Get More Smarter on Thursday (June 25)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Happy belated St. Jean-Baptiste Day to our Canadian friends. 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 United States Supreme Court has ruled to uphold federal subsidies related to Obamacare. As Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the 6-3 majority decision:

Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.

This is a win-win decision politically — for both parties. The decision is obviously beneficial for Democrats who supported Obamacare, but it also allows Republicans to continue to crow about the horrors of health care legislation — which they are doing already — without having to do any actual governing on their own.

Turnover among staff in the Jefferson County School District is up 50% over the previous year, attributable almost entirely to the antics of the right-wing majority and (not so) Superintendent Dan McMinimee.

► Colorado Pols continues to be your home for the latest news on The Coffmangate Scandal. We’re still baffled that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman would put her career on the line to help former state Sen. Ted Harvey get a real job. Elsewhere, a group of conservative talk-radio hosts have resigned from KLZ-560 AM, claiming that station management is interfering with their “coverage” of the coup attempt against State Party Chair Steve House. “I guess they didn’t realize they don’t own the radio station,” said Crawford Broadcasting President Don Crawford, Jr.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Coffmangate Update: Nothing Changed, Coffman Still in Serious Trouble

UPDATE #2: Conservative opinion site RedState has a lengthy story and interview with Steve House up today that’s worth a read–in which this blog is referred to as the “Daily Kos” of Colorado.

An audio interview performed by former federal agent, and current Vice Chair from Adams County, John Sampson with Julie Naye – the alleged mistress, and her close friend, Lana Fore, was published by the state’s version of Daily Kos yesterday. In the interview Naye adamantly denies the allegations of having an affair with Steve house, and damn if she doesn’t sound convincing. In fact, even the lefty outlet that published the audio noted that if she is lying, she is incredibly good at it.

As it stands now, barring any additional evidence provided by the accusers, it appears that Steve House has been falsely accused by some of the most powerful Republicans in Colorado.

We doubt that’s a compliment, but Kos does get a lot of traffic.

Original post follows…

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Coffmangate: Ted Harvey is a Live Grenade

Ted Harvey and Cynthia Coffman in House of Cards likeness.

Ted Harvey and Cynthia Coffman in “House of Cards” likeness.

One of the central curiosities surrounding the Coffmangate scandal is that all parties involved in the alleged coup attempt against State Republican Party Chair Steve House have continually refused to go into any detail about why they were so intent on forcing House to resign after less than three months on the job. While details are scarce, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman did offer a strange statement of sorts yesterday in an interview with the Denver Post that is worth further examination:

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman talked publicly for the first time about what led her to meet with House and tell him he had lost her confidence. She said he was being untruthful and leaving the party open to potential litigation.

“He had promised people jobs and turned and maligned those people and made up false accusations to justify not offering them employment,” Coffman told The Denver Post. [Pols emphasis]

She said that happened in more than one instance.

It is unclear exactly how prevalent this issue may have been with House, but one of the people Coffman is undoubtedly referencing is former State Senator Ted Harvey. Let’s go back to last week and House’s original bombshell statement alleging attempted blackmail:

The rumors started last night [Monday, June 15], when I was scheduled to meet with Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. When I arrived to our meeting, I was surprised to see that former Congressman Tom Tancredo and Pueblo County Chair Becky Mizel were also in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was initially unknown to me and I believed it was a routine strategy discussion by the Attorney General and myself. Congressman Tancredo confronted me about not hiring former state Sen. Ted Harvey as the Party’s executive director, and demanded that I resign my post. If I refused to meet their demand to resign, they threatened that a potential lawsuit may be filed and that false rumors that I have been unfaithful to my wife would be made public. [Pols emphasis]

Back on March 14th, when House was officially elected Republican Party Chair over incumbent Ryan Call, Colorado Pols reported that Harvey was set to be named as the new Executive Director of the State GOP. Harvey was overheard (repeatedly) telling Republicans that he would assume the ED role as soon as the following Monday (March 16). Harvey did not ultimately get the top paid job in the State GOP, in part because Harvey spoke up too soon and made it appear as though House might have made a promise that he should not have made.

