Mike Coffman Has Now Voted Six Times to Defund Planned Parenthood

(But that doesn’t mean he won’t still use their logo in a campaign ad! Promoted by Colorado Pols)

If you read Rep. Mike Coffman’s recent explanations for his votes to defund Planned Parenthood, and you also know he used a Planned-Parenthood logo to promote himself in a political advertisement during his last election campaign, you might conclude that Coffman’s turn against Planned Parenthood is a recent change-of-heart.

But left out of media coverage of Coffman’s votes is the fact that he’s voted six times to defund Planned Parenthood over the past eight years, culminating in October’s defunding vote, which he explained by saying:

Coffman: “Until they clean up their act, we should fund critical women’s services through the many other community health partners that operate across my district, the state and all across this country in a way that doesn’t fly in the face of human decency.”

Until they clean up their act? There’s nothing in Coffman’s record of six defunding votes to suggest he’d ever support Planned Parenthood. That’s why everyone was surprised that he’d used a Planned Parenthood logo in a campaign ad last year.

But, apparently, not a single reporter asked Coffman about his use of the logo until after Coffman voted in Sept. to defund the organization.

“Using Planned Parenthood’s expression of support is not the same thing as saying it’s a good organization,” said Coffman’s spokeswoman Cinamon Waton told 9NEWS.

This leaves the question of why Coffman used the logo unanswered, but at least Watson confirmed that her boss thinks Planned Parenthood is a bad organization, as he said in July on conservative talk radio.

“It’s just one thing after another with Planned Parenthood,” Coffman told KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis.

That statement of  longstanding opposition to Planned Parenthood is consistent with his record of six defunding votes, the first of which occurred in 2007, when he voted for an amendment, offered by  Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, to a federal budget bill. Pence offered a similar amendment in 2009 to a federal budget bill, and Coffman voted in favor.

Coffman’s next vote to defund Planned Parenthood came in 2011, after House Republicans added a resolution to a federal budget bill, HR 36, stating that funding in the legislation “may be made available for any purpose to Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. or any affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc.” Also in 2011, House Republicans added amendment 95 to H.R. 1, allowing Coffman to vote again to defund Planned Parenthood.

Coffman’s next opportunities to defund Planned Parenthood came this year, in September and October, and he took advantabge of them by voting again to rescind federal money.

This issue will clearly return as the election season heats up, and there are still questions left hanging, including the basic question, which Coffman’s spokesman dodged earlier this year, of why such an ardently anti-choice and anti-Planned-Parenthood Congressman would use the organization’s logo in a campaign ad. But more broadly, why has Coffman opposed Planned Parenthood for so long? And with such fervor?

Morgan Carroll Stands Up For Refugees In Diverse CD-6

Rep. Mike Coffman (R), Sen. Morgan Carroll (D).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R), Sen. Morgan Carroll (D).

An important sidebar to the raging controversy over allowing Syrian refugees into the United States, and in turn Colorado, is the potential significant impact the story may have on Colorado’s hottest 2016 congressional race–the showdown between incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman and by far his greatest challenge, yet former Senate President Morgan Carroll in the swing Sixth Congressional District.

As the Aurora Sentinel reports, Carroll and Coffman are polar opposites on this defining issue:

Shortly after multiple Republican governors across the country announced they would be doing what they could to prevent Syrian refugees from being resettled in their states, Rep. Coffman joined them in announcing that he opposed resettling Syrian refugees in Colorado.

“I’m opposed because we simply have no way of conducting background checks for screening Syrian refugees,” he told the Denver Post earlier this week…

Carroll, his likely challenger in the 2016 general election, put out a statement Wednesday afternoon in support of efforts by President Barack Obama and Gov. John Hickenlooper to take part in joining European allies and other nations in finding shelter for refugees within our borders.

From Carroll’s statement yesterday:

“ISIS is inflicting terror on innocent people from Syria to Paris and now they have their targets set on the U.S. We must take down these terrorists and protect innocent people who desperately want freedom, whether they are refugees or good people still living in Syria.

The U.S. has the most rigorous screening of refugees in the world, far more stringent than Europe. We need to join our allies in the world and do our part to stand with those who have been ravaged by ISIS terrorists. As such, I support the Commander in Chief and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in rigorously screening refugees and helping those who pass the screening to find a better life, rooted in freedom and democracy, in America.”

The thing to understand here is that since redistricting in 2011, CD-6 is centered on the large and culturally diverse suburban city of Aurora. Aurora was described in a 2013 Denver Post story as the “port of entry” for refugees being resettled into Colorado from all over the world. Today, the city boasts sizable populations of Ethiopian, Eritrean, Nepalese, and many other refugee and immigrant communities. More than one in five Aurora residents was born abroad, the highest percentage in Colorado.

With that in mind, Coffman’s party-line opposition to Syrian refugees comes across as grossly at odds with the interests and values of the district he represents in Congress. Aurora has no reason to fear refugees, because they are already there in large numbers. Regardless of where they may hail from, no one knows better than fellow refugees and immigrants the prejudice faced by Syrians fleeing the civil war raging in their homeland.

And yes, folks, a lot of them are American citizens now. Natural-born Americans in CD-6 who live and work with refugees every day know this xenophobic outburst from the right following last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris is misguided and wrong.

Who speaks for them today? Morgan Carroll speaks for them.

Don’t underestimate the importance of this. More than anywhere else in Colorado, it’s going factor in 2016.

