Vulnerable Mike Coffman Lays Low As Challenge Looms

Mike and Cynthia Coffman. And dog.

Mike and Cynthia Coffman. And dog.

For the last two weeks, a member of the Coffman family has dominated political headlines in Colorado, though not the Coffman most people think of. When we last left off with GOP Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, he was vowing to repeal Obamacare in the wake of last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, and hurrying to pivot to “jobs and the economy” in response to the court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage equality–but still not getting anything like the press his embattled wife was receiving.

Which we fully assume he considers to be a good thing.

Just before the “Coffmangate” blackmail scandal involving Rep. Coffman’s spouse Attorney General Cynthia Coffman broke open in the middle of June, Mike Coffman’s remarks on a radio talk show comparing the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Middle Eastern terrorist group ISIS made the rounds with no small degree of controversy. But since then, we’ve seen very little in the way of earned media for Rep. Coffman beyond those brief statements, regarding either the overbudget Aurora VA hospital has had spent so much time grandstanding on as an election issue, or anything else.

And naturally, he’s had nothing to say about his spouse’s political implosion.

But the world moves on: just today, Mike Coffman’s name was mentioned again as one of the most competitive races in the Mountain West for 2016. Roll Call’s Rothenblog:

Coffman’s decision to seek re-election puts a wrench into Democratic plans to take over his open seat. But that doesn’t mean the party will give him a free pass. President Barack Obama won the 6th by 6 points in 2012 and 9 points in 2008, but Coffman easily dispatched former state Speaker Andrew Romanoff, 52-43 percent, in 2014. State Sen. Morgan Carroll has been mentioned on the Democratic side but the field is still fluid. As far out of reach as this race seems for Democrats, it’s probably the type of district the party has to win in order to get the majority in 2016…

After Andrew Romanoff’s unexpected shellacking at the polls in 2014, the second win for Rep. Coffman over resurgent Democratic opponents since his congressional district was remade into a closely divided battleground in 2011, conventional wisdom might have declared him safe. But the CD-6 electorate in 2014 seems to have almost uniquely punished Romanoff for running an uninspiring centrist campaign, sending him to defeat by a greater margin than overlapping Democratic candidates in other races. In 2012, low-budget underdog challenger Joe Miklosi came far closer to defeating Coffman than Romanoff did, a result that demonstrates the potential in this district for a candidate who can turn out the Democratic vote–or at least not demotivate base Democrats like Romanoff did with his milquetoast “balance the budget” message. And above all, the difference in the electorate between the 2012 presidential elections and last year’s midterms gives Democrats hope that 2016 may be the year Rep. Coffman’s number comes up.

Bottom line: Mike Coffman has proven a resilient incumbent, able to reinvent himself in dramatic fashion to appeal to a very different electorate than the hard-right conservative voters who originally elected him to Congress. But he has also benefited circumstantially from weak opponents, and a strong “Republican wave” in 2014. A combination of his starkly opposed past positions on the issues, continuing predilection for embarrassing verbal diarrhea like the ISIS/VA crack or his declaration in 2012 that President Barack Obama “is just not an American,” and the growing possibility of the right challenger in the right year, means that no matter how handily he was re-elected in the last election, Rep. Coffman remains vulnerable in the next one.

That perennial vulnerability is why Coffman chose not to run for the U.S. Senate next year, with his negatives potentially attracting much more attention in that marquee statewide race. His best career option, as we long expected he would decide, was to fight to hold CD-6–considered vital to either side’s aspirations for control of Congress.

The problem is, in 2016 Democrats may finally have the right combination of circumstances and human capital to take Coffman out.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 2)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Happy day after Canada Day! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Republican presidential primary campaigns in Colorado are setting up shop:

Campaign season, no doubt, is officially here, as Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul announced state campaign leaders to oversee their quest for votes for president in what’s likely to be a key swing state next year.

Fiorina’s picks are state Rep. Perry Buck of Windsor and businesswoman Heidi Ganahl of Boulder. Paul chose former state Sen. Scott Renfroe from Greeley and state Sen. Owen Hill from Colorado Springs.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is in Aspen mouthing scary foreign policy slogans:

“I think [Iran’s leaders] are religious Nazis with an end-of-days view of their religion, and they’re dangerous as hell,” Graham said, adding a nuclear-armed Iran is far more dangerous than the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, although he has a plan for dealing with ISIS as well.

Rawr!

