After briefly wrapping himself in the Planned Parenthood logo, Coffman back to hating the organization

(Naturally – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman came out swinging against Planned Parenthood yesterday, telling KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis, “It’s just one thing after another with Planned Parenthood.”

Then why did Coffman feature a Planned Parenthood logo in a campaign ad just last year, Caplis should have asked Coffman. Coffman’s 2014 ad stated that Coffman “was praised for protecting women from violence” and showed the Planned Parenthood Action Fund logo on the screen.

Judging from yesterday’s radio interview, Coffman has a list of longstanding grievances against Planned Parenthood, and Caplis would have done his listeners a favor by asking Coffman what they are. What was Coffman thinking of when he said Planned Parenthood has done “one thing after another?”

When Coffman’s ad ran last year, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains responded by pointing out that Coffman “voted many times to de-fund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide many important health services to women including birth control, family planning services, and lifesaving cancer screenings.”

In 2011, Coffman voted against Planned Parenthood funding, as part of a House resolution to the federal budget billHR 36, which prohibited  making funds available  “for any purpose to Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. or any affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc.”

For most of his political career, Coffman maintained his ardent opposition to abortion,even in the cases of rape and incest, as well as his support for personhood ballot measures in 2008 and 2010, which would have outlawed all abortion and some forms of birth control.

However, in 2013, Coffman flipped, and his office stated that the Congressman supported giving rape victims the option of having an abortion. Coffman has never explained what motivated this change, leaving everyone to conclude that he was trying to shine himself up for women voters in his swing district. Hence, his unauthorized use of the Planned Parenthood logo in the ad.

Coffman made his comments about Planned Parenthood in response to Caplis’ question about recent allegations by conservatives against the organization, which it has denied.

Friday Open Thread

“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”

–Reinhold Niebuhr

BREAKING: Aurora Theater Shooting Suspect Found GUILTY

THE VERDICT IS IN: After roughly 13 hours of deliberation, the jury finds the defendant, James Holmes, GUILTY on all charges of murder. The trial will now move to a sentencing phase where Holmes will face the death penalty.


UPDATE: The verdict is expected to be announced at around 4:15 p.m.


We’re waiting, along with everyone else, for the jury’s announcement. From the Denver Post:

Jurors told Judge Carlos Samour Jr. at about 1 p.m. that they had reached a decision. The verdict will be announced in Arapahoe County District courtroom 201 at 4 p.m.

The Denver Post will live stream the announcement at The Post will also provide live updates on a verdict tracker.


Kopel shows independence in praising Morgan Carroll

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Last week on Colorado Public Television’s Colorado Inside Out, Dave Kopel showed real independence, not allegiance to the ideology of the Independence Institute, where he works, when he called Democrat Morgan Carroll  “formidable” and a “really excellent” candidate to take on Republican Rep. Mike Coffman next year.

Kopel, who also praised Coffman, has a reputation as an arch conservative, but he also has an admirable independent streak. And it was good to see him calling the Aurora congressional race like he sees it, rather than caving to the Coffman backers who undoubtedly swarm around Kopel’s office.

Kopel (Watch at 7:35 here): She is a formidable candidate. Her political skills are not only the ones she’s developed in her own life, but her political DNA is about as powerful as you can have in Colorado… The Carroll family has been involved, usually as winning candidates, in Colorado politics since the 1930s. So she is going to be very strong. And Mike Coffman works very hard. So I think you can look at this as a national A plus versus A plus marquis match up of really excellent candidates on both sides.

Kopel, who’s a regular guest on the Channel 12 public affairs show, is best known nationally as a fierce opponent of gun control measures. He’s been involved in Second-Amendment cases across the country, and even before the U.S. Supreme Court. He’s an expert on a wide range of topics, including the Virgin Mary.

Carroll formally announced her run against Coffman earlier this month.

“Colorado Scandal”: Washington Post Digs Into Coffmangate

Washington Post, July 16, 2015

Washington Post, July 16, 2015

“You can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it.”
       – Unknown origin

If you close your eyes and squeeze them tightly…if you hold your breath and hum loudly to yourself…for a few moments, then, you can make the Coffmangate Scandal go away.

But just for a moment.

In today’s Washington Post, the Coffmangate Scandal gets the full front-page, feature-length treatment, with 2,400 words from reporter Ben Terris detailing a story that just gets worse by the week for Colorado Republicans:

If House — who swiftly denied the affair allegations — has been bruised, so too has Coffman. The wife of Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), she had been widely viewed as a likely contender for governor in 2018. Now commentators across Colorado are wondering aloud if the state attorney general committed blackmail.

