Lynne, Lopez, Stapleton Say To Hell With Transparency

Walker Stapleton.

A story from the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins today documents a considerable break with the longstanding practice of Colorado gubernatorial candidates releasing their tax returns for public scrutiny:

“I don’t think it’s appropriate. I don’t think it’s relevant,” said Democratic Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, when asked if she would release the past three years of her tax filings for public view. “I don’t know what relevance it is in a gubernatorial election,” she said.

Before becoming the state’s second-in-command, Lynne, a first-time candidate, was an executive vice president of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. She has put $100,000 of her own money into her campaign so far, and was the only candidate who flat-out said she wouldn’t release her taxes when asked by The Colorado Independent.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Lopez apparently agrees:

Republican Greg Lopez, the former mayor of Parker, said he would have to think about whether to allow a reporter to inspect his tax returns, but also expressed skepticism. “For what purpose?” he asked. “I can understand at the presidential level, but we’re talking about the state level here. So I don’t really know that that really impacts the decisions of voters.”

And finally, GOP fruntrunner Walker Stapleton gets so dodgy about it it’s almost comical:

“I’m happy to release my tax returns but not from what’s in the blind trust because that violates the spirit of setting up the trust to begin with,” Stapleton said in an interview. A Stapleton spokesman jumped in to add that the campaign isn’t prepared to say what it would and wouldn’t release. Stapleton, who has trained most of his fire on Polis throughout his campaign, said he is not interested in seeing what’s in his rival’s returns. Responding to the idea that releasing tax returns before an election could illuminate something important, Stapleton said, “I think that’s stupid and dumb and the only people that care about that are political enemies trying to savage somebody for something.”

Beyond his state income from the treasurer’s office, Stapleton said he has “a lot” of passive business investments that are managed by others. “Do I have alternate sources of income? You bet I do,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

The rest of the major gubernatorial candidates in both parties were generally in support of releasing their tax returns. Jared Polis, the wealthiest candidate in the race by far, says he’ll be happy to do so as long as the other candidates in the Democratic primary do as well. That’s because for many years, the release of tax returns by gubernatorial candidates has been a routine practice. In 2014, both Gov. John Hickenlooper and his opponent Bob Beauprez released theirs. The last time we can remember a gubernatorial candidate refusing to release their tax returns was back in 2010, when ill-fated GOP candidate Scott McInnis earned the wrath of the Denver Post:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis has refused to release his tax returns, a position that breaks from routine campaign practices in Colorado and nationally…

Media outlets routinely request tax returns from candidates because they reveal more than mere income: They show sources of income and potential conflicts of interest, charitable giving, the use of tax shelters, how candidates manage their own money and how their tax rates compare with the average taxpayer’s.

Open-government advocates say it’s especially important that wealthy candidates, who usually have a multitude of investments, be forthcoming with their taxes. [Pols emphasis]

Make no mistake, the refusal of these candidates to participate in a longstanding and uncontroversial disclosure is a very serious breach of trust and longstanding tradition. In the case of Donna Lynne, this nonchalant dismissal of the need to disclose basic financial information should be disqualifying–though with her campaign stuck in single digits anyway, it’s doubtful that will ever be put to the test.

Walker Stapleton, on the other hand, is the Republican frontrunner. It’s been no secret since Stapleton’s election that his financial footprint is extensive and poorly documented. Being shady about one’s finances might slip under the radar in lower elected offices, but a candidate for the state’s highest office has an obligation to demonstrate that he has no disqualifying conflicts of interest.

Instead, Walker Stapleton brags about his undisclosed “alternate sources of income.”

That is not cool. We can only hope there is some outrage to spare for it.

“Whacktivist” TABOR Diehards Lose Again

Gregory Golyansky.

AP reports via Denver7:

The Colorado Supreme Court has upheld a 20-cent surcharge on grocery bags in the city of Aspen.

Monday’s ruling represents the second time in the last month that the court has rejected a constitutional challenge brought under the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights. TABOR requires voter approval for all taxes.

The government can raise fees without asking voters as long as the proceeds pay for a related service. Park fees, for instance, can pay for park maintenance.

