Stand with Mark Udall against the CIA’s abuse of power

For years, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado has been fighting to rein in abuses of federal power in the name of combating terrorism. Sen. Udall warned the American people about the dangers of mass surveillance against millions of innocent Americans for years before anyone knew the name Edward Snowden. To Udall’s great credit, he has consistently fought for our civil liberties in Congress–regardless of which party occupies the White House.

Today, Sen. Udall needs your help. Click here to stand with Udall as he confronts the Central Intelligence Agency’s most recent abuse of power.

News reports this week of the CIA’s alleged hacking of Senate computers to thwart the investigation into illegal detentions and interrogations have rocked Washington. [1] In response, Sen. Udall says the future of CIA Director John Brennan is in doubt. “The CIA has an important role to play, but if the public doesn’t trust the CIA, if the Senate overseers don’t trust the CIA, I don’t know how Director Brennan can continue to lead the agency,” Udall told reporters.

Congressional oversight is one of the most important checks that exists against federal abuse of power. If Congress can’t do their jobs holding intelligence agencies accountable, the risk to the civil liberties of every American is fundamental and grave. There is perhaps no more serious issue being debated in Washington today than these basic matters of unreasonable government intrusion, detention, and interrogation. It doesn’t matter which party is in the White House–we have to stand together, left and right, to protect the values that define us as Americans.

That’s the fight Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado is leading right now. Click here to stand with him. We’ll share your names and comments with Sen. Udall’s office, the media, and other public officials.

Thank you once again for standing up for what’s right regardless of party affiliation. It’s personally disappointing to me that we are still having debates over civil liberties that should have ended with the Bush administration, but I’m grateful to have a leader like Sen. Udall speaking for me today. Help me send that message to Washington.

Sincerely,

Alan Franklin

They’ve learned nothing

Every year, we see new battles over women’s reproductive rights. As the former political director for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, I’ve seen it happen over and over. In fact, more states enacted restrictions on abortion between 2011–2013 than in the entire previous decade. [1] They never stop, and we can’t let our guard down for one minute.

Today, I need you to take a stand for women in Colorado.

Next Tuesday, Republicans will once again try to pass a total ban on abortions in Colorado. This has been attempted in previous years, but what’s different about this bill is the support of Republican leadership. In fact, Republican House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso has signed on as a co-sponsor to this dangerous legislation. Instead of respecting the will of the vast majority of Coloradans–we live one of the most pro-women and pro-choice states in the country–Republicans are determined to prove yet again that they don’t believe women are capable of making their own personal, private medical decisions.

Join my fight to protect the rights of women in Colorado. Take a moment right now to contact members of the Colorado House Judiciary Committee, as well as the abortion ban bill's sponsors, and urge them to vote NO on House Bill 14-1133. Let them all know these backward bills have no place in Colorado.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Thank you for remaining vigilant at this important moment.

Sincerely,

Amy Runyon-Harms
Executive Director, ProgressNow Colorado

P.S. It’s so important you let these legislators know that you stand with the women of Colorado, and these anti-woman efforts aren’t welcome in 2014. Please don’t wait–contact our legislators now. This is a numbers game, and your voice makes a difference.

Money Badger don’t care

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: Despite earlier news reports, there is apparently no meeting of the Joint Budget Committee and Scott Gessler occurring today. We'll update when we know what the deal is.

—–

POLS UPDATE: The long-awaited showdown between the Joint Budget Committee and Secretary of State Scott Gessler over his office's big budget shortfall is scheduled for later today. Lest anyone think this is simply a partisan squabble, here's GOP Rep. Cheri Gerou criticizing Gessler's fiscal irresponsibility in no uncertain terms:

GEROU: When he came into office, I believe there was a pretty good cash fund balance. And it just seems like we've been dealing with two years of spending, spending, spending, that we've gotten to this point.

We'll update with coverage from today's hearing. Original post follows.

—–

So much for the “party of fiscal responsibility.”

Colorado’s Secretary of State Scott Gessler has never been one to play by the rules. Since taking office in 2011, Gessler has faced scandal after scandal over his own efforts to tilt the playing field to his and his party’s advantage. Gessler is the only statewide politician in office today in Colorado who has been found by the state’s Independent Ethics Commission to have “violated the public trust for private gain.”

