Will constituents be excluded from Gardner’s telephone town halls?

On a new page on his official web site, announcing a series of “telephone town halls,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) writes, “To join our conversations, complete the form below and we will call you before each event starts.”

But if Gardner selects specific people, he may be breaking U.S. Senate rules.

“[Gardner’s] communications director told me that they and other U.S. Senators have a company that sets up telephone town halls according to senate rules that require participants be selected randomly from voter rolls,” CBS4 political specialist Shaun Boyd reported Jan. 30.

I had no luck locating the rules referenced, and my phone call to Gardner’s office routed me directly to voice mail and was not returned. A call to Vakeo, which apparently operates Gardner’s tele town halls, was not returned.

But a Google search yielded numerous references to the “random” selection of participants on telephone town halls organized by Members of Congress, like Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).

The selection of participants for Gardner’s town halls, the next of which is set to occur March 1, is important, because Gardner is telling constituents who are demanding an in-person town hall to go to his website and sign up for the telephone variety instead.

“We will add you to the next tele-town hall,” Gardner told a woman last week, as shown in a video she posted online. “It’s no problem” (in the top video here at 1 min 15 seconds).

But it is a problem if participants for the telephone town halls are selected at random, because this would exclude some.

Since Trump’s election, Gardner has relied on secretive or expensive private meetings and one telephone town hall to reach his constituents, and he has apparently abandoned in-person town halls. Last week, Gardner ignored a reporter’s question, put to him five times in a row, about whether he’d hold an in-person town hall.

Constituents who sign up to be on Gardner’s telephone town-hall list, must agree to this statement, as written on Gardner’s telephone town-hall page, which was apparently added recently to his website.

By clicking the button below, I provide my signature expressly authorizing Senator Cory Gardner and Vekeo to contact me and send me information regarding their office, telephone meetings, upcoming events or other opportunities via live, automated or prerecorded calls, text messages or emails to my telephone number and email address that I entered above. I also agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Statement. In compliance with applicable ethics rules, we can only accept telephone meeting registrations from constituents of Senator Cory Gardner’s District.  I represent that I am a resident in Senator Cory Gardner’s District. I understand that my telephone service provider may impose charges for these contacts and that I can revoke this authorization at any time (see the “Events, Sign-Ups and Cancellations” section of the Terms of Use for more details).

“I want to hear from you,” Gardner wrote on the telephone-town-hall page of his website. “Get your questions ready and join me for live, interactive events.”

But unless Gardner’s communications director gave inaccurate information to CBS4, Gardner won’t necessarily be calling you–unless you’re selected at random.

What you can do to fight back this week (February 27)

For weeks, thousands of Coloradans have been trying to get the attention of Sen. Cory Gardner, imploring him to fight back against President Donald Trump’s destructive plans for health care, the environment, immigration reform, and so many other important issues.

Not only has Sen. Gardner ignored the people of Colorado who elected him, he has repeatedly insulted you by calling you “paid protesters.”

On Friday evening, one of the most unusual–and amazing–political events I’ve ever witnessed took place at Byers Middle School in Denver. A crowd so massive that even an “overflow room” was overflowing turned out to voice their concerns to Sen. Gardner–at least 1,500 and probably many more. Since Gardner chose not to show up, citizens gave their feedback to a cardboard cutout of Gardner–but more importantly to the news cameras and reporters gathered to watch.

If you missed this event Friday, watch the recorded livestream here.

Cory Gardner spent all of last week’s recess on the run from his constituents. As the resistance to the Trump agenda continues to build in Colorado and throughout America, there is real doubt growing as to whether Republicans in Washington, D.C. will succeed in their drive to repeal health care reform. That means the resistance is working. What you are doing every week to fight back against Donald Trump and Cory Gardner could make the literal difference between life and death for your neighbor. Or your family member. Or maybe even yourself.

Here is what you can do to fight back for the week of February 27th:


Trump Tuesday: You Work for Us, Not Trump!

