Bruce Ben$on’s GOP Debate Raises Interesting Questions

CU President Bruce Ben$on.

CU President Bruce Ben$on.

As the Boulder Daily Camera’s Sarah Kuta reports:

University of Colorado officials are working to finalize details ahead of the Republican presidential debate to be held on the Boulder campus in October…

Several campus officials, including members of the CU police force, traveled to Cleveland earlier this month to observe the logistics, security plans and media coordination efforts for the debates at the Quicken Loans Arena.

The decision to host a Republican presidential primary debate on the traditionally liberal University of Colorado Boulder campus might seem strange to outsiders, but that’s only because they don’t know CU’s arch-Republican President Bruce Benson. Benson, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate and longtime top funder of GOP candidates and campaigns, helps a Boulder GOP presidential debate make sense.

Even so, this is still the Boulder you hippies know and love we’re talking about:

CU is also preparing for protesters, who may use the debate to hold demonstrations about marijuana, tuition costs and policing, [CU police chief Melissa] Zak said.

“We will have our intelligence arm trying to look for that,” she said.

We fully expect that the presence of the entire gaggle of Republican presidential candidates, or at least the ones who make CNBC’s cut, will bring out a colorful range of demonstrators on a variety of topics. That will make for great establishing shots outside the debate venue, which the networks ought to love.

But what about inside?

No ticketing information has been made available yet by the debate hosts…

The question of who gets to attend the CU presidential debate will have a significant impact on the tenor of the debate, and how it’s perceived by the public. There’s no word as of this writing what the breakdown of distribution of tickets to the debate will be, but insofar as CU’s brand is being enlisted to give this GOP debate credibility, we’d say the CU student body should comprise a significant percentage of the audience.

It’s true, this might also have the effect of demonstrating that the gap between at least some of these candidates and reality as CU students experience it is, well, quite large! How Donald Trump would fare under that lens is, we admit, potentially problematic–but it could give Republicans interested in appealing to socially well-adjusted young voters a chance to shine.

Honestly, that might be reason enough right there for “Ben$on” to let it happen. Or…not.

Either way, we’ll be very curious to see what happens here.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Aug. 21)

Get More Smarter

The Denver Broncos play their second preseason game tomorrow in Houston against the Texans; let’s all join hands in hope that nobody breaks Peyton Manning. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► It’s Friday, and the Gold King mine spill into the Animas River continues to dominate the political headlines. As Mark Matthews reports for the Denver Post, Congress may have been able to prevent this month’s wastewater spill…if Congress actually did stuff:

Twice in the mid-2000s, a program intended to clean up the mine-fouled waterways in the region around the Gold King Mine failed to find traction in Congress, where a fight between miners and environmentalists kept the idea from going forward. The legislation proposed by U.S. Reps. Scott McInnis and John Salazar in 2003 and 2006, respectively, would have created a pilot program in the Animas River watershed that would allow so-called good Samaritan groups to clean up polluted mines without fear of long-term liability…

…The program was aimed at getting a start on cleaning up waste from old mines in the area and could have at least lowered pre-spill levels of contaminants that have killed stretches in the watershed.

Advocates of good Samaritan legislation say the failed attempts were emblematic of a long-running fight in Congress, spearheaded by Colorado legislators, to find a way to deal with thousands of defunct and dirty mines in the West.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) are working together on a new version of the so-called “Good Samaritan” legislation.


► Famous rich person Donald Trump is on the cover of Time magazine because of his unexpected early success as a Republican candidate for President. Every now and again, Trump says something that makes you pause and consider whether maybe — just maybe — there is more to his candidacy than meets the eye:

As he bids farewell, he has a final thought, something he has been mulling over. It’s about that massive audience for the first Republican debate on Fox News, which he credits almost entirely to himself. On Sept. 16, CNN will host the next debate, under the direction of Jeff Zucker, the man who helped launch Trump’s NBC show, The Apprentice. Trump has no doubt it will be huge.

“Here’s my question: So if I go to CNN and I say, Look, you’re going to have a massive audience, and if I say to them, I want $10 million for charity, nothing for myself, what happens?”…

…“If I’m in it, they’ll get this crazy audience, and they’re going to make a fortune since they’re selling commercials every time we take a break. Would you ever say to them, would you ever say, I want $10 million for AIDS research, for cancer, for this type or not, or is it too cute?”

