Mike Norton calls on Suthers to challenge bill allowing joint tax filings

(Fight that culture war! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

A bill cleared the General Assembly Friday allowing same-sex couples to file joint state tax returns, if they pay federal taxes jointly.

Hick is expected to sign it, presumably because he agrees with backers, like The Denver Post, who point out that the current tax rules make no sense, given that state taxes are based on the federal filings.

But the religious right, as represented below by former U.S. Attorney Mike Norton, is pissed. Norton got his back slapped blindly by KNUS' Dan Caplis recently for saying the bill is a violation of Colorado's ban on gay marriage:

Norton: You know, [we] have a constitutional amendment that was passed by the people of the state of Colorado in 2006, that really didn’t state anything new. It simply reaffirmed what has been the historic position of the people of Colorado, [and] the people of this nation, in fact, the western world, that marriage of a man and a woman is a foundational social relationship that is important for the survival of any society.

Listen to Norton here.

Even Amendment 23 isn't that extreme, and it's out there. But why not extremify extremism if no one, like Caplis, is going to call you on it?

In any case, the legislation is about tax law, not marriage. But Norton, who's married to failed GOP Senate candidate Jane Norton, doesn't get it:

Norton: "And I mean, everyone is in favor of marriage equality, but we have to pretty much know what a marriage is, before we can define whether it is equality. And by tradition, and throughout history, marriage is defined as a union of a man and a woman, and it exists for a single purpose, and that is to bear and raise children. There is no question that children do better when they are with a man – a husband and a wife, a father and a mother. Moms and dads are different. And children need both moms and they need dads, as well."

Asked what he could do if the bill becomes law, Norton pointed out that Attorney General John Suthers joined a lawsuit challenging a court decision striking down Utah's gay-marriage ban.

Norton: "So, I’m hopeful that John Suthers will look at…this law as an assault on Colorado’s marriage amendment and take steps. I think that’s a possibility."

Lawsuit Filed To Overturn Colorado’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban

UPDATE: The Denver Post reports:

The lawsuit filed Wednesday names Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver City Clerk Debra Johnson as defendants. Currently Colorado permits civil unions between gay couples, but the Colorado constitution bans gay marriage…

Although some states have declined to defend against similar lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage bans, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said his office's obligations are clear.

"It is the job of the Attorney General's Office to defend our state laws and we will defend against this new lawsuit as we would any other," Suthers said. "This is an important issue that ultimately the appellate courts will resolve."


Liberty and Justice, together at last.

Liberty and Justice, together at last.

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, a bit of a snag this week on the way to the proverbial altar:

After a false start of sorts, a group of same-sex couples are likely to move ahead and file a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban…

Sources told us that attorney John McHugh, who is handling the lawsuit, hadn’t conferred with the defendants, notably Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, whose office denied a same-sex couple a marriage license last Friday, which was serving as grounds for the lawsuit.

McHugh, who has not returned a call seeking comment, wasn’t aware that Johnson, who was out of the office when a same-sex couple applied for a marriage license Friday, was herself open to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which would have rendered the lawsuit pointless.

But a joint press release a short while ago from One Colorado, ACLU of Colorado, the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, and the Colorado GLBT Bar Association announces a lawsuit now indeed underway seeking to overturn Colorado's Amendment 43–the constitutional amendment passed in 2006 banning same-sex marriage in this state. A wrinkle arose when Denver County Clerk Debra Johnson said she would issue marriage licenses anyway, but now she reportedly gets that denying the licenses (as the law presently requires) was the best way to help the cause. As you're likely aware, lawsuits in support of marriage equality are rapidly proceeding–and succeeding–in many states.

As of today, add Colorado to the list. Statements after the jump.


LGBT Equality “Baby Step” Wins Final Passage

AP via the Denver Post:

Gay couples in Colorado who are married in another state and in a civil union here could file joint state tax returns under a measure headed to the governor's desk.

The Colorado House passed the measure Monday on a largely party-line vote with Democrats in favor. The bill already cleared the Senate so it's now up to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper to decide whether to sign it.

