Rep. Don “Quixote” Coram Promises to Fix Non-Existent Voter Fraud in Colorado

Prepare thyself for tilting, dastardly windmill!

Prepare thyself, windmill, for Don “Quixote” Coram comes to do some tilting.

Montrose Republican Rep. Don “Quixote” Coram wants to require voters to present identification at polling places, and as he told the Montrose Daily Press last week, Don’s will…will be done.

One way or another, a measure to require voter ID at the polls will be on the 2016 ballot, Rep. Don Coram said.

Coram, a Montrose Republican, announced Friday during a Montrose Chamber legislative preview that he intends to introduce a concurrent resolution in the Colorado House that would require identification from those voting in person on election days…

Vote ID laws have been criticized by the New York Times and others as deliberate attempts to discourage or prevent voting among people who do not have money or means to obtain the necessary identification; a sort of backdoor poll tax.

“It’s a matter of safety,” contended Coram. “There are a few cases where (ballot) is returned to the county clerk because there is no person by that name at that address,” Coram said. “You can come in with a utility bill and say you want to vote.”

Voter fraud is not prevalent, he said. “But how much is enough?” [Pols emphasis]

Rep. Don "Quixote" Coram (R-Montrose)

Rep. Don “Quixote” Coram (R-Montrose)

Boy, Rep. Coram sure sounds excited about combating voter fraud. He sounds so intent, in fact, that we almost hate to mention that there is still no evidence that voter fraud exists in Colorado AT ALL. Let’s revisit this November 11 story from the Aurora Sentinel:

An Arapahoe County jury last week acquitted a man of voter fraud charges, bringing to a close a 2013 voter fraud investigation that identified more than 100 suspects but produced just one conviction…

The two men were among four charged in 2013 as part of a large-scale and controversial voter fraud investigation launched by former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

Gessler had identified more than 100 people he said illegally voted, but the four charged in Arapahoe County were the only people in Colorado to face charges.

In early 2011, newly-elected Secretary of State Scott Gessler testified in Congress that some 16,270 people were illegally registered to vote in Colorado, and some 5,000 of them actually cast ballots in the 2010 election. Gessler wasn’t exactly “Captain Credibility” by that point anyway, but his out-of-left-field numbers of illegal voter registrations immediately raised eyebrows among politicos in Colorado and Washington D.C.

A few months later, Gessler inexplicably reduced that number by a significant amount, claiming to have narrowed the list down to 155 non-citizen voters. Then, in 2012, Gessler sent letters to 4,000 Coloradans he suspected to be illegally-registered to vote. Fast-forward back to November 2015, and you find that “1” is indeed the loneliest of numbers.

To recap, here’s the progression of the number of “illegal voters” in Colorado, per Gessler and his magic 8-ball:

16,270 ⇒  5,000  ⇒  155  ⇒  4,000  ⇒  4   ⇒  2   ⇒ 1

Ever since Gessler first made his bold accusations in 2011, County Clerks from across Colorado have repeatedly denied that there were any known cases of voter fraud in their counties. Ever. At all. Undeterred, Gessler convinced his patsy, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, to press forward with criminal charges that resulted in finding one person who was (knowingly) illegally registered to vote but likely never actually cast a ballot. Thank goodness we put a stop to that!

Colorado has spent an absurd amount of time and money over the last couple of years in an effort to discover this illegally-voting Bigfoot character, and at every turn Colorado has uncovered a whole bucket full of nothin’. Rep. Coram isn’t going to go out on another limb by throwing out new numbers attributed to illegal voters, so instead, he just says, “how much is enough?”

We were thinking the exact same thing, Rep. Coram. How much is enough indeed?

State Sen. Crowder sides with Hickenlooper on Syrian refugee policy

Sen. Larry Crowder.

Sen. Larry Crowder.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

State Sen. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa) has sided with Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in arguing that Colorado should still welcome Syrian refugees to the state, despite calls by some state lawmakers to ban them from coming here.

Rocky Mountain Community Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports:

Republican State Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa says Colorado and the country should not change the refugee resettlement program in the wake of the Paris attacks.

