Records Request Reveals Investigation of Pueblo GOP Chair For Election Document Theft

(Nothing up her sleeve! Not sneaky enough - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

WEDNESDAY POLS UPDATE: The Denver Post's editorial board weighs in:

Chostner's letter says the "evidence would support filing a misdemeanor election offense," but he declined to do so. Why? Undermining election security is a serious matter, and DAs need to impress that upon everyone.

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POLS UPDATE: The Pueblo Chieftain's Peter Roper reports:

Becky Mizel, chairman of the Pueblo County Republican Party, received a stern letter from District Attorney Jeff Chostner last month that said video evidence showed she took confidential election records from a Nov. 18 county election canvass board meeting — a misdemeanor charge that Chostner said would not be filed against her because Mizel argued it was inadvertent.

Chostner's letter, dated Dec. 10, acknowledged that Mizel insisted the episode was an accident, but the letter clearly challenged that, citing video records of the meeting…

Chostner's letter said Ortiz provided the canvass board with a "direct recording election" report and an abstract report of results to review. Ortiz advised those at the meeting that those reports could not leave the room.

Chostner's letter said video showed Mizel later putting the documents in her satchel, attempting to leave by a different door than the rest of the people at the meeting, only to find that door locked.

—–

ProgressNow Colorado, the state's largest online progressive advocacy organization, today called on Pueblo Republican Party Chair Becky Mizel to publicly apologize and explain her apparent theft of a confidential election document. ProgressNow Colorado obtained video and documents in an Open Records Act request regarding elections procedures and meetings in Pueblo County.

According to video [1] and documents obtained from the Pueblo District Attorney and Clerk & Recorders offices, available from ProgressNow Colorado upon request, Mizel only narrowly avoided criminal charges related to the disappearance of a document from an election certification meeting on November 18, 2014. The document contained confidential information from ballots cast in person on voting machines.

"The kind of shenanigans we're learning about in Pueblo are shameful and unacceptable," said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. "As an elected official representing the Republican Party, Mizel should be held to a higher standard. At the very least, Mizel is guilty of juvenile nonsense unworthy of any legitimate stakeholder in our elections. At worst? The Pueblo GOP is not above cheating to achieve their goals."

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Bob Beauprez Needs to Sell a Shitload of Buffaloes

Beauprez-CampaignFinance

Bob Beauprez owes Bob Beauprez a lot of money.

Colorado Republicans are preparing for a tough campaign for State Party Chair now that Steve House has made it clear that he will challenge two-term Chair Ryan Call in March. There are many reasons why Call is facing a challenge despite a pretty successful 2014 election cycle, but much of the debate involves how money is being spent by the State GOP.

There are two main financial questions that are playing a significant role here. The first, which we've discussed before, is a debate about whether or not the State Party Chair should continue to earn a hefty monthly salary; Call is paid about $8,300 per month by the State Party, and many of the GOP faithful would like to return to the pre-Dick Wadhams era when the Chair earned only a small stipend. 

The second big financial question is about whether the State Party should assist former gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez in paying off more than a million dollars of campaign debt. The Republican buffalo rancher — that would be Beauprez — has nearly $1.1 million in outstanding loans from his campaign. Beauprez's campaign committee is also $50,550 in the red, a balance that must be taken care of at some point.

Most of the money loaned to Beauprez's campaign came from his own checkbook, and there is some debate about whether or not the Republican Party should help him raise money to refresh his own coffers. There is also some question about whether Beauprez had a deal with Call to assist him in paying off his rather large campaign debt. Throw in the question of whether Republicans funded efforts to kneecap gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo, and you can see where this starts to get complicated.

That this discussion is even taking place is somewhat odd when you consider that the ability to finance a campaign was the #1 selling point of Beauprez as the Republican nominee for Governor; the vast majority of his support in advance of the June Primary came from the knowledge that he was the only GOP candidate with any hope of raising serious money.

It was because Beauprez was able to write checks to himself that Republicans decided to give him another shot at the nomination — should those same Republicans now help pay off Beauprez's debt even though he didn't win in November? The answer to that question may well determine whether Ryan Call still has a job in March.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Fracked Statistics

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The statement is ubiquitous.  Every time an oil and gas public relations type tries to downplay concerns that neighbors might have about the noisy, smelly, lit-up-like-Christmas 24/7, industrial traffic, activity, machinery, infrastructure and chemicals right smack in their midst.

“99.5% of fracking fluid is just water and sand.” 

