Mike Coffman and the Aurora VA Hospital: Coffman’s Part of the Problem

(Right back at ya – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

As Rep. Mike Coffman appeared in Aurora today to grandstand at a U.S. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee field hearing about the troubled VA Hospital project in Aurora, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, released a new report documenting Coffman’s own oversight responsibility over the project, and failure to take action for years despite knowing that massive cost overruns were occurring.

“We all know the situation with the VA hospital in Aurora,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms, “a project that will drag on for years beyond its target completion date and is currently estimated to be a billion dollars over budget. But there are some key facts in this situation that have been conveniently overlooked.”

“Representative Mike Coffman, who represents district where the hospital is being built, has recently become very outspoken about this issue,” said Runyon-Harms. “Coffman can be outraged. He can be frustrated. But he cannot be shocked or surprised when as Chair of the Oversight Committee, he had known this information for years–and until recently has done almost nothing to fix the problem.”

In a report summarizing Rep. Coffman’s statements and actions in response to the Aurora VA Hospital’s cost overruns, ProgressNow Colorado finds that Coffman knew that the price of the new hospital would exceed a billion dollars, hundreds of millions over its original budget, since at least 2013. Coffman participated in the drafting of legislation to address problems identified in early 2013 by the General Accounting Office, but admitted delaying the bill for 16 more months.

Read the report in full here.

“As chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Oversight Committee, it has always been Coffman’s responsibility to do something about the problems at the Aurora VA Hospital project,” said Runyon-Harms. “But up until this point, all we’ve gotten is finger pointing, grandstanding, and even attempting to fundraise off of this catastrophe for his re-election. There is plenty of blame to go around for this budget-busting debacle, but Mike Coffman has spent over 5 years on the Armed Services Committee, and over 2 years as the Chair of the VA Oversight Subcommittee. So instead of political grandstands, we call on Coffman to take some responsibility for this problem, and offer real solutions instead of slogans to get it fixed.”

“Coffman is fond of the words ‘lead, follow, or get out of the way,'” said Runyon-Harms. “It’s time for Coffman to take his own advice.”

Coffman Spokesman’s “Principle” of Not Responding to Those Who Might Disagree

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

The Colorado Independent called Rep. Mike Coffman’s office numerous times over numerous days to find out if Coffman had kept $20,000 in donations from Rep. Aaron Schock, who resigned in disgrace after it became apparent that he was brazenly misspending tax money.

Coffman’s office never called reporter John Tomasic back, but Coffman spokesman Tyler Sandberg did talk to The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels, telling her, “We donated the money after Aaron Schock resigned and donated it to a veterans organization.”

Sandberg also told Bartels:

“As a matter of principle we don’t respond to fake news websites, nor did we feel a need to trumpet the donation. Sorry to upset the left-wing attack machine so desperate to find a flaw with Mike Coffman.”

The Colorado Independent is not a fake news site. It’s a progressive news site. So, I guess Sandberg is saying he won’t talk to people who might disagree with him?

I wondered which veterans organization received the cash and when it was donated, so I called Sandberg. And, lo, he didn’t return my calls either. So it appears his bogus “principle” applies to me too.

That is, unless I do something he likes.

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Mike Coffman Loves Him Some Aaron Schock Coinage

THURSDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels follows up:

“We donated the money after Aaron Schock resigned and donated it to a veterans organization. As a matter of principle we don’t respond to fake news websites, nor did we feel a need to trumpet the donation. Sorry to upset the left-wing attack machine so desperate to find a flaw with Mike Coffman,” spokesman Tyler Sandburg said…

The Colorado Democratic Party and the liberal group ProgressNow jumped on the story, with ProgressNow urging Coffman to get rid of the “tainted money.”

The big question left unanswered is, when exactly did Coffman get rid of Aaron Schock’s money? We likely won’t know the answer to that until the next quarterly fundraising reports are filed. Hopefully it wasn’t, you know, yesterday afternoon–which would still technically be “after Schock resigned,” though not exactly what you’d call honest about the timing. Original post follows.

—–

Money? What money?

Tainted money? What tainted money?

As the Colorado Independent’s John Tomasic reports today:

Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman has taken $20,000 since 2008 from disgraced Illinois U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, a flashy figure who rose fast on the national politics stage only to resign in disgrace last month as a scandal unfolded around the free spending approach he adopted toward taxpayer money.

