El Paso County Cuts Off “Shirtless Sheriff” Maketa

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette's Matt Steiner reports, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa may have survived a recall attempt against him as he defiantly serves out his final days in office after an explosive sexual misconduct/cronyism scandal, but the county is done paying for the expensive legal representation he's been enjoying:

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa will be on his own if he wants to continue using high-profile defense attorney Pamela Mackey to defend recent accusations against him.

Senior assistant county attorney Diana May reiterated that the county would no longer pay for Mackey's services in a July 17 letter obtained by The Gazette that highlights ongoing friction between the county attorney's office and the Sheriff's Office. The county had agreed in early June to hire Mackey temporarily for a fee of $250 per hour with a cap of a $10,000. The county commissioners needed to approve anything above that amount.

"El Paso County did not authorize your retention past the initial $9,999 engagement," May wrote in a letter to Mackey. "That engagement has concluded."

Mackey, who previously represented professional athletes Kobe Bryant and Patrick Roy, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

It's not unreasonable for an organization to defend an employee in erstwhile good standing, but El Paso County Sheriff Maketa is serving out the last months of his term against the wishes of the county's leadership. After claims seeking almost $4 million in damages over Maketa's professional and personal improprieties, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners took a vote of no confidence in Maketa and asked for his resignation. Maketa's refusal to go away quietly after this massive disgrace has greatly worsened the embarrassment felt by his former political allies–from fellow sheriffs who followed his lead in last year's recalls and anti gun control litigation, to those who believed Maketa's political future beyond elected law enforcement was very bright.

Today they're just waiting for the end, which can't come soon enough for everyone except Terry Maketa.

Aurora Shooting Victim’s Dad Calls Out Mike Coffman

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

​Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the mass shooting at the Century Theater in Aurora, in which 12 people were killed and some 70 injured after a gunman burst into the theater and began shooting indiscriminately. Since that time, the debate over gun policy has raged in Colorado and across the nation, with both sides honoring the victims of gun violence while disagreeing about the solution.

But apparently, as this statement we received from the father of a victim of the Aurora shootings says, some politicians can't even be bothered to commemorate this tragic event only two years later. Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex Sullivan died in the Aurora theater shooting, has this to say about Aurora's representative in Congressman Mike Coffman:

One day before the two-year anniversary of the Aurora theater shooting – in which 12 people were killed and 58 were wounded – Representative Mike Coffman came back to Aurora to hold meetings with constituents.  But Rep. Coffman has not yet taken action to honor the victims of the Aurora shooting and keep guns out of dangerous hands. Tom Sullivan, the father of Aurora victim Alex Sullivan, released the following statement:

"Two years ago my son Alex was killed.  He wasn't in the wrong place at the wrong time – he was at the movies to celebrate his birthday.

"I'm disappointed to see Rep. Coffman come back to Aurora the day before the anniversary, but not honor the tragedy with action.  He has not yet supported federal legislation that would do what we've already done here in Colorado – close the loophole that allows criminals and other dangerous people to buy guns without a background check.  We know this solution works because since the law went into effect last year, dangerous people are already being blocked from buying guns. 

"I hope Rep. Coffman does the right thing and honors the victims of that horrible tragedy with action in Washington, not more partisan excuses."

According to Coffman's Facebook page, he attended the Dragon Boat Festival at Sloan's Lake in west Denver on Saturday, as well as constituent meetings at MLK Library in Aurora. But in addition to Sullivan's point about Coffman having taken no action in Washington on gun safety as Aurora's representative, we can't find anything from Coffman acknowledging the 2nd anniversary of the Aurora shooting at all. There were several events this weekend, including a tree-planting event at Aurora's new Hope Park attended by Gov. John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan–but Coffman wasn't listed as a guest. We haven't seen anything on Coffman's campaign or congressional websites, campaign or official Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, or anywhere else to indicate he commemorated the shooting anniversary in any way.

If Coffman did do anything to observe the most tragic event suffered by his district in many, many years, he apparently didn't want anybody to know about it. And we don't have a good explanation for that.

New NBC/Marist Poll: Udall Up By 7, Hickenlooper Up By 6

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

A new poll out today from NBC News/Marist has very bad news for Colorado Republicans–beginning with GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner, who is now down by 7 points to incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, outside this poll's +/- 3.1% margin of error:

In Colorado’s Senate contest, incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., leads GOP challenger Cory Gardner by seven points among registered voters, 48 to 41 percent; another 10 percent are undecided.