But is it?  Has anyone in the media actually fact-checked this number?  With thousands of wells being fracked every year in Colorado, multiple times per well with millions of gallons of fluid that is a pretty stark, precise, and definitive claim, when you get down to it: “99.5% of fracking fluid is…”

There it was again yesterday, in a letter printed in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel from a former longtime Grand Junction TV news anchor (now representing yet another recently formed oil and gas PR creation, the Piceance Energy Action Council):

“Fracking fluid (consisting of 99.5 percent water and sand)…”

No nuance, no context just a statement that it is so, like "my door opens onto my porch…".  In print even.  From a ‘trusted’ and familiar voice.  Rinse, repeat, transcribe.

Not surprisingly, it doesn’t take long to poke holes in the “99.5%” claim, such is often the case with such certain and precise numbers. According to FracFocus.org (the site where disclosure is mandated by state law) many fracking fluid recipes do in fact reach, or get close to, that number.  But here's the thing, others do not.  And that’s all it takes to turn a statistic into a lie.  Furthermore, the precise number itself is less important than the willingness of industry to dismiss any concerns out of hand with rote talking points and empty 'factoids.' 

It should also be noted that there remain questions about how well the FracFocus site captures what is really happening in a useful timeframe to inform citizens about what type of potentially dangerous activity is occurring in their towns and communities.  But setting that aside and just considering the data that are available to the public–and in this case, I admit, I only did a cursory review–I ask: Is the reality that “most fracks are up to 99.5% water and sand” the same as the claim “fracking fluid [consists of] 99.5%” water and sand?  If not then industry’s own spokespeople are either misinformed or dissembling. 

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Battle Looms over Leadership of Colorado GOP

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Steve House.

Steve House.

On KLZ 560-AM’s “Wake Up with Randy Corporon” Friday, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve House officially announced his bid to dislodge Ryan Call from his job as Chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

“My phone rings all the way until 10 o’clock at night with people calling me the last three or four days, saying ‘I’m glad you’re going to do it. It is time for a change,’” announced House, whose intention to run against Ryan Call was reported by the Colorado Statesman last week.

Call has weathered a barrage of criticism over his two terms as state chair, mostly from the “liberty” or “Tea-Party” wing of the state GOP for not doing enough to support “grassroots” Republicans.

In November 2013, for example, now State Senator Laura Woods, who was using the name “Laura Waters,” blasted Ryan Call for obstructing the recall effort against Democratic State Sen. Evie Hudak.

On KNUS Peter Boyles' radio show at the time, Woods, who was organizing the Hudak recall effort, indicated she hadn’t voted for Call as GOP chair, and she said that, thanks to Ryan Call, “at certain doors and in certain phone calls, we’re even fighting against our own party.”

This year, Woods, with heavy support from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and despite opposition from committees like Protect and Defend Colorado, squeaked by Republican Lang Sias in the GOP primary. She went on to narrowly Democrat incumbent Rachel Zenzinger to take the Westminster State Senate seat, which Woods has to defend again next year, making it a key battleground for control of the Colorado Senate.

The GOP central committee is scheduled to vote on the Call-House contest March 7, but this may change to accommodate the schedules of Republican congressional representatives, House said on air. Call is running with Vice Chair Mark Baisley.

On KLZ, House emphasized the need to help Republican County Chairs respond to the on-the-ground needs of candidates immediately, without obstruction–and with adequate resources.

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Michael Carrigan Announces Run for Denver District Attorney

Michael Carrigan, candidate for Denver District Attorney

Democrat Michael Carrigan, a two-term CU Regent, announced his campaign for Denver District Attorney today.

Democrat Michael Carrigan formally announced his campaign for Denver District Attorney today. Judging from his ridiculously-long endorsement list, which includes big names such as former Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and former Denver Mayors Wellington Webb and Federico Pena, you'd have a hard time finding someone in Denver who didn't already know Carrigan was running.

Heck, you might have trouble finding a politico anywhere in Colorado who isn't already backing the two-term CU Regent. Carrigan also has the support of Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett, as the Boulder Daily Camera reports:

Like Garnett, Carrigan has a diverse resume that includes being a prosecutor, working in private practice and serving as an elected official in education. Also like Garnett, if elected Carrigan would take over an office that's been run most recently by career prosecutors.

"Overall, I think (Denver) is a very good office with a lot of really terrific lawyers, but every now and then it's healthy to bring in somebody from outside an office and have them look at everything top to bottom," Garnett said. "What I tried to do was make changes I thought were needed and make them in a way that was respectful of the traditions and culture of the (Boulder DA's) office, and I think Michael could do that in Denver."

