Intensifying personhood debate should put media spotlight on Gardner, who stood with personhood when it was first launched

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The kickoff rally to oppose Amendment 67, which would add "unborn human beings” to Colorado's criminal code and wrongful death act, is set for tomorrow at 12:15 p.m. on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol, exactly 45 minutes after proponents of the Personhood-USA-backed measure stage a counter protest at the same location.

If you re-wind just over six years ago to the State Capitol, you'd find a related news event taking place: the 2008 personhood amendment was picking up its first real legitimacy. Personhood activists staged a press conference with, as Channel 7 reported at the time, "some of Colorado's most conservative leaders," including Bill Cadman, Mike Kopp, and Josh Penry. (Watch it here.)

Also present was then State Rep. Cory Gardner, who you can see on the left of the screen shot below.

Gardner and the others got a shout-out from Kristi Burton, the initiator of the 2008 personhood effort, in a subsequent news release about the event:

Colorado for Equal Rights and State Senator Scott Renfroe organized a press conference in which ten state legislators gave their public support to the Colorado Human Life Amendment. Endorsements were given by State Senators Scott Renfroe, Greg Brophy, David Schultheis, Mike Kopp, Josh Penry, Ted Harvey, and Bill Cadman and State Representatives Kent Lambert, Jerry Sonnenberg, and Corey Gardner.

Colorado for Equal Rights applauds the courage of these state legislators in stepping out and taking a stand for those people who have no voice…the unborn. As Senator Greg Brophy stated, "Clearly it's always the right time to take the stand for the sanctity of life."

The underlying politics of this year's Personhood-backed amendment is obviously a major part of the story. And no one illustrates the shifting politics better than GOP senatorial candidate Gardner.

Tomorrow's events provide an excellent opportunity for reporters to clarify how Gardner's position on Amendment 67, which he's said he opposes, squares with his position on federal personhood legislation, which he cosponsored in July of last year.

Recently, Gardner's spokesman told The Denver Post that the federal bill is simply an expression of belief, not a proposed law. This is factually incorrect, and journalists should find out directly from Gardner what his own thinking on the legislation is. If it turns out he opposes it, will he un-cosponsor it by making a speech? If he supports it, what does he think the federal legislation would actually do, if anything?

Aurora Shooting Victim’s Dad Calls Out Mike Coffman

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

​Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the mass shooting at the Century Theater in Aurora, in which 12 people were killed and some 70 injured after a gunman burst into the theater and began shooting indiscriminately. Since that time, the debate over gun policy has raged in Colorado and across the nation, with both sides honoring the victims of gun violence while disagreeing about the solution.

But apparently, as this statement we received from the father of a victim of the Aurora shootings says, some politicians can't even be bothered to commemorate this tragic event only two years later. Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex Sullivan died in the Aurora theater shooting, has this to say about Aurora's representative in Congressman Mike Coffman:

One day before the two-year anniversary of the Aurora theater shooting – in which 12 people were killed and 58 were wounded – Representative Mike Coffman came back to Aurora to hold meetings with constituents.  But Rep. Coffman has not yet taken action to honor the victims of the Aurora shooting and keep guns out of dangerous hands. Tom Sullivan, the father of Aurora victim Alex Sullivan, released the following statement:

"Two years ago my son Alex was killed.  He wasn't in the wrong place at the wrong time – he was at the movies to celebrate his birthday.

"I'm disappointed to see Rep. Coffman come back to Aurora the day before the anniversary, but not honor the tragedy with action.  He has not yet supported federal legislation that would do what we've already done here in Colorado – close the loophole that allows criminals and other dangerous people to buy guns without a background check.  We know this solution works because since the law went into effect last year, dangerous people are already being blocked from buying guns. 

"I hope Rep. Coffman does the right thing and honors the victims of that horrible tragedy with action in Washington, not more partisan excuses."

According to Coffman's Facebook page, he attended the Dragon Boat Festival at Sloan's Lake in west Denver on Saturday, as well as constituent meetings at MLK Library in Aurora. But in addition to Sullivan's point about Coffman having taken no action in Washington on gun safety as Aurora's representative, we can't find anything from Coffman acknowledging the 2nd anniversary of the Aurora shooting at all. There were several events this weekend, including a tree-planting event at Aurora's new Hope Park attended by Gov. John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan–but Coffman wasn't listed as a guest. We haven't seen anything on Coffman's campaign or congressional websites, campaign or official Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, or anywhere else to indicate he commemorated the shooting anniversary in any way.

If Coffman did do anything to observe the most tragic event suffered by his district in many, many years, he apparently didn't want anybody to know about it. And we don't have a good explanation for that.

