On radio, Buck says Obama wants to create a “majority vote” of people “receiving benefits from government”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ken Buck.

Rep. Ken Buck.

Even if you're a just a talk-radio host, don't just say "Yap," as KHOW 630-AM's Mandy Connell did yesterday, when your special guest, in this case, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), insults the President.

"He's a wonderful orator," Buck told Connell during her morning show yesterday. "And he makes everybody happy. The reality is, that he has no intention of flattening the tax code. He has every intention of making sure that he is creating a majority vote, a 51 percent vote, of people who are receiving benefits from the government that they wouldn't otherwise receive."

As I noted, Connell's reply to this was the utterance of "Yap." My own thought was more along the lines of WTF. This is what Buck got from Obama's State of Union Address?

Where's Buck's proof that Obama has a political agenda to create a "51 percent vote" of Americans "receiving benefits from government that they wouldn't otherwise receive."

Is he reading Obama's mind? If Buck has evidence for this wild and insulting accusation, we'd all like to see it. But if he doesn't, it's more grossness from our new Representative from Colorado.

Buck isn't a lonely District Attorney anymore–or a candidate making yet another gaffe that reporters don't have time to dig into. Now he's a Congressman who should be held accountable–even by radio hosts–for his insults and baseless mud slinging.

Thursday Open Thread

"Destiny is a good thing to accept when it's going your way. When it isn't, don't call it destiny; call it injustice, treachery, or simple bad luck."

–Joseph Heller

Nobody Does Nothing Quite Like Senate Republicans

The Captain does not approve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ken Buck, Heal Thyself

A Tweet sent out by freshman Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado during last night's State of the Union address is provoking lots of secondary debate today:

Rep. Ken Buck.

Rep. Ken Buck.

Buck is referring to a poll released this week by Al Jazeera on the state of race relations in America six years into the first African-American presidency of the United States. The problem is, Buck is not reporting the poll accurately. As TPM reported Monday:

The Al Jazeera-Monmouth University poll found that 43 percent of Americans think race relations are worse under Obama, 40 percent said there had been no change and 15 percent said they were better.

Along party lines, 62 percent of Republicans said that race relations had gotten worse under Obama, while only 4 percent said better. Among Democrats, the numbers were more evenly split: 45 percent said no change, 28 percent said better and 25 percent said worse.

Based on these poll numbers, it's accurate to suggest that most Republicans think race relations have become worse since Barack Obama became President. But in truth, it's not even a majority of Americans in this poll who think so–barely a plurality. And if you combine the 40% who say there has been no change with the 15% who say race relations have gotten better since Obama was elected President, why, it appears a majority of Americans think the opposite of what Buck thinks they think!

To be honest, we have trouble considering Buck much of an authority on race relations at all, after he let slip that he thinks all brown kids are "Hispanic."

That said, we certainly aren't arguing that race relations in America are no longer a problem now that we have a black President. It's very difficult to get an accurate poll of the prevalence of racism in America today, since most people who harbor racist sentiments are able to suppress them long enough to not embarrass themselves publicly. But the over-the-top "resistance" over the last six years to what has turned out to be a fairly moderate administration by any objective policy measure is difficult to explain–without factoring some kind of prejudicial reaction to President Obama personally.

You know, like losing your appetite at the mere sight of him.

And with that, we suspect Rep. Buck is ready to change the subject.

Big Step in Moffat County Toward Greater Sage Grouse Protection

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A recent column in the Glenwood Spring Post Independent is correctly titled: “Clock ticking on greater Sage Grouse decision,” and it discusses how even though Congress attempted to defund efforts to protect the species, the federal government is compelled and still on track to make a decision on listing the bird under the Endangered Species Act by this September. Indeed, the clock is ticking.

But despite this, there is also hopeful news lately on the grouse, at least some signs of progress toward gains in meaningful and on-the-ground protections for this unique and important species. 

First, tangible measures to protect the grouse are being put in place on private lands through conservation agreements. The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust recently completed a conservation easement on one of the largest working ranches in Northwest Colorado. Multiple partners contributed to the protection of 16,000 acres of key sage grouse habitat on the Cross Mountain Ranch in Moffat County, close to Dinosaur National Monument, as reported in the Steamboat Pilot:

In the easement document, reasons for conserving the land include a desire to preserve Moffat County’s infamous wide-open spaces. More importantly, it preserves thousands of acres of dense Greater sage grouse habitat.