The City of Denver holds its regular municipal election in May, but because District Attorney is technically considered a state race, Carrigan will be campaigning through November 2016. Since Denver is a Democratic stronghold, this race will essentially be decided in the June 2016 Democratic Primary. That's still a good 18 months away, but there's good reason for Carrigan to be planning so far ahead.

There may be no other office in Colorado that opens up as infrequently as District Attorney. Consider: term-limited Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey was first elected in 2004, the same year that Salazar won his seat in the U.S. Senate. Morrissey was easily re-elected in 2008 and 2012 (you can serve 3 terms in Denver), but over the same period of time, Colorado voters have selected 3 different U.S. Senators. The next Denver DA will be only the third person to hold that office this century (Bill Ritter served as Denver DA through 2004).

State Rep. Beth McCann, who lost the 2004 Democratic Primary to Morrissey, quietly announced her own campaign for Denver DA last week (Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post has both announcements here), but she'll have a hard time just catching up to Carrigan at this point. Endorsements do not decide the outcome of political races, of course, but it's difficult to see where McCann or another challenger is going to gain a real foothold of support when you look at the list of people behind Carrigan already. Carrigan should raise plenty of cash for his campaign as well, and is reportedly willing to contribute a significant amount of personal money toward the cause. 

A lot can happen in 18 months, but getting off to an early start is critical in a race such as Denver DA; anybody else who is thinking about making a run had better make a decision very soon.

Latest Right Wing Fantasy: NAACP Bombing a “Hoax”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Charles C. Johnson wants attention. He wants digital pageviews on his website**' so that he can keep promoting himself as some kind of conservative wonderboy crusader for the truth. He isn't trusted among credible journalists along the political spectrum. He tends to regard morals, ethics and truth to be insignificant obstacles when pursuing a breaking news story. And if the truth isn't flashy enough, Johnson will fix it up until it is sexy enough to bring readers to his site.

Charles Johnson, of gotnews.com, interviewed on Redstate 12/21/14 Johnson's latest attempt to fire up the right wing blogosphere is his claim that the Tuesday, January 6, 2015 attempted firebombing of the NAACP headquarters in Colorado Springs was a hoax. His story has been shared throughout the right wing blogosphere – Twitchy, Drudge, Newsmax, and dozens more are gleefully proclaiming that the NAACP faked the bombing.

Johnson, a blogger based in Fresno, California, (pictured on Redstate, above), used the Google Earth program to find an existing dark splotch on the NAACP HQ which existed before the attempted bombing. See Google Earth screen cap, right.

However, video from  the Democracy Now story clearly shows two marks, one angling upward, one downward. The Blogger littlegreenfootballs has a nice summation of the Google Earth "evidence". Mark Reiss' photo from the Gazette, reprinted in Jesse Paul's Denver Post story, also clearly shows both marks next to each other. (below)

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Pro-Keystone “Live Town Hall” Robocall

This is a robocall received by a Republican in Fort Collins yesterday inviting caller to pick up the line and enter into a "live town hall" conference call about why the Keystone Pipeline is a good idea.

I thought this was interesting and creative.

Listen here – I uploaded on Soundcloud.

(and… why are all fake activists named Matt!?)

KeystoneXL and New Energy Strategies in an Era of Abundance

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Just over 40 years ago the US economy experienced a first: an oil embargo by (then) OAPEC that quadrupled the price of oil.  It was our first 'oil shock', to be followed by a second 'shock' in 1979.  The US response, in part, was the creation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).  Our national response, rational for the time, was rooted a mindset of scarcity. 

Like relics of Cold War mentality, it's time to move ourselves from a mindset of scarcity to a mindset of abundance.  SRP has the pumping capacity to bring a maximum of 4.4 million barrels/day in to the market place in a national emergency from it's maximum holding capacity of 727 million barrels.  To put that in perspective, our national fleet of ethanol plants today produce an annual equivalent of roughly one-half the total supply of what is the largest emergency oil supply in the world!!

In the past there have been Congressional attempts to manipulate the SRP for various reasons:  Democrats have sought to tap the reserve to lower prices in times of high prices, Republicans have hinted at doubling the capacity of the reserve in anticipation of continued Middle Eastern conflicts.  It all depends on what your definition of 'strategic' might be on any given day through a political lens.  One on hand, using the supply to lower prices robs the unconventional oils from market prices high enough to establish a legitimate economic model for extraction; on the other, as we are experiencing today, low oil prices are putting hundreds of millions of dollars daily in new, disposable income in Americans pockets.  Given the interconnectedness of global markets and global energy production today, our definition of 'strategic' must be increasingly understood in a more comprehensive systems approach: the economy, our national security, rural development and our soft power in international diplomacy.

