House Republicans Concerned About New McCarthy Era

Rep. Ken Buck (right), with his gun.

Rep. Ken Buck, right, pictured with Rep. Trey Gowdy, whom John Boehner reportedly recruited to succeed him as Speaker.

Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck says that he plans to vote for California Rep. Kevin McCarthy as the next Speaker of the House, which is some of the better news that we’ve seen about McCarthy in the last week.

Congressional Republicans have been less than pleased with the recent actions of McCarthy, the current House Majority Leader, particularly after his comments earlier this week that framed the Benghazi hearings as a purely political stunt aimed at harming the Presidential aspirations of Democrat Hillary Clinton. CNN has more on the blowback:

House Republicans on Wednesday sharply repudiated Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s comments that suggested the Benghazi oversight committee had succeeded by tarnishing Hillary Clinton, saying it undermined their party’s messaging on a key issue and raised questions about his ability to be the GOP’s top communicator…

…Privately, Republicans were outraged by the remarks, saying the House majority leader had given Democrats unfounded ammunition to argue that the committee’s investigation is squarely being driven by politics. Republicans on the committee had tried for months to keep the focus of the inquiry on the administration’s handling of the attacks, avoiding getting into the ins and outs of the various aspects on the email stories.

But in one fell swoop, McCarthy undercut their strategy.

In case you missed it earlier this week, Dana Milbank wrote a scathing article for the Washington Post about McCarthy’s problem using words and stuff:

Kevin McCarthy is about to ascend to the highest office in the House of Representatives and become second in line to the presidency.

But there is a problem: The speaker-apparent apparently still can’t speak.

I have been tracking the California Republican’s valiant but often unsuccessful struggles with the English language for some time now, and I was alarmed to watch him lose another round on Monday during a foreign-policy speech to the John Hay Initiative, a new outfit of the neo-conservative bent…

…In McCarthy’s Monday address, Russia’s hybrid warfare became “high-bred warfare,” and restrictions on U.S. energy shipments became “the band on America.” He spoke of the “beth path forward to safety and security”; he asserted that Syria’s regime uses chemical weapons “to the very day”; he argued that the Soviet Union collapsed “because of America’s leadership and America resolve.” And he memorably rephrased the famous question asked of Republican presidential candidates: “Would you have gone to war if you knew what you knew now?”

Maybe McCarthy just needs some more Vitamin D. Or a tanning bed.

BREAKING: Brauchler Declines U.S. Senate Run

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

UPDATE #4: 9NEWS’ Allison Sylte:

Brauchler, who prosecuted the Aurora theater shooting case, was on the short list of Republican candidates to challenge Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet for his seat.

Brauchler told 9NEWS it was a tough—and close—decision for him.

“I got pretty far down the field,” Brauchler told 9NEWS. “I just couldn’t do it to my family.”

….Speculation about his political future was rampant during the months-long theater shooting trial, which ended in a conviction for the man who killed 12 people and injured 70 others. Brauchler became the target of criticism, however, after the jury failed to make a unanimous decision about the death penalty, meaning that the killer was sentenced to life in prison instead.

This was something the defense offered in a plea deal before the trial even began. [Pols emphasis]


UPDATE #3: Somebody had better get back online — Brauchler’s old campaign site has been down since late August — just two days before was registered online.


UPDATE #2: From the National Journal:

“Des­pite the over­whelm­ing sup­port and en­cour­age­ment that I re­ceived over the past few weeks, I have de­cided that now is not the right time for me and my fam­ily for me to make a run for the United States Sen­ate,” Brauchler said in a state­ment provided to Na­tion­al Journ­al. “I have de­cided in­stead to seek re-elec­tion as the Dis­trict At­tor­ney for the Eight­eenth Ju­di­cial Dis­trict.”

Yeah, right. “Overwhelming” support.


UPDATE: Top Republicans are apparently as surprised by this announcement as everyone else. We hear that potential campaign staffers for Brauchler were being vetted this week.


That’s the word moments ago from 9NEWS’ Jeremy Jojola, we’re seeking confirmation:

We’ll update with details as they come in, but the waters appear to be parting for Tim Neville. We reported last week that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) was actively pushing George Brauchler’s candidacy to top Republican donors and influential politicos, but we also know that Brauchler had been getting a chilly response from some top GOP donors; that lack of universal support, along with Neville’s candidacy, appears to have convinced Brauchler to back away from a Senate bid.