Here’s the summary of the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision, reaffirming the reasoning that has guided many past decisions interpreting the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR)–properly interpreting TABOR’s narrowing language to, despite the wishes of the law’s “starve the beast” proponents, allow governments in the state of Colorado to carry out essential functions:

In this case, the supreme court considers whether a $0.20 charge on paper bags is a tax subject to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (“TABOR”). The supreme court holds that if the primary purpose of a charge is to raise revenue for the general expenses of government, then the charge is a tax. Conversely, the supreme court concludes that a charge is not a tax if the primary purpose of a charge is to defray the reasonable direct and indirect costs of providing a service or regulating an activity, because such a charge does not raise revenue for the general expense of government.

After analyzing the charge in this case, the supreme court holds that this charge is not a tax. Aspen imposed this charge as part of a regulatory program aimed at waste management, and the $0.20 charge for the right to use a paper bag bears a reasonable relationship to Aspen’s cost of permitting that use. Because this charge is a not a tax it is exempt from TABOR’s requirements. Accordingly, the supreme court affirms the court of appeals.

The suit was brought by the right-wing advocacy group the Colorado Union of Taxpayers, headed by infamous former gun peddler Gregory Golyansky. The principals at CUT include in addition to Golyansky include Steve Curtis, the former Republican state chairman recently convicted of voter fraud, Dan Kopelman, who ran into scandal selling voter data on the side while working for then-Secretary of State Mike Coffman, and far-right failed state senate candidate Tony Sanchez. Add in Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute and you’ve pretty much got the complete roster of Scooby-Doo villains of Colorado politics.

The well-litigated issue in this case is whether the strict verbiage of TABOR considers purpose-specific fees to be a “tax” requiring voter approval, or whether such fees fall outside the proper scope of the law. The Colorado Supreme Court has consistently found that such fees do not fall within the scope of TABOR, which has led to a the proliferation of such fees as a way to keep essential functions of government operating.

It’s not a perfect solution, but at the end of the day the only people who sue over this are the ones least concerned with a functional government. The most ideological, least responsible voices in Colorado politics. And not only do they always lose, it’s very important that they continue to always lose.

At Least It’s Not Your Incredibly Racist Primary…Yet

Georgia GOP gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams and his “deportation bus.”

Mother Jones’ Pema Levy reports on the Republican gubernatorial primary in the state of Georgia–a race setting new and unsettling precedent for its open appeals to racism, and even vigilante violence against undocumented immigrants:

The Republican gubernatorial primary in Georgia has devolved in recent weeks into a chest-thumping argument over which candidate hates undocumented immigrants the most. In their rush to prove themselves, two candidates—both currently elected officials—have engaged in an escalating competition over who can personally “round up” and remove more immigrants from the state.

In a television ad released May 9, Brian Kemp—who serves as Georgia’s secretary of state and was formerly a state legislator—suggests he intends to personally detain and remove immigrants from the country. “I got a big truck,” he says, climbing into a pick-up truck, “just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take ’em home myself.” He then adds with a smirk: “Yep, I just said that.”

“His ad is beyond anti-immigrant, as he quite literally threatens to abduct individuals,” Stephanie Cho, executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, said in a statement. “Georgia needs a governor who…does not promote reckless vigilantism.”

But state Sen. Michael Williams, another GOP primary candidate, disagrees. So Williams saw Kemp’s pick-up truck—and raised him a bus.

On Wednesday, Williams launched a multi-county campaign tour in his “Deportation Bus.” Metal grating covers the windows of the gray bus, and the words “Fill this bus with illegals” run along its side. On the back it reads: “Danger! Murderers, rapists, kidnappers, child molesters, and others on board.”

This is all taking place despite the fact that GOP-dominated Georgia already has laws on the books severely penalizing so-called “sanctuary cities” that have essentially eliminated in that state the sort of complaints traditionally made about American cities that “don’t cooperate” with federal immigration officials. Georgia is a state in which the “solutions” controversially proposed to this issue have already been implemented–but as you can see, the demagoguery against immigrants has only gotten worse.

It’s just another example of the normalization of rhetoric only heard on the distant fringe of American politics before Donald Trump became President. In previous years, the absolutely horrific things coming out of these mainstream gubernatorial candidates’ mouths would be national news, with every Republican in the land forced to either validate or condemn it.

In Donald Trump’s America, this barely registers. That could be even worse than what they’re saying.

Westboro Baptist Douchebags Get Even More Pathetic

If one is true, the other must be.

