None Dare Call It “Kingwashing”

UPDATE: A blast from the past–from the May 9, 1992 edition of the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News, here is a far less reverent state Rep. Mike Coffman when it came to honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As written by John Sanko and Fawn Germer in their recap of "Unforgettable Moments of the '92 Legislative Session."

The "He's Got Some Nerve" Award

This goes to Rep. Mike Coffman, who missed all but a week of the 1991 session to serve in the gulf war. But when Rep. Wilma Webb was excused for Martin Luther King Day and Democrats wanted the House to "lay over" the vote on a bill she supported, Coffman argued against it. Although bills routinely are laid over, Coffman said Webb should have showed up if she wanted to vote. [Pols emphasis]

That was then, folks, and this is now–original post follows.

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Photo via Facebook

As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels cheerily reports:

This year’s MLK parade featured an unprecedented number of Republicans, including Congressman Mike Coffman and state Sen. Greg Brophy, as the Colorado Republican Party continues its outreach to minorities. [Pols emphasis]

Party chairman Ryan Call said the GOP worked with American Conservatives of Color and had a registration booth at Civic Center Park and participated in a honk-and-wave.

“We’re building on what we did last year,” he said. “We have quite a number of Republicans that are marching in support of Martin Luther King day and demonstrating the commitment the Republican Party has for engagement within our community.”

Yesterday, GOP Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman issued this statement:

“Martin Luther King, Jr. blessed our country and the entire world with his life’s work to secure civil rights for all. It is fitting to honor the life of this great American and to recognize his legacy of promoting the self-evident truth that all people are created equal.” 

We've posted a few more photos from Republican lawmakers who marched in the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade in Denver yesterday after the jump. Bartels' story has a photo supplied by Rep. Mike Coffman, grinning widely at the parade with Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Since the parade yesterday, and especially in the wake of Bartels' glowing write-up of "unprecedented" GOP participation, we've heard a variety of opinions, ranging from open contempt for what's perceived to be Republican hypocrisy and media whitewash, to honest gratitude for anyone who wishes to march in honor of Dr. King's work and legacy in American history. With that said, the history of the holiday honoring Dr. King and Republicans is not without controversy. President Ronald Reagan himself opposed the federal holiday, relenting only after it passed Congress by a veto-proof margin. A large body of conservative historiography seeks to undermine Dr. King's legacy, and the civil rights movement generally.

In fact, based on just about everything we learned in college, there's a huge gap between the ideology of Republicans who marched in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King yesterday, and the views of Dr. King. Rather than questioning the premise of this story, or asking a man like 2014 U.S. Senate also-ran Randy Baumgardner to comment on issues for which he (to put it charitably) is not qualified, we would like to know if there are any Republicans willing to endorse these statements by the same Dr. King they marched in honor of yesterday:

-When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

-A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

-We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity — thus capitalism can lead to a practical materialism that is as pernicious as the materialism taught by communism.

-We have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifices. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor, both black and white, both here and abroad…the way to end poverty is to end the exploitation of the poor. Insure them a fair share of the government’s services and the nation’s resources. We must recognize that the problems of neither racial nor economic justice can be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.

-Yes, before the victory is won, some will be misunderstood. Some will be dismissed as dangerous rabble-rousers and agitators. Some will be called reds and Communists merely because they believe in economic justice and the brotherhood of man. But we shall overcome.

And perhaps our favorite:

-When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.

With that, we'll turn this discussion over to our readers. Should Republicans march in parades honoring Dr. King without reconciling their politics with the man they claim to be honoring? What would Dr. King think of, for example, Rep. Coffman's work to roll back federal voting rights law protecting bilingual ballots? Has enough time passed since the civil rights era that Dr. King can now serve as a politically generic feel-good icon for all sides? Have we got it all wrong about Republicans and their legitimate admiration for Dr. King?

Either way, we haven't found the term "Kingwashing" in use elsewhere. We'd like credit if that becomes a thing.