A press release from Colorado House Democrats Friday celebrated initial passage of Senate Bill 14-019:

SB14-019, sponsored in the House by Reps. Joann Ginal (D-Fort Collins) and Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City), amends state law to direct legally married same-sex couples living in Colorado to file their state taxes in the same way they file their federal taxes.

Rep. Moreno got a laugh when he asked the House, “What could be more romantic on Valentine’s Day than asking someone to joint-file your taxes?” Joking aside, he added, “Same sex couples share their income and share their expenses. Why not let them file jointly?”

For what it's worth, here are GOP Rep. Bob Gardner and ex-House Speaker Frank McNulty with the GOP's answer:

Despite their studious objections, the bill is now headed to Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk.

AG Candidate Quick Calls Out Suthers on Marriage Equality

John Suthers, Don Quick.

John Suthers, Don Quick.

AP's Ivan Moreno reports via the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

The Democratic candidate for Colorado attorney general says the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional rights of gay couples and that the law shouldn’t be defended.

Don Quick made the comments Tuesday morning, putting the issue into the spotlight in the state’s attorney general race months before voters head to the polls. Quick, the former Adams County district attorney and former deputy state attorney general, emphasized that those positions have a responsibility to defend state laws regardless of whether the officeholder agrees with them.

“But in extraordinary circumstances, extraordinary circumstances, when a Colorado law intentionally violates fundamental rights of its citizens, it’s the attorney general’s job to step up and stop that law,” Quick said.

As the Denver Post's Tom McGhee reports, outgoing GOP Attorney General John Suthers has a newly defensive response to the question of defending Colorado's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, in contrast to much less equivocal justifications in the past:

Suthers' spokeswoman Carolyn Tyler said that her boss has little choice but to defend Colorado's Amendment 43, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It was approved by voters in 2006.

"The attorney general has an obligation to defend state laws until they are determined to be unconstitutional by the highest court, regardless of whether or not that puts the attorney general on the wrong side of history," Tyler said. [Pols emphasis]

Even an indirect acknowledgement that continue to defend the state's same-sex marriage ban places Suthers "on the wrong side of history" could be seen as a win for equality supporters. In a Washington Post guest opinion earlier this month, Suthers further explains his reasons for continuing to defend Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage–again, with no mention of his longstanding personal opposition to gay marriage:


Daneya Esgar announces for HD 46: “Pueblo Deserves Better”

Daneya Esgar announced her candidacy for House District 46 in Pueblo at the Steelworker’s Union Hall on January 21, 2014.  The seat is being vacated by Representative Leroy Garcia, as Garcia  will be running against George Rivera for Senate District 3.  Esgar’s competition for the HD46 seat will be, first, Democrat Stephanie Garcia (no relation to Leroy), a term-limited past President of the District 60 School Board. Local caucuses March 4 will select a Democratic nominee, and the final decision will be taken at the County Assembly on March 22nd.

The Democratic nominee for House District 46 will then run against Republican Brian Mater, a Pueblo businessman and failed candidate for Pueblo City Council at-large. Mater is not an especially strong candidate; while evidently a nice guy, he also apparently has a temper, and has not always managed money well. Mater still has a permanent restraining order against him, and was the subject of several court proceedings for questionable business dealings. Mater has not filed any campaign finance reports with the State, although they were due January 15. Mater’s policy positions, as far as they can be determined from his Facebook page for the City Council position, are closer to Stephanie Garcia’s privatizing and union-busting ways– He advocates for returning PERA funds to the City, and for a “balanced budget”. If Garcia and Mater run against each other, it may be hard to tell them apart on budget issues.

As School District 60 President, Stephanie Garcia was heavily criticized by union employees and by parents for her vote to privatize the District’s night custodians and school bus drivers. The move was supposed to cut costs for the cash-strapped district; parents cited safety concerns, and community members warned that “short-term savings could mean long-term problems.”

