Gessler, Brauchler, Still Can’t Make Facts Fit Illegal Voter Narrative

Noooooo!!! Oh, nevermind.

Noooooo!!! Oh, nevermind.

As Election Day gets closer and closer, so, too, does the end of Republican Scott Gessler's contentious term as Colorado's Secretary of State. Perhaps one day we will all look back at this period of time and laugh to ourselves in disbelief that Gessler could have actually been in charge of voting in Colorado.

Back when Gessler first took office in January 2011, he told everyone who would listen that Colorado had a massive problem with illegal voters casting illegal ballots. In fact, Gessler testified before Congress that he was aware of at least 16,270 illegal voter registrations in Colorado, including 5,000 who illegally cast a ballot. Those numbers, of course, never held up to even the slightest level of scrutiny. In July 2013, Gessler's office produced a list of 155 people — yes, just 155 — who were suspected of having registered to vote illegally. What happened to the other 16,115 that Gessler boldly proclaimed to Congress as illegal voters? Perhaps someone in the Secretary of State's office just accidentally cut-and-paste the same names 110 times.

Last November, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, a very partisan Republican DA, announced that his office had indicted a grand total of 4 (four) people alleged to have been involved in illegally registering to vote. In June, charges were dropped in one of those cases, and yesterday, a judge tossed charges in a second Brauchler case. From CBS4 Denver:

A judge dismissed an election-fraud charge against an Aurora man on Wednesday after prosecutors said they could not prove he was the one who illegally registered himself to vote.

Tadesse G. Degefa, who is not a U.S. citizen, had been charged with procuring false registration for allegedly signing up to vote in 2012.

District Attorney George Brauchler said the secretary of state’s voter registration website does not have safeguards to prevent someone from illegally registering someone else to vote.

According to CBS 4, charges are still pending against one canvasser and one noncitizen. In other words, out of Gessler's original claim of 16,270 cases of illegal voter registration, we may (and only possibly) end up with just two people who may have not even intentionally been involved with illegally registering a voter. And guess how many people look to have actually voted illegally?

At this point, none. As in, zero.

So, Scott Gessler was pretty close in his estimation of voter fraud — give or take 16,270 people.

Wayne Williams Thanks God For Friendly Press

El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams.

El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, El Paso County clerk and Secretary of State candidate Wayne Williams is returning a contribution made improperly to his campaign, from a Republican group that isn't properly set up to donate to candidates:

Colorado Secretary of State candidate Wayne Williams says he will return a $550 campaign contribution from a federal group because it wasn't an appropriate donation under the state's campaign finance rules…

The issue is how the RSLC is registered in Colorado.

Currently, the group's Colorado arm – the Republican State Leadership Committee-Colorado Account – is a 527 political organization, which can receive unlimited contributions from its federal namesake but cannot contribute directly to a candidate…

"We let people know what the rules are ahead of time and we thought everything was fine when we accepted it," [Pols emphasis] Williams said of the donation. "When we followed up with them, it didn't meet all the technical requirements so we're sending it back to them."

But as Williams' Democratic opponent Joe Neguse fires back in a press release today, the only reason Williams "followed up" with this donor from June is because he was contacted by the media about the donation. Since it's likely that either Neguse's campaign or somebody allied with them gave the information about this improper donation to the press, they'd be the ones to know:

Joe Neguse's campaign manager Elisabeth Mabus released the following statement, "We need a Secretary of State that understands campaign finance laws.  Wayne Williams' campaign was perfectly happy to keep this donation until the media pointed out the issues with it, and only then did he agree to return an improper campaign donation from this shady out of state Republican organization." [Pols emphasis]

Fortunately for Williams, the friendly local newspaper allowed the story to be about Williams' returning the contribution, not the fact that he took an improper donation to begin with. That's kind of strange, since normally newspapers bust politicians in these circumstances instead of helping them put the story to bed. And given that we're talking about a candidate for the state's chief elections officer, don't these details matter more?

They should matter–and Williams shouldn't get a pass for this.

Operation Choke Point – Denying the Dollars

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

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

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

William Isaac , columnist for “The Hill” wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Woman to Run for Sheriff of Mesa County…..What !?!