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Scott Gessler’s Blame Games Debunked Yet Again

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

An excellent story in today's Durango Herald from reporter Joe Hanel demolishes recent claims from Secretary of State Scott Gessler that last year's election modernization bill, House Bill 1303, has pushed his office's budget into the red.

The truth? Gessler just doesn't manage money very well.

Gessler’s office was running a $7 million surplus – so large it violated the law – in June 2012. A year later, it had fallen to less than $2 million, and now legislators are worried his budget will need extra money to keep it afloat.

Most of the shortfall traces back to Gessler’s cuts to business filing fees, according to budget numbers the Herald obtained through the Colorado Open Records Act. He also spent money on website upgrades to make it easier to register a business in Colorado.

Gessler, a Republican, is running for governor, and he touts his cuts to business fees on the campaign trail. But under the Capitol dome, he places blame for his collapsing budget on House Bill 1303, a mail-voting bill that Democrats passed last spring. [Pols emphasis]

“The issue basically with the budget is 1303’s been a budget-buster. It’s blown our budget out of the water,” Gessler said at a Dec. 19 oversight hearing at the Legislature…

As Hanel explains and an astute reader of our blog laid out earlier this month, Secretary of State Gessler has repeatedly cut the fees paid by businesses other entities to register with the state, including "holidays" where the fees were basically eliminated for months at a time. This was done in part to reduce the Secretary of State's then very large budget surplus to the level allowed by law. Costs of modernizing the election system after House Bill 1303 were incurred, Hanel reports, but only after Gessler's office had lost millions of dollars in revenue from reduced fees on businesses.

As a Republican candidate for governor in 2014, Gessler has used these cuts–which he was partly obligated to make–as proof of his pro-business credentials. In hindsight, though, it looks like Gessler cut fees much too aggressively, leaving him with no cushion to pay for implementing an election modernization bill authored by county clerks from both parties. And what about all the money spent unsuccessfully defending Gessler from last year's ethics complaint?

It's not unreasonable to be, you know, less sympathetic to Gessler's budget problems with all this in mind.

Caldara Gloats About His Voter Fraud in DP Editorial

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Article

Jon Caldara, the infamous head of the Independence Institute, had an editorial printed in Colorado's paper of record yesterday telling the people of the state that they can now legally voter anywhere in the state that they want, and that the winner of elections going forward will be the campaign with the most buses. His evidence: "How do we know this? Well, because I'm not going to jail."

As this site has covered on multiple occasions, the law passed last year to expand voter access does not, in any way, allow voters to vote wherever they please, and numerous Republican elected officials have said as much, too. But that means nothing to Caldara, who has continued his "neener, neener" parade across newspapers and talk radio since the Colorado attorney general's office decided not to file charges against him. 

In the editorial, Caldara goes even farther, announcing an accelerated campaign to teach all Colorado voters how to legally vote in districts where they do not live. 

The question remains about how the 2014 legislature intends to deal with this issue, if at all. 

Warrant Issued In SD-11 Recall Petition Fraud Case

Back in July, we discussed a complaint from the campaign defending then-Senate President John Morse alleging that some number of recall petition signatures, which were obtained largely by paid signature gatherers, were fraudulent (see our post, Recall Fraud: The Curious Case of Twila Sue Peach).

Today, KKTV Channel 11 in Colorado Springs reports:

A man is accused of forging signatures on petitions asking for the recall of Colorado Senator John Morse…

The DA's warrant alleges that [Nickolas] Robinson committed 13 counts of forgery, seven counts of perjury and 13 counts of attempt to influence a public servant in May of 2013.

We'll update with further details once they are reported, but it appears that Morse's campaign was right.

2013′s Top Story: The GOP (Temporarily) Strikes Back

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The 2012 elections sounded another new low for the Colorado Republican Party. Angered by the GOP state house majority's extraordinary measures to kill LGBT civil union legislation at the end of the 2012 session, voters threw out the single-seat Republican majority, restoring Democrats to full control of the General Assembly by a healthy margin. The 2010 round of legislative reapportionment is considered by most observers to have gone badly for Republicans as well, with a large number of newly competitive districts ill-suited to the staunch conservative candidates favored by the GOP primary process.

