Mike Coffman Compares Veterans Administration to ISIS, Makes Beheading Jokes on Radio

MONDAY UPDATE #2: Via the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews, the Department of Veterans Affairs responds:

A VA spokeswoman chided U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman on Monday for statements the Aurora Republican made recently in which he imagined the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs running the terrorist group ISIS.

His “comments do not belong in our public discourse,” said VA spokeswoman Victoria Dillon in a statement. “Veterans and VA employees find them highly offensive. (VA) Secretary (Robert) McDonald has spoken to Representative Coffman.”

—–

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)

MONDAY UPDATE: National news outlets quickly pick up this story, Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski:

“I was speaking before a group the other day and said it’s too bad we can’t take VA leadership and export it and give it to some of our adversaries around the planet. Let them suffer under VA’s leadership,” said Coffman…

A Coffman spokesman said the comments were, “a controversy only with liberals and the Washington outrage machine. [Pols emphasis] His sarcastic point was obvious – the VA is an organizational disaster.”

Huffington Post:

“Can you imagine if the VA was in charge of ISIS? You know they would probably say, ‘Oh yeah, you know, it wasn’t quite 2,000 that we beheaded. It was really — 24 is the accurate number,” he added. “And we’re sorry, that, in fact, they were all our own terrorists that we beheaded because it got misclassified in the system as Christian.’ I mean, that would be the VA in charge of ISIS.”

In response, one of the show hosts said, “I don’t know what they’re putting in your orange juice back there.”

Talking Points Memo also reporting on this story with more allegedly on the way. We’re honestly surprised that Coffman hasn’t backed down between Friday and today–a big mistake when a simple apology would end the controversy much sooner. Meanwhile, local liberal groups are piling on:

“Mike Coffman has a reputation going back decades in politics for making outrageous statements,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “There is no question that the VA faces challenges right now. As the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for Veterans Affairs, Coffman has known about the problems at the VA for years. But to compare the thousands of men and women at the Department of Veterans Affairs–the vast majority of whom are hard-working public servants dedicated to helping our nation’s veterans–to a vicious terrorist organization that has beheaded American citizens is simply outrageous.”

Original post follows.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (June 15)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218The Denver Nuggets have hired Mike Malone to be their next head coach, which is very sad; Malone has just 39 more NBA wins under his belt than you do. 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…

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is standing behind his horribly-inappropriate comments in which he compared the Veterans Administration to ISIS. Colorado Pols first reported on Coffman’s absurd statements during an interview on KOA radio Friday morning, and the story has since been picked up by numerous national media outlets. If you missed it, here’s what Coffman said:

“Can you imagine if the VA was in charge of ISIS? They’d probably say, ‘Well, you know it wasn’t quite 2,000 that we beheaded – it was really 24…is the accurate number. We’re sorry that, in fact, they were all our own terrorists that were beheaded because they got misclassified in the system as Christians.’

“I mean, that would be the VA [chuckles]…that would be the VA in charge of ISIS. [Pols emphasis]”

This story was front-page material on Buzzfeed this morning, which included this response:

A Coffman spokesman said the comments were, “a controversy only with liberals and the Washington outrage machine. His sarcastic point was obvious – the VA is an organizational disaster.”

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. Construction on the Aurora VA Hospital will continue through September after Congress kicked the can down the road again on Friday.

► The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Monday that you can be fired for using marijuana during your free time. The Aurora Sentinel says it’s time for Congress to step in on legal weed.

Nobody is more damaging to Sen. Ellen Roberts’ political future than Ellen Roberts herself.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Former Head of Colo. GOP SuperPAC Gets Two-Year Jail Sentence

We all know that campaign finance laws in the United States are about as airtight as a cardboard submarine. But for the first time that we can recall, somebody is going to jail for violating campaign finance regulations — and that somebody is directly connected to the Colorado Republican Party.

Republican operative Tyler Harber was the ED of a Colorado GOP SuperPac in 2014.