In the state’s race for governor, sitting Gov. John Hickenlooper holds a six-point edge over Republican opponent Bob Beauprez, 49 to 43 percent, with 7 percent undecided…

A gender gap is helping the Democratic candidates…In Colorado, Udall is up by 12 points among female voters (50 percent to 38 percent), but he’s running neck and neck with Gardner among men…

Among Latinos – who make up 16 percent of registered voters in the Colorado poll – Udall has a 31-point lead over Gardner, 58 to 27 percent.

And also in Colorado, both Udall (by 50 to 34 percent) and Hickenlooper (by 52 to 35 percent) have the advantage with independent voters.

Here are the details on today's poll of Colorado voters.

The leads for Udall and to a lesser extent Gov. John Hickenlooper among independent voters are particularly dire for Republicans, who are counting on an agitated independent vote breaking their way this November. Udall's massive 31-point lead over Gardner with Latino voters shows Gardner's late attempts to appease this community by changing up his hard-line rhetoric on immigration reform have fallen flat. Combine that with Udall's double-digit lead over Gardner with women voters, and Gardner looks much worse off at this point than most news reporting on this race would suggest.

Hickenlooper has more ground to gain against GOP opponent Bob Beauprez, and that's likely to happen once Beauprez's long record of disqualifying looney-tunes statements since his last run for office in 2006 becomes more widely publicized. Hickenlooper's pundit-certified "tough couple of years politically" colors the narrative about this race, but even here there is good news: 52% of respondents say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who thinks laws governing gun sales should be more strict.

Opposition to the loosening of gun regulations is largely fueled by female voters, who say they are less likely to support a pro-gun rights candidate by 20 percentage points, while men are about equally divided on the question.

Meaning the biggest advantage Colorado Republicans have going into this election…is no advantage at all.

Bottom line: while nobody would suggest these hotly competitive races are over, a few more polls like this could change that. These are not numbers Republicans hoping for victory this November want to see.

Yes, Mayor Bloomberg, Colorado Springs Has Roads

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADowntown Colorado Springs. Photo via Wikipedia

UPDATE: Sen. Mark Udall responds via FOX 31:

“Not since New Jersey Governor Chris Christie attacked Colorado’s way of life has an east coaster gotten us so wrong,” said Udall spokesman James Owens. “Christie and Bloomberg should stick to what they know best: traffic jams and tiny sodas.

“Mayor Bloomberg is way off base about Pueblo and Colorado Springs, two of Colorado’s strongest and proudest communities.”

—–

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, an embarrassing gaffe from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has local Republicans up in arms today–and frankly, there's not much anybody can say to defend this:

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is popping off about Colorado in a new Rolling Stone interview and Republicans here, who have been blasting Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper for taking cues from Bloomberg on the state’s new gun laws, couldn’t be happier about it.

Asked about three Colorado Democrats being forced out of office by a recall movement that arose last summer after the legislature’s passage of laws expanding background checks and banning magazines of more than 15 rounds, legislation Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns lobbied hard for, the former mayor said this:

“The NRA went after two or three state Senators in a part of Colorado where I don’t think there’s roads. It’s as far rural as you can get. [Pols emphasis] And, yes, they lost recall elections. I’m sorry for that. We tried to help ‘em. But the bottom line is, the law is on the books, and being enforced. You can get depressed about the progress, but on the other hand, you’re saving a lot of lives.”

As our in-state readers know, and we're happy to clarify for Mr. Bloomberg, Colorado Springs and Pueblo are pretty far from "as rural as you can get." The almost 450,000 residents of Colorado Springs, and 700,000 residents of that city's larger metropolitan area, do not get around on foot. And how many roadless places are home to the biggest steel mill in the Rocky Mountain West?

With that said, this kind of ignorant dismissal of the West by Eastern politicians isn't new–witness Chris Christie's nonsensical comments about "quality of life" in Colorado compared to (don't laugh) New Jersey, which the whole state condemned without partisan considerations. We expect there will be few if any Colorado Democrats to defend Bloomberg today, because what he said is plainly indefensible.

