Jeffco Recall Opponents Get Shifty–Because They Can

Julie Williams of the Jefferson County School Board.

Julie Williams of the Jefferson County School Board.

This off-year’s biggest race in Colorado by a considerable margin is the recall election underway against the right-wing majority members of the Jefferson County school board. Gabrielle Porter at the Canyon Courier wrote an excellent story last week on the “outside” groups playing in this race on both sides. For those of us familiar with the interplay between candidates, independent message groups, and the money that makes it all come together, a lot of this story explains processes you know.

But there is something a bit odd, even for those of us who follow this game regularly:

On the incumbents’ side, a nonprofit group with conservative ties has funded television ads featuring [board member Julie] Williams that toe — but do not cross — lines that would require it to disclose finances…

Stephen Spaulding, Common Cause’s senior policy counsel and legal director, said that while he hadn’t seen the ad featuring Williams, political operatives frequently take advantage of vagueness in campaign finance law.

“When a candidate is appearing in a C-4 ad, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, people can decide whether it really is a campaign ad,” Spaulding said. “Voters can really easily suss out when something looks like a campaign ad and when the rules are being exploited.”

Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch, said considering that Williams is not restricted by donation limits in this race, the nonprofit could have easily donated funds directly to her, and she could then have run a campaign ad with a call to action. [Pols emphasis]

“Games are being played. That’s what’s going on. … It’s not at all typical and sounds like somebody’s intentionally pushing the envelope to see how much they can get away with …,” Toro said. “There’s no reason they couldn’t have just given her the money or just run an ad that just says, ‘Vote for me’ … The only reason to do it that way is to avoid disclosure.”

Jon Caldara.

Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute.

What’s particularly strange about these ads featuring Jeffco school board member Julie Williams from the right-wing Independence Institute, a nonprofit charity that does not disclose its donors, is that they don’t have to be run through a independent group at all. School board races in Colorado are not subject to the same strict contribution limits that most other candidates must abide by. Whoever paid for these ads could have simply written a check to Williams’ campaign to produce them. Heck, they could have done the whole production of the ad as an in-kind contribution to Williams’ campaign. What’s more, the ad could advocate much more directly if it came from Williams’ campaign. By running this ad through the Independence Institute, its content is significantly hobbled.

Williams said the creators of the ads never talked to her about how much they would cost, and said she didn’t know how many slots were purchased.

“I was just offered the opportunity to do the commercial …,” Williams said. “I think, as a candidate, you’re not supposed to know some of that.” [Pols emphasis]

In any normal circumstance, as a candidate who is actually appearing in the ad, you would want to know these things–wouldn’t you? Williams’ response to questions about the propriety of the ad she appears in sounds incredibly bad, but part of it simply reflects the strange rules that govern this school board recall election–versus virtually every other kind of election in Colorado that involves candidates for office. Whoever is paying for these ads in support of Williams is doing it this way on purpose, so you’ll never know who they are. Because there’s no other reason to do it.

And if the funders don’t want you to know who they are, there’s usually a reason for that too.

Jeffco School Board Candidate Won’t Say if She Actually Lives in the County

Jeffco School Board candidate Regan Benson may not live anywhere near the district.

Jeffco School Board candidate Regan Benson may not live anywhere near the district.

There was an interesting story in the Columbine Courier on Wednesday that you definitely need to read — particularly if you are a Jefferson County Voter.

Republican Regan Benson is running for a seat on the Jefferson County School Board in District 5. If School Board President Ken Witt is forced out in the recall election, Benson could end up being his replacement in District 5. This could lead to even more drama in Jeffco School Board politics, because it appears likely that Benson actually lives about 150 miles away — in Akron, Colorado. 

As Doug Bell reports for the Courier:

Benson has not directly responded to repeated questions about whether she lives in Jefferson County. She told Evergreen Newspapers in 2012 that her family had moved to Akron, a town in eastern Colorado, in part because of dissatisfaction with the Jeffco school district. Since declaring her candidacy, however, Benson has said only that she is still a registered Jeffco voter in District 5.

“I don’t believe it prudent to the issues of running for a local school board position to publish my address,” Benson said. [Pols emphasis]

Beth Clippinger, assistant to Jeffco Clerk Faye Griffin, said state statute requires school board candidates to be registered voters for 12 consecutive months before the election, and that Benson registered as a Jeffco voter in November 2013.

Regan Benson could have one hell of a commute if she is elected to the Jeffco School Board.

Regan Benson could have one hell of a commute if she is elected to the Jeffco School Board.