Tim Griffiths, national coordinator for the Natural Resources Conservation Services’ Sage Grouse Initiative, said this particular parcel should be able to help conserve about 5,000 Greater sage grouse birds.

He also said the biggest threat to the Greater sage grouse species is fragmentation and conserving this piece of land creates a quarter-million acre checkerboard of public and private conserved land woven together.

“We just removed the threat of fragmentation in the one place in Colorado that has more birds than anywhere else in the state,” Griffiths said.

This tangible progress is being made through the partnerships of nonprofit organizations like the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, which secured the Moffat County agreement, with state agencies like Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the federal government programs, like the Sage Grouse Initiative.

“This easement demonstrates the power and leverage the new conservation programs in the farm bill can have to benefit sage grouse. It’s the locally driven conservation efforts like these that can help prevent the need for an endangered species listing,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, who championed passage of the conservation title of the farm bill in 2014.

And this news echoes similar accounts in other states where the greater sage grouse occurs: 650 acres protected in a recent conservation agreement in Nevada, and a new program launched to work with ranchers in sagebrush habitat across eastern Oregon.   

Recently the two chairs of the Western Governors Association—Matt Mead, the Republican governor of Wyoming, and Colorado’s John Hickenlooper, Democrat—sent a letter to U.S.  Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, asking her to clarify what the federal government is doing given that Congressional Republicans voted to withhold funding for additional work on the grouse.  

"We have invested countless hours and millions of dollars in habitat conservation, mapping and monitoring," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead in the WGA letter to Jewell. "We consider the long-term survival of the greater sage grouse a key responsibility," said the pair, who co-chair WGA's sage grouse task force.

All this is encouraging, as it signals a willingness by the states to keep moving, and it models working together to find real solutions on the ground. 

Now it is incumbent on all the stakeholders to turn that willingness into broader action, and replicate the models we have of success across the region.  As Secretary Jewell said:

 "We want to create an environment where a listing is not warranted," Jewell told the winter meeting of the WGA in Las Vegas last month. "We're in a period of epic collaboration. That's what is happening for sage grouse across the 11 states. We have incredible momentum so we can’t stop now; we need to get across the finish line."

Of course that has been the line for a long time, and the clock is still ticking on the sage grouse.  It is hopeful to see progress, now we need results. 

GOP Talks Immigration, but Only in Spanish-Language Translation of English Rebuttal…Wait, What?

Sen. Joni Ernst

Yes, Senator Ernst, there were apparently two versions of your speech last night.

The Republican Party supports working with President Obama on immigration reform…but only in Spanish?

Republicans chose freshman Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to deliver the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union speech last night, which is about where this entire story stops making sense.

Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo was tapped to deliver the Spanish-language version of the rebuttal, which was supposed to be a translation of the Ernst speech…except that Curbelo added a section about immigration reform that Ernst does not actually support. It should be noted here that Sen. Ernst is an advocate of making English the "official language" in the United States; in other words, the GOP Spanish-language rebuttal was intended to be a translation of a speech given by someone who doesn't really think we should be speaking Spanish anyway.

Of course, that's not what actually happened.

To help explain what went down after the President's speech last night, we'll begin with a preview yesterday as reported by Mother Jones magazine:

The GOP has also announced it will be offering a Spanish-language rebuttal, which will be delivered tonight by freshman Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a young conservative from a diverse Miami congressional district. But there's a wrinkle. According to a press release from the House Republicans, Curbelo will not be sharing his own thoughts and words with the public. Instead, he will only be reading a Spanish translation of Ernst's speech.

Curbelo's office confirmed that he will not be delivering his own remarks. [Pols emphasis]

By the way, Ernst has endorsed English as a national language and once sued Iowa's secretary of state for offering voting forms in languages other than English. Her office did not respond to requests for comment.

Congressman Carlos Curbelo

The role of Sen. Joni Ernst was played by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, or something.