We’re certain our Senator will be flying back to DC on Tuesday. Too bad he was not able to schedule a single public Town Hall, but that doesn’t mean we won’t continue to Resist the Trump Agenda. Trump will be giving his first State of the Union address Tuesday evening. So let’s set the agenda moving forward.

Where: Skyline Park, 1601 Arapahoe St, Denver
When: Tuesday, February 28, 12:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


25 Years of TABOR: Make your voice heard

This event, free and open to the public, is being put on by the Denver Post, the Denver Press Club and the Colorado Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and will be held at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28 at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Pl. CFI will participate in the panel, and we encourage civically engaged Coloradans, and those who want to learn more about the conflict over Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, to come.

Where: Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Pl Denver CO 80204
When: Tuesday, February 28, 6:30pm – 7:30pm


Refugees: In Their Own Words

This program will serve as a space for refugees to tell their stories, before and after resettlement, in their own words. We are grateful to our panel of refugees for agreeing to courageously share their stories. Today, there are over 21 million refugees worldwide – the highest number of displaced persons in history. While refugees hold many different identities, they share one thing in common – they have all escaped persecution and violence. This event will feature personal testimonies of immense hardship, loss, and perseverance, but will also highlight the humanity and dedication of refugees to contribute to the communities in which they live.

Where: Denver Public Library, 10 W. Fourteenth Ave., Denver
When: Tuesday, February 28, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


We Are One Colorado Tour: Sterling

One Colorado is bringing our “We Are One Colorado” tour to 13 cities across the state to talk about how to build on — and protect — our victories and continue to advance equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans and their families. One Colorado will also present the findings of their statewide LGBTQ needs assessment that was conducted in 2016.

Where: Family Resource Center, 120 Main St, Sterling, CO 80751
When: Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 6 – 7:30 pm.

Click here to RSVP.

On Wednesday, March 1, the We Are One Colorado Tour will appear in Arvada. Click here for more information.


Women & Family Wednesday Lobby Day

Colorado 9to5 will be hosting this week’s Women & Family Wednesday lobby day at the capitol. We will be talking to our legislators about the importance of the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) bill that will be introduced soon.

When: Wednesday, March 1, 8:30am – 12:00pm
Where Colorado State Capitol, 200 E. Colfax, Denver

Click here to RSVP.


Durango Activist Community Building Potluck

Come meet new friends, catch up with old friends, and build face to face relationships of affinity and solidarity. Feel free to bring friends! Potluck style, so bring something to share if you are able, but if not, no worries, there will be plenty to go around! (Please let us know about any allergies or dietary restrictions and we will make sure there’s something delicious available that you can eat!)

When: Wednesday, March 1, 6:30 – 9:30pm.
Where: Willow House, Durango

Click here to RSVP and get directions.


Colorado Common Cause – Reforming the Electoral College

The National Popular Vote (NPV) Interstate Compact is a voluntary agreement between states to award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationally. If enacted, the agreement will ensure that the candidate who receives the most votes wins the U.S. presidency. It will also encourage presidential candidates to spend time engaging with voters throughout the county—instead of only those who live in a handful of swing states. Learn more about Colorado’s past and future role in reforming the Electoral College at our next informational happy hour.

Where: Irish Snug, 1201 E Colfax Ave, Denver
When: Thursday, March 2, 5:00 – 7:00pm.

Click here to RSVP.


We Proclaim Yes! Acting to Keep Our Communities Whole

We’ll gather in prayer & testimonials before marching with Banners to the Emerson, Louisiana & Downing Overpass on I-25. It’s time to say YES! President Trump and Congress. Say yes to Ingrid! Yes to Jeanette! Say yes to mothers & fathers! Say yes to daughters and sons! Say yes to grandmothers and grandfathers! Say yes to our communities! We will not let you separate families.

Where: Washington Park, Denver, 1000 S Downing St, Denver
When: Saturday, March 4, 1:00 – 3:00pm.

Click here to RSVP.