With the exception of the 2010 "Republican wave" election, in which Republicans still fell short of their goals but managed to take the state house by a single seat, the GOP has been losing elections in Colorado since 2004. The reversal of Republican fortunes from their dominance in the late Nineties through 2002 to Democratic dominance at every level of state government since then has been the subject of books like Blueprint by Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer. Safe to say, the past decade has been very, very tough for the morale of Colorado Republicans.

And then last year, an opportunity to strike back presented itself.

manholdingwomensignIn the wake of mass shootings in 2012 in Aurora, Colorado and in Newtown, Connecticut, support grew among Colorado Democrats to introduce gun safety legislation in the 2013 session. On the morning of the Newtown shooting, Gov. John Hickenlooper was quoted by the Denver Post as having had a change of heart from the aftermath of Aurora in the summer–when he basically said that new gun laws wouldn't help. The news later that day powerfully reinforced Hickenlooper's new view.

As we documented in this space, the campaign to pass gun safety legislation in 2013 turned into the biggest political battle in the Colorado legislature in recent history. Democrats were besieged by pro-gun activists and agitated gun owning members of the public. Crowds of people turned out to testify against the bills, overwhelming hearings, while others drove around the state capitol continuously sounding their horns. Gun owners were in many cases duped by falsehoods about the proposed legislation, being explicitly told by GOP legislators and gun-rights activists that the bills would "ban gun ownership in Colorado." Other alarmist falsehoods, like claims that legislation to limit magazine capacity would "ban all magazines," were pushed by gun activists and uncritically reported by a thoughtless local media.

The result of this misinformed free-for-all was a bitterly angry segment of voters willing to work full time to defeat Democrats responsible for gun safety legislation. As a result of the intense campaign of misinformation by the gun lobby and allied Republicans, a huge gap emerged in public opinion between polled opposition to the vague concept of "gun control," even as they register support–in some cases overwhelming support–for the bills actually passed by the Colorado General Assembly.

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More Cheap Ballot Tricks, Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff Edition

Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff (R).

Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff (R).

Back in October, we took note of claims by a Jefferson County GOP Colorado House candidate, attorney Jon Keyser, that he had "received two mail in ballots" for the 2013 elections. Keyser took to social media right away with photos of his "two ballots," pronouncing them evidence of a "failed system" for voting in Colorado. Keyser's "two ballots" came at a time when Republicans were doing and saying anything they could to undermine confidence in the election process, principally to cast doubt on 2013's election modernization bill House Bill 1303.

As it turned out, Keyser was engaged in a cheap deception to reinforce GOP claims that the election system is "broken." The second ballot Keyser received was for a tax district special election related to property Keyser owns on the West Slope. At no time did Keyser receive two ballots with duplicate ballot questions that would allow him to vote twice, which was his clear implication. After the source of Keyser's "second ballot" was tracked down to Delta County, Keyser claimed to have shredded the ballots. By that time, the game was already up.

Well folks, as the Colorado Independent's John Tomasic reported late last night, Jon Keyser may not have been the only Colorado Republican politician playing games with their ballots:

Lawmaker Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff represents one of the state’s most competitive districts, House District 47. She held a fundraiser cocktail party tonight at the Warwick Hotel here that surely attracted many of the state’s top Republican politicos. The list likely includes Secretary of State Scott Gessler. The two are friendly. Navarro-Ratzlaff endorsed him for governor this summer, and Gessler sent out a tweet earlier in the day recruiting fundraiser attendees. It’s a safe bet the two worked together to fire up the Warwick cocktail crowd by talking about the need to guard against voter fraud. It wouldn’t be the first time they worked together to stoke heat around an issue that galvanizes Republican voters in the state.

