Stan Garnett Opts Not To Run For AG

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett.

A bit of a surprise from the Longmont Times-Call’s John Fryar:

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett has decided not to make a second run for Colorado attorney general in next year’s statewide election, he announced this morning.

Garnett, a Boulder Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for AG in 2010, is in the first year of his third four-year term as the district attorney in Colorado’s 20th Judicial District. He the state AG’s job would “fit well with my background.”

However, Garnett said, after consulting with his staff, he decided the time it would take to conduct a statewide campaign for the AG’s post over the coming year and a half could prove to be “a huge distraction” from his oversight of the programs he’s launched or is expanding in the Boulder DA’s office.

Stan Garnett’s decision to not run for attorney general and focus on his work as the Boulder County DA is good news for Rep. Joe Salazar, who announced his run for AG already and was facing a tough primary:

[Garnett] said he filed his candidacy affidavit…to avoid any potential legal challenges under campaign finance laws about whether his public statements on any criminal justice issues might be interpreted as an AG’s candidate’s positions.

Garnett said he had called Salazar on Saturday to tell him of his decision not to run for attorney general.

“I had a nice conversation with Joe,” Garnett said.

It’s certainly possible that another Democrat could emerge to make a run at this office, but in the short run this gives Salazar some much-needed head room to consolidate support.

As for Garnett, he’ll have more opportunities to advance.

Cynthia Coffman Trolls Race for Governor

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is almost certainly not running for governor in 2018, but she would really like it if you would pretend that she might. This is very, very lame…

“You know I am at least looking at governor” [Pols emphasis]. This is what Coffman told Denver Post reporter Mark Matthews today in Washington D.C. If you are unaccustomed to the language of politics, please allow us to translate:

I don’t actually plan on running for governor, but please float my name so that I can use these rumors to generate support for my re-election bid for Attorney General. 

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

We noted back in January that Coffman was trying to gin up interest for a potential bid for governor. From everything we’ve heard, that effort didn’t go anywhere and Coffman has since indicated privately that she will seek re-election as Attorney General. That won’t stop her from continuing to troll the rest of the potential field for 2018, however.

Coffman may not particularly like her current job as AG, but there is no path for her to win a Republican primary for Governor. Coffman is not what you’d call a beloved figure in the Colorado GOP — certainly not enough to elbow her way into a Republican Primary that is already expected to include State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler (in addition to a wealthy self-funder in former legislator Victor Mitchell). It’s also important to note that Coffman’s biggest financial backer in 2014 was the Republican Attorney General’s Association (RAGA), a group that obviously doesn’t care about the Colorado race for Governor.

Now, if Coffman could figure out a way to create an office of “Chief Troll” for Colorado, she’d have to be considered a frontrunner.

Bipartisan Resolve To Defend Marijuana Proves Sessions’ Folly

Molon labe.

As Brian Heuberger reported for the Colorado Statesman this week, there may be Republicans in Colorado willing to publicly support parts of the new administration’s agenda–but on the subject of Colorado’s legal marijuana industry, which is under direct threat from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, there is no daylight between Colorado Republicans and Democrats:

With U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinting that the Trump administration might intensify the enforcement of federal marijuana laws, Colorado leaders from both sides of the aisle have come to the defense of the state’s legal marijuana industry in an uncommon show of solidarity in what many consider to be divisive political times of unmatched proportion.

High-level Colorado politicians like Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper have both publicly defended what has become a lucrative recreational marijuana industry for the state. And many other state officials have joined them in contending that Colorado has a constitutional right to legalize marijuana and that the regulations established by the state have been statistically proven to have been effective so far.

Supporters are quick to emphasize the positive economic impact the industry has had in Colorado and the likely downward economic spiral that would occur should that now-bustling industry be tampered with by the federal government.

Likewise, both Rep. Mike Coffman and Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman are promising to fight any move by Sessions to clamp down on marijuana in Colorado:

Rep. Mike Coffman is suggesting he might use the power of the purse to protect Colorado’s legal marijuana industry…

If Sessions does take action Coffman said he’d “have to fight the Attorney General on this.” He suggested he’d do so through congress’ power to appropriate money for the administration’s budget.

Colorado’s Republican attorney general, Cynthia Coffman—a legalization opponent who says she would defend state law against Sessions—speculated, “It sounds like there is room for states to have legalization … But what it seems to portend is the federal government will be at the borders to stop marijuana from crossing state lines.”

