Because Elections Matter – Why We Should Care about “ChairGate”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call, AG Cynthia Coffman.

Former Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call, AG Cynthia Coffman.

In the Politichicks article “Sex, Lies, and the GOP“, Kathryn Porter has given readers an explanation for why Marilyn Marks and Becky Mizel were motivated to force House to resign. I can’t speak for the motivations of others who may or may not have been involved, but I contend that Marks and Mizel needed for Steve House to step down as Chair of the Colorado GOP, in order to keep their positions of influence within the GOP, and within Colorado’s conservative base.

Quoting from Porter’s article:

One of those [Steve House’s] critics is elections integrity expert, Marilyn Marks who shared her experience as a member of a state party elections oversight committee. She said that some members walked off due to the inexplicable decision to replace the committee vice-chair and the invitation to include county clerks—holding different agendas—whom the committee was seeking to hold accountable.

Steve House, as Chair, chose to open up the party’s Elections Oversight Committee, of which both Marks and Mizel were members. He was seeking to have a less antagonistic, less litigious relationship with the County Election Clerks.  However, antagonism and lawsuits against the Clerks, complaints to the Secretary of State,  are how Marks and Mizel roll. This is their schtick, their raison d’etre. In the narrative Marks has carefully built up for the last few years, no public election official of any party can be trusted. The election system is full of gaping holes and opportunities for fraud, and only she, the “election watchdog“, can protect vulnerable votes.

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Mystery Character #4 Revealed in Coffmangate Scandal

Cynthia Coffman

Coffmangate apparel.

On Saturday, Colorado Pols was first to report details about the rapidly-growing Coffmangate scandal involving Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and a handful of other Republicans (for more background on this rapidly-evolving story, see the links at the bottom of the page). One of the revelations from our Saturday post was about the emergence of another key player in this scandal:

Player #4 Has Entered
Apparently there is a fourth person who was heavily involved in the alleged extortion attempt of House; as of now, only Cynthia Coffman, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, and Pueblo County Republican Party Chair Becky Mizel have been publicly named. It would be a logical guess to say that former state Sen. Ted Harvey will be pulled into this before long — Harvey’s desire to be appointed Executive Director of the State Party has reportedly been a key piece of the extortion attempt — and perhaps he is the so-called “fourth person” now involved.

We can now report that the fourth “mystery player” is in fact Tea Party activist Mike McAlpine, who was in charge of the 2013 recall attempt against Democratic Sen. Evie Hudak. From what we hear, McAlpine may have played a key role in potentially manufacturing evidence to be used in an effort to convince Steve House to resign as GOP Chair. For what it’s worth, McAlpine also has close ties to State Sen. Laura Waters Woods (R-Arvada), who won the SD-19 seat in November 2014.

(Note: This doesn’t mean that Ted Harvey was not involved — it seems logical that he is, given that he was the topic of the reported threats — but only that Harvey is not officially the “4th person as we had previously described on Saturday.”)

So when does the big hammer of an investigation/indictment come crashing down? It could be as soon as tomorrow, from what we’re hearing, though it might be pushed into Wednesday. We hear that law enforcement/prosecutors are taking a little extra time to make preparations for what will undoubtedly be a media circus when all is revealed.

Need to get caught up on Coffmangate?

♦ More background on how this scandal started with an attempted coup of State Republican Party Chair Steve House.

♦ Read up on why Cynthia Coffman’s political career is already over.

 As always, you heard it here on Colorado Pols first.

EXCLUSIVE: Coffman-Gate Scandal is About to Go Nuclear

Cynthia Coffman

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman may soon be waving a white flag instead.

MONDAY UPDATE: We’ve heard from a number of people regarding a potential special election, which we originally noted could be held in November 2015. Should Cynthia Coffman resign in the near future, State Statutes indicate that Gov. John Hickenlooper would appoint a temporary replacement Attorney General until the State Senate reconvenes in Jan. 2016 (the Senate is required to approve an appointment), and a special election for the final two years of Coffman’s original 4-year-term would be held in November 2016.

Original post follows (6/20/15 at 4:38 pm):

—–

The “Coffman-Gate” extortion/blackmail scandal was first coming to light late last Monday evening, and by Tuesday afternoon it was already clear that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman had essentially ended her political career by stabbing former ally Steve House in the back — twice — over a span of about 12 hours. When we wrote that Coffman’s political career was over, we figured that she’d likely finish her four-year term before declining to run for re-election or finding herself defeated in a Republican Primary in 2018.