Daneya Esgar, the granddaughter of two steelworkers, supports “public policy that brings jobs to our community. Not just any jobs, but “jobs that come with the right to bargain for a real living wage.” Esgar spoke about her concerns about poverty in Pueblo:

“Five out of every ten families live below the federal poverty level. Our unemployment rate is still one of the highest in the state. Our city has the highest utility rates and insurance rates in Colorado…  Small and successful businesses … have left Pueblo County because of our utility rates…The good news is that there is real work that can be done at the state legislature to fix Pueblo’s high utility rates.”

Pueblo’s Black Hills utility rates are “the highest on the Front Range”, according to those who work with families whose utilities have been shut off for lack of payment. Esgar’s message will resound with Pueblans struggling to pay high utility bills.

Esgar is well-known as an advocate for LGBT issues, and is herself an open lesbian; however, her campaign is much more about economic issues which affect all Pueblans.

From her press release:

Daneya Esgar has worked closely with local families throughout the community who have sought to improve local law enforcement. She is well-known on the grassroots level for her hands-on work on issues of equality, education, justice, and poverty. Esgar has a record of listening to the community and transforming those needs into sound public policy that is good for Pueblo’s families.

Photo Credit: John Jaques, The Pueblo Chieftain, December 9, 2013

2013’s Top Ten #10: Rep. Libby Szabo vs. Common Decency


Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino took control of the state House of Representatives after the 2012 general elections, in which Republicans were resoundingly swept from their one-seat House majority. One of the biggest reasons for that multiple-seat pickup victory in 2012 was the conduct of GOP legislative leadership at the end of the 2012 session. Legislation to create civil unions for LGBT couples in Colorado stood at the brink of passage with bipartisan support, only to be killed by GOP House leadership using extraordinary legislative tactics to prevent a vote on the bill.

After retaking the House in 2012, Colorado Democrats found themselves with two years of stymied and backlogged agenda items, at the top of the list of which was civil unions. The signing into law of this year's civil unions bill was hailed not just by Ferrandino, who happens to be gay, but a host of Republican officials and activists eager to turn a new page and walk back their party's intolerant image.

As we'll discuss in other 2013 recap posts, Republicans fought back in 2013 with a fury not seen since they began reliably losing elections in Colorado in 2004. One of the major message vehicles used by the GOP was legislation known as "Jessica's Law," named after a young Florida girl murdered by a previously convicted sex offender, and mandating long sentences for sex crimes even on a first offense. Although this law is on the books in many states, Colorado already has very severe sentences for such crimes. Law enforcement and advocates such as the Colorado District Attorneys' Council and the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault opposed the bill as unnecessary. Being a political weapon first and foremost, GOP backers of a Colorado "Jessica's Law" were undeterred.

And then last February, Bill O'Reilly of the FOX News Channel took it a step further.


Conservative talk-radio host gets all excited about critique of Republican Senate candidate

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

KFKA talk-radio host Amy Oliver urged Republicans last week to read a Facebook post by former State Senator Shawn Mitchell, in which Mitchell wrote that he's "somewhere between distressed and appalled that GOP luminaries think it's a good idea for [Rep. Amy Stephens] to bear the party's standard into a campaign for federal office in 2014."

Stephens is one of six GOP candidates vying to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Udall next year.  Also running are Tea Party favorite and recycled Senate candidate Ken Buck, mustachioed state Senator Randy Baumgardner from northwestern Colorado's District 8, state Senator from El Paso County Owen Hill, as well as Jamie McMillan and Tom Janich.

Oliver, who doubles as a staffer for the libertarian Independence Institute, was really excited about Mitchell's Dec. 9 Facebook post, telling listeners that "the entry of Amy Stephens in the race, and some of the subsequent endorsements that she has received, have got conservatives saying privately what Shawn Mitchell put out publicly."


Klingenschmitt vs. Right Wing Watch: Round Two

UPDATE 12/10/2013  Right Wing Watch had their Youtube Account restored, and their lawyer has sent a "Cease and Desist" order to Mr. Klingenschmitt. Klingenschmitt, for his part,  has declared that he has no intention of stopping his harassment of Right Wing Watch.

In the never-ending, but somewhat entertaining saga of Statehouse Candidate Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt's war vs. sanity, Right Wing Watch (RWW) won a round and is down for round two.

