Attention Colorado Republicans: You Own The Shutdown

Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, Democrats are ramping up their attacks on Colorado Republican candidates who supported the shutdown of the federal government last October–support that takes on added toxicity, even over the general unpopularity of the shutdown, due to the problems it caused for disaster relief in Colorado. As locals readers know, the GOP-engineered government shutdown came just days after our state was hit with massive flooding that required a large emergency federal response:

Colorado Democrats, who have already lambasted GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner for supporting his party’s government shutdown last fall just weeks after devastating floods, are now leveling the same charge at Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez.

The party released a new video Wednesday featuring images of last fall’s floods and audio of Beauprez saying on conservative talk radio at the time that he’s “been very, very proud” of his Republican colleagues in Washington, who voted to shutdown the government for 16 days — this, as federal disaster relief was being directed to Colorado flood victims — in a failed attempt to stop the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“Politics before disaster relief,” reads the white text that appears over a black background on the screen.

“When thousands of Coloradans were ravaged by historic floods, Congressman Beauprez put Washington politics before the needs of the people of our state,” Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party, said in a statement.

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

The irate response from GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez, echoing the defensiveness from U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's campaign when confronted last week over this same issue, is plainly meant to emote past the real question:

“That the Colorado Democratic Party would politicize these devastating floods where people died and lives were destroyed is appalling. We have been very clear contrasting Bob Beauprez’s plan for a stronger Colorado with John Hickenlooper’s indecisive, weak leadership. That Hickenlooper’s operatives are slinging mud just for the fun of it is outrageous, and Coloradans should be appalled.”

In both Gardner and Beauprez's responses, you can see a lack of willingness to confront the underlying allegation: that Republicans who supported the shutdown abandoned their responsibility to represent Colorado in a time of great need, and left the state in the lurch in the wake of a major disaster simply to score meaningless political hits on President Barack Obama. The shutdown, as you'll recall, ended in abject failure for Republicans as the public solidly turned against them, and the "deal" House Republicans finally agreed to in order to reopen the government after over two weeks of shutdown was more of a capitulation. Republicans enjoyed a brief "I told you so" as the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchange website suffered startup problems, but as Obamacare's prospects have stabilized and the law started finally delivering on its promise, the best the GOP could hope for was that voters would forget about the shutdown completely before the November 2014 elections.

In Colorado, because of the disaster that struck the state just before the shutdown, the situation for the local GOP is even worse. By the time the public nationwide turned against Republicans over the shutdown, Coloradans were already furious over reports that relief efforts were being delayed. Fearing a backlash, Colorado Republicans generally shifted their rhetoric against the shutdown more quickly than their colleagues elsewhere, but nothing they did was reported to have pushed GOP House leadership to resolve the situation any faster. Today, Cory Gardner claims he "never supported the shutdown," but that claim is entirely contradicted by his votes. Maybe Gardner gets it was a mistake now, but he can't admit he was part of it–all he can do is throw a fit when the subject comes up, and hope that fit deflects the hard questions he has never answered.

As for Bob Beauprez? Have you heard the lunatic stuff that's been coming out of his mouth since he lost in 2006? Compared to Beauprez's civil war rant, just as one example among many, this is actually pretty tame stuff. In a perfect world, we'd say the shutdown should be disqualifying for every Colorado politician on the wrong side–but it's not like everyone who backed the shutdown is just going to admit they failed the country and walk away.

But voters are watching. That's the part spin doctors can't control, and it's why they are so afraid of this story.

Colorado Pro-Life Group Announces Endorsements

Via LifeNews.com:

Colorado Citizens for Life, the statewide pro-life group that represents more than 37,000 pro-life families across the state, is announcing today its endorsement of Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO 3rd District), Ken Buck (R-CO 4th District), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO 5th District), and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO 6th District).

Rep. Scott Tipton has voted pro-life on 13 out of 13 votes, Rep. Doug Lamborn has voted pro-life on 27 out of 27 votes, and Rep. Mike Coffman has voted pro-life on 20 out of 20 votes.

