Operation Choke Point – Denying the Dollars

Victor “Everyone Loves” Head is all choked up about a Federal program, Operation Choke Point (OCP). In an interview with Jennifer Kerns, Head claimed that credit card services for Pueblo Freedom and Rights (PFR) were suddenly cut off the week before the recall elections in 2013.  Other right –wing groups  also reported sudden and mysterious severance of their banking relationships, and an astroturf organization, USCC, has been set up to take reports of suspected OCP interference.  The funders of USCC are unknown, but have strong ties to conservative groups.

“Operation Choke Point” overreach is the latest generator of anti-Obama, anti-AG Holder outrage in the right wing blogosphere. Look for it to become the next big attack on the Obama administration and Attorney General Holder, with Pueblo’s own “grassroots hero”, Victor Head, prominently featured as the poster boy. Here is your daily requirement of irony: (Below, right, is Victor Head of PFR, a recall organizer, and current Pueblo Clerk candidate, posing  in 2013 with El Paso Sheriff Terry Maketa, himself recently the target of a failed recall for sexual and  administrative offenses.)

But…Is OCP  a real “scandal”? Is it “overreach”? Is OCP the bank version of NSA spying on ordinary Americans?

William Isaac , columnist for “The Hill” wrote:

The DOJ launched Operation Choke Point in 2013, working in concert with a wide range of agencies including the FTC, FDIC, OCC, CFPB, and FBI.  The stated goal of Operation Choke Point was to “sensitize” the banking industry to the risk of doing business with legal but “undesirable” businesses through the issuance of non-public FIRREA subpoenas ( as opposed to enforcement actions where the authority could be challenged).

Regulators and the DOJ highlight some two-dozen businesses that they consider “high risk” or “undesirable”, including ammunition dealers, producers of adult films, check cashers, short-term unsecured loans (commonly called “payday loans”), telemarketers, firearms/fireworks vendors, raffles, pharmaceutical firms, life-time guarantees, surveillance equipment firms, and home-based charities.

I am all for the DOJ monitoring some of these shady businesses, and if they find illegal action, stopping it. I’ve had hundreds of dollars deducted from my own bank account via a scam for a non-existent health insurance card company, prior to the ACA’s enactment. Had someone taken the money from my purse, there would have been criminal charges; however, because it took place in the obscure world of third-party bank businesses and fly-by-night internet scam artists, it proved impossible to stop or to get redress. I'll never get that money back.

 I don’t want felons and violent offenders to be able to order firearms online.  Pharmaceutical firms that market under-the-counter medications need some oversight to protect public health.  Online child pornography businesses need oversight of their bank transactions so that they can be shut down and punished. This is the DOJ appropriately protecting the public.

The grey area is that most of these are legal businesses, at least until there is proof of criminal activity. Where I agree with the right wing outrage, (and the possibility of being on the same side of any issue as Victor Head makes my own gag reflex kick in) is on this point:  there is little or no oversight on the overseers.  People are losing access to their own money, without a warrant, without a trial, without a civil action.

Liberals may applaud the restrictions on shady businesses, and on right-wing political groups that benefit from dark money. However,  there is no guarantee that the OCP’s possible overreach stops there. Like the IRS scandal, we may well find that progressive organizations are also targeted as much or more than conservatives.   How will the Department of Justice be made accountable and transparent, when the agency is now unaccountable and its transactions are hidden from the public?

The United States Congress has initiated legislation on this issue. House Bill 4986, the End Operation Choke Point Act of 2014,  was introduced with bipartisan support in June 2014. It was referred to the Committee on Financial Services, where it sits. Given the dismal history of Congress in passing legislation, govtrack.us gives it only a 26% chance of being signed into law.  I frankly don’t have the financial expertise to understand how or if this bill will provide oversight and transparency on OCP, so I’m not going to try to evaluate the legislation.

