Cynthia Coffman’s Campaign Completely Off the Rails

Earlier this week we wrote about the unmitigated disaster that is Republican Cynthia Coffman’s campaign for Governor. Somehow things seem to have gotten even worse just since Monday:


This Tweet today from CBS4 Denver reporter Shaun Boyd seems to confirm — in a really strange way — that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is, in fact, pro-choice on the issue of abortion. We probably don’t need to tell you that this is not going to help Coffman make it through a crowded Republican Primary next year.

At Least She’s Not Your Train Conductor


The fact that Coffman’s position on abortion would be revealed in this manner is another sign of a gubernatorial campaign that has been completely off the rails since day one. Just last week, a spokesperson for Coffman’s campaign told Joey Bunch of the Colorado Springs Gazette that Coffman would discuss her position on abortion at a later date, or “when the time’s right.” The “right time” in this case appears to be in response to a Tweet from a local reporter. That’s not good.

That Coffman is so woefully unprepared to deal with pretty standard and predictable questions is an ominous sign for her campaign’s future. Coffman’s camp (to the extent to which one exists) can’t even figure out how to answer the question of whether or not they have a campaign manager in place, and here they are flubbing answers to the most basic of conservative questions.

Coffman just isn’t ready to run a real campaign for Governor, and she only has a few more weeks to figure this out before she gets steamrolled by the inertia of better-organized Republicans.

Poll: Who Spent Millions on Neil Gorsuch?

Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Tax disclosures for major right-wing interest group The Wellspring Committee, which provided millions of dollars in funding to the campaign first to prevent President Barack Obama from successfully replacing the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court, and then to grease the wheels for eventual Justice Neil Gorsuch of Colorado–Maplight’s Andrew Perez:

The Wellspring Committee, a Virginia-based nonprofit, donated more than $23 million last year to the Judicial Crisis Network, which spent $7 million on advertisements pushing Republican senators to block President Barack Obama’s court pick, Merrick Garland. After the election, the network spent another $10 million to boost President Donald Trump’s pick, Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Wellspring received more than $32 million in donations last year, with $28.5 million coming from a single, anonymous donor. Before 2016, Wellspring had never received more than $13.2 million in annual donations. As a social welfare organization, Wellspring is not required to disclose its donors…

Certainly a lot of big money moved in support of Gorsuch, but it’s fair to say that $28.5 million is a lot of simoleons–enough to rule out all but the very biggest players in conservative politics. We immediately thought of Phil Anschutz, the Colorado billionaire who Gorsuch used to work for and who who could probably find $28 million under his couch cushions. But the money does predate Gorsuch’s nomination, and although Anschutz certainly puts his money where his throwback politics are, plenty of other big spenders should not be ruled out.

A poll follows: pin the billionaire on the money! You might as well since you’ll probably never know for sure.

Who plunked down $28.5 million to stop Merrick Garland and confirm Neil Gorsuch?
Phil Anschutz
Koch Brothers
Mercer Family
Singer Family
DeVos Family
Sheldon Adelson
Bradley Foundation
World Wrestling Entertainment
Vladimir Putin
Not sure/other (specify)
View Result

It’s Official (Maybe): Cynthia Coffman is Pro-Choice

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

CBS4 political specialist Shaun Boyd reported last week that newly minted gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Coffman was pro-choice.

This set of a wave of disbelief and anger in conservative circles, led by KNUS radio host Dan Caplis, who said on air that Republicans wouldn’t have allowed Coffman to become Colorado’s attorney general if her pro-choice views were known.

But in reporting that Coffman was pro-choice, Boyd did not quote the candidate directly on the matter. Boyd asserted it as a background fact, leading Caplis and others to question whether it was true.

Boyd settled any lingering doubts with this tweet this morning:

Boyd: Responding to questions about my report on @CynthiaHCoffman being pro-choice. I learned it via a source after my interview. I’ve asked Coffman’s campaign if she wants a correction. Her spokesperson says she does not.”