Frankly, this makes a lot more sense for Brauchler than a Senate run with the likelihood of a very difficult GOP Primary opponent in Neville. Brauchler can instead run for re-election as DA and prepare for a 2018 campaign for Governor, which had always been his preferred race.

Neville Rallies GOP Base Against Planned Parenthood

Sen. Tim Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville.

A strongly-worded letter sent to Colorado GOP Reps. Scott Tipton, Doug Lamborn, and Mike Coffman today urges them to resist any attempt to preserve funding for Planned Parenthood–implicitly giving them cover to shut down the government in order to force the Obama administration to the bargaining table. Excerpts:

As members of the governed, we are asking you to put politics aside and focus on the unalienable right to Life. Today, 3000 unborn babies will die due to the butchering effects of abortion. At conception, they are American citizens that require their life to be protected by our government. We ask that you focus on those children and remind yourself of the evil you have witnessed in the ten undercover videos to date.

Therefore, we write to you with great urgency concerning the upcoming Continuing Resolution which includes continued funding for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. As you may be aware, Planned Parenthood performed 327,000 abortions in the last year and has been the subject of many unspeakable undercover videos displaying the sale of fetal body parts for profit. Last year alone, Planned Parenthood received $528 million in taxpayer dollars.

As constituents and leaders in the conservative movement and Republican Party in the state of Colorado, we urge you to stand up for the rights of the preborn, to stand up to our pro-abortion president, and to sign the Mulvaney letter, committing to fully defund Planned Parenthood and oppose any continuing resolution that does not.

Congress must act now with the full power of the purse, draw a line in the sand, and let the Democrats in Congress and President Obama explain to the American people why our tax dollars go to support an organization that will commit more than 70,000 abortions between now and December 11 and deals in trafficking fetal body parts. We cannot, as conservatives and Republicans, allow the President to force our hands and accept continued government funding of abortions in the name of ‘getting something done’ or ‘woman’s health care’.

The letter is signed first and foremost by U.S. Senate candidate Tim Neville and his son Colorado Rep. Patrick Neville. From there, it’s a who’s-who of Colorado Republican Party county chairs, local talk-radio hosts, and grassroots activists.

Because recent events have significantly reduced the threat of a shutdown, with a vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government until December coming later today, this letter underscores Neville’s position as a grassroots leader whose positions naturally align with that of the GOP rank-and-file. John Boehner’s decision to fall on his sword has only delayed the confrontation over Planned Parenthood’s funding until December, after all–and between now and then, Neville can use language like what you read above to whip the Republican base into a heady froth. By December’s vote on the next continuing resolution, Neville will be in a prime position to either triangulate off backsliding Republicans, or take credit for their actions if the government shuts down.

Either way, Neville is rocking the cradle that rules the world. And the 2016 GOP Senate primary.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Sept. 30)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218So long, September. 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).


► It’s beginning to look like Congress won’t be able to come to agreement on a funding plan for the Aurora VA Hospital project. As Mark Matthews writes for the Denver Post:

With only days left to act, federal lawmakers failed Tuesday to reach a deal on how to finish construction of a VA hospital in Aurora that has made national headlines by busting its budget by more than $1 billion.

At issue is the final $625 million the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it needs to complete the facility. The VA has spent about $1 billion on the $1.675 billion project, but it needs permission from Congress to spend an additional $625 million — and soon.

If Congress doesn’t grant that permission by early October, VA officials have warned the project will run out of money and construction would grind to a halt.

While the Senate has approved a plan to pay for completion of the Aurora Hospital, the effort is being held up in the House by Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, who wants to ensure that he gets his pound of flesh from the VA first. This is not good news for Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), who has been reduced to repeating Rep. Miller’s talking points while the clock ticks down. Coffman may hold the title of Chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee, but he has done virtually nothing to move along an important project in his own district.


 Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has built his political career on the basis of being a giant pain in the ass in Congress, and his boorish antics are finally catching up to him. Senate Republicans are openly attacking Cruz and setting him up for blame in the event of a government shutdown. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says that Cruz is “pretty much done for in the Senate.”



Get even more smarter after the jump…


Kevin McCarthy Off to a Bad Start as Speaker-in-Waiting

Rep. Kevin McCarthy demonstrates how to count to five.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy demonstrates how to count to five.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is widely expected to be coronated as the next Speaker of the House when his Orangeness, Rep. John Boehner, resigns at the end of October.