He was one of 10 Republicans not to sign the letter [asking Gov. John Hickenlooper to block Syrian refugees from coming to the state]. He says politicians are reacting with fear.

“When you talk about people who drop everything that they had and run for their lives, what we need to do is start realizing what our responsibility as a world citizen is,” [said Crowder].

Listen here. 

Birkeland mentioned that Hickenlooper supports the existing two-year vetting process for Syrian refugees.

Election Night Open Thread

You may begin…

Jefferson County Election Results

♦ Colorado Election Results (via Secretary of State’s Office)

♦ Denver Post results page

UPDATE #3: After getting off to a scary start, Proposition BB (Marijuana taxes) has rebounded:

Proposition BB
YES: 510,953 (66.51%)
NO: 257,264 (33.49%)

UPDATE #2: The closest race of the night might be in Lakewood, where the race for the next Mayor is neck-and-neck:

Adam Paul: 17,217 (50.09%)
Ramey Johnson: 17,153 (49.91%)

UPDATE #1: First batch of numbers are out in Jefferson County, and the recall is well on its way to becoming a runaway winner…

Jefferson County School District Open Seats:

District 3
Ali Lasell: 74,749 (57.95%)
Kim Johnson: 54,245 (42.05%)

District 4
Amanda Stevens: 85,037 (67%)
Tori Merritts: 42,324 (33%)


Recall Election
District 1 (Julie Williams)
YES: 96,160 (64.4%)
NO: 53,178 (35.6%)

District 2 (John Newkirk)
YES: 94,871 (63.8%)
NO: 53,841 (36.2%)

District 5 (Ken Witt)
YES: 95,509 (64.38%)
NO: 52,848 (35.6%)

Recalling Coffman’s proposal for English-only ballots, as the Voting Rights Act turns 50

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

coffmantrump3Over the weekend, I enjoyed reading Jim Rutenberg’s piece in the New York Times magazine on how conservatives have methodically dismantled the Voting Rights Act, which turns 50 on Thursday, culminating in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision gutting major provisions of the law.

Here at home, one conservative who’s thrown his congressional spear at the Voting Rights Act, widely credited for finally giving African-Americans actual factual access to the voting booth, is Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora.

Coffman, you recall, introduced legislation in 2011 repealing the law’s requirement that bilingual ballots be provided in areas with large numbers of voters don’t speak English very well.

In other words, Coffman wanted to leave the decision about whether to provide bilingual ballots to local authorities, and if you take the time to read Rutenberg’s article, you’ll see that, as much as we’d all like to believe otherwise, local politicians are apparently still trying to keep black Americans from voting. That’s why we need federal requirements for stuff like bilingual ballots–to make sure everyone can participate in democracy, such as it is.

But Coffman, who once suggested that immigrants “pull out a dictionary” if they’re having trouble understanding an English ballot, doesn’t see it that way.

Coffman: “Since proficiency in English is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship, forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide ballots in a language other than English makes no sense at all,” Coffman told the Denver Post in 2011.

Last year, Coffman doubled down on his support for English-only ballots, saying during a Univision debate that he still opposes the Voting Rights Act’s requirements for mailing Spanish-language ballots, because it’s expensive.

But Coffman said it in a more friendly way, “I would hope that every voter will be able to get the information that he needs in a language he can understand.”

Again, most of us have to share Coffman’s hope, but there’s also reality lurking out there, embodied in politicians who care more about self-preservation than democracy. And you can read about it in the New York Times.

Wayne Williams Gets Some Expert PR Help

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

The biggest story in Colorado politics today is the departure of Colorado’s foremost political news reporter, Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post, to take a new job as spokesperson for GOP Secretary of State Wayne Williams. From Williams’ press release this morning, released just after word spread on social media of Bartels’ decision to leave the Post:

“I am thrilled that Lynn has decided to join our team,” said Williams. “When Coloradans think of Lynn Bartels they think of experience, professionalism, and humor.”

Bartels has worked in Colorado since 1993 when she was hired by the Rocky Mountain News, where she won numerous awards for a variety of stories, ranging from the one-year anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing to Denver’s 2003 mayoral race. The Denver Post hired Bartels in 2009 after the Rocky closed. She worked in New Mexico before moving to Denver. In 2015, The Washington Post named Bartels as one of Colorado’s best state political reporters.

