incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.

As the Kansas City Star reports, the state's secretary of state Kris Kobach has gone to extreme lengths to keep Taylor on the ballot, in a brazen effort to protect fellow Republican Sen. Roberts. Yesterday, the Kansas Supreme Court handed Kobach and Roberts a final defeat in the case:

The state Supreme Court Thursday ordered [Kobach] to strike Democrat Chad Taylor from the November ballot for U.S. Senate, ruling Taylor had complied with state law allowing a candidate to withdraw.

Just a few minutes later, Kobach — a Republican — said he’ll tell the Kansas Democratic party to pick a replacement by noon Sept. 26.

It wasn’t immediately clear how Kobach can force Democrats to pick another Senate nominee. Kobach had asked the state Supreme Court to consider such an order in Thursday’s ruling, but the judges said Democrats weren’t a part of the case…

The Democratic nominee withdrew Sept. 3. But Kobach said the withdrawal language lacked the specific language required by state law, and restored him to the ballot.

Taylor sued. Thursday, the court — in an unsigned opinion — said Taylor’s referral to the state law was sufficient to officially remove him from the ballot.

“The Secretary of State thus has no discretion to refuse to remove Chadwick J. Taylor’s name from the ballot,” the court said. There was no published dissent.

Kansas Republicans cry shame, but their complaint is pretty ridiculous on its face:

“The Kansas Supreme Court deliberately, and for political purposes, disenfranchised over 65,000 voters,” said Roberts spokesman Corry Bliss in a statement.

“Liberal activist Supreme Court justices have decided that if you voted in the Democrat primary on August 5th, your vote does not matter, your voice does not matter,” his statement said.

Thus expressing probably the most "concern" Republicans have felt for Democratic primary voters in…well, ever. The real problem here, of course, is that independent candidate Greg Orman is beating GOP Sen. Roberts in the polls. The Kansas Supreme Court dismissed the faux concern from Republicans about "disenfranchised" Democrats, and noted correctly–obviously–that if Chad Taylor doesn't want to be a Senate candidate, and the ballots haven't been printed yet, he doesn't have to be on the ballot. It was reportedly outside the scope of the court's ruling today, but it seems very unlikely that the court will force Democrats to nominate someone else as Kobach seems to want now. Because, well, how exactly can you do that? Kobach's "interpretations" of Kansas election law border on the absurd–which gives you an idea how desperate Kansas Republicans are to protect this Senate seat.

It's worth noting also that Kris Kobach, in addition to being a conservative darling, is a close ally of Colorado's outgoing GOP Secretary of State Scott Gessler. The two have collaborated on projects like Gessler's embarrassing and basically fruitless quest for "thousands" of illegal voters. Gessler, like Kobach, has been shot down hard by the courts for his "novel" interpretations of Colorado election law–interpretations that just happen to benefit Gessler's fellow Republicans.

As you can see, Gessler has plenty of company.

Beauprez says his support for personhood is irrelevant at state level. Not

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

I don't envy reporters who are trying to uncover the logic in gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez's decision to withdraw his support for personhood at the state level but to continue backing federal personhood legislation, even though state and federal personhood laws would do the exact same thing: ban all abortion, even for rape and incest.

In a post yesterday, Denver Post reporter John Frank tried to unravel Beauprez's logic, and he made some headway, reporting that Beauprez apparently believes his abortion stance is irrelevant, because federal law is all that matters regarding abortion, and Beauprez won't "deny what the law provides you."

Beauprez: “The governor has very limited impact on what is really the federal law. Democrats always bring it up because they don’t want to talk about the economy or education or about transportation,” he said. “I don’t know where it is an issue in this campaign.”

Tell that to women and others in Texas, where a state law, under review now by federal judges, could reduce the number of abortion clinics statewide from 41 to just seven or eight–and Texas has over 5 million women of reproductive age.

In the more friendly territory of Colorado, a personhood abortion-ban bill was introduced just last year. What if control of the legislature changed, the bill were passed, and it landed on Beauprez's desk? What about a bill requiring counseling prior to having an abortion or multiple trips to a clinic?

The Guttmacher Institute has a depressing chart that reporters covering Beauprez might want to take a look at, summarizing the 9 categories of state laws restricting abortion.

