AFP Colorado Deletes Twitter History, Bundy Defense

Last week 9News held a debate between Republican gubernatorial candidates Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler and Mike Kopp (GOP frontrunner Tom Tancredo did not participate and continues to refuse any debate invitations). As we noted in this space, the candidates were asked about Cliven Bundy, the openly-racist Nevada rancher who has rallied armed supporters to back his refusal to recognize the federal government — primarily in order to avoid paying some 20 years worth of grazing rights fees — and all of the candidates came off as more or less supportive of Bundy. As Mike Littwin wrote for the Colorado Independent:

In summary, these people who want to be your governor seemed entirely unconcerned about someone bringing in his militia buddies to fight off the feds, whom he says he doesn't recognize as legitimate.

Why would Colorado Republican candidates even consider being supportive of Bundy? Because many right-wing Republicans and their Tea Party brethren apparently considered it some sort of conservative loyalty test, which is important for any candidate hoping to win a GOP Primary. Note that we wrote "considered," because even the most right-wing of right-wing groups would seem to have had a change of heart.

Consider this tweet from Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Colorado, the local version of the national group created and funded by the Koch Brothers. The image below is a tweet sent by AFP Colorado on April 19th in an effort to get more Republicans to join Sen. Rand Paul in supporting Bundy; as you can see, AFPColorado calls out Republicans as "wimps" for not following Paul's lead.

AFP-Bundy

We've included the image here because AFP Colorado has since deleted this tweet. In fact, AFP Colorado has erased its entire Twitter history for most of the last two months, as you can see below (or on its Twitter page). At the time of this post, AFP Colorado's Twitter account shows only one tweet since February 20th — and no mention of the April 19th message above. The AFP Colorado account is far from inactive, having sent out 9 different tweets just today, so this was clearly an intentional scrubbing.

Americans for Prosperity had a tough week in Colorado last week, being forced to re-edit an anti-Obamacare, anti-Sen. Mark Udall ad just a few days after its planned Obamacare press conference imploded under the weight of a dubious key speaker. The scrubbing of its Twitter account is another very public sign that all is not well in Tea Party land.

AFP-Twitter

Video: GOP Gubernatorial Candidates on Cliven Bundy

FRIDAY UPDATE: The Colorado Independent's Mike Littwin:

Each took the question. Each took a shot at Harry Reid. And each chose not to mention the race issue. Yeah, I was puzzled, too. Had they missed the news? Do they believe the ugly stereotype about Republicans and race? Did they really think that this was the time to get on the Bundy bandwagon? Didn’t any of them call Hannity for advice?

…In summary, these people who want to be your governor seemed entirely unconcerned about someone bringing in his militia buddies to fight off the feds, whom he says he doesn’t recognize as legitimate.

Or if they were concerned about it, they forgot to mention it. It could be that they were just preoccupied with making sure not to mention, under any circumstances, that their pal was a racist crank.

—–

A revealing video clip from Thursday's 9NEWS gubernatorial debate hosted by reporters Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman. In the clip above, Clark asks GOP gubernatorial candidates Bob Beauprez, Mike Kopp, and Scott Gessler what they think of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's dispute with the federal government. Mr. Bundy has been a cause celebre among conservatives since a standoff between BLM agents and armed militia in support of Bundy early this month. Remarks by Bundy about African-Americans and the desirability of slavery last weekend, however, have given many of his supporters pause.

But it doesn't look like our GOP gubernatorial candidates are very perturbed by that stuff:

KYLE CLARK: I'm curious what you all make of the land dispute in Nevada, between the rancher Cliven Bundy and the and the federal government. Senator Dean Heller from Nevada says that Mr. Bundy's supporters are "patriots," whereas Senate Minority Leader, uh Majority Leader, rather, Harry Reid calls them "domestic terrorists." What do you think, Mr. Beauprez?