Now we learn Gessler can’t even manage his own department’s budget. After slashing fees on business registrations and other services performed by his office, news reports have revealed that the Secretary of State’s office is millions of dollars in the red. Gessler blames political opponents, but these were his decisions. Cutting fees on business is a great way to pander while running for higher office, but taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for it.

Send a message to Gessler right now: tell him you expect better.

Don’t take our word for it. Even the conservative Grand Junction Sentinel [1] says Gessler is wrong to blame others for his own mismanagement:

"Unfortunately for the [Joint Budget Committee], Gessler loves an audience and he will undoubtedly use the grandstand the budget committee is providing him to loudly proclaim his victimhood. But the JBC holds the higher moral ground in this dispute. Gessler got himself into this predicament by sharply cutting business fees for his cash-funded office, when his office had a large surplus several years ago, refusing to put a portion of the surplus into the state general fund as lawmakers demanded."

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Progressives Celebrate Mike Coffman, Colorado’s Longest-Serving Career Politician

Today, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, celebrated Mike Coffman’s 25 years as a career politician with a cake to share with the Colorado Capitol press corps and local elected officials.

“There is no politician in office today in the state of Colorado who has been on the public dole longer than Mike Coffman,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “When Coffman says he knows how the ‘system’ works, he means it–because no one in our state is more of a creature of the political system than Coffman is.”

In honor of Coffman’s 25 years in office as an elected politician, here are just a few of the highlights from his long, long career:

1989: Mike Coffman first elected to the Colorado House of Representatives. Bobby Brown, Poison, and Milli Vanilli top the Billboard charts.

1990: Coffman has a state lien filed against him for failing to pay his taxes. Tax lien not satisfied until two years later.  [Notice of Lien for State Taxes, Arapahoe County Clerk, 5/31/90]  [Release of Lien, Arapahoe County Clerk, 2/14/92]

1992: Coffman supports Obamacare-like ideas such as a ban on pre-existing conditions and an employer mandate for healthcare as part of the GOP’s alternative to “Hillarycare.” [Colorado House Bill 93-1922]

1995: Coffman sponsors a bill to stop sending disability checks to recipients suffering from drug addiction or alcoholism. [Colorado Senate Bill 95-063]

1998: Now a state senator, Coffman sponsors a resolution praising a controversial men-only Christian group, Promise Keepers, which was quickly voted down with help from fellow Republican women. [Denver Post, 4/30/98]

2004: The Colorado Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that Coffman had misused public resources campaigning against a 2000 school finance ballot initiative and violated the Fair Campaign Practices Act. [Colorado Media Matters, 10/23/06]

2007: As Secretary of State, a major controversy erupts when a high-level elections official in Coffman’s office is caught running a “voter data” business on the side. [Denver Post, 5/9/07]

2008: Now a candidate for Congress, Coffman clarifies to a radio host that he is an ardent supporter of the Personhood amendment, opposing abortion "in all cases of rape and incest." [Denver Post, 10/11/12]

2008: Secretary of State Coffman illegally purges thousands of voters from the rolls just before the elections, eventually agreeing to allow those voters to cast ballots after being sued in federal court. [New York Times, 10/30/08]

2011: Now a member of Congress, Coffman joins with Rep. Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin to sponsor the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, H.R. 3, which attempted to redefine the crime of rape to restrict coverage for abortions for rape victims. [Library of Congress records]

2011: As a backer of extremist Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, Coffman agrees that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme.” [POLITICO, 9/20/11]

2012: Speaking at an Elbert County GOP fundraiser, Coffman asserts that President Barack Obama is “just not an American.” [9NEWS, 5/16/12]

2013: Coffman joins fellow Colorado Republicans in voting against relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy, only to be denounced as hypocrites by fellow Republicans in New York and New Jersey when massive floods strike Colorado later that year. [New York Daily News, 10/1/13]

2013: Coffman votes to shut down the federal government. Later claims that Coffman is working to end the highly unpopular shutdown prove false. [Denver Post, 10/9/13]

“For over 25 years, Mike Coffman has been a role model for aspiring career politicians in Colorado by saying and doing whatever it takes to stay in office,” said Runyon-Harms. “Unfortunately for Congressman Coffman, his long political career is about to end. Coffman’s decades of far right extremism, corruption, and most recently his desperate pandering to the voters are finally catching up with him. The voters in Coffman’s district will soon decide that 25 years is enough.”

