Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Aug. 18)

Get More Smarter

At least we’re not in Virginia. 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…

► Discussion over the Gold King mine spill into the Animas River continues to generate an overflow of nonsense political rhetoric. Make room on the grandstand!

Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) promised a congressional investigation into the minewater spill during an editorial board meeting with the Durango Herald. Elsewhere, Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson is scheduled to visit Durango today to shake his fist at the EPA and the federal government in general. Carson will tour the Animas River by helicopter before holding a “town hall” meeting at 2:00 pm. Perhaps someone can convince Carson to explain his position on abortion in some sort of logical answer.

► School is back in session in Jefferson County, and so is the awful management of the school district that prompted a November recall of three right-wing school board members.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Trump’s stance against birthright citizenship mirrors Coffman’s

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Donald Trump sort of clarified some aspects of his immigration position over the weekend, giving local media a chance to educate us about the illusory stance of Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora.

Trump released a document outlining a number of ideas, but the headliner was his newly articulated opposition to “birthright citizenship,” the longstanding U.S. law granting citizenship to people born on American soil, even if their parents are not citizens.

Coffman has been way ahead of Trump on this one, reaffirming his opposition to birthright citizenship in a Denver Post interview in 2013.

Coffman: You know, I think we should probably adopt the policies of other countries, that you are a citizen of your parents. But the fact is, that we have children who were born under current U.S. law. And therein lies the challenge that I have, particularly in meeting families up in what is a very new district. And that –

Denver Post: You’d see that changed, right? Is that what you’re saying?

Coffman: Sure. I mean, I think we ought to look at that. But , the fact is, what we have to understand, the fact is, we don’t revoke citizenship once it’s given. [BigMedia emphasis]

Trump’s immigration paper, which received substantial attention, also renewed his call for deporting all undocumented immigrants, cattle-car style, back to their country of origin. And then expediting the return of the good ones, but not granting them a path to citizenship.

Like Trump, Coffman has also called for giving a vague “legal status” for adult immigrants, without a path to citizenship. He hasn’t said whether he’d require cattle-care deportation first. Either way, Coffman appears to be aligned with Trump on creating an underclass of workers, in the great tradition of taxation without representation.

High-profile policy pronouncement by celebrity presidential candidates continue to offer a great avenue to educate the public about the positions of their local politicos. I’m hoping reporters jump all over these local angles as we get closer to next year’s election.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Aug. 14)

Get More SmarterAre you ready for some Denver Broncos football? YEAAAHHHHHHH!!! 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…

► Back-and-forth accusations continue over the massive wastewater spill into the Animas River near Silverton. As the Denver Post reports, wastewater contamination from the Gold King mine may have been nearing a tipping point even before an EPA investigation inadvertently triggered last week’s river spill:

The EPA has yet to release its work order detailing precautions the crew was to take before the Aug. 5 spill. But other documents reviewed by The Denver Post show the EPA was acting on a growing awareness that state-backed work done from 1998 to 2002 on mines around Gold King had led to worsening contamination of Animas River headwaters.

The EPA was acting at Gold King after what, in an October document, the agency deemed a “time critical” effort to try to contain the increased toxic leakage — with elevated cadmium at 35 parts per billion, lead at 60 ppb and zinc at 16,000 ppb — from the nearby Red and Bonita Mine.

► We’ve started the “The Dropout Clock” on Colorado Pols as we try to gauge which Republican candidates for President are most likely to leave the race before the Iowa caucus. Our guess is that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will be the first to go; “Republican insiders” tell Politico that they think former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the most likely candidate to fold up shop.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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The Dropout Clock: How and When the GOP Presidential Field Thins Out

clown-carThere’s an interesting story today in The Hill attempting to predict which of the 17 Republican candidates for President will still have active campaigns by the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus on Feb. 1, 2016.