2014 July 9 Media Blast

I am running for Mesa County Sheriff as a Write in and have been running since I announced my candidacy in public at the Cinco de Mayo Main Street fair on May 4, 2014.  Why did you not know about my candidacy?

I have been totally ignored by all Grand Valley media.  It is unheard of for a woman to run for the top “man’s” job.  It is unheard of for a Registered Nurse to have the audacity to run for Sheriff.  Being a woman and a Registered Nurse gives me the foundational knowledge to be Sheriff.  Being a “Write-In” candidate was a difficult choice but I wanted nothing to inhibit the essential reasons a woman and a Nurse should run, i.e. impartiality, objectivity and independence.

Of all the men that are still running, none have my years of public service.  None have my supervisory experience.  None have my budget control experience.  None have lived and worked in a war zone and prepared for casualties.  None have worked for better care for our local vets.  None understand life and death decisions and working with families as I have.  I have had a patient-centered career. I have had a community outreach career.  I have lived and worked in a multi-national and multi-cultural setting successfully.  I have worked almost a decade inside a US government agency, the Veterans Hospital and I understand this community and its needs for now and the future far better than any other candidate.

I was President of Mesa County Western Colorado Congress for over 2 years and unfortunately, one of only a handful of Republican members.  In that time I scrutinized, probed and prodded the present and future issues our county will be facing.  The cultural diversity of our county is an enormous strength and a bane if misunderstood or mishandled.  Trust is imperative.

King is under investigation.  Trust will be a problem for him.  There are three men “petitioning” on to the ballot, two of which chickened out on running until King was under investigation.  Trust and courage is a problem.  Only one petitioner started before the primary and is still collecting names.  One other “write-in” couldn’t find the Ute Water building for the Mesa County Sheriff Association forum that was pre-scheduled weeks in advance, now has a “Tea Party” endorsement.  He is not a long term planner by any stretch of the imagination and most of what he talked about at the forum when he did get there was his own lack of knowledge about how to run a Sheriff’s office and using dogs.

I have a vision for the Mesa County Sheriff’s position.  Without trustworthy, committed and sure-footed leadership, this county will suffer.  Leadership requires projecting planning into the future and trying to anticipate, as much as possible, unforeseen situations that could have an adverse effect on our community.

The Grand Valley is a unique area, in a geologically unique position between two of the Southwest’s biggest cities.  If those cities call for more power or more water, the Sheriff’s Office will bear the impact from ramifications that could occur.  An example to easily visualize is a blackout due to lack of electricity.  A community left in the dark is a vulnerable community.  Prevention is the key.  As in healthcare, prevention reduces costs and ensures stable longevity. 

Despite the media’s efforts, I have been and will continue to run a grassroots effort to be elected by Mesa County citizens.  I will put my efforts into achieving a long term plan to ensure a viable, safe and healthy community.  Who better to put your trust, then in a Registered Nurse?

A real choice for Sheriff, Write-In Benita Phillips for Sheriff.  If you want to help me please email me at ranchita3553@gmail.com.

Corporate-Driven Education Reform Experiments Failing in Denver and Around the Country

I decided to add to my recent articles about the Colorado State Board of Education primary in Denver after reading an article today in Chalkbeat Colorado, a national non-profit education news agency. In the article "8 struggling schools opt in to Colorado's new turnaround network."  Ashley Jochim, research analyst at the Center on Reinventing Publication Education and one of the policy experts advising the states the following: 


                                                                                                                                                   Stacey Jocim, CRPE

"But Jochim said the resources will only be fruitful if principals are allowed to adopt the best ideas, even if they run counter to district policies – something that could be a challenge when it comes to personnel, budget, and curriculum. 

If Colorado stumbles, it won't be alone, Jochim said.

 "We're not in a place where anyone has done [a turnaround network] right,"* she said.

*Bold added for emphasis.                                                                                       Link:  http://tinyurl.com/okb5gdp

 


Since the beginning of the now-Senator Michael Bennet's term as DPS superintendent, Denver Public Schools administration has pursued an aggressive approach to public schools that includes firing and displacing teachers, closing schools, and privatizing public schools by putting control in the hand of private companies that use public and private funds to run those schools. Bennet hired Mr. Boasberg to be the COO of DPS by attracting him away from his position as the VP of Corporate Affiairs at a multi-billion dollar corporation (a background much like Bennet's). In addition Boasberg chooses to reside and Boulder and will not send his own children to the District he oversees.  

