Yes, That DOA “Religious Freedom” Bill Mattered

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

A press release from Coloradans for Freedom yesterday celebrates the death of House Bill 16-1180, a bill to allow individuals to claim an exemption from nondiscrimination and other laws due to “religious convictions.”

During the committee hearing, opponents of the bill testified that religious freedom is already protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution and that the proposed bill would open up a can of worms that could have unintended consequences–effectively sending a message that Colorado is not open for business to everyone.

Due to the sweeping nature of bills like HB-1180, which are ripe for abuse and have already led to lawsuits across the country at taxpayers’ expense, a number of community groups and individuals have spoken out against HB 1180.

Before the hearing, a coalition of Colorado business owners, faith leaders, and community groups held a press conference opposing HB 1180 at the Colorado State Capitol. Speakers included: Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kelly Brough, local faith leader Reverend Doctor Louise Westfall, Executive Director of Voices for Children CASA Nia Wassink, former Republican Arapahoe County Commissioner and CEO of the South Metro Chamber of Commerce John Brackney, former Republican State legislators Al and Jean White, and Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett.

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett.

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett.

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett wrote an op-ed about the bill for the Boulder Daily Camera:

[T]here is a proposal making its way through the Colorado Legislature that would undermine our laws and allow people to claim their religion gives them permission to ignore laws they don’t like. If House Bill 1180 passes, it will create great uncertainty for law enforcement and prosecutors across the state. The way in which these proposed exemptions could undermine the rule of law are vast and unpredictable…

With such a statute in place, a man could obstruct law enforcement by claiming that certain domestic violence laws don’t apply to him because of his belief that a husband has the right to discipline his wife and children as he sees fit, a landlord who believes a man should be the head of household could refuse to rent an apartment to a single mother, and a police officer could refuse to defend a mosque or synagogue by saying it goes against her religious beliefs.

The debate over so-called “religious freedom restoration” laws has been a major flashpoint since well before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriage equality in a landmark decision last year, but that decision has pushed the religious right to introduce these bills with greater urgency. The ability to claim a religious exemption from discrimination law where it concerns LGBT citizens is tough to defend constitutionally all by itself, but the implications of the bill don’t stop there. This kind of legislation could subvert all kinds of other laws which are much less controversial, like child and spousal abuse.

Nia Wassink: In Alabama, which has broad religious exemption laws, child care centers who claim they are “religiously-based” are allowed to operate without licensure. One such facility was able to operate even after repeated claims and reports from parents about children being taped to chairs, locked in rooms for hours on end, and left in soiled diapers all day. Even though reports were made to child protective services and local law enforcement, these agencies were unable to intervene because of this law. A sergeant with the local police department who received these claims said, “the law is unfortunate. It does not protect the kids.”

These types of laws hamper the efforts of those trying to ensure that kids are safe.

Although HB-1180 was always going to die in the Democratic-controlled House, the large number of sponsors of the bill are a reminder that a broad range of really scary legislation is never more than one election away from passage right here in Colorado–as 2014 Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez reminded voters that year when he proudly announced he believes IUDs are an “abortifacient.” The kind of legislation that apologist pundits and editorial boards tell voters is nothing to fear after Labor Day.

But these aren’t “zombie bills” to be ignored. They are a warning to be heeded.

Get More Smarter on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17)

GMS-GreenGreen beer is okay, but we’d stay away from any green foods that aren’t vegetables. 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…

► Senate Republicans continue to insist that they will refuse to discuss any potential Supreme Court nominee, and yesterday President Obama called their bluff by nominating Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy created by the death of Judge Antonin Scalia. The White House is keeping the GOP backed firmly into its corner by pushing a nominee whose qualifications are difficult to ignore.

Elsewhere, the Washington Post takes a deeper dive into Garland’s background, and Colorado’s Congressional delegation appears to be solidly divided on partisan lines.

 

Republicans are still in full panic mode over the likelihood that Donald Trump will capture the GOP Presidential nomination, but will the Republican Party really reject its own voters by trying to force a “brokered convention” in Cleveland?

The Aurora Sentinel picks up on the re-election concerns of Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora):

…The GOP party faithful here are worried whether Donald Trump as their party’s presidential nominee will dump a bucket of Goldwater on Republican candidates down the ticket. They’re hoping the country isn’t going to party like it’s 1964, when the famous Arizona senator practically single-handedly handed complete control of the government over to the Democrats. For those of us who remember the “Daisy” ad what seemed like crazy talk back then, Quid speaks for most of those saying to the Trump, “Donald, you’re no Barry Goldwater.”