(more…)

Two Jeffco High Schools Closed Today as Board Backlash Grows

UPDATE: Colorado Public Radio's Jenny Brundin:

Teachers are riled by a couple of issues: one is an ongoing disagreement over pay and the intentions of the new conservative board members. The other is a board proposal to set up a curriculum committee to review what materials teachers use in the classroom.

The resolution stated that history classes in Jefferson County schools should promote “patriotism and the free enterprise system.” It generated controversy at Thursday night’s school board meeting. The resolution was tabled last night but could come up for discussion at a later date.

The controversy prompted about 60 Standley students to line Wadsworth Boulevard, near their school, waving placards and drawing a cacophony of honks from passing cars.

—–

Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk

Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk of the Jefferson County School Board.

As KWGN Channel 2 reports (among others), classes were cancelled today at Standley Lake High School and Conifer High School after a wave of teachers called in sick this morning:

Standley Lake and Conifer high schools will be not have classes Friday because of several teacher absences, the Jefferson County School District said…

…Despite classes being canceled for the day, some students went ahead with a planned protest in support of the teachers.

Teachers are upset with the school board over the district’s new teacher pay model and a proposed curriculum review panel for AP U.S. history classes.

Under the plan, the starting teacher’s salary would go up about $5,000 a year, but raises will be determined based on performance. Teachers rated as ineffective or partially effective would receive only a 1 percent raise or the possibility of no raise at all.

We've been following this story closely as the right-wing Jefferson County School Board announced a plan — unveiled last night — to make changes to how schools teach history and other subjects. 9News education reporter Nelson Garcia has more on the controversy:

The proposal reads: "The charge to the committee is to review curricular choices for conformity to JeffCo academic standards, accuracy and omissions, and to inform the board of any objectionable materials."

[School Board Member Julie] Williams says this is necessary after all the changes to academic standards under the Common Core movement…

…The second part of the proposal reads in part, "Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law."

"I don't think we should encourage kids to be little rebels," Williams said. "We should encourage kids to be good citizens." [Pols emphasis]

The actions of the Jeffco School Board — under Republican control following an election last November — have created plenty of concern for months. Parents and teachers have been concerned about a number of decisions, including the hiring of a new Superintendent (with no competition for finalists), but this move by the conservative board to quite literally change curriculums has stoked a much hotter fire in the community. Public Education has always been the biggest policy issue for Jefferson County voters, and with both teachers and the PTA vocally opposing the Republican school board, candidates from Governor to U.S. Senate could suffer mightily at the polls from this public backlash.

Pueblo Chieftain Smears “Bo” Ortiz for Political Revenge

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Poor Bo. He just can't catch a break from the Pueblo Chieftain.  To inform the public,  Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz voluntarily advised the Pueblo Chieftain about  faulty driver's licenses distributed by  a Colorado Revenue Department vendor, MorphoTrust. The state IDs and licenses were supposed to have a black band across the top, identifying those ineligible to vote, but 524 of these IDs were sent out without the flag. 

The Chieftain chose  to run the ID story on page one, next to a photo of Ortiz, with the banner headline, "Faulty ID Cards Issued", on September 16, 2014. . The teaser subheading on the online edition read, "No concern for voter fraud." Who issued the faulty IDs? Who is unconcerned about voter fraud?  Judging by his photo under the headline, a reasonable reader would infer: Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz.

(more…)

Dems Not “Shying Away From Guns” In SD-19

A new Democratic mailer hitting mailboxes in Colorado Senate District 19, where Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-endorsed arch-conservative Laura Waters Woods is facing off against Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, is noteworthy for its subject matter. Voters are getting lots of material from Republicans about the issue discussed in this mailer this election season. Here's one back at them in one of the state's most important legislative races:

woodsgunsmailer

Inside, the mailer calls out Waters Woods–not just for her opposition to the universal background checks on gun sales that are now law in Colorado, but her RMGO litmus-test opposition to all background checks for gun purchases. Anywhere.

woodsmailerinsert

One of the major criticisms of Democrats in the wake of last year's fierce debate over gun safety legislation passed by the Colorado General Assembly has been the perception that Democrats were unwilling to defend the bills they had passed. There is some validity to this criticism–not any unwillingness of individual elected Democrats like Sen. John Morse to go to the mat for these bills, which they were. Morse in particular, who was recalled by a very small margin after fighting valiantly to keep his seat, was and remains one of the most articulate and persuasive spokespeople for Democrats on gun safety. The problem was that political consultants early on had determined that the risk/benefit to "engaging the gun issue" wasn't worth it.