Now, let’s go back to Coffman’s statement to the Denver Post that attempting to oust House was, at least in part, because he may not have followed through on promises to elevate the likes of Harvey. If the attempted coup against House was at least partially motivated by employment promises to Ted Harvey — and it certainly appears that way — then it leads to even greater concerns about the judgment of Cynthia Coffman and her merry band of extortionists.

Former Republican State Sen. Ted Harvey

Former Republican State Sen. Ted Harvey

It is possible that House and the Colorado GOP could face some sort of civil lawsuit from Harvey if he can prove that he was offered a job that he never received. But if House and the Colorado GOP had hired Harvey as Executive Director, they would have been walking into an entirely different legal minefield.

As we noted in January, Harvey is the registered chair of The Stop Hillary PAC, a fundraising organization that may not exactly be on the up-and-up. Harvey’s involvement with The Stop Hillary PAC puts him in the company of notable “SCAM PAC” founders such as Washington D.C.-based lawyer Dan Becker. As Politico reported in January, Becker’s previous PACs have been known to spend less than 12% of their fundraising efforts to fund political advertisements and other actions, while essentially pocketing the rest of the money for “operating expenses.”

If House and the State GOP had hired Harvey to be the Party’s Executive Director, they would have opened the door to a much more extensive list of legal problems. Can you imagine the illegal coordination charges that the GOP would be facing if the same guy in charge of a national Stop Hillary PAC — potentially a scam in itself — was also concurrently running operations for the Colorado Republican Party?

Was Cynthia Coffman not aware of this massive conflict of interest? Or was she unknowingly advocating for something that would place the Republican Party in significant legal trouble? Perhaps this is one reason why Coffman and others have been reluctant to get into details about their concerns with House and not hiring Harvey: Those details actually hurt their argument for getting rid of House.

Maybe House promised Harvey the ED job, and maybe he didn’t; either way, Republicans should be glad it never happened.

Need a Coffmangate Refresher? Catch up with these links:

The Strange Story of the Coup Attempt Within the Colorado Republican Party

Cynthia Coffman’s Political Career is Over. Done. Kaput.

Cynthia’s House of Cards: Dial ‘B’ for Blackmail

Mystery Character #4 Revealed in Coffmangate Scandal

EXCLUSIVE: Coffman-gate Scandal is About to go Nuclear

Right-Wing Blog Unwittingly Confirms Steve House Blackmail (Now, With Audio!)

EXCLUSIVE: Coffman-Gate Scandal is About to Go Nuclear

Cynthia Coffman

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman may soon be waving a white flag instead.

MONDAY UPDATE: We’ve heard from a number of people regarding a potential special election, which we originally noted could be held in November 2015. Should Cynthia Coffman resign in the near future, State Statutes indicate that Gov. John Hickenlooper would appoint a temporary replacement Attorney General until the State Senate reconvenes in Jan. 2016 (the Senate is required to approve an appointment), and a special election for the final two years of Coffman’s original 4-year-term would be held in November 2016.

Original post follows (6/20/15 at 4:38 pm):

—–

The “Coffman-Gate” extortion/blackmail scandal was first coming to light late last Monday evening, and by Tuesday afternoon it was already clear that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman had essentially ended her political career by stabbing former ally Steve House in the back — twice — over a span of about 12 hours. When we wrote that Coffman’s political career was over, we figured that she’d likely finish her four-year term before declining to run for re-election or finding herself defeated in a Republican Primary in 2018.

We may have been too optimistic. It now seems possible that Coffman will not make it through the summer as Attorney General…and that might be the least of her concerns.

Player #4 Has Entered
Apparently there is a fourth person who was heavily involved in the alleged extortion attempt of House; as of now, only Cynthia Coffman, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, and Pueblo County Republican Party Chair Becky Mizel have been publicly named. It would be a logical guess to say that former state Sen. Ted Harvey will be pulled into this before long — Harvey’s desire to be appointed Executive Director of the State Party has reportedly been a key piece of the extortion attempt — and perhaps he is the so-called “fourth person” now involved.