“I am forever grateful that The Denver Post gave me a home when the Rocky closed,” Bartels said. “It’s hard to imagine a life outside of journalism but my dog is very happy that I’m going to give it a try. I am very excited for this new opportunity.”

Bartels said she was impressed last year when the left-leaning Colorado Springs Independent and the only two Democratic mayors in El Paso County endorsed Williams, a Republican, for Secretary of State because of how he ran the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

Bartels added, “I’ve liked Wayne ever since he lent me $20 at the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities in 2008 after I left my billfold at the hotel. By the way, I paid it back.”

Jason Salzman just posted Bartels’ warm letter to colleagues at the Denver Post. On social media, the outpouring of gratitude to Bartels for her years of political coverage has been quite a thing to witness. But Colorado politicos won’t have to go far to find Bartels, whose new job working for Secretary of State Wayne Williams keeps her close at hand.

And as we discussed last October during his campaign for statewide office, Wayne Williams could use some PR expertise in his office. Williams’ disastrous appearance on FOX News with host Megyn Kelly, in which Kelly tried to keep pre-election panic over false rumors of “printing ballots” in Colorado alive while simultaneously correcting her previous report on the matter, could fairly be considered disqualifying from political office. Williams stumbled through a ridiculous scenario of mail ballot fraud that involved “family members and union bosses” intimidating mail ballot voters. The next day, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow eviscerated Williams (and Kelly) in a particularly glorious two minutes of cable news video you can watch above. Despite this, Williams coasted to victory in a statewide downballot race that was more or less a fait accompli from the beginning.

Bottom line: our sense of loss reckoning with the departure of the state’s most seasoned political reporter is sincere, as are our good luck wishes to Bartels in her new job. On the latter point, she’s going to need it.

Because Elections Matter – Why We Should Care about “ChairGate”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call, AG Cynthia Coffman.

Former Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call, AG Cynthia Coffman.

In the Politichicks article “Sex, Lies, and the GOP“, Kathryn Porter has given readers an explanation for why Marilyn Marks and Becky Mizel were motivated to force House to resign. I can’t speak for the motivations of others who may or may not have been involved, but I contend that Marks and Mizel needed for Steve House to step down as Chair of the Colorado GOP, in order to keep their positions of influence within the GOP, and within Colorado’s conservative base.

Quoting from Porter’s article:

One of those [Steve House’s] critics is elections integrity expert, Marilyn Marks who shared her experience as a member of a state party elections oversight committee. She said that some members walked off due to the inexplicable decision to replace the committee vice-chair and the invitation to include county clerks—holding different agendas—whom the committee was seeking to hold accountable.

Steve House, as Chair, chose to open up the party’s Elections Oversight Committee, of which both Marks and Mizel were members. He was seeking to have a less antagonistic, less litigious relationship with the County Election Clerks.  However, antagonism and lawsuits against the Clerks, complaints to the Secretary of State,  are how Marks and Mizel roll. This is their schtick, their raison d’etre. In the narrative Marks has carefully built up for the last few years, no public election official of any party can be trusted. The election system is full of gaping holes and opportunities for fraud, and only she, the “election watchdog“, can protect vulnerable votes.


There’s A Little “Honey Badger” In Wayne Williams After All

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports on new election rules proposed by Secretary of State Wayne Williams.During the tenure of Williams’ predecessor, Scott “Honey Badger” Gessler, new rulemaking on elections was a reliably fraught exercise–Gessler made little pretense about proposing rules that would benefit his fellow Republicans, and nothing short of a court order was ever able to slow him down.

Ashby reports on one particular Williams proposed rule that has a distinctly “Honey Badger” ring to it:

The proposed rule calls for county clerks to include a new line on the envelopes voters use to return their mail ballots, one that would ask for the name and address of any person collecting them to be turned in.

Normal get-out-the-vote efforts for candidates routinely contact voters who haven’t yet turned in their ballots, asking them to do so. In some cases, those campaign volunteers will offer to take them in if a voter is physically incapable of doing so.