David Edwards, rawstory.com

RWW's mission is  "monitoring and exposing the activities of the right-wing movement". Hence, they often report on some of the weirder nonsense preached by would-be representative Klingenschmitt:

(left) Dr. Gordon Klingenschmitt, HD15 candidate, by David Edwards, rawstory.com, 


Six year old gender-bender Coy Mathis and her parents filed (and won) a lawsuit for Coy to use the female bathroom in her Fountain elementary school.

Below: Coy Mathis, holding parent's hands, after her civil rights hearing, photo by RJ Sangosti, Denver Post, article by Kieran Nicholson

Coy Mathis, after winning her lawsuit: Credit: Denver Post, RJ Sangosti

Coy's victory was enough for Klingenschmitt to claim that the transgender rights movement has a "demon of rape…. to violate your daughters".

Right Wing Watch  publicized Klingenschmitt's latest diatribe against little Coy and her parents, and, in retaliation, Klingenschmitt has again complained to youtube that RWW is infringing on his copyrights.

This was round two of the RWW vs. Dr. Chaps battle over bogus copyright claims. In round one, youtube went through its usual process of determining Fair Use, and while they were deciding this, RWW's youtube site was made inactive. Finally, youtube decided that RWW had not in fact infringed any copyrights, and RWW's youtube account was restored. 

The next day, Klingenschmitt again made bogus claims against RWW, and succeeded in shutting down RWW's youtube account.This is currently being appealed, and if you like, you can sign a petition in support of the appeal.

Klingenschmitt fundraises from his 350+youtube videos, all of which have a donate button. I found his charity "pray in jesus name.org" on  this site, on which Klingenschmitt appears in a Navy Chaplain's uniform, which, according to the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, is illegal, since he was discharged for cause. Dr. Chaps' explanations of his finances, which extend to at least 3 separate profit, non-profit, and political corporations, are  convoluted, but his 501c3 charity, Persuade the World Ministries,  seem to bring in an average of 50,000 per year since 2010.

Klingenschmitt, a discharged Navy chaplain,  has  bragged about "performing exorcisms" of the "demons" in gay men and women, and also complained that a West Point Chapel  had been "Desecrated By 'Acts Of Sodomy' Performed On The Altar" when two gay men were married there. 

Klingenschmitt must go to more exciting weddings than I do- hardly any of them actually consummate the marriage in public anymore.

But I digress.

Here's the scary part: Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt is a serious Republican candidate for House District 15, a north-east Colorado Springs district,created in 2011 redistricting, currently represented by Republican Mark Waller. Waller won with 73% of the vote in 2012,  but has set his sights (and his $63K fund)  on campaigning for Attorney General in 2014. Also running for House District 15: Allison Hunter (D), an independent candidate, "Bishop" and Republicans Michael Kuhn and David Williams.  It's remotely possible that Waller could win the Republican nomination for Attorney General, or, as Pols wrote, be a distraction and an embarrassment for Republican candidates.  So, yes, the "exorcise gay demons", persecute-little-kids-for-fun-and profit guy could be your representative, if you live in northeast-ish Colorado Springs.

Klingenschmitt has an extensive youtube account for his religious sermons and speeches. Apparently, though, Dr. Chaps believes in separation of church and state. He definitely doesn't want these religious video clips to interfere with his secular bid for political power. He especially doesn't want voters in House District 15 to know how bigoted, extreme, hateful and bizarre his views actually are.

All  links in this post are either widely available on public media, or used in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine, and links point to proper attributions to original authors.

ENDA, “Dr. Chaps” and the State House

As CNN reports, the Employee Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) passed a Senate vote yesterday with more Republicans continuing to join Democrats in support:

For the first time, the U.S. Senate approved legislation that would protect gay, lesbian and transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace.

The Employment Nondiscrimination Act, or ENDA, passed the Democratic-led chamber on Thursday, 64 to 32. Ten Republicans joined 52 Democrats and two Independents in supporting the bill. Four Senators did not vote.

Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake became the latest GOP members to support the measure. They joined Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Susan Collins of Maine, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and the bill's co-sponsor, Mark Kirk of Illinois.