It may not be particularly relevant to publish Benson’s exact address(es), but it is certainly worth noting if she doesn’t live anywhere near Jefferson County, which appears likely. Benson apparently answered questions from the Columbine Courier via email — the story notes that she declined a telephone interview — and says that she decided to run for Jeffco School Board even though she opposes the recall effort.

While we can’t say for sure where Benson might rest her head at night, voter registration information is a matter of public record and fairly easy to check. Benson is a registered Jefferson County voter with an address in Morrison (Willow Springs), but her voter registration record also lists an address in Akron, Colorado — about 150 miles to the east. When there are two separate residences listed for a particular voter, it usually means that the second address is the destination for mail ballots.

Benson probably collects her mail ballot in Akron, and she refuses to say if she actually lives in Jefferson County, which is a weird thing to do if she really does live in Jeffco — what would be the point of dodging that question otherwise? And then there’s this:

Benson, who said she has never before run for office, said all three of her sons have in the past attended Jeffco schools, although her youngest son now attends school in another district.

The law doesn’t mandate that Benson actually live in Jefferson County so long as her voter registration is there, but why would you want to run for a school board position in an area that is 150 miles from your home? Jeffco has seen Republican candidates for school board in prior years who home-school their children, so it wouldn’t be new for someone to seek a Board spot with no obvious connection to the school district. But this — well, we’ve got to admit that we’ve never seen this before.

Nate Marshall Keeps It Real on Julie Williams’ Facebook Page

natemarshallBrought to our attention by the pro-recall blog Support Jeffco Kids–former Jefferson County GOP legislative candidate and avowed white supremacist Nate Marshall, who our readers will remember very well from his spectacular self-destruction in early 2014, is skulking around once again on social media causing embarrassment for his fellow Republicans.

This time, it’s embattled Jeffco Schools board member Julie Williams, who is currently facing a recall election–and who apparently never saw fit to remove Marshall from her Facebook friends after the whole white supremacy thing! In response to a post from Williams about the upcoming recall election, here’s what Marshall had to say:


Yikes! Nate isn’t the type to mince words as you know.

Unfortunately, after the incident earlier this year when Williams “accidentally” posted a link to a hate group’s protest against a district-sanctioned event about bullying of LGBT students, Williams has locked down her Facebook page to only allow her friends to see what’s posted there. As a result, we don’t know if Marshall’s comments were deleted, condemned, or even noticed by Williams at all.

But we do know Nate Marshall is her Facebook friend. After she got, you know, selective about her Facebook friends.

And that’s a data point voters may want to fully digest.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Oct. 9)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Today is Leif Erickson Day, apparently. Go Vikings! 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).


► While everybody wouldn’t mind getting a little More Smarter, it would be hard to get More Dumber than Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt. On Thursday, Witt held a press conference in Lakewood to make a “big announcement,” presumably about something that had to do with the Jeffco School Board recall election. As it turned out, Witt wanted to alert the media that he was filing an ethics complaint…against himself…and he didn’t even do that correctly.

If Witt’s goal was to really anger the local media, he succeeded beyond his wildest expectations. If not, the only thing Witt managed to do was make an impressive case for his own recall, while generating one of the weirdest headlines in recent memory.


► We’re gonna need a bigger thesaurus to adequately explain the complete mess that Republicans have made of Congress. Just moments before an official vote was scheduled on Thursday to select new leadership in Congress, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy abruptly withdrew his name from consideration for the next Speaker of the House — throwing the entire institution into an entirely new level of chaos. The quote of the day comes from Wall Street, where a representative from Guggenheim Securities called Thursday “the political equivalent of a dumpster fire.”

Many Republicans are trying to convince Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to run for Speaker, though he continues to resist the siren call of what has become one of the shittiest jobs in Washington.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Ken Witt, The Dumbest Man In Colorado Politics

UPDATE #2: 7NEWS’ Deb Stanley with an absolutely blistering story–if you were wondering if this little time-waster of a stunt had pissed off the media as we suggested this morning, you can stop wondering.

It did:

The political posturing around the recall election for three JEFFCO Public Schools board members has soared to an absurd new level. [Pols emphasis]

On Thursday morning, embattled board president Ken Witt said he was making a “major announcement” in regards to the recall he was facing.

When the media arrived, Witt announced he was filing an ethics complaint against himself and handed out copies of what he said he was mailing to the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission…

And it turns out, Witt’s point is moot anyway.