Denver7’s Oscar Contreras reports, the teensy-tiny gene pool that is the congregation of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka is headed to Broomfield High School for their next maximum shock-value protest. Why Broomfield received this honor is anybody’s guess:

The Westboro Baptist Church, the group infamously known for picketing the funerals of slain U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan with virulent anti-gay rhetoric, is coming to protest graduating students at Broomfield High School on Tuesday.

In a flyer posted on the group’s website last Tuesday, the Westboro Baptist Church says they will bring “words of life and health” to students graduating from Broomfield High School in the hope that they will turn to God and repent for their sins.

Unfortunately for Westboro Baptist’s hateful stalwarts, fewer in number than ever now that the founder/head cousin Fred Phelps went to be with the Lord a few years ago, there’s a small problem with tomorrow’s protest:

The problem? Broomfield High’s graduation is this Saturday. If any students are at school next week, it will unlikely be the big audience the Westboro Baptist Church hopes to reach.

The group will be picketing outside Broomfield High School from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., hoping to deliver what they call “the truth of God.”

Among those truths, according to the group: “Fornication is a ruinous sin,” “God does not love everyone,” “God hates drunks,” “Jesus Christ is returning soon,” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and their trademark anti-gay inflammatory remark, “God hates f-gs.”

With few kids on campus to receive Westboro’s message, this protest seems to have no purpose other than to piss off the local community for the benefit of any news cameras that bother to show up. There is a counterprotest being organized, and if history is any guide it’s likely to considerably outnumber the Phelps clan. Please keep it civil, punching one would only encourage them.

In fact, maybe just wait the remaining Phelps cousins out? They’ve got to stop pumping out haters eventually.

Voter Suppression, not 3rd party voters, elected Donald Trump

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Voter suppression got Trump elected in 2016. Third party voting was one factor, but not the critical factor.  This was the first Presidential election not under the supervision of the Voting Rights Act, and Republican officials took full advantage of this lack of oversight to disenfranchise thousands of voters. Voters who couldn’t vote elected Donald Trump.

Voter ID required - New Hampshire

NH Polling Place sign – from Wikimedia Commons

Below is a table with vote totals from four states, which Trump won electorally  in 2016. Vote totals were taken from official state canvasses, completed in December 2016, after all provisional ballots had either been counted or found ineligible.

They show that 3rd party voters (Johnson & Stein) voted in numbers exceeding the DJT – HRC margin, but that in most cases, the number of voters prevented from voting far exceeded these numbers.

Pundits: Stein didn’t cost Clinton the election

Political pundits such as 538’s Nate Silver , WSJ’s Tau, and  TheHill’s Jeffries point to Gary Johnson’s taking equally from Clinton and Trump, and say that there is no realistic scenario in which Stein voters cost Clinton the Presidency.

If only 90% of the extra Stein voters had voted for Hillary while the rest voted for Trump or stayed home, Michigan is the only state that would have flipped. In none of these scenarios did Jill Stein voters cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.

It’s harder to say who Johnson hurt more since he tended to pull more evenly from both sides of the political divide.

Nate Silver of 538 combs through the weeds in his piece, Jill Stein – Spoiler or Scapegoat?. Even the New Yorker’s Toobin, no friend of “narcissist” Jill Stein, writes 

It’s difficult to count uncast votes, but there were clearly thousands of them as a result of the voter-suppression measures.

Voter ID laws were passed in these (and many other) states which disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of poor, elderly, students, and people of color. This was intentional – and done in order to keep Democrats from voting. 


Stapleton Blows Friendliest School Safety Interview Ever

Heads are spinning this morning over an interview of Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton on the Fox News Channel in response to yesterday’s tragic school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas–an interview in which Stapleton showed himself to be painfully unprepared to discuss one of the nation’s most critical issues:

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

The interview begins with the host–we don’t know his name given all the turnover at Fox News recently–asking Stapleton what he would do to improve school security. Stapleton responds with a call (see Tweet) for an “armed public safety official in all our schools.” That sounds fine, except when you realize there was an armed officer at yesterday’s shooting. Just like there was at nearly all of these shootings including Columbine.

This is like “showing leadership” by calling for all automobiles to have brakes.

But then at about 40 seconds into the clip, it gets much worse:

ANCHOR: Would you go as far as Governor Scott did in Florida with his state legislature?