WSJ: Gardner Pinned By “Personhood”

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

An excellent story from the Wall Street Journal's Beth Reinhard today explains in depth to a national audience the ongoing problem faced by GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner we've been talking about for months–his halfway flip-flop away from longstanding prior support for the "Personhood" abortion ban initiatives that have failed repeatedly on the Colorado statewide ballot. In addition, Gardner faces growing questions about his continued sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act, which contains matching language from the Personhood abortion bans that would also outlaw common forms of birth control. Today's WSJ story is behind a paywall, so here's a teaser–go subscribe, or find a friend with a subscription to read the whole thing:

Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican candidate for a Senate seat in Colorado, is trying to move away from the thorny issue of "personhood."

His problem is that neither his foes on the left nor some friends on the right will let him.

Shortly after entering the race against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in February, Mr. Gardner disavowed his past support for the idea at the heart of the personhood movement, which is to give a fertilized egg the same rights as a person, thereby outlawing abortion and some forms of birth control. In backing away, he even called for the sale of birth control over the counter…

"Cory Gardner is a big disappointment, since he was firmly on our side, and now he's throwing that away for greater political aspirations," said Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman for Personhood USA, the lead sponsor of the ballot question. [Pols emphasis]

Mr. Gardner has said he changed his mind because Colorado voters twice rejected constitutional amendments on the issue, in 2008 and 2010. He also said he hadn't realized that access to birth control could have been affected. Mr. Gardner is listed as a co-sponsor of a House bill that says life begins at conception.

As we discussed last Wednesday, Gardner's continued sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act, while claiming to have disavowed Colorado's Personhood abortion bans, creates a major conflict. Both the Personhood abortion ban amendments and the Life at Conception Act contain the same language about human life beginning "at the moment of fertilization." This language is what would have the consequence, either intended or not, of outlawing so-called "abortifacient" forms of birth control. Denver Post reporter Mark Matthews asked Gardner's campaign about this apparent contradiction, and was told by Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano that the federal abortion ban bill would make "no change to contraception laws as Senator Udall falsely alleges."

But that's not true. It's the same language. At some point, this false distinction is going to burn Gardner's campaign yet again.

In the meantime, as the WSJ makes clear, Gardner still has a big problem. Even the most GOP-friendly polling in this race shows that this issue has already given Gardner's opponent Sen. Mark Udall a commanding lead with women voters. On the other side, the pro-life right wing is equally upset with Gardner's "pandering" to the left by backing off of what was previously a no-compromise stand against abortion under any circumstances.

Bottom line: there's a very simple reason why Gardner and his campaign affects exasperation with having to answer questions about banning abortion over and over, wondering aloud why reporters can't come up with "something else to talk about."

Like Ken Buck before him, this could be the issue that sinks Cory Gardner.

Call For Beauprez To Send Christie’s Corruption Packing

(We need more GOP governors…like Chris Christie? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

As questions continue to grow about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's involvement in the "Bridgegate" corruption scandal, ProgressNow Colorado, the state's largest online progressive advocacy organization, today called on Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez to withdraw from a joint fundraiser in Denver this week with Christie.

"Both Ways Bob Beauprez talks about bringing integrity to Colorado, but he's participating in a fundraiser with one of America's most famously corrupt governors in Denver this week," said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. "The Bridgegate scandal, which has resulted in state and federal investigations of Gov. Christie, makes Christie's appearance with Bob Beauprez a shocking affront to the citizens of Colorado."

ProgressNow Colorado received word that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is hosting a fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association this Wednesday at Denver's Capital Grille. Bob Beauprez, the GOP Colorado gubernatorial nominee, is the event's "special guest."

"Chris Christie endorsed Bob Beauprez as a candidate 'willing to step up and make Colorado strong,'" said Runyon-Harms. "But now the whole nation understands what Christie means by 'stepping up': wielding political power like a mob boss no matter who gets hurt. When Christie's administration saw a chance to retaliate against a political enemy, they took it, even if that meant making thousands of people suffer."

"If scandal-plagued Chris Christie is the type of politician Both Ways Bob Beauprez wants to associate with, that speaks volumes about Beauprez's character," said Runyon-Harms, "We call on 'Both Ways Bob' Beauprez to disavow the upcoming fundraiser with Chris Christie, as well as Christie's brand of sleazy East Coast corruption–instead of inviting it to our state."

Peter Marcus to replace Joe Hanel at the Durango Herald

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

I had convinced myself, based on nothing except the rip tide that's pulling political reporters out of Colorado, that The Durango Herald wouldn't replace its Denver correspondent, Joe Hanel, who left in May after rising to become one best political journalists in the state.

But I was wrong. The Herald has hired Peter Marcus, who left The Colorado Statesman Friday, to replace Hanel as its Denver Correspondent.