From The Hill’s perspective, there are 7 Republican Presidential candidates who might not make it to the Iowa caucus: Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Jim Gilmore, and George Pataki. The Hill is making the prediction here that Carly Fiorina could have some staying power after only making the Junior Varsity team for the first GOP Presidential debate, in effect replacing Rand Paul in the top tier of contenders.

With The Hill story as inspiration, we decided to start our own feature here on Colorado Pols. We’ll call it (for now) “The Dropout Clock” as we attempt to forecast the end of the line for the bottom tier of contenders.*

*Yes, we know it’s early. Yes, we remember how John McCain nearly bankrupted his 2008 Presidential campaign before recovering to win the GOP nomination. Yes, we understand that the rise of “Super PACs” has changed the way the game is played.  This is just our best guess, with the current information at-hand, of how the 2016 field will begin to thin on the Republican side.

We’ll break this up into a couple of categories, with numbers assigned to individual candidates representing when we think they’ll bow out of the race. This is one list where being #1 is not good news. Click after the jump to get started.

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It Wouldn’t Be a Secret Society if you Talked About it, Kent Lambert

Stonecutters

Who controls the British crown? Who keeps the metric system down? We do, we do!
Who keeps Atlantis off the maps? Who keeps the Martians under wraps? We do, we do!
Who holds back the electric car? Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star? We do, we do!
Who robs cavefish of their sight? Who rigs every Oscar night? We do, we do!

        – “Stonecutter” theme song, via The Simpsons.

On Tuesday the environmental group Center for Western Priorities released a new report underlining the “anti-government extremism” behind renewed efforts to move federal public lands under state control. According to a summary of the report:

Last week, armed members of the Oath Keepers and other militias arrived at a mine in Montana, posting “no trespassing” signs on public land. The operation is the latest in a string of standoffs involving extremist groups that refuse to recognize the authority of the U.S. government, including incidents at the Sugar Pine Mine in Oregon and Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada.

A new investigation by the non-partisan watchdog Center for Western Priorities has uncovered wide-ranging ties between those extremist groups and Western legislators involved in a coordinated effort to take our national lands from the American people. 

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

Reporter Joey Bunch picked up on the report for the Denver Post, and he caught up with Colorado Springs state Sen. Kent Lambert for his response:

“They aren’t just supporting similar goals — they’re trying to pass legislation that goes directly to the demands and ideology of the Oath Keepers and Bundy Ranch supporters,” Aaron Weiss, a spokesman for the Center for Western Priorities, responded in an e-mail about the state-control advocates.

“When Kent Lambert mentions ‘posse comitatus’ during a floor debate, that’s a dog whistle to the Oath Keepers — there’s a tiny group of people who even know what the term means, much less cite it during the legislative session.” [Pols emphasis]

Lambert said he hadn’t heard of the Oath Keepers before Tuesday [Pols emphasis], so it wasn’t a dog whistle but a reference to the “Federalist Papers, No. 29,” a letter from Alexander Hamilton to the people of New York in 1788 to the clarify the role of state militia in enforcing provisions of the Constitution. Further, the often-cited 1878 Posse Comitatus Act limits the federal government’s role in domestic police matters. Lambert’s unsuccessful Senate Bill 39 would have recognized that state and local governments already has jurisdiction over U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.

Sen. Kent Lambert (R), and militia leader Chris Simcox.

Sen. Kent Lambert (R), and militia leader Chris Simcox.

We don’t know if Lambert is a card-carrying member of the Oath Keepers, but we have trouble believing he’s never even heard of this group before. Lambert is a well-documented supporter of usurping federal control over lands (and borders), and has openly consorted with militia leaders like accused child molester Chris Simcox in Arizona (photo right). The Oath Keepers have been in the news quite a bit lately for their bizarre attempt to “defend” Ferguson, Missouri from…black people, or something. Here’s what Mother Jones magazine says about the group:

Oath Keepers is one of the fastest-growing “patriot” organizations on the right. Founded last April by Yale-educated lawyer and ex-Ron Paul aide Stewart Rhodes, the group has established itself as a hub in the sprawling anti-Obama movement that includes Tea Partiers, Birthers, and 912ers. Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and Pat Buchanan have all sung its praises, and in December, a grassroots summit it helped organize drew such prominent guests as representatives Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, both Georgia Republicans.

