Nobody Does Nothing Quite Like Senate Republicans

The Captain does not approve

Republicans hold a one-seat majority in the State Senate, and they are off to a fast start in promoting their policy agenda. We dare say: nobody does nothing quite like Senate Republicans.

While destroying limiting government is a pretty common refrain to hear from right-wing Republicans such as Senate President Bill Cadman, Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg, and Majority Caucus Chair/culinary expert Vicki Marble, we'd venture a guess that even they've been a little surprised at just how easy it can be to make government do nothing. Hell, they're making nothing happen without even doing anything!

Consider what Senate Republicans didn't accomplish today: they allowed two important bipartisan commissions to expire on their own by not voting to renew them. Republicans didn't have to create any new legislation or come up with any ideas of their own — all they had to do was not let the commissions expire.

Equal Pay for Equal Work: Senate Republicans ended the Pay Equity Commission by doing nothing to allow it to continue. The Commission was created to study the existing pay gap between men, women, and minorities, and to come up with solutions for closing the gap. According to information provided by Senate Democrats, "Colorado women are still only paid 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, and the gap is wider for women of color. African American women earn only 67.5 cents and Latinas just 52.5 cents for every dollar earned by the highest earners."

Promoting Fair and Modern Elections: Say goodbye to the Colorado Voter Access and Modernized Elections Commission (COVAME) , which will cease operations on July 1, 2015. Today Republicans on the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee allowed the clock to run out on re-authorization of the committee. Nevermind the constant refrain from Republicans about how concerned they are when it comes to voter fraud — the magical Private Industry Fairy will save them. A press release from the Senate Democrats explains more about COVAME:

The General Assembly established the COVAME in 2013, as part of the Colorado Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act (HB 13-1303).  This measure sought to make elections simpler and more accessible for all eligible voters, and some of its provisions called for changes in how elections are physically conducted.  Notably, it called for mail ballots to go out to all voters in general elections, Voter Service and Polling Centers to replace traditional precinct polling places, and for allowing voter registration up until Election Day.

The final COVAME report is not due until mid-February of 2015, and it will provide analysis from the 2014 election and offer recommendations for 2016. 

We've said before that Colorado Republicans appear to have misinterpreted a one-seat majority as giving them a mandate to do whatever they choose. This would appear to be yet another example of that fallacy; we're pretty confident that Colorado voters weren't looking for the GOP to sit on their hands once they took office.

Lawrence, Navarro-Ratzlaff Square Off For Szabo Leadership Post

Minority leadership selection.

Minority leadership selection.

As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

Reps. Clarice Navarro of Pueblo and Polly Lawrence of Douglas County are lobbying members of their Republican caucus to be the next assistant minority leader.

The office is now held by Rep. Libby Szabo of Arvada, who will be resigning as she was selected by a vacancy committee to serve on the Jefferson County board of commissioners. Her resignation date and the caucus election date are not known yet.

We could see this going either way, with Rep. Polly Lawrence having closer ties to House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso but Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff a favorite both of party activists and the Scott Gessler-allied GOP attorney class.

Sometimes these get publicly nasty, and sometimes they only get nasty behind closed doors. Sometimes there's no drama at all when leadership positions unexpectedly become available, but as bloggers we always hope for at least some token fireworks. We'll update should any occur.

Caption This Photo: Jared Polis, Meet “Rep. Chaps”

From the floor of the Colorado House yesterday:

jaredandchaps

Congressman Jared Polis with Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt. Klingenschmitt, as readers recall, said last summer that Polis wants to "join ISIS in beheading Christians." In a 9NEWS story on Klingenschmitt this week, Polis said he is praying for "Chaps" "to return to reality from his delusional state."

What do you suppose they chatted about yesterday? Theorize after the jump.

Calling For Rep. Chaps’ Resignation (After Helping Elect Him)

Former Rep. Mark Waller, Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Former Rep. Mark Waller, Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman finally gives freshman Colorado Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt the feature profile he deserves in the Denver media market–and it's pretty brutal stuff:

Klingenschmitt got blowback from both parties before he was ever elected after he compared US Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) to ISIS.

He later explained that this was supposed to be hyperbole to make a point.

