Boehner, Cantor, Coffman: don’t be fooled again

Virtually unreported in the media, right-wing Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor–two of the top Republican leaders of the 113th U.S. Congress–appeared at the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver for a fundraiser for Rep. Mike Coffman.

After promising to make immigration reform a priority this year, Coffman held a secret fundraiser with the two men perhaps most responsible for the gridlock in Washington, D.C. that’s preventing reform from passing. Coffman’s fundraiser with Boehner and Cantor is a slap in the face to everyone who believed Coffman’s empty promises.

Tell Mike Coffman enough is enough: we’re tired of the broken promises on immigration reform.

In recent months, Rep. Coffman has told voters that he now supports immigration reform, after years of opposition and using immigrants as political scapegoats. Coffman even introduced legislation to restrict bilingual ballots for legal U.S. citizen voters. The reason Coffman is paying lip service to immigration reform today is simple: the electoral landscape has changed, and Latino voters are on the verge of removing Coffman from office this November.

What Coffman doesn’t understand is that actions speak louder than words. Coffman says he wants a path to citizenship for DREAMer students, but he voted against the very program that’s allowing them to avoid deportation. Coffman says there should be a path to citizenship for immigrants who join the military, but Cantor blocked that proposal just hours after this fundraiser. Coffman says he wants the House to take up immigration reform, but instead of demanding House leaders get serious, he holds secret fundraisers with them.

It’s time to say it: Mike Coffman doesn’t care about immigration reform, he only cares about keeping his job. He’ll say anything to stay in office, but his record proves he doesn’t care about the issues his constituents want addressed.

Tell Coffman right now that you’ve had it with his empty promises and hypocrisy on immigration reform. We’ll send your message to Coffman’s office instantly, and share your names and comments his the press and other public officials.

It’s disappointing that Mike Coffman isn’t a man of his word. I, like many others, had hoped Coffman was serious when he committed to immigration reform after years on the wrong side of the issue. But Colorado deserves better than pandering. Coloradans deserve action. Thank you for helping make sure Coffman doesn’t get away with this.

You’re Welcome: Cantor Kills Coffman’s Immigration Amendment

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Mike Coffman (left).

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Mike Coffman (left).

​AP reports, on the same day that U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor headlined a fundraiser at Denver's Brown Palace Hotel with Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, Cantor killed an immigration reform amendment Coffman has heavily promoted as evidence of his newfound sympathy for the plight of undocumented immigrants:

House Republican leaders intervened Friday to prevent a vote on immigration legislation, dealing a severe blow to election-year efforts to overhaul the dysfunctional system.

The move came after a Republican congressman from California announced plans to try to force a vote next week, over strong conservative opposition, on his measure creating a path to citizenship for immigrants who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children and serve in the military.

Rep. Jeff Denham labeled his bill the ENLIST Act and said he would seek a vote as an amendment to the popular annual defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA.

In response, Doug Heye, spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, said: "No proposed ENLIST amendments to NDAA will be made in order."

You may recall in early April that Coffman "denounced" fellow Republican Rep. Steve King (R-IA) for opposing Rep. Jeff Denham's amendment. Despite the lip service Coffman has paid to immigration reform as he tries to stay in office in his newly competitive district, this very limited provision for undocumented students who enlist in the military is as far as Coffman has gone on the record with a specific policy proposal. Pro-immigrant GOP Rep. Denham is a co-sponsor of the comprehensive immigration reform bill, H.R. 15, that Coffman has said repeatedly he opposes. When Coffman had the opportunity to take action to support the undocumented students he now claims should have a path to citizenship, he voted to terminate the program that protects them from deportation.

And Friday, the same day Cantor's staff in Washington announced the "ENLIST Act" Coffman made such a big deal out of supporting was dead, Coffman was at the Brown Palace with Cantor raising money.

It seems to us that Democrats couldn't come up with a better example of New Coffman's® hypocrisy if they tried.

2006 immigration laws backed by Romanoff deflected hard-line anti-immigration initiative favored by Coffman

(Oops – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Back in 2006, then State Treasurer Mike Coffman stood in font of 200 people on the steps of the state Capitol as they launched a ballot initiative that would have stopped Colorado from providing services to all undocumented immigrants, even children.

