Ken Buck Poses With Illegal Assault Weapon?

Freshman Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado Tweeted this photo of himself yesterday:

gowdybuckgun

This is a photo of Rep. Buck with fellow Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina. The rifle they are holding is an AR-15 that Buck identifies as his own.

The problem? Assuming this photo was taken inside the boundaries of Washington, D.C., Ken Buck, the former district attorney of Weld County, Colorado, is now a lawbreaker. The AR-15 rifle is banned in the District of Columbia as an assault weapon, and gun magazines are limited to 10 rounds. As you can clearly see, Buck’s AR-15 (illegal in D.C.) is fitted with a 30-round magazine (illegal in D.C.). Under D.C.’s strict gun laws, weapons must also be registered–and obviously, you can’t do that if the weapon is already illegal to possess. All of these laws remain in effect even if your gun is painted with American flags.

Two years ago, NBC News’ David Gregory narrowly escaped prosecution in Washington, D.C., simply for bringing an unloaded 30 round magazine onto the set of his news broadcast. Short of a really good explanation we can’t think of right now–or, we suppose, the possibility this photo was taken across the Potomac in Virginia–we assume the D.C. Metropolitan Police will want to have a little chat with Rep. Buck about this.

All Hail Dudley Brown. Or Not.

kneelzod1UPDATE: More on the “failed coup attempt” from the Colorado Statesman.

—–

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post has more today on the bizarre coup attempt from a handful of Republican legislators doing the desperate bidding of Dudley Brown and his Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO).

As you read yesterday at Colorado Pols, Brown called into a conservative radio station to simultaneously complain and brag about Republicans pulling an unheard-of legislative maneuver on the House Floor. Bartels caught up with some GOP legislators yesterday, and they were not at all pleased with the kneeling:

The schism among conservatives over Colorado’s gun laws widened this week when four House Republicans formed a secret pact and pushed for a procedural move that exposes five members to potentially tough primaries in 2016.

“It was a clever idea, but it put some people in a very bad position,” said Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose. “We’re going to be talking about this until the end of the session.”…

…Senate Bill 175 died Monday in a Democratic-controlled House committee, but four GOP representatives — Steve Humphrey of Severance, Justin Everett of Littleton, Kim Ransom of Douglas County and Patrick Neville of Castle Rock — hatched a plan to try to resurrect the failed effort to repeal the ammunition ban so that it could be debated on the House floor.

“We forced a recorded vote,” [Dudley] Brown said on 630 KHOW radio Thursday. “Five Republicans voted wrong and all five of them are suspect and in danger in the next primary.” [Pols emphasis]

Reps. Brian DelGrosso and Polly Lawrence: Republicans in Charge by Title Only

Republicans In Charge by Title Only: Reps. Brian DelGrosso and Polly Lawrence await Dudley Brown’s instructions.

As noted by the Post, 26 Republican legislators supported the failed procedural move, including House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso and Assistant Minority Leader Polly Lawrence. It would appear as though Rep. Lawrence was not a big fan of the strategy — even though she supported it — because she had no idea it was coming.

Lawrence said GOP leadership was blindsided.

“Some communication would have been nice,” she said. “What happened on the floor was unnecessary.”

For years Republicans have used the term “RINO” (Republicans In Name Only) to describe other Republicans who don’t act sufficiently Republican enough.

Maybe it’s time for a new acronym. May we suggest: RICTO (Republicans in Charge by Title Only).

 

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 17)

MoreSmarterLogo-Hat1Rain, or snow? Yes! 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 Gov. John Hickenlooper is taking a big step forward in urging the legislature to do more to deal with Colorado’s fiscal/TABOR woes. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem a bit confused at the timing of Hickenlooper’s “Fiscal Thicket” plan, given that only four weeks remain in the current legislative session.

► The U.S. Senate will hold a field hearing on the status of the VA Hospital project in Aurora next Friday. As Mark Matthews writes for the Denver Post:

A day after the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs ripped into the VA for its role in building a new Colorado hospital now expected to cost $1.73 billion — more than five times its original estimate — the Senate veterans’ affairs committee announced plans to hold a field hearing on the issue April 24 in Aurora.

Colorado Sens. and had urged their colleagues to visit the state to investigate the troubled project, which has been beset by delays, cost overruns, and legal battles.

Do we really need the Senate Committee on Veteran’s Affairs to come to Aurora to understand that the hospital project is a complete mess?

 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Steve House Jumps On Andrews’ Hater Grenade

John Andrews.

John Andrews.

