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.

Coffman and Trump: The Joke’s on You

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Remember when Rep. Mike Coffman promised he would disclose who he voted for in the presidential election when ballots were delivered last month? Well, Coffman won his race, but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee notes for the record:

After speaking at an anti-Muslim hate group, embracing Trump’s hardline immigration plan in the final weeks of the campaign, and switching his stance on the presidential election more times than we can count, Coffman promised that he would stand up to Trump and that he would divulge when ballots went out who he would vote for. It’s clear now that he broke both of those promises.

Yesterday, Trump appointed a dangerous member of the white nationalist movement as his chief strategist. This provided the first proving ground for whether or not Coffman would keep his promise to be independent and stand up to Trump on behalf of his diverse constituency. But just like so many times throughout the campaign – for example when he neglected to stand up to Trump’s Muslim ban after Coffman spoke to an anti-Muslim hate group – Coffman lacked the moral conviction to take a stand.

“Congressman Mike Coffman lied over and over again to his constituents and to the press – and that’s not something that he can easily escape,” said DCCC Spokesman Tyler Law.

The tension was evident on Election Night during Coffman’s victory speech, in which Coffman was repeatedly heckled by the crowd about his non-support for Donald Trump–and then, right at the end…

After Coffman’s speech ended, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman gave the biggest applause line of anyone named Coffman on Tuesday night: “go Trump!” And the crowd went wild! After Coffman’s months long and very well-funded campaign to put daylight between himself and the Republican nominee, a more frank admission that it was all for show couldn’t be had.

Of course, if you were one of those reporter types who stenographed Coffman’s Trump denials without questioning any of it–or worse yet, a voter who supported Coffman because he was a Republican standing up to Trump–you might feel, you know, betrayed. But now you have to wait two more years to do anything about it. And by then you’ll be distracted by something else. At this point, it’s not even a risk. They know it will work.

Colorado’s foremost Republican power couple is laughing at you.

Cynthia Coffman On The GOP Platform: “I Am Ashamed”

Here’s a clip we didn’t want to get lost in the noise surrounding this week’s now-concluded Republican National Convention: Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, speaking at the American Unity Fund’s “Big Tent Brunch” Wednesday:

While making an attempt to differentiate between her professional responsibilities as the state’s chief law enforcement officer and her personal views,  AG Coffman offers one of the strongest condemnations we’ve seen to date by a high-ranking Republican official of her party’s official platform as adopted this week in Cleveland. This year’s GOP platform was distantly to the right of the mainstream on a host of social wedge issues, including statements of opposition to most of the gains LGBT Americans have made in recent years.

We’ve certainly had our criticisms of Cynthia Coffman, but her sincerity in this moment is above reproach. The fact that this year’s Republican platform does represent at least a large segment of the party rank-and-file shows how great the challenge of any Republican seeking to moderate the party’s position on these issues really is. What will be left of the Republican coalition should Cynthia’s personal views on LGBT rights prevail in the future?

Because with all due respect, it’s too late for 2016.

Denver Post Deletes Mike Coffman Quote About His Marriage in Archives

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Of all the crazy stories we heard last summer about the GOP efforts to depose Colorado Republican Party Chair Steve House, this snippet from the Washington Post’s Ben Terris was perhaps the most shocking.

… House arrived the night of June 15 to find himself outnumbered — and on the defensive. [Colorado Attorney General Cynthia] Coffman was joined by Tom Tancredo, a firebrand former congressman, and Becky Mizel, a Pueblo County chairwoman. Three months earlier, these three had been his biggest supporters when he challenged and beat the incumbent party chairman — but now, suddenly, they wanted him out.

They ticked off a litany of grievances: House’s bookkeeping habits, his communication style, his refusal to hire one of their allies as executive director.

“Is that all?” House asked after each point, in an exchange recalled by Tancredo and confirmed by House’s office.

“Well, there’s Julie,” Coffman said.

“I know three Julies,” House said.

Come on, said Coffman — who was he trying to kid?

“Are you accusing me of having an affair?” House asked.

“Well,” Coffman said, “are you?”

All of us have dirt to be uncovered, and you hate to see it trotted out in the media, but this story is an absolutely legitimate invitation for  reporters to take a look at Cynthia Coffman’s own house, literally, the one she lives in alone, separate from her husband, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman.