 

DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg                                Boasberg and Senator Michael Bennet

                              


What is Turnaround?

For a background on Turnaround, Turnaround is a status that is granted through US Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan's landmark education policy, Race to the Top. Much of Race to the Top included money to backfill the budgets of states, districts, and schools who were suffering devastating cuts during the Great Recession. Another component was school turnarounds to be funded under the School Improvement Grants. In order to receive funding for Turnarounds, a school must be in the lowest 5% of rankings on high-stakes standardized tests like CSAPTCAP, and PARCC. The federal government promised $5 billion dollars over 5 years. It just happens to be that these schools are primarily. 

 

                                                                                                                                       US Secretary of Education,                                                                                                                                                          Arnie Duncan

There are 4 Turnaround models in the federal guidelines:

  1. Turnaround Model – Replace the principal and rehire no more than 50% of the school’s staff, adopt a new governance structure, and implement a research-based vertically aligned instructional program. 
  2. Restart Model – Transfer control of or close and reopen a school under a School Management Organization (SMO) or school operator that has been selected through a rigorous review process. 
  3. School Closure – Close the school and enroll students in other, higher-achieving schools. 
  4. Transformation Model – Develop teacher/principal effectiveness (including replacing the principal), implement comprehensive instructional reform, extend learning and teacher planning time, create a community-orientation, and provide operating flexibility and sustained support

Link:  http://tinyurl.com/prel32m

 

Translated into normal  English:  

  1. Turnaround ModelFire or displace at least half of the staff and the principal.
  2. Restart Model – Create a charter or give the existing school a privately-run and publicly-funded charter school.
  3. School Closure – No need to explain. See Chicago Public Schools or DC Public Schools.  
  4. Transformation - Fire the principal and invest. Only model that doesn't fire and displace effective teachers. 

DPS most commonly chooses the Turnaround model. This is not the case nationwide. Once again, I want to reiterate the quote that "We're not in a place where anyone has done [a turnaround network] right."


What does this mean for DPS?

According to this Colorado Department of Education website, DPS has used federal Turnaround grants at least 14 times over 3 years, receiving millions in federal money. 

Link:  http://www.cde.state.co.us/fedprograms/tieredinterventiongrantresources

  1. Montbello High School (Close)
  2. North High School
  3. Noel Middle School
  4. Philips (Close)
  5. Rishel (Close)
  6. Lake
  7. Skyland (Close)
  8. Greenlee 
  9. Gilpin 
  10. Trevista 
  11. Charles M. Schenk 
  12. Smith
  13. West
  14. Bruce Randolph

 

The list above does not include schools that went through a similar process called "Redesign". These schools did not qualify for the School Improvement Grants, happened prior to SIG, or are outside of the CDE reporting. This following list may be missing additional schools, but the redesign and closed schools that I can recall outside of the SIG grants are:

  1. Remington Elementary (Closed)
  2. Smedley Elementary (Closed)
  3. Horace Mann Middle School
  4. Del Pueblo Elementary (Closed)
  5. Wyman Elementary (Closed)
  6. Gilpin
  7. Polaris (Closed)
  8. Manual High School (Twice:  resulting in many students, predominantly of color, never graduating high school)
  9. Kunsmiller Middle School
  10. Grant Middle School
  11. Oakland Elementary (Twice:  turned into SOAR Oakland charter school and then closed again)
  12. McGlone Elementary
  13. Green Valley Ranch Elementary
  14. Centennial K-8
  15. Fairmont K-8
  16. Ashley Elementary
  17. Smiley Middle School (Closed)
  18. Kepner Middle School (Coming in 2015-2016)

 

Denver Public Schools currently has two Turnaround networks of schools managed by their own Instruction Superindent, Deputy Superintendent, and support staff. The current networks are the West Denver Network (WDN) and the Denver Summit Schools Network (DSSN). They are in process of establishing a new turnaround network including Cheltenham Elementary, Columbine Elementary, Fairview Elementary, and Valverde Elementary. This network is flagged for Redesign or Turnaround if improvement is not made soon.  