The controversy continues over the decision by organizers of the Western Conservative Summit, a major gathering in Denver of Republican politicos and activists including numerous 2016 presidential hopefuls, to “disinvite” the Log Cabin Republicans as a group that advocates “contrary to our agenda and our core beliefs.” The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reported late yesterday on belated damage control attempts by the Colorado Republican Party, looking to stop the proverbial bleeding before it becomes a nationwide embarrassment for high-level candidates who were planning to attend:

The Colorado Republican Party has invited a gay GOP group that wasn’t allowed to set up a table at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver to share its booth.

Party Chairman Steve House, who took over in March, made the announcement Thursday afternoon, one day after a firestorm over the snub by summit organizers to the Log Cabin Republicans.

Western Conservative Summit organizer John Andrews is clearly on the defensive at this point, but still isn’t very happy about having the tables turned:

“We’re fine with the Colorado Republicans sharing some table space at the summit with all their affiliated groups. We’re not fine with the shaming and bullying pressure tactics of Log Cabin Republicans’ national office,” said summit chairman John Andrews.

Andrews responded further in a blog post at the Centennial Institute:

The Log Cabin Republicans were never specifically invited to be a Summit exhibitor, rather they applied and paid online, subject to CCU’s final approval. When we politely declined such organizational recognition and affirmed they are welcome to attend as individuals, they chose to make a news story of it.

Let them try. We don’t believe a private religious organization standing by its core beliefs is news at all… [Pols emphasis]

Unfortunately for Andrews and the high-profile Western Conservative Summit, their decision to exclude the GOP’s foremost LGBT advocacy group absolutely is news. With public attitudes toward marriage equality rapidly shifting away from the intolerance Republicans have capitalized on politically for decades, this controversy stands out as a symbol of the conflict over the issue–a conflict that now exists almost entirely within the Republican Party, as just about everyone else in our society is ready to see gays and lesbians vested with the same rights and responsibilities as every other American.

In short, Andrews has placed this conference, and by extension everyone who attends it, on the wrong side of an overwhelming consensus in America that LGBT Americans deserve equality. Political fallout far above the level of John Andrews and Colorado Christian University this could result in is what Colorado GOP chairman Steve House is afraid of. House made the best decision possible in a bad situation, but the underlying problem of a party at war with itself–over an issue increasingly settled outside the GOP–is still very much in the spotlight.

And this won’t be the last time it gets publicly nasty.

Friday Open Thread

“When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”

–Ronald Reagan

Senate Republicans Just Get Weirder and Weirder

Have you met Senator Facepalm?

Have you met Senator Facepalm?

The first Colorado legislative session in a decade with Republicans leading the State Senate has been a strange trip. From a forehead-slapping focus on immunizations to the unpredictable antics of Sen. Vicki “Lost” Marble, we’ve witnessed more odd behavior than a full summer sitting in the Coors Field Rockpile…and there’s still a month left to go.

Today, 6 Senate Republicans cast very odd votes on an otherwise innocuous piece of legislation. According to a press release from the Senate Democrats (full release after the jump), SB15-011 doesn’t appear to be all that controversial:

The bill (SB 15-011) would allow a pilot program providing complementary and alternative medicine for spinal injuries to continue until 2020.

Sen. [Nancy] Todd started the program back in 2009, but it is currently scheduled to sunset in September 2015. The intent of the pilot program included expanding the choice of therapies available to people with disabilities. The bill today ensures that “complementary or alternative medicine” is available for Coloradans with spinal injuries to receive chiropractic care, massage therapy, and acupuncture by licensed or certified providers. It would also expand access to the program from its current 67 people to 100 people. [Pols emphasis]

The bill ultimately passed the Senate 29-6 vote. The opposition: Sen. Tim Neville, Sen. Laura Woods, Sen. Randy Baumgardner, Sen. Chris Holbert, Sen. Vicki Marble, and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg. 

Why? Why would you vote against this bill? It’s not a huge expense, it’s a big help to a number of families in Colorado, and it clearly had the votes to pass out of the Senate.

This isn’t as big of a deal to somebody like Sen. Marble, who is fairly safe in her Senate district; but why would Sen. Laura Waters Woods vote NO here? Woods will almost certainly be the top pickup target for Democrats in 2016, and it’s unexplainable votes like this that make for compelling advertising.

(more…)

On radio, RMGO’s Brown talks as if he owns the GOP Senate majority

(Doesn’t he? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Dudley Brown.

Dudley Brown.

Before she interviewed Dudley Brown, who spontaneously called her show this morning, KHOW 760-AM’s Mandy Connell told her listeners she had no opinion about Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, which Brown directs.