Hard to imagine these guys not being right up Lambert’s alley–Lambert or any number of other GOP Colorado legislators in both chambers. You might start with legislators who tag along for the Republican Study Committee of Colorado’s annual border “fact finding” junkets. But there’s at least a possibility that without the right secret handshake, you’ll never know for sure!

Might be worth keeping this angle in mind next session just the same.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Aug. 13)

Get More SmarterYou’re not the only one who fell asleep before the meteor shower last night. 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…

Gina McCarthy, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), visited Durango on Wednesday to take arrows over a massive minewater spill in the Animas River. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, joined by her counterparts from New Mexico and Utah, is making not-so-subtle threats to sue the EPA over the the spill.

The river seems to be returning to pre-contamination levels, however. Colorado’s top gross-water tester, Gov. John Hickenlooper, drank directly from the Animas River on Wednesday to prove that the water is safe, contacting the Durango Herald 24 hours later to prove that he wasn’t dead.

► The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled — unanimously — that business owners do not have the right to discriminate at will. The court says that a Lakewood bakery that refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple violated state anti-discrimination laws. We still need a court to make it illegal to put disgusting fruit filling between cake layers.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Sorry, Ted Cruz, But This Canadian Would be a Better Candidate

Wyatt Scott is a candidate for Parliament in Canada. Sadly, he cannot run for President in the United States, so we’re stuck with Canadian-American Ted Cruz instead.

Scott may not be the Presidential candidate America needs. Heck, he may not even be the candidate America would want. But we definitely deserve more political ads like this one:

 

Irony Watch: Michael “Heck’ve a Job” Brownie calls Black Lives Matter protesters “dip-wads”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Michael "Brownie" Brown.

Michael “Brownie” Brown.

You’d think if there were anyone who’d understand the need for the Black Lives Matter protests, it would be President George W. Bush’s  FEMA Secretary Michael “Heck’ve a Job” Brownie.

But, alas, no. Apparently forgetting that he embodies the problem that Black Lives Matter is trying to spotlight, Brownie offered his radio listeners a diatribe Monday about a protest pointing out that Benjamin Stapleton was a member of the KKK and calling for Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood to change its name.

“You dip-wads. You absolute dip-wads,” said Brownie on his  KHOW 630-AM morning show (@5:15 below), arguing that Stapleton, a former Denver mayor, was a leader to create red rocks and people like Cesar Chavez has been accused of initiating violence.

Brownie played a news clip of a protester saying that Stapleton’s name is a symbol of “lingering white supremacy in our community.”

Brownie mocked the comment (@6 minutes): It is. It absolutely is. Because if you go out there go that Stapleton neighborhood right now, you won’t find one black person out there at all. Not at all. And in fact, I can remember at Stapleton, I would look around to find someone to help me with my bags. There was never a black person working at Stapleton International Airport. Never. Never. Never. Never.

You people are so full of crap it just drives me up the wall. If you would just open your eyes and look at the fricking Stapleton development, what would you see. I bet you’d see evil white people. Then you’d see black people. Then you’d see Hispanic people. And I don’t know, you might have to dig, but you might even see some Asian people. Although I really doubt there are, like, Native American people out there, because Native Americans just live in Teepees on the reservation, so there wouldn’t be like any Indians living out at Stapleton. No. Not at all. You people are the biggest dumb-asses I’ve heard in ages. ‘We just want you to be aware that this is just a reminder white supremacy,’ said the black people living at Stapleton. God you’re dumb.