Gessler and Navarro-Ratzlaff were the exclusive sources for a 2012 version of what has become a fairly regular series of headline-grabbing but loosely reported election-integrity stories pushed by the right-wing blogosphere to bolster arguments that laws that encourage voting by making it easier to cast ballots — like those that allow for same-day registration and universal mail-in ballots — should be repealed and replaced with stricter voter ID laws.

Channel 5 KOAA in Pueblo reported that some voters in the county had received duplicate ballots. It later came out that double ballots went out to roughly 200 of the county’s 60,000 registered voters…

Navarro-Ratzlaff said she was one of the voters who received two ballots.

“It makes you question how valid each election is, and elections are very important to the state of Colorado and Pueblo in general,” she told viewers. “So it’s very concerning.”

…KOAA didn’t report that Navarro-Ratzlaff was running for the statehouse in a competitive swing district that year. And Navarro-Ratzlaff didn’t tell viewers that the reason she received two ballots was because she had registered under two different names in a two-week period after moving to Pueblo the year before. [Pols emphasis]

According to Bent and Pueblo county documents reviewed by the Independent, Navarro-Ratzlaff registered on September 30, 2011, as Clarice Yvette Navarro, her maiden name, and on October 14, 2011, as Clarice Yvette Ratzlaff, her married name.

Now according to the Independent, Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff claims she has "no idea" why she apparently registered twice under her maiden and married names. The Bent County clerk interviewed for the story says that these sort of mistakes happen, generally as a result of the voter's mistake, saying "people are often distracted when filling out the forms." The problem is, Navarro-Raztlaff told the Independent she's been married for ten years, that her married name is what's on her license, and she can't explain the use of her maiden name in any voter registration.

So what gives? With Mr. Keyser's example to guide us, we have a theory.

This incident took place during a heated court battle between Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert Ortiz and Secretary of State Scott Gessler over the delivery of mail ballots for the 2011 elections. Along with the as-yet unknown number of duplicate ballots mistakenly sent to voters, later determined to be about 200 and which were all identified and caught, it's easy to understand how Gessler could have used a little, you know, extra boost for his case in the media against "Bo" Ortiz. Then candidate, now Rep. Navarro-Ratzlaff was happy to oblige.

By the look of things today, it seems she was a bit too happy.

Jon Caldara Skates on Fraud Charge: “Neener-Neener-Neener”

UPDATE: Colorado Ethics Watch director Luis Toro releases a statement:

"Considering the incredible amount of resources spent in a futile attempt to prove that voter fraud exists in Colorado and is perpetrated by non-citizens, it is a shame that the Attorney General's office has elected not to prosecute Jon Caldara for his highly-public vote in the El Paso County special election while maintaining a Boulder home to which he quickly returned after the election. Nothing increases cynicism in government more than the specter of a highly-lawyered, wealthy individual getting away with something that would be treated as a crime if committed by almost anyone else.

"Those who care about election integrity can take some comfort, though. Caldara's elaborate ruse, including signing a temporary lease in an effort to create the appearance of being a Colorado Springs resident, actually showed how difficult it is to vote in a different district by claiming a new residence without running afoul of Colorado's criminal law against false statements of residency while voting. While Caldara may walk, we fully expect the Attorney General to prosecute vigorously those who foolishly followed his example without all the careful staging that enabled Caldara's lawyers to suggest the existence of reasonable doubt. In the end, Caldara proved only that there is nothing wrong with Colorado's election laws that can't be solved by a dedicated prosecutor enforcing the law as written."

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Jon Caldara.

Jon Caldara.

As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports, Jon Caldara of the conservative Independence Institute will face no criminal charges, closing a three-month investigation by the Attorney General's office into his registering to vote in the El Paso County Senate District 11 recall election despite longtime residence in Boulder:

First Attorney General Robert Shapiro concluded in a letter to Caldara that there is "arguable ambiguity within some of the new legislation," which makes same-day voter registration legal in Colorado.

