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 :


 “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:
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!






  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.


Westminster Vote Squabble? Try GOP Usual-Suspect Dogpile


​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.


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.


SCOTUS “Opens Floodgates,” Strikes Down Donation Limits


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.


Andrew Bateman: Check your precinct number – there are errors

Andrew Bateman put this in the Thursday Open Thread. I think that it's important information -so I am putting it out as a diary. The average voter would probably would not be concerned with this- it's mainly for campaign volunteers who work with the voter database.

The database is VAN on the Dem side. I don't know which database the Republican party uses. But it's probably worth the time for  "average voters"  to take a quick look for on the Secretary of State voter registration site, just to see if your precinct and ward info is correct, and correct anything needing correcting on your own voter registration.

Here's Andrew's post:

Hey, everybody. I am not allowed to post a diary since I am still on "COPolsProbation" (I just joined yesterday), but there is some information that really needs to be disseminated quickly. 


While reviewing data in my City Council Ward in Aurora, I noticed a error in the voter file (Secretary of State voter file via VoteBuilder) that had an entire precinct, several hundred voters, listed in the wrong Ward. This mistake has been in place since the redistricting. This is not just a VAN issue. The SOS has it wrong. 

I have contacted all the relevent officials (City Clerk / County Clerk / SOS) and they will be fixing this particular problem. But if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere. 

So, Candidates and Campaigns, check your voter file for accuracy. If mistakes like this one are found after the caucus/assembly process is complete, it could cause any number of problems for nominated candidates. I found the issue by comparing the SOS data against the official city districting maps from their planning and development office. 

I think that County Commission, City, and special districts are the most likely to be effected by this. But everyone should probably double check, just to be safe. 

And if someone wants to go ahead and put this out there in diary format, since I can't, so that people will actually read it, that would be a good thing. 

-Andrew Bateman


– See more at: http://coloradopols.com/diary/55186/thursday-open-thread-57#sthash.GxhrTob8.dpuf


Head Games – Voting Rights 3, Head 0

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Victor Head, "Pueblo Plumber", recall proponent, and County Clerk candidate, has been lying again, and digging through trash for ballots to make the case that only he can prevent election fraud.  

HB1128 , Reduce Voter Identity Theft

In the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado legislature, on February 12, Head testified on behalf of HB1128, a thinly-disguised "voter ID" bill. Szabo and Harvey were the sponsors. The bill, thankfully, is parked in the State committee, and unlikely to come out of it.

The facts were not with this bill. There is not, and never has been, a problem of "voter identity theft" in Colorado. Over the last 10 years, there have been no instances of someone voting under an assumed name. Yet, Head, with an eye on the Clerk position supervising elections in Pueblo, wants voters to believe that he  has expertise in this area, and will help protect us from the dreaded (but nonexistent) problem of voter identity theft.

In order to create a problem only he can solve, Victor Head lied again  in HB1128  hearing testimony.  He told Representative Salazar that signature cards weren't used in Pueblo County when Pueblans began voting in the Recall election. This is demonstrably not true.


Marilyn Marks: She’s Everywhere You Want To Be

Marilyn Marks.

Marilyn Marks.

A name that keeps popping up in coverage of debate over a local elections bill in the Colorado legislature is former Aspen mayoral candidate Marilyn Marks, who increasingly seems to be a central player in GOP efforts to "crack down" on supposed "vote fraud." As the Colorado Springs Gazette's Megan Schrader reported Monday evening:

One of the state's most tenacious and controversial poll watchers – Marilyn Marks – sat on the Senate floor during debate Monday in opposition to HB1164. Marks and her advocacy group The Citizen Center have been in the middle of controversies in Pueblo County and in Broomfield during election results tabulation and recounting.

Ulibarri wouldn't say whether the change in law was in response to conflicts with Marks, but he did say it was inappropriate for Marks – a lobbyist in all but official registration – to be sitting with Republicans helping to draft amendments.

"I wish I were a lobbyist because then someone would be paying me for what I'm doing," Marks said, adding she was invited to the Senate floor by several lawmakers.

"I was responding to their invitation," she said.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols adds:

Marilyn Marks, the Aspen activist known for fighting mail ballots — her lawsuit successfully challenging the election law Democrats passed last year to require that all voters receive mail ballots resulted in mail ballots being tossed out during two recall elections last September — may have been a driving force behind the sudden GOP opposition to the proposal.

Marks was seated on the Senate floor during Monday morning’s debate, as a guest of one of the Republican lawmakers.

