Trump Blames Florida School Shooting on Russiagate

Got words to describe this new low? Because at least for the moment, we don’t.

Who Did The Russians Target? You, Colorado

AP via FOX 31 reports the local angle in today’s big story as the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections continues–within today’s indictment of numerous Russian nationals and three organizations for fraud and identity theft in connection with ad buys and other actions to influence the 2016 elections, an indicator of what places and voters would be most valuable for targeting with disinformation.

Purple states. Like Colorado.

Russian operatives were told by an unnamed person in the U.S. they should focus their activities in Colorado and other purple states in a plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, prosecutors said Friday.

Thirteen Russians and three Russian entities were charged Friday with an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

The indictment , brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, alleges that Russians used bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the race between Republican Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

The charges are the most direct allegation to date of illegal Russian meddling in the election.

Here’s the indictment in its entirety. We don’t yet know how the information that led to the indictment was obtained, and there are no specific incidents cited–only that Russian operatives traveled to Colorado, were recommended by at least one “grassroots activist” in Texas to focus on “purple states” including Colorado, and that afterwards the Russians themselves used the same language to describe the operational phase of their mission:

We expect there will be many more details uncovered in the coming weeks, and it needs to happen. It’s only a matter of time before specific aliases and front groups are revealed that local political observers will recognize from the 2016 election. We don’t want to leap into speculation, but from the right-wing trolls besieging the Colorado politics hashtags on Twitter to innumerable cases of fake news planted on Facebook and sudden rushes of like-minded comments to news stories, there is a huge body of content to sift through for evidence of “active measures” from what are now known persons and entities.

Even though purple Colorado did not vote to elect Donald Trump, we most definitely need to know how hard the Russians tried to flip our state. And when we find that out, we’d bet real money that there will be some extremely embarrassed Colorado Republicans. We will know who among them was duped into spreading disinformation from a foreign intelligence effort to disrupt an American election.

And though maybe not criminal, that will be a harsh indictment indeed.

Get More Smarter on Friday (February 16)

Prepare for some mighty blustery weather this weekend. 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.



► Immigration reform efforts didn’t even last the work week in Washington D.C., as Denver7 reports:

The U.S. Senate failed on Thursday to pass procedural hurdles on four separate immigration measures, most of which were aimed at extending citizenship to Dreamers and enhancing security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The failure of the measures came as little surprise Thursday afternoon after another morning of fighting between the White House, which adamantly opposed any measures that were not in line with its own, and the rest of the Senate.

And in the end, the White House’s proposal, which was sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, garnered the fewest number of votes, with just 39 voting to proceed to a final vote.

A bipartisan solution cosponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., which some had said was the most-likely of the four to pass, garnered 54 votes.

All of the proposals needed to clear a 60-vote hurdle before they could proceed to final votes. None of them did.


► The Denver Post is calling for state Sen. Randy Baumgardner to resign from office following allegations of sexual harassment and a bafflingly weak response from Senate Republican leadership.


► As the Washington Post reports, a younger generation of Americans is now asking why the government won’t do anything to keep them safe:

In the familiar aftermath of America’s latest mass shooting, something new stood out: This time, the kids who survived the rampage on Wednesday were demanding to know why the adults who run the country had not done more to prevent it…

…In the familiar aftermath of America’s latest mass shooting, something new stood out: This time, the kids who survived the rampage on Wednesday were demanding to know why the adults who run the country had not done more to prevent it.

Local officials in the Parkland, Florida region are not at all happy about President Trump’s plans to visit the area in the aftermath of Wednesday’s massacre.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


At Least Brian Boner Is Not Your State Senator

Wyoming Sen. Brian Boner (R).

Better Wyoming brings us the story of some rather ghoulish legislation proposed in that state’s legislature by one Sen Brian Boner (R-Douglas):

The Wyoming State Legislature just can’t resist the urge to barge into doctors’ offices and tell physicians and their female patients what to do during the most private and vulnerable scenarios imaginable.

A proposed bill that would force medical professionals to offer a “nonviable birth certificate” to women who miscarry a pregnancy passed introduction in the Senate on Wednesday. It will be considered by the Senate Committee on Labor, Health, and Human Services next week…

His bill, he said, “will be a way to educate people about an issue that occurs in about 10 percent of pregnancies after the first trimester.”

There you go. Sen. Boner is going to make doctors offer women birth certificates for their miscarried fetuses in order to educate them.