But the letter also made clear that Attorney General John Suthers office doesn't condone Caldara's behavior, the "legitimacy" of his living arrangement in Colorado Springs was "suspicious" and it was questionable that he ever intended to become an El Paso County resident.

"I told you what I did was legal," Caldara said Thursday, adding "neener-neener-neener."

He said the legislature, which convenes Wednesday, must address the problem of same-day voter registration. Otherwise he predicted "a Great Voter Migration of 2014." Republicans and Democrats could "move" from safe districts into swing seats where their votes could make a difference, Caldara said.

Asked about the attorney general office's comments questioning his sincerity in moving, Caldara said, "The law is not about how they feel. The law is about my intention that they have to prove or disprove. I followed the law."

Watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch was quick to respond via Twitter:

We haven't seen any other statements yet on the Attorney General's decision (see CEW's updated statement above), but we've already heard complaints that Republican Suthers' office is showing blatant partisan favoritism to well-known conservative troublemaker Caldara with this decision. It's tough to speculate without seeing the full letter from the AG's office, but these remarks about "suspicion" over Caldara's "intent" to relocate to Colorado Springs strike us as willfully ignorant of Caldara's stated intentions. Caldara's original press release announcing his plan to register to vote in SD-11 made it obvious he never had any intention of relocating to Colorado Springs, and was always intending to cheat the system. After the recall election, Caldara made a callous joke out of massive floods then impacting the state by using them as his excuse to "make Boulder his permanent home" after all.

As for those of you who thought Caldara, via this stunt to "legally" commit vote fraud or his excuses afterward, had finally gone too far this time? Today you have your answer.

"Neener-neener-neener."

2013′s Top Ten #7: “Honey Badger” Marches Toward Disaster

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

Colorado Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler's time in office has been, by any objective yardstick, an unqualified disaster. In only three years, Gessler has stepped into more controversy, scandalous partisan double-dealing, and outright malfeasance than any statewide Colorado officeholder in recent memory. As Colorado's chief elections officer, Gessler has come to practically embody partisan bad faith, and gaming of the system to favor his own.

But instead of getting ready to slink back to his GOP electioneering law firm at the conclusion of a term in office that made an absolute mockery of good government, Scott Gessler is now running for governor–as we first reported he would over a year ago. The story behind Gessler's unlikely "failure upward" is worth summarizing again for the record.

From the very start, Gessler made it clear that he would push the limits of the rules. Immediately after taking office in 2011, Gessler declared his intention to continue "moonlighting" for his old law firm specializing in election law, the Hackstaff Group (formerly Hackstaff Gessler). Gessler abandoned that plan after receiving an undisclosed opinion on the propriety of such an arrangement from fellow Republican Attorney General John Suthers. Gessler's office then launched headlong into a massive campaign to ferret out what he originally insisted was "thousands" of noncitizens illegally voting in Colorado elections. Three years later, that claim has fallen completely flat, with only four indictments by a friendly DA, and no evidence whatsoever of the wide-scale fraud Gessler insisted was already taking place. Meanwhile, his office lost hundreds of real, legal voter registrations after a mobile voter registration site mysteriously failed in the midst of a union-sponsored voter registration campaign.

Gessler has long claimed that Colorado campaign finance law is "too strict." In practice, that has led to a dramatic weakening of enforcement of campaign finance disclosure laws, and eye-popping moments of unacceptable partisan favoritism. After the Larimer County GOP chairman was busted for embezzling party funds and failing to file proper disclosures of party finances, Gessler slashed the fines owed by the county party from $50,000 to $16,000, then held a fundraiser for Larimer County Republicans to help raise the balance. Gessler's original plan to appear in a dunk tank to raise money for the Larimer County GOP was cancelled after basically every editorial board in the state freaked out about the impropriety.