But Republican electeds all over the state, once whimsical about Making America something something something are now worried that if Trump snags the nomination, an anti-Trump electorate could trample anything that ends in -R, including a Colorado Senator, Congressman Mike Coffman and possibly Congressman Ken Buck.

 

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Just How Bad Did The “Pray The Gay Away” Debate Get?


One Colorado, the state’s leading LGBT advocacy group, is circulating the video you can see above highlighting the, um, the lowlights from the recent debate in the Colorado House over House Bill 16-1210–legislation that would ban the widely-discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy” by licensed mental health professionals seeking to “cure” LGBT Coloradans of, you know, their gayness.

News reporting on the passage of this bill in the Democratic-controlled House did take note of the comments from some Republican lawmakers during this debate, in particular Reps. Kathleen Conti and Tim Leonard–comments that appeared to directly compare “curing” LGBT Coloradans to seeking treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction. Those reports frankly don’t do the comments you can hear in the video above justice. These comments and questions betray a fundamental prejudice against LGBT people held by at least some Colorado Republican lawmakers.

We’ll note just a small portion of Rep. Leonard’s remarks in particular from 1:30 into the video:

LEONARD: Representative Conti um, had a question that was similar, which was if someone came to you saying you know, I have a, all my friends are involved in drugs and alcohol, and you know, I think I’ve got to get out of this, I don’t think it’s going anywhere, would you ever be prevented to, saying, I can’t counsel you out of that lifestyle, but I can tell you you’re not fat or you’re not this or that’s now your value versus theirs…

Obviously, the comparison Rep. Leonard is making here is unambiguous. But we were forwarded the response Leonard sent to one of the witnesses in committee testimony on the bill when challenged about these remarks:

Your’s, and other’s, claims that there was a comparison made between homosexual attraction and drug/alcohol addiction were mistaken. None were made. Any questions directed at the child psychologists testifying were directed at other reasons that a child might be seeking therapy from that counselor. No connection was made between the two issues — it was for questions seeking answers for other issues the therapist might counsel children.

This is no different than asking an auto mechanic testifying on his changing oil with other services he might see other customers, like changing tires or replacing anti-freeze. It would be inaccurate to state that the questions were comparing oil to anti-freeze…I cannot speak for Rep. Conti, but my questions were directed into gathering information on how the psychologist would counsel children on other issues.

Rep. Leonard doesn’t like being called out for this highly offensive comparison, but it is what it is…and it is nothing like replacing anti-freeze.

As the nation has rapidly shifted from institutional discrimination against LGBT Americans to acknowledgement of their rights to live in peace and function in society, there is a segment of our political culture that has been left behind. We would be remiss not to remind you that forward-thinking Republicans here in Colorado and elsewhere have tried to put daylight between themselves and the bigoted holdouts–who crush Republican dreams of reaching out to the next generation of voters.

Which, at least here in Colorado, they just did again.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 16)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Don’t forget to finish up those NCAA Tournament Brackets before Thursday morning. 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…

► President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Garland is currently Chief Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals (Washington D.C. district) and has received praise in the past from Republican Senators such as Utah’s Orrin Hatch. One of the longest-serving members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hatch once said that there was “no question” Merrick Garland could be confirmed by the Senate…but that was before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and friends promised not to do their jobs no matter who President Obama nominated.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is going “full obstruction” on any Supreme Court nominee, and he continues to use rhetoric that Politifact has already revealed to be nonsense.

 

► Raise your hand if you correctly predicted the final three Republican Presidential candidates. Okay, put your hand down — you did not project a field of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. On Tuesday, Trump won big in Florida, North Carolina, and Illinois, and appears to be the likely winner in Missouri. Only Kasich could put a cramp in Trump’s night, which he did by winning his home state of Ohio.