Republicans, of course, would like to turn this into a casus belli against all Colorado Democrats, but it's a weak case. Democrats are certainly aware that Colorado Springs and Pueblo have roads, and won't have a problem saying so. Bloomberg may have supported the 2013 gun safety bills, but that shouldn't stop Democrats from criticizing him for making these foolish statements. Bloomberg's own reputation in Colorado won't be helped by this, but the bottom line is, everyone likely to be alienated by Michael Bloomberg already has been in the last year and a half of political warfare over guns. Nothing Bloomberg says can change the fact that 80% of the public supports the state's new universal background check law, or that the courts have upheld the state's new gun safety laws as constitutional.

And lastly, if all politicians are to be judged by what their donors say, Republicans might come out the losers.

Woods: Become a fake Republican and vote in GOP primary!

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Laura Woods.

Laura Woods.

The day before the Republican primary, in which Republican Laura Woods triumphed over Lang Sias for the right to take on Democratic State Senator Rachel Zenzinger, Woods made the following comment on the KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado:

WOODS: “…tomorrow, if you’re an unaffiliated voter, and you don’t want more of the same, go down to the polling place, change to a Republican for a day or two, fill out a ballot, and then after the primary, if you don’t want to stay a Republican, you don’t have to stay. You can unaffiliate again. But you can be a part of the change right now by electing somebody who is going to stand up for the Constitution.”

Listen to Woods suggest unaffiliated voters briefly switch parties to help her win GOP primary 6-23-14

There's nothing illegal about Woods' suggestion, but the folks down at KLZ, including host Kristina Cook, are all about "principles."

How principled is it to try to win a Republican primary with the votes of fake Republicans? It doesn't appear that Woods' suggestion made any difference in the election, but if I were running the show at Grassroots Radio Colorado, I would have asked Woods about her idea that unaffiliated voters should join the GOP for "a day or two."

Or maybe Jon Caldara will invite her on his KHOW show and compare notes. In any case, it's done now.

“Constitutional” Sheriff Terry Maketa Endorsed by Anti-government Extremists

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sheriff Terry Maketa is in trouble. Accused of sexual harassment and misusing his department's funds, he is now facing an energetic effort to recall him from his elected office. Volunteers must gather 45,000 valid  signatures by July 12, in order to initiate a recall election. Many of his staff have resigned or are on leave; computer hard drives at his office have been taken for investigation. The FBI will investigate his finances,  and his undersheriff and former campaign manager have not only signed the recall petition , but they are helping to gather signatures to recall the "Shirtless Sheriff". Several former colleagues are suing the Sheriff's Department for sexual harassment,  workplace discrimination, and/or  creating a hostile work environment. The Board of County Commissioners has met with him twice, urging him to resign. Even usually-reliable right wing radio hosts are backing away. In a rambling video obtained by the Gazette, Maketa apologized, but refused to step down.

(more…)

Where does your state legislator stand on women’s issues?

 Women's Lobby of Colorado Legislative Scorecard.  See how your legislators are rated.

It's a ten page document, and posting pdfs is a pain, so you can look it up yourself. But you may find some surprises.

My SD3 candidate, and current HD46 rep, Leroy Garcia, has 100%.

My Senator, George Rivera, has 64%, which was higher than I thought he would have.

My current HD47 rep, Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff, is rated 36%. I guess that's what happens when one's market brand is being "business friendly".

By the way, "women's issues" are not just reproductive rights issues – economy, healthcare, education, and opportunity are also women's issues. Sorry, Laura Carno, larger magazine size on full auto guns didn't make the list.

 

 

BREAKING: Judge Tosses Lawsuit Against Colorado Gun Laws


Gov. John Hickenlooper signs gun safety legislation, March 20, 2013.
Photo via AP's Ivan Moreno

UPDATE #3: From Gov. John Hickenlooper via AP/9NEWS:

The judge today offered a thorough and reasoned opinion and recognized that the state's new gun laws do not unduly burden anyone's Second Amendment rights. We appreciate the good work that the Attorney General's team did to represent the state and defend the law.

USA TODAY's Michael Winter recaps background our readers know well:

The state's Democratic-majority legislature passed the measures last year in reaction to the 2012 mass killings at a Denver-area movie theater and the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. In a backlash by voters, two Democratic senators subsequently were recalled and a third resigned.

In her 50-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger wrote "evidence shows that large-capacity magazines are frequently used in gun violence and mass shootings, and that often a shooter will shoot continuously until a weapon jams or the shooter runs out of ammunition."

