Americans For Prosperity Eats Its Own, John Suthers Edition

Mayor John Suthers of Colorado Springs.

Mayor John Suthers of Colorado Springs.

We noted it in today’s Get More Smarter, but worth its own mention as the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Billie Stanton reports:

Americans for Prosperity says no sales tax increase is needed to fix Colorado Springs roads, but Mayor John Suthers says that contention is based on “an incredibly uninformed analysis.”

AFP, a Republican political advocacy group, issued a news release Thursday saying a certified public accountant had reviewed the city’s budget and found Colorado Springs has “more than enough money” to fix its infrastructure without pursuing a sales tax increase…

So, here’s the thing about driving around in Colorado Springs: the roads are in very bad shape. We know you all regularly drive over rough patches in your commutes wherever you live, but in Colorado Springs, those rough patches are more like the whole road. As with just about every other public service in Colorado’s world-famous conservative mecca, the maintenance of the city’s ribbed backsides has always been carried out on a shoestring budget.

But forget all that, folks, this is the land of the Ronald Reagan Highway! And if a shining city on a hill like Colorado Springs were to vote to raise taxes on itself to pay for something done by the government, why, those pesky liberal blogs would never let them hear the end of it.

Americans for Prosperity.

Americans for Prosperity.

And that is how conservative Republican Mayor John Suthers of Colorado Springs, the state’s former attorney general, would up on the wrong side of Koch brothers-funded conservative astroturf group Americans for Prosperity.

Suthers said he had been in office about a week when Jeff Crank, formerly of AFP, asked if his budget expert could look at the city budget. But no one did, nor did they contact the city’s finance office or the citizens committee that’s studied city budgets for six years, the mayor said…

Suthers completely dismissed [AFP accountant Steven] Anderson’s recommendations, pointing out that sales tax money comes from more than city residents, [Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority] money is distributed as it should and tax rebate deals to promote development bolster the economy and create jobs. Furthermore, he said, the only entities excluded from city property taxes are churches, nonprofits and the military.

“Do you think the citizens of Colorado Springs would vote to tax churches and nonprofits? We’d be the only jurisdiction in Colorado that did that,” Suthers said. [Pols emphasis]

It’s tough to say how this one will play out. Groups like AFP are masters at pushing the precise messaging buttons needed to turn out the blind-charging anti-tax conservative base in droves, and the deep pockets to give them all T-shirts. Against that, you have the credibility of a popular conservative Republican mayor, asking for money to fix his city’s monumentally crappy roads.

The outcome will show who’s doing the proverbial wagging: the tail or the dog.

Or maybe AFP is the dog now.

You’re the Next Contestant on “Somebody Please Run for U.S. Senate”

Republicans are trying to recruit former Solicitor General Dan Domenico to run for Senate in 2016.

Republican Dan Domenico.

Dan Domenico, come on down!

Republicans continue their search for a decent candidate for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet in 2016, and they appear to have narrowed their recruitment efforts — for the time being, at least — on the former Solicitor General under Attorney General John Suthers. 

Domenico is not well-known outside of small political circles, but Republicans think he could be a decent candidate to challenge Bennet’s re-election efforts after the GOP’s top tier — and second and third tier — took a pass on 2016 (sorry, Greg Lopez and Darryl Glenn, but you’re still a few levels down on the list).

Domenico has been rumored as a potential candidate in the past, and with few other options on the board, he just might be the next-best name for Republicans. Domenico has a good resume, no voting record to exploit, and is pretty photogenic; perhaps more importantly, his wife is a professional fundraiser who could help ease the financial burdens facing Republicans as they try to hold onto control of the U.S. Senate in a tough election year (Domenico’s wife is currently helping to raise money for GOP Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina).

The downside to Domenico as a candidate is his background with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, where he took the lead on arguing Colorado’s case against allowing same-sex marriage in our state. This wouldn’t have been as much of a strategic concern as recently as last year, but 2016 is definitely not the year to be running for office as a noted opponent of same-sex marriage.

