Meet RMGO’s Latest “Gun Grabber”

The hard-charging Rocky Mountain Gun Owners group has found a new target (metaphorically speaking) for their anger over Colorado’s 2013 gun safety laws:

suthersrmgo

That’s right, folks! Former Attorney General John Suthers, now a candidate for mayor of Colorado Springs, is under fire (again, metaphor) for his “defense” of the 2013 gun laws–both in court defending the state from lawsuits, and in the form of a technical memo on enforcement of the magazine limit law, House Bill 13-1224, that debunked a large percentage of the hysteria being promoted by the very same RMGO.

Former Colorado Attorney General argued AGAINST your Second Amendment rights in court, and now he wants to be Mayor of Colorado Springs. If you or someone you know lives in Colorado Springs, please don’t vote for this gun-grabber.

The detail RMGO director Dudley Brown seems to not wish to acknowledge is that as Colorado’s Attorney General, Suthers was obliged to defend the gun safety laws passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Suthers made no secret of his personal opposition to the 2013 gun laws, but that wasn’t enough to induce Suthers to shirk his duties as AG. We have heard that Suthers found some of the hyperbole from fellow Republicans about the gun laws to be absurd, such as their claims that the laws would ‘ban gun ownership’ or ‘ban all magazines.’ That acknowledgement of reality is a far cry from lumping Suthers in with the dreaded “gun grabbers.”

But as we know after watching RMGO these last few years, reality has little to do with it.

Damn You, Politico!!!

Eli Stokols.

Eli Stokols.

The Columbia Journalism Review takes a look at the departure of Fox 31’s Eli Stokols for Politico — and what it means for his Sunday public affairs show #COPolitics:

…his departure will leave a noticeable hole in coverage of politics and policy in Colorado, and his own station isn’t sure yet how it might be filled.

“I’m not positive what we will do when he leaves. Still working on that,” said Holly Gaunt, the news director and vice president for KDVR and its sister station KWGN. “Covering politics will still be important to us, but at this stage I don’t know how things will shake out.”…

…And since he’ll be assessing day-to-day Colorado news from the perspective of a consumer rather than a producer, I asked what he hopes to see more of when he’s gone. More enterprise coverage, for one, he said. (I agree.)

And, he added, “I’d like to see people here be a little tougher on some of the people that we cover. I don’t know if I saw that enough in the campaign coverage last year. There seems to be a reluctance to hold people accountable for policy positions. [Pols emphasis]

“I think for the most part people here do a good job,” he continued, “but I think it’s tough when you have these relationships and you’re everybody’s friend to really bang peoples’ heads around because you don’t want to do it. There’s always that catch between access and holding people accountable.”

Stokols starts his new job as a national political reporter with Politico in April.

“Anti-Vaxxer Bill of Rights” Gets Euthanized Today

UPDATE: An amusing sidenote via Twitter, as posted by Rep. Patrick Neville, House sponsor of the so-called “Parent’s Bill of Rights.”

“Parent’s deserve rights?” It seems Rep. Neville is exempt too.

—–

Measles.

Measles.

AP via 7NEWS reports, a bill that was never going to pass, and has arguably damaged Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly much more than it ever helped them is set to die this afternoon in a Democratic-controlled House committee:

Democrats are expected Tuesday to kill a Republican bill giving parents broad authority over their children’s school curriculum and medical treatment…

Republican sponsors have called it a needed check on government. The bill passed the Senate last month.

But Democrats control the House and say the measure goes too far. It limits schools from providing non-emergency medical care without a parent’s permission. Democrats say that’s a recipe for hiding child abuse.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

As opponents testified at every stop during this bill’s trip through the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate, there are a huge number of excellent reasons to oppose the so-called “Parent’s Bill of Rights.” Advocates for children and organizations devoted to fighting child abuse argued that the legislation would make it harder for schools to intervene in abuse cases. Public health experts warned of disastrous consequences for important programs like the Colorado Healthy Kids Survey, an anonymous and already optional questionnaire regarded as critical for making informed decisions about a broad range of issues affecting young people.