Department of Veterans Affairs officials are now saying there may never be a detailed account of why the troubled Aurora VA hospital project is more than a billion dollars over budget. You’d think we could ask the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee’s Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, Mike Coffman about this, but he was apparently unavailable to grandstand comment for today’s story.

► The U.S. Supreme Court has sent a lawsuit challenging the 1992 Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights back to district court for reconsideration–the latest maneuver in a long fight to determine if the constitutional requirement to establish a small-r republican form of government has been usurped by convicted felon tax evader Doug Bruce’s labyrinthine creation.

► Former GOP congressional candidate and radio host Jeff Crank says it’s time to investigate Cynthia Coffman’s role in the alleged blackmailing of state GOP chairman Steve House:

Now, I just say this. If this happened, Cynthia Coffman, the Attorney General, needs to resign. She’s a Republican, and she needs to resign. Because if this happened, she either at worst, participated in it, and at best, was a witness to it, in her office – in your office, in the Attorney General’s office of the state of Colorado. It’s uh — this is what needs to be investigated. Not whether Steve House did this, that, or the other thing.

► Almost everyone agrees that Colorado needs more federal judges, and sooner not later.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Republican Talk-Show Host Calls for “Investigation” of Cynthia Coffman

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

UPDATE: In response to the request of a commentator, I asked Crank if he still holds the opinion below, which he expressed over two weeks ago. Here’s his response.

CRANK: Yes, I still believe that Cynthia Coffman should welcome an investigation by an independent authority.  I don’t know if what she did rises to the legal definition of blackmail or extortion.  Only a legal expert would know that.  There should be an investigation and, if she is cleared, she should apologize for using bad judgement.  If the investigation finds that she participated in an effort to extort or blackmail, she should resign. [BigMedia emphasis]

I try to hold the same standard regardless of party.  That is more than those on the left usually do.

Amazes me that the folks on the left who are calling for Coffman to resign were eerily quiet about Eric Holder’s gun running operation and the IRS targeting people based on their political views.  Perhaps you should write about that too, unless that just cuts too close to home. 

——-

Some of my friends might throw stones at me, but, love him or hate him, Colorado Springs radio-host Jeff Crank tries to hold the Republican Party to basic standards. 

When Crank, a Republican, ran for Congress back in 2006, Crank was the victim of GOP shenanigans himself, so he seems to really hate it when the Republican knives come out behind the scenes.

Shortly after the news broke that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and others had allegedly threatened House in an effort to push him out of his position as state GOP chair, Crank took to the airwaves with this:

CRANK: “Now, to me, if that happened, that’s blackmail,” said Crank, who’s worked over the years for Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, during his June 20 KVOR show. “Could it be extortion? I don’t know what the law says about the threshold for extortion or blackmail, but I’m pretty sure that the Attorney General shouldn’t participate in it. I’m pretty sure of that. In fact, I’m pretty sure that an Attorney General would want to prosecute rather than participate in an effort to blackmail the chairman of the Republican Party.

Now, I just say this. If this happened, Cynthia Coffman, the Attorney General, needs to resign. She’s a Republican, and she needs to resign. Because if this happened, she either at worst, participated in it, and at best, was a witness to it, in her office – in your office, in the Attorney General’s office of the state of Colorado. It’s uh — this is what needs to be investigated. Not whether Steve House did this, that, or the other thing. What is really troubling here to me is that the Attorney General of the state of Colorado, who already played politics once and took the opposite side of her husband in supporting someone for Party Chairman, now shows up and decides that that’s, all of a sudden, — he needs to go because maybe he hasn’t hired somebody. But participates in a meeting like this – was either a witness to, or participated in blackmail. There you go.

Who in the world do people think they are, walking into the Chairman. The Chairman was duly elected as the Chairman of the Republican Party. He can hire or not hire whoever he choses as his Exectuvie Director. Tom Tancredo, who again, has been a friend of mine, supported me when I ran for Congress when he was a member of Congress. I appreciate his support. Tom, of all people, was the guy that everybody in the Tea Party hated because he ran against Dan Maes, left the Republican Party, ran as an Independent, and now he’s trying to tell the Chairman of the Party who he has to hire as the Executive Director. And it’s all unseemly.