BOB BEAUPREZ: It's pretty outrageous to call any American citizen a "domestic terrorist" unless they've committed a terrorist act, and I don't think Mr. Bundy has. He certainly is, uh, my guess is not without fault, but this is another issue that's very personal to me, because we've now got a ranch up in our own mountains. And I've been asked specifically, do you think this kind of thing could happen in Colorado, and unfortunately my answer is yes, because I think government has gone completely mad. That's the issue here. The excesses of government in trying to resolve a dispute with a, with a rancher who's been there for generations, for heaven's sakes, do we need to bring in helicopters, and SWAT teams, and it, it looks, it looks like martial law has broken out. There's got to be a more common sense way to resolve this dispute. I am very concerned about the overreach, not only in that case, but there's numerous other cases, of federal power on private citizens, and that's something I think a governor needs to stand up and push back on, and even though he's a Republican, I've been curious to see how quiet Mr. Sandoval seems to be in Nevada.

CLARK: An early statement of support and then not much past that. Again, Senator Heller calls them "patriots," Senator Reid calls them "domestic terrorists." What do you think of Mr. Bundy and his supporters?

MIKE KOPP: Well, first of all, I think Harry Reid is rarely right, and this is no exception to that rule. Um, the fact of the matter is the federal government has dramatically overreached. You know we have like seventy agencies in the federal government that have armed police officers. Seventy. I'm not sure why the federal government needs to have that kind of armed force, um, against its own citizens. If I were governor there, the thing I would be interested in doing would be part of a broader policy that I would be interested in enacting, and that is, putting myself between the citizens of the state and the federal government to advocate for the citizens, for the freedoms of the people, of my state. In this particular case, you know you have somebody who should have paid their permitting fees, but you also have a federal government who has just gone incredibly overboard in the matter. There's no question about that. And I think most people look at that, probably, with the same degree of skepticism about their actions.

CLARK: Mr. Gessler, what do you make of Mr. Bundy and his supporters?

SCOTT GESSLER: Well, let me first address Harry Reid. That, uh, that man never misses an opportunity to insult his political opponents whenever he can. And that's not the way to go about things. The fact is, I think the government, federal government overreached here and overreacted. You know when I started my career as a federal prosecutor, one of the things I learned is that governmental power should be restrained. It should be limited. It should be treated with care. Because it's a dangerous thing. And we do have a Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies, where the first thing they're looking to do is to, is to hammer people, instead of work with them to find ways to find solutions. Um, Mr. Bundy I think has his own problems, but no one should have treated him the way he was treated. I think that what we need to do is, you know, be prepared to speak out against the federal government when it oversteps its bounds, and recognize that most people want to do the right thing most of the time. And a government should respect that, and find a way to work with them.

CLARK: Thank you, Mr. Gessler.

Whatever you might think about Bundy's dispute over grazing rights on federal land, don't you think one of our GOP gubernatorial contenders could have acknowledged that his extreme throwback racist worldview isn't very defensible? Were they counting on absent Tom Tancredo to do that?

Yes, folks, that last part was sarcasm.

Media omission: Gessler says only he has the “guts” to fight rampant corruption in CO government

(Uh-huh – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

During a radio interview Saturday, Secretary of State Scott Gessler framed his gubernatorial campaign as a battle to save Colorado from the rot of corruption, saying our "state government is corrupt," and he's the only candidate who's had "the guts to stand up and say, 'No more.'"

"I’ve had the guts to stand up and say, 'I’m not going to tolerate this; I’m going to fight back,'" Gessler told KNUS radio-host Jimmy Sengenberger, citing his clashes with Democrats over his budget and ethics issues. "And no one else wants to because they’re afraid. They’re afraid that if a Republican gets criticized they can no longer win elections. And let me ask you, Jimmy, how has that worked out for us over the last ten years?"

"We are a party that needs to be bold," replied Sengenberger, whose show airs Saturdays 5 – 8 p.m. on KNUS. "I agree with you there–"

"I am the only guy who’s being bold on this stuff and what happens?" Gessler continued. "We have these fearful, weak-kneed, timid Republicans who are more interested in scoring political points against me than standing up for principle and saying, 'You know what? We have corruption in this state.'"

"Republicans need to stand up and understand that we have a corrupt state government. They shouldn’t buy into the corruption," he said.

During the interview, Gessler criticized members of the Independent Ethics Commission and called it "corrupt."