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Get More Smarter on Thursday (Aug. 20)


Happy World Mosquito Day–is that really something you wish on people? It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► GOP presidential candidate Jeb! Bush is headed to Denver next Tuesday for a public town hall on “veterans issues.” Liberal group ProgressNow Colorado is asking their members to attend and ask such pertinent questions as:

Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs is swamped with injured veterans of wars started by Jeb’s brother, former President George W. Bush. Will Jeb Bush continue to involve the United States in reckless wars, and if so, how will he take responsibility for the thousands of new injured veterans who will need care?

What about fellow Republican Mike Coffman’s failure to oversee the Aurora VA hospital project as chairman of the VA’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee?

Massive cost overruns for military weapons programs barely make the news these days, while a VA hospital running over budget is a nationwide headline. As President, would Jeb Bush continue to sink billions of dollars into unnecessary and expensive weapons, or will he direct that money to ensure veterans have the care they need?

Needless to say, getting Jeb’s answer on any of those would be newsworthy.

► Also, Jeb! says “anchor babies” is not an offensive term. Trump it up, Jeb!

In other Colorado presidential news, GOP operative Josh Penry will front Marco Rubio’s Colorado campaign, while Democrat Brad Komar will head up Colorado organizing efforts for Hillary Clinton.

► A new study from Stanford University, not exactly a liberal bastion, says that the real swing votes are unregistered, unlisted Americans who would vote Democratic if they cared to vote at all. Food for thought next time you hear the words “silent majority.”

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Jeb Bush in Denver next Tuesday: your help needed

We’ve just received details on former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s town hall meeting in Denver next Tuesday to discuss veterans issues. This meeting is open to the public, and we need as many progressives as possible to attend and ask the hard questions Bush needs to answer:

Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs is swamped with injured veterans of wars started by Jeb’s brother, former President George W. Bush. Will Jeb Bush continue to involve the United States in reckless wars, and if so, how will he take responsibility for the thousands of new injured veterans who will need care?

What about fellow Republican Mike Coffman’s failure to oversee the Aurora VA hospital project as chairman of the VA’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee?

Massive cost overruns for military weapons programs barely make the news these days, while a VA hospital running over budget is a nationwide headline. As President, would Jeb Bush continue to sink billions of dollars into unnecessary and expensive weapons, or will he direct that money to ensure veterans have the care they need?

Those are just a few questions we would like Jeb Bush to answer, and we know you’ve got your own as well. If you can make it, click here to get a ticket for Jeb Bush’s town hall in Denver next Tuesday morning.

Englewood Town Hall with Governor Jeb Bush
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 8:30 AM (MDT)
VFW Post 9644
2680 W Hampden Ave
Englewood, CO 80113

Thanks very much for your help holding Bush accountable. We hope to see you there! Let us know if you have questions.

Animas River Spill: The Looney Tunes Begin

Utah's EPA conspiracy theorist lawmakers: Sen. Margaret Dayton (R), Rep. Mike Noel (R).

Utah’s EPA conspiracy theorist lawmakers: Sen. Margaret Dayton (R), Rep. Mike Noel (R).

We haven’t seen anything like this yet from Colorado public officials, at least not in print–but over in Salt Lake City, as the Tribune’s Brian Maffly reports, Republican lawmakers are becoming quite…imaginative with their allegations against the federal government over the spill of polluted mine wastewater into southwest Colorado’s Animas River two weeks ago:

Two Utah lawmakers on Tuesday speculated that federal environmental officials might have deliberately triggered the Colorado mine release that sent 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into a San Juan River tributary, and asked Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to investigate the possibility.

Reyes was briefing the Utah Water Development Commission when Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, suggested the Environmental Protection Agency could have breached the Gold King Mine in an effort to justify Superfund designation for the long-dormant gold mine.

Rep. Mike Noel, whose district covers Utah’s southeastern corner, affected by the spill, joined Dayton in theorizing — neither offered evidence — that the EPA may have caused the release to help environmentalists put a halt to mining.

Reyes said he would inquire into the matter when he visits with EPA officials at the mine Wednesday to assess the spill site, but a Salt Lake City environmentalist blasted Dayton and Noel’s claim as “ridiculous, unprofessional, paranoid nonsense.” [Pols emphasis]

Animas River fouled by minewater spill near Silverton.