But here is the biggest problem I have with this: Cynthia Coffman is the chief law enforcement officer of the state of Colorado. And it’s lonely when you’re a Republican calling out another Republican. And I’m sad to say that. […] But I will say this: I have built a career doing that, and I will call you out if I think you’ve done something unethical, if you’ve done something wrong. And I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. And I think that’s what people respect about the positions that I take—is that I take them and I hold firm to them. And I’ve got to tell you, I need to know more about what Cynthia Coffman’s role was here. If she participated in or saw an attempt to blackmail the Chairman of the Republican Party, she needs to resign. Because if that’s the case, if that happened, she is Eric Holder of the state of Colorado. And I can’t think of anything worse to say about somebody than being the Eric Holder of the state of Colorado. She can’t just sit silently. There has to be an investigation. There should be an ethics complaint filed.

Barring a sentence or two, Crank actually sounds like a real attorney general here, unlike the one we have now, apparently.

Thursday Open Thread

“We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”

–George Orwell

IUD Funding Not A Done Deal After All

UPDATE: Statement from Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado:

It is disgraceful that Republican Colorado Senators this session voted to leave low-income teenagers and young women without access to contraception that will help them achieve their goals and stay financially independent. Funding for the program expired today – that leaves a huge gap for hundreds of thousands of young women in Colorado.

The long-acting reversible contraception program (LARC) is recognized as a critical part of making Colorado #1 in preventing teen pregnancies (by 40%) and reducing abortions (35%). A relatively small investment of $5 million in LARC would have saved an estimated $50 million in Medicaid and public assistance programs.

The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment is searching for alternative funding to continue this vital service. Planned Parenthood is committed to supporting all programs like LARC that help teenagers stay in school and give them the opportunity to succeed.

—–

IUDs.

IUDs.

A story from KUNC community radio last month announced that a highly successful program to provide IUD contraception to low-income women in Colorado would be renewed for another year, despite the refusal by Republicans in the Colorado legislature to authorize public funds to continue the program:

Despite state lawmakers failing to pass a bill to fund the effort, a program to provide long acting reversible birth control to young, low-income women in Colorado is being extended for another year.

The long acting contraceptives, according to state figures, have helped cut teen pregnancy rates in the state by 40 percent. Abortions have gone down too…

[Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment Executive Director Larry] Wolk does want to come back to the state Legislature in 2016 and try to get the $5 million needed to again fund the program through the state – and even expand it to more clinics that serve lower income young women.

“It’s good public investment,” said Wolk. “It’s not fair that we have to keep going to the private or foundation community to fund something that is saving the state money.” [Pols emphasis]

But according to a press release today from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the lack of public investment in the Long-Acting Reversible Contraception program is a problem–making the previous declaration of victory problematic:

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment continues to search for funding for its successful Colorado Family Planning Initiative. To date, there is engaged conversation and expressed interest, yet no firm commitment. [Pols emphasis]

“We are working closely with our partners who believe in this initiative to find the funding necessary to continue providing contraceptive choices to young women across Colorado,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer for the department. “Making sure Colorado women have access to safe and effective contraception is an investment in their futures and ours.”

There’s reportedly still a possibility that private funds will come through to continue this program, perhaps on a reduced scale depending on how much they can get. But the situation could still affect single women in the interim if funding isn’t locked in soon, and in either case illustrates the uncertainty involved with trying to fund an important public health program of this kind with fickle private contributions. As CDPHE executive director Larry Wolk says, this is a program that saves the state tax money in the end, so to refuse to fund it as Republicans in the legislature did this year was textbook pennywise and pound foolish.

Talk-show hosts should release multi-page document outlining accusations against House

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ted Harvey and Cynthia Coffman in House of Cards likeness.

Ted Harvey and Cynthia Coffman in House of Cards likeness.

Denver talk-radio hosts should release a multi-page document, apparently prepared for last week’s Republican executive committee meeting, detailing concerns about Republican State Party Chair, Steve House.

Tom Tancredo told KNUS 710-AM’s Peter Boyles Monday that House refused to let him or Pueblo Country GOP Chair Becky Mizel distribute the “three-to-four pages” to committee members, even though Mizel sits on the committee.

On Saturday, former KLZ 560-AM host Randy Corporon told KNUS 710-AM’s Craig Silverman that he’d emailed what sounded like the same document to Silverman prior to his interview on Silverman’s show.

Corporon told Silverma on air: I sent you a four-page letter of the problems. You probably haven’t had a chance to see it. Neither did the executive committee, by the way, because Steve House did not allow anyone to distribute the four-page letter of concerns about Steve House for the executive committee (at 56:40 Hour 3).