Coffman led the group in reciting the pledge of allegiance, and then handed the microphone over to a string of speakers from an organization called Defend Colorado Now, which was organizing the extreme anti-immigrant initiative.

After the rally, Coffman told a reporter from the Longmont Daily Times- Call that he supported Defend Colorado Now’s ballot initiative.

Coffman "said afterward that he supports Defend Colorado Now’s ballot initiative," reported the Daily Times-Call April 28, 2006.

The history of Defend Colorado Now's initiative is worth dredging up for reporters, for context, as Republicans step up their attacks on former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff for his role is passing legislation in direct response to the ballot initiative.

If you were around in 2006, you may remember a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including then Gov. Bill Owens and Romanoff, agreed on compromise legislation to stop the hard-line initiative from being placed on the ballot.

A set of 2006 laws, passed during a special session by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and signed by Republican Owens, softened the draconian approach of the Defend Colorado Now initiative, known also as Amendment 55.

The Denver Post reported in July of 2006:

Former Mayor Federico Peña likes the special-session legislation better than the proposed Amendment 55, which would have prohibited undocumented immigrants from receiving state services that are not mandated by federal law.

"It's far better than the negative consequences of 55," he said.


Immigration Activists Crash Boehner/Cantor/Coffman Fundraiser


UPDATE: Colorado Independent:

Advocates for immigration reform protested outside Denver’s Brown Palace, decrying policy positions of the House leaders and the long-stalled negotiations in Washington. Many protesters belonged to the Service Employees International Union, whose membership is largely made up of immigrants. The union has made immigration reform a top priority.

At what was billed a “pro-Israel” breakfast, sponsored by former Sen. Bill Armstrong and former Gov. Bill Owens, Cantor decried what he called the Obama administration’s inaction on Syria, implying the administration was responsible on some level for continuing conflict in that country, including the rebel rocket attack that today killed 13 in the northern city of Aleppo. Cantor said Russian President Vladimir Putin “saw that – no consequences,” which he suggested prompting Putin to move into Crimea unafraid of response from Washington.


Surprise action outside Denver's Brown Palace Hotel this morning, as a press release from a coalition of groups including Together Colorado and the Colorado Immigration Reform Coalition (CIRC) explains:

Outside a fundraiser headlined by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) for Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) today, local leaders staged a rally to protest the fact that these three House Republicans are key obstacles standing in the way of immigration reform that would keep Colorado immigrant families together. It has been 322 days since the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill, but Speaker Boehner and House Republicans have refused to take up that bill or an immigration reform plan of their own.
“As a longtime voter in Congressional District 6, I’m disappointed in the lack of leadership from Mike Coffman and Republicans in charge of the House. They talk and talk about immigration reform at the same time that they are actively blocking a vote on legislation that would help thousands of Colorado families,” said Rebecca Torres, Executive board member and SEIU Local 105 member. “We won’t forget their hypocrisy when we go to the polls this November.”
Representatives like Mike Coffman, who come from diverse districts where many would benefit from this legislation have the obligation to push their party to make reform happen. Today, local leaders made clear to voters in CD-6 that Mike Coffman may have said he supports reform, but he has refused to act and is actively blocking the passage of immigration reform. [Pols emphasis]


So Much For “¡Viva Tancredo!”

Tom Tancredo.

Tom Tancredo.

Back in February, we talked a little about Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo's "Latino outreach program," which coincided with the opening of a campaign office in Pueblo, and the rollout of a new chutzpah-heavy tagline, "¡Viva Tancredo!" As one of the nation's best-known and most controversial public figures on the issue of immigration, Tancredo's "Latino outreach program" seemed a lot like the fox rolling out a public relations campaign targeting henhouse residents.

But for a while, it seemed like the whole world was turned upside down. Tancredo–friend of Jon Secada! Why, maybe he'd even be fit to serve as the superintendent of Jefferson County Schools! Truly heady prospects for Tancredo we were being asked to entertain.

