Only Trump Can Fix Immigration, Says Mike Coffman (Yes, Really)

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Mike Coffman (left).

As the debate over immigration policy in the United States endures the hard shake of President Donald Trump and the hard-line slate of policies he promised on the campaign trail, fellow Republicans hoping to chart a politically survivable path through the chaos on this explosive issue are having a very difficult time. Nationally one of the most frequently-cited examples of this is Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, whose “evolution” on immigration since redistricting forced him out of Tom Tancredo’s old constituency and now placing Coffman necessarily at odds with Trump’s plans for a sweeping crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

Except, as Real Clear Politics reported over the weekend, maybe that’s not true? Does Coffman actually see Trump as a savior on immigration?

Rep. Mike Coffman, who represents a swing district in Colorado and has been a strong supporter of protecting Dreamers, said Trump might be able to convince even his most conservative supporters to back such a deal.

“He’s got the credibility in terms of being tough on immigration and I think he’s the only one, probably, within the Republican Party that can solve this issue,” Coffman said. [Pols emphasis]

Subsequent to the announced deal with congressional Democratic leadership and the Trump administration on protecting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program beneficiaries, there’s been an uptick in speculation about the possibility that a President elected on what can be accurately described as the most anti-immigrant platform in modern history might be able to broker a grand bargain on the issue–to include resolution of status for all undocumented immigrants in the United States and “border security” consistent with keep Trump’s promises to build a wall on the southern border. Since that time, as Trump sought to reassure his base that he wasn’t “caving” on the campaign’s hard line, much of that confidence has dissipated. Negotiations are nonetheless reportedly ongoing this week, and we’re all obliged to wait for news there.

In the meantime, this is another chance to remind readers that Coffman’s fate is linked to that of the Trump administration–on immigration as just one of a range of issues, and Coffman has done it to himself. This is a man who dramatically outperformed in a district that Trump lost handily by brazenly triangulating off Trump’s various offenses. And now he says it’s Trump who has credibility on immigration? In fact, Coffman says, Trump is the only Republican who can get immigration reform done? Is that what the ticket-splitters in CD-6 expected?

All we can say is, remember this moment.

Trump Delivers…Interesting Speech to U.N.

A different Rocketman

President Trump delivered his first speech to the United Nations this morning. It went about as well as you might expect. As Politico reports:

President Donald Trump condemned authoritarian regimes in harsh and Trumpian terms during his first United Nations speech, threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea, lamenting Iran’s “pursuit of death and destruction,” and warning that major portions of the world are “going to hell.”

The president spoke before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, delivering what a senior administration official described beforehand as a “deeply philosophical address” promoting his vision of “principled realism.”…

…Trump escalated his rhetoric toward the saber-rattling Kim Jong Un regime beyond his prior “fire and fury” warning, deploying his “Rocket Man” nickname as he told UNGA “no one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea.”

“No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles,” Trump said.The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric seems to match his militaristic views of late; on Monday, as the New York Times reported, Trump said that he likes the idea of holding a “really great parade to show our military strength.”

Really great.

Colorado Christian University Makes Up “Student Success Story”

A popular marketing angle for colleges and universities these days is to feature graduates who have gone on to success in their respective career fields in advertising. Metropolitan State University in Denver is a good example:

Browsing around yesterday, we came across a similar “success story testimonial” ad for Lakewood’s Colorado Christian University–the politically-connected doctrinaire conservative college closely tied to the state’s Republican establishment and home to the Centennial Institute, which holds the high-profile Western Conservative Summit every year:

Now, that’s pretty cool! First-generation college graduate, gets her bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from CCU’s online education program and goes on to serve as a police officer! That’s a success story by anyone’s estimate. Enough to make you think, as the ad suggests, that “all things are possible” at CCU.

But then it occurred to us: haven’t we seen this woman before? And as it turned out from about five seconds of Googling, yes. We have seen this woman before. Lots of times.

Via Shutterstock. The “first-generation grad” depicted in this advertisement is a stock photo of a female police officer you can buy for about ten bucks. While the ad doesn’t specifically name the person or give additional details like the Metro State ad above does, it’s clearly meant to leave the same impression of a personal success story. Of course it’s possible that this stock image just happens to depict an actual CCU student, and by a gobsmacking coincidence was used legitimately by CCU for this ad campaign–in addition to being used all over the place as a stock photo of a female cop.

More likely, though, Colorado Christian University has just earned itself a “B.S.” degree of its own.

Tuesday Open Thread

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”

–Dante Alighieri

More Weird Shit in Colorado Springs

Perhaps when the Colorado legislature convenes for a special session on Oct. 2, they can squeeze in (see what we did there?) legislation making it illegal for people to poop in public. You should watch this story from KKTV in Colorado Springs:

Some of the quotes in this story were transcribed by Deadspin, and they are pretty darn fantastic. Here’s our favorite:

“They are like, ‘There’s a lady taking a poop!’ So I come outside, and I’m like … ‘are you serious?’” Budde recalled. “’Are you really taking a poop right here in front of my kids!?’ She’s like, ‘Yeah, sorry!’”