In June, the Independent Ethics Commission ruled that Gessler violated the public trust by using public money to attend a Republican political event. On the radio, Gessler was incensed by this decision as well as the Commission's dismissal last month of a complaint against Gov. John Hickenlooper

Gessler said at one point, referring to the Commission, "Let me tell you, Jimmy, this is a corrupt, corrupt government. And I will say ‘corrupt’ again."

Comparing the corruption he says he saw as a young man in Bosnia and Chicago to what he sees in Colorado today, Gessler said, "Where people no longer respect the law, we lose the foundation of our western civilization here. And we’re facing that in Colorado."

(more…)

It’s Official: Hickenlooper Pulling Away From GOP “Clown Car”

His opponents are the ones dropping like a rock.

His opponents are the ones dropping like a rock.

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post is first to write up today:

Gov. John Hickenlooper beats all four Republican rivals in a new poll that shows he's favored by women voters and has a slight advantage with crucial unaffiliated voters.

Of the four GOP candidates on the primary ballot, former Congressman Tom Tancredo presents the stiffest challenge to Hickenlooper, but loses to the Democratic governor by 7 percentage points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning.

Since Quinnipiac began polling Colorado voters in June 2013, Hickenlooper's favorability ratings have increased from 45 percent to 51 percent, while his unfavorability ratings have decreased from 42 percent to 37 percent.

Quinnipiac's release on today's poll of the Colorado gubernatorial race underscores how women voters–more to the point, ongoing GOP alienation of women voters–gives incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper a growing advantage over any potential Republican opponent.

Hickenlooper's leads over possible Republican contenders are:

47 – 40 percent, over former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo. Men back Tancredo 47 – 42 percent while women go to Hickenlooper 53 – 34 percent. Independent voters go Democratic 44 – 39 percent.

48 – 38 percent over Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Men back Gessler by a slim 44 – 41 percent margin while women back Hickenlooper 55 – 32 percent. Independent voters go Democratic 43 – 36 percent.

48 – 39 percent over former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, with men to Beauprez 46 – 41 percent and women for Hickenlooper 55 – 33 percent. Independent voters go Democratic 45 – 36 percent.

47 – 38 percent over former State Sen. Mike Kopp, with men for Kopp 44 – 40 percent and women for Hickenlooper 54 – 32 percent. Independent voters go Democratic 44 – 36 percent.

"Strong support from women and an edge among independent voters give Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper a solid foothold in his reelection effort," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll. 

Looking beyond the gubernatorial race, it's certainly not all good news for Democrats in today's Q-poll: the same poll that gives Hickenlooper a decisive edge over his opponents demonstrates ongoing confusion among voters over the gun safety legislation passed by Democrats in 2013. 56% of respondents still oppose "the state's stricter new gun control laws," even while they support universal background checks for gun purchases–one of those very same laws–by an overwhelming 85%. Only 34% of respondents say the General Assembly is doing a good job. Note that the question isn't qualified by partisanship, but it's a Democratic majority in both chambers.

Bottom line: it doesn't surprise us to see Hickenlooper pulling away from a pack of undistinguished GOP candidates, who are in many ways more liabilities to their party than assets. Assuming that trajectory continues, Democrats can start looking at ways to trickle Hickenlooper's strength down the ticket–where it's very much needed.

Republican Insiders: Tancredo, Beauprez Frontrunners for Gov. Nomination

UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols updates with further response from Tancredo, who insists he is neither looking at the Jeffco superintendent's job nor an exit from the gubernatorial race:

Tancredo responded to this story Tuesday afternoon, telling FOX31 Denver that he’s not the least bit interested in the Jefferson County superintendent’s job, or looking for an exit.

“The state government would be a hell of a lot easier to run than the Jefferson County School system,” Tancredo said. “And there’s no way in hell we’d be busting our butts and spending all this money getting signatures if we weren’t committed.

“I’ve said all along that if there’s someone who emerges who’s polling better and more competitive with Hickenlooper than me, I’ll hand them the baton,” he added. “But I don’t see it right now. I think I’ve got as good a shot of winning as anyone.”

—–

UPDATE: Speaking with conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics, Tom Tancredo denies rumors of being in the running for superintendent of Jefferson County Schools:

“Absolutely false. Joked that running the state of CO would be easier than running Jeffco schools. My guess this is someone (party insiders) wants to slow my momentum.”