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Top 10 Stories of 2014: The Final Four

We are finishing up our Top 10 Stories of 2014 by posting the final four all at once.

As we realized while writing the first six entries, there isn’t much that we can say about the biggest stories of 2014 that hasn’t already been written in this space. With 2015 already upon us, it’s time to close this series out.

With that, we give you the entire list of our Top 10 Stories of 2014. Follow the links below for the first six entries, or follow the jump to read the final four in its entirety.

#10: Colorado’s Two-Headed Electorate
#9: Unfinished Business in Jefferson County
#8: Cory Gardner Runs for U.S. Senate
#7: Frackapalooza!
#6: Colorado GOP Goes WTF
#5: So Much for Those Recalls
#4: Republicans Battle Each Other But Take Control of State Senate (below)
#3: Coffman Crushes Romanoff in CD-6 (below)
#2: Hick Finds His Groove, and Another Bad Loss for Beauprez (below)
#1: Gardner Wins Senate Seat, Ending Long Career for Mark Udall (below)

 

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Springs NAACP Bombing: No big deal?

(It should be - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Think Progress notes the bizarre lack of coverage:

A bomb detonated at the Colorado chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) last night, but you may not have heard much about it. It appears that the major 24-hour cable networks gave the incident little to no air attention.

A ThinkProgress search of television databases suggests CNN gave one cursory report on the incident at 6:34 a.m., while MSNBC and Fox News appear to have not mentioned the incident on air since it happened. Other networks, including Headline News, (HDLN) mentioned the incident in the morning news.

ThinkProgress searched the database TVEyes and Critical Mention from Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon, using the terms, “NAACP,” “colored people,” and “bomb” along with “Colorado.” It found only one mention on CNN, at 6:34 a.m., in the course of what appeared to be a scheduled interview on community-police relations. The incident was mentioned when the interviewer asked former NYPD officer and Secret Service agent Dan Bongino whether he thought the bomb in Colorado could be “seen as retaliatory” and Bongino said it was possible. Representatives from CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News did not respond to ThinkProgress inquiries on their coverage of the bombing.

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This thing is not quite getting the coverage we should expect from a local terrorist act during days of increased racial tension and numerous incidents of Police v. Public. Oh yeah, it's not considered terrorism if a white guy does it. The non-stop verbal attacks on the President, people of color, the "news" of Republicans who like to hang out with Klansmen are considered by most to be background noise, if they are considered at all.

In a time when racial tensions in our country appear to be growing, the troubling nature of this act of domestic terrorism should be blatantly obvious, but the lack of mainstream media coverage of the bombing for most of Tuesday morning, afternoon, and night was downright disturbing. CNN released its first piece about the bombing a full 16 hours after it happened, and the incident wasn't mentioned on national nightly news broadcasts.

But I think we can say for pretty-darned-sure that the bile does have an effect when it's spread so freely, so regularly, so casually. How can it not? Listen to Savage, Randall, Beck, Hannity, Rush and Rosen for a day if you can. Then imagine those who listen all day, every day. 

We can be thankful that this moron didn't know how to make something more destructive.

We can assume he'll be arrested peacefully, without incident, given all the protections available.

We can assume it'll be forgotten by the time of the Super Bowl and we can carry on with business as usual, where an aggrieved White Guy felt his best option for Tuesday was to bomb the local NAACP offices.

Coffman(s) for U.S. Senate?

Mike and Cynthia Coffman. And dog.

Will Mike Coffman run for Senate in 2016? What about Cynthia? Or the dog?

The D.C. publication Roll Call has an interesting story today probing around about Republicans looking for their next statewide candidate to potentially challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016, and it leads with the possibility that the GOP nominee may eventually have the last name of Coffman. But which one? Rep. Mike Coffman, or his wife, newly-elected Attorney General Cynthia Coffman?

This Senate race could make for interesting dinner conversation in one Colorado household.

Republicans say battle-tested Rep. Mike Coffman and his wife, Cynthia Coffman, the state’s newly elected attorney general, are two of the party’s top prospects to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016…

…In a Sunday phone interview with CQ Roll Call, Cynthia Coffman said she had asked her husband if he was going to run for Senate, but he had not asked her.