But by far the biggest controversy with Senate Bill 15-077, and the one that caught the attention of local and national media, is the bill’s further easing of already-weak regulations in Colorado on the vaccination of school age children. With an epidemic of measles in California making national news, along with ongoing local outbreaks of whooping cough and controversy over Colorado’s last-place rank among the 50 states for vaccination of children, the Senate GOP caucus totally lost control over the optics of this bill–which morphed, despite the protestations of “moderates” like Ellen Roberts, into the “Anti-Vaxxer Bill of Rights.” And the fact is, Roberts and others who voted for this bill have no one to blame but their fellow Republicans, after Sens. Laura Waters Woods and Tim Neville contradicted with their own words Roberts’ insistence that this was “spun by the media” into an anti-vaccination debate.

We expect Roberts will not be overly saddened to see this bill die today despite her vote for it. But for Roberts and all of the Senate Republicans who voted with her, the damage is already done.

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Thanks For Nothing, John McCain and Lindsey Graham

Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham.

Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham.

The Denver Post’s John Frank reports obligingly on an upcoming event sponsored by his newspaper and developer Larry Mizel’s pet “education” project, the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL):

A former Republican presidential candidate and a White House hopeful will visit Denver next month to discuss violent extremism in the world and how the United States should respond.

U.S. Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are the featured speakers at the April 1 event hosted by The CELL and The Denver Post. Ed Henry, the chief White House correspondent for Fox News, will moderate the 7 p.m. program at the Denver Performing Arts complex.

The discussion will include the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Iran and the growth of extremism in Europe, according to the organizers.

Anyone. Anytime. Anywhere. Be afraid.

Anyone. Anytime. Anywhere. Be afraid!

It’s surprising–or maybe it’s not, depending on how cynical you are–that Frank fails to mention Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham’s most recent contribution to the debate over American foreign policy. McCain and Graham are both signers of the now-infamous letter from 47 Republican Senators to the government of Iran, attempting to undermine President Barack Obama’s authority to broker an agreement to halt that nation’s nuclear weapons program. The fierce backlash by the public against this letter has since caused McCain to backtrack, claiming the letter was signed in haste as Senators were leaving Washington ahead of bad weather–but not actually admitting it was a bad idea like more or less every responsible outside observer has.

Then again, a whitewash of this recent foreign policy embarrassment would be about right considering the event’s hosts. Mizel’s Counterterrorism Education “Learning Lab” has been described by critics as more of a propaganda tool for spreading fear of the tactic of terrorism among the public–thus short-circuiting discussion of underlying issues–than a legitimate public education project. The central exhibit’s name “Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere” captures the sense of paranoia “awareness” the place is meant to foster.

All of which we have to assume is fine with McCain and Graham, who would rather you be afraid like the CELL teaches visitors to be than think critically about American foreign policy. Especially when that might lead to pointed questions for them personally.

Get More Smarter on St. Patrick’s Day

GMS-GreenGreen beer? Drink away. Green milk? Not so much. 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 legislators are taking up the issue of police brutality today with a handful of bills, including increasing the number of body cameras.

► The so-called “Parent’s Bill of Rights” (also known as the “No Rights for Children”) should finally meet its inevitable end today in the State House.

► Meet state Sen. Chris Holbert (R-Rich People Only).

 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Things You’re Not Supposed To Admit, Chris Holbert Edition

Sen. Chris Holbert (R).

Sen. Chris Holbert (R).

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reported Saturday on the death earlier this month of Senate Bill 15-118, a bill that would have upped the incentive for Colorado middle class families to save for college tuition via the CollegeInvest program:

Senate Bill 118 concerned Coloradans who save for college through a not-for-profit state agency called CollegeInvest, where money is put into what are known as 529 plans.

As amended, the proposal from Merrifield, a Colorado Springs Democrat, would have eliminated the state income tax break for those earning more than $500,000 a year, while doubling it for those making less than $150,000 a year. Coloradans earning between $150,000 and $500,000 would still receive some tax break.

The bill died March 5 on a 3-2 party-line vote in the GOP-controlled Senate Finance Committee, where Sen. Chris Holbert made a statement that stunned Democrats and bill supporters.

We’d say on an objective scale, this was pretty stunning.

