Coffman again slides by most reporters, this time on Russia

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

This is yet another story about Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) making a head-spinning change on a serious issue, acting as if no shift had occurred, and sliding by reporters who barely noticed or ignored it.

This time it’s the evolution of Coffman’s stance on Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In response to a question on whether he supported an independent commission to investigate Russian meddling in the election, Coffman told 9News anchor Kyle Clark April 13 that he believed, based on government investigations, that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election. “I think the Russian meddling part has been resolved,” Coffman told Clark, adding that he wasn’t sure about Trump’s involvement.

You’d have been surprised to hear Coffman say this on 9News if you were listening to Colorado Public Radio in January.

During an interview with CPR’s Ryan Warner, Coffman said Jan. 11 he didn’t yet accept that Russians had tried to influence the election, because intelligence reports are frequently politicized.

Sounding like Trump, Coffman maintained this stance even after Warner pointed out that multiple intelligence agencies had concluded the Russians had intervened.

“I can tell you as an Iraq war veteran, I think sometimes that the intelligence at the highest levels tends to be politicized to make a certain point,” Coffman told Warner, adding that he thought the allegations against the Russians should be investigated.

Just two days later, after attending a full house intelligence briefing on Russian interference, Coffman told the Voice of America something quite different. VOA reported:

“I think it’s a wake-up call beyond our security officials, when we look at what they’ve been doing in Europe and wake up to the fact that they’ve been doing it in America,” Congressman Mike Coffman, a Republican from Colorado, told reporters.

Coffman, one of a handful of Republicans who avoided associating with the Trump campaign during the 2016 election season, described House members’ reactions to the briefing as aggressive, with pointed questions about the role Russia had played in the election of Trump.

“I think they consider the United States an adversary and I hope the incoming administration recognizes that fact,” Coffman said.

Yet, in the ensuing months, Coffman never issued a wider statement about his new confidence in the intelligence that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

In fact, in February, with Trump attacking the CIA and calling for an investigation into FBI leaks that led to the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Coffman joined the president and also called for an investigation of the FBI.

During his April 13 town hall meeting, he joked about the need for an independent commission to investigate Russian interference. The Aurora Sentinel reported:

“The most dangerous place to be in Washington D.C. right now is between David Nunes or Adam Schiff and a TV camera,” Coffman told the crowd. “I’m not there yet for an independent council, but I’m moving there.”

It was after the April 13 town hall when Coffman told 9News’ Clark that the question of Russian meddling had been settled, but Coffman was still undecided on the independent commission.

The Obama Administration had done an investigation and “members of Congress, myself included, were briefed about Russian interference, which was predominately the hacking of the DNC and the Clinton campaign, Podesta’s email accounts.”

When was this briefing? It doesn’t make much sense that intelligence briefings could have swayed Coffman, because it was no secret that there was a consensus in January on the issue of Russian interference, as Warner had pointed out to Coffman Jan. 11, when Coffman was broadly trashing the intelligence.

So, what changed between January and April that convinced Coffman of the Russian attacks on U.S. elections?

What happened to his concerns about top-level intelligence being routinely politicized to the extent of not being trustworthy?

What’s Coffman’s explanation for his radical shift on Russian interference? Was there insufficient evidence on the table in January when Coffman continued to doubt the intelligence? Did Trump’s stance against the CIA play a role? What happened?

BREAKING: Beauprez Group Guilty of Violating Campaign Law

THURSDAY UPDATE: Prescient from the Denver Post’s Megan Schrader earlier this month–and keep in mind that Schrader is a former Colorado Springs Gazette employee:

Caught in the middle — and asked to testify — are two former employees of [Beauprez’s] nonprofit: Dede Laugesen, the wife of Colorado Springs Gazette editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen, and newly hired Gazette political blogger Dan Njegomir.

In an interesting display of questionable ethics, both the Gazette editorial board and Njegomir wrote negative pieces about Arnold in the months leading up to the administrative law court case last week. Neither disclosed their connection to an entity Arnold was suing. At least not until a separate media outlet disclosed that the nonprofit paid Njegomir for his services. And even then, using the word “disclosure” in this context hardly fits. Instead, Njegomir wrote an odd blog post about the fact he had been subpoenaed by Arnold in the case and blamed Arnold of engaging in “plain-old payback.”