The reason why you have all of these public officials in both parties standing shoulder-to-shoulder on marijuana, despite the fact that most of them opposed legalization to begin with, is that the experience of legalized marijuana in Colorado has rendered the issue moot here. Public support has grown, not declined, since Colorado led the way into a legalization trend that has now grown to numerous states–including all-important California, the most populous state in the nation.

In short, on this issue, our local Republicans and Democrats are responding to the clear wishes of their constituents. They know that to join Sessions on a crusade against legal pot would be politically disastrous for Colorado Republicans at this point. And the fact is, if Sessions does decide to shut down Colorado’s billion-dollar legal marijuana industry and in the other legalized states, Republicans could pay dearly at the polls in the next election all over the country including Colorado–regardless of what local Republicans do to oppose it.

So be at least a bit reassured, stoners. For the moment, both parties have got your back.

You Don’t Want This Endorsement, Jeff Hays

Eek!

We couldn’t help but chuckle a bit at this story from the Colorado Springs Gazette about a new endorsement in the race for the next Chair of the State Republican Party:

Jeff Hays’s campaign for Colorado GOP chair circulated yet another letter from a Republican notable Thursday — state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman — in support of his bid. Hays’s rival for the state party’s top post, George Athanasopoulos, meanwhile dismissed Coffman’s gesture as coming from “the political class.”

Coffman’s letter, distributed to GOP state Central Committee members and other Republicans statewide, continues a full-court press being mounted by Hays’s team to dial in the party’s headliners. Coffman casts Hays as the one who can get things done.

Why is this so amusing? Because the last time Attorney General Cynthia Coffman endorsed a candidate for State Party Chair, things got weird in a hurry. Coffman backed Steve House for GOP Chair in early 2015, and just three months later, she was part of a ham-handed blackmail/extortion plot orchestrated to get House to resign as State Chair.

What came next was a long, confounding story stemming from a secret meeting at the Warwick Hotel in Denver, which ultimately led to Coffman having to state explicitly why her actions did not meet the legal definition of blackmail (when you have to explain yourself in that much detail, things have gone well off the rails). House remained on the job as GOP Chair, though several local party officials were forced to resign in shame as the State Republican Party was dragged through months of bad press that even drew national attention.

So, anyway, good luck with all that, Jeff Hays.

Rep. Joe Salazar Runs for Attorney General

UPDATE: FOX 31’s Joe St. George updating via Twitter that Boulder County DA Stan Garnett has also filed to run for AG, but hasn’t formally committed yet:

—–

Rep. Joe Salazar.

FOX 31 reporting Friday afternoon:

“I will be fearless in standing up to bullies like Donald Trump, who would use their power to restrict our freedoms and undermine our civil rights.”

This is how Democratic State Representative Joe Salazar began his informal announcement for his candidacy for Colorado Attorney General Friday.

Salazar has filed the required paperwork to establish his candidacy and plans a more formal announcement later in the year.

Salazar is in his third term representing House District 31, which includes parts of Thornton and unincorporated Adams County. He serves as Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Joe Salazar’s decision to run for Attorney General narrows the Democratic field in the 2018 gubernatorial race, where he had longed been rumored as a possible contender. Salazar would likely enjoy the support of the Bernie Sanders wing of the Colorado Democratic Party, after vocally supporting Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary.

Salazar’s chances of advancement are much better in the AG race in 2018 than a crowded gubernatorial primary in which he would have likely been overmatched by senior competitors. But don’t rule out a primary in this race either, between Salazar and one (or more) other interested Democratic contenders.

With that said, Joe Salazar is a well-qualified candidate who’s not afraid to scrap.

Get More Smarter on Friday (March 10)

Fifty. That’s how many days Donald Trump has now been in the White House. Let’s go ahead and see if we can 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…

► Congressional Republicans are nervously awaiting the results of a Congressional Budget Office assessment of Trumpcare. As Politico reports:

The fate of Obamacare may lie in the hands of a number-crunching Republican appointee whose bottom line might single-handedly blow up the GOP quest to repeal and replace it.

Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall was handpicked two years ago by top Republicans in Congress — including now Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price — to lead a nonpartisan office that will soon release its estimate of how many Americans the Republican health care bill will cover and whether it shrinks or balloons the federal deficit…

…Hall, in the post for two years, has already signaled that his office won’t soft-pedal the coverage assessments. If a health plan doesn’t have comprehensive benefits, it won’t count as coverage. Fearing a bad CBO “score,” Republicans facing backlash in their drive to gut Obamacare are turning the budget agency and its team of professional economic analysts into a punching bag as they try to discredit it. [Pols emphasis]

Republican leaders, meanwhile, are finding that it is difficult to enact new healthcare legislation at the same time that President Trump is sowing widespread confusion with differing remarks on a potential compromise policy.

 

► Colorado business leaders (and the Denver Post editorial board) are praising a potential legislative compromise that could place a tax increase for infrastructure improvements on the November ballot. As the Denver Business Journal reports, that doesn’t mean some conservative Republicans won’t continue to oppose the idea:

Conservative politicians and organizations savaged a bipartisan transportation-funding bill Thursday as offering a burdensome tax hike without commensurate spending cuts, while liberal groups gave it better reviews, despite the proposal containing less transit funding than they had sought.

The reaction — particularly a statement from state House Republican leaders that they will “aggressively oppose” the plan — showed that House Bill 1242, introduced late Wednesday, will have tough roads to travel even to get onto the November statewide ballot.

That path is difficult enough, in fact, that the Colorado Contractors Association, one of the primary supporters of this and past road-funding measures, will go ahead and file its own tax-increase ballot measure on Friday as a back-up plan in the event that the Legislature kills HB 1242.

The Denver Post has more on the predictable knee-jerk reaction from conservative Republicans who don’t have a solution of their own to Colorado’s transportation problems but simply oppose any effort to raise taxes for any reason whatsoever.

 

► Politico takes a look at the prospects for President Trump’s border wall with Mexico, which may or may not end up being built out of Legos:

Trump is claiming that the ambitious — and hugely controversial — construction plan is “way, way, way ahead of schedule,” but in reality, there is growing evidence that Trump’s central campaign pledge is in political peril…

…As the issues mount, several prominent Republicans are making their concerns more explicit.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told constituents during a telephone town hall Wednesday that “billions of dollars on a wall is not the right way to proceed” to secure the border, according to audio obtained by POLITICO on Thursday. “I don’t support a tariff to pay for any kind of wall.”…

…”We shouldn’t just build a wall and add billions of dollars because that’s what somebody said should be done,” Gardner said.

Federal budget gurus are trying to figure out the most cost-effective material for a wall, but they still haven’t even begun to deal with the “eminent domain” problem that could skyrocket the potential price tag.

 

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

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 8)

Happy International Women’s Day! Let’s go ahead and see if we can 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 has joined with House Republicans to promote a major healthcare policy change that some Republicans are calling “Obamacare-lite” (in order to conserve letters, we’re just going to stick with “Trumpcare”). Despite any happy talk you may hear from individual lawmakers, the conservative backlash is well underway. Today, the American Medical Association announced that it could not support Trumpcare, either.

Good luck trying to find consensus on Trumpcare among Colorado’s Republican delegation to Congress. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has been a vocal supporter of the new health care legislation — even before he had a chance to read the draft document. Coffman is excited about what he calls a massive entitlement reform that would quickly eliminate Medicaid. Meanwhile, Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to insist that he is opposed to any proposal that would gut Medicaid.

Politico examines seven specific pitfalls that could derail Trumpcare entirely, including a poor reception from the healthcare insurers and providers. Many conservative Republicans are also not happy with the plan being pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

 

► House Republicans are moving quickly as they try to enact Trumpcare. As the Washington Post explains, outside groups are being left to figure out the details:

The House GOP is moving so fast — with debate starting in the Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee less than 48 hours after they unveiled their bills — that lawmakers have not yet received any estimates from congressional budget analysts of how much the plans would cost or, significantly, how many Americans could be expected to gain or lose insurance coverage…

…An analysis by S&P Global predicts the legislation would lead to a loss of coverage for 2 million to 4 million of the roughly 16 million Americans who bought their own health plans through the ACA’s marketplaces or separately. More adults 35 and younger would gain coverage, while fewer adults 45 and older would be insured, according to the analysis…

…The GOP plans also would undo an ACA rule that allows insurers to charge their oldest customers no more than three times what they charge their youngest and healthiest ones. Instead, insurers could charge five times as much…

…Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said more low-income people would have a hard time affording benefits under the Republicans’ American Health Care Act. “There will be more losers than winners,” he said.

