Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 22)

GetMoreSmarter-EarthHappy Earth Day! Or, if you’re into that kind of thing, Happy Administrative Professionals’ Day. 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…

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Angry) is the Chair of the House Veterans’ Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. It is supposed to be his job to provide oversight for stuff like, say, a complete mess of a VA Hospital project in Aurora. Coffman may not have much in the way of solutions for the VA’s problems, but that isn’t stopping him from raising money off of the scandal. Coffman’s spokesman had a bunch of gibberish to say in response to these allegations, but the best line of the story — which was picked up nationally — comes from Lynn Bartels in “The Spot” blog:

Less than six months ago, Coffman posted on his congressional web site an opinion piece thanking him for not being one of the members of Congress using the VA problems for fundraising.

D’oh!

Fetal homicide Personhood legislation will be introduced today in the State Senate.

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) apparently doesn’t think the Sage Grouse is so greater. As Bruce Finley of the Denver Post reports:

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner will introduce legislation in Congress on Wednesday that would bar the federal government from listing greater sage grouse as endangered and give western states six more years to revive grouse populations on their own…

…”We have an obligation to future generations to conserve and recover this species,” [said Gardner]. “But we can do it on our terms. Let’s put Coloradans in charge, let’s put Westerners in charge of the West.”

“Let’s put Westerners in charge of the West!” Who comes up with this crap?

 
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Wednesday Open Thread

“Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.”

–E. B. White

Mike Coffman Raising Money Off VA Hospital Scandal He’s Supposed to Oversee

What, you expected more of me?

What, you expected more of me?

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. It is, ostensibly, his job to have done something — anything — to prevent the disaster that has become the still-under-construction VA Hospital in Aurora.

Coffman hasn’t done much of anything in the way of “oversight,” but he sure moves quickly when it comes to using the VA Hospital scandal to raise money for his re-election campaign. As Buzzfeed explains:

“The outrageous mismanagement of the Colorado VA Hospital in Aurora is just one example of how the VA is failing our veterans and placing their basic needs at risk,” reads the page on Coffman’s site linked from the Google ad. “For more than a decade, Colorado’s veterans have been promised the state-of-the-art healthcare the hospital will provide – and yet it still sits unfinished and massively over-budget.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee slammed Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema for fundraising off of the VA scandal in the last election.

If you find Coffman’s actions more than a little bit distasteful, well…shame on YOU, says a Coffman spokesman (who is totally not overreacting or anything):

Of course the left wing flacks over on Maryland Ave. who are pitching this story don’t want Mike to talk about his leadership on the campaign trail. The brass over at the VA is kind of hoping Mike shuts up about it too. But let me break the bad news to both – Mike Coffman is going to keep pounding away on the VA’s corruption, whether he is at work in Washington, or whether he is campaigning in Colorado, whether he is driving on Floyd Hill, or running on his tread mill. And the VA page is a petition page, not a fundraising page. Sleazy attacks don’t work on Mike Coffman, people. They just don’t. [Pols emphasis]

Got that? Anybody who complains about this is just sleazy. Mad Mike Coffman is totally not sleazy, and he’s totally not raising money off of the VA’s problems. The link on his website just happens to take you to a page where you could give Coffman money, but that’s not necessarily fundraising, right? Heh heh. Right?

All Is Forgiven, “Dr. Chaps”

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

In the aftermath of the horrific attack on a pregnant Longmont woman last month, Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt said the crime was “the curse of God upon America” for allowing abortions. Klingenschmitt, no stranger to controversy as a frequent utterer of over-the-top claims about demon-possessed liberals and so forth, was hit with some of the harshest criticism yet–and was removed from his post on the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee by his fellow Republicans. As Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso said on March 31st:

“I was very disturbed by Representative Klingenschmitt’s comments last week and want to reiterate that his comments do not represent our caucus and he does not speak for our caucus. As House Minority Leader my ability to discipline a member of our caucus is limited. Representative Klingenschmitt’s conduct warranted his removal from the committee,” House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland) said in a statement.