But neither Corporon nor Silverman responded immediately to my requests for the document.

In the name of transparency, Silverman should place the accusations on the KNUS website post haste.

Corporon should read the document on the KNUS airwaves Friday, when he is guest-hosting beginning at 5 a.m. Corporon, along with former KLZ hosts Kris Cook and Ken Clark, resigned after KLZ management refused, at least temporarily, to allow Tom Tancredo to appear on KLZ.

What’s a better topic for conservative talk radio than the airing of a secret document written by conservatives attacking fellow conservatives?

Coffmangate: Let The Resignations Begin

Marilyn Marks, Becky Mizel.

Marilyn Marks, Becky Mizel.

Today, two principal figures in the Coffmangate extortion scandal announced their resignations from posts in the Colorado Republican Party, following the vote last week by the party’s executive committee 22-1 to support embattled chairman Steve House. The first resignation was that of elections crackpot activist Marilyn Marks, exiting the state GOP’s Elections Oversight Committee. From her scathing, if a bit muddled and agitated resignation letter dated today:

I sincerely regret that I cannot serve effectively on this committee to help mitigate the escalating risks to Republican candidates as we move toward 2016. I cannot advance the righteous cause of the party where leadership provides inconsistent policy guidance with frequent embarrassing reversals and re-­‐reversals of direction on issues of election quality. I have wasted much valuable time that should have been devoted to 2016 election security in attempting to recover from erratic changes of policy direction from Chairman House…

My experience with Chairman House in election public policy matters is consistent. His policy is unfailing inconsistency. No matter which policy he adopts and asks me to submit to officials, the position will be reversed if officials object. [Pols emphasis]

…Most troubling is the fundamental philosophy House expressed to me several weeks ago in the context of the party’s future policies for election security. He stated that the job of the party is to represent both the voters and the official stance of the Republican election officials in suitable compromises. He stated that our positions must be acceptable to election officials, implying that the Republican party is to represent the government in dealing with the voters. Such backwards philosophies will only lead to more conflict with House and more episodes of his approving, then disapproving and then disavowing the work of the Committee. I cannot be effective in such an environment. The work of the Committee is to promote oversight of elections, not to represent the interests that the government may have in denial of the problems.

Marks’ letter of resignation was addressed to Becky Mizel, the chair of the Elections Oversight Committee and also chair of the Pueblo Republican Party. You’ll recall that Mizel, a longtime malcontent within the Colorado GOP and one of the cabal of GOP officials led by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman who allegedly threatened Steve House with reprisals if he didn’t resign, was the lone vote cast against House on the GOP executive committee last Friday. A short while after her own resignation, Marks posted to Facebook:

Becky Mizel resigned today as Chair of the Election Oversight Committee of the Republican state party. I had just done the same a bit earlier in the day. We were following the direction of Chairman House in submitting comments to the Secretary of State on Watcher rights and responsibilities with the Republican Party position. He then disavowed our association with the party…

We haven’t heard if Mizel has also resigned as chair of the Pueblo Republican Party, but in the aftermath of Friday’s vote, she couldn’t be more isolated. At this point, Mizel’s continued leadership of Pueblo Republicans is a detriment to that party’s efforts there, since it’s clear that Mizel cannot work effectively with the state party’s chairman. It’s what happens, as the saying goes, when you strike at the king but don’t kill him.

It’s widely believed that Marks’ agitation about “threats” to fair elections in 2016 were a big part of her alienation of Steve House. Marks’ unreasonable and strident posturing on election issues has made her a pariah on both sides of the aisle, but Republicans humored her for long enough to leave her deeply entrenched–and ready to formulate red-on-red conspiracy theories over basically any quibble. As for Mizel, it’s easy to find fellow Republicans willing to assign the label of “batshit crazy” to her, not to mention Democrats–which helps explain why she was so ready to team up with Tom Tancredo to frag the state GOP’s leadership.

Where do these resignations leave the other principal (employed) actor in the “Coffmangate” drama, Cynthia Coffman?

Not looking real good, that’s for sure.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 30)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218We hope your abbreviated holiday week is…well, abbreviated! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Presidential candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky is holding a big-ticket fundraiser today in Denver with Colorado’s budding (pun intended) marijuana industry:

Paul becomes the first major-party presidential candidate to publicly court donations from the pot industry. Though legal weed businesses owners have been active political donors for years, presidential candidates have shied away from holding fundraisers made up entirely of marijuana-related business owners.