UPDATE: We think this clip speaks for everyone who endured today’s presser:

Meanwhile, Jeffco United for Action responds:

“Ken Witt’s political stunt this morning is exactly why thousands of parents and educators are seeking to recall him. We must get politics out of our schools and today, Ken Witt further confirmed he isn’t the person to move Jeffco Schools forward,” stated Lynea Hansen spokeswoman for Jeffco United for Action.

Parents have previously filed complaints about board actions with the IEC. The IEC about a year ago told us the school board is not inside their jurisdiction and neither are open meeting laws. Jurisdiction would lie with the District Court. Even if the court was to rule in our favor that the School Board Majority did hire their personal board attorney behind closed doors, the only outcome would be to require the Board to re-do their vote in the public.

“This recall is so much bigger than one issue. Thousands of parents collected double the required signatures because the community wants these harmful politics out of their schools,” continued Hansen.


Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt.

Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt.

Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt mysteriously gave notice last night that he would make a “big announcement” this morning. Since the report aired on CBS4 Denver last night, Jefferson County politicos have been scratching their heads trying to figure out what Witt was about to announce. Would he resign from the school board? Something else equally dramatic, justifying a presser at the Denver West Sheraton and camera crews from all the local networks?

As the Denver Post reports, not so much:

Ken Witt, board president of Jeffco Public Schools, announced at a news conference Thursday that he has file an ethic complaint against himself.

He has asked the Colorado Ethics Commission to investigate whether Witt was involved in breaking any open meetings laws.

Witt, a conservative member of the board, said the decision was in response to a recall effort seeking his ouster.

“I’m just calling their bluff,” Witt said Thursday…

That’s right, folks! Witt just self-inflicted this nigh-on unbelievable headline:


Now, the first problem here is that Witt filed his “complaint” with an entity that has no jurisdiction over school boards. Because it’s not a paid position, the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission ruled in 2009 that board members are excluded from the definition of “public officers” under Amendment 41. And if that’s not bad enough, the IEC isn’t even scheduled to meet again until after the election.

In short, this was about the most perfectly-engineered waste of the media’s time Ken Witt could have possibly come up with. If we had been a reporter suckered into showing up to this farce of a press conference, we would actually be very upset about the time and expense of dispatching busy camera crews and journalists to an event way out in the suburbs with absolutely zero news value.

The only thing we can add is that drawing attention to one of the principal allegations leveled by recall proponents against himself, especially in a way that makes him look like a uninformed clown while failing to refute anything regarding the allegation in question, is just laughably bad PR strategy. “Hey, look over here! They’re accusing me of something bad and instead of disproving it, I’m pulling this lame stunt!”

Whoever dispenses this kind of political advice needs to find a new career. Right now.

CU GOP Prez Debate Limited Seating Liability Grows

Rep. Jared Polis.

Rep. Jared Polis.

As the Boulder Daily Camera’s Sarah Kuta reports, Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder has joined the growing dogpile of complaints over the highly limited seating available to University of Colorado students at next month’s on-campus Republican presidential debate:

Congressman Jared Polis on Monday called the limited number of seats available at the Republican presidential debate being held at the University of Colorado next month “insulting” and urged debate organizers to make more room for CU students…

The debate venue, the Coors Event Center, can hold more than 10,000 people. Last week, a university spokesman said the limited seating is due to the setup of the stage, lighting and camera equipment.

In his letter to CU, CNBC, and GOP officials, Rep. Polis makes clear that he finds that excuse as laughable as we did:

This isn’t about politics – whether you’re right, left, or center, if you’re a member of the University community you should have every opportunity to meaningfully participate in one of the biggest political debates of the past four years. That’s why I’m urging you to work closely with the RNC and CNBC to allocate drastically more tickets for the University community. I know this is something the University is capable of, as demonstrated in 2012 when your campus hosted a campaign rally for President Obama that was attended by more than 13,000 students and community members.

I’m no expert, but I’ve never seen video cameras so big that it requires taking up thousands of seats in an arena to get good shots from multiple angles. [Pols emphasis]

7NEWS ran a story (video after the jump) about CU students organizing to demand more seating be opened up in the mostly-empty Coors Events Center–this coming after the CU student government passed a resolution last Thursday calling for a “drastic” increase in tickets made available to CU students:

A group of students have formed an online social media campaign called ‘Student Voices Count,’ with the intention of pushing for more student representation.

“This event was initially announced as a really good opportunity for students to be involved in something huge and as it turns out, we’re not,” said Julian Taranow, who is part of the movement.

Students tell 7NEWS they are puzzled why the Republican Party would hold a debate on a college campus and then not connect with the students.

