Rural Endorsement: Mark Udall For US Senate

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ten years ago we went to the ballot box and passed the first-ever citizens-initiated renewable portfolio standard in the nation, Amendment 37.  Under the leadership of its bi-partisan co-chairs Mark Udall and Lola Spradley, the initiative put a solid foundation under what would emerge as Colorado's 'New Energy Economy'.  Today, Colorado enjoys the second-highest RPS in the nation, a 30% goal by 2020 (which will be met early).  Today, an estimated 4,000 Coloradans are employed our wind sector – almost 200 times more than the promised 22 permanent jobs that would be created by the Keystone pipeline – with nearly six billion dollars invested in wind projects across rural Colorado.

The net effects of those investments touch the lives of both rural and urban Coloradans each and every day: rural areas enjoy the bounty of the increased tax base, offering the opportunity to both lower local property taxes overall, and to provide new revenue streams for local economic development.  Urban consumers benefit from ever-decreasing costs of wholesale power to their investor-owned utility.  Rural counties are re-energized with the wind farm developments.

As an early supporter of the national agricultural alliance, "25x'25", Udall was instrumental in adding a 25% national renewable goal in to The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  In the headwinds of conservative opposition to clean energy (including Congressman Gardner on ideological principles), Udall now champions a national renewable standard, "25x'25", which would create an estimated 300,000 new jobs, mostly in rural America,  provide $13.5 billion to farmers, ranchers and other landowners in the form of lease payments and add $11.5 billion in new local tax revenues.

It's important to understand the merits of good public policy, and Mark Udall is at the tip of that spear.  Wind energy is the cheapest form of renewable energy today; in the case of the expanding Cedar Point wind farm near Limon, the Vestas turbines stand tall; "Made in Colorado" turbines, planted on the Colorado Prairie, creating rural jobs while simultaneously generating Xcel Energy's cheapest power.  Being an early adopter of clean energy coupled with our successes in the Ritter Administration's  "New Energy Economy",  Colorado is well-poised to meet the proposed EPA emission standards with ease.

It's a Win(d)-Win(d)-Win(d) situation.

So when our state newspaper of record asks, "What has Mark Udall done for us lately?", it's as simple as looking at your utility bill – or the revenue statements from your county treasurer.   It would be hard to find a single, political initiative that has touched the daily lives of more Coloradans in a more positive way.

Earlier this year the Colorado Corn Growers Association thanked Udall for his support of the Renewable Fuel Standard.  The Senator signed letters with fellow colleagues, directed to the Environmental Protection Agency, urging the agency uphold the ethanol volume standards in the RFS as adopted by congress in 2007.  He was commended by CCGA for his efforts in defending the petroleum industry's push to gut the standard, citing "we should be moving forward with renewable energy, not retreating."

Once again, Mark Udall was at the "tip of the spear" in preserving our clean energy gains. A recent study by the University of Wisconsin reveals that our robust, domestic biofuel production sector has saved the average household  over $1,200 annually in fuel costs.  Once again, the benefits of sound public policy manifests itself.  Just as our focus on wind energy lured global giant Vestas to Colorado, our Front Range is now home to some of the most advanced, next-generation R&D biofuel companies on the planet.

So when our state newspaper of record asks, "What has Mark Udall done for us lately?" you have to look no further than your fuel pump or our rapidly-expanding Front Range hi-tech corridor that stretches from Ft. Collins to Boulder.

Udall, as a member of the  House Ag Committee member can be credited with supporting the inclusion of local food initiatives and farmers markets in the 2007 Farm Bill, and supported the use of EBT cards by SNAP participants at the markets, for the first time empowering those recipients access to nutritious, fresh food.  

So when our state newspaper of record asks, "What has Mark Udall done for us lately?", look no further than your child's school lunch meal or the rapidly-expanding Farmers Markets across the country.

Udall took on the military's proposed plans to drastically expand their training grounds in southeastern Colorado by  eminent domain.  He demanded that GAO provide analysis to the blank check given the military by Congress; he demanded that the military justify the takings.  Last November the Army stepped back from its plan to expand the training site, drawing praise from those affected: in a statement they said they will ask the secretary of defense to cancel a permit the Army got in 2007 to expand the 365-square-mile Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site.

The move came after months of pressure from Senator Udall, who announced the Army's decision.

So when our state newspaper of record asks, "What has Mark Udall done for us lately?"  you can point to the landscape in southeastern Colorado, home to multi-generational farm and ranch families who can give a sigh of relief that they no longer fear eviction from their land.

Last month th Senate Majority proposed legislation to increase the minimum wage over time to $10.10 – an effort filibustered by Senate Republicans. Not surprisingly, a similar effort in the US House earlier  delivered us a "no" vote from every, single House Republican, including Congressman Gardner  It's worthy to note that in the votes leading up to the 2014 Farm Bill passage, Congressman Gardner voted to gut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  Not only is his own (and mine) Congressional district home to some of the highest childhood poverty rates in the state, Colorado has the second-fastest growing population of children living in poverty in the nation, only behind Nevada.   

Thanks to the Democrats in the Senate, Gardner's attempt to gut food assistance failed.

So when our state newspaper of record asks, "What has Mark Udall done for us lately?", ask your friends who work full-time and still live in poverty what a difference a living wage might make in their lives; ask them if the food assistance to their children makes a difference?  Ask them if they see the irony in the fact that while Congressman Gardner's high-dollar funders have seen their wealth double under this current President, today this nation has over one-million homeless children.   For the vast majority of Americans the Laffer Curve isn't a source of levity, it's their nightmare.  Our sad reality is that Gardner, the Koch Brothers and Arthur Laffer are one in the same.