Question: just how disturbing were these comments to Minority Leader DelGrosso, really?

Answer: about three weeks’ worth. The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Megan Schrader Tweets today:

Because every legislator is required to serve on at least one committee, Rep. Klingenschmitt was only removed from the Health, Insurance, and Environment Committee, and retained his post on the Local Government Committee. But the outcry over Klingenschmitt’s comments about the attack on Michelle Wilkins in Longmont was quite broad, and his removal from the HIE committee by Minority Leader DelGrosso was in response to an avalanche of phone calls and emails from the public.

We have to wonder how the public will take the news of his reinstatement only three weeks later–assuming they hear about it at all.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 21)

We’ve been up early celebrating 4/21. 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…

► The U.S. Senate may finally get around to voting on President Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. If you had “five months” in the pool for “How long will it take for Republicans to approve a new Attorney General?” you might win some money.

► Look on the bright side, Rep. Ken Buck. You almost made it four whole months in D.C. without breaking the law. Don’t forget, Polsters: You read it here first.

 

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BREAKING: D.C. Attorney General Investigating Ken Buck’s Assault Weapon

UPDATE #3: The Denver Post updates, authorities in D.C. wash their proverbial hands:

Tuesday, the U.S. Capitol Police, which are responsible for protecting Congress, said everything was OK. Same goes for D.C. authorities, who wrote Tuesday afternoon that Capitol Police were handling the matter.

That’s a slight change from midday Tuesday, when it appeared as if D.C. authorities might investigate the gun and the photo. [Pols emphasis] A spokesman with the Office of the Attorney General in D.C. said the matter had been referred to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ken Buck is doing what politicians do best with any controversy–fundraising!

The Second Amendment exists to protect your God-given right to bear arms. The actions by Anti-Gun Liberals against Trey Gowdy and me are just another attempt to strip us of our rights. Donate here today to help strengthen our fight against anti-gun activists.

It’s good to be a lawmaker. Original post follows.

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UPDATE #2: The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews:

The post soon attracted the attention of the liberal blog Colorado Pols, which raised the question of whether Buck was showcasing an illegal assault weapon in his Capitol Hill office. At issue was whether Buck was in violation of the strict gun laws of Washington D.C — which prohibit assault weapons that include the AR-15…

A spokesman with the Office of the Attorney General in Washington said the matter was referred to the Metropolitan Police Department. A call and email to D.C. police were not immediately returned with comment.

“We have received several inquiries about the situation and have referred them and all relevant information to the Metropolitan Police Department for investigation,” said Robert Marus, spokesman for the D.C. attorney general. [Pols emphasis]

Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?

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UPDATE: The Hill adds an update that’s not good for Ken Buck:

The spokesman for the D.C. Attorney General Office reiterated that AR-15s are prohibited in the city.

“It is illegal to possess an AR-15 in the District,” the spokesman said. [Pols emphasis]

Note the absence of the words “unless you’re a Republican.” Developing…

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gowdybuckgun

The Hill’s Tim Devaney reports, but you read it here first:

Two Republican congressmen who posed for a picture with an assault rifle are coming under scrutiny from the District of Columbia’s attorney general office.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) last week tweeted a picture of himself and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the leader of the House GOP’s Benghazi investigation, holding an AR-15…

Having the AR-15 in the Cannon House Office Building could be a violation of the District’s strict gun laws, and the Washington, D.C., attorney general’s office is “looking into the matter,” a spokesman told The Hill.

According to The Hill, Rep. Ken Buck claims he obtained permission from the U.S. Capitol Police to display his very real AR-15 assault rifle in his office in the Cannon House Office Building. Our understanding is that may not wash with the D.C. attorney general, however, even if the bolt carrier assembly for the weapon has been removed as Buck claims. For one thing, firearms law is specific that the “lower receiver” section of a gun is what counts legally, and that’s still present. And regardless of what other parts are present, the 30-round magazine attached to the rifle is illegal in D.C. without exception.