Republican operative Tyler Harber was the ED of a Colorado GOP SuperPac in 2014.

As the Associated Press reports:

A Republican political operative was sentenced to two years in prison Friday after becoming the first person convicted of illegally coordinating campaign contributions between a super PAC and a congressional campaign.

Tyler Harber, 34, of Alexandria apologized at his sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court. He said he knew what he was doing was wrong, but he did it anyway because of his desire to win elections and his belief that the law banning such coordination is routinely ignored in the political world…

…Richard Pilger, director of the Justice Department’s Election Crimes branch, said a stiff sentence was needed as a deterrent because the crime itself is so difficult to detect that fear of a lengthy prison sentence may be one of the only ways to keep political operatives in line.

If the name Tyler Harber sounds familiar to you, it should. Harber’s name began to surface earlier this year in the context of the State Republican Party’s March election for State Chairman. Harber and his political firm, Harden Global, worked closely with former State Republican Chair Ryan Call in recent years; Call lost his bid for re-election to Steve House partially because of this dubious connection, which was once part of a plan touted as Call’s “brain child.”

Colorado media outlets largely ignored this story, for some reason, until they were criticized by the prestigious Columbia Journalism Review in February:

Ryan Call, Steve House.

Ryan Call (left) and current Colorado GOP Chairman Steve House.

Here’s why this matters. In Citizens United and other cases in recent years, the US Supreme Court has relaxed many of the rules surrounding campaign finance, with the result that outside groups like super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts to help or oppose a candidate. One of the remaining restrictions is that outside groups and official candidate campaigns can’t coordinate their efforts—but politicos have found novel ways to get around that rule. And the Federal Elections Commission, which is in charge of regulating such behavior, is gridlocked along partisan lines and hasn’t been able to agree on how to respond.

So, the fact that federal prosecutors have decided to get involved, and that they actually busted someone, is a fairly big deal.

At the same time, campaign finance can be arcane stuff, and the congressional campaign in question was in Viriginia. In many states, the news likely didn’t find a spot in the local, or even national, sections of the daily newspaper. 

But in Colorado, it should have. Tyler Harber, the man at the center of this story, was the person tapped last year by the state Republican Party to head up an independent expenditure committee—akin to a super PAC, though the party doesn’t use that term—with ties to the state GOP last year. [Pols emphasis]

Back in February, Call compared Harber’s misdeeds to getting a traffic ticket…an analogy that seems particularly absurd now that Harber is looking at 2 years in jail. It will be interesting to see if charges of illegal coordination begin to make their way through the ranks of the Colorado GOP, or if Harber was able to fall on the grenade entirely.

This is a big win for Colorado Ethics Watch, among others, but also for American voters in general. Campaign finance laws absolutely need to be improved; we’re moving in the right direction, at least, by actually enforcing the existing laws.

Get More Smarter on Friday (June 12)

MoreSmarterLogounderwaterIf Kansas were a sovereign nation, there would have already been a coup attempt against Gov. Sam Brownback. 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…

► On Thursday the Senate approved funding — all the way until October! — for construction on the VA Hospital in Aurora. The House will soon vote on the measure, which will prevent construction from (again) coming to a halt. As the Denver Post reports:

With the future of Aurora’s Veterans Affairs hospital again in doubt, the U.S. Senate on Thursday passed another short-term funding bill that would keep work going on the site until at least October.

The $150 million measure, which passed by unanimous consent, comes just days before the troubled Colorado project was set to shut down because of a lack of money.

Now the bill heads to the House, which had not voted on the bill as of 7 p.m. Thursday — although the lower chamber is expected to take up the measure by Saturday.

We realize that we are starting to sound like a broken record here, but the Post story from Mark Matthews once more does not include a quote from Rep. Mike Coffman, the Republican who represents CD-6 and also serves as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the House Veterans Affairs Committee. This would be like covering a Broncos’ game and not interviewing Peyton Manning afterward.

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has gone too far in his pretend attempt to make birth control available over-the-counter.

