Search Results for: gessler

“Both Ways Bob” Makes The Ballot–Barely

UPDATE: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Beauprez, who had just three weeks to get the 10,500 signatures required to make the ballot after entering the governor’s race in late February, initially appeared to have fallen just short, despite spending upwards of $200,000 on the petition collection effort. The Secretary of State’s office decided to do an additional review late Tuesday and found that Beauprez had enough valid signatures after all.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who is running for governor himself, was “walled off” from the certification process, but sources indicate there was consternation within the office about the “optics” of Gessler’s office ruling Beauprez’s signatures insufficient to make the ballot and an intense effort to ensure that the petition review process was accurate…

To collect enough signatures in just three weeks, Beauprez spent around $250,000, according to those close to his campaign.

Other sources, however, indicated that the total expense may have been closer to $300,000.

—–

Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez.

A press release from Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's office confirms, failed 2006 gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez has qualified for the 2014 Republican primary ballot:

Today Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert announced Bob Beauprez’s petition to appear on the Republican primary ballot for governor was found sufficient as required by statute. Primary Election Day is June 24. 

On March 31, 2014, Beauprez submitted 23,000 petition signatures to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s office began a line-by-line review of the signatures. Beauprez was required to gather 1,500 valid signatures from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts for a total of 10,500 valid signatures.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler formally delegated authority over the petition verification process to Deputy Secretary Staiert.

Of the roughly 23,000 signatures submitted by Beauprez's campaign, only 12,209 were deemed valid, with a whopping 10,791 signatures thrown out. In addition to the total number of signatures, candidates are required to turn in at least 1,500 signatures from each of the state's seven congressional districts. In CD-1, a total of 1,524 signatures were validated–a perilously thin margin.

By contrast, Tom Tancredo turned in fewer gross signatures than Beauprez, but made the ballot with room to spare and a far higher validity rate. This is attributable to the "Pueblo model" petition campaign his volunteers and paid operatives conducted, drawing on the experience gained in the Senate District 3 recall election where petition signers were cross-checked in real time against the Secretary of State's list of registered voters.

Rumors are widespread that Beauprez paid an absolutely confiscatory rate per signature to make the ballot, as much as $18 dollars per signature or more. If that's true, we would hope that he's only paying for valid signatures, because it's clear that his paid gatherers were signing up anyone they could without any meaningful screening. Either way, you'd think the embarrassment of having almost half of your signatures deemed invalid would motivate petition gatherers to adopt the Pueblo model.

But that's Bob Beauprez, folks. Always a little behind the curve.

Republican Insiders: Tancredo, Beauprez Frontrunners for Gov. Nomination

UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols updates with further response from Tancredo, who insists he is neither looking at the Jeffco superintendent's job nor an exit from the gubernatorial race:

Tancredo responded to this story Tuesday afternoon, telling FOX31 Denver that he’s not the least bit interested in the Jefferson County superintendent’s job, or looking for an exit.

“The state government would be a hell of a lot easier to run than the Jefferson County School system,” Tancredo said. “And there’s no way in hell we’d be busting our butts and spending all this money getting signatures if we weren’t committed.

“I’ve said all along that if there’s someone who emerges who’s polling better and more competitive with Hickenlooper than me, I’ll hand them the baton,” he added. “But I don’t see it right now. I think I’ve got as good a shot of winning as anyone.”

—–

UPDATE: Speaking with conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics, Tom Tancredo denies rumors of being in the running for superintendent of Jefferson County Schools:

“Absolutely false. Joked that running the state of CO would be easier than running Jeffco schools. My guess this is someone (party insiders) wants to slow my momentum.”

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Beauprez, via The Colorado Statesman.

Like him or not, Republicans see Beauprez as a frontrunner for the nomination.

Fox 31's Eli Stokols takes a good, long look at the four-person field seeking the Republican nomination for Governor. As Stokols reports, according to a host of Republican insiders, Tom Tancedo and Bob Beauprez are the frontrunners for the GOP nomination following Saturday's Republican State Convention. Top-line winner Mike Kopp is still a long-shot and Scott Gessler may be beginning to fade:

A number of top Colorado Republicans, who all spoke candidly to FOX31 Denver in exchange for remaining anonymous, agree that each of the four candidates has a path to winning the party’s nomination, but that two in particular have an inherent advantage.