“The allegations that have been levied against me, and I am the top law enforcement officer in the state, are criminal in nature,” Coffman said in an interview with Denver’s CBS affiliate. She fiercely denied wrongdoing and flat-out accused House of lying about the threats. (House declined to be interviewed for this story. Coffman and her staff members did not respond to multiple calls and e-mails.)

This was not how Republicans wanted to start the election cycle.

There is not a lot of new information in the Washington Post story, which is written as a blow-by-blow recount of everything that has happened with the scandal up until now, but it is still a must-read for politicos from Washington D.C. to Colorado. It also exposes a much larger audience to the scandal that is engulfing the careers of Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and her husband, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), making it damn near impossible for Coffman supporters to downplay the story’s significance.

[Click here for more background on the Coffmangate Scandal.]

Mike Coffman Has Worst Fundraising Quarter in Four Years

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Fundraising reports from the second quarter of 2015 are now becoming available publicly, and the most surprising figure we’ve seen thus far comes from the campaign of Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora).

From April through June, Coffman’s re-election campaign raised just $271,163, the worst quarterly fundraising amount from Coffman since Q3 in 2011.

In fact, Coffman has raised a total of just $615,065 in all of 2015. These are not terrible numbers for a Member of Congress, but Coffman hasn’t performed this poorly in fundraising since the boundaries of CD-6 were re-drawn in advance of the 2012 election. The numbers are particularly striking when you compare Coffman’s fundraising to that of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver); Coffman was thought to be the GOP’s top challenger for the 2016 Senate race, yet Bennet has now raised $2 million in successive quarters. Heck, Coffman had a highly-publicized breakfast meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell back in May — you would think he would have picked up some big checks just because of that meeting.

It’s possible that the Coffmangate Scandal is really starting to impact Mike Coffman’s ability to raise money, or perhaps Coffman’s grandstanding on the Aurora VA Hospital is having an adverse effect on his public profile. Whatever the reason, it would seem that Coffman’s campaign was not exaggerating when it sent a fundraising email on July 8 that said “Mike is in trouble”:

Yesterday, Mike told you about our Democratic challenger, Morgan Carroll. And now, political analysts have changed this race to a “Toss Up” due to Carroll’s connections with big-spending liberal groups. That means Mike is in trouble — and we have to fight back now.

Rep. Mike Coffman's lowest quarterly fundraising totals since 2011, the year before CD-6 boundaries officially changed.

Rep. Mike Coffman’s lowest quarterly fundraising totals since 2011, the year before CD-6 boundaries officially changed.




Cory Gardner Helps Vote Down Anti-Bullying Bill

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

The Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton reports on the defeat yesterday of an amendment from Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota to protect K-12 LGBT students from bullying and discrimination:

In its first vote affecting gay people since the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, the Senate Tuesday rejected a federal prohibition against discrimination and bullying in K-12 public schools based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Fifty-two Senators voted for such a provision, while 45 opposed it. But Senate rules required 60 votes, and the measure fell short.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), the sponsor of the amendment, had made an impassioned argument that gay and transgender students needed the same federal protections as other historically persecuted groups.

“If a black child was referred to by a racial slur at school, would we say kids will be kids?” Franken said on the Senate floor as debate began Monday. “If a Jewish student got beat up because he wore a yarmulke to school, would we wave it off and say boys will be boys? If a shop teacher told a female student she didn’t belong in his class, would we be fine if the school just looked the other way? No, we would not. In fact, there are federal civil rights laws that are specifically designed to stop this kind of conduct.”

As Buzzfeed’s Dominick Holden reports, there was bipartisan support for Sen. Franken’s amendment:

Introduced by Sen. Franken of Minnesota, the amendment before lawmakers on Tuesday had 42 sponsors, including one Republican — Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois. At least five more senators from the GOP — Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Susan Collins, Dean Heller, Lisa Murkowski, and Rob Portman — joined Kirk in voting for the amendment.

Missing from the list above of moderate Republican Senators who joined with Democrats to vote to stop LGBT student bullying is Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. We haven’t seen a statement from Gardner yet explaining his vote, but the general excuse offered by Republican “no” votes seems to be that “the matter” of LGBT students being bullied is best “left to local school districts.”

Assuming that was Gardner’s reasoning as well, we can’t help but recall the recent controversy in Jefferson County, in which majority school board member Julie Williams posted materials on Facebook directing followers to join a protest against LGBT students on campus, and against teaching “children to support and embrace the unnatural and unhealthy homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda.”