It’s not like pushing the boundaries of gun laws is unheard of among gun-happy Republican lawmakers. Here in Colorado, an unknown but significant number of state legislators take advantage of an obscure loophole in the law to carry concealed weapons in the state capitol building–a building where everyone else has to check their iron and pass through metal detectors.

In this case, we suspect Buck may have pushed the boundaries a bit too far. Stay tuned for updates.

Get More Smarter on Monday (April 20)

Heyy, mannn, happy 4/20! 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…

► The Veterans Administration still needs about $830 million to complete the Aurora hospital project. It will cost about $340 million more just to get the thing up and running.

► “Fiscal thicket. Fiscal thicket. Fiscal thicket.” Say that as fast as you can. The Colorado legislature has signed off on the $25-ish billion budget, and it now heads to the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper for final approval.

► Meanwhile, Gov. Hickenlooper is pushing a proposal for dealing with budget/TABOR problems that need to be changed in order to continue to maintain our infrastructure (you know, roads and stuff). Most major business groups support Hickenlooper’s proposal, but the Koch-funded “Americans for Prosperity Potholes” is jumping around and shrieking like monkeys while trying to claim that this is some sort of tax increase (it’s not). Republican Sen. Randy Baumgardner may poop in the punchbowl today.

 

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Who Is Polling Laura Woods’ District?

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

We received word today of a live poll conducted this past weekend in Colorado Senate District 19, the highly competitive Jefferson County district currently represented by Sen. Laura Waters Woods. Back in February, we noted rumors that Republicans are looking for a primary opponent for Woods–or a replacement in the unlikely event she would agree to step aside–out of concern that she won’t be able to hold this pivotal seat against a strong Democratic challenger in 2016. We haven’t yet received audio of this weekend’s poll, but here’s a description we were forwarded:

It was a live survey and lasted between five and ten minutes. The first question was favorable/unfavorable regarding Sen. Woods. Answering unfavorable, the pollster then asked if the receipient could be persuaded to support a different Republican candidate [Pols emphasis] and ask what issues might be persuasive. No other candidates were mentioned by name.

The Woods questions were followed by issue questions about guns, abortion, TABOR, tax credits for the poor, and health care. Finally, the survey asked about support for Jeffco school board members Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams.

Democrats we’ve spoken to say their side is not responsible for this poll, and the questions as recounted to us–whether respondents would support a different Republican candidate–do not point to a Democratic source. We haven’t heard any names mentioned as potential Republican primary challengers for Sen. Woods, but we wouldn’t expect to hear about them until there’s enough data to persuade one to undertake the challenge.

And to obtain that, you need polling. Stay tuned, we don’t think GOP intentions in SD-19 will be a mystery for very long. As soon as we learn who exactly is shadowing this most contentious of 2016 state legislative races, we’ll update.

Jeffco School Board’s Julie Williams Promotes Student Walk Out Against “Perverse Indoctrination”

SUNDAY UPDATE #2: Embattled Jeffco school board member Julie Williams does have someone in her corner–Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt:

chapswilliams2

Something tells us this is not the kind of backup Williams’ press handlers are looking for…

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SUNDAY UPDATE: It’s possible that not even the army of Republican media flacks now working for the Jefferson County Board of Education’s conservative majority can save board member Julie Williams now, as her preposterous excuses for posting a link to an anti-LGBT hate group help drive the expanding story–9NEWS’ Jonathan Gonzales reports:

After 9NEWS received numerous complaints from some students, parents and teachers, board member Julie Williams said she was simply trying to inform parents who had been asking her for more information about the protest, which is known as the “Day of Silence.”

“I posted it as information because I believe parents have the right to know what’s happening in our schools, and then it’s up to a parent whether they want to opt in or out,” [Pols emphasis] Williams told 9NEWS. “Should’ve read it before I posted it. I mean I did make a serious mistake there with that.”

