Search Results for: civil unions

Conservative activist, who led fight for gay-marriage ban, elected chair of Douglas County GOP

(Boldly marching backward – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jim Pfaff.

Jim Pfaff.

Former KLZ 560-AM radio host Jim Pfaff has been elected Chair of the Douglas County Republican Party.

Pfaff says he helped "spawn the 'Liberty Lineup' of local shows which now dominate the station." KLZ now has local shows interspersed throughout the day, whereas Pfaff's show used to be the only local talk program. Pfaff left the KLZ airwaves after three years in 2011 to become chief of staff for Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas.

I asked Pfaff, who's never held elected office before if his "Jim Pfaff Show" experience gave him any insights that proved useful in politics.

"It helped me really expand my communications knowledge and skills," he told me via email. "It's a great way to learn what messaging is important to people and caused me to look more deeply and accurately at issues. It was a natural extension of my political activities."

Pfaff has been involved in numerous political campaigns and he founded the Colorado chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

But he's probably best known for spearheading Focus on the Family's 2006 efforts to pass Amendment 43, which banned gay marriage in Colorado. At the time, he directed Colorado Family Action, the political arm of Focus on the Family.


Not a good start

The 2015 legislative session in Colorado got off to a slow start–but yesterday, the new right wing majority in the Colorado Senate showed everyone their true colors.

In just one day, conservatives in the Colorado Senate did a shocking amount of damage. The state's Pay Equity Commission, which was working to outline best practices to make sure women and men receive equal pay for equal work, was effectively killed in a senate committee. Conservatives also killed a study looking into election modernization systems, another step in their long campaign to make it harder to vote. Another common-sense bill to make sure Colorado's civil unions law works was killed by anti-LGBT Senate Republicans.

Neglecting basic responsibilities and pandering to the far right is not what Senate President Bill Cadman promised he would do. Sign our petition now demanding the Colorado Senate majority stop killing legislation vital to Colorado's economy, voting rights, and basic fairness.

It could get worse. Dozens of great bills are set to be debated in the Colorado Senate in the next few months: relief for credit card holders, student borrowers, families who need child care, and many more. These bills deserve a fair hearing, not to be killed in committees stacked with conservatives before ever reaching the floor of the Senate.

Sign our petition now: tell Bill Cadman and the Colorado Senate Republicans to give every bill a fair hearing.

Three years ago, we watched as another slim Republican majority in the Colorado House broke the rules to kill the 2012 civil unions bill. It took another election, but they lost their majority and civil unions became the law of the land.

If that's what Bill Cadman wants for the Senate, so be it–but here is their chance to do the right thing. Tell Cadman now: give every bill a fair hearing in the Senate.

Thanks for standing up. If we work together instead of against each other, we can make the voters of Colorado proud. That's all I want this legislative session.


Amy Runyon-Harms

The Traditional Colorado State “Screwing” of Colorado Teachers and Public Sector Workers.

Former Colorado Union (AFSCME) Officials Weigh In, and Comment on the Legacy of Colorado State Senator Pat Steadman.

I provide below, for the record, a few examples of the historical state deception of Colorado teachers and other Colorado public sector employees. It's important that Colorado teachers, and Colorado state and local government workers, be fully informed relating to their employment situations. For the most part, Colorado's public sector unions have not fully informed their members.

Examples of the historical deception of Colorado public sector workers:

The reduction of Colorado state employee compensation by means of a promised "performance pay" scheme that was subsequently not funded by the Colorado Legislature.

The past repurposing of resources allocated for state employee compensation, to pay the salaries of hundreds of new Executive Branch political appointees.

The retention of gubernatorial political appointees in high-salaried administrative positions across both Democratic and Republican administrations (including, many former Colorado state legislators whose ultimate Colorado PERA retirement benefits will be based on their new six-figure salaries rather than on their $30,000 legislative salaries.)

The annual Legislative transfer of billions of dollars of Colorado state and local government resources to corporations (in the form of "tax expenditures") while actuarially required contributions to the Colorado PERA pension system are ignored. (Google: "Colorado Tax Expenditure Report.")

The 2010 Colorado (union supported) elimination of state employee and teacher contractual rights to pension inflation protection in retirement (a benefit that these employees had already paid for with their contributions and labor.)

The immoral 2009 use of teacher and public employee PERA pension contributions to pay for political and legal campaigns to break the PERA pension contracts of these same teachers and public employees.

The Colorado Legislature's past transfer of $700 million to pay off legacy pension debts of Colorado local governments (debts that are not Colorado state contractual obligations) while the Legislature failed to pay actuarially required contributions for their own Colorado state contractual obligations in the PERA pension system.

The Colorado PERA Board's past unanimous endorsement of Governor Bill Owens' "service credit fire sale," designed to reduce the labor costs of Colorado PERA-affiliated employers by ridding government of "expensive" older employees. (This scheme increased the debt of the Colorado PERA pension system by billions of dollars.)

These few examples characterize the employment environment of Colorado teachers, and Colorado state and local government workers. Only fully-informed workers are able to make rational decisions regarding their ongoing participation in this Colorado public sector employment environment.

The Colorado SB10-001 Deception:

The most recent deception of Colorado teachers and Colorado state and local government workers occurred in 2010. In that year, a group of proponents of breaking Colorado PERA pension contracts successfully divided active Colorado PERA members from retired members in order to take their contracted inflation protection in retirement. (This taking was supported by Colorado's public sector unions.) The support of Colorado's public sector unions contributed to the elimination of the contractual rights of their own union members to inflation protection in retirement. In 2010, Colorado's public sector unions supported the bill (SB10-001) that allows Colorado governments to inflate away legal governmental pension debts. Colorado's unions are unique in the history of the Labor Movement in that they have facilitated the destruction of their own members' contractual rights.

The primary interest of Colorado politicians is reelection. Pleasing voters is simply more important than speaking the truth about TABOR to Colorado voters, or honoring state contracts. Colorado politicians have no desire to tell voters that they must actually pay for governmental services. Breaking Colorado PERA contractual obligations, and directing the resources that support these contractual obligations to pay for public services allows politicians to avoid speaking the truth to voters. Ignoring state financial and contractual obligations to pensions frees up money to fund programs that help legislators get reelected. Political connections in the courts have smoothed the path to the desired Colorado PERA pension contract breach.

See the article: "The Colorado Supreme Court: Politicians in Black Robes" at

Colorado legislators have not paid the full annual Colorado PERA pension bill, as calculated by Colorado PERA's actuaries, since 2002. They are not paying this "ARC" pension bill even today. Colorado PERA's Executive Director Greg Smith is alone in the nation in claiming that a public pension system does not have to pay the pension bill calculated by its own actuaries.

Initially, in 2009, Colorado public sector unions and other proponents of SB10-001 sought a one-time reduction of this contractual inflation protection (ABI, "COLA") for PERA retirement benefits, based on a claim of financial need, i.e., "actuarial necessity." Colorado's unions did not realize that their support for SB10-001 would ultimately wipe out the entire contractual right of teachers and state workers to inflation protection in retirement. Teachers be sure to thank your CEA officials!

Although they had already admitted to the existence of the contractual PERA COLA obligation in 2009, the proponents of SB10-001 later realized that establishing "actuarial necessity" would be difficult, so they switched their legal strategy to a simple denial of the existence of the PERA COLA contract. Although their testimony as to the contractual inflation protection obligation was on the record (written and recorded at a Colorado Joint Budget Committee hearing) this admission meant nothing to the Colorado Supreme Court. The Court threw out the worker's contract right without examining evidence in the case.

I find it ironic that in 2010, Greg Smith, Executive Director of the Colorado PERA pension system argued that the PERA COLA (inflation protection) contract must be broken when the funded ratio of the PERA pension stood at 69 percent, yet now that the funded ratio of the Colorado PERA pension system is in the low 60s, Greg Smith has recently stated that the pension system does not need additional contributions. It looks like he just makes this up as he goes along.

Imagine what life is like as one of the 4,500 employees of the Colorado Judicial Branch. These employees are enrolled in the Colorado PERA pension system. They watched in 2012 as the Colorado Court of Appeals found Colorado public pension case law (Bills and McPhail) "dispositive" as to the contractual right of Colorado PERA members to their statutory "inflation protection" in retirement (which the PERA members have paid for with labor and contributions.) Then, in 2014, they were forced to watch the politicians installed at the top of their organization (Supreme Court Justices) ignore all evidence in the case Justus v. State, ignore federal case law (US Trust), and embrace a Denver District Court decision that conveniently failed to even mention Colorado's on-point public pension case law (Bills and McPhail.) The reality is that these 4,500 employees work for an organization that is ultimately arbitrary, political, and not guided by the Rule of Law. The Judicial Branch employees get a paycheck, but in their heart of hearts, realize that their organization is unprincipled, ignores the US Constitution when convenient, and so serves no higher purpose.

Recently, an article relating to the support of Colorado State Senator Pat Steadman for the taking of the PERA COLA benefit in 2010 was posted on the blog and on Facebook. This article elicited some commentary from a few former Colorado public sector union officials that documents the historical deception of Colorado teachers and other public sector workers.

Comments of Former AFSCME Colorado Official Guy Santo:

"Guy Santo . . . Facebook's still new to me; but some things aren't so novel…like the duplicitous incompetence of a professional politician; e.g, Mr. (Colorado State Senator Pat) Steadman and his role in the Great Colorado Pension Heist of 2010, a.k.a. Senate Bill 1 (SB-001).