“I represent a part of a county that has the sixth-highest income demographic in the nation,” the Parker Republican said. “The people who elected me and who I represent, many are in those upper-income brackets.” [Pols emphasis]

So-called “529” plans like Colorado’s CollegeInvest program enable tax-deferred investments to save for a designated beneficiary’s college education. In Colorado, families can also claim a tax credit against their state income tax for the amount they invest in 529 plans. Under Merrifield’s bill, wealthy 529 plan investors would still benefit from their tax-advantaged status, but wouldn’t qualify for the additional state income tax credit unless their income is under $500,000 per year.

Republicans at every level of government face a significant message setback when trying to justify policies that either disregard the interest of or actively work against the middle class voters who make up the bulk of the electorate. We’ve seen this manifest over and over in the last few years, with phrases like “attacking job creators” and “class warfare” nervously appropriated by Republicans to avoid having to say simple declarative things like “I represent the rich people.”

Politically this is not difficult to understand, since there are simply not enough rich people to form an electoral majority–and even among the Republican rank-and-file, blind fealty to the upper class is breaking down as middle class incomes stagnate while the rich get richer.

That is why this statement we assume Sen. Chris Holbert made without any hesitation is so shocking. Republicans work hard to pigeonhole Democrats as the party that represents the only very poorest Americans–those “other” Americans it’s broadly assumed are “lazy” and “not pulling their weight.” Democrats respond that they have the interests of the middle class at heart–in this case families saving for college–and that Republicans have become the party of only the very rich.

And here you have the deciding vote on a bill to help the middle class candidly admitting it. The political significance of that, even if you’re not surprised, should be very great indeed.

Mag Limit Crazy Talk: A Trip Down Memory Lane

UPDATE #2: As expected, Senate Bill 15-175 passes the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate. After one more roll call vote, the bill heads to the House to die.

—–

UPDATE: Debate now underway:

—–

Today, the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate is set to debate and pass on second reading Senate Bill 15-175, legislation repealing the 15-round limit on gun magazine capacity passed by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly in 2013. A lively floor debate is expected to begin shortly.

As we have documented in this space, the gun lobby and allied Republicans have consistently relied on wildly hyperbolic predictions about what the magazine limit law would do in order to fire up public opposition and derail the national debate over gun safety. Today, as the Senate debates the repeal of the magazine limit, we’d like to share few clips of video about the magazine limit bill that we want to see, you know, justified.

Here’s one to start with: in March of 2013, then-Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman proposed that the Department of Natural Resources be “shut down,” since hunters will not be coming to Colorado–“because you can’t bring your weapons here.”

As we know back here in reality, the number of hunting permits issued in Colorado has surged since the passage of the 2013 magazine limit. It would appear that hunters figured out that what Cadman was saying wasn’t true in the least.

And then there’s Sen. Kent Lambert, who claimed in 2013 that “we have banned, effectively banned gun ownership, from the citizens of the state.”

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BREAKING: Steve House Ousts Ryan Call

MONDAY UPDATE: A telling “Retweet” from ousted GOP chairman Ryan Call says it all:

callpalacio

And with that, Ryan Call washes his hands of you. FOX 31:

Just four months after helping to engineer the Colorado GOP’s first big statewide victory in 12 years, Chairman Ryan Call is out of a job.

Steve House was elected over Call by more than 400 Republican delegates at the party’s the annual meeting in Douglas County by the Republican State Central Committee.

Call, who was seeking a third term, was ousted as a result of frustration from both the grassroots and establishment sides of the party.

AP:

Call said the party still faces serious challenges going into the 2016 elections, and he wished House “the best of luck.”

Even though the party is coming off its best election in years, some Republican activists say results could have been better with someone else in charge.

Last November, Colorado saw 100,000 more Republican votes than Democratic votes. But Democrats hung on to the governor’s office and the state House.

—–

UPDATE 12:00PM: Steve House’s victory over Ryan Call now official, reportedly a 57-43% margin. House now giving his victory speech.

—–

Word just reaching us from the Colorado Republican Party’s reorg meeting–former Adams County GOP chairman Steve House has defeated incumbent Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call on the first ballot. We’ll update shortly with coverage.

And remember, you heard it here first.

Monday Open Thread

“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.”

–Nikos Kazantzakis

BREAKING: Ted Harvey New Exec. Director of Colorado GOP

Former Sen. Ted Harvey (R).

Former Sen. Ted Harvey (R-Douglas County) will be the new Executive Director of the State Republican Party.