Animas River fouled by minewater spill near Silverton.

As locals following this story are aware, there has been no mining above Silverton along Cement Creek since the 1990s. The battle over Superfund designation for the area, which would unlock lots of federal funding for cleanup, is in part due to some local residents and large mining companies like Kinross Gold harboring dreams of hard rock mining resuming. But the major water pollution problems affecting these mines–long before this latest spill–make that unlikely. Another major reason local Silverton interests oppose a Superfund designation today is the possible stigmatic effect on tourism and land values.

The point is, water pollution from Silverton’s mines is a longstanding problem that everyone involved knew was getting worse. After the Sunnyside Mining Company (now owned by Kinross) halted mining operations, they installed crude bulkheads in their tunnels, which resulted in polluted wastewater backing up and eventually flowing into the Gold King Mine that’s the subject of news coverage today. Kinross denies any responsibility for the pollution flowing into or from the Gold King Mine, but all reporting we’ve read that actually delves into the area’s mine-addled hydrology says that’s nonsense.

Either way, the bottom line is the same: the Environmental Protection Agency didn’t create the pollution. Their job was to remediate it. Obviously, they screwed up when they punched through the entrance to the Gold King Mine and unleashed a torrent of polluted minewater. But the pollution was already there, waiting to flow forth at any moment.

It’s necessary to understand the above facts in order to realize just how preposterous it is that sitting Republican lawmakers are speculating the EPA might have intentionally caused this spill in order to “put a halt to mining.” This isn’t about present-day mining at all, it’s about cleaning up a legacy of toxic mining practices that threaten the health of thousands along the Animas River and its confluent waters. Including a fair number of Utahns.

So please, for the sake of everyone legitimately impacted by this disaster, cut the conspiracy theory crap.

Josh Penry Brings The Classy To Team Rubio

Josh Penry.

Josh Penry.

As the Denver Post’s John Frank reports:

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is starting to form his team in Colorado.

The campaign announced that Josh Penry, a former state Senate GOP leader, will serve as Rubio’s state chairman. The volunteer role will put him in charge of building an organization to support Rubio’s 2016 ahead of the Colorado caucuses in March.

Yes, that Josh Penry:

His pick as Colorado chairman drew a reaction from national Democrats in an email blast about “Marco retro-Rubio.” The Democratic National Committee highlighted Penry using the word “shrill” to describe Democrat Morgan Carroll, the former state Senate president mounting a campaign to challenge U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in the 6th District…

The DNC release also noted Penry’s remark in 2012 comparing [it] with one Penry gave in 2010 suggesting that Democrat Michael Bennet’s campaign “looked like the Student Body Association at an all-girls school” for its focus on abortion rights and birth control.

On the one hand, Josh Penry brings undeniable campaign experience in Colorado, with years under his belt organizing both for himself and fellow Republicans as one of the principals at GOP-aligned political consultant firm EIS Solutions.

On the other, you have Penry’s propensity for, if you will, verbal diarrhea. And as with Penry’s other client Rep. Mike Coffman, Penry’s (not so) smart mouth could end up doing more harm than good for Marco Rubio in the long run. For an ambitious and talkative guy like Penry, it’s worth keeping in mind at all times that being the story isn’t always a good idea for one’s client.

Thursday Open Thread

“There are some frauds so well conducted that it would be stupidity not to be deceived by them.”

–Charles Caleb Colton

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Aug. 19)

gmsmaverickHappy National Aviation Day! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► Continuing his cringeworthy GOP Alienation Tour, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump made big strides backward if his goal was ever securing the pivotal Hispanic vote–via the O’Reilly Factor last night:

Donald Trump clashed with Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday night over the part of his immigration plan that would take away citizenship from the children who were born in the United States but whose parents came to the country illegally.

Under the 14th Amendment, O’Reilly told Trump on “The O’Reilly Factor,” mass deportations of so-called birthright citizens cannot happen.

Trump disagreed, and said that “many lawyers are saying that’s not the way it is in terms of this.”

Not sure who those lawyers are, but this won’t win Trump any votes he doesn’t already have by the proverbial short hairs.

► Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee in his infinite wisdom declared that Martin Luther King would be “appalled” by the Black Lives Matter movement. And he knows this how exactly?