As background: I met Mr. Steadman before he was a lobbyist or legislator (his only jobs besides lawyer), when he was staff attorney with our national umbrella labor organization, American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), in which capacity he single- handedly botched a lawsuit against reclassifying all state jobs in the early 90's. The lawsuit concerned an obviously flawed 'Class Description' project based on management buzz words. New class descriptions squeezed existing job descriptions into fewer general ones and replaced the old merit-based pay structure with performance pay (which was never funded); and the whole thing was just another way to cut workers' pay. I speak from my experience as a state employee and an officer of the state employees' local that relied on our national AFSCME office for legal support (since that's why we paid dues); and although my perception of events may seem biased; what is not open to interpretation is the importance of deadlines and submitting appeals timely … and I remember Mr. Steadman as the person who failed to file our appeal on time.

Fast forward 17 years, and he's representing the people from Senate District 31 (but definitely not workers, particularly public servants) and he's the mouthpiece for PERA staff and management in railroading through SB10-001's onerous measures to once more balance the state budget on the backs of state employees and raid their pensions. In 2010, Mr. Steadman chaired the (Colorado House) Finance Committee responsible for PERA oversight . . . and despite numerous pleas to him to show PERA members the financial records purportedly necessitating the draconian actions of SB10-001, Mr. Steadman would only give me his word that the financial situation was dire, as he personally looked at the books (which would be much too complicated for people like me to comprehend). NOT very reassuring, coming from a lawyer-lobbyist turned career politician who apparently couldn't read a calendar.

'nuff said. – Guy Santo

(My comment: Remember that the proponents of SB10-001 argued that the financial position of Colorado PERA was so dire [at a 69 percent funded ratio in 2010] that PERA pension contractual obligations had to be broken, yet now that the PERA funded ratio is in the low 60s, PERA officials argue that no additional contributions to the pension system are necessary.)

Comments of Former AFSCME Colorado Official Jeremiah Attridge:

"As the former President of AFSCME Local 3534 I would like to confirm the statements that Mr. Santo has made regarding a class action grievance filed on behalf of employees of the Colorado Department of Labor regarding the proposed 'class description' changes proposed by the Romer administration, and that the lawyer provided by AFSCME Council 76, Patrick Steadman, failed to file the suit in a timely fashion. As I recall, Mr. Steadman had been handed the final copy of the grievance written by Mr. Santo and Mr. William Lafferty a week before it was due, and for reasons unknown, Mr. Steadman waited until the last day the grievance was to be filed and then stated: 'When I got there, the courthouse was already closed.' As the complaint was not filed in a timely fashion in accordance with the rules of procedure, the state employees lost their rights to be heard, and the case was dismissed without any chance of appeal. The irony of this situation was that the basis of the employees' grievance was that management of the CDLE had failed to follow the correct procedures when implementing this reclassification of public employees, and as a result of this procedural flaw, their actions were arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to the rule of law. The case was a 'no-brainer.' It would have been an easy win, and would have increased the union's standing among state employees. Due to the case dismissal, the opposite took place and AFSCME membership plummeted.

Aside from the possible need of (Colorado State) Senator Steadman to revise and edit his resume, there is still a residual effect on the way state government functions and how PERA benefits are paid to certain individuals, that is a direct result of the Romer administration's 'Class Description,' program that Mr. Santo had tried to challenge. The reasons why the Romer Administration chose this course of action was due to the fact that the Governor had sought to expand the number of political appointees he could place in upper management positions. State Representative Tony Grampsas and State Senator Dave Owens who ran the JBC at the time informed the Governor that he could have his additional 125 appointees in the Senior Executive Service, only if the hiring of these upper level managers was 'revenue neutral.' In other words, if Romer wanted an additional 125 hacks on the payroll, then existing payroll had to be cut to pay for this increase in salary. This is why the 'Class Description' changes had to be made. Rank and file employee pay and the possibility of being promoted had to be severely cut. The reason why these changes to employee compensation still have an effect on the pension fund itself is due to this dirty, little secret, that nobody in the fourth estate, the State Legislature, the Governor's office, or even Jon Caldara and the guys over at the Independence Institute really like to talk about: You see, not all political appointees leave when their political patron leaves office. Some of them really like their high paying jobs, and quite a few of them stay in those positions for years, and thanks to some sort of unwritten rule of the Sherman Street Country Club, while political fealty may have been a prerequisite to becoming employed, once you get the job, it's yours for life. Almost all these jobs pay well over 100 grand a year, and if you can add in all those years as a State Legislator (you know like Joe Donlon, or Doug Dean, or Tom Plant, or Vicky Armstrong) to your total state service time, with the top three years deciding your pension level, well, gosh, I guess there really is a 'pot-o-gold' at the end of the PERA rainbow for some very special people, who, like the upper level managers of Pinnacol Assurance who all were allowed to grandfather in PERA pensions when Workers Comp was privatized (just like the guys in the other privatized agencies) well, you deserve to pull in 60 to 90 grand a year, without question. If you are an employee of PERA and you have never worked for the State in any capacity, you too can pull in a pension not only for your salary, but also for the bonuses you paid to yourselves while declaring a fiscal emergency at the same time. When State Treasurer Walker Stapleton tried to pull the lid off the cesspool two years ago, the PERA Board took him to court, and members of the Judiciary (who receive PERA pensions at a higher rate than other state employees) agreed with them that the State Treasurer had no business inquiring where and to whom state funds were being paid. It was a matter of 'privacy' the court said. That was a close one, after all, now with the passage of Amendment S, Governor Hickenlooper will be able to expand the SES from 125 to 270 positions and that means a lot more deserving people will be able to bleed the fund dry. Who knows, what with term limits and all, maybe the Governor can find a position for a Democratic State Senator in need of a job and having a really nice, well-edited resume."

More comments on Colorado Senator Pat Steadman's work for AFSCME Colorado (from Facebook:

"I believe, actually I know, that there were quite a few of us who thought he wasn't representing us correctly, particularly during a grievance and lawsuit filed regarding the changing of job classification and pay rates back around in about 1993 or so. Back then, Romer was proposing the creation of the Senior Executive Service that would allow him to expand the number of political appointees up to about 125 positions. (Hickenlooper's Amendment S increases it to about 350.) Well, as I recall, Steadman failed to file the initial court challenge in a timely fashion. I remember the grievants' disgust at the time and their quoting of Steadman's statement that: 'when I got there, the court was closed, and it was too late.' A lot of people dropped out of AFSCME because of this. Somehow Steadman's explanations didn't ring true and it was suspected, but never proven . . . told by AFSCME 76 to drop the matter. In the lovely world of AFL-CIO internal politics a lot of back room deals got cut. (They still are; it's a favorite past time of union staff reps to ____ each other over and cut political deals. I think the straw that broke the camel's back with Steadman, though, was that he failed to represent people in AFSCME Local 935 (Correctional Officers in Canyon City) in disciplinary hearings. Local 935 was the biggest local and they wanted Steadman gone due to the fact that he wasn't doing his job and was working on his Amendment 2 instead. After Steadman, there was a lawyer named Carol Iten who actually did the job, but then quit to go to work for Salazar when he became AG. She was replaced by Mark Schwanne who . . . CFPE for failing to file the necessary paperwork on behalf of grievants in the UI Tax Division about their job classifications. Schwanee went on to become the Executive Director of AFSCME 76 and was the guy who signed off on endorsing the PERA ____ over, and then selling off the AFSCME state employee locals to the SEIU (without a vote of the membership) to Colorado WINS, that thereupon hired him for a while, and then he  . . . after Scott Wasserman, his friend at WINS, got a job in the Lt. Governor's Office. As a result, AFSCME in Colorado is a pathetic organization . . . representing a few employees in Pueblo, DU, and a dying local in the City of Denver. Their one employee who is an 'Assistant Director' is Cheryl Hutchinson. She started out as a Business Agent at the same time as Steadman and she might have the exact details . . .

One of my . . . contacts is a guy named Bill Lafferty. He was also involved in the job classification PPQ grievance: Let me clarify the background to that. Back then, (Governor) Romer wanted the Senior Executive Service, but (State Senators) Tony Grampsas and Dave Owen, on the JBC, wanted it to be 'revenue neutral.' In order to achieve those raises for upper management the Personnel Director, Andre Pettigrew along with Jeff Schutt and Ken Ailikian came up with the reclassification of all state employees: It eliminated many of the different job classes and put them into classes that were defined with broader, generalized titles. As a result, there were fewer steps and grades of employees which meant that there was a de facto elimination of career ladders and promotions on the lower levels of government and a general lowering of wages, resulting in a surplus of funds to pay for the Senior Executive Service. That was the court case Steadman dropped the ball on. The problem with the Corrections Local 935 had to do with disciplinary hearings: In all of the (state) departments, CDOT and Corrections always have the most disciplinary hearings. (They used to be called R-8-3's back then, now they are R-6-10's.) They are a pain in the ass to do, and there was a Business Agent named ____ (now deceased) who was supposed to do the R-8-3's but Reyes Martinez, the Local 935 President wanted 'the lawyer' to do them, and I guess (current State Senator Pat) Steadman didn't show up or something.

(My comment: It looks to me like insane, shady crap has been happening in the Colorado public sector unions historically and SB10-001 provides an example of these shady deals reaching the level of state government administration, the Colorado Legislative Branch, and Colorado courts. Perhaps if Colorado had stronger labor unions they would not have been tempted to support the breach of the contracts of their former members. This was kind of cannabalistic.)


"Well, that's the sad thing about it all: You see, unions were supposed to exist for the betterment of the rank and file, and in Colorado things got turned around and completely out of whack, particularly in the public employee unions where it got to the point that the rank and file existed for the benefit of the union staff reps who, actually, never were members of the rank and file; Wendell Pryor, the former Director of CAPE who endorsed (former Colorado Governor) Bill Owens' preventing public employees from having their union dues deducted from their paychecks and then was appointed to be Director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division over in DORA; Miller Hudson, who sold CAPE to the SEIU without a vote of their rank and file; Schwanne; Wasserman and Steadman, all had variations on the same theme.