Coffman’s official confirmation of Boyd’s reporting will likely be denounced by fellow GOP gubernatorial candidates, like businessman Victor Mitchell, who’s already called out Coffman on it, and Tom Tancredo, who’s openly and seriously anti-choice.

Even if you didn’t witness the impact of anti-choice personhood activists during multiple elections over the past decade, allowing Republicans like Cory Gardner to build their careers on the issue, you probably know that a large block of GOP primary voters, like Caplis, will not support a pro-choice candidate, unless, possibly, the only anti-choice Republican available is a likely child molester. See Roy Moore.

And like Alabama voters who face the decision of  pro-abortion vs. likely child molestation, they might decide not to vote. That’s how “foundational” the abortion issue is, as Caplis puts it.

This might explain why Coffman has at least appeared to be hostile to abortion rights over the years. For example, she’s bragged about opposing public funds for Planned Parenthood. In some interviews that I’ve found so far, she’s dodged the issue.

Conservatives, like Arapahoe County Tea Party founder Randy Corporon, were left with the impression that Coffman was anti-choice.

“I’ve been around her many times over the years, where all sorts of different conversations have come up, and I’ve never left with the impression that she was anything but pro-life,” said Corporon on air.

Wednesday Open Thread

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”

–Gautama Buddha

Everybody and Nobody Wants George Brauchler

Maybe George Brauchler can be Colorado’s Director of Twitter.

Earlier this month, Republican George Brauchler dropped out of the race for Governor — a race he clearly could not hope to win — in order to run for Attorney General after incumbent AG Cynthia Coffman announced that she would be running for Governor.

When Brauchler made his announcement, it was with a carefully-crafted message intended to convey that he was the Republican White Knight riding to the rescue to save the GOP from losing its hold on the office of Attorney General. Brauchler has even taken swipes at Coffman for “abandoning” a top Republican office so close to the 2018 election. But as this recent story from Charles Ashby in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel makes clear, Brauchler’s commitment to pretending to be wanted has him looking more than a little bit silly:

“At the time, you couldn’t have foreseen this set of circumstances,” Brauchler said in an interview a few days after he made the switch last week. “Tancredo getting in, it didn’t move the needle for me. We didn’t change plans at all. The single event was vacating that (attorney general) position. I’m an amateur at this. I wasn’t counseled in the ways of ‘never say never.’ I didn’t see this happening.”

Brauchler said as far back as 2015, the Republican Party tried to get him to challenge U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat who ended up facing a little-known Republican who barely campaigned for the seat. But he wasn’t interested in going to Washington, D.C.

A similar thing occurred earlier this year when U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-4th, considered running for attorney general, but decided instead to seek re-election.

Brauchler said he wasn’t interested in that seat, either, saying his experience and desire to remain closer to his family outweighed all other considerations.

There were rumors earlier this fall that Brauchler was considering running for Congress in CD-4 should Rep. Ken Buck depart in order to run for Attorney General, but this is the first time we can recall that Brauchler has publicly acknowledged this story. This isn’t something Brauchler would have wanted to acknowledge when he was still a candidate for Governor, but now that he’s moved on to a different office, Brauchler is desperate to make you believe that everyone wants him to run for something!

Michael Dougherty

The flip side to this message is that Brauchler just wants to be elected to some sort of higher office; that he just wants to be Attorney General because he wasn’t going to be our next Governor. Brauchler is leading with his chin here, and at least one potential 2018 opponent is already calling him out. Again, from the Sentinel:

All that sounded like balderdash to Democratic attorney general candidate Michael Dougherty, who currently is the assistant district attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin counties.

“The Attorney General’s Office is critically important right now, too important in my opinion to be a consolation prize for a failed run at being governor,” Dougherty said…

…”Cynthia Coffman ran that office with politics in mind, more so than her predecessors. Now that she’s running for governor, those suspicions are confirmed,” Dougherty said. “Now we have this spot being sought by someone who is running for a different office who is simply looking for somewhere else to land because that race got tough.