STAPLETON: Uh, I-I I don’t know, how how, I don’t really know about Governor Scott’s, uh what measures Governor Scott took in Florida, [Pols emphasis] but I uh would go as far as to have the state of Colorado make sure that we have a single point of entry, metal detectors, public safety officials who are armed at every school…

ANCHOR: Well here hold on, I’ll help you–I’ll help you with what Governor Scott did, three-day waiting period for most purchases of long guns, raising the minimum age to buy those weapons to 21, banning possession of bump stocks, which uh can make semiautomatic weapons fire like an automatic weapon. Are you good with those?

STAPLETON: I think, Nah, I think bump stocks is a federal issue with the ATF that actually was passed during the Obama years, so that’s not really a state issue.

ANCHOR: So, a three day waiting period or raise the age to 21?

STAPLETON: I, ah, no. I don’t think that those are practical steps…

Let’s break this down. You have the leading Republican candidate for governor of Colorado on national cable news to talk about school shootings, and he didn’t even do any research about what the Republican governor of Florida Rick Scott did in response to the previous major school shooting incident in that state. Once the obliging Fox News anchor recites all of the steps Florida took after the Parkland shooting, Stapleton declares that none of them are good ideas. Stapleton even dodges the question of bump stocks by blaming them on “the Obama years” without ever even saying clearly they should be banned. But by this time, it’s clear to everyone watching that Stapleton doesn’t know what he’s talking about–so who cares what he thinks?

If you’re among the nearly-unanimous American public and even majority of Republican voters who agree that we can and must do more to prevent gun violence, this interview was a horrifying display of incompetence thinly concealed by outdated talking points. If you’re one of the diehard gun-rights supporters Stapleton was pandering to in this interview, you should be just as horrified that someone with so little knowledge about this issue wants to be the governor of a gun-rights battleground like Colorado.

Either way, it’s quite a thing to witness again just how bad Walker Stapleton is at this.

Weekend Open Thread

“The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.”

–Napoleon Bonaparte

Walker Stapleton Has a PERA Problem

Walker Stapleton

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton still appears to be the frontrunner for the Republican gubernatorial nomination with less than six weeks to go until the June 26th Primary, but the wheels are coming off when it comes to Stapleton’s signature issue of PERA reform.

As Blair Miller explains in a detailed story for Denver7, Stapleton has talked himself into quite a corner here:

The pension became the centerpiece of discussions during this year’s legislature, buoyed by rallies by Colorado teachers who demanded fixes to the system in addition to better pay and school funding.

Yet after a last-minute deal in the legislature to try to shore up the system, some in Colorado are questioning how much Stapleton was involved in the PERA discussions this year, while others who were more closely involved say Stapleton’s work backs up his talk…

…in a speech last weekend made to El Paso County Republicans, Stapleton said the legislative measure “shored up” PERA for the time being.

“I have been the longest, largest, loudest voice for reforming PERA, and as a result of Republican leadership, we have shored up that system for 500,000 public workers in the state of Colorado,” he said, according to a video recording obtained by Denver7. [Pols emphasis].

First off, it is a pretty big mistake for Stapleton to publicly say that PERA has been “shored up” by the legislature. Stapleton has spent the last eight years trying to convince voters of his PERA expertise; if he is admitting that PERA reform is no longer a critical problem, then Stapleton needs a new shtick for the General Election.

On the other hand, Stapleton might be better off not talking about PERA anymore. He could have tried to take credit for legislative reforms, for example, but this Denver7 story indicates that he was encouraging lawmakers to oppose the measure — when he bothered to engage at all:

Also last week, one of Stapleton’s political opponents in the gubernatorial race, Republican Doug Robinson, told a gathering in Elizabeth that Stapleton didn’t attend a May 3 emergency PERA board meeting that took place ahead of the deal or take part in legislative talks…

…”Walker’s hung his hat on being “the loudest voice on PERA”, but at the end of eight years, what does he (or the taxpayers) have to show for it?” the spokesperson said in a statement to Denver7. “He’s barely even shown up for the meetings. Let’s just call a spade a spade — Walker’s only real interest in PERA is in its ability to serve as a talking point for his political ambitions.”…

…When asked to respond to the accusations made against Stapleton, a campaign spokesperson who agreed to speak on the condition they not be named admitted that Stapleton did not attend the May 3 PERA board meeting, but said a deputy called in to the meeting. The spokesperson said that wasn’t out of the ordinary, which one of the sources Denver7 spoke with confirmed.