Mike Coffman: All Over The Map on ISIS

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

With last week’s terrorist attack in Paris, France still dominating the news today, we wanted to take a closer look at the statements of Colorado’s foremost member of Congress on matters of foreign policy, Rep. Mike Coffman, and figure out what his position on how best to confront the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, you know, really is. Over the weekend, Coffman made it clear that he blames the Obama administration in some measure for the Paris attacks:

Looking back at Coffman’s public statements as the civil war in Syria slowly evolved into a multinational war against ISIS, though, it’s a lot harder to understand exactly what Coffman means in terms of the United States failing to show “leadership.” In fact, President Barack Obama has apparently tried to do just that on numerous occasions, but Coffman’s response has consistently been to oppose Obama’s actions–even at the risk of contradicting himself. Back in 2013, Coffman was interviewed by the Denver Post’s Tim Hoover on the subject of intervening militarily in Syria:

On this week’s edition of The Roundup, editorial writer Tim Hoover interviews U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora. Coffman explains why he has so far opposed military intervention in Syria, calling the conflict an “intractable” and “sectarian” civil war…

In January of 2014, as ISIS began to loom larger than the pariah Syrian government as a threat, Coffman told local radio host Dan Caplis he would not support anything beyond advisors to combat either:

Certainly an advisory role, but certainly not anything beyond that. And that’s if requested. I think we have to be very careful once out about reentering that particular conflict. I would say, in terms of regular troops on the ground, absolutely not.

Then in June of 2014, Coffman again urged President Obama not to send even advisors to assist the Iraqi Army fighting against ISIS:

Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting that he suspend sending any U.S. military personnel to assist the Iraqi Army until the U.S. is successful in putting pressure on the Iraqi government to establish a process of political reconciliation with the disaffected Sunni Arab and Kurdish minority populations in Iraq. Last week, President Obama put forward a plan to send up to 300 U.S. military advisors to assist the Iraqi army and to assess the situation on the ground with the Iraqi army and their ability to fight Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) led opposition forces. Coffman is a Marine Corps combat veteran and is the only member of Congress to have served in both Iraq Wars.

“The only feasible solution is a political reconciliation. Any further U.S. military assistance must be strictly preconditioned on a fundamental change in the Iraqi government, which will send a clear message to both the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds that they will have a voice in the formation of a new government and their respective provinces will receive an equitable distribution of the oil wealth of the country,” wrote Coffman in his letter.

But by September of 2014, Coffman had turned hawkish once again, claiming without much elaboration that President Obama had done “too little” to “take the fight” to ISIS:

“President Bush did too much, getting us involved in a costly and unnecessary occupation, but President Obama has done too little to take the fight to those who seek to do us harm. [Pols emphasis] I agree with President Obama that a political solution is necessary to dismantle ISIS and know how hard that will be from my time in Western Iraq with the Marine Corps in 2005 and 2006. But we have ignored this threat for far too long. We cannot continue leading from behind.”

A day later, Coffman appeared to contradict himself once again in an interview with Bloomberg News:

“There has to be a political solution; there’s not a military solution alone for this,” Representative Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican, said in an interview today with Bloomberg Television. He said he doesn’t support U.S. troops on the ground.

By February of this year, though, Coffman was changing his tune again. Are we the only ones who smell an “evolving” position that is consistent only insofar as it is inversely proportional to the Obama administration’s position?

Certainly, as an Iraq war veteran, I wouldn’t want to see U.S. forces on the ground as the maneuver ground element. I want I want to see indigenous forces on the ground, but we’re going to need special operators from time to time to take out high-value targets. We are going to need to give them air logistical and advisory support, and that is going to take some elements of boots on the ground. [Pols emphasis]

Bottom line: what we see from Coffman in his “evolution” on confronting ISIS is not a well thought-out process, but an opportunistic game meant to oppose whatever the Obama administration supports at any given time. There is no question that Coffman has opposed taking military action against ISIS in the past, even opposing reinforcing the Iraqi government with American advisors as you can plainly read above. If Obama announced today, for example, that he was sending more advisors to help the Iraqis fight ISIS, it’s easy to see Coffman going right back to complaining.

Because Coffman’s statements appears to only be consistent in that they oppose Obama. There’s nothing you can extract from Coffman’s own statements on this issue that even look coherent, let alone like “leadership.”

As much as any other angle, that should be the story whenever Coffman opens his mouth.

Terror Grips Colorado Republicans

eiffel-111415As the world comes to terms with the horrific terrorist attacks on Paris, France this past Friday evening, responses from Colorado Republicans run the gamut from level-headed to…well, not so much. We’ll start with a rare moment of praise for Sen. Cory Gardner, whose statement in the immediate wake of the attacks showed commendable restraint:

“The people of Colorado and the United States stand firmly beside our oldest ally, France. We mourn those lost and pray for their families. And we are united with all Parisians as they unite against this senseless violence.”

Rep. Mike Coffman, unfortunately, couldn’t resist taking a potshot at the Obama administration on FOX News:

From Sen. Laura Woods, set to compete in Colorado’s hottest state senate race next year, more or less full-blown panic:

And don’t even get Jonathan Lockwood of leading local conservative group Advancing Colorado started:

Really, please don’t get him started:

It should be noted that the latter outburst from Lockwood is apparently in response to President Barack Obama arriving a few minutes late for a moment of silence in honor of victims at the G-20 conference in Turkey. To characterize Mr. Lockwood’s reaction to that minor infraction as over the top is a considerable understatement.