But it appears that the only public statement Mike Coffman has made about his marriage has been expunged from the public record by The Denver Post.

In an article last June, then ace political journalist Lynn Bartels reported Mike Coffman as saying:

Mike Coffman: “The fact the we’re married in this day and age is a success story in and of itself.”

But if you look for that quote in The Post’s archives now, you find it gone, disappeared.

Bartels tells me the quote is accurate, as recorded by her from Mike Coffman.

(more…)

What The Hell Is Cynthia Coffman Thinking?!

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

As the Colorado Independent’s Susan Greene reports, GOP Attorney General Cynthia Coffman had a bizarre “Twitter meltdown” last week following the interview of the mother of Dylan Klebold, of one of the perpetrators of the 1999 Columbine High School mass shooting:

Ted Zocco-Hochhalter — father of a student who was paralyzed in the 1999 rampage — didn’t know what he’d feel when he learned that Sue Klebold, mother of Columbine shooter Dylan Klebold, was coming forward after 17 years to tell her family’s story.

Ire? Disgust? Outrage?

After having watched Sue Klebold’s interview, Zocco-Hochhalter’s response was yes to all of the above – though not toward Sue Klebold, he notes, but rather toward Coffman for weighing in with comments he describes as “incredibly ignorant and insensitive.”

Here are the Tweets AG Coffman fired off after Sue Klebold’s interview aired:

To which the father of Columbine victim Anne Marie Hochhalter says:

Nonsense, counters Zocco-Hochhalter, who lauds Sue Klebold for her candor about the guilt and responsibility she feels about the shootings her son helped carry out before he fatally turning his gun on himself. Sue Klebold spent much of her “20/20” interview acknowledging that she missed key signs of her son’s depression and urging families to learn how to spot kids’ mental health problems before desperation turns to violence. Those are the main points of her book, “A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy,” the proceeds from which she’s donating to mental health causes.

“Here we have an Attorney General’s office publicly criticizing Sue Klebold for talking about mental illness as a factor in school shootings. That’s not only insulting to our intelligence, but it’s also flat-out wrong – showing a remarkable lack of knowledge and professionalism about the issue,” Zocco-Hochhalter tells The Independent.

Coffman’s reaction to ABC’s interview with Sue Klebold is very difficult to understand from just about any professional or even responsible point of view. Of course the story of how she missed warning signs that could have helped prevent the Columbine High School shootings should be told. Of course talking about mental illness is better than concealing it. And above all, seventeen years is long enough to wait to talk about it.

Isn’t it possible that telling her story could prevent another Columbine?

No one we have asked about this story has had a plausible theory for why Coffman would launch into this unprofessional outburst aginst Sue Klebold on her official Twitter account in response to a news magazine show interview. Coffman though her spokesman refused to answer questions, saying the Tweets “speak for themselves.”

That may be true, but they don’t say anything good about Cynthia Coffman.

GOP’s Clean Power Insurgency a Cavalcade of Stupid

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

As promised late last months when Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced her decision to join a lawsuit against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, Gov. John Hickenlooper formally petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court yesterday to stop Coffman taking legal actions that contravene the policies of his administration. AP reports via CBS4:

Gov. John Hickenlooper asked the Colorado Supreme Court on Wednesday to rule that he, not the state’s attorney general, has the final say on whether to sue the federal government.

Hickenlooper’s petition comes after he complained that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman should not have joined about two dozen other states in suing the Environmental Protection Agency over new air pollution rules without his authorization…

Jacki Cooper Melmed, chief legal counsel to the governor, said Coffman has filed an unprecedented number of lawsuits without the support of or collaboration with her clients. “This raises serious questions about the use of state dollars and the attorney-client relationship between the governor, state agencies and the attorney general,” Melmed said.

Gov. John Hickenlooper and AG Cynthia Coffman in happier times.

Gov. John Hickenlooper and AG Cynthia Coffman in happier times.