All of these Congressman have a 100% pro-life voting record. These votes include voting for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act; the repeal of the Obamacare law which contains provisions authorizing federal subsides for abortion; and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would close certain loopholes that give tax-preferred status to abortion. They also voted to deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood and against the Medicare Prescription Drug Act, which would effectively prevent older people from being allowed to spend their own money, if they choose, to save their own lives through access to unrationed prescription drugs under Medicare.

This is certainly a mixed-bag endorsement for candidates such as Rep. Mike Coffman (CD-6), who have been trying hard to deflect criticism that they do not represent the interests of a majority of Colorado women.

Time for Gardner to back up his “Obamascare” story

(Drip, drip, drip – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

​As questions continue to grow about the details of U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's health insurance, which Gardner claims motivated him to run for the U.S. Senate, ProgressNow Colorado, the state's largest online progressive advocacy organization, called on Gardner to fully disclose crucial details that would either verify or disprove his claims.

"Cory Gardner has repeatedly waved a 'cancellation letter' from his insurer–covered with black marker redactions of key details," said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. "Today, reporters are asking questions about those redacted portions, and they're not getting answers. Could it be that Gardner is not being straight with the public about his 'Obamascare' horror story?"

Last week, 9NEWS in Denver conducted a Truth Test of Gardner's latest ad, in which he tells the story of his health insurance plan being 'cancelled.' But when 9NEWS attempted to verify the details of Gardner's claim, "the campaign declined to provide evidence of the previous price or any details about the level of coverage and deductibles under the prior plan." 9NEWS concluded, "And was this the only policy for the entire family? As for the congressman's personal story, you should take it with a grain of salt because we don't have all the details." [1]

"Cory Gardner's claims about his supposedly 'cancelled' health insurance plan have never added up," said Runyon-Harms. "The fact is, over 90% of Colorado policyholders who received so-called 'cancellation notices' received policy renewal instructions in the same letter. [2] [3] Gardner has claimed that the 'comparable' replacement plan he was offered was twice as much, but that's impossible to confirm if Gardner won't disclose the details of his old plan. Gardner has been asked to provide the full details of his insurance plans for months, and he has refused even as questions have grown about his story."

"It's time for Con Man Cory Gardner to put up or shut up," said Runyon-Harms. "We call on Gardner to immediately release the full details of his old health insurance plan: deductibles, coverages, premiums, everything. Gardner also must disclose any other insurance he or his family may have carried during this period. There have been too many 'Obamascare' horror stories that have been proven false once the facts came out. Coloradans deserve to know if the reason Gardner says he is running for Senate today is nothing more than a giant con job."

Walker Stapleton: Treasurer in Absentia

Walker Stapleton.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton: Working for you. Sometimes.

It is only Wednesday, but it has not been a good week for State Treasurer Walker Stapleton. And it is only going to get worse from here.

Yesterday, the Colorado Supreme Court dealt Stapleton a blow by refusing to hear his legal attempt aimed at opening up the books of PERA, the Public Employees Retirement Association. As the very-thorough blog Pensions 360 explains:

Back in 2011, Stapleton filed a lawsuit seeking the release of retirement benefit data for Colorado’s highest-earning pensioners. But the state’s pension fund, the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), said the information was confidential and refused to release it.

Since then, two lower courts have sided with the pension system on the issue. Stapleton appealed the rulings all the way to the state Supreme Court—but the Court announced today that they wouldn’t be hearing his case.

Stapleton has been trying to gain access to information about the top 20 percent of PERA's beneficiaries and their annual retirement benefit. Stapleton's lawsuit, ostensibly to "learn" more information that could give him insight into what he calls "financial DNA" about PERA investments, has been widely dimissed as a political ploy. The PERA board refused Stapleton's request for the data back in 2011, citing privacy concerns and noting that accessing the data was not a function of his role as a trustee of the retirement account. 