"Most experts agree that the size of a magazine correlates to the number of rounds that are fired in both an offensive and defensive capacity," she added.

But the plaintiffs — gun owners, advocates, manufacturers and sheriffs — had presented no evidence that someone's ability "to defend him or herself is seriously diminished if magazines are limited," Krieger declared. [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE #2: Read Chief Judge Marcia Krieger's decision in its entirety here.

(more…)

Dudley Brown’s Temporary Triumph: RMGO’s Last Hurrah?

Dudley Brown of RMGO.

Dudley Brown of RMGO.

AP's Ivan Moreno reports this morning in the wake of huge legislative GOP primary victories for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners in bellwether Jefferson County, over comparatively moderate Republican challengers–victories that have nonetheless worsened Republican odds of retaking the Colorado Senate this November:

In Senate District 22, which covers Lakewood, Tony Sanchez defeated Mario Nicolais, a party attorney who helped draw maps during state redistricting in 2011.

In Senate District 19, which includes Arvada, Laura Woods defeated Lang Sias, a veteran of both Gulf Wars. Woods was involved in two recall petition efforts against former District 19 Sen. Evie Hudak.

Both districts are considered toss-ups, and political analysts saw the defeated Nicolais and Sias as more established candidates who could have attracted independent voters in November. Nicolais advocated passage of civil unions for gay couples last year, and Sias narrowly lost to Hudak in 2012.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols lays it out more plainly:

Senate Democrats might also be excited about Tuesday’s result, in large part because they believe both Sanchez and Woods are too conservative for the districts they are seeking to represent. If Democrats are able to defeat both candidates, it will go a long way in helping them hold onto their one-seat majority this November.

Some Republican analysts feel the same way.

“These are very competitive districts in a very competitive county,” former Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams said. “And if the wrong candidates win these primaries, they cannot win these competitive districts. Lang Sias can win. Mario Nicolais can win. Their opponents (Woods and Sanchez) cannot.” [Pols emphasis]

With victories in these two key battleground primaries now in hand, Dudley Brown's Rocky Mountain Gun Owners now moves to the next stage–as Brown put it, "hunting Democrats" in the general elections. But that is quite likely to prove a bridge too far for RMGO, who has had great success getting their favored candidates elected largely by winning GOP primaries in safe Republican seats. In a general election in a competitive district, what operates in RMGO's favor in a safe-seat primary becomes a liability. Both RMGO endorsed candidates who won last night in Jefferson County, Laura Waters Woods and Tony Sanchez, and distantly out of the mainstream of a wide variety of issues that have nothing to do with guns.

While no one should write off these races by any stretch of the imagination in what remains a challenging year, Democrats were cut a tremendous break last night when the more electable Republicans lost these two primaries. RMGO, whose energies Republicans have been glad to channel when it suits their purposes, may be about to discover the hard limit of their power.

In a way that's going to leave a mark.

RMGO Busy Getting Favored Candidates Nominated

woodsrmgo

A last-minute plea from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners executive director Dudley Brown today touts endorsements for Senate District 19 Republican Senate candidate Laura Woods, as the clock winds down to next Tuesday's GOP primary elections:

For the past several weeks, you've received many e-mails from me urging you to vote for conservative Republican Laura Woods in the June 24th Primary Election for Senate District 19.

However, I don't just want you to take my word for it, but also consider the other conservative champions who are supporting Laura, including:

Top-rated conservative State Representative Justin Everett,
Weld County Sheriff and gun rights lawsuit leader John Cooke,
Former U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong, 
State Senator Ted Harvey, and
Former State Senator Dave Schultheis.

Now, these individuals know exactly what it takes to fight for your Constitutional rights.

Take it from these proven conservative leaders, and vote for Republican Laura Woods in the June 24th Primary Election.

With a tag team of Bill Armstrong and Dave Schultheis in her corner, how can anybody stand in Laura Waters Woods' way? And since this is an RMGO email, there is of course a healthy portion of recycled scumbagging for Woods' opponent, two-time loser Lang Sias:

You may have even heard Laura on morning talk radio shows like Peter Boyles, as a key spokesperson for the recall effort.

If you did hear her, then you know just how passionate and committed she is about protecting our rights. 

Unfortunately, Lang Sias, a handpicked liberal, establishment Republican, has chosen to run a primary against Laura. 