Schock was known less as a serious legislator than as a prodigious fundraiser. He was elected to office when he was only 27 years old, but he charged hard toward the money from the moment he landed in D.C., wooing big donors and doling out cash to his colleagues through his Generation-Y campaign committee.

Since Schock’s resignation on March 31st, recipients of his political donations have sought to put distance between themselves and Schock by donating or returning the Generation Y contributions.

Rep. David Jolly, a Florida Republican, announced the day after Schock resigned that he was donating $5,000 he received from the Generation-Y fund…

But as of this writing, there’s been no word from Rep. Mike Coffman about what (if anything) he plans to do with the much larger amount he received from disgraced ex-Rep. Aaron Schock’s Generation-Y PAC. It’s worth noting that a similar situation on the Democratic side, donations from Sen. Bob Menendez to Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet back in 2010, was swiftly resolved with the money in question given to charity after Menendez’ indictment.

Liberals in Colorado are demanding no less from Coffman today:

“Mike Coffman took thousands of dollars from Aaron Schock, whose financial improprieties with campaign donations resulted in his resignation from Congress and a grand jury investigation,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Today, fellow Republican lawmakers are returning Schock’s donations, but Coffman has chosen to hold on to his dirty money. We demand Coffman immediately unload the thousands he received from Aaron Schock, or explain to the voters in his district why he is refusing to do so.”

This is a situation where the right choice for Coffman seems obvious: maybe not to return the money to Schock, who has proven he’s not a very good steward of anybody’s money, but a speedy donation to charity is definitely in order. One gets a brief window to do that before the negative press hits, after which you take political damage for failing to distance yourself from the scandal.

Judging from this report, that window is closing fast.

Ted Cruz First To Enter 2016 Presidential Race

Sen. Ted Cruz, with Tom Tancredo (L) and Rep. Steve King of Iowa (R).

Sen. Ted Cruz, with Tom Tancredo (L) and Rep. Steve King of Iowa (R).

AP via the Denver Post:

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has become the first major candidate for president, kicking off what’s expected to be a rush over the next few weeks of more than a dozen White House hopefuls into the 2016 campaign.

“I am running for president and I hope to earn your support,” the tea party favorite said in a Twitter message posted just after midnight on Monday.

Cruz will formally launch his bid during a morning speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, choosing to begin his campaign at the Christian college founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell rather than his home state of Texas or the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s a fitting setting for Cruz, a 44-year-old tea party darling whose entry into the 2016 campaign drew cheers Sunday among fellow conservatives.

“Tea Party darling” Sen. Ted Cruz has proved a major thorn in the side of most of his fellow Republicans, ready to scuttle delicately-balanced negotiations over important matters at any time in order to score relatively meaningless political points against President Barack Obama. “Tea Party” factions in both the House and Senate look to Cruz for leadership, sometimes to the profound chagrin of House Speaker John Boehner–as we saw perhaps most damagingly in last year’s standoff over Obama’s immigration executive orders.

Obviously, what Ted Cruz needs to be successful with his grand vision of…well, whatever his grand vision is, he needs to be President to do it. It’s tough to imagine Cruz actually winning the GOP nomination, kind of like it was hard to imagine Rick Santorum as President. But he’s certainly allowed to try.

In the 2012 cycle, fellow Texan Gov. Rick Perry, a candidate we’d consider on the same general tier intellectually and politically as Ted Cruz, earned the backing of Rep. Mike Coffman. Coffman in fact served as the state chairman of Perry’s campaign until Perry imploded in a series of campaign trail and debate gaffes.

Well folks, here’s another chance for Coffman to be “a proud member of the Party of No.”

Coffman And The Budget-Busted VA Hospital: Okay, But…

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

As the Denver Post’s Electra Draper reports, the recent disclosure by the Veterans Administration that the trouble-plagued new VA hospital in Aurora would cost much more than its original estimate to complete, now at a price tag of over $1.7 billion, is giving Rep. Mike Coffman fresh ammunition in his war of words with the Obama administration in general and the VA in particular:

A Veterans Affairs official told members of Congress overseeing construction of the hospital in Aurora, now estimated to cost $1.73 billion, that the department ignored the warnings of its contractors and listened instead to its designers.