Even after his surprise top-line victory Saturday, former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp has his work cut out for him if he wants to finish on top when the primary votes are counted. For now, he is still viewed as having longer odds to secure the nomination than former Congressman Tom Tancredo, who has a deep base of support, and former Congressman Bob Beauprez, who has the deep financial resources to be the last man standing…

…“Tancredo remains the frontrunner in a four-candidate diffused field,” one Republican said. “He starts with a 25-30 percent base vote in a Republican primary, so unless one of the other three can emerge as the Tancredo alternative, he wins by default.” [Pols emphasis]

Rumors abound that party bosses are looking for a way to get Tancredo out of the race, and even that Tancredo may be listening. One rumor circulating Monday is that the Jefferson County School Board, won by a conservative majority last November, may hire Tancredo, a former teacher, as superintendent.

The rumor that Tom Tancredo might be interested in becoming Jefferson County Superintendent was first reported here at Colorado Pols.

Is Tom Tancredo Considering Jefferson County Superintendent Job?

Tancredo for Governor

Tom Tancredo for…what?

UPDATE: We hear that a friend and advisor of Tancredo is discreetly asking questions about the possibility of Tancredo being approved as Jeffco Schools Superintendent. This would be a clever move for one of Tancredo's gubernatorial opponents — to leak that he is looking at dropping out of the race — but that doesn't seem to be the case thus far. Perhaps only Tancredo can answer this question now.

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Republican Tom Tancredo has been the frontrunner for the GOP nomination for Governor from the day he announced his campaign, consistently producing stronger fundraising numbers than his Republican counterparts and demonstrating his lead dog status by skipping Republican debates.

Tancredo's momentum continued last week when he was endorsed by conservative columnist Michelle Malkin a few days before his name was certified for the ballot after submitting the requisite number of petition signatures. In a four-person field for the Republican nomination (along with Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, and Mike Kopp), Tancredo would appear to be in the driver's seat as we steam towards the June Primary.

And yet…rumors persisted over the weekend that Tancredo is being pushed by some GOP power-brokers to consider accepting a job as the new Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools (should it be offered to him). Tancredo is by no means an obvious choice to lead the largest school district in Colorado, but it is entirely possible that the unpredictable and unabashedly-partisan Jeffco School Board could decide that the former high school teacher would be a good partner in their efforts to push the school district in the same far-right direction as their counterparts in Douglas County (remember that Tancredo was mentioned as a potential candidate for Douglas County Superintendent a few years back).

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GOP State Assembly Open Thread

UPDATE #2: An interesting twist in the gubernatorial primary, FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

In a bit of a surprise, former state Sen. Mike Kopp narrowly won the top line on the June GOP primary ballot in the fight for the chance to challenge Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper this fall.

Kopp took 33.6 percent of the vote, eking out a win over Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who also made the ballot with 33.1 percent support at the state GOP assembly here…

“I am tired of weak-kneed Republicans who believe every Democratic attack means disaster. They roll over instead of standing up,” Gessler said.

In other gubernatorial news, Sen. Greg Brophy nets a disappointing 18%, and Steve House and Roni Bell Sylvester say goodbye. In the Attorney General primary, both Cynthia Coffman and Rep. Mark Waller make the ballot, though Waller's bare-minimum 30% total may have suffered due to ballots reportedly being handed out while he was still speaking. Cory Gardner nets 73% of the vote, enough to keep Randy "The Stache" Baumgardner off the U.S. Senate primary ballot.

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UPDATE: The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee:

Congressman Cory Gardner took to the stage at the state assembly Saturday calling for new leadership in the U.S. Senate, telling delegates he's the best candidate to create economic growth, lower taxes and spur more energy development.

"Everyday I see faces that are result of the failure of Washington," Gardner said. "Faces of failed leadership. … People who have lost their doctor, who are out of work."

Gardner quickly took aim at incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, saying the he "just went along for the ride" with President Barack Obama on the Affordable Care Act, a measure polling far from favorably in Colorado.