“He seems to be committed to being in Congress,” she said. “I think we’re both excited about what we’ve got to do over the next two years.”

Cynthia Coffman said it was “fun” and “flattering” to be mentioned, but for now she is “so excited to be attorney general.” She said she “would consider” a bid for a House or Senate seat one day, but not necessarily in 2016 — though she did not explicitly rule it out. She said by watching her husband make the commute back and forth between Washington, D.C. and Colorado, she had “realized what a drain it is,” and would know exactly what she was in for if she were to do it.

We'll forgive reporter Alexis Levinson for her lede above, since she is probably unaware that the Coffmans have maintained separate residences for years in Denver (click here for the strange back-and-forth living and voting arrangements for the Coffmans). We'd be shocked to see Cynthia run for Senate in 2016; Roll Call mentions her wide margin of victory in the race for Attorney General in 2014, but that had more to do with the fact that she was a Republican running for a low-interest race in a mid-term Presidential year. The Coffman family dog could have posted strong numbers running as a Republican in 2014.

But what about Mike Coffman?

Well, you never say never,” Coffman told CQ Roll Call outside the House chamber early last month when asked about a Senate bid, “but I’m focused on my House race.”

dealinwalkerfin

As the GOP field stands today, Mike Coffman currently tops the Colorado Pols Big Line 2016 as the most likely Bennet challenger in 2016, but that's largely because we can't think of anyone else to put at the top. Coffman is a career politician who doesn't have a personal fortune to fall back on should he run for Senate and lose. For now, we've heard that Coffman is reluctant to take a serious look at the 2016 Senate race because he is focusing on moving up in Congressional leadership. He is also a little gun-shy about a top statewide race after his brief foray as a candidate for Governor in 2005; Coffman had made it known for years that he planned on running for Governor in 2006, but Republican Bob Beauprez had no trouble kneecapping Coffman's campaign after only a few weeks.

The Roll Call story also mentions two other potential GOP candidates for Senate in 2016: Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler and State Treasurer Walker Stapleton. It's far too early to talk about Brauchler as a candidate for anything while the Aurora theater shooting case has yet to be settled; the outcome of that case, more than anything, will probably decide Brauchler's potential as a future candidate.

We've also heard Stapleton mentioned as a potential candidate in 2016, but it's far more likely that Stapleton remains where he is in order to run for Governor in 2018. Stapleton did win re-election in November as State Treasurer, but not before nearly bungling the race altogether with his own missteps and excuses. Stapleton's connections to the Bush family (he's a cousin to George W. or George H.W. or Jeb or something) and his ability to raise money will always make him a potential candidate for higher office, but he could probably use a few more years to do something of value as State Treasurer to wash that Dealin' Doug-style TV ad out of your brain.

We've got a long way to go until 2016, but the campaigning for U.S. Senate will begin in earnest in the next 6 months or so. Mike Coffman looks today like the strongest possible Republican challenger, though there is no guarantee that he'll actually run. The Coffman family dynamic is fun to talk about, but there's no way Cynthia is going to be the GOP nominee in 2016.

Colorado PERA Fiduciaries: Severely Underfunded, But See No Problem.

Colorado PERA Fiduciaries: Severely Underfunded, But See No Problem.

"We Don't Need Additional Contributions," Colorado PERA General Manager Greg Smith.

A few years ago, Colorado PERA officials and their hired lobbyists argued that the PERA public pension system's 69 percent funded ratio was such a crisis that the contracts of Colorado PERA pensioners just had to be broken.

They contended that the Colorado PERA pension system's 69 percent funded level constituted an "actuarial emergency" that justified the breach of Colorado PERA retiree pension contracts.

December 16, 2009

Colorado PERA officials in written testimony to the Joint Budget Committee: “The General Assembly cannot decrease the COLA (absent actuarial necessity) because it is part of the contractual obligations that accrue under a pension plan protected under the Colorado Constitution Article II, Section 11 and the United States Constitution Article 1, Section 10 for vested contractual rights.”

http://www.kentlambert.com/Files/PERA_JBC_Hearing_Responses-12-16-2009_Final.pdf

http://coloradopols.com/diary/66279/colorado-pera-officials-corrupt-state-budget-process-joint-budget-committee-analyst-silenced

Since Colorado PERA officials have held the position that a 69 percent funded ratio is a financial crisis, and the pension system is currently funded in the low 60s, it seems odd that Colorado PERA officials are now suddenly complacent about Colorado PERA's funded level.