Now that he's sworn in to office, Klingenschmitt is still making his satellite TV show and upsetting groups people with what he says…

"I know our state legislature is part time, but I didn't realize Dr. Chaps would continue his comedy career while in office," Polis told 9NEWS. "I will continue to pray for him to return to reality from his delusional state. I'm not offended so much as I am concerned for him."

Klingenschmitt has continued posting his Pray In Jesus' Name Youtube shows after his swearing in as a Colorado legislator. Last week, Rep. Klingenschmitt celebrated the repeal in December of an anti-discrimination ordinance in Fayetteville, Arkansas that he claimed was intended to "put Christians in jail." Klingenschmitt's latest show, picked up by Right Wing Watch, features an interview with anti-Muslim activist Bill Warner, who declares that President Barack Obama is "the face of Islam in America."

So, like we said, Rep. Chaps isn't toning down the crazy to serve. We never expected him to, of course, but it's no longer a hypothetical.

Perhaps most interesting about Klingenschmitt's 9NEWS profile are statements by his predecessor, former House Minority Leader Mark Waller. Waller is now more or less calling for Klingenschmitt to resign:

Waller agreed that at some point soon the freshman legislator is going to have to choose to be Dr. Chaps or be Rep. Klingenschmitt, but he can't be both.

"I just don't think he can do that and be successful," said Waller, adding that if Klingenschmitt is not willing to part ways with Dr. Chaps, "then, perhaps maybe the best thing for the people of the state of Colorado and for the constituents of house district 15 would be for him to step aside and let somebody else take on that challenge."

The contrast between what Waller says today and what he said before the 2014 elections is fairly important to understand:

"If you're not voting for him, you're voting for the Democrat and quite honestly legislative majorities matter," Waller said. [Pols emphasis]

That's what Waller said last August. At least then, which was well after "Dr. Chaps'" special brand of crazy was broadly understood, Waller was still more interested in securing a Republican majority in the Colorado House than protecting that institution–and Waller's own constituents–from the embarrassment Rep. Klingenschmitt is currently visiting upon them. Of course, now that Klingenschmitt has beaten his Democratic opponent, the GOP faithful of HD-15 could pick a replacement for him if they succeed in pushing him out. Failing that, Klingenschmitt might be targeted in a GOP primary next year, much like Waller himself did against infamous appointed Rep. Doug Bruce in 2008.

The biggest problem? Rep. Klingenschmitt won his seat by almost 70% of the vote. No matter how disastrous he may be for the Republican brand, the results of last year's elections are a pretty strong argument that "Dr. Chaps" doesn't need to listen to Waller or anyone else

Hickenlooper Hints at TABOR Reform in Inauguration Speech

As Charles Ashby reports for the Grand Junction Sentinel, the winds are a swirling around TABOR reform in Colorado after Gov. John Hickenlooper's inaugural speech on Tuesday:

The governor didn’t offer specifics on issues he intends to address in his second four-year term, possibly intending to save that for the State of the State speech he will give to a joint session of the Legislature on Thursday. Still, he hinted at a few, not the least of which are the revenue caps mandated under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

Under that constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1992, revenues that the state collects that exceed the current year’s budget, plus inflation and population growth, are required to be refunded to taxpayers.

But some state legislators are considering asking the voters if the state can retain some or all of those TABOR surpluses to put toward things such as K-12 education or transportation, saying both had dramatic cuts during the recession and aren’t yet fully restored.

Our state Constitution mandates that we increase our expenditures and simultaneously cut taxes,” Hickenlooper said. “If that does not sound like it makes much sense, that’s because it doesn’t. Nothing can grow and shrink at the same time. However, it is also true that careful pruning can allow for quicker, stronger and more effective growth.” [Pols emphasis]

Reporter John Frank of the Denver Post added some more TABOR-reform flavor from yesterday's festivities. Gov. Hickenlooper invited former Governors of Colorado to offer advice on his second term in office, and former Democratic Gov. Roy Romer got right to the point:

“My advice is, governor, lead a movement in this state to repeal the TABOR amendment,” he said to cheers from the crowd at the Fillmore Auditorium, where guests paid $100-a-plate to attend. “We need to invest in the future of our children’s education and the infrastructure of this state. We need to return that power, that authority, that decision, to the people’s representative, the legislature and the governor.”