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Messy Fight for Chair of Colorado Springs Republican Party

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, El Paso County Republicans are more than a little fractured as they prepare (or not) to select a new county chairman:

Some members of the El Paso County Republican Party’s executive committee are crying foul over a proposal to name a new county chair at a meeting tonight rather than throw the selection to the much larger central committee at a later date.

County GOP chairman Trevor Dierdorff, who was elected to the post this spring, announced weeks ago he would step down at the end of tonight’s scheduled meeting of the party’s executive committee — several dozen party officers, elected officials and Republicans elected to the panel. He supports a complicated plan to allow the executive committee to pick his replacement.

Under the proposal, the party’s vice chairman, Joshua Hosler — who has made clear he doesn’t want to ascend to chairman —  would resign his position if two-thirds of the committee agrees on a candidate to replace him during the meeting. Then, according to a draft resolution circulated by party spokesman Eli Bremer, a former chairman of the county party, Hosler would vacate his vice-chair post, the consensus candidate would be named vice chair, Dierdorff’s resignation would take effect, then the meeting could reconvene and the new vice chair would be elevated to the vacant chair position, and then the executive committee could recommend the new chair reappoint Hosler as vice chair.

This should be a fun night in Colorado Springs. We got a headache just trying to make sense of the proposal outlined in that last paragraph.

Get More Smarter on Monday (September 18)

A lot of stuff happened in the political world over the weekend; let’s get you caught up. 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…

► Senate Republicans are making a last effort at repealing Obamacare before the September 30th deadline to move the legislation under budget reconciliation. But as the Washington Post reports, the GOP still hasn’t solved its biggest issue:

Senators pushing a last-ditch Obamacare repeal effort this week are up against the same old problem: math.

This small group of Republicans — led by Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham — appear convinced they can rework the equation to secure  that ever-elusive 50th vote for their measure, finally passing a bill overhauling the Affordable Care Act with a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Pence and moving closer to their goal of repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

There will be a lot of moving parts to watch this week. Republicans have asked the Congressional Budget Office to rush a score of the Graham-Cassidy bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office confirmed yesterday. McConnell plans to take the temperature of his leadership team and his entire conference over the next few days. They have only two weeks left to scrape together enough support, since the budget reconciliation bill they’re using expires at the end of the month.

But despite all the noise being generated on Capitol Hill, Cassidy and Co. still appear to be shy of the vote total they’d need to succeed. Cassidy says he’s certain they have 48 or 49 Republican votes for his bill. But getting that final, 50th vote is the crucial — and the hardest — part.

 

► Colorado Republican lawmakers have been making plenty of noise lately in response to news that Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling a special legislative session for October 2. The legislature needs to fix an unintended problem related to SB-267 (Hospital Provider Fee) that is costing organizations such as RTD and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (i.e., the Denver Zoo and Museum of Natural History) millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Republicans have been all over the place on their messaging but have generally expressed manufactured outrage at the idea of a brief special session. As Colorado Pols reported late Friday, however, GOP lawmakers already knew about this problem and had even filed draft legislation to fix the error — which pretty well destroys any argument that the special session isn’t necessary.

 

► Corey Hutchins does a nice job explaining the redistricting/reapportionment controversy for the Colorado Independent.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Monday Open Thread

“Don’t be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.”

–Arthur Miller

Must-Read: Dive Deep Into Redistricting Smoke and Mirrors

Earlier this month, a renewed effort to “reform” the state’s process for redistricting and reapportionment of Colorado’s congressional and state legislative districts respectively–a reboot of a redistricting ballot measure that the courts threw off the 2016 ballot. The group of former legislators and other public officials behind the effort haven’t changed much from last year, being led by former GOP House Speaker Frank McNulty and including others like former Rep. Kathleen Curry–who disaffiliated from the Democratic Party before losing a bid re-election as an unaffiliated candidate.

One of the major reasons the last initiative failed was a perceived failure on the part of organizers, while claiming the effort was “bipartisan” and aimed at including all stakeholders, to include large portions of the community in the process of developing the initiative. Voting and civil rights organizations complained that the plan would limit minority representation in the redistricting process. In the end the initiative for 2016 was disqualified because the Colorado Supreme Court determined its scope to be to broad for the state’s “single subject” requirement.