Okay, that's a bit strange — but it seems straightforward enough, right? Perhaps, though the plan went awry at some point. As Politico reports:

Republicans sent mixed signals on immigration in their two official rebuttals to President Obama Tuesday night: Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst’s rebuttal made no mention of the topic, but the Spanish-language version of the rebuttal, delivered by Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, said Republicans wanted to work with Obama to fix the immigration system. [Pols emphasis]

“We should also work through the appropriate channels to create permanent solutions for our immigration system, to secure our borders, modernize legal immigration, and strengthen our economy,” said Curbelo in Spanish. “In the past, the president has expressed support for ideas like these. Now we ask him to cooperate with us to get it done.”

Earlier on Tuesday, House Republicans had described Curbelo’s response as “the Spanish-Language translated address of Sen. Joni Ernst response.” That language was later removed from the release, according to Mother Jones.

Curbelo has bucked many in the Republican Party to support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, while Ernst opposes that.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican majority in Congress! And we didn't even mention Sen. Ted "Eh, Lemme Start Over" Cruz.

Wednesday Open Thread

"Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputations…can never effect a reform."

–Susan B. Anthony

Mike Coffman Embarrasses Himself…Again

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

What’s Coffman’s beef with James Taylor?

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman seems to have trouble learning from his own mistakes. On Friday, Coffman Tweeted some heavy criticism at Secretary of State John Kerry:

Coffman's Tweet references a half-assed opinion piece in the New York Daily News that is critical of Kerry for not going to France to participate in last week's "unity rally" following the terrorist attacks at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Whether or not Kerry should have been in Paris is another topic, but whatever your opinion on the matter, calling Kerry a "national embarrassment" is a fairly ridiculous comment for a sitting Member of Congress to throw at the Secretary of State. You are quite the statesman, Congressman. 

You might remember the last time Coffman was so blunt in his attacks on another prominent politician; in May 2012, Coffman ended up in a mess of his own making when he told a crowd at a GOP fundraiser that President Barack Obama was "just not an American." A recording of Coffman's full quote made its way to 9News, and reporter Kyle Clark wasted no time in jumping on the story:

"I don't know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don't know that," Coffman told donors. "But I do know this, that in his heart, he's not an American. He's just not an American."

Coffman's insulting comments about President Obama quickly became national news, and the Republican Congressman took plenty of lumps as a result. Coffman publicly apologized and even penned an Op-Ed for the Denver Post in which he called his remarks "inappropriate and boneheaded." But Coffman's real punishment came in the form of unintended self-flagellation; in other words, he made a complete fool out of himself when Clark eventually caught up with him on camera:

REP. COFFMAN: I think that… Umm… I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.

KYLE CLARK: OK. And who were you apologizing to?

REP. COFFMAN: You know, I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.

KYLE CLARK: I apologize, we talk to you all the time, you're a very forthcoming guy. Who's telling you not to talk and to handle it like this?

REP. COFFMAN: I stand by my statement, that I wrote, that you have, and I misspoke and I apologize.

KYLE CLARK: Was it that you thought it would go over well in Elbert County where folks are very conservative and you'd never say something like that in the suburbs?

REP. COFFMAN: I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.

KYLE CLARK: Is there anything I can ask you that you'll answer differently?

REP. COFFMAN: You know, I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize. ​

KYLE CLARK: Thank you, congressman…

Coffman's comments about Kerry aren't quite as absurd as his statements about President Obama, but the same point applies to either remark. Coffman absolutely has a First Amendment right to say these kinds of things — we're not disputing that — but just because he can doesn't mean that he should.

Americans no longer expect Congress to actually do any work — can't they at least behave like decent, civil human beings?

“Last Call For Ryan Call?” Opponents Lay Out Grievances


The campaign by grassroots Republicans to oust Colorado Republican Party chairman Ryan Call continues, with supporters of Call's opponent in the upcoming leadership (s)election Steve House circulating a list of "grievances" against Call that some of our readers will remember fondly:

What is the Record of the Chairman in the Last Four Years?