If you're interested in access to public lands you should also know the stark differences between the candidates.  While Gardner is squarely aligned with efforts by ALEC to return federal agricultural lands to states, Senator Udall has championed the preservation public lands, an idea borne by Teddy Roosevelt so that all may enjoy the grandest environmental treasures of this beautiful state – an idea abandoned wholesale by today's Republican party.

If you aren't yet appalled, you aren't paying attention.  

Although I'll conclude with my final point, climate change, this sadly is not an exclusive list of the Senators accomplishments.  They are simply the ones that have a direct affect on rural Colorado.  If you are a Coloradan who believes climate change is the challenge of our generation, if you believe we live in God's creation – and that stewardship is our duty - then again, the differences could not be more stark.  One candidate, Senator Udall, understands these risks – as does our military.  His opponent, Congressman Gardner, has signed "a pledge":  The Koch Brothers pledge, committing him to Congressional inaction.  If that wasn't enough, he assured participants at CPAC that Republicans are committed to defunding climate research.

The recent endorsement of Gardner by the Post advances the idea that we need to send the Congressman to the US Senate to bring forth new energy and ideas.  The facts are, Udall has been delivering the necessary energy and ideas on behalf of his Colorado constituents for years now.  

We don't need to send someone new to the Senate Chamber.  We already enjoy the bounty of our current Senator's energy and leadership. Like seeds planted in fertile soil we are, today, yielding the harvest of Udall's vision.

That's a context even Gardner should understand.

Re-elect Mark Udall to the US Senate. 

 

Let’s Just Let Faye Griffin Choose All of Our Elected Officials

The Jeffco Shuffle: Government by Vacancy Committee

The Jeffco Shuffle: Government by Vacancy Committee

Jefferson County voters may be familiar with the name Faye Griffin, in large part because her name has been on a Jeffco ballot since the dawn of time. The 75-year-old Griffin is both allergic to the concept of "term limits" and more than willing to let the rest of the GOP county government trade on her name ID in order to retain any elected position for as long as possible.

As we first noted last November ("Finish Your Damn Job, Faye Griffin"), Griffin is a serial office jumper. Currently in the middle of her second term as Jefferson County Commissioner, Griffin is running (again) for County Clerk & Recorder; if she is successful in November, she will have held 4 separate elected positions in one 8-year span, and failed to finish her elected term for the second time in five years. More importantly for Republicans, Griffin's constant movement should allow two other term-limited Republicans a chance at holding a new office without having to go through an actual election – a pretty sneaky way to get around those pesky "voters" in Jeffco.

If Griffin is elected Clerk & Recorder (which is likely because of her high name ID that plays a major role in a countywide vote), that will create an immediate opening for a spot on the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners. The term-limited Treasurer Tim Kauffman would then likely be appointed by a Republican vacancy committee…which would leave Kauffman's Treasurer seat open for another GOP vacancy committee selection (likely to be the term-limited County Assessor Jim Everson).

And thus, with the election of Faye Griffin, Jeffco Republicans can avoid open-seat election battles for two other county jobs. Furthermore, Griffin has indicated that she may retire soon, which would open a vacancy for Clerk & Recorder that would be filled via…a Republican vacancy committee!

You can see Griffin's many moves over the years in the list below (after the jump). This is frequent occurrence in Jefferson County — Kauffman himself was appointed Treasurer when Griffin left that office to run for County Commissioner in 2008. But as Republican control over countywide elections continues to fade in Jeffco, the powers behind the curtain are doing everything they can to hold on to any office at the "Taj Mahal."

Thanks for the Job, Faye Griffin!
- 1998-2006:
Griffin elected twice as Jeffco Clerk and Recorder
- 2006: Griffin elected County Treasurer (4-year term)
- 2008: Griffin ditches Treasurer's office to run for County Commissioner. Republican-controlled Commissioners appoint Republican Tim Kauffman to fill remainder of Griffin's term as Treasurer.
- 2010: Republican Tim Kauffman elected to full term as County Treasurer
- 2011: Republican Commissioner Kevin McCasky resigns his seat to take a high-paying job leading the Jefferson County Economic Council (an Independent Ethics Commission later slapped McCasky with a violation for persuading the county to increase its contribution to the Economic Council without informing them that he was seeking the head job). Republican Party vacancy committee appoints John Odom to finish remaining two years of McCasky's term.
- 2012: Griffin re-elected to another 4-year-term as County Commissioner. Democrat Casey Tighe defeats Odom for District 2 Commissioner seat; Odom was so disinterested in the job that he was rarely seen in office and made virtually no effort to win election to a full term despite his name ID advantage.
- 2013: Griffin announces that she will run for Jeffco Clerk and Recorder again in 2014. For the second time in 5 years, Griffin intends to leave an elected position halfway into the 4-year term that voters approved.

Chuck Plunkett Defends Hack Masquerading As “Journalist”

Denver Post Political Editor Chuck Plunkett.

Denver Post Political Editor Chuck Plunkett.

A very strange story written by Denver Post political editor Chuck Plunkett last Friday could result in even more credibility damage to the state's biggest newspaper. As our readers will recall, a freelance local reporter named Art Kane had a contract to write stories about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Colorado for the Denver Post earlier this year. As we covered in detail, those stories were replete with factual errors, necessitating repeated corrections by the Denver Post. Kane's grant from Kaiser Health News was not renewed, and he subsequently went to work for a conservative "news" site called Watchdog.org–writing much more straightforward political hit pieces for an outlet not concerned with things like accuracy.