In 2012, Gessler spent discretionary funds from his office account to attend numerous partisan events, including a partisan vote suppression "watchdog" event in Washington DC hosted by True the Vote, and the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Gessler attempted to cover for the trip to the RNC by claiming an event immediately prior to the convention, the Republican National Lawyers Association's conference, was a permissibly "nonpartisan" use of the funds. The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission rejected Gessler's arguments, and ruled that Gessler had "violated the public trust for private gain." Gessler was assessed the maximum fine allowable for this infraction, which he is now appealing in court.

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Guns Gone Wild: Springs father kills 14 yr. old step-daughter

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

NRA won the battle here and helped perpetuate further gun violence and needless deaths:

A Colorado Springs father fatally shot his teenage step-daughter Monday, saying he thought she was a burglar. Prior to the incident, police received a call about a burglary in progress. But when they got there, they found the 14-year-old with a gunshot wound. She was taken to the hospital and died soon after, according to CBS Denver.

Police have not said yet if they will file charges against the Colorado Springs father whose name has not been released, but Colorado is one of many states that has a “shoot first” law that authorizes the use of deadly force in defense of one’s home, and shields individuals who do so from any criminal or civil charges. Although Colorado does not have a Stand Your Ground law, it does have its own version of what is known as the Castle Doctrine, which allows homeowners to use deadly force to protect their dwelling without a duty to retreat. The law was dubbed the “Make My Day,” law after the 1983 Clint Eastwood film ”Sudden Impact,” in which Detective Harry Callahan — “Dirty Harry” — aims a gun at a criminal suspect and says, ”Go ahead, make my day.”

The statute is particularly broad because it authorizes deadly force not just for fear of great bodily harm or death, but anytime a person “has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, and when the occupant has a reasonable belief that such other person has committed a crime in the dwelling in addition to the uninvited entry, or is committing or intends to commit a crime against a person or property.” Castle doctrine laws that empower civilians with guns to take the law into their own hands have been associated with many tragedies.

What more can be said? This is not surprising in the least. The NRA, with the help of local politicians and radical partisans, has glorified the gun culture and ramped up the paranoia of citizens to the point where this type of tragedy is a regular occurence. That's not to say accidents like this could or would never happen, but the gun rights side consistently stretches the truth, browbeats politicians, and perverts the political process to make sure of one thing: there are more guns in the hands of more people who are more inclined to use them at the drop of a hat.

Gessler confirms Democrats will retain Hudak seat at least through next general election

Speaking on KOA’s Mike Rosen Show Wed., Secretary of State Scott Gessler said that Colorado Democrats will hold State Sen. Evie Hudak’s seat at least until the next general election in Nov. 2014.

Rosen: So, all things being equal, the Democrats will retain their 18-17 majority in the State Senate through the 2014 session….

Gessler: “That’s correct. Unless someone wants to recall another state senator. But not that I’m advocating for that at the moment. But yeah, currently, that’s the way things are going to work out.  And the Democrats will retain their 18-17 majority. They will cling to it.”

Gessler’s comments, which were not reported by real journalists, are important because recall organizers pledged last week to forge on with signature gathering, hoping that somehow, some way, their efforts would lead to a recall election in Hudak’s Westminster district. Gessler’s comments appear to officially close the door on the Hudak recall campaign.

So You Like Recalls, Do You? Get Ready For More

More to this easily-missed comment on the Recall Hudak Too campaign's Facebook page than meets the eye:

recallmarble

This year has already witnessed the first two recalls of sitting Colorado legislators in our state's history, and an attempt on a third state senator is presently underway. Victory in the two recalls held this past summer has put Colorado Republicans within a single seat of taking control of the Colorado Senate. With the balloting process thrown into disarray by a court ruling that prevented the normal delivery of mail ballots in recall elections, Republicans have found a way of overcoming growing Democratic dominance in general elections, picking off individual legislators in contests tilted to their advantage.

Well folks, it does appear that two can play at this game. The fact is, freshman Sen. Vicki Marble has had some of the worst embarrassments we've ever seen in such a short legislative career, from her rant against equal pay for women to her disastrous comments about race and diet that made national news. Marble is also a hand-picked Rocky Mountain Gun Owners candidate, which makes her an appealing target for Democratic retaliation against Dudley Brown's heavy involvement in this year's recalls.