Common-sense gun safety is making Colorado better

This year, Colorado passed important, common-sense gun safety laws to reduce gun violence–without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens.

Just yesterday, the Colorado Department of Public Safety released new information showing that these laws are working: in just the first few months, the new law requiring criminal background checks for most transfers of guns in Colorado has stopped dozens of criminals from illegally obtaining guns. And every bit as important, thousands of law-abiding citizens are continuing to buy and sell guns with minimal inconvenience. Despite all the dire predictions from the extreme right, common-sense gun safety in Colorado is a success.

Click here to send a message to our Colorado legislators, thanking them for standing strong in the face of vicious personal attacks to protect our communities from gun violence.

According to the Department of Public Safety, between July and the end of November of this year, 4,792 background checks were conducted on prospective private gun buyers. Of those 4,792 background checks, 72 sales of guns were were blocked due to a criminal record or restraining order in effect. The remainder of background checks, over 98%, were completed successfully and the transfer of the firearm went forward. [1]

The smear and retaliation campaign by the extreme right against progressive legislators who backed this year’s gun safety reforms has taken a terrible toll. But they were right to not give up. Now we can see the reforms they fought for are working–preventing guns from being sold to people who shouldn’t have them–while allowing law-abiding citizens to go about their business. Common-sense gun safety in Colorado is making our state better.

Take a moment right now to thank progressive Colorado legislators for doing the right thing in the face of tremendous pressure. We’ll deliver your names and comments to legislators and the press.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “what you don't do can be a destructive force.” In response to the tragedies of 2012 in Aurora and in Newtown, Colorado legislators took necessary action. They need to know that the people of Colorado stand with them, and can see through the lies now that the new laws are proving effective. Thank them for their perseverance, and then forward this message to your friends and neighbors.

Brosurance for the ladies

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In the last few weeks, you may have caught a glimpse of an ad featuring three 'bros' doing a keg stand that encourages people to check out the new healthcare marketplace and get insurance. Well, that was the handiwork of ProgressNow Colorado Education and our amazing partners, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.

When we began work on this project last summer with CCHI, our goal was to make sure Coloradans knew about the availability of health insurance through the new online marketplace called "Connect for Health Colorado", which opened on October 1st. While states that chose to let the federal government create their online insurance marketplaces, Colorado's legislature decided to take matters into their own hands and develop their own. Our online marketplace has experienced very few of the hiccups other states have seen, and to date, over 35,000 Coloradans have enrolled–and will have health insurance beginning January 1, 2014.

We wanted to come up with a clever ad campaign that would reach our target audiences and be different enough that it might just go viral. We came up with the idea to do a play on the iconic 'Got Milk?' campaign called 'Got Insurance?' featuring well-known figures and ordinary Coloradans doing the things we love to do: mountain climbing, kayaking, and…well…keg stands.

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“That’s how big this is”

No on the recallI'm writing today with a simple message. Everything you and I have fought for in the past decade is under attack.

Click here to fight back: the most important election you've never heard of is only three weeks away.

For years, Senate President John Morse and Senator Angela Giron have fought for our shared values. In 2013, after victory at the polls in 2012, the Colorado legislature accomplished a long list of goals we have sought for years–civil unions, tuition equity for all Colorado students, increasing renewable energy, workplace discrimination protection, creating Colorado jobs, and more: all in addition to a few common-sense gun safety bills in response to tragedy and to save lives. I don't have room to list all of the things we accomplished, but I have never been more proud of our Colorado legislature.

The extreme right is trying to reverse not just this year's victories, but a decade of progress in Colorado. Their goal is to start "a wave of fear" across the nation by underhandedly taking down two good Colorado lawmakers in wasteful, misguided recall elections. Watch this shocking video at MSNBC and see for yourself what the leaders of the recalls are trying to do.

Right now, no one in America needs your help more than Senators Morse and Giron. Click here to make a donation against these recall elections today via ActBlue.  Every dollar you give will go directly to their campaigns.