If House Republicans elevate McCarthy to Speaker, he will become the least-experienced House Speaker since…wait for it…1891 (Henry Clay is the answer to that trivia question). As our friends at “The Fix” explain, McCarthy’s inexperience could be problematic for a Congress that is already among the least-effective and most disliked legislative bodies in American history.

House Republicans are in the midst of a coronation of California Congressman Kevin McCarthy as the next Speaker of the House. McCarthy’s comments about the motives of the House select committee investigating the attacks in Benghazi, Libya on Tuesday night, however, should give the party pause about whether he’s totally ready for the big job.

Prodded repeatedly by conservative Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity to name an accomplishment for the Republican-led Congress, McCarthy seized on the Benghazi committee and its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s role (or lack thereof) in the handling of the incident during her time as Secretary of State.

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” McCarthy told Hannity. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.” [Pols emphasis]


Yes, indeed. Whoops!

It’s embarrassing enough that McCarthy couldn’t immediately name an important accomplishment for Republicans in Congress, but it’s a mistake made even worse by his eventual answer. In other words, McCarthy thinks the most important accomplishment by a Republican-led Congress is a partisan political committee meant to take down a former Secretary of State. Republicans have held a majority in the House for nearly five years now, and McCarthy wants to talk about how much the GOP has hurt Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers? Really?

When Boehner first announced the Benghazi special committee in early 2014, he was careful to explain that the decision was about “getting to the truth” of the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in 2012. The Benghazi committee was obviously created in large part to damage the Presidential hopes of Hillary Clinton, but Boehner knew very well that he couldn’t frame the entire thing in those terms. “I intend for this select committee to have robust authority, and I will expect it to work quickly to get answers for the American people and the families of the victims,” said Boehner on May 2, 2014. 

As “The Fix” writes today:

While anyone with a brain would have concluded a while ago that the Benghazi committee wasn’t solely about policy, having the man who is about to be the next Speaker of the Republican-controlled House say exactly that is not smart. At all.


Perhaps McCarthy’s statement is exactly the kind of thing that a Republican House descending into anarchy would want to hear. Perhaps not. But for the rest of us hoping to see actual leadership in the Speaker’s office, McCarthy is off to a shaky start.

CU GOP Prez Debate Limited Seating Liability Grows

Rep. Jared Polis.

Rep. Jared Polis.

As the Boulder Daily Camera’s Sarah Kuta reports, Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder has joined the growing dogpile of complaints over the highly limited seating available to University of Colorado students at next month’s on-campus Republican presidential debate:

Congressman Jared Polis on Monday called the limited number of seats available at the Republican presidential debate being held at the University of Colorado next month “insulting” and urged debate organizers to make more room for CU students…

The debate venue, the Coors Event Center, can hold more than 10,000 people. Last week, a university spokesman said the limited seating is due to the setup of the stage, lighting and camera equipment.

In his letter to CU, CNBC, and GOP officials, Rep. Polis makes clear that he finds that excuse as laughable as we did:

This isn’t about politics – whether you’re right, left, or center, if you’re a member of the University community you should have every opportunity to meaningfully participate in one of the biggest political debates of the past four years. That’s why I’m urging you to work closely with the RNC and CNBC to allocate drastically more tickets for the University community. I know this is something the University is capable of, as demonstrated in 2012 when your campus hosted a campaign rally for President Obama that was attended by more than 13,000 students and community members.

I’m no expert, but I’ve never seen video cameras so big that it requires taking up thousands of seats in an arena to get good shots from multiple angles. [Pols emphasis]

7NEWS ran a story (video after the jump) about CU students organizing to demand more seating be opened up in the mostly-empty Coors Events Center–this coming after the CU student government passed a resolution last Thursday calling for a “drastic” increase in tickets made available to CU students:

A group of students have formed an online social media campaign called ‘Student Voices Count,’ with the intention of pushing for more student representation.

“This event was initially announced as a really good opportunity for students to be involved in something huge and as it turns out, we’re not,” said Julian Taranow, who is part of the movement.

Students tell 7NEWS they are puzzled why the Republican Party would hold a debate on a college campus and then not connect with the students.