March Forth! Share Your Song-Raise Your Voice-Join the Movement

Over the last few months, the streets have been alive with energy and movement. In the face of policies and language threatening to divide us, thousands of people have decided to stand up, to speak out, and to join together. One way or another, we have begun to raise our voices in a spirit of unity. Yet even when our cause is common, our stories and struggles are not the same. On March 4th, let’s listen to each other. Let’s learn each other’s songs. Let’s sing them in the streets. Let’s…MARCH FORTH!

Where: Youth on Record, 1301 W 10th Ave, Denver
When: When: Saturday, March 4, 2:30 – 5:30pm.

Click here to RSVP.


Week after week, you are proving that the resistance to Trump is not going away. It is not the work of “paid protesters.” It is not a temporary fad to be forgotten after a few weeks of catharsis. We are committed to opposing Trump’s backward agenda for as long as it takes, and responding to his daily insults against nearly every segment of the American public he was elected to serve. Every time we do, we prove again that America is better than Donald Trump.

You, the resistance, are America’s greatest hope for a better tomorrow. I can’t thank you enough.

Get More Smarter on Monday (February 27)

Get caught up on your Colorado political news while you wait for that giraffe to give birth. Now, let’s see if we can’t 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…

President Trump will deliver his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, and as the Washington Post reports, Trump will be rolling out some fuzzy maths:

President Trump will propose a federal budget that dramatically increases defense-related spending by $54 billion while cutting other federal agencies by the same amount, according to an administration official.

The proposal represents a massive increase in federal spending related to national security, while other priorities, especially foreign aid, will see significant reductions.

According to the White House, the defense budget will increase by 10 percent. But without providing any specifics, the administration said that most other discretionary spending programs will be slashed to pay for it. Officials singled out foreign aid, one of the smallest parts of the federal budget, saying it would see “large reductions” in spending.

 

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is proving to be very popular…in cardboard form. As Congress returns to “work” after its President’s Day recess, the buzz surrounding Gardner’s constituent indifference is only growing louder. Multiple media outlets covered Friday’s “town hall” event in Denver that was staged without the freshman Senator. Here’s more from the Denver Post:

Coloradans packed Byers Middle School gym and cafeteria Friday evening for a town hall event to ask Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner questions regarding issues such as health care, climate change and immigration.

Gardner, who did not attend the event, was represented by a large cardboard cutout…

…many town hall attendees said they have not been able to get in touch with Gardner and feel he has been unresponsive. Christine Robinson, of Parker, said she has called his office twice a day for the last month and has protested or visited his office in Denver five times without any answers to her questions.

“I am not a paid protester,” she said while waiting in line, which wrapped around the block of the middle school. “We’re here to send a loud message — to listen to us. He does not want to.”

 

► Democrats are feeling increasingly optimistic about the chances of winning several races for Governor — including in Colorado — in 2018. From the Washington Post:

As the chairman-elect of the Democratic Governors Association, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will quarterback his party’s efforts in next year’s gubernatorial contests. To say he’s bullish would be an understatement. “Democrats are going to crawl across broken glass on their knees to go vote in 2018, if the conditions exist as they do today,” Inslee said during an interview yesterday afternoon at the J.W. Marriott, before he headed to the White House for a black-tie gala hosted by President Trump…

No one can predict what the political environment will be a year-and-a-half from now, but historically the president’s party loses seats in his first midterm. 

Even if Trump was a generic Republican, which he is most certainly not, the terrain was already going to be quite favorable for Democrats. They have just 16 governorships, a dozen fewer than when Barack Obama took office.

In a separate story, the Post discusses the “hold your nose” view of President Trump that may prove to be a significant barrier for re-election in 2020. As the New York Times notes, we should get the first sense of the power of an anti-Trump strategy in the Virginia Governor’s race.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

(ICYMI) Trump rally at the Colorado Capitol today

POLS UPDATE #2: Can’t make this up, folks:

Things you can’t do sober: Spirit of America rally Denver from Denver

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POLS UPDATE: A memorable sign from today’s exciting little rally for President Donald Trump:

Donald Trump: the “anoited” one! At least we’re pretty sure this isn’t a reference to a certain presidential hotel suite in Moscow. Meanwhile, for comparison, LGBT advocacy group One Colorado appears to have done as well or better than Donald Trump for attendance to their LGBTQ Rally Day today:

Original post follows.