It’s not all bad news — Trumpcare is great if you are already rich.

 

► The Colorado legislature could end up convening a special session this summer if Trumpcare makes it through Congress.

 

► Women haven’t disappeared in Colorado, but this is what it might look like if they did.

 

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

Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 16)

It would certainly be hard for things to Get More Dumber at this point, so 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…

► So…that didn’t go well. President Trump held his first solo press conference as a resident of the White House, and it’s almost like he’s daring someone to declare that he is unfit for office. Put it this way: If you had to place a bet on whether or not Trump would make it through his first term in office, would you really put big money on “YES”?

Did you vote for Donald Trump for President?” could be the most important question for Colorado political candidates in 2018. That’s one big orange albatross we’re talking about.

 

► President Trump has a new nominee for Labor Secretary. Andrew Puzder withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday, on account of the fact that he had no chance of winning confirmation from the Senate. The new nominee is Alexander Acosta, dean of the Florida International University School of Law and a former member of the National Labor Relations Board.

The Washington Post takes a look at how Puzder’s nomination went so completely off the rails, while Politico previews trouble ahead for the new nominee.

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) thinks that we should investigate the FBI after the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. From CBS Denver:

Rep. Mike Coffman agrees with Republicanson the House Ethics Committee who don’t think President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn needs to be investigated for ethics violations following his ouster over interactions with Russian officials…

…Controversy still lingers over the White House’s handling of the brief tenure of Flynn, who continued to advise the president weeks after the Department of Justice warned the administration of Flynn’s conduct on the phone with Russia’s ambassador.

“I want to see that transcript to see if there are other conversations that he had is worthwhile finding out, but I also think it’s important to move on,” Coffman said. [Pols emphasis]

Move along!

 

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

CO Attorney General Coffman files suit in support of Oil & Gas Commission, will not “indulge” Boulder County

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

On Tuesday, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman appeared on KDMT’s (1690am) Business for Breakfast with host Jimmy Sengenberger  to announce her intention to intervene in a dispute between Boulder County and the state Oil and Gas Commission.

Coffman has decided to file a lawsuit – seeking a permanent injunction– to end Boulder County’s five-year-old moratorium on oil and gas development, which was instituted in February 2012 and continued via extensions approved by the Boulder County Commission.

The moratorium and subsequent extensions were passed with the intention to “allow them time to develop new regulations in their county and prepare to accept new applications for oil and gas development in Boulder County” Coffman explained.

While other local communities have instituted similar moratoriums – specifically in Longmont, which prompted a Colorado Supreme Court ruling in May 2016 that found a moratorium lasting two-and-a-half years is too long — Boulder’s moratorium is uniquely the only one statewide which remains in place.

Sengenberger inquired as to how the Attorney General arrived at the decision to file suit.  In her response, Coffman confirmed that the decision is discretionary to her office, but seemed to be triggered by a “magic number”.

HOST JIMMY SENGENBERGER:  […] Is this a choice you’re able to make, sort of, with your own discretion, or is this something that would be required for you to move forward with, as Attorney General?

COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Well, I suppose I could ignore it–the fact that a local community is violating state law – but I don’t think that is a wise or responsible thing for me to do as Attorney General.  […]  So, for five years they’ve just continued to extend their moratorium.  Their last extension was in December of last year.  And attorneys for the Oil and Gas Commission told them at that point and in public hearings, “Look, you’re violating the law and the Supreme Court rulings in cases involving Longmont and Fort Collins — that were directly on point – in May of 2016 and said, ’Communities, you can’t do this any longer.’”     Boulder is the only one that continues to say “no”, and to lock down any new applications for oil and gas development, which hit the five-year mark – which is sort of the magic number as far as we are concerned in our office.  And that was last week.  And we just said, “All right.  This is enough.” We can’t continue to indulge Boulder in taking more time to write regulations, [as Boulder is continuing to request].

Later in the interview, the Attorney General also pre-emptively defended against charges of doing the bidding on behalf of the Oil and Gas Commission of Colorado, which inexplicably are not filing the lawsuit directly, despite their position with standing and their previous involvement in the case.

