Army To Recruiting Station Vigilantes: Go Home

AKA a security threat too.

AKA a security threat too.

Happy to relay a public service announcement from U.S. Army Gen. Ray Odierno to all the “good citizens” brandishing firearms outside local military recruiting centers in the wake of the Chattanooga shootings–as the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Tom Roeder reported yesterday from Odierno’s press availability in Colorado Springs:

“I’m concerned we’re really on the razor’s edge at 450,000 [total troops],” the general said before noting that his biggest fear is sending untrained troops to a future war because the Army lacked strength and readiness.

The smaller Army isn’t the only thing that Odierno expressed fear over.

The general said he’s also worried about armed bands of civilians who have taken up patrolling outside military recruiting stations in the wake of shootings in Tennessee last week that left five troops dead.

Odierno said he thinks the patrolling civilians, including a band that’s on watch outside a station near Academy Boulevard and Vickers Drive, are well intentioned, but could be doing more harm than good.

“I worry it creates a dangerous situation,” Odierno said, noting if an incident happened, confusion could lead to civilian deaths.

Army newspaper Stars and Stripes was a little more blunt:

The Army has warned its recruiters to treat the gun-toting civilians gathering at centers across the country in the wake of the Chattanooga, Tenn., shooting as a security threat.

Soldiers should avoid anyone standing outside the recruiting centers attempting to offer protection and report them to local law enforcement and the command if they feel threatened, according to a U.S. Army Recruiting Command policy letter issued Monday…

“I’m sure the citizens mean well, but we cannot assume this in every case [Pols emphasis] and we do not want to advocate this behavior,” according to the Army Command Operations Center-Security Division letter, which was authenticated by the service.

It may come as a shock to that vocal percentage of Americans who believe more guns are the solution to every problem, but guns around military installations–especially guns not under the strict control of military commanders–is not a solution to, you know, anything. In fact, it’s just another security problem for people who don’t need more security problems.

So go play some paintball or something, big boys.

Woods Lets No Bogus FOX News Report Go To Waste

Yesterday, in the immediate aftermath of the tragic attacks on a military recruiting station and a separate reserve post near Chattanooga, Tennessee, Colorado Sen. Laura Waters Woods of Arvada swung into action on Facebook:


The biggest problem with this claim, says Media Matters for America, is that it isn’t true:

Four Marines were killed when a shooter fired on two military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Fox News reported that the attacks may be connected to ISIS because an ISIS supporter purportedly discussed the shooting on Twitter before it happened. Fox host Sean Hannity repeated the false claim on his radio show.

In fact, the tweet Fox News referenced was posted well after the shooting had already occurred. Mashable editor Brian Ries first pointed out the discrepancy.

On Your World, Fox’s chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reported, “the last investigative thread I would mention at this point is that we’re taking a hard look at a Twitter account — an ISIS-linked Twitter account — that seemed to have foreknowledge of the shooting in Chattanooga. The tweet went out at 10:34 with the hashtag Chattanooga referring to American dogs and a likely shooting. This of course was about 15 minutes before the shooting took place.”

A few hours later:

At the end of the Factor, Special Report anchor Bret Baier clarified the timing of the tweet, saying that “all indications now are that it came out after the attack.” When O’Reilly asked if that meant the ISIS tweet story was “a bogus situation,” Baier replied, “yeah.” [Pols emphasis]

So much for that! Of course, the investigation into the Chattanooga shootings is in no way complete, and we would also be wrong to speculate about the shooter’s motives and affiliations. It’s true Sen. Waters Woods will probably need look no further than the shooters Arabic name, but that’s just not the proof positive a Tweet from before the shootings would be. Better to wait for investigators to do their jobs.

As for allowing military members to be armed “ALWAYS EVERYWHERE” (emphasis hers)? Excepting authorized forces on prescribed law enforcement duties, there are a lot of good reasons to not do that. Has Waters Woods run that suggestion by her excitable “liberty movement” friends tracking the Jade Helm 2015 military training exercise? Something tells us they might not like the way that sounds.

Bottom line: defund Planned Parenthood! Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

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.


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.

Right-Wing Blog Unwittingly Confirms Steve House Blackmail (Now, With Audio!)