Marcia Neal resigned her seat on the Colorado Board of Education about six months after she was re-elected to the post. As Eric Gorski reports for the Denver Post, the State Board of Education sounds like a really horrible place to be right now:

Colorado Board of Education chairwoman Marcia Neal announced her resignation Thursday in a blistering letter blaming board dysfunction and baffling decisions, behavior she speculated is driving an exodus of top talent from the state education department.

Neal, a Republican and retired teacher from Grand Junction, was re-elected in November.

In her resignation letter, Neal cited her frustrations with the board overreaching, sowing confusion and failing to communicate. “Sadly, our current board has become dysfunctional,” she wrote.

 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Beer Wars: Coal, Water, Smelt, and the Great Beer Boycott of 2015

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Forget about buying New Belgium Craft Beer in Craig, Colorado. Most of the liquor stores, and some of the bars, just aren’t selling it anymore. The boycott is a reaction to New Belgium’s support of the work of the Wild Earth Guardians (WEG). WEG has successfully promoted an environmental lawsuit halting expansion of the ColoWyo coal mine in Moffat County near Craig, and some local coal miners fear that their livelihoods will be sacrificed for an environmental cause or an endangered species. In an article in the Craig Daily Press, Lori Gillam, an owner of Stockmen’s Liquor store, said, “We pulled those beers because their support of WildEarth Guardians… who said their ultimate goal is to shut down coal mines. Craig is a coal mine town.”

These fears are being relentlessly inflamed in the right wing blogosphere, and on right wing talk radio. On June 9 and 10, Ken Clark’s Freedom 360 show was all about the so-called “War on Coal” in Craig, Colorado. 

New Belgian Beers on Tap

New Belgium Beers on tap, from National Journal article by Matt Berman. Photo by Quan Ha

 

  

“They’re coming after Colorado!,” Ken Clark breathlessly reported at 8:39 minutes into his 6/9/15 Freedom 560 show. From 5:23 to 8:20, Clark made the following statements about Wild Earth Guardians:

  “These are the same folks that created all this havoc in California. [They] .. are the whack jobs that shut down all of the irrigation to these farmlands in order to protect that smelt, that fish. . . They pretty much killed California and their farm production.  Fresno County – the unemployment rate’s 47%. These are the same guys. . . .They have set their sights on Colorado. They are coming here.  And now they’re coming after us.” 

 

Factually, Clark is just plain wrong here, although he wisely left wiggle room by saying that his “friend told him so”, and he plans to “check it out”. Fresno’s unemployment rate in 2014 was 11%, not 47%. California is obviously suffering from drought, and farmers, tourists, developers, businesses, and wildlife are all struggling and negotiating for the use of the same diminishing pool of potable water. The only reference to environmental regulations and fish in the Fresno Bee article was the mention of how water is being kept in Lake Shasta to keep  salmon and trout alive. 

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Talk-radio Host Sees “Leftists” Tainting Jeffco School Board

(As they say, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ken Witt, John Newkirk, Julie Williams (WNW).

Ken Witt, John Newkirk, Julie Williams (WNW).

During a radio broadcast last month (See below.), KOA radio host Ross Kaminsky goes on and on passionately about how most everyone is against the conservatives on the Jeffco School Board.

In fact, the only folks Kaminsky left out of the alleged cabal attacking the Jeffco-school-board conservatives were the students, parents, and community that has organized to hold the school board accountable.

On the radio, Kaminsky mentioned that the Jeffco-school-board conservatives, specifically John Newkirk, are under attack by Democrats, “union-pawn liberals on school boards everywhere,” other liberals, leftists, “stupid reporters,” more unions, 9News anchor Kyle Clark, and others.

Kaminsky, who was subbing for KOA’s Mike Rosen, said these types of people are supporting board members like Jill Fellman, whom Kaminsky calls a “leftist.”

Kaminsky: “And by the way, I say [Fellman] is a leftist because the teachers union loves her, and because I went and looked online at her political contributions, and 100% of them are to Democratic candidates in the Colorado Democratic Party.”