Asked what he'll be covering, Marcus said via email:

Marcus: "As much as I'd love to be working in Durango — that town is so amazing — I'll actually be stationed out of the Capitol, holding down the bureau. It's really critical that southwest Colorado have a link to the happenings in Denver. They don't get Colorado news down there. The broadcasts are out of Albuquerque, but the people don't relate to New Mexico. They're Coloradans. So, it's crucial that they have a link to the news and happenings coming out of Denver, because the decisions that happen in the Mile High City greatly impact their lives, and they should be able to have a say in what's going on.

During the legislative session, I'll be mostly covering the legislature for the Herald. More immediately, I'm going to be jumping right into campaign season. It's not going to be much of a jump for me. That's been part of my beat at The Statesman. But I'll also take a close look at the courts and the state boards — especially mining, water and oil and gas — because actions by those authorities are of great importance to our readership."

I asked Marcus, who starts at the Herald today, about the journalism road that led him to his new job:

Marcus: "It was a bit sad saying goodbye to the Statesman on Friday. That paper really came through for me at a clutch time, when I was seriously considering getting out of journalism. I was the assistant editor over at the Denver Daily News, it was around July 2011, and the paper just suddenly shut down. It literally just shut down in a second. I was out interviewing a Denver city employee for an investigation I was working on, and my phone went off, and it was a text from my editor saying, "Don't worry about coming back to the office, the paper just folded." It was shocking, to say the least.

After that, I was sort of losing faith in the industry a little bit. I still had the bug for journalism, but there just weren't too many options available to me at that time. That's when I started freelancing for The Statesman. Jody Strogoff, the editor, she saw something in me and allowed me to take on a few assignments for her. I had been covering the statehouse for the Denver Daily News, but it certainly wasn't my primary beat, so Jody sort of took a risk on me.

I started covering the reapportionment hearings at the time. That was a pretty big deal to The Statesman, given the paper's legislative focus. Reapportionment can be a tough subject to just sort of dive into, but I got it done, and I think Jody started feeling a bit more comfortable. Soon I was a staff writer for the paper, primarily focused on the state legislature.

Where it all got started for me was at the Longmont Times-Call. I was an intern there for a while in 2005 right after graduating from Ithaca College where I majored in journalism. I sort of just packed up my car in New York and moved to Colorado. I had a tight crew of friends moving out here, but I didn't have a job or anything like that. But then I landed the Times-Call gig and that's where I really got addicted to this thing. It's funny, I ran into Trevor Hughes at the Capitol the other day. Trevor was at the Times-Call when I was there. He now works for USA Today. Anyway, Trevor took me out on my first breaking news assignment. It was a bank robbery in Longmont. When I saw him, it all came back to me. I guess some of us just can't say goodbye to being newsmen."

I also asked Marcus how it felt to be replacing the widely respected Joe Hanel.

Marcus: I can't begin to explain to you how big of a deal it is that I'm replacing Hanel. His legacy over at the Capitol could possibly be eternal. Hanel held down the Herald's bureau position with pride, class and professionalism. He really set the bar. As I've been telling people that I'm moving over to the Herald, their responses have usually been, 'Wow, those are some big shoes to fill.' Indeed. If I come anywhere close to filling Joe's shoes, I'll feel like I have done my job. He gave me some good advice after I told him I got the gig. Hanel goes, 'Just don't fuck it up.'

I told Marcus that his fans at The Statesman will undoubtedly miss him. Here's his response:

Marcus: I'm going to miss The Statesman very much. Beyond just allowing me to stay in the game so that I could move on to other opportunities, it's been a real home for me. The stories are definitely on the long side, and they're catered for the truly wonky political crowd. But there was something really fantastic about being able to delve into subjects with such complexity and detail. The Statesman is a true institution in the Colorado political world, and it was an honor to represent them over the past few years. They haven't filled my old position yet, but I understand that there have been some interested and qualified candidates expressing interest.

“Honk for Cronk” for State Representative

My campaign for HD37 is going extremely well!. While we may not be in the Colorado Pols Top Ten Races, we are not far behind (possibly 12th?), and have a serious chance at pulling out a surprise win in the southern suburbs. Here’s why:

1. It’s an open seat with a history of close races. In 2006, Angela Engel (D) received 49% of the vote. Other races since have remained in the high 40s, even with several non-aggressive D candidates.

2. I was drafted to run by a vacancy committee when Marlo Alston dropped out of the race in April. At the time, I was also running for re-election to the local Fire Board.

3. I won re-election to the Cunningham Fire Protection District on May 6th, netting the top vote count out of seven candidates. I did it by talking to R’s, D’s, U’s and I’s alike. My philosophy of respecting our workers while safeguarding our citizen’s tax money is appreciated (shout-out to CPFF Local 3027!). We started campaigning for HD37 the very next day.