Ben Carson’s stop in Durango yesterday scared up a big crowd by Southwest Colorado standards, but left Durangoans worried about the future of polluting mines above Silverton with little reassurance:

Carson said he opposed Superfund status for Silverton as it might hurt the town’s reputation.

Safe to say, the 70,000+ people living along the Animas River don’t really care about Silverton’s reputation. They care about clean water.

► And the latest “gotcha” attempt on Hillary Clinton over her email services turns out to be old news. Rest assured, Trey Gowdy and friends will keep trying.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Despite Gardner’s claim, people in Colorado would suffer if Planned Parenthood were defunded

(Basically, Cory Gardner thinks you’re stupid – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

After he voted to defund Planned Parenthood, Sen. Cory Gardner hopped on the radio said, not to worry, no one in Colorado will suffer if the health organization loses federal funding.

“We voted to take the money from Planned Parenthood and distribute it to the community health clinics around the state of Colorado,” Gardner told KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis Aug. 13, vowing that the investigation of Planned Parenthood in Congress will continue. “There are nine times more community health clinics than there are Planned Parenthood clinics, and so they provide more access to women and men across the state.” (Listen to Caplis belowAug. 13 and also on Kelley and Company here on Aug. 10.)

It’s true that there are many more community health centers than Planned Parenthood clinics in our state. But this doesn’t mean that throwing more money at the community health clinics would provide equal or greater access to healthcare than what’s available now.

First of all, studies have shown that the community health center (CHC) network and federally qualified health center (FQHCs) network don’t offer all types of birth control and reproductive health care. That’s why many large community health centers actually factually refer patients to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood specializes in reproductive health care–while community health centers offer a wider range of services.

So it’s not surprising that even though Planned Parenthood operates just 10 percent of all publicly funded family clinics, 36 percent of patients seeking family-planning services turn to Planned Parenthood.

Poor people on Medicaid go disproportionately to Planned Parenthood for these services, and it’s unlikely that the safety net and the health care system, as currently configured, could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients. This means that defunding Planned Parenthood would weaken our country’s already weak safety net.


Castle Rock Fights Off United Nations Invasion

UPDATE: We’ve posted a few clips from last night’s Castle Rock town council meeting after the jump. You can watch Castle Rock’s city manager and another town employee warning of the consequences of refusing the CDBG grant money on existing recipients in Castle Rock. Then you can watch Castle Rock’s mayor decry the fact that organizations in his town are “dependent” on the federal government. Finally, a council member argues in favor of refusing the grant money, saying “let’s feel that pain.”

We can think of a few terms to describe this, but “responsible” isn’t one of them.


The Douglas County GOP warned of United Nations mischief afoot in a Tweet yesterday, right in their own hometown:

Castle Rock.

Castle Rock.

That’s right, folks! Those gun-grabbing social engineering commies at the United Nations have set their sights on the God-fearing town of Castle Rock, Colorado. Castle Rock as part of “urban” Douglas County has already been receiving Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from the federal government, but the town has grown enough to qualify for CDBG funds on its own. Now you’ll have to stick with us for a moment, because the path from a federal grant to totalitarian United Nations control of the sovereign citizens Castle Rock is a little convoluted–and not terribly evident in the list of potential uses for the funds in question:

Help to cover the cost of the summer lunch program for youth in the parks
Help provide funding to the Castle Rock Senior Center
Provide funding for after-school programs
Provide funding for a preschool scholarship fund

Along with other projects like upgrading parks and community centers, storm sewer maintenance, fire truck lease payments, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance work in downtown Castle Rock. The biggest change is that Castle Rock’s local grant recipient programs would apply to the town, not Douglas County, for these funds.

Can blue-helmeted stormtroopers in the streets of Castle Rock be far behind?

As posted to GOP Senate candidate Jess Loban's Facebook page.

As posted to GOP Senate candidate Jess Loban’s Facebook page.