“The VA owns this. We own this fiasco,” said Dennis Milsten, VA director of the Office of Construction and Facilities. But others were involved, he said, in creating runaway costs at a construction project begun more than a decade ago…

Milsten told House Veterans Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee that the department’s processes of due diligence broke down. Subcommittee chairman Mike Coffman, R-Colorado, said a better explanation would be “pure incompetence.”

After largely prevailing in his chest-thumping match with VA Secretary Robert McDonald, Coffman has benefitted from considerable positive press from his “oversight” (consisting mostly of irate press statements) of the unfolding cost overrun problems at the new Aurora VA hospital. But let’s be clear: both Colorado U.S. Senators, and more or less the entire House delegation is involved at some level in resolving this issue. We don’t doubt his sincerity, but Coffman can’t pretend that he’s the only one with any responsibility or motivation for fixing the problem.

And here’s the other part of the story that no one has picked up on, at least not yet: Coffman has served on the Veterans Affairs Committee since 2009, and he is chairman of House Veterans Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. Despite this, he doesn’t seem to have cared much about the longstanding troubles with the Aurora VA hospital until well after the area was redistricted into CD-6. The Obama administration’s oversight is justifiably in question now, but isn’t Coffman also on the hook for his oversight responsibilities? At least to some extent?

The Subcommittee provides oversight on programs and operations of the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as those of other federal agencies that pertain to veterans. In carrying out its responsibilities, the Subcommittee conducts hearings, site visits, and investigations nationwide.

It seems to us that once all the chest-thumping concludes, that will be a question worth asking along with rightful questions for the VA. Everyone agrees that the present situation is not acceptable, but there’s a point at which the self-serving bombast looks a little like protesting one’s own guilt.

Not to mention that this hospital hasn’t even exceeded the price of one B-2 bomber yet. So perhaps we should keep an admittedly bad situation…in perspective.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 19)

Get More SmarterWe don’t care what anybody says: Today is NOT the first day of the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 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…

► Anyone got an extra $1.73 billion that they aren’t using? We may need it to finish the new VA Hospital in Denver that is actually in Aurora. Also, Rep. Mike Coffman is complaining again that other people aren’t doing stuff.

► Surprise! No, wait…what’s the opposite of surprise? Colorado doesn’t have much room in next year’s budget to fund things. It’s almost like we need a new source of revenue or something.

 ► We may not have much money in the state coffers, but at least we’re offering tax refunds! Thanks, TABOR: Destroying Colorado one ratchet effect at a time.

 ► But wait, The U.S. Senate will save the fiscal day! Oh, nevermind.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 13)

Get More SmarterFor the second month in a row, the 13th falls on a Friday. 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…

► Colorado Republicans will meet tomorrow to select their State Party Leaders for the next two years. As first reported at Colorado Pols yesterday, incumbent Chair Ryan Call is expected to lose his job to challenger Steve House. Click here for more on tomorrow’s election.

► Excuse me, but is that an IUD you are wearingJohn Frank of the Denver Post reports on the newest “aborti-fashion,” as Republicans might call it, taking place at the State Capitol.

 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Friday (Feb. 27)

MoreSmarterLogo-Hat1

The dress is definitely bluish-brown. 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…

► Today is the deadline for Congress to authorize funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), so what should we expect of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner? If you guessed, "punt the issue for three more weeks," you win the door prize. But as Politico reports, Republicans are merely delaying an answer on a budget problem that is about to get much, much worse:

First the good news: Congress appears to have found a way to avoid a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security for the next three weeks.

Now the bad: March is beginning to look awfully grim for the new Republican Congress that had lofty expectations for legislating in 2015.

GOP leaders appear set to win approval of their short-term solution to the DHS impasse on Friday, hours before the money runs dry. But that will leave the House and Senate just three weeks to bridge their fundamental differences on funding the department for the long term and blocking President Barack Obama’s changes to the enforcement of immigration policy.

On top of that, Congress must update a complicated Medicare reimbursement formula for doctors. And it needs to pass a budget.

This is where we remind you, again, that REPUBLICANS HAVE MAJORITY CONTROL IN CONGRESS and they still can't figure out how to govern.

