Beware Koch Brothers Bearing Gifts

Americans For Prosperity-Colorado, the well-funded conservative message group tied to the Koch Brothers empire of political advocacy organizations, is launching a campaign that’s fairly unusual at first glance–praising Democrats for a bill passed this year on charter school funding:

Americans for Prosperity Colorado launched a “Thank you” ad campaign, acknowledging state legislators from both sides of the aisle in standing up for taxpayers and equal funding for schools. State director, Jesse Mallory, asserts, “As a nonpartisan organization, we are pleased to work across the aisle to promote freedom for all Coloradans. Today we would like to recognize and thank a number of state legislators for their courage to stand up for taxpayers and promote equalized funding for all public schools.”

Legislators being thanked for co-sponsoring legislation to equalize funding for charter schools include: Senator Angela Williams, Representative Brittany Pettersen, Senator Own Hill and Representative Lang Sias. Senator Tim Neville, Senator Jack Tate, Senator Beth Martinez-Humenik, Senator Chris Holbert and Representative Patrick Neville are being thanked for standing up for taxpayers.

The legislation in question, House Bill 17-1375, was the result of a compromise principally brokered between House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Republican Senate leadership–a compromise that included the death of another bill to “equalize” charter school funding sponsored by Republicans in that chamber. It’s important to note that the Colorado Education Association, which opposed the Republican bill, was neutral on HB17-1375–and it passed with broad bipartisan support.

Obviously charter school funding remains a divisive point among Democrats, and there’s plenty of disagreement over this bill even after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed it into law. It’s perfectly reasonable for it to be a subject of debate in the upcoming CD-7 primary between Jefferson County public school teacher Sen. Andy Kerr and Rep. Brittany Pettersen. Sen. Kerr is the former chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has solid support from parent and teacher groups in the district, and opposed HB17-1375. Pettersen, as readers will recall, was one of the principal organizers of the landmark 2015 recall campaign against the right-wing majority on the Jefferson County school board. Given the lingering hard feelings over the 2015 recall, it’s a safe bet that AFP is not looking to benefit Pettersen by “thanking” her for this bill. Democratic primary voters in CD-7 know AFP very well, and may well figure out the reverse psychology at work without any help.

With that said, we have no interest in shielding any candidate from legitimate criticism in the course of what’s expected to be a hard-fought but (hopefully) amicable primary. CD-7 Democrats have a choice between several great contenders to succeed Rep. Ed Perlmutter, and here’s an issue we expect will be vigorously debated.

Whoever they choose, Democratic voters are best off making the choice without the Koch Brothers living rent-free in their heads.

10 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Pseudonymous says:

    I don't know if this site has any particular connections to ProgressNow, other than a fealty born of common interest.  If it does, it would be nice to see a note to that effect, along with a mention that Rep. Pettersen is about to marry Ian Silverii in these sorts of postings.  In case anyone is looking for a gift.

    • JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

      I agree disclosure is important, but this story seems down the middle to me. I'll hold this complaint for a clearer example of bias.

      I live in the district, I'm pretty sure I'm going to vote for Andy Kerr.

      I don't need AFP to tell me how to vote.

      • Pseudonymous says:

        For me, disclosure, if it's even appropriate for Pols (I don't know), isn't about whether this story, or another, is particularly biased.  It's about disclosing relationships when reporting on topics so that people can judge for themselves if bias exists.

        For example, running this diary, after me already posting the story, and Pols already having included it in a Get More Smarter entry, yesterday, might lead people to think that the site is putting undue weight behind an effort to clarify the narrative around the representative.  Is that bias?  Does it show a bias towards shielding the representative that Senator Williams, also a target of the ads, is mentioned only in the quote, and not in the Pols’ larger diary? Maybe not. Perhaps the story is about the effect on a particular election rather than the effort to discredit Dems by giving them credit. But, folks might view that differently. That's what a disclosure might help folks decide.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      I've been asking for disclosure of the Progress Now / Pettersen connection for a while now – and been ignored. I won't get to vote in a primary for CD7, as I don't live there now, but if I did, I would trust Andy Kerr over Pettersen,  because of his standing stronger with public education, and because of her opportunistic trashing of Coloradocare.  I feel the same way about Crisanta Duran, for the same reasons.

      There are local Dems I might donate to….Pettersen and Duran are not one of them.

      It's interesting that I get fairly constant fundraising appeals from Pettersen, even though I've asked to get off her mailing list….but I am still on Progress Now Colorado's list. Hmmmmmm.

      I actually like Pettersen’s political stances for the most part, and especially applauded when she came out with her own personal story about mental health and addiction struggles within her own family. That was powerful.

      None of this has anything to do with the Koch brothers.

  2. ModeratusModeratus says:

    Yes Pols, how could any Democrat ever have common cause for a Republican. That would put you out of business! Have to keep the partisan hate alive.

    Congratulations to the Democrats who sponsored this great legislation. Kids over politics!

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