Get More Smarter on Thursday (June 18)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218We’ll take the heat over the rain, thank you very 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…

► Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has moved back to the “denial stage” of her controversy surrounding a coup attempt against State Republican Party Chair Steve House. It’s a little late to go that route, however; denial will not make Cynthia-gate go away. Here’s a good visual representation of Coffman’s problems.

► Former Congressman Tom Tancredo, meanwhile, appears to be feeling a little lonely sitting underneath the proverbial bus with Coffman and Pueblo County GOP Chair Becky Mizel. Tancredo says now that there were numerous Republican lawmakers who were aware of the plot to overthrow House, just three months into his tenure as Party Chair.

Police have a suspect in custody following the killing of 9 people at a church in Charleston, SC on Wednesday. The attack claimed the life of a state senator, among others, and appears to be racially-motivated. President Obama made some emotional remarks about the shootings and about gun violence in general.

The president said that the FBI is on the ground and will send more agents to assist with the investigation. He cited a statement by Attorney General Loretta Lynch classifying the effort as a hate crime investigation. But though he acknowledged many facts are not yet known, he also said that insufficient gun laws were partially to blame.

“We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” he continued. “Now is the time for mourning and for healing, but let’s be clear: At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.” [Pols emphasis]

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Janet Buckner To Succeed Late Husband In Colorado House

The late Rep. John Buckner and Janet Buckner.

The late Rep. John Buckner and Janet Buckner.

As noted by the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels:

Soon after Rep. John Buckner died, friends talked about his widow, Janet Buckner, taking his seat in the Colorado House. On Wednesday, she made it official.

Janet Buckner is seeking to be appointed to fill the vacancy in House District 40, which her husband has represented since 2013. The vacancy committee will meet on June 25.

From Janet Buckner’s statement yesterday:

“We are so thankful for the outpouring of love and support over the last few weeks – from John’s family, friends, colleagues, former students, and the community as a whole. Your support has meant so much to our family during this difficult time.

“My husband John was a true public servant. He spent his entire life helping others – his passion for policies that advance education and equity for all people guided his every decision. As his wife and life partner for 45 years, I know how deeply he cared about these issues, and how hard he worked every day to improve the lives of people in our community.

“House District 40 has lost an unparalleled leader and advocate, and I am committed to carrying on John’s legacy of making sure every child has access to a quality education and the opportunity to succeed. I am dedicated to honoring my husband and fulfilling the trust that the people of Aurora have put in him to work on their behalf. John and I moved to Aurora in 1975 — we raised our family here, and became part of the community. I hope to continue to give back to our community in Aurora and to have the honor of serving House District 40 at the legislature.”

Bartels reports that although some other Democrats had expressed preliminary interest in being appointed to HD-40, everyone was on hold to see what Mrs. Buckner would decide. Now that she has decided to seek Rep. John Buckner’s House seat, we expect she’ll encounter little or no opposition. HD-40 is best described as a safe-ish Democratic seat, taken by Buckner in 2012 from former Rep. Cindy Acree. In 2014, Rep. Bucker held the seat against Republican JulieMarie Shepherd by about two thousand votes, a larger margin than the total votes cast for the Libertarian also running there.

All told, a happy ending to a sad story from the end of this year’s legislative session.

Cynthia’s House of Cards: Dial “B” For “Blackmail”

UPDATE #3: Republican radio host Michael “Brownie” Brown throws down:

—–

UPDATE #2: Roll Call’s Emily Cahn writes Cynthia Coffman’s political epitaph:

State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, along with former Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., tried to oust state Republican Party Chairman Steve House, according to multiple local reports. The two reportedly threatened to reveal — what House said were false claims — that he cheated on his wife if he didn’t step down.

Coffman was often mentioned as a possible Bennet challenger, especially after her husband, Colorado GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, decided against running earlier this month. The congressman was courted by both local and national Republicans, who viewed him as their best shot at defeating Bennet next fall.

But Cynthia Coffman’s involvement in the state party dust-up likely takes her off the table as Republicans search for a challenger. [Pols emphasis] And she’s the second potential recruit to receive negative headlines in the past few weeks.