As we fully expected and predicted weeks ago, this situation is rapidly deteriorating for both CU and the Republican Party. Where hosting a GOP presidential debate in the liberal stronghold of Boulder, Colorado might have seemed in a brainstorming meeting to be a stroke of genius, today it increasingly looks like a fool’s errand. Lurking just beneath the excuses is an obvious fact that no one can deny: the current slate of Republican presidential candidates are highly unlikely to resonate with the average CU student. The problem isn’t with the students, either, though your state of denial view about that may vary on partisan lines.

The problem is with the candidates. The problem is Jeb! Bush telling voters that black people vote to get “free stuff.” The problem is Ben Carson saying a Muslim can’t be President. The problem is Carly Fiorina making crazy stories up about harvesting live fetal brains. The problem is…well, more or less everything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.

Attempting to benefit from CU’s reputation as a leading center of scholarship while simultaneously preventing GOP presidential candidates from getting close enough to the CU student body to offend them may never have been a workable proposition. We have to attribute some of that hubris to longtime GOP kingpin and CU President Bruce Benson personally, given Benson’s near-obsession with fostering a “politically inclusive” climate at CU. It’s not much of a stretch from Benson’s eager foisting of a “visiting conservative scholar” on the university, which if you didn’t hear ended rather badly, to imagining that this clown car of GOP presidential candidates could come to CU and not face major embarrassment. Especially when you have to essentially hide them from the student body.

At this point, the damage from the story of excluding CU students from this debate is at real risk of overshadowing the debate itself. If this continues, by the day of the debate we expect a very large and news-cycle captivating protest outside the Coors Events Center. If we were in a decision-making position at the Republican National Committee, we would honestly consider throwing open the doors and filling this arena with every student who wants to be there. If there is any chance of a reasonable Republican presidential candidate emerging from this pack, there’s an argument that a crowd of non-GOP party faithful is better equipped to recognize and respond to that than a hand-picked conservative audience.

Unless, of course, nobody wants that. In which case maybe this is a train wreck that can’t be stopped.


Jeffco School Board Majority Shuts Minority Out

UPDATE: A fresh report from the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland has us wondering if major recall opponent group Americans For Prosperity is preparing for a loss in the Jefferson County school board recall elections?

Regardless of the outcome of the recall…

The politicians, school board candidates and conservative education reformers at an Americans for Prosperity Foundation education-reform strategy session Sunday repeated this mantra.

Two conservative Jefferson County Board of Education members whose jobs are on the line in the November recall, board Chair Ken Witt and Vice-Chair Julie Williams, heard this short-term-grim/long-term-hopeful message repeated again and again…

“We’ll be here on November 4 (the day after the election), regardless of what happens in the elections,” [Recall opponent Sheila] Atwell told the audience, which included Williams and Witt. “That’s what parents need to understand – this is a year-round effort. We always have to be vigilant.” [Pols emphasis]

Great long-term bravado, but for the three board members up for recall right now, maybe not the best message.

Or maybe it’s the only realistic message.


Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

As reported by Support Jeffco Kids, relations between the conservative Jefferson County school board majority–presently facing a recall election–and the outgoing minority members have broken down to a degree that appears to be affecting the body’s basic responsibilities. Here’s outgoing minority member Jill Fellman describing the latest incident of red-on-blue bad faith:

There is an Agenda Setting Meeting with the Superintendent and his Cabinet a week or so before every board meeting. The purposes of these meetings are to determine how much time agenda items might take and to give appropriate direction to Cabinet members to ensure agenda items meet the needs of the Board.

According to practice, Mr. Newkirk and I alternate going to these meetings. Today was my day to attend the meeting – so, I drove to the Ed. Ctr. Mr. Witt arrived at the meeting with Mr. Newkirk and informed me (in the presence of several staff members) (1) I was not needed and (2) Mr. Newkirk would be attending the Agenda Setting Meetings until the election.

I’m a big girl, and I can deal with the lack of respect that I see every day from this Board majority. At the same time, our District deserves elected officials who treat each other and the public with respect, even when they disagree on policy…

Outgoing Jeffco school board member Jill Fellman.

Outgoing Jeffco school board member Jill Fellman.

Obviously, there’s tension on the Jeffco school board today as a recall election targeting the conservative majority rapidly approaches. But that’s hardly an excuse for those majority members to exclude the minority from an official meeting setting the agenda for school board meetings. The high drama that has regularly erupted at Jeffco board meetings in recent months seems most unlikely to abate if the minority is shut out of the planning for those meetings. In fact, that seems like a sure way to further aggrieve the standing-room-only crowds who turn out month after month.