Meanwhile, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio dropped out of the GOP Presidential race last night after getting drubbed in his home state by Trump. All in all, writes Chris Cillizza for “The Fix,” Tuesday was a bad day to be a “Trump Denialist”:

According to NBC’s delegate calculations, Trump needed to win 52 percent of the remaining delegates if he had carried Ohio in addition to his Florida and other wins last night.  Now?  He needs 55 percent of the remaining delegates. Yes, 55 percent is more than 52 percent. (Good math!) But, it is far from insurmountable — particularly when you consider that the bulk of states still to vote are clumped in the West and the Northeast/Midatlantic, places that should be more friendly to Trump than the South and Plains-centric calendar to date…

…So much of the anti-Trump coverage that is pushed on these primary nights simply misses the boat. It is driven by wishful thinking on the part of the “not Trump” crowd who is desperately seeking a glimmer of hope that their long nightmare is coming to an end.

There was very little actually evidence last night to justify the amount of celebrating within the party establishment about Trump’s “demise”. That doesn’t mean that Trump will get the 1,237 delegates he needs — either before the Cleveland convention or during it. But, what it does mean is that he remains in the pole position in this race as the only candidate with a real case to win the nomination outright between now and June 7 when the primary process comes to an end. [Pols emphasis]

Trump: It’s what’s for President (for Republicans).

 

► Almost lost in the Trump madness and this morning’s Supreme Court announcement was the news that Hillary Clinton may have created an insurmountable lead over Bernie Sanders with big Tuesday victories:

The Ohio results represented a back-breaking blow to Sanders. His populist, anti-establishment insurgency has fired the energies of the party’s grass-roots progressives, and there is little doubt that he has both the determination and the resources to keep fighting…

…For all those assets, Sanders has fallen behind in the unforgiving arithmetic of the way Democrats choose their nominees. Clinton’s lead has been built by taking advantage of states where the demographics tilt heavily in her favor, particularly those with substantial populations of African Americans, while holding Sanders close in the states he has won.

 

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GOP Cheers Huge Capitol Rally For Rev. Franklin Graham, Hater

UPDATE: A slew of Colorado GOP legislators join hands at Franklin Graham’s rally today:

legislatorsgraham

From left: Sen. Kevin Lundberg, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, Rep. Patrick Neville, Rep. Dan Nordberg, Rep. Clarice Navarro, Sen. Larry Crowder, (we think) Rep. Kim Ransom, Sen. Laura Waters Woods, a dude in sunglasses, Rep. Justin Everett, and Sen. Vicki Marble. We’re pretty sure Sen. Tim Neville and Rep. Jim Wilson are tucked in behind there too.

Standing proud for America–just not gay America, Muslim America, or grazing fee-paying America.

—–

grahamrally
Photo by Sen. Laura Waters Woods

Many thousands of religious conservatives turned out today at the Colorado Capitol for a rally featuring Rev. Franklin Graham, son of legendary Christian evangelist Billy Graham, who is touring across the nation as part of his “Decision America Tour 2016.”

Franklin Graham is traveling to all 50 states in 2016 to hold prayer rallies, to preach the Gospel, and to challenge believers to take a stand and take action. He’ll be urging Christians to vote, to live out their faith in every part of their lives, and to pray for our nation just as Nehemiah cried out to God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and restore hope to His people.

Franklin Graham has emerged in recent years as one of the most powerful figures on the religious right wing of American politics–much more so than his father, who was more concerned with winning souls than votes. Not so with Franklin Graham, who has eagerly joined in the contemporary “culture wars,” bitterly denouncing the movement for LGBT rights as the direct product of Satan:

This is a full-scale assault against Christianity and the followers of Christ. When prayer is banned from the public square, when our President fails to defend biblically defined marriage, and he openly and zealously advocates for gay rights; when legislators rush to overrule existing laws to promote gay marriage; when schools and courts consistently suppress religious freedoms; we know we are locked in a war against the Christian faith, not culture. The architect behind this offensive is none other than Satan himself.

Graham also seconds Donald Trump’s call to halt all immigration into the United States by adherents of the Muslim faith:

For some time I have been saying that Muslim immigration into the United States should be stopped until we can properly vet them or until the war with Islam is over. Donald J. Trump has been criticized by some for saying something similar. The new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said yesterday that he disagrees—saying that “such views are not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for.” Politicians in Washington seem to be totally disconnected with reality.

Most recently, Franklin Graham made headlines as one of the principal intercessors on behalf of the militia members who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Militia members sought out Graham to negotiate on their behalf. All told, Franklin Graham has staked out his ground about as far right as 2016’s politics will allow–and as you know from the headlines today, that’s pretty damn far to the right.

With all of this in mind, you might think that Colorado Republicans, especially vulnerable legislators like Sen. Laura Woods (photo above), Rep. Clarice Navarro, and Rep. Kit Roupe would steer clear?