As those consultants discovered, pretending there's no 800-pound gorilla in the room is not a good strategy.

And the fact is, especially on closing the background check loophole, there was never a good reason to shy away from the issue. Polling on universal background checks is overwhelmingly in favor–above the 80th percentile in most surveys. Worse, the failure to respond to the avalanche of Republican misinformation about the gun bills has allowed it to gain a foothold in the public consciousness: to the point where, even as voters say they want universal background checks in overwhelming numbers, a majority say they "oppose gun control."

How can that cognitive dissonance be undone? The message in this mailer is a start.

Friday Open Thread

Used, abused without clues
I refused to blow a fuse
They even had it on the news
Don't believe the hype…

–Public Enemy

Right Wing Jeffco School Board Seeks “Review” Of History

THURSDAY UPDATE: With the Jeffco Board of Education meeting tonight, the Jefferson County PTA has voted unanimously to oppose the conservative majority's proposed "Curriculum Review Committee." From their release today:

“My board voted unanimously to oppose the formation of this Curriculum Review Committee. Jeffco Schools employs professionals, educational experts, who should be making these decisions. Additionally, Jeffco Schools has a Curriculum and Text Book Review Committee which includes a variety of community participants. I have participated in the text book review process myself and find it to be thorough and adequate and I believe it would irresponsible of the school board to form a committee of citizens chosen solely by a board majority vote,” said Jeffco PTA President Michele Patterson. 

President Patterson continued, “If the board moves forward with this committee, they will be wading into dangerous territory. Censorship is not an issue parents or our Jeffco community will take lightly.” [Pols emphasis]

—–

book-burning

The new conservative majority on the Jefferson County, Colorado Board of Education is barreling ahead with an ideological agenda that continues to provoke major controversy–both behind the scenes and incerasingly in public. Last week, the Jefferson County Education Association issued a vote of 'no confidence' in board chairman Ken Witt, citing among a long list of grievances recent decisions about teacher compensation by the board majority based on a discredited evaluation model.

The latest proposal from the conservative majority, though, could be considered downright chilling:

Board Committee for Curriculum Review.

The committee shall be seated by the Board. Each director may nominated up to three candidates for the committee and the entire board then will vote to select the nine (9) members of the committee. The charge to the committee is to review curricular choices for conformity to JeffCo academic standards, accuracy and omissions, and to inform the board of any objectionable materials. The committee shall regularly review texts and curriculum according to priorities that it establishes, however, at any time, the Board may add items to the list for review. The committee shall report all comments (majority and minority) to the board in writing on a weekly basis as items are reviewed. Board members may move for discussion or action on items reported when matters warrant public discussion or action. The committee’s initial projects will be a review of the AP US History curriculum and elementary health curriculum.

Review criteria shall include the following: instructional materials should present the most current factual information accurately and objectively. Theories should be distinguished from fact. Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage. [Pols emphasis] Content pertaining to political and social movements in history should present balanced and factual treatment of the positions.

A subset of the conservative backlash against the Common Core educational standards supported by the National Governor's Association and others is opposition to the "liberal slant" of new Advanced Placement high school history curricula, in use this year for the first time. It's a very old complaint on the right that public school social studies courses don't teach "American values" to students, which is then attributed to a host of social ills caused by those students failure to be educated in, as you read above, "positive aspects of the United States and its heritage." Educators have long rejected this as partisan political bloviation, but the updated AP courses this year have given conservatives a fresh opportunity to air time-honored grievances.

The biggest problem, of course, is that the new conservative board majority is not constrained by any sense of objective factuality. The will to "fix" the district's curriculum to conform to–or at least facilitate–an ideology has the majority power to override the will of education experts. And it looks like they intend to use that power.

We're not aware of that ever having had a good outcome…you know, in history.

Don Suppes Thinks You’re Stupid

TheWTF-Gang

Earlier this week, we took note of the fact that Republican SD-5 candidate Don Suppes has suspended both of his Twitter accounts following disclosure of a Tweet from last May linking to a white supremacist website as an "interesting read." Suppes, who bills himself as the "most conservative mayor in Colorado," is already in hot water over crazy remarks he made in a recent debate against Democratic opponent Kerry Donovan–and Tweeting this kind of stuff plants Suppes firmly in the ranks of what we are calling the "WTF Gang" of disastrously nutty Republican legislative candidates. Suppes was already on the short list after his weakness United Nations conspiracy theories was exposed earlier this summer.