Colorado Republicans today selected former Adams County Republican Party Chair Steve House to replace Ryan Call as State Republican Party Chair (this outcome was first predicted by Colorado Pols on Thursday).

As part of the State Party reorganization, Republicans intend to change their bylaws so that Party Chair is no longer a full-time salaried position (which was how the GOP used to operate before making the Dick Wadhams exception last decade). This means that the top full-time job with the Republican Party will revert back to the role of Executive Director…which is apparently going to be filled by former State Sen. Ted Harvey.

Harvey has been telling folks at today’s Republican reorganization meeting that he will assume the role of Executive Director as soon as Monday. Harvey is an interesting choice, to say the least; he is a somewhat polarizing figure among Republicans who has been recently working to raise money for the controversial “Scam PAC” Stop Hillary PAC. We’ll have more to say about that in the coming days.

We’ll update as we learn more, but as always, you heard it here first.

Get More Smarter on Friday (March 13)

Get More SmarterFor the second month in a row, the 13th falls on a Friday. 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 will meet tomorrow to select their State Party Leaders for the next two years. As first reported at Colorado Pols yesterday, incumbent Chair Ryan Call is expected to lose his job to challenger Steve House. Click here for more on tomorrow’s election.

► Excuse me, but is that an IUD you are wearingJohn Frank of the Denver Post reports on the newest “aborti-fashion,” as Republicans might call it, taking place at the State Capitol.

 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

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DO NOT Help Doug Bruce Cheat Taxpayers

Doug Bruce. Mug shot courtesy Colorado Department of Law.

Doug Bruce. Mug shot courtesy Colorado Department of Law.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Monica Mendoza reports, the recall election against embattled Councilwoman Helen Collins will proceed:

Colorado Springs City Clerk Sarah Johnson, with input from Colorado Springs Municipal Court Judge HayDen Kane, ruled Thursday that recall petitions are valid and voters in District 4 will be asked on the April 7 ballot if they want to recall Collins, who also faces an investigation by the city’s Ethics Commission that alleges a questionable real estate deal with tax-limitation author and felon Douglas Bruce…

[N]o matter how the election ends, Collins faces an ethics complaint that alleges she participated in a real estate deal with Bruce that helped him avoid payment of a nearly $7,600 court judgment he owes the city.

The complaint, brought against Collins by the Colorado Springs City Attorney’s Office, was filed with the city’s Independent Ethics Commission on Jan. 21. After a 70-minute closed-door meeting March 5, the commission found that the complaint against Collins was within the panel’s jurisdiction and wasn’t frivolous and therefore should be investigated.

Via the Colorado Springs Independent, recall organizers are eagerly moving ahead–from their statement yesterday:

Her unethical and possibly illegal real estate deal with convicted felon Doug Bruce, as reported by the news media, may have cheated Colorado Springs taxpayers out of thousands of dollars. [Pols emphasis] It is the most telling example yet of the possible corruption she has brought to City Hall.

With an ongoing ethics probe and possible criminal investigation hanging over her, it would be best for our district and the entire city if Helen Collins would step down now. City government faces enough challenging issues just ahead of next month’s election without having to deal with this cloud of controversy a day longer.

As the author of the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), Doug Bruce is an icon of the conservative movement to ratchet down the size of government. TABOR’s many convoluted provisions capping revenue, and complicating elections to raise taxes–far beyond the publicly salable requirement that voters approve tax increases–have seriously compromised the state’s ability to provide for basic responsibilities like roads, education, and health care.

That this central conservative policy achievement is the brainchild of a convicted felon tax cheat is something Republicans aren’t as eager to discuss. After Bruce was appointed to the Colorado legislature, his bad mannered antics led to a rare censure, and he was “euthanized” by HD-15 voters in 2008 in favor of Rep. Mark Waller. In December of 2011, Bruce was convicted of felony tax evasion and attempted bribery charges, and served just over 100 days in jail.

Honestly, is there anyone reading this who would be surprised that Doug “Mr. TABOR” Bruce is still cheating taxpayers? Didn’t think so!  All we can say is, the continuing follies of convicted tax cheat Doug Bruce ought to be a message problem for more Republican politicians than Helen Collins–or at the very least, raise basic questions about the true motives behind TABOR.

Don’t you think?