"Obamacare is the biggest and worst boondoggle this country has ever seen," Gardner said.

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To be updated from today's Republican Party state assembly at the CU Coors Events Center in Boulder.

Will Beauprez be banned from Saturday’s GOP convention, like Norton was in 2010?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

beauprezballot1

Delegates at the state Republican convention will vote Saturday to pick one or more of the GOP gubernatorial candidates who will appear on the primary election June 24.

But delegates will not have the option of voting for Bob Beauprez, who's the only Republican GOP gubernatorial candidate who's decided to skip Saturday's convention and rely only on petitioning onto the June primary ballot.

The question is, will Beauprez be told not to attend the convention, like failed Senate candidate Jane Norton was in 2010 when she decided to forgo a vote at the assembly? Not only was her presence banned, but so were any Norton banners, signs, and literature. Presumably, Norton could have stood on the public sidewalk outside the convention hall, and indeed her signs were scattered out there in 2010, but Norton stayed away.

Then State GOP Chair Dick Wadhams was clear that no whiff of Norton would be tolerated, telling The Denver Post's Allison Sherry at the time:

Wadhams: “Any candidates for statewide office who forgo the caucus assembly process will not be allowed to speak,” Wadhams said. “They will not be allowed to have banners or signs or literature at the state convention. If the convention is not good enough to participate in, it’s not good enough for them to have a presence. That’s their decision.”

Media outlets have yet to determine if the same rules will be enforced, which makes for an interesting angle on equal-pay week. An email to GOP Chair Ryan Call seeking clarification was not immediately returned.

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Colorado Supremes slap down Gessler

Today the Colorado Supreme Court held that Secretary of State Scott Gessler usurped legal authority when he passed an "emergency" rule that purported to allow unelected officials to simply ignore duly cast ballots for a school district director merely because they felt the director was not "qualified for office."

The court quite rightly held that Gessler was usurping the authority of the courts in allowing election officials to make such fundamental decisions.

If the court had ruled the other way, it would be like allowing those 2012 attempts in Arizona and elsewhere by local "birther" election officials to keep Barack Obama off the ballot.

The case is Hanlen v. Gessler, 13 SA 306:

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=9312&courtid=2

 

 

Royal Gorge Tea Party Straw Poll Shows No Clear Favorite

An update from Carrie Canterbury of the Canon City Daily Record:

Tougher laws and harsher penalties to better protect American citizens, limiting control of the federal government and doing away with Common Core were a few of the hot topics discussed during Saturday's Republican gubernatorial candidate forum at Mountain View Core Knowledge School.

Hopefuls Bob Beauprez, Greg Brophy, Scott Gessler, Steven House, Mike Kopp and Roni Sylvester fielded questions during the event hosted by the Royal Gorge Republican Women and the Royal Gorge Tea Party. Tom Tancredo declined the invitation to participate in the forum.

Roxanna Hollabaugh of the Royal Gorge Tea Party said a straw poll following the forum showed 25 percent of the votes went to Gessler; 22 percent to Beauprez; 20 percent to Kopp; 17 percent to Brophy; and 16 percent to House. She said with about 160 possible votes, a little more than half of the audience submitted a straw poll (58 percent).

This straw poll shows that there there are a lot of undecided Republican primary voters–or maybe a large number of unaccounted for Tom Tancredo voters, who wasn't present–but it's still quite striking how evenly divided the support was among all five of these candidates. In the end, we expect that the better name recognition for Scott Gessler, Bob Beauprez and Tancredo will keep them at the top of such polls for the time being.

Two other candidates now more or less on life support, Greg Brophy and Mike Kopp, could see a boost if Tancredo, who is petitioning onto the June primary ballot, chooses to release his delegates ahead of the state convention this weekend. In that event, we suspect those delegates would in large part shift to Brophy as opposed to Gessler or Beauprez. As for Kopp, the state assembly represents a last slim chance at relevancy.

Get Ready For Another Purge Attempt From Gessler’s “Friends”

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

When Glenn Beck's "news" site The Blaze mentions Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler and the subject of purging voter rolls, our immediate response, for well-established reasons, is caution.