That’s not the only wrinkle to a potential Domenico campaign for Senate, however. If Attorney General Cynthia Coffman ends up leaving office early because of the Coffmangate scandal, which we continue to hear is not unlikely, Domenico is probably the GOP’s best candidate to put forward as her replacement. Would Domencio really roll the dice on a Senate campaign now that the AG’s office may suddenly open up for another Republican candidate? Domenico spent the last few years working under former Attorney General John Suthers, and we hear that the AG’s office would be his preference if he had the option.

On the other hand, if Domenico has ever considered running for federal office, this is probably the best opportunity he’s ever going to have; if Domenico doesn’t jump at the race in 2016, he’ll have to wait until at least the year 2022 because Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is up for re-election in 2020. The odds are slim that Domenico might still be in a position to be wooed by Republicans in another six years.

Meet RMGO’s Latest “Gun Grabber”

The hard-charging Rocky Mountain Gun Owners group has found a new target (metaphorically speaking) for their anger over Colorado’s 2013 gun safety laws:

suthersrmgo

That’s right, folks! Former Attorney General John Suthers, now a candidate for mayor of Colorado Springs, is under fire (again, metaphor) for his “defense” of the 2013 gun laws–both in court defending the state from lawsuits, and in the form of a technical memo on enforcement of the magazine limit law, House Bill 13-1224, that debunked a large percentage of the hysteria being promoted by the very same RMGO.

Former Colorado Attorney General argued AGAINST your Second Amendment rights in court, and now he wants to be Mayor of Colorado Springs. If you or someone you know lives in Colorado Springs, please don’t vote for this gun-grabber.

The detail RMGO director Dudley Brown seems to not wish to acknowledge is that as Colorado’s Attorney General, Suthers was obliged to defend the gun safety laws passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Suthers made no secret of his personal opposition to the 2013 gun laws, but that wasn’t enough to induce Suthers to shirk his duties as AG. We have heard that Suthers found some of the hyperbole from fellow Republicans about the gun laws to be absurd, such as their claims that the laws would ‘ban gun ownership’ or ‘ban all magazines.’ That acknowledgement of reality is a far cry from lumping Suthers in with the dreaded “gun grabbers.”

But as we know after watching RMGO these last few years, reality has little to do with it.

Nebraska, Oklahoma Sue To Kill Colorado Marijuana Legalization

Not for export.

Not for export.

What a buzzkill, as the Colorado Independent's John Tomasic reports:

The attorneys general for Nebraska and Oklahoma are suing neighboring Colorado for legalizing pot. Initial reports have suggested the two states were acting in response to the costs they have incurred as a result of legalization, presumably for policing the border for pot traffickers of the new era…

That said, outgoing Republican Colorado Attorney General John Suthers is having none of it:

In a release, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers says the action seems more aimed at forcing the hand of federal authorities than it is at challenging the will of the voters of Colorado.

“Because neighboring states have expressed concern about Colorado-grown marijuana coming into their states, we are not entirely surprised by this action,” he said. “However, it appears the plaintiffs’ primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana, as opposed to choices made by the voters of Colorado. We believe this suit is without merit and we will vigorously defend against it in the U.S. Supreme Court.” [Pols emphasis]

Tomasic notes that other conservative states bordering Colorado, like Kansas, Wyoming, and Utah, did not join this lawsuit–which raises questions about whether it's is based on a legitimate question, or amounts to pointless grandstanding by a couple of ambitious red-state attorneys general. It's worth noting also that AG Suthers has himself been no fan of marijuana legalization in Colorado: so when he says this lawsuit is "without merit," we're inclined to believe him.

We would add something about how nobody from Colorado wants to visit these crappy flatland states anyway, but that would just be gratuitous. Everyone knows that already.

Suthers not duty-bound to defend CO same-sex marriage ban

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

In a long question-and-answer story in Westword, Attorney General John Suthers once again lays out his case that he is duty-bound to defend Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban until the bitter end. (Which isn’t bitter, actually, because everyone expects the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn such bans.)

Sounding all above-the-fray and bipartisany, Suthers tells Westword about his high-minded commitment to defend Colorado’s laws, even when he disagrees with them.

It sounds like maybe a beautiful thing, if it were true. But it’s not.

Left out of the Westword interview (and other media coverage of Suthers’ position) is the fact that under Colorado law, our Attorney General doesn't have to defend laws (and constitutional amendments) that he deems unconstitutional. In fact, he’s supposed to go after those laws.