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With all the protests taking place almost daily in Colorado, we at ProgressNow Colorado are committed to helping citizens stay up to date on what’s happening. Today, a rally at the Colorado Capitol to support President Donald Trump gave us a chance to easily explain how to spot the difference between rallies in support of versus in opposition to Trump.

Thank you for your attention.

Will The Legislature Finally Put a Stop to “Rolling Coal?”

“Rolling coal.”

The Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reports on the debate in the General Assembly over House Bill 17-1102, a second attempt by Democratic Rep. Joann Ginal to outlaw the modifications made to diesel vehicles allowing that to spew vast quantities of smoke with a flip of a switch–a practice known in the vernacular as “rolling coal.”

Given that being targeted with noxious fumes isn’t all Coloradans’ idea of fun, state lawmakers are taking a second shot at passing a bill that would make “coal rolling” – the act of using vehicle exhaust as a form of harassment – a traffic infraction with a $100 fine.

This is about public safety and public health, said Rep. Joann Ginal, a Fort Collins Democrat who showed three videos of people intentionally “rolling coal” at others during a hearing in the House Transportation and Energy Committee earlier this month.

The proposal isn’t about going after diesel trucks, Ginal told the committee. It’s more about those who modify their vehicles, usually either with a tailpipe or smokestack, in order to blast smoke at another driver, bicyclist, motorcyclist, pedestrian or other human target.

Ginal said the request for the bill came from her local police department, and would give law enforcers a tool they can use when they see “coal rolling.”

Last year, legislation cracking down on “rolling coal” died in the Colorado Senate after passing the Democratic-controlled House. But this year, as the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports, there’s a GOP co-sponsor in the Senate:

It’s the second year Ginal, D-Fort Collins, has run the bill. It stalled in the Senate transportation committee last session. This year, it has a Republican co-sponsor in Sen. Don Coram of Montrose.

If the bill becomes law, it would give police the ability to fine drivers who intentionally spew exhaust in a way that obstructs another person’s view, creates a safety hazard or in a manner that’s harassing to other cars or pedestrians. Violators would be fined $100.

Last year, Republicans took considerable fire for their decision to kill this bill, in effect siding with people who commit an act tantamount to vandalism–not to mention the negative public health effects of intentionally spewing black diesel smoke into the environment. It’s worth noting again that this is not legislation to further punish people with smoky vehicles due to age or poor maintenance. “Rolling coal” is made possible by a deliberate modification to the vehicle for the express purpose of…well, being an asshole.

So we’ll be watching closely to see if the GOP-controlled Senate lets the bill through this year.

Monday Open Thread

“Did I end up finding a little blue pill to cure America’s electoral dysfunction? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.”

–Mo Rocca

Cardboard Cory: The Most Popular Cardboard Cutout Ever


Cardboard Cory.

Denver7’s Oscar Contreras reports from Friday night’s “town hall” for Sen. Cory Gardner at Byers Middle School in Denver–an event that Sen. Gardner declined to attend, but was nonetheless headlined by…we’ll let Denver7 explain:

Hundreds of Coloradans have wanted to speak with Sen. Cory Gardner since the beginning of the year. Friday night, he finally granted them that wish – sort of – as a cutout of the Republican senator made an appearance at a local middle school.

About 1,500 people showed up to an “in absentia” town hall meeting at Byers Middle School, where constituents hoped to talk about pressing issues currently affecting them.

“Over 14,000 people have signed a petition requesting a meeting; hundreds of people have either called or protested outside his office requesting the same. But so far, Senator Gardner has said no,” said Katie Farnan, a lead organizer with Indivisible Front Range Resistance, a progressive group.