"The workplace is simply no place for discrimination," Collins said before the vote.

Opposition in the Republican-controlled House is strong, minimizing any chance the measure will become law. House Speaker John Boehner also opposes it.

Klingenschmitt for HD-15

Do you have any idea how much all this bullshit weighs?

Senate passage of ENDA is certainly an important landmark for the long-overdue legislation, though as CNN notes, it probably won't become law anytime soon under the current makeup of the House of Representatives.

What Senate passage of ENDA will also do, however, is give more of a forum to the lunatic ravings of Colorado Springs' own Gordon Klingenschmitt, also known as "Dr. Chaps" (a handy nickname to have when your last name is almost too long for Twitter).

A former Navy chaplain, Dr. Chaps has gained a manner of infamy on the Internet for his aggressively bizarre anti-gay beliefs. Dr. Chaps has claimed to have performed more than 50 "exorcisms" of gay and lesbian individuals, and says he has a 50-percent success rate in curing "gayness." You can imagine how he feels about ENDA, but should your imagination fail you, here's Raw Story reporting on an email Dr. Chaps sent to his followers in late October:

Klingenschmitt warned in the email that under ENDA, the federal government will “jail the Christians who refuse to celebrate gay weddings” and “bankrupt Christian employers.”

Klingenschmitt went on to warn that the rights of homeowners will no longer count if ENDA is passed and that people will be forced to allow anyone of any orientation to barge into their homes and engage in any form of coitus they like. As evidence, he cited that case of a British bed and breakfast owner who refused to allow a same sex couple to stay in his home as guests.

The couple sued and won, alleging discrimination. According to “Dr. Chaps,” this means, “the militant gays essentially demand ‘let us have sex in your house, or we will kick you out of your house.’"

Ah, yes, beware the "militant gays."

So what does this have to do with Colorado Politics, you ask? Klingenschmitt announced in late October that he is running for HD-15, the Colorado Springs seat being vacated by Rep. Mark Waller (who is running for Attorney General). This is the same seat that was once held by Doug Bruce, who was so disliked even by his fellow Republicans that the GOP recruited Waller to take him out in a primary. As fate would have it, Klingenschmitt could be a bigger problem for the GOP than Bruce should he manage to get through a Republican primary (Dave Williams and Michael Kuhn have both filed to run on the GOP side as well).

Dr. Chaps' anti-gay rantings may play well in parts of Colorado Springs, but he would be a serious black eye for Republicans hoping to regain support from more moderate Colorado voters. Even if he doesn't make it out of a Republican primary, Klingenschmitt has access to enough of an audience (he is a frequent guest on right-wing and evangelical TV and radio programs) to become a serious distraction for the GOP — particularly as Republicans try to find their nominees for Governor and U.S. Senate, respectively.

Colorado lawmaker: Democrats using ‘mind control’ to make people accept ‘homosexual marriage’

Colorado lawmaker: Democrats using ‘mind control’ to make people accept ‘homosexual marriage’ (via Raw Story )

A Republican Colorado lawmaker on Tuesday asserted that the state’s law permitting civil unions between people of the same sex was a “mind-control experiment” by Democrats to force voters “to believe in homosexual marriage.” In an interview…

Once Again, These Were Two Different Recall Elections

Recalled Colorado Senators John Morse and Angela Giron.

Recalled Colorado Senators John Morse and Angela Giron.

As the post-mortem coverage of last week's historic recall elections in Colorado continues, we're seeing a trend toward an inaccurate hindsight narrative of what happened. It's important for both sides–Democrats seeking to prevent further recurrences, and Republicans hoping to adopt their success as a model to use elsewhere–to understand what actually happened, and how the results in the two separate recall elections held last week differ widely–just not in the biggest respect, the bottom line.

A story by the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels today typifies this problem:

Opponents of an effort to recall two Democratic state senators for supporting stricter gun laws borrowed a page from an earlier playbook, arguing reproductive rights were in peril if the lawmakers were kicked out of office.