Mr. Spock is dead.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

 

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Does Obama “Love America?” Coffman Ought To Know This One

coffmannotanamerican

Over the last week, Republican luminaries including a couple of 2016 presidential short-listers got caught up in an interesting debate over a pressing political question–does President Barack Obama love America? Not in some abstract sense–when that Alan Jackson song about 9/11 comes on the radio, does it make President Obama cry?

Rudy Giuliani.

Rudy Giuliani.

Okay, you're right. This is neither an interesting debate nor a pressing political question. Nonetheless, GOP-leaning PJ Media reports that conservative minds want to know:

Every Republican, especially those with an eye on 2016, is now being asked to confirm or repudiate the opinion of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on President Obama’s feelings toward America.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country,” Giuliani said at a Wednesday dinner in Manhattan with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker…

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

Now, it's been a long time since anybody seriously thought of the once-popular Rudy Giuliani as "America's Mayor," and in truth he's been sliding into irrelevance for some time, apparently trying to compete with fellow washed-up New York blowhard Donald Trump for who can utter the most outrageous statement about black people. Graded on the curve, Giuliani's rant about Obama not "loving America" isn't really all that noteworthy.

What gets a little harder to explain, though, is when much more politically viable Republican politicians, including some who might actually want to be President themselves someday, voluntarily start trafficking in the same shallow invective as the Giulianis and Trumps of the world. Washington Post:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a prospective Republican presidential contender, said Saturday he does not know whether President Obama is a Christian.

“I don’t know,” Walker said in an interview at the JW Marriott hotel in Washington, where he was attending the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

Told that Obama has frequently spoken publicly about his Christian faith, Walker maintained that he was not aware of the president’s religion…

TIME Magazine:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal stood by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s criticism of President Obama Wednesday.

“The gist of what Mayor Giuliani said – that the President has shown himself to be completely unable to speak the truth about the nature of the threats from these ISIS terrorists — is true,” Jindal, a likely GOP presidential candidate, said in a statement to TIME. “If you are looking for someone to condemn the Mayor, look elsewhere.” [Pols emphasis]

As the gratuitous questioning of President Obama's faith and "love of America" ramped up last week among allegedly serious Republican politicians, our thoughts travelled back–to a May 2012 dinner hosted by the Elbert County, Colorado GOP. Rep. Mike Coffman responded to a loaded audience question about President Obama's citizenship, saying "I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don’t know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he’s not an American. He’s just not an American."

Within a few days, Coffman was in full damage control mode, and his robotic "I misspoke and I apologize" answer delivered over and over on camera made him a nationwide laughingstock–not a career-ender as it narrowly turned out that year, but without a doubt the greatest public embarrassment of Coffman's long career in politics.

Well folks, so much speculation by high level Republicans about Obama's love of country should make Coffman's views on Obama's American-ness relevant all over again. Don't you think? At the very least, Coffman could give his colleagues a lesson in how not to apologize! Either way, it does appear this strange xenophobic uncertainty about America's first black President is still a problem for Coffman's party.

Which means it's still a problem for Coffman.

DeGette Skipping Bibi Netanyahu’s Speech

Benjamin Netanyahu.

Benjamin Netanyahu.

Controversy is building in Washington over an address to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled for March 3rd–just weeks before Israeli elections, and not invited by President Barack Obama as a breach of diplomatic protocol. Netanyahu's address, pertaining to negotiations with Iran over that country's nuclear program, is controversial in Israel for the same reason, with a majority of Israeli voters saying the speech should be cancelled. Reuters:

The speech has caused controversy in Israel and the United States, where the Democrats and the White House are angry that the Republican speaker, John Boehner, invited Netanyahu to speak at a sensitive time in the nuclear negotiations between Iran and six big powers including Washington, and only two weeks before Israel's closely fought March 17 election.

Following complaints from opposition parties, election chief Salim Joubran decided that Netanyahu's address should be broadcast with a five-minute delay in Israel, giving news editors time to cut any statements deemed partisan…

President Barack Obama, at odds with Netanyahu over the Israeli prime minister's criticism of the nuclear talks, will not meet him during his visit, saying it is a breach of protocol to receive a foreign leader before an election.