And if that’s not enough, check out how the story ends–a hard red-on-red jab at both Coffmans:

“The Coffmans, both Cynthia and Congressman Coffman, came with a lot of unknowns and risks, and I think that was one of the reasons why it wasn’t a bad thing that they both decided not to run for Senate,” said one national Republican operative. “I think behind the scenes this is sort of a scary public display of what the rumors had been; it’s pretty troubling that the attorney general is going around threatening people.” [Pols emphasis]

Wow, folks. This is a major disaster.

—–

harveyhoc

UPDATE: An unrepentant statement this afternoon from one of the ringleaders of Steve House’s attempted ouster, Pueblo County GOP chair Becky Mizel:

It is inappropriate to comment on the specific details of the concerns at this time, as the concerns will first be communicated to the Executive Committee for their deliberation and recommendations to Chairman House and the membership of the Central Committee. The Central Committee members will then determine by membership vote whether removal from office is prudent. However, I can say that House’s public statements to date concerning the meeting and his resignation are generally untrue and a gross misrepresentation of the facts, as I will communicate to the Executive Committee of the party. Based House’s poor judgment in making such false allegations, I am more committed than ever to seeking his resignation, with every effort to avoid a publicly humiliating experience for House and the party that would result from a forced removal. 

Meanwhile, the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels finally got a comment from Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who naturally denies making blackmail-y threats to House:

Obviously, the whole episode is very sad. I don’t relish the hardship for Steve or the party, nor was anyone involved in that meeting eager to have the conversation at all. But as someone who was being inundated with information raising some very serious questions, I had no choice but to sit down and lay out the accusations to Steve. There was no joy in this, there were no threats, nor was there any desire for the meeting to become public fodder…

A bit late for that now, isn’t it? Original post follows.

—–

9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman has a follow-up story today on the growing scandal over the attempted overthrow of Colorado Republican Party chairman Steve House by high-ranking GOP luminaries, including former Rep. Tom Tancredo and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman–the latter of whom appears to have devastated her future political prospects after, as the saying goes, striking at a king but not killing him.

And at this point, Coffman’s political career may not be the only casualty. Let’s briefly revisit House’s statement yesterday in response to questions about Monday’s events:

I was scheduled to meet with Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. When I arrived to our meeting, I was surprised to see that former Congressman Tom Tancredo and Pueblo County Chair Becky Mizel were also in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was initially unknown to me and I believed it was a routine strategy discussion by the Attorney General and myself. Congressman Tancredo confronted me about not hiring former state Sen. Ted Harvey as the Party’s executive director, and demanded that I resign my post. [Pols emphasis] If I refused to meet their demand to resign, they threatened that a potential lawsuit may be filed and that false rumors that I have been unfaithful to my wife would be made public.

As Rittiman reports, there’s a word to describe this sort of thing:

A written statement from House described the encounter as what would appear, if true, to amount to political blackmail for failing to award a job to a state senator… [Pols emphasis]

He did not refute that the specter of marital infidelity was raised in the meeting with House, but said that was not the impetus for the meeting.

Tancredo said the trio had “grave and serious concerns” about a matter involving House which were shared by a larger group of Republicans in the state.

He would not elaborate further on what caused concerns, other than to say it was false that the group sought House’s ouster over a job appointment for Harvey.

Steve House.

Steve House.

There’s an simple reason why Tom Tancredo would deny after the fact that this meeting pertained to former Sen. Ted Harvey’s failure to he hired by House as the Colorado GOP’s executive director–it could easily be interpreted as blackmail. As our readers know, from the moment Steve House won the election as party chairman, Harvey’s presumptive hire as executive director–which we first broke word of–was widely understood. We never heard why Harvey did not ultimately get the job, but it’s obvious now there was controversy related to the decision.

Apparently, more controversy than anybody thought.