Some critics of that practice say it opens the door to potential election fraud, saying such volunteers could turn in only those ballots that help their candidate…

By way of explanation. Scott Gessler did adopt a similar rule last year to this proposal. The rule was stripped from the enabling legislation in the General Assembly because there were major legal questions as to whether this was something the SOS could enforce, so the rule never went into effect. And like so many hand-wringing hypothetical ways Republicans imagine elections could be compromised, there’s no evidence this has ever, you know, happened:

During last year’s U.S. Senate race, there were allegations that some people were doing that, but no evidence ever surfaced that it was actually happening, said Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert.

Regardless, Staiert said it makes sense to have some sort of mechanism in place to guard against it, just in case. [Pols emphasis]

Republican Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner, a frequent impediment to Gessler’s various election “reform” proposals with her pesky reality-based viewpoint, calls this a ridiculous waste of time:

Reiner said the proposed rule could place unnecessary costs on county clerks, all for something that isn’t happening anyway.

“It could cause some confusion for sure,” she said. “I don’t know what the implications for costs are, but there will be some additional ink on the envelopes. And without a statute to back this up, to tell us we have actual authority to void a ballot on that criteria, we’re not going to look at it.”

With no evidence of an actual problem to be addressed, and no statutory authority to act upon whatever this proposal might reveal, the purpose of this seems clear: shenanigans. It would give “vote fraud watchdogs”–a euphemism for poll challengers and other election intimidation specialists–another tool to baselessly call election results into question.


Koch –funded “Nonprofit” Stomps Down Hard on Health Care Initiative

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

You’ve probably never heard of Initiative 20….unless you listen to right wing talk radio, or hang out on right wing websites. Then, you might believe that Initiative 20 is a Communist plot to ration your health care, run all private insurors out of Colorado, take away your Medicaid, and generally make your life miserable.

Colorado Care? Yes!

Initiative 20, the ColoradoCareYes plan, is the beginning of the end of the Federal Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) in Colorado, and Koch-funded attack groups are trying to stop it before it begins.

Republicans, after having tried to repeal the ACA 54 times, (but still having no plan to replace it) should be rejoicing that a coalition of groups in Colorado, inspired by Senator Irene Aguilar, M.D, is promoting an alternative to the ACA.  I mean really…the end of mandates? The end of Obama’s name on your health care plan? No price discrimination against rural consumers? No deductibles? It’s a Tea Party dream!

In the original ACA legislation is an “innovation” provision, article 1332, which allows states to opt out of the ACA, if they can prove that their own programs have as good or better outcomes for consumers. The ColoradoCare plan as written would be simpler, more fair, and less expensive than the ACA.

Instead of rejoicing that Democrats are accomplishing their goal of replacing the ACA, however, Republican operatives and organizations quickly stomped on the rollout of Initiative 20 with a Koch-brothers funded website, and talk radio diatribes about how the ColoradoCareYES Initiative must be stopped.

Some background information: (more…)

2016 Won’t Be Like 2014 (Or 2010)

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

Famed political analyst Stuart Rothenberg has a smart writeup at Roll Call today on the state of play in Colorado ahead of the 2016 U.S. Senate race–with some perspective that’s quite valuable if you’re using past performance as a predictor of future results:

Republican strategists have not given up hope of recruiting a top-tier challenger, such as Rep. Mike Coffman, who might be able to mount the sort of come-from-behind effort then-Rep. Cory Gardner did to upset Democratic Sen. Mark Udall last cycle.

But even knowledgeable Republicans wouldn’t tell you the Colorado Senate race is close to a tossup now. And in their most candid moments they might even tell you the race may never get any closer than where it is now — leaning in Bennet’s favor…

Colorado voters who wanted to send a message of dissatisfaction about the president could only do so by voting against Bennet, and subsequently Udall. That is a different dynamic from the one that occurs in presidential election years, such as 2016.

Next fall, voters won’t automatically see the Senate race as a way to make a statement about the presidential race, and the GOP won’t have a strong voter turnout advantage, the way the party did in 2010 and 2014.