If you’ve read our emails before, you know by now that Lang Sias has already attempted to run for office TWICE in the last two election cycles and LOST – even to Evie Hudak!

Tony Sanchez.

Tony Sanchez.

RMGO is working every bit as hard to ensure their endorsed Republican candidate in Senate District 22, Tony Sanchez, beats Republican attorney Mario Nicolais. What we've heard is that in both of these races, and others where RMGO has made a primary endorsement, a robust field campaign with no shortage of volunteers is busily underway–making it quite likely that Colorado's "no compromise" gun rights organization is going to have a very good night on Tuesday.

Electability in November, of course, is another matter, but until next Wednesday morning, you won't find any Democrats raining on RMGO's parade.

Democrats Unload on Hickenlooper Over Gun Law Ramblings

UPDATE: Gov. John Hickenlooper seeks to clarify his remarks today, FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

In his first interview on the subject, Hickenlooper told FOX31 Denver that he wasn’t aware he was being filmed last Friday during a meeting with the sheriffs in Aspen when he appeared to backpedal on the magazine ban, agreeing with one sheriff that it was unenforceable and telling the group that he didn’t expect the legislation to even make it to his desk.

The remarks, he said Friday, were an effort to apologize to sheriffs who felt their voices weren’t heard during last year’s legislative process, not a disavowal of the magazine ban itself.

“I didn’t say it’s unenforceable, I said it’s difficult to enforce,” Hickenlooper said. “A lot of laws are difficult to enforce; that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be there. If we went through the process again, I’d sign it again.” [Pols emphasis]

…A week after the meeting with the sheriffs, the governor explained that he and his staff made the decision last year to sign House Bill 1224, which bans magazines of more than 15 rounds, more than a month before the legislation reached his desk; and he said that he wouldn’t have allowed the senate to vote on the controversial measure — three Democratic senators who supported the ban were ousted from office last fall as part of a recall effort in response to the gun bills — if he were considering a veto.

—–

Very, very bad at impromptu speaking.

Very, very bad at impromptu speaking.

The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee has been eagerly running down every conceivable angle on the lingering story of Gov. John Hickenlooper's ill-fated attempt to appease Colorado county sheriffs at a meeting last week. Today, Lee reports on the response on MSNBC last night by former Senate President John Morse, who narrowly lost a recall election last year after the passage of gun safety legislation:

Former Democratic Senate President John Morse said the comments Gov. John Hickenlooper made recently about his support of gun-control laws from 2013 is “disrespecting the families of the victims that worked so hard to pass this legislation.”

Morse supported a wide-ranging package of Democratic gun-control measures that became law last year. His backing of those bills, which include limits on ammunition magazines and universal background checks on all firearms sales and transfers, led to his ouster in a recall election last September…

Morse, in an interview with MSNBC, said the gun-control laws “did not divide the state,” and cites polls that show a majority of Coloradans back the law that requires universal gun background checks.

There is perhaps no one out there more deservedly angry with Gov. Hickenlooper over his foolish backpedaling of the 2013 magazine limit law than Sen. Morse. Morse laid everything on the line to get these bills passed, and having lost his seat by the narrowest of margins in last year's recalls, he can hold his head high–and obviously, Morse has a legacy interest in defending these laws. For John Morse, passing the 2013 gun safety bills was a goal worth the loss of his seat, and Hickenlooper's thoughtless pandering to the sheriffs is a huge slap in the face.

Like we said yesterday about this story, the real potential for political damage to Hickenlooper is limited: by the time that has passed since passage of these bills, voter fatigue with the issue of gun control, and the weakness of any potential opponent who may emerge from next Tuesday's GOP primary. But it definitely doesn't help Democratic legislators who are defending their records with voters for Hickenlooper to undercut them like this, and to have done so just to have a more pleasant meeting with county sheriffs who will never support him is simply not justifiable.

At this point, as Lee's continued interest in this story shows, Hickenlooper's silence in response to media requests for clarification of what he said to the county sheriffs is doing disproportionate harm. Hickenlooper needs to get all of his staff into a huddle–and after apologizing for pointlessly throwing at least one of them under the wheels, he needs to make sure everyone is saying the same thing. Then he needs to call reporters and tell them what that is. Maybe he claims stagefright, or altitude sickness, it doesn't matter–the biggest priority is that he stops contradicting himself and fellow Democrats.