And that's where, as Plunkett picks up the story Friday, things get stupid:

Arthur Kane, an award-winning journalist, posted a first-person account Friday of an encounter with the Hickenlooper campaign in which he says he was threatened with arrest.

Kane is a former Denver Post reporter and former Channel 7 investigative executive producer whose new gig is with the libertarian-leaning Watchdog.org.

Full stop. "Libertarian-leaning?" This is something we've noticed with Plunkett: the words "libertarian" or "liberty movement" are frequent code words for conservative political groups he likes–as opposed to the much more appropriate descriptor "Republican-leaning," which would be accurate even if it turns off half his readers. But that's not the worst part: as we suspect Plunkett knows very well, Watchdog.org can be traced directly back to allies of Gov. John Hickenlooper's Republican opponent Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez.

Watchdog.org is operated by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a conservative nonprofit group. The Denver Post reported in their own profile of Beauprez that he was paid over $100,000 by a group called the John Hancock Commttee for the States since 2009 to advocate for the Tea Party and conservative causes. Therein lies the connection: The John Hancock Committee for the States and the Franklin Center were both launched in 2009 by another conservative group called the Sam Adams Alliance, which supplied millions of dollars in funding for each group. The organizations have many individuals in common, including board members and employees.

In short, a "media outlet," created by the same organization that also started and funded the group that paid Bob Beauprez to advocate for them, is now attacking Beauprez's opponent in the gubernatorial race. And the political editor of the Denver Post is openly running cover for their actions, omitting crucial details about the clear connections between these groups.

Kane told me that after seeing the governor at the public event Friday he stopped by the campaign’s headquarters and talked to spokesman Eddie Stern.

Ultimately, Kane reports, Stern asked him to leave, and when he did not, Stern began calling the police. At that point, Kane, who recorded the encounter, left.

“It’s just a ridiculous way to handle the press,” Kane told me Friday.

The answer, if you know all the details that Plunkett omitted, is simple: Art Kane is not "the press." Kane is a paid political operative on the same level as a campaign tracker, working in the service of Hickenlooper's opponents. We have no idea why Plunkett would try to blow up this story into a "journalism" issue, but it's just silly: Hickenlooper's campaign office is located on private property. If employees in that office ask for someone to leave said private property and that person refuses, as Plunkett describes having happened here, the appropriate thing to do is call the police. We would say call the police even if it's a reporter–and definitely if it's just a discredited hack working for a right-wing blog.

By putting his credibility on the line in defense of Art Kane, Plunkett debased the real journalism his newspaper is responsible for providing their readers. This may not be the first such incident for Plunkett, but it's one of the most egregious. And as we've said before, the people of Colorado deserve better from our newspaper of record.

Gardner knew about birth-control ban, says pro-personhood group

(Gardner's amazingly selective ignorance - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Colorado Senatorial Candidate Cory Gardner withdrew his support from state personhood amendments because, he told The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels, he didn't understand that the measures would ban birth control.

Everyone rolled their eyes and moved on, as if to say,"It's obvious he's gunning for female votes statewide, so who cares if he might be lying."

To their credit, reporters cited Gardner's legislation that would have banned some forms of birth control, but, given Gardner's in-bedness with personhood supporters throughout his political career, you'd think we'd have seen more about what Gardner really knew and when he knew it.

Now, with ballots arriving in your mailbox (Yeah!)  this week, comes a blog post from Colorado Right to Life, which was a major backer of personhood efforts in Colorado, stating, yes, Gardner knew all along about the birth control ban.

Colorado Right to Life: As you probably heard, Cory Gardner announced publicly that he no longer supports Personhood. He apologized for ever supporting it. He said he was well-meaning, but it was a mistake.

Of course the reason he gave for not supporting Personhood — that it would ban "contraceptives" — is completely false, and is a propaganda claim of NARAL and Planned Parenthood that is often repeated by the media.

Cory Gardner has attended briefings on Personhood by CRTL where this was discussed — Cory should KNOW better! But since he knew it was a false statement and he made it anyway, we can only conclude he has made a cynical choice to give up on principles so he would be more attractive to moderate voters.

As Bob Beauprez reminded us, personhood backers oppose birth control, like IUDs and Plan B, which they say threated or destroy zygotes (or fertilized eggs).

I get into this in more detail in a post this morning on RH Reality Check, but I reached out to Colorado Right to Life for more details on Gardner's briefings and got no response.

Personhood USA spokeswoman Jennifer Mason told me via email that, when Gardner was in the state legislature, Colorado Right to Life gave legislative briefings "detailing the effects of the amendment."

"I would assume that he attended, given his position at that time, but I couldn't guarantee anything," she wrote.

Post Slammed For “Preposterous” Gardner Endorsement

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Friday's endorsement by the Denver Post of GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner unleashed a fairly predictable wave of anger against the paper from local Democrats, incensed that the paper's editorial board had ignored its own rationale, as well as a mountain of fact in both its endorsement of Gardner and its harsh criticism of Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall's focus on abortion rights as a major campaign theme. We don't mean "predictable" in a negative sense, since we agree the logical inconsistences are quite glaring: but it's reasonable to assume that Democrats would have been upset with the Post's endorsement of Gardner no matter how it was rationalized by the editorial board.

Since then, however, criticism of the Post's endorsement has become unusually strong from other media outlets–who looked at the Post's logic in endorsing Gardner and found it…well, inexplicable. The New Republic's Danny Vinik writes today:

The paper's editorial board credits Udall for his work on spying and NSA issues and admits "we strongly disagree with [Gardner] on same-sex marriage and abortion rights," then waves away those disagreements by saying Gardner isn't a culture warrior and that same-sex marriage's recent string of court victories has made his position "irrelevant." The board also criticizes Udall for running an "obnoxious one-issue campaign"—"trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman's call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives"—and naively argues that a Republican Senate could revive bipartisanship in Washington.