As we fully expected and predicted weeks ago, this situation is rapidly deteriorating for both CU and the Republican Party. Where hosting a GOP presidential debate in the liberal stronghold of Boulder, Colorado might have seemed in a brainstorming meeting to be a stroke of genius, today it increasingly looks like a fool’s errand. Lurking just beneath the excuses is an obvious fact that no one can deny: the current slate of Republican presidential candidates are highly unlikely to resonate with the average CU student. The problem isn’t with the students, either, though your state of denial view about that may vary on partisan lines.

The problem is with the candidates. The problem is Jeb! Bush telling voters that black people vote to get “free stuff.” The problem is Ben Carson saying a Muslim can’t be President. The problem is Carly Fiorina making crazy stories up about harvesting live fetal brains. The problem is…well, more or less everything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.

Attempting to benefit from CU’s reputation as a leading center of scholarship while simultaneously preventing GOP presidential candidates from getting close enough to the CU student body to offend them may never have been a workable proposition. We have to attribute some of that hubris to longtime GOP kingpin and CU President Bruce Benson personally, given Benson’s near-obsession with fostering a “politically inclusive” climate at CU. It’s not much of a stretch from Benson’s eager foisting of a “visiting conservative scholar” on the university, which if you didn’t hear ended rather badly, to imagining that this clown car of GOP presidential candidates could come to CU and not face major embarrassment. Especially when you have to essentially hide them from the student body.

At this point, the damage from the story of excluding CU students from this debate is at real risk of overshadowing the debate itself. If this continues, by the day of the debate we expect a very large and news-cycle captivating protest outside the Coors Events Center. If we were in a decision-making position at the Republican National Committee, we would honestly consider throwing open the doors and filling this arena with every student who wants to be there. If there is any chance of a reasonable Republican presidential candidate emerging from this pack, there’s an argument that a crowd of non-GOP party faithful is better equipped to recognize and respond to that than a hand-picked conservative audience.

Unless, of course, nobody wants that. In which case maybe this is a train wreck that can’t be stopped.


Ted Cruz Pushes Too Far; Senate Republicans Push Back

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), impersonating Grandpa Munster.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), impersonating Grandpa Munster.

There’s a fascinating story from Politico today about Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose efforts to stymie any attempt at governing in order to promote his own Presidential ambitions have finally earned him a rebuke from his colleagues:

Ted Cruz can’t even get a protest vote in the Senate anymore.

On Monday night, Cruz’s colleagues ignored his attempt to disrupt Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to fund the government without attacking Planned Parenthood. In an unusual rebuke, even fellow Republicans denied him a “sufficient second” that would have allowed him a roll call vote.

Then, his Republican colleagues loudly bellowed “no” when Cruz sought a voice vote, a second repudiation that showed how little support Cruz has: Just one other GOP senator — Utah’s Mike Lee — joined with Cruz as he was overruled by McConnell and his deputies…

…In reality, it’s not Senate procedure that stymied Cruz on Monday night. Republicans have grown tired of Cruz pushing proposals that he knows McConnell and other Republicans will never back, like defunding Planned Parenthood in a spending bill, then criticizing McConnell for not taking up the plan even as he uses the fight to bolster his presidential campaign as Washington’s consummate outsider. [Pols emphasis] 

Cruz’s internal criticism of his leadership is what animates his presidential campaign, but his colleagues appear to be no longer listening. Cruz was allowed only to speak for an hour on Monday night under Senate rules, and no one was itching to grant him an exception.

Senate Republicans have finally stopped listening to Ted Cruz — now maybe we can stop listening to him blather about during the next Presidential debate.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Sept. 29)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Today is National Coffee Day, because it can’t just be a Tuesday. 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).


► Congress continues to debate potential funding options for the Aurora VA Hospital project — options that ideally don’t include a federal shutdown. What does our own Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) have to say about all this? Well, whatever House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller tells him to say. From Mark Matthews of the Denver Post:

Coffman, who sits on the House veterans committee, said Miller decided to introduce the bill in spite of his reservations.

“He went forward certainly without me,” Coffman said in an interview Monday morning.

Later in the day, however, his office asked to clarify his statement and make note that Coffman supported Miller. [Pols emphasis] 

“No doubt, I strongly believe that the House approach is right, but my guess is that there will be a compromise that lands somewhere between the House and Senate versions,” Coffman said in a statement.