And FOX31’s Kent Erdahl:

The “Day of Silence” is a silent protest conducted by students across the country each year, designed to raise awareness of bullying, especially involving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

“Seven out of 10 gay and lesbian students experience harassment just because of who they are,” said Dave Montez, with One Colorado. [Pols emphasis]

Jeffco board member Julie Williams says when several parents asked her about the Day of Silence last week, she didn’t know what to tell them…

The problem here is obvious to anyone who knows anything about Julie Williams, a close family member of the “Neville Nutters” clan of far-right Republican political figures. The reason Williams posted a fringe anti-LGBT hate group’s information about a walkout to counter the Day of Silence protests against bullying is simple: that’s where she gets her information from as a member of the far-right fringe. Although some of the worst examples have reportedly been purged along with this latest post, Williams’ Facebook page has lots of examples of the kind of fringy “wisdom” that we have every reason to assume informs her votes on the school board.

As for not having read the link she posted, that would have to be so literally true–the very first sentence contains the words “perverse indoctrination”–that it’s difficult to believe. It’s a much more likely scenario to us that one of the aforementioned press flacks had to explain to Ms. Williams how “perverse indoctrination” is not an acceptable way for a board member to refer to a district-sanctioned event against bullying LGBT students.

And we’d say that speaks for itself. Original post follows.

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UPDATE: Via Chalkbeat Colorado’s Nic Garcia, full retreat:

Jefferson County school board member Julie Williams said late Friday that she was “sincerely sorry” and that she would remove a link on her personal Facebook page that she shared that encouraged families to keep their students home Friday and “away from perverse indoctrination” of the“homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda.”

“To be honest with you, I didn’t read the article,” Williams said. “I just saw it and thought I was sharing information with parents.” [Pols emphasis]

…SaveCalifornia.com describes itself as a “frontline pro-family leader standing strong for moral virtues for the common good.” But the Southern Poverty Law Center considers the organization a hate group, akin to the white supremacy political party American Freedom Party and Westboro Baptist Church.

…Williams’ post, first revealed Friday afternoon by the political blog ColoradoPols.com, will likely provide grist for her critics. [Pols emphasis]

Yes, that seems likely. Original post follows…

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doswalkout

Julie Williams of the Jefferson County School Board.

Julie Williams of the Jefferson County School Board.

A Facebook post from Jefferson County School Board member Julie Williams, who gained infamy last year as the main proponent of a politically biased “review” of AP U.S. History that led to massive protests by students, is promoting…well, a walk out by students–but not for the same reasons that Jeffco students had last fall. From the link she shared:

If you have children in K-12 government schools, in California or another state, please keep them home and away from perverse indoctrination on Friday, April 17.

That’s the day of the so-called “Day of Silence,” where sexually confused students and teachers refuse to speak during the entire academic day. They’ll indoctrinate everybody else through handouts and chalkboard writings and videos and other propaganda tools. They’ll teach children to support and embrace the unnatural and unhealthy homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda and will label anyone who’s against it a “bigot,” a “hater,” or worse…

[N]o matter what, please keep your children home on April 17, to express your strong disapproval of the pro-perversity state school bureaucracy. Your children’s hearts and minds matter!

Today marks the annual Day of Silence, a protest originally organized by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network and carried out autonomously by students and faculty nationwide to raise awareness about bullying and violence against LGBT students. The event is opposed by the organization that sent out the above action alert, the Campaign for Children and Families, which has been heavily involved in the battle against marriage equality in California and elsewhere.

Now, given the umbrage Williams took with students who walked out in protest against reviewing the district’s history curriculum to ensure it “promotes patriotism,” isn’t it hypocritical to encourage students to stay out of school to protest the LGBT Day of Silence? That’s the question we ask before the real question, which is how Williams can conscionably promote this hateful vitriol against “perverse” students she is charged with representing as a member of the school board.

Unfortunately, we already know the answer to the second question. She got elected.

Ken Buck Poses With Illegal Assault Weapon?

Freshman Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado Tweeted this photo of himself yesterday:

gowdybuckgun

This is a photo of Rep. Buck with fellow Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina. The rifle they are holding is an AR-15 that Buck identifies as his own.