As a leftist, I know that donations to the Democratic Party and its candidates are not a good measure of one’s leftyness. The Democratic Party itself would not be called lefty. Would you call Hick a lefty? Bennet? Obama? No. More like centrists. Also, the teacher’s union gives to centrist Democrats as well as progressives.

I asked Kaminsky for a response to this criticism, and he replied:

Kaminsky: I don’t know Jill Fellman is as far left as you or others might be, but between her political contributions and — more importantly — her utter fealty to the teachers union at the expense of children, as well as her opposition to public negotiation of contracts between school districts and teachers unions, she meets my definition of leftist. I realize that to a self-described leftist such as yourself, Ms. Fellman may not quality for that same adjective, though I also think you don’t know exactly where her politics lie. Therefore, I think your criticism is more petty than your usual disagreements with me.

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“That Idiot’s Tweeting”

Arapahoe County D.A. George Brauchler loves him some Twitter, no matter the setting.

Arapahoe County D.A. George Brauchler loves him some Twitter, no matter the setting.

UPDATE: Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post updates this story, which includes a Colorado Pols mention:

ProgressNow — and, privately, some Republicans — have jumped on the mistake Brauchler made last week when he tweeted during the trial, although the judge had been clear not to do so. Three jurors have been replaced in connection with news stories regarding the judge’s admonishment about the tweet…

…The leftie blog ColoradoPols also mentioned the Brauchler brouhaha. The Post reported that a juror’s husband called the woman during a break last week and began telling her about his tweet, which had been reported on by various media outlets. Jurors had been instructed not to read anything about the trial or talk to each other about it.

“That idiot’s tweeting,” she quoted her husband as saying.

Runyon-Harms said “there’s an open question as to whether the quote, ‘That idiot’s tweeting,’ will follow Brauchler around for a while.”

As we said below, “That Idiot’s Tweeting” is going to be around as long as Brauchler is involved in politics.

—–

The Aurora Theater Shooting Trial took another strange turn on Tuesday when Judge Carlos Samour Jr. dismissed three jurors for misconduct because of concerns that they were reading about the trial and discussing it outside of the courtroom. According to media reports, one particular juror was found to be discussing the boneheaded moves of Arapahoe District Attorney George Brauchler, who was lectured by Judge Samour last week for Tweeting during the trial.

From the Denver Post:

The misconduct came to light mid-morning when one juror — a mother of three who serves in the Air Force and is known publicly only by her juror number, No. 673 — asked to speak to Samour.

Sitting alone in the jury box, she told Samour that she had twice heard another juror talking about news reports on the case. The first came about a week ago, when the juror, No. 872, referenced a story on an unsuccessful motion for a mistrial that the defense made outside the jury’s presence. The second came on Monday, when the juror talked about a story on Brauchler’s tweet [Pols emphasis]

…Last came [Juror] No. 872, who said she took a call from her husband during a break last week and put it on speaker phone. She said her husband began asking her about Brauchler and telling her about his tweet.

“That idiot’s tweeting,” she quoted her husband as saying. [Pols emphasis]

 

7News-Brauchler-Tweet

Brauchler’s infamous June 4th Tweet, which has since been deleted.

 

Brauchler tried to explain to Judge Samour last week that he wasn’t “Tweeting” in court during session — he was actually texting, or something, and inadvertently sent a Tweet. The specifics here always seemed largely irrelevant; as defense attorney Tamara Brady said, “If the prosecution is seeking the execution of a man, perhaps the District Attorney should pay attention to the cross-examination of a mental health expert instead of chatting on social media.”

Judge Samour had long ago banned the use of Twitter during court proceedings, and following Brauchler’s inexcusable gaffe, he also banned text messages in general. Brauchler is an ambitious politician who is widely expected to seek the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018, but this social media mistake could end up critically damaging his chances for higher office — particularly if it ends up playing a role in the trial’s outcome. Brauchler’s Tweet had been “re-tweeted” at least three times before it was erased, and according to yesterday’s hearings, at least one family member of a juror saw the Tweet before Brauchler hit “delete.” This was not a harmless mistake.