Colorado’s felony criminal extortion law, C.R.S. 18-3-207, seems pretty clear on the seriousness of what just happened:

(1) A person commits criminal extortion if:

(a) The person, without legal authority and with the intent to induce another person against that other person’s will to perform an act or to refrain from performing a lawful act, makes a substantial threat to confine or restrain, cause economic hardship or bodily injury to, or damage the property or reputation of, the threatened person [Pols emphasis] or another person…

Having read the statute, if you’re thinking this was a really, really bad thing for Colorado’s new Attorney General Cynthia Coffman to get mixed up with, you’re not alone. Rittiman:

Tancredo said he was concerned that legal action may be coming in the case, a possibility raised by numerous Republican sources who spoke with 9NEWS, many of whom were puzzled at the lack of an early response from Cynthia Coffman to deny the accusation.

“Our state party chair basically just accused the state’s chief law enforcement officer of at least participating in, and possibly coordinating, an extortion scheme,” one source told 9NEWS. “Who cares if [House] actually had an affair or not?” [Pols emphasis]

It’s hard to say exactly what happens next, not least because this alleged felony involves the state’s chief law enforcement officer. There’s also the possibility that House might buckle under pressure and change his story–or maybe Tancredo or Harvey take the fall instead, opting to sacrifice themselves to protect a sitting statewide officeholder and apparent political ally. We ourselves weren’t aware that Cynthia Coffman was so close to Tancredo, Harvey, Pueblo County GOP chairwoman Becky Mizel, or others in the hard-right GOP dissident wing. Now that this is known, it would be logical for these people, whose political careers are basically over, to try and protect Cynthia Coffman’s.

Except it’s too late for that now.

There’s A Little “Honey Badger” In Wayne Williams After All

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports on new election rules proposed by Secretary of State Wayne Williams.During the tenure of Williams’ predecessor, Scott “Honey Badger” Gessler, new rulemaking on elections was a reliably fraught exercise–Gessler made little pretense about proposing rules that would benefit his fellow Republicans, and nothing short of a court order was ever able to slow him down.

Ashby reports on one particular Williams proposed rule that has a distinctly “Honey Badger” ring to it:

The proposed rule calls for county clerks to include a new line on the envelopes voters use to return their mail ballots, one that would ask for the name and address of any person collecting them to be turned in.

Normal get-out-the-vote efforts for candidates routinely contact voters who haven’t yet turned in their ballots, asking them to do so. In some cases, those campaign volunteers will offer to take them in if a voter is physically incapable of doing so.

Some critics of that practice say it opens the door to potential election fraud, saying such volunteers could turn in only those ballots that help their candidate…

By way of explanation. Scott Gessler did adopt a similar rule last year to this proposal. The rule was stripped from the enabling legislation in the General Assembly because there were major legal questions as to whether this was something the SOS could enforce, so the rule never went into effect. And like so many hand-wringing hypothetical ways Republicans imagine elections could be compromised, there’s no evidence this has ever, you know, happened:

During last year’s U.S. Senate race, there were allegations that some people were doing that, but no evidence ever surfaced that it was actually happening, said Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert.

Regardless, Staiert said it makes sense to have some sort of mechanism in place to guard against it, just in case. [Pols emphasis]

Republican Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner, a frequent impediment to Gessler’s various election “reform” proposals with her pesky reality-based viewpoint, calls this a ridiculous waste of time:

Reiner said the proposed rule could place unnecessary costs on county clerks, all for something that isn’t happening anyway.

“It could cause some confusion for sure,” she said. “I don’t know what the implications for costs are, but there will be some additional ink on the envelopes. And without a statute to back this up, to tell us we have actual authority to void a ballot on that criteria, we’re not going to look at it.”

With no evidence of an actual problem to be addressed, and no statutory authority to act upon whatever this proposal might reveal, the purpose of this seems clear: shenanigans. It would give “vote fraud watchdogs”–a euphemism for poll challengers and other election intimidation specialists–another tool to baselessly call election results into question.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 17)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Cynthia Coffman would like to have a meeting with you? Better come up with a quick excuse. 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…

► Truth is often stranger than fiction, because there are some stories you just can’t make up any better. The soap opera craziness engulfing the Colorado Republican Party is a perfect example. If you missed the story yesterday, click here to get caught up. Every media outlet in Colorado is also covering the story, including the Denver Post and 9News.

► State GOP Chair Steve House may have survived an attempted coup, but this is not going to end well for Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. She had been considered a rising star in the Republican Party after her 2014 election as Attorney General, but Coffman’s political career is unquestionably over now. The question now is whether or not she even makes it through her term as Attorney General.