December 11, 2014, Colorado PERA public pension General Manager Greg Smith testifying to the Colorado General Assembly's Joint Budget Committee: "We don't need additional contributions."

Colorado PERA's Greg Smith may very well be alone in the nation in that he, as a fiduciary who heads a major public pension system that has been grossly and historically underfunded, testifies to elected officials overseeing the pension system "we don't need additional contributions." This is a truly bizarre position for a public pension fiduciary. Colorado PERA is a public pension with a funded ratio currently in the low 60s, headed up by a General Manger who claims that the pension system does not need any additional funding. Rather than serving in the capacity of a fiduciary, Greg Smith appears to motivated primarily by political concerns. The Colorado Legislature has paid only 73% of the actuarially required contributions (ARC) for the Colorado PERA pension system over the last twelve years                                                                                                                  

I ask: Were Colorado PERA officials speaking the truth to Colorado legislators on February 23, 2012 when [then] Colorado PERA General Manager Meredith Williams, testified to the Colorado House Finance Committee, in regard to the Legislature’s failure to pay the Colorado PERA ARC? Meredith Williams: “We’ve had a significant problem over the years, in that . . . contributions, payments by (PERA) employers into PERA have been kind of the last thing in the budget building process, and we have not made the required payments. Unfortunately, in our line of work, where we’re involved in compounding shortfalls grow, particularly when the shortfalls continue year after year after year.”

Or, were Colorado PERA officials speaking the truth to Colorado legislators on December 11, 2014 when JBC members heard from Colorado PERA that "we don't need additional contributions"?

Logically, only one of these Colorado PERA statements to Colorado state legislators can be true.

http://coloradopols.com/diary/66279/colorado-pera-officials-corrupt-state-budget-process-joint-budget-committee-analyst-silenced

Greg Smith's position on public pension underfunding is at odds with the position of the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Govern­ments, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the International City/County Management Association, the Govern­ment Finance Officers Association, the National Association of State Auditors, the Comptrollers and Treasurers Association; the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA); the National Council on Teacher Retirement, and the credit rating firms Standard and Poor's, and Morningstar.

NASRA:

"Employer Contributions: A variety of state and local laws and policies guide governmental pension funding practices. Most require employers to contribute what is known as the Annual Required Contribution (ARC), which is the amount needed to finance benefits being accrued each year, plus the cost to amortize unfunded liabilities from past years, minus required employee contributions."

http://www.nasra.org/files/Issue%20Briefs/NASRACostsBrief.pdf

NASRA:

"PENSION FUNDING: A Guide for Elected Officials, Report from the Pension Funding Task Force 2013."

"The 'Big 7' (National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, Council of State Govern­ments, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the International City/County Management Association) and the Govern­ment Finance Officers Association established a pension funding task force in 2012. The National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers; the National Association of State Retirement Administrators; and the National Council on Teacher Retirement also serve on it. The Center for State and Local Government Excellence is the convening organization for the Task Force."

"The Task Force recommends pension funding policies be based on the following . . . have a pension funding policy that is based on an actuarially determined contribution."

"The Task Force recommends that state and local governments . . . stay within the ARC calculation parameters established in GASB 27 . . ."

"The most important step for local and state govern­ments to take is to base their pension funding policy on an actuarially determined contribution (ADC). The ADC should be obtained on an annual or biannual basis."

http://www.nasra.org/files/JointPublications/PensionFundingGuide.pdf

Colorado PERA General Manager Greg Smith at 2/31/40 on the recording of the December 11, 2014 Colorado Joint Budget Committee meeting (available on-line):

"I'm not a huge fan of the credit rating agencies and the job that they do."

Standard and Poor's:

"We believe that not fully funding the ARC is a short-term solution that will likely result in a larger unfunded actuarial accrued liability down the line."

"We've observed that persistent underfunding of ARC correlates highly with pension funding contributions that are statutorily or contractually determined."

http://www.nasra.org/Files/Topical%20Reports/Credit%20Effects/A_Bumpy_Road_Lies_Ahead_for_US_Public_Pension_Funded_Levels.pdf\

S&P emphasizes the importance of pension ARC funding discipline. Yet, Colorado PERA staff casually dismiss ARC funding discipline, and ignore the fact that (as S&P's analysts have noted) fixed statutory contribution levels, like those set for Colorado PERA, result in pension systems "with the weakest funded ratios."