While (current Colorado State Representative) Crisanta Duran who sat on the JBC last year had her law school tuition paid by grocery workers in UCFW Local 7, while she also pulled in 35 grand a year compliments of her dad, Ernie, the Local President. The list goes on and on from Joe Donlon to Ellen Golombek at the CDLE  . . ."

In a recent article AFSCME (International) writes:

"The very Wall Street-backed politicians who raided and underfunded the pension systems in the first place are now 'using scare tactics and lavishly funded PR campaigns to cast teachers, firefighters and cops – not bankers – as the budget-devouring boogeymen responsible for the mounting fiscal problems of America's states and cities . . ."

Here is my posted response to the AFSCME article:

"AFSCME, if you really believe this, why did you allow your affiliate, AFSCME Colorado, to support the breach of Colorado PERA pension contracts in 2010, after the Colorado Legislature had underfunded the pension for a decade?  The Colorado Legislature has failed to pay its pension bills for a decade, essentially borrowing from the pension fund, now they seek to shift their debt onto the backs of retired public sector workers. It's sick, but your own people supported this in 2010."

I received this response from a former AFSCME Colorado official:

"Actually . . . that isn't what happened: The rank and file members of Colorado State Employees AFSCME Local 821 had their local dissolved by a unilateral decision of AFSCME International and the Executive Board of Colorado AFSCME Council 76, prior to the sellout, as they were to be 'incorporated' into the Colorado WINS 'partnership' created with Ritter: without their consent or even being given the right to vote on the matter. The AFSCME 'representatives' who endorsed the PERA plan (i.e. Vivian Stovall and company) weren't even state employees: they were members of Denver City employees AFSCME Local 158, who aren't even covered by PERA.  The Colorado State AFSCME retirees (Phyliss Zamaripa, Kathy Bacino, and Guy Santo) opposed the PERA plan put forth by Ritter, Schaffer, and Penry at the public hearing where proponents were allowed to testify first, and at length while opponents had their testimony relegated to the end of the hearing, and had their testimony time truncated. So please don't give the impression that the rank and file members of Colorado State AFSCME Local 821 had anything to do with this sellout, because we didn't. Give the credit to where it is due: Give it to Colorado WINS, and the SEIU."

(My response: "Thanks for this new information. I have noted that Colorado AFSCME supported the PERA pension contract breach since Colorado PERA has made this claim in its propaganda.")

Yet another reply from a former AFSCME Colorado official:

"The entire AFSCME endorsement of screwing public employees out of their pension (Colorado PERA pension) COLA's in Colorado is unfortunately quite true, however, it should be remembered that AFSCME no longer represents Colorado State Employees, and it hasn't for about 7 years now. It was decided 7 years ago in a backroom deal in Washington that the three state employee unions would become Colorado WINS. The rank and file members of AFSCME Locals in Colorado were not given the right to vote on this, nor were the members of CAPE or the CFPE. The people who espouse 'democratic labor trade unionism' in America, wouldn't allow it to take place in Colorado. Ritter and company granted an exclusive franchise to Colorado WINS (which is a subsidiary of SEIU) and Colorado State employees do not have the right to belong to any other union, as both Change To Win and the AFL-CIO have prevented other unions (such as the CWA, which has had a consistent record of fighting for public employees' pensions) from organizing. Thanks to their betrayal of Colorado State employees, Colorado AFSCME Council 76 is now a bankrupt shell of an organization that represents some county employees in Pueblo, city employees in Aurora, the remnants of Denver City employees Local 535 and 158 and the maintenance staff at DU. They have one 'assistant Executive Director' and two clerical workers for a staff. All they are is a paper tiger, shell organization that is used as a conduit to 'move money' in state elections."

(My response: "That seems rather disingenuous on the part of Colorado PERA to attempt to rationalize the PERA COLA-taking by citing the support of AFSCME Colorado, if AFSCME Colorado does not actually represent any employees in PERA." "Have you ever heard any sort of an explanation from Colorado WINS for breaking PERA contracts? I have always assumed it was to minimize future contributions that might be needed from active Colorado WINS members. To the extent that money can be taken from PERA retirees, the needed pension support from current workers is diminished, not a very good reason to trash the Colorado Constitution.")

Former AFSCME official:

"Yes, doesn't it? But then again, let us not forget the first piece of legislation that Colorado WINS supported was the bill written by Democratic Senator Dan Gibbs to do away with state employees having the right to strike or engage in labor stoppages. The 'S' in AFSCME is supposed to stand for 'State' but the International of AFSCME basically gave up on Colorado when Wellington Webb failed to deliver his campaign promise to give Denver City employees collective bargaining. The grand plan was 'First we'll get collective bargaining for Denver, then we'll repeal 8-73-104 (C) of the Colorado Labor Peace Act, and get all public employees' collective bargaining rights.' After they realized that wasn't going to happen, Gerry McEntee, Paul Booth, and Larry Scanlon decided to cut their losses, and 'traded' the Colorado State Employee locals to the SEIU which had acquired CAPE (that had gone into virtual bankruptcy when Bill Owens prohibited employees having their dues deducted from their paychecks.) All in all, it was a rather tawdry affair, and for AFSCME Council 76 to come out in favor of screwing public employees out of their pensions by having members of Local 158 of who were hacks from the Denver Democratic Party and Ritter supporters is just reflective of the fact that AFSCME has always placed the interests of the union and the Democratic Party above that of rank and file employees they profess to represent."

(My response: "As I recall, Miller Hudson, formerly of CAPE also supported SB10-001. This is ironic since Bill Owens eviscerated CAPE financially. Bill Owens is very culpable in the decline of PERA's funded ratio [selling PERA service credit cheap to encourage the departure of the more 'expensive' older employees, i.e., shifting labor costs from Colorado governments to PERA.] Why would Miller Hudson go along with pushing the PERA debt burden onto Colorado PERA retirees when the problem was caused by Bill Owens, and Bill Owens actions harmed CAPE?  It doesn't make sense.")

Former AFSCME official:

"You'd have to ask Miller about that one. Now as far as Colorado WINS goes, well, you have to understand the way union organizers think: Why should they be concerned about the pensions of state employees who were not members of their union? What WINS wants is current state employees, and most of them who have been hired since 2005 don't have the same pension plan as older state employees, and that is not what they are concerned about: By concentrating on health care costs, and doing away with the inequitable 'pay for performance' plan proposed by Penn Pfifner and signed into law by Romer, Colorado WINS needs to play nice with the legislature and the executive branch so that they can market themselves with a 'victory,' to the majority of state employees who don't belong to their organization, or care about somebody else's pension. So why play the heavy and alienate the incumbent politicians in somebody else's fight? If you win, well, good. They'll get up there and say they were with you all the way……"

Quotations of Miller Hudson, formerly of CAPE:

"They will pay their taxes and rely on politicians to keep the promises made to them when they were hired. After 30 or more years, they will rely on their Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) pensions rather than social security to provide a modest but dignified retirement."

"In fact, they (Colorado PERA retirees) will shoulder more than 90 percent of the costs of fixing PERA. This isn’t because they haven’t been doing their part. They have."

"If state employees have learned little else, it should be that when economic times get tough both Democratic and Republican administrations will move swiftly to balance state budgets on their backs."

"Miller Hudson is a former state representative from Denver who served five years as executive director of the Colorado Association of Public Employees."

Miller Hudson states that Colorado PERA faces no financial "crisis," yet Miller Hudson "helped negotiate" the COLA-taking bill:

"Taxpayers have been told they will be held responsible for an imminent fiscal catastrophe projected in the tens of billions of dollars. These scare tactics fail to put the true situation in perspective. PERA benefits are much like the mortgage on your house. They will be paid out over the next 30 to 50 years. If Colorado misses a payment — or, more accurately, fails to collect as much as revenue as it should for a year or two — these shortfalls can be remedied in succeeding years. A home mortgage doesn't become due and payable just because a homeowner loses his or her job. Payments can be made out of savings."

"For Colorado's public employers, total contributions into PERA represent about 3 percent of their annual budgets. If this were to be doubled, it would be less than half the current 'sequester' cuts being absorbed in the federal budget. PERA is not a fiscal calamity."

"Unfortunately, when the plan went into surplus during the boom at the turn of the century, the Legislature reduced the state's contributions, increased the match for refunds paid before normal retirement eligibility and held a fire sale on the purchase of unearned years of service credit at a fraction more than 15 cents on the dollar."

"Miller Hudson served as executive director of the Colorado Association of Public Employees for six years (2003-10) and helped negotiate the 2007 and 2010 PERA reform bills."

Miller Hudson:

"It is important to understand why tax credits and exemptions are referred to as tax expenditures. Without loopholes, taxpayers (both individual and corporate) would otherwise pay higher taxes dumping additional moneys into the general fund. Business and special interest lobbyists have understood this relationship for decades. Find a plausible rationalization and then you can begin campaigning for special treatment."

Alan Greenblatt in Governing in 2006:

"In Colorado, at least some of (Governor) Bill Owens' pension problem was self-inflicted, the result of his pressuring PERA to sell discounted 'service credits' to public employees, allowing them to buy more time on the job." "Owens hoped that state employees would retire early, helping his efforts to streamline government." "Because pensions are, by their nature, a long-term problem, it's difficult to get public officials – classic short-term thinkers – to pay them serious attention even when the bills are coming due."

Support the Rule of Law in Colorado, and Friend Save Pera Cola on Facebook.

The Incredibly Intricate Colorado PERA SB10-001 Political Web.

I find a few interactions in this web of relationships surrounding SB10-001 particularly noteworthy:

Colorado Supreme Court Justice Hood contributed to Democrat Bill Ritter's campaign for Governor, and "hosted campaign events" for Ritter.

Governor Ritter initially appointed Justice Hood to the bench.

Governor Ritter signed SB10-001 into law.

Democratic Governor Hickenlooper appointed Hood to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Justice Hood upheld SB10-001 as a member of the Colorado Supreme Court.