UPDATE #2: There has been a flurry of phone calls and back-and-forth conversations among reporters and other officials today, much of it confusing. But you can read between the lines of Steve House’s statement to the Durango Herald:

I personally am not contacting the offices because I leave those decisions to the state party attorney and my personal attorney, I’ve not actively been involved with that,” House said in an interview with The Durango Herald. “I don’t know the law; I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t know what rises to the level of criminal activity.” 


UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman, finally some mainstream media confirmation of what we’ve been reporting for days:

From Rittiman’s story:

Steve House, the chairman of the Colorado Republican party, has reached out to federal and state prosecutors about his allegations of a coup attempt to remove him from his leadership post at the state party, led by Republican state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

State party spokesman Owen Loftus confirmed that House reached out to both the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Denver District Attorney’s office in the wake of the scandal, which has dominated Colorado political conversation since House’s allegations last week…

His office is refuting a story posted to a conservative blog purporting to be a confession from his mistress.


UPDATE: Here is the complete interview with Steve House’s alleged mistress, recorded the day after House’s confrontation with Cynthia Coffman, in which she categorically denies any affair. A wealth of information about this story in this over 47-minute conversation. See below for audio cue points to key moments. The voices on the recording are John Sampson, a private investigator and an Adams County Republican, Julie Naye, House’s alleged mistress, and Lana Fore, former secretary of the Colorado GOP.

With Julie Naye, Steve House’s alleged mistress:

9:13   How do you know House?
12:39 How often would you see House?
13:02 Have you ever meet Donna House?
13:43 Have you ever been alone with House?
14:00 Have you ever been in the same town overnight as House?
15:02 Why is the opposition pointing at you?
15:18  Is there any evidence (text, email voicemail) for these claims?
18:39 Has House ever paid you for work?
20:00 “House is innocent… I’ve never been alone with him”
29:00 “Steve need to take it to their doorstep.”
31:50 “People are making stuff up. Cannot be something there that there isn’t. House has to fight this.”
35:00 Lana Fore? “She’s sitting right here next to me.”
36:00 “Want to press charges against people who are claiming to have an affair.”

With Lana Fore, former Colorado GOP secretary:

38:00 What is going on?
40:00 “Personal vendetta”
40:30 Who is trying to force you to say something that is not true? McAlpine, Harvey, Mizel, Herzfeldt all named.
41:30 “House made promises and didn’t keep them.”
41:50 What were those promises?
44:00 Tom Tancredo was at the meeting on Monday night.
45:15  “I’m not a big fan of Colorado Pols, but I think they got it right.”

To be fair, this recording is addressed in the blog post by Porter below:

Naye confessed that she lied to help cover the affair. She said that House texted her with instructions to deny their relationship to his friend who would be phoning her. Naye said that she was unaware at the time that this friend was also a private investigator.

To which we can only say, if she’s lying in this recording, she’s a very good liar. In any event, all we’re talking about here is scenery for the main event–criminal extortion.

Original post follows–big updates coming soon.


Ted Harvey, Cynthia Coffman.

Ted Harvey, Cynthia Coffman.

As the controversy has swirled in the last few days over the alleged extortion of Colorado Republican Party chairman Steve House by high-ranking fellow Republicans including Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, one of the central details was the purported existence of an extramarital affair between House and an unknown party. House responded to the allegation by denying the existence of an affair, and claiming that he was confronted with it only after the conversation turned from why House didn’t hire Ted Harvey to serve as the state party’s executive director to demands that House resign his position.

House’s version of events is very important to the investigation now underway, as it meets the legal definition of criminal extortion. It would be one thing if House had committed some kind of actual malfeasance in his official capacity–though the manner in which House was confronted is still legally questionable–but to blackmail this man over an alleged love affair is contemptible in addition to potentially criminal.

Fast-forward to today–conservative blogger Kathryn Porter, who has obviously been tasked by someone close to Coffman to run damage control as the likelihood of a criminal investigation grows, published her “shocking expose” of House’s alleged affair:

“I had no expectations of a future with him. I thought this would eventually end and we would remain friends,” said [the woman]. She shared that House was easy to talk to and that they had a special trust between them. “I wasn’t looking for him to take care of me. And he had a wife. I trusted him to be kind to me and stick around as my friend.”

She became more guarded when confronted about her feelings for House. “I care about him a great deal, like you would care about a close friend with additional feelings,” she stated, carefully choosing her words…

She described the submission to their sexual desires as an organic evolution of their friendship.

Steve House.

Steve House.