“Perhaps if this race gets tough, George can consider running for treasurer.” [Pols emphasis]

You had better get used to this joke, George.

Colorado Senate press secretary warns of “harassment” and copyright violation if you quote his Facebook page

(Wow, that’s stupid – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

paige on violation of copyright and harassmentU.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona is a “media whore.” Fact-check journalism is “largely phony.”

Those quotes, which I included in recent blog posts, come from the personal Facebook page of Colorado Senate GOP spokesperson Sean Paige.

Going forward, he wrote on his Facebook page, he does not want people like me, who are not his Facebook friends, using quotes like those.

No doubt Paige does not want me to quote his polite request to stop quoting his Facebook material, but here I go anyway:

Paige: “Please note that these are my private and personal thoughts, which I post on this invite-only Facebook page for friends and associates–and which aren’t meant to reflect the views of clients I may have in the professional realm. I’m forced to add this because social media bottom-feeders, in a desperate bid for cannon fodder, relevance and clicks, have been stealing content from this page and republishing it on partisan attack blogs without my consent or permission, which I deem not just a violation of copright and an act of harassment, but a despicable effort to curtail and chill my privacy rights and rights to free speech and expression. So if you are here uninvited, with such aims in mind, please unfriend this page and stop misappropriating and misusing what I post here. Surely there must be better, more honest ways for you to get attention.)” (emphasis added)

When Paige complained on Twitter a few months ago about my quoting his Facebook posts, I responded by asking him if he thought Clinton’s private emails were out of bounds or Obama’s comments about Pennsylvanians who cling to their guns. Or Rep. Mike Coffman’s (R-CO) comment that he was unsure if Obama was an American in his heart.

Paige didn’t respond, but he’s gotta know, as a spokesman for politicians, how journalism and public debate works. Private information gets out. If it’s verifiable and relevant, it gets published. Trump gets mad but that’s life.

You sympathize with politicians and people like Paige who are scrutinized, but it’s tough to keep your thoughts private these days, especially when you blast them out at private fundraisers or post them on your personal Facebook page, which has hundreds of friends.

But now Paige, who did not immediately return a call for comment, is taking a different tact, with new accusations about people who quote his stuff:

An act of “harassment.” Not. It’s closer to bearing witness. In my case, I just quote him and try to explain it or challenge it.

“Curtail and chill” his privacy rights and rights to free speech and expression. Nope. I’m interested in debating him freely and letting his speech blossom into the sunlight.

“Violation” of his copyright. Again, no. Sharing is the way of social media, but Paige actually has an important point that copyright protections exist. But, per fair-use standards, you’re allowed to reproduce portions of copyrighted material for criticism and commentary. So my selective quoting of his Facebook page is ok.

If Paige is serious about trying to keep his stuff personal, he should de-friend all his Facebook friends, except the ones who won’t pass on his posts to me or others. But the person who shares my Facebook posts the most is my mother! She even prints them out and puts them on her fridge for all to see! So if I were Paige, I’d have a hard time keeping my posts under wraps. I mean, I’d never de-friend mom.

Rep. Diana DeGette: #MeToo

Rep. Diana DeGette (D).

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports on Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver’s revelations yesterday that she was sexually harassed by ex-Rep. Bob Filner, the San Diego Democrat whose career imploded after leaving Congress under allegations of serial sexual misconduct:

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette said Monday that she is among the many women who have been sexually harassed while serving in Congress — telling MSNBC that former U.S. Rep. Bob Filner of California groped her while the two Democrats were in an elevator.

“Some years ago, I was in an elevator and then-Congressman Bob Filner tried to pin me to the door of the elevator and kiss me and I pushed him away,” said the Denver lawmaker in an on-air interview…

“When these advances happen, they’re brushed under the rug,” DeGette said. “This is one reason why I think it’s so important that we update our House employment rules.”

A DeGette aide said the Colorado lawmaker did not file a complaint or take official action in either incident she mentioned.