That’s right–over 1,500 people showed up on a Friday evening at an urban Denver public school with horrible parking (Washington Park, after all) to share their concerns with a cardboard cutout of Sen. Cory Gardner. And as the Denver Post’s Hayley Sanchez reports, the crowd knew it all along:

“I am not a paid protester,” [Christine Robinson of Parker] said while waiting in line, which wrapped around the block of the middle school. “We’re here to send a loud message — to listen to us. He does not want to.” [Pols emphasis]

Robinson said she thinks many Coloradans oppose some of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet selections — including Betsy DeVos, for secretary of Education, and Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency — but Gardner is voting against his constituents’ wishes.

Here’s the two-hour “town hall” in its entirety, with the main event starting just about 20 minutes in:

Gardner did issue a statement about this event Friday, in which he studiously ignored its existence and praised himself for the generally nonpublic appearances he has made in the past week of congressional recess. It was something for the media to print, but nobody who attended this event, or several other Gardner-less “town halls” held this week will find it very satisfying.

What can we add about the bizarre spectacle of over 1,500 people who turned out to talk to a cardboard cutout? Well, it’s a clever way to point out Gardner’s very deliberate lack of accessibility to his Colorado constituents–a point that has been driven home by huge protests outside his offices, and a dramatic confrontation on video this week as Gardner tried and failed to slip into an office building in Interlocken to meet with somebody “more important” than the constituents waiting for him in the lobby.

There’s no question at this point that Gardner has become the local face of developments in GOP-owned Washington, D.C., and the perception that he doesn’t want to answer for what’s happening to the constituents who elected him is politically very damaging. It has begun to stand out among national political observers that Gardner is well out of step with the desires of Colorado voters. It’s true that Gardner will not be up for election until 2020, the same year President Donald Trump will be up for election again. That extra padding of time for Gardner may give him, even after a difficult week like this one, hope that he can triangulate his way through.

But if thousands of people are willing to show up to put “Cardboard Cory” on notice, that’s a bad sign.

Weekend Open Thread

“I would rather be politically dead than hypocritically immortalized.”

–Davy Crockett

(Some) Colorado Lawmakers React Angrily To Trump Weed Threats

Rep. Jared Polis (D).

As the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports:

Word that the White House could begin cracking down on the marijuana trade in states that have legalized the drug drew swift rebuke Thursday from Democratic lawmakers in Colorado, the first state to cultivate a recreational pot industry.

“Whether it is building a wall or stripping protections for trans students, President Trump has already shown he’s willing to trample Colorado values to further his regressive agenda,” said state Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, in a statement. “Now, he’s going to use his Department of Justice to trample states’ rights? The people of Colorado voted for the legalization of recreational marijuana, and the federal government needs to respect the will of Coloradans.”

…U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat and a founder of the bipartisan congressional Cannabis Caucus, invoked states’ rights and the burgeoning marijuana economy in his sharp criticism of Spicer’s statement.

“The president has said time and again that the decision about marijuana needs to be left to the states,” Polis said in a statement. “Now either the president is flip-flopping or his staff is, once again, speaking out of turn; either way, these comments leave doubt and uncertainty for the marijuana industry, stifling job growth in my state. The public has spoken on recreational marijuana, we’ve seen it work in Colorado, and now is the time to lift the federal prohibition.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper has a less strident but still fairly supportive tone, via Politico:

Hickenlooper also weighed in on the issue of legalized marijuana. Following White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s statement Thursday that the Department of Justice would be “taking action” on the recreational use of marijuana, Hickenlooper called legalized marijuana “one of the great experiments of the 21st century.”

He said while he was against legalized marijuana, the state has anecdotally seen less drug dealers and has not experienced an uptick in usage among teenagers.

Twenty-four hours since the Trump administration’s announcement of “greater enforcement” of federal law prohibiting recreational marijuana sales and possession, we’re struck by how little comment there’s been from Colorado politicians–especially Republican Colorado politicians who presumably would be opposed, and would have more pull interceding on Colorado’s behalf with Trump than Democratic lawmakers.