Romer kept at it. “We need to revise this tax system and do what the conservatives do — invest in the future of this state,” he continued. “We need to revise the TABOR amendment and get a better tax system it needs not a political election, it needs a movement. Governor, lead that movement.”

As much as Republicans will be squawking about any suggested reform to TABOR, there's reason to suggest that this is more than just a talking point. Republican Senate President Bill Cadman's first piece of legislation this session deals with TABOR adjustments — though certainly not on the level that Colorado really needs. We couldn't sum up the problem any better than Hickenlooper did last night, when he said, "Nothing can grow and shrink at the same time." Will Republicans heed that reality?

State Republicans Introduce Discrimination Restoration Legislation

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

workplacedisc_590_438

Last year, conservative talk-radio hosts wrapped their loving arms around a baker for discriminating against a gay couple by refusing to bake them a wedding cake.

The baker said his cake-selling preferences flowed from his religious views, but, as a judge nicely articulated, it was actually factually illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Radio hosts did live broadcasts from the cake shop, hot bigotry was served to anyone listening, and the baker was fined by the great State of Colorado.

Now Colorado Republicans are proposing a law allowing student clubs to violate campus anti-discrimination policies and still receive university benefits (funds, facilities, etc.). Sponsors include Tim Neville and Laura Woods on the State Senate side, and brother Patrick Neville and Stephen Humphrey on the House side.

Similar legislation, allowing raw discrimination against women, gays, or potentially any of us, is under consideration across the country. One, for example, could allow restaurants to refuse service to LGBT people. Or pharmacists to stop filling prescriptions for birth-control pills. Another would permit adoption agencies to reject potential same-sex parents.

Collectively, these bills are referred to as religious-freedom-restoration bills, but a more accurate name is discrimination-restoration legislation. Political observers expect CO Republicans to introduce broader discrimination restoration bills this session, beyond the narrow university-focused proposal currently on the table.

(more…)

Rep. Chaps Ain’t “Moderating” One Bit

chaps119

Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt was sworn in as a Colorado state legislator last Wednesday, an event he celebrated with his Facebook followers at the Pray in Jesus' Name Project. Rep. Klingesnschmitt didn't waste time getting the next couple editions of his Youtube video call-in show posted despite his swearing in last week, and this week's show is already online. For those just joining us, Colorado Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt is a disgraced former Navy chaplain who regularly accuses President Barack Obama and a long cast of players in American politics of being "possessed" with "demonic spirits." On his weekly video program, "Chaps" warns that Obamacare causes cancer, and says only people who are "going to heaven" deserve equal rights from government. Last year, Chaps was finally persuaded to apologize, an apparently very rare occurrence, after suggesting that Rep. Jared Polis wanted to "join ISIS in beheading Christians."

In the latest episode of Pray in Jesus' Name, Klingenschmitt discusses the repeal of a city ordinance in Fayetteville, Arkansas that extended discrimination protections to LGBT residents. The narrow vote to repeal of Ordinance 119 after it was passed by the Fayetteville City Council last August was a pretty big story in mid-December. But the law "Chaps" talks about on his show bears little resemblance to what was actually passed–he describes Ordinance 119 as a law to "put Christians in jail, or at least bankrupt their businesses." On a one-to-ten scale of "Chaps" crazy, we'd rate this a solid 7+.

Despite his nationally infamous work product, which was notorious long before he ran for the Colorado legislature, "Chaps" was elected to represent the citizens of El Paso County's House District 15 by nearly 70% of the vote. Here's a sidenote of trivia: HD-15 is the same ultra-safe Republican House seat briefly occupied by anti-tax crusader (and now convicted tax cheat) Douglas Bruce, who was appointed to HD-15 after it was vacated by now-Senate President Bill Cadman. Bruce's abrasive personality wasn't compatible with service as a lawmaker (to put it mildly), and he was swiftly ousted in a primary by Mark Waller in 2008. Waller left the seat one term early to unsuccessfully run for Attorney General, opening the way for Klingenschmitt.