It’s not our intention to belittle any genuine shock felt over the terrorist attacks in Paris, which given the nature of events there is to a significant degree completely understandable. We understand that an attack of this magnitude will certainly be a factor in many debates about American policy, and the role of Colorado politicians in shaping that policy. The number of current stories this event affects that we’ve been talking about in this space range from the debate over the threat posed by ISIS to the transfer of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison to facilities in Colorado.

But there is some rhetoric that, we should all be able to agree, simply does not help anybody.

Rubio Immigration Tap-Dance Leaves Coffman Stumbling

THURSDAY UPDATE: MSNBC’s Steve Benen talks more about the trouble facing Marco Rubio–and also Mike Coffman:

“In my view, if Republicans nominate for president a candidate who supports amnesty,” Cruz added, ‘we will have given up one of the major distinctions with Hillary Clinton and we will lose the general election – that is a path to losing.”

In fairness to Rubio, it’s worth emphasizing that he dramatically flip-flopped on the immigration issue, betrayed his former allies, and now rejects the very proposals he helped write just two years ago. Maybe that will satisfy Republican voters, maybe not…

Keep in mind, this isn’t just some peripheral issue for many conservatives. A far-right, hard-line stance on immigration is for the Republican base what support for Social Security is for many Democrats – a stance the base simply expects as a commitment to party orthodoxy.

Although Coffman’s hard-line pre-redistricting positions on immigration were a polar opposite to Rubio’s former moderate position, it’s striking how the flip-flopping in both directions on the issue has exposed both men’s vulnerabilities. Coffman’s job of appearing moderate on immigration, while not going so far as to upset his Republican base of support in a swing district, is really not all that different from Rubio laboring to appease the GOP base on an issue he has already “sold them out” on once before.

In both cases voters, albeit different voters, are being asked to swallow big camels and strain gnats–and it may well end with nobody trusting either of them. Original post follows.


Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

NPR’s Steve Inskeep reports on the continuing “evolution” of Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s position on immigration reform, which has “evolved” even further in the last 24 hours:

Sen. Marco Rubio clarified his view on the 11 million immigrants, who are in the United States illegally. The day after a presidential debate, which exposed a continuing divide in the Republican Party on immigration, Rubio told NPR on Wednesday that he favors a path to citizenship for some, though the prospect would be very distant.

“If you haven’t been here very long, or you’re a criminal, you will be deported,” Rubio told NPR’s Morning Edition. “Otherwise, you will have to come forward, pass the background check, learn English, pay a fine, because you violated the law, start paying taxes, and you’ll get a work permit. And that’s all you’re going to have for at least a decade.”

Rubio went a step further. “After 10 years on the work permit, I personally am open to — after the 10 years have expired — to allowing people to apply for a green card, just through the normal process that anyone else would use.”

That means Rubio still broadly backs one of the most hotly debated portions of a 2013 immigration bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly but could not get through the Republican-controlled House. Rubio helped author the legislation, but later dismissed it as politically unsustainable.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Rubio’s position on immigration reform has been a famously moving target since 2013, when an immigration reform bill he hammered out with input from both sides of the U.S. Senate was pronounced DOA in the Republican-controlled House. In the face of furious objections from the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party, Rubio abandoned the legislation he had previously worked to pass. On the campaign trail as a Republican presidential candidate, Rubio has tried hard to keep up with his opponents’ free-wheeling demagoguery of immigrants while keeping the door open to moderating on the issue for a general election audience Etch-a-Sketch style.

That’s how you get Rubio telling NPR today that he would keep some kind of path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants open, even as he says he would close down President Barack Obama’s DACA program meant to protect thousands of childhood-arrival immigrants from deportation. To be honest, we don’t see how Rubio is going to be able to keep these contradictions from breaking down eventually. But with Rubio trying to position himself as the alternative to the Trump/Carson sideshow that’s presently dominating the Republican primary, he needs to be able to say something.

The real loser in this back-and-forth may not be Rubio, but swing Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman–who have been dancing between the GOP base’s hard line on immigration, and the needs of a diverse constituency that includes a large immigrant population with and without documentation. Even Coffman’s recent “moderated” opinion on immigration doesn’t go nearly as far as Rubio says today he would. In 2010, Coffman said flat-out that the DREAM Act “would be a nightmare for the American people.” Coffman’s most recent statements about undocumented students and/or military eligible recruits are best described as purposefully confusing, but Coffman certainly has not come out in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented adults–even a “very long path.”

Up to now, Coffman has been able to use Rubio’s immigration reform bill, more to the point its death, as a means to obfuscate his shifting position on a very delicate issue. The trouble now is that Rubio is under a harsher spotlight then ever before as a presidential candidate, and is going to be forced to spell out clearly once and for all what his agenda on immigration actually is.

And that’s going to leave Mike Coffman with no place to hide.

Hey Everybody: Enough With The Gitmo Cowardice Already

Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman.

Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman.

As the Los Angeles Times reports:

In the hope of persuading lawmakers to help him close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, President Obama is preparing to unveil a plan to shutter the facility and move some of the terrorism suspects held there to U.S. soil.

Obama hopes to get Congress to grant him more flexibility in the law that prevents the Guantanamo detainees from being imprisoned in the U.S. and makes it difficult to send them to foreign countries.