Federal Investigation Coming?
Behind the scenes, there has been a flurry of action involving the “Coffman-Gate” scandal over the past few days. We’re hearing that all parties involved are lawyering up in anticipation of a full-fledged criminal investigation — perhaps even a federal investigation (the FBI often handles investigations involving high-level elected officials, and we are talking about the top law enforcement officer in Colorado here). We’re still trying to gather details about the exact nature of a potential investigation, but it would almost certainly involve Coffman.

It now seems possible that Coffman will not make it through the summer as Attorney General…and that might be the least of her concerns.

The fact that everybody is scurrying for legal representation may indicate that someone involved in the extortion scandal is trying to make a deal ahead of any potential prosecution. It also explains why Coffman, Tancredo, and Mizel were being so cagey all week about the exact nature of their “grave and serious concerns” regarding House’s leadership of the State Party.


Significant Evidence
We’re also hearing that there is “significant evidence” (our phrase) that could elevate this case even further. From what we understand, there is a sizable amount of evidence indicating that the alleged extortion scheme was much more elaborate than has been reported. Depending on the type of evidence available, we could be talking about serious felony charges.


November Special Election Possible

Coffman’s political career is over — it’s really just a matter of how and when at this point. Coffman would almost certainly have to step down as Attorney General if she is facing felony charges, and replacing her would not be as simple as an appointment by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Coffman hasn’t even reached the 6-month mark of her first term in office, so her resignation would likely trigger a new, special election in November for Attorney General. Both Republicans and Democrats would likely have to find candidates and put together a full-on campaign sprint for the rest of the year.

 

We’ll continue to update this story as it develops, but you heard it here first on Colorado Pols.

Pay No Attention To Mike Coffman’s Buddy Ben Carson

coffmannotanamericanThe Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reported Friday afternoon:

Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman paid Republican Ben Carson $15,000 to speak at a fundraiser, according to a Wall Street Journal story reporting that the GOP presidential candidate and his wife earned between $8.9 million and $27 million in a recent 16-month period…

Democrats thought that they had redrawn the seat after the 2010 census to make it competitive enough to kick out the Republican but Coffman has moderated his views on immigration reform and other issues.

The DCCC says the speech is another reason to be skeptical of the shift.

“After years of running to the right, embracing the birther movement and paying the extremely controversial Ben Carson thousands of dollars, Mike Coffman has been attempting a fake moderate rebrand to keep his seat. Voters will see right through that,” said Tyler Law, press secretary for the Mountain West Region of the DCCC.

But as Rep. Mike Coffman’s spokesman Tyler Sandberg was quick to respond, zing!

Responded Coffman spokesman Tyler Sandberg: “They said that all last cycle and their No. 1 recruit in the country got steamrolled by 9 points.”

The swing between a Democratic-leaning electorate in presidential election years and a more conservative electorate in midterm elections is a well-established phenomenon all over the country, and can be easily seen in the very different election results here in 2012 versus 2014–or for that matter, 2008 versus 2010. In 2012, Coffman barely survived against an underfunded Democratic opponent, which raised hopes that Coffman would be ousted in 2014. But a strong national “GOP wave” combined with a surprisingly weak Democratic candidate in the form of uninspiring technocrat Andrew Romanoff allowed Coffman to outperform other Republicans substantially within the highly competitive Sixth District.

In 2016, the game will be very different for number of reasons, and Democrats should not be deterred by previous results in terms of how to go after Coffman. The 2016 electorate will be more receptive to Democratic hits on Coffman than they were last year, and that means crazy stuff that Ben Carson has said over the years–that Obamacare is the “worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” even worse than 9/11–will be more of a liability to Coffman than last year.

And that’s before Carson goes nuts on the presidential campaign trail, which is more or less guaranteed.