Yesterday, Suppes responded to the growing controversy over his now-disabled Twitter accounts. Unfortunately, it's almost certainly BS:

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

Campaign Manager Matt Soper said, "The account hacking had been reported to the appropriate authorities." Don Suppes is running for Colorado State Senate, Dist. 5.against Democrat Kerry Donovan. District 5 covers a vast section of south-central Colorado, ranging from Aspen, and Delta,  through the San Luis Valley to the New Mexico border.

There are two key things to understand here. The first is that Suppes maintains 2 separate Twitter accounts (@DonSuppes and @DonSuppes2014), both of which he has suspended — so he expects you to believe that BOTH of his Twitter accounts were hacked? The second is that the offending Tweet in question was posted months ago–all the way back in May — on @DonSuppes2014. It would be one thing if this was a recent Tweet, but the idea that Suppes would have simply let this sit in on his page for months without ever noticing it strains credulity to say the least. And if this was some kind of nefarious Democratic attack, why would they just post this one link with only the words "interesting read?" We have no idea how to go about hacking a Twitter account, but we assume it requires some effort–effort that would either be noticed in the form of "failed login" alerts from Twitter, or noticed because whoever would go through that much trouble would surely do much more damage.

Who would go through the trouble of doing this to a rural Colorado Senate candidate–months ago?

The last instance we can recall of a politician claiming his Twitter account was "hacked" after something untoward was posted to it was former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. Weiner claimed his Twitter account had been hacked, and his infamous "dick pics" uploaded by someone out to get him.

Everybody remembers how that turned out, right?

Bottom line: the Tweets are bad enough by themselves. Suppes' belated cover story about their origin is next to impossible to believe. The most likely scenario is exactly what it looks like: Suppes, a far-right conservative, got caught Tweeting the kinds of offensive stuff far-right conservatives tend to Tweet. When caught, he realized that it looks bad, deleted everything in a panic, and then cooked up a cover story that probably sounds perfectly believable out in Orchard City.

Just not anywhere where people know how these things work.

New Jeffco GOP Chair Calls on Yet Another Candidate to Resign

Ron Sandstrom

Meet Republican Ron Sandstrom, possibly the worst candidate for County Assessor in Jeffco history.

We've written extensively about the myriad of problems facing the Jefferson County Republican Party — and how those troubles may impact statewide races such as U.S. Senate and Governor — but we've got to admit that even we were surprised to see this latest tale of ineptitude from Jeffco Republicans. As John Aguilar of the Denver Post reports, the Republican candidate for County Assessor owes nearly $100,000 in state and federal taxes:

One of the candidates seeking to oversee Jefferson County's property tax system as its next assessor owes thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes at both the federal and state level, according to county records.

Documents on file with the Jefferson County Clerk's Office show Ronald Sandstrom, the Republican candidate for assessor, facing Internal Revenue Service liens of more than $67,000 and unsatisfied judgments from the Colorado Department of Revenue of nearly $22,000.

It's not clear whether Sandstrom has made any progress in settling his tax bill with the IRS, which accrued from 2007 to 2011, but a records technician with the Jefferson County Combined Courts said on Tuesday that Sandstrom's debts with the state — dating to 2010, 2011 and 2013 — are still listed as "unsatisfied."

Sandstrom, who in 1989 opened a consultancy that specializes in property tax disputes, did not return a call or an e-mail request for comment Tuesday.

The delinquency issue was enough to prompt Jefferson County Republican Party Chair E.V. Leyendecker to ask Sandstrom to step aside from the race. Sandstrom has so far refused to do so, Leyendecker said.

"It's disappointing to me," Leyendecker said. "The Republican Party stands for personal responsibility and fiscal responsibility, and this is causing me some problems." [Pols emphasis]

The circus that is the Jefferson County Republican Party continues to rumble on, setting altogether new standards for ridiculousness. To wit…

Last Spring, Jeffco Republicans nominated one Nate Marshall as their candidate in HD-23 before somebody did a simple Google search and found that Marshall had a complicated arrest record and ties to white supremacist groups (whoops!). Marshall was asked to resign his candidacy by then-Jefferson County Republican Party Chairman Bill Tucker, who didn't bother to call a vacancy committee for weeks thereafter — almost costing Republicans their place on the HD-23 ballot.