The plan – expected to surface as early as this week – will propose one or more prisons from a working list that includes facilities in Kansas, Colorado and South Carolina. Two others that were on the list, in California and Washington state, don’t appear to have made the preliminary cut, according to a senior administration official familiar with the proposal.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who has been fearfully hyping a “pipeline of terror” that could target locals if detainees from the extrajudicial detention site at Guantanamo Bay Cuba were transferred to the Supermax high-security prison in Florence, Colorado for many years now, released another timorous statement yesterday in response to these latest reports:

“President Obama apparently has a secret plan to move dangerous terrorists from Guantanamo to American soil,” Gardner said. “He has thus far not shared that plan with the American people, instead choosing to employ anonymous leaks to White House correspondents. I wrote a letter last month asking the President about these efforts, and specifically why he was choosing to develop plans which fly in the face of the restrictions on Guantanamo transfers passed by Congress and which the President himself signed into law.

“I have received no answers from the Administration to my questions, despite the fact that numerous facilities in Colorado are apparently being considered for these transfers. If the President is determined to move terrorists to our state, Coloradans should know why and how he plans to do it. We’re waiting.”

GOP Rep. Mike Coffman also says no way to Gitmo detainees in Colorado:

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

The possibility that detainees from the military-run detention center at Guantanamo Bay might be transferred to U.S. soil, in particular high-security federal prisons in Colorado, received renewed attention in recent weeks after federal officials toured ADX Florence and other locations to examine their suitability. But this is far from the first time Colorado has been considered as a Gitmo alternative–back in 2009, Gov. Bill Ritter expressed a willingness to transfer them to Supermax if that is what’s needed to close Gitmo’s widely-condemned detention center.

And yes, some local Democrats have not been as willing to cooperate at Ritter was back in 2009. Sen. Michael Bennet was attacked in September on the issue by the GOP-aligned America Rising PAC. The fact is, Bennet was squishy about moving Gitmo detainees to Colorado six years ago. But despite voting several times against expressly prohibiting such transfers, Bennet told the Denver Post that the Department of Defense “has no authority to transfer these prisoners.” Regardless, America Rising dismissed Bennet’s position as “empty campaign rhetoric.” Likewise, Democratic CD-6 candidate Morgan Carroll has been tight-lipped about bringing Gitmo detainees to Colorado:

Carroll’s statement to The Colorado Independent on the issue was rather succinct: “Obviously, nobody wants convicted terrorists moving into Colorado — or anywhere else for that matter.”

She did not comment on whether the facility should be shut down, what should happen to the detainees, or whether all people held in the facility are indeed “terrorists.”

In the case of both Republicans and Democrats, there is concern about what “due process” would look like for Guantanamo detainees on U.S. soil. With that said, there’s a fundamental difference between the two sides: Democrats who support some form of due process for these detainees, and Republicans who do not.

This key point is being lost in the latest debate over shutting down the Gitmo detention center playing out today, and there’s no nice way to say why: it’s because Democrats are afraid of standing behind President Obama on this issue. And that’s a big problem: scare tactics from Republicans over closing Gitmo serve chiefly to frighten Americans away from a sober discussion of why Gitmo needs to be closed.

The fact is, outside the bubble of jingoist Fox News propaganda, the Guantanamo Bay detention center is an enormous blight on our nation’s moral authority. By holding prisoners without trial and engaging in interrogation tactics that the entire civilized world has denounced as torturous, we have grievously harmed our reputation as a free and just society, and emboldened our enemies.

And you know what, folks? We’d much rather Morgan Carroll and Michael Bennet be talking about that, instead of repeating the same “not in my backyard” crap their Republican opponents are spewing. On this issue, Democrats should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with President Obama, and they should not be–indeed they must not be–afraid of the fearmongering attacks Republicans will throw back at them. This is an issue where a small investment of backbone could pay big dividends–politically, as a unified Democratic Party would rally the large percentage of Americans who agree that Gitmo must close.

And also…well, morally. Because closing Gitmo, and restoring the rule of law after nearly 15 years of extrajudicial evils committed in the name of all Americans, is simply the right thing to do. We firmly believe history will reward politicians from either party willing to say so.

Planned Parenthood: The Needle Mike Coffman Can’t Thread

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.

The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports:

Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora said Saturday he supports women’s healthcare but not abortion practices that “fly in the face of human decency,” and that’s why he joined other House Republicans to vote for a budget bill Friday that defunds Planned Parenthood for one year…

“Many longtime supporters of Planned Parenthood are not only shocked by what’s been revealed, but also by Planned Parenthood’s arrogant response. Until they clean up their act, we should fund critical women’s services through the many other community health partners that operate across my district, the state and all across this country in a way that doesn’t fly in the face of human decency.”

The react from Coffman’s Democratic opponent Morgan Carroll was swift:

“It is appalling to see people playing political games with women’s lives, bodies and personal freedoms,” Carroll said in a statement Friday evening. [Pols emphasis]

Last year, as has recently drawn much attention from us and others, Coffman used Planned Parenthood’s logo in a campaign ad, noting that the organization had praised a vote he cast in favor of a bill to combat violence against women. That hasn’t stopped Coffman from joining in on the GOP’s pile-on against the organization after the release of heavily-edited videos this summer attacking the organization’s fetal tissue donation practices for medical research. But in recent weeks, the campaign against Planned Parenthood by congressional Republicans has lost much momentum after a hearing to confront the organization’s director Cecile Richards backfired in spectacular fashion, with even the ambitious young chair of the committee Rep. Jason Chaffetz admitting there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

But again, and unfortunately it has to be said again and again, that’s reality. In the bubble of conservative media culture and the “grassroots” they keep in a constant state of slow-boiling panic, none of this factual stuff matters. Planned Parenthood will always be the ghoulish agency of evil where baby brains and still-kicking little disembodied limbs are kept alive in petri dishes for sale to the highest bidder, most likely some sleazy Eurotrash Bond villain type (George Soros) who wants to clone an army of fetus Frankensteins for world domination.