Remember this when Coffman pretends to be taking a leadership role on the VA Hospital project. Coffman is the Chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee, and the still-incomplete hospital sits smack dab in the middle of his district…yet the Chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee (Rep. Miller) is telling Coffman what he can say about funding plans.


► Three right-wing members of the Jefferson County School Board are facing a November recall, and it certainly appears as though they’ll go down kicking and screaming. The right-wing majority is now completely shutting out the other two School Board members.

Perhaps Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams have seen the writing on the wall chalkboard. As Marianne Goodland reports for the Colorado Independent:

Regardless of the outcome of the recall…

That was the mantra repeated on Sunday by the politicians, school board candidates and conservative education reformers attending an Americans for Prosperity education-reform strategy session.


► State Sen. Tim Neville tells John Frank of the Denver Post that he is definitely running for U.S. Senate in 2016…though Colorado Pols readers already knew this.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Funding for Aurora VA Hospital Teeters; Coffman Sits on His Hands

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman's 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood's logo.

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman’s 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood’s logo.

UPDATE: It certainly appears as though Rep. Mike Coffman was taken outside to the ol’ wood shed for a nice talk. Mark Matthews updates his story for the Denver Post:

Coffman, who sits on the House veterans committee, said Miller decided to introduce the bill in spite of his reservations.

“He went forward certainly without me,” Coffman said in an interview Monday morning.

Later in the day, however, his office asked to clarify his statement and make note that Coffman supported Miller. [Pols emphasis] 

“No doubt, I strongly believe that the House approach is right, but my guess is that there will be a compromise that lands somewhere between the House and Senate versions,” Coffman said in a statement.

Way to stick to your guns, Rep. Coffman. You’re quite the leader.


Mark Matthews of the Denver Post has the latest on how the federal budget battle may impact funding for the Aurora VA Hospital Project. Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL),the Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, is adamant that any new funding authorized by Congress for the VA Hospital must also slash $200 million set aside for bonuses for VA employees — a proposal that was not included by the Senate last week:

On Friday, the Senate  agreed unanimously to the new $1.675 billion price tag, but without Miller’s stipulation that part of the funding come from VA employee bonuses.

It’s that provision that had Colorado lawmakers wringing their hands to start the week. This is the third time this year that a funding fight for the Aurora hospital has come down to the 11th hour in Congress.

“I’m concerned,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora. “I understand what the chairman wants to do. I think he’s right from a policy standpoint. But my position is that we can’t have a shutdown.” [Pols emphasis]

Should Miller’s pass the House, there is little desire in the Senate to include his stipulation about VA bonuses; in part because VA officials have said the pot of money targeted by Miller goes to VA employees such as doctors who work long hours. Given the impasse — and the short deadline — Miller’s move adds a new wrinkle of drama to a project that  already has seen plenty of it.

First off, it is completely and utterly absurd for Congressman Mike Coffman to say that his position “is that we can’t have a shutdown.” Earlier this month, Coffman joined the rest of Colorado’s Republican delegation in voting to ban federal funding for Planned Parenthood — a partisan political move that is the single biggest hurdle to avoiding a shutdown. Coffman can’t say that “we can’t have a shutdown” when he has already cast votes that everybody knew would only increase the odds of the second federal government shutdown in three years; this is kind of like talking about being a vegetarian over cocktails and then ordering the porterhouse steak for dinner.

Even more damaging for Coffman, however, is his continual inability to do anything that might ensure that the Aurora VA Hospital is finally completed. Again, from the Post:

Coffman, who sits on the House veterans committee, said Miller decided to introduce the bill in spite of his objections.

“He went forward certainly without me,” Coffman said.

Coffman is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and the Aurora VA Hospital project is the single biggest issue in his own Congressional district. It would seem that just about everybody is “moving forward” without Coffman.

Tim Neville Makes It Official

Sen. Tim Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville.

The Denver Post’s John Frank announces the formal entry of state Sen. Tim Neville into the 2016 U.S. Senate race, news we originally broke at the beginning of September:

State Sen. Tim Neville, one of the legislature’s most conservative Republicans, will announce his campaign Thursday and join what may become a crowded primary field.

In an interview Monday, Neville said his political record in the General Assembly, where he opposed gun regulations, sought tougher abortion restrictions and pushed for a limited government, sets him apart.