The HD-23 vacancy committee closed out a contentious Spring for Jeffco Republicans, which included open political warfare between the County Party and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO). Party Chair Tucker ended up quietly resigning soon thereafter, but it didn't take long for his replacement — E.V. Leyendecker – to run into a new set of problems with a seriously-flawed Republican candidate. Ron Sandstrom, the Republican candidate for Jefferson County Assessor (a seat that has been held by Republicans since the dawn of man), has refused Leyendecker's call to drop out of the race, but Republicans are again left to wonder how this could have happened in the first place.

Sandstrom owes about $67,000 in taxes to the federal government, and another $22,000 to the Colorado Department of Revenue. Not only that, but Sandstrom owns and manages a company that specializes in property tax disputes! County Assessor isn't exactly a high-profile position, but you would be hard-pressed to find a candidate for this office whose background was less suited to the job. Did any Republicans bother to do even a cursory background check of Sandstrom? Running Sandstrom for County Assessor is a bit like promoting a candidate for Sheriff who has an extensive criminal record. How do you screw this up?

Given the nature of Jefferson County government races, Sandstrom may well end up beating Democrat Andrew Hassinger regardless of his background. But this is a completely avoidable and unforced error that again damages the image of the entire Jefferson County Republican Party — which is damn scary for candidates relying on Jeffco voters to get elected this fall.

Quinnipiac Senate Poll: Ah, Nevermind

Jumping the polling shark

Meanwhile, over at Quinnipiac University…

The big news in Colorado politics yesterday was the release of a Quinnipiac University poll on the Governor's race showing — rather unbelievably, really — Republican Bob Beauprez leading Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper by an astounding 10-point margin. Quinnipiac's findings were roundly dismissed by political and polling experts around the country, and perhaps rightly so, given that no other publicly-available polls have ever indicated anything even remotely similar in the Governor's race.

So it was that today Quinnipiac released results from its polling of the U.S. Senate race, and guess what? According to Quinnipiac, Republican Congressman Cory Gardner is leading Democratic Sen. Mark Udall by a not-at-all-believable 8 points. As the Mark Matthews of the Denver Post explains:

The survey of more than 1,200 likely Colorado voters favored Gardner 48 to 40 percent to the incumbent Udall, with independent, or unaffiliated, candidate Steve Shogan taking home 8 percent

Quinnipiac's findings depart significantly from a Denver Post poll conducted last week that found Udall leading Gardner by 4 percentage points.

Similarly, Gardner's biggest advantage over Udall before the latest Quinnipiac results was 2 percentage points, according to a tally of more than dozen polls of both likely and registered voters recorded by Real Clear Politics. Other recent polls have shown the Udall and Gardner in a statistical tie or even a Udall advantage.

There is absolutely no political "spin" required in response to this poll, because the explanation is pretty simple: if Quinnipiac is correct, then every other polling outfit in the country has been wrong. Just in case you are still conflicted about the answer to the previous question, consider this nugget from The Post:

Prior to Wednesday's release, Beauprez biggest lead was 1 percentage point, even among other polls of likely voters. Most recent polls have shown the two gubernatorial candidates within the margin of error.

In both of its polls this week, Quinnipiac relied on the same 1,211 likely Colorado voters contacted between Sept. 10 and Sept. 15. [Pols emphasis]

Now, we're no polling experts here at Colorado Pols, but if the same group of respondents are giving you the same outlier answers on the race for Governor and U.S. Senate, it's a good bet that your sample is screwed up. If that isn't evidence enough for you, consider this: Quinnipiac has Independent candidate Steve Shogan picking up enough support for 8 percent of the vote. To understand the silliness of that result, consider that in 2010, there was no Independent candidate for Governor or U.S. Senate who received even 1 percent of the vote. Obviously there are a bunch of undecided voters in the Senate race, which is no surprise, but it's completely absurd to postulate that an Independent candidate is nearing 10% of the vote in Colorado.

You can go ahead and ignore the Quinnipiac polling results from this week — and probably for the rest of the 2014 election cycle. Consider this shark officially jumped.