Yesterday’s announcement by White House spokesman Sean Spicer contained very little in the way of details on what the “greater enforcement” against marijuana would look like, and the administration has refused requests for more information. That vacuum leaves room for rumor and misinformation that further darkens the picture for this billion-dollar industry.

If we really do value the marijuana industry’s economic and public revenue benefits to our state, the time to speak up is right now. That includes, in fact it’s fair to say it depends on, Republicans with access to the new administration leading the opposition.

If they don’t? Well, there are going to be a lot of upset (and sober) stoners voting in 2018.

Ken Buck Scrambles Obamacare Repeal Message

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As the Denver Post’s John Ingold reports, Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley just helped deprive Coloradans of whatever security they might have felt about health care, after other Colorado Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman and Sen. Cory Gardner assured us that the Affordable Care Act would not be repealed without a replacement in place:

In a meeting with constituents in Douglas County on Tuesday, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck said he believes that fully implementing a replacement could take years after the vote to repeal the law. His fellow Colorado U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, though, told constituents in a video message last week that he would not vote to repeal the law without “a concurrent replacement.”

…Buck said he believes that a repeal of the heath care law will occur “soon” but will have its effective date delayed. Crafting, passing and fully implementing the replacement plan, he said, “will take a while to formulate.”

“I think other Republicans are expressing their optimism that something can happen concurrently,” Buck said. “I think realistically, if we do the process the right way, replacement is going to take a period of time.”

To be fair, Buck does assert that “there won’t be a change that happens next month that is going to completely alter the health care system, but Buck’s willingness to accept repeal without any replacement creates major uncertainty for everyone who has gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act–or benefited from improvements to coverage like keeping kids on parents’ plans longer and requiring pre-existing conditions to be covered.

Obviously, this sets up a conflict between Buck and the promises made by other Colorado Republicans–and given the reticence of most Republicans to be specific about the plan for health care going forward, we wouldn’t look for any clear answers anytime soon.

If that’s cold comfort for you, there are protests just about every day lately.

Coffman: “Effective date” of Obamacare repeal will be “about two years out” due to negotiations with industry and Democrats

(Note that this was BEFORE Coffman said he would not vote for repeal without a replacement – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman .

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) made headlines after he told constituents this week that it could take several years for Republicans to come up with an Obamacare replacement and, when they unveil their plan, it will “leave some people behind, one way or the other,” as first reported by the Colorado Independent.

But Buck isn’t the only Colorado Republican to speculate that replacing Obamacare will take years.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) told a conservative radio host last month that “it will be about two years” before Obamacare is repealed.

“We are voting on a repeal — yes. And it will be to those tax and spending parts that the Democrats cannot filibuster in the Senate, but it will be about two years out will be the effective date of the repeal,” Coffman told KNUS’ Jimmy Sengenberger Jan. 7 (at 39 min 45 seconds). “And what the Democrats are advancing –and the press is falling in line with them on — is that somehow we’re erasing everything — that what the repeal does is, the next day, it’s all wiped out. That’s not true.”

Coffman said Republicans have the difficult task in front of them of negotiating with Democrats over what the Obamacare replacement will look like.

“We have to negotiate a replacement with the Democrats,” Coffman told Sengenberger. “And why we have to negotiate a replacement with the Democrats is because of the fact that all of those insurance regulation parts of Obamacare can be filibustered by the Democrats. And they have committed to do so. So that means it’s going to take 60 votes to bring that part of Obamacare to the floor. And so we’re going to have to negotiate with them on what that looks like. And so that will take time.”

Coffman did not say whether people will lose their health insurance under the GOP Obamacare replacement, but after his Jan. 7 statement above, in fact in multiple subsequent interviews, including a Feb. 17 radio appearance, he said that “nothing will be repealed unless it’s concurrently replaced.”

Working with the “insurance industry” on a replacement will be time consuming, said Coffman.

“The fact is that the insurance industry has to price this risk,” said Coffman. “We don’t want to throw a wrench into the market and have people suffer more than they have already suffered, unfairly. They have certainly suffered under Obamacare. It has helped some people. But it has hurt a lot of people. And so, we want policies that help everybody, you know, and don’t help some people at the expense of others.”