As former Deputy Attorney General Don Quick, a Democratic candidate for Attorney General, wrote in The Colorado Springs Gazette in July:

Quick: First, the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2003 that it is the attorney general's job to challenge a law when there are concerns about its constitutionality. I remember it well, as I was chief deputy to Attorney General Ken Salazar when the court ruled in our favor. Coffman knows this also, as her office did the same thing last year. The Legislature passed a law restricting the display of marijuana-related magazines, and the Attorney General's Office refused to defend it because it believed it was unconstitutional.

Quick is referring Cynthia Coffman, a Republican who’s running against Quick to replace Suthers. Coffman, who believes marriage is between a man and a woman and works in Suthers’ office, has embraced the Attorney General’s view that he had no choice  but to defend Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The 2003 Colorado Supreme Court ruling, to which Quick refers, involved the infamous effort by Colorado Republicans, challenged by Salazar at the time, to change Colorado’s congressional districts after they’d been established by court order subsequent to the 2000 Census. The decision delivered by Chief Justice Mullarkey stated that if the Attorney General has “grave doubts” about the constitutionality of a law (in this exact case an election-related law affecting an upcoming election) he or she must, “consistent with his ethical duties and his oath of office,” seek to “resolve those doubts," meaning, in this narrow case, file a lawsuit (consolidated cases 03SA133 and 03SA147).

What’s more, attorneys general in at least six states, decided not to defend their states' same-sex marriage bans. And U.S. Attorney General Eric holder has advised state attorneys general, like Suthers, that they are not obliged to defend state laws they see as discriminatory.

(more…)

CD3, CD4, Governor, US Senate, Pueblo Candidate Debates Scheduled

Action-22 is partnering with news and political organizations to sponsor debates between the Republican and Democratic candidates for CD3 and for CD4. More debates, including those for Attorney General and  Board of Education candidates,  are in the process of being confirmed.  Pueblo Candidates will debate in Pueblo from September 9 to September 11. The forums will be telecast live.  All forums will be rebroadcast on Comcast Channel 19 in October. Watch this post for updates. 

CD4  (Vic Meyers vs. Ken Buck) debate will be held September 13, 2014, 1 pm in McBride Hall at Otero Junior College in La Junta. More information, and a map for the location can be accessed with this link.  Steve Henson, Managing Editor of the Pueblo Chieftain, will moderate.

CD3 candidates (Abel Tapia and Scott Tipton) are scheduled to debate on October 7 at Pueblo Memorial Hall, 1 City Hall Place, Pueblo, CO 81003 Ph: 719-542-1100.

UPDATE: Abel Tapia  and Scott Tipton will also debate in Grand Junction for the  2014 CLUB 20 Fall Meeting and Candidtate Debates September 5th and 6th.

When: Friday, September 5th and Saturday, September 6th

Where: Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main St. Grand Junction, CO 81501 Call 970-242-3264

UPDATE II At the same Grand Junction Club 20 venue, AARP is  sponsoring evening debates between the Gubernatorial candidates, John Hickenlooper and Bob Beauprez, as well as Udall and Gardner for US Senate. 

Complete agenda with schedule for all Club 20 / AARP debates is here.

 

Pueblo Candidate Debates sponsored by Action22 and the Pueblo Chieftain, and are also publicized by League of Women Voters (Vote411)

All of the Pueblo debates will be held at the Pueblo Memorial Hall, 1 City Hall Pl,  Pueblo  Colorado  81003 Tuesday, 9/9 /14 through Thursday, 9/11/14

9/9: Pueblo County Coroner  and Sheriff Candidates will debate at 6:00 pm.

9/10: Pueblo County Commissioner candidates  Sal Pace and Thomas Ready will debate at 6:00 pm. 

9/10: Pueblo Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz will debate Victor Head at 7:00 – 7:55 pm.

9/11: House District 47 (Lucretia Robinson vs. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff) will be held from 6:00- 6:55 

9/11: House District 46 (Daneya Esgar vs. Brian Mater) will be held from 7:00- 7:55 

9/11: Senate District 3 (Leroy Garcia vs. George Rivera) will be held from 8:00- 8:55 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Suthers Fought Marriage Equality To The Bitter End

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Monica Mondoza reports, the worst-kept secret in El Paso County local politics–with the possible exception of the “Shirtless Sheriff’s” sexual peccadilloes–is finally official: outgoing GOP Attorney General John Suthers is running for mayor of Colorado Springs.