Justice Hood has worked with attorney Mark Grueskin at Isaacson Rosenbaum, P.C.

Attorney Grueskin represented the SB10-001 PERA defendants.

Justice Hood was a shareholder at Isaacson Rosenbaum in 2006.

Isaacson Rosenbaum worked for Colorado PERA during this time period.

Attorney Grueskin has provided legal representation for the Colorado Democratic Party.

Justice Hood has been recused or removed in a separate case due to his past association with Attorney Grueskin.

In 2010, the Colorado Legislature enacted a bill, SB10-001, designed to reduce unfunded pension liabilities of the Colorado PERA pension system by cutting the statutory COLA inflation protection of pensioners (called the "annual benefit increase" [ABI] in Colorado law.) These public pension liabilities had accumulated over time, since "actuarially required contributions" to the pension system have been underpaid since 2002. Ninety percent of the "cost savings" in the bill, SB10-001, are the result of cutting the pensioner's statutory ABI (COLA.)

Naturally, Colorado PERA pensioners challenged the bill in court as a violation of their contractual rights. Lawyers for the defendants in the case (the State of Colorado and the pension system, Colorado PERA) began by arguing that the contract breach and reduction of the PERA ABI (COLA) were "actuarially necessary," but soon abandoned this legal strategy. Later in the litigation the defendants switched their legal strategy, and simply argued that the contract right to the PERA COLA did not exist. (Inconveniently, Colorado PERA's lawyers had already testified to the Legislature that it did exist. December 16, 2009, Colorado PERA officials in written testimony to the Joint Budget Committee: “The General Assembly cannot decrease the COLA (absent actuarial necessity) because it is part of the contractual obligations that accrue under a pension plan protected under the Colorado Constitution Article II, Section 11 and the United States Constitution Article 1, Section 10 for vested contractual rights.”

But, the Denver District Court's Judge Robert Hyatt ruled against the plaintiffs (PERA pensioners,) deciding the case (Justus v. State) without citing Colorado's on-point public pension case law (Bills/McPhail.) The Colorado Court of Appeals reversed the Denver District Court finding Colorado case law "dispositive" as to the contractual rights of the PERA pensioners to the COLA benefit. Ultimately, the Colorado Supreme Court reversed the Decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals, embracing the Denver District Court decision that failed to even mention the on-point case law, (Bills/McPhail.)

Thus, Colorado state government acted to eliminate billions of dollars of Colorado state government debt. Colorado taxpayers are pleased, and Colorado politicians have more money to spend on their favorite projects.

The myriad political connections, the legal, lobbying and public relations campaigns that ultimately resulted in the enactment and judicial blessing of the Colorado PERA COLA reduction bill, SB10-001, provide an excellent example of political action at the Colorado Legislature, and the power of Colorado political parties. I am astounded at the intricacy of these political connections. Perhaps you will be too.

The connections include the interaction or collaboration of former Governor Ritter, Attorney Mark Grueskin, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Hood, former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Dubofsky, Governor Hickenlooper, the Colorado Education Association, the Colorado Coalition for Retirement Security, Colorado unions, and Colorado PERA administrators and trustees.

The PERA COLA reduction bill, SB10-001, was supported by a group called the Colorado Coalition for Retirement Security. The Colorado Coalition for Retirement Security and Attorney Mark Grueskin:

Articles of Incorporation for a Nonprofit Corporation for the Colorado Coalition for Retirement Security filed with the Colorado Secretary of State:

"Address: 3087A Tejon Street."

"Registered Agent: Lynea Hansen."

"The true name and mailing address of the incorporator are:"

"Heizer Paul Grueskin LLP."

The true name of the incorporator of the Colorado Coalition for Retirement Security is the firm of Heizer Paul Grueskin LLP?

What is (or was) the relationship between Secure PERA (also known as the Colorado Coalition for Retirement Security,) the Colorado PERA pension system, and this law firm? Has Colorado PERA paid the law firm for services relating to SB10-001?

The Colorado Coalition for Retirement Security and Governor Hickenlooper:

It seems peculiar that the Colorado Coalition for Retirement Security has had the same street address as Colorado Governor Hickenlooper's political campaign:

Political Consultant Lynea Hansen, the Colorado Coalition for Retirement Security, and Governor Hickenlooper, from

"When liberal communications strategist Lynea Hansen took the over the reins of BlueFlower from Taylor in early 2009, the filing violations continued. What changed was the address on the fund’s place of business. The official mailing address for the BlueFlower Fund changed from 8092 E. 8th Place, which was Taylor’s Denver home, to 3087A Tejon St. in Denver. This address also happened to match that of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s campaign committee, the Colorado ASSET bill advocacy page, the public affairs contact for the Colorado Education Association, the Secure PERA network, and a gaggle of other Democratic campaigns. Many of these groups paid Hansen for consulting or financial reporting services."

“Lynea Hansen, executive director of the Colorado Coalition for Retirement Security."

"Lynea Hansen, Senior Vice President at Strategies 360."

"Lynea Hansen, from the Colorado Coalition for Retirement Security (CCRS).  CCRS, also called Secure PERA, was founded in 2006 to work with PERA and the State Legislature. The coalition has 8 member organizations as follows: AFSCME Colorado (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), American Federation of Teachers Colorado, Association of Colorado State Patrol Professionals, Colorado Association of School Executives, Colorado Education Association, CSPERA – Colorado School and Public Employees Retirement Association, Colorado WINS (Workers for Innovative and New Solutions,) and Friends of PERA. As you can see, our parent organization, CSPERA, is a member of the coalition. Lynea Hansen runs the Secure PERA website and works very hard to keep PERA strong. She also makes it very easy for all of us as PERA retirees to keep abreast of issues and news regarding PERA, as well as what is happening in the legislature regarding PERA."

Attorney Grueskin and the Colorado Education Association:

“Mark Grueskin, best known in education circles as a lawyer for the Colorado Education Association . . .”

Colorado Education Association and SB10-001, from the Colorado PERA website:

“In Colorado, Senate Bill 1 passed with the support of the Colorado Coalition for Retirement Security, which brought together Friends of PERA (which includes PERA members and retirees), the Colorado Education Association, the Colorado School and Public Employees Retirement Association, AFSCME Colorado, the American Federation of Teachers Colorado, the Association of Colorado State Patrol Professionals, the Colorado Association of School Executives, and Colorado WINS.”

A former AFSCME Colorado official on SB10-001:

"The entire AFSCME endorsement of screwing public employees out of their pension COLA's in Colorado is unfortunately quite true, however, it should be remembered that AFSCME no longer represents Colorado State Employees, and it hasn't for about 7 years now. It was decided 7 years ago in a backroom deal in Washington that the three state employee unions would become Colorado WINS. The rank and file members of AFSCME Locals in Colorado were not given the right to vote on this, nor were the members of CAPE or the CFPE. The people who espouse 'democratic labor trade unionism' in America, wouldn't allow it to take place in Colorado. Ritter and company granted a an exclusive franchise to Colorado WINS (which is a subsidiary of SEIU) and Colorado State employees do not have the right to belong to any other union, as both Change To Win and the AFL-CIO have prevented other unions (such as the CWA, which has had a consistent record of fighting for public employees' pensions) from organizing. Thanks to their betrayal of Colorado State employees, Colorado AFSCME Council 76 is now a bankrupt shell of an organization that represents some county employees in Pueblo, city employees in Aurora, the remnants of Denver City employees Local 535 and 158 and the maintenance staff at DU. They have one 'assistant Executive Director' and two clerical workers for a staff. All they are is a paper tiger, shell organization that is used as a conduit to 'move money' in state elections."

Attorney Mark Grueskin and the Colorado Judicial Project, from WestWord:

"In the meantime, Grueskin is still in the process of getting the Colorado Judicial Project on its feet; when asked if the CJP would have a web presence, he laughingly admits, 'I don't know. We've chatted about a number of ways to help educate the public — but you've got a roomful of lawyers, for crying out loud. So we have dissenting and concurring opinions, but no decision.'"

Former Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky and the Colorado Judicial Project:

“ . . . Matt Arnold appeared on the Your Show television program [moderated by Adam Schrager,] debating former Colorado Supreme Court justice Jean Dubofsky [my note, author of the 2009 Colorado PERA "COLA-taking" legal opinion] representing the 'Colorado Judiciary Project' [a legal-establishment special-interest group formed by Democratic state party attorney and Mark Grueskin.]”

Former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky and Colorado PERA:

Jean Dubofsky, at the request of Colorado PERA, provided PERA with a legal opinion arguing that the Colorado Legislature could legally take Colorado PERA retiree pension COLA benefits: “at request of PERA (Public Employees Retirement Association) in 2009, provided legal opinion that general assembly could repeal automatic 3% cost-of-living adjustment for retirees without violating their vested rights;”

Colorado PERA General Counsel Greg Smith, December 17, 2009 – “We have obtained outside counsel’s opinion on this issue.”

In a deposition Jean Dubofsky submitted to Colorado PUC she notes that she is the author of a legal opinion addressing the legality of reducing the PERA COLA benefit, October 18, 2010:

“My most recent legislative experience (within the past two years) is . . . a legal opinion addressing the constitutionality of reducing the cost-of-living increase for PERA recipients.”

(To access this document, paste “Colorado PUC E-filing system PERA legal opinion Jean Dubofsky” into Google.)

Colorado PERA's Greg Smith on Colorado PERA pension benefits:

“His [Colorado PERA General Counsel Greg Smith's] briefing paper said 'there has never been a finding in Colorado that the state has reserved its power to make changes' in PERA's benefit structure.”

"The PERA board, however, relying on a legal opinion by General Counsel Greg Smith, thinks benefits cannot be cut for any active PERA member. That means not just current retirees and workers who are eligible to retire but the brand-new employee who has put less than a year of contributions into the plan."