Missing from Porter’s poorly-written screed is, well, anything particularly nefarious. Nowhere does the story of House’s alleged affair claim to involve his official duties as GOP chairman. Instead of helping, this hit piece would seem to confirm House’s version of the blackmail story, which we have to believe was not the intended purpose. 

And that’s perhaps not the worst part. Today, we were forwarded audio from a conversation between House’s alleged mistress and a private investigator from the day after House’s meeting with Coffman in which she denies the affair repeatedly and categorically. Late in the nearly 50-minute conversation, the investigator interviewing the woman in question says:

It’s called “character assassination 101.” What it all boils down to is, and I’m not a big fan of Colorado Pols, but I think they got it right. This is an attempt to have a coup d’etat. [Pols emphasis]

We are processing the audio from this conversation now and will post shortly, but we wanted to be sure the existence of these denials was quickly noted in the record.

How does this square with the quotes printed in Porter’s blog? Simple: it doesn’t. Sources tell us that House has turned his cell phone text records over to the U.S. Attorney’s office, and there’s nothing to indicate that House asked this woman to lie. And even of these hotly disputed allegations of an affair were true? That can’t justify blackmailing Steve House to get him to resign from his job as Colorado GOP chairman. Remember, it doesn’t make any difference whether House did or did not have an actual affair; it’s still blackmail to threaten him with it.

You can’t ever justify blackmail–it’s a crime as soon as you make the threat.

The Charleston Shooting: Six Degrees of Earl Holt

UPDATE: One hour and twenty minutes after this post went up, 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman reports:

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colorado) will part with money he received from the leader of a white supremacist group which appears to have inspired the shooter who killed 9 people in an attack on an historically black church in South Carolina.

We’re happy to have brought this to his attention five years after the fact.


Earl Holt.

Earl Holt.

Politico’s Nick Gass has a story today that, it’s safe to say, a number of Republican candidates for President don’t want you to read–but you probably should:

The leader of a white supremacist group mentioned by Dylann Roof in his alleged manifesto has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns in recent years.

Earl Holt, president of the St. Louis-based Council of Conservative Citizens, has given to prominent 2016 candidates Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum over the years, among others, while provocative statements in his name were posted online over the years, including on the conservative news site The Blaze, under the user name Earl P Holt III…

“If you think you can educate them, or embarrass them, or reason with them, or that your Christian compassion will be reciprocated, then you are the kind of person who will be completely baffled when they kill you, rape your entire family, and burn your house to the ground,” Earl P. Holt III wrote in a comment last year.

According to one account of a witness’ report, Roof said before opening fire, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country.” Roof stands charged with the murders of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last Wednesday night.

According to this story, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz intends to return his donation from the Council of Conservative Citizens’ Earl Holt, as does Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Rick Santorum’s quote doesn’t expressly say he’s returning the money, but we’d be surprised if he didn’t at this point. With South Carolina Republicans (and even Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado) calling for the Confederate flag’s removal from the state capitol grounds in the wake of last week’s shootings, to not return these severely tainted moneys would be politically suicidal.

Rep. Ken Buck.

Rep. Ken Buck.

The local connection: a quick search of donations also reveals a donation from the same Earl Holt to–you guessed it–Ken Buck’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2010! We haven’t found any other donations from Holt to Colorado candidates, but we can’t call ourselves surprised that Holt took a shine to Buck’s unrepentant far-right Senate campaign. Heck, now that we know Buck can’t tell the difference between “Hispanic” and Native American students, he seems even more up Holt’s alley! We’d assume that the present controversy following last week’s tragic shooting would motivate even Buck to return Holt’s donation.

Then again, it is Ken Buck we’re talking about. So maybe he keeps it in, you know, Freedom’s™ name.

“That Idiot’s Tweeting”

Arapahoe County D.A. George Brauchler loves him some Twitter, no matter the setting.

Arapahoe County D.A. George Brauchler loves him some Twitter, no matter the setting.

UPDATE: Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post updates this story, which includes a Colorado Pols mention:

ProgressNow — and, privately, some Republicans — have jumped on the mistake Brauchler made last week when he tweeted during the trial, although the judge had been clear not to do so. Three jurors have been replaced in connection with news stories regarding the judge’s admonishment about the tweet…

…The leftie blog ColoradoPols also mentioned the Brauchler brouhaha. The Post reported that a juror’s husband called the woman during a break last week and began telling her about his tweet, which had been reported on by various media outlets. Jurors had been instructed not to read anything about the trial or talk to each other about it.