From Hickenlooper’s petition to the Colorado Supreme Court yesterday:

In this Petition, he requests a ruling on the Governor’s and Attorney General’s respective authority under the Constitution and laws of Colorado to determine whether the State of Colorado should sue the United States. The Governor asks this Court to issue a legal declaration that (1) the Governor, not the Attorney General, has ultimate authority to decide on behalf of the State of Colorado whether to sue the federal government, and (2) the Attorney General’s lawsuits against the federal government without the Governor’s authorization must be withdrawn…

The Attorney General lacks statutory authority to bring these federal lawsuits unless “required to do so by the governor.” [Pols emphasis] C.R.S. § 24-31-101(1)(a). Nor does the “common law” allow her to circumvent the statutory limitations and undermine the Governor’s constitutional authority to set Colorado executive branch policy.

We we’ve discussed previously in relation to the Clean Power Plan and Attorney General Coffman’s decision to sue the federal government to stop it, our state is considered to be in a leading position to meet the new standards. A result of legislation passed by our General Assembly in recent years and the constitutional renewable energy standard set forth in 2004’s Amendment 37, we’re well ahead of the curve.

Sen. Ray Scott (R).

Sen. Ray Scott (R).

But as a report in the conservative Business Times out of Grand Junction unintentionally makes clear, opponents are not reliant on, you know, rational arguments.

While Colorado is already an estimated 80 percent on the way to achieving lower emissions standards, [Pols emphasis] Attorney General Cynthia Coffman joined in a lawsuit challenging the plan as federal overreach…

[Sen. Ray Scott] took exception to the state’s renewable energy standard and the push by state and federal regulators to mandate the increase use of renewable energy sources for electrical generation. “Solar has a problem, it’s called night,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

Yes, folks, he really said that.

Back in the land of adult dialogue, Colorado’s leadership on renewable energy standards may indeed have made the state an ironic target for energy industry flacks like attorney Mike Nasi–who according to open-records documents we received played a questionably big role in persuading Cynthia Coffman to join this lawsuit. But for the rest of the state government Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is in charge of, Coffman’s lawsuit is totally discordant with the agenda they’ve been progressing toward for years–an agenda the voters of Colorado mandated with the passage of Amendment 37, and the legislature strengthened with subsequent laws signed by Govs. Bill Ritter and Hickenlooper.

With these facts in mind, Hickenlooper not only has the right, but the obligation to rein in a rogue attorney general off pursuing her own ideological flight of fancy in opposition to the state’s explicit policy goals–goals in place long before she was ever elected. And if Republican lawmakers don’t want to make fools of themselves while she does, they might want to come up with less ridiculous arguments themselves.

Because this really is quite embarrassing. For all of them.

On This We Agree: Cynthia Coffman is Silly

Silly

Silly

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is a big supporter of the new federal Clean Power Plan. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is not a fan, however, and that’s okay…to a point. The Governor thinks that Coffman is breaking the law by forcing Colorado to join a multi-state lawsuit challenging the Clean Power Plan. As the Associated Press reports:

Gov. John Hickenlooper said Monday he will ask the Colorado Supreme Court whether it was legal for the state attorney general to sue the federal government over new air pollution rules even though Hickenlooper supports the rules and is trying to implement them.

Hickenlooper said he should have made the final decision on whether Attorney General Cynthia Coffman joined 23 other states in suing the Environmental Protection Agency. Coffman said the rules are an illegal overreach.

“The law makes it clear that except in limited circumstances — which don’t exist here — the attorney general is not permitted to file such lawsuits unless directed to do so by the governor,” Hickenlooper said.

Former Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar backed up Hickenlooper’s comments today during an event in Boulder, telling Bruce Finley of the Denver Post that Coffman’s legal opinion is incorrect in this matter:

“What the attorney general is doing here is clearly illegal on her part,” he said. “We’ll see what the Supreme Court has to say.”

And what does Coffman herself have to say about the subject? That leads us to this little gem that just made it into a story from the Colorado Statesman (which also references a Colorado Pols story from last week):

“And finally, I would say to people who would think that I have been influenced by the energy industry, that they must not know me that well, because I am not that easily influenced,” Coffman concluded. [Pols emphasis]

Not. That. Easily. Influenced.

Yes, friends, we are talking about the same Cynthia Coffman who played a central role in trying to blackmail State Republican Party Chair Steve House last summer. You may have heard about the scandal, which has been dubbed “Coffmangate.” It would be difficult to be any more persuadable to political arguments.