Iowa and Colorado, typically battleground states in presidential and congressional campaigns, each have more registered voters than they have adults over the age of 18 living in the state, according to a conservative watchdog group’s analysis.

The same is true of Washington, D.C., which is set to hold a primary in its mayoral election next week…

In a letter to top election officials, Judicial Watch said it will file lawsuits if Iowa, Colorado and the District do not correction violations of Section 8 of the NVRA within 90 days.

“Specifically, we ask you to: 1) conduct or implement systemic, uniform, nondiscriminatory program to remove from the list of eligible voters the names of persons who have become ineligible to vote by reason of change in residence,” the letter says, “2) complete this program no less than 90 days prior to the November election; 3) conduct or implement additional routine measures to remove from the list of eligible voters the names of persons who have become ineligible to vote by reasons of death, change in residence, or a disqualifying criminal conviction, and to remove noncitizens who have registered to vote unlawfully.”

…A spokesman for Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler told TheBlaze the office is “continuing to review the letter.”

“The secretary is committed to accurate voting rolls and continues to ask the legislature for the resources to clean the rolls,” Gessler spokesman spokesman Rich Coolidge told TheBlaze. “Unfortunately, the legislature in Colorado would rather have an honor system for voting than an accurate system.” [Pols emphasis]

We haven't found anything yet in the way of mainstream media coverage of yesterday's "press conference" by the conservative group Judicial Watch alleging irregularities in Colorado's voter rolls, which should tell readers something about the reputation of both this group and the problems they're claiming exist–but this story has spread throughout the conservative media pretty quickly. We haven't seen Judicial Watch's methodology in determining these supposed problems, but the group frequently hosts panels with such personalities as anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who claims that illegal immigrants would swamp our elections as voters to "vote for a more liberal agenda." So we have trouble taking them seriously on their face.

Because Scott Gessler regularly steps into controversy by alleging massive fraud by "thousands" of illegal voters in Colorado elections, a charge which has never been substantiated by subsequent investigation, local press is pretty much inured to this stuff. But it's Rich Coolidge's ridiculous, over-the-top quote that makes us think this whole business is intended for consumption outside the state of Colorado.

That is, unless it's Gessler's new gubernatorial campaign theme? If this story ever makes it out of the realm of the D.C.-based right-wing media funny papers, we promise to revisit it.

Waller says Coffman right that he’d be more “activist” AG than she’d be

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Love him or hate him, Scott Gessler has brought an activist's style to his job as Secretary of State, while others in his position, including Republicans, have tried to stay out of the partisan fray. Ditto for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.

So going into November, when we'll be voting for a new AG and SOS, the question is, do we want to elect an AG and SOS in the Gessler/Suthers mold. Or do we want more passive, traditional office holders, regardless of their political party?

It's an important question for media figures to tease out of the candidates, and reporters can take a cue from State Rep. Mark Waller who addressed the issue spontaneously when asked Sat. by KNUS' Jimmy Sengenberger what sets him "apart" from his primary challenger, Cynthia Coffman.

WALLER: You know, I think there are a couple of things that set us apart. Number one, we view the role of Attorney General’s office a little differently. You know, [Cynthia Coffman] has said a couple of times that she feels that I’d be more of an 'activist' Attorney General, if I were to become the AG, meaning that I would engage more upfront on the development of legislation and fight against bad legislation that’s moving forward. And I would be more. You know, I would take the role as an elected official more seriously and place more focus that way, on the office. Whereas, you know, the way she sees the office, it’s more of a nonpartisan office, where it’s the role and responsibility of the Attorney General to be the the lawyer for the state. So, I think we see those roles a little bit differently…. See, I’m an old military guy, Jimmy. I deployed to Bagdad, Iraq in 2006 where I prosecuted insurgents. I led other lawyers and paralegals there. You know, if I can lead lawyers and paralegals during a war in Bagdad, Iraq, I’m very confident I can do it in the state of Colorado, as well.

Listen to Waller discuss his promise to be activist attorney general

What about Democratic AG candidate Don Quick and the SOS candidates, Dem Joe Neguse and Republican Wayne Williams?