How could the man who presided over the Katrina disaster, and resigned in disgrace, deliver a rant like that? I guess it’s because Brownie is the guy who presided over the Katrina disaster. Yet another need for the Black Lives Matter protests.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Aug. 12)

Get More SmarterWe have a Jesse Ventura sighting! 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…

► Democrat Morgan Carroll isn’t pulling any punches in her bid to unseat Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora). Carroll is calling out Coffman for his lack of leadership on the Aurora VA Hospital project — particularly given Coffman’s role as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee.

Meanwhile, the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call Ratings for 2016 Congressional races believes that Colorado’s CD-6 has become much more competitive, reclassifying the race from “Favored Republican” to “Leans Republican” as Carroll continues to gain momentum. EMILYs List is expected to announce today that it is backing Carroll in 2016.

► Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is expected to be joined by her counterparts from New Mexico and Utah for an announcement in Durango regarding the Animas River minewater spill. Check out this handy guide for questions and answers about the Animas River spill.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Is It Ryan Frazier Time Already?

Who has one thumb up and no chance at winning a U.S. Senate race? This guy.

Who has one thumb up and no chance at winning a U.S. Senate race? This guy: Ryan Frazier.

Rumor has it that Ryan Frazier is talking with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) about potentially running for U.S. Senate in 2016.

Yeah, Ryan Frazier.

We don’t have many details on the “Frazier for Senate” rumor, but in some ways, it almost doesn’t even matter if the story is true or not. If anybody is seriously considering getting behind Frazier in 2016, it is a clear indication that Republicans are essentially conceding the seat to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

We wrote in November 2011 that Colorado had likely seen the last of Frazier as a candidate for public office after the former Aurora City Council Member was thoroughly drubbed in his second high-profile campaign in 12 months. Lest you think Colorado Pols is just trying to throw dirt on a potential Republican candidate, take a look at what we wrote following the 2010 midterm elections:

Sometimes a candidate will lose a big race but do well enough that he or she is considered a rising star. Frazier? Not so much. He got bullied out of the Republican Senate primary to run in CD-7, where he proceeded to get the absolute crap kicked out of him by Rep. Ed Perlmutter. Frazier is a good fundraiser and is decent at delivering a prepared speech, but his campaign was amateurish at best and he otherwise proved to be immature, vacuous and just plain silly in unscripted moments. In one debate, he repeatedly demanded that Perlmutter tell him the page number of something in the health care bill; when your big attack is that your opponent can’t recall page numbers, you’re running a student council campaign.

It’s not losing the race that hurts Frazier, but the fact that he couldn’t even be competitive in a Republican year. Frazier lost by 11 points to Perlmutter and received about 13,000 fewer votes than 2008 GOP candidate John Lerew, a guy whose own yard signs said “John Who?”

Not long after losing a double-digit race to Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CD-7) in the Republican wave year of 2010, Frazier doubled-down and ran for Mayor of Aurora in 2011…with nearly the same result. Frazier lost by 10 points to Steve Hogan in the “nonpartisan” Mayor’s race.

We haven’t seen or heard much from Frazier since his back-to-back beatdowns, although he occasionally pops up at 9News as a Republican “political expert” for reasons that we couldn’t begin to try to explain. So, why would anyone even consider Frazier for statewide office?

It’s easy to forget that Frazier was briefly a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2009, and at one point was even thought to be among the Republican frontrunners for that office before someone convinced him to drop out of the race and join the field in CD-7. If Frazier was ever going to try a political comeback, the 2016 Senate race might be his best chance — if only because Republicans can’t find anybody else to run — and he can at least point to a history of decent fundraising as a selling point (although fundraising would be considerably more difficult with a record of double-digit losses).

Is Ryan Frazier the best that Republicans can do in 2016? Well, no, actually, but the GOP has yet to find a decent candidate who is even somewhat interested in the race, so the NRSC probably has to at least listen to a Frazier pitch. If you think that Frazier couldn’t possibly be any worse than he was in 2010-11, you’d probably be correct. And that, of course, is exactly the problem.