If the wasteful, partisan recalls against Senators Morse and Giron succeed, the right wing will use that to stall progress on all the issues we care about: education, healthcare, leveling the playing field for consumers and workers, equality for all Colorado families, and creating good-paying, sustainable jobs right here in Colorado.

I will not stand by and allow these progressive heroes to be removed from office simply for doing their jobs. We elect leaders to make decisions, and that's what Senators Morse and Giron do every day. They don't deserve this. Recalls are for criminals and corruption, and we have regular elections in America to decide who we think is best for the job.

We can't let the constant threat of recalls over any disagreement become the norm. Click here to donate to Senators Morse and Giron right now. Show your support for them, and for everything we have accomplished together in our fight for progressive change.

This election is not in November. It is September 10th – only three weeks away. There is no time to wait. Do not wake up the day after these elections wishing you had done more. Donate now, and understand that this is one of the most important contributions you'll ever make.

Latest Recall Election Court Ruling Hurts Colorado Voting Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 13th 2013
CONTACT: Amy Runyon-Harms, Executive Director at amy@progressnowcolorado.org

DENVER: A Denver District Court ruling on the recall special election process late yesterday sent plans for all participants in this election into chaos. ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, calls for a speedy appeal and respect for the rights of Colorado voters–not political candidates.

“Yesterday’s district court ruling is unfortunate to say the least,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Unless an appeal is successful, this ruling guarantees less participation in the upcoming recall special elections, and that’s not going to serve the best interests of our state.”

“These recall elections were already extremely costly and bad for Colorado,” said Runyon-Harms, “and now Colorado taxpayers are expected to pay over half a million dollars for a process brought on by special interests who disagree with hard working legislators. A legislative recall has never happened in Colorado, and should be reserved for an elected official involved in criminal activity or major malfeasance–not a simple disagreement.”

“This year, one of the greatest achievements in the Colorado legislature was the passage of the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act,” said Runyon-Harms. “The reason for the confusion is not any new legislation, but recall elections are so rare that the laws governing them have never been tested. This year's important legislation to simplify and modernize Colorado’s voting system did not create the conflict with the Colorado constitution over recall candidate deadlines, which has apparently existed for as long as we have been using mail ballots. It’s absurd for right-wing opponents of this legislation to blame a 2013 bill for a 1912 constitutional provision.”

“Progressives don’t support these wasteful and unnecessary recall elections, but we stand behind the right of every Coloradan to vote,” said Runyon-Harms. “This conflict between the state constitution and mail ballots in recall elections needs to be resolved in a way that allows our state’s voters, at home and overseas, to vote the way they have for years. In fact, making voting more difficult and confusing for our servicemembers who are fighting for our freedoms every day is downright infuriating. Conservatives must stop with the blame games. Everyone involved in this election deserves better.”

###

Congrats Sen. Pat Steadman, Colorado’s “Champion of Change”

Colorado Sen. Pat Steadman is being recognized today at the White House as a "Harvey Milk Champion of Change." From Fox 31:

Over the last few years, as LGBT advocates have pushed for a new civil unions law, many of them lauded the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Pat Steadman, a long-time lobbyist on equality issues, as “Colorado’s own Harvey Milk.”

…The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White house to feature groups of Americans – individuals, businesses and organizations – who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

In 1992, Steadman organized the lawsuit challenging “Amendment 2,” the voter-approved anti-gay initiative that made Colorado known for a time as the “Hate State”; the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the statute in 1996 in the landmark Romer v. Evans ruling.

The civil unions legislation was finally passed this year and signed into law in March.

Thank you, Sen. Steadman, for decades spent fighting for equality for every Colorado family! Your work honors Harvey Milk's legacy every day.

IRS Sent Same Letters To Liberal Groups (Like Us)

(This doesn't jive with the outrage – promoted by Colorado Pols)

The ProgressNow family of state organizations has been around since 2004, and we at ProgressNow Colorado were the first such organization of what now comprises over 20 state affiliates–all focused on our common goal of providing solutions to community problems, and holding the right wing accountable at the state level.