Paul has joined Democrats in the Senate to sponsor a bill to end the federal prohibition of marijuana for medical reasons. The senator also backs a federal drug-sentencing overhaul.

And at $2,700 a throw, they’ll be paying top dollar for Sen. Paul’s time.

► Speaking of the weed, Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is kicking off his own presidential campaign. Christie drew jeers from Colorado politicos on both sides of the aisle after he vowed to shut down our state’s retail marijuana industry–and before that, Christie helped sow dissent within the Colorado Republican Party by backing eventual loser Bob Beauprez in last year’s gubernatorial primary. All told, we don’t see Christie carrying our state in next year’s caucuses.

► Also, Ted Cruz says you can ignore the U.S. Supreme Court when you don’t like what they say! That seems certain to end well.

► We’re not sure exactly how you celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday weakening the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate mercury emissions from power plants, but the energy industry’s always-enthusiastic surrogates are ready to try:

“It’s great the Supreme Court would be looking realistically at this. . . . Maybe somewhere along the line it will bring some common sense in terms of energy,” former Pueblo state Senator George Rivera said.

As a state senator, Rivera regularly voiced concerns about the higher costs of electricity resulting from the closure of coal-fired power plants and other government environmental mandates.

Translation: hooray mercury emissions? Fortunately, Colorado is already ahead of the feds in reducing mercury emissions, so yesterday’s ruling won’t leave our state choking. Sorry, other states.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Pinto resigns then whines

(Nice work if you can get it – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call, Jefferson County Communications Officer Lisa Pinto.

Former Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call, Jefferson County Communications Officer Lisa Pinto.

Since she left her job as communications director for the Jefferson County Schools, Lisa Pinto took the highly unusual step, for a low-level public relations professional (alleged), of actually whining about her tenure at Jeffco and drawing media attention to herself.

In a June 19 op-ed in the Colorado Statesman, and another earlier interview on KNUS 710-AM’s Kelley and Company (below), Pinto slammed the community activists, the teachers’ union, and other villains for making her job miserable and undermining public education in Jeffco. She’s relieved, as she told KNUS below, to now be playing golf and not thinking about politics. (And, she adds, she’s a good golfer!)

Of course, one of the worst aspects of conservative talk radio is its one-sided nature, so I thought it would be worth spotlighting a counter op-ed that appeared in the Colorado Statesman yesterday, by Jim Earley, a Jeffco community activist.

Earley: There is no question that Lisa Pinto’s short tenure as chief communications officer for Jeffco Public Schools was troubled from the start. From the flawed interview process and dubious qualifications, her connections to school board member Ken Witt and others through the Leadership of the Rockies program, her subsequent decision to hire known conservative media consultancy Novitas Communications for $50,000 to assist in what should be her core job duties, to a series of mind-boggling social media debacles, and culminating in a PR disaster when the district refused to host the governor for a bill signing, there’s little doubt that Pinto was not a good fit for the job.

Pinto’s resignation should have been the end of it. Yet, in a guest column published by The Colorado Statesman last week, Pinto combines what can only be considered as sour grapes about her time in Jeffco, with the standard, party line, union-as-thug rhetoric. It stands to reason that with so much controversy surrounding Pinto’s tenure that a little self-reflection ought to be the order of the day; perhaps, as Pinto herself noted, “a CT scan” would do to introspect on what really went wrong.

“… a billion-dollar professional services corporation is going through a necessary turnaround while under attack by a guerrilla group …” Pinto fails to recognize that many Jeffco residents do understand what is happening. Using terms like “guerrilla group” as a connotation for the JCEA is debasing, and serves no purpose other than to vilify teachers, and many Jeffco residents aren’t buying into the petty name-calling.

“This was a lesson for me, not having an ego, trying to do the right thing,” says Pinto at the end of her radio interview. “And I realize there are some things that can’t be fixed.”

Not by her. She’s right there.

(more…)

New Anti-Spam Countermeasures Installed

Readers have most likely noticed a large increase in the amount of spam posted to our blog in the last few weeks. We’ve just installed new WordPress countermeasures to deal with this problem, and we’re testing to make sure they work properly. If you have any trouble logging in or posting comments over the next few days, please email us at webmaster@coloradopols.com with a description of the problem.

Thanks for your patience, and for God’s sake, don’t buy anything from these jokers.

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