Coffman stated to Sengenberger that her direct involvement was driven by a number of considerations, including the long history [of oil and gas industry] in Colorado bringing well-paying jobs to the state which have fueled our economy, and protecting Colorado’s reputation as “business friendly” by enforcing parity and predictability in policy.

Journalist David Sirota, in his International Business Times article on Coffman’s intervention in the Boulder County dispute, reviewed reports and analyses of campaign finance disclosures which show steep increases in campaign contributions in 2014 and 2016 Colorado races from oil and gas donors.  The implication is that Coffman directly and indirectly benefitted from the influence of oil and gas campaign donations, and therefore her rationale is subject to scrutiny.

Further coverage of Attorney General Coffman’s interview can be found in the Coloradopolitics.com blog piece, linked here.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 31)

So long, January! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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 Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Monday for supporting the Constitution over the demands of the President. From the Washington Post:

In a news release, the White House said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.” Trump named in her place Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Boente said he would enforce the president’s directive until he was replaced by Trump’s attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala)…

…The move came just hours after Yates ordered the Justice Department not to defend Trump’s immigration order, declaring in a memo that she was not convinced the order is lawful. Yates wrote that, as the leader of the Justice Department, she must ensure that the department’s position is “legally defensible” and “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”

As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix,” the big story isn’t that Trump fired Yates — it’s how he went about it:

There’s no problem with the Trump White House disagreeing with the past administration’s stance on immigration. That is, of course, their right. But, again, the scorched-earth condemnation of Yates strikes me as rhetorically overboard and, dare I say it, not terribly presidential…

…What Trump’s statement, viewed broadly, teaches us — or, maybe, re-teaches us — is that this president sees only two kinds of people in the world: Loyal friends and disloyal, terrible enemies.  Principled — or occasional — opposition is not part of that equation. You are either all the way for him or all the way against him. Black and white. No room for grays. [Pols emphasis]

And, thus, the reinvention of politicians such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). The website FiveThirtyEight has come up with a nifty formula to track Congressional votes in the age of President Trump. Yes, that’s Gardner with a 100% “Trump Score.”

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) says President Trump’s Muslim travel ban is “an embarrassment.” From the Denver Post:

During a brief interview Monday at Reagan National Airport, Coffman said, “I certainly would agree with the president that Islamic terrorism is a real threat to our national security.

“But I think the policy was poorly thought-out and badly executed and I think it’s just an embarrassment,” he said. “It seemed that it was more crafted by campaign operatives than national security experts.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) also had strong words for Trump’s travel ban on Monday, saying that it “needlessly antagonizes our allies around the world.”

Elsewhere, Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) finally issued a statement about the travel ban that was just a nonsense word salad. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) remains the only member of Colorado’s delegation to refuse to comment on the travel ban.

 

► The Denver Post takes a look at Denver Judge Neil Gorsuch, who is reportedly a finalist to be named by President Trump to the Supreme Court. Trump is scheduled to announce his Supreme Court nomination this evening. The Boulder Daily Camera has more on the potential nomination of Gorsuch.

 

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

Cynthia Coffman Laying Groundwork for Gubernatorial Bid

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman wore this red thing to the Jan. 20th “Deplorables Ball.”

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is up for re-election in 2018, but she is apparently taking a hard look at running for Governor instead. We hear that Coffman has been meeting with consultants about a potential run for the state’s top job, where she would join a Republican field already likely to include State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler.

After she was first elected in 2014, Coffman was briefly considered something of a rising star in the Colorado Republican Party. That spotlight dimmed considerably, however, when she inexplicably emerged at the center of a weird blackmail scandal aimed at trying to unseat State GOP Chairman Steve House not long after House was elected to oversee the State Republican Party (Coffman had endorsed House for the role just a few months earlier). The Coffmangate Scandal has never really been resolved, though Coffman is on the record with the media trying to explain why her actions did not constitute blackmail.

When House announced early last week that he would not seek re-election as State GOP Chair, it cleared up a significant hurdle that would have made a gubernatorial run much more awkward for everyone involved. From what we hear, Coffman is not particularly happy with her job as Attorney General and wouldn’t need much convincing to abandon a run for re-election.