All we can say is, don’t check their Facebook pages.

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Colorado Republicans Get Icky Over LGBT “Conversion Therapy”

Rep. Kathleen Conti (R).

Rep. Kathleen Conti (R).

A debate here in Colorado over legislation that would ban the practice of so-called “conversion therapy” to “cure” individuals of their homosexuality made international news yesterday, as the UK Guardian’s Sam Levin reports:

Colorado Republicans and conservative religious groups have mobilized against the proposed ban, even though the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation has been widely discredited as harmful and dangerous, and are expected to defeat it.

Repeating homophobic and scientifically disproven claims about sexual orientation, [Pols emphasis] Republican legislators and backers of “reparative therapy” have argued that this kind of counseling can be effective at enabling LGBT people to live heterosexual lives. And if their efforts to defeat the bill are successful, the state’s licensed professionals will continue to expose queer youth to a methodology that advocates and psychologists say can lead to depression and suicide.

The legislative battle could have national implications as other states explore similar efforts. Some supporters of the ban who have experienced conversion therapy will testify that their parents sent them from across the country to Colorado for the controversial services, which can have long-term negative impacts on mental health.

During the debate on the House floor on House Bill 16-1210, House Republicans led by Reps. Tim Leonard and Kathleen Conti pulled out every discredited chestnut in the homophobe’s arsenal of talking points–not just to defend “conversion therapy,” but to very openly disparage LGBT citizens in blunt terms:

Representative Kathleen Conti, a Republican, compared being gay to alcoholism, [Pols emphasis] asking psychologists who testified against reparative therapy whether they would help a minor who came to them wanting to overcome the addiction.

Conti further expressed concerns that the bill would prevent professionals from helping LGBT minors who want to “compartmentalize” and suppress same-sex desires, who may say to a therapist: “I feel like I have these homosexual desires, but … I know innately I want to have my own biological children.”

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Leonard, a staunch social conservative with a long history of uncouth statements about gay people, eagerly joined in Conti’s gay=alcoholism analogy (BTW, we should point out that this is the same Kathleen Conti who was absolutely convinced that al Qaeda was operating secret training camps in Colorado). And then, naturally, Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt got his turn:

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, tried to tack an amendment onto the bill that would have created a religious exemption to the measure, allowing a child to have such therapy if that’s what they wanted.

The point of the bill, of course, is therapy that presumes one’s LGBT sexuality to be a “mental illness” has been completely discredited by the vast majority of mental health professionals–and should not be used on anyone. Any attempt to create an “exemption” for those who may “want” this discredited “therapy” ignores the state’s responsibility to prevent the use of quack therapies by licensed professionals.

But in the process of debating this legislation, we’ve learned once again that some of our lawmakers have seriously messed up views about gay people.

You know, in general.

Sounding like Trump, Brophy says unnamed “efficiencies” are needed to solve Colorado budget woes

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Greg Brophy.

Greg Brophy.

The latest Republican to stand in front of a camera and complain about state spending on health care for the elderly, disabled, and other poor people, without offering any alternatives, is former state Sen. Greg Brophy, who’s freshly back from a job with Rep. Ken Buck in Washington DC.

Brophy appeared on Politics Unplugged, 7News’ interview show, last month to say that Colorado is being forced, under TABOR rules, to refund taxes to citizens due to the hospital provider fee.

“The hospital provider fee and the other expansions of, well, it amounts to Obamacare, have committed spending on that area at the expense of every other area in state government,” said Brophy.

In 2009, Colorado tapped federal funds, used to match a “hospital provider fee” collected by hospitals, to expand Medicaid coverage to around 300,000 low-income people and children. It allowed kids, for example, from families of four making $45,000 annually to qualify for state Medicaid coverage. Later, Obamacare kicked in, reimbursing the state to cover more poor people in Colorado.

So yes, Colorado has expanded its Medicaid program. It’s one of the major functions of the state government, along with k-12 education, higher education, transportation, and prisons.

Brophy thinks the state has gone too far in helping the elderly, disabled, kids, and other poor people get medical coverage. If we weren’t covering more uninsured people, we could prioritize spending “on education and transportation where the people, I think, want it.”