But the message — so effective in keeping Republican Ken Buck from becoming a U.S. senator in 2010 — failed to protect Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron, who were recalled by their constituents Sept. 10…

Here's the hole in Bartels' seductively lazy analysis: The Senate District 11 recall was decided by a mere 343 votes in unofficial tallies, while the margin of defeat for Sen. Angela Giron was over ten times that in an election with only about twice the number of voters as SD-11. As we've noted repeatedly in this space, the loss of mail ballots in the SD-11 recall can fully account for the margin of defeat for Senate President John Morse. Fewer vote centers and shorter hours to vote in El Paso County also factored disproportionately in this very close election.

This means any attempt to ascribe some kind of "common meaning" to these two elections, as the above story seems determined to do, is off-base. But for the logistical voting problems in SD-11, it's very likely that Sen. Morse would have prevailed in his recall. If that had happened, obviously we wouldn't be reading about how this or that tactic "failed" to save Morse, we'd be talking about how those tactics had succeeded. The truth is, 343 votes is not enough of a margin, especially given those balloting problems, to make any such judgment either way. In 2010, Sen. Michael Bennet very narrowly defeated Ken Buck in a victory heavily influenced by a collapse of support from women. Without polling to know that had happened, which we haven't had in this recall, it's impossible to know how well the ads against Bernie Herpin on the issue of reproductive choice actually worked.

Impossible to know, and irresponsible to assume.

That said, Democrats do need to acknowledge that something bad, and very different from the close race in SD-11, happened in Senate District 3. They won't find the answer in this story, in which Bartels indolently lets GOP talking head Katy Atkinson dive into free-ranging speculation about why Pueblo Democrats turned out one of their own. We seriously doubt it was the civil unions legislation passed this year as Atkinson speculates. The story we've heard, and tend to believe, is that Sen. Giron was perceived by many rank-and-file Pueblo Democrats as having neglected constituent services in the district. There is some cross-partisan appeal to the gun issue that needs to be acknowledged too, but if those we've spoken with about this are to be believed, much of the heavy margin of defeat for Giron, in a far more Democratic district, can be attributed to factors unique to Giron personally.

The proof of our theory, which we're at least honest enough to represent as a theory, will come in 2014–when GOP Sen.-elect George Rivera is defeated by a wide margin of his own. In the meantime, if Republicans want to believe that they are no longer vulnerable on the issue of reproductive choice and health, we know plenty of Democrats who'd be happy to encourage them.

Always Count On Dave Schultheis To Keep It Real

Ex-Sen. Dave Schultheis (R).

Ex-Sen. Dave Schultheis (R).

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports on an awkward brush with the GOP's ugly past this week:

Former state Sen. Dave Schultheis is at it again, this time calling an adoption by gay House Speaker Mark Ferrandino “deliberate child abuse.”

The Colorado Springs Republican posted a comment about the adoption on the conservative blog, Colorado Peak Politics.

“To deprive this little girl of a loving mother for the sake of self-gratification is perverted,” Schultheis wrote. “I would place it in the category of deliberate child abuse.”

Bartels reports that Sen. Dave "I hope babies gets AIDS" Schultheis' comment was posted to an otherwise inoffensive blog post at Colorado Peak Politics, congratulating Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino and partner Greg Wertsch on finalizing the adoption of their daughter Lila. Bartels notes that former GOP House Speaker Frank McNulty was "one of the first guests to show up" to Ferrandino's adoption party on Wednesday. While that may not comport with McNulty's voting record as a legislator, as a gesture of respect it's certainly nice to see.

There are of course a growing number of Republicans who recognize that the "bad old days" of Sen. Schultheis were a major component of the party's loss of majority standing in Colorado, beginning almost a decade ago and continuing even during so-called "Republican wave" years. Some of these old-school hardliners are now out of office like Schultheis, but others like Sen. Vicki Marble are popping up to replace them. The problem for those who would like to modernize and soften the party's image is simple: the hard-right faction in GOP politics that produced Schultheis, Marble, and so many others, like Dudley Brown and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, still wields tremendous power. In Marble's case, enough power to defeat a much more qualified and moderate Republican in a contentious primary.