Morningstar Analyst Rachel Barkley:

"Although Colorado is still absorbing losses from 2009, the main reason its funding gap is yawning is the state's failure to make the contributions recommended each year by its own budget experts, Barkley said."

"Even if public pensions realize their projected investment returns on average over coming years, the failure by many plans 'to pay less than the full ARC . . . will produce less than full funding over the next 30 years,' according to a recent report by the Center for Retirement Research (CRR)."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/10/us-usa-pensions-rally-analysis-idUSBREA2907320140310

A recent study by the Tennessee Treasurer's Office reveals that the cost of delaying public pension plan actuarially required contributions [with an assumed 7.5 percent return assumption] for a 12-year period [the Colorado Legislature began underfunding the PERA pension system 12 years ago] is a premium of 138.2 percent of the skipped pension contribution.

Link to the Tennessee Treasurer's report:

http://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1012837/pension-report.pdf

Read the complete article at:

http://coloradopols.com/diary/66279/colorado-pera-officials-corrupt-state-budget-process-joint-budget-committee-analyst-silenced

Support the Rule of Law in Colorado at saveperacola.com.

How Lamborn Beats The High Cost of Living

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

The Colorado Springs Independent reports, it would appear that Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs has made campaigning for office in his ultra-safe Republican district a family business:

Now that Doug Lamborn is ensconced in the U.S. House of Representatives for another two years, we learn the Republican from Colorado Springs has used his campaign war chest to reimburse himself and his wife for thousands of dollars in expenses and consulting work.

The payments range from mileage to campaign services to interest on a loan that Lamborn originally told regulators was interest-free, a violation of campaign finance regulations…

Other payments from Lamborn's campaign account include $3,545 for mileage reimbursement, which translates to nearly 6,330 miles using the federal reimbursement rate of 56 cents per mile. Most of that expense, $2,698, was claimed during 2014. That equates to about 4,817 miles, which would be the equivalent of about 51 trips from Colorado Springs to Buena Vista — roughly the east-to-west span of the Fifth Congressional District.

…Another $13,946 went to Lamborn's wife, Jean Lamborn, for accounting services, bookkeeping, administrative consulting and campaign management. (His campaign paid her $33,297 in the 2012 campaign cycle for "salary" and administrative accounting, plus expenses.)

Serious question: do the Lamborns have a joint bank account?

Back in 2009, former Rep. Scott McInnis was criticized for paying his wife thousands of dollars for work allegedly done on his re-election campaign. The practice isn't unheard of, of course, but McInnis even paid his wife from campaign funds after he announced he wasn't running again. With Lamborn, it's a little different, but still pretty dubious. Lamborn had an active campaign, but in a district considered a virtual lock for any Republican candidate. Lamborn has never had to run a truly tough campaign, only primary challenges provoked by Lamborn's lack of effectiveness in Congress and general bumbling ineptitude. For whatever reason, CD-5's Republican-dominated electorate keeps returning him to Congress over vastly more qualified Republican and Democratic opponents–allowing Lamborn to run basically pro forma re-election campaigns.

Which also help balance the Lamborn family budget! If Lamborn's next primary (or general election) challenger doesn't give this a full airing in 2016, they'll be missing a golden opportunity.

Top Ten Stories of 2014: Colorado GOP Goes WTF (#6)

Colorado Republicans are feeling pretty good about the 2014 election results, and with good reason. Republicans picked up a U.S. Senate seat (Cory Gardner), swept the down-ballot statewide seats (Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State), grabbed a one-seat majority in the State Senate, and came relatively close to taking control of the State House.

That's a pretty good year for Republicans in Colorado, but it wasn't all roses and rainbows. In fact, you could make an argument that Republicans should have done even better in 2014 had they managed to recruit candidates who were a little less, well, bizarre (here's to you, Don Suppes). For all of their success in 2014, the GOP also unearthed an entire new batch of cringe worthy candidates and general weirdos — some of whom ended up getting elected and will immediately become a giant headache for Republicans. Moreover, the inter-party schism between "moderate" and far-right Republicans became greatly amplified throughout the spring and summer, as we've discussed at length in this space. The GOP is counting its blessings as we turn the calendar to 2015 — even the mixed ones.

One of the oddest trends of the 2014 election season was the unearthing of a surprising number of absolutely awful Republican candidates. We wrote back in July about how Republicans likely squandered a chance to take control of the State House by doing such a poor job of candidate recruitment, but problems weren't isolated to that particular chamber of the legislature. Here are just a few of the people who made headlines in 2014 — as well as some who will continue to command the wrong kind of attention in 2015:

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Top 10 Stories of 2014: Cory Gardner Runs for U.S. Senate (#8)

Republican Cory Gardner

Next month Republican Cory Gardner will be sworn-in as Colorado's newest U.S. Senator. This story is not about that.