Do they see themselves in the Gessler/partisan mold? Or would they take the more nonpartisan approach of former GOP SOS Natalie Meyer, as explained here?

Poll: Hickenlooper Pulling Away from Rest of Field

Public Policy Polling (PPP) is out with some new numbers in Colorado for both the race for Governor and U.S. Senate.

Is there room for a competitive candidate?

Is there any room for a competitive candidate?

Things are largely unchanged in the race for Senate, even with the inclusion of Rep. Cory Gardner in the race, but it's the fight for the Governor's Mansion where the numbers have really shifted:

John Hickenlooper's approval rating is back on positive ground at 48/41, after slipping into negative territory on our December poll. Hickenlooper's also back to having double digit leads over all of his potential Republican opponents. Bob Beauprez comes closest at 48/38, followed by Scott Gessler at 48/36, Tom Tancredo at 50/36, Greg Brophy at 48/33, and Mike Kopp at 49/32. Hickenlooper's lead over the four Republicans included in the December poll has increased from an average of 8 points to an average of 14 points.

The Republican clown car is close to bursting with Bob Beauprez now part of the field. With the State Party Convention just a few weeks away (April 12), there isn't any room left for another Republican candidate — even if they could find someone more competitive than the current crop of GOP contenders. The newest PPP poll reflects that reality, with voters acknowledging that Gov. John Hickenlooper can start to breathe a little easier. Hickenlooper's 48% approval rating isn't steller by any means, but it's all relative when it comes to campaign season; the Republican with the highest favorability rating is Tancredo, at just 30%.

Sunday Reading: One Page From Bob Beauprez’s Book

MONDAY UPDATE: Think Progress:

Thanks to Colorado Pols, we have GOP gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Representative Bob Beauprez’s views on climate change — and they appear to mirror those of Buck.

In his 2009 book “A Return to Values,” Beauprez called climate change “at best a grossly overhyped issue and at worst a complete hoax foisted on most of the world.”

…While the state’s Republicans may be in agreement with one another, their anti-climate stance is at odds not just with 97 percent of mainstream science, but with the majority of the state’s residents. 2013 polling by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication found that most Coloradans — 70 percent — believe global warming is happening and three in four said the issue of global warming is very or somewhat important to them personally. Further, more than half of Coloradans said that more should be done about global warming at all levels of government. 66 percent said their local government should be better preparing for the impacts of climate change, and 61 percent said the same for the state level.

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Back in November, we took note of a tracker clip from local TV personality Aaron Harber's GOP gubernatorial primary debate, in which four of the then-principal candidates for governor, Scott Gessler, Greg Brophy, Mike Kopp, and Tom Tancredo, all denied either the existence, human origins, or ability of humanity to intervene in global climate change. To put these out-of-the-mainstream views in perspective, a recent poll found that 81% of Americans believe the government should take action to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Since the entry of failed 2006 gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez into the race, we've been looking for recent statements from him on this hot-button issue. As it turns out, we needn't look any farther than Beauprez's 2009 book, A Return To Values. On the first page of Chapter 11, ironically titled "Let Science Guide Environmental Policy," Beauprez lays out his views on the matter.

beauprezbookenv

Got that? "A complete hoax foisted on most of the world." We haven't kept reading from this point to discover what the "Republican response" should be to said "complete hoax," because, well, what would be the point of that? It's a "complete hoax." "Hysteria." Motivated by "fear." That's well beyond the expressed views of his Republican opponents on the issue, except maybe Greg Brophy who welcomes more carbon dioxide in the air–and we're pretty sure that Rush Limbaugh couldn't say it any better.

Remember, folks, Beauprez has "lived off the land all of his life." So obviously, he's an expert.

A Democrat’s Dream Opponent: Beauprez, Tancredo, or Gessler?

Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo.

Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo.

At this point in the crowded Republican gubernatorial primary, post-caucus but before the state assembly and June primary election, we're beginning to see trajectories emerge that allow for some predictions as to who–in what has been a gaggle of undistinguished candidates–might emerge as clear frontrunners.