Today, however, comes word that Stapleton doesn't typically bother to attend PERA Board meetings anyway. According to information obtained via Colorado's Open Records laws, here's Stapleton's attendance record at PERA Board meetings:

2012: There were 10 PERA meetings. Stapleton attended 3, but left early at 2 of those.

2013: There were 7 PERA meetings. Stapleton attended 2, but left both early.

*NOTE: From the September 20, 2013 PERA Board Meeting Minutes: “Mr. Stapleton requested the removal of his absence from the June 25, 2013 Board meeting minutes, as his designee Brett Johnson was present.”

2014 (through June): There have been 5 PERA Board meetings. Minutes are not available for the June 24 meeting. Of the other 4 meetings, he has fully attended 1 and left early at another 2 meetings.

Stapleton's dismal attendance record at PERA Board meetings makes it difficult for him to argue that his lawsuit — or anything else related to PERA — has been done with the best intentions of Colorado retirees in mind. Stapleton hasn't proven to be particularly savvy when it comes to investment decisions around PERA (or investment advice in general), and his lax attendance at Board meetings further calls into question his capability and interest in managing the state's money.

But perhaps more importantly for Stapleton, this information is a serious mark on his resume as he looks to be re-elected in 2014 and hints at a possible run for Governor in 2018. You might recall that Stapleton was widely criticized for moonlighting on the job; Stapleton has continued to work for the real estate firm SonomaWest Holdings while he has served as State Treasurer, and his poor attendance record at PERA Board meetings again brings up the question of just how committed he is to the job in which in was elected to serve.

If Stapleton can't find time to attend meetings directly related to his elected position…what is he doing instead? And why are taxpayers footing the bill?

 

Dems Press Beauprez-Perry Ties (With Mugshot)

Image courtesy Making Colorado Great

Image courtesy Making Colorado Great

As the Durango Herald's Peter Marcus reports, the felony indictments handed down against Texas Gov. Rick Perry by a grand jury last week continue to ripple. Yesterday, as Gov. Perry formally surrendered to authorities and got his mug shot taken, Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez faced a call to renounce Perry's endorsement:

A new, well-funded left-leaning organization, Making Colorado Great, has hired well-known progressive Michael Huttner to attack Beauprez.

Incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper has vowed not to run attacks in his tight re-election campaign. On Tuesday, Hickenlooper released a new campaign video in which he doubles down on that promise, touting the economic progress of the state during the last four years rather than targeting Beauprez.

But Huttner, who founded ProgressNow Colorado about a decade ago, is not as shy as the governor. In his first news release for Making Colorado Great, Huttner called on Beauprez to immediately renounce his endorsement by Perry.

“If Bob Beauprez doesn’t immediately renounce Perry’s endorsement, it shows you that Beauprez and Perry are two peas in the same pod,” Huttner said. “We’ll see if Bob renounces Perry’s endorsement or tries to play it both ways as usual.” [Pols emphasis]

Public opinion on Perry's indictment, at least for now, breaks along partisan lines, with most voters in the conservative information loop hearing nothing but praise and defense for Perry and his actions against a local Democratic DA who oversees the state's public integrity investigations office. But as the story unfolds, there is also support building for the case against Perry–enough to make the current Republican strategy of scoffing wholesale at these felony charges against the sitting Governor of Texas, the first such indictment in over a century, more than a little risky.

Beauprez responded at the time, “I was proud to receive the endorsement of conservative Texas Gov. Rick Perry this morning. I am humbled by Rick Perry’s support and friendship … Rick Perry is a good man and an outstanding governor.”

Whether Beauprez likes it or not, these words will be used against him–and with at least some voters, it'll hurt.

War on….Thread

(We love newspaper comments – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

From the Sentinel comments…Women are to blame for all that sexy sex stuff, we men cannot help ourselves…
 
By Jerry Sanders - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Say Henry. “Reproductive freedom” is not health care. Laws be damned. She makes that choice of “freedom” whenever she takes her clothes off.