But the Post board errs the greatest in claiming that its position on major issues is closer to Gardner's platform than Udall's. [Pols emphasis] A cursory review of editorials published over the last few years shows that the board broadly agrees with Udall and the Democratic Party instead. "Gardner has sound ideas on tax reform that could help the economy take off and has expressed willingness to compromise on immigration despite a fairly hard line over the years," the Gardner endorsement reads…on comprehensive tax reform, Gardner has signed Grover Norquist's pledge never to vote for legislation that raises revenue. The paper, on the other hand, has repeatedly called for a grand bargain to reduce the deficit that includes spending cuts and more revenue. That's awfully close to Udall's position.

In October 2013, the paper chastised the GOP for using the debt ceiling as a hostage-taking device and proposed giving the president the unilateral authority to lift it. In February, Gardner voted against lifting the debt ceiling. He also supported the party's foolish strategy of shutting down the government in the hopes of defunding Obamacare, which the Denver Post called a "hopeless quest" by "Republican hardliners."

Meanwhile, Esquire's Charles Pierce calls the Post's endorsement "the most singularly box-of-rocks dumb rationale I ever read in my life."

The reason government is dysfunctional, and the reason nothing gets done, is because the Republican party, of which Gardner is a "rising star," and the Republican leadership in  the Congress, of which Gardner is a "go-to" member, resolved from the start not to allow a Democratic president to govern as such. So, here, the Post is arguing that the only solution to that kind of vandalism is to elect enough vandals that it succeeds. [Pols emphasis]

As for the Post's wholesale dismissal of abortion rights as a legitimate point of debate, claiming with absolutely no justification that "Gardner's election would pose no threat to abortion rights?"

Nothing says "inspirational" like pitching the privacy rights of 51 percent of the population overboard.

MSNBC's Steve Benen says the Post's endorsement of Gardner "is among the strangest pieces of political analysis published in 2014."

The paper’s editorial board included sloppy factual errors; it glossed over the issues on which the editors are convinced the congressman is wrong; it lamented Washington gridlock while choosing to ignore Gardner’s role in making matters worse; and it complained about Sen. Mark Udall (D) pointing to aspects of Gardner’s record that happen to be true…

The basis for the Post’s endorsement seems to be a curious theory: giving Gardner a promotion will cause a dramatic shift in how he approaches his responsibilities. The Republican congressman hasn’t compromised with rivals on any issue, but, the paper’s editorial board suggests, once he’s rewarded for his failures, maybe he’ll start being more responsible.
 
Indeed, the Post extrapolates to apply this line of thought to Republicans in general. For four years, GOP lawmakers have refused to govern, even going so far as to shut down the government and hold the debt ceiling hostage, threatening to crash the global economy on purpose unless their demands were met. Every worthwhile legislative initiative has been killed, regardless of merit or popularity. Cory Gardner has gone along with his party every step of the way. [Pols emphasis]
 
But, the Post believes all of that might change if only voters agreed to give Republicans more power, not less…

On Friday, Salon's Luke Brinker was one of the first to weigh in, calling the endorsement the "most asinine of the 2014 cycle." The factual error referred to by MSNBC's Benen above is also pretty embarrassing. The original version of the endorsement invoked praise for Gardner allegedly from ABC News:

ABC News, for example, singled out Gardner a year ago — before he declared for the Senate — as one of the party’s “rising stars” who represented “a new generation of talent” and who had become a “go-to” member of leadership.

Sometime afterwards, the endorsement was quietly edited on the Post's website to read:

An analysis  on [Pols emphasis] ABC News' website, for example, singled out Gardner a year ago — before he declared for the Senate — as one of the party's “rising stars” who represented “a new generation of talent” and who had become a “go-to” member of leadership.

The reason for the change? ABC News didn't "single out" Gardner for anything. The piece in question is a guest opinion column written by Joe Brettell, a GOP strategist and former spokesman for Rep. Marilyn MusgraveGardner's predecessor in CD-4.

Oops.

Bottom line: we've been critical of the Denver Post's frequently misleading news reports for some years now, especially the last couple of years under the leadership of avowed conservative political news editor Chuck Plunkett as the problem has demonstrably worsened. This endorsement by the editorial board, validating Gardner's historically duplicitous campaign while making presumptions and sweeping judgments that no one can explain, could represent a breach with the interests of the community they purport to serve that the Denver Post will never recover from.

Jefferson County: The Key to the State, Now More Than Ever

Jefferson County key to Colorado elections

This kid can’t vote. But his parents, relatives, and neighbors have a new reason to get involved.

We've seen plenty of stories both locally and nationally about the continuing controversy with the Jefferson County School Board — a controversy that will almost certainly impact the outcome of several key races in November, as we pointed out early and often.

Today the Denver Post takes a deeper look — on the front page of the paper, no less — into the political consequences of a right-wing school board angering a community that is always paying attention to education issues. As John Frank writes for the Post, the crossover into the 2014 election is impossible to ignore:

It's dark and a moth circles the halo of a porch light as state lawmaker Brittany Pettersen knocks on the door of a potential swing voter in this all-important Denver suburb. Hours of canvassing ended at the home of Brian Leffler, a 36-year-old independent voter. Pettersen, a first-term Democratic House member, asks him what issue is foremost in his mind this election year. A chorus of insects fills the silence as Leffler thinks. It doesn't take him more than a moment to name a top issue. "The whole schools thing going on in Jefferson County — that's the main thing right now," Leffler said. "I know that has very little to do with you, but they are talking about taking things out of the curriculum."