Six months ago, Suthers met with Mayor Steve Bach to let him know that that mayor’s race was on his mind. Bach, elected the city’s first strong mayor in 2010, said in a recent interview that he had not decided whether he will seek re-election.

Suthers said Tuesday that he’s in the race no matter what Bach decides. He grew up in Colorado Springs, he said, and has watched it grow from a city of 40,000 to 440,000. He said loves that he can walk outside his home and be on a hiking trail with 30 minutes, he said.

But, he said, the city is desperate need of what he called “collaborative leadership.”

“I have, as others have, seen the city lose traction,” Suthers said. “We are somewhat stalled.”

As anyone familiar with Colorado’s cultural geography can tell you, Colorado Springs is the capital city of Colorado’s Bible Belt. With the headquarters of Focus on the Family and countless other evangelical Christian organizations either in or near the city, you can hardly throw a rock in the Springs without breaking a stained glass window. This is not to say that there are no godless heathens within the city limits of Colorado Springs; they just don’t usually decide elections.

With that in mind, it makes much better sense that Suthers has defended the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage far longer than attorneys general in other states. In fact, Suthers running for mayor of arch-conservative Colorado Springs is about the only thing that does make sense. The protracted fight over same-sex marriage hasn’t helped fellow Colorado Republicans, who are now strongly in the minority of public opinion. It hasn’t helped Suthers’ nominated successor Cynthia Coffman, who has been campaigning under a cloud on the issue while her Democratic opponent Don Quick hammers away from the moral high ground. And to be honest, this dogmatic last stand over same-sex marriage has marginalized Suthers personally–at least where his political career might once have been on track for higher office.

But mayor of Colorado Springs? Perfect. And good luck keeping the lights on.

CO Republican Vice Chair Calls for Investigation into Tancredo Attacks

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

tancgov

On KLZ's nooner show Aug. 29, Freedom 560, Colorado Republican Party Vice Chairman Mark Baisley announced his support for an investigation into the Republican Governors Association's involvement (via the Republican Attorneys General Association) in attack ads against gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo.

Ken Clark: Quite frankly, you’re right about one thing. And that is simply that it was — Who was it? It was the CREW folks that actually did dig this up — and yes they’re left leaning and yes, and they did leak this information to Lynn Bartels. However, there is one problem with all that. It’s true!!!

Mark Baisley: It is true!

Clark: Yeah! The RGA got involved, the RGA, the establishment Republicans, the national establishment got involved in our election here in Colorado, manipulated it, and lied — flat out lied against Tom Tancredo. Now, did Bob Beauprez know this was happening? I doubt it. In this article that Lynn wrote, she claims that — or Ryan [Call] claims that he had no idea it was going on. Frankly, I don’t buy that, because right before the election, Ryan Call was putting out propaganda from the Party that used all of Bob Beauprez’s lingo on how he described himself. So, I’m having trouble with the idea that Ryan Call just didn’t know this was going on. Sorry, but he’s the chairman of the state Party

Baisley: Okay, and I don’t know the answer to that. Chairman Call and I have not spoken on this topic. And so, I’ll reach out to him today. But, regardless, the RGA has done something that is just wrong. And they obviously know that it’s wrong, because they took such great pains to hide their actions. And we need to come against them very strongly. So, I’m calling for the Republican Party in Colorado to stand up to the national influences and say, “Look, you SOBs! This is our state! We’re Western culture. We think rather independently. Stay the hell out of our world, here!” And let’s even– let’s have a local investigation. Let’s have the state Party denounce that kind of involvement and let us just do what we do best, get out the vote for our nominee, and go beat the Democrats. But stay out of our world! And yeah, even if there’s an investigation that needs to be done to bring out what were the dominoes that led us to this point, that would be great, too. I’d be all for that. [BigMedia emphasis.]