► It has been a bad couple of days all around for the Coffman family. Cynthia’s husband, Rep. Mike Coffman, continues to take heat for comparing the Veterans Administration to ISIS. Don’t forget the context here — we’re talking about the same Mike Coffman who represents CD-6 (the home of the troubled hospital project) and also serves as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Wednesday Open Thread

“I used to advertise my loyalty and I don’t believe there is a single person I loved that I didn’t eventually betray.”

–Albert Camus, from The Fall

Cynthia Coffman’s Political Career is Over. Done. Kaput.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. Photo taken back when she had a political future.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. This photo was taken when Coffman still had a political future.

UPDATE: Interesting choice of words from Coffman’s spokesperson in response to a request for comment from the Associated Press:

House’s statement, about three months after he became party chair, was prompted in part by an email Coffman sent to The Denver Post saying he was resigning Tuesday, but she didn’t explain why.

She declined to comment to The Associated Press. “I think we’re going to pass on commenting,” said Michelle Lyng, a spokeswoman for Coffman. [Pols emphasis]

“I think we’re going to pass” is something we expect Coffman will be hearing a lot in the near future.

—–

On Monday, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman was one of the Colorado Republican Party’s brightest stars, a newly-elected statewide officeholder who was already being mentioned as a candidate for Governor in 2018 or even U.S. Senate in 2016.

That’s over now.

The completely bizarre attempted coup against State Republican Party Chair Steve House — just three months after his election — that began on Monday night ended on Tuesday evening with House still standing and Coffman’s political career in ruins (click here to read our initial coverage of GOP Coup 2015).

On Monday, House was lured into a honeypot meeting with Coffman in which he was ambushed by several Republicans in a clumsy and ill-considered attempt to force him to resign. Less than 24 hours later, House issued this statement via the State Republican Party:

The rumors started last night, when I was scheduled to meet with Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. When I arrived to our meeting, I was surprised to see that former Congressman Tom Tancredo and Pueblo County Chair Becky Mizel were also in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was initially unknown to me and I believed it was a routine strategy discussion by the Attorney General and myself. Congressman Tancredo confronted me about not hiring former state Sen. Ted Harvey as the Party’s executive director, and demanded that I resign my post. If I refused to meet their demand to resign, they threatened that a potential lawsuit may be filed and that false rumors that I have been unfaithful to my wife would be made public. [Pols emphasis]

Neither I, my family, nor anyone else serving our Party deserves this type of treatment.

In my frustration, I sent the Attorney General a text stating that I would resign, because I did not want my family, nor our Party to be dragged through this. No individual, myself included, is more important than the Party. After speaking with my wife and my closest advisers, I informed the Attorney General that I will not resign. [Pols emphasis]

No one should be bullied out of running for office, or serving as a leader in our Party. It is clear that our Party has some challenges ahead and that is what I was elected to address. These types of divisive and bullying tactics are why so many Americans are sick of politics as usual.

My biggest fault is probably the belief that I could unite all factions of the Party. Unfortunately, there are some who are more concerned with their own personal gain than doing what is best for our Party as a whole. These are the same exact people who fought against past chairmen, and they are going to try to take out the next chair as well.

As the state Chairman of the GOP, I represent over 1 million registered Colorado Republicans. I will not give in to a vicious and vocal minority that seeks to bring down the Party from within. That is why I am committed to staying on as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, to ensure success in 2016 and beyond.

This is an absolute disaster for Cynthia Coffman, and here’s why: Nobody in their right mind is ever going to trust Coffman again. Nobody is going to want anything to do with her politically. She’s Richard Nixon spying on his own political party. Linda Tripp. Salvatore Tessio.

Steve House for the win...