—–

Beauprez, via The Colorado Statesman.

Like him or not, Republicans see Beauprez as a frontrunner for the nomination.

Fox 31's Eli Stokols takes a good, long look at the four-person field seeking the Republican nomination for Governor. As Stokols reports, according to a host of Republican insiders, Tom Tancedo and Bob Beauprez are the frontrunners for the GOP nomination following Saturday's Republican State Convention. Top-line winner Mike Kopp is still a long-shot and Scott Gessler may be beginning to fade:

A number of top Colorado Republicans, who all spoke candidly to FOX31 Denver in exchange for remaining anonymous, agree that each of the four candidates has a path to winning the party’s nomination, but that two in particular have an inherent advantage.

Even after his surprise top-line victory Saturday, former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp has his work cut out for him if he wants to finish on top when the primary votes are counted. For now, he is still viewed as having longer odds to secure the nomination than former Congressman Tom Tancredo, who has a deep base of support, and former Congressman Bob Beauprez, who has the deep financial resources to be the last man standing…

…“Tancredo remains the frontrunner in a four-candidate diffused field,” one Republican said. “He starts with a 25-30 percent base vote in a Republican primary, so unless one of the other three can emerge as the Tancredo alternative, he wins by default.” [Pols emphasis]

Rumors abound that party bosses are looking for a way to get Tancredo out of the race, and even that Tancredo may be listening. One rumor circulating Monday is that the Jefferson County School Board, won by a conservative majority last November, may hire Tancredo, a former teacher, as superintendent.

The rumor that Tom Tancredo might be interested in becoming Jefferson County Superintendent was first reported here at Colorado Pols.

Is Tom Tancredo Considering Jefferson County Superintendent Job?

Tancredo for Governor

Tom Tancredo for…what?

UPDATE: We hear that a friend and advisor of Tancredo is discreetly asking questions about the possibility of Tancredo being approved as Jeffco Schools Superintendent. This would be a clever move for one of Tancredo's gubernatorial opponents — to leak that he is looking at dropping out of the race — but that doesn't seem to be the case thus far. Perhaps only Tancredo can answer this question now.

—–

Republican Tom Tancredo has been the frontrunner for the GOP nomination for Governor from the day he announced his campaign, consistently producing stronger fundraising numbers than his Republican counterparts and demonstrating his lead dog status by skipping Republican debates.

Tancredo's momentum continued last week when he was endorsed by conservative columnist Michelle Malkin a few days before his name was certified for the ballot after submitting the requisite number of petition signatures. In a four-person field for the Republican nomination (along with Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, and Mike Kopp), Tancredo would appear to be in the driver's seat as we steam towards the June Primary.

And yet…rumors persisted over the weekend that Tancredo is being pushed by some GOP power-brokers to consider accepting a job as the new Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools (should it be offered to him). Tancredo is by no means an obvious choice to lead the largest school district in Colorado, but it is entirely possible that the unpredictable and unabashedly-partisan Jeffco School Board could decide that the former high school teacher would be a good partner in their efforts to push the school district in the same far-right direction as their counterparts in Douglas County (remember that Tancredo was mentioned as a potential candidate for Douglas County Superintendent a few years back).

(more…)

Royal Gorge Tea Party Straw Poll Shows No Clear Favorite

An update from Carrie Canterbury of the Canon City Daily Record:

Tougher laws and harsher penalties to better protect American citizens, limiting control of the federal government and doing away with Common Core were a few of the hot topics discussed during Saturday's Republican gubernatorial candidate forum at Mountain View Core Knowledge School.

Hopefuls Bob Beauprez, Greg Brophy, Scott Gessler, Steven House, Mike Kopp and Roni Sylvester fielded questions during the event hosted by the Royal Gorge Republican Women and the Royal Gorge Tea Party. Tom Tancredo declined the invitation to participate in the forum.

Roxanna Hollabaugh of the Royal Gorge Tea Party said a straw poll following the forum showed 25 percent of the votes went to Gessler; 22 percent to Beauprez; 20 percent to Kopp; 17 percent to Brophy; and 16 percent to House. She said with about 160 possible votes, a little more than half of the audience submitted a straw poll (58 percent).