Clark: Well, yeah, because I agree with you, Mark. And you know what? I am very, very pleased to hear you come out so forcefully and strongly, and stand up and actually make the call for an inviestigation into this matter. Mark, I think that is huge. That’s the kind of leadership we’re looking for. Now, there’s a mealy mouthed press release we got from Beauprez. It really didn’t go that far. And I understand he is the candidate, but at the same time, if he didn’t know that these guys were doing this– and you’re absolutely right, Mark, they were doing everything they could to hide those dollars.

Listen to Mark Baisley on KLZ FREEDOM560 7.29.14

Suthers Finally Gets His Way (Sort Of) In Goal Line Stand Against Marriage Equality

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

As the Boulder Daily Camera's Mitchell Byars reports, the Colorado Supreme Court has put a stop to Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall's issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, finally delivering GOP Attorney General John Suthers a win after numerous embarrassing defeats in lower courts:

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, bringing an abrupt halt to gay marriages in the last Colorado county to allow them…

Jane Culkin, a communications assistant for the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's Office, said Tuesday afternoon the office reviewed the file and has stopped issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"We are not going to be issuing any more marriage licenses to same-sex couples for the time being," Culkin said.

Hall said in a statement Tuesday she was "disappointed" by the ruling, but she hopes the stay will be brief.

"Given the avalanche of recent cases determining that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, I am hopeful the stay will be short-lived and that we will be able to resume issuing licenses soon," she said.

In the aftermath of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling striking down the state of Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, Boulder Clerk Hall took advantage of admittedly strained legal ambiguity–claiming that the stay immediately issued by the court only applied to Utah–to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. After Suthers' first attempt to stop Hall was rebuffed, Denver and Pueblo joined in issuing licenses–and Suthers' next several attempts to stop them in court were unsuccessful. The State Supreme Court's order to Denver to stop issuing licenses a little over a week ago, which Suthers used to force Pueblo to stop issuing licenses even though they weren't technically subject to the order, was the writing on the wall–the state Supreme Court's action yesterday was probably always inevitable.

These events are taking place against the backdrop of what most agree is the end stage of the national battle over marriage equality. With same-sex marriage bans being declared unconstitutional across the nation, the issue is set for final resolution by the U.S. Supreme Court–and the broad emerging legal consensus on the issue strongly suggests the Supreme Court will rule on the side of marriage equality. In the interim, the unresolved court battles have created temporarily messy situations, like the last few weeks of "legal chaos" (Suthers' term) in Colorado.

Assuming that ultimate victory, marriage equality proponents will have the moral high ground–enough to transcend criticism of a legally questionable rationale, since it will be remembered as the right thing to have done. On the other hand, even though Suthers is on legally defensible ground today, he and his office–to include Republican AG candidate Cynthia Coffman–will be remembered as the ones who fought against marriage equality to the end.

Politically, we know which side we'd rather be on.

Somebody Throw in the Towel for John Suthers, Cynthia Coffman

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Colorado AG John Suthers and chief deputy Cynthia Coffman keep marching toward the political abyss.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers was dealt yet another blow in his ongoing and fruitless quest to defend a same-sex marriage ban in Colorado. From the Denver Post:

Federal and state judges have now declared the law unconstitutional, and Boulder's clerk continues to defy him by issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore rejected Suthers' request to halt proceedings in the case but stayed his decision until 8 a.m. Aug. 25.

That gives Suthers time to appeal Moore's decision to the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals — the same court that found a similar ban in Utah to be unconstitutional less than a month ago.

Moore's ruling marks the fourth time in two weeks that Suthers' efforts have been thwarted by a judge. The attorney general has repeatedly argued that the issuance of licenses continues to stir legal chaos in the state, even though Gov. John Hickenlooper and others have urged him to stop defending the marriage ban.

Lest you might think that Suthers is finally seeing the writing on the wall here, Suthers' office filed yet another appeal with the 10th Circuit less than an hour after yesterday's ruling. As we wrote on Tuesday, Suthers' obsession with defending something that neither the public nor the courts seem to agree with is going to hurt Republican candidates in 2014 — particularly Republican Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman, who is Suthers' chief deputy. This entire story is getting even more absurd for Suthers by the day — particularly with news that he has thrown Colorado into another legal challenge over same-sex marriage in Indiana. Really.