The problem? Assuming this photo was taken inside the boundaries of Washington, D.C., Ken Buck, the former district attorney of Weld County, Colorado, is now a lawbreaker. The AR-15 rifle is banned in the District of Columbia as an assault weapon, and gun magazines are limited to 10 rounds. As you can clearly see, Buck’s AR-15 (illegal in D.C.) is fitted with a 30-round magazine (illegal in D.C.). Under D.C.’s strict gun laws, weapons must also be registered–and obviously, you can’t do that if the weapon is already illegal to possess. All of these laws remain in effect even if your gun is painted with American flags.

Two years ago, NBC News’ David Gregory narrowly escaped prosecution in Washington, D.C., simply for bringing an unloaded 30 round magazine onto the set of his news broadcast. Short of a really good explanation we can’t think of right now–or, we suppose, the possibility this photo was taken across the Potomac in Virginia–we assume the D.C. Metropolitan Police will want to have a little chat with Rep. Buck about this.

All Hail Dudley Brown. Or Not.

kneelzod1UPDATE: More on the “failed coup attempt” from the Colorado Statesman.

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Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post has more today on the bizarre coup attempt from a handful of Republican legislators doing the desperate bidding of Dudley Brown and his Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO).

As you read yesterday at Colorado Pols, Brown called into a conservative radio station to simultaneously complain and brag about Republicans pulling an unheard-of legislative maneuver on the House Floor. Bartels caught up with some GOP legislators yesterday, and they were not at all pleased with the kneeling:

The schism among conservatives over Colorado’s gun laws widened this week when four House Republicans formed a secret pact and pushed for a procedural move that exposes five members to potentially tough primaries in 2016.

“It was a clever idea, but it put some people in a very bad position,” said Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose. “We’re going to be talking about this until the end of the session.”…

…Senate Bill 175 died Monday in a Democratic-controlled House committee, but four GOP representatives — Steve Humphrey of Severance, Justin Everett of Littleton, Kim Ransom of Douglas County and Patrick Neville of Castle Rock — hatched a plan to try to resurrect the failed effort to repeal the ammunition ban so that it could be debated on the House floor.

“We forced a recorded vote,” [Dudley] Brown said on 630 KHOW radio Thursday. “Five Republicans voted wrong and all five of them are suspect and in danger in the next primary.” [Pols emphasis]

Reps. Brian DelGrosso and Polly Lawrence: Republicans in Charge by Title Only

Republicans In Charge by Title Only: Reps. Brian DelGrosso and Polly Lawrence await Dudley Brown’s instructions.

As noted by the Post, 26 Republican legislators supported the failed procedural move, including House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso and Assistant Minority Leader Polly Lawrence. It would appear as though Rep. Lawrence was not a big fan of the strategy — even though she supported it — because she had no idea it was coming.

Lawrence said GOP leadership was blindsided.

“Some communication would have been nice,” she said. “What happened on the floor was unnecessary.”

For years Republicans have used the term “RINO” (Republicans In Name Only) to describe other Republicans who don’t act sufficiently Republican enough.

Maybe it’s time for a new acronym. May we suggest: RICTO (Republicans in Charge by Title Only).

 

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 17)

MoreSmarterLogo-Hat1Rain, or snow? Yes! 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 Gov. John Hickenlooper is taking a big step forward in urging the legislature to do more to deal with Colorado’s fiscal/TABOR woes. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem a bit confused at the timing of Hickenlooper’s “Fiscal Thicket” plan, given that only four weeks remain in the current legislative session.

► The U.S. Senate will hold a field hearing on the status of the VA Hospital project in Aurora next Friday. As Mark Matthews writes for the Denver Post:

A day after the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs ripped into the VA for its role in building a new Colorado hospital now expected to cost $1.73 billion — more than five times its original estimate — the Senate veterans’ affairs committee announced plans to hold a field hearing on the issue April 24 in Aurora.

Colorado Sens. and had urged their colleagues to visit the state to investigate the troubled project, which has been beset by delays, cost overruns, and legal battles.

Do we really need the Senate Committee on Veteran’s Affairs to come to Aurora to understand that the hospital project is a complete mess?

 
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