Njegomir has the plausible (and somewhat tongue-in-cheek) defense here that he couldn’t have known Arnold had filed suit against someone who had once hired him as an investigative reporter — after all Arnold is involved in that many lawsuits. But still, it looks really bad.

—–

We wrote last summer about an unusual red-on-red fight pitting Colorado Republican kingpin Bob Beauprez against a slate of Republican candidates and incumbent lawmakers. The intent appears to have been to “purge” the Colorado General Assembly of Republicans Beauprez considered too off message, and was partially successful–the group spent against losing Republican incumbents like Janak Joshi and Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, but was less successful against other incumbents like Rep. Lori Saine.

One thing Beauprez’s Pioneer Action campaign against fellow Republicans did do smashingly well was infuriate allies of the Republicans targeted. In due course, longtime Republican gadfly Matt Arnold filed suit against Pioneer Action alleging that its activities were incompatible with the organization’s tax status.

And here’s where it gets interesting. Another Republican political operative, former Colorado Senate staffer Dan Njegomir now employed by Phil Anschutz’s Colorado Springs Gazette, wrote a series of articles at the Gazette’s political blog slamming Matt Arnold. And as the rival Colorado Springs Independent reported last month, Njegomir had thousands of reasons:

Dan Njegomir has earned his bread and butter via his political firm, NewsSpeak Media LLC.

This outfit has worked for various political causes, including opposing oil and gas regulations in 2014…NewsSpeak was paid $20,000 for that. More recently, NewsSpeak was paid more than $20,000 by Colorado Pioneer Action, a politically active organization run by former gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, according to Matt Arnold, who runs Campaign Integrity Watchdog website. [Pols emphasis]

The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reported earlier this month about the testy exchange between Njegomir and Arnold in court:

Njegomir said he produced content about the lawmakers that Colorado Pioneer Action posted online. He stressed that he was hired to look into their conduct as sitting public officials — not as candidates for office — and hold them accountable. He said he was hired to “cover them as journalists would.” For instance, he looked into a charity Klingenschmitt ran, he said, that “we thought over time seemed to raise ethical questions.”

Njegomir said he also worked with an entity called Colorado Government Watch, a group run by a Colorado Springs-area political consultant named Dede Laugesen. Asked if he was paid by that group, Njegomir said he did not know.

…Arnold repeatedly asked Njegomir if Klingenschmitt and Joshi were “candidates.” “Knock it off with the candidate stuff,” Njegomir responded, his voice rising, “because part of my stock and trade [was] not getting involved in politics with that project, and you’re not going to box me into it.”

Political gadfly Matt Arnold.

So we’re clear, folks, the odds that Dan Njegomir was not aware that Janak Joshi and Gordon Klingenschmitt were candidates at the time they were targeted by Pioneer Action are somewhere in the neighborhood of 0%. In fact, it’s patently ridiculous. If Njegomir, a longtime Colorado Republican political operative, really did not know that Joshi and Klingenschmitt were running again, he should never work in Colorado politics again–let alone write for a major newspaper’s political blog.

And that’s at least part of the reason why, as Arnold triumphantly reports today on his blog:

Putting an exclamation point on months of pre-trial proceedings and days of hearing evidence and witness testimony, the case against “Both-Ways Bob” Beauprez’ political action committee (by another name) ‘Colorado Pioneer Action’ (CPA) resulted in a Final Agency Decision (FAD) released today finding the organization guilty of multiple violations of state law.

CIW’s Complaint alleging Colorado Pioneer Action’s failure to register with the Secretary of State as a “political committee” violates state law requiring federal entities (CPA is registered as a 501c4 “social welfare organization” enjoying tax-exempt status) acting to “support or oppose” candidates for elective office to register and disclose campaign activity in Colorado was found to be meritorious, and the group has been ordered to register as a “political committee”, file reports disclosing the organization’s finances (including the identity of CPA contributors) and pay penalties in the amount of $17,735 (a 90% reduction from the amount allowed by statute, which would have totaled $177,350).

The Administrative Law Judge found the explanations of Bob Beauprez that CPA’s activities were not intended to support or oppose candidates “not persuasive” – noting that Beauprez “admitted that CPA and its contributors found certain candidates acceptable and others not” – in finding that CPA’s “major purpose” was indisputably focused on influencing elections. [Pols emphasis]

In other words, Pioneer Action was found guilty of exactly what Arnold accused them of, and exactly what Njegomir denied on the witness stand. It’s an enormous credibility hit to Dan Njegomir and Bob Beauprez, and a major vindication for Colorado’s premiere political gadfly.