Have we mentioned recently that the people who believe this stuff make up Coffman’s base?

You see, folks, the reason that this keeps happening over and over again, necessitating long-winded explanations from Coffman about how he doesn’t really oppose women’s health care but has to vote like he does out of “conscience,” is simple: Coffman is trapped between the swing votes he has to hold onto in order to stay in office in a highly competitive district, and the Republican base votes he cannot afford to alienate. Just like the issue of immigration reform, as much as Coffman would like to, he will never be able to appeal to authentic moderate and left-independent voters more than his Democratic opponents–but he also can’t make too much of an effort to appeal to them without upsetting the conservative Republican base that has to be there for him in order to get re-elected.

Unlike immigration reform, an issue politically-savvy Republicans are happy to see ignored between now and the 2016 elections, Planned Parenthood is the subject du jour for the conservative wing of the Republican Party today. Holding endless show trial hearings, staging vote after vote to give safe-district Republican politicians multiple opportunities to lodge their vilification of Planned Parenthood in the permanent record, is what they want to be doing with their time.

If Mike Coffman does possess any political sense, he knows this is a huge mistake for himself politically–even if it’s not for some others in his party. But even if he does know, he’s powerless to change course.

Decoding Mike Coffman on Immigration Reform

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

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

Those who taketh many positions, maketh many confused.      — Colorado Pols

The image at right of Rep. Mike Coffman touting the “support” of Planned Parenthood in 2014 resurfaced in September after Coffman voted in favor of a bill to cut federal funding from the organization. To the unfamiliar, this was a prime example of the kind of doublespeak that seems to fill many politicians these days. But to those who have followed Coffman’s career, what happened next was oddly…perfect. Responding to inquiries from 9News about the apparent hypocrisy from Coffman, his spokeswoman, Cinamon Watson, dropped one of the all-time classic bad political quotes:

“Using Planned Parenthood’s expression of support is not the same thing as saying it’s a good organization,” said Coffman’s spokeswoman Cinamon Watson in an email to 9NEWS.

This really is a terrible response from a political spokesperson, but the response really encapsulates Coffman’s political career in a nutshell: Mike Coffman will say pretty much anything on a sensitive policy issue, regardless of whether it matches up with previous comments, votes, or legislation on said issue. We saw this again on Wednesday, when journalist and media critic Jason Salzman wrote a brief story about Coffman’s ever-evolving position on illegal immigration, pointing out that Coffman does not support the dual pathways to citizenship as outlined in the DREAM Act:

Reporters covering Coffman need to be sure to note that Coffman’s path is single-track, through military service only. That’s in contrast to the Dream Act, which Coffman voted against in 2010. It would have offered young undocumented immigrants a double-track path to citizenship, through military service or education.

The difference is important, because the Dream Act has long been the focus of legislative efforts to help young undocumented immigrants, who know our country as home. The most common version offers a dual-track path, but, in any case, Coffman’s chosen path should be clearly stated.

After this story went up on Colorado Pols, Coffman’s campaign manager/spokesman/overseer Tyler Sandberg took to Twitter to call out Salzman for missing something in Coffman’s immigration thinking. Salzman responded with an update on The Big Media Blog, essentially pointing out that Coffman has said many different things about many different issues — statements that don’t always end up being reflected in Coffman’s voting record.

The truth is, you can find a lot of things with the “Google button,” but a clear position on illegal immigration from Mike Coffman is not one of them. For example, take a look at how Coffman’s position on “comprehensive reform” flips 180 degrees in a 9-month period:


July 22, 2013

Comprehensive immigration reform is good. The Denver Post prints Op-Ed from Coffman calling for “comprehensive immigration reform.” When does he want it? “Now,” says Coffman.




January 17, 2014

In an email to the Aurora Sentinel, Coffman says he “supports” a path to citizenship for college education, but offers his military service for citizenship bill as an alternative to the DREAM Act.



April 28, 2014

Comprehensive immigration reform is bad. Coffman tells the Aurora Sentinel that he supports a “step-by-step” approach, which is the exact opposite of the position he laid out in the Denver Post nine months earlier. Coffman also reiterates that he opposes the bill that passed the Senate; and claims to support Obama’s DACA program for DREAMers, but not the way it was implemented. No mention is given to citizenship through education.



By May 21, 2014, all mention of “comprehensive immigration reform” is scrubbed from Coffman’s official Congressional website. It’s almost as if Coffman never actually supported “comprehensive immigration reform,” except that, well, he did. When Coffman staffer Tyler Sandberg says that his boss supports a “higher ed or military path” to citizenship for illegal immigrants, what does that mean? In Coffman’s carefully-choreographed dance on immigration policy, it could mean just about anything. Coffman has talked before about a “higher ed” option, but he has only ever given support to a “military path.”