Staring down the barrel of a recall, it should be obvious that you shouldn’t make things worse for yourself with avoidable bad press. There’s nothing we can think of to be gained by shutting Fellman out of these meetings that isn’t outweighed by the negative impression this action gives the voters about to decide your fate. This is the kind of nasty anecdote field campaigns depend on to win undecided votes.

So yes, it’s a big mistake, committed out of what appears to be pure spite.

CU Student Government Revolts Over GOP Debate Access

CU-Boulder's Coors Events Center.

CU-Boulder’s Coors Events Center.

As the Boulder Daily Camera’s Sarah Kuta reports:

University of Colorado students are frustrated that they won’t be able to attend the Republican presidential debate being held on their campus and are banding together this week to demand that more tickets be made available.

Late Thursday night, the CU Student Government passed a special resolution chiding the university, the Republican National Committee and CNBC, the cable news channel that’s broadcasting the debate, for making just 50 tickets available to the university community.

The Oct. 28 debate is being held at the Coors Events Center, which can seat more than 10,000 people. But the audience will be capped at roughly 1,000, with a small fraction of those seats going to university students, faculty and administrators…

The CU Student Government resolution calls for a “drastic” increase in the number of tickets available to students and the community and states that if the Republican National Committee and CNBC refuse to do so, the university should no longer be involved with the event. [Pols emphasis]

We’ve been watching the controversy over the highly limited seating available for the October 28th Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus build over the last few weeks like a ticking…on second thought, let’s go ahead and avoid that analogy. But as soon as it was announced that only a small fraction of the available seats at CU-Boulder’s Coors Events Center would be filled at all, and that of those few seats only a token number would go to CU students, we predicted that decision would result in much more controversy than it was worth to the GOP’s image.

That is, unless having an open and accessible debate full of CU students really would be a disaster for the GOP’s slate of presidential candidates. That’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room: the foremost reason this budding controversy is so bad for Republicans is that everybody knows why they’re not letting CU students attend in any significant numbers.

“We have requested more, but we anticipate that few, if any, will be forthcoming,” wrote CU-Boulder spokesman Ryan Huff in an email. “We understand that this is primarily a television event and CNBC has limited the audience of the 11,000-seat Coors Events Center to about one-tenth of capacity due to the set-up of the stage, lighting, camera equipment, etc.”

He said the university will soon be releasing information about a student watch party on campus.

Sean Spicer, chief spokesman for the Republican National Committee, reiterated on Friday that the debate is a televised event not meant for a live audience… [Pols emphasis]

Obviously, if the event is “not meant for a live audience,” why hold it in a stadium? Why have 1,000 mostly hand-picked people there at all? This excuse just plain doesn’t make sense, and the idea that the stage and broadcast equipment for the debate is going to fill up 10,000 seats in the Coors Events Center is silly on its face.

The Donald and Jeb!

The Donald and Jeb!

The real problem, as we all know, is that putting the current slate of Republican presidential candidates in front of anything other than a hand-picked audience of Republican Party loyalists risks demonstrating how out of touch many of them are–simply by hearing the audience’s reactions. As we’ve said, we don’t accept the argument that students would be inappropriately rowdy. This is about fully appropriate gasps and boos that would come in response to any number of recent on-record statements by Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb! Bush, and the rest of the crew.

The need to preserve a veneer of respectability for a group of presidential aspirants more of less devoted to embarrassing themselves, their party, and the entire nation in the eyes of the world–and folks, that is really what’s going on here, no hyperbole–is putting the University of Colorado in an ugly exclusionary position with their own students. The best choice would probably have been for CU President and GOP kingpin Bruce Benson to have passed altogether on bringing these clowns to the “People’s Republic of Boulder” under terms dictated by the Republican National Committee. Somebody in a strategy meeting had the super-crafty idea of holding a GOP debate in Boulder, and didn’t think through all the things that would mean.

But it’s too late now. The train wreck is underway.

Ken Witt Presents: How to Make the Case for Your Own Recall

Jeffco School Board President Ken Witt

Jeffco School Board President Ken Witt

Temperatures have been rising on the Jefferson County School Board ever since three right-wing members were elected to take over the Board majority in November 2013. As Colorado Pols readers are no doubt aware, these three Board members — Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams — are now facing a November recall election for a variety of reasons that we won’t rehash here (check Jeffco Pols for a more in-depth background into the Jeffco School Board controversies).