Departing society editor answers questions about journalism and her 29 years at The Denver Post

Last month, Joanne Davidson took a buyout from The Denver Post and left the newspaper after a 29-year run, serving as society editor since 1985. Prior to The Post, she worked for U.S. News and World Report. Davidson’s coverage of gatherings, fundraisers, and nonprofit events was a benefit to our community beyond what many people understand. Her work will be missed.

Davidson kindly accepted my request to answer a few questions about journalism and her career at The Post.

Why are you leaving The Post? Would you have stayed on if not for the economic troubles facing the newspaper and the pressure this puts on reporters?

I left The Post, after 29 years and eight months, not because I wanted to but because I was afraid of what might happen if I did not accept the buyout that was made available to 20 employees. When the buyout was announced, it was made clear that even if 20 people were to accept, there was a chance that further belt-tightening would be necessary. Which I interpreted to mean getting laid off without the financial cushion that the buyout provided.

You were known for writing about fundraisers and “society” events. Do you know if The Post will continue covering this beat after your departure—and it seems no other media outlet in town covers this stuff? What’s lost for Denver if your beat is eliminated or scaled way back?

I don’t know what the plans are, although I would be very surprised if the coverage is discontinued. It may continue in a different format, such as pictures only, or it might continue with general assignment reporters or interns taking turns covering the events. I just don’t know.

It would be a huge loss if it was discontinued. Nonprofits count on the exposure to build awareness and attract new supporters. And people new to town can learn about the various worthy causes by reading about the organizations that I covered.

But society coverage is much more than shooting pictures of people all dressed up in their party clothes. (And by the way, I need to emphasize how much I dislike the term “society coverage.” It implies a focus on rich white people when in fact I worked very hard to be as inclusive as possible).

Many years ago I did a story that outlined the “trickle-down theory of society economics.” It pointed out the financial reach a fundraising event has: the graphic artists who design the invitations, printed programs and souvenir journals; the printers who print them; the venues who rent the space for the events; the purveyors who sell the meat, veggies, breads and whatnot to the chefs who prepare the meals; the waiters and bartenders who staff the event; the florists who provide the flowers; the valets who park the cars; the event planners hired to make sure everything runs smoothly; the boutiques, department stores and tuxedo rental shops where those attending the events buy or rent something to wear; the musicians and speakers who are booked to entertain or inform; hair stylists and manicurists who have an uptick in business the day of the benefit …

Diminished resources aside, what are your biggest concerns about how political journalism is practiced in Colorado today?

My biggest concern is that without a newspaper adequately staffed with inquisitive and knowledgeable reporters, too many things that need to be brought to the public’s attention will pass unnoticed. Reporters need to be watchdogs, unafraid to hold any decision-maker’s feet to the fire.

What do you admire most?

How well my colleagues are able to keep on keepin’ on despite the challenges with which they are saddled.

What’s the worst error you made as a Colorado journalist? Can you name a story or two you’re most proud of?

The worst error came about a week after I started at The Post.

I was covering a holiday party put on by the president/ceo of The Denver Dry Goods. I had just walked in the door when a guest approached and asked, “Have you met our host yet?” I said that I had not. So the guy says, “Well, his name is Joe Davis. He’s surrounded by people right now, but let me see if I can break him away for a minute so the two of you can chat.” Long story short, I had another event to get to that night, so I could only stay at that party for roughly a half-hour and wound up having to leave without having been introduced to the host. But, in the story I wrote, I described in great detail the party that Denver Dry Goods president Joe Davis had hosted. The ink was barely dry on the paper when a barrage of angry phone calls began. Joe Davis, they pointed out, was president/ceo of the Denver Dry’s arch rival, May D&F! Tom Roach was the boss at The Denver Dry Goods.