“That idiot’s tweeting,” she quoted her husband as saying.

Runyon-Harms said “there’s an open question as to whether the quote, ‘That idiot’s tweeting,’ will follow Brauchler around for a while.”

As we said below, “That Idiot’s Tweeting” is going to be around as long as Brauchler is involved in politics.


The Aurora Theater Shooting Trial took another strange turn on Tuesday when Judge Carlos Samour Jr. dismissed three jurors for misconduct because of concerns that they were reading about the trial and discussing it outside of the courtroom. According to media reports, one particular juror was found to be discussing the boneheaded moves of Arapahoe District Attorney George Brauchler, who was lectured by Judge Samour last week for Tweeting during the trial.

From the Denver Post:

The misconduct came to light mid-morning when one juror — a mother of three who serves in the Air Force and is known publicly only by her juror number, No. 673 — asked to speak to Samour.

Sitting alone in the jury box, she told Samour that she had twice heard another juror talking about news reports on the case. The first came about a week ago, when the juror, No. 872, referenced a story on an unsuccessful motion for a mistrial that the defense made outside the jury’s presence. The second came on Monday, when the juror talked about a story on Brauchler’s tweet [Pols emphasis]

…Last came [Juror] No. 872, who said she took a call from her husband during a break last week and put it on speaker phone. She said her husband began asking her about Brauchler and telling her about his tweet.

“That idiot’s tweeting,” she quoted her husband as saying. [Pols emphasis]



Brauchler’s infamous June 4th Tweet, which has since been deleted.


Brauchler tried to explain to Judge Samour last week that he wasn’t “Tweeting” in court during session — he was actually texting, or something, and inadvertently sent a Tweet. The specifics here always seemed largely irrelevant; as defense attorney Tamara Brady said, “If the prosecution is seeking the execution of a man, perhaps the District Attorney should pay attention to the cross-examination of a mental health expert instead of chatting on social media.”

Judge Samour had long ago banned the use of Twitter during court proceedings, and following Brauchler’s inexcusable gaffe, he also banned text messages in general. Brauchler is an ambitious politician who is widely expected to seek the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018, but this social media mistake could end up critically damaging his chances for higher office — particularly if it ends up playing a role in the trial’s outcome. Brauchler’s Tweet had been “re-tweeted” at least three times before it was erased, and according to yesterday’s hearings, at least one family member of a juror saw the Tweet before Brauchler hit “delete.” This was not a harmless mistake.

Based on yesterday’s hearings, jurors have certainly taken note of Brauchler’s error; we wouldn’t be surprised to see this story become national news now that it has directly impacted the jury. If nothing else, “That Idiot’s Tweeting” is a quote you are certain to see again.

Call For Brauchler To Apologize For Endangering Aurora Shooting Trial

Following the dismissal of three jurors from the trial of the alleged shooter from the 2012 mass murder at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, demanded an apology from Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler for putting justice for the victims of the Aurora shooting in jeopardy to boost his political standing.

“The eyes of the entire nation are on Aurora as the trial of the alleged killer proceeds,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “District Attorney George Brauchler’s political ambitions are well known, and he never misses an opportunity to promote himself. Unfortunately, Brauchler’s irresponsible tweets from the courtroom have now resulted in the dismissal of jurors who were tainted by his actions.”

Yesterday, Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour dismissed three jurors from the Aurora shooting trial “over concerns they had been tainted by a prosecutor’s Tweet last week.” [1] DA George Brauchler was admonished by the judge last week after his social media posting about the trial was publicized, telling DA Brauchler, “If you’re bored, and don’t want to pay attention to the proceedings, then you’re welcome to leave.” [2]

“George Brauchler has a growing reputation for letting his political ambitions get in the way of good judgment,” said Runyon-Harms. “The victims and survivors of the Aurora shooting deserve justice, not a circus of gaffes by a politician prosecutor that could endanger the outcome of this trial. It’s time for Brauchler to apologize for his irresponsible actions, and stop putting justice for the victims of this terrible act of violence at risk for political gain.”

WTF George Brauchler? Judge Admonishes Arapahoe D.A. for Tweeting in Court During Aurora Theater Shooting Trial



Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler is overseeing the prosecution in the Aurora Theater Shooting Trial. Brauchler is also increasingly being mentioned as a potential Republican Senate candidate in 2016, so maybe he is feeling like he needs to raise his name ID or something. But wow — Brauchler really fumbled the ball yesterday afternoon in court.