If you aren’t familiar with the controversies and issues that led to the November recall election, there was a moment at Thursday evening’s Jeffco School Board Meeting that perfectly encapsulates why the entire Jefferson County community has been in an uproar over the actions of Witt, Newkirk, and Williams. You can see the video yourself below, which better conveys the emotion of the exchange as Board Member Lesley Dahlkemper is nearly driven to tears out of frustration and anger in response to an incredibly disrespectful display from Board President Ken Witt.

“I am fed up with the way we are running this Board.”

— Jeffco School Board Member Lesley Dahlkemper

The back-and-forth discussion in question followed the introduction of a resolution proposing changes to the District Accountability Committee (DAC) Both Dahlkemper and Board Member Jill Fellman voiced their concern that Witt was forcing a vote on an item that the Board had not yet discussed, which is explicitly against the Board’s own policies. The resolution in question was sent around to Board members on Thursday afternoon — mere hours before the meeting was called to order — so Dahlkemper and Fellman asked Witt to schedule the vote for the following week so that the item could be discussed first.

“I don’t know how we can have a conversation and vote on something I saw for the first time 4 hours ago,” said Fellman. “I’m not willing to do that.”

Jeffco School Board Member Lesley Dahlkemper

Jeffco School Board Member Lesley Dahlkemper

Dahlkemper also noted that a discussion was pertinent because a volunteer committee of parents, teachers, and administrators had been working for months on changes to the DAC. Here’s what happened next:

LESLEY DAHLKEMPER: “At the very least, give us the time to read this, digest it, contrast it with what we have also been given by a committee that has spent more than three months analyzing state law and having conversations about this, to determine whether this is a good resolution moving forward. All I’m asking is that we follow board policy, we ask questions about this if we have any tonight, and then we put it on the agenda for the next Board Meeting to approve it. That’s all. That’s all I’m asking.”

KEN WITT: [Sarcastically] Ms. Dahlkemper, this has been read to you twice, but we can continue to go over it until you feel like you understand all of the terms. [Pols emphasis]

LD: Mr. Witt, don’t you dare speak down to me or disrespect me.

KW: I’m not…

LD: Yes, you have. And I’m sorry you don’t understand the difference between those two things…because I am done with it. [VOICE CRACKS] I can’t believe this…because I do not want to do this. But I will tell you – the mistake that you are making right now is that we have a policy on the table about how we govern. You are throwing governance right out the window because you have some agenda that you feel so critical that we have to vote on tonight…that even a simple request that is to say, “Look, our policy says we review it, and then we vote on it.” And don’t you dare insinuate that I don’t understand this policy. And stop talking down to people on this board, and also people who come forward. Enough. [Pols emphasis]

Policy disagreements are to be expected in any group of elected officials, but it’s inexcusable for Witt to a) Ignore Board policy at his own whim, and b) Display such blatant disrespect to a fellow board member. Witt’s behavior isn’t the primary reason why he, Newkirk, and Williams are facing a recall — but it’s near the top of the list.


Check out the video after the jump…



My son deserves a school without hate

A banner hangs in the entrance to Pomona High School, where my son is a freshman this year: “A school without hate.” It’s a basic value he and his friends believe in.

In Jefferson County, those values are under attack. Click here now to find out how you can be part of the solution.

Right now, my neighbors in Jefferson County and I are working on recalling members of the Jefferson County school board who don’t believe in schools without hate. Each year, Jefferson County schools participate in a “Day of Silence” protest against bullying on campus. In response, board member Julie Williams posted a link to a protest against the Day of Silence, which referred to this important anti-bullying awareness event as “perverse indoctrination.”

That’s not who I want in charge of my son’s high school education.

It’s time for a school board in Jefferson County that truly cares about every student. Over the next few weeks the campaign to inform voters about the upcoming recall election is kicking into high gear. And we need your help to ensure success.

Click here to visit Jeffco United’s website and volunteer to help the recall campaign. The campaign needs volunteers for a variety of important jobs, from knocking on doors to answering phones. And of course, please donate whatever you can today.

The eyes of the nation are on Jefferson County today, but for me, it’s personal. This recall is about my son’s education, and over 85,000 kids who attend Jeffco public schools with him. This is about my son’s good teachers in Jeffco who are being driven out by a board that doesn’t value their work. And it’s about making sure that far-right political ideology doesn’t dictate what’s taught in our classrooms.

Thanks for standing up when it matters most. Right now.

GOP To CU Student Body: Be Seen But Not Heard

yourmoneyyurvoteAs the Boulder Daily Camera’s Alex Burness reported this weekend, requests to allow more University of Colorado students to attend next month’s Republican presidential debate at the Coors Events Center have fallen on deaf ears:

The Oct. 28 event in Boulder, titled “Your Money, Your Vote” and televised by CNBC, will be held in the 11,000-seat Coors Events Center on the University of Colorado campus, but the audience will be capped at about 1,000, and nearly all those chairs are already spoken for.