In fact, let's forget about the outcome of the 2014 Election altogether (at least for the purposes of the words that follow). Regardless of what happened in November, one of the biggest political stories in Colorado in 2014 was Gardner's surprise decision to jump into a Senate race that Republicans had no hope of winning against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall. Gardner's candidacy for Senate changed the entire election cycle and re-aligned the Republican ticket up and down the ballot, for better or worse. This is not to downplay the significance of Gardner's victory in November; no matter how the results shook out, Gardner's decision to run for U.S. Senate was important and impactful enough on its own to warrant a place in our Top 10 Stories of 2014.

It was late February when Gardner announced his Senate run, and within a matter of weeks he had already cleared a crowded field of candidates on the Republican side. That the seas parted so easily for Gardner (with some holdout from Owen Hill) is testament to the fact that he was clearly the best candidate Republicans could find in 2014. But it wasn't just that Gardner was an appealing candidate on his own; like being the most attractive person in a small room, Gardner was an exciting choice for Republicans who were otherwise stuck with an historically-bad field of candidates. It's easy to forget today just how bad things looked for the GOP one year ago.

Rep. Amy Stephens and Sen. Owen Hill.

Amy Stephens and Owen Hill were not so good at running for U.S. Senate.

The three top GOP contenders for Senate (Ken Buck, Amy Stephens, and Owen Hill) finished the Q4 2013 fundraising period by raising about $200,000…combined. Buck, Stephens, and Hill ended up posting 3 of the 10 worst fundraising quarters in Colorado since 2000. To put these numbers in perspective, Republican Rep. Mike Coffman spent more money in Q4 than the three top Republican Senate candidates managed to bring in the door (here's the chart if you want the details). Dig a little deeper, however, and the numbers got much worse; including outstanding loans and debts, Stephens actually finished 2013 with a negative balance of $11,000 (Gardner even offered to help pay off Stephens' debts as part of the deal to get her to drop out).

Gardner wasn't just the best chance that Republicans had in 2014 — he was really the only option. Gardner's sketchy record on policy issues was irrelevant when it was clear that he was the only GOP candidate who could rub two nickels together. Republicans would have eventually raised money for whomever emerged from the June Primary, but Gardner was the only candidate who could raise enough money to support a real statewide field effort for the GOP — something which would benefit every other race down the ballot. Even if Gardner had failed to win the Senate race, his candidacy was critical for Republicans in general; it's probably fair to say that Republicans could not have taken control of the State Senate without Gardner's cherubic mug churning out both dollars and voters. Resources aside, Gardner's candidacy also gave Republicans a feeling of confidence that they hadn't felt since former Gov. Bill Owens was coasting to an easy re-election victory in 2002.

Gardner's candidacy also shifted the priorities of Colorado Republicans. Bob Beauprez would probably not have been the GOP nominee for Governor if not for his ability to partially self-fund a challenge to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper; Republicans certainly wanted to defeat the incumbent Governor, but it was more important for Beauprez's campaign to support — or at least, not harm — Gardner's bid for Senate. There are many reasons that Ken Buck lost his 2010 Senate race against Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet, and the absurd candidacy of Republican Dan Maes for Governor sits near the top of that list. With Gardner in the race for Senate, Republicans felt a new urgency to make sure that Tom Tancredo was not their nominee for Governor, lest his well-known and divisive positions poison the electorate. At times, Beauprez's campaign for Governor almost became an afterthought, with the outcome justifying the strategic approach; Colorado Republicans would take a Gardner win and a Beauprez loss 10 out of 10 times.

Finally, Gardner's Senate candidacy made room for other prominent Republicans in 2014. Gardner backed Buck to replace him in CD-4, and the GOP's erstwhile Senate "frontrunner" had little trouble winning a crowded Primary to win a seat that was virtually impossible for Democrats to challenge in a General Election. After the November election, Buck was voted by his peers as the "President" of the freshman class of Republican Members of Congress, which should only benefit other Colorado Republicans. Buck also went on to hire GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Brophy as his Chief of Staff, giving the former State Senator someplace to land within the Republican infrastructure.

Cory Gardner's ascension to the U.S. Senate is the biggest political story in Colorado in 2014 (spoiler alert). That he decided to run for Senate at all is a Top 10 story in itself.