The underlying intent of this legislation, of course, is to chip away at the right of women to access abortion by recognizing nonviable fetal tissue–even couched under the heading of “educational purposes,” the true incremental anti-choice purpose of this exercise is plain as day. The Wyoming bill also differs from the law in some other states in which bereaved parents can request a birth certificate in cases of miscarriage. Under this bill doctors would be required to offer it, a far more onerous provision.

As for Sen. Boner’s “gynotician” qualifications to offer this modest proposal? He’s a rancher.

Optically and practically, it would probably be better for the Boners of the world to bone out of women’s lives.

Okay, Mitt Romney’s Nephew, That’s Funny

After yesterday’s announcement by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney that he will run for the U.S. Senate in the state of Utah, the man we’ve affectionately come to know as Mitt Romney’s Nephew, Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Robinson–who has been frequently ribbed on the campaign trail for his primary claim to fame being family lineage–made us laugh out loud.

Well played, Mitt’s Nephew. Well played.

Denver Post: Time for Baumgardner to Resign

Sorry, did you say I should “resign”?

Senate Republicans are really, really, really not dealing well with allegations of sexual harassment against their own members. Today, the editorial board of the Denver Post made a very public call for change in arguing that State Sen. Randy Baumgardner should resign from office. More importantly, perhaps, the Post hangs plenty of blame on Senate GOP leadership:

We are disappointed that Republican Senate leaders — Senate President Kevin Grantham and Majority Leader Chris Holbert — have not taken action against Baumgardner by removing all but one of his committee assignments to at least send a clear message that this behavior will not be tolerated.

Instead, Grantham and Holbert ordered Baumgardner to take sensitivity training but then defended their colleague, saying the investigation was full of “inaccuracies, bias, conflicts of interest and inconsistencies.” They offered no specifics, which is unhelpful…

…Sexual harassment has been tolerated for far too long in the Colorado General Assembly and we are disappointed that Republicans in the Senate are choosing to enable those bad actors who would abuse their power at the expense of a professional and civil workplace environment. Whether intentional or not, Grantham and Holbert have also sent a clear message to any potential victims about how their accusations will be treated if they find the courage to speak up.

Amen to that.

Tancredo’s Ghost Looms Large As Immigration Efforts Teeter

Tom Tancredo.

Politico reports on the troubled place immigration reform efforts in Washington find themselves today:

A bipartisan agreement unveiled Wednesday faces intense skepticism from the left flank of the Democratic Caucus and hardening resistance from many Republicans amid a White House campaign to defeat it, including a Thursday veto threat. It would give an estimated 1.8 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship while spending $25 billion on border security…

The Trump administration stepped up its resistance to the bipartisan immigration amendment overnight, with the Department of Homeland Security releasing a comment blasting it as “an egregious violation of” the president’s four-part framework that would create “mass amnesty.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a supporter of the bipartisan proposal, slammed DHS on Thursday for “acting less like a partner and more like an adversary.” [Pols emphasis]

“Instead of offering thoughts and advice — or even constructive criticism — they are acting more like a political organization intent on poisoning the well,” Graham said in a statement.

Here’s the Tweet from the Department of Homeland Security’s press secretary that set off Sen. Lindsey Graham:

If the name Tyler Q. Houlton rings a bell for local political observers, there’s a very good reason. Houlton is a longtime Colorado political operative, who once worked at the right-wing “news site” Colorado Observer as well as the conservative advocacy group Compass Colorado. Prior to that, Houlton served as the spokesperson for Rep. Tom Tancredo–during the same time period that Tancredo became persona non grata in the Bush White House for his nativist antics on immigration at the same time that Bush was pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.

With all of this in mind, Lindsey Graham’s inside-baseball dig at Houlton reveals a much bigger divide between Republicans than is generally recognized. Appointing Tancredo’s former spox to run the press shop for the Department of Homeland Security is a highly provocative act as Graham’s burn demonstrates. But it also shows again just how far from the mainstream the Trump administration is on the issue of immigration.

Far enough that Team Tancredo is a perfect fit.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 15)

There have now been 18 school shootings in 2018 alone. This year is only 45 days old. 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.



► In his first public response to Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, President Trump said that students should feel safe in their schools because, uh, well…

As the Associated Press reports:

President Donald Trump struck a solemn tone Thursday after the deadly school shooting in Florida, describing a “scene of terrible violence, hatred and evil” and promising to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” but avoiding any mention of guns…

…He did not answer shouted questions about guns as he exited the room.

While Republicans continue to say much but do nothing, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy is not mincing words in blaming Congress for sitting on its hands.