Yesterday, the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins posted a must-read recap of last year’s failed effort, and how it morphed into the so-called “Fair Districts Colorado” campaign currently taking shape. And although the packaging has been updated, it doesn’t seem like the product has gotten any better. We can’t excerpt the whole story, so make sure you click through and read the whole thing:

A coalition that launched a revamped plan it says would take partisanship out of how state and federal political districts are drawn is facing suspicions about its motives in a state with a bitter history that has left its district maps stained with bad blood…

In Colorado, this redistricting plan isn’t new— but readers could be forgiven for thinking so.

Initial write-ups on the proposal in mainstream newspapers and the alternative press did not point out that the effort isn’t new. The plan is similar to one put forward in 2015 and 2016 by some of the same people involved in this latest effort.

…Knocked down last year, the group — then called End Gerrymandering Now — vowed it would try again. It included former GOP House Speaker Frank McNulty and former GOP Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, as well as former Democratic Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, PR pro Rich Coolidge, and ex-lawmaker Kathleen Curry, a Democrat who later became unaffiliated.

All of them are working on this new proposal in a campaign they are now calling Fair Districts Colorado. They launched a new website last week…

Across the nation there is a plausible case to be made that congressional and state legislative districts in many states have been skewed to favor the party in charge of the process. Because Republicans made big gains in state legislative races across the nation in 2010, adding to control they already enjoyed in many state houses, this has frequently meant districts drawn to favor the Republican Party–with attendant consequences that include suppression of traditionally Democratic communities of color.

But not in Colorado. In our state, an era of Democratic dominance in state legislative politics that began with 2004’s “Colorado Model” takeover of the General Assembly put Democrats in charge. In the 2011 redistricting/reapportionment process, two different drafting and approval processes tried to balance the statutory and constitutional requirements of new district maps with an unwritten priority of keeping districts as competitive as possible. If you followed the high-drama but ultimately successful 2011 process in Colorado, and witnessed the results in subsequent elections carried in the redrawn districts–featuring races all over the state hotly contested to the bitter end and decided by hundreds of votes–you can see the wisdom of their approach gainfully at work.

And above all, the maps drawn in 2011 for Colorado haven’t been that bad for the party out of power when they were drawn. The proof of that is as easy to find as Colorado’s majority Republican congressional delegation and control of the state senate. Are we saying the process in Colorado can’t be improved upon? Of course not. But it’s a lot better than the horror-story gerrymandered states people read about. And that’s a point voters in Colorado need to understand.

Which brings us back to End Gerrymandering Now “Fair Districts Colorado,” and the usual suspects fronting the renewed effort to “fix” our system:

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Weekend Open Thread

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.”

–Cicero

BREAKING: GOP Special Session Shenanigans Confirmed

UPDATE: You may have noticed that the deadline dates listed in the draft bill in question (below) erroneously state 2017 as the coming legislative year. Since this legislation was filed last week, it’s obviously intended for the 2018 legislative session.

Thus illustrating again that errors, you know, happen. And then we fix them.

—–

As we reported earlier today, Gov. John Hickenlooper has called a special session of the Colorado General Assembly to convene early next month for the purpose of remedying a drafting error in Senate Bill 17-267: the large-scale bipartisan fiscal bill that averted large cuts to the budget this year, and in particular protected rural hospitals from possible closure. Although this language fix would save Denver RTD and the metro Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SFCD) from millions of dollars in unexpected cuts due to marijuana tax revenue they would not receive, Republicans appear to be rallying against making the fix–preferring instead to blast Hickenlooper for the “waste” of calling a special session to deal with the problem.

But we just found out something very important. Republicans already know about the problem.

This is an excerpt from a draft bill filed by GOP Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg on September 5th. This draft legislation appears to accomplish the aim of the special session–ensuring that special taxing districts like RTD and SFCD can continue to levy their marijuana sales taxes even after the legislature exempted marijuana from the state’s regular sales tax:

Because state law specifies that the regional transportation district (RTD), the scientific and cultural facilities district (SCFD), and a health services district (HSD) may levy sales tax only on transactions upon which the state levies sales tax “pursuant to the provisions of article 26 of title 29. C.R.S.”, the exemption of retail marijuana sales from the general state sales tax had the unintended consequence of exempting such sales from RTD, SCFD, and HSD sales taxes even though the state continues to levy the retail marijuana sales tax pursuant to article 28.8. of title 39, C.R.S. In addition, other statutes that authorize certain special districts and authorities to levy sales taxes only upon transactions upon which the state levies sales tax but do not specifically reference article 26 are sufficiently ambiguous that they could also be interpreted to no longer authorize those special districts to levy sales tax on retail marijuana sales.

The bill clarifies that retail marijuana sales are subject to RTD, SCFD, and HSD sales taxes as well as other potentially affected special district and authority sales taxes.

Folks, this is the objective of the special session–to correct this exact error, and ensure these monies continue to flow to these special tax districts. To fail to pass this fix bill as quickly as possible will mean lost revenue for these entities. That’s why Gov. Hickenlooper called the special session.