As of now, most members of Colorado's delegation reportedly plan to attend Netanyahu's speech, including all the Republicans, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, and Rep. Jared Polis. Rep. Ed Perlmutter hasn't made a public announcement yet. The one Colorado representative who has said she will not attend Netanyahu's speech is…well, we just gave it away, it's Rep. Diana DeGette. Rep. DeGette has a scheduling conflict on March 3rd:

Congresswoman DeGette will not be able to attend Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech. She has had a long-standing scheduling commitment that morning to address a clinical research group about her 21st Century Cures initiative, and we just learned this morning that the Prime Minister’s speech is scheduled for 11:00, which creates a conflict for her.

Other than a highly one-sided report in the Boulder Jewish News, DeGette's decision to not attend Netanyahu's address hasn't received much press. We expect that will change as long as the speech isn't cancelled, that others will be given many chances to comment, and that Rep. Perlmutter's decision whether or not to attend will be closely watched. It's a longstanding presumption in American politics that categorical public support for Israel is mandatory for any real political viability. The problem with this address to a Republican-dominated Congress is that Netanyahu is making a partisan issue out of something that historically hasn't been. And it's forcing a conflict of loyalties that American supporters of Israel haven't been made to reckon with.

In Israel, Netanyahu has been roundly criticized even by some of his right-wing allies, mostly for appearing to put his ties to the Republican Party ahead of the close relationship Israel has always had with the United States. [Pols emphasis]

It should be noted that attending a speech is not the same thing as agreeing with it. But insofar as Netanyahu is involving Colorado politicians in Israeli domestic politics without their consent, we're obliged to point out that not every friend of Israel is a Likudnik.

Or, for that matter, a Republican.

Coffman(s) for U.S. Senate?

Mike and Cynthia Coffman. And dog.

Will Mike Coffman run for Senate in 2016? What about Cynthia? Or the dog?

The D.C. publication Roll Call has an interesting story today probing around about Republicans looking for their next statewide candidate to potentially challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016, and it leads with the possibility that the GOP nominee may eventually have the last name of Coffman. But which one? Rep. Mike Coffman, or his wife, newly-elected Attorney General Cynthia Coffman?

This Senate race could make for interesting dinner conversation in one Colorado household.

Republicans say battle-tested Rep. Mike Coffman and his wife, Cynthia Coffman, the state’s newly elected attorney general, are two of the party’s top prospects to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016…

…In a Sunday phone interview with CQ Roll Call, Cynthia Coffman said she had asked her husband if he was going to run for Senate, but he had not asked her.

“He seems to be committed to being in Congress,” she said. “I think we’re both excited about what we’ve got to do over the next two years.”

Cynthia Coffman said it was “fun” and “flattering” to be mentioned, but for now she is “so excited to be attorney general.” She said she “would consider” a bid for a House or Senate seat one day, but not necessarily in 2016 — though she did not explicitly rule it out. She said by watching her husband make the commute back and forth between Washington, D.C. and Colorado, she had “realized what a drain it is,” and would know exactly what she was in for if she were to do it.

We'll forgive reporter Alexis Levinson for her lede above, since she is probably unaware that the Coffmans have maintained separate residences for years in Denver (click here for the strange back-and-forth living and voting arrangements for the Coffmans). We'd be shocked to see Cynthia run for Senate in 2016; Roll Call mentions her wide margin of victory in the race for Attorney General in 2014, but that had more to do with the fact that she was a Republican running for a low-interest race in a mid-term Presidential year. The Coffman family dog could have posted strong numbers running as a Republican in 2014.

But what about Mike Coffman?

Well, you never say never,” Coffman told CQ Roll Call outside the House chamber early last month when asked about a Senate bid, “but I’m focused on my House race.”

dealinwalkerfin

As the GOP field stands today, Mike Coffman currently tops the Colorado Pols Big Line 2016 as the most likely Bennet challenger in 2016, but that's largely because we can't think of anyone else to put at the top. Coffman is a career politician who doesn't have a personal fortune to fall back on should he run for Senate and lose. For now, we've heard that Coffman is reluctant to take a serious look at the 2016 Senate race because he is focusing on moving up in Congressional leadership. He is also a little gun-shy about a top statewide race after his brief foray as a candidate for Governor in 2005; Coffman had made it known for years that he planned on running for Governor in 2006, but Republican Bob Beauprez had no trouble kneecapping Coffman's campaign after only a few weeks.

The Roll Call story also mentions two other potential GOP candidates for Senate in 2016: Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler and State Treasurer Walker Stapleton. It's far too early to talk about Brauchler as a candidate for anything while the Aurora theater shooting case has yet to be settled; the outcome of that case, more than anything, will probably decide Brauchler's potential as a future candidate.