Its FDR's fault that some cop shot an unarmed black man 6 times from a distance after he was surrendering.

Somehow it all goes back to Obama (not a 'real American') and his War on Coal.  Discuss.

 

Steyer Money Swings Into Action Against Gardner

Tom Steyer.

Tom Steyer.

​FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

NextGen Climate Colorado, the group founded and funded by San Francisco billionaire and climate change activist Tom Steyer, is hitting Colorado’s airwaves for the first time Tuesday with a new TV ad attacking GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner…

The spot taking aim at Gardner, R-Yuma, features a number of people shutting doors and drawing down window-shades; the message to Gardner: “Keep out.”

“He thinks he knows better than the scientists, NASA and the U.S. military on climate change,” a female narrator says over sinister images of a window being closed and a door being pulled shut.

On the screen, text reads: “Denies the science of climate change.”

But the narrator moves right on to highlight a number of other issues: Gardner’s opposition to same-sex marriage and his support for personhood and additional legislation to restrict access to birth control.

As promised, billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer is wading into the Colorado U.S. Senate race to support a conservation minded incumbent Democrat against a GOP challenger who has publicly expressed doubt about humanity's role in global climate change. It's a good hit on Cory Gardner, with polling on the issue showing his climate change skepticism to be a minority view. But having made the decision to target Gardner because of his views on climate change, as you can see, Steyer's group has a broad menu of hits to attack Gardner with.

Does Steyer's investment in Colorado's U.S. Senate race make a hypocrite of Democrats who attack Republican out-of-state funders like the Koch brothers? Maybe a little, although Democrats will argue a, you know, qualitative difference on the issues.

Pragmatic Democrats may be more inclined to shut up about the Kochs until November and let fire fight fire.

Laura Woods’ Donors Get to Pay for Tickets and Fines

Republican Laura Waters Woods is challenging Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger in one of the most competitive State Senate districts in Colorado (SD-19, Arvada). Woods is going to need every penny she can raise in order to win a seat that has been held by Democrats for more than a decade…so it's probably not a good idea for her to be spending campaign resources to pay off parking fines and other late fees.

Check out this screenshot from her most recent campaign finance report:

Laura Woods Expenditures

Donate now so that Laura Waters Woods can pay for parking tickets!

There is nothing illegal about using campaign funds to pay for things like parking tickets and late-filing fees, but this is pretty unusual — and not very smart.

Tim Neville Could (Still) Be in Serious Trouble

Neville-FundraisingPage2

See the option for “contribute anonymously” on Neville’s fundly page? Yeah, you can’t do that.

UPDATE (8/19/14): According to a second letter sent to Tim Neville from Christopher O'Dell, questions remain as to what happened with all of the "anonymous" donors that appeared on his campaign website. Neville responded to the initial letter with a short email explaining that these anonymous donations were indeed accounted for in his campaign finance reports, but Neville has yet to get into detail about the more than 50 anonymous donations that had appeared on his Fundly.com campaign website.

—–

As Eli Stokols reports for Fox 31:

Tim Neville, a Republican running for a Jefferson County state senate that could determine which party controls the chamber next year, has been accused of violating Colorado’s campaign finance laws — by a fellow Republican.

Christopher O’Dell, a former Jefferson County GOP chairman, sent Neville a letter Monday asking him to explain apparent violations of campaign finance laws allowing for anonymous contributions of no more than $20 and individual contributions of no more than $400.

According to fundraising information linked publicly on Neville’s own campaign website, Neville has received around a dozen anonymous contributions exceeding the $20 limit, including one as large as $400.

Neville, who was appointed to fill the vacant District 22 seat in 2011 only to see his seat disappear during reapportionment in 2012 when he was drawn into S.D. 16, also appears to have received at least three contributions from individuals that exceed the $400 limit.

Campaign finance violations are, unfortunately, an all too-common occurence in Colorado politics, but there are two pieces to this story that could make Neville's troubles particularly concerning.