"Smith argued, however, that there is no precedent for declaring an actuarial emergency unless a pension fund has a serious cash liquidity problem."

Greg Smith, Colorado PERA’s former General Counsel told us in a Denver Post article from November 30, 2008: “The attorney general’s opinion seems clear that fully vested employees — those retired or with enough years of service to retire — cannot see any benefits reduced, including cost-of-living adjustments.”


Colorado Supreme Court Justice Hood and the Colorado Democratic Party:

"Hood's history as a Democrat party contributor – he maxed out to Bill Ritter's 2006 campaign, contributed to the Democrat House Majority Fund, and others – is notable."

"Interesting that the Denver Post failed to uncover and/or report on this salient fact." … t-justice/

"The notion of partisan 'pay to play' for judicial appointments is disturbing, irrespective of party. The fact that Hood maxed out to Ritter's campaign before being appointed by Ritter to the bench certainly calls his objectivity into question, wouldn't one think?"

"Prior to being appointed to the Denver District Court in 2007, Hood was a long-time contributor to Democrat candidates and causes: hosting events for Bill Ritter’s campaign and contributing the maximum amount ($1,000) in 2006, contributing to the State Democratic Party House Campaign Fund, and supporting Steve Bernard’s failed campaign for District Attorney in 2004."

"Hood also has close ties to Democrat Party attorney (and frequent Colorado Supreme Court litigator) Mark Grueskin, dating from their time as colleagues in the politically connected (and politically active) Isaacson Rosenbaum P.C. law firm – associations that may have been related to his removal from the 2011 Congressional redistricting lawsuits, before the case was reassigned to Denver District Court Chief Judge Robert Hyatt . . ."

Isaacson Rosenbaum's work for Colorado PERA:

"Both the state and PERA filed motions in May asking the court to dismiss six of the eight claims contained in the plaintiffs’ case. The state is represented by the Attorney General’s office; PERA’s lead attorneys are Mark Grueskin and Edward Ramey of Isaacson Rosenbaum, PC."

Mark Grueskin and Colorado PERA:

"Among those representing PERA are two well-known Denver governmental affairs lawyers, Mark Grueskin and Edward Ramey of the Isaacson Rosenbaum firm."

Colorado Supreme Court Justice William Hood and Isaacson Rosenbaum:

"Before moving to the bench, Judge Hood was a shareholder at Isaacson Rosenbaum P.C., where he did both civil and criminal trial work."

"Venerable 50-year-old Denver law firm Isaacson Rosenbaum will wind up operations and close at the end of June, people familiar with the situation today told Law Week Colorado."

"The firm, which lists 23 shareholders and five associates on its website, was a victim of the 2008 economic downturn, a heavy emphasis in real estate law and an expensive office lease at the recently renovated 1005 17th St."  "It wasn’t immediately known where all of its top attorneys would land."  "Ramey and Lawrence joined Heizer Paul Grueskin, and Corrada is moving to Lapin & Lapin."

"Hood, 50, has been a Denver District Court judge since 2007. Prior to becoming a judge, Hood practiced at the private firm Isaacson Rosenbaum."

"Prior to becoming a judge, Hood was in private practice at Isaacson Rosenbaum P.C., where he was a shareholder from 2005-2007 and of counsel in the litigation department from 2003-2005."

Law Week online:

"Redistricting Judge, Dem Lawyer Worked At Same Firm."

"Asked about a possible conflict between himself and the judge, Grueskin said, 'Even before you get to the issue that he and I were formerly colleagues, he may have a docket that’s full.'"

"Grueskin explained that the redistricting case must be decided well before the Feb. 7 caucuses, and 'typically there will be some reallocation if necessary because not every judge’s docket would accommodate that.'”

From clearthebenchcolorado:

"However, the case may not remain with Judge Hood, due to his past association (working together at the same law firm) with Democratic attorney Mark Grueskin, as also reported by Law Week online: Denver District Judge William Hood, who was randomly assigned to hear Colorado congressional redistricting lawsuits filed Tuesday by Republicans and Democrats, once was a law-firm colleague of the lead attorney for the Democratic side."

"Before his appointment to the Denver bench in 2007, Hood worked at Isaacson Rosenbaum, the firm that until recently employed Democratic Party lawyer Mark Grueskin."

Apparently, in 2006, Isaacson Rosenbaum was representing Colorado PERA (while Justice Hood was a shareholder):

"Colorado PERA files motion challenging (2006) ballot initiative."

"The motion was filed on behalf of attorneys Mark G. Greuskin and Edward T. Ramey of the Denver Law Firm Isaacson Rosenbaum, P.C."

Initiative #93: PERA Reform:

The "Purposes" of 2006 State Initiative #93. A few of the purposes of the proposed initiative that were addressed at a hearing on the measure:

"In the event of an actuarial necessity, to authorize the general assembly to modify the member and employer contributions and the benefits allowed to members of the defined benefit plan, so long as the benefits of members who are eligible for a service retirement benefit or a reduced service retirement are not modified."

"To specify that PERA shall be subject to administrative direction by the governor's office of budget and management."

"To specify that the general assembly shall appropriate funding for the administrative oversight of PERA."

"To prohibit the attorney general from delegating his or her responsibilities as legal advisor to the PERA board to any legal advisor or in-house counsel hired by the association."

"Memorandum Question 9. "The proposed initiative appears to specify that the benefits allowed to members who are eligible for a service retirement benefit or a reduced service retirement benefit under the defined benefit plan cannot be modified during an actuarial necessity. Can the proponents please explain the purpose of this change from the original proposed initiative #81?"

(My comment: This is interesting, that Justice Hood's law firm, Isaacson Rosenbaum, was grappling with the issue of the taking of vested Colorado PERA benefits through a claim of "actuarial necessity," while Justice Hood was a shareholder at the firm.

As legal representatives of Colorado PERA in 2006, shareholder Hood's firm and colleague Mark Grueskin assisted Colorado PERA in addressing this state-wide ballot initiative providing that "actuarial necessity" could not be used to take "fully-vested" PERA pension benefits. This is particularly ironic since the use of the "actuarial necessity" strategy was the original legal strategy in PERA's attempt to take the PERA COLA benefit, was noted regularly by SB10-001 bill co-prime sponsor Josh Penry as the legal underpinnings for the proposed taking of the COLA, and was likely employed in the legal memorandum supporting a PERA COLA taking that PERA officials solicited from former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Dubofsky.

While he was a shareholder at Isaacson Rosenbaum did Justice Hood discuss the concept of actuarial necessity with colleague Mark Grueskin? While Justice Hood received the compensation of a shareholder at Isaacson Rosenbaum, the firm was paid by the Colorado PERA pension system to provide legal services to Colorado PERA relating to the legal concept of "actuarial necessity."

It appears that this Supreme Court Justice (Hood) recused himself (or was removed) in 2011 in the Colorado redistricting case, Moreno, due to his association with the politically-connected attorney (Grueskin.) The extent of the relationship of Justice William Hood with the Colorado PERA lawyer (until recently) Grueskin should be explored.

Colorado PERA retirees should make a point of discovering the rationale for Justice Hood's recusal (or removal) from the case, Moreno, in 2011. Was Justice Hood indeed recused in the Moreno case due to his association with the defendant's (Colorado PERA) lawyer (Grueskin) in the current case, Justus v. State. What documents exist relating to Justice Hood's removal or recusal in the Moreno case?)

Attorney Grueskin and Colorado Supreme Court Justice Hood, from the CTBC:

"Given Hood’s close associations with Democratic party attorney and frequent Colorado Supreme Court litigant Mark Grueskin, this pick could lead to a number of recusals in some high-profile, politically-charged cases that might come before the Colorado Supreme Court."

Was attorney Grueskin involved in the selection of Dubofsky to create a legal rationale for the contemplated PERA COLA taking? Has Justice Hood had any association with the Colorado PERA defense team's Grueskin while Colorado PERA was contemplating a taking of the PERA COLA benefit in 2008, 2009, or 2010?  If so, what was communicated between the two?

Governor Hickenlooper and Colorado Supreme Court Justice Hood, Denver Post:

"Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday announced his appointment of Denver District Court Judge William Hood III as the 103rd Colorado Supreme Court justice."

"Hood will fill the vacancy created next year when Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender retires.  Bender, who will step down Jan. 7, has served on the Supreme Court since 1997 and as chief since 2010."

"'He (Hood) has consistently demonstrated an ability to fairly apply the law while administering justice,' Hickenlooper said. 'His breadth of experience on both sides of the courtroom is invaluable to informed decisions.'"

"Hood, 50, has been a Denver District Court judge since 2007. Prior to becoming a judge, Hood practiced at the private firm Isaacson Rosenbaum. He also served as a prosecutor for the 18th Judicial District Attorney's office."


"Hickenlooper was under some natural pressure to appoint a Democrat to replace the liberal Bender with a similar-minded justice — particularly after his last appointment to fill a vacant seat; in 2011, Hickenlooper chose Jefferson County Republican Brian Boatright to replace the retiring Alex Martinez, a decision that did not sit well with Democrats. Martinez had been a liberal voice on the Colorado Supreme Court, and replacing him with the conservative Boatright may have ultimately been the difference in the Lobato education lawsuit. Selecting Hood, a registered Democrat, keeps the court's political affiliations about the same: 3 liberals (Hood, Nancy Rice, Gregory Hobbs), 3 conservatives (Allison Eid, Nathan Coates,and Boatright), and 1 "Unaffiliated" (Monica Marquez).

Justice Hood and the University of Denver Law School,

"The 50-year-old Hood has been a Denver District Court judge since 2007.  He’s also an adjunct professor at the University of Denver."

At these lofty heights of the Colorado legal community many of the most prominent figures are acquainted. Justice Hood has been an adjunct professor at DU. The wife of (now retired) Judge Robert Hyatt, who issued the original decision in the case, Justus v. State, happens to teach at DU:

"Sheila Hyatt teaches in the areas of Civil Procedure, Evidence and Trial Practice."