To be perfectly honest, we've been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It's folly to think that Democrats can't succeed in getting a recall election on the ballot against Marble or other Republican legislators. Marble's crazy comments and unappealing votes as part of the Republican caucus can certainly be vilified by petition gatherers, as much as anything Democrats have said and done this year. There's no reason to think that a similar investment of energy and capital to what Republicans have carried out against vulnerable Democrats can't succeed against vulnerable Republicans like Marble. In both cases, it's the aggressors who have the momentum.

We've warned repeatedly this year that successful recall elections had a strong likelihood of leading to more such recalls, and that in the end a vicious retaliatory cycle of recalls substituting for a functional democratic process was a very real possibility. At this point, Democrats have little choice but to fight back in kind, and turn the advantages Republicans have taken in the recalls so far against them.

Like it or not, the genie is out of the bottle.

Peter Boyles Critiques Local Coverage of the Hudak Recall Effort, as Only Peter Boyles Can

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In the heated battle and drama surrounding the efforts to recall Colorado State Senator Evie Hudak, accusations of malfeasance and misrepesentation have been thrown back and forth, a gubernatorial candidate has proffered obscene gestures, and local news outlets have entered the fray to parse out the truth and report on the contentious issues raised by the two sides.

Never the wallflower, KNUS 710AM radio talk show host, Peter Boyles, has become the media point man for the Recall organization, hosting the organizers Mike McAlpine and Laura Waters in daily appearances for updates and rallying cries. As you might guess, the tone of the show these days is combative and loud.

When KDVR Fox 31's reporter Eli Stokols and KCNC CBS4 Denver's Shaun Boyd ventured into Arvada and Westminster to report on the Recall and efforts to thwart it, they were not spared from Mr. Boyles cutting criticism and confrontation.

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Arapahoe DA Indicts Two Voters, Two Canvassers

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports, we finally have charges filed against someone–four people, in fact–as a result of Secretary of State Scott Gessler's three-year quest to uncover what he originally insisted was "thousands" of illegal voters in Colorado:

The Arapahoe County district attorney's office has charged four people with misdemeanors after a voter-fraud investigation that tracked more than 40 people and election records dating back to 2008.

Two of the people charged are immigrants — one from Africa who has donated to Democratic causes, the other from Poland — who have been deemed ineligible to vote in Colorado. The other two are Coloradans who worked for a liberal non-profit organization that registered people to vote.

All four are charged with "procuring false registration," according to a news release Friday from Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler's office. The office investigated 41 "non-citizens."

"This is evidence that this is not an epidemic, but there are isolated incidents that need to be treated seriously," Brauchler said.

9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman with reaction from Secretary of State Gessler:

Gessler defends his record saying that snuffing out any amount of voter fraud, however rare, is a goal that justifies his policies.

"I appreciate District Attorney Brauchler's good work," Gessler told 9NEWS. "This news further confirms that there is a vulnerability in the system and is more evidence from across the state showing that confusion and error allow non-citizens to register, and in some cases vote."

Bartels reports that Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler's office spent some 300 man-hours investigating the 41 names referred to his office by Gessler, in the end producing indictments against two improperly registered voters and two paid canvassers from 2008. Brauchler is quickly gaining a reputation as a partisan politician with higher aspirations, and in support of Gessler's dogmatic campaign to uncover noncitizen voters, we're sure he spared no expense. In the end, though, Brauchler's statement that there is "not an epidemic" of voter fraud is reasonable and accurate, and there's nothing inappropriate in his misdemeanor indictments.