Based on yesterday’s hearings, jurors have certainly taken note of Brauchler’s error; we wouldn’t be surprised to see this story become national news now that it has directly impacted the jury. If nothing else, “That Idiot’s Tweeting” is a quote you are certain to see again.

Taking The Sting Out Of The Next Government Shutdown?

Photo via the Wilderness Society

Photo via the Wilderness Society

As the Durango Herald’s Mariam Baksh reports, Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton (R) is teaming up with Sen. Michael Bennet (D) to get our state reimbursed for the costs of keeping economically vital national parks open during the 2013 shutdown of the federal government–a shutdown, as you’ll recall, instigated by Republicans in an attempt to force the repeal of the Affordable Care Act:

During the 2013 government shutdown, Colorado used its own funds to keep its national parks open.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, agree that Colorado should get this money back from the federal government…

Colorado spent about $367,000 keeping Rocky Mountain National Park open.

Colorado would receive its share of the $2 million [Sen. Jeff] Flake is proposing the Department of Interior return to the states that gave money to the agency to keep national parks open.

GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona was a consistent opponent of shutting down the government over Obamacare in 2013, which makes sense given the enormous importance of federally-funded tourism destinations like the Grand Canyon are to his state. Here in Colorado, most Republicans initially embraced the shutdown, or at most half-heartedly claimed to not like it while voting to make it happen. That includes Rep. Scott Tipton as well as now-Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who since being elected to the Senate has generally supported proposals that would make government shutdowns harder–a sign that perhaps Gardner learned a lesson from the lasting political fallout for the GOP after the 2013 shutdown.

Tipton co-sponsored a bill that then-Rep. Cory Gardner introduced that would require the Department of Interior to return money to states that used their own budgets to keep federal parks open.

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Is there any responsible lawmaker who would oppose repaying states for funds spent keeping national parks open during the 2013 shutdown? We’d assume not. But the easy question of whether to make states whole for their shutdown expenditures sidesteps the original question of responsibility for the shutdown. In 2013, the public lopsidedly blamed the GOP, though many voters would be hard pressed to remember the details today. But at least until Barack Obama leaves office, the dynamic of future fiscal debates, and potential government shutdowns, will be driven by congressional Republicans choosing to instigate one. Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said there would be no more shutdowns, at least implicitly citing the political damage caused by the last one. But if they were to succeed in taking the sting out of a future shutdown, would that promise hold up?

And the question remains: is this kind of dysfunctional brinksmanship any way to do business?

Bennet said he supports the U.S. Department of Interior giving money back to the states, but he takes issue with legislation aimed at mitigating the effects of a future shutdown when lawmakers should instead be focused on passing appropriations bills that fund the entire government and avoid a shutdown to begin with.

It seems to us that anything that would mitigate the impact of a shutdown, especially while allowing so many other functions of government to come to a halt as this limited proposal would, is basically guaranteed to increase the chances of another harmful shutdown. Without serious consequences for everyone responsible, there is no reason for the brinksmanship that has typified recent budget standoffs to be resolved. Every such consequence therefore becomes leverage to bring both sides to the bargaining table, and a reality check against unreasonable obstruction by factional interests on either side.

With all that in mind, yes, give our state back the money. But don’t make the next shutdown less painful.

Instead, let’s just not have any more shutdowns.

Colorado BOE Chair Marcia Neal Resigns

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Chalkbeat Colorado:

Neal’s departure comes at the same time as education Commissioner Robert Hammond is preparing to leave the department. He announced his retirement, effective later this month, in late April.

The composition of the seven-member board and the tone of its meetings changed after new members elected last November took their seats in January.

The new members were Republican Steve Durham of Colorado Springs and Democrat Val Flores of Denver. Neal, a Republican from Grand Junction, was re-elected to a second six-year term last November.