This straw poll shows that there there are a lot of undecided Republican primary voters–or maybe a large number of unaccounted for Tom Tancredo voters, who wasn't present–but it's still quite striking how evenly divided the support was among all five of these candidates. In the end, we expect that the better name recognition for Scott Gessler, Bob Beauprez and Tancredo will keep them at the top of such polls for the time being.

Two other candidates now more or less on life support, Greg Brophy and Mike Kopp, could see a boost if Tancredo, who is petitioning onto the June primary ballot, chooses to release his delegates ahead of the state convention this weekend. In that event, we suspect those delegates would in large part shift to Brophy as opposed to Gessler or Beauprez. As for Kopp, the state assembly represents a last slim chance at relevancy.

Get Ready For Another Purge Attempt From Gessler’s “Friends”

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

When Glenn Beck's "news" site The Blaze mentions Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler and the subject of purging voter rolls, our immediate response, for well-established reasons, is caution.

Iowa and Colorado, typically battleground states in presidential and congressional campaigns, each have more registered voters than they have adults over the age of 18 living in the state, according to a conservative watchdog group’s analysis.

The same is true of Washington, D.C., which is set to hold a primary in its mayoral election next week…

In a letter to top election officials, Judicial Watch said it will file lawsuits if Iowa, Colorado and the District do not correction violations of Section 8 of the NVRA within 90 days.

“Specifically, we ask you to: 1) conduct or implement systemic, uniform, nondiscriminatory program to remove from the list of eligible voters the names of persons who have become ineligible to vote by reason of change in residence,” the letter says, “2) complete this program no less than 90 days prior to the November election; 3) conduct or implement additional routine measures to remove from the list of eligible voters the names of persons who have become ineligible to vote by reasons of death, change in residence, or a disqualifying criminal conviction, and to remove noncitizens who have registered to vote unlawfully.”

…A spokesman for Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler told TheBlaze the office is “continuing to review the letter.”

“The secretary is committed to accurate voting rolls and continues to ask the legislature for the resources to clean the rolls,” Gessler spokesman spokesman Rich Coolidge told TheBlaze. “Unfortunately, the legislature in Colorado would rather have an honor system for voting than an accurate system.” [Pols emphasis]

We haven't found anything yet in the way of mainstream media coverage of yesterday's "press conference" by the conservative group Judicial Watch alleging irregularities in Colorado's voter rolls, which should tell readers something about the reputation of both this group and the problems they're claiming exist–but this story has spread throughout the conservative media pretty quickly. We haven't seen Judicial Watch's methodology in determining these supposed problems, but the group frequently hosts panels with such personalities as anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who claims that illegal immigrants would swamp our elections as voters to "vote for a more liberal agenda." So we have trouble taking them seriously on their face.

Because Scott Gessler regularly steps into controversy by alleging massive fraud by "thousands" of illegal voters in Colorado elections, a charge which has never been substantiated by subsequent investigation, local press is pretty much inured to this stuff. But it's Rich Coolidge's ridiculous, over-the-top quote that makes us think this whole business is intended for consumption outside the state of Colorado.

That is, unless it's Gessler's new gubernatorial campaign theme? If this story ever makes it out of the realm of the D.C.-based right-wing media funny papers, we promise to revisit it.

Poll: Hickenlooper Pulling Away from Rest of Field

Public Policy Polling (PPP) is out with some new numbers in Colorado for both the race for Governor and U.S. Senate.

Is there room for a competitive candidate?

Is there any room for a competitive candidate?

Things are largely unchanged in the race for Senate, even with the inclusion of Rep. Cory Gardner in the race, but it's the fight for the Governor's Mansion where the numbers have really shifted:

John Hickenlooper's approval rating is back on positive ground at 48/41, after slipping into negative territory on our December poll. Hickenlooper's also back to having double digit leads over all of his potential Republican opponents. Bob Beauprez comes closest at 48/38, followed by Scott Gessler at 48/36, Tom Tancredo at 50/36, Greg Brophy at 48/33, and Mike Kopp at 49/32. Hickenlooper's lead over the four Republicans included in the December poll has increased from an average of 8 points to an average of 14 points.