This image from says everything in one word:


Here’s a brief look at what Colorado elected officials had to say in response to Wednesday’s shooting.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


BREAKING: Gardner Abandons DOJ Marijuana Holds

UPDATE: Denver7’s Blair Miller reports that Cory Gardner is releasing his holds on the high-priority nominees Jeff Sessions complained about being held up, though apparently some lower-priority holds will continue:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner is dropping his holds on certain Justice Department nominees “as an act of good faith” amid ongoing conversations with the deputy U.S. attorney general and the acting U.S. attorney for Colorado.

Gardner said he would lift his holds on the assistant attorney general for national security, U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals, but said his holds “on all other DOJ nominees will remain in place as discussions continue.”

…He said that his “positive conversations” with Rosenstein and Troyer led him to Thursday’s decision. But he said that people shouldn’t construe the decision as backing off his thoughts that there should be solutions put in place to protect Colorado’s marijuana programs. [Pols emphasis]

Because obviously, the best way to negotiate is to give up your most valuable bargaining chips.


Senator Cory Gardner (R).

We told you this was coming. As the AP reports:

Colorado’s Republican U.S. senator says there’s been enough progress on negotiations over marijuana with the Trump administration that he will stop blocking nominees for some jobs in the Justice Department.

Cory Gardner used his power as a senator to freeze department nominations last month after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked Obama-era protections for states that have broadly legalized marijuana.

Gardner said Sessions needed to re-establish protections for the industry. Gardner told The Associated Press on Thursday that recent talks make him confident the department won’t change the way it enforces federal laws in Colorado and other states that allow adults to use cannabis recreationally.

News reports as recently as yesterday documented the continuing impasse between Sen. Cory Gardner and Attorney General Jeff Sessions over rescinding the Obama-era Cole Memorandum dictating a hands-off policy toward legal marijuana states. Gardner specifically stated in a Senate floor speech that he would hold Justice Department nominees until the Cole memorandum was reinstated.

Since that time, however, pressure from law enforcement groups and conservative supporters of Sessions has built on Gardner to release his DOJ holds. On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions went public with criticism of Gardner’s actions, complaining that the holds were hampering his ability to fill critical positions.

And today, Gardner announced he would release the DOJ holds for which he earned nationwide thanks from marijuana advocates. Without getting what he demanded. The Cole memo has not been reinstated, nor will it be now. The revised guidance from Sessions  to U.S. Attorneys that provoked widespread fears of a marijuana crackdown remains operative. The industry has no real assurance other than Sessions’ apparent word to Gardner–which Gardner already blasted Sessions for breaking in the past.

Anybody who is surprised by Gardner’s lack of courage down the stretch, please raise your hands.

Nobody should be raising their hands.

Family Ties: Stapleton Heads To Texas For Dubya Fundraiser

The Denver Post reports:

Walker Stapleton is once again tapping his Bush family ties to raise big money in the Colorado governor’s race.

The Republican candidate’s campaign is hosting a Feb. 22 fundraiser in Dallas featuring former President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush as the special guests, according to an event invitation…

Stapleton, the two-term state treasurer, is a second cousin to Bush. His father, Craig Roberts Stapleton, was an ownership partner with Bush in the Texas Rangers baseball team and served as ambassador to France from 2005 to 2009. Stapleton’s mother, Dorothy Walker Stapleton, is a cousin to former President George H.W. Bush.

Given Walker Stapleton’s early-season pitch in the Republican gubernatorial primary as more or less the willing water-boy for the oil and gas industry, a fundraiser in the Big D makes plenty of sense. And at this point, we don’t think showcasing Stapleton’s Bush family ties puts Stapleton at a disadvantage–at least not in the primary. Hell, even some Democrats say that graded on Donald Trump’s curve, they’d take Dubya again in a hot minute.

Of course, that’s graded on one hell of a curve.

Civil Rights Commission: The 800-Pound Gorilla in the Room

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Following a large rally yesterday at the Colorado State Capitol in defense of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, whose funding reauthorization was stalled by a deadlocked party-line vote of the legislature’s powerful Joint Budget Committee, Republicans found themselves once again on the defensive–and they complained bitterly about the overwhelmingly negative attention the vote has caused for the Senate GOP majority in particular. As the Denver Post’s John Frank reports:

Republicans say that their intention was never to defund the commission indefinitely or even put its existence into question, and that they just wanted to have a part in the process and to voice their concerns about the panel.

“It seemed very well orchestrated that they were able to come out and scream about the defunding of the department when that in fact is wholly untrue,” said Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Cañon City Republican. “This happens all the time across the street (from the Capitol where the JBC meets) where more questions want to be asked about a particular department before the funding is passed.”