 

 

DPS has already redesigned or turned around 17 schools on its own and 14 more with the support federal money to aid their programs. This makes 31 schools in Denver where students were displaced, teachers and other staff were fired. 

 

What is the result?

 

The Achievement Gap Is Growing.

Denver Public Schools consists of 77% minority students. 58% of those students are Latino, and 14% Black. As the District administration continues to fail to address the achievement gap, it continues to fail the majority of Denver students. Furthermore, these schools all predominantly serve or served students of color. Two of Denver's iconic schools that successfully served African American students, Montbello and Manual High Schools, have been tinkered with with little success. DPS eventually shut down Montbello and is trying to decide what to do with Manual. Similar Turnarounds and closures are happening at Latino schools like West High School and Kepner Middle School. Tom Boasberg has even admitted that while the achievement gap is shrinking statewide, it is getting worse in Denver, 

"While we're seeing significant gains across all demographic groups, we are not seeing our gaps close and this is very concerning," Boasberg said. "As we move forward, clearly we need to improve the effectiveness of our efforts to close the achievement gaps."

Citation:  "Latino students in Colroado Slowly closing gaps on achievement tests." Denver Post

 

​​Articles:

 

Massive Layoffs and Firings of Effective Teachers.

The vast majority of these schools implemented a process that either shuttered the school or required the staff to reapply for their jobs despite positive performance evaluations. The district is then able to displace or layoff teachers without any cause when they had been performing effectively. 

Articles

 

Fewer Teachers of Color in Denver Schools

  • It is a well-known fact that Denver Public Schools is losing more teachers of color than they are attracting. ​According to Colorado Public Radio reported Jenny Brundin in an article in February 2014, only 4% of teachers in Denver are black while 14% of the student body is black. The gap worsens with Latinos with a 17% Latino teachers and 58% Latino students. Link – "Race Matters in the Classroom:  Why are all of my teachers white?http://www.cpr.org/news/story/race-matters-classroom-why-are-all-my-teachers-white

Articles:

 

Major Funding for Politicians (Democrats for Education Reform) and Republicans Who Support this Model. 

 

2009

2011

​​2013

 

Maybe this will help explain why the NEA's body of over 8,000 education employee delegates vote in support of a request to ask US Secretary of State Arnie Duncan to resign. School boards are getting more and more funding from national corporate and special interests that are working to privatize public education and bust teacher and other public employee unions (one of the strongest checks on corporations and Republicans). 

We are now seeing this in Douglas County, Jefferson County, Big Thompson School District, and District 12 as well. It is time to get educated and get organized to preserve one of the major pillars of American prosperity. 

“Constitutional” Sheriff Terry Maketa Endorsed by Anti-government Extremists

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sheriff Terry Maketa is in trouble. Accused of sexual harassment and misusing his department's funds, he is now facing an energetic effort to recall him from his elected office. Volunteers must gather 45,000 valid  signatures by July 12, in order to initiate a recall election. Many of his staff have resigned or are on leave; computer hard drives at his office have been taken for investigation. The FBI will investigate his finances,  and his undersheriff and former campaign manager have not only signed the recall petition , but they are helping to gather signatures to recall the "Shirtless Sheriff". Several former colleagues are suing the Sheriff's Department for sexual harassment,  workplace discrimination, and/or  creating a hostile work environment. The Board of County Commissioners has met with him twice, urging him to resign. Even usually-reliable right wing radio hosts are backing away. In a rambling video obtained by the Gazette, Maketa apologized, but refused to step down.

(more…)

Where does your state legislator stand on women’s issues?

 Women's Lobby of Colorado Legislative Scorecard.  See how your legislators are rated.

It's a ten page document, and posting pdfs is a pain, so you can look it up yourself. But you may find some surprises.

My SD3 candidate, and current HD46 rep, Leroy Garcia, has 100%.

My Senator, George Rivera, has 64%, which was higher than I thought he would have.

My current HD47 rep, Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff, is rated 36%. I guess that's what happens when one's market brand is being "business friendly".

By the way, "women's issues" are not just reproductive rights issues – economy, healthcare, education, and opportunity are also women's issues. Sorry, Laura Carno, larger magazine size on full auto guns didn't make the list.