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a better argument to refute Gardner’s vote for “local control” of LGBT student bullying policies than Julie Williams. We’ll be very interested to see if local reporters ask Gardner to reconcile his vote with her behavior.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 15)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Bartels!!! Let’s 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).



► Veteran political reporter Lynn Bartels is taking a buyout offer and leaving the Denver Post and journalism after 35 years. Colorado is better off because of her dedication to political reporting.

► The Aurora Theater Shooting Trial concluded on Tuesday after 49 days. The 12-person jury begins deliberations today on whether or not they agree with the defense’s argument that alleged killer James Holmes should be declared not guilty be reason of insanity. If the jury agrees with the insanity plea, then Holmes will be remanded to a state mental hospital; if the jury finds Holmes to be guilty, the case moves to a sentencing phase where jurors will discuss the death penalty.

Colorado’s Republican Congressional delegation is going bananas over a foreign policy deal between the U.S., Iran and five other nations. Many, many Republicans immediately jumped to condemn the Iran deal — even if they admittedly hadn’t even read it yet.


Get even more smarter after the jump…



Wayne Williams Gets Some Expert PR Help

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

The biggest story in Colorado politics today is the departure of Colorado’s foremost political news reporter, Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post, to take a new job as spokesperson for GOP Secretary of State Wayne Williams. From Williams’ press release this morning, released just after word spread on social media of Bartels’ decision to leave the Post:

“I am thrilled that Lynn has decided to join our team,” said Williams. “When Coloradans think of Lynn Bartels they think of experience, professionalism, and humor.”

Bartels has worked in Colorado since 1993 when she was hired by the Rocky Mountain News, where she won numerous awards for a variety of stories, ranging from the one-year anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing to Denver’s 2003 mayoral race. The Denver Post hired Bartels in 2009 after the Rocky closed. She worked in New Mexico before moving to Denver. In 2015, The Washington Post named Bartels as one of Colorado’s best state political reporters.

“I am forever grateful that The Denver Post gave me a home when the Rocky closed,” Bartels said. “It’s hard to imagine a life outside of journalism but my dog is very happy that I’m going to give it a try. I am very excited for this new opportunity.”

Bartels said she was impressed last year when the left-leaning Colorado Springs Independent and the only two Democratic mayors in El Paso County endorsed Williams, a Republican, for Secretary of State because of how he ran the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

Bartels added, “I’ve liked Wayne ever since he lent me $20 at the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities in 2008 after I left my billfold at the hotel. By the way, I paid it back.”

Jason Salzman just posted Bartels’ warm letter to colleagues at the Denver Post. On social media, the outpouring of gratitude to Bartels for her years of political coverage has been quite a thing to witness. But Colorado politicos won’t have to go far to find Bartels, whose new job working for Secretary of State Wayne Williams keeps her close at hand.

And as we discussed last October during his campaign for statewide office, Wayne Williams could use some PR expertise in his office. Williams’ disastrous appearance on FOX News with host Megyn Kelly, in which Kelly tried to keep pre-election panic over false rumors of “printing ballots” in Colorado alive while simultaneously correcting her previous report on the matter, could fairly be considered disqualifying from political office. Williams stumbled through a ridiculous scenario of mail ballot fraud that involved “family members and union bosses” intimidating mail ballot voters. The next day, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow eviscerated Williams (and Kelly) in a particularly glorious two minutes of cable news video you can watch above. Despite this, Williams coasted to victory in a statewide downballot race that was more or less a fait accompli from the beginning.

Bottom line: our sense of loss reckoning with the departure of the state’s most seasoned political reporter is sincere, as are our good luck wishes to Bartels in her new job. On the latter point, she’s going to need it.

Stop shrugging or laughing at the collapse of The Denver Post and Colorado journalism

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: As if to drive the point home, word spread today that veteran political reporter Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post will take the buy-out offer. Bartels is taking a new job as spokesperson for Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams.


I listen to a lot of conservatives and progressives, and, the overwhelming response by both to the troubles of The Denver Post has been either a shrug or a snicker. (After years of devastating staff cuts, the newspaper is laying off another 10 percent of its newsroom staff and shrinking the print even more.)

The shrug comes from people who see the newspaper as useless, even though it still serves as the primary information source for political and other news in the Colorado. And it’s the primary driver of local news that you see on TV and on social media.

I’m floored by how frequently people trash The Post as irrelevant in one breath and then spend an entire meeting or radio show discussing an article that just appeared in the paper–or, even more ironically, talking about stories that have been left out of the newspaper. If only the irrelevant Denver Post would cover [fill in the blank].