Sandberg is walking a thin line here by indicating that prior statements from Coffman are equivalent to actual positions on issues; you can see from the “comprehensive reform” switcheroo above that Coffman’s statements don’t often have a very long shelf life of support from the man himself. Mike Coffman owes it to his constituents to present a clear platform on big issues such as illegal immigration — not the other way around. Even if you were aware of every comment that Coffman has ever made on potential immigration policy, you still couldn’t put together a workable platform; there are too many examples of Coffman flat-out contradicting himself.

Coffman opposes dual pathways to citizenship specified in the Dream Act

(Can’t stop a bullet? No “pathway” for you! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)


UPDATE: Coffman spokesman Tyler Sandberg tweeted me that Coffman does support a pathway to citizenship through education — a position that can be learned by using the “Google button.”  I have even reported instances in which Coffman has uttered a sentence to this effect in media appearances (See for example here.), and I should have included this in my blog post.

But this issue is an example of the problem reporters have in covering Coffman. Does a sentence buried in the middle of a TV interview actually represent Coffman’s position, when that policy can be contradicted by another vote on the record or lost in the conversation around military enlistment, which is the only related bill Coffman’s put forward?

When Coffman took to the Denver Post opinion pages in 2013 to endorse “comprehensive immigration reform,” any number of his supposed policy commitments were left vague enough to give him room to escape supporting the bipartisan Senate bill that actually passed. And by the next year, he had reversed himself on whether “comprehensive” reform needed to be done all at once or in a step-by-step approach. Additionally, all of these back and forth statements on legislative procedure is omitting Coffman voting against President Obama’s deferred deportations for children before reversing and voting for them.

Still, I should have referenced Coffman’s media statements in support of a path to citizenship through education.


Back in 2013, as Rep. Mike Coffman was testifying in favor of allowing undocumented children to gain citizenship through military service, he said:

Coffman: “The first question that we ought to ask ourselves here today is whether or not we believe that the young people, who were brought to this country illegally as children by their relatives, who grew up here, and who went to school here, who probably know of no other county, ought to have a pathway to citizenship and I believe that the answer to that question is yes.”

Reporters covering Coffman need to be sure to note that Coffman’s path is single-track, through military service only. That’s in contrast to the Dream Act, which Coffman voted against in 2010. It would have offered young undocumented immigrants a double-track path to citizenship, through military service or education.

The difference is important, because the Dream Act has long been the focus of legislative efforts to help young undocumented immigrants, who know our country as home. The most common version offers a dual-track path, but, in any case, Coffman’s chosen path should be clearly stated.

So, The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews should have specified the type of path Coffman supports when Matthews wrote over the weekend:

Coffman added that he supports a pathway to citizenship for immigrant children but not adults, although he wanted to create some arrangement for parents, such as “guest worker status.”

Coffman supports a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants through military service. It’s a distinction that means a lot to the young immigrants involved and to those who’ve been pushing for immigration reform for so long now.

“Birther” Crap Won’t Stop Trump: Just Ask Mike Coffman

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

CNN reports this weekend with hand-wringing concern:

Donald Trump declined to use his Sunday show opportunities to clarify his thoughts on President Barack Obama’s birthplace and repeatedly avoided direct answers on the subject.

One explanation: Those at the base of his support are the same who question the president’s legitimacy — and playing to that fringe has been Trump’s ticket to success so far.

He stoked those inaccurate beliefs on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” when he was asked whether he’d be comfortable with a Muslim president.

“Some people have said it already happened, frankly,” Trump responded in a clear reference to Obama. [Pols emphasis] “But of course you won’t agree with that.”

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

Given Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s willingness, even eagerness to offend just about anyone–and lest you quibble with the designation “frontrunner,” here’s the latest poll–it’s really no surprise whatsoever to see him unapologetically courting the persistent segment of Republican primary voters still unconvinced that President Barack Obama is a religious Christian and a natural-born citizen of the United States.

After all, Trump makes jokes about Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle and his numbers go up.

Everybody is watching to see what the straw to break the proverbial camel’s back will be in terms of Trump finally saying something to disqualify himself in the GOP presidential primary. In any general election sense, he arguably has done so over and over–but Trump has proven dismayingly resilient in polling through the summer, keeping well ahead of all the “legitimate” Republican presidential primary candidates.


If local experience is any guide, it won’t be “birtherism” that knocks Trump out of contention for the GOP presidential nomination. In 2012, Rep. Mike Coffman was caught on tape flatly asserting at an Elbert County GOP fundraiser that President Obama “is just not an American.” Coffman compounded his optics problems days later when he went robotic on a reporter who cornered him on the subject, reciting his canned “I misspoke” apology over and over like he was being interrogated at Camp Bucca.

It shouldn’t be necessary for us to point out that Mike Coffman is still a Congressman. To be fair, Coffman did apologize fairly quickly after the comments were exposed by news media, saying he “misspoke” when he very unambiguously stated that President Obama “is not an American.” We expect that as soon as Trump starts to feel pain in the polls (if ever) he’ll issue some kind of statement that he too, you know, “misspoke.”

If you’re looking for some kind of “long arc of justice” ray of hope here, we don’t actually have one for you. It may not say much about our collective character, but in today’s Republican politics, which is granted seemingly endless leeway from the press to make racially, culturally, and religiously bigoted statements about the first black President of the United States, you really apparently can get away with it.

At least they have so far.

Code Orange: Will Colorado Delegation Back Boehner as Speaker?