From the Indianapolis Star:

The attorneys general of 10 states have joined in Indiana's appeal of a federal judge's ruling that found the state law banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

In a filing this week, the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah filed a friend of the court brief alleging it is not the judicial branch's role to determine whether same-sex marriage should be permitted…

…"The only question before the court is whether a rational person can believe that redefining marriage, so as to belittle it to no more than a status symbol or a congratulatory certificate, could damage the institution's longstanding and undisputed role in helping to encourage opposite-sex couples to stay together and raise the children they create" the attorneys general argue. [Pols emphasis]

That sentence above is sadly absurd — rhetoric that is a relic from a much different time in this country. Suthers has been busy filing losing briefs with various courts, so perhaps he hasn't had a chance to check out any of this summer's new TV shows. For example, the reality TV show "Married at First Sight," airing on something called the FYI channel, in which men and women agree to marry each other despite never meeting until the wedding ceremony itself. Because, you know, that doesn't belittle marriage or anything.

We don't see how this ends well for Suthers or Coffman, unless their real goal is to rack up a record number of losses in appeals court. If that's the case, well, good work. Or something.

Hickenlooper To Suthers: Stop The Same-Sex Marriage Appeals

UPDATE: Statement from LGBT advocate group One Colorado:

“By calling on Attorney General Suthers not to appeal Judge Crabtree’s ruling striking down Colorado’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, Governor Hickenlooper has shown incredible leadership as a champion for all Colorado families. From the moment he took office, the Governor has stood up for LGBT Coloradans and their families every step of the way: signing legislation to fight bullying and make our schools safer for LGBT youth, calling a special session on civil unions and ultimately signing the bill into law, and lending both his support and his signature to legislation that protects against workplace discrimination and provides tuition equity to undocumented Colorado students – including many LGBT young people. The record is clear.

“As a proud supporter of marriage equality, Governor Hickenlooper joins the 61% of Coloradans who believe that everyone should have the freedom to marry the person they love. With three Colorado counties now issuing marriage licenses to loving, committed couples who want to protect each other and their families, there is no doubt that our state’s discriminatory ban is hanging on by a thread. That thread is Attorney General Suthers, who is the only person left standing in the way of equality for our families. It’s time to move on. It’s time for Attorney General Suthers to stop wasting taxpayer money defending this indefensible ban, and it’s time for the freedom to marry for all Coloradans."

—–

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols caught up with a traveling Gov. John Hickenlooper late last night, and obtained by far the strongest statement yet urging GOP Attorney General John Suthers to give up the fight to preserve Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage:

Late Thursday evening, Hickenlooper, who is attending meetings of the National Governors Association in Nashville, told FOX31 Denver that he supports Crabtree’s decision and is urging Suthers not to appeal it any further than the Colorado Supreme Court.

“I remain a strong advocate for marriage equality,” Hickenlooper said. “The decision on marriage by Judge Crabtree puts Colorado on the right side of history.

“I have urged the attorney general not to appeal Judge Crabtree’s ruling. If he feels he needs to continue to defend this discriminatory law, I urge him to seek final resolution at the Colorado Supreme Court.” [Pols emphasis]

It was important for Hickenlooper to get out of the weeds of this issue and clearly take a stand. Now that he's done so, Suthers is in a much more difficult position politically–continuing to fight an unpopular wedge-issue battle against the wishes of the state's chief executive. The political damage this risks extends to Suthers' desired successor as AG, chief deputy Cynthia Coffman. Doing herself no favors, Coffman published an op-ed in the Colorado Springs Gazette today where she defends the state's continuing appeals:

The issue of same-sex marriage divides very good people with strongly held opinions.

Public debates can be contentious and polarizing.

Indeed, it is more difficult to defend laws in the eye of this public policy storm than it is to succumb to personal and political goals.

However, unlike my opponent in the race for attorney general, I do not confuse my policy preferences with my duty to defend laws with which I may disagree. When I chose to run for attorney general, I committed to set aside my opinions of what the law should be in favor of a higher legal system that recognizes the pivotal role of voters and the courts.

Efforts to change the law on same-sex marriage are now moving rapidly but are not yet settled, and until they are, the attorney general has a duty to play his part and defend current Colorado law.