But fortunately, since we were starting to get kind of, you know, dizzy, in today's Canon City Daily Record, we see that Tancredo has put the kibosh on all this crazy "Latino outreach" business.

Former Congressman and Colorado gubernatorial hopeful Tom Tancredo told members of the Royal Gorge Tea Party on Thursday that if elected governor in November, he simply wants to "save the state."

"I want to feel comfortable again in my own state," he said while addressing the group at its regular monthly meeting at Mountain View Core Knowledge School. "I don't want to look at this place as I do now. It's like a strange environment…it's not the state I grew up in."

"…One thing I am radical about is the idea that if you come this country as an immigrant, by God, become an American," he said. "…And if you want to keep your own language, stay where you are — if you come here, I want to you to speak English." [Pols emphasis]

Now that's the Tom Tancredo we know! Never mind that it horrifies any Republican concerned about the party's long-term viability in American politics. As Tancredo's successor in Congress, Mike Coffman, runs desperately away from his own culturally anti-immigrant record–and let's be clear about that distinction, Coffman's legislation to restrict bilingual ballots being a perfect example of immigration "culture war" politics–Tancredo once again keeps it absolutely, positively real. More real than a thousand new taglines. More real than a a whole book of perfectly-honed talking points. More real than anybody's politically expedient flip-flop.

Honestly folks, it's better this way. Much less bullshit.

From Jan Brewer To Cinco de Mayo: Coffman Whiplash!

As we first reported in this space a week ago, controversial Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was in Denver last week to host a fundraiser for Colorado GOP Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman. Brewer, best known for signing Arizona's unconstitutional SB1070 anti-immigrant law, defended her decision on SB1070 at Coffman's fundraiser, saying Democrats have "not enforced [the borders] and we know why–they want voters." Given Brewer's strident view on immigration, having her host a fundraiser for any candidate on the ballot statewide in Colorado seems awfully risky–especially given Cynthia's husband Mike Coffman's efforts to reinvent himself on immigration ahead of a tough re-election campaign.

Now, Cynthia Coffman's Jan Brewer fundraising event at The Palm was held a week ago last Friday. On the following Sunday, the Cinco de Mayo celebration was held in Denver's Civic Center Park. And who could you find at the Cinco de Mayo celebration, pressing the flesh with thousands of Colorado Latinos?


Well gosh, folks, it looks like Cynthia Coffman "wants voters" too!

And there's Mike Coffman! Perhaps he was handing out dictionaries?

We joke, but there's a serious point here. It would be tough to find a politician less welcome at a Cinco de Mayo celebration than Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, and yet Cynthia Coffman had Brewer host a fundraiser less than two days before showing up at Cinco de Mayo to shake hands with Latino voters. Voters who would in many cases be disgusted to learn who Mrs. Coffman was hanging out with the Friday before.

We honestly can't think of a better example of today's utterly hypocritical politics.

Reality Check: Gardner Helped Block Rubio’s Immigration Bill

The Hill's Alexandra Jaffe reports on the other new ad running in Colorado from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

The Chamber of Commerce is launching a $3 million advertising campaign to boost preferred candidates and incumbents in 10 House races nationwide in its first major shift toward the general election.

And in Colorado’s Senate race, the Chamber is spending nearly $660,000 on broadcast and cable ads in the Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction markets on an ad in which Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) touts GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner in Spanish.

A version of the above ad is running in both English and Spanish. It doesn't mention immigration as an issue, but there's a backstory between Rep. Cory Gardner and Sen. Marco Rubio on immigration that ought to be told. Rubio was a key Republican voice, a member of the so-called "Gang of Eight" including Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, in the passage in the U.S. Senate last summer of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity & Immigration Modernization Act of 2013–a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Remember what happened to that bill when it reached the U.S. House? Greeley Tribune from last October:

U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., doesn’t know whether U.S. immigration reform will be passed by the end of the year, but he is clear that the House doesn’t support the comprehensive Senate bill. [Pols emphasis]

“I think it was a tweet that I saw today where somebody said the Speaker said he was hopeful that they could address some kind of immigration reform before the end of the year. I have not heard him say that directly, so I don’t want to speak for what they’re saying,” Gardner said in a Wednesday phone interview from Washington, D.C. “There are a number of differences that I have with the Senate bill. I think it’s important not to focus on the Senate bill because that’s simply not going to pass the House.”