And then, after he has taken his lumps and walked this back as best he can, he can shut the hell up for awhile.

Obama DEA behind the Times, ICE not sure of Law, siezes Hemp seeds bound for CO

Jeez, this is incredibly stupid and wasteful.

DENVER – Hundreds of pounds of industrial hemp seeds bound from Canada to Colorado have been seized by federal authorities in North Dakota, marking the latest bump along the road to legalization of marijuana's non-intoxicating cousin.

At the center of the dispute is hemp activist Tom McClain. Armed with a copy of last year's federal Farm Bill, which allowed states to permit hemp cultivation for research and development, he set off for MacGregor, Manitoba, and bought 350 pounds of seeds used to grow a strain known as X-59 or Hemp Nut.

Hemp is legal in Canada, and North Dakota is one of 15 states with laws that allow limited hemp production. However, under the Farm Bill, importing hemp seeds requires permission from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

McClain's seeds were confiscated Saturday at the border crossing in Hansboro, North Dakota, after he says he declared the seven bags in his trunk. McClain, however, has not been charged with a crime.

"They treated me very professionally," McClain said after he returned to Colorado – without the seeds. "They were just a little confused as to what to do. According to them, I couldn't bring them in."

The DEA is notoriously recalcitrant and behind the times when it comes to dealing with the reality of today's laws and public sentiments regarding that "evul weed".

The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Michele Leonhart, is refusing to support a bill backed by the Obama administration that would lower the length of mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug crimes, putting her at odds with her boss Attorney General Eric Holder on one of the criminal justice reform initiatives he hopes to make a centerpiece of his legacy.

ICE seems frozen in the past, too:

Shawn Neudauer, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed the seizure.

The man who's trying to import these seeds for true industrial hemp use is trying to get the issue resolved. 

McClain and Jason Lauve of the Colorado-based activist group Hemp Cleans have appealed to congressional representatives in the state to resolve the seed flap in North Dakota.

A spokeswoman for Colorado's Agriculture Department, Christi Lightcap, said the agency hasn't been approached to intervene.

Colorado has accepted more than 40 hemp-cultivation applications. But the state has a "don't-ask-don't-tell" policy about the origin of the seeds used in the work.

Growers, meanwhile, have expressed frustration over the limited availability of seeds that are affordable and haven't been smuggled into the country.

The seeds confiscated in North Dakota were destined for experimental plots. Lauve said owners have only about two weeks to get the seeds planted so they can harvest the hemp before snow falls.

"We need to get that here as soon as possible," he said.

Jared Polis has been forward thinking on this issue, has prodded the feds to get their anti-marijuana act together and has given our Luddite DEA Chief whatfor. Maybe he can help.

And maybe someone can buy our Customs Service and DEA Apparatus a clue about hemp and legal marijuana and the facts regarding each.

You REALLY Didn’t See That One Coming, Governor?

Stupid governor traps

Keep an eye on the stick, not the carrot.

Governor John Hickenlooper has ascended the political ladder in Colorado with several parts of savvy politician mixed in with a folksy-schtickiness that, for the most part, has served him well. But as we pointed out last year, the "Hick Schtick" has been losing some of its power as Hickenlooper's political opponents learn how to use it against him. 

This problem for Hickenlooper emerged again last week, when the Governor walked right into a political trap when speaking in Aspen to the County Sheriffs of Colorado. Hickenlooper made some silly mistakes in speaking to the Sheriffs group when he inexplicably apologized to them for not communicating better over gun safety legislation passed in 2013. That story has continued well into this week, thanks to a well-placed camera and microphone. As Kurtis Lee of the Denver Post reports:

Gov. John Hickenlooper told county sheriffs at a recent gathering he felt conflicted about supporting a bill that limited ammunition magazines, but because one of his "staff made a commitment," he felt compelled to sign it into law.

"To be honest, no one in our office thought it would get through the legislature," Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said in an unedited video recorded by the conservative group Revealing Politics. "There were several Democrats who said without question they weren't going to vote for it."

The measure — by far the most controversial in a package of gun-control bills signed into law in 2013 — bars the sale of ammunition magazines of more than 15 rounds. The measure passed the Democratic-controlled legislature with no Republican support.