Obviously, the fact that Republicans not only knew about this problem, but had already filed a draft bill for the 2018 legislation to address the problem, severely undercuts their feigned outrage over being called back to address it sooner–and it means they should have no problem supporting the bill whenever they get it. We have no idea how they intend to respond to the charge of blatant hypocrisy and political posturing here, but it’s one of the more egregious cases we’ve seen in recent memory.

In fact, this is exactly the kind of nonsense that makes the voting public hate politics.

Get More Smarter on Friday (September 15)

There are 100 shopping days until Christmas. 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…

► We’re going back…to the legislature. As Brian Eason reports for the Denver Post:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday called lawmakers back to the state Capitol to fix a bill-drafting error that has been costing a number of Denver-based institutions hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in marijuana revenue.

The special session set to start Oct. 2 will be the first in five years for Hickenlooper and the Colorado General Assembly, an extraordinary step for a governor who has typically deferred to lawmakers on legislative matters during his two terms in office.

“After hearing about the potential impact on citizens around the state, it is clear that this problem is best solved as soon as possible,” Hickenlooper said in a statement announcing his executive order, capping a day of speculation about his plans.

The October 2 special session is expected to be a fairly quick affair to address a drafting error related to SB-267 (Hospital Provider Fee). As part of SB-267, legislators approved a change to the collection of recreational pot taxes that is inadvertently costing organizations such as RTD and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (i.e., the Denver Zoo and Museum of Natural History) millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Colorado Republicans, including the Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity, are having trouble getting their message straight on the special session announcement.

 

► Congressional Democratic leaders seem to have figured out how to work with President Trump, crafting another big deal on DACA just a week or so after working with Trump on a debt ceiling/disaster relief proposal. The New York Times examines what happened during that White House dinner on Wednesday night:

Senator Chuck Schumer had just finished outlining a new Democratic immigration proposal over a working dinner at the White House on Wednesday night when President Trump stopped him with a simple question: What is in it for me?

Mr. Schumer, the schmoozy Senate minority leader, responded with a litany of what he saw as Mr. Trump’s presidential sins, according to two people with direct knowledge of the interaction. Those included pulling out of the Paris climate accord and failing to unequivocally denounce anti-Semitism and racism in the wake of the Charlottesville violence.

The time had come, Mr. Schumer declared as Nancy Pelosi, the top House Democrat, nodded in agreement, for the president to prove himself to Democrats if he wanted to do any big deals.

Mr. Trump has been known to freeze out or tongue-lash critics for far less. Instead, to the surprise of people in the room, he responded positively, if vaguely, and laughed.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) sounds pretty optimistic about the deal Trump reached with Democrats. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, meanwhile, is no doubt much less enthusiastic.

 

► Summer isn’t officially over until next week, but it snowed in the mountains.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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AFP: All Over The Map On Hospital Provider Fee Follies

As the Denver Post’s Brian Eason reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling state lawmakers back next month for a narrowly-focused special session of the legislature–the purpose being to fix an error in a key piece of legislation passed this year that is resulting in unexpected budget cuts to specific programs:

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday called lawmakers back to the Capitol to fix a bill-drafting error that has been costing Denver-based institutions hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in marijuana revenue.

The special session set to start Oct. 2 will be the first in five years for Hickenlooper and the General Assembly, an extraordinary step for a governor who typically has deferred to lawmakers on legislative matters during his two terms.

“After hearing about the potential impact on citizens around the state, it is clear that this problem is best solved as soon as possible,” Hickenlooper said in a statement announcing his executive order, capping a day of speculation about his plans.

The error in question affects the bipartisan hospital provider fee and budget fix legislation Senate Bill 17-267, this year’s hard-won compromise bill hammered out between Democrats and Republicans led by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg that averted much larger and more painful budget cuts. Specifically, the mistake eliminated marijuana tax funding for Denver RTD and the metro area’s Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), along with a few other organizations, while intending to increase marijuana tax revenue–meaning an error completely counter to the bill’s intentions.

But as you might have expected, Republicans and conservative activists are howling over the special session and threatening to not cooperate–including Sen. Sonnenberg and Rep. Jon Becker, the two primary GOP sponsors of SB-267:

Intransigence that is outraging Democrats who worked with them:


As for the state’s biggest conservative advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity-Colorado? Don’t bother. They’re all over the map. During the legislative session, AFP claimed to be “working with” Sen. Sonnenberg on SB-267, ostensibly to ensure it wasn’t too offensive to them. The organization was listed in lobbying disclosure forms as “monitoring” SB-267, not opposing, while then-AFP state director Michael Fields taunted Democrats about supposed GOP willingness to move forward:

And the group’s 2017 Colorado legislative scorecard–the first version, anyway–was a little confusing, but appeared to consider a “yes” SB-267 vote a good thing:

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