So, Uh, Now What? Republicans Look for Answers With Coffman Out

Congressman Mike Coffman told the Denver Post on Monday that he will not challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016 and will instead focus on re-election in CD-6. Coffman’s decision to stay out of the race is big news for the same reason a flawed Coffman was the GOP’s top choice to run for Senate in the first place – Republicans don’t have another option. There was no “plan b” last week, and there’s no “plan b” today.

So…now what?

It is a question that even the most seasoned and well-connected Colorado politico can’t answer with much certainty—but that doesn’t mean we won’t try! Where do Colorado Republicans go from here?

“Republicans don’t have a candidate yet, and nobody knows whether they will end up with a strong recruit or a weak one.”

— Political Analyst Stu Rothenberg, the Greeley Tribune.

First, Do No Harm

Coffman has served in elected office for 26 years, and you don’t have a career like that without making smart choices about when and where to run. Make no mistake: Coffman would not have turned down a Senate run if he truly thought that he could win. Opportunities like this – to be handed your Party’s nomination for a U.S. Senate seat — don’t come along often. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met with Coffman at least twice in the last few months to personally convince him to run in 2016.

Coffman was unquestionably the GOP’s first and best choice to run for Senate this cycle. There’s no disputing this. That Coffman declined to run, despite recruitment efforts from local and national Republicans, will force GOP strategists to make some difficult decisions. With Coffman out of the picture, Republicans have to get pragmatic about their level of commitment to beating Bennet next year. Republicans struck gold with Cory Gardner in 2014, but can they really do it again two years later? Only once in the last 40 years have incumbent senators from the same state and same political party lost re-election in consecutive election cycles.

This question is not just about candidate recruitment – it is about whether Republicans are committed to finding the resources for their Senate candidate no matter who wins the nomination. The most important goal for Colorado Republicans in 2016 is to create an environment in which the GOP candidate for President can win in Colorado. Republicans need Colorado’s electoral votes more than they need another GOP Senator, and that reality will dictate the allocation of resources and money. It was just five years ago when the ridiculous Dan Maes ended up as the GOP nominee for Governor against Democrat John Hickenlooper. Republicans didn’t have anyone capable of defeating Hickenlooper in 2010, but Maes was such a terrible candidate that he hurt other candidates up and down the ballot. (more…)

Vets Rally, Coffman VA Grandstand Gets Thinner

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

As the Denver Post’s Anthony Cotton reports, a rally outside the construction site for the troubled VA Medical Center project on the Anschutz health care campus in Aurora yesterday was well attended by local veterans with a single, simple message: “Finish the damn thing.”

More than 150 people turned out for the rally, held across the street from the embattled project.

Congress has debated whether to complete the hospital since its price tag leapt to $1.73 billion, nearly triple the original budget.

Construction is continuing this month in Aurora with a reduced workforce and a short-term infusion of federal cash that is expected to run out in about two weeks.

If Congress doesn’t provide more money, it’s possible the project will be shut down…

Rep. Mike Coffman, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, attended yesterday’s rally outside the Aurora VA hospital site. As our readers know, Coffman has recently become a leading critic of the VA, expressing “shock” at the large cost overruns the project has incurred–despite the fact that he knew the project was headed wildly over budget over two years ago. During the recent fight in the U.S. House over preventing the project from shutting down, Coffman half-heartedly criticized his own Republican leadership for their unwillingness to appropriate the funds needed to finish construction.

So yesterday, Coffman had a much stronger message for the vets he was using as a backdrop, right? The AP’s Dan Elliot says not so much:

Congress will insist on significant changes in the Veterans Affairs Department before approving money to finish a vastly over-budget medical center outside Denver, [Pols emphasis] Rep. Mike Coffman said Sunday.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D).

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D).

Contrast Coffman’s equivocal answer against the other member of Congress at yesterday’s protest, Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, as quoted in Cotton’s story:

Perlmutter told the crowd that he’s also been frustrated with the lack of progress on the project, which will replace a hospital for veterans built in Denver after World War II.