But fortunately for America, the Castle Rock Town Council stood up to the United Nations and their damned preschool scholarship programs last night, overwhelmingly voting 5-1 against accepting the CDBG grant money. Reportedly, this vote rejected CDBG funds through Douglas County as well, leaving existing recipients in Castle Rock high and dry. Republican state senate candidate Jess Loban, running to replace Sen. Mark Scheffel in SD-4, nonetheless hailed the vote in a Facebook post:

We faced federal overreach in Castle Rock tonight. The feds sent our town council a letter mandating that they choose whether or not to take obligation-ridden (AFFH aka: Agenda 21) funds (only $212k). These came at the low price of having to accept federal direction on the growth of our town and becoming further subjects to federal intervention. Thank you to our Council, save one, who voted to not only turn away this offer but any other obligated funds. A special thanks to Council Members Jennifer Green, George Teal and Mayor Paul Donahue for your defense of our town’s right to self-govern.

And with that, Castle Rock is safe for another two years from preschool scholarships and money for their senior center! It’s true that the threats to our sacred American freedoms sometimes don’t seem all that threatening. Heck, sometimes it looks, well, a little crazy to take a stand for the flag, the Constitution, and the sacred chastity of our teenage daughters.

But that’s the moment when Real Americans® set aside logic, proportion, common sense, whatever you city folk want to call it, and do what has to be done.


Wednesday Open Thread

“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”

–Paulo Freire

BREAKING: Jeffco Recall Petitions Validated

Ken Witt, John Newkirk, Julie Williams (WNW).

Ken Witt, John Newkirk, Julie Williams (WNW).

A press release moments ago from Jeffco United confirms that the Jefferson County Clerk has validated petition signatures to force a recall of the conservative majority on the Jefferson County school board. For each of the three board members targeted, more than double the number of signatures were not just collected, but validated–which indicates a very high validity rate, and a clean petition drive.

Today, the Jeffco Clerk issued a statement of valid signatures to Jeffco United for Action of double the required 15,000 signatures per board member.

Ken Witt 33,942 valid signatures
John Newkirk 34,188 valid signatures
Julie Williams 33,900 valid signatures

“In an unprecedented move, we as a community collected more than double the number of valid signatures needed to recall school board members Witt, Newkirk and Williams in just over two weeks. The message is clear, the people of Jefferson County want to hold this Board Majority accountable and demand a recall vote on November 3rd,” started Tina Gurdikian, mother of two Jeffco students and one of the parents who pulled the recall petitions.

“We have done our job, and now it’s time to let the people vote on November 3rd whether the School Board Majority deserves to be recalled,” stated Michael Blanton, a father of two Jeffco students and parent who pulled the recall petitions.

Next, begins a 15-calendar day protest period. Any registered voter in the school district can file a protest. Once the protest period has ended on September 2nd, the Clerk will set the date for the election which the parents hope will be November 3rd to coincide with the existing coordinated election.

“Now is the time for our opponents to step up and ask their supporters to not protest the overwhelming intent of the Jeffco petition signers. Should they choose to play games, opponents to the recall will cost the school district over half a million dollars, dollars that could otherwise be going to benefit our students,” concluded Wendy McCord a mother of three Jeffco students and the third parent who pulled the recall petitions.

It remains to be seen whether a protest will be filed, but the huge margin over the minimum number of signatures needed to proceed with the recall all but guarantees any such challenge would be unsuccessful. That means the realistic best-case scenario would be to delay the recall election past November 3rd, not to prevent it. It’s an open question whether holding a separate election would benefit board members trying to survive the recall, or make it easier for the recall to succeed–we’ve heard arguments on both sides of this question.

Either way, a protest would result in a large additional expense for the district if the election isn’t held on November 3rd, and at this point recall opponents would take the blame if that were to occur. Given all of these variables, and the overall inevitability of a recall due to organizers smashing their petition goals, it’s possible that conservative supporters of the board majority will opt against a challenge.

That would be the smart play, because with this enormously successful petition drive, the Jeffco community and stakeholders in Jeffco’s public schools have expressed their desire clearly. 

They want a recall. And they’re going to get one.

Captionable: Marco Rubio’s Pass To The Next Generation


As recorded in Des Moines last night, bad but funny stuff just seems to happen to GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio when the cameras roll:

The pass, it should be said, was a fairly clean spiral from Rubio. It just missed the young boy’s hands and instead collided with his face.

The kid, the Rubio campaign said, was fine.

Afterward, Rubio and the youth shared a cool bottle of Poland Spring water! These two Rubio clips would make a great mashup: and depending on where Rubio goes in the GOP presidential primary, we might expect to see that in a campaign ad.

Not a friendly campaign ad, of course.