Door after door, the same refrain. The turmoil at the Jefferson County school board regarding the conservative majority's plans to revamp teacher pay and curriculum is emerging as a key issue in the November elections.

"The fact it comes up naturally in conversations is really reflective of what's happening," Pettersen said. [Pols emphasis]

In an election season with no single national issue dominating the conversation, Jefferson County's vote is a volatile political cocktail that proves all politics is local.

Education. The Democratic Party enthusiasm gap. Abortion. Marijuana. The Republican Party rift. Guns. The economy.

And the stakes couldn't get much higher: The county is likely to decide which party controls the state Senate, the governor's mansion and the U.S. Senate, a combination with far-reaching implications in Colorado and Washington.

Both Democrats and Republicans have figured out that the 2014 elections may hinge on the actions of Jeffco's screwy school board, though Democrats were much quicker to respond. Republicans have tried to push back with a ridiculous message accusing the teacher's union of, well, everything, but that attempted pivot isn't going to work in a county where students, parents, and teachers have taken to the streets in protest for more than a month now. As Frank astutely points out in his story above, this is an issue that is moving along under its own power — which is going to make it awfully difficult for Republicans to redirect as ballots start landing in mailboxes this week.

 

Stand By Your Man: Tom Ready’s Domestic Violence Known to GOP since 1991

(Yeesh – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Most of Colorado now knows about Tom Ready, the Pueblo County Commissioner candidate who promoted the idea that the Sandy Hook school massacre was just a "hoax" perpetuated by people who want more gun laws. The Pueblo County Republican Party has been deafeningly silent about Tom Ready's extreme views, refusing to condemn them, and blaming Ready's opponent, Sal Pace, for bringing it up. Ready half-heartedly "apologized" in the Denver Post, but made it clear that he considered himself to be the real victim.

But it isn't the first time that the Pueblo GOP has chosen to "Stand By Their Man" in the face of reports of horrific behavior. Twice, in 1991, and in 2009, a woman asked the courts for a protective order against Tom Ready. 

Yet nothing was done – Ready was the Pueblo Republican Party Chairman for ten years, and was sent to represent the party nationally in 2009. Now, he is the party's candidate for County Commissioner. 

The Republican Party of Pueblo has always stood by Doctor Thomas Ready, even when his wife publicly accused him of five years of battering, culminating in a violent incident on March 15, 1991.

On that day, the Pueblo Chieftain wrote, Mrs. Ready came home to find a moving truck and crew at their shared home, and Dr. Ready supervising the moving out of the couple's shared property.

When she arrived, according to her statement, the couple argued. She claims Ready knocked her down in the driveway and broke her sunglasses. Mrs. Ready contends that, when she entered the home and tried to call police, he shoved her away from the phone, knocking her down again.

Mrs. Ready also alleges that Ready kicked her several times after one of his bows was broken when he shoved her into an archery display at the home. When she broke free, she said, she ran and asked the moving men why they hadn't called the police.

She said the men laughed and said, "You married him, not us."

Mrs. Ready said that, when Ready came out of the house, he said, "I never touched her, guys. You saw her kick me."

So,  after reading that,  once your blood stops boiling, understand that the fine folks of the Pueblo Republican Party read the same article. And Pueblo's a small large town. Most people know what's going on with everyone else. Half the people are related to each other – the other half went to the same high schools.

And after reading in Pueblo's conservative daily paper, the Pueblo Chieftain, about Ready's beating  his wife for five years, culminating in an assault which left her bruised and bloody,  the Pueblo GOP re-elected him chairman, as they did for the next nine years. In fact, as a special honor, they sent him to the National Republican Convention in 2008.

Mr. Ready faced no criminal consequences for his violent behavior. The Ready's divorce was finalized on July 23, 1991, with the initial charges of harassment and assault dismissed, or converted to civil cases.  Like most batterers, he was probably able to convince the authorities that  his wife was equally to blame for the violence, that it was just a "private spat", or an isolated incident, that nothing criminal happened.

Mrs. Ready obtained a protective order, which was dismissed later in 1991. Deputy District Attorney Jill Mattoon, now a judge, and Deputy DA Robert Fink thought that there was enough evidence to charge Ready, based on the photographic evidence presented at the divorce hearing. Mrs. Ready also had showed her bruises to co-workers, which is how I initially heard about the incident.

The incidents described are part of the public record, readily available to anyone using a Lexisnexus court records account, or searching divorce records through the County Court. I have not published the full names of the victims to save them harassment and reliving of the trauma.

  • • Per the Chieftain article, Ready was charged with harassment and assault on 3/15/91
  • • There was photographic evidence of abuse, seen by attorneys in court
  • • There is not now any record of disposition of the charges.
  • • The Colorado Bureau of Investigation shows no arrest records for Mr. Ready.
  • • A second court order protecting a woman from Mr. Ready was issued in July 2009.

This is not unusual in domestic violence cases where the perpetrator is wealthy or influential.  The 2009 protective order was dismissed a month later "without prejudice". This, too, is standard procedure with a prominent client who can afford excellent legal representation.

The Pueblo County Democratic party recently sent a public letter to the Mayor of Newtown apologizing for their Commissioner candidate's insensitive statements. They also asked the Pueblo GOP to withdraw their support for Mr. Ready. No reply was received. 

It's clear that the Pueblo GOP will not offer the most minimal vetting process for candidates. It is up to the voters to screen out criminals and crazies. Now, Pueblo voters just need to decide whether they really want their County Commissioner to be someone who promotes the idea that murder of children in Newtown may have never happened, and who has a documented history of violence and/or harassment against women.