“Nothing ever happened until we brought these out here ourselves,” he said, holding up a shovel.

“This country has enough money to finish this … and when it’s done it won’t be ‘a damn thing,’ but a fabulous medical research center that will serve the 1 million veterans in this region.” [Pols emphasis]

Now folks, which Congressman do you think was closer to what the veterans attending yesterday’s “finish the damn thing” rally wanted? The Congressman who says finish the hospital, or the Congressman who warns that Congress, fully controlled by his own party, is going to demand concessions before letting the VA finish the hospital? The answer is obvious: enough so that we’re surprised Coffman wasn’t booed off the stage.

Bottom line: everyone knows there is plenty of blame to go around for the huge cost overruns this project has suffered, and that the VA is a cabinet-level agency of the Obama administration. But that does not relieve Coffman of his share of responsibility, especially since he has been chair of the congressional committee responsible for overseeing the project for years. If the priority here is really to serve our nation’s veterans, of course the immediate objective is to complete the hospital–and not reduce the quality of care at the new facility as a penalty. If you want “changes” at the VA in response to the failures here, fine, but don’t further delay or jeopardize this necessary project to get them.

The longer this goes on, and the more his fellow Republicans become the primary antagonists against completing the project, Coffman’s position between these opposing factions becomes more and more untenable.

And that is how the strength Coffman enjoys grandstanding today could become a liability before it’s over.

Coffman does little to promote immigration reform besides create the appearance of support for it

(Try to Google “What is Mike Coffman’s position on immigration reform?” — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

coffmanpushup

In response to my post yesterday urging reporters to spotlight Mike Coffman’s weak advocacy for immigration reform, Coffman’s spokesman Tyler Sandberg told me via Twitter that “Google is Your Friend,” and directed me to an instance when Coffman said he was “deeply disappointed” with House opposition to a resolution allowing young immigrants to gain citizenship via military service.

Google is my friend, and it confirms my larger point that Coffman does little to promote immigration reform besides create the appearance of seriousness without the much substance at all.

Coffman has expressed disappointment, yes, and I regret writing that he didn’t use the word, but he hasn’t seriously challenged Boehner, who’s arguably been the biggest obstacle to immigration reform in the country.

Where was Coffman’s disappointment when the Senate’s bipartisan immigration legislation, with Marco Rubio’s name on it, died in the House. Coffman didn’t even support a vote on the bipartisan and comprehensive bill, despite Coffman’s public statements in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.

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Here’s How Coffman Has Not Gone to Bat for Immigration Reform

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman has spent years telling reporters how much he cares about immigration reform.

But what would it look like if he really wanted to pass an actual factual immigration-reform  bill? Instead of just talking about one? Or writing an op-ed about it? Or even attending a press conference about it.

Last week we saw what Coffman looks like when he’s actually trying to convince his Republican colleagues of something. This is not the Coffman we see during immigration debates, despite his claims of support for reform.

The Hill reported May 20, as House Republicans appeared ready to halt construction of the Veterans Administration hospital in Aurora:

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said he has been “shuttling back and forth” between meetings with McDonald and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to work out a deal.

9News reported May 19, in a piece headlined “Coffman: Speaker Must Act to Save VA Hospital:”

“I’m disappointed in the VA for their mismanagement. I’m disappointed in the speaker, for in my view, not showing appropriate leadership so far,” Coffman told 9NEWS in an interview Tuesday. “I hope I can convince [Boehner] to understand that our veterans should not be the casualty.”

CBS4 reported May 20:

Coffman said he’s “greatly disappointed” in Boehner for not approving a short-term increase to allow more negotiation time and avoid the shutdown.

But have you heard Coffman say he’s greatly disappointed in Boehner over immigration? Even for blocking Coffman’s own bill? Nope. Last week illustrates a standard for pushing Boehner that reporters should hold him to.

Morgan Carroll CD-6 Buzz Continues To Build

Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll.

Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll.

Roll Call’s Alexis Levinson reports today on growing Democratic excitement in Washington, D.C.–and trepidation from Republicans–about a possible run by Colorado Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll for incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman’s CD-6 seat:

Coffman has proved resilient over his four terms. He has been a top Democratic target since redistricting reshaped his solidly Republican district into a more competitive one. After a tight race in 2012, defeating his opponent by 2 points, he easily toppled former state Speaker Andrew Romanoff by 9 points last fall…

State Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll, term-limited out of her seat, has emerged as the top choice over the past few weeks. She has met with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and she attended the House Democratic Caucus meeting last week, shadowing Rep. Jared Polis during her time at the Capitol, according to a source with knowledge of her visit. Carroll has a reputation as a strong fundraiser, and represented the area as a member of the state House and while practicing law there.

That profile alone makes her appealing to Colorado Democrats, who say one of the problems the past two cycles was running two white men who were viewed as carpetbaggers.

“With Hillary [Rodham Clinton] at the top of the ticket, having a woman candidate only makes sense,” said Colorado Democratic consultant Laura Chapin. [Pols emphasis]

The only downside Roll Call speculates about with Sen. Carroll relates to her voting record in the legislature, and the likelihood of “gotcha” attacks on votes she’s taken similar to what we’ve seen leveled against Coffman’s last two CD-6 opponents. As we’ve noted, however, the big difference this time is Sen. Carroll’s willingness–even eagerness–to run on her record, and to articulately defend both her career and the progressive ideals she has always campaigned on.

Unlike 2014’s Andrew Romanoff, Carroll is not a Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) “milquetoast” Democrat who will shy away from her principles, and that may be exactly the edge against the aggressively reinvented Coffman that she needs to avoid Romanoff’s fate. It’s worth remembering, and we’ll have many occasions to point it out in the months ahead, that the victories both Coffman and Sen. Cory Gardner enjoyed last year were primarily the result of those candidates flanking their opponents on the left–a tactic that Carroll’s unambiguous progressive record renders ineffective.

Sources tell us that as of this writing, Carroll is “leaning toward” entering the CD-6 race. The increasing likelihood of a tough challenge for CD-6 is reportedly giving both Coffman and national Republican strategists pause, delaying what may once have been an easy decision for Coffman to step up to the U.S. Senate race in 2016–though there is debate on this point as well, with some close to the decision maintaining that he has always been unsure about challenging Michael Bennet.

As of now, Coffman and Republican strategists have an additional worry.

Congress Approves Memorial Day VA Hospital Band-Aid, Wound Still Festering

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman reporting now on a last-minute deal to keep construction going at the troubled VA medical center project on the Anschutz medical campus in Aurora…for now, anyway:

On the same day Congress is preparing to leave for a Memorial Day break, House Republicans introduced a last-minute temporary patch that would prevent another work stoppage at Colorado’s new VA hospital project.

The bill introduced mid-day by VA committee chair Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Florida) would increase the current $800 million cap on the project to $900 million, which would buy another few weeks of construction work on the site until congress can come back and consider options for a longer-term fix…

Kiewit-Turner…announced in a memo Wednesday that a shutdown on Colorado’s mismanaged VA hospital project would add between $125-200 million to the overall cost of the project and delay opening until as late as 2018.

Rep. Mike Coffman and fellow Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter were reportedly prime movers for this bill, speaking on the House floor this morning in favor of speedy passage to allow construction on the project to keep going through and beyond Memorial Day weekend. While that would prevent highly unfavorable news headlines during the holiday when we honor our fallen veterans, as the AP’s Nick Riccardi alludes to in a Tweet today, it’s not really what you’d call a solution to the larger problem:

Aurora VA medical center site. (credit: VA)

Aurora VA medical center site. (credit: VA)

The fact is, this short-term deal doesn’t help that much, because there will still be tremendous uncertainty for the contractors doing the work. Construction firms need the lead time that comes with planning certainty to properly allocate limited work crews on construction projects–at this project and others elsewhere. One of the reasons this project has gone so woefully over budget is that the problems with budgets and timetables have made it harder to find subcontractors to perform so many of the tasks required. Denver’s hot construction market means that if subcontractors don’t want to deal with the headaches and political uncertainty on this project, they don’t have to.