The newspaper is so small and weak already, they say, it doesn’t matter if 20 journalists or more are cut, as planned on July 20 or so, joining about 20,000 journalists laid off nationally.

The thing is, even now after all the cuts already made, if you read the print edition of The Denver Post, or just a fraction of its online content, you’ll still get the information you need to function as a citizen in Colorado–to understand the state legislature, to keep up on elections, to follow civic and cultural life. What other media source could possibly make that claim?

The snicker about The Post’s ongoing decline comes from the folks who feel the newspaper gets in their way, unfairly shifting public debate against them and their causes. Conservatives are more likely to feel this way than progressives, because they’re deeply attached to the notion of “liberal bias,” as if The Denver Post has been undermining their agenda, as well as that of the Republican Party, for decades and its disappearance will give them an opening to win over public opinion. This is so outrageous, and unsupported by evidence, that it needs no response.

And it’s not just the people crusading against gay marriage and abortion who feel this way. It’s the fiscal conservatives, too, who repeatedly say how much The Post’s news coverage is biased toward big government and social support networks.


Wednesday Open Thread

“What we call rational grounds for our beliefs are often extremely irrational attempts to justify our instincts.”

–Thomas Huxley

All Roads Lead to Nowhere: The Elephant in Mike Coffman’s Room

Mike and Cynthia Coffman pose with the elephant in the room.

Mike and Cynthia Coffman pose with the elephant in the room.

All press is good press, as the saying goes, so long as they spell your name correctly. It’s a neat saying…but it really isn’t true. For example, take a look at this lede from ace political reporter Lynn Bartels in Sunday’s Denver Post:

Extortion. Blackmail. Infidelity. Incompetence. Defamation of character. The soap opera surrounding Steve House, the newly elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, exploded in mid-June but appeared to fizzle when the GOP executive committee voted 22-1 in support of House on June 26 after a marathon closed-door session.

The bigger question is the impact on the career of Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and whether any fallout affects her husband, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, who now faces a formidable challenge from Democratic state Sen. Morgan Carroll. [Pols emphasis]

Whatever the circumstances may be, you never want your name used in the same sentence as the words “blackmail” and “extortion.” After more than a month, the Coffmangate Scandal continues to percolate and may ultimately signal the demise of the political careers of both Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Congressman Mike Coffman.

When the Coffmangate Scandal was first breaking, it was obvious that the first casualty of the attempted coup against State Republican Party Chair Steve House was the political career of the recently-elected Colorado Attorney General. Even if Cynthia is somehow able to survive a federal corruption/fraud investigation, she’ll never convince Colorado Republicans to stand behind her in a future campaign for elected office. This isn’t about whether or not voters will hold the scandal against Cynthia — she’ll never be able to hire a decent staff and raise significant money for another campaign, as we explained back in June.

We know that Cynthia Coffman’s political career is kaput, but what about that of her husband, Rep. Mike Coffman? There has been no indication thus far that Mike Coffman was at all involved in the ill-planned coup attempt against House, but a cloud of suspicion and cover-up will continue to follow him around like he was Charlie Brown, and he has no good options for avoiding the storm. In fact, it is Cynthia Coffman’s own words from her 2014 campaign for AG that has Mike Coffman stuck in a political corner. 

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. Photo taken back when she had a political future.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

In August 2014, Cynthia was a guest of the “Pueblo Pachyderms,” where she spoke about her campaign for Attorney General and about her curious marriage to Mike. We’ve provided a copy of that audio recording below, and here’s a brief transcript:

“We’ve been through eight campaigns together by my count. [Mike] is running against for his congressional seat in the sixth congressional district…and I’m running for Attorney General. Now some people say, ‘Now how on earth does that work?’

It actually works very well, because both of us are so busy that we don’t pester the other one about going to the movies or dinner, or ‘when can we go on a bike ride?’ We both know that we are obsessed with politics and with elections. We give each other advice, and we’re sounding boards for each other[Pols emphasis]

…I like to tease Mike that I ran for office because he wouldn’t take all of my great advice, and now it’s payback time because he gives me good advice. I take some of it, and some of it doesn’t fit…

…I love my husband, and I respect my boss (then-Attorney General John Suthers), but I am my own woman. I get asked a lot of times [sic] about the opinions of Mike, or positions that John Suthers has taken on issues, and I have great admiration for both of them.”