As reports continue over alleged abuses by the Internal Revenue Service "targeting" conservative groups, the experience of our Texas state affiliate Progress Texas is highly instructive–and raises questions about whether there were partisan intentions in play at all in the IRS's scrutiny of groups applying for the appropriate status under the tax code. ProgressNow state affiliates are not generally known as "conservative." 

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Winners and Losers of the 2013 Legislative Session

(Here come the recaps – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This year's session of the Colorado General Assembly was truly historic. After two years of divided control and stagnation in the legislature, a large backlog of high-priority, common-sense reforms awaited lawmakers in January. Working tirelessly in the face of right-wing obstruction, smear campaigns, and even threats of violence, the progressive majorities in the Colorado House and Senate passed historic legislation to create jobs and boost Colorado's economy, to preserve public safety, to make great strides toward equality for every Colorado family, and to give all children in Colorado the education they deserve.

As we bring to a close the most successful and productive legislative session anyone can remember in Colorado, here are some of the highlights–and the disgraces–that we'll be talking about for years to come. 

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Join us and a panel of experts for “The United States of ALEC”

For years, we at ProgressNow Colorado have been tracking the influence of a secretive conservative organization known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Recent scandals in other states have resulted in an uncomfortably higher profile for this organization, which has operated in Colorado for decades with very little attention.

The United States of ALEC is a documentary, narrated by Bill Moyers, that reports on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of us have never heard of. A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC presents itself as a "nonpartisan public-private partnership." But behind that lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.

Click here to join Colorado Common Cause and ProgressNow Colorado for a screening of this important documentary.

In state houses around the country including Colorado, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers–each accomplished without the public ever knowing who's behind it.

Using interviews, documents, and field reports, the the documentary explores ALEC's self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as "a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests."

WHAT: The United States of ALEC Screening Event
WHEN: March 26th 6-8pm
WHERE: Denver Post Auditorium
101 W. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO, 80202 (map)

Panelists

Elena Nunez, Colorado Common Cause (Moderator)
Tony Salazar, Colorado Education Association
Conservation Colorado
Sean Hinga, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
Kirpal Singh, Colorado Trial Lawyers Association
Alan Franklin, ProgressNow Colorado

To RSVP, click here.

Tell Gov. Hickenlooper: drop the threats, protect our communities

hickthreats.jpgLocal communities in Colorado have begun to take action to protect schools, businesses, and neighborhoods from the harmful effects of a controversial oil and gas extraction method called “fracking.” Unfortunately, Gov. John Hickenlooper has announced his intention to sue any local government in the state that bans fracking.

That’s wrong. If local communities want to protect their homes, businesses and families from fracking in their neighborhoods, shouldn’t Gov. Hickenlooper stand with them?

Click here to tell Gov. Hickenlooper to back off his threat to sue city and county governments for voting to protect their residents from fracking.

Energy production is an important part of Colorado’s economy. Striking the right balance between developing these natural resources, and protecting Colorado’s environment and public health, is one of the most important debates taking place in our state today.

Two Colorado cities, Longmont and Fort Collins, have voted to ban the practice of fracking within their city limits. This week, Gov. Hickenlooper agreed in an interview that his policy would be “to go around the state and sue every city and county that passes a ban” on fracking. [1]

The Governor of Colorado should stand up for Colorado citizens and local governments, not oil companies. The weak rules protecting local communities passed by Hickenlooper’s administration with regard to space between drilling operations and homes, as well as water quality testing requirements, are not enough–that’s why municipalities like Longmont and Fort Collins have been forced to take action.

Click here: tell Gov. Hickenlooper to stop threatening local communities, and to start protecting them. Progressives supported Hickenlooper’s election in 2010, and he needs to know we’re paying attention now. 

Thanks for doing your part.

WATCH: Rep. Beth McCann reads messages from Colorado progressives in support of reducing gun violence

In the video clip above, Rep. Beth McCann reads letters submitted by ProgressNow Colorado members in support of legislation to reduce gun violence during Friday's all-day debate in the Colorado House. Hear from moms, neighbors, and yes, gun owners and NRA members–all calling for sensible legislation to protect our communities.

Our thanks go out to Rep. McCann for giving voice to progressives from across the state who support legislation to reduce gun violence.