Republican Party Chairman Steve House (not shown: his gigantic…)

Coffman just tried to oust her second Republican Party Chair in three months, which is bad enough, but the level of betrayal and iciness she displayed is despicable. Take a look at what Coffman wrote in January when she formally endorsed House for GOP Chair over Ryan Call, who had helped her get elected in 2014:

As I worked alongside Steve, I saw a uniquely talented leader whose passion for conservatism and our party is infectious. His speeches are inspired and motivating. His ideas are forward thinking and common sense. I was so impressed that I asked Steve to speak on my behalf on the campaign trail. After my election as Attorney General, I brought Steve in to serve on my transition team. These experiences convinced me that Steve House should be our next party chair… [Pols emphasis]

…Even more important to me is Steve House’s gift for bringing together people who have diverse beliefs, identifying their common interests while respecting their differences, and moving them forward to achieve a shared goal. I believe our party still is fractured among different groups, all of whom call themselves conservatives and Republicans. I struggle with the fact that grassroots supporters feel alienated from the party organization and can’t find a way back into the family that once welcomed them. I want a leader who respects all of our voices and creates an environment that leads to victory. [Pols emphasis]

Yeah, wow! On Monday night, Coffman lured House — the same guy she praised so effusively just a few months ago — into a meeting that was supposed to end with his resignation. When House refused to resign, Coffman took things one step further, telling Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post that House had informed her he would resign. She told this to Bartels on Tuesday morning, by which time Coffman had to have known that House was not, in fact, resigning as State Party Chair. She stabbed House in the back twice in the span of about 12 hours.

It is clear that a lot of people underestimated Steve House as this drama unfolded. A lot of people made a lot of bad decisions that are backfiring on them now, but none will fall as far and as certainly as Cynthia Coffman. It is baffling that Coffman would have agreed to take part in this nonsense, particularly in targeting someone thought to be her friend and political confidant. Coffman will never be able to muster enough support to run for higher office — not now — and we’d almost guarantee that she will face a Republican Primary if she seeks re-election as Attorney General in 2018.

Thus ends Cynthia Coffman.

Donald Trump Should be President Because He is Rich

Donald Trump for President: Because He's Rich!

Donald Trump for President: Because He’s Rich!

TUESDAY UPDATE: Trump says he is running for President. As our friends at “The Fix” explain, this is bad news for Republicans:

Trump’s candidacy is a terrible thing for politics — plain and simple. Here’s why: Trump can’t and won’t be ignored. Ever.

Because he is a well known name — most people know and don’t like him but they do know him — Trump is, at the moment, in the top 10 of national polling among Republicans. That means, according to the rules of the first debate being sponsored by Fox News in August, Trump will qualify to be on the big stage…

…As pure entertainment, it’s hard to Trump trump because, as I mentioned above, he’ll say just about anything. “Nobody builds walls better than me,” he said at one point today. “I will never be in a bicycle race,” he said at another. I could give you some context for those quotes except that there is no context. That’s what makes Trump such great copy. That’s what makes Trump so irresistible to write about and read about. It’s also what makes Trump so dangerous to the political process.

—–

New York real estate mogul and famous person Donald Trump may announce his intentions to run for the Republican Presidential nomination as soon as Tuesday. As the Washington Post reports, Team Trump seems to be banking on the idea that voters want a rich white dude to be President again:

Donald J. Trump, the billionaire real-estate mogul, on Tuesday will release a summary of assets that total about $9 billion as part of his likely entry into the race for the Republican presidential nomination, according to people familiar with his plans.

The two-page document — which will be published after he holds a political rally at Trump Tower in New York — will provide a valuation of his hotels and other properties. It will also show hundreds of millions in cash on hand and an outline of his debt, the people said…[Pols emphasis]

…Trump’s speech announcing his decision is likely to center on his career and fortune. He is expected to cast himself as an entrepreneur and outsider eager to tangle with the party establishment and U.S. economic rivals abroad, such as China. The financial statement drafted by his office is aimed at demonstrating his success as a businessman, as well as proving to skeptical GOP leaders that he is serious about running.

One goal of Trump’s camp is to make the cut for the Republican primary debates this summer and fall, which will require him to rank within the top 10 in national polls, among other factors. By divulging details about his finances, Trump believes he will be going above and beyond what will be necessary to win a place on stage, according to people familiar with his thinking.

This two-page document that Trump is expected to unveil probably makes a good case for him to be “President of Monopoly,” but is he seriously planning on running a campaign for U.S. President based almost entirely on the fact that he is rich? Maybe Republicans can convince him to at least pay for a bigger clown car.