 

 

Charges Dropped In First of Gessler’s Four Vote Fraud Cases

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

As the Colorado Independent's John Tomasic reports:

The charge has been dropped in what’s believed to be the first voter fraud case set for trial since Secretary of State Scott Gessler urged district attorneys statewide to prosecute people who purportedly are cheating Colorado’s election system.

Mike Michaelis was scheduled to be tried today for allegedly procuring false information on a voter registration form. Michaelis, 41 and now in construction, registered voters in 2012 on behalf of Work for Progress, a nonprofit that, as its website states, campaigns “for social justice, a fair economy, consumer protection, clean energy, and the environment.”

On a voter registration form submitted to Michaelis by Aurora resident Lydie Kouadio, a box was marked saying she is a U.S. citizen. Gessler’s office determined she isn’t. Her name was among 155 voters the Secretary of State deemed to be suspicious. Last June, Gessler sent prosecutors lists of residents in their districts for possible prosecution…

Winnowing down from Secretary of State Scott Gessler's original breathless claim that "thousands" of noncitizens had voted illegally in Colorado elections, we are finally at the bottom line after countless man-hours spent by his office, county clerks, and local law enforcement in pursuit of this alleged epidemic of vote fraud–four incidents where Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler, far and away the state's most partisan political district attorney, managed to put together enough of a case to file charges.

And now there are three.

Soon after taking office in 2011, Gessler, a longtime Republican election lawyer, claimed there were 16,000 noncitizens registered to vote in Colorado. Soon after, he said he identified 11,805 people as potentially fraudulent voters because they used noncitizen identification for drivers’ licenses with which they registered to vote.

Those figures, he said, backed up his claims that there was a “gaping hole” in the state’s voting system.

But Gessler’s numbers were off — way off – even as he alerted a congressional panel about Colorado’s purported rash of voter fraud.

Far from being a major systemic problem, the "illegal voters" Gessler actually uncovered amount to far less than the number of ballots and voter registrations Gessler's office routinely loses. Gessler's original insistence that many thousands of illegally registered voters were lurking in the rolls has become one of the most thoroughly discredited claims put forward by a Colorado politician in recent years. It's tough to understand why the near-total failure to substantiate a problem Gessler warned about in such certain and ominous terms has not ended his political career.

Perhaps it has, but we can't write that eulogy until after the primary.

ICYMI: Self-Dealing Oil and Gas Consultants Paid Big Money in Colorado

Earlier this week, Denver Post reporter Mark Jaffe reported that industry interests have spent nearly $1 million on services from just one consulting firm opposing the local ballot initiatives that seek to give local government more control over oil and gas development in Colorado. Jaffe identified the firm as Pac/West Communications, an organization with some familiar faces.

Just last month, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report highlighting the oil and gas industry’s strong financial and political ties to a few conservative sportsmen groups. Among those identified in CAP’s report is Safari Club Director of Hunting Advocacy and Science-Based Conservation, Melissa Simpson. Simpson is a former employee of Pac/West, and the Safari Club is a past client of Pac/West—all trails leading back to the oil and gas industry’s deep pockets.

Tim Wigley, who currently runs the ship at Western Energy Alliance, is the former director of DC operations at Pac/West. A 2012 blog from Think Progress identified Wigley as having lobbied on behalf of a number of industry special interests. It appears that this work continues in Colorado, while benefiting his past employer.

It’s unclear how the ballot initiatives will turn out in November. But one thing seems clear. Pac/West is making some cash regardless of the outcome. Make sure to read Jaffe’s full story here

 

 

Clear Channel axes Colorado’s liberal radio AM 760

I was astonished to find my local progressive station running the Bloomberg News. Here is what I found :

radioinsight.com/blog/headlines/88602/kkzn-denver-to-drop-liberal-talk/

 “AM 760” KKZN Thornton/Denver is next in line to shift to another Talk variation following similar moves in recent months at sister stations in Portland and Los Angeles…. Clear Channel registered RealTalk760.com last December that could potentially be used for KKZN. With the company also owning News/Talk/Sports 850 KOA and Conservative Talk 630 KHOW perhaps the company will follow in the footsteps of its Los Angeles and San Francisco clusters and move Rush Limbaugh off of KOA to enable it to focus on all local programming.