After the interview, Connell, an arch conservative, said she had an opinion–and I’m guessing you will too if you listen below.

In this case, Brown talked as if he has more of a right to interfere in gun legislation at the state Capitol than the Independence Institute has because RMGO bought and paid for the state GOP Senate majority.  And he went on about it, implying he’d organize primaries against five Republicans who voted against a violation of state Senate rules yesterday.

Connell started the conversation, which was first reported by Complete Colorado, with a question about why RMGO was opposed to raising the limit on magazine capacity from 15 to 30 rounds.

Then she asked, “So, why take out Dave Kopel?  Why go after him?”

Brown: Well, look, I don’t want to go into personalities on a public format. Dave Kopel is a wonderful writer. On strategy, he’s horrid! Dave Kopel is actually a Democrat. He has always advocated for compromise at every single turn. Every time we’ve ever had a gun bill in Colorado, he’s always advocated for compromise. And in fact, Dave Kopel is the one who fixed the Democrats mag ban so it did not include shotguns. He showed Senator Mary Hodge how to do it, mechanically. Probably being the one who enabled it to pass. Now, I have no qualms about being honest. But in politics, I don’t want it to be about personality. I want it to be about principle and strategy.

But, in all honesty, we simply don’t agree with Dave Kopel and never have, and for that matter, the Independence Institute, none of whom got these legislators into office.

It’s our organization and our PAC that spent the money to elect the legislature and take the Senate from the Democrats. We were the biggest funders of Republican candidates in the last election. Far bigger than the NRA. And let me be clear, I don’t know if this is – you could ask them, but my understanding is even the NRA opposes this compromise. Now, if the NRA opposes a compromise because it’s too squishy on the gun issue, that pretty much means that it’s as far left as it can be because the NRA usually buys into every compromise. In this case, my understanding is that they opposed it, too. Look there aren’t the votes to pass a 31 round ban –the repeal of the 30 ban, to make it 31. But there aren’t the votes for repeal, unless the Republicans take the House and the Governor’s mansion, neither of which are assured…

Now, to those people who say, “Wait a minute!  I want to be able to buy my 30 round magazine!”  I say, “Shut your pie hole and go buy one!”  There are many retailers who sell them right now.  They ignore the law, and God Bless them for doing so. And in many cases, your District Attorney and your sheriff won’t be involved in any cases against you, anyway…

Connell said, “You’re saying, ‘Go break the law.’”

Brown: I’m saying, “Do what you want.” But, the fact is, the ban, really — it’s like jaywalking. There really is no ban, right now. It’s largely a ban on some of the businesses who manufacture and didn’t want to be here, anyway.

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 16)

MoreSmarterLogo-Hat1Yes, we’re sick of the snow, too; you’re welcome, California. 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 is strengthening its rules for childhood vaccinations. Colorado immunization rates are among the lowest in the nation, which is not good.

► What does “justice” have to do with “Personhood?” Absolutely nothing, of course, but get ready to hear that word another 10,000 times.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

No Truth To Ken Buck’s ISIS/Texas Fearmongering

We took note earlier this week of an alarming claim by Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado via Twitter:

Rep. Ken Buck.

Rep. Ken Buck.

Ken Buck’s warning that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is “operating a camp just 8 miles from the U.S. border”–note the lack of qualifiers well-adjusted people use like “may be”–was based on a report by the conservative group Judicial Watch, which was then reported by the conservative Washington Times. According to Media Matters for America, Sean Hannity picked up the story on Tuesday, and it spread rapidly from there in the right-wing media.

But is there any truth to this frightening assertion? It doesn’t look like it. The same Washington Times story Buck cited quotes Mexican authorities denying there is an ISIS base anywhere near the U.S. border:

“The government of Mexico dismisses and categorically denies each of the statements made today by the organization Judicial Watch on the alleged presence of ISIS’s operating cells throughout the border region, particularly at Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua – El Paso, Texas,” Ariel Moutsatsos-Morales, Mexico’s minister for press and public affairs, told The Washington Times.

“The relevant authorities operating in the region have also confirmed the inexistence of these activities with their US counterparts, with whom they will continue to work closely and to exchange information at our common border,” Moutsatsos-Morales added.

KVIA-TV in El Paso checked with local American authorities, who dismissed this latest report of ISIS lurking over the border as unsubstantiated–just like previous similar reports:

It is similar to a rumor that U.S. federal officials dismissed months ago.

ABC-7 checked with several federal law agencies involved with border security and were told the report is unverified, and it is unlikely that ISIS is in Anapra or Juarez, Mexico.