Before the entry of ex-Congressman Bob Beauprez into the gubernatorial race on the day before the caucuses, the race seemed to be settling into a two-man contest between Secretary of State Scott Gessler and firebrand 2010 American Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo. The other candidates in this race, principally state Sen. Greg Brophy and former Sen. Mike Kopp, were already more or less relegated to the second tier–Brophy's good early debate performance being quickly forgotten.

Interrupting the natural propensity for big fields of candidates to winnow down to two, Beauprez undeniably shakes up this race. The biggest reason Beauprez had space to get into the race at all is the persistent unease many institutional Republicans have with Gessler. The court ruling this week upholding the ethics commission's finding that Gessler "breached the public trust for private gain" is a big problem for his campaign, who would really like to consolidate the limited victory he achieved on caucus night in counties that carried out preference polls.

Tancredo has a relatively large base of loyal activists left over from his days as a firebrand anti-immigration activist and presidential candidate, and good name ID, but Republican strategists understand he cannot possibly win a statewide general election. Although Beauprez's real opponent for the nomination is clearly Gessler, Tancredo is the one with the most to lose from Beauprez's entry into the race, and the most quickly.

Which brings us to Beauprez, who is energetically calling in favors from Washington, D.C. friends to generate buzz for his campaign. Beauprez has been described in at least one news report as the "prohibitive favorite" of the Republican Governor's Association (RGA), a reflection of his ability to woo D.C. Republican kingmakers. But Beauprez faces an almost insurmountable obstacle to winning: himself. In barely two weeks, Beauprez has already stuck his foot in his mouth over the "Personhood" abortion ban, re-earning the title "Both Ways Bob" that was used against him so effectively in 2006. He's supplying the same laugh-track material in early interviews that made him the easiest mark most Colorado Democrats can remember–practically the textbook bad candidate to set up and knock down over and over. Whatever Beauprez has done to re-ingratiate himself eight years later in D.C., his 2006 run was a disaster of the kind that probably should end a political career. And he shows every sign that if nominated, he'll bomb in 2014 just as badly.

Bottom line: what we have in the Colorado Republican gubernatorial race today are three potential frontrunners, and to be honest, Democrats should relish the prospect of running against any one of them. For strategic and logistical reasons, Democrats may prefer a candidate unable to self-finance or raise big money so they can truly put Gov. John Hickenlooper's re-election on autopilot. Setting the money aside, we'll turn the question over to our readers: which of these three should Democrats want to run against the most?

GOP Abortion Ban Bill Dead, But Issue Will Be Back in 2014

prolifevsprochoice

The Colorado Independent's John Tomasic has a great recap of this week's big local political story, the abortion ban legislation co-sponsored by 19 Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly that met its demise Tuesday:

Although Republican lawmakers, including House leadership, signed on in double digits to co-sponsor humphrey’s bill, something changed in the two months since it was introduced.

None of the co-sponsors came to Tuesday’s hearing. Only four people altogether testified in favor of the bill. Yet dozens of pro-choice activists held a press conference prior to the hearing to rail against it and many of those lined up to argue against it from the witness stand…

Humphrey opposed all the amendments. He said they would change the purpose of the measure. It was a personhood bill, after all. Either a fertilized egg is a person or it isn’t. He took the defeat of his bill in stride, with what seemed like the long vision of a true believer secure in the knowledge that fighting for his convictions mattered as much as victory.

But the arguments made by the Republican lawmakers against the bill as plainly unconstitutional may complicate a politically charged effort to land another personhood initiative on this year’s ballot. Supporters of the so-called Brady Amendment have already gathered 140,000 signatures. The secretary of state only has to certify roughly 90,000 of those signatures as valid in order for the initiative to make the ballot.

The long, unsuccessful fight by Republicans to institute a total ban on abortion in the staunchly pro-choice state of Colorado has done great political damage to that party's viability, factoring heavily in numerous major electoral races from Bob Schaffer in 2008 to Ken Buck in 2010 and Joe Coors in 2012–and now Bob Beauprez in 2014. The damage done by this ideological fixation has slowly dawned on Republicans, which may have led to Secretary of State Scott Gessler making an "extra effort" to keep the Personhood abortion ban off the 2012 statewide ballot.