And this ruling might not be the end of the story. An ugly ulterior motivate for Njegomir’s columns attacking Arnold has been exposed here. That Njegomir was paid $20,000 by Beauprez’s group should have prompted Njegomir to hand off “coverage” of the Arnold case to somebody else. The eye-popping conflict of interest in Njegomir being paid by Pioneer Action, followed by relentless attacks on Arnold in Njegomir’s official capacity at the Gazette, raises fundamental questions about that paper’s journalistic ethics.

Arnold got more than he bargained for when he turned over this particular rock. Stay tuned for more fallout.

Thursday Open Thread

“With power comes the abuse of power. And where there are bosses, there are crazy bosses. It’s nothing new.”

–Judd Rose

Mike Coffman Clear as Mud on “Trumpcare 2.0”

With a new Affordable Care Act repeal proposal making the rounds in Washington, D.C., all eyes in Colorado are on Rep. Mike Coffman–who made what is universally regarded as a major unforced error by announcing his support for the original “Trumpcare” bill just before it was killed by GOP leadership for lack of support.

A brief press roundup today makes it clear that Rep. Coffman intends to be more careful this time. Morning Consult:

The ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus on Wednesday announced its support for the Republican health care bill as long as it includes an amendment from moderate Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.)…

The amendment would allow states to waive certain consumer protections within the ACA, such as essential health benefits and when insurance companies can charge certain consumers more for premiums.

Moderate Republicans worry these changes could hurt people with pre-existing health conditions. They have been hesitant to support the proposal from MacArthur, despite his position as a co-chair of the Tuesday Group, which comprises roughly 50 centrist Republicans…

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), for one, said the MacArthur amendment had prompted him to change his “Yes” vote on the measure to “undecided,” due to concerns about the bill’s impact on Americans with pre-existing health conditions. [Pols emphasis]

Talking Points Memo:

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) (pictured) said he was previously yes on the bill but now considers himself undecided with the new changes.

“With the prior bill, I supported that publicly before it went down. This is a different twist and I have got to re-examine it,” he said.

The Hill:

One centrist Republican, Rep. Mike Coffman (Colo.), supported the earlier bill but now says he is undecided, underscoring the fluidity.

“I made it very clear … to my constituents that I’m going to protect pre-existing conditions, and so this is a fairly complicated proposal, so I’ve really got to review it,” Coffman said.

After taking heavy fire over his support for the original “Trumpcare” proposal since its failure, then compounding his problems by weakly claiming after the fact that he wasn’t a “hard yes” on the bill, it appears Coffman has rediscovered vagueness as the best way to handle the issue of health care reform. It’s worth noting that a noncommittal approach heavy on platitudes has served Coffman pretty well on issues like immigration–which made his willingness to take a definable stand on health care a bit of a surprise.

As of now, for Coffman’s constituents, it’s back to the guessing game.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 26)

Get ready for the rain. Or perhaps snow. Or maybe just sun. It’s time to Get More Smarter! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Congressional Republicans, at the urging of President Trump, are attempting to revive efforts to repeal-and-maybe-replace Obamacare…or at least hoping to pretend that they are sorta trying to repeal the health care law. From the Washington Post:

An influential group of House conservatives threw its support behind a new Republican plan to revise the Affordable Care Act, shifting the political pressure to GOP moderates to determine the effort’s fate.

The House Freedom Caucus, which thwarted Republicans’ first attempt to overhaul the health-care system under President Trump, announced its support for an amendment from Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) allowing states to opt out of certain rules under Obamacare.

“The MacArthur amendment will grant states the ability to repeal cost driving aspects of Obamacare left in place under the original [Republican plan],” the Freedom Caucus said Wednesday in an unattributed statement.

“While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people to lower healthcare costs,” the statement said.

The decision came as three conservative advocacy groups — the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Heritage Action for America — declared their support for the plan, even as they also admitted it does not fully repeal Obamacare. [Pols emphasis]

We’ve reached the point in the healthcare debate where Republicans are signing onto a deal to “repeal Obamacare” that doesn’t actually repeal Obamacare — though they still don’t appear to have enough GOP support to approve legislation.