Bottom line: unless this conservative advocacy group is privy to intelligence that nobody else has, including the governments of the United States and Mexico, there’s simply no evidence that any of this is true. For a sitting member of Congress to spread such a frightening, unconfirmed rumor without any kind of qualifier that it is unconfirmed is–needless to say–highly irresponsible.

On second thought, maybe we do need to say it, since it’s been two days now and no reporter has circled back with Buck to ask about it. No matter how safely conservative a district Buck represents, we have to think there are voters in his district who won’t appreciate this baseless fearmongering.

And we think they ought to know.

Fighting Overseas Tax Havens to Help Colorado’s Schools

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

overseas

It’s gotten to the point where everyone in Colorado wants politicians to find a way, somehow, to tax the money big corporations hide to avoid paying taxes, and then to use the tax revenue from these hidden profits on education. Okay, not everyone wants this but, seriously, most of us do.

But how to do it in a way that’s got a prayer of untying the knot of legal restrictions (TABOR) and divided government?

Democrats in the state legislature may have hit on a way to get this done.

Standing inside the Capitol on the eve of Tax Day, state lawmakers unveiled legislation that would stop Colorado corporations from hiding profits in overseas tax havens, like the Cayman Islands. Closing this tax loophole would generate a tidy $150 million in tax revenue annually that would go to education.

“There are some corporations that don’t pay their taxes, like the rest of us do,” said Rep. Mike Foote at the April 14 news conference, as you can see in a Denver Business Journal video here.

“They do get a chance to use our roads, to take advantage of educated folks to work in their businesses, courts for dispute resolution and so forth. But they don’t pay for the use. It’s not fair to the state of Colorado. It’s not fair to the rest of us. And this bill will address that lack of fairness by closing loopholes that some corporations use by funneling their money offshore in order not to have to pay taxes on it.”

The bill, sponsored by Foote and Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, would not only have to clear the legislature but also be approved by voters in November. So it has a long way to go.

But similar bills became law in Montana and Oregon, picking up bipartisan support along the way, according to the bill’s sponsors.

So you’d think a bill like this would have a chance here in Colorado, where the public is overwhelmingly in favor of such measures, according to a polls.

The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reported that the legislation is opposed by The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry:

“We understand the intent to eliminate the shifting of income to tax havens to avoid Colorado taxes,” said Loren Furman, CACI’s senior vice president for state and federal relations. “But, there are many instances where legitimate business is conducted in these countries, and that income may not have been subject to Colorado tax.

(more…)

Thursday Open Thread

“There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honour.”

–Benjamin Disraeli

Republicans Attempt Bizarre Coup To Placate Dudley Brown

brownrmgo

A press release from Colorado House Democrats describes a wild turn of events on the floor of the House today, in which Republicans attempted unsuccessfully to override Democratic Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, and resurrect the magazine limit bill that died Monday in the House State Affairs Committee. The effort not only failed, but resulted in hard-right Rocky Mountain Gun Owners attacking fellow Republican legislators who didn’t go along with the plan in yet another act of red-on-red treachery:

House Republicans embarrassed themselves this morning with a failed coup attempt against Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst that was covered with the fingerprints of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, an extremist special interest group that has clearly taken control of House GOP floor strategy…

Actions of committees are deemed final, and the speaker routinely approves the reports of the various committees and enters them in the House journal to codify the work of those committees. Rep. Everett moved to amend the journal to overturn the work of the committee and show that SB15-175 passed. The rules of the House do not address an amendment to the House journal, leaving the decision up to the speaker, per the rules of the House. Speaker Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, ruled the motion out of order and came to the well to explain her decision.

“The issue here is whether or not by amending the journal you can change the action of a committee,” she told the chamber. “There is no specific rule that says you cannot amend the journal to say that a committee didn’t do what they actually did. I think the reason that there isn’t a rule is that is pretty common-sense. When there is no rule, according to the rules, the speaker decides. And my decision is that we will always, in this body under my rule of order, consider the action of a committee and the vote of a committee as final.”

The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports:

A rare procedural move in the Colorado House on Wednesday aimed at forcing a vote to overturn the state’s ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines caught Republican Rep. J. Paul Brown in the crossfire…

Brown, from Ignacio, was one of only five Republicans to join in supporting the speaker.

“It went through the committee process. I don’t like the way the committee voted on it, but that’s what happened,” Brown said. “The speaker can be wrong on certain things. I think the speaker can be challenged. But in this particular case, when you’re trying to overturn what a committee did, that doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.”