Given the people promoting the right wing outrage over OCP, most critical thinkers are justifiably skeptical of the claims of OCP overreach. Jennifer Kerns, aka California Partygirl, aka anti-recall spox, aka California Republican media consultant, now a Washington pundit, wrote in  “TheBlaze.com” that Operation Choke Point,  (OCP): “Evidence has emerged of Operation Choke Point targeting other Republicans on or before Election Day.”  Victor Head has a record of rummaging through post office trash for ballots to bolster his claims of possible election fraud.

Jennifer Kerns would be an expert on dark money funding of political organizations, from the inside – Magpul funded $150,000 for  the organization “Free Colorado”, which in turn funded  the recall efforts against  Senator Morse in Colorado Springs.  Free Colorado was promoted by the Koch brothers on the AFP-Colorado website. Kerns was the spokesperson for Basic Freedom Defense Fund, and helped to promote “Free Colorado”  anti-recall efforts.

I don’t find the outrage over OCP to be credible, because it comes from these sources. However, I’m aware of and concerned about NSA and IRS overreach, during the course of legitimate agency endeavors. Progressives shouldn't dismiss concerns about government stomping on privacy rights, just because they come from a conservative direction. I’d like to see more transparency and accountability of OCPs efforts to curtail borderline-criminal financial transactions. I just don’t quite know how that balances with civil-liberties concerns.

UPDATE:  A Huffington Post article by Zach Carter posits that OCP is an effective way to curb money laundering schemes.  Similar laws were put in place during the Bush administration, and resulted in, for example, Wachovia Bank paying $150 million to resolve charges that it laundered money from drug cartels.

Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkely, and Dick Durbin like the OCP program.

Sorry Gun Nuts, Colorado Tourism Is Booming

guns

​After the passage of gun safety bills in the Colorado legislature last year, Republicans and their gun lobby allies predicted, we'd even go as far as say hoped for, a crippling boycott of the state's vital tourism industry. This prediction quickly proved unfounded, as the most likely indicator of a boycott by pro-gun tourists–a reduction in hunting licenses–didn't take place. In fact, Colorado issued some 18,000 more licenses in 2013 than in 2012.

And as the Denver Business Journal's Ed Sealover reports, 2013 overall was a banner year for tourism in Colorado:

Colorado welcomed a full-year record 64.6 million visitors in 2013, experiencing boosts even in segments of travelers — such as business travelers — for which many other markets saw declines last year.

The Colorado Tourism Office announced Tuesday that a trio of studies it conducted on visitation found also that those travelers spent a record $17.3 billion in the state…

[T]he state bucked trends by welcoming a 4 percent increase in business travelers as well, despite an 11 percent decline in business trips nationwide, according to a study by Longwoods International. Those business travelers spent a total of $1.4 billion in the state — a 21 percent bump above 2012 levels.

Visitors came in larger amounts for a number of specific reasons, including trips to casinos, visits to cities, attendance at special events, relaxation at resorts and combined business-leisure trips, the Longwoods study found.

We'll say it again and again: the dire predicted consequences of the gun safety bills passed in 2013 never materialized. The new laws did not "ban gun ownership" as Sen. Kent Lambert ludicrously claimed would happen. If anything, the impact of the new laws has been exaggerated by both sides: recent news reports indicate that the estimates of how many background checks on private sales would be performed were significantly overstated by nonpartisan legislative staffers. And despite Jon Caldara's ridiculous scare tactics, you can still buy compliant magazines in Colorado for virtually any weapon–including Caldara's precious Glock pistol, for which he said he would "never be able to get a magazine again" if these laws passed.

When is the media going to revisit this story? Not so Greg Brophy can grandstand about good-faith estimates from nonpartisan staffers–but to explain to the public how all the crazy stuff the gun lobby predicted would happen if we passed these laws never happened?

If voters deserve one side of this story, they damn well deserve the other. Starting with Colorado's booming tourism economy even after "gun control" was signed into law.

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.