Eric Brown, Hickenlooper's spokesman, said Wednesday that he has not had a chance to speak with the governor about which staffer committed the governor's support and signature for the legislation. Hickenlooper is in Mexico this week to promote economic development.

As we wrote on Monday, Hickenlooper should have known better. His folksy attempts to make friends with a group of Republican sheriffs who were always going to be opposed to his policies ended up doing nothing but harm to his own image. Republican operatives have done a good job of expanding this story into more than it really is, something that became easy to do when the Governor walked right into their clutches. What did Hick think would happen here? What possible upside did he see in going back to the contentious 2013 legislative debate over gun safety? Did he just want Republican sheriffs to like him better? Did the Shirtless Sheriff just freak him out too much?

Hickenlooper fell into a stupid trap here, and it's his own fault for doing it. But as Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry opined this week, there are plenty of important details to remember – including the fact that the Colorado Chiefs of Police supported a ban on high-capacity magazines:

Hickenlooper’s gaffe here happened when agreed to talk to this group of self-aggrandizing gunslingers to begin with. Not that Hickenlooper didn’t make missteps here and elsewhere along his political path, but this was a phony gunfight from the get go…

What too many people forget here is that these sheriffs helping to perpetuate this hysteria are politicians. Most — if not all — share a common trait: Republicans with a magazine to grind against the Democratic governor. These sheriffs are trying to tell the public that nobody asked them nothing about any of this as the law was being created. That’s a load of crap…[Pols emphasis]

…Did Hickenlooper mishandle pushing back against the sheriffs? Probably. Who cares? Does it mean these two laws are any less valuable? Hell no. We’re they written so that they’re difficult to enforce? That’s for state lawyers and others to decide. If they are, modify them to ensure their intent and end this fake fury for good. And as for these sure-shooting sheriffs-turned-constitutional-lawyers: Spend your time protecting the public instead of preaching politics.

There's no sugar-coating that Hickenlooper fell into an obvious trap with the Sheriffs' group here, but even so, the political ramifications aren't particularly dire. For one thing, the gun legislation debate is already more than a year old; voters are already tired of hearing about it, and it's only June. And, of course, there's the not-so-little problem Republicans face with their own Gubernatorial field. Even if this were an election-defining moment (and even the most enthusiastic Republican would have to admit that it most certainly does not rise to that level), the GOP is going to have a hell of a time convincing voters that their nominee for Governor is worth selecting…period.

Yes, this is a bad story for Hickenlooper that reflects poorly on the Governor, but there's not more to it than that. Maybe this experience will finally convince Hick to put his "Schtick" in his back pocket for awhile and pay more attention to what's really happening in front of him. Maybe this will finally convince him to deal more closely with his obvious allies rather than spend so much time trying to court enemies. Or, maybe Hick will just keep on keeping on, and fall right into the next hole covered by Republicans with sticks and leaves. If nothing else, we'd guess Hickenlooper has made his last official visit to a meeting of the County Sheriffs group.

Radio host gets an earful from Beauprez about RMGO’s Dudley Brown

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Both Ways Bob

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Super PAC has launched a radio ad calling GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez "Both Ways Bob" for voting both ways on gun legislation.

On her morning show this morning, KHOW's Mandy Connell was apparently the first media figure to question Beauprez about the ad's allegation that he supported Amendment 22, which required background checks at gun shows, Beauprez said:

Beauprez: 12:20: "Mandy, this attack from [RMGO President] Dudley [Brown] is far too familiar. And let me emphasize Dudley… Dudley is in it for Dudley. What’s going on right now is Dudley is sending out an ad attacking me. This is Saul-Alinsky-like. You gotta have an enemy in a political fight. Dudley likes to name me as the enemy. He’ll throw in a little bit of money. And I’ll emphasize a little bit, because this is not a very big ad buy. He’ll throw a little bit of money at me, and then he’ll wave it as a red flag to his members and say, ‘Hey look! I went and got the bad guy, and send me your dough." Dudley will get a big net profit out of this, as he always does off of the kinds of projects he does. It’s all about Dudley and lining his pocket."

Beauprez went on to acknowledge his support of Amendment 22, "in the post-Columbine era," but said his endorsements and subsequent actions show he is pro-gun through and through.

Connell also asked Beauprez about about RMGO's allegation that Beauprez “voted for mandatory trigger locks and a ban on traditional ammunition in Congress.”