4. In six weeks, from May 7th, until the June 25th filing, I raised $9000. We’re still rockin’ it.

5. My opponent — and I have nothing bad to say about him (we are running a clean, positive campaign) — lost a Centennial City Council race to Democrat CJ Whelan, another member of the CFPD Fire Board.

6. I’ve lived in the S.E.Aurora/ E. Centennial area for 24 years and have raised a family there. I have good name recognition in my district from years of volunteering for non-profits and in the public schools.

7. My full-time campaign manager and I talk to everyone we can — and we listen. You don’t get more grassroots than that.

8. Representative John Buckner, a friend to unions, to teachers and to working families (as am I), won his election two years ago in the formerly GOP district just north of mine, and won it by a 13 point spread! We only need 5 points. He did it doing the same thing we are doing.

9. The Centennial area is changing demographically. While knocking on doors, I’m seeing many people who are fed up with the extreme partisanship, obstructionist politics, and radical agendas of the far right. Door after door, people are telling us they want common sense, compassion, and community. They want grown-up politics, positive messaging, and good ideas. They point to negative fliers cluttering their porches (Gardner v. Udall, mostly), then hold up our positive literature and tell me it is “refreshing”.

In the last two days, I’ve had three registered Republicans tell me they were going to vote for at least one Democrat this time around. One said, “I don’t hate my gay neighbors, and I am tired of people telling me I should.” Another one said, “The gun debate has gotten out of control. I have guns but I think background checks are fine.” The third told me, “The Affordable Care Act was good for my business.”

10. We’re getting great press.
Elect Nancy Cronk for State Representative
District 37 Democrat Makes Late Entry
Cronk Seeks To Turn HD37 Blue

Come walk with us and see for yourself! It just might make you believe in community-based representation again! If you can’t walk, or you don’t have time to join us, please contribute here: http://www.NancyCronk.com.

Monday Open Thread

"The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face."

–William Makepeace Thackeray

An Assessor, a Sugar Daddy, and “Infilling” Open Space in El Paso County

UPDATE: KRDO has picked up this story, and citizens are calling for Lowderman to resign. There is an "appearance of impropriety", according to current El Paso Treasurer Bob Balink.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Something is rotten in El Paso County.

 It’s not the persistent dank from the recent flooding.  It’s not the shower mold from Sheriff Maketa’s selfies.  There is, however, quite a stench wafting from the recent campaign finance violation of the El Paso County Tax Assessor, Mark Lowderman. Lowderman sent out 20,000 campaign mailers on the taxpayer’s dime.  Ostensibly informing seniors about a tax credit, the mailers described Mr. Lowderman in glowing terms, coincidentally, the same terms as his campaign literature.  A complaint was filed, Lowderman was fined and penalized $14,580, yet is running unopposed for the County Treasurer’s office, and  will almost certainly be the next El Paso County Treasurer. Matt Lowderman, Candidate for El Paso County Treasurer

The El Paso County Commissioners appear to be no more concerned about Lowderman's ethical lapse than they were about Sheriff Maketa's hijinks.  The Commissioners "circled the wagons" to protect Maketa for years, according to an insider source. The County Comissioners also had to have known about Lowderman's ethical lapses – yet there is no record of any censure of the Assessor. The Board of Commissioners is reputed to be marshalllng resources to overturn the Administrative Judge's ruling on Lowderman's finance complaint. El Paso is apparently the swamp where ethics go to die. "At every turn, it's dirty," said an informed source.

That would explain the smell. Wafting from the swamp is the funk of the aggregate $17,500 campaign donations Lowderman received from David Jenkins, Chairman of Nor'wood Development Corporation, the largest property owner and developer in El Paso County, within 10 days of Jenkins buying the biggest parcel of property in the County – the legendary Bannings / Lewis Ranch. Donations to Lowderman's campaign for Treasurer were dated May 30 – June 2, 2014. The Banning- Lewis property sale was announced by Nor'wood on June 10, 2014.

Banning-Lewis Ranch AreaThe 30,000 acre Banning-Lewis Ranch is larger than Manhattan Island.   Property developers, open space advocates and environmentalists,  are all very interested in the property.  Oil and gas developers tried a few test drills, but gave up because of poor results. The last family owners of the land, Mrs. Banning and Mr. Lewis, were careful conservationists of the land. The 2008 agreement and master plan stipulated that 12,000 acres of pristine open space in the land would be preserved. However, developers have been drooling for decades about the "infill" profitabilities (infill  means filling in open space with housing,  and malls) of a new city on eastern boundary of Colorado Springs. It is not at all certain how much open space will be left in the final development of the Banning / Lewis ranch.