This is a shocking move for me, since we have an increasingly trending Progressive voter base in the state. And the article says 630 is the Conservative station in the area, but there are many others and 850 also runs conservative talkers too.

But that is not the only evidence, since I moved here in 2000, our state governance has gone from a Double Republican house and Senate, Republican Governor, Republican Senators,  and majority Republican Congressional Caucus to now being the opposite – Democratic Senators, Democratic majorities in legislature, and Majority Dem Caucus in Congress.
So what gives?  I can't believe that the Denver Metro Market can not sustain a liberal radio station. I mean Boulder is the Berkeley of the Rockies.

And I speak not only as someone who listens to the shows, but I also was on air as a progressive radio show host from 2007-2009.  And I can tell you – if there is not a radio station covering these stories – many times they won't get covered at all:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/10/02/617871/-Co-Sec-of-State-stealing-election-for-McCain?detail=hide
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aL6AsDJe8bg
That interview with Colorado Ethics Watch – prevented a scheme by then Secretary of State Mike Coffman from disenfranchising THOUSANDS of newly registered voters in the 2008 election.

 

 

 

 

In mid-September he (Coffman) issued a memo to the County Clerks telling them specifically to not register anyone who does this.
Consequence: Thousands of new voters are attempting to register to vote, thinking they are successful because they signed up through some organization such as ACORN or any of the political parties, but are not registered and will not be allowed to vote if they do not correct their forms.

When I say thousands, I am not over-exaggerating. In Denver County alone (the only one I have numbers for so far) this ruling has resulting in approx. 3000 denied voter registrations! And that is just one county, and one with thousands of more forms to even look at!

 

 

 

 

ALSO:

  Secretary of State Mike Coffman broke the law last year by allowing his database manager Dan Kopelman to manage the database while he was running a Republican voter database company on the side. See story by Dan Whipple

    Coffman's State Elections Director was discovered to be staying at a loft owned by the software salesman who manages the Voting Machines for our state, machines that have already been de-certified, then re-certified by Coffman. She resigned pending an investigation, and it calls into question the veracity of our voting machine process.

 

 

 


 And Coffman himself ran for Congress that year when he was supposed to be supervising the election – several conflicts of interests.
At that time, I was working the Obama campaign and our team had personally registered many of these first time voters – and we were all concerned that a close race with Colorado going to the Republicans could have won it for McCain. Fortunately – the pressure we brought through rallies and covering it on Progressive radio and blogs forced caused a lawsuit to be filed and a judge ruled that the Sec. of State had over stepped his bounds.
Now Mike Coffman is in a Congressional Race vs. Andrew Romanoff – and it is the top watched race in the country for 2014.
So the story from 2008 is still relevant – if someone will be on air to cover it.
I can't help but think someone in the corporate news room is taking Liberal talk off air to favor Republicans in the mid terms and onwards.
It also seems that in a year when issues like controlling Fracking, Marriage Equality, income inequality, Marijuana legalization and other social and environmental issues are becoming increasingly majority issues – it would make since that these issues would be profitable to cover.
I would like to hear the community offer suggestions on a way to remedy this.

 

 

Marilyn Marks: Mail-In Ballots Threaten CO GOP’s Electoral Chances

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

So I attended the Pueblo County Republican Party Meeting on May 13, 2014. My intent was to go incognito, as a generic interested Puebloan, and to find out what Marilyn Marks, (left)  the featured speaker and Colorado elections activist, had to say about elections in Pueblo, as well as how the primary-election GOP candidates were positioning themselves on issues. The meeting was open to the general public, and covered by media, including the Pueblo Chieftain. My "undercover" mode included dressing up and wearing makeup. I figured that would make me unrecognizable. It didn’t work well.

I was outed by Victor Head as someone who writes for Pols about five minutes after I dropped off the obligatory bag of chips at the pot luck table.  Nice to know that Mr. Head is a dedicated Pols reader, and that he follows my writing, in particular. It’s always nice to meet a fan.

Becky Mizel, head of the Pueblo Republican Party, wanted to see my card.  “I don’t have a card,” said I, truthfully. “That’s strange,” she replied, her brow furrowing with suspicion.  I gave her my best aging-flaky-schoolmarm smile, and my contact information.  