- 42% increase in active unaffiliated voters, (100,000 in 2014 alone!)
- 12% decrease in state positions held by GOP (51-45-51), NET 0 
- No or small support of county candidates to state offices
- Organized an interference in the state primary for his governor
- Opposed and worked against the Recall efforts 
- Turned on his own and fell to the left's race baiting ‪#‎Chickengate‬
- Donated to Democrats 
- Outsourced all GOP legal matters to his own firm
- Stacked the Executive Committee 
- Inflated salary and expenses 
- Would not support Tony Sanchez against Kerr 
- No real respect for conservative grassroots 
- Ignored most voting irregularities including Adams and Boulder
- Brought pro-common core, pro-amnesty Jeb Bush to CO 
- Supported the RNC rules changes against grassroots 
- Tried to eliminate straw polls 
- Most fundraising came from RNC, not Ryan Call
- No or low amount of small donors (major sign of failure),
- Doesn't promote the constitution or platform
- Didn't publicly oppose the corruption in Mississippi 
- Silent on O'Keefe video of CO Dems promoting voting fraud
- Supports failed candidates and officials who vote against our own platform
- Presided over a disastrous assembly in Boulder in 2014 with not enough food, no outside vendors allowed, no weapons allowed (only CC, after a fight and a search). 
-The list goes on and on.

Ryan Call is Good For Washington and Bad for Colorado

A lot to chew on in this laundry list of grievances against Call, but it's obvious that the "Tea Party" grassroots is no more happy with Call after four years than they were when former chairman Dick Wadhams was on his way out the door in 2011. Wadhams ended his tenure after a disastrous 2010 election cycle, in which Republican candidates imploded and squandered a major "wave year" opportunity. After that experience Wadhams did not run again, saying "I'm tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party role is."

Despite the dissatisfaction among the conservative grassroots with Wadhams, it's widely believed that he could have won re-election to the job of state chairman had he chose to stay in the running in 2011. In 2015, we can't say the same of Ryan Call–who has had a very difficult time as well keeping a fractious and frequently off-message Republican caucus on track, and lacks Wadhams' forceful personality to command respect. Lingering anger over the shenanigans in the GOP gubernatorial primary last year, which saw Bob Beauprez elevated by national Republicans over grassroots pick Tom Tancredo also works against Ryan Call, especially with the possibility of the party helping Beauprez recoup his own campaign loans looming.

And by God, make sure there's enough food for everyone at the state assembly.

GOP Takes Aim At Colorado Civil Rights Law


An MLK Day guest column by Colorado Sens. Morgan Carroll and Lucia Guzman in the Aurora Sentinel blasts state Senate Republicans for introducing a bill last week to repeal a significant piece of job discrimination law passed in 2013:

On the day before MLK’s 86th birthday, Republican state senators introduced a bill (SB 15-069) to eliminate the “Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act of 2013,” which was passed to ensure that all workers are protected from discrimination and harassment on the job. At the time, Colorado was one of only eight states that did not have laws to punish businesses with fewer than 15 employees who discriminated against their workers based on race, sex, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. The bill that passed in 2013 expanded civil right protections for all Coloradans, not just those who worked in big businesses…

The Republican bill introduced last week would erode Dr. King’s legacy and take Colorado back to an unfortunate chapter in our history where it was legal to discriminate. Discrimination unfairly costs people jobs, which is damaging to our economy. Women continue to trail behind their male counterparts in pay for the same work. In Colorado, Latinos and blacks live in poverty at rates much greater than whites, and more single women live in poverty than men. The 2013 bill put teeth in our existing anti-discrimination laws, while the 2015 bill would neuter the advances we made. Why in the world would we want to move backward toward a pre-Civil Rights Act world in 2015?

State Rep. Joe Salazar, a co-prime sponsor of the 2013 bill, noted the hypocrisy of attempts to mask malevolent action through messaging.

“On Friday (Jan. 16), when the House of Representatives honored Martin Luther King, Republicans stood and quoted him magnanimously on the virtues of civil rights, while at the same time introducing a bill to get rid of the Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act of 2013. It’s very apparent that they cannot comprehend the words, actions and deeds espoused by this great civil rights leader. We should feel sorry for them that they don’t understand, after all these years, what civil rights really mean.”