Attorney Grueskin and Sam Mamet of the Colorado Municipal League:

"Par Sponsors: Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Epstein, P.C. (by Steve Epstein), Mark Grueskin & Lola Farber Grueskin & Family, Sam Mamet & Judith Cassel-Mamet & Family . . ."

(Sam Mamet is Executive Director of the Colorado Municipal League [CML.] Some of CML’s municipal members have benefited from the Colorado General Assembly’s use of approximately $700 million in state revenue to pay off legacy local government pension debts [Old Hire Fire and Police pension obligations] that are not contractual obligations of the State of Colorado. Billions of dollars of Colorado PERA pension debt, contractual obligations owed by Colorado municipalities [many of them members of CML] were erased by the bill SB10-001.)

Governor Hickenlooper and SB10-001:

Hickenlooper casually dismisses the contractual property rights of elderly Colorado pensioners:

". . . Sobanet is careful in discussing the studies, noting that his boss, Gov. John Hickenlooper. . . supports defending Senate Bill 1.'”

Yet, Hickenlooper aggressively defends the contractual property rights of oil and gas companies:

“Whether it’s local government or state government, I don’t think government should come in and snatch somebody’s property.” . . .

Support the Rule of Law in Colorado at

Westboro Baptist Church to Picket Pueblo Courthouse

(Why don't they just go to hell? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

SUNDAY POLS UPDATE: Pueblo Chieftain:

The release uses a number of derogatory terms toward the gay community and specifically mentions Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz saying he, “Couldn’t move fast enough to start marrying fags,” and use that as an impetus for their planned protest.

The release also states, “Same-sex marriage dooms nations,” and that Pueblo County “foams at the mouth” to marry gay people, among other things.

The Westboro Baptist Church group routinely travels across the country picketing against gay marriage and other highly contentious things such as military funerals, and are often met with much opposition wherever they go.

Upon hearing the news, citizens of Pueblo mobilized on Facebook and began making plans for a counter-protest for that day.


Westboro Baptist Church, well-known for picketing the funerals of soldiers to protest "gay-friendly" military policies, is now scheduling a picket December 29 at the Pueblo Courthouse to protest the hundreds of gay and lesbian couples married by County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz.

The founder of WBC , Fred Phelps, passed away last spring , and his family members have been leaving the church.  Nevertheless, there are apparently a core of true believers willing to travel to Pueblo to keep their church's name, and their homophobic cause, in the news. 

The language of this flyer is of someone clearly both fascinated and repelled by gay sex. "Crack in the dyke", "forcing this….sin down the throat", "angel-gagging drivel", etc. 

I predict a hostile reception for WBC, and that the number of counter-protesters at the Pueblo Courthouse will far outnumber the WBC haters. Pueblo, is, by and large, a tolerant, live-and-let-live town, which elected an openly lesbian House Representative, Daneya Esgar,  this year. Colorado legislators passed a bill allowing civil unions in 2013, and it took effect last May. 

Puebloans are also unlikely to allow an organization which pickets the funerals of soldiers to publicize itself in the Home of Heroes.Further, the WBC picket attempt is likely to alienate Republican moderate and independent voters, who have only reluctantly been dragged along on the Pueblo GOP quest to smear Clerk Ortiz, accusing him of voter fraud and discrimination, in actions and lawsuits. The WBC picket will, I predict, be a gigantic, oozing black eye for the Pueblo GOP. 

So y'all come on down to Pueblo for a wintry picnic on the Courthouse Grounds. WBC will provide the fire and brimstone- maybe. 

Senate Dems Stick With Leaders As Bizarre GOP Leadership Choices Raise Eyebrows

Senate President Morgan Carroll (D).

Outgoing Senate President Morgan Carroll (D).

As the Durango Herald's Peter Marcus reports, Senate Democrats yesterday stood with their leadership from the past two years, re-electing Sens. Morgan Carroll and Rollie Heath to the equivalent top positions of their 17-18 minority that they held as an 18-17 majority:

Carroll defended her side of the aisle's work, suggesting that with Democrats in control, Colorado's economy grew and jobs were created. She also pointed to civil-rights issues, including same-sex civil unions legislation passed in 2013 and efforts supporting renewable energy, including passing a tougher standard for rural parts of the state.

"We will continue to move the state forward to address the real-world needs of the people of Colorado," Carroll said in a statement. "It is an honor to serve with and for so many great senators on behalf of the people of Colorado."

The caucus also elected Sen. Rollie Heath of Boulder to serve as assistant minority leader. Heath currently serves as majority leader.

"The election is over, and now it's time to start governing," Heath said in a statement. "We have a hard-working team. I know we will be effective because we hear one another out and collaborate within the caucus and across the aisle. We all have a shared goal, and that is to ensure Colorado is thriving."

Sen. Jessie Ulibarri was elected Democratic caucus chair yesterday, Sen. Matt Jones will service as minority whip, and Sen. Pat Steadman as senior Democrat on the powerful Joint Budget Committee. With the Senate Democratic minority leadership settled, we now have a full picture of what the legislature will look like when it reconvenes in January.

The only choices of leadership in either party that are really much of a surprise this time are in the Republican Senate Majority. Unlike Democrats, the Senate Republicans predetermined their leadership in private meetings before any vote was held. The selection of moderate Sen. Ellen Roberts as Senate President pro tem has been widely praised, but since then we've heard questions about how much power she might actually wield–suggesting the appointment was more window dressing by Senate President Bill Cadman than an honest intention to moderate his caucus leadership.

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (right).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (right).

The idea that Cadman is trying to turn over a new leaf for his caucus is further undermined by two other new members of his Senate Republican leadership: Assistant Majority Leader-elect Kevin Lundberg and majority caucus chair-elect Vicki Marble. Lundberg (seen at right shaking hands with recalled anti-imigrant Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce) has a long history as one of the most stridently conservative and outspoken members of the legislature. That outspokenness frequently gets the better of Lundberg's good judgment, leading to embarrassment for him and his caucus–like the time he read the definition of "abstinence" on the Senate floor, mangling the word "vaginal" (video after the jump).

Fried chicken.

Fried chicken.

But for all of Lundberg's crazy-uncle conservatism, his appointment as Assistant Majority Leader at least has some justification in his long legislative experience. Not so with the election of Vicki Marble to the position of majority caucus chair. Nobody we've talked to can make sense of this appointment other than some kind of sharp stick in the eye to Democrats, and even then it seems like a really bad idea. Marble has given Senate Republicans some of their most embarrassing incidents in the last couple of years, with her infamous rant about "problems in the black race," barbeque chicken, and the "Mexican diet" resulting in much thinner brown people in Mexico making national headlines

That was not the first embarrassing moment for Marble, who previously made bizarre statements like "Democrats will do anything to control the way our children learn, live, and even how they act in intimate relationships." Or her speech against equal pay for women, declaring "I feel like we've outgrown the Equal Pay Act of 1963." As we said, there's no policy expertise or legislative experience that justifies Marble's new leadership position in the Republican Senate majority. All she has going for her that we can see is greater name ID from the headlines she has made–and they're not good headlines.

After all the hoopla this week about Republicans retaking the Colorado Senate, which boiled down to a surprise win of a single seat by under 1,000 votes, the leadership decisions made by that new majority have received little attention other than noting the amiable Roberts' appointment as Senate President pro tem. But when the legislature gets down to business next year, the elevation of two of the most gaffe prone among the new one-seat Senate Republican majority may become the bigger story.

Along with Rep.-elect Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt! If you think about it, the worst-case scenario for next January is pretty darn bad for Colorado Republicans opticswise. In that event, all we can say is that they were amply, amply warned.


Rocky Mountain Heist–So Bad It’s…Well, See For Yourself

UPDATE: Luis Toro of Colorado Ethics Watch makes an astute point:



The controversial right-wing filmmaking crew Citizens United released their much-anticipated movie about the "Democratic takeover" of Colorado titled Rocky Mountain Heist last week, now available on DVD as well as streaming free on conservative website Overall, the video appears to be a overheated version of Adam Schrager's Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado, with some misleading anecdotes backdropped against the effective (and perfectly legal) Democratic infrastructure generally given credit for turning Colorado blue for the past decade.

Rocky Mountain Heist draws viewers in with references to a memo, purportedly from the Colorado Democracy Alliance in 2006, that refers to a campaign to "educate the idiots"–obviously an incendiary choice of words for any election strategy document. What Citizens United doesn't mention is that the "educate the idiots" memo was an obvious forgery, using bizarre language and bad grammar that nobody on the Democratic side could even recognize.

And that's just the beginning. The movie references the case of Jack Phillips, the bakery owner who was found to be in violation of the state's public accommodation law, claiming Phillips "faced jail time" for his refusal to bake a cake for a gay wedding. The truth is, the Colorado General Assembly repealed the criminal penalties for public accommodation in 2013, the same year they passed the civil unions bill. To imply in the fall of 2014 that refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in Colorado could result in jail time is just one example of the way this movie blatantly misleads its audience.

Seth Masket, a DU professor, relates his experience of being duped into an interview for Rocky Mountain Heist in a Washington Post blog last week:

At one point in the film, I claim the following:

Latinos have not only been increasing in their potential to vote, but they’ve been voting increasingly Democratic over the last 10 years in Colorado.

By itself, this is not a particularly controversial statement. It is empirically verifiable that the number of Latino voters has increased substantially in Colorado over the past decade and that those voters are more likely to vote Democratic than they used to be. But this quote is inserted in between some footage purportedly showing that Democrats are trying to encourage illegal immigration, an insinuation by Tom Tancredo that the Obama administration is essentially recruiting Democratic voters via undocumented Mexican immigration, and a paean by Michelle Malkin to her Filipino parents who “immigrated here legally. It wasn’t easy. They learned English, they learned our history, they followed our rules.”