The growing awareness of the self-injury resulting from their campaign to ban abortion on the part of Colorado Republicans is a big reason we were honestly surprised to see another abortion ban bill introduced in the Colorado General Assembly this year. Even more surprising was the large number of co-sponsors, including House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso. Not only did Republicans "go there" again in this election year, they did so enthusiastically.

(more…)

BREAKING: IEC Ruling Against Gessler Upheld

THURSDAY UPDATE: AP via 9NEWS:

A Denver judge has rejected Secretary of State Scott Gessler's appeal in an ethics complaint.

Colorado's Independent Ethics Commission admonished Gessler for using state funds for travel to a GOP elections law conference in Florida in 2012. While there, Gessler also attended the GOP national convention, for which he used campaign funds to pay for. Commissioners noted the state money paid for his plane trip to both events and levied a $1,500 fine against him.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert said Gessler probably will appeal. She said her boss was "actually very calm" when he heard the news, but she was fired up. Staiert is a critic of how the five-member commission operates.

"It's absurd. Every official in Colorado is subject to getting snared up in (the commission's) shell game," Staiert said of the ruling…

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Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

A press release from Colorado Ethics Watch with big news late Wednesday, the Independent Ethics Commission ruling against Secretary of State Scott Gessler over his improper use of state funds for partisan political travel has been upheld in Denver District Court:

Today, Judge Herbert L. Stern, III of the Denver District Court affirmed the decision of the Independent Ethics Commission (“IEC”) that Secretary of State Scott Gessler breached the public trust for private gain by using public money to attend Republican Party events in Florida and to pay himself funds left over in the department’s discretionary account at the end of Fiscal Year 2012. Ethics Watch filed a complaint with the IEC about Gessler's spending in October 2012. The IEC ruled against Gessler after an eleven-hour hearing in June 2013. Gessler sought review of the decision in Denver District Court.

Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro issued the following statement: "Judge Stern's ruling should surprise no one. Public funds are not to be used to pay for plane tickets and hotel rooms at partisan political events. Nor can officeholders whose salaries are set by statute use discretionary funds to pay themselves a year-end bonus. It is time for Scott Gessler to stop spending the people's money defending the indefensible. He should pay the fine and move on."

Here's the complete ruling handed down today. From the initial read of it, this was not a close decision for Judge Herbert L. Stern. In addition to a major validator for the much-maligned Independent Ethics Commission, created by 2006's Amendment 41, this ruling is a major blow to Gessler's gubernatorial hopes–if not in the GOP primary than in the general election. Gessler is counting on overturning the IEC's ruling to forestall otherwise devastating attack ads about his having "breached the public trust for private gain." Without a powerful rebuttal to that charge–something that would get ads taken off the air–the paid media case that can be made against Gessler, with this ruling as the centerpiece, leaves the man pretty much unelectable.

We'll update with coverage of today's ruling once available.

Lessons Learned From HB1258 – Namely Due Process Less Important Than Political Expediency

So I attended and gave testimony on HB1258 yesterday afternoon, which was the bill that was designed to bring due process rights to IEC Respondents.  As expected, it died in committee on a party line vote.  What was not expected though was the following:

1) Overall Weakness of Opposition's Arguments

Throughout the hearing, the Opposition to HB1258 had a moving target of trying various arguments to cover their ultimate decision, which failed one after another.  Starting off, the Opposition argued that the bill was not necessary as due process was already protected under IEC procedure.  That argument failed though when documentary was presented showing that (a) in the Gessler case, Gessler was essentially convicted of violating State Fiscal Rule 5-1 under the final IEC Order; (b) that State Fiscal Rule 5-1 is a lengthy rule (version given to committee was 14 pages and version here is 10 due to formatting) ; (c) That this Prehearing Order was the notice that Gessler received of what he was ultimately to be charged with and its sole mention of the 14 or 10 Page Fiscal Rule 5-1 is one sentence in Part (2)(f); and (d) that that same Prehearing Order also reserved the right, in the beginning of Part 2 of the order reserved the right to convict Gessler of "additional standards of conduct and/or reporting requirements, depending on the evidence presented, and the arguments made at the hearing in this matter" (in other words, he could be convicted of legal offenses raised for the first time at his "trial").  To rebut the issue that this due process issue was just a one time occurrence and that this was a problem isolated to Gessler, the County Attorney for Eagle County came and gave testimony regarding this Complaint.  He initially pointed out that the commissioners he represents are Democrats (either majority or exclusively).  He next informed the Commission that the Complaint, as spelled out in the County's Response, was barely understandable yet the Commission initially agreed to proceed with it without giving notice what the IEC Respondent in that case would be charged with.  Instead, he testified that the IEC indicated willingness to proceed with charging the Commissioners with conduct that violated a "smell test" before ultimately backing down. 