Sen. Jessie Ulibarri's concern about Mark's murky status while a "guest" on the Senate floor Monday appears to have sound basis in Senate rules, which read thusly:


Arvada Council’s Secret Ballots are Challenged

In the morning hours of Friday, January 10, 2014, Arvada Mayor Marc Williams presided over a final round of secret ballots that selected Jerry Marks for the district one council vacancy by a 5-to-1 vote. This is the council vacancy that occurred as the result of Rachael Zenzinger’s resignation to take the open state senate seat that arose from Evie Hudak’s resignation — Zenzinger had just been reelected to a second four-year term on the city council in November 2013.

Five finalists had been chosen previously by the remaining six council members from a total of sixteen applicants for the position at another Friday morning meeting held on January 3, 2014.

Mr. Marks was selected on the fourth round of secret ballots. There was not any discussion among the six council members between the secret ballots. After that fourth round the balloting stopped; a majority had voted for one individual.

This procedure had consequential and substantive effects — some applicants were eliminated, others advanced by these secret ballots.

Then Mayor Williams sought to make the results of the secret ballots ‘official’ with an ‘official’ resolution appointing Jerry Marks to the district one seat — that passed 6-to-0.

This procedure is a violation of the Colorado Open Meetings law — that seems clear from my reading of the statute. Colorado Revised Statutes 24-6-402 prohibits the casting of secret ballots:

(IV ) Neither a state nor a local public body may adopt any proposed policy, position, resolution, rule, or regulation or take formal action by secret ballot unless otherwise authorized in accordance with the provisions of this subparagraph (IV).

Part of the law allows a secret ballot to elect “leadership” of a “state or local public body” — that means, for instance, the council selecting from amongst its members the mayor pro tempore, or in the case of the Jeffco school board the ‘election’ of who will be the chairperson from among the five members. It certainly does not mean that a replacement representative of the people can be done secretly.

But that is exactly what happened in this case. The law states: For purposes of this subparagraph (IV), “secret ballot” means a vote cast in such a way that the identity of the person voting or the position taken in such vote is withheld from the public.

Thus on Friday morning, January 10, 2014, my council representative was chosen by people who do not even live in my district and they did this choosing secretly. What could be more antithetical to the very principles of representative democracy in our republican form of government?

So, good Arvada citizen and colleague of mine Russell Weisfield, who is also a district one resident, has step forward in a courageous move and challenged this city council action by filing a lawsuit to reverse the results of the secret balloting. (By the way neither Russell nor I had applied for this council vacancy position.)

Russell and I were proactive on this matter from the beginning; before Mr. Marks was sworn-in, we sent a letter to the mayor and council asking that this process be stopped because of Open Meetings laws problems.

The importance of this issue cannot be overstated. The selection to fill a vacancy on the elected city council — in other words a replacement for the peoples’s democratically elected choice — must not be done with the slightest hint of secrecy. As citizens of this city and residents of this district, we have a right to know why our representative was selected, why she or he was better than or more qualified than any of the other applicants. Acting in our stead as voters, we have a right to know why council members who do not even live in our district picked one candidate over another.

How are we to hold our elected government accountable if we are kept from even knowing why they make critical and important decisions that affect our lives in this city?

This lawsuit is about the bedrock principle of the republic — we, the people, are sovereign. When there is a vacancy in an elected office, we, the people, must know and must see how and why a temporary successor is appointed to act on our behalf; otherwise we have government by an elite that is not answerable to us.

It is regrettable that a lawsuit is necessary; it is too bad that we have an arrogant and indifferent city council in Arvada that often belittles and mocks citizens who try in good faith to be involved in this community, but who might just happen to have a different point of view.

CO Campaign Finance Law Struck Down

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Rep. Kathleen Curry.

Former Rep. Kathleen Curry.

The Coloradoan and the Herald reported last week that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of La Plata County Commissioner Joelle Riddle and, by extension, former State Representative Kathleen Curry of Gunnison in their suit challenging Colorado's campaign finance limits. 

In 2010, Curry ran a write-in campaign as an independent candidate. The fact that she was having to run as a write in is yet another form of discrimination against independent candidates, but that's a separate issue. 

The case involved Colorado's limit of individual contributions of $200 per election. If that number seems wrong to you, it's because that number raises to $400 if you are running as a Democrat or Republican, since you might have a primary, (but probably won't). 

In the 2010 election, despite running as a write in, Curry lost by only 359 votes. If she had been able to raise double the money, like each of her opponents, she certainly could have won. 

In the review of the case, 590 State House and Senate candidates from the Dem and GOP parties were examined and it was determined that only 63 of them had actually faced a primary challenge. Yet, all of them had been allowed to collect twice as much per individual donor and to use all of that money during months immediately before the general election. 

Colorado will now be forced to rethink it's campaign finance laws. One proposal is to copy the federal law and require separate accounts for primary and general election funds, and prohibit primary funds from being spent after the primary election date. Another option is to simply drop the charade of primary vs general funds and just let all candidates collect up to $400 regardless of party affiliation. Either way, Colorado election law is a little bit more fair today.  

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.


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.


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.