“The end result was never in doubt,” Grantham added, saying what Democrats on the JBC did amounts to a breach of protocol. “… We will have a civil rights commission and we will also have a say in what it looks like.” [Pols emphasis]

FOX 31’s Joe St. George:

“We are committed to the reauthorization of the Civil Rights Commission,” Republican State Sen. Bob Gardner said.

“I believe the make up of the commission is not balanced right now.”

9NEWS’ Anna Staver:

“It wasn’t a no,” [Sen. Kevin] Lundberg said. “It was a no, not now.”

He asked to postpone the vote until after the review process finished, but Democrats on the committee called for a vote.

“I am not prepared to vote for funding until I understand what this commission will actually be all about in the coming years,” Lundberg said during the budget meeting. [Pols emphasis]

One of the most inviolate customs observed between lawmakers in the Colorado General Assembly–as we expect it is elsewhere–is a tradition that legislative colleagues do not “impugn the motives” of fellow lawmakers in the course of debate. The goal is to suppress acrimony over hot-button issues by creating a degree of separation between the subject being argued and the people doing the arguing. Of course sometimes the motive is plainly obvious, and that can lead to a stilted debate in which one side is basically hiding behind courtesy to dodge criticism for a distasteful underlying reality that everybody knows.

In the case of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the vote by JBC Republicans to block its funding, the motive everyone is too polite to acknowledge is this: two of the most homophobic senators in the Republican-controlled Colorado Senate serve on the JBC. Sen. Kevin Lundberg praised Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis for “abiding by the laws of God” when she went to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Sen. Kent Lambert said that Colorado’s civil unions law is a “mind-control experiment” intended to force Coloradans “to believe in homosexual marriage.”

How is it that this standoff has been developing for almost a week and not one single mainstream news story has pointed this out? We understand that turnover at local media outlets is quite high and some of these events occurred literally before yesterday, but at some level that’s just no excuse. In our view, you can’t tell the story of three Republicans blocking funding for the Civil Rights Commission without explaining the openly homophobic views of two out of three of them.

The public needs the unsanitized truth about what the Republicans who did this actually believe. There’s no guesswork about what they believe. It’s all on the record. Voters can Google it. And above all, reporters are not bound by the niceties of legislative decorum.

So please. Tell the whole story.

Republicans propose taking Colorado’s surprise increase in tax revenue and double spending it

(Maths! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Tim “Pa” Neville, Rep. Patrick “Boy” Neville.

Colorado lawmakers have a surprise pot of extra tax money, and Republicans are proposing to use it both for a tax cut and to fix roads. Double spending.

The GOP bill to fix roads, through bonding, would cost about $350 million.

But Republicans are also saying, correctly, that the $200 million in new state revenue, which mostly came from changes in federal tax law, is actually a tax increase. 

Republicans, led by State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling are so angry about Trump’s sneaky (an inadvertent) tax increase, triggered by the tax-cut law, that they want to return the money to taxpayers, via a $360 million state income tax cut, which would eclipse the surplus taxes at least for next year.  

Another bill proposed by state Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Colorado Springs) and State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton) would cut state income tax even more, by $1.1 billion next year.

So, if both their transportation and income-tax bills passed, the GOP proposal to fix roads would have to rely on budget cuts, as it did last year, which they have yet to identify–though RTD’s puny BUSTANG bus service, costing about $3 million annually, would likely be included on their hit list.

As an aside, the GOP’s proposed income tax deduction, in response to a one-time tax windfall, permanently lowers taxes, taking $350 million away from state budget priorities, like transportation, health care, higher ed, etc., into perpetuity.

This story starts with House minority leader Patrick Neville’s promise back in December to spend “new revenue” on roads.

“Roads are our top priority,” he said in a December statement, “and there is no reason why nearly all of this new revenue should not go to widening highways and expanding primary arteries. I have heard the governor and Democrat leadership say they agree roads are their top priority as well. With all this new revenue for the upcoming budget, it’s time to see if they are willing to walk-the-walk, so that we can relieve our citizens of congestion and truly unleash our economy.”

Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham made much the same argument on the opening day of the legislative session:

“I’m still willing to sit down and talk to [Democrats], but when you have a gift (the expected revenue surplus) all packaged up for ya that is the $100 million, $200 million, whatever, not counting the potential savings coming in from the Washington, D.C., tax cuts and the surplus we might see from that, if it doesn’t happen now under these circumstances, then when?” Grantham told fellow lawmakers at the state Capitol.

So then what happened?