Photo of Mr. Ready from 9 News coverage of the September 11 debate in Pueblo.

Smart Money: Don’t Believe The Hype In CD-6

Andrew Romanoff (D).

Andrew Romanoff (D).

Late Friday, a story went up at Politico that suggested national Democrats are "pulling out" of the Colorado CD-6 race, the marquee battleground matchup between Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman and Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had reserved $1.4 million for TV spending to boost Romanoff in the final two weeks of his race against Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. But a DCCC aide said Friday that those funds would be distributed to other races…

Romanoff, a former state House speaker and unsuccessful 2010 Senate candidate, was once regarded as one of his party’s top 2014 hopefuls. But, with Republicans benefiting from a favorable national environment and Coffman running an energetic reelection campaign, Romanoff has seen his prospects dim.

As reports at Politico often do at election time, Alex Isenstadt's brief story is pretty slanted–reflecting spin that was clearly imparted to him as he prepared to write this story. On the other hand, the Denver Post's Jon Murray has a much more balanced look at these developments, with an understanding of how elections work in Colorado today that Politico's reporter evidently lacks.

[T]he DCCC is focusing its money on Democratic incumbents newly under attack by outside Republican groups, which sunk $4.2 million on new ad buys Thursday. But the DCCC still is supporting Romanoff’s challenge of U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman next week by chipping in money to expand the campaign’s own ad buy, the DCCC and Romanoff’s campaign say, and by supporting its field operations… [Pols emphasis]

“National Democrats have clearly given up on Andrew Romanoff,” suggested Tyler Q. Houlton, a spokesman for the DCCC’s counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committeee.

Well, not entirely.

DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner countered: “This is still a very winnable race, and Romanoff is well-funded and in a competitive position to bring it across the finish line.” In fundraising announcements this week, Romanoff announced a third-quarter haul of $1.1 million, besting Coffman’s $855,000 in contributions.

There's no question that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) making last-minute redirections of money provides useful "horse race" message opportunities for Republicans. Much like reports last month that the Republican Governors Association (RGA) had ended buys in the Colorado gubernatorial race, which proved to be a short pause in the action when a subsequent round of polls gave Bob Beauprez's campaign a shot in the arm, of course the other side is going to spin these things to their advantage. If they're not, they're not doing their jobs. 

In the case of Romanoff's CD-6 bid, though, the situation really isn't so simple. For starters, Romanoff has consistently outraised the Republican incumbent in this race, including the most recent results announced last week as Murray reports. This isn't a situation where the candidate is flagging at the close–Romanoff's unexpected fundraising ability has been an important theme in the race all along. Romanoff's ability to bring in the funds he needed to compete in this race himself has silenced many critics, including this blog, who were concerned that Romanoff would self-limit his ability to compete by swearing off various kinds of money. This fact alone strongly works against any Republican spin that Romanoff is "losing momentum."

Another thing to keep in mind is that, especially in Colorado, expensive TV advertising hit a point of diminishing return some time ago–weeks, months? We'll leave that to readers to determine. But because in Colorado every registered voter will receive a mail ballot this week, the last few weeks of TV ad time just aren't as critical as they are in other states where most voters cast ballots on Election Day. At this point, investing in the coordinated Democratic field campaign to get those mail ballots in is far more important to victory than shoveling more money into ads that the voters are already sick of.

Everything we hear today is consistent with Murray's reporting–the DCCC remains committed to CD-6 in the ways that matter. And in Colorado, what wins elections is three focused weeks of getting out the vote.

Sunday Flashback: Cory Gardner and Benghazi

benghazidonate

The September 2012 attack by Islamist militants on the United States' consulate in Benghazi, Libya, has been absolutely milked by the Republican Party for every last ounce of political harm to inflict on President Barack Obama's administration. In the wake of the attacks, which killed the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Republicans have convened multiple congressional investigations, and conservative media has followed every "new development" in the story with a presumptuous zeal that would make Kenneth Starr blush. From the outset, the GOP was desperate to prove what they already believed: that the Obama administration was somehow negligent (or even complicit, if you believe the crazier stuff)–either during the incident, or at least in explaining the facts of what had happened to the public afterwards.

The political need to pin the Benghazi attacks on political targets like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has outlasted the facts as they've come out. Today, after the House GOP's own investigation has cleared high-level officials, and even the tell-all book by operatives on the ground insists the decision not to send forces to save Ambassador Stevens was made on the ground in Libya, myths about the Benghazi attacks are a significant underpinning of the hatred–and that really is the proper word to employ–on the hard right of President Obama.

One of the central criticisms of the Obama administration in the days following the Benghazi attacks is the assertion, later discredited, that the attacks were in response to the release of a slanderously anti-Muslim short film called Innocence of Muslims. Some protest activity surrounding the release of this video clip at the time of the Benghazi attacks led to this mistaken impression, and since then, Republicans have seized on the administration's initial linking of the attack in Benghazi to the Innocence of Muslims movie as evidence of "incompetence at the highest levels."

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

The problem with that theory? The Obama administration wasn't the only one blaming this movie. Here is Rep. Cory Gardner's original statement on the Benghazi attacks–you know, before it got all political:

Congressman Gardner released the following statement condemning the attacks at U.S. Embassies in Libya and Egypt:

"I am filled with sadness and outrage by the death of Ambassador Stevens and the three other embassy staff that were killed in Benghazi last night. This was a senseless act of terrorism and a disproportionate response by a terrorist mob that had taken offense to nothing more than an online movie trailer." [Pols emphasis]

Wait, what?