Neville is the Republican candidate in SD-16, challenging Democratiic Sen. Jeanne Nicholson in what we've said before is likely to be the single most competitive State Senate race in 2014. That means that Democrats have every incentive to pursue these violations as far as possible. This leads us to the second major problem for Neville — the more you follow this rabbit down the hole, the more curious it gets.

(more…)

33 Consecutive Months Of Job Growth In Colorado

3d graph arrow blue

As the Denver Post's Howard Pankratz reports, what may be the worst possible news for GOP  political campaign messaging is great news for the rest of us:

Colorado logged its 33rd consecutive month of job growth in July and unemployment dipped to 5.3 percent, the ninth-lowest rate in the country.

The state last hit 5.3 percent unemployment in October 2008.

In June, the state unemployment rate was 5.5 percent. Since then, Colorado has added 5,500 non-farm payroll jobs, raising the total to nearly 2.5 million jobs, the fifth-fastest job increase in the United States.

"Employment gains and the improving labor market are pretty widespread across the state," said Alexandra Hall, chief economist for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Politically, there's very little for detractors to carp about in these latest numbers: the unemployment rate fell not due to workers leaving the workforce or government job growth, but thousands of honest-to-Pete private sector jobs being created in Colorado.

Despite all of the day-to-day message battles between Republican and Democratic campaigns and surrogate spin doctors, it remains a truism in politics that a good economy gives incumbents a big advantage in any election. Voters reliably punish incumbents when they feel uneasy about their own economic prospects, and reward incumbents when they feel positive. This is a big reason why, in the present economic climate of not just recovery but real bullishness beginning to peek its head out, Republicans hoping to oust Democrats both in Colorado and nationally cannot acknowledge that the economy is doing well. To do so, as we've discussed previously, would be to admit the inadmissible: that Obamacare hasn't wrecked the economy as Republicans not only predicted beforehand, but insisted has happened in the months since the law took effect.

And if Obamacare didn't destroy the economy, a whole lot of other things descending from that aren't true either. Very quickly, a small admission like "yes, the economy is getting better" could lead to major troubles for the GOP's whole ideological edifice.

Bottom line: one of the biggest dangers Republicans face today is this simple news report being broadly understood by the voters: who then hear the words "the economy is a disaster" from a GOP politician, and realize it isn't true. If Republicans lose control of this narrative, and economic bullishness becomes a prevalent mindset before November, it will severely weaken their case for undecided votes.

In the meantime, we'll say it gladly: congratulations to the thousands of Coloradans headed back to work.

Hey Bill Maher, Colorado Needs You

(Mike Coffman is not likely to agree – promoted by Colorado Pols)

We need your help with this one. I know, I know. We ask you to sign a lot of petitions. If you haven’t signed one in a while, please take a moment right now to sign this one.

Have you heard about this #FlipADistrict thing HBO’s Bill Maher is doing on his show? He’s asking folks to help him pick a truly terrible member of Congress, and then he’ll spend the next few months shining a national spotlight on the selected “loser of a Congressman”. The goal is to flip the district to someone better.

Well, Bill Maher has narrowed the #FlipADistrict field down to his final four. And Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District made the cut!

(more…)

Gardner Gets Hammered for Hiding Details on Insurance

GardnerLetter-Cong

Rep. Cory Gardner waving his healthcare “cancellation” letter during a Congressional hearing last fall.

Republican Congressman Cory Gardner has been peddling a story about his family's insurance coverage and the horrors caused by Obamacare for some time now — but the opaque nature of his argument is coming under increasing scrutiny from the media.

In Gardner's latest television ad, the GOP Senate candidate again tells the tale of his family's insurance plan being cancelled as part of the Affordable Care Act. But in a new "Truth Test" from 9News reporter Brandon Rittiman, Gardner's campaign fails miserably when pressed for details:

Gardner released his cancellation letter, from Rocky Mountain Health Plans, but took out all the details about his old plan.