We may have been too optimistic. It now seems possible that Coffman will not make it through the summer as Attorney General…and that might be the least of her concerns.

Player #4 Has Entered
Apparently there is a fourth person who was heavily involved in the alleged extortion attempt of House; as of now, only Cynthia Coffman, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, and Pueblo County Republican Party Chair Becky Mizel have been publicly named. It would be a logical guess to say that former state Sen. Ted Harvey will be pulled into this before long — Harvey’s desire to be appointed Executive Director of the State Party has reportedly been a key piece of the extortion attempt — and perhaps he is the so-called “fourth person” now involved.

Federal Investigation Coming?
Behind the scenes, there has been a flurry of action involving the “Coffman-Gate” scandal over the past few days. We’re hearing that all parties involved are lawyering up in anticipation of a full-fledged criminal investigation — perhaps even a federal investigation (the FBI often handles investigations involving high-level elected officials, and we are talking about the top law enforcement officer in Colorado here). We’re still trying to gather details about the exact nature of a potential investigation, but it would almost certainly involve Coffman.

It now seems possible that Coffman will not make it through the summer as Attorney General…and that might be the least of her concerns.

The fact that everybody is scurrying for legal representation may indicate that someone involved in the extortion scandal is trying to make a deal ahead of any potential prosecution. It also explains why Coffman, Tancredo, and Mizel were being so cagey all week about the exact nature of their “grave and serious concerns” regarding House’s leadership of the State Party.


Significant Evidence
We’re also hearing that there is “significant evidence” (our phrase) that could elevate this case even further. From what we understand, there is a sizable amount of evidence indicating that the alleged extortion scheme was much more elaborate than has been reported. Depending on the type of evidence available, we could be talking about serious felony charges.


November Special Election Possible

Coffman’s political career is over — it’s really just a matter of how and when at this point. Coffman would almost certainly have to step down as Attorney General if she is facing felony charges, and replacing her would not be as simple as an appointment by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Coffman hasn’t even reached the 6-month mark of her first term in office, so her resignation would likely trigger a new, special election in November for Attorney General. Both Republicans and Democrats would likely have to find candidates and put together a full-on campaign sprint for the rest of the year.

 

We’ll continue to update this story as it develops, but you heard it here first on Colorado Pols.

Get More Smarter on Monday (June 22)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218You think it’s hot outside? You should be in Cynthia Coffman’s office today. 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…

Coffmangate is about to become international news. ProgressNow Colorado is asking the Attorney General’s office to preserve all official records related to the blackmail scandal engulfing AG Cynthia Coffman. The Associated Press, meanwhile, examines how the scandal may impact the 2016 election season for Republicans.

► Denver celebrated its 40th PrideFest over the weekend, and as Anthony Cotton writes for the Denver Post, the GLBT event takes on particular relevance with the U.S. Supreme Court set to rule on gay marriage any day now.

► Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders spoke to a crowd of more than 5,000 people in Denver as part of his bid to become the Democratic Presidential nominee. Our friends at “The Fix” try to break down what it means that Sanders could attract such a huge crowd this early in the race:

Here’s what we know for sure: That Sanders — and the populist, anti-big business message he is championing — is driving more excitement in the Democratic base than I certainly thought it would.  While polling suggested that there was a growing bloc of liberals who wanted a liberal candidate to fully embrace their agenda, that the rallying behind Sanders among that group has happened so quickly is surprising.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Dispute about RNC involvement in Colorado dogged GOP chair in recent weeks

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

Prior to this week’s coup attempt, state Republican leader Steve House was under fire from Tea Party activists for cozying up too closely with the Republican National Committee (RNC).

It’s unlikely that the failed ouster of House was inspired by disagreements about RNC involvement in Colorado, but I’ll offer up some background about the dispute anyway, in case there’s more to it that I don’t understand.

Plus, the details about the relationship between the RNC and the state Republican Party, which emerge in the radio interview below, show that the state party is an important part of national Republican voter mobilization. This counters the argument you sometimes hear about the irrelevancy of the state party–beyond its role in candidate selection and the caucus process.

In a contentious June 3 interview on KLZ 560-AM, House fought off allegations from host Kris Cook and guest Ken Clark that the RNC was planning to implement voter mobilization strategies in Colorado, without cooperating or working with Republican County Chairs. Both hosts express little or no trust in the RNC, because they don’t think the RNC’s goals (e.g., electing Jeb Bush) align with the state party goals of winning the state house and lower ballot races. And they worry that House is allowing RNC to take control in Colorado.