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 10)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218You’ve only got one week left to finish Leprechaun-proofing your house. 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…

► Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump continues to hold a slight lead over Sen. Marco Rubio in recent polling conducted in Florida. Voters in Rubio’s home state apparently don’t have a lot of excitement left in the tank, as the Washington Post reports:

A majority of Florida Republicans, 59 percent, think Rubio should bow out of the presidential campaign if he does not win the state’s primary; 33 percent say he should keep running.

 

 Republicans in the state legislature have been making all sorts of questionable maneuvers this session, as they continue to struggle to find a balance between their far-right base and the business and economic interests that they always pretend to represent. For example, here’s Rep. Polly Lawrence (R-Douglas County) with a passionate argument in favor of offshore tax loopholes used by Colorado companies to avoid paying state taxes.

And then there’s the Republican-controlled state Senate. After the House passed legislation to re-authorize parental leave in the workplace — the same bill that made a fool of Rep. Kevin Priola last month — HB16-1002 was promptly assigned to a Senate “kill committee” and made to go away.

 

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Rep. Lawrence: Offshore Havens a “Legitimate Tax Loophole”

Rep. Polly Lawrence (R).

Rep. Polly Lawrence (R).

Yesterday, the Colorado House passed House Bill 16-1275, “Concerning the taxation of a corporation’s state income that is sheltered in a foreign jurisdiction for the purposes of tax avoidance,” on a 34-30 party-line vote. The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports on the debate over the bill:

Democrats say it’s a matter of fairness that all companies earning profits in Colorado should pay taxes. Republicans say this isn’t a good time to force that issue…

House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, said Republicans’ opposition of the measure only goes to show why voters have such a mistrust of government. It’s the Colorado voters, and not big corporations, who lawmakers represent, and it’s for them the bill is intended to bring fairness, she said.

“We’re sending a message to the hard-working people of Colorado that we stand behind them,” she said. “We stand behind leveling the playing field for them. This is taking one small piece of our tax code and saying to big corporations, ‘You will no longer have the opportunity to pick a tax haven and not pay taxes.’ We all pay our income taxes. They should have to pay, too.” [Pols emphasis]

House Republicans were, needless to say, unreceptive to these arguments–but in the course of opposing this bill, at least one Republican legislator went a little too far in standing up for the rights of corporations to stash their cash overseas to avoid taxes:

LAWRENCE: This isn’t about leveling the playing field. This is about getting more money because we mismanage funds down here and we need to spend more. So we’re looking for pockets everywhere we can find them.

And because companies are using a legitimate tax loophole, [Pols emphasis] that we all take advantage of in one way or another, whether it’s our home mortgage deduction, whether it’s a home office deduction, there are benefits that each of us take advantage of when we file our taxes every year. This is one that corporations take advantage of. And it’s legal.

Got that, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer? Your mortgage deduction is just like what corporations do when they shelter their profits in the Cayman Islands! Never mind the polling that shows 73% of Americans want loopholes allowing U.S. taxes to be avoided by shifting income to overseas tax havens closed.

We’re going to go out on a limb and assume that 73% of Americans do not feel that way about their mortgage deduction.

We recognize that the debate about tax policy and tax avoidance by corporations and wealthy individuals is complex, and that sincere individuals can argue both sides of the question. With that said, Rep. Lawrence’s equating offshore tax havens with the mortgage deduction so many of her constituents rely on to afford their homes betrays a serious lack of judgment, empathy, or both.

GOP-Controlled Colorado Senate Kills Parental Leave (Again)

Rep. Kevin "The Hypocrite" Priola (R).

Rep. Kevin “The Hypocrite” Priola (R).

As the Denver Business Journal’s Ed Sealover reports on the death of a bill to reauthorize Colorado’s parental leave law for academic activities yesterday in the Senate State Affairs “kill” committee:

Parental leave will remain a topic that must be negotiated between a Colorado business and its employees after a state Senate committee killed a bill Wednesday that would have re-launched former state rules on the subject.

Republicans in the Senate last year killed a measure that would have continued mandates on the minimum amount of hours that companies must allow workers to take unpaid leave in order to attend their children’s academic activities. Democrats in the Legislature brought the bill back this year and were able to get business groups like the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry to remain neutral on it by proposing the same set of requirements that were in place from 2009-15…

A statement from Colorado 9to5 voices that group’s displeasure over the outcome:

This legislation would have reinstated a law that was in effect for five years. That law was passed in 2009 before it “sunset” on September 1, 2015, when Colorado parents lost the job protections that allowed them to attend essential meetings such as Individualized Education Meetings for students with special needs.