Mr. Jenkins just donated $17,500 to the guy whose job it is to value property in El Paso County. Obviously, the lower the assessed value, the lower the taxes to be paid, and the higher profit for development as the parcels are "infilled".  Millions of dollars are in play.

David Jenkins has not been a big political sugar daddy – except for Mark Lowderman. Over the last 10 years, he has contributed about $42,000 to candidates and committees in the Springs area. His $17,500 donations to Lowderman are approximately 40% of that total. So it is certainly intriguing that Jenkins has suddenly made such large donations to a tax assessor, running for County Treasurer, a man known to be ethically challenged, within 10 days of finalizing a potentially incredibly profitable land deal. 

It’s just not passing the smell test.

 

 

Graphics from the Lowderman campaign website, and the City of Colorado Springs.

Craig Silverman talks about his new talk-radio show

Craig Silverman returned to Denver’s radio waves a couple weeks ago, as you may know if you saw my recent blog post criticizing him for failing to challenge senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s assertion that Sen. Mark Udall is simply “trying to distract voters” by attacking Gardner for his extreme anti-choice record, which isn’t “top of mind for people.”

I’m glad to see Silverman back on the air. He can be an entertaining and/or gutsy interviewer, whose questions have had an impact on Colorado beyond what most people realize. Plus, I appreciate almost any local voice, as we lose more and more of them to the corporate media monolith.

Silverman’s show airs on KNUS 710-AM Saturdays, from 9 to noon. He’s the latest talk-radio host to be resurrected by KNUS, which is featuring a local lineup that includes Peter Boyles, Dan Caplis, Steve Kelley, Bill Rogan, Jimmy Sengenberger, Matt Dunn, Krista Kafer, and others.

Silverman answers a few of my questions below about his new show.

Jason: Tell me what the show will focus on.

Silverman: The Craig Silverman Show will focus on current events and entertaining, thought provoking topics. We will look at the week that was, enjoy the weekend, and look forward to the week ahead. I’ll have a regular feature named CRAIG’S LAWYERS’ LOUNGE in which we create a forum for prominent attorneys to relax and tell us their war stories. My first guest was Johnny Carson’s former attorney, Henry Bushkin, who told us about the best lawyering job he ever did for Johnny, and how Johnny packed heat.

For a feature named Call of the Week, I had on famous progressive and regular talk show caller, Frank, the leftie lawyer, whose real name I know. Frank had called Dan Caplis to say how little courage he thinks Governor Hickenlooper possesses, and it bothers him such that he has decided to vote for Bob Beauprez. Wow, that was news! Bob Beauprez may really win. So I had Frank on to accept his award toward the end of the show and he was funny and grateful and it was a nice way to end a terrific debut show. Here is a link to the last hour of my show with Bushkin and Frank. Hour one is here and this is hour two.

Jason: Will you welcome progressive callers?

Silverman: Absolutely. You won’t have to say “ditto” or “you are a great American” to get on our shows. I welcome all callers and, as a lawyer, I appreciate a good argument. I like to banter. Besides, unlike some famous talk show hosts, I don’t know everything. I still have a lot to learn. My point of view is rarely too rigid to accommodate new information and good arguments.

Jason: What do you say to progressives who say there’s no significant difference, on the political spectrum, between you and Dan Caplis?

Silverman: I would say those people must get a mental health check-up. Dan and I have some areas of agreement. Neither one of us wanted Ward Churchill to continue as a Professor at CU. Dan never thought that Barack Obama would be a good President and it turns out he was correct. But I was right about Mel Gibson. Dan is pro-life and I favor a woman’s right to choose (1st trimester please). I support gay marriage. Dan doesn’t. Dan favors cannabis prohibition and I believe the war on marijuana was hypocritical and unsuccessful. I support the separation of church and state, and the separation of state and church. Live and let live. But don’t hurt people.

Jason: You mentioned that you’ll be adding some unusual segments each week, announcing a guest of the week and question of the week from KNUS shows. Are you going to listen to all KNUS shows of Boyles, Caplis, Kelley, to get these?

Silverman: My segments are creative and fun and ideally suited for the weekend. I will announce the weekly winner for Best Guest, Call of the Week, Best TV Bite of the Week, and Best Question. The winner is highly subjective and based strictly on the portions of talk radio and television that come to my attention. People can let me know their nominations and give me links to consider on my Facebook page or twitter @CraigsColorado. I listen to KNUS more than any other media right now because I find the topics interesting and appreciate the quality of its national and local hosts.

Jason: I know you’re happy to be back on the air. But can you give me a sense of just how important and gratifying it is for you to have a KNUS show? What’s driving you to do this? It can’t be the money or the audience on KNUS Saturday mornings?

