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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► Senate Republicans are facing a new round of serious questions about sexual harassment at the State Capitol after another complaint was filed against state Sen. Randy Baumgardner and an earlier complaint against state Sen. Jack Tate was deemed credible by outside investigators. From Bente Birkeland at KUNC:
A complaint alleging that Sen. Jack Tate harassed a woman at the state Capitol has been found credible. The woman, a former intern, alleged that Tate flirted with her and touched her in an elevator in an unwelcome manner during the 2017 legislative session. The former intern was 18 years old at the time, and has asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
In an independent investigation, the Employers Council sided with the accuser…
…Tate declined to comment for the moment. He added that he would make a comment when he feels it is appropriate to do so. The woman said she wants leaders in the state Senate to hold Tate accountable.
You may recall that a group of female lobbyists rushed to Tate’s defense in December as some sort of pre-emptive character defense of the accused sexual harasser; we’re guessing these women feel about as terrible now as they looked at the time.
The Tate story is actually the second story of harassment involving Senate Republicans breaking in the last day. Bente Birkeland of KUNC reported on Thursday that a third sexual harassment complaint has been filed against Baumgardner. It was just last week that Senate President Kevin Grantham gently slapped Baumgardner on the wrist after an initial harassment complaint was investigated and found to be valid…but not before complaining that the investigation itself was flawed.
In all, three sitting Republican Senators are facing sexual harassment complaints deemed credible by an outside investigation (Sen. Larry Crowder is the third). Harassment complaints about state Rep. Steve Lebsock (D-Thornton) are still under investigation.
► The National Rifle Association (NRA) is spinning wildly out of control amid escalating concerns over gun violence in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Florida. Efforts to combat gun violence are being met with newfound support from unlikely sources, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Here in Colorado, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) checked his courage at the door.
Also, President Trump completely changed his tune on gun control (surprise!) during his CPAC speech today. From CNN:
President Donald Trump spent the last two days insisting that he was ready to find compromise on gun control measures in the wake of the murders of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last week…
…That all changed during Trump’s speech Friday morning at the Conservative Political Action Conference just outside Washington. Talking about the stakes of the 2018 election, Trump said that if Democrats win back control of Congress “they’ll take away your 2nd Amendment.”
As he closed his speech, Trump again said Democrats want to repeal the 2nd Amendment: “They will do that, they will do that,” he said.
Which is, of course, not true. It is also hugely toxic to any attempt to find shared ground on the sort of “common sense” changes to gun laws that Trump, um, trumpeted later in his CPAC speech.
Of course, it is completely implausible that the 2nd amendment could actually be “taken away.” Repealing a Constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate just to move that proposal along to each of the 50 state legislatures (of which 38 would need to approve).
► Governor John Hickenlooper quietly (inexplicably-so) signed his name to legislation on Thursday evening that fixes a drafting error related to the most consequential bill of the 2017 legislative session. The “special districts” or “pot tax” legislative fix signed by Hickenlooper is essentially the same bill that Colorado Republicans refused to consider during a brief special legislative session in October 2017.
► Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. As the Washington Post reports, the Russiagate scandal engulfing the White House takes another leap forward today:
Rick Gates, a former top official in President Trump’s campaign, plans to plead guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI, according to court papers filed Friday by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
The guilty plea, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, caps a busy week for Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and related issues. It also ends a tumultuous period for Gates, who found himself re-indicted, changing lawyers, and agreeing to plead guilty all within 24 hours…
…Gates’ plea raises the pressure on Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman. Both men were hit with a 32-count indictment on Thursday, following an earlier 12-count indictment of the pair back in October.
Gates could provide the special counsel with valuable information about the inner workings of Trump’s operation: He served as a senior figure in the campaign and had access to the White House as an outside adviser in the early months of the administration.
Click here for more analysis on the importance of these latest moves from special counsel Robert Mueller.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► It appears that Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams pays his NRA dues through his campaign account. It’s unclear whether this is a legal campaign expenditure, but it certainly doesn’t look very good.
► Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott, meanwhile, has come out in favor of two significant new regulations involving gun violence. From the Washington Post:
Scott said Friday he will work to raise the minimum age for purchasing weapons in his state to 21 years old, marking his first major break from the policy priorities of the National Rifle Association.