In 2013, Republicans in the Colorado legislature bitterly fought the passage of House Bill 13-1136, facetiously renaming it the "Trial Lawyers Employment Act" and the "Sue Your Boss" bill. But over time, it became clear in the debate and news reports that Republicans were primarily basing their case on the dubious assumption that "most discrimination claims aren't valid anyway"–actual words one business owner used as a surrogate by Republicans damagingly let slip. Rep. Perry Buck proudly told of a case in her own life of job discrimination, where she chose to quit rather than sue because "I choose to work where I want to work"–seemingly oblivious to those for whom that choice would have, you know, consequences.

Even after the fit Republicans pitched over passage of the bill in 2013, we're still surprised to see this repeal attempt. It's a fact that Colorado was one of a minority of states that hadn't closed this loophole allowing some businesses to discriminate against their employees. There's just no way to message their intent here in a way that looks good to the public–unless you're targeting a fairly narrow segment of the public who really thinks it should be okay for businesses to discriminate against their workers. Of all the fruitless "rollback" repeal battles Republicans are set to take on in the current legislative session, this is one that seems sure to result in more bad press than it's worth.

Obama’s programs to halt deportations are “so repugnant,” Buck would shut down security agency to stop them

(Ken Buck is not what you'd call a "compassionate conservative" – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Ken Buck.

Rep. Ken Buck.

Would the Republican-controlled Congress shut down the Department of Homeland Security to halt Obama’s program delaying deportation of undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens?

Colorado’s own Rep. Ken Buck would do it.

KLZ radio host Randy Corporon gets a moment of respect for putting the question directly to Buck during an interview Jan.15 on his “Wake-Up” show. (Beginning at 1:50:30 here)

Corporon: Republicans in the past anyway have shown a willingness to cave in the face of public pressure and media assaults. When the President says, ‘Hey look, Congress is messing with the security of the United States,’ are you guys in Congress ready to make the case that we’ve put the bills on his desk…and are you going to have a message that keeps you guys standing together and actually lets this thing play out.

Buck: I can tell you this: Ken Buck will. I will make the case, and I will make sure that we are not funding those portions of his executive action that are so repugnant.

So repugnant? Keeping parents together with their American kids? Keeping our communities whole?

Obama has used his executive authority to temporarily halt deportations of young undocumented immigrants who came here illegally as children. He's also launched a program delaying the deportation of immigrants whose children are American citizens.

Buck told "Righty" Corporon the Republican-controlled House is ready to shut down the government to stop this repugnancy (not a word, but I used it anyway to highlight Buck's own grossness.)

“If [Obama] vetoes the appropriations bill, he is shutting down that segment of government. And that will be on the President,” Buck told Corporon. “He did his best to put that on Republicans last time when we wanted to de-fund parts of Obamacare. With a Republican Senate, this will clearly be on the President’s watch, that he will be shutting down the Department of Homeland Security. “

Buck: I can tell you, I don’t know what the Republicans in the United States Senate will do. And I’m not sure they can get the six votes that they need from the Democrats in the United States Senate to actually move a tough DHS appropriations bill forward. I do think there are the votes in the House to continue down this pathBuck is in a decent position to know. He’s not only the president of the freshman Republican class in the U.S. House, he’s also on the House immigration subcommittee.  (He got the assignment just after saying, “I don’t owe people who are here illegally anything.”)

Corporon set up the conversation by asking Buck how congressional Republicans could design a bill that would ensure no funds would go toward deferring deportation of select immigrants, while allowing the Department of Homeland Security to carry on its other work, like securing the border that causes Republicans such consternation.

Corporon: If this bill got through both houses of Congress, got on the President’s desk, how would that work to just de-fund only specific areas and activities and programs within the Department of Homeland Security? Don’t you just write them a check?

Buck: No, we don’t write them a check. They receive line-item authority, and the authority may be for a broad area, like processing the applications for work permits. But then Congress can put in that language that work permits cannot be granted to people who’ve lived in this country, or whatever language we want. And so really, the key is, this is an appropriations bill. And we’re arguing about language that will go in the appropriations bill.  When the Senate passes their version, and it will come back, we’ll work on it in conference, and we’ll send the appropriations bill to the President. 