The Republican clown car is close to bursting with Bob Beauprez now part of the field. With the State Party Convention just a few weeks away (April 12), there isn't any room left for another Republican candidate — even if they could find someone more competitive than the current crop of GOP contenders. The newest PPP poll reflects that reality, with voters acknowledging that Gov. John Hickenlooper can start to breathe a little easier. Hickenlooper's 48% approval rating isn't steller by any means, but it's all relative when it comes to campaign season; the Republican with the highest favorability rating is Tancredo, at just 30%.

A Democrat’s Dream Opponent: Beauprez, Tancredo, or Gessler?

Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo.

Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo.

At this point in the crowded Republican gubernatorial primary, post-caucus but before the state assembly and June primary election, we're beginning to see trajectories emerge that allow for some predictions as to who–in what has been a gaggle of undistinguished candidates–might emerge as clear frontrunners.

Before the entry of ex-Congressman Bob Beauprez into the gubernatorial race on the day before the caucuses, the race seemed to be settling into a two-man contest between Secretary of State Scott Gessler and firebrand 2010 American Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo. The other candidates in this race, principally state Sen. Greg Brophy and former Sen. Mike Kopp, were already more or less relegated to the second tier–Brophy's good early debate performance being quickly forgotten.

Interrupting the natural propensity for big fields of candidates to winnow down to two, Beauprez undeniably shakes up this race. The biggest reason Beauprez had space to get into the race at all is the persistent unease many institutional Republicans have with Gessler. The court ruling this week upholding the ethics commission's finding that Gessler "breached the public trust for private gain" is a big problem for his campaign, who would really like to consolidate the limited victory he achieved on caucus night in counties that carried out preference polls.

Tancredo has a relatively large base of loyal activists left over from his days as a firebrand anti-immigration activist and presidential candidate, and good name ID, but Republican strategists understand he cannot possibly win a statewide general election. Although Beauprez's real opponent for the nomination is clearly Gessler, Tancredo is the one with the most to lose from Beauprez's entry into the race, and the most quickly.

Which brings us to Beauprez, who is energetically calling in favors from Washington, D.C. friends to generate buzz for his campaign. Beauprez has been described in at least one news report as the "prohibitive favorite" of the Republican Governor's Association (RGA), a reflection of his ability to woo D.C. Republican kingmakers. But Beauprez faces an almost insurmountable obstacle to winning: himself. In barely two weeks, Beauprez has already stuck his foot in his mouth over the "Personhood" abortion ban, re-earning the title "Both Ways Bob" that was used against him so effectively in 2006. He's supplying the same laugh-track material in early interviews that made him the easiest mark most Colorado Democrats can remember–practically the textbook bad candidate to set up and knock down over and over. Whatever Beauprez has done to re-ingratiate himself eight years later in D.C., his 2006 run was a disaster of the kind that probably should end a political career. And he shows every sign that if nominated, he'll bomb in 2014 just as badly.

Bottom line: what we have in the Colorado Republican gubernatorial race today are three potential frontrunners, and to be honest, Democrats should relish the prospect of running against any one of them. For strategic and logistical reasons, Democrats may prefer a candidate unable to self-finance or raise big money so they can truly put Gov. John Hickenlooper's re-election on autopilot. Setting the money aside, we'll turn the question over to our readers: which of these three should Democrats want to run against the most?

BREAKING: IEC Ruling Against Gessler Upheld

THURSDAY UPDATE: AP via 9NEWS:

A Denver judge has rejected Secretary of State Scott Gessler's appeal in an ethics complaint.

Colorado's Independent Ethics Commission admonished Gessler for using state funds for travel to a GOP elections law conference in Florida in 2012. While there, Gessler also attended the GOP national convention, for which he used campaign funds to pay for. Commissioners noted the state money paid for his plane trip to both events and levied a $1,500 fine against him.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert said Gessler probably will appeal. She said her boss was "actually very calm" when he heard the news, but she was fired up. Staiert is a critic of how the five-member commission operates.