 

► Meanwhile, as Sarah Kliff reports for Vox, Congressional Republicans are considering protecting Obamacare access for themselves even if they somehow repeal part of the law:

House Republicans appear to have included a provision that exempts members of Congress and their staff from their latest health care plan.

The new Republican amendment, introduced Tuesday night, would allow states to waive out of Obamacare’s ban on preexisting conditions. This means that insurers could once again, under certain circumstances, charge sick people higher premiums than healthy people.

Republican legislators liked this policy well enough to offer it in a new amendment. They do not, however, seem to like it enough to have it apply to themselves and their staff. A spokesperson for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), who authored this amendment, confirmed this was the case: Members of Congress and their staff would get the guarantee of keeping these Obamacare regulations. Health law expert Tim Jost flagged this particular issue to me.

 

► President Trump is rolling out his tax cuts for billionaires plan tax reform proposal with a one-page document that doesn’t bother to include any specific policy information. Details, shmetails.

 

► State legislative efforts to find funding for transportation and infrastructure upgrades have been officially dashed thanks to three Republicans in the Senate Finance Committee. Elsewhere, legislators are entering the final few weeks of the 2017 session with a number of high-profile items on their to-do lists.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Sen. Tim Neville Abuses Armenian Genocide To Grind Gun Axe


Earlier today in the Colorado Senate, Sen. Tim Neville (R-MGO) spoke in support of SJR17-042, a resolution honoring victims of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government during World War I. But simply honoring the victims of genocide wasn’t enough for Sen. Neville, who turned the discussion into an argument against “gun control.” As the story went from Neville, the Turks confiscated the guns of the Armenian population, which left them “defenseless” when the Turks started rounding Armenians up and forcing them on death marches through the Syrian desert.

A little Googling will reveal the story that Turkish gun control laws “left Armenians defenseless” in the face of genocide is an article of faith among American gun rights supporters. Similar arguments are made about the Nazis’ supposed gun control campaign before the Holocaust–a campaign Politifact says never happened. The truth is, there is little evidence to support the idea that small arms would have made any difference with regard to either the Armenian or Jewish genocides of the 20th century.

This is a photograph of Armenian partisans defending themselves from Turkish forces in 1915.

Note the guns.

In reality, Armenians were confronted with overwhelmingly superior military force, against which small arms afforded little more than token resistance. Armenians had no means of resisting Turkish forces employing artillery and other heavy weapons against them. The myth of small-arms resistance against a modern military force simply breaks down in the face of this reality. In response to the regular suggestion from pro-gun politicians and pundits that could could have saved the Jews from the Nazis, the Anti-Defamation League is unequivocal:

The Anti-Defamation League “has always strenuously objected to the use of Nazi analogies to advance any kind of political debate, including the gun control debate,” said Deborah Lauter, the group’s civil rights director. “We believe it’s historically inaccurate and incredibly insensitive, particularly to Holocaust survivors and their families.”

Beyond that, she said, it’s just a false comparison.

“In no way could armed people have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi state,” she said, noting that some European Jews had access to a small number of firearms. “There could be symbolic resistance, as we saw in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but it would not have stopped the Nazis.”

Look, we understand that these kinds of historical myths are very seductive to Americans looking to apply them to contemporary political questions. That’s because when it comes to human tragedy on the scale of 20th century genocides, most Americans don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. We apply these events from world history to our political debates without proper context, or even a rational basis.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to transport Sen. Neville back to eastern Turkey in 1915–so he can see for himself how ridiculous these militiaman fantasies really are.

Congratulations, You’ve (Almost) Made it Through 100 Days!

As you may have heard, Saturday will mark 100 days in office for President Trump. We’re not sure when Trump will celebrate his 100th day in the White House — he’s spent about a quarter of his time visiting his Mar-a-lago resort in Florida — but Trump has nearly been the actual President of the United States for 100 whole 24-hour cable news cycles.

Trump is not a fan of grading Presidents on their first 100 days in office, a tradition that dates back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Much of this consternation from Trump stems from the fact that his first 100 days have been pretty awful based on recent historical comparisons. As David Leonhardt writes for the New York Times, in factit’s not difficult to argue that Trump’s first 100 days are the worst of any President…ever:

Even if you forget about the content of his actions — whether they strengthened or weakened the country — and focus only on how much he accomplished, it’s a poor beginning. His supporters deserve to be disappointed, and his opponents should be cheered by how unsuccessful his agenda has been so far.