The Gardner campaign denied repeated requests for details about the coverage that Gardner and his family had under the plan that was canceled, saying only that it came with a premium of $651.75. [Pols emphasis]

The campaign declined to provide evidence of the previous price or any details about the level of coverage and deductibles under the prior plan.

The cheapest new alternative listed in the cancellation notice was a "bronze" plan listed at a premium of $1246.90.

Even if Gardner's old cheaper plan was meager in its coverage, Gardner would have a legitimate policy argument to make by saying he shouldn't be required to buy a better plan than he had before.

However, if he's going to use his personal healthcare story as part of the political debate, it would be better to have the full context.

Rittiman isn't the first to scratch his head at Gardner's insurance claims, but what is interesting to note in this "Truth Test" is the increasingly aggressive line of questioning leveled at Gardner's campaign — and the consistent refusal to provide requested information. Gardner has repeatedly claimed that hundreds of thousands of Coloradans saw their health care plans cancelled because of Obamacare — a talking point that has long ago been proved false — but reporters are increasingly turning their attention to the rest of the story.

You can read between the lines here as Rittiman concludes his "Truth Test":

Like ads before it, this one references real issues with Obamacare.

But when you get the full story, it doesn't sound as bad as the Gardner campaign would like it to.

As for the congressman's personal story, you should take it with a grain of salt because we don't have all the details. [Pols emphasis]

Remember, folks, that the letter Gardner consistently discusses is actually addressed to his wife — and we only know that because Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols kept asking him until he revealed the contents. From a Fox 31 story last fall:

Later that same day, Gardner appeared on CNN’s Crossfire and told the exact same story.

Since then, FOX31 Denver has asked Gardner to provide a copy of the letter or to provide additional details about the policies.

Five times.

After our story aired on Good Day Colorado Friday morning, Gardner released a copy of the letter with some information redacted, that he says his family received.

The bottom line here is really quite simple: If Gardner's personal health care sob story is free of holes, as he claims, then why not just turn over the proof to a reporter and end this line of questioning once and for all?

The truth is rarely this complicated.

Gardner demanded defunding Obamacare to avoid government shutdown

(So much for that – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

The Associated Press' Nicholas Riccardi reported Aug. 15 that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner's spokesman, Alex Siciliano, "noted that, before the shutdown, Gardner had warned against requiring Democrats to defund the Affordable Care Act as a requirement for keeping government open."

Maybe Siciliano doesn't listen to Gardner much on talk radio. Maybe he's too busy talking to reporters on behalf of his boss.

But when I read Riccardi's piece, I recalled hearing Gardner advocate for, as opposed to against, demanding Dems defund Obamacare or face a government shutdown.

On August 1, 2013, two months before the government shutdown, Gardner told KOA’s Mike Rosen:

Rosen: “Perhaps we can talk about some other items on the agenda, such as the current dispute, even with the Republican Party, about whether Republicans, who have a majority in the House, ought to take a stand now, as the continuing resolution question comes up, take a stand on Obamacare, and refuse to fund it, while at the same time, agreeing with a continuing resolution that would allow the rest of the federal government to operate. Have you got a position on that?

Gardner: I want to do anything and everything I can to stop Obamacare from destroying our health care, from driving up increases in costs. Whether that’s through the continuing resolution, I want to defund everything that we can….

Rosen: There’s a political concern that if the Republicans stand their ground on this [repealing Obamacare], they are going to be blamed for shutting down the government.

Gardner: Well, I think if the government gets shut down, it’s going to be the President’s decision to do so. I believe that we don’t need to shut down the government because we ought to just lift this health-care bill out of the way and let America work. [BigMedia emphasis]

If that's a warning "against requiring Democrats to defund the Affordable Care Act as a requirement for keeping government open," then mushrooms aren't popping up in our mountains right now (and they are).

Next time Gardner's Siciliano tells me something, if I'm a reporter, I think I go the extra mile to make sure it's accurate.

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