The Strange Story of the Coup Attempt Within the Colo. Republican Party

BOOM!

Boom.

UPDATE #2: Holy F***ing Shit! Steve House just issued the following statement through the State Republican Party:

The rumors started last night, when I was scheduled to meet with Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. When I arrived to our meeting, I was surprised to see that former Congressman Tom Tancredo and Pueblo County Chair Becky Mizel were also in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was initially unknown to me and I believed it was a routine strategy discussion by the Attorney General and myself. Congressman Tancredo confronted me about not hiring former state Sen. Ted Harvey as the Party’s executive director, and demanded that I resign my post. If I refused to meet their demand to resign, they threatened that a potential lawsuit may be filed and that false rumors that I have been unfaithful to my wife would be made public.

Neither I, my family, nor anyone else serving our Party deserves this type of treatment.

In my frustration, I sent the Attorney General a text stating that I would resign, because I did not want my family, nor our Party to be dragged through this. No individual, myself included, is more important than the Party. After speaking with my wife and my closest advisers, I informed the Attorney General that I will not resign.

No one should be bullied out of running for office, or serving as a leader in our Party. It is clear that our Party has some challenges ahead and that is what I was elected to address. These types of divisive and bullying tactics are why so many Americans are sick of politics as usual.

My biggest fault is probably the belief that I could unite all factions of the Party. Unfortunately, there are some who are more concerned with their own personal gain than doing what is best for our Party as a whole. These are the same exact people who fought against past chairmen, and they are going to try to take out the next chair as well.

As the state Chairman of the GOP, I represent over 1 million registered Colorado Republicans. I will not give in to a vicious and vocal minority that seeks to bring down the Party from within. That is why I am committed to staying on as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, to ensure success in 2016 and beyond.

WOW. Super wow. We are working on a new story now, but didn’t want to wait to post this update.

—–

UPDATE: As Mark Twain might say, Steve House tells Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post that the rumors of his death are greatly exaggerated:

“There are rumors out there that I have officially resigned as chairman of the Colorado Republican Committee. Let me be clear: I am not only staying on as your chairman, but I am doubling down on my efforts to lead us to victory in 2016 and beyond!” he said in a statement released shortly after 11 a.m.

—-

Steve House and Tyler Hart (photo via Blacktie Colorado).

Steve House and Tyler Hart (photo via Blacktie Colorado).

There was a coup attempt against State Republican Party Chair Steve House on Monday night.

You read that correctly. While you were watching television, or sleeping, or doing anything else other than paying attention to politics last night, one of the stranger episodes in recent Colorado political history was unfolding. Pueblo County Republican Chair Becky Mizel and former state Sen. Ted Harvey tried to force recently-elected GOP Chair Steve House to resign so that Mizel could become State Chair and Harvey could become the full-time Executive Director of the State GOP. House is expected to make an announcement today about the attempted coup, naming Harvey and Mizel in the process.

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reported on some of the details of the feud in a late-night blog post, in which Mizel and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman both claimed that House had resigned as State Party Chair. Coffman’s involvement is particularly strange given that she was the first Republican elected official to back House in his bid to defeat incumbent Party Chair Ryan Call earlier this year (her husband, Congressman Mike Coffman, supported Call’s re-election). The Colorado Republican Party, meanwhile, is adamant that House did not resign and issued a statement saying as much:

Chairman House is still leading the Colorado Republican Committee, and looks forward to leading it to victory in 2016. These false rumors are coming from the same people who continually try to bring down the Party for their own gain, year after year.

Earlier this month we wrote that the Colorado Republican Party was in a state of chaos after some questionable hiring decisions by House. Most notably, many Republican insiders were furious that House had decided to hire Tyler Hart as his Chief of Staff, as we explained on June 4th:

Apparently there is widespread concern that House chose someone with little political or campaign experience to serve as his right-hand person. It probably doesn’t help that Hart comes from the Tea Party wing of Republican activists, but based on her resume alone, Hart seems like a strange hire; you can see from the press release that Hart’s professional experience doesn’t appear to make a ton of sense given the role House envisions for her.