Everett, however, said Brown should have supported challenging the speaker, questioning Brown’s commitment to repealing the gun control laws that were passed by Democrats in 2013. [Pols emphasis]

After this morning’s dustup, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners attacked all of the Republican representatives who voted against the “coup attempt.” Unfortunately for Republicans hoping to remain competitive in the 2016 elections, this includes critical targeted Rep. J. Paul Brown in HD-59–whose seat is central to both parties’ strategy for next year. Other Republicans now on the RMGO’s shit list include Reps. Tim DoreYeulin Willett, Bob Rankin, and Jon Keyser.

Here in reality, we know that Rep. Brown is pretty far from what you’d call anti-gun. Brown narrowly ousted Democratic Rep. Mike McLachlan last year after campaigning heavily against McLachlan’s support for the magazine limit bill (despite the fact that McLachlan had actually amended the magazine limit to increase it). But RMGO’s members are likely to follow the group’s lead without question, even when they make little sense as in this case–especially where it concerns downballot races voters know little about otherwise.

Bottom line: this was an embarrassing fool’s errand for the House GOP minority. It’s especially shocking that Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso participated in this action, the most brazen misuse of procedure anyone has seen since majority Republicans resorted to similarly drastic measures to kill the civil unions bill in 2012–and probably longer. Today’s incident is arguably even worse than what Republicans did in 2012, since the magazine limit bill had been killed fair and square in committee after hours of testimony. Safe to say that this will not improve bipartisan relations in the Colorado General Assembly.

As for relations between Republicans, eating their own to placate Dudley Brown seems to be the rule this year.

You Can’t Spell “Justice” with “Personhood”

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

After weeks of internal discussions, State Senate President Bill Cadman introduced legislation yesterday that would change the definition of a “person” to include “an unborn person at every stage of gestation.” In other words, Personhood, the same general idea that Colorado voters have rejected like John Andrews reading a Log Cabin Republican application.

Cadman was interviewed this week by Denver Post reporter John Frank for a segment on “Denver Post TV,” and the Colorado Springs Republican must have said the word “justice” about 700 times in less than 5 minutes (no, seriously, watch it yourself). Unfortunately for Cadman, repeating the word “justice” doesn’t make his legislation (SB15-268) any more noble than repeating the word “Beetlejuice” will resurrect the ghost of Michael Keaton.

This is the point in the story where we could cut-and-paste the definition of “justice” from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, but that’s a trite cliche that is not only unnecessary, but largely irrelevant when it comes to discussing SB-268. This legislation, titled “Concerning Offenses Against an Unborn Child,” is an attempt by Republicans to take another shot at getting “Personhood” on the books in Colorado; first, foremost, and everything else in between.

This bill, and the latest incarnation of this entire discussion, is the result of a horrific crime committed against a pregnant woman named Michelle Wilkins. But it does not right any wrongs. It does not fix any holes in the law. And it certainly won’t give Wilkins any more justice than she rightfully deserves. The alleged assailant in Longmont, Dynel Lane, is facing eight felony charges laid out by Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett, as the Denver Post reported last month:

Dynel Lane, suspected of luring an expectant mother to her Longmont home last week and cutting out her unborn child, was charged Friday with eight felony counts in the attack, including first-degree unlawful termination of pregnancy…

…Lane, 34, also faces a charge of first-degree attempted murder, two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault. Prosecutors also filed two counts of a crime of violence against Lane, which are sentence enhancers…

…Garnett said the counts filed are ones they believe they can prove “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“She could get a very long sentence and very well die in prison,” Garnett said of Lane. [Pols emphasis]

 

In 2013, the Colorado Legislature passed the “Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act,” a carefully balanced approach to increasing penalties for crimes against pregnant women while also protecting them from prosecution and essentially outlawing abortion altogether. Cadman proclaims loudly that this is not enough — that we need more laws on the books so that we can enact extra justice that won’t do anything to change the past or the future for anyone involved in the March 18 attack.

Will Dynel Lane be punished for her crimes? Is justice served if Lane spends the rest of her life in prison? Is this “justice” any more or less real because of the wording used in the criminal charges against her?

Inaction — or action — by the Colorado legislature WILL NOT SET LANE FREE. Let’s not forget this very important point. It is natural for elected officials to feel an over-inflated sense of importance during the fast-paced legislative session, and Cadman and his allies no doubt see this as a political opportunity that could help create a law (Personhood) that Coloradans do not want. This is our elected legislature we are talking about — we don’t give them judicial authority for a very good reason, and that shouldn’t change now.

So call this brazen legislative attempt whatever you want, even if you refuse to call it what it is.

Just don’t call it justice.