All of this was true before "Scary Schultheis" reared his ugly head in a blog comment, but Schultheis did manage to provide a useful lesson in how things have changed over time–and, unfortunately for those "fighting to improve the Republican image," how they haven't.

Much Ado About…Disenfranchising Voters (Recall Updates)


To no one's surprise, Richard N. Anglund did not gather sufficient signatures to make it onto the recall ballot in Pueblo.

In the Springs, Libertarian candidate Gordon Butt had already dropped out to pursue his business interests.

However, he had been replaced by Jan Brooks. The Libertarian party has announced  that they have turned in more than enough (more than 575) signatures to the Secretary of State's office, which will determine the validity of the signatures. If the signatures are deemed valid, then January Brooks will be on the recall ballot.

I, and others, think that the intent of the lawsuit was not about adhering to the Colorado Constitution, nor about enabling third party candidates. The court's decision on the lawsuit, in effect, has disenfranchised voters who needed mail-in ballots to vote. So in Pueblo, we'll waste $80,000, and 100,000 recall ballots, in order to disenfranchise and suppress the votes of poor and working people, seniors and disabled folks (likely Democrats). I still think that the recall will fail, but it will be all about turnout.

And, to make things even more bizarre, the Atlantic's Joshua Spivak, and those who predicted yet another legal challenge to the recall proceedings, were correct. Lawyers will be asking the Colorado Supreme Court for guidance about whether the Colorado Constitution may conflict with the First Amendment – because if one does not vote for or against the recall, one's vote for successor candidates will not count.

Stay tuned for further updates from Recall Bizarro World.



And here are those updates!

  • Richard Anglund still plans to run as a write-in candidate in Pueblo..
  • If her signatures pass inspection, Jan Brooks, the Libertarian candidate, would be an openly gay candidate on the recall ballot. Ms Brooks is married to her wife, Amanda, on "About Your Family" on the  "Q&A with Jan Brooks" section.
  • My take:  If Brooks' signatures pass muster, it could be interesting to see how this plays out with the Springs' large and politically diverse gay and lesbian community.  El Paso County liberals will still vote against the recall, as Bernie "Personhood" Herpin would likely be their Senator if the recall succeeds. Senator Morse has done an outstanding job,  and should not be recalled. However,  Brooks' candidacy is an evident attempt to cater to female and socially liberal voters.
  • Neither Brooks, nor the Libertarian party, seems to have any position on abortion, personhood, choice, or those other pesky issues. The Libertarian stand on "privacy" is a stand for online privacy. The stand on "healthcare" is (wait for it) a demand for an end to government intervention.  If Brooks' signatures pass the S o S inspection to allow her to get onto the ballot, it will definitely be time to try to draw out her positions on choice and access to abortion.

One Colorado Slams Recall/Prop 8 Spokesperson

Jennifer Kerns, Morse recall spokesperson.

Jennifer Kerns, Morse recall spokesperson.

We told you this was coming. An email from One Colorado, the state's leading LGBT advocacy organization:

Many of us remember the heartbreak our community felt last year when extreme, anti-equality forces killed civil unions legislation. But following that defeat, we fought back and prevailed. 

Now, they’re back. A small, radical group has launched a misguided effort to undo the progress we’ve made. They are attempting to recall two of our most steadfast allies in the Colorado Senate: Senators John Morse and Angela Giron.

And who have they sent to steal our fair-minded majority? None other than Jennifer Kerns, former spokesperson for the campaign to pass Prop 8 and limit the freedom to marry in California. Read more about Kerns here.

This is the same Jennifer Kerns, by the way, who just the other day said that these recalls are partly the result of this year’s “radical agenda” in the state legislature. Any guess as to which agenda items she’s talking about? Just ask one of the recall organizers – they’re specifically instructing their canvassers to attack our elected leaders for supporting civil unions.