Now folks, there's two ways you can interpret this. One explanation is much more sensible in our minds, that in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack the motives of the attackers were not known–and the protests against the movie clip in question had indeed been making news globally. Cory Gardner, like the Obama administration, was simply stating the consensus view at the time–a view that was found to be erroneous as the "fog of war" lifted.

It's either that, or Republican Cory Gardner was in on the "Benghazi coverup" from Day One. Right?

To be clear, we're certainly inclined to believe the former explanation, which doesn't really reflect all that badly on either Gardner or President Obama. The problem is, as soon as you accept that, a whole chapter of right wing Obama-hating apocrypha goes up in smoke. And it's safe to say that even a small reduction in intensity of the right's antipathy for the President would be bad for Gardner's Senate bid.

All told, this is a lesson in why foreign policy is best left to grownups.

Gardner campaign once said it backed personhood proposals to ban abortion, not as statement of principle

Before his recent false claims that federal personhood legislation “simply” is a toothless statement of his belief in “life,” Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s campaign told Factcheck.org that the candidate backed personhood proposals in order to ban abortion.

Gardner is now saying, incorrectly, that the federal personhood legislation he cosponsored in Congress is “simply a statement that I believe in life.”

But his campaign told FactCheck.org in August that Gardner backed both state and federal “personhood” measures in an effort to ban abortion, not as a statement of principle.

Factcheck.org’s Lori Robertson reported Aug. 15 that “Gardner’s campaign says he backed the proposals as a means to ban abortion, not contraception.”

Robertson reported:

Gardner is on record since 2006 supporting so-called personhood measures at the state and federal level. These bills and ballot initiatives generally said the rights afforded to a person would begin at the moment a human egg is fertilized. The federal bill would impact the definition of a person under the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, while the state measure would obviously affect only Colorado law.

Gardner’s campaign says he backed the proposals as a means to ban abortion, not contraception. But, as we’ll explain, the wording of these measures could be interpreted to mean hormonal forms of birth control, including the pill and intrauterine devices, would be outlawed. Other non-hormonal forms, such as condoms, wouldn’t be affected, but oral contraception (the pill) is the most popular form of birth control among U.S. women.

In response to an email asking whether the “proposals” cited in her reporting included federal as well as state personhood measures, Robertson wrote, “Yes, it was a general question, whether he supported past personhood proposals as a means to ban abortion, and the campaign’s answer was yes.”

Robinson noted that “this was of course before the recent interviews in which Rep. Gardner has said the federal bill isn’t a personhood measure.”

So before Gardner said the federal personhood bill is “simply a statement” with no legislative teeth, his campaign stated that the candidate had backed past personhood measures in an effort to ban abortion.

The Gardner campaign’s response to Factcheck.org appears to be the closest thing to a factual statement about the Life at Conception Act that Gardner and his spokespeople have provided to reporters during his senatorial election campaign. The proposed law would actually ban not only abortion but common forms of birth control.

When the Gardner campaign uses the word “abortion,” it may actually be referring to birth control as well. If Gardner, like Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, believes that IUDs cause abortions, then Gardner’s aim to use the federal personhood bill as a means to ban “abortion” would include a ban on birth control methods, such as IUDs or Plan B, which Gardner opposed as a Colorado State legislator.

Gardner’s office did not return an email seeking clarification on this matter and others.

There is evidence that Gardner, like Beauprez, believes Plan B and other forms of birth control cause “abortioins.” Gardner voted against the 2009 Birth Control Protection Act, which defined “contraception,” without exceptions, as a device to protect against pregnancy, defined as beginning after implantation of the zygote in the uterine wall.

The Senate sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, Sen. Rand Paul Kentucky, who’s scheduled to visit Denver for a conference later this month, argues that his legislation will result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Lakewood Residents: Beware City Council O-21!

On Monday night, Lakewood City Council will take up Ordinance 21, a measure that would weaken legal protections for homeowners to hold developers responsible for fixing construction defects they caused. O-21 would:

  • Give builders the unilateral right to decide on repairs, even over a homeowner's reasonable objection or when the proposed repairs are dangerous or inadequate
  • Impose unreasonable requirements and restrictions on HOAs that make it very difficult to pursue legal claims against builders and developers
  • Prevent HOAs from seeking a jury trial by preventing them from legally amending their governing documents to pursue them
  • Allow builders to destroy construction defect evidence a homeowner would need to prove claims, as well as opt-out rights that homeowners wouldn’t have
  • Conflict with state laws already providing builders with the opportunity to make things right, HOAs to provide defect lawsuit notice to members, etc. – out of jurisdiction

While the intent of O-21 is great – address the lack of affordable housing – O-21 is not the right solution. Increasing pressure on developers to build a higher quality product, definitely. Looking at insurance practices and possible reform, maybe. But taking away homeowners’ ability to determine when, how and the process for fixing shoddy construction in their defective homes? No way. Hear from homeowners themselves who tell the story here:

Lakewood CD Ordinance-HD from Build Our Homes Right on Vimeo.

The bottom line? Anyone buying a house in Lakewood should expect that it is built right – but if there are problems, they should be able to hold builders responsible for their construction defects. You just might want to email Lakewood City Council members to vote no on O-21 if this sounds like a bad idea to you: 

Disclosure: I’m working with Build Our Homes Right, a coalition of homeowners, homeowner associations, property managers, legal advocates and other allies, seeking to ensure that homeowners are protected in Colorado. 

Gardner Trashes Journalism, Until He Benefits from It

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner, like much of the political right, sees himself has a victim of liberal media bias. On a day when he was endorsed by The Denver Post, and Gardner was tweeting about how "honored and humbled" he was, I thought I'd point back to a few of the many times he's trashed the news media with sweeping, unsupported accusations of bias that serve only to accelerate the decline of professional journalism.