Beauprez: "That is a brand new call to me. I can’t deny that because I don’t know what piece of legislation something might have been wrapped into that was rotten legislation to begin with."

Connell's questions were direct and substantive, covering not only guns but pot, immigration, and other topics.

(more…)

Hickenlooper Throws Legislators Under The Bus? Not Quite…

underthebus

Gun-rights activists and the Republican legislators who love them are crowing about news reports Friday from a meeting in Aspen of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, wherein Gov. John Hickenlooper reportedly apologized to the state's elected county sheriffs for the handling of the passage of new gun safety laws in the 2013 legislative session. As the Grand Junction Sentinel's Dennis Webb reports:

“I’m happy to say I apologize. I don’t think we did a good job on any of that stuff,” Hickenlooper said, although he didn’t indicate a desire to revisit either bill.

He did, however, revisit his desire to tell sheriffs he’s sorry for how the situation was handled, after Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith reiterated the frustration over not being able to confer with Hickenlooper before the measures were passed.

“How many apologies do you want?” a smiling Hickenlooper said, eliciting chuckles from sheriffs. ” … I apologize.”

9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman adds:

A Hickenlooper spokesman confirms that the Governor apologized to the sheriffs for not meeting with them prior to the passage of gun control bills they opposed. Hickenlooper also said his administration didn't do a good job anticipating pushback on gun control. According to his spokesman, Hickenlooper pledged better communication in the future.

That account is consistent with a description of Hickenlooper's comments posted on the Montezuma County Sheriff's Office Facebook page. The sheriff's office posting makes additional claims about Hickenlooper's comments that 9NEWS could not independently confirm without listening to a recording of the Governor's remarks.

Here are those "additional claims" from Montezuma County Sheriff's Facebook page, which 9NEWS could not confirm:

The Governor apologized to the Sheriffs for not listening to them prior to passing the new gun bills. The Governor admitted his Office did not research the gun legislation until after it was passed. Governor Hickenlooper said he didn't realize it was going to cause such controversy and had he known he would not have endorsed the new gun laws without more research.

Convicted felon Clint Webster with Colorado sheriffs and Dave Kopel, May 17th 2013.

Convicted felon Clint Webster with Colorado sheriffs and Dave Kopel, May 17th 2013.

According to notes from the conversation published at KRDO and Hickenlooper's spokesman Eric Brown, this is a wildly inaccurate version of what Hickenlooper actually said.

I didn't find out sheriffs wanted to meet with me till a week later. I apologize for that. Lots of other issues going on at same time. I didn't think it was going to have the affect on people that it turned out to have. We should have done better. I apologize. I don't think we did a good job.

We didn't do a good job on the process. When speaking with Republicans across the state they supported universal background checks. But when none of the Republican legislators supported it, I knew we had a problem. [Pols emphasis] So we went back and got the facts (during the legislative process)…

Brown says that both the governor and his staff researched the issue extensively before the legislation was signed.

Dudley Brown mug shot

We'll start by saying that making any apology to these elected, almost to-a-man Republican county sheriffs was a big political mistake for Gov. Hickenlooper. The biggest reason is demonstrated by the Montezuma County Sheriff's blatant misquote–these political adversaries are never going to legitimately accept such an apology, and will freely misuse it to suit their political agenda. Many of the leaders of the sheriff's opposition to the 2013 gun safety bills, like Weld County Sheriff and Colorado Senate candidate John Cooke and El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, are closely tied to Dudley Brown's Rocky Mountain Gun Owners organization. Do you think RMGO cares about quoting people accurately?

Speaking of Terry Maketa, has anybody asked if the no-shirt rule at the capitol made it tough to attend meetings? We digress.

Bottom line: it's just laughable–absolutely laughable–to suggest that opponents of the 2013 gun safety bills were not heard. The sheriffs testified at the hearings. Opponents flooded at the capitol by the hundreds. They held rallies outside. They circled the capitol blaring their car horns for hours on end. They flew a banner over the capitol saying "Gov. Hickenlooper, don't take our guns." The sheriffs were in front of news cameras on a more or less daily basis. Politically, the whole experience has been great for them, great for RMGO, great for pretty much everybody except the Democratic legislators who put their careers on the line to pass these bills.

For their sake, Gov. Hickenlooper needs to be a lot more careful with his conflict-averse brown nosing.