So now my uncontroversial quote is helping to legitimize an argument that undocumented immigrants from Mexico are invading our country, affecting our elections and undermining our culture.

For us, perhaps the most egregious lie in the whole film–the one that proves Citizens United is purposefully out to mislead you–is this frame:


This is the point late in the film where Citizens United declares their court case invalidating campaign finance laws is the reason why the "gun control revolt" in Colorado was successful–enough that "Sen. Udall" is proposing to "roll back free speech rights across the country."

But if you look closely, you can see they're not even attacking the right Sen. Udall.


Bottom line: since the release of Rocky Mountain Heist, we've honestly been surprised by how little attention it's received in the mainstream press, and how little buzz among voters on either side of the political spectrum it seems to be generating. That's partly because the material is really quite weak, relying more on breathless reporting of uncontroversial politics than findings of real nefarious fact. And at key moments, the whole production is pasted together with rank deceptions like what you see above: maybe enough fool the most uncritical and most committed partisan Republicans, but laughable to anyone who stops even for a moment to think about what they're being presented with. As a tool for persuading undecided voters, Rocky Mountain Heist is just plain bunk.

Given the splash they made with the court battle just to set up shop in Colorado, we expected better.

Gardner Clams Up As Same-Sex Marriages Resume

Good for the economy, too.

Good for the economy, too.

As the Denver Post's Jesse Paul reports, same-sex marriages are taking places across Colorado today as the last remaining stays against county clerks are vacated. After years of political battles, lost elections, and in the end anticlimactic court decisions responding to public opinion that has shifted dramatically, marriage equality is the law in Colorado:

Douglas County started issuing same-sex marriage licenses at 8 a.m. on Tuesday…

In Jefferson County, the first same-sex licence was issued at about noon, and Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson said it was "pretty exciting."

Anderson expects a similar number of same-sex marriage licenses as civil unions. The county has issued 241 civil unions.

The licenses are being issued in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday to deny appeals against laws allowing same-sex marriage and a subsequent proclamation that the marriages will now be legal in Colorado.

9NEWS has more from Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson, a Republican:

"I believe strongly in individual rights," the Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson said. "I personally support marriage equality, and I am proud to be part of this historic day."

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Polling shows that Colorado voters are strongly in favor of marriage equality today–61% in favor to only 33% opposed. That's a sea change from the electorate's mood in 2006, when a gay marriage ban was passed in Colorado and even civil unions failed a popular vote. In the past eight years, the issue has evolved right out from under Colorado Republicans–to the extent that the GOP House majority's shenanigans in 2012 to stop a civil unions bill from passing the legislature playing a significant role in Democrats retaking that chamber in November.

And it's another moment where GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner's long record is now a liability. As a state representative, Gardner voted against joint custody for same-sex couples in adoption cases. In Congress, Gardner voted against funding to implement the repeal of the military's hated "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. At the same time, Gardner's long string of flip-flops in this campaign is a major liability all by itself. And with the press now paying critical attention to what he says, it's an increasingly dangerous ploy.

With all of that in mind, what is Gardner supposed to say about same-sex marriage? Answer, as FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports: as little as possible.

"My views on marriage have long been clear," Gardner said to FOX31 Denver. [Pols emphasis] "I believe we must treat each other with dignity and respect. This issue is in the hands of the courts and we must honor their legal decisions.

"While others might seek to divide Coloradans, I will not do that. Coloradans are tired of politicians who spend all their time on partisan hot-button issues that divide our state…"

The problem with that, of course, is that Democrats didn't force the Supreme Court to take this action. Before Republicans found themselves on the wrong side of public opinion, Gardner was more than happy to campaign against, and vote against, the very same equal rights for gay and lesbian citizens that the Supreme Court has upheld and much of the state is celebrating today. The fact is, this is an issue both sides have spent a great deal of time and effort on–LGBT Coloradans and Democratic allies in support, Gardner and Republicans opposed.

The only difference today is that Gardner's side lost.

Supreme Court Won’t Take Up Gay Marriage Appeals; Colorado to Begin Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

POLS UPDATE #4: More reaction, Sen. Mark Udall:

"We are a stronger, better state when all couples are able to publically affirm their shared commitment and responsibilities to one another through marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court's move to let the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in favor of marriage equality stand is a win for all Coloradans," Udall said. "We should celebrate what this will mean for so many of our friends, family members and neighbors. And while this is an important milestone for our state and for other states around the country impacted today, we still have work to do to ensure equality for Americans nationwide."

Udall has been a vocal advocate of striking down misguided laws that discriminate against committed, married gay couples at both the state and federal levels. Udall last year helped to pass in the U.S. Senate the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would bar employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. However, the U.S. House of Representatives has refused to act on the legislation. He also led the successful effort to repeal the harmful and discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

The Colorado House and Senate majorities in a joint statement:

"The Supreme Court's decision to let the lower-court rulings stand vindicates a lot of work by a lot of people over a lot of years," said Speaker Mark Ferrandino, the House sponsor, with Rep. Sue Schafer (D-Wheat Ridge), of the 2013 Colorado law allowing civil unions for same-sex couples. 

"It's gratifying that this moment came before my time in the legislature ends," the term-limited Speaker Ferrandino said, "but what really matters is that our state and our country will finally offer equal treatment under the law to all loving couples." 

"We knew this day would come," said Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), who with Senate President Pro Tem Lucia Guzman (D-Denver) were the Senate sponsors of the 2013 law. "The only task left for us is to fix the obsolete Colorado laws now on the books and make them constitutional according to the decisions handed down by the courts, particularly the 10th Circuit." 

"The majority of Americans, and a majority of Coloradans, support marriage equality," Sen. Guzman said. "This is about families, and Coloradans know that families are the backbone of a strong, healthy state. This decision provides further opportunity for all families to succeed under the law." 


POLS UPDATE #3: The Denver Post reports that Pueblo County is now issuing same-sex marriage licenses, the first jurisdiction in Colorado to do so after the Supreme Court's action today.



POLS UPDATE #2: Colorado Attorney General John Suthers concedes the obvious. From the Denver Post:

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers on Monday said all 64 county clerks must begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear all appeals on gay marriage bans.

Suthers' announcement is an abrupt and unexpected resolution to the legal battles in Colorado, including the attorney general's previous successful efforts to stop to county clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses this past summer…

…"By choosing not to take up the matter, the court has left the 10th Circuit ruling in place," Suthers said in a statement. "We expect the 10th Circuit will issue a final order governing Colorado very shortly. Once the formalities are resolved clerks across the state must begin issuing marriage licenses to all same-sex couples."


POLS UPDATE: Our friends over at "The Fix" sum up today's decision quite nicely:

The Court's ruling (or lack thereof) is expected to extend gay marriage to 30 states — and it's easy to imagine a number of other states will follow suit in seeking legalization since there will be no pending legislation in front of the Court to keep them from doing so. Will there eventually be a challenge to the legality of same sex marriage in front of the Supreme Court? Yes.  Does the makeup of the Court make some difference in how that decision turns out? Also, yes. But, by not acting on the current challenges, the Court has allowed the massive momentum in favor of gay marriage to continue. And not just to continue, but to grow.

Original post follows…


(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

What will Colorado's Attorney General do now?

The news out of Washington, DC this morning is that the Supreme Court has denied the appeals from opponents of marriage equality this morning: (AP News blurb). With the announcement, the stays of various Appeals Courts are vacated and gay marriage is now legal in all jurisdictions where appeals courts have found in favor of marriage equality!

AG Suthers said he wanted the courts to wait until a decision was handed down by the Supreme Court. This is the decision: the Appeals Courts are unanimous so far – gay marriage is a fundamental right! Will Suthers abide by the decision and ask for his stays to be lifted so that GLBT couples can join in the celebration of marriage? Or will he continue to delay and obstruct?

Hickenlooper v. Beauprez: Live Blog Tonight!

Democrat John Hickenlooper

It has become something of a tradition here at Colorado Pols for us to give you, our loyal readers, a live blog, play-by-play of political debates in Colorado, and we're back at it again.Bob Beauprez Governor

Tonight we'll be at the auditorium in the Denver Post building once more, this time for a debate between Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican Gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez.

The festivities are scheduled to begin at around 5:45 pm. Live streaming of the debate should be available at


*NOTE: The most current update appears at the top of the page. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time.


Governor Hickenlooper was poised, funny, and his general affable self. Beauprez seemed much more relaxed than normal — but almost too relaxed. Beauprez needed to land some solid punches in this debate, and he just…didn't. There weren't a lot of memorable lines from tonight's debate, despite some pretty good questions, which makes this absolutely a missed opportunity for Beauprez. Hickenlooper wanted either a "win" or a "draw" tonight; you can argue whether he won, but he definitely ended up with at least a draw.

As for Beauprez? The only thing he was consistently on-message about was saying the phrase "kick the can down the street" whenever possible. He seemd tonight like a man who is unaware that tomorrow is the first day of October. Beauprez absolutely, positively needed to throw some punches that would at least leave a small mark on Hickenlooper. Instead, he just kicked the can down the road toward the next debate.



Dr. Chaps: Jared Polis Wants To Behead America’s Christians

MONDAY UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols with reaction from GOP chairman Ryan Call as Gordon Klingenschmitt apologizes for his self-described "hyperbole."

“Gordon, as I’ve said before, does not speak for the Colorado Republican Party,” Call told FOX31 Denver. “His views do not reflect my personal position or the position of the party.

“But this tired, ineffectual tactic of trying to brand all Republicans based on these comments — the Todd Akin approach [Pols emphasis] — it’s not going to work this time around,” Call continued. “Voters are too sophisticated. They know that one legislative candidate in Colorado Springs doesn’t reflect the views of Bob Beauprez or Cory Gardner.”