Former state Sen. Ted Harvey (R).

Former state Sen. Ted Harvey (R).

Harvey was one of the more vocal critics of the decision to hire Hart, which stems in part from rumors in March that Harvey was slated to become the full-time paid Executive Director of the State GOP. Harvey’s pending appointment as ED was scuttled after news leaked out (first reported at Colorado Pols) that House may have made a deal prior to defeating Call at the state assembly on March 14. House subsequently went in a different direction in making up his new staff, and bringing in Hart at a full-time $85,000 salary did not sit well with Harvey and Mizel; it didn’t help matters that House apparently hired Hart without the consent of the GOP Executive Committee.

(It is important to remember here that a re-allocation of resources was one of the main selling points of House’s bid to take out Ryan Call; there was a concern among Republican insiders that the State GOP was spending too much money on full-time salaries at the expense of grassroots organizing and GOTV efforts.)

Pueblo County Republican Party Chair Becky Mizel.

Pueblo County Republican Party Chair Becky Mizel.

The hiring of Hart convinced Harvey and Mizel to get more aggressive in their efforts to force House to make a change, and this is where things really start to get weird. Harvey and Mizel hatched a plan to convince House to resign, whereby Mizel would become the new State Party Chair and Harvey would be the top-salaried Executive Director. When House refused to bend to more traditional forms of lobbying, Harvey and Mizel resorted to what can really only be described as extortion; they tried to force House to resign by threatening to spread negative rumors about House’s health care consulting business benefiting from Obamacare, and eventually moved on to some sort of accusations of an affair or some other vague infidelity.

House was apparently fed up with the entire discussion at this point, and in a moment of anger and frustration, he essentially threw up his hands and walked away (metaphorically-speaking). Mizel and other House opponents quickly took to Facebook and other forms of social media last night claiming that House had officially resigned, hoping to build enough momentum to convince House to concede once and for all. House did not officially resign, however, and eventually regained his composure enough to start pushing back against the rumor-mongering.

That should get you caught up to this morning and a pending public announcement from House about the “coup” attempt. We will continue to update this story as it unfolds. In the meantime, check out some of the social media screenshots we grabbed over the last 12 hours (after the jump)…

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Damning Deep Dive Details Roberts’ “Difficult” Dilemma

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels has been watching as state Sen. Ellen Roberts has mulled a run for the U.S. Senate–and as you can see in the Tweet above, a reference to a particularly damaging opinion piece from the Colorado Independent’s Mike Littwin after Roberts falsely claimed in a conservative talk radio interview that “I’ve never called myself pro-choice,” she hasn’t been very impressed.

An in-depth story this weekend about Roberts’ possible Senate bid makes us think Bartels is not seeing anything you’d call improvement since Roberts’ rocky start in mid-May, as her struggle to define herself:

Roberts’ reputation was as a moderate when she was first elected to the legislature in 2006, but Capitol regulars saw what they thought was a shift to the right. When Republicans took control of the state Senate after last November’s election, her conservative caucus elected her Senate president pro tem. That escalated the conversation…

After the session ended in May, Roberts told her hometown paper she was looking at a Senate run. “I recognize it would be a longshot,” the 55-year-old said.

The Durango Herald noted Roberts would have to survive a partisan primary, which typically supports the more conservative candidate, and pointed out that Roberts supports gay rights and is pro-choice.

That’s when things got interesting.

Roberts’ “evolution” into a more conservative candidate, in anticipation of a GOP primary for higher office, has not gone well. This year’s legislative session witnessed a major shift in Roberts’ voting record, with three key actions standing out as trouble spots for her political future: her ill-advised support for a bill that would make it even easier for Colorado students to opt out of immunizations, her fickle support for funds to extend a highly successful IUD contraception program, and above all, her support for a so-called “fetal homicide” bill that opponents claimed would create Personhood-style legal rights for fetuses. In response to these actions, Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado and other reproductive choice groups who once considered Roberts a reachable GOP lawmaker have denounced her.

Roberts’ excuse for this shift?

Roberts said her stances did change after she got elected to the Senate, in part because she no longer represented just the liberal-based Durango, but also conservative constituents in Cortez, Montrose and elsewhere in the eight counties she represents.