Silverman: KNUS is the best place to be right now. They are spending more money than the competition, and it shows. Advertising and ratings are strong and growing. The management, staff, and the production teams are top notch and have great attitudes.

If people haven’t checked out 710 KNUS in a while, they should, especially for my show. Peter Boyles has the station cooking with gas and he is not a Christian and he is not a Republican. Neither am I.

As for what drives me, I’m getting paid a fair amount to do something I enjoy, and few things concentrate the mind like live broadcasting. Its stimulating to ponder the great issues of the day. Many of my old advertisers have signed up to sponsor my new show so don’t think this is a non-profit. The audience for 710 KNUS is large and I hope to make it larger. What else do you want to listen to at 9:00 on a Saturday morning? The Mutual Fund Show? An infomercial about how green tea cures cancer? A replay of NPR’s seven a.m. hour. An older than dirt Car Talk segment? Did you know those car guys retired in 2012 and the show is all repeats?

Jason: Please explain briefly how you got your start in radio, when you joined Caplis, when that ended, and anything else about your media career.

Silverman: I have been part of Colorado media for decades now. I worked for the Denver DA’s Office from 1980 to 1996 where I was a Chief Deputy District Attorney. I handled many big cases that were covered by the media and I was accordingly asked to do commentary on other cases. I was the first Colorado attorney to be a guest commentator on Court TV in their studios in New York and I commented frequently for the LA Times and numerous other media outlets about the botched prosecution of OJ Simpson. It was during that trial and while I was Chief Deputy DA that I would leave my government job at 5:00 and rush over to Channel 9 to analyze the OJ case with Ed Sardella, Adelle Arawakawa, and Scott Robinson. Then, I would run over to the radio studio of The Dan Caplis Show to add further commentary on that incredible OJ case. In 1996, I ran as an unaffiliated/independent candidate for Denver District Attorney against incumbent Democrat Bill Ritter. I lost but it was a hell of a campaign that received extensive coverage from the local media and newspapers. The Rocky Mountain News endorsed me. The Denver Post did not like me, especially because I had successfully prosecuted a death penalty case (People v. Frank Rodriguez).

My campaign theme was that Politics and Prosecution are a Poor Mix but I lost and I was pressed into private practice. I quickly partnered with my good friend and former Denver DA’s office colleague David Olivas and we have had the law firm of Silverman & Olivas, P.C. for almost 20 years now.

I lost the election in November of 1996 and in December of 1996, the tragic murder of JonBenet Ramsey happened and I was called by members of the media to comment on the case. Peter Boyles had me on regularly. I was on ABC’s Nightline which led to the people at Rivera Live seeing me and liking me and then having me on that hugely successfully CNBC show many dozens of times. I was hired in 1997 to be the legal analyst for KGMH Channel 7 and I did that for ten years until the radio show interfered.

Since Jon Benet, there have been other fascinating Colorado situations including Oklahoma City Bombing Trial, Columbine, and the Kobe Bryant case. I have appeared hundreds of times on various national television shows, and in local and national newspapers, discussing these and other legal matters.

During the Kobe Bryant case, I was up in Eagle covering the situation for Channel 7 and also as a paid legal analyst for 850 KOA. Alex Stone and I were roommates up there and Dan Caplis was hosting a Saturday morning show on KOA. I was a regular guest again with Dan and he started doing some fill in work on KOA’s evening talk shows and then, Ken Saso passed away, and Dan Caplis was the evening talk show host in his absence. I was a regular guest and Kris Olinger who was a great program director liked Caplis and Silverman and came up with the idea for us to do an afternoon drive time show on 630 KHOW. We did the show for 8 years from the summer of 2004 to the summer of 2012 and we won every available award at one point or another for our broadcast excellence. We broadcast live from the Democratic National Convention and we each penned daily columns for the late great Rocky Mountain News during that DNC week.

Some people like a certain Jason Salzman thought I should be more liberal to counteract Dan’s conservatism but that was never what we were meant to be. Besides, I could not play the part of a complete progressive because I am not. I am liberal compared to Dan Caplis but conservative compared to Jason Salzman. I defy easy categorization.

What I am is a trial lawyer who likes to put on a winning show. That is what I’ll try to do every Saturday. It will be like nothing like Colorado talk radio listeners have ever heard before and I hope everybody will enjoy it.

Making a Joke of the IRS “Scandal”

WCSLogo

As reported by the UK Daily Mail's U.S. political editor David Martsoko from the Western Conservative Summit this weekend in Denver–apparently, Centennial Institute director and WCS organizer John Andrews has found a slick way around his group's pesky 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity status, which ordinarily would not allow the WCS to talk about political candidates and the upcoming 2014 elections:

'Sirloin' and 'tofu' have become code words for 'Republican' and 'Democrat' in Colorado, and a former right-wing state legislator assigned liberals the role of pressed bean curd during a conservative convention in Denver.