The last U.S. Senate race in a presidential election year in Colorado was 2008–the year when Mark Udall blew out Republican Bob Schaffer, in a race where Schaffer was hobbled by ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and generalized dissatisfaction with the Republican brand after eight years of George W. Bush in the White House. In 2010 and 2014, election years where Democrats in Colorado fought uphill battles, presidential-year turnout ebbed, and conservative voters in this state surged to the polls. Even at the height of the 2010 GOP wave, Bennet managed to come out ahead of the decidedly out-of-the-mainstream GOP nominee Ken Buck. In 2014, Cory Gardner’s audacious con job airtight message discipline powered him past Udall’s uninspiring single-issue negative campaign.

In 2016, there is no Cory Gardner Colorado Republicans can turn to for a fresh start, and Bennet will not face the same kind of “Teflon” opponent Udall did. As Rothenberg correctly notes, presumed 2016 U.S. Senate frontrunner Mike Coffman has his own long record of immoderation, like in 2012 when he told attendees at a GOP fundraiser that President Barack Obama “is just not an American.” While Coffman has managed to keep his job since that major on-camera gaffe three years ago, Rothenberg is absolutely right that “Democrats undoubtedly would use that sound bite to introduce him to voters statewide.” Bennet may not be the left’s biggest hero today after spurning them on issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, but Coffman has enough fringe ugliness in his background for Bennet to show a clear distinction with the broad center of Colorado voters.

Rothenberg concludes, and from our view there’s nothing with which to disagree:

Democrats have plenty of reasons to keep Colorado on their radar screens, and Republicans have plenty of reasons to look for a strong challenger who can take advantage of the state’s fundamental competitiveness.

But right now, it is much easier for Democrats to defend the seat than it is for Republicans to win it back from Bennet.

These hard facts are a big reason why we’re waiting to see if Coffman makes the jump to the 2016 U.S. Senate race at all, especially with a strong Democratic challenge for his CD-6 seat threatening from Colorado Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll. Whatever momentum Colorado Republicans may feel after 2014 is, looking ahead today, fraught with uncertainty–with a very different electorate than the last two U.S. Senate races here, and no “ace in the hole” lying in wait to change the game.

Naturally, we’ll let you know if we see one.

Intra-GOP Confusion Kills 2016 Presidential Primary

Metaphorically speaking.

Metaphorically speaking.

The Denver Post’s John Frank reports on the death in the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate of Senate Bill 15-257, a bill to restore Colorado’s presidential primary election and hold it in the pivotal month of March of an election year. Republican intraparty miscommunication reportedly played a large role in the death of this bipartisan bill:

Sen. Jesse Ulibarri, one of the Democratic sponsors, said he had “no clue” what happened. “This is one of those where I walked away scratching my head,” the Westminster lawmaker said.

Under the bill, Colorado would have held a presidential primary in March that ran parallel with the state’s complicated caucus system. In doing so, it would have allowed unaffiliated voters to play a larger role in selecting the party’s nominees for president and attracted more national political attention. Colorado is considered one of the seven true swing states for the 2016 election.

In addition to both major parties, the bill drew support from prominent Democrats and Republicans, including Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs. But when it came before the Senate Appropriations Committee, four Republicans voted to kill the bill with three Democrats supporting it…

According to Frank, Senate Republicans claim they were under the impression that new Colorado GOP chairman Steve House did not support restoring a presidential primary election, but that’s not correct: House had put out a statement endorsing the legislation before it was introduced. But as we’ve seen on a number of occasions this session, there may be some excuse-making for the party’s right flank at work here:

[A] more powerful undercurrent came in opposition from conservatives in the party, who believed a primary election would lead to more mainstream Republican candidates with the involvement of unaffiliated voters. [Pols emphasis]

Got that? The real problem here seems to be that the far right wing of the Colorado GOP would lose power over the nominating process with a primary election open to unaffiliated voters, instead of a closed party member-only caucus like we have today. A March primary in which unaffiliated voters could declare affiliation and vote would allow many more people to take part–and for the out-of-the-mainstream ideologues who nominated Rick Santorum in the last Colorado GOP presidential caucuses in 2012, that’s a bad thing.