"…It’s possible that some portion of those or all of them could come on the House floor, but I’m not sure if leadership will do that or not,” Gardner said. “It’s becoming more and more clear to me that the House is going to have to do it in five or six bills or more, and not one massive comprehensive bill. The House will not pass the Senate bill. It will be done as the House determines appropriate in terms of the way it moves forward."

This was an interesting new position for Gardner, who said only the previous spring:

In an April sit-down interview with The Tribune, Gardner said the Senate proposal was a good start and something needed to be done to fix the system.

“I think everybody agrees that there needs to be immigration reform, but just the detailed part of it is where there’s a big split,” Gardner said back in April. “Trying to provide an educational role in this debate is going to be absolutely critical. We can’t have a rifle approach to immigration, because if you don’t fix all of it together, it’s going to create some problem somewhere else in the system.” [Pols emphasis]

Would the real Cory Gardner please stand up?

Bottom line: Marco Rubio may like Cory Gardner, but Rubio's signature issue isn't the reason why. And we can't help but think that the Spanish-speaking viewers of this new ad…would want to know that.

Romanoff Fires Back At Misleading Pro-Coffman Ad

The Washington Post reports today on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's new ad campaign in support of Republican candidates, including Colorado's Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman:

Chamber of Commerce: The Chamber will start running 13 new ads today on behalf of Senate and House Republicans in what spokeswoman Blair Holmes described as a "massive campaign." The chamber on Tuesday dropped almost $660,000 on broadcast and cable ads in the Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction markets on behalf of Senate candidate Cory Gardner. They'll feature a small business owner in a new ad for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, too.

– The Chamber is spending on behalf of former Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.), Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), former Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.), former Massachusetts state Sen. Richard Tisei (R), Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.), businessman Stuart Mills in Minnesota's 8th District, Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) and Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.).

We'll get to the U.S. Chamber's ad for Cory Gardner in due course. You can see the Chamber's ad running on behalf of Rep. Mike Coffman at the top of this post, an over-the-top fluffy, positive 30-second spot–check out the incredibly cheesy grin on the photo of Coffman at 0:13 if you don't believe us. Nonetheless, Coffman's Democratic opponent Andrew Romanoff was quick to respond in a release a short while ago that the ad is seeking to "erase" Coffman's record on immigration:

A new television ad released today by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce attempts to recast one of Colorado’s leading opponents of immigration reform. The ad describes Congressman Mike Coffman as a fighter for “bipartisan immigration reform,” a fabrication at odds with Coffman’s long record of opposition to reform.

“Congressman Coffman has voted against immigration reform at every turn, and no amount of special-interest money can erase his record,” Romanoff spokeswoman Denise Baron said in response to the ad. “Congressman Coffman called the DREAM Act a ‘nightmare’ and voted twice in the last year to resume deportation of 800,000 DREAMers. Congressman Coffman cosponsored a proposal to deny U.S. citizenship to the American-born children of undocumented residents.

“Andrew is the only candidate in this race who supports a comprehensive measure to reform our broken immigration system. Unlike his opponent, Andrew has endorsed the bipartisan Senate bill and has called on Speaker Boehner to allow a vote on that bill in the House.”

As we've discussed in this space at length, all salient points. The fact is, Coffman has not signed on to the bipartisan immigration reform bill in the House, H.R.15, though other "pro-immigration" Republicans like Rep. Jeff Denham have done so. That's what most people would think about a supporter of "bipartisan immigration reform," after all–that the "supporter" in question has actually signed on to a bipartisan immigration reform bill.

As of now, Coffman's support for "bipartisan immigration reform" exists only in the form of lip service.

Gov. Jan Brewer: Never Mind Those Silly Political Blogs

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ).

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ).

The Colorado Statesman's Jody Hope Strogoff follows up today on last Friday's fundraiser, first reported by Colorado Pols, for Colorado GOP Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman starring controversial Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

We're very pleased to learn that Gov. Brewer is a reader!