“One of the things people need to keep in mind,” Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee’s chief spokesman, said Friday, “is that this is a television production more than anything else. It’s a major, major event, but it’s mostly focused on being seen by the tens of millions of people who are watching.”

…Though CU is hosting the event, the school will only squeak in a few dozen of its own.



Liberal group ProgressNow Colorado, who led calls last month for more debate tickets to go to CU students, is predictably unhappy:

“It’s outrageous that the Republican Party has chosen to shut University of Colorado students out of the October presidential debate on their own campus,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “The Republican Party is partnering with the University of Colorado to host this debate, co-opting the good name of Colorado’s flagship university to provide a forum for Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and the rest of the GOP’s out-of-touch presidential candidates. Now we know that the GOP is afraid to let anyone but a hand-picked audience see them.”

“What is the Republican National Committee so afraid of that they have to lock the CU student body out of this debate?” asked Runyon-Harms. “A hand-picked audience clapping politely at the Coors Events Center while Donald Trump insults women and Ben Carson insults Muslims would be an insult to the intelligence of every University of Colorado student. The millions of viewers watching this debate deserve to see and hear how real people respond to these presidential candidates. Anything less is worthless political theater, and a misuse of the University of Colorado’s reputation for open and accessible dialogue on the issues.”

There are two ways to look at this situation. On the one hand, as the RNC claims, the debate is arguably about the televised audience, not the crowd in attendance. And the Daily Camera reports that the last two GOP presidential debates only utilized a small fraction of the available capacity of the venue they were held in. You might even go a step beyond a logistical benefit of the doubt, and say defensibly that the RNC has the “right” to invite anyone they want to “their” debate.

But is it good politics to only give out tickets to a tenth of a venue’s capacity, when thousands of CU students would gladly fill those empty seats? That’s where this gets a lot trickier for the RNC, especially with liberals making an issue of those empty seats. We don’t buy the argument that college students would necessarily be disruptive of the debate, though their reactions even within a permitted range of applause and other vocalizations might indeed be something Republicans would want to avoid. Either way, we don’t believe a full Coors Events Center would create any technical problems for the televised broadcast.

Once you get past those objections, there’s really not much left except things the RNC doesn’t want to discuss. Like why those students would be repelled by things the candidates might say.

“There’s no fee paid to reserve the venues, but the publicity value is going to be quite substantial,” [CU spox Bronson Hilliard] said. “The PR value of having the campus continually referred to, the exterior shot that will start the debate, the sustained coverage inside the venue — if you were to pay for all of that in terms of advertising value, it would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

And that’s where this becomes tricky for everybody, including the University of Colorado. On the one hand, the university freely claims a six-digit PR value for hosting this debate on the CU-Boulder campus. For Republicans, hosting a debate on this historically liberal college campus has a much higher value in terms of legitimizing their field of candidates.

Once voters realize that the picturesque CU-Boulder campus is being used strictly as a backdrop, and that the students and faculty who make the place what it is are being excluded from attending the debate when they could easily be accommodated, we’d say the “PR value” drops substantially for both CU and the GOP.

Jeffco School Board Member Apparently Thinks Baseless Whining Will Help Him

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

From the beginning of the uprising by Jeffco parents and students, conservative Jeffco school board members and their allies (like failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez) have said directly or implied that community members are pawns of teachers’ unions.

Even now, facing a recall election and massive criticism that again demonstrates the power of the grassroots movement opposing him, board member John Newkirk continues to whine about unions and outsiders–and their foul play–without coughing up evidence of such nefariousness.

On KNUS 710-AM Monday, Newkirk spewed out a list of grievances, vilifying unions and others, and, in the process, demeaning the community.

Take a look below. It’s hard to feel sorry for Newkirk when he says stuff like, “I’ve had numerous constituents call me up saying, you know, there’s folks in the schools that are really crossing the line, now.” Hmm.

He provides none of the specifics you’d hope to hear from a responsible person who makes such accusations. This leaves listeners, even ones who are sympathetic to Newkirk, with no choice to but to conclude that Newkirk is mean, desperate, or worse.

Here’s an exchange from KNUS Sept. 14:

HOST KRISTA KAFER: It’s been a difficult couple of years as a board member pushing for reform. Of course, they have a right to do the recall. That’s the law, and they’re doing it. Or trying it, I should say. But some of the things they’re doing to raise support for it, I have concerns, are not legal and certainly not ethical. What are you hearing?