And though another group that has focused on PERA’s liabilities and opposed Stapleton’s work on PERA in the past, Secure PERA, found that Stapleton attended 53 percent of board meetings from 2011 through 2016, a Denver7 review of board meeting minutes from 2017 show that Stapleton attended eight of the nine meetings that year, missing only one on the first day of a three-day retreat.

Stapleton’s intermittent attendance at PERA board meetings is not a new revelation, though it boggles the mind that he has continued to make it so easy for opponents to attack him on an issue he has been screaming about for years. If he does win the Republican nomination for Governor and tries to keep PERA reform as a top issue, Stapleton will also have to explain why he has been ignoring one of PERA’s biggest problems — the hundreds of millions of dollars being siphoned off by Wall Street fund managers for financial advice that consistently underperforms benchmarks.

Stapleton’s campaign website says that he “will bring the same persistence in fighting for economic reform to the Governor’s office as I have shown as Treasurer.” He has a tough task ahead of him convincing voters that this is a good thing.

House “Freedom Caucus” Kills Farm Bill

The House Freedom caucus tries to explain why the Farm Bill is “just resting.”

As Politico reports, Republicans still can’t figure out what to do with their majority in Congress:

The House Freedom Caucus on Friday sank a partisan farm bill over an immigration dispute with GOP leadership, delaying a bill that included President Donald Trump’s push to impose stricter work requirements on food stamp recipients.

The bill went down, 198-213, after leaders feverishly tried to flip conservative votes on the floor, even leaving the vote open for a time to try to change opponents’ minds. It is a huge setback to the farm lobby and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s welfare reform agenda. [Pols emphasis]

The vote came after a 48-hour standoff between GOP leadership and members of the Freedom Caucus. The bloc of conservatives held the bill hostage, demanding that the House first vote on controversial immigration legislationin exchange for their support for the sweeping agriculture and nutrition legislation.

“It’s not a fatal blow, it’s just a reorganize,” said Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows. “I think at this point we just really need to deal with immigration in an effective way.”

Republicans will no doubt try to find a way to blame Democrats for this latest failure, but history doesn’t support such an argument:

Rejection of the legislation is reminiscent of the last farm bill cycle in 2013, when the House also voted down a conservative version of the legislation, delaying the process for months. Ultimately, the sweeping bill was bailed out by Democrats the following year. [Pols emphasis]

While the farm bill is historically bipartisan legislation, Ryan has backed a Republican-only version this cycle as a way to notch a win on his welfare plan before he retires at the end of the year. House GOP leadership also pitched the bill as a positive messaging tool for the midterms.

Three members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation voted in favor of the Farm Bill today: Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora). Greeley Republican Ken Buck did not cast a vote on the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018.

Will Colorado’s Candidates for Governor Address Outdated Rules for Overtime Pay?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Bell Policy Center is calling on Colorado’s Republican and Democratic candidates for governor to address the outdated threshold for salaried workers to qualify for overtime pay.

Currently, only employees who earn less than $23,660 annually qualify for overtime. That’s a salary level that’s been in place since 1975 and includes only about seven percent of salaried workers in Colorado. Obama’s effort to raise it to $47,476 was blocked by the courts.

In a report released today, the Bell Policy Center points out that state governors can unilaterally set the maximum salary for overtime pay, and with the gubernatorial primary in full swing, the Bell Policy Center wants candidates debate ways to act on the issue.

“The current overtime rules contradict the purpose of the Fair Labor Standards Act, squeeze family budgets, and limit Colorado’s overall economic growth,” says Rich Jones, director of policy and research at the Bell Policy Center, a progressive-leaning organization. “Colorado policymakers — including candidates for governor — should discuss and consider ways to update our overtime rules so hardworking Coloradans can earn their fair share.”

Increasing overtime pay is one avenue, in concert with others, to fight Colorado’s “struggle with stagnant wages and rising costs,” states the Bell Policy Center’s news release announcing its report, which calls on the gubernatorial candidates to develop economic platforms that address the problem.


DACA Vote in House Inches Closer

Clockwise from top left: Polis, Coffman, DeGette, Perlmutter

Congress is getting closer and closer to a potential vote on DACA that could lay out a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the United States as children through no fault of their own.