We've also heard Stapleton mentioned as a potential candidate in 2016, but it's far more likely that Stapleton remains where he is in order to run for Governor in 2018. Stapleton did win re-election in November as State Treasurer, but not before nearly bungling the race altogether with his own missteps and excuses. Stapleton's connections to the Bush family (he's a cousin to George W. or George H.W. or Jeb or something) and his ability to raise money will always make him a potential candidate for higher office, but he could probably use a few more years to do something of value as State Treasurer to wash that Dealin' Doug-style TV ad out of your brain.

We've got a long way to go until 2016, but the campaigning for U.S. Senate will begin in earnest in the next 6 months or so. Mike Coffman looks today like the strongest possible Republican challenger, though there is no guarantee that he'll actually run. The Coffman family dynamic is fun to talk about, but there's no way Cynthia is going to be the GOP nominee in 2016.

Mike Coffman. Down With Torture.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

In the aftermath of the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's summary report on "enhanced" interrogation methods employed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, we took note of the fact that Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, a retired Marine officer who has served in Iraq, had issued no statement either way on whether these actions were permissible.

That is, until yesterday:

As a retired military officer with combat experience, Rep. Coffman's opinion is of particular note. One of the reasons why the United States (and most other nations) obey the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of warfare is the hope that doing so will result in better reciprocal treatment for our own soldiers and citizens who are captured by our enemies. The New York Times wrote in October about the torture of journalist James Foley by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) prior to his execution:

At one point, their jailers arrived with a collection of orange jumpsuits.

In a video, they lined up the French hostages in their brightly colored uniforms, mimicking those worn by prisoners at the United States’ facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

They also began waterboarding a select few, just as C.I.A. interrogators had treated Muslim prisoners at so-called black sites during the George W. Bush administration, former hostages and witnesses said…

Within this subset, the person who suffered the cruelest treatment, the former hostages said, was Mr. Foley. In addition to receiving prolonged beatings, he underwent mock executions and was repeatedly waterboarded.

Waterboarding torture.

Waterboarding torture.

The "KSM" Mike Coffman referred to in his Tweet about is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged high-level Al Qaeda operative who was routinely waterboarded and subjected to other harsh measures after his capture in 2003. Coffman's citing of "KSM" is clearly meant to legitimize the interrogation methods he was subjected to–which works until you remember that the CIA tortured many more people than KSM.

There is a veteran Republican who understands the destructive cause and effect of engaging in torture–Sen. John McCain, who was himself subjected to torture as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese:

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Should Andrew Romanoff Get a Do-Over?

Andrew Romanoff.

Andrew Romanoff.

Roll Call's Abby Livingston jump-started speculation about the 2016 CD-6 race yesterday:

There’s no rest for the weary at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has yet to name the new committee chairman for 2016, but the DCCC is already getting a jump on recruiting during the final days of New York Rep. Steve Israel’s tenure.

On Thursday morning, Israel held the first 2016 recruitment meeting since Election Day. He named two northeastern congressional districts as top targeting opportunities, and party strategists are readying for at least five rematches from 2014, according to a committee aide…

Two unsuccessful Democratic candidates from 2014 will be asked to make another run — former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who lost to Rep. Mike Coffman, [Pols emphasis] and Maine state Sen. Emily Cain, who lost an open-seat race to Rep.-elect Bruce Poliquin.

This was the first word we've heard that Andrew Romanoff, who lost heavily in last week's elections to Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman, might be recruited for a 2016 rematch. This report touched off another round of speculation about Romanoff's viability in local press–FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Romanoff, who sat out 2012 and then announced his decision to challenge Coffman in 2014 almost as soon as the calendar turned to 2013 and spent the full two-year cycle raising an impressive $5 million, only garnered 43 percent of the vote in the re-drawn district.

But he lost by nine points amidst a GOP wave after failing to make inroads with blue collar voters in Adams County and to overcome Coffman’s withwering portrayal of the former statehouse Speaker as a self-interested carpetbagger who moved from Denver to the suddenly competitive district simply because he saw it as a way to get to Washington.

The Denver Post's Jon Murray:

While Andrew Romanoff isn’t saying much about his plans following his loss last week to Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, D.C. news outlet Roll Call reported Thursday that House Democrats will mount an effort to recruit him to run again in 2016.