Then I was introduced to the audience at large as a writer for the  Colorado Independent, and had to correct that grand, but mistaken, affiliation to that of an “Independent journalist, whose work appears on Pols, but who does not work “for Pols”.

Most people were very nice and friendly to me, even after my dreadful citizen-journalist secret was revealed. Senator Crowder and Sherry Crowder, in particular, were charming. I never got a chance to ask Richard Anglund why, after derailing mail ballots in the Pueblo recall, he never actually turned in a single signature to petition onto the ballot.  Perhaps that answer is self-evident, in the “derailing mail ballots in the Pueblo recall” part.

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Westminster Vote Squabble? Try GOP Usual-Suspect Dogpile

voterreg

​A story in this weekend's Denver Post from reporter John Aguilar discusses a voter registration ordinance up for debate in the Denver suburb of Westminster–a proposal that's attracting lots of conservative attention, being labeled a "political ploy" intended to help a Westminster city councilor in a bid for election. Let's unpack this silly-season story a little:

The proposed measure, which was given preliminary approval by Westminster City Council earlier this week, is prompting opposition from the apartment rental industry and from those who say that the duty of bolstering civic participation shouldn't fall on the private sector.

"It's the responsibility of the government, and not landlords, to facilitate voter registration," said Teo Nicolais, [Pols emphasis] a Denver resident who owns two rental properties in Westminster.

What we're talking about here is a proposal to require rental property landlords (and now municipal utilities to new homeowners, see below) to distribute a sheet with voting registration instructions to new residents. There's no requirement that landlords collect registrations or anything else, just to give out a piece of paper with instructions on registering to vote. Sounds pretty straightforward, right?

But Republican opponents, more often seen at state legislative hearings, are working overtime to kill this proposal ahead of final approval next month–with as much political agitating as a suburban city like Westminster ever sees. 

Importantly, the Denver Post's story fails to disclose something that readers should know about witness Teo Nicolais. Teo is the younger brother of GOP election attorney and now Colorado state senate candidate Mario Nicolais. Mario is an election law attorney at the Hackstaff Law Group, which our veteran readers will recall used to be known by the name Hackstaff Gessler. As such, the elder Nicolais can often be found weighing in at strategic moments in defense of Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler's election law agenda. Back in 2013, Mario Nicolais was the attorney of record for a group called Citizens for Free and Fair Elections, which sent out highly controversial mailers against an election reform bill in the legislature using a photo in which African-American voters had been digitally removed.

It's curious, to say the least, to note how the same young Republican operatives, including an informal group known as the "iGOP," keep reappearing in partisan squabbles over election law in Colorado. One "iGOP" up-and-comer, GOP House candidate and attorney Jon Keyser, stumbled early in his campaign when he alleged with high drama that he had received "two ballots" for last year's elections. In truth, he received a "second ballot" only for a tax question related to rural property he owns, and most likely knew that the whole time.

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Talk-radio scoop: Gardner says his abortion position is same as Archbishop Chaput

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner Flip Flops

When Rep. Cory Gardner dumped his longstanding support of the Personhood amendment two weeks ago, reporters failed to tell us about Gardner's new position on abortion.

It turns out, Gardner now holds the same abortion stance as Archbishop Charles Chaput, who left Denver for a Vatican post in Philadelphia in 2011.

That's what Gardner told KFKA (Greeley) talk-show hosts Tom Lucero and Devon Lentz March 27. They get the intrepid-talk-show-host prize for being the first to ask Gardner the logical follow up to his March 21 bombshell about ditching personhood:

LUCERO:  So, Cory, has your position on life changed, or just your position on – with regards to the Personhood initiative?

GARDNER:  Yeah.  I mean, if you look at my record, it still is a pro-life record.  And many pro-lifers in Colorado, including Congressman Bob Schaffer, the Archbishop Chaput of the Catholic Diocese, hold the same position.

LENTZ:  So, it’s really, it’s more along the lines, if I’m understanding correctly, on what contraception is available for women, not – not abortion — for being abortion– it’s just more having the choice of birth control itself.