NEWKIRK: Well, I think some of them have crossed the line. There are a lot of c4 groups, and I think by law, only 40% of c4 activity can be political. Which of course doesn’t have any place in our schools, and of course electioneering doesn’t – so I’ve had numerous constituents call me up saying, you know, there’s folks in the schools that are really crossing the line, now. You know, at back-to-school nights – they’ll have aggressive people there, some of them from out of the district, actually pursuing parents down the halls as they’re going to their conferences or back-to-school nights, pushing literature on them that they don’t want. I’ve also heard constituents complain that they’ve actually had people showing up at local high schools trying to register 16-or-17-year-olds to register to vote and even to the point where if they check that they’re conservative, then they’ll belittle them in certain ways. So, you know, that’s not part of our educational goals here, to embroil our children in partisan politics. I’ve also heard reports that teachers are wearing their pro-union signs—uh, t-shirts and buttons and even sticking signs up in their classrooms. So, no, that’s not appropriate.

Kafer didn’t ask what in the world Newkirk was talking about. Where’s the backup for these rumors and strange utterances, or fpr any specific info about these alleged activities. This leaves Newkirk sounding like a gossipy teenager with Kafer lapping it up.


Sign the petition: CU students deserve to be there

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

AP GOP 2016 CPAC A USA MDYou’ve probably heard by now that the whole gaggle of Republican candidates for President will debate at the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus in late October.

We’re asking debate organizers to promise that at least 50% of the tickets to the debate will be made available to CU students. Sign our petition now.

The Republican presidential debate at CU Boulder is a chance to hear first-hand the positions of over a dozen presidential candidates. It’s a great opportunity to be involved with our political process that CU students have come to expect from their world-class educational institution.

But it’s critical that students be given the chance to attend.

The Boulder Daily Camera reports that no decisions regarding the distribution of tickets have yet been made. The Coors Event Center on the CU Boulder campus seats over 11,000 people.

The Republican Party is partnering with the University of Colorado to host this debate, and enlisting the credibility of Colorado’s flagship educational institution to elevate the GOP and the participating candidates. That’s why it’s so important that the audience for the debate include students of the University of Colorado. Anything less would be a deception.

Sign our petition: tell organizers of the October presidential debate at CU to make at least 50% of the tickets available to CU students.

Thanks for your quick response to this important petition. Let’s make sure that CU’s reputation is protected by making this debate open and accessible to CU students. It’s only fair.

Local GOP Operative Steps Down From The Gifted Class

GOP operative Caleb Bonham, who is somewhat less creepy than this photo suggests.

GOP operative Caleb Bonham, who is somewhat less creepy than this photo suggests.

Folks in the business will recognize the name Caleb Bonham, a local conservative activist and graduate from Colorado State University, who made the jump from the bush leagues of our local Revealing Politics blog to the quasi-big time of the conservative online ranks with his work for the Campus Reform project of the D.C.-based “Leadership Institute.” Campus Reform has spent a great deal of time in recent years attempting to police college campuses for what they see as “liberal bias,” as well as raging against such terrible burdens placed on strapping young college men as the University of Minnesota’s new affirmative consent policy for sexual relations between students.

Because obviously, real men know when no means yes! We digress.

Today, Bonham announced his last day with the Campus Reform project, and the launch of his new Denver-based consultant business with fellow local Republican usual suspects Kyle Forti and Lee Hopper. Hopefully this isn’t a demotion, but you never know when folks decide to join the consultant class:

Friends, today is a big day for me. Today I get to close a wonderful chapter in my life as Editor-in-Chief of Campus Reform.

It was a fun and hectic ride. We accomplished so much. I am especially proud of the leaders we assisted along the way – over 60 correspondents nationwide – activated, trained, and empowered to bring change and better equip themselves to thrive in life…

Kyle and Lee Hopper have done amazing things in Colorado and together, the three of us, are excited to bring our creativity to a new venture servicing the corporate and political space.

As a startup local business, we’re happy to give DCO Consulting some free promotion. And we’ll say in all honesty that Bonham is a true asset to the conservative activist industrial complex. Just last weekend, he spoke on a panel at the Americans for Prosperity Defending the American Dream Summit in Columbus, Ohio–and the subject was “How To Talk To Millennials.” As you can see from his photo of the audience,

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 1.18.21 PM

AFP really benefits from Bonham explaining “how to talk to millennials.”

Because apparently they don’t have any.

Welcome home, Mr. Bonham. You’re going to fit right in.