It’s possible that reasoning may persuade a few voters, but it opens Roberts to the charge of being driven by political opportunity instead of principle–an allegation that will stick with many more. And when you combine such a ready admission that her stances have changed with her unforced gaffe about having “never” called herself pro-choice, when she plainly has done so and recently, there’s little left to trust.

And that’s why Roberts is the subject of stories about facing “difficulty” instead of, you know, opportunity.

Mike Coffman Compares Veterans Administration to ISIS, Makes Beheading Jokes on Radio

MONDAY UPDATE #2: Via the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews, the Department of Veterans Affairs responds:

A VA spokeswoman chided U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman on Monday for statements the Aurora Republican made recently in which he imagined the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs running the terrorist group ISIS.

His “comments do not belong in our public discourse,” said VA spokeswoman Victoria Dillon in a statement. “Veterans and VA employees find them highly offensive. (VA) Secretary (Robert) McDonald has spoken to Representative Coffman.”

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Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)

MONDAY UPDATE: National news outlets quickly pick up this story, Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski:

“I was speaking before a group the other day and said it’s too bad we can’t take VA leadership and export it and give it to some of our adversaries around the planet. Let them suffer under VA’s leadership,” said Coffman…

A Coffman spokesman said the comments were, “a controversy only with liberals and the Washington outrage machine. [Pols emphasis] His sarcastic point was obvious – the VA is an organizational disaster.”

Huffington Post:

“Can you imagine if the VA was in charge of ISIS? You know they would probably say, ‘Oh yeah, you know, it wasn’t quite 2,000 that we beheaded. It was really — 24 is the accurate number,” he added. “And we’re sorry, that, in fact, they were all our own terrorists that we beheaded because it got misclassified in the system as Christian.’ I mean, that would be the VA in charge of ISIS.”

In response, one of the show hosts said, “I don’t know what they’re putting in your orange juice back there.”

Talking Points Memo also reporting on this story with more allegedly on the way. We’re honestly surprised that Coffman hasn’t backed down between Friday and today–a big mistake when a simple apology would end the controversy much sooner. Meanwhile, local liberal groups are piling on:

“Mike Coffman has a reputation going back decades in politics for making outrageous statements,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “There is no question that the VA faces challenges right now. As the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for Veterans Affairs, Coffman has known about the problems at the VA for years. But to compare the thousands of men and women at the Department of Veterans Affairs–the vast majority of whom are hard-working public servants dedicated to helping our nation’s veterans–to a vicious terrorist organization that has beheaded American citizens is simply outrageous.”

Original post follows.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (June 15)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218The Denver Nuggets have hired Mike Malone to be their next head coach, which is very sad; Malone has just 39 more NBA wins under his belt than you do. 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-Aurora) is standing behind his horribly-inappropriate comments in which he compared the Veterans Administration to ISIS. Colorado Pols first reported on Coffman’s absurd statements during an interview on KOA radio Friday morning, and the story has since been picked up by numerous national media outlets. If you missed it, here’s what Coffman said:

“Can you imagine if the VA was in charge of ISIS? They’d probably say, ‘Well, you know it wasn’t quite 2,000 that we beheaded – it was really 24…is the accurate number. We’re sorry that, in fact, they were all our own terrorists that were beheaded because they got misclassified in the system as Christians.’

“I mean, that would be the VA [chuckles]…that would be the VA in charge of ISIS. [Pols emphasis]”

This story was front-page material on Buzzfeed this morning, which included this response:

A Coffman spokesman said the comments were, “a controversy only with liberals and the Washington outrage machine. His sarcastic point was obvious – the VA is an organizational disaster.”

Don’t forget the context here — we’re talking about the same Mike Coffman who represents CD-6 (the home of the troubled hospital project) and also serves as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Construction on the Aurora VA Hospital will continue through September after Congress kicked the can down the road again on Friday.

► The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Monday that you can be fired for using marijuana during your free time. The Aurora Sentinel says it’s time for Congress to step in on legal weed.

Nobody is more damaging to Sen. Ellen Roberts’ political future than Ellen Roberts herself.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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