GARDNER:  Well, that’s one of the consequences that we looked at in terms of contraception, but this issue [personhood] is, I think, a settled issue in Colorado and something that pro-lifers – you know, like I respect peoples’ difference of opinion on this, and I think there are a lot of differences of opinions on this, but I happen to agree that, with the things that I have learned, that I did something that was the right position to take.

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SCOTUS “Opens Floodgates,” Strikes Down Donation Limits

campaignfinance2_0

The Washington Post reports, and you'll be seeing the impact soon:

A split Supreme Court Wednesday struck down limits on the total amount of money an individual may spend on political candidates as a violation of free speech rights, a decision sure to increase the role of money in political campaigns.

The 5 to 4 decision sparked a sharp dissent from liberal justices, who said the decision reflects a wrong-headed hostility to campaign finance laws that the court’s conservatives showed in Citizens United v. FEC , which allowed corporate spending on elections.

“If Citizens United opened a door,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer said in reading his dissent from the bench, “today’s decision we fear will open a floodgate.”

The ruling doesn't get rid of the individual federal candidate contribution limit of $2,600, but it does strike down the aggregate limit of $48,600 in hard money donations to candidates in a two-year election cycle. That means wealthy donors to candidates won't have to pick and choose who to donate to to stay under an overall cap. Now, at least in theory, everybody can have a check.

In an era where unlimited soft money has already made candidates' own fundraising of secondary importance in overall political spending, this decision will likely have an incremental not sweeping effect. But for those of you who would prefer less money flooding the political system–which is, not surprisingly, usually people without as much money–this was not a good decision for your small-d democracy.

Opposing The Recall Fix Bill Is Stupid–Unless…

Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert

Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz.

A guest opinion piece from Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz makes the case for passing Senate Bill 14-158, which would attempt to fix conflicts between statutory election law and century-old constitutional recall provisions. Last year, those arcane William Jennings Bryan-era recall provisions were invoked to successfully halt the delivery of mail ballots in the recall elections of John Morse and Angela Giron. Given the very small margin in Morse's SD-11 recall defeat, this court decision may well have been decisive:

The ability to circulate petitions and recall elected officials is a constitutional right. But recall elections are much more difficult than the regularly scheduled elections. They typically are more emotional and controversial. Fewer people vote in recalls so they tend to be less representative, and they are expensive for local governments.

County clerks deal with recall elections periodically, more commonly for local officials such as city council members or school board directors. In Colorado last year, we held two recall elections for state legislators — the first time in the history of our state. I supervised one of those recall elections, in which 36 percent of eligible voters participated and cost Pueblo County $270,000.

The participation rate would have no doubt been higher and the cost less burdensome had we been able to mail ballots to all registered voters. [Pols emphasis] But a lawsuit by the Libertarian Party revealed 100-year-old constitutional language that candidates have until 15 days before the election to petition onto the ballot, not leaving enough time to print, mail and return ballots. This petition timeline is not in place for any other type of election. It is an even more burdensome timeline for small, rural counties with fewer resources.

As the GOP-aligned "news" site Colorado Observer reports, Republcians and recall organizers aren't happy:

Victor Head, who ran the successful recall against former state Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo), said he saw the bill as a “retaliatory sort of move.”

“I think it’s just spiteful,” said Head, who’s now running for Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder. “They really don’t care about public opinion any more. They’ve proven that over and over…”

“You can’t just change the meaning of things. Words have meaning. Election Day is Election Day,” said Head. “You can’t just say, ‘Well, Election Day is when mail-in ballots go out.’ That’s what they’re saying. I have a feeling that’s going to cause more problems with more statutes.”

The fact is, the 100-year old constitutional provisions governing recalls never anticipated the modernization election system that Coloradans take for granted today. Voters don't all gather on one Tuesday to cast their ballots at polling places anymore–mail ballots are accepted by the public and popular for voting in this state, and that means what they envisioned in 1912 to be "Election Day" really does encompass a longer period than one day.

The becomes critical when you understand that the lawsuit that halted the delivery of mail ballots did not expressly prohibit them; it made mail ballots effectively impossible to deliver and be returned in time. The opposition to Senate Bill 158 is opposition to a bill to protect access for voters, and to set deadlines that don't conflict with the constitution, while still allowing for timely recall elections using the voting method voters expect.

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