Neal was elected chair in January. Democrat Angelika Schroeder of Boulder was elected vice chair, something that didn’t sit well with the board’s three other Republicans, Durham, Pam Mazanec of Larkspur and Deb Scheffel of Parker. The vote for vice chair was by secret ballot. Because there are only three Democrats on the panel, one Republican – presumably Neal – voted for Schroeder.

—–

The Paper That Shall Not Be Named reports that Marcia Neal, chair of the state Board of Education, has announced her resignation effective July 31. In her resignation she calls the current board “dysfunctional” and their recent decisions “baffling”. She also cites health concerns that are making it harder for her to fully participate.

From her resignation letter:

Past protocols were very effective with regard to communicating and the sharing of information. Those protocols are now largely ignored by several board members.

She also writes that the Board is spending little if any time discussing how to improve our schools, and is being held hostage to “both the far right and far left who share the same goals of no standards, no accountability, and no teacher quality efforts”.

The scariest part IMHO: a Republican vacancy committee (CO-03 BOE) gets to choose her replacement. My guess is they’ll choose one of those far right types, like freshman board member Steve Durham, who would rather pick 100 people out of a phone book than have a selected group of subject matter experts determining what is important in our social studies testing.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (June 11)

Get More SmarterAt least we’re not in Kansas. 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…

► PUNT! That seems to be the play call — again — when it comes to Congressional action on funding the VA Hospital in Aurora. As the Denver Post reports:

According to lawmakers and aides involved in the talks, the expectation this week is that Congress will seek another short-term deal to avoid a shutdown at the construction site.

The length of the punt is still unclear, although negotiators said it probably would run through the end of July to give Congress and the administration more time to reach agreement on long-term funding for the $1.73 billion facility…

Kiewit-Turner, the contractor at the Aurora hospital, said it would begin shutting down the site Monday if there was not an indication this week that Congress and the administration were readying some kind of funding deal.

In what has become something of a trend lately, the Post story from Mark Matthews does not include a quote from Rep. Mike Coffman, the Republican who represents CD-6 and also serves as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Where’s Mike Coffman?

► “That Idiot’s Tweeting!Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post has more on Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler and his courtroom Twitter antics:

ProgressNow — and, privately, some Republicans — have jumped on the mistake Brauchler made last week when he tweeted during the trial, although the judge had been clear not to do so. Three jurors have been replaced in connection with news stories regarding the judge’s admonishment about the tweet.


Get even more smarter after the jump…

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History Question of the Day

What single event/action do you think had the largest effect on the United States (question came up here at work)? It can be something of significant duration that had a clear start/end like the Civil War, but not something that is ever ongoing like improved civil rights.

Mine is the economic system Alexander Hamilton created (and Albert Gallatin continued). It defines our economy to this day.

Somebody Give Ellen Roberts a Shovel

THURSDAY UPDATE: Charles Ashby updated his story today, and in all fairness, it looks like he quoted Sen. Ellen Roberts wrong. As our readers already knew, Roberts voted against a budget amendment to restore funding for the state’s successful IUD contraception program, not for it as Ashby reported yesterday:

Later, Democrats in the GOP-controlled Senate tried to get funding for the IUD program through the state’s budget. Roberts said she voted with Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman of Denver, a member of the Joint Budget Committee, against spending the money. [Pols emphasis]

Readers debated the fact that Sen. Pat Steadman voted against the “Long Bill” amendment to restore the LARC program’s funding, which as you can see Roberts uses as cover for her own vote against this amendment. But that’s not the whole story: members of the Joint Budget Committee almost always vote against Long Bill amendments, since they are the ones who hashed out the compromises to produce the budget to begin with. It’s a matter of principle that JBC members do so even when it’s an issue they would otherwise support, as we expect Steadman would readily tell you he does.

Unfortunately for Ellen Roberts, she can’t claim JBC membership as an excuse for voting against something she goes to great pains to claim to support. The public may not get this distinction, but it’s our hope that longtime capitol reporters like Ashby will going forward. Original post follows.