We’re still skeptical that Coffman would be able to put together a strong team around her in a potential Gubernatorial bid (would you want to work for someone with such a penchant for tossing people under the bus?), but her recent rhetoric does seem to indicate that she could be testing the waters for a big jump in 2018. Coffman looks to be trying to channel the support of Donald Trump backers as she positions herself for a potential primary battle. As Ernest Luning wrote for the Colorado Statesman on Jan. 23:

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman told the crowd that she had noticed something different starting on the night of Nov. 8, when Trump defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to win the presidency.

“I realized I was taking deep breaths, in and out, for the first time in two years,” she said. “For me, in my two years as attorney general, I think I have been holding my breath, waiting for the next over-reach from Washington, D.C., the next horrible Supreme Court decision that does not understand or appreciate the 10th Amendment, and suddenly I could take a deep breath and not worry nearly so much about the state of our country or our beautiful Colorado.”

Cynthia Coffman was not exactly a vocal Trump supporter before the election, but she seemed to sense the rising tide on Election Night at a victory celebration for her husband, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) when she put a fist in the air and yelled, “Go Trump!” (jump ahead to :30 in the video below).

Cynthia Coffman may be trying to be the “Trump candidate” for Governor in 2018. That might not be such a great idea 18 months from now.

AG Coffman: Go Trump! (But Please Leave Our Weed Alone)

Please don’t Photoshop a joint into this picture.

9NEWS reports that Colorado’s Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who famously yelled out “Go Trump!” at the end of (at the time) anti-Donald Trump Rep. Mike Coffman’s victory speech, is hoping aloud that the President-elect and his marijuana archenemy Attorney General Jeff Sessions tread lightly with regard to the budding marijuana industry in our state and several others:

“It’s difficult to anticipate,” says Colorado’s Attorney General, Republican Cynthia Coffman, speaking about any changes that Trump may implement. “I think we’ll be doing a lot in reactionary mode.”

Coffman says she would suggest that federal agencies should stop and ask questions of Colorado before taking any firm stance against it.

“You cannot paint one brush stroke on this and say, ‘This is what marijuana is,'” she says. “We have done a lot to regulate the industry. I think we have learned a lot. every year the legislature tweaks the statues and agencies adjust regulations so we have, I think, the best system of any state in the country in terms of marijuana regulation.”

It’s long been known that Trump is a teetotaler sobriety advocate, who himself claims to have never once drank alcohol–though naturally, he has made plenty of coin from the sale of alcohol at his many hotels and casinos. Despite Trump’s choice of anti-marijuana crusader Sessions as Attorney General, nobody knows yet if Trump’s soft spot for free enterprise (and the fortunes being made in this new industry) will win out over puritanism.

“The longer this period has gone on where Colorado has had legalized marijuana, and other states are trying to adopt it, I think, the more challenging it is for a federal administration to roll that back,” she says.

Setting the fiscal arguments aside, it may be more practical to note that shutting down the marijuana industry in Colorado and other states where it is currently legal is politically a very dicey proposition–for the Trump administration, but also for Republicans downballot in marijuana-friendly states. The support Trump would gain for stamping out legal weed in Colorado would come at a high cost in this swing state, and open a new rift between the libertarian-right voters who fell in for Trump and social conservatives.

It will be interesting to see if AG Coffman can be persuasive with the incoming administration regarding Colorado’s marijuana industry–or if Trump will only remember how those stoners in Colorado screwed him over.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (December 8)

Heat Wave! High temperatures should burst into the 20s today! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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…

► Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is among a group of Republicans who are suing the Environmental Protection Agency to stop President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Naturally, Pruitt has been selected by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next head of the EPA. From the Washington Post:

He is the third of Trump’s nominees who have key philosophical differences with the missions of the agencies they have been tapped to run. Ben Carson, named to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has expressed a deep aversion to the social safety net programs and fair housing initiatives that have been central to that agency’s activities. Betsy DeVos, named education secretary, has a passion for private school vouchers that critics say undercut the public school systems at the core of the government’s mission.

Conservation and environmental leaders are obviously not pleased about Pruitt’s appointment.

Meanwhile, concerns are growing about Trump’s over-reliance on military leaders in his cabinet after retired Marine Gen. John Kelly was announced as the new head of the Department of Homeland Security.