Before now, the weakest starts probably belonged to Bill Clinton and to John F. Kennedy. Partly as a result, neither of them ended up being as consequential presidents as, say, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama. And yet Trump’s first 100 days have been vastly weaker than Clinton’s or Kennedy’s…

How exactly has Trump fizzled in his first 100 days? Leonhardt breaks it down like this:

1. Trump has made no significant progress on any major legislation.

2. Trump is far behind staffing his administration.

3. The Trump administration is more nagged by scandal than any previous administration.

4. Trump has no clear foreign policy.

5. Trump is by far the least popular new president in the modern polling era.

If Trump were to grade himself on his first 100 days in office, he’d probably write something like this. For the rest of us, Trump’s first couple pf months in office are easy to encapsulate with a few minutes of late-night television. But while Trump is not being positively judged in the present moment, Leonhardt reminds us that history will likely be a much tougher critic:

Trump remains the most powerful person in the country, if not the world. It would be foolish for anyone to be complacent about what he can do. Yet by the modern standards of the office, he is a weak president off to a uniquely poor start.

It’s worth considering one final point, too. So far, I’ve been judging him on his own terms. History, of course, will not. And I expect that a couple of his biggest so-called accomplishments — aggravating climate change and treating nonwhite citizens as less than fully American — are likely to be judged very harshly one day.

We’ve made it through 100 days. Now there’s just…about 1,360 more left to come.

Republicans Kill Transportation Funding Bill

No road repairs for you!

As John Frank reports for the Denver Post:

A bipartisan measure backed by Colorado’s top lawmakers to seek a sales tax hike for transportation reached the end of the road Tuesday.

A state Senate panel defeated the proposal to pump $3.5 billion into improving the state’s highways along party-lines with the three Republican members citing ideological opposition to increasing taxes.

The outcome became clear a week earlier when the Senate’s bill sponsors hastily announced an impasse in the negotiations on the term’s No. 1 priority, a major setback for legislative leaders and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

“This is a statewide solution bill,” said Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City. “Yes it contains things both sides may cringe at. … But we must start looking at some of these things.”…

Most supporters urged the Senate Finance Committee to allow the measure to reach the Senate floor, where it has the votes to pass, and emphasized the need to take action. [Pols emphasis]

But the bulk of opponents criticized the tax hike and suggested lawmakers cut spending elsewhere to prioritize money for transportation, suggesting everything from reductions in spending on libraries to selling an airplane used by the governor.

As Frank notes, there were enough votes in the Senate as a whole to get this transportation legislation out of the Upper Chamber and onto the Governor’s desk…but three partisan Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee refused to allow the bill to advance (despite support from Senate President Kevin Grantham). Senators Tim Neville (R-Jefferson County), Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and Jack Tate (R-Centennial) did the bidding of the Koch-funded group Americans for Potholes Prosperity, making the same tired old argument that we can just find enough money in the couch cushions of various state offices if we look hard enough.

For partisan Republicans like Neville, Hill, and Tate, it’s easier to just say “NO” to everything than it is to try to actually come up with solutions.

Denver Post Adds Nice Postscript to “Keyser’s Law”

Former state Rep. Jon Keyser showing off his “terrified” face before being interviewed by Marshall Zelinger.

We wrote yesterday about the advancement of HB17-1088, otherwise known as “Keyser’s Law,” because the bill seeks to correct a rather large loophole in the signature-gathering process for candidates — a loophole that former Republican Senate candidate Jon Keyser infamously exploited in his 2016 Senate bid.

Keyser’s Law” is headed to the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper for his formal signature creating the new law, which will apply the same standards for checking signatures on candidate petitions as is already done for ballot measure petitions and mail ballots. Today, Megan Schrader of the Denver Post editorial board ties a neat little bow on this small piece of Colorado history:

Let’s recount the fun of the Republican showdown to get on the Colorado primary ballot in 2016 for U.S. Senate: one meme-inducing video, three court challenges, nine deaths by caucus and 34 felony forgery charges…

…This year, state lawmakers tried to come up with a solution. Only one idea has stuck so far.