“While the Individualized Education Plan process and document are intended to be the efforts of a team, there is no single more important member of this team than the child’s parent,” said Tommie Shimrock, a Denver Public Schools special education teacher. “Parents know their children best: how to redirect their child in effective ways; why their child feels the ways that they do; and how to bring out the best in their child so they can be as successful as possible.”

The killing of House Bill 16-1002 yesterday afternoon didn’t receive much press coverage, but could nonetheless loom large in the upcoming election season. Parental leave for academic activities was the law in Colorado for years, in which time there was simply no evidence of any adverse effect on Colorado’s economy. The bill reauthorizing the law prior to sunset last September did expand some categories of activities that would be covered; after that attempt died last year, this year’s bill was a “clean” reauthorization of the parental leave statute with no expansion.

What this means, in short, is that Republicans took parental leave for academic needs away from Colorado families. That’s a different proposition politically from killing a new proposal for parental leave, and can be characterized very negatively. Particularly in the case of vulnerable House members who voted no on this bill–like Rep. Kevin Priola, now running for the Senate–a potent line of attack has been opened against them.

Correction: they opened this line of attack against themselves.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 9)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218There’s always the Virgin Islands, Marco Rubio. 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…

► Voters in four more states were asked to choose a preferred Republican Presidential candidate, and once again, businessman Donald Trump had a good Tuesday evening. Trump picked up decisive victories in the Michigan and Mississippi GOP Primaries, as well as a win in the Hawaii caucuses (Texas Sen. Ted Cruz managed a meaningless win in the Idaho GOP caucus). If Trump’s momentum carries him to victory in Florida and Ohio next Tuesday, His Hairness will have essentially locked up the Republican nomination for President.

Meanwhile, things are going about as bad as they could possibly go for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Not only was Rubio not competitive in any of the four states on Tuesday, but he actually finished fourth (behind Ohio Gov. John Kasich) in Michigan and Mississippi. The campaign death watch is on for Rubio’s organization, and establishment Republicans are now trying to decide if they can hold their collective noses to try for one last anti-Trump stand behind [cough, cough] Ted Cruz.

 

 On the Democratic side of the Presidential field, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders picked up an upset victory in Michigan on Tuesday. Hillary Clinton remains the frontrunner for the Democratic Presidential nomination, but by winning in Michigan, Sanders has re-energized his campaign for one last final push through states that have yet to cast ballots.

 

 

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Klingenschmitt on the Run from CGW, IRS Inquiries

(Run Chaps, run! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE 3/13/16 The Gazette ran an article by Megan Schrader, which Klingenschmitt claims “clears me of all wrongdoing”.  Schrader’s article goes deeply into Chaps’ Pray in Jesus Name/ Persuade the World Ministries nonprofit finances, finding that Klingenschmitt spends about 75% of his donations on fundraising expenses – to Fund Raising Strategies, Inc, whose CEO is Klingenschmitt’s old friend Bruce Eberle. Eberle has worked for decades in the direct mail fundraising business. His various businesses market lists of conservative donors, and raise millions for right wing candidates and causes.

Questions still not answered by the Gazette article:

  • Why does Chaps have no Board for his nonprofit organization? Most nonprofits have a Board of Directors to guard against abuses and provide oversight – Klingenschmitt is the only CEO and is accountable to no one.
  • Why are there no grants made to any of the charities he said that he has raised money for? (the orphanage in Harissa, India, among others)
  • See Klingenschmitt’s Persuade the World 2014 tax return, below
  • Persuade the World ministries 2014 Schedule )
  • Why is there still an obvious conflict between the tax-free nonprofit PJIN show, and the clearly political guests, causes, and messages Klingenschmitt promotes on his shows?

Representative Gordon Klingenschmitt fled down a Capitol corridor Wednesday, invoking the aid of a Capitol guard to protect him from the probing questions of  Colorado Government Watch’s Dede Laugesen. Video follows:

Here is CGW’s report:

Confronted on camera at the State Capitol Monday with questions surrounding his controversial, tax-exempt charity, state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt shut down the attempted interview and had state troopers eject a Colorado Government Watch team from the public building.

Flanked by a uniformed Colorado State Patrol officer, the first-term Colorado Springs legislator refused an interview when approached outside the chamber of the state House of Representatives by CoGW Executive Director Dede Laugesen. Klingenschmitt then stormed off as Laugesen called out questions about whether the lawmaker was using his nationwide nonprofit religious ministry—which has raised more than $1 million since 2010—to drum up business for his parallel for-profit operation.