Rep. Klingenschmitt has yet to reveal himself in committee hearings and floor speeches as the same guy who makes–no small feat–some of looniest statements available on Youtube, but that's only because he hasn't had the chance yet. At every such opportunity as the legislative session gets going, we expect Democrats to be on hand with recording devices. Our personal prediction is that this is a man pathologically unable to contain himself, and he is going to take the offensive lunacy within the Republican caucus to embarrassing new lows.

The next report will be from the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee. Stay tuned!

Sorry, Colorado GOP, But You Do Not Have a Mandate

The Neville Nutters: Sen. Tim Neville (left) and his son, Rep. Pat Neville

The Neville Nutters: Sen. Tim Neville (left) and his son, Rep. Pat Neville, just like to say no to stuff.

Colorado Republicans hold a one-vote majority in the State Senate. Democrats maintain a majority in the State House, as well as the Governor's office.

Readers of Colorado Pols probably know this already, but it's worth repeating because Republican legislators seem to think that voters gave them a mandate to go full-on crazy pants this year (relax, Dr. Chaps, we're not talking about that kind of "man date"). It's not just the anti-abortion "Personhood-ish" bills that might have you scratching your head; take a look at some of the other pieces of legislation that Republicans are introducing in Colorado. We'll forgive you for thinking this was 2001 — when Republicans basically owned the State Capitol — instead of 2015:

- SB15-045: Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg rolls out with a school vouchers bill (er, "Tax Credits for Private Schools").

- SB15-032: Majority Caucus Chair Vicki Marble does the bidding the of the RMGO with legislation that would allow Coloradans to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

- SB15-044: Lundberg and Senate President Bill Cadman are among the Republicans sponsors of a bill to cut back renewable energy mandates in Colorado.

- SB15-018: The Neville Nutters (Sen. Tim Neville and his son, Rep. Pat Neville) want to repeal the Late Vehicle Registration Fee. There's no actual plan here for how to pay for road and bridge construction and maintenance. This is a very simple "No" bill that seeks only to repeal something.

- HB15-1009: Remember that restriction on high-capacity ammunition? Yeah, let's repeal that!

- HB15-1037: Rep. Kevin Priola and The Neville Nutters sponsor what we'll call "The RIght to Discriminate Act", which allows you to freely exclude people so long as you claim that it is based on your religious beliefs.

All of this is just the beginning — the tip of the ever-melting iceberg — from Republican legislators who apparently believe that Colorado voters told them in 2014 that they had a mandate to "Just Say No" to pretty much everything. We haven't seen a collection of legislation that is this far-right since…well, we can't even remember the last time (and Colorado Pols has been around for 10 years).

Look, we get that we are living in a time in America where partisanship has never been more, uh, partisan, but this is pretty freakin' far from anything even resembling the general interests of Colorado voters. You could argue that Republicans are just "being Republicans" and trying to stick to some sort of manufactured set of ideals that they think got them elected, but this is the kind of thing that you usually see only when one side either has a clear majority or is so far in the minority that it doesn't matter if they draw up their legislation with crayons. This is a very risky strategy when you only control one chamber of the legislature — and even then by only one seat.

Perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise, however. This is on the front page of Rep. Pat Neville's campaign website, where he declares that the HD-45 Representative should be a "CONSERVATIVE STALWART" (he put it in all caps, too):

PatNeville-Website

From PatrickForColorado.com, the campaign site of Rep. Pat Neville.

Abortion Ban Bill Introduced In Colorado Legislature (Again)

For God and country.

For God and country.

The Colorado Springs Gazette's Ryan Maye Handy:

A slew of proposed bills from both the House and Senate target some of Colorado's hot-button issues, including one House bill that seeks to make performing abortions a felony…

Longtime Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, along with Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, and newly elected Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, put their names on House Bill 1041, the anti-abortion bill.

…The abortion bill is an echo of past attempts to get personhood laws on the books in Colorado. The most recent attempt, a law that would have classified killing unborn child[ren] as murder, was rejected by voters in the November 2014 election.

A total of ten Colorado Republican legislators in the House and Senate have signed on as cosponsors of House Bill 14-1041. Democrats have assigned the bill to the House Judiciary Committee to die, avoiding the negative optics that sometimes come with sending a bill to the usual "kill committee" of State Affairs. It's not like the bill's fate is any less certain.