“If you’re bored, and don’t want to pay attention to the proceedings, then you’re welcome to leave.”
     – Judge Samour

As multiple media outlets are reporting, Brauchler Tweeted about the trial yesterday afternoon during the cross-examination of a key witness for the prosecution. As Fox 31 reports:

In a decision before court began Friday, the judge on the theater shooting trial ruled to prohibit attorneys from texting and tweeting during court.

The decision came after defense attorney Tamara Brady brought up a Tweet from George Brauchler, the Arapahoe County District Attorney, sent during court proceedings Thursday.

At the time, defense attorney Daniel King was in the middle of cross-examining Dr. William Reid, the court-appointed psychiatrist who conducted a mental health evaluation of James Holmes and diagnosed him with Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

“If the prosecution is seeking the execution of a man, perhaps the District Attorney should pay attention to the cross-examination of a mental health expert instead of chatting on social media,” said Brady.

“If the prosecution is seeking the execution of a man, perhaps the District Attorney should pay attention to the cross-examination of a mental health expert instead of chatting on social media.”
– Attorney Tamara Brady

Brauchler apologized for the incident (sort of) by saying that he thought he was responding to a text message and hadn’t realized he had sent out a Tweet. He claims that he deleted the Tweet after court adjourned on Thursday, but as defense attorney Tamara Brady pointed out (with her voice cracking with emotion) Brauchler’s message was re-tweeted at least three times before it was deleted. Needless to say, Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour was not pleased with Brauchler. You can watch the video here, and we’ve transcribed the entire exchange after the jump, but here’s what Judge Samour had to say:

It was about four weeks ago, and I specifically said that I don’t want anyone sending tweets from the courtroom about anything, but obviously much less about the case…

…I have prohibited the media from tweeting from the courtroom. I didn’t think it was appropriate for attorneys to be doing it, especially when proceedings are ongoing. We’re not even talking about during breaks – but during actual courtroom proceedings. There’s nothing that can’t wait until a break or until after court to be tweeted.

I don’t have any reason to doubt Mr. Brauchler and so I am going to take him on his word that this was an accident…and an inadvertent mistake. But even texting is something that really should wait until the proceedings are not ongoing. I don’t know why email or text can’t wait until a break, especially when it is your witness who is testifying and being cross-examined. I am going to prohibit the parties from texting from the courtroom during the proceedings.

If you’re bored, and don’t want to pay attention to the proceedings, then you’re welcome to leave…out of respect for the court, when you’re in here, you should not be texting or tweeting or anything like that. You should be paying attention to what’s happening in here. [Pols emphasis]

Arapahoe County D.A. George Brauchler (far left) is reprimanded by Judge Carlos Samour in court this morning.

Arapahoe County D.A. George Brauchler (far left) is reprimanded by Judge Carlos Samour in court Friday morning.

Ouch! Maybe it was an accident; maybe not. But as Judge Samour points out, there is no reason for Brauchler to be chatting about the case via text message or social media — particularly when court is in session. Furthermore, Judge Samour had already banned Tweeting from the courtroom several weeks earlier.

It remains to be seen whether Brauchler’s ill-advised Tweet will have any impact on the outcome of the trial, but the message was marked as an official court exhibit.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (June 4)

Get More SmarterAfter a seven-day layoff, the NBA Finals finally kick off tonight. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► Let’s investigate! Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner want the Government Accountability Office to open an investigation into what went wrong with the still-under-construction Aurora VA Hospital (even though the GAO has already done this). Maybe they should ask Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) to investigate something; after all, Coffman is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee.

► State Senator Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) is considering a run for U.S. Senate (or Congress), but the more she talks, the more problems she creates for herself.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 28)

Get More SmarterIs this week still happening? It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► The ugliness just doesn’t stop when it comes to the right-wing Jefferson County School Board. Here’s video of School Board President Ken Witt refusing to allow a student to speak about LGBT rights at a public board meeting.

The EPA has finalized a new clean water rule intended to help crack down on polluters.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Nebraska Officially Abolishes the Death Penalty

Breaking news from Lincoln, Nebraska, as the New York Times (and everybody else) reports:

Nebraska on Wednesday became the first conservative state in more than 40 years to abolish the death penalty, with lawmakers defying their Republican governor, Pete Ricketts, a staunch supporter of capital punishment who had lobbied vigorously against banning it.