Needless to say, both the editor, publisher and vice president of advertising were not pleased. Joe Davis and Tom Roach, were able to laugh it off, thank goodness. But not before I hand-wrote letters of profuse apology that were delivered by courier, along with very expensive bottles of their favorite adult beverage.

As for stories of which I am most proud, I would have to say no one story in particular but the fact that I made it a priority to get to know and write about people from all of Denver’s ethnic and income communities. Years ago I read an obituary for New York Times society columnist Charlotte Curtis that recalled the answer she had given when someone asked what her definition of “society” was. To her, “society” was the entire human race.

That’s how I define it, too.

What would you say to a young person considering a career in journalism?

Go for it. It’ll be the best job you will ever have.

What will you miss most about your job at The Post?

The people, the long hours, the pressure … swear to God, I loved it all. But the landscape has changed and it’s time to move on.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Stay tuned. You haven’t seen the last of me yet!

[See more in this series of “Exit Interviews” with journalists here.]

Morgan Carroll Rips Coffman on VA Hospital Oversight

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post’s John Frank with Rep. Mike Coffman’s “how dare she” response:

“I’ve lead the effort in Congress to investigate the cost overruns at the hospital,” Coffman said in a statement, responding to Carroll’s attack. “I’ve passed legislation to continue the construction at the hospital and I’ve lead the effort to strip the VA of its construction management authority and to permanently transfer it to the Army Corps of Engineer so that this never happens again.

“So, it is disappointing that Sen. Carroll chose this issue for a partisan press release.”

Notwithstanding the fact that Coffman has repeatedly invoked the Aurora VA hospital project to attack the Democratic Obama administration, sometimes in rather nasty ways like comparing the VA to the terrorist group ISIS, he simply can’t escape his personal share in responsibility for the failure to get the new VA hospital built. In today’s story, Coffman appears to be relying on the fact that the hospital wasn’t in his district until after redistricting–as if he hadn’t been running on his military record from day one.

Above all, the biggest thing veterans want at this point is the one thing Coffman can’t deliver thanks to his feckless Republican congressional leadership–a finished hospital.

So yes, folks. It’s going to remain an issue.

—–

Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll.

Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll.

A press release from Democratic CD-6 candidate Morgan Carroll’s campaign follows up the in-depth story this past weekend on the over budget VA medical center project in Aurora in the Denver Post, calling out Rep. Mike Coffman for his own responsibility as chairman of the House VA Committee’s Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee:

“I am thankful that the Denver Post has published a thorough and much needed investigation into the many problems that have led to massive cost overruns at the VA hospital in Aurora. When the Post says the ‘Aurora project reads like a hit list of dead ends and missed opportunities,’ it’s clear that Colorado taxpayers and veterans are not being well served and deserve better. The failures of this Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs are deeply troubling to all of us who care about the promise we made to our veterans and their families.

“Unfortunately, Congressman Coffman and this Republican led Congress have been asleep at the switch and have failed to identify problems and solve them. As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Mike Coffman was in the best possible position to provide early and robust oversight of the VA hospital. [Pols emphasis] Despite his position atop this critical subcommittee, Coffman has been more effective in issuing press releases and covering up his failed oversight than holding the VA accountable. Additionally, he has been unable to work with leaders in his own party to find a long-term funding solution – opting instead to kick the can down the road.

“This is not just about Colorado or the 6th District – this hospital is about keeping our promise to America’s veterans. The brave men and women who served our country deserve the best facilities and care here at home. If given the opportunity to represent the 6thDistrict, I pledge to continue fighting tirelessly on behalf of our Servicemembers and veterans.”

Bernie Rogoff, a Korean War veteran and member of the Legislative Committee of the United Veterans Committee, issued the following statement:

“Congressman Coffman has politicized the VA hospital and made it more about his public profile than the veterans who are suffering as a result of Congressional inaction. Colorado veterans need a leader who gets real results, as Senator Morgan Carroll did when she helped build the Military Family Housing at Buckley Air Force Base, not ineffective Washington politicians like Mike Coffman who failed to provide basic oversight of the Aurora VA hospital.”