Also floating around in the background is the 2014 campaign by the Republican Governor’s Association to knock out Tom Tancredo during the GOP primary.

In any case, here’s a few samples of House’s response to Clark and Cook earlier this month. (Listen to the entire interview below,)

House: “I would be screaming loudly if I saw anything in [the RNC’s] actions, or our strategy sessions, or conversation, that they’re going to go to Adams County and cut out Anil Mathai. They’re not going to do that. I’m going with them to Adams County […]. “But we also have to hire people who are smart enough and capable enough to execute a strategy that gets us to victory without Jeff [El Paso County GOP staffer] having to hold their hand. The most important part is we’ve committed to the fact that all of these employees that are hired are going to be interviewed by the county leadership, as well. That is absolutely going to happen. And myself.”

House tried to emphasize that the RNC needs the state party and vice versa:

House: “If you think about what happened in ‘14, in ’14 there were 31 field offices created in the state […] called Victory Offices, etc. This time, the decision was made that it was actually more important to have people than offices. So, we may see two, three, four offices in the state. But it’s mostly about the field organization to get out the vote. And, you know, Chariman Priebus and I, and we’ve had conversations along with Matt Pinnel who is the Chair of Chairs, along with Peter Grace who is the APD for our area from RNC, you know, the strategy is, look, you have to execute on the ground so much better than we have in the past to win in a Presidential year. So the strategy in a presidential year is different than it is in the midterm year. And it really involves all these people because the belief is if we don’t enable minority voters, if we don’t get out the vote at a much higher rate, we’re not going to get there. And offices are not going to do that. So, I think it’s coincidence on the primary, Ken. I’ve talked to these guys five times, six times, in the last two days about strategy. I’ve asked the hard questions all along. I don’t believe we’re going to see –. I wouldn’t let it happen! I mean, I really wouldn’t. I mean, we – there’s no reason in the world, and there’s no way the RNC really can run their strategy without involving county Parties in what’s going on, because there’s not enough with 43 or 45 people on the ground to do that. They have to integrate into our volunteer structure and our counties, or there won’t be enough people.

House emphasized that in 2014, the RNC transferred money to the state party to cover the payroll of over 700 people, including staff, walkers, and field directors.

“So it all flows through the Colorado GOP,” he said.

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Follow the Money – a GOP ChairGate Theory

By now, every political news junkie in Colorado knows that there was an attempted “coup” to force the Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party to resign. On Monday night,  June 15, 2015, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, former Congressman Tom Tancredo, and Pueblo County GOP Chair Becky Mizel met with GOP Party Chair Steve House, and asked him to resign, because of unspecified “concerns” that had been raised by unspecified persons. House initially said that he would resign, only to withdraw his resignation that same night.

All along, the timing of “ChairGate”  has seemed suspicious to me. Only last Friday, June 12,  Tyler Harber, a former GOP  operative, was sentenced to two years in jail for illegally coordinating campaign contributions between a super PAC, Harden Global LLC, and a congressional campaign in Virginia. Harber worked extensively  in Colorado, with the state Republican party. As we know, sometimes prisoners try to make deals – they implicate others to get lighter sentences. Who or what did Tyler Harber know regarding coordinating of finances with the state GOP? Probably quite a bit. Will he negotiate rather than quietly going to jail? Probably.

Another timing coincidence was the  May 31 announcement by new GOP Chairman, Steve House, that he intended to hire Tyler Hart as his Executive Director. This is exactly when all of the schznit started to hit.

Tyler Hart* is a business pro. She knows finances inside and out. Perhaps what House was saying in those private meetings that got so many people so scared was something along the lines of , “Tyler will check out the books. She will come up with a new system which will make sure that we never need to worry about mixing candidate monies with issue committee monies, soft with hard money,** or anything inappropriate or illegal. We won’t have to worry about a second Tyler Harber scandal.”

Organizations don’t like when someone comes in and starts screwing around with how they organize their money. It would be like me coming into your kitchen, opening all your cupboards, and saying, “You’re doing it all wrong. Now this is how you set up your spices alphabetically, and by the way, we’re going to throw away the ones that are more than a decade old, and what is that smell? ” It would piss you off. 

Spices before organization.

Spices – before

Because next, they might tackle the piles of paper on your desk, and you know exactly what each pile signifies, and if someone tries to organize it, it’s gonna mess up your whole system. When Becky Mizel tried to “organize” some confidential election documents, it really irked Clerk Ortiz.