And apparently, more important than our state being a factor in the 2016 primaries at all.

Coffman Spokesman’s “Principle” of Not Responding to Those Who Might Disagree

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

The Colorado Independent called Rep. Mike Coffman’s office numerous times over numerous days to find out if Coffman had kept $20,000 in donations from Rep. Aaron Schock, who resigned in disgrace after it became apparent that he was brazenly misspending tax money.

Coffman’s office never called reporter John Tomasic back, but Coffman spokesman Tyler Sandberg did talk to The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels, telling her, “We donated the money after Aaron Schock resigned and donated it to a veterans organization.”

Sandberg also told Bartels:

“As a matter of principle we don’t respond to fake news websites, nor did we feel a need to trumpet the donation. Sorry to upset the left-wing attack machine so desperate to find a flaw with Mike Coffman.”

The Colorado Independent is not a fake news site. It’s a progressive news site. So, I guess Sandberg is saying he won’t talk to people who might disagree with him?

I wondered which veterans organization received the cash and when it was donated, so I called Sandberg. And, lo, he didn’t return my calls either. So it appears his bogus “principle” applies to me too.

That is, unless I do something he likes.


Getting an ID for voting isn’t as easy as Wayne Williams implies

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Back in January, Colorado's new Secretary of State, Wayne Williams, suggested that people who register and vote on Election Day should present a "Department-of-Revenue-issued ID."

Williams made it sound like this would be a snap for voters: "And it’s important to note that in Colorado, ID’s are free, to anyone who’s indigent. Anyone who’s poor, anyone who’s elderly can get a free ID," Williams told Colorado Public Radio's Ryan Warner Jan. 11.

Technically, that's true. But in reality, especially if you're old or indigent, getting an ID is often neither easy nor free. With the Colorado state legislature debating a bill today requiring IDs for Election-Day registration, now is a good time for Warner to air some of the facts that run counter to Williams' simple view.

The core problem is that, while an ID itself is free, through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the underlying documentation required to get an ID can be expensive to obtain and time-consuming to assemble.

From reading Colorado's law mandating free IDs for those over 64-years and the indigent, you might think all you have to do is trot over to your county human services department, pick up the required forms, and then get hooked up with your free ID from DMV.

Not really. At Denver Human Services, you can get a coupon for a free ID if you declare that you are homeless, and therefore entitled to a $10.50 fee waver. But if you don't have citizenship documents, you have to go to a nonprofit "partner" organization for help, according to Julie Smith, Communications Director at Denver Human Services.

"We recognize that this is a challenge to navigate, especially if you have to obtain a birth certificate," said Smith, adding that transportation alone is a "big challenge" for people who are homeless.


Colorado Republican “Brain Child” Architect Pleads Guilty

UPDATE: A local grassroots conservative blog adds some interesting–alleged, we must note–details on the relationship between Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call and Tyler Harber of Harden Global, who pled guilty this week to federal coordination and false statement charges:

Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call’s handpicked board member for the Colorado Republican Party Independent Expenditure Committee (IEC) has plead guilty in a federal prosecution case to illegally coordinating a Super PAC he created with the campaign of Congressional candidate Chris Perkins, for whom he served as a campaign manager…

This admission of guilt seriously calls into question Ryan Call’s creation of the Colorado Republican IEC, which he has always denied coordinates with individual candidates and campaigns. Like the Super PACs on a federal level, independent expenditure committees under Colorado law are exempt from Colorado’s campaign finance restrictions so long as they do not coordinate their activities with specific candidates. At this time, there has already been one campaign finance complaint filed against the Republican IEC by campaign finance watchdog organization, Campaign Integrity Watchdog. That matter is still pending.

The board of directors of the Colorado Republican IEC, including Harber, was appointed by Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call. Harber also served as the registered agent for the Colorado Republican IEC. The Colorado Republican IEC has paid tens of thousands of dollars to Harden Global, Harber’s Washington D.C. based consulting company since its inception in 2013. Yes—Harber served on the board of directors that authorized to spend tens of thousands of dollars to his own company. Apparently Chairman Call saw nothing wrong with that.