In 2011, Gardner told Grassroots Radio Colorado:

Gardner: "The press likes to blame the Tea Party for a lot of things, because there’s a bias in the media against people who believe in smaller government."

Worley: "You mean people like us."

Gardner: "People like us."

In January of last year, Gardner said:

Gardner: "Look, the media is going to criticize the Republicans every time we turn around, because we are not in lock-step with the President."

After Romney's self-inflicted election loss in 2012, Gardner blamed the media:

Gardner: “When the American people were watching the news with their family at the dinner table, they saw a media that is gung-ho for the President. So not only were we running an election against the President of the United States, we were running an election against TV stations around the country and inside people’s living rooms.”

Some progressives are so angry at The Post for its Gardner endorsement that they're threatening to cancel their subscriptions.

By doing this, and forsaking the last gasps of Denver's by-far best news source to survive, we'd reduce ourselves to Gardner's own level of extremism that, for some reason, The Denver Post failed to see in Gardner across the spectrum of issues from global warming and immigration to abortion and journalism itself–and beyond.

Weekend Open Thread

"Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds."

–Franklin D. Roosevelt

Denver Post Splits Ticket With Gardner Endorsement

UPDATE #2: Ouch–Salon's Luke Brinker proclaims this the "most asinine endorsement of [the] 2014 cycle."

“Congress is hardly functioning these days,” the Post laments, right before it proceeds to endorse the government shutdown-supporting Tea Partier. The paper’s editorial board has decided that Gardner is somehow the answer to this dysfunction, because incumbent Sen. Mark Udall is an incumbent and “is not perceived as a leader,” they guess. So maybe “the time has come for change.”

And what of Gardner’s hard-right positions? There is that inconvenient bit about his support for “personhood” legislation, but, the paper writes, now he wants to make birth control available over the counter. (Never mind those poor women who can’t afford it and require insurance coverage for their contraceptives.)

Moreover, the paper writes, Gardner actually “has sound ideas on tax reform that could help the economy take off.” How? Just trust them, it will. Plus, he’s “expressed willingness to compromise on immigration despite a fairly hard line over the years.” How Gardner could actually convince fellow Republicans to cease their obstructionism on the issue – and whether his newfound “willingness to compromise” is genuine or election-year pandering – doesn’t much concern the Post…

The notion that this right-wing congressman could help usher in a new era of bipartisan goodwill and policy innovation seems far-fetched, but the Post begs to differ. Citing Gerald Seib’s absurd Wall Street Journal column this week, the editors speculate that a unified GOP Congress, together with President Obama, could actually be more productive than one-party government would be. Try not to think too much about the past four years, lest you disabuse yourself of this comforting thought.

—–

UPDATE: Worth adding to this discussion are the words of Denver Post political news editor Chuck Plunkett, responding in Tuesday's debate to Cory Gardner's stunning refusal to answer key questions about his health insurance:

Sometimes if a candidate doesn't answer a question, that also tells you something about the candidate that voters can know. [Pols emphasis]

The editorial board must have missed that part.

—–

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Colorado political social media is alight this afternoon after the Denver Post editorial board published their endorsement of Republican Cory Gardner in the Colorado U.S. Senate race. In some respects, the Post's endorsement of Gardner isn't surprising–after endorsing Gov. John Hickenlooper in the gubernatorial race, the possibility that the paper would "split the ticket" and endorse the Republican in the Senate race grew on general principles. It's important to remember that the Denver Post is presently for sale, and it's easy to imagine them avoiding upsetting potential buyers by not endorsing the same party in the state's two top races.

With that said, some parts of today's endorsement are justifiably infuriating Democrats today, who rightly wonder if the Post's editorial board has been reading the news they're opining on:

Rather than run on his record, Udall's campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman's call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince…

[Gardner's] past views on same-sex marriage are becoming irrelevant now that the Supreme Court has let appeals court rulings stand and marriage equality appears unstoppable. And contrary to Udall's tedious refrain, Gardner's election would pose no threat to abortion rights. [Pols emphasis]

The idea that Udall invented the abortion issue against Gardner is of course ridiculous, since it was Gardner's choice to bring this issue to the fore with his clumsy attempt to reverse himself on the state Personhood abortion ban initiatives right after getting into the race. Gardner's messy backpedal on the issue, combined with his continued sponsorship of equivalent federal legislation, is what opened him to attack–and the lead that Udall has maintained with women voters shows that it's working.

As for the blanket assertion that Gardner "would pose no threat to abortion rights," this is so plainly contradicted by Gardner's record, and every fact-checker who has examined the issue, that it's simply laughable. We don't even think Gardner himself would agree, let alone his pro-life supporters. What could this statement possibly be based on? Because it's not based on reality.

On most other issues, the Post tends to ignore them–or ignorantly carry water for Gardner. There's nothing whatsoever about Gardner's 50+ votes to repeal Obamacare, or his inability to back up assertions about his own health insurance. The editorial board takes Gardner at his word that he would "compromise" on immigration reform "despite a fairly hard line over the years." And inexplicably, they call Gardner an "early supporter" of renewable energy, despite the fact that the legislation he touts from 2007 "to launch Colorado's renewable energy industry" was repealed having never funded a single project.

Bottom line: for anybody who knows the underlying facts, this endorsement really is a joke. It stands in marked contrast to the conclusions of other editorial boards around the state, some of whom have been very pointed in calling out Gardner's deceptions.

That the Denver Post bought those deceptions hook, line and sinker says more about them than it does about this race.