Although Rep. Coffman has co-opted the VA medical center controversy as a political platform in recent months, we’ve been pointing out for at least as long that Coffman himself shares responsibility for the situation as chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. Team Coffman’s usual response to this allegation, generally consisting of self-righteous indignation delivered at high volume to inquiring reporters, only works until a credible opponent presses the issue.

As you can see, Morgan Carroll is doing just that. In her earlier interview with 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark and again in today’s release, Carroll is proving that she is not afraid to question Coffman’s supposedly untouchable record on military and veteran’s issues.

In doing so, she just might demonstrate that Coffman’s record isn’t so untouchable after all.

Coffman and Rubio’s path away from immigration reform

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

A good way to understand (or get further confused) about Rep. Mike Coffman’s illusive position on immigration is to compare it to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s. And reporters should consider using this comparison to help explain Coffman’s (non)position to voters.

Back in 2013, Rubio was part of the “Gang of Eight” Senators (including Michael Bennet) who pushed a comprehensive immigration bill that, miraculously, passed the U.S. Senate. It offered major border security, along with a long path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in America.

Despite claiming to be for “comprehensive immigration reform,” Rep. Coffman opposed the Rubio bill and its path to citizenship. And House Republicans, with Coffman’s blessing, never voted on the Rubio bill, and it died a truly tragic death.

Asked why he wouldn’t support the comprehensive-immigration-reform legislation, after he’d thumped his chest in The Denver Post in favor of the idea, Coffman said he didn’t want it all in one bill.

Instead, Coffman said he wanted a “step-by-step,” multiple-bill strategy, telling the Aurora Sentinel that a “comprehensive approach doesn’t have to be a comprehensive bill.”

And Coffman scrubbed the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” from his website.

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Brauchler denies “ego” or “political ambition” as he goes on the radio attacking the Aurora murderer’s parents and The Denver Post

George Brauchler leaped onto conservative talk radio this morning to deny that his decision to pursue the death penalty in the Aurora-shooting case, instead of saving big bucks and major trauma by accepting a plea deal of life in prison, was driven by “ego” or “political ambition.”

“People who are opposed to the death penalty are going to find reasons to accuse me or any other prosecutor for seeking it,” said Brauchler on KHOW’s Mandy Connell show this morning. “And the most likely targets are, ‘Oh, it must have been ego, or it must have been political ambition.’

Brauchler denied this, but there he was leveling his harshest tone and barbs on conservative talk radio. Home base of the Republican Party, on the morning after the verdict. You respect Brauchler for taking questions about the case, but why jump on conservative talk radio circuit and sound like a conservative talk-radio host?

At one point  on KNUS’ Craig Silverman Show Saturday, Brauchler attacked the parents of the shooter for not talking to him directly during the trial.

Then he slammed not only a Denver Post editorial as “strident” but The Denver Post editorial board itself as becoming irrelevant.

First, here’s Brauchler’s comment to Silverman, lambasting the murderer’s parents for not calling him up and begging, as Brauchler put it, “Please, God, don’t kill my son….”

To his credit, Silverman pointed out that the parents were likely just following their lawyers’ instructions not to talk to a guy who’d successfully sought the death penalty in the past and was crusading to put their son to death.

Brauchler (below at 11 minutes): There is something that sticks out to me that I find completely unusual, and that is, at no time during the pendency of this case have the ever reached out to me. In fact, I had people call them throughout the pendency of this case, and they continued to hide behind an attorney. And while I get there are legal reasons for them to maybe not talk, but as a parent myself, and I’d ask anybody listening to this, if your son or daughter was facing the potential of a death penalty, what could stop you from calling the DA and saying, ‘Please, God, don’t kill my son or my daughter.’ Instead, they went to The Post and did an op-ed piece coincidentally timed with three days after the juror summonses went out. And then mom published a book of thoughts—or whatever they were—calling into question, of course, our motives, and saying a bunch of things about mental illness coincidentally timed with the middle of jury selection, right before opening statements. I mean, again, they are not at fault for what happened here, but I can’t, as a parent, envision taking the path that they took.