 

► Fast-food executive Andrew Puzder appears to be President-elect Trump’s choice for labor secretary. From Politico:

Puzder is CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company for Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s and Green Burrito, and was a senior policy adviser to the Trump campaign. He also served as a presidential trustee to a joint fundraising committee organized between Trump and the Republican National Committee…

…Puzder’s selection would suggest that Trump, despite his strong working-class backing, will favor management over labor at the Labor Department. In 2010, Puzder coauthored a book titled “Job Creation: How It Really Works And Why Government Doesn’t Understand It.”

Indeed, Puzder has been drawing criticism from unions already. A Nov. 29 story posted on the website of the left-leaning American Prospect quoted Kendall Fells, organizing director for the Service Employees International Union-funded Fight for $15, saying, “Puzder as Labor secretary is like putting Bernie Madoff in charge of the Treasury.”

We probably don’t need to tell you how Puzder feels about increasing the minimum wage in the United States.

 

 

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

Attorney General Coffman Opposes Open Records Reform

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

As the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition reports via the Colorado Independent, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s office is coming out against proposed legislation for 2017 that would streamline compliance with the Colorado Open Records Act–removing some bottlenecks that have cropped up that have allowed some state agencies to deny otherwise reasonable records requests:

After months of work by stakeholders, proposed 2017 legislation is taking shape that would modernize the Colorado Open Records Act and provide an alternative to litigation for resolving CORA disputes.

Despite the progress, however, a formidable roadblock surfaced Friday when the Colorado Attorney General’s office announced that it will not support the most recent bill draft.

“We think the bill … creates more problems than it cures” and will make CORA “more complicated and more vague,” Chief Deputy AG David Blake wrote in a statement read aloud during a meeting of the CORA Working Group…

The 2017 proposal also would establish a three-year trial period for resolving open-records disputes through mediation. In Colorado, unlike in many other states, going to court is now the only legal remedy afforded records requesters who believe that a government or agency has violated the open-records law.

One problem that individuals filing CORA requests have discovered is often data that is stored in a searchable format, such as a database, is rendered into paper printouts or other non-searchable formats for delivery–which makes data that could be easily sorted through with a database far more difficult to work with. It’s even been alleged anecdotally from time to time that CORA requests are deliberately being stymied in this manner. Other problems have arisen from data that includes confidential information, which the new bill would clarify can be redacted.

Improving the state’s responsiveness to open records requests has been a longstanding goal of information-freedom watchdogs, and this proposal only scratches the surface of what many consider to be a system riddled with loopholes–and sometimes just plain noncompliance by government entities who know there isn’t oversight to keep them honest. There is a general consensus that Colorado’s open records law is broken as it stands today, and must be modernized to stop technological changes from being excuses for noncompliance.

With all of that in mind, why would AG Coffman’s office oppose this bill to update CORA hammered out by stakeholders? Her office wasn’t specific in their statement, only claiming the bill “creates more problems than it cures.”

Maybe that’s true–or maybe AG Coffman’s office is just another “government entity” who likes the broken status quo.

Will Steve House Ever Be Governor? (Answer: No)

houseforgopchairPeter Marcus writes for Colorado Politics:

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Steve House is unsure whether he will seek re-election next year as he continues to mull a run for governor in 2018.

House, who has served as chairman of the party since March 2015, said he doesn’t want to put the party through chaos if he does choose to enter the gubernatorial race.

“If I were to run for governor, the one thing I would not do is run for chair again,” House told ColoradoPolitics.com.

“Just because I don’t run for chair doesn’t mean I’m going to run for governor. But the one thing I wouldn’t do to the party is run for chair and then drop out and run for governor, because I think that would be too damaging for the party.”

The first and most obvious point here is that the GOP field to run for Colorado’s open gubernatorial seat in 2018 is full of bigger names than party chairman Steve House, such as Treasurer Walker Stapleton. It would be a major surprise for all of the candidates higher up the food chain to pull out or fail to the extent that House might be competitive.

As far as House running again for Colorado GOP chairman, it’s hard to see that working out much better. House’s high-profile clash with Attorney General Cynthia Coffman was enormously damaging to both House’s and Coffman’s reputations, and the unresolved bad blood stemming from that red-on-red battle strongly points to a change of leadership at the earliest opportunity. And all that before even considering the still-unresolved #NeverTrump fiasco, part of a chain of events that could leave Colorado in the proverbial doghouse during the incoming Donald Trump administration.

What was it House did before he got into politics again? That’s probably where he should be looking for his next opportunity.