The state trooper blocked Laugesen and an associate from following Klingenschmitt—into a common area used by the public on the State Capitol’s second floor—and he ushered them out of the building.

As Klingenschmitt makes his hasty exit, Laugesen also asks him why his charity has no board or any other officers, and she notes there appear to be no tax documents or other records substantiating his claims to have raised money for an orphanage in India. He does not respond.

Klingenschmitt’s Persuade the World Ministries, also known as Pray in Jesus Name—a 501(c)(3) Colorado nonprofit corporation whose only officer is Klingenschmitt—took in more than $850,000 in tax-deductible contributions in 2014 and over $1 million since 2010, its latest tax returns show.

The operation has been under scrutiny for some time.

Among other things, it is the subject of a separate inquiry by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office following a complaint filed with that agency by Colorado Government Watch last fall, alleging violations of Colorado’s Charitable Solicitation Act. Colorado Government Watch also recently filed a complaint with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, calling for an investigation and audit of the operation. Klingenschmitt has declined to disclose donors and other details of his nonprofit operation.

Klingenschmitt, who also hosts a show as a televangelist on a national satellite TV network, has brushed aside our inquiries about his for-profit operations and how they tie in to his nonprofit activities. Most recently, he has not responded to our public letter calling on him to disclose his latest tax returns to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office for public inspection, as provided by law.

Readers, please note that this is based on painstaking research and writing I did in April of last year. Colorado Government Watch is welcome to it, but it would be nice if they would credit my work.

Klingenschmitt’s taxes and money will be difficult for any except the IRS or a government agency to sort out – Diener Consultants handled Klingenschmitt’s PJIN donations since at least 2011- 2014.  Diener is the organization most well known for vacuuming up the donations of gullible conservatives, and making them disappear, as they did with some poor sod’s $150,000 contributed for creating a non-existent fence along the border. Now Klingenschmitt’s fundraising is handled by Fund Raising Strategies, Inc, headed by Bruce Eberle. Eberle also has a dubious reputation for suckering gullible conservatives. He was involved with Americans for Tax Reform, and was integral to Florida’s effort to certify the dubious Bush “win” in 2000, through his direct mail lists used by millionsofamericans.com.

I understand that Colorado Government Watch has their own agenda – which, I think, is cleaning up some of the rampant corruption in El Paso County Republican circles, and that they hope to replace corrupt Republicans with clean(er) ones. Although that’s not my agenda, I applaud them for their efforts.

For the rest, it’s just entertaining watching Chaps run from the cameras.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 8)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Four more states get a chance to make a statement about Donald Trump today. 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…

► Voters in Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, and Mississippi get their chance today to vote for their preferred candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination. Michigan and Mississippi will also hold Democratic Presidential Primaries today.

Meanwhile, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is facing increasing pressure to drop out of the race for President as his road to victory has morphed into little more than a rocky dirt path.

 

 Colorado Republicans continue to face questions from media outlets about whether or not they plan to support the GOP nominee for President even if his name happens to be Donald Trump. We’d imagine that some Republicans, such as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), may be tired of getting these questions from reporters, and if so, we’ve got a little advice for them: Perhaps you should try a) Answering the question clearly, on the first try, and b) Sticking with one answer for longer than 24 hours. 

 

► As Donald Trump marches ahead toward securing the Republican Presidential nomination, a disconcerting new approach to dealing with crowds is casting an ugly shadow on His Hairness. As Politico reports from North Carolina:

Donald Trump’s rally here began with the candidate asking all attendees to raise their hands and take an oath to vote for him, while extended barriers cordoned off the press and plainclothes private intelligence officers scoured the crowd for protestors.

These new tactics, which the Trump campaign has introduced over the past week, represent refinements by Trump and his staff in their quest to control the atmosphere and message of his often unruly rallies. They come in the wake of an altercation between a photographer and a Secret Service agent at a Trump event, and at a time when the emboldened candidate has escalated confrontations with protesters, leaving his podium to stare them down at his two most recent rallies and repeatedly lamenting that his supporters cannot retaliate against them.

Holy Hitler!