The next large argument raised was that it was inappropriate to make the IEC commissioners liable for their willful and wanton actions that violate due process rights.   A quick proviso on this argument – the bill that was debated was amended from what had been previously posted.  Under the amended bill, liability would no longer attach to violations of "clearly established rights".  Instead, it would have attached only in the instances where the IEC Respondent failed to receive an attorney and/or failed to receive written and electronic notice of the elements of the charges against him, and even then, only when the violation was willful and wanton.  Struggling against these changes, members of the Committee sought to argue that this could still dissuade people from serving as IEC members.  Their argument fell apart when the amendments' additional provision was discussed: for liability to attach under the amended bill, the Respondent would have to provide written notice of the violation 14 days after it occurred, upon which the Commission would have 28 days to have a mulligan by vacating the hearing/decision and redoing it if it so chose.  Only if (a) the Commission failed to notify a respondent of right to attorney or provide elements of charges; (b) the Respondent complained in 14 days; and (c) the Commission refused to do anything to atone for the mistake would liability thus attach.  On this background, the anti-liability argument substantively fell apart.

The final large argument that was raised that this bill was "unfair" because it was IEC Complainants that needed more resources, not politicians and state employees through a publicly paid for attorney.  The Committee asked a series of questions inquiring as to when a government employee or official could obtain a public attorney to respond to an IEC complaint.  Ultimately, those questions were answered through public testimony: it is the decision of each agency/governmental entity as to whether they wished to defend their officials/employees from and IEC complaint.  And, unlike a complainant who has chosen to initiate the process and can walk away from it at any time, a Respondent has no choice but to either fight it out at great expense or sacrifice his/her good name.   Moreover, attorney Mario Nicolais pointed out that this provision was in the bill due to both the gift ban (officials and employees cannot accept gifts, including moneys for legal defenses).  While Nicolais acknowledged that there were limited instances in which the IEC has permitted legal defense funds, donations to such funds could still be viewed as "contributions" for campaign purposes and limited to several hundred dollars – or an hour or two of attorney time per donation.

2) Liability Was Not The Issue

Although some on the Committee tried to hide behind the position that they were going to kill the bill due to liability, Representative Amy Stephens removed that fig leaf when she offered to have liability removed as a "conceptual amendment" and simply have the Committee approve bill's due process protections.  The Committee Chair denied the attempt to amend the bill and the Democrat Committee members voted against it, repeatedly stating (without explanation) that it went "too far".  If liability were really the problem and not a fig leaf, the Committee Chair would have allowed the amendment to protect IEC Respondent rights to due process.

3) The Democrats Who Killed The Bill Felt Guilty For Doing So

Throughout the hearing, it was readily apparent that the Committee members who ultimately voted against the bill were struggling mightily with their upcoming decision.  Not only did their facial reactions and questions display an understanding of the serious due process issues with the IEC that the public testimony revealed, but multiple committee members opposed to the bill said their opposition was only for "today".  Several even stated on the record that they would be willing to consider a "late bill" on the topic as a bipartisan measure and would push their Democratic Party leadership to allow it.

So that is my report.  As should be clear, I am hardly unbiased in writing this – I have been a major proponent for this bill and consulted in its creation.  But despite today's vote, this issue isn't going anywhere.  The IEC continues to have major problems and use of it is continuing to spike as partisans on all sides see advantages in using it for political aims.  As such, we can expect that a form of this bill will be returning sometime in the near future.

This post originally appeared on the Colorado Independent – it is my own original work.