What this lost-cause piece of legislation will do, of course, is provide Democrats with exactly what they need to validate their contention that Republicans are the true "social issue warriors"–the label Republican Cory Gardner pinned successfully on Mark Udall as a foil to Udall's nonstop attacks on Gardner over abortion. The media and chattering class turned against "Mark Uterus," but when Gardner votes for a 20-week abortion ban in the Republican controlled U.S. Senate this year, what will they say then?

Because when local Republicans told voters last year that Colorado womens' "right to an abortion is not in jeopardy," they were flat-out lying. This latest abortion ban bill just continues a trend:

During the 2014 state legislative session, lawmakers introduced 335 provisions aimed at restricting access to abortion. By the end of the year, 15 states had enacted 26 new abortion restrictions. Including these new provisions, states have adopted 231 new abortion restrictions since the 2010 midterm elections swept abortion opponents into power in state capitals across the country.

The risk inherent here is that voters, honest reporters, etc. will begin to understand that the "war on women" simply goes on hiatus at election time. This bizarre cycle of abortion being written off by the pundits as a nonissue in October, only to roar back to life the following January, can't go on forever.

Can it?

Stapleton Open to NOT Returning TABOR Refunds

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a piece yesterday outlining the partisan agendas at the state legislature, Denver Post reporter John Frank reported that state Senate and House Republicans are unified in wanting to return tax-surplus funds to taxpayers, as stipulated by TABOR.

Frank wrote Democrats are split on the issue, noting that Senate Democrat Morgan Carroll "supports a move to seek voter approval to spend the money if it comes from an outside ballot initiative effort."

For perspective, reporters covering this apparent impasse should seek opinions of partisan leaders away from the Capitol, including the bipartisan leaders of Referendum C, which was approved by voters in 2005 and allowed Colorado to hold on to funds that would otherwise have been returned to taxpayers under TABOR.

Opinions from outside-the-dome could be surprising. In an interview with Colorado Public Radio's Ryan Warner, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton said he was open to not returning TABOR refunds:

Warner: "You were a vocal critic of Amendment 66, which would have raised taxes to pay for education. In the way that you got involved with that, would you throw your support behind something that you felt was responsible and meant the state held on to the TABOR refunds?"

Stapleton: "Absolutely. TABOR is the popular whipping post, but Gallagher and Amendment 23 have also created a Gordian Knot of automatic ratchets in the budget and we need to free ourselves of automatic ratchets and get more control over where we spend dollars and more results-oriented spending for our budget going forward in the future. But I'm not opposed reflexively to anything, other than I'm opposed to anything that doesn't give taxpayers a voice in where their money is being spent."

Stapleton also said: "The more hopeful way to look at it is, if we in government do a good job and do our jobs in hopefully explaining to people where money is going to go and why resources are needed, that people will be reasonable enough to support fixes to our budget problems in Colorado."

Dr. Chaps’ Fire Hose May Not Be Your Fire Hose

(No jokes please - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

In what appears to be his first comment on his legislative activities, State Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt told Rocky Mountain Community Radio's Bente Birkland last month:

Dr. Chaps: I feel like I'm drinking from a fire hose. There has been so much information thrown at us, and the budget process is very complicated. You have the Joint Budget Committee. You have the Appropriations Committee. You have the Finance Committee. And then you have the fiscal-note staff.

I'm just honored to be here, following the footsteps of all the people who've gone before us for 150 years.

The Colorado General Assembly convenes this week, and reporters from across the country will naturally be drawn to Klingenschmitt, as they should be. But does he deserve to be quoted even for the "drinking-from-the-fire-hose" cliche?

I say yes. He's a star, having most recently been named one of "America's 20 Craziest Politicians" by GQ magazine. (The men's magazine zeroed in on his battles against lesbians.) People are legitimately curious about him.

But the key in covering Klingenschmitt will be to find out if what you think he's saying comports to what he's really thinking. Like the fire hose comment. Seems innocuous enough to a normal person. But with Klingenschmitt, you never know until you ask him about it. When else, for example, did Dr. Chaps feel like he was drinking from a fire hose? And what does it mean to him?