Brewer candidly acknowledged that — to the mild chagrin of her staff — she typically peeks at blogs and political news sites in the middle of the night so she can monitor what they’re saying about her.

She was well prepared to counter the numerous inaccuracies she alleged in Colorado’s collective local media and blogosphere.

Brewer explained that the firestorm surrounding one of the much criticized bills on domestic partners rights had nothing to do with any hatred on her part of the lifestyles of gays; rather, she insisted, her state was undergoing a severe financial crisis at the time and Arizona could not afford to pay for the measure.

Senate Bill 1070, a controversial immigration bill, likewise ignited another firestorm, Brewer admitted, but she staunchly defended it. “We are a border state,” Brewer said, “and we have borders for a reason.”

…Arizona’s HB 1070 simply and very clearly mirrors the federal law that has not been enforced, Brewer maintained. The borders have been secured in other states, such as in Texas and California, but Brewer said illegals have been allowed to cross into Arizona. “They have not enforced [the borders] and we know why,” Brewer said. “They want voters.” [Pols emphasis]

Wow! We stand…well, not so much corrected as, you know, validated--but thanks for the candid opinion, governor. For the record, she also says that the "religious freedom" bill sanctioning discrimination against LGBT Arizonans, which she vetoed after a considerable degree of hemming and hawing (not to mention lots of staff time from her office) was never a good idea.

Strogoff's whole story is certainly worth reading–though in the likely event that Jan Brewer becomes a nationwide political liability once again to her fellow Republicans before Election Day, Cynthia Coffman might prefer you skip it. Whatever talking points Coffman and her emcees respond with, there's nothing about Jan Brewer politically that helps any Colorado Republican.

Bob Beauprez Declares War on Snowboarders

As live-Tweeted by the Bob Beauprez campaign from yesterday's GOP gubernatorial primary debate: 


Keeping up a trend we've seen a lot lately, Beauprez's campaign deleted this Tweet some hours later. We suppose it might have been due to the misspelling of "border," which saw some lampooning after it was Tweeted, but the "anchor baby" stuff went out with the proverbial bathwater.

To be clear, the "anchor baby amendment" is more correctly known as the 14th Amendment, which covers a lot more than so-called "anchor babies." Tom Tancredo was once again a no-show for yesterday's debate–but no worries, Tancredo's hard-line action plan for "anchor babies" and other brown people, which as we all know is exactly what Republicans need to win over Colorado's Latino voters, was ably represented by Bob Beauprez.

But for perhaps the first time ever, we do agree with Beauprez about one thing: something has got to be done about these infuriating boarders flattening mogul runs, bulldozing everybody's fresh powder, and generally acting like damned hooligans. If Beauprez runs on a campaign of finally dealing with Colorado's out-of-control boarder problem, he might actually scare up some votes for that.

Arizona’s Jan Brewer To Headline Cynthia Coffman Fundraiser

FRIDAY UPDATE: Cynthia Coffman claims that she's not "endorsing" Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's agenda, but as the Phoenix metro area East Valley Tribune reports, somebody might want to tell that to Jan Brewer!

Brewer just returned Monday night from Georgia where she helped raise money for U.S. Senate hopeful Karen Handel. And today she is in Colorado to aid Cynthia Coffman in her bid for state attorney general….

“I'm going to participate in any manner I can to help those candidates that I believe that are aligned with me philosophically, [Pols emphasis] and that they are pragmatic and that they will get the job done,” Brewer said.



UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

“Is Cynthia Coffman wanting to turn Colorado into Arizona?” One Colorado, the state’s largest gay-rights organization, asked. “Colorado is not Arizona. We respect our neighbors and embrace diversity as a strength. Let’s stand together, and send a clear message that Jan Brewer’s extremism has no place in Colorado politics.”

Coffman agreed that Colorado is not Arizona.

“The fact that she’s going to come and do an event with me for 90 minutes doesn’t mean I agree with her on everything,” Coffman told The Denver Post. “It’s not about me endorsing her agenda. It’s about her doing something for me as a successful elected Republican woman. There aren’t that many as you know.”


Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ).

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ).

Here's something that popped up on our Google Alerts, as posted to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's public calendar for this week:

Friday, May 2, 2014 

• Governor Brewer to speak at event for Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman 

Denver, Colorado

We don't have a time yet for GOP Colorado Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman's fundraiser, but sources tell us it's being held at The Palm, one of the swankier political-class haunts in downtown Denver. Other than this announcement via Gov. Brewer's calendar, we've seen no publicity for this fundraiser–much like Cynthia's husband Mike Coffman's recent Brown Palace fundraiser starring Karl Rove.


“You Can’t Trust Coffman”–Inglés y Español


The Colorado Independent's John Tomasic reports on a new web campaign targeting Rep. Mike Coffman in English and Spanish:

Liberal politics site ProgressNow Colorado on Monday launched an ambitious bilingual social-media campaign targeting Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman.

The group’s website appears in Spanish- and English-language versions (“Can’t Trust Coffman,” “No Confiar Coffman“) and is chock full of background material hitting Coffman for past ethics charges and position changes on issues sure to resonate in his district — mainly on policy stands he has taken related to women’s health care — including abortion and so-called personhood — immigration and safety-net or entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

The site is built for today’s mobile-social Web. It’s essentially a hyper-digitized mail campaign, where voters do the mailing and do it in a much more targeted fashion. They are encouraged to share with their friends — and neighbors, relatives, fellow voters — images of the Congressman — hand raised by the side of his face, lips pursed on the edge of a phrase — apparently about to articulate a position. But which position?

On the Dream Act, which aims to grant residency to young undocumented people brought to the country by their parents: “The Dream Act will be a nightmare,” Coffman is quoted to say in 2010. “These young people should be afforded a pathway to citizenship,” he is quoted to say in 2014.

Looking at the "All The Bullshit" page (yes, that's really what it's called), we can see many points in Coffman's record we've discussed in this space–from the "Social Security is a Ponzi scheme" business to Coffman's infamous 2012 statement that President Barack Obama "is just not an American." In addition, there are a number of items we either haven't talked about in some time or honestly had forgotten, like Coffman's violation of the Fair Campaign Practices Act back in 2000 campaigning against Amendment 23.

But above all, it's the parallel website in Spanish that makes this effort unique. We've talked about the vulnerability Coffman has faced since redistricting in 2011, and how the ethnically diverse and competitive district Coffman now represents is a minefield considering Coffman's long record as an arch-conservative in the Tom Tancredo mold. This is the story that most of Coffman's new constituents still don't know after he barely survived the 2012 elections. Most of what voters know about Coffman they are reading right now, as he attempts to pull of an extreme makeover into a totally different candidate.

If we were Coffman, a campaign to expose that long history, especially one targeting the very same Latino voters Coffman needs to win over to remain in office, is exactly what we'd be most afraid of.

ICYMI: Another Massive Friday News Dump For Cory Gardner

Personhood was just the beginning.

Personhood was just the beginning.

Just over one month ago, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner shocked Colorado politics by abruptly reversing himself on his longstanding and public support for the "Personhood" abortion bans, which were rejected overwhelmingly by voters in 2008 and 2010. Gardner attempted to pull this reversal off with a minimum of press coverage though a time-honored strategy known as the "Friday News Dump"–releasing uncomfortable or controversial news late on a Friday in hopes that no one is paying attention.

As the subsequent month of damaging press coverage has demonstrated, Friday News Dumps aren't very effective for minimizing unwanted coverage in the 24/7 news cycle we live in today.

But folks, if you're Cory Gardner, with a career built on taking a hard conservative line on every issue from a safe Republican seat, Friday News Dumps are just about the only chance there is to ditch positions that could disqualify you in a statewide general election. The incrementally fewer eyeballs looking at the news late on a Friday, for the purposes of doing something sure to result in blowback, are worth exploiting.

And yesterday evening, in an interview with CBS4's Shaun Boyd, Gardner kicked the flip-flopping into overdrive:

On abortion, Gardner has voted for bills with and without exceptions for rape and incest. He also sponsored the “Life Begins At Conception Act” and once supported Personhood in Colorado, something he no longer supports.