Former Senator Ted Harvey is the Mizel/ Coffman/ Tancredo preferred candidate for Executive Director. Ted Harvey is also a finance whiz. He’s a whiz at fundraising for bogus causes (Stop Hillary! Draft Newt! Stop Pelosi!) and laundering the money, while keeping most of it for salaries and “operating expenses”. In other words, Harvey is almost a crook, a fundraiser who has been able to shuffle money around and keep it just this side of legal. That’s who Mizel, Coffman, and Tancredo want running the state Republican party – someone who brings in cash, moves it around, makes it seem legal, and has so far gotten away with it.

They really don’t want a genuine financial systems expert, particularly one as high-powered and legit as Hart seems to be, coming in and moving all their damn spices around and screwing with their systems just to keep the candidate and issue monies separated, and everyone on the right side of the law. That would f*ck up their system! Keep Tyler Hart out of the damn books!

If it takes forcing House to resign, oh well, it would be worth it. As far as the accusations of infidelity, and the vague threats of an unspecified lawsuit, I read that as  “how Becky Mizel rolls”.  Ask Clerk Ortiz, who has been hit with lawsuit after lawsuit from the Pueblo GOP for nonexistent election fraud violations. Mizel is one of the most ruthless people in Colorado politics. Luckily for Coloradans, she is also one of the most incompetent.  She must have thought that threatening Steve House with some old BS about infidelity that probably happened years ago would be enough to make him resign, taking Tyler Hart and her unwelcome financial oversight with her.

It’s just a theory, but it does fit the timing well.

 

Notes:

* Yes, I know that Tyler Harber and Tyler Hart look and sound alike. Harber sounds like “jailbird”. “Hart” sounds like “Hard core”. Helpful?

**For people who want a basic primer on campaign finance, I recommend Money in Politics 101.

The main thing to remember about politics and finance these days is that it is always “bigger on the inside.” With so much SuperPAC dark money flooding into swing-state Colorado these days, following the money has become like delving into Mary Poppins’ magic carpetbag. You never know what might pop out.

A campaign finance metaphor

 

 

 

BREAKING: Cynthia Coffman Declines 2016 Senate Bid

UPDATE: 9NEWS Brandon Rittiman reporting, Cynthia Coffman sticks to her story about the timing of her decision not to run for the U.S. Senate:

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman confirmed to 9NEWS Thursday she will not run for US Senate, saying it’s a decision she made before this week’s news of her participation in an attempt to oust the new state GOP chairman.

“I have said it repeatedly to anyone who will listen,” Coffman said in an email to 9NEWS. “The party knows it; I told the chair many weeks ago.”

As further evidence that the decision was made prior to this week’s public ruckus over party leadership, Coffman said she informed another Colorado media outlet of her political plans before the dust-up occurred.

Bottom line: it’s certainly possible that Mrs. Coffman told a few reporters or fellow GOP insiders that she wouldn’t run for the U.S. Senate next year–but it really doesn’t matter that much. If Coffman wants to tell the world how no, she really did decide not to run before she started blackmailing people, she’s free to do so. That won’t change the perceptions, and if anything could drive more attention to the story.

Regardless of the timing of Mrs. Coffman’s decision, there’s an easy reason she felt the need to go public about the Senate race today: the same reason she is getting national press right now to begin with. And it’s not a reason that makes her, or fellow Colorado Republicans, look in any way good. Original post follows.

—–

Former Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call, AG Cynthia Coffman.

Former Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call, AG Cynthia Coffman.

We can’t call it a surprise after the disastrous week Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has had in the wake of nationally publicized allegations that she participated in the alleged attempted blackmail of Colorado GOP chairman Steve House, but as National Review’s Alexis Levinson reports:

Colorado attorney general Cynthia Coffman will not run in the state’s upcoming Senate race, she tells National Review.

“I’m not running,” she said. “I thought about it for half a minute. I like being in Colorado, and I love my job. This is where I want to be.”

Cynthia Coffman made headlines earlier this week for her role in what has been described as an attempted coup against the Colorado GOP leadership. The chairman of the party, Steve House, has said that Coffman called a meeting with him where she and two other Colorado Republicans asked him to resign. House has alleged they threatened to publicly accuse him of having an extramarital affair if he did not do so. Coffman, in a statement released Wednesday evening, denied making any such threats. House ultimately declined to resign.