Sad John Boehner

Sad John Boehner

Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner is facing a critical time in his fifth year as Speaker of the House, and there are persistent rumors out of Washington D.C. that the right-wing of the Republican Party has had their fill of his Orangeness. As Politico reports today, the constant speculation about Boehner’s political future may be exacting a heavy toll on Congressional Republicans:

The only two viable potential replacements for John Boehner as speaker of the House say they back the Ohio Republican and will oppose any effort to remove him from power. But other high-ranking Republicans are testing the waters should the embattled speaker be forced out.

In a pair of statements to POLITICO, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) forcefully backed Boehner and called for an end to the intraparty warfare crippling the House Republican Conference as it faces a possible government shutdown on Oct. 1…

…Boehner’s tenuous hold on power, exacerbated by conservative demands to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood, has set off some jockeying for position in the upper ranks of the House GOP hierarchy should he fall.

Several GOP lawmakers have approached McCarthy, majority leader since mid-2014, to discuss Boehner’s fate. The California Republican isn’t entertaining that talk or planning a run, but a number of other Republicans in leadership have started to formally test their own political viability inside the GOP conference in the event that Boehner is forced to give up his post.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that Boehner has been rumored to be on the way out as Speaker, though the rumblings seem more persistent than ever. If disgruntled Republican lawmakers decide to file a motion to “vacate the chair,” Boehner’s fate could rest in the hands of Democrats. If such a motion is filed, Democrats could choose to stay out of the fight by voting “present,” at which point Boehner could hold onto his Speaker’s gavel with a simple majority of Republican votes. If every Republican House member casts a vote, Boehner would need 124 votes to remain Speaker.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R) could end up being a swing vote for the GOP caucus.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R) could end up being a swing vote for the GOP caucus.

If Boehner is indeed challenged as Speaker, how would Colorado’s Congressional delegation vote? We won’t try to guess as to what Democrats might decide, so we’re really talking about 4 votes: Reps. Scott Tipton, Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Mike Coffman. 

Congressmen Ken Buck (Greeley) and Doug Lamborn (Colorado Springs) are not big Boehner fans, and both would likely vote for a new House Speaker if Boehner is challenged.

On the other side, Rep. Scott Tipton (Cortez) and Rep. Mike Coffman (Aurora) would likely support Boehner. Coffman’s decision is perhaps the most interesting to watch in this case; Coffman needs the GOP establishment to stand behind him in his own race for re-election in 2016, which is why he eagerly signed up for the controversial “Patriot Program” organized by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). However, Coffman has started to take public shots at Boehner over the scandal-ridden Aurora VA Hospital project, and there’s no guarantee that he would stick with Boehner if a strong GOP challenge was organized to take him down.

Republican leaders are well aware of the distraction of ongoing speculation about Boehner’s future, but right-wing leaders may not back down from their commitment to defunding Planned Parenthood — even if it leads to the second government shutdown in three years. Coffman has flipped and flopped on virtually ever major issue since he was first elected to Congress in 2008, so if he ends up as a targeted swing vote in an election for Speaker, all bets are off.

Call For Mike Coffman To Fight For Planned Parenthood, Against Shutdown

As Republicans in Congress prepared to vote on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood this week, setting up a confrontation that could result in a shutdown of the federal government, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, called on Rep. Mike Coffman to fight against any attempt to either defund Planned Parenthood or endanger continued construction of the VA medical center in Aurora.

“Last year, Mike Coffman used Planned Parenthood’s logo in his own campaign ads to falsely imply they supported him,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “But when anti-abortion activists started circulating misleading, doctored videos attacking Planned Parenthood this year, Coffman went on talk radio to pile on the baseless criticism. Now, Coffman’s colleagues are threatening to shut down the government to attack Planned Parenthood’s funding, which could once again endanger the VA Aurora hospital construction project. How many times will Coffman’s Republican colleagues in Congress threaten to punish our veterans to score political points before he says enough?”

“Mike Coffman has tried to have it both ways for years, but he finally has to take a stand now to avoid political catastrophe,” said Runyon-Harms. “It’s time for Rep. Coffman to denounce any attempt by his colleagues to defund Planned Parenthood, and to make clear that any legislation that would threaten completion of the Aurora VA medical center is a nonstarter. The voters in Coffman’s district deserve better than empty posturing and excuses.”

Shutdown’s Vise Grip Closes Around Coffman (Again)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews put out a major story this weekend about the renewed battle over federal funding for Planned Parenthood in Congress, and the possibility of a shutdown of the federal government precipitated by a refusal by conservative lawmakers to approve any funding bill that includes funding for the organization.

Such a shutdown would, among many other damaging effects, once again imperil construction of the troubled VA medical center in Aurora:

The added $625 million in federal dollars is crucial for the unfinished veterans hospital. If Congress doesn’t agree to a funding boost by the end of September, prime contractor Kiewit-Turner is at risk of suspending work at the site because of a lack of cash — further delaying a project that is expected to cost at least $1.67 billion.

For now, there is a general agreement between Congress and the administration on how to drum up money for the hospital. But an unrelated fight over abortion, government spending and Planned Parenthood could complicate the effort.

With the end of the federal fiscal year looming, Congress must pass a temporary budget in order to keep the entire government running past Sept. 30.

This must-pass legislation likely will be the vehicle in which allies of the VA hospital plan to attach the $625 million, an amount the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has said is the final amount needed to complete the hospital, planned to be open by the end of 2017.