White House Blocks Prominent News Organizations from Briefing

This was probably inevitable, but that doesn’t make it any less terrifying:

CNN, The New York Times, Politico, and other mainstream news organizations were blocked from participating in a White House media briefing on Friday afternoon. Journalists expressed outrage at the unusual move, and the Associated Press and Time magazine boycotted the briefing as a result. Spicer reportedly allowed sympathetic outlets into the gaggle—an informal question-and-answer session between a press secretary and journalists—including the Washington Times, Breitbart, and One America News Network. Jeff Mason, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said in a statement that the consortium of reporters will “strongly protest” the move and further discuss it with White House press staffers.

Kudos to the Associated Press and TIME magazine for boycotting the press briefing in solidarity with their media brethren.

Get More Smarter on Friday (February 24)

It’s cold outside — colder than the reception you might receive if you tried to talk to Sen. Cory Gardner. Now, let’s see if we can’t 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…

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has almost made it through the workweek recess without actually having to answer questions from real constituents about, well, anything. But Gardner’s consistent refusal to engage with the people he is supposed to represent is escalating into a full-out disaster for the first-term Senator, and the problem is only getting worse. On Thursday, multiple videos of Gardner evading a woman and her baby in a Broomfield hotel lobby became national news, with Gardner consistently brushing off questions by telling her — and other constituents — to just “go to my website” instead.

Gardner’s constituent indifference has become a national story.

 

► Once upon a time (also known as January), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) promised to hold a big town hall meeting before Congress votes on a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Coffman didn’t make any effort to hold a town hall meeting during the current President’s Day recess, but as Ernest Luning reports for the Colorado Statesman, Team Coffman says there will be an event in April:

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman plans to hold a traditional town hall in April, when the Aurora Republican will be at home in his district during a scheduled congressional recess, his aides said Friday.

Coffman spokesman Daniel Bucheli told The Colorado Statesman that Coffman is looking for the right venue and nailing down the date for a town hall, likely sometime during the second full week of April. He was confirming an announcement made by campaign aide J.D. Key Friday morning at a GOP breakfast meeting in Highlands Ranch.

The immediate question, of course, is whether or not this means that Congress will not be voting on a potential repeal of Obamacare in the next 6-8 weeks; Coffman promised to hold a big town hall meeting before a potential vote on repealing the healthcare law. Coffman could have just been blowing smoke up everyone’s you-know-what, which the Congressman has been known to do, but this promise would be harder to walk back given the steady crowds trying to contact their elected officials across the country.

 

► It would not be a complete surprise if Congress is unable to take action on repealing Obamacare, as Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) seemed to indicate earlier this week. Former House Speaker John Boehner was widely quoted on Thursday laughing at the idea that Republicans could coalesce around a single idea on health care reform. Meanwhile, Politico reports on a new draft document outlining another potential GOP healthcare plan:

A draft House Republican repeal bill would dismantle Obamacare subsidies and scrap its Medicaid expansion, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by POLITICO.

The legislation would take down the foundation of Obamacare, including the unpopular individual mandate, subsidies based on people’s income, and all of the law’s taxes. It would significantly roll back Medicaid spending and give states money to create high-risk pools for some people with pre-existing conditions. Some elements would be effective right away; others not until 2020.

The replacement would be paid for by limiting tax breaks on generous health plans people get at work — an idea that is similar to the Obamacare “Cadillac tax” that Republicans have fought to repeal.

Speaker Paul Ryan said last week that Republicans would introduce repeal legislation after recess. [Pols emphasis] But the GOP has been deeply divided about how much of the law to scrap, and how much to “repair,” and the heated town halls back home during the weeklong recess aren’t making it any easier for them.

The basis of the leaked plan is, essentially, to tax healthcare plans for “cost containment” while doing nothing to address coverage. This won’t end well.

 

► The Trump administration on Thursday made it clear that the President plans to crack down on the recreational marijuana industry.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Colorado Week in Review: 2/24/17