John Andrews, president of the Colorado state Senate until 2005 and now Director of the Centennial Institute – an affiliate of Colorado Christian College – told a crowd estimated at 3,000 that speakers at the three-day session would not be permitted to talk about candidates, parties or elections…

'You have probably noticed that as we brought out Bob Beauprez and Cory Gardner, that something was missing,' he said. 'Something was not said about them or by them about how they're spending 2014.'

'I can give you the reason why in two words: Lois Lerner.'

'…So let's just make this agreement … If you form a mental association between "Republican" and "sirloin," and between "Democrat" and "tofu," and I was to say to you that every time I whiff Bob Beauprez or Cory Gardner it makes me wanna eat more sirloin and less tofu, you would know what I was talking about, right?' [Pols emphasis]

Note how Andrews invoked Lois Lerner, the former IRS official vilified by the right as part of the scandal over conservative-leaning groups "singled out" for scrutiny of their tax-exempt status applications. The truth of that story is not nearly so simple, or in the end controversial–many left-leaning organizations faced the same level of scrutiny as conservative ones. Nonetheless, it's become a part of the vast body of anti-Obama mythology accepted on faith by the conservative base today.

But never mind all that, because John Andrews just made a joke of the whole thing! It's tough to imagine a better way to justify IRS scrutiny than to start your 501(c)(3) "nonprofit" convention by explaining the event's partisan political code language. Might the IRS decide that's too ridiculous a pretense to ignore? Would Andrews still claim he's being persecuted if the IRS asks for a little clarification?

Hopefully. And probably.

Everybody And Their Mother Comes Out Against Local Control

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

As the Denver Post's Mark Jaffe reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper's press conference yesterday kicking off the opposition campaign against two local control ballot measures championed by Rep. Jared Polis left no confusion about where the governor stands–as if there ever was any.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday said two ballot measures aimed at giving local governments more control over oil and gas drilling would damage the state's economy and must be defeated…

"It is clear these initiatives will kill jobs and damage our state's economy," Hickenlooper said. "These measures risk thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in investment, and millions of dollars in tax revenue."

…Hickenlooper said Initiative 88 is the opposite of local control, for it sets a "arbitrary limit" across the state with no room to adjust it locally.

As for Initiative 89, Hickenlooper questioned whether local governments would have "the sophistication" to enforce it.

Via Gannett's Raju Chebium, Rep. Polis responds:

Democratic Rep. Jared Polis said one measure he wants to include on the state's November ballot would give local governments the power to approve or reject fracking operations without fear of reprisal from the oil and gas industry. Another measure would allow residents to decide how far fracking wells should be from their homes and businesses.

Fracking may be appropriate far from residential neighborhoods and in rural and industrial areas, but communities must have the ultimate say over whether the wells can sprout up nearby, he said.

"It's perfectly reasonable for residents to feel that it shouldn't be in residential neighborhoods. That should be up to them if they want it," Polis said. "If Loveland residents want fracking, they should be able to have it. If Fort Collins residents don't, they shouldn't be sued." [Pols emphasis]

Our understanding is that despite the swift closing of ranks against these initiatives on the part of Democratic insiders, Rep. Polis remains fully committed to passing them. The fact is, whatever fear has been put into establishment Democrats about consequences from running these initiatives, Polis can defensibly argue he is simply representing his district–where three cities have already passed moratoria, and in the case of Lafayette an outright ban, on hydraulic fracturing. That's a point getting lost as Democrats across the state–Mark Udall, Andrew Romanoff, Ed Perlmutter, and many others–fall in line behind Hickenlooper in opposition to these ballot measures, and the chattering class groupthink ramps up against them.

One of the most popular arguments against these initiatives aimed at Democrats is the assumption "certainty" that they will hurt Democratic electoral prospects this November, either directly or indirectly from the resources expended in the fight. We continue to see a plausible scenario wherein Democrats benefit from these initiatives by stoking turnout, even as individual Democratic candidates give themselves cover by opposing them. Today, as Democrats disappoint conservationists with their stand against local control, they still know Democrats are closer to their position than Republicans will ever be. While these initiatives might be setting up 2015 for a divisive blue-on-blue fight over the issue, that doesn't mean the damage will be felt at the polls this year.

And it wouldn't be the first time the voters proved bolder than the leaders.

Political TV talk show airs five days a week through Election Day in Denver

For those of you who used to complain about the shrinking length of TV sound bites, but now you’re grateful for any political blip on TV at all, take this: A local TV public-affairs show that airs five days a week.

That’s what Aaron Harber, who’s hosted public affairs programs here for years, in a unique partnership with The Denver Post, is bringing you this election season. That’s about 100 shows, some of which may be candidate debates like Harber has moderated in past elections.