“In the State of Colorado, the Personhood Initiative I do not support,” said Gardner. [Pols emphasis] “I came to that opinion because of a number of issues including the fact that it would ban common forms of contraception.”

Note Gardner's very careful choice of words here, "in the State of Colorado, the Personhood Initiative I do not support." The "In Colorado" qualfiier is extremely important, since Gardner is still today a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act–written in similarly vague and broad language to the Personhood abortion bans in Colorado, with the same verbiage that could outlaw common forms of birth control. This is the first time we've seen Gardner attempt to reconcile his flip-flop on Personhood with his continuing sponsorship of similar legislation at the federal level–and the distinction makes no sense.

But that's the flip-flop you know. Here's this Friday's News Dump:

His position on gay rights has evolved like many on both sides of the aisle. Seven years ago in the state House he opposed a bill allowing gay couples to adopt and also voted against adding sexual orientation to state anti-discrimination laws.

“If a family wants to have children they should have children,” said Gardner.

When asked if that was regardless of sexual orientation, Gardner replied, “I think they should have children.” [Pols emphasis]

We invite readers to check us on this, but we can't find any record of Gardner softening on the issue of gay rights in the least before this interview. Gardner didn't merely vote against single-parent adoption as a state legislator, he actually campaigned for Congress in 2010 promising the Christian Family Association that he would oppose gay adoption and other "homosexual special rights." Gardner's answer on the related issue of businesses denying services to gays and lesbians is also much softer, paying lip service to "religious freedom" but now saying "we have to…make sure we’re not allowing that to turn into some kind of hidden discrimination." The fact is, this is at least as big a reversal as Gardner's flip-flop on Personhood. As Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's successor in Congress, the implications of this flip-flop are potentially quite serious for Gardner's relationship with the Christian right.

And if that's not enough for you, check out the New Cory Gardner® on immigration!

On immigration, Gardner opposed in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and amnesty.

“The DREAM Act alone isn’t going to solve our immigration challenges. That’s why we have to look at border security, a guest worker program, E-verify and fixes to visas,” said Gardner. “What to do with people without documentation. There are between 11 and 12 million people here without documentation.”

When asked if they should be sent back to where ever they came from, Gardner replied, “I don’t think you can do that. I don’t think that’s what will happen or should happen.” [Pols emphasis]

Based on this interview, Gardner has evolved from blanket opposition to the DREAM Act to the milder view that "the DREAM Act alone isn’t going to solve our immigration challenges"–which could be read to mean the DREAM Act is part of a solution! And correct us if we're wrong, but if Gardner says we can't send undocumented immigrants back to wherever they came from, that indeed he doesn't "think that's what will happen or should happen"–hell, Gardner's just come out in favor of "amnesty," hasn't he? As for a "guest worker program," which Gardner apparently supports today, he voted against it in 2008 as a state legislator. We're given no explanation for Gardner's change of heart here either.

Perhaps the only issue on which Gardner is consistent in this truly remarkable interview is–you guessed it–Obamacare. We've discussed at length how Republicans are on the losing side of that debate, especially now that the scare tactics used for years against health care reform are being widely discredited. But if we're awarding points for consistency anywhere, there you go.

Bottom line: it's nothing short of stunning to see all of these newsworthy developments packed into a single local television interview, but it occurs to us that was most likely Gardner's very deliberate objective. Having already been painted as a flip-flopper for the last month over Personhood, it looks like Gardner is going all the way–flip-flopping on everything he can, as quickly and early in the race as possible.

Folks, it's not going to work. In fact, we increasingly foresee disaster, as Gardner richly earns the Mitt Romney Etch-a-Sketch prize and begins to repel voters of all stripes. Voters, regardless of their own views on the issues, learn from flip-flops like these that they can't trust Cory Gardner either way.

And that's the worst possible place to be as a candidate.

Coffman To Minority Language Voters: “Pull Out a Dictionary”

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

​Rep. Mike Coffman has spent a great deal of time in recent months "reaching out" to the many ethnic groups in the new Sixth Congressional District, working hard to burnish his credentials with Asian and African immigrants in addition to his now-famous reversals on immigration policy–all directly intended to appease the large percentage of immigrant and ethnic minority voters in his district.