Interestingly, the early revisions of this story contained no comment from the member of Congress with arguably the biggest stake in successful completion of the Aurora VA hospital–Rep. Mike Coffman, who serves as chairman of the House VA Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and whose district includes the construction site. A subsequent update to the story added a statement from Coffman that he opposes a shutdown of the federal government to attack Planned Parenthood. This is the same Mike Coffman who has appropriated Planned Parenthood’s name in ads when it suited him (above right), though he eagerly joined in the bashing of the organization this year after it again became fashionable for Republicans to do so.

The recognition that another shutdown over Planned Parenthood would be both politically and practically harmful for the GOP is not at all unanimous, however. The hard-right Freedom Caucus, which includes Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, has vowed to fight against any spending bill that includes support for Planned Parenthood.

Even as the manufactured outrage from a series of heavily-edited undercover videos circulated by an anti-abortion group fades for most of the country, pressure remains very high in information-siloed pro-life conservative circles to take some kind of punitive action against Planned Parenthood. For the organization’s intractable opponents, the videos are just the latest pretext to attempt what they always wanted anyway. But no one has told the pro-life grassroots that there’s no “there” there with these doctored videos, videos that have consistently failed to demonstrate any of the alleged crimes–and the gap between incendiary perception and reality is so wide that the grassroots is guaranteed to be disappointed in the end.

Between now and then, as Mike Coffman is doubtless aware, there’s time for a lot of damage to be done. Coffman may not personally want to see the government shut down over Planned Parenthood, but if it happens, he and his party will nonetheless take the blame. Just like Coffman reminds us every time he invokes Nancy Pelosi in an ad, running for Congress is about more than one’s own assets and liabilities.

It’s about the team you’re on. It’s about what your team does. And it always will be.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Sept. 11)

Get More Smarter

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 15 years already. 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).


► Republican efforts to scuttle President Obama’s foreign policy deal with Iran have officially failed, so apparently it’s time to put all of the stupid chips on the table. Republicans are now attacking Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) over his support for the Iran deal with one of the more ridiculous arguments we’ve seen in some time:

An Associated Press report yesterday noted that embattled U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet was one of two Senators supporting the Iran deal whose family members were victims of the Holocaust. It’s almost as if we are expected to excuse Bennet his bad policy decision that would empower Iran, which has threatened to obliterate Israel, because his family experienced the Holocaust.

Uhhhhhh…we’d try to walk you through this logic if we could, but we can’t help you here. It’s not easy to be this dumb and so horribly insulting.


CNN announced yesterday that they have decided on the 11 candidates who will get to participate in the Varsity version of the Republican Presidential Debate next week. CNN used some sort of formula based on combined national polling averages over the last two months, and somehow Carly Florina made it into the Final 11. According to CNN, famous rich person Donald Trump is now polling at 32%, making him the Republican frontrunner by a very large margin (Ben Carson is next at 19%, with Jeb! Bush a distant second at 9%).

As usual, we’ll be live-blogging the GOP Presidential debate(s) next Wednesday, Sept. 16.


► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) stepped in quite the political turd when he signed onto the NRCC’s “Patriot Program” and promised to divulge his policy positions in exchange for top-tier incumbent support.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Patriot Program a Political Problem for Coffman

Rep. Mike Coffman (R)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R)

All of politics is “inside baseball”…until it isn’t “inside” anymore.

As Roll Call reports, fallout from a leaked document related to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) so-called “Patriot Program” is becoming a significant headache for incumbent Congressmen such as Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora):

leaked internal document from the National Republican Congressional Committee is causing headaches for some of the House GOP’s most vulnerable incumbents.

The document — a memorandum of understanding to be included in the NRCC’s Patriot Program, which supports some of the House’s most endangered Republicans — includes a provision that requires members to submit a “written legislative strategy” to the committee. That legislative strategy must also detail “political justifications” in order to be part of the program, which provides fundraising and organizational support to its members.

…In Colorado, GOP Rep. Mike Coffman’s Democratic opponent pounced to try and say Coffman traded his independence for the promise of campaign cash.

We wrote earlier this week about state Sen. Morgan Carroll’s swift swipe at Coffman over his decision to join the “Patriot Program.” We don’t see this as the issue that ends up costing Coffman his seat in Congress, but it’s not as harmless as Republican operatives would like you to believe. Roll Call reporter Emily Cahn includes her own analysis in the story —  “the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee almost certainly has a similar memo to for candidates to sign to be part of its Frontline Program” — but if that sounds like frantic NRCC spin control, there’s good reason for it.

As we discussed on Tuesday, there is always a tendency with this sort of thing to dismiss the “Patriot Program” as something that both Republicans and Democrats tend to deploy…but the “Patriot Program” appears to be an exception because of its “legislative strategy” section. Vic Vela of the Colorado Statesman asked the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) if they had a similar clause for their top-tier incumbents, and he received a straightforward response:

But DCCC national press secretary Meredith Kelly said financial support programs for Democratic candidates do not require what is spelled out in the Patriot Program contract.

“The DCCC works with incumbents to make sure they are running smart campaigns as effectively as possible, but would never require submission and approval of a legislative agenda — especially not in exchange for financial and political support,” Kelly said in an emailed statement. [Pols emphasis]

Groups such as ProgressNow Colorado have called out Coffman for signing onto the “Patriot Program,” and asking Coffman to be transparent with the information he sends to the NRCC is not an unreasonable request. We’d guess that Coffman’s campaign will try to skip over the “legislative agenda” question, but it’s a little late for that with Coffman’s signature on the document as a whole. Average voters aren’t paying attention to this now, but you can be certain that this will come up again (and again) as the 2016 election cycle heats up.