The “Aaron Harber Show: Colorado Election 2014″ launched about three weeks ago, and the string of guests continues to impress: Ryan Call, Scott Gessler, Ken Buck, Diane Carman, Dick Lamm, Tom Tancredo, Steve Welchert, John Andrews, Mike Littwin, among others. (Okay, maybe they’re all not so impressive, but still.)

You can catch former State House Speaker (and impressive to boot) Mark Ferrandino Monday. The show is available in the morning (and first) on The Post website, and then broadcast on Denver commercial TV station KCDO-TV Channel 3 at 6:30 p.m. (3 p.m. next week) through Election Day. Below, see how else it’s being distributed.

Harbor is particularly excited about the partnership with The Post, which he hopes will push the show out to a much wider audience than you’d expect for a local TV public affairs program, like others produced locally.

The show “is the nation’s first daily political news show on a commercial over-the-air broadcast television station in conjunction with a major newspaper,” according to the show’s promotional materials, and, as such, “could be a model for the country to promote civil and mutually-respectful debate.”

“Can you have a partnership with a television station and a newspaper, where the newspaper gets the program first?” asks Harber. “In this case The Denver Post gets it in the morning and the television station gets it at 6:30 p.m. (3 p.m. next week). Can we make this work? The newspaper loves having the content first, and will that actually help viewing when the television broadcasts the show later? We think it can.”

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with Aaron and provide our readers and viewers with additional information for evaluating candidates and issues this election cycle,” Post Editor Greg Moore said in a Post article about the series. “We are impressed with Aaron’s ability to get political players to come to the table and discuss their views and we look forward to what we can create together.”

“Viewers get to see the guests in a more in-depth manner than they do on an average TV news program, where the average sound bite is 9 seconds,” Harber told me. “We’re trying to present people with a fact-based program that allows them to see various candidates and representatives of ballot initiatives.”

Harber says he’s gotten positive feedback on the show so far, but he’s tweaking it as it goes along, He’s had suggestions for improvement, like “maybe a new host,” he joked.

One possible show in the future, or a segment of future shows, might involve assembling a panel to critique political ads, kind of like the fact-checks on local TV stations but done in a discussion format, said Harber.

Here’s a summary, provided by Harber, of where you can catch the program:

The program will be highlighted in the morning newspaper every weekday and broadcast first on The Denver Post’s Website and made available 24/7 thereafter on DenverPost.com through the General Election.

After each daily premiere on The Denver Post, the show will be broadcast over-the-air as well as on cable and satellite from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm by KCDO-TV Channel 3 (K3 Colorado).

COMCAST Entertainment Television has agreed to carry the entire series statewide (with two broadcasts daily after the KCDO-TV Channel 3 broadcast).

To ensure even broader availability to voters, ION Television has agreed to carry the best shows of the series.

K3 will preempt the regular Sunday morning program 11:00 am time-slot for “The Aaron Harber Show” (right after most of the national political news shows) and re-broadcast the “best” program from the previous week to give the series even more exposure.

COMCAST also will make the entire series available 24/7 at no charge via its XFINITY [Video] on Demand service so all Colorado COMCAST customers can view the programs in HD at their convenience.

In conjunction with the Colorado Press Association, full-length programs and short segments also will be available to the 44 Colorado print and electronic participants in the Publishers Advantage Initiative (representing an additional 625,000 readers and viewers).

In conjunction with the Colorado Broadcasters Association, full-length programs and short segments also will be available to the every radio and television station in Colorado at no charge for use on their Websites (potentially representing an additional 1,725,000 viewers and readers).

Democrats Call Out Beauprez’s “47% Moment”

A press release from Colorado Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio this morning:

"Clearly Congressman Beauprez thinks he's better than Colorado's seniors, veterans, firefighters, students and hard-working families in our great state," Palacio said. "Instead of apologizing for his ridiculous and derisive comments, Congressman Beauprez stood by his remarks claiming that half of the population are freeloaders who are "perfectly happy" that someone else is paying the bill," said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio.

There are lots of politically self-destructive on-record moments for Bob Beauprez awaiting publicity, and although we've discussed a few of them in this space, the majority of that material has not been seen by Colorado voters. Democrats are right to zero in on Beauprez's "47% speech" early, given the similarity of his remarks to those made by Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign. For Romney, this was a gaffe from which his campaign arguably never recovered, and in hindsight was probably his fatal mistake. It's just too easy, as Colorado Democrats show in this video, to alienate such politicians from ordinary voters by explaining how, whether they realize it or not, they are either part of that 47% or know someone who is.

Once that sinks in, it's easy to make the case that Beauprez–like Romney–doesn't have their best interests at heart.