Coffman can claim he persuaded his own Republican House leadership to allow this short-term deal to keep construction going, but we’re likely to be right back in the same position just a couple of weeks from now, so this is more of a punt than anything. Can Coffman keep the project going with the threat of a politically unsightly Memorial Day shutdown removed? What pound of flesh will Coffman’s Republican leadership demand next time to keep this hospital alive? How many times can Coffman try to be the savior before the press starts asking why the chairman of the VA Oversight Committee has done so little to solve this problem despite knowing about it for years?

Bottom line: especially after the actions of Coffman’s Republican leadership this week risking another shutdown of the project, the line between being a hero and being part of the problem here is precarious at best. This deeply troubled but necessary new hospital for our vets isn’t out of the woods yet–and neither is Mike Coffman.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 21)

MoreSmarter-RainApparently today is Red Nose Day; the first person who can find two friends who know what this means wins a prize. 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…

► Congress is unlikely to figure out a plan to continue funding construction at the VA Hospital project in Aurora, so it looks like work will shut down on the site as soon as next week. Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) — the Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee — took time out from blaming other people to have breakfast this morning with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss a potential Coffman campaign for U.S. Senate in 2016. Hey, priorities, right?

► If funding for the Aurora VA Hospital project is halted, that doesn’t mean the government is still saving money. As Mark Matthews reports for the Denver Post:

According to one congressional estimate, it would cost $20 million to shutter the site and $2 million a month to keep it safe from the elements — additional expenses that would increase the price tag of a project that has been called the biggest construction failure in VA history.

That’s not all. There are concerns among Colorado legislators that another work stoppage would drive away subcontractors, who already had to live through one shutdown in December. That could further increase the price…

…”I have presented a plan,” [VA Secretary Robert] McDonald wrote. “Congress has not proposed a counter-plan. I am open to reviewing any proposal that would better serve the veterans of Colorado and the American taxpayers.

“If congressional leaders choose not to support VA’s proposals or choose not to offer feasible solutions of their own, then they will be punishing Colorado veterans today for past VA errors.”

Maybe Coffman was proposing his plan to Mitch McConnell at breakfast this morning.

 Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Coffman’s Progress-Free Immigration Theatrics Continue

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reported yesterday on a…push, agitation, grandstand, kabuki dance, whatever you want to call it from Rep. Mike Coffman for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to allow “DREAMer” undocumented students to enlist in the military:

A provision that could pave the way for young immigrants to serve in the U.S. military has sharply divided two Republican members from Colorado’s delegation — and the upcoming vote Thursday afternoon is expected to come down to the wire.

On one side is U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, who supports an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act — a military policy bill — that would encourage the Pentagon to accept into service young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Specifically, the provision targets immigrants who were shielded in 2012 from deportation by the Obama administration as part of a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals…

Opposing the effort is Lamborn of Colorado Springs. He’s part of a conservative effort to strip that language from the bill and signed a letter earlier this month that demanded its removal.

Coffman’s staff took to social media yesterday to make it as publicly visible as possible that he supports letting DREAMer students die for their our country:

But as was a foregone conclusion before Coffman said a single word, the amendment failed at the hands of Coffman’s Republican colleagues. Roll Call:

A 221-202 vote on an amendment, offered by Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., stripped a provision in the underlying bill encouraging the Pentagon to study options for enlisting undocumented immigrants into the military in exchange for a pathway to legal status.

All 182 Democrats voted “no,” joined by 20 Republicans.

Passage of the Brooks amendment will prompt a sigh of relief from GOP leaders…

“The House should not take action to legitimize the president’s unconstitutional overreach on immigration,” proclaimed Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects from deportation the certain undocumented immigrants who would be eligible for military enlistment in some future scenario.