“I don’t just talk the talk, I walk the walk,” he said. “It’s very easy for me to show the voting public where I stand and how I stand.”

Neville’s entry into this race sets up a major conflict within the Colorado Republican Party between party activists tired of equivocal “RINO” candidates and GOP elites who have been disdainful in recent years of the “Tea Party” grassroots they helped manufacture. Make no mistake: given the fractious nature of the GOP base in Colorado today, Neville is in a very strong position to own the rank-and-file that decides Republican primaries in our state. Neville’s unswayable base of support at the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners wields the bulk of its power in Republican primaries.

With Neville officially in, any other potential candidates still on the sidelines are now on notice. Not only do they need to decide what they’re doing and soon, they must now come up with a plan for winning over a GOP base naturally aligned with Tim Neville. However hard-charging Neville’s conservative politics may be, even his staunchest foes can’t deny that he works hard on the campaign trail, and knows retail politics very well. Nobody else gets a cake walk to this nomination with Neville in the race. No amount of National Republican Senatorial Committee pressure can dissuade Neville, indeed any such pressure might well have already backfired.

As of now, a war is on for the Colorado GOP’s heart and soul. And Tim Neville is in a strong position to win it.

Red-on-Red Warfare: GOP Usual Suspects Gang Up on Suthers

Mayor John Suthers of Colorado Springs.

Mayor John Suthers (R) of Colorado Springs.

As reported by the Colorado Springs Independent last week, another major Republican insider-run “grassroots” advocacy group is attacking former Republican state attorney general-cum-Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, who as our readers know had the temerity to ask the conservative voters of Colorado Springs for–gasp–a tax increase to fix that conservative bastion’s famously crappy roads:

IACE Action – CS, a 504(c)4 organization that doesn’t have to reveal its donors, is opposing Mayor John Suthers’ .62 of a percent sales tax hike on the November 3 ballot.

IACE Action is run by Laura Carno, a political operative who ran Steve Bach’s successful campaign for mayor in 2011. IACE, or I Am Created Equal, provided thousands of dollars worth of in-kind donations for the El Paso Freedom Defense Committee, the issue committee largely responsible for the successful recall of Democratic Senate President John Morse in 2013.

IACE has mounted a website that contains a video explaining why people should vote “no.”

It has not filed a campaign finance report yet for the November election. It did file two reports for the April city election. One reported no donations or spending. The other reported one donation of $3,452 from IACE Action, and spending to a Highlands Ranch company for digital media and to a St. Paul, Minn., company for robo calls.

Laura Carno.

Laura Carno.

Laura Carno and her “I Am Created Equal” 501(c)(4) advocacy group frequently runs cover for Republican causes and candidates from a “woman’s point of view,” most famously last October when she penned a widely circulated op-ed for the Denver Post that asserted women’s reproductive rights “are not in danger” from anti-abortion Republican candidates. That those candidates included a member of Carno’s advisory board–Bob “IUDs are abortifacient” Beauprez–was apparently lost on the Denver Post, but since they were in the process of making essentially the same absurd argument to endorse Cory Gardner, that little conflict of interest didn’t trouble them.

In a guest advertisement opinion column in the Gold Dome Thrifty Nickel Colorado Statesman today, Carno details her opposition to Mayor Suthers’ request for a five-year sales tax increase to pay for road construction in Colorado Springs:

No one disputes the need for road repairs. The dispute arises over how best to pay for them…

Americans For Prosperity Colorado hired Steve Anderson, a CPA with experience in municipal budgets, to review the city’s budgets and audits and propose options within the existing city budget to find an annual $50 million for road repairs — without raising taxes. Anderson came up with many ideas and Americans for Prosperity Colorado detailed these ideas for the mayor and the City Council.

But the mayor and the City Council aren’t interested in Anderson’s proposals. They want the tax increase. It might seem like an easier path for city leaders to raise taxes than to make difficult decisions in city government. But it’s their job to make difficult decisions…

As we discussed in August, the “alternatives” from Americans For Prosperity don’t stand up to scrutiny. Mayor Suthers told the Colorado Springs Gazette that AFP didn’t even talk to anyone involved in the city budget–either in the finance office or a committee of citizens tasked with reviewing the budget every year. According to Suthers, AFP’s suggestions were completely ignorant of basic realities about where the city gets and spends its money, even suggesting that the city “tax churches and nonprofits” instead of raising the sales tax.