But as we've explored at length since Coffman began his transformation from Tom Tancredo's firebrand successor to embattled incumbent desperately trying to win over constituencies he routinely disparaged before redistricting, Coffman wasn't always such a nice guy to immigrants–especially where it concerns duties of citizenship like voting rights. Back in the summer of 2011, "Old Coffman" actually proposed the repeal of a section of the federal Voting Rights Act that requires bilingual ballots be distributed to qualifying minority language populations.

It's hard to imagine today's Mike Coffman seriously proposing to repeal part of the Voting Rights Act to make it harder for some of the very same immigrant communities he's courting today to vote, but in 2011, Coffman defended his "cost saving" proposal in surprisingly blunt terms. Here's a video clip from Spanish-language Univision News where Coffman explains his 2011 position–with translation below:

OLIVIA MENDOZA: To me, this is a big step backward. 
DANIEL TUCCIO: Disagreement was to be expected by pro immigrant rights advocacy groups  who are angry over the Congressman's position.
MIKE COFFMAN: One thing they ought to do is pull out a dictionary when they are at home, because the ballots have been sent to them a long time in advance. [Pols emphasis] They can seek help from friends who speak English, look up words they do not know; sometimes you have to put a little more effort to assimilate into our culture.
TUCCIO: Olivia Mendoza disagrees.

MENDOZA: The foundation of this country is the participation of citizens of the United States in our democracy. When we begin to say that it costs us too much to have citizens engaged…what country are we going to become?

"What country are we going to become?" If "Old Coffman" had gotten his way, it seems we'd be a nation where immigrants who want to vote "pull out a dictionary!" Nobody's going to argue that immigrants should never bother to learn English, but English proficiency is not a requirement for citizens to vote in America. That's why we have a Voting Rights Act to help make sure it doesn't become a requirement, de facto or otherwise.

Bottom line: "New Coffman®" should be really upset at "Old Coffman" for this one.

Immigration Rights Activists Rally in Pueblo – and Everywhere

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republican and Democratic politicians alike were denounced by the 50 activists rallying at Bessemer Park in Pueblo on April 5, 2014, as part of a national Day of Action on Immigration. Barack Obama has deported more immigrants than any other President; Cory Gardner, Scott Tipton, and Mike Coffman have all voted to defund programs to make it easier for undocumented "Dreamers" to stay in the USA, and have repeatedly voted against comprehensive immigration reform.  Ken Buck and Tom Tancredo were also called out for their unrelenting history of opposition to not only immigration, but immigrants. All of the Republicans have opposed a path to citizenship, calling it "amnesty".

In Denver, activists rallied in Civic Center Park and on the 16th St. Mall (below): (Photo by Ray Rodriguez)

Elsewhere in Colorado, Summit County, and  Durango, saw rallies,waves of protests, support for youth and families facing deportation proceedings. On Saturday, the call across Colorado and the United States was  "Not one More Deportation!"


Under the Obama Presidency, more than two million people have been deported, most of them for low-level crimes, such as traffic offenses. Sunday talk shows debated whether or not Obama really is the "Deporter in Chief" On  Steve Kornacki's show, "UP", the focus was on how Obama's high deportation numbers may affect Latino voter turnout in upcoming elections.

Victoria De Francesca-Soto posited that the immigration numbers may be exaggerated statistically, as now everyone who is caught near the border, but turned back immediately,  is counted in deportation numbers. De Francesca also pointed out that immigration reform may not necessarily be the top issue among all Latino voters; for most, jobs and health care reform are higher priorities.

Yet, Gabriella Domenzain, another guest on Kornacki's show, said. "Four out of ten Latino voters have a personal relationship with someone who is being deported, and that changes you." People point to the unequal enforcement of immigration law – Canadian citizen Justin Bieber was convicted of driving drunk; yet he is not being deported, and, every year 400,000 Latinos, with similar or lesser convictions, are formally deported, for a total of two million under Obama.