These cynical scare tactics have got to stop – and it’s up to us to stop them…

We discussed the "professionalization" of the recall campaign against Sen. John Morse a few days ago, and Jennifer Kerns is probably the best example of this–with a long resume of Republican and right-leaning communications jobs. Unfortunately, that long resume risks dragging all of the baggage from those other issues into this recall, which may not help it succeed. Ms. Kerns tried to preempt criticism of her previous job as spokesperson for California's gay marriage ban campaign, as she told the Colorado Springs Independent:

"My work there had no influence on my work with the Recall campaigns," she states. "Not only do I NOT disapprove of his support of Civil unions, I have been on record for a long time supportive of Civil unions myself. Also, the Basic Freedom Defense Fund does not engage in social issues."

But that's not what Kerns told KUNC's Bente Birkeland:

Kerns says Democrats – who control both legislative chambers – had a radical agenda this year. The legislature passed several bills in addition to the gun measures, including civil unions, [Pols emphasis] in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants and new renewable energy standards.

Also, as One Colorado points out in their email, numerous sources have confirmed that civil unions legislation is a part of the canvassing script being used by recall organizers in Morse's district. Given the deceptions freely employed by recall petition gatherers, we suppose it's to be expected that their spokesperson will be two-faced about an issue that doesn't cleanly divide along partisan lines–or in the case of civil unions, enjoys very broad support among the public. But the more this recall becomes a broad ideological battle between left and right and less about the specific gun safety bills that originally provoked it, the weaker their case becomes.

Recall’s Hired Hands: It’s a Small World After All

Jennifer Kerns.

Jennifer Kerns.

The Colorado Springs Independent reports on the new spokesperson for the Basic Freedom Defense Foundation, Jennifer Kerns, who has a lengthy resume in GOP communications. For good for ill:

[Jennifer] Kerns is the spokesperson for the Basic Freedom Defense Fund, the group behind the recall of Colorado Senate President John Morse. But opponents of the recall, eager to paint the election as less "grassroots reaction" and more "calculated political move with national consequences," have pointed out the Kerns isn't a small fry in the political world.

In fact, Kerns' website reveals that she has long worked for the conservative cause, mostly in California. Kerns has worked for the California Republican Party and the Koch brothers. She's also directed "the two largest Tea Parties in the nation."

Perhaps most interesting in light of recent news, Kerns was the main spokesperson for California's Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriage before it was overturned in the courts. [Pols emphasis] But Kerns says via e-mail that her prior work did not influence her work against Morse, who was a major supporter of Colorado's civil unions law…

The recall election now proceeding against Colorado Senate President John Morse began as a loosely-organized volunteer operation, featuring such entertaining characters as former "spokesman" Nick Andrasik–whose embarrassing "proud gun nut" photos combined with highly inappropriate comments about certain female Democratic legislators during the debate over gun safety bills this year to get Morse's recall off to a shaky start.

But the story of the recall didn't end with Andrasik, of course, and this blog was first to report the arrival of professional petition gathering operatives back in April, funded by another organization overseen by Republican usual suspects Bob Beauprez and Mark Hillman. That paid signature drive was principally responsible for the overwhelming success of the petition effort to force a recall election against Morse. Since then a number of allegations have surfaced, ranging from highly misleading petition gatherers to an outright fraudulent "signature" from a woman dead two years–which passed the Secretary of State's validation process.

The "professionalization" of the recall campaign against Morse is evident from the paid petition drive, the growing role of well-funded national groups like Americans for Prosperity in the recall campaign, and in new spokesperson Jennifer Kerns of the BFDF. Kerns also lists on her resume "Founding Communications Director of Charles and David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity in California." Is that the way AFP likes to describe themselves?

Therein lies a potentially big problem: all of these people and organizations bring their own baggage to this "grassroots" recall campaign against a relatively obscure state senator. Kerns, the former spokesperson for California's invalidated Proposition 8 gay marriage ban can claim, as she does in this story, that Morse's work to pass civil unions legislation this year "had no influence" on her work to recall him. But thanks to her, that's part of the story now. Likewise the longstanding controversy over the Koch Brothers' machinations in American politics becomes a factor in this recall that's supposed to be about guns. The proxy war being waged becomes obvious.

And that may not help the recall of John Morse succeed.