Silverman: Bob and Arlene [the murderer’s parents] were in the courtroom. I imagine they were following the instructions of the public defenders, their son’s attorneys. …

Later, Brauchler turned his attention to The Denver Post, saying its “strident” Friday editorial against the death penalty is evidence, along with polls showing 2-1 support for the death penalty in Colorado, that the newspaper’s “editorial board continues to demonstrate some irrelevance.”

Brauchler (@ 50 minutes 20 seconds): The Post op-ed piece [sic] was striking in how over-the-top it was to me. And I get that they had been opposed to the death penalty from the word go. But the strident language that they used to suggest that somehow I had seriously misjudged the jury. It sounds like there was one juror, and the other jurors were on board with moving forward through the rest of the trial, as was even that juror. I wonder what that their tone would have been had that one juror gone the way of the others and they had imposed death. I’m sure it would have been critical. And I think the point that The Post missed, and maybe this is the part of how this editorial board continues to demonstrate some irrelevance, is this Quinnipiac poll showing Coloradans are two-one in favor of the death penalty.

Lashing out at the murderer’s parents? At The Denver Post? On conservative talk radio? Why is Brauchler behaving like this? Hmmm.

Brauchler on KNUS’s Craig Silverman Aug. 8, 2015:

Brauchler on KHOW’s Mandy Connell Aug. 10, 2015.

GOP activists allege that Republican State Chair is concealing dire financial problems from donors

(The Coffmangate red-on-red backstabbery continues – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

UPDATE: GOP activists have clarified and corrected a couple issues in this blog post, but the central points still stand.

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In an email distributed Friday by GOP activist Marilyn Marks, three GOP Central Committee members express dismay over the financial health of the state Republican Party and accuse State Chairman Steve House of concealing outstanding liabilities from donors.

The letter was signed by Nicholas Lundberg and Doug Childress. They did not immediately respond to my request to verify the letter, but other sources have verified it.  It was addressed to members of the Republican Central Committee.

The email lists 11 specific items, and it requests that the Executive Committee, which beat back an effort to oust House, address the financial concerns at its Aug. 19 meeting.

Most of the points focus reporting failures; others allege deception:

3.        Chairman House acknowledged that he concealed and failed to report outstanding liabilities and bank debt to avoid donors learning that the party was in “dire financial straits.” Such failure to disclose violates campaign finance laws, violates bank covenants, and is unethical with respect to reporting obligations to the CRC.

4.        Chairman House states that at least $188,000 in unrecorded liabilities have intentionally not been disclosed. He states that unpaid legal bills make up a significant amount of the liability and relate to the Independent Expenditure Committee (IEC) legal issues. He further states that it is undetermined whether the party will ultimately pay for this liability.

An email seeking comment from the Colorado Republican Party was not immediately answered.

The letter asks that the Committee insist that an “independent CPA firm be immediately engaged to audit the books and records and prepare financial statements as required” by the bylaws of the state Republican Party.

The letter summarizes the situation this way:

We write you as concerned legal and financial professionals to explain our growing concerns about the Colorado Republican Party’s financial reporting and disclosures. The party appears to be materially out of compliance with federal and state reporting requirements, bank loan covenants, and bylaw financial reporting requirements. This situation is exacerbated by Chairman [Steve] House’s disregard for basic requirements of financial transparency, decisions to conceal material liabilities, and his lack of candor regarding financial matters…

Repeated efforts made by several other CRC members to persuade Chairman House to address the issues have been unsuccessful. Instead, he has demonstrated a lack of basic business knowledge and financial literacy resulting in significant financial reporting problems and reputational damage to the party.

The text of the letter, without attachments, follows:

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