Scott announced the proposed gun restrictions nine days after a deadly mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., as part of a broad package of legislative initiatives, including new school security measures and a program to deny guns from those deemed to pose a danger to the community…
…The proposals he endorsed include a ban on the sale or purchase of so-called “bump stocks,” which can be used to make semiautomatic weapons shoot with the speed of fully automatic weapons.
► President Trump was critical of the inaction of an armed officer in Florida during last week’s school shooting, but Trump’s comments may contradict his calls for arming more teachers. From Politico:
Trump bemoaned the inaction from Broward County deputy Scot Peterson, who resigned Thursday after surveillance footage revealed he did not intervene in the shooting despite being the only armed official on hand as it began.
“He’s trained his whole life … but when it came time to get in there and do something he didn’t have the courage, or something happened, but he certainly did a poor job,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House. “There’s no question about that.”
Trump highlighted the incident to stress the need for why officials need to be trained to react to such scenarios.
“That’s a case where somebody was outside, they’re trained, they didn’t react properly under pressure or they were a coward,” Trump said. “It was a real shock to the police department.”
Trump says that Peterson “trained his whole life” to use a firearm in reacting to dangerous situations. Why would we expect that armed teachers — with nowhere near that level of firearm training — would react differently in a similar situation? “More guns” do not equal “more safe.”
► Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens is facing new calls for his resignation following a felony indictment alleging that he tried to blackmail a woman with whom he had an affair into staying silent about their romance. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who was swept into office in 2016 with a vow to clean up a corrupt state government, was indicted and booked Thursday on a felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking and transmitting a non-consensual photo of his partly nude lover shortly before that campaign started.
It stems from a scandal that broke last month, in which Greitens was accused of threatening his lover with the photo — an allegation that isn’t mentioned in the indictment. Greitens has admitted having an extramarital affair, but has denied the rest.
The Missouri Republican Party is defending Greitens, who on Friday resigned from an executive position on the Republican Governor’s Association. Perhaps Greitens should follow the example of Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and just flat-out say, “I didn’t blackmail anybody.”
► Coloradans are worried about a White House proposal to cut funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Community Services Block Grant.
► Former President George W. Bush headlined a fundraiser in Texas on Thursday night to benefit Colorado gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton. Bush and Stapleton are cousins.
► Democrats in the state legislature killed another version of a bill that would require women to view ultrasound images before getting an abortion procedure.
► The FBI is public enemy #1 at this week’s CPAC conference.
► Two Western Slope Democrats announced challenges to incumbent Republicans in the State House in 2018.
► Some Colorado counties want to have the ability to create their own speed limits.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Perpetual Republican candidate Mark Barrington is “challenging” incumbent Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) in 2018.
This must be the week of lost political causes for Colorado Republicans; former CD-1 Republican candidate Casper Stockham is again mounting a hopeless challenge against incumbent Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette.
► A Republican Congresswoman from New York has a foot-in-mouth theory on “mass murderers.” From the New York Times:
Representative Claudia Tenney, a first-term Republican from Central New York, said in a radio interview on Wednesday that “so many” mass murderers “end up being Democrats.”…
…In a statement on Wednesday night, Ms. Tenney elaborated but didn’t provide information about her claim: “I am fed up with the media and liberals attempting to politicize tragedies and demonize law-abiding gun owners and conservative Americans every time there is a horrible tragedy. While we know the perpetrators of these atrocities have a wide variety of political views, my comments are in response to a question about the failure to prosecute illegal gun crime. I will continue to stand up for law-abiding citizens who are smeared by anti-gun liberal elitists.”
Standing up for victims of gun violence? Not so much.
► Let’s take a little trip down memory lane, shall we?
► Republican George Brauchler wants to be Colorado’s next Attorney General, but he doesn’t seem to be very good at his current job as District Attorney in Arapahoe County.
► This lede from Jacob Brogan in Slate is pretty fantastic:
There are two types of people in this world: those who know how to convert PDFs into Word documents and those who are indicted for money laundering. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is the second kind of person.