So where and how did Harden Global spend the tens of thousands of dollars that the Republican IEC paid it? No one knows, but one could reasonably assume much of it went back into the pockets of Tyler Harber…

Could things be about to get messier than expected for Call, just as the endorsements are starting to lock down? Stay tuned.


Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call.

Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call.

A press release from the Department of Justice yesterday announces a guilty plea entered by one Tyler Eugene Harber, a D.C.-based Republican political consultant:

A campaign finance manager and political consultant pleaded guilty today in the Eastern District of Virginia for coordinating $325,000 in federal election campaign contributions by a political action committee (PAC) to a Congressional campaign committee.  This is the first criminal prosecution in the United States based upon the coordination of campaign contributions between political committees…

“Campaign finance laws exist to guard against illegal activity such as coordinated campaign contributions,” U.S. Attorney Boente said.  “The citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia can rely this office enforce federal campaign finance law.”

 “Today, Mr. Harber took responsibility for violating federal election campaign laws by illegally coordinating payments between a super pac and a candidate’s campaign committee,” said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe.  “The FBI will continue to investigate allegations of campaign finance abuse which are in place to ensure openness and fairness in our elections so the people’s interests are protected.”

Tyler Eugene Harber, 34, of Alexandria, Virginia, pleaded guilty to one count of coordinated federal election contributions and one count of making false statements to the FBI before U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia.  A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 5, 2015.

Tyler Eugene Harber is/was (we're not sure what the status is today) a partner in the political consulting firm Harden Global, whose website has suddenly gone down for maintenance in the wake of Harber's guilty plea. Locals will remember that Harden Global is the contractor who developed the website for the Colorado Republican Party Independent Expenditure Committee last summer. Originally billed as a "well-financed, multiyear effort by Republicans in Colorado," the IE committee's centerpiece "research site" fell into obscurity after being lampooned for using stock photos from Utah and Arizona–a lethal faux pas in Colorado politics.

While we haven't heard allegations of impropriety related to the Colorado Republican IR committee's activities last year, as Tom Tancredo can tell you, Colorado is no stranger to Byzantine political dealings involving shady Washington GOP-allied political types. Also, we do note that the website Harden Global built for the Colorado GOP was originally represented as chairman Ryan Call's "brain child."

So, you know, hopefully Call gets the password from Mr. Harber before sentencing.

Nobody Does Nothing Quite Like Senate Republicans

The Captain does not approve

Republicans hold a one-seat majority in the State Senate, and they are off to a fast start in promoting their policy agenda. We dare say: nobody does nothing quite like Senate Republicans.

While destroying limiting government is a pretty common refrain to hear from right-wing Republicans such as Senate President Bill Cadman, Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg, and Majority Caucus Chair/culinary expert Vicki Marble, we'd venture a guess that even they've been a little surprised at just how easy it can be to make government do nothing. Hell, they're making nothing happen without even doing anything!

Consider what Senate Republicans didn't accomplish today: they allowed two important bipartisan commissions to expire on their own by not voting to renew them. Republicans didn't have to create any new legislation or come up with any ideas of their own — all they had to do was not let the commissions expire.

Equal Pay for Equal Work: Senate Republicans ended the Pay Equity Commission by doing nothing to allow it to continue. The Commission was created to study the existing pay gap between men, women, and minorities, and to come up with solutions for closing the gap. According to information provided by Senate Democrats, "Colorado women are still only paid 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, and the gap is wider for women of color. African American women earn only 67.5 cents and Latinas just 52.5 cents for every dollar earned by the highest earners."

Promoting Fair and Modern Elections: Say goodbye to the Colorado Voter Access and Modernized Elections Commission (COVAME) , which will cease operations on July 1, 2015. Today Republicans on the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee allowed the clock to run out on re-authorization of the committee. Nevermind the constant refrain from Republicans about how concerned they are when it comes to voter fraud — the magical Private Industry Fairy will save them. A press release from the Senate Democrats explains more about COVAME:

The General Assembly established the COVAME in 2013, as part of the Colorado Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act (HB 13-1303).  This measure sought to make elections simpler and more accessible for all eligible voters, and some of its provisions called for changes in how elections are physically conducted.  Notably, it called for mail ballots to go out to all voters in general elections, Voter Service and Polling Centers to replace traditional precinct polling places, and for allowing voter registration up until Election Day.