“Dr. Chaps” Says The Lord Will Heal You, So Quit Worrying

Raw Story's Eric Dolan with another preview of what awaits us on next year's Colorado House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee–Rep.-elect Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, just weeks from taking office, gives us his prescription for health care reform:

“We ought to look to the Lord for our health care,” Klingenschmitt said during his PIJN News program [Thursday].

“He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you,’” he continued, quoting Exodus 15.

“Isn’t that inspiring? I personally prefer to look to almighty God as my healer and not to the government as a substitute god or substitute healer,” Klingenschmitt added, before praying. “Father in Heaven, we turn away from the idolatry that so many have in their hearts, that they think government is a better healer than Jesus. But, Jesus, we know you are the healer.”

Also, "Dr. Chaps" says it's time to repent for worshipping President Obama "as a god." But that's just a sidenote–think of how much money the state of Colorado is going to save by shutting down Medicaid and letting The Lord take care of people's health care! That's a health reform plan which, if you think about it, has worked very well throughout history–including the entire period of history before we had health care.

Once again: Chaps should be a joke. In any other context, he would be a joke. But he's not. He's actually been appointed to the Colorado House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee. Which means that before you laugh at Rep.-elect Chaps again, there will a be a period of time in which he will be no laughing matter.

Okay, you can still laugh a little.

Associated Press Expands State Government Reporting

Good news here in Colorado and around the country: The Associated Press is beefing up its state government reporting. From "The Definitive Source," the AP news blog:

Building on The Associated Press’ unmatched presence in all 50 U.S. statehouses, we are adding to our competitive advantage by creating a team of state government specialists.

As announced today to the AP staff, the specialists will collaborate with statehouse reporters, as well as on their own projects and stories focused on government accountability and strong explanatory reporting. Their over-arching goal will be “to show how state government is impacting the lives of people across the country,” said Brian Carovillano, managing editor for U.S. news.

Here's how Carovillano explains what this means in terms of how state government is covered by the AP:

Let’s say there’s a trend emerging from several statehouses that our folks on the ground identify. The state government team will work with reporters in those states — and with the data team, if necessary — to bring depth and a national perspective to that issue and show how it’s playing out across the country.

They’ll be a resource to our statehouse reporters looking for help broadening the scope of their reporting, and a projects team that will partner with folks in the states to pursue bigger and more ambitious enterprise on the business of state government. And the focus really needs to be on how that impacts peoples’ lives. We don’t cover state government for the state government; we cover it for all the people of the state. The message here is that state government coverage is essential to AP and its members, and we are doubling down on that commitment, which should benefit the entire cooperative. [Pols emphasis]

This is good news all around, but particularly in states such as Colorado where the number of reporters covering the state legislature alone has dwindled to just a handful of people in the last 5 years. As we've seen in the aftermath of the demise of the Rocky Mountain News, there are fewer and fewer reporters able to focus on state government stories that really do affect a majority of Coloradans — whether they realize it or not. Robust reporting is crucial to maintaining good government and keeping a watchful eye on our elected and appointed officials.

Auctioning Access: You Think This Was a Bad Idea? Maybe?

AG-elect Cynthia Coffman.

AG-elect Cynthia Coffman.

Associated Press reports–oops!

A Colorado business group on Tuesday said it would back out of a lunch with the state's new attorney general after questions were raised about it winning the meal at an auction.

The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association won the lunch with Cynthia Coffman after bidding $500 at an auction at the Colorado Lincoln Club's holiday gathering, which it hosted at its Denver offices last week. On Tuesday, however, association president Tim Jackson said he would give the lunch away to another organization or person. He said the group bid on the meal solely to help out the Lincoln Club and did not need special access to Coffman, a Republican…

The auctioning of access to Attorney General-elect Cynthia Coffman by the GOP-aligned Lincoln Club of Colorado's annual holiday party was originally reported last week by the Colorado Statesman's Ernest Luning. And Luning reports that Cynthia Coffman was not the only Republican politician selling off personal access at this party:

The top bids went for lunch with State Treasurer Walker Stapleton after two competing consortiums, led by former Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan and Lincoln Club board member Barb Piper ramped bidding up to $725 for the honor, at which point Wiens and Stapleton decided he’d have lunch with each group for that sum…

The club also auctioned off lunches with state Sen.-elect Tim Neville, R-Littleton, and state Rep.-elect Kit Roupe, R-Colorado Springs, who was joined by neighboring state Rep.-elect Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, to sweeten the deal. State Rep.-elect Jon Keyser, R-Evergreen, was called away on duty with the Air Force Reserves so was unable to take part in a planned live auction, though lunch with the new lawmaker was sold in the silent auction.