House Bill 1088  — which is headed to the governor, who is reportedly likely to sign it — would require signature verification and allow candidates to remedy small errors before signatures get tossed out. The secretary of state will use voter signatures already retained in a database for ballot-verification purposes to verify signatures on petitions. No longer would the job fall to reporters like Mitchell — I mean Marshall — Zelinger, the former Channel 7 investigative reporter who chased down the fraudulent signatures that were included on candidate Jon Keyser’s petition. Keyser memorably botched Zelinger’s name, refused to answer the reporter’s questions about the signatures and instead issued a vague threat involving the size of his dog. [Pols emphasis]

Schrader notes that “the bill is a good idea,” and we don’t disagree. Unfortunately for Keyser and his campaign, there is no piece of legislation that will scrub this mother-of-all-political-disasters from anyone’s memory — not anytime soon.

Gardner Sets Surprise Tele-Town Hall, Internets Respond Contemptuously

TUESDAY UPDATE: Sen. Cory Gardner’s tele-town hall yesterday featured as much excitement as was possible with the ability to mute whatever he didn’t like:

In the video clip above, you can see several of Gardner’s extremely evasive answers to questions about investigating President Donald Trump, Trump’s tax returns, and excessive costs of the President’s travel. In the first clip, Gardner gives a long, rambling response about not having “the facts” to be able to speak about it. In the second, Gardner bizarrely says that everyone in politics should have “the opportunity” to release their taxes–as if they didn’t? In the third, Gardner dodges the question of the frequency and expense of President Trump’s travel by saying all Presidents should have security.

There has been very little reporting about the contents of Gardner’s conference call yesterday, but we expect that any reporter who does dive into what was actually said will find plenty of story to tell here. Once again, Gardner’s fabled coolness under fire doesn’t look so cool on live video–even without the heckling he avoids by not holding face-to-face meeting with his constituents.

—–

An announcement went out last weekend from Sen. Cory Gardner’s office about a tele-town hall meeting he’s holding this evening at 5:45PM:

It doesn’t appear that there was much notice for this event–Gardner’s office has kept a list of prospective tele-town hall participants from the signups to previous events, but the first announcement from Gardner’s office about today’s call seems to have been Saturday afternoon. Needless to say, that doesn’t leave busy constituents with much time to schedule.

Tele-town halls have been Sen. Gardner’s sole means of outreach to ordinary constituents since President Donald Trump took office in January. As of this writing, Gardner is the only member of Colorado’s delegation in either party who has not yet held a face-to-face event with anyone other than invitation-only and/or corporate audiences.

The reason is simple: live audiences don’t have mute buttons.

In response to this latest announcement, the Facebook responses to Gardner have been…well, rather uncharitable:

As of now there are almost 440 such replies to this event posting on Facebook–many featuring language that’s not fit for a family show. Safe to say, Gardner’s half-hearted attempts at “constituent outreach” are not having the desired effect. After Rep. Mike Coffman faced a harsh grilling from his constituents but still managed to say something nice about the experience, Gardner’s refusal to show constituents the same respect stands out even more.

At this point, we don’t get it. Fake accountability like this is much more politically-damaging for Gardner than if he would just simply take his proverbial medicine. That Gardner still can’t see the cost/benefit in doing so may be evidence that he’s just not the political mastermind he’s chalked up to be in many circles.

Maybe Gardner really is a coward.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 25)

Only one shopping day left until Administrative Professionals Day. It’s time to Get More Smarter! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► ‘Tis better to try and fail than to never have tried at all. This quote pretty much sums up the latest political “maneuvering” from the White House. As the Washington Post reports:

Donald Trump blinked first – again.

After the bluster comes the inevitable bow to reality. Last night the president backed off his demand that any deal to fund the federal government include money to start construction on his border wall. At an event with conservative journalists, Trump said he’s okay waiting until September to have this fight.

While the mainstream media will cover this as another failure, the president’s core supporters will not see it that way. They see someone fighting to keep his promises and will give him an “A” for effort [Pols emphasis]…

…Trump’s approval rating is at record lows, but he maintains credibility with his base. Our new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that his overall approval rating is 42 percent, but his rating among those who voted for him is 94 percent. Only two percent of his voters now regret doing so.

“Make an Effort at Making America Great Again.”

 

► Joe St. George at Fox 31 News ponders a potential federal government shutdown and what it would mean for Colorado:

The Denver Federal Center in Lakewood is the largest campus of civilian federal employees outside of Washington. More than 6,000 are employed there over 700 acres.

Employees said Monday the last time there was a shutdown, many contractors lost three weeks of pay.

Other possible consequences include the closure of national parks and forcing military employees to work without pay.