The final COVAME report is not due until mid-February of 2015, and it will provide analysis from the 2014 election and offer recommendations for 2016. 

We've said before that Colorado Republicans appear to have misinterpreted a one-seat majority as giving them a mandate to do whatever they choose. This would appear to be yet another example of that fallacy; we're pretty confident that Colorado voters weren't looking for the GOP to sit on their hands once they took office.

New SoS Williams’ Agenda: Bold Solutions In Search of Problems

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Nothing you shouldn't have expected from Colorado's freshly sworn-in Secretary of State Wayne Williams, but national liberal blog Think Progress reports on Williams' priority as Secretary of State: whatever voter ID law he can get.

Wayne Williams (R) was sworn in this week as Colorado’s Secretary of State, and has already begun pushing for laws to make voters show photo identification before they can cast a ballot. “I think most Coloradans are honest and law-abiding and follow the rules, but I think it’s important to have the processes in place to protect the election system so that people have confidence in it,” Williams told Colorado Public Radio in an interview over the weekend.

He added that because Democrats still control the governor’s mansion and state house, passage of such a law is unlikely, but offered that he’d be willing to settle for rules requiring a photo ID for Coloradans taking advantage of the state’s same-day voter registration. “This is someone we’ve never seen before. We don’t have any proof they are who they claim to be,” he said.

Studies show such a law targeting same-day registration would disproportionately impact voters who are younger, lower income, non-white, and newly naturalized.

There have been no reports to suggest any problem with the execution of Colorado's modernized election laws in 2014, including the administration of same-day registration. Even Williams' predecessor Scott Gessler, one of the most vocal critics of the 2013 legislation that revamped Colorado's election system, grudgingly admits that the system overall worked pretty well. With that in mind, nothing about same-day registration overcomes the well-documented problems with requiring a photo ID to carry out the constitutional right to vote. In the absence of any actual problem, there's simply no reason to impose this burden–except to make it harder to vote.

But as Think Progress continues, Williams is all about making it harder to vote, even where that means breaking campaign pledges:

Williams’ campaign centered on his reputation as a “champion of access and transparency in government” and his promise to “ensure voter access to the polls” — though he did express support for voter ID laws during his run for office. He also often touted his record of making voting more convenient as a county clerk: “We have worked with all parties and groups to ensure that our polling locations are located in easy to reach locations and we’ve exceeded legal requirements by opening more locations and opening them for longer hours. As a result of these efforts, more citizens have voted than ever before in my county.”

After winning the race, he flipped on this point as well, telling Colorado Public Radio that too many polling locations were open for too many hours in this past election. “That’s not really a very cost-effective way and there certainly wasn’t a demand for it,” he said, adding that he hopes to give counties “flexibility at the local level” to decide when and where polling locations should be available.

During the 2013 recall elections, Williams came under fire for severely limiting voting locations and hours in Senate District 11. After mail ballots for the recalls were disallowed in court on a technicality, having convenient locations and hours for voters to cast ballots became far more important. Despite this, Williams' polling centers in El Paso County opened days after their counterparts in Pueblo–and in Manitou Springs, a stronghold for recalled Sen. John Morse, a vote center didn't open until the Monday before the election.

In that case, anyway, the "flexibility" Williams wanted was flexibility to game the system.

Bottom line: Williams gets a little space as a new Secretary of State to get his agenda together, but we can't forget that this is the same Wayne Williams who made a nationwide joke of himself last October–reaching for excuses to question mail ballots that were simply laughable. Suffice to say, whatever Williams ends up proposing had better be backed up with hard evidence or it will go nowhere. After Williams' embarrassing failure to gin up scandal on FOX News–not to mention four years his predecessor spent making wild allegations about vote fraud in Colorado that were totally unfounded–he starts with basically zero credibility.

And we have a strong suspicion that is where he will remain.