By a 30 to 19 vote that cut across party lines, the Legislature overrode the governor’s veto on Tuesday of a bill repealing the state’s death penalty law. The measure garnered just enough votes to overcome the veto…

…Though it formally considers itself nonpartisan, the Nebraska Legislature is dominated by Republicans. Republican legislators who have voted in favor of abolition said they believed the death penalty was inefficient, expensive and out of place with their party’s values. Other lawmakers cited religious or moral reasons for their support of the death penalty ban. Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., have banned the death penalty.

Wow. So, there you go.

Pro-Gun Columbine “Backlash” Snares Aurora Shooting Victims

Aurora shooting victim Jessica Ghawi.

Aurora shooting victim Jessica Ghawi.

Huffington Post’s Gabriel Arana took note of a story on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show late last week that we’re surprised hasn’t received more local coverage, and we didn’t want it to escape mention. The parents of one of the victims of the 2012 Aurora theater mass shooting, a case currently being tried in an Arapahoe County court, sued online gun dealers who sold the alleged perpetrator of that crime some of the ammunition and other items used in the massacre.

But a law passed in 2000 by the GOP-controlled Colorado General Assembly and signed into law by GOP Gov. Bill Owens turned Sandy and Lonnie Phillips’ pursuit of justice for shooting victim Jessica Ghawi into a nightmare:

Maddow opened her show with heart-rending footage of the Aurora trial. She highlighted the testimony of Brenton Lowak, whose friend Jessica Ghawi — a 24-year-old aspiring sports reporter — died in the shooting.

Here’s the part that set off the Outrage-O-Meter: Jessica’s parents have been ordered by a judge in Colorado to pay $220,000 to the gun retailers who sold Holmes his weapon.

The parents unsuccessfully sued the retailers whose products were used in the Aurora shooting. Colorado state law requires that plaintiffs who sue the manufacturers or dealers of gun products pay the companies’ legal fees if they lose.

“That’s not a typo,” Maddow said, adding, “The mother and father of the victim who died in the Aurora mass shooting have just been ordered to pay a quarter-million dollars to the gun retailers who sold the bullets that were used in the Aurora mass shooting — the parents of the girl who was killed.”

A Reuters blog post by attorney Alison Frankel explains what happened here:

In 2014, Ghawi’s mother and stepfather, Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, sued the companies that supplied Holmes with ammunition and body armor. The suit named Lucky Gunner, which operates as and sold Holmes more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition; The Sportsman’s Guide, which sold him a 100-round magazine and 700 rounds; BTP Arms, which supplied two canisters of tear gas; and Bullet Proof Body Armor.

The Phillipses’ suit faced long odds. Both the U.S. and Colorado (along with many other states) have laws shielding guns and ammo dealers from liability to shooting victims in most circumstances. (They may be responsible, for instance, if they’ve sold a defective product or violated gun sale regulations.) The federal law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005, has been subjected to many challenges, including allegations that it violates the constitutional separation of powers doctrine because it impinges on states’ lawmaking powers and the constitutional due process rights of shooting victims with common-law claims. According to the Justice Department, those constitutional challenges have all failed.

But the Phillipses and their lawyers at Arnold & Porter argued their case was different because the dealers sold weaponry to Holmes over the Internet, without ever seeing his face or assessing his state of mind. That made the dealers negligent, the Phillipses said, despite their protections under state and federal law. [Pols emphasis] “A crazed, homicidal killer should not be able to amass a military arsenal, without showing his face or answering a single question, with the simple click of a mouse,” the Brady Center gun control advocacy group said in a statement announcing the Phillipses’ suit, in which Brady Center lawyers are also involved. “If businesses choose to sell military-grade equipment online, they must screen purchasers to prevent arming people like James Holmes.”

Unfortunately for the Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, in 2000, the Colorado legislature passed House Bill 00-1208. This legislation was part of the intense debates over gun safety that took place in the aftermath of the Columbine High School mass shooting in April of 1999. Most Colorado residents only remember the constitutional ballot measure, Amendment 22, which closed the so-called “gun show loophole” that allowed guns to be sold at shows without a background check. But House Bill 00-1208 was part of a backlash against greater gun control, mostly backed by Republican legislators. Similar legislation was passed at the federal level in 2005. Here’s what House Bill 00-1208 says:


Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 30)

The first round of the NFL Draft is tonight; are you excited for the Denver Broncos to draft an offensive lineman? It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► There are just five days to go in the 2015 Colorado legislative session, and the end couldn’t come quicker for Senate puppet President Bill Cadman. Maybe Sen. Tim Neville will let him leave early now that he’s done the bidding of the far right and allowed a late bill exemption for a big abortion bill. John Frank of the Denver Post has more on the biggest matsah ball under the golden dome:

The measure gets its first hearing Thursday and probably will land on the Senate floor for a vote and heated debate in the final days before Wednesday’s adjournment.