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 7)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Enjoying the warm weather in Colorado? Well, enough of that. 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…

► The Presidential campaign of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is gasping for air after a tough weekend of caucus and primary losses, and more trouble is looming on the horizon. Rubio finished a distant fourth in a poll of Michigan Republicans ahead of Tuesday’s Primary, and he is being hammered by political ads running in his home state ahead of the March 15 Florida Primary.

As the Washington Post reports, it sounds as though Rubio’s campaign obituary is already being drafted:

Sensing an opportunity for an upset victory, Marco Rubio spent most of Friday in Kansas, where he picked up a series of high-profile endorsements that he hoped could help thrust him into contention.

Instead, he finished a dis­appointing third in the Saturday caucus in Kansas, repeating the same pattern as in some Super Tuesday states earlier last week: a big last-minute push, notable endorsements and a thud of a finish.

Those doing the endorsing, along with many other supporters, bemoaned the results, as well as the campaign that produced them…

…Party leaders, donors and other supporters of Rubio portray a political operation that continues to come up short in its message, in its attention to the fundamentals of campaigning and in its use of a promising politician. The failures have all but doomed ­Rubio’s chances of securing the GOP nomination, leaving him far behind Trump and Cruz in both delegates and states won.

Colorado’s highest-profile Republican elected officials — Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) — have been outspoken supporters of Rubio. Gardner has been particularly enthusiastic about Rubio, traveling the country as a Rubio surrogate and spinmeister.

 

Ohio and Florida. These two states may be the only battlegrounds left that will have any significant impact on the outcome of the Republican Presidential nomination, as our friends at “The Fix” explain.

 

The editorial “board” of the Denver Post weighs in on the so-called “Hospital Provider Fee” budget policy effort being promoted by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Now that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has provided a legal thumbs-up, the Post thinks it’s high time for Republican legislators to get on board:

We’d made no secret that we support reclassifying the hospital provider fee in order to free up revenue that will prevent potential funding cuts to higher education, capital maintenance and transportation, as well as restore more of the K-12 funding lost during the Great Recession.

If Republicans think it is more important that this money go out to taxpayers in what would be modest refunds, so be it. That’s a forthright stance that indeed some have taken. But to argue that there remain outstanding constitutional issues involving the budget shift is no longer tenable in the wake of Coffman’s opinion. [Pols emphasis]

The word of the day session is “YES.”

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 3)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Will the Brockweiler stay in Denver? 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…

► A new poll of Colorado voters shows Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leading Republican frontrunner Donald Trump 49-39 in a hypothetical matchup in the General Election.

 

Buoyed by winning one whole state (Minnesota), supporters of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio insist their man can still win the Republican Presidential nomination. It’s hard to say whether they really believe that or not, because as the Associated Press reports, there is much panic among elected Republicans at the thought of having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket this fall:

After months of denial that the billionaire businessman could swipe the nomination from more establishment candidates, disconsolate Republican senators and House members dealt with a growing inevitability after Trump’s wins in seven states Tuesday cemented his front-runner status.

Some Republicans said they could work with him, while others openly wondered if that were possible. Some held out hope for other candidates — specifically Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, whom several senators have endorsed. Others raised the specter of a contested convention in July…

…”Right now there’s just a sense of, we don’t have a lot of control over this,” said Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, another member of GOP leadership. “A lot of us wish we did, but we don’t, and as long as we don’t, the only thing we can do is take care of our own business.”

Former Colorado state Rep. Spencer Swalm loves him some Trump, however.

► Both Democrats and Republicans in Colorado seem to agree that the caucus system needs to be tossed out. From the Greeley Tribune:

After a night of hectic — and frustrating — caucuses in Colorado, leaders from both parties agreed on at least one thing Wednesday: They’d like to see the state replace the cumbersome caucus system with a straightforward primary election.

“The presidency is at stake. We need to do something different,” said Colorado GOP Chairman Steve House, noting Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio agrees. “We’re both of the mindset that we need a presidential primary.”…

…Colorado held presidential primaries in the 1992, 1996, and 2000 elections, then abandoned the idea as too expensive. The Legislature last year voted down a proposal to bring back primaries, an idea with an estimated price tag of as much as $4 million. The political parties bear the cost of holding caucuses, but the state would be responsible for running a primary election.

Both party chairmen said they’d like to see the Legislature make changes before the 2020 presidential election, rather than relying on the sole proposed ballot measure in November to change the system.

Meanwhile, Democrats are reporting that attendance at Tuesday’s caucuses broke a record in Colorado.

 

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