"It's absurd. Every official in Colorado is subject to getting snared up in (the commission's) shell game," Staiert said of the ruling…

—–

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

A press release from Colorado Ethics Watch with big news late Wednesday, the Independent Ethics Commission ruling against Secretary of State Scott Gessler over his improper use of state funds for partisan political travel has been upheld in Denver District Court:

Today, Judge Herbert L. Stern, III of the Denver District Court affirmed the decision of the Independent Ethics Commission (“IEC”) that Secretary of State Scott Gessler breached the public trust for private gain by using public money to attend Republican Party events in Florida and to pay himself funds left over in the department’s discretionary account at the end of Fiscal Year 2012. Ethics Watch filed a complaint with the IEC about Gessler's spending in October 2012. The IEC ruled against Gessler after an eleven-hour hearing in June 2013. Gessler sought review of the decision in Denver District Court.

Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro issued the following statement: "Judge Stern's ruling should surprise no one. Public funds are not to be used to pay for plane tickets and hotel rooms at partisan political events. Nor can officeholders whose salaries are set by statute use discretionary funds to pay themselves a year-end bonus. It is time for Scott Gessler to stop spending the people's money defending the indefensible. He should pay the fine and move on."

Here's the complete ruling handed down today. From the initial read of it, this was not a close decision for Judge Herbert L. Stern. In addition to a major validator for the much-maligned Independent Ethics Commission, created by 2006's Amendment 41, this ruling is a major blow to Gessler's gubernatorial hopes–if not in the GOP primary than in the general election. Gessler is counting on overturning the IEC's ruling to forestall otherwise devastating attack ads about his having "breached the public trust for private gain." Without a powerful rebuttal to that charge–something that would get ads taken off the air–the paid media case that can be made against Gessler, with this ruling as the centerpiece, leaves the man pretty much unelectable.

We'll update with coverage of today's ruling once available.

Beauprez Does Well With GOP Caucus-Goers on Tuesday

Beauprez, via The Colorado Statesman.

Confused by the caucus results?

Interesting stuff from Lynn Bartels at "The Spot" late last night:

Secretary of State is the winner of a straw poll for gubernatorial candidates conducted during Tuesday night’s GOP precinct caucuses, although results are incomplete and not every county asked for a show of hands.

Former Congressman only entered the race Monday, but he came in second behind Gessler in several counties, including Adams, Broomfield, Douglas and Larimer.

These results should, of course, be taken with a grain of salt considering that the three most important counties for a statewide candidate — Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson — did not take straw polls. Still, we're surprised to see such a strong showing from Beauprez, who filed his campaign paperwork on Monday and announced his bid for Governor Tuesday morning.

Also noteworthy: Sen. Greg Brophy had very little support in the counties that held straw polls. We would think such an outspoken conservative as Brophy would have had a bit more support among GOP caucus-goers.

Big Line Updated

We've updated The Big Line to reflect a wacky week that saw major changes to the races for U.S. Senate, Governor, and CD-4. We expect to be changing the CD-4 Line quite frequently in the coming days as more potential candidates consider their options.

Your opinions, as always, are welcome in the comments…

Head Games – Voting Rights 3, Head 0

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Victor Head, "Pueblo Plumber", recall proponent, and County Clerk candidate, has been lying again, and digging through trash for ballots to make the case that only he can prevent election fraud.  

HB1128 , Reduce Voter Identity Theft

In the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado legislature, on February 12, Head testified on behalf of HB1128, a thinly-disguised "voter ID" bill. Szabo and Harvey were the sponsors. The bill, thankfully, is parked in the State committee, and unlikely to come out of it.

The facts were not with this bill. There is not, and never has been, a problem of "voter identity theft" in Colorado. Over the last 10 years, there have been no instances of someone voting under an assumed name. Yet, Head, with an eye on the Clerk position supervising elections in Pueblo, wants voters to believe that he  has expertise in this area, and will help protect us from the dreaded (but nonexistent) problem of voter identity theft.

In order to create a problem only he can solve, Victor Head lied again  in HB1128  hearing testimony.  He told Representative Salazar that signature cards weren't used in Pueblo County when Pueblans began voting in the Recall election. This is demonstrably not true.

(more…)