The straightforward reason why Rep. DeGette would not have reported this incident is the fact that Rep. Filner was a much higher-ranking member than herself. In an environment where such incidents were routinely swept under the rug, the controversy caused by reporting the offense could well have had its own negative impact on her career. That’s an explanation reporters have gotten from women in Colorado who have been subjected to sexual harassment in the General Assembly as well. In the end, the negative consequences of standing up for one’s self over sexual harassment are perceived to outweigh the offense.

All we can say to that is it should never, ever be that way. And hopefully one outcome of the present upheaval over sexual harassment across all levels of society is that survivors will never have to weigh the repercussions of seeking justice against their right to seek justice ever again.

Cynthia Coffman’s Gubernatorial Campaign is a Disaster

Republican Cynthia Coffman might be better off waving a white flag when it comes to her gubernatorial campaign.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced two weeks ago that she would seek the Republican gubernatorial nomination rather than running for re-election in 2018. We weren’t alone in wondering why it took Coffman more than a year to make a decision on what race to run in 2018, and the long delay apparently wasn’t because she was taking extra time to prepare for a run for Governor.

As Joey Bunch writes in two separate stories for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Coffman’s gubernatorial campaign is an absolute mess. In an early preview of a longer story for “Colorado Politics” magazine, Bunch wrote on Friday that it is not clear who, if anyone, is even running the Coffman campaign:

When Coffman officially announced her candidacy for governor on Nov. 8, the Denver Post reported, “To run her campaign, Coffman hired Clinton Soffer, the former regional political director for the National Republican Senate Committee, where he worked for Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, whom he helped elect in 2014.”

After I got a well-sourced tip Thursday that Soffer was no longer running the campaign, I reached out to Coffman’s campaign fundraiser Caroline Wren, who also is fielding calls to Coffman from the media this week.

“Clinton Soffer is a part of Team Cynthia, but he is not campaign manager and was never announced by our campaign as such,” said Wren.

Bunch says that Coffman’s campaign never responded to questions about how or why Soffer was misidentified in the Denver Post story, though Coffman “spokesperson” Caroline Wren did eventually tell Bunch that Coffman would only respond to written questions submitted in advance via e-mail…which is a completely absurd thing to stipulate for someone seeking the top office in Colorado.

Coffman did apparently participate in a brief telephone interview with Bunch at some point, which left many more unanswered questions. Here’s an excerpt from Bunch’s full story for “Colorado Politics” magazine (click for PDF version):

Platform, money and momentum are not on her side, according to my very round circle of Republican sources…

…In a way-too-short scheduled phone interview, Coffman assured me my Republican sources are in the minority of her party, but she would have to get back to me on explaining why when she had more time.

Bunch writes that he could not clarify Coffman’s position on the issue of abortion, which has stirred commentary from right-wing radio pundits (Coffman’s spokesperson says that she will discuss her position on abortion “when the time’s right,” whatever that means). In response to a question about how Coffman will address the “Coffmangate” scandal from 2015, Bunch writes the following:

“Frankly, I’m not going to spend time on it,” Coffman told me when I asked about it, then she deflected other questions and reminded me that my time was running out.

It isn’t just questions about prior scandals that Coffman is ducking. This paragraph near the end of Bunch’s magazine story is particularly strange:

On the issues, Coffman didn’t have a plan to fund transportation, potentially a huge issue for the next governor, but she’s working on it. She asked me, jokingly, if I wanted to join the campaign to help figure it out.

Whaaaaa???

At the height of the “Coffmangate” scandal in June 2015, we wrote in this space that Coffman’s political career was all but over; we speculated, in part, that Coffman would have trouble running another statewide campaign because she would have a difficult time finding a competent staff that wasn’t scared away by her awkward backstabbing.

Perhaps Coffman will ultimately figure out how to be a viable candidate for Governor. Perhaps she will eventually be able to hire campaign staff that have some idea of what they are doing.