Bottom line: there is a growing possibility that the Attorney General's race this year will have a much higher profile due to the fast-moving issue of same-sex marriage equality–an issue on which Democrats like AG candidate Don Quick took a risk by focusing on early in their campaigns, but now appear to have been brilliant politically as the issue makes headlines and public support increasingly becomes lopsided on the side of marriage equality.

It is an issue that Cynthia Coffman is now wholly on the wrong side of, along with her boss.

Judge Denies Suthers’ Attempt To Stop Boulder Marriages

UPDATE #6: Pueblo Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz confirms, his office will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples tomorrow morning.

Pueblo County acknowledges marriage equality and will begin issuing licenses at 8 am tomorrow.

—–

UPDATE #5: GOP Attorney General John Suthers announces his intention to keep fighting, with an appeal of today's ruling denying an injunction against Boulder County to the Colorado Supreme Court:

“It is the view of the Attorney General’s Office that the uncertainty that has been created by these recent Colorado court rulings as to the propriety of county clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses prior to final resolution of the issue, cries out for resolution by the state’s highest court. It is paramount that we have statewide uniformity on this issue and avoid the confusion caused by differing county-by-county interpretations of whether same-sex marriage is currently recognized. Therefore, we will act swiftly in an attempt to prevent a legal patchwork quilt from forming.”

—–

UPDATE #4: Correcting our previous report, Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz has not yet made a decision on issuing same-sex marriage licenses. His office is reviewing today's ruling now. We'll update soon.

—–

UPDATE #3: Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver celebrates as her city begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses:

“Debra Johnson has acted quickly and decisively after today’s court ruling, and I fully support her efforts to offer marriage licenses to every Denver couple who wants to make that commitment. Marriage is challenging yet rewarding, and everyone deserves to have their relationship recognized under the law.

“Personally, I’ve dusted off my Universal Life Minister’s card and look forward to helping couples start their married lives together.”

—–

UPDATE #2: Outgoing House Speaker Mark Ferrandino:

“Today’s ruling is another step towards legal same-sex marriage in Colorado,” Speaker Ferrandino said. “It is time for Attorney General Suthers to stop blocking loving LGBTQ couples from being protected equally under the law.” 

Judge Hartman’s ruling follows yesterday’s decision by Adams County District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree ruling Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. 

“This ruling comes just one day after Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional,” Speaker Ferrandino said. “Together these two decisions prove that same-sex marriage is inevitable and continuing to argue against it in court is a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

—–

UPDATE: In response to today's court ruling, Denver Clerk Deb Johnson has announced her office will begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses at noon today. Pueblo Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz announces his office will begin issuing same-sex licenses tomorrow morning is reviewing today's ruling as well to determine how to proceed (see update above).

With that, the proverbial wall is really coming down.

—–

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall.

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall.

As the Denver Post's Jordan Steffen reports, a huge, if still qualified win today for Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall in her fight against Colorado Attorney General John Suthers to continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples:

A judge on Thursday said he would allow Boulder's clerk to continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, rejecting a request from Attorney General John Suthers to issue an injunction.

Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall's office has issued more than 100 licenses to gay couples since the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a Utah ban on same-sex marriages.

Boulder District Court Judge Andrew Hartman said in an order issued Thursday that the AG's office did not meet its burden in proving that Hall's decision to issue the licenses creates any kind of harm for the couples or the state.

A key portion of Judge Andrew Hartman's ruling notes that the ultimate validity of same-sex marriages performed by Clerk Hall's office rest on undecided legal questions about her actions. This decision denies the Attorney General's request for a preliminary injunction, ruling that the state did not make the case that Hall's issuing of same-sex marriage licenses amounted to "irreparable harm."

The State is asking this Court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the actions of an elected government official. As such, the State must meet a high burden at this early stage in the litigation. For the reasons set forth below, the State has not met its burden and the Court DENIES the motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. 

As a temporary measure to protect all those affected by this case, the Court adopts the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s recommendation and ORDERS that the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder identify all same-sex marriages and convey the information as part of its routine monthly reporting of nuptials to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Welfare, Center for Health and Environmental Information and Services, as well as to the Boulder County Vital Records Office in order to reduce any risk of irreparable harm. The Boulder County Clerk and Recorder shall forward the information prospectively and has up to and including July 17, 2014 to supply information on past same-sex marriages. These offices shall keep the information confidential.