Here ends yet another situation where Coffman was able to burnish his pro-immigrant credentials without risk of any outcome that might uncomfortably alter the status quo. Coffman repeatedly makes reference to “DREAMers” in his call to let them enlist in the military, sidestepping the fact that he opposes the actual DREAM Act. In fact, Coffman once called the DREAM Act “a nightmare for the American people.”

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Coffman should be asked about exceptions in 20-week-abortion ban

(But remember, the “War on Women” is a myth! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman shrugs.

Rep. Mike Coffman shrugs.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Coffman voted for the 20-week abortion ban yesterday. Under the bill’s exceptions, a raped woman can have an abortion only “if the rape has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency.” And a child who’s a victim of incest can obtain an abortion if the “incest against a minor has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency or to a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse or neglect.” There is no exception for adult incest victims.

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Abortion continues to be a major focus of House Republicans, as they prepare to vote today on the latest version of their 20-week abortion ban.

The bill mandates exceptions for rape-and-incest victims, but to be allowed to have an abortion, a raped woman has to seek counseling or medical help within 48 hours of the procedure.

Coffman’s vote on the bill should be of interest to reporters. For most of his political career, Coffman took a hard-line position against any rape-or-incest exception to his anti-abortion stance. But facing a tough re-election fight, he announced his support for abortion for rape and incest.

In his vote on a similar measure in 2013, Coffman favored exceptions for rape and incest but he also voted for the requirement that rape victims report the crime to police, in order to be allowed to have an abortion. Will this year’s requirement for counseling or medical help be enough for Coffman?

If no, why? If so, what’s the explanation for his change of heart on this issue? Why does he no longer support police reporting?  Why the evolution from someone who was fiercely opposed to abortion, even for rape and incest, to someone who favors exceptions? The makeup of his new district? A personal story?

Just as House Republicans in Washington are again fighting over which exceptions should be included  in their 20-week abortion ban, the left-leaning People for the American Way has released a new report, “The Personhood Movement: Where It Comes From and What it Means for the Future of Choice,” which explains the strategic thinking of the different factions of the anti-choice movement.

The report offers a broad overview of the politics and policy of personhood, focusing on the current disputes among personhood leaders over where to take the movement going forward. And it explains why some anti-choice leaders oppose state personhood amendments, even though they share the common goal of outlawing abortion.

The report points out that personhood leaders denounce anti-choice allies, like Coffman, when they support exceptions for rape and incest, even when done in an obvious effort to make themselves or their anti-abortion legislation more palatable to the public. The report states:

“But the greatest betrayal in the eyes of these personhood advocates is the willingness of major anti-choice groups to endorse legislation that includes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. The personhood movement’s leaders contend that these political concessions are not only immoral and intellectually inconsistent, but also threaten to undermine the movement’s goals in the long term.”

We’ve seen this play out in Colorado, as personhood leaders have turned against Republicans like Coffman.

In any case, Colorado continues to be ground zero for the personhood movement, and the PFAW report helps put what we see in front of us in a national context.

 

Get More Smarter on Monday (April 27)

MoreSmarter-RainToday’s forecast calls for rain, or something. 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…

Opening Statements begin today in the Aurora Theater Shooting trial, nearly three years after the attack at a late-night screening of The Dark Knight Rises. The Associated Press takes a look at what to expect over the next several weeks as attorneys attempt to deal with an “insanity” plea. Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry has a very thoughtful take on what is sure to be an unpleasant summer for all involved with the trial.

► The Office of Consumer Counsel is a hot topic this week in the legislature. Democrats in the House have introduced legislation to re-authorize the OCC without stripping it of authority over the telecommunications industry.

► The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a “field hearing” in Denver on Friday to discuss the myriad of problems associated with construction of a new VA Hospital in Aurora. Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) also attended the hearing, which came on the same day as a new report showing that Coffman hasn’t done much “oversight” despite being the Chairman of the House VA Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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