—–

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango).

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango).

We took note last week of a story in The Nation about the failure to renew funding in the Colorado General Assembly this year for a program to provide long-acting contraceptives to low-income women–a program credited with helping dramatically lower the rate of teen pregnancy in our state. Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango, now exploring the possibility of running for the U.S. Senate, claims to have supported this IUD funding, but voted against it during debate over the state’s budget when it was presented as an amendment. As Roberts explained to The Nation’s Katha Pollitt:

The clincher: No-cost birth control is already provided by the Affordable Care Act, so why should the state pony up? Republican Senator Ellen Roberts told me she might have supported the bill if she’d had a good answer for that… [Pols emphasis]

As you can see, Roberts isn’t making some kind of “process argument” for voting against the LARC funding, which was introduced as Amendment J.066 to this year’s budget “Long Bill.” She thought it was unnecessary because Obamacare requires contraceptive coverage.

Keep that in mind as you read the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby today, in which Roberts appears to tell a very different story:

Later, Democrats in the GOP-controlled Senate tried to get funding for the IUD program through the state’s budget. Roberts voted for spending the money, but the effort died nonetheless. [Pols emphasis]

“You could make all the same arguments for why you would vote against the IUD bill as the teen pregnancy bill,” Roberts said. “But they (the Democrats) won’t acknowledge that I had that same bill.”

So, we want to give Charles Ashby, a reporter we trust, full latitude to confirm this quote from Roberts–and allow for some other possibility that might explain what appears to be a clear contradiction. First, Roberts tells The Nation she didn’t support the IUD LARC program because of the fact that Obamacare mandates contraceptive coverage. Then, she tells the Sentinel that she did support it, citing a budget amendment she supposedly voted for. But our readers already know she voted against that amendment–so unless there’s some other vote out there that hasn’t been brought to our attention, Roberts simply appears to be all over the map.

Which is where she’s been for some time, trying to reconcile her record in the legislature with a new hard-right persona that Republican primary voters might actually vote for.

And it’s not going well at all.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 10)

Get More SmarterUgh. The new season of The Simpsons looks poised to jump the shark. 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…

► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) joined Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) in sponsoring legislation to create over-the-counter birth control options that would still be covered by insurance. Supporters say that “The Affordability IS Access Act” offers more realistic and affordable OTC birth control than legislation introduced last month by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). Gardner, meanwhile, says opponents of his OTC legislation are acting “hysterical.”

Another top Veterans Administration official is retiring as questions continue about construction problems at the VA Hospital in Aurora. The Denver Post has more on the story, including quotes from Sen. Bennet and Rep. Ed Perlmutter. Conspicuously absent from the story is a comment from Rep. Mike Coffman, the Republican who represents CD-6 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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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 9)

Get More SmarterGame 3 of the NBA Finals is tonight — if you haven’t been paying attention, you’re missing an historic Finals performance from LeBron James. 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…

► If you have a suggestion, please raise your hand. As Lynn Bartels reports for the Denver Post, Colorado Republicans have absolutely no idea who to put forth to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016. Could it be Attorney General Cynthia Coffman who makes the move? Probably not.

► Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee is looking to replace departed Communications Director Lisa Pinto. In the meantime, he’s doing it again

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Monday (June 8)

Get More SmarterThis doesn’t seem very fast to us. 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…

► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is pushing for a major overhaul of campaign finance reform. We all know that campaign finance laws are pretty useless at the moment — hell, GOP Presidential contender Jeb Bush has been openly breaking the law for months.

► The Veterans Administration is promoting a new plan to help pay for completion of the Aurora VA Hospital. A three-week extension on funding construction is set to expire this week.

► The deadline for Gov. John Hickenlooper to veto legislation from the 2015 Colorado Assembly came and went on Friday with no new vetoes. Hickenlooper vetoed three bills from the prior session: two red-light camera restriction bills, and nonsense legislation that would have allowed predatory lenders to drastically increase interest rates. Good on ya, Gov.

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