As for Tim Jackson and the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, according to Luning he did have an agenda for his lunch with AG-elect Coffman, before the whole idea of it became…well, you know, scandalous:

Jackson told The Colorado Statesman that he plans to take the opportunity to discuss the importance of automobile dealerships with Coffman, part of a continuous outreach effort with policy-makers and elected leaders. A full 20 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue is generated from the sale of new and used cars, Jackson noted…

Well now! That would have been rather productive lunch after all. Of course, no one is alleging that the Republicans who auctioned access to themselves to the highest bidder did so for personal financial gain. But just so everybody's clear about what the Lincoln Club is, from their own "About Us" page:

The Lincoln Club of Colorado is Colorado's oldest Republican Organization.  Based on the humanitarian principles of President Abraham Lincoln and founded in 1918, the club's mission has always been to promote the educational and social programs of the Republican party and to support the election of Republican candidates.

Bottom line: it may not be illegal, or even unprecedented, but the optics of lobbyists bidding for access to GOP politicians to fund a GOP campaign organization are about as bad as it gets–and CADA was wise to immediately cancel once word got out about it. If the other GOP politicians named in this story have any sense, they'll follow suit quickly.

Luis Toro, executive director of Colorado Ethics Watch, said he did not know if the meals were legal, but he said it was inherently questionable. "It is literally paying for access," he said. [Pols emphasis]

Next time, just hold an old-fashioned fundraiser.

“Dr. Chaps” Makes GQ’s “20 Craziest Politicians”

UPDATE: Rep.-elect Klingenschmitt keeps the hits coming post-election, Right Wing Watch:

On Friday's "Pray In Jesus Name" program, Gordon Klingenschmitt was trying to make the case that male-on-male sexual assault in the military has increased as a result of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and, in doing so, pointed to former Petty Officer Third Class Brian Lewis, who testified last year about having been assaulted when he served in the Navy.

Of course, the assault against Lewis took place back in 2000, more than a decade before DADT was repealed, so we are not sure how that helps to prove Klingenschmitt's point. Nonetheless, he demanded that the military reinstate DADT in order to push gay people "back in the closet, [Pols emphasis] especially if they're so flagrant that they want to violate one another when they're openly serving."

—–

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

In the just-released January 2015 issue of GQ magazine, there's a freshly updated list of "America's 20 Craziest Politicians"–updated, we assume at least in part, because Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt has won his election to represent Colorado Springs in the Colorado General Assembly. Coming in at #8 in this national list of political freaks and ghouls, here's what GQ has to say about the Colorado GOP's new unwanted poster child:

JUST HOW CRAZY?

Has repeatedly bragged about performing a gay exorcism (he's a former Navy chaplain) to rid a woman of "the foul spirit of lesbianism," and also tried to perform a long-distance exorcism on President Obama because of something about the NSA. Believes that Obamacare "causes cancer" and that Obama's former FCC chairman was driven by the Devil to "molest and visually rape your children."

ACTUAL THING HE SAID:

"Father in Heaven, we pray against the domestic enemies of the Constitution, against this demon of tyranny who is using the White House occupant, and that demonic spirit is oppressing us."

FUN FACT:

Calls himself Dr. Chaps, which is not the least bit creepy.

How crazy? That crazy, America! Our readers know all about "Dr. Chaps," but each new segment of the American public introduced to him gets to experience the rude shock all over again. It remains bewildering to us how much national coverage "Dr. Chaps" is getting–while the local media basically ignores Klingenschmitt, and the fact that he won his election by almost 70% of the HD-15 vote.

But in January, Honorable Representative Klingenschmitt will be harder to ignore.