Or, perhaps, Cynthia Coffman’s gubernatorial bid is a complete fool’s errand.

Trump Opens Door For Moore: Joke’s on You, Cory Gardner!

Roy Moore, Cory Gardner.

From today’s White House press conference–so much for the Republican Party’s attempt to put daylight between itself and embattled U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, as CNN reports:

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Trump continues to believe that the people of Alabama should decide Roy Moore’s fate in the Senate race, but reiterated that Trump wants elected officials who “support his agenda” in Congress.

“Obviously the president wants people both in the House and the Senate that support his agenda,” Sanders said Monday in the White House press briefing.

“The president feels that it’s up to the people of Alabama to make that determination of who their representative will be,” Sanders said.

Cory Gardner can say what he want. Moore just got greenlighted by the highest Republican in the land.

And if Moore wins, the odds of a vote to expel just dwindled.

Get More Smarter on Monday (November 20)

Be thankful that you won’t have to watch the Denver Broncos on Thursday. 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…

The Tax Turducken that is winding its way through Republicans in Congress may be stopped short in the Senate because it’s just too unwieldy. As the Washington Post explains:

As the tax debate heads into a one-week, Thanksgiving-imposed timeout, the project hangs by a thread in the Senate. A handful of Senate Republicans will determine its fate. The challenge for Republican leaders is that those swing votes have conflicting priorities.

On one side are senators demanding changes adding to the cost of the bill; on the other, deficit hawks are raising alarms about the price tag of a measure that arguably has burst its seams.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) objects to the last-minute decision by Republican tax writers to include a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate — a critical source of revenue for the bill. And Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) wants more generous treatment for pass-through businesses. Meanwhile, Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), among others, have said the bill’s deficit impact could cost their support.

In a Sunday appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Collins said the move to scrap the individual mandate will cause insurance premiums to spike, wiping out whatever middle-class benefit the bill might otherwise deliver. She stopped short of declaring herself opposed to the Senate bill, because she expects it to change, but she called the mandate repeal the “biggest mistake.”

 

► The Keystone XL pipeline cleared an key regulatory hurdle today, as NBC News reports:

The Keystone XL pipeline cleared a major hurdle on Monday after a Nebraska regulator approved an alternate route for the $8 billion project.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted to approve TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline in a 3-2 decision that cleared a regulatory hurdle for the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline that would link Canada’s Alberta oil sands to U.S. refineries.

Nebraska was the only state that had yet to approve the pipeline’s route, and Monday’s decision appeared to pass that final regulatory challenge. But the move could still be challenged in court.

Last week, the Keystone Pipeline spilled more than 200,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota — more evidence to back up critics who believe the pipeline is fundamentally unsafe for local communities.

 

► President Trump has decided to put North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism. Former President George W. Bush removed North Korea from the list in 2008.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Lobbyists Questionably Leap To Sen. Jack Tate’s Defense

MONDAY UPDATE #2: In a thoughtful Facebook post, Rep. Jonathan Singer calls the story in question “media-enabled gaslighting.”

We can do better.

This might come as a shock to some people. Of all the elected officials that have allegations against them, I’ve been friends with … pretty much all of them. And that shouldn’t matter to the media.

It turns out that people who do bad things can be very nice people. That’s how they can continue to bad things. It’s also one reason why survivors choose not to come forward. If there are more victims, do you think they’re more or less likely to step forward now?

We have to take every allegation seriously and I think it’s absolutely appropriate for someone to refute an allegation if they were direct witness to it. I also think it’s alright if people don’t want to rush to judge their peers. Let our process (that could improve) play out first. I don’t think any of the people in the article were intending to discredit the victim or stop new reports. But those just might be the consequences.

—–

MONDAY UPDATE: Conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics’ lede today says a mouthful:

That’s how the boys explain these things, yes! Unfortunately the victims tend to see it differently.

And yes, this is yet another shining example of the problem.