In addition, as a temporary measure to protect same-sex couples, the Court further adopts the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s recommendation and ORDERS that Clerk Hall provide reasonable notice to prospective and past recipients of same-sex marriage licenses that the validity of their marriages is dependent upon whether a court would find that Clerk Hall had authority to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Despite that qualifier, no question that this is a major validation for Clerk Hall against Suthers–who appears increasingly isolated in his crusade against the inevitable. Democratic AG candidate Don Quick, who has championed overturning Colorado's Amendment 43 in his campaign, looks highly prescient, while opponent and current chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman inherits Suthers' baggage on the issue. With same-sex marriage bans falling across the nation, Colorado was falling behind the curve largely thanks to our obstinate right-wing Attorney General–until Hillary Hall decided to make her stand.

Whatever happens next, today Clerk Hall is a true hero to this cause.

Same-Sex Marriage Ban Appears Headed For Dustbin of History

John Suthers, Don Quick.

John Suthers, Don Quick.

​​As the Denver Post's Jordan Steffen reported from Adams County Court in Brighton yesterday:

The Colorado attorney general's office defended the state's ban on gay marriage on Monday, arguing that 15 state and federal judges who have struck down similar measures in other states were wrong.

But the judge hearing the case mocked the state's argument that Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage protects the "nature of marriage" and the ability to produce children…

"They all got it wrong?" Crabtree asked. "What am I supposed to do then when presented with this? Just punt?"

With same-sex marriage bans being ruled unconstitutional across the nation in rapid succession, Republican Colorado Attorney General John Suthers' stubborn insistence on defending Amendment 43, the same-sex marriage ban in the Colorado constitution, is becoming much harder to defend politically. The wisdom of Democratic AG candidate Don Quick in calling out Suthers early and loudly for continuing to defend Amendment 43 is becoming more apparent:

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has faced criticism for his decision to defend the ban. Attorneys general have declined to defend against similar lawsuits in several other states.

That criticism of Suthers naturally extends to his chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman, who is the Republican nominee to succeed him. Every day the AG's office continues what is in all probability a futile effort to defend Colorado's same-sex marriage ban, they surrender moral and political high ground to Cynthia Coffman's Democratic opponent. The only real division on the issue of marriage equality today is within the Republican Party.

Bottom line: the days of remaining on the wrong side of this issue as a viable candidate for office–especially statewide office in Colorado–are numbered.

Audio: Did Suthers Just Dis Walker Stapleton?

An unintentionally hilarious quote from outgoing Attorney General John Suthers, interviewed this week on Colorado Public Radio:

JOHN SUTHERS: You know, if you can't handle the heat, and your sole objective in life is to cater to your political base, run for Treasurer, [Pols emphasis] run for something else but don't run for Attorney General.

Hey, wait a minute! We know somebody who resembles that remark.

stapletonban

Present treasurers excluded, right? Or not? Suthers is pretty careful about his choice of words, folks…

Suthers: Bob Beauprez For Governor

FOX 31's Eli Stokols, noted for the record:

Looking to build momentum one week after announcing his campaign, GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bob Beauprez announced Monday that he’s won the endorsement of the most senior Republican officeholder in the state, Attorney General John Suthers.

“There is no question in my mind, as I look at the Republican field for Governor at this point in time, he is far and away the best candidate,” Suthers said in a web video released by the Beauprez campaign Monday morning…

Suthers, who is term-limited as Attorney General, also hinted at Beauprez’s ability to raise the money needed to run a competitive campaign.

The word we hear is John Suthers' endorsement of late GOP gubernatorial primary entrant Bob Beauprez has as much to do with Suthers' negative opinion of Secretary of State Scott Gessler as any honest estimate of Beauprez's viability. It's worth remembering, as Gessler is fond of pointing out these days, that Suthers won his statewide election in 2006, the same year Bob Beauprez was handed an historic 17-point defeat by Democrat Bill Ritter–undercutting the claim by Beauprez since then that 2006 just wasn't "a good Republican year." If Suthers' experience is any guide, 2006 was mostly a bad year for Republicans named Bob Beauprez.

With that said, after bearing witness to Scott Gessler's antics for the last three years as Suthers has, we would find it very difficult to endorse him for higher office either. So maybe there's that.