It will bookend a session that began with a partisan tone in the Senate, where Republicans used their newfound majority to push a conservative agenda that generated controversy.

“It’s an unfortunate way to define a whole session,” said Senate Democratic leader Morgan Carroll of Aurora.


► While Colorado Republicans make a last-ditch effort to pass legislation restricting abortions, they also made sure to kill a bill that would have continued a very successful program aimed at preventing teen pregnancies. But wait, there’s more irony! As Think Progress notes:

Colorado Republicans have officially voted to eliminate funding for an award-winning family planning program that has contributed to a staggering 40 percent drop in the state’s teen birth rate over the past five years.

Ironically, the vote to deny funding from the program came just one day after it received a prestigious award from the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), which periodically honors particularly effective reproductive health initiatives at its annual conference.

► The Aurora Sentinel sums up Day 3 of the Aurora Theater Shooting Trial.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Bill Cadman Leads Republicans Over the Cliff on Personhood

Senate President Bill Cadman leads Republicans off a cliff once again.

Senate President Bill Cadman should have hit the brakes earlier.

“Justice.” Senate President Bill Cadman said it again…and again…and again in discussing SB-268, the fetal homicide/Personhood legislation he crammed through the State Senate despite objections and proposed amendments from Democrats. Cadman has repeatedly said that his legislation, which was introduced in the aftermath of a brutal crime against a pregnant woman in Longmont in March, is about “justice” in allowing prosecutors to seek murder charges in the death of an unborn child.

But SB-268 is really a bill about “Personhood,” which would change the definition of a “person” to include “an unborn person at every age of gestation.” We’ve said it before in this space, and Cadman and his fellow Republicans proved Monday that SB-268 was always about Personhood, first and foremost. As John Frank of the Denver Post explains:

In the Senate debate, Democrats unsuccessfully sought to amend the bill to take out the language defining a person as an “unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth.” Another amendment that failed would have gutted the measure to only increase the penalties in attacks on pregnant women under Colorado’s current law.

The critics cited concerns that Senate Bill 268 included verbatim sections from model legislation proposed by Americans United for Life, an anti- organization, and cited similar laws in other states where district attorneys prosecuted pregnant mothers for endangering the child.

As any political observer with half a brain could have forseen, Senate Democrats offered up amendments Monday that would have removed the “Personhood” language from SB-268. Cadman had Republicans entrenched by now, however, so the GOP refused to accept the amendments…and things got worse in the process.


Former Denver Post editor Chuck Murphy was among those (via Twitter) who noticed the GOP’s problem with SB-268.

Republican Sen. Ellen Roberts actually conceded that the real point of SB-268 was to declare a fetus a person, and Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) began droning on about the importance of extending constitutional rights to the unborn. In voting down the proposed amendments, Senate Republicans are now on record in support of Personhood, which Colorado voters have flatly rejected every time it has appeared as a ballot measure. These votes will be used often in 2016 against Republicans seeking re-election, and it’s gonna sting. The advertisements write themselves: “When Republicans gained control of the State Senate, they pushed a Personhood bill that contained similar language to ballot measures that Colorado voters have opposed on three separate occasions.”

There was never any real chance that SB-268 would make it out of the State House, and Monday’s actions only ensured as much. But Cadman’s “leadership” here may very well give Democrats everything they need to re-take control of the State Senate in 2016. This bill was going to be stuck with the “Personhood” tag no matter how many times Cadman said the word “justice.”

Colorado already has the “Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act” on the books — and has since 2013 — so there was no real practical need for Cadman to rage around the State Capitol for the last month. If Cadman truly didn’t realize that he was walking his caucus into a Personhood debate, then he is in no way capable of leading Senate Republicans in 2016.

If Cadman did realize this problem ahead of time, but pushed forward anyway…well, he is in no way capable of leading Senate Republicans in 2016.