Congress may be able to avert a shutdown now that President Trump is backing off of demands to fund a border wall with Mexico.

 

 

► Conservation groups are worried about a potential Executive Order from President Trump that could threaten the status of three “national monuments” in Colorado. CBS4 Denver has more on the order that could be signed as soon as Wednesday.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Whither Jared For Governor?

Rep. Jared Polis.

Peter Marcus’ interview last weekend with Rep. Jared Polis, in which Polis muses about the possibility of running for governor, is not itself newsbreaking–but renewed speculation about Polis making a run for governor in 2018 is nonetheless provoking a fair amount of discussion this week and deserves a mention in this space:

“I’m going to be deciding in the next month or two whether or not to launch a statewide race for governor,” Polis, a five-term congressman for the 2nd Congressional District, told Colorado Politics in his most extensive interview on the subject.

Wearing a blazer and a polo shirt, Polis’ eyes light up as he talks about the possibilities: “I’ve been really focused on where I can make the biggest impact on improving our schools and protecting our environment and how to make these vast changes that are occurring work for Colorado families.

“There’s a lot of frustration out there because people feel that the deck is stacked against them.”

Polis’ entrance into the gubernatorial race – an open seat next year with Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper being term limited – could shakeup an already crowded Democratic primary. He has name recognition and wealth.

There’s no question that Rep. Polis running for governor would shake up the race. We would speculate that Polis getting in would be very bad for the two “lesser” candidates running against Perlmutter, former Sen. Mike Johnston and former Treasurer Cary Kennedy, and would quickly reshape the primary into a two-man contest.

With that said, we’re inclined to give Perlmutter the edge in a matchup between himself and Rep. Polis at this point, in large part due to Perlmutter’s great skill at retail politics–as well as fundraising prowess to match Polis’ ability to self-fund. The caveat we are obliged to note is Polis’ leadership from the left on oil and gas issues, stoutly defending local residential communities in his district who have struggled with drilling inside their boundaries. There is significant pent-up frustration within the Democratic base on this issue, and that could be in Polis’ mind as he contemplates a primary bid against Perlmutter.

It’s important to remember that Polis has not committed to a run, and there are plenty of reasons why he wouldn’t ultimately choose to make the jump from his relatively safe congressional seat to the governor’s race. It’s possible that this is more about pressuring Perlmutter to make a clean break with Gov. John Hickenlooper’s fracking-friendly administration than it is about Polis really wanting to be governor.

Obviously, we’ll be watching closely for developments here.

Republican Field for Governor Grows Vaguely Larger

Doug Robinson, the whitest man in Colorado.

Republicans have a new candidate for Governor in 2018: This guy!

“This guy” is Doug Robinson, a nephew of former Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Aside from the fact that one of Robinson’s parents is a sibling of Romney — and that Robinson was a co-chair of Romney’s finance committee in Colorado — we can’t tell you much about the guy. John Frank of the Denver Post has a short story on Robinson’s candidacy that doesn’t say much of anything — the initial version of Frank’s story said that Robinson’s campaign declined to respond to repeated requests for comment, which is a strange way to roll out a statewide campaign — but does include some of the text from Robinson’s announcement letter sent to Colorado Republicans:

The Denver investment banker declared his candidacy for the 2018 race in a letter sent to Republican activists and launched online advertisements directed to a new campaign website [Pols emphasis]. His campaign launch is scheduled for Friday…

…His letter touts himself as a “committed Republican my entire life.” And he highlights his business background, noting that he founded his own company and then worked in technology investment banking for KPMG. “My background is in business — not politics,” he said.

A businessman, not a politician. How inventive.

If you are wondering why Robinson made such a cryptic announcement today, touting a website that says absolutely nothing, the bolded line in the Denver Post story above may provide a clue. Robinson’s campaign appears to have launched online advertisements before bothering to register as an official campaign committee, which is not exactly legal; someone may have panicked and realized that Robinson needed to make his campaign official before he started spending money on said campaign.

The only other thing we remember about Robinson is from a Mitt Romney appearance in Colorado during the 2012 election. Halfway through the clip below, Robinson says something off-camera and then gets a shout-out from Romney:

So, anyway, the GOP race for governor is getting crowded. Maybe it’s time to gas up the 2016 Republican Senate clown car for another tour through Colorado.

Tuesday Open Thread

“A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five!”

–Groucho Marx

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