CNN reported earlier today that House leaders pushing a discharge petition are only a handful of votes away from pressing ‘GO.’ More recently, a report from Talking Points Memo indicates that the votes are in-hand:

House Republican moderates say they have enough support to force a full House vote on legislation to protect undocumented immigrants brought here as children, as tensions between them and House GOP leaders continued to escalate on Thursday.

A coalition of GOP centrists led by Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Jeff Denham (R-CA) are sick and tired of waiting for leaders refusing to move on a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. And they’re just four GOP signatories away from being able to force a full House vote on a solution, assuming all House Democrats join them in support.

Denham told reporters Thursday afternoon that the Democrats would be publicly coming onboard before the end of the day — and that more Republicans would be signing on “this week.”

“I have more than enough signatures for the discharge petition,” he said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is trying to scare Republicans into compliance by telling them that a DACA vote will cost the GOP its House Majority in November. This argument doesn’t appear to be working, as Politico reports; seeing as how there are already dozens of reasons why Republican might lose the House in 2018, singling out DACA as a political bogeyman is a pretty weak arm-twisting maneuver.

Four members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation have signed onto the discharge petition: Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County).

Durango-Area Wingnut Scam Artist Exposed

April LaJune.

An interesting case of what appears to be fraud out of La Plata County, perpetrated by a longtime local conservative online commentator and boisterous supporter of the recent recall attempt against La Plata County commissioner Gwen Lachelt–as the Durango Herald’s Jonathan Romeo reports:

Conservative political commentator April LaJune is facing increasing allegations that she is scamming people into a well-known fraud scheme that sells the idea there’s a secret government bank account people can use to pay off their bills and debt…

In November, LaJune started a business called “TDA (Treasury Direct Accounts) Account Information,” offering packages to help people access the alleged secret funds, which can be purchased for $450 on a website she created. LaJune runs the business from an office in Ignacio.

In recent days, former employees and people who claim they were scammed by LaJune’s business have spoken out in an attempt to prevent others from wasting time and money on the fraudulent scheme.

Former employees interviewed for this story say LaJune could be raking in anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 a month on promises to people who will never see any of these secret funds.

The reason no one will ever see these funds in reality is that, as the Treasury itself is happy to explain, they don’t exist:

A stripped-down version of this scheme is as follows: When the United States went off the gold standard in 1933, the federal government somehow went bankrupt. With the help of the Federal Reserve Bank, the government converted the bodies of its citizens into capital value, supposedly by trading the birth certificates of U.S. citizens on the open market. After following a complicated process of filing UCC documents with either the Secretary of State of the person’s residence or another state that will accept the filings, each citizen is entitled to redeem his or her “value” by filling out a sight draft drawn on their (nonexistent) TreasuryDirect account. The scheme asserts that each citizen’s Social Security Number is also his or her account number. As a part of the scheme, participants also file false IRS Forms 8300 and Currency Transaction Reports in the name of law enforcement officials and other individuals they seek to harass.

But no, really, says talk show host April LaJune, you’ve just got to be super careful and the magic money will flow:

“A lot of scammers are combative and lead people to think they can quit their job and not pay their bills,” LaJune said. “For us, it’s about using the ‘Accepted for Value’ process to push debts and credits across lines in commerce like people do every day.”

…LaJune on Tuesday said there’s a stark distinction between what her company does and what fraudsters attempt.

“It has to be true, because I’ve seen over and over again Accepted for Value work,” LaJune said. “But I’ve also seen over and over again people who don’t know how to do it, and if you don’t do the process correctly, you could be in jail.”

Our reading of the available information on this topic suggests that what winds a person up in jail over this business is attempting to defraud the federal government, not procedural errors in attempting to access something that, you know, actually exists. Contrary to the elaborate theory behind the existence of these alleged “secret bank accounts,” there U.S. government never had any occasion to collateralize the value of individual citizens–and if they did, it most certainly wouldn’t be a checking account you can access with the right routing and account number. LaJune’s whole business relies on fundamental lack of understanding about how the U.S. Treasury works, how the banking system works, and how stupid individual Americans can be about things they don’t understand.

Reading about this ludicrous scam, it’s a lot easier to understand why a group of like-minded La Plata County residents determined the United Nations is behind the county’s land use code and launched their half-baked attempt to recall a term-limited county commissioner.

Apparently you really can fool some of the people all of the time.