Mike Coffman has thus far refrained from speaking about the Coffmangate Scandal in public, though reporters are increasingly casting glances in his direction as details continue to emerge about efforts to force House to resign as Party Chair (on Friday the full “list of grievances” against House was leaked to Jason Salzman). It is only a matter of time before the heat is turned up on Mike Coffman and he is forced to comment on the Coffmangate Scandal…but what can he say?

Cynthia has talked on several occasions about the political discussions she has with her husband, which makes it very difficult for Mike to attempt to claim that he was kept in the dark on a subject as fascinating as this one. Did Mike know in advance that Cynthia was planning on luring House to a meeting in an attempt to force his resignation? Did he voice his opinion on the matter privately? After all, Mike was a vocal supporter of former GOP Chair Ryan Call, whom he backed for re-election over House last spring.

“The Coffmans, both Cynthia and Congressman Coffman, came with a lot of unknowns and risks, and I think that was one of the reasons why it wasn’t a bad thing that they both decided not to run for Senate.

“I think behind the scenes this is sort of a scary public display of what the rumors had been; it’s pretty troubling that the attorney general is going around threatening people.”

     – Unnamed Republican source quoted by Roll Call (both here and here)

It is possible, however unlikely, that Mike Coffman was unaware of his wife’s involvement in the alleged blackmail of House. Regardless, there is absolutely zero chance that Mike can make it through the 2016 election without having to address the Coffmangate Scandal at some point. We continue to hear whispers about a criminal (likely federal) investigation of Cynthia Coffman and her merry band of extortionists, which would obviously escalate questions about Mike Coffman’s involvement. Federal law enforcement officials have declined to discuss details with reporters about any investigation, giving Coffman supporters hope that this whole affair will just go away in time, but there is little realistic chance of that happening.

Remember: Steve House has publicly accused Cynthia Coffman of participating in attempts to use the threat of an alleged affair to resign as Party Chair — and Cynthia has publicly acknowledged that she took part in the alleged discussions. As Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman is THE chief law enforcement officer in the State of Colorado. Every criminal charge that comes out of the AG’s office has Cynthia Coffman’s name on the document. There is no way that Cynthia can avoid a criminal investigation because of the combination of her official title, House’s detailed allegations, and Cynthia’s admission that she was involved in the attempted coup in some form or another. How could law enforcement officials explain not investigation Cynthia’s involvement given the pile of evidence that has already been publicly discussed? There’s no rug large enough to sweep this underneath.

At some point in the near future, law enforcement officials are going to have to talk about an investigation into Cynthia Coffman’s involvement in this scandal. When that day comes, Cynthia will immediately face overwhelming pressure to resign so as not to taint all of the work being done by the AG’s office. Cynthia’s political career is certainly done, but can she do enough to salvage her husband’s re-election efforts in 2016? Or is the Coffman name forever sullied?

Hey Kiddies – Don’t Miss Uncle Ted’s Kamp for Kids/Colorado Apology Tour

(Quick, somebody take his guns! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ted Nugent.

Ted Nugent.

How on earth, or anywhere inside that Kuiper Belt thingie, did we miss Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids (hey Ted, you left out a ‘K’) is this Friday and the Colorado-and-Obama bashing rocker will be here indoctrinating some unsuspecting kids into a life filled with hate and ignorance?

About 20 spots are still available for youth to sign up for the sixth annual Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids, a one-day camp with hands-on instruction in the outdoors.

The camp will be held July 17 at Quail Mountain Recreation Area, which is between the towns of Leadville and Buena Vista.

Youth, ages 7-17, will move through stations that include fishing, archery, air guns, wilderness survival with world renowned wilderness survival expert Peter Kummerfeldt, wildlife identification, tracking with hounds, wildlife tracking, slingshots and game calling.

Rock musician, sing/songwriter and gun rights advocate Ted Nugent will speak one-on-one with attendees. 

I hope Children’s Services is there to make sure these poor kids aren’t traumatized by The Nuge.

Oh, here’s the key part:

This year’s sponsors include Colorado Bowhunters Association, Bass Pro Shops, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Steve’s Meat Market, Ted Nugent, National Rifle Association, Hunter Specialty Gear and numerous local businesses including City Market-BV, Silver City Concoco and others.

But wait! I thought Ted hated Colorado and its “citizens”:

Nugent: “If ever there was a poster child for apathy, disconnect, laziness, and abandonment of We the People, and moral dereliction, it is Colorado.” 

Somehow these guys can abandon their principles if there’s even a few bucks to make. Even more likely is that there is a gigantic tax write-off on Ted’s taxes next year for this “business” trip to disconnected and apathetic Colorado.

Maybe there will be some press there to ask Ted some pointed questions.