Colorado Republicans say Coffman’s prominent role in what has become a messy, public dispute could damage her political future… [Pols emphasis]

In today’s story, Cynthia Coffman claims to have reached this decision before the scandal over the attempted shakedown of House dominated local political headlines this week, but that’s not consistent with what we were hearing as recently as Monday. Chatter among Republicans in the last couple of weeks about a Cynthia Coffman run for the U.S. Senate was much too widespread to be accidental, and ramped up right after state Sen. Ellen Roberts faceplanted in the national media explaining her shifting views on reproductive choice. Another possible 2016 Senate candidate, Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler, committed a major social media gaffe earlier this month that helped create space for Mrs. Coffman to get in the race.

As of today? Back to the drawing board, Colorado Republicans. Cynthia Coffman’s brief time in the limelight is over.

Republicans: “Put Up or Shut Up” Over Mysterious Allegations Against GOP Party Chair Steve House

“They have a duty to reveal the charges. They need to put up or shut up.”

– Former GOP State Chair Dick Wadhams on the vague allegations put forth by Coffman, Tancredo, and Mizel.

As we roll into Day 3 of “Cynthia-Gate,” the outrageous failed coup attempt against State Republican Party Chair Steve House, it is abundantly clear that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has no idea how to salvage her now-dead political career.

In a story that first appeared late Wednesday, Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post writes that Coffman is going heavy on the “denial” strategy.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman on Wednesday disputed claims that she and two other Republicans “ambushed” state GOP chairman Steve House and threatened to accuse him publicly of cheating on his wife if he didn’t resign…

…”There was no joy in this,” said Coffman. “There were no threats, nor was there any desire for the meeting to become public fodder. At the same time, just sort of sweeping it under the rug wouldn’t have been responsible.:

Yeah, you definitely don’t want to sweep things under the rug; it’s always better to try to use extortion or blackmail instead!

Despite these late denials, there is little reason to believe that Coffman, Tom Tancredo, and Becky Mizel did not ambush House on Monday night in an effort to force his resignation; what remains unclear are the details of the alleged charges against House, which Tancredo has cryptically classified as “grave concerns.” Bartels writes that neither Coffman, Tancredo, nor Mizel would provide details about these “grave concerns,” and it’s this refusal to come clean that is only deepening the rift:

Former State Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams was also critical that the trio hasn’t released what prompted them to demand House’s resignation.

“They have a duty to reveal the charges. They need to put up or shut up,” he said.

Coffman, Tancredo, and Mizel likely are keeping quiet on specifics because they don’t have anything to say that would slow this scandal. A new story today from Politico Pro (content behind paywall) demonstrates an odd sense of almost, well, acceptance from Republican insiders:

harveyhoc

Likeness of former State Senator Ted Harvey, left, and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

 

“Right now, the Colorado GOP is looking more like a third-world backwater, and if it continues then folks are going to find a way to cut them out of the picture,” a Colorado GOP operative said…

…[Ryan] Call, the former state party chairman who was ousted by House, said it could dramatically impact “the perception as to whether the party can play an active role recruiting a top-tier candidate.”

“This is deeply problematic,” he said. “Every day with this uncertainty, the trust and credibility, which takes years to develop, can be undermined in very short order. And that’s what’s happening right now.” [Pols emphasis]

If you missed yesterday’s considerable updates to the story, things are indeed getting worse by the day hour, and Cynthia Coffman may soon have plenty of company in the political rubbish bin. Her “husband,” Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is now getting thrown into the mix by association. As one unnamed Republican political operative tells Roll Call:

“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]

As you can see, Republicans are focused less on damage control and more on keeping their distance from the obviously-toxic Coffman (as well as Tancredo and Mizel). Instead of trying to paint the story as some made-up liberal conspiracy, Republicans are independently making the decision to shrug their shoulders while keeping their backs turned to Coffman. The longer that it takes for Coffman and crew to fess up about these mythical allegations against House, the deeper they find themselves stuck in their own muck.

 

Roberts’ flawed attack on “liberal columnist” spotlights tragic defeat of LARC family-planning legislation

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango).

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango).

Last month, The Nation magazine’s Katha Pollitt reported that State Sen. Ellen Roberts was opposed to legislation providing funds Colorado’s amazing pregnancy prevention program because Roberts was unconvinced that Obamacare didn’t already pay for the long-acting-reversible contraption (LARC) offered under the family planning initiative.

“Republican Senator Ellen Roberts told me she might have supported the bill if she’d had a good answer for that,” reported Pollitt.

In her column, Pollitt provided the widely-known fact that insurance companies are not currently paying for the services and care provided by the LARC program.