That would be against the advice of some Colorado political observers and Democratic activists, who told The Denver Post in a story this week that Romanoff ought to consider stepping back from politics for a while. He’s lost two hard-fought races in a row…

Through his campaign spokeswoman, Romanoff declined to comment Thursday. But the DCCC reiterated to The Post that he was a strong candidate this year, despite his 52 percent-43 percent loss.

We've been pretty blunt in our assessment that Romanoff underperformed in this election–relative to other Democrats on the ballot with him, and certainly below the high expectations he had going into this race. We have given credit to Romanoff for dramatically exceeding expectations with regard to fundraising, but Romanoff's bland and centrist campaign message failed to motivate base Democrats to support him. After 2012 underdog Joe Miklosi came within two points of ousting Coffman, Romanoff's drubbing has turned Coffman into one of the state's stronger Republican candidates for higher office.

Apropos, Eli Stokols notes early speculation that Coffman may run against Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016, which would open the CD-6 seat and once again create a prime opportunity for Democrats to pick it up. In that event, would Romanoff be the best choice to try again, or would Democrats be smarter to turn to others in this district? Stokols mentions Senate President Morgan Carroll as a possible contender, as well as Karen Middleton–the former state legislator who at one point was set to challenge Romanoff for the Democratic CD-6 nomination but then withdrew from the race.

What say you, readers? We'd guess there are a number of people reading who would like your opinion.

Best Local Journalism of the Election Cycle

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here's my list of top election-season journalism by local reporters:

Fox 31 Denver's Eli Stokols didn't take Cory Gardner's falsehood for an answer on personhood. And, and in the same five-star interview, he tried harder than any other journalist to get a straight answer from Gardner on the details of his health insurance plan.

Only the Colorado Independent's Susan Greene offered a comprehensive look (with Mike Keefe cartoon) at the extreme right-wing comments of gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez. See Bob Beauprez's Last Eight Years: Conservatism at its Extremes.

The Associated Press' Nick Riccardi explains why senatorial candidate Cory Gardner says he favors immigration reform. And he points out that that Gardner's actual support for reform proposals is limited and illusive.

Corey Hutchins, who writes for a variety of outlets, broke the shocking story on Medium about Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) urging a military revolt against Obama. (Reminder: Our country is at war.)

9News' Brandon Rittiman was the first local journalist to press senatorial candidate Cory Gardner on the hypocrisy of his withdrawing support for state personhood measures but remaining a co-sponsor of a federal personhood bill. Other journalists, besides Stokols and Rittiman, deserve credit for challenging Gardner on this: 9News' Kyle ClarkThe Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby, The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels, and The Durango Herald's Peter Marcus.

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Coffman’s new desire to offer “bilingual ballots” contradicts his proposal to eliminate federal requirement to provide them

(Old Coffman strikes again – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mike Coffman.

Mike Coffman.

Yesterday, during what was apparently Colorado's first candidate debate in Spanish, Rep. Mike Coffman said:

Coffman: "The federal government has obligated local governments to send bilingual ballots to everyone. I think that bilingual ballots should only go to people who need them. It's a question of saving money. I would hope that every voter will be able to get the information that he needs in a language he can understand."

But back in 2011, when Coffman proposed repealing the section of the Voting Rights Act requiring ballots to be printed in multiple languages, Coffman said nothing about making sure those who needed translated ballots get them.

Coffman: "Since proficiency in English is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship, forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide ballots in a language other than English makes no sense at all," Coffman told the Denver Post at the time.

I went back to the archive, and I couldn't find a single instance in 2011 where Coffman said everyone who needs a bilingual ballot should have one. The best I could find was an acknowledgement that some voters have "legitimate needs," but he suggested second-class solutions, like making a sample ballots available to voters somehow, without any guarantees that they even get this.

His 2011 proposal, by turning ballot-translation decisions over to local authorities and releasing local jurisdictions from the federal requirement, contradicts Coffman's statement yesterday that he wants to provide a "bilingual ballot" to "people who need them." That's not consistent with his actual 2011 proposal.

What if local officials decide that Coffman's dictionary idea is better and cheaper?

So after his debate yesterday, I asked Coffman if he'd offered a new position on English-only ballots.

He said, "No."

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