To summarize, Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call really doesn't want to accept that Klingenschmitt is the Republican Party's nominee for Colorado House District 15, a safe Republican seat–which means that barring the extraordinary, this man is headed for the Colorado Capitol in January as an elected GOP state representative. That makes "Dr. Chaps" Call's responsibility, to a significantly greater degree than if he was some lone crazy with a sandwich board.

Chairman Call fails to recognize this at his peril.


Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

MONDAY UPDATE: House Speaker Mark Ferrandino calls on Colorado Republicans to speak out about "Dr. Chaps." From a press release (full text after the jump):

"I call on Ryan Call and other Republicans to denounce Mr. Klingenschmitt and his homophobic, extreme, and slanderous attacks against Congressman Polis."


Colorado House District 15's Republican nominee, Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, continues to shock national audiences with his video program–in which he has made statements that are, there's no nice way to say this, disqualifying from anything you'd call responsible politics. But after Klingenschmitt's victory in the June HD-15 primary, a relatively safe Republican district, the chances are pretty good that Dr. Chaps will be bringing his special brand of over-the-top distasteful lunacy to the Colorado Capitol next January.

When we say this guy is insane, do we really mean in a clinical sense, or just kind of, you know, metaphorically for politics? For those who still haven't heard about Dr. Chaps, we can't introduce him any better than Right Wing Watch:

Just let that sink in: a man who thinks that "Obamacare causes cancer," that the Bible commands people to own guns in order to "defend themselves against left wing crazies," and that the FCC is allowing demonic spirits to "molest and visually rape your children" is now a Republican candidate for office.

Yes, folks, we mean crazy on the objective scale. And you really can't say that about many politicians.

Early this morning, Klingenschmitt possibly topped even his own very high mark for insanity. In an email from Klingenschmitt's Pray in Jesus' Name Project, a screed attacking Rep. Jared Polis that very straightforwardly blew us away:

Gay Congressman:  "No Religious Exemptions" for Christians

The openly homosexual Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced a revised bill to force Christian employers and business owners to hire and promote homosexuals with ZERO RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS for Christians who want to opt out.

Polis "wants sexual orientation and gender identity treated the same way as race, religion, sex, and national origin, when it comes to employment protections," claims the Advocate, under the headline "Polis trims ENDA's religious exemption."

Dr. Chaps' comment:  The open persecution of Christians is underway.  Democrats like Polis want to bankrupt Christians who refuse to worship and endorse his sodomy.  Next he'll join ISIS in beheading Christians, but not just in Syria, right here in America. [Pols emphasis]

There's really no commentary necessary to elucidate how disgustingly inappropriate, false, nonsensical, whatever adjective you want to apply this is. To say this kind of talk has no place in Colorado politics is a major understatement. Perhaps the best that can be said is it's so far over the line, no one can take it seriously–but that brings us back to the fact that this man is the Republican nominee for a seat in the Colorado legislature.

Like it or not, many more people than Dr. Chaps should be ashamed right now.



One Colorado PAC Officially Endorses Gov. Hickenlooper and AG Candidate Don Quick

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)


Today, One Colorado PAC – the statewide political action committee dedicated to supporting fair-minded candidates as part of One Colorado’s mission to advance equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Coloradans and their families – endorsed Governor John Hickenlooper and Attorney General candidate Don Quick for the 2014 general election.

“Elections matter – and this November, full equality for our families is on the line,” said One Colorado Executive Director Dave Montez.

“Attorney General John Suthers has vowed to continue defending our state’s discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples, even as Republicans in other states have decided to drop their defense of similar bans and stop wasting taxpayer dollars. We need to elect a Governor and Attorney General who will allow our families to share in the joys of marriage and stop defending the indefensible. Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General candidate Don Quick are the team who will get it done as quickly as possible.”


Hickenlooper To Suthers: Stop The Same-Sex Marriage Appeals

UPDATE: Statement from LGBT advocate group One Colorado:

“By calling on Attorney General Suthers not to appeal Judge Crabtree’s ruling striking down Colorado’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, Governor Hickenlooper has shown incredible leadership as a champion for all Colorado families. From the moment he took office, the Governor has stood up for LGBT Coloradans and their families every step of the way: signing legislation to fight bullying and make our schools safer for LGBT youth, calling a special session on civil unions and ultimately signing the bill into law, and lending both his support and his signature to legislation that protects against workplace discrimination and provides tuition equity to undocumented Colorado students – including many LGBT young people. The record is clear.

“As a proud supporter of marriage equality, Governor Hickenlooper joins the 61% of Coloradans who believe that everyone should have the freedom to marry the person they love. With three Colorado counties now issuing marriage licenses to loving, committed couples who want to protect each other and their families, there is no doubt that our state’s discriminatory ban is hanging on by a thread. That thread is Attorney General Suthers, who is the only person left standing in the way of equality for our families. It’s time to move on. It’s time for Attorney General Suthers to stop wasting taxpayer money defending this indefensible ban, and it’s time for the freedom to marry for all Coloradans."


Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols caught up with a traveling Gov. John Hickenlooper late last night, and obtained by far the strongest statement yet urging GOP Attorney General John Suthers to give up the fight to preserve Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage:

Late Thursday evening, Hickenlooper, who is attending meetings of the National Governors Association in Nashville, told FOX31 Denver that he supports Crabtree’s decision and is urging Suthers not to appeal it any further than the Colorado Supreme Court.

“I remain a strong advocate for marriage equality,” Hickenlooper said. “The decision on marriage by Judge Crabtree puts Colorado on the right side of history.

“I have urged the attorney general not to appeal Judge Crabtree’s ruling. If he feels he needs to continue to defend this discriminatory law, I urge him to seek final resolution at the Colorado Supreme Court.” [Pols emphasis]

It was important for Hickenlooper to get out of the weeds of this issue and clearly take a stand. Now that he's done so, Suthers is in a much more difficult position politically–continuing to fight an unpopular wedge-issue battle against the wishes of the state's chief executive. The political damage this risks extends to Suthers' desired successor as AG, chief deputy Cynthia Coffman. Doing herself no favors, Coffman published an op-ed in the Colorado Springs Gazette today where she defends the state's continuing appeals:

The issue of same-sex marriage divides very good people with strongly held opinions.

Public debates can be contentious and polarizing.

Indeed, it is more difficult to defend laws in the eye of this public policy storm than it is to succumb to personal and political goals.

However, unlike my opponent in the race for attorney general, I do not confuse my policy preferences with my duty to defend laws with which I may disagree. When I chose to run for attorney general, I committed to set aside my opinions of what the law should be in favor of a higher legal system that recognizes the pivotal role of voters and the courts.

Efforts to change the law on same-sex marriage are now moving rapidly but are not yet settled, and until they are, the attorney general has a duty to play his part and defend current Colorado law.

Bottom line: there is a growing possibility that the Attorney General's race this year will have a much higher profile due to the fast-moving issue of same-sex marriage equality–an issue on which Democrats like AG candidate Don Quick took a risk by focusing on early in their campaigns, but now appear to have been brilliant politically as the issue makes headlines and public support increasingly becomes lopsided on the side of marriage equality.

It is an issue that Cynthia Coffman is now wholly on the wrong side of, along with her boss.

Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional!

POLS UPDATE: The Denver Post reports:

Judge C. Scott Crabtree pulled no punches in his 49-page ruling, saying the state's voter-approved ban "bears no rational relationship to any conceivable government interest."

The ruling makes Colorado the latest in a string of 16 states that have seen their bans on same-sex marriages tossed out by state and federal judges.

The ruling came as another judge in Boulder County considered a request by Attorney General John Suthers to stop a county clerk from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. And last week, attorneys filed a federal lawsuit seeking to challenge Colorado's gay marriage ban.


Today in Adams County, Judge Scott Crabtree, an Owens appointee and former DA declared Colorado's gay marriage ban unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses of the US Constitution.  Unfortunately he stayed his opinion pending appeal.

Interestingly his opinion held that the recent passage of civil unions was just another discriminatory act by Colorado against gays.  He held that the right to marry is a fundamental right as many courts dating back to 1888 have so ruled.  He ruled that the argument that prohibiting gay marriage was to protect the state's interest in pro-creating was a pretext for discrimination.  He then goes on to quote Mark Paschall and Doug Dean (to of the most notorious right wing fruitcakes in the legislature) making outrageous remarks as further support for the fact that these new arguments are a pretext, calling them a "fabrication."

He found that the states interest in pro-creation was "post hoc in response to litigation."

He also dismissed the personal claims against Hickenlooper under the Federal 1983 act for continuing to enforce the law.

Congrats to all marriage supporters.

KOA’s Rosen says he’d be “fair” if he moderated a Hickenlooper-Beauprez debate

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

CORRECTION: This post incorrectly states that most journalists consider themselves Democrats. Over half of journalists in a recent survey self-identify as having no party affiliation. About 7 percent said they were Republicans, and 28 percent Democrats. My point about Rosen is unchanged.
From: Jason Salzman
To: [KOA Radio Host] Mike Rosen
Subject: question for my blog

Hi Mike –

I hope all’s well.

I noticed you told Bob Beauprez the other day that you’re hoping to moderate a debate between him and Hick.

You said, “By the way, even though I’m a partisan Republican, I’ve moderated these debates before, and I can set that aside and be fair in a head-to-head debate.”

How does this square with your belief that journalism is biased toward the Democrats because more reporters are registered Dems?

Thanks for considering a response.

From: Mike Rosen
To: Jason
Subject: RE: question for my blog

Moderating a debate is different from reporting. I’m not a reporter. I admit my bias when doing commentary and set it aside when I moderate a debate. Too many liberal “reporters” don’t admit their bias (some may not even recognize it) but infuse it either intentionally or unintentionally in their news stories or so-called analysis.