Bottom line: you’ve got several competing Republican interests at work here, and the result may be nothing but bad news for Colorado Springs. On the one hand, Mayor John Suthers is in charge of a city with desperately bad roads–easily some of the worst urban road conditions in the entire state. For thinking conservatives, a run-down Colorado Springs with awful roads doesn’t do much to promote their worldview. Only a totally hardened ideologue would look at bad roads in a conservative Mecca and see a good thing, right?

But alas, this is a nationally-known conservative Mecca, and to raise taxes in the city of Douglas “Mr. TABOR” Bruce would be an admission that the reviled public sector sometimes does good and necessary things with our tax dollars. Besides the military, of course, that taxpayer-funded government entity Colorado Springs’ economy is utterly dependent on for survival–but we digress. If GOP-owned and operated Colorado Springs, the very birthplace of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights were to rise taxes on itself, people might start to talk. Indeed, the whole edifice of Colorado Springs’ hard-right talk radio “drown gubmint in the bathtub” culture might begin to crumble.

Or maybe not, but Laura Carno still got a check to go to war on fellow Republican Mayor John Suthers! Thus proving something else very important in today’s politics: the GOP’s paid operative “grassroots activist” industrial complex is never more than a disgruntled donor away from eating their own.

Jeffco School Board Majority Shuts Minority Out

UPDATE: A fresh report from the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland has us wondering if major recall opponent group Americans For Prosperity is preparing for a loss in the Jefferson County school board recall elections?

Regardless of the outcome of the recall…

The politicians, school board candidates and conservative education reformers at an Americans for Prosperity Foundation education-reform strategy session Sunday repeated this mantra.

Two conservative Jefferson County Board of Education members whose jobs are on the line in the November recall, board Chair Ken Witt and Vice-Chair Julie Williams, heard this short-term-grim/long-term-hopeful message repeated again and again…

“We’ll be here on November 4 (the day after the election), regardless of what happens in the elections,” [Recall opponent Sheila] Atwell told the audience, which included Williams and Witt. “That’s what parents need to understand – this is a year-round effort. We always have to be vigilant.” [Pols emphasis]

Great long-term bravado, but for the three board members up for recall right now, maybe not the best message.

Or maybe it’s the only realistic message.


Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

As reported by Support Jeffco Kids, relations between the conservative Jefferson County school board majority–presently facing a recall election–and the outgoing minority members have broken down to a degree that appears to be affecting the body’s basic responsibilities. Here’s outgoing minority member Jill Fellman describing the latest incident of red-on-blue bad faith:

There is an Agenda Setting Meeting with the Superintendent and his Cabinet a week or so before every board meeting. The purposes of these meetings are to determine how much time agenda items might take and to give appropriate direction to Cabinet members to ensure agenda items meet the needs of the Board.

According to practice, Mr. Newkirk and I alternate going to these meetings. Today was my day to attend the meeting – so, I drove to the Ed. Ctr. Mr. Witt arrived at the meeting with Mr. Newkirk and informed me (in the presence of several staff members) (1) I was not needed and (2) Mr. Newkirk would be attending the Agenda Setting Meetings until the election.

I’m a big girl, and I can deal with the lack of respect that I see every day from this Board majority. At the same time, our District deserves elected officials who treat each other and the public with respect, even when they disagree on policy…

Outgoing Jeffco school board member Jill Fellman.

Outgoing Jeffco school board member Jill Fellman.

Obviously, there’s tension on the Jeffco school board today as a recall election targeting the conservative majority rapidly approaches. But that’s hardly an excuse for those majority members to exclude the minority from an official meeting setting the agenda for school board meetings. The high drama that has regularly erupted at Jeffco board meetings in recent months seems most unlikely to abate if the minority is shut out of the planning for those meetings. In fact, that seems like a sure way to further aggrieve the standing-room-only crowds who turn out month after month.

Staring down the barrel of a recall, it should be obvious that you shouldn’t make things worse for yourself with avoidable bad press. There’s nothing we can think of to be gained by shutting Fellman out of these meetings that isn’t outweighed by the negative impression this action gives the voters about to decide your fate. This is the kind of nasty anecdote field campaigns depend on to win undecided votes.

So yes, it’s a big mistake, committed out of what appears to be pure spite.