Lawrence, Navarro-Ratzlaff Square Off For Szabo Leadership Post

Minority leadership selection.

Minority leadership selection.

As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

Reps. Clarice Navarro of Pueblo and Polly Lawrence of Douglas County are lobbying members of their Republican caucus to be the next assistant minority leader.

The office is now held by Rep. Libby Szabo of Arvada, who will be resigning as she was selected by a vacancy committee to serve on the Jefferson County board of commissioners. Her resignation date and the caucus election date are not known yet.

We could see this going either way, with Rep. Polly Lawrence having closer ties to House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso but Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff a favorite both of party activists and the Scott Gessler-allied GOP attorney class.

Sometimes these get publicly nasty, and sometimes they only get nasty behind closed doors. Sometimes there's no drama at all when leadership positions unexpectedly become available, but as bloggers we always hope for at least some token fireworks. We'll update should any occur.

Busted: Local Conservative Blog Systematically Inflates Stats

We interrupt our normal coverage of Colorado politics to notify our readers of something of…well, at least some importance, brought to our attention about a conservative blog that has been operating in our state for several years. Colorado Peak Politics has received occasional press attention as a source of Republican-leaning opinion and blog scuttlebutt, and has more or less replaced a hodge podge of GOP-leaning blog properties that have come and gone through the election cycles. Face the State, the People's Press Collective, and others you may have heard of previously occupied a niche now pretty much the exclusive domain of Peak Politics.

Peak Politics represents itself as highly influential, frequently comparing its influence to that of this blog, and sometimes even suggesting that they have "surpassed" us as the leading blog in Colorado politics. Now, we have no interest in getting into some kind of pissing match with other blogs, so we haven't seen any reason to engage these claims. But we'll admit that we have been impressed by some of the visible statistics for social media sharing on Peak Politics. For example, they recently posted an item about the Jefferson County school board drama that looks like it had a lot of Facebook shares.


For a blog focused on Colorado politics, from our experience this would be a pretty solid indicator of social media "virality." Extrapolating the number of people who would have viewed all of these supposed shared instances, that number certainly indicates a respectable total readership for this blog post.

The only problem is, that number is fake.

We were directed this past weekend to a Facebook developer resource tool. This tool returns a simple text response via the Facebook "Application Program Interface" (API) to queries about any given URL on the web. Facebook, as you can expect, keeps very good track of the number of times a web page is shared within their system. In your browser address window, you can enter https://graph.facebook.com/?id=, then paste any URL on the web into the space after ?id=. Facebook will return a text page with the number of Facebook shares and comments to this URL.

Following this procedure for the URL for the above Colorado Peak Politics post reveals that it has been shared a total of 61 times on Facebook–about 17% of the number publicly indicated on their website. To be as generous as we can, we'll admit that the correct count of 61 isn't horrible either–but it is a small fraction of the total number they claim.

Once we started running other Colorado Peak Politics blog posts through this Facebook API checker, we found what appears to be systematic inflation of their indicated number of Facebook shares. A post yesterday attacking local Democratic consultant Laura Chapin shows 67 Facebook shares as of this writing. The Facebook API says it has only been shared four times. Another post about Gov. John Hickenlooper's State of the State address claims 24 Facebook shares, Facebook itself says there were exactly two. To varying degrees that we haven't found a pattern to explain, basically every single blog post on Colorado Peak Politics has been misrepresented in this way.

Sources tell us that what they are doing may not be technically complicated. Because they are using a third-party "share button" application, it may be as simple as the share buttons recording clicks for "shares" that are never completed through the API for Facebook–or Twitter, presumably, since the Tweet counts for their pages show similar signs of inflation. The best theory we have been given, in short, is that somebody associated with Colorado Peak Politics is clicking on the share buttons for their posts repeatedly to inflate their displayed count. No matter what the excuse is, we have been assured that the share count returned by Facebook directly via this query is correct.

Bottom line: in over a decade of operation, we've been able to interact constructively with local conservative blogs, middle-road blogs, and liberal blogs alike. We consider an influential and diverse blogosphere to be a critical piece of the total range of news and opinion available to voters and citizens.

But being dishonest about that influence doesn't help anyone. So let's please cut that out.