About a month later, The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reported that Roberts, who’s a Republican from Durango, was unhappy with Politt’s column:

Roberts said she should have been aware she was talking to a liberal columnist, and explained more clearly that she already had told GOP leaders if the bill made it to the Senate floor, she would support it.

If Roberts was opposed to the LARC bill because she thought Obamacare already covered the program, as reported by Pollitt, how could Roberts possibly have promised GOP leaders that she would support the bill if it came to the floor? No amount of clarifying to Pollitt could explain this inconsistency, whether Pollitt was radical communist or a hatchet-wielding or blackmailing Colorado Republican.

And, not that it matters, but Roberts had no excuse for failing to know that Pollitt is a progressive columnist. In an email prior to her interview with Roberts, Pollitt actually factually told Roberts she was with The Nation–and Pollitt says she has the email to prove it. Roberts had plenty of time to type the name “Katha Pollitt” in Google.

Pollitt told me via email: When I emailed Sen. Roberts I identified myself as a columnist with The Nation magazine. (I have the e mail.) If she didn’t know we are a liberal publication — and if she would have said something different had she known that — she could easily have found out. It’s not a secret!

I asked Pollitt if she quoted Roberts accurately and she politely responded with, “I quoted her accurately.”

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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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The “Church,” Climate Change, and the Decline of the Bees

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Pope is getting all the news today on Climate, having clarified – the faithful are told to believe—that God is not OK with trashing the earth, and that we need to do something about that.

“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.”

But as Francis has his eyes on all Creation – the World writ large – the sometimes mysterious working of the world in detail are where most of the stuff gets done.  Like pollination.  This week is, after all, also National Pollinators Week

Birds, and bees and others among the panoply of species populating our planet are not just buzzing around your sugary drink, or swooping hotdogs off your picnic table.  They too are doing the Lord’s bidding, in small but crucial ways.  Like keeping three-quarters of the world’s plants alive. 

Most people know by now that bees are in decline and that this is a major problem – for the obvious reasons, because we also like food.  Some important food crops, like corn, are wind pollinated.  But most rely on pollinators

And it is not just the bees that in in trouble. Bees and other pollinators are on decline for a number of reasons.  And across the spectrum, pollinators are suffering: bees, bats, birds and butterflies– all face numerous threats that put survival of many individual species in jeopardy. The National Wildlife Federation notes in an online article:

In addition to butterflies, the NAS report provides evidence of decline in three other pollinator groups: hummingbirds, bats and—especially—bumblebees. A 2008 report from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon, paints an even bleaker picture of the familiar, fuzzy insects’ fate. Compiling data from more than three dozen scientists and “citizen monitors” across the country, the report concludes that populations of three formerly common species—the rusty-patched, yellowbanded and western bumblebee—have dropped drastically over the past decade. A fourth species, Franklin’s bumblebee (restricted to coastal Oregon and Northern California), has only been seen once in the past several years.

Exacerbating many of these threats is a single issue: Climate Change.  And climate disruption is having other impacts on pollinators that in turn in time are likely to change overall ecology

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Tancredo Says Coup Attempt Was Supported by Many Republican Legislators

(Everybody, under the bus! — promoted by Colorado Pols)

BusCrashOn KNUS  radio show this morning, Tom Tancredo said he, along with Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Pueblo Country GOP Chair Becky Mizel, were “selected” by fellow Republicans to demand the resignation of GOP Chair Steve House.

Though Coffman called the meeting, they acted at the “behest of a lot of people,” he told KNUS 710-AM’s Peter Boyles, adding that they were supported by “state legislators who were supportive of [House] at one time, who are now not.”

Tancredo told KNUS’ Dan Caplis (See transcript below.)

Tancredo: We were strong supporters, and — which is the reason why we ended up being sort of, I don’t know, — selected, asked, whatever you want to say – to confront with him and meet with him, because we wanted – they wanted to — everybody wanted to make sure he understood the seriousness of the issue. And so, I did, but certainly not because I have just a desire to step back into this kind of ugly stuff. I don’t.

Tancredo told KNUS’ Peter Boyles the same thing, in more detail (See transcript below):

Tancredo: I can tell you this:  that the reason that we met with Steve House was to express concerns of a lot of people.  It was not something that I, Cynthia Coffman, and Becky Mizel chose unilaterally to do.  We were asked to do that because we represented the people who were the most supportive of Steve when he ran.  And we certainly were

As you can read below, Tancredo did not specify who selected the group to confront house, nor did he say what the serious issue(s) was, leaving a mystery that will likely be revealed, probably in multiple versions, in the days ahead.

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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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