Obviously, Democrats are going to nonetheless question such a massive effort to "uncover" an infinitesimal amount of actual trouble. Gessler's insistence that this result in Arapahoe County "confirms" a "vulnerability in the system" is simply laughable. In every meaningful way, the paltry results of Gessler's years-long campaign to root out what he originally insisted was ten thousand or more "illegal voters" speak for themselves, and prove there is no systemic problem with noncitizens voting. The problems uncovered here are anecdotal, not systemic, and in fact are much smaller in number than so many other ways a legal voter's ballot might be compromised, invalidated, folded, bent, spun, or mutilated. As one example, compare this effort to the troubled rollout of Gessler's mobile voter registration website, which "disappeared" the registrations of many hundreds of legal voters. Everybody wants as accurate an election as possible, but what camels were swallowed to strain these proverbial gnats?

It's been said that those who set out with a preconceived expectation usually find what they expect to. In Gessler's case, even when the facts totally fail to support his expectations, he recites the same talking points.

Video: Paid Recall Worker Tells Voter To Lie About Residence

UPDATE: Check out this complaint posted to the Hudak recall campaign's Facebook page:

drunkcirculator

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FOX 31's Eli Stokols again breaks a big story that's bad for the recall campaign against Sen. Evie Hudak:

A man being paid to gather signatures to recall state Sen. Evie Hudak can be heard encouraging a person who lives outside the lawmaker’s district to sign his petition with a fake address in an audio recording released Thursday by a group defending Hudak.

The Democracy Defense Fund, formed to defend Hudak, D-Westminster, sent out a YouTube video of an audio recording of a four-minute exchange between an unidentified petition circulator, who admits to being paid $3 per signature by Kennedy Enterprises, and an unidentified person who is really a DDF staffer with a tape recorder…

“If you write an Arvada address in there, it’s alright,” the petition gatherer says, apparently encouraging the man to lie about his residency. [Pols emphasis]

“So if I just wrote my buddy’s house, you think it would work out?” the man responds.

“The thing is, technically, only out of 100 names — or let’s say out of 1,000 names, only 630 of them have to be real registered voters for me to get paid for the whole job,” the petition circulator says.

“It’s basically six out of ten — makes it a little easier for me.”

One of the things that has made Democrats nervous as the recall signature campaign against Sen. Evie Hudak got underway were reports that organizers had adopted a validation screening procedure similar to the method against against Sen. Angela Giron in Pueblo. By pre-screening prospective petition signers against a mobile-accessible voter file spreadsheet to ensure they are registered voters living in the district, the recall campaign against Giron achieved a stunningly high validity rate for their petitions. As we've said, regardless of how you feel about the recalls, you have to acknowledge that this prescreening of signers was a game-changing development–and should be adopted by every petition campaign going forward.

So what's going on here? Why is this paid gatherer telling people who live out of the district to lie about their residence? Why does he so casually explain that he only needs a 63% validity rate to "get paid for the whole job?"

There have been a number of anecdotal reports, from talk radio interviews in addition to tallies from recall opponents watching petition sites, that suggest the Hudak recall campaign is having trouble obtaining the signatures needed to reach the ballot. We of course have no way of assessing the truth of these reports, but it's true that the threshold for success in Senate District 19 is substantially higher than it was for the two recall elections this summer. We do know that at least at one point of the Hudak recall petition campaign, on-site validation of voters as residents of the district was taking place.

But what we're seeing here, a paid gatherer willing to lie and encourage lying, with a validity quota of only 63% to get paid, obviously without the screening intended to ensure the kind of high validity rates we saw in the Giron recall, is the best evidence yet that the Hudak recall campaign is desperate. The impression the campaign has given is that they are using on-site validation, and as a result there's already a broad presumption of a high validity rate for whatever signatures they do turn in. This campaign has tried even harder than previous efforts to pass itself off as "grassroots" and adherent to high standards. Eli Stokols' last report, documenting a pro-recall worker assaulting a recall opponent cameraman, already put a dent in that impression.

Today, we know a lot more. Now we know that they've got guys out on street corners ready to say anything to anybody to get them to sign the petition, even lie and facilitate fraud. And that means the aforementioned presumption of high validity, and with it the moral high ground the Hudak recall campaign claims, may now be dispensed with.