—–

UPDATE #2: More from today’s post from Morgan Carroll, as Statesman reporter Ernest Luning responds–Carroll lays out the problem brilliantly:

Morgan Carroll: Just to be clear. You wrote the story in question. You miss the point. I think it looks like a lineup of lobbyists (who have professional and financial ties to Tate) [Pols emphasis] defending an elected official overall suggesting that if women lobbyists think Sen. Tate is a nice guy that the he couldn’t have harassed or been inappropriate with an intern.

Exactly.

—–

UPDATE: In a testy Facebook exchange with Colorado Democratic Party chair Morgan Carroll, longtime Capitol lobbyist Wendy Aiello appears to confirm that she is “working with” Sen. Jack Tate to respond to the allegations against him:

This detail is significant because Megan Dubray, who is extensively quoted in today’s story from the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning (below), is listed as “of counsel” for Aiello Public Relations. None of these relationships are disclosed in Luning’s story.

Which is, of course, a big problem.

—–

Sen. Jack Tate.

A new story from Ernest Luning of the former Colorado Statesman this morning is stoking fresh controversy in the growing scandal over widespread sexual harassment in the Colorado Capitol. The story consists of several lobbyists defending Sen. Jack Tate from allegations of misconduct leveled in a story by KUNC’s Bente Birkeland late last week.

Luning’s story is problematic on several levels–for Sen. Tate, and also the lobbyists attempting to jump on this grenade on Tate’s behalf:

“I was surprised by the story,” lobbyist Adeline Hodge told Colorado Politics. “I was definitely surprised to hear Jack Tate’s name thrown into the ring. I think we can all acknowledge there are things at the Capitol that need improvement, but I think we need to focus on the true problem areas.”

Said lobbyist Cindy Sovine-Miller: “I’ve worked very closely with Sen. Tate, and I’ve never experienced anything like that. He’s very respectful of his wife and his daughter and the women around him. I’m not trying to say sexual harassment isn’t happening at the Capitol, but you guys are pointing the finger at the wrong guy.”

The most stout–and questionable–defense of Tate came from Meg Dubray, a (nominally) Democratic lobbyist:

“What we saw in the paper didn’t show some sort of deviant pattern of behavior. The whole thing — a politician’s job is kissing babies and shaking hands. He’s a friendly guy, he’s from the South and has that sort of congenial nature to him. But it’s never been toward me or anyone I’ve seen in a less than completely respectful way,” [Dubray] said.

After repeating one of the story’s allegations — that Tate had supposedly told the anonymous intern he “really liked that skirt” she was wearing while on an elevator with her — Dubray said she doubted it happened that way but, even if it had, it was an example of Tate’s southern manners and nothing to get alarmed about.

“He always appreciates when men and women are dressed well,” Dubray said with a laugh. “But not in a creepy way, almost in a funny, goofy way.” [Pols emphasis]

That’s what they all say, isn’t it?

Of course it may be true that Tate has never harassed Dubray personally, or these other lobbyists personally, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility that he did so with others. And we’re sorry, but dismissing such behavior as “funny” or “goofy” has allowed way too many predators to continue with their predation.

Anyone who has followed the pitched battles in the legislature in recent years over legislation easing restrictions on subprime personal lenders is aware that Dubray is the lobbyist who worked with Sen. Tate on behalf of those lenders. In 2015, a last-minute bill that Dubray helped sneak through the House was vetoed by Gov. John Hickenlooper after an outcry from consumer advocates and in some cases hoodwinked Democrats.

The point? Meg Dubray has a gainful professional relationship with Sen. Tate. We haven’t looked into the other lobbyists’ disclosures, but it wouldn’t surprise us to learn the same.

Folks, how could this story be published without mentioning that? It’s irresponsible to leave that crucial fact out, even if it can be straightforwardly inferred. And it segues into the larger problem with these defenses of Tate: they seem to all be coming from lobbyists, and Jack Tate is the chairman of the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee.

If the conflict of interest here is not immediately evident to you, please go back and reread Ethics 101.