Cynthia Coffman Does Not Speak For Colorado

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE #2: Via the Denver Business Journal, Gov. John Hickenlooper slams Attorney General Cynthia Coffman for joining this lawsuit over his objections and the state’s longstanding leadership on the issue:

“We do not support this lawsuit,” Hickenlooper said via an emailed statement.

“Clean air and protecting public health should be everyone’s top priority. Colorado’s interest is best served by an open, inclusive process to implement the Clean Power Plan,” he continued.

“This lawsuit will create uncertainty for the state and undermine stakeholders’ ability to plan for and invest in cost-effective compliance strategies, something that the Attorney General has been advising the state on,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

Hickenlooper said Colorado also has worked “extensively with the EPA to ensure we have the time and flexibility we need. We believe that Colorado can achieve the clean air goals set by the EPA, at little or no increased cost to our residents.”

—–

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

POLS UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, let no pesky facts come between Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and destiny:

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman again vowed to fight President Barack Obama’s testy Clean Power Plan as the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday published the initiative’s final rules.

“It would be remiss if I, as attorney general, looked the other way and said, ‘Because Colorado is likely to meet this carbon dioxide cap, we shouldn’t challenge the federal government,’ ” said Coffman, who in late August announced she was joining a lawsuit to stop the plan. [Pols emphasis]

“That to me is an abdication of my responsibility.”

In short, Colorado is going to pass this test. But by God, we shouldn’t have to. Because freedom. And unregistered lobbyists. The rest of the state be damned!

Original post follows…

—–

After Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced her lawsuit against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, in apparent defiance of Gov. John Hickenlooper and the rest of the state government which has been working toward a smooth transition to the clean energy economy for years, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, called on Coffman to stop playing politics with her office at the behest of out-of-state special interests–and to abandon this ill-conceived lawsuit against our state’s best interests.

“Documents unearthed by Public Citizen reveal unethical heavy involvement in Attorney General Coffman’s opposition to the Clean Power Plan by a Texas energy attorney named Mike Nasi,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. [1] “Why is Cynthia Coffman colluding with out-of-state oil and gas interests against our state’s own governor and legislature? As Attorney General, Coffman’s job is to represent the people of Colorado, not Texas.”

“Since taking office this year, Cynthia Coffman has repeatedly brushed with scandal,” said Runyon-Harms. “Coffman has been accused of misusing her position for political advantage and was even accused by fellow Republicans of blackmailing the party’s chairman. By using the power of her office to join this lawsuit against the wishes of Gov. Hickenlooper, Coffman has once again proven that she is not fit to serve as the state’s chief law enforcement officer.”

“Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s lawsuit flies in the face of Colorado’s leadership in the global transition to a clean energy future,” said Runyon-Harms. “In 2004, Colorado passed a groundbreaking constitutional ballot measure establishing a strong renewable energy standard. In 2013, our legislature made it stronger. Experts agree that Colorado is well positioned to meet the challenge of the Clean Power Plan. Our state’s pro-energy Governor supports the Plan. It’s the right thing to do for Colorado, and it will grow our economy the same way Amendment 37 made our state a leader in renewable energy.”

Cynthia Coffman’s Clean Power Plan Suit: Who’s Pulling The Strings?

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Among the growing number of curious decisions by Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is her signing on to a multistate lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. Because of clean energy  initiatives and legislation already passed here in Colorado in the last 12 years, our state is much closer to compliance with the goals of the CPP than many others. Avowedly pro-energy Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper supports the CPP, and in an August interview with Colorado Public Radio, expressed some amount of befuddlement over Attorney General Coffman’s plans to sue:

Hickenlooper has said he intends to meet the carbon reduction goals set by the EPA this month. But Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman says the goals are “unrealistic,” and raise “significant concerns for Colorado,” and is considering suing the EPA.

“[The attorney general and I] haven’t had a chance to talk… One of the amazing things about this moment in time is that inexpensive natural gas is a very, very clean fuel. And we have a couple of aged coal plants in Colorado… there might be one or two or three that might be able to be converted to natural gas, and natural gas right now is so inexpensive, it might allow us to achieve the reductions without significant cost increases [for consumers]…

“We don’t see the evidence [to support a lawsuit] based on what we know.”

Any way you look at it, AG Coffman’s decision to join in lawsuit over the objections of the governor of the state she serves–a state already a model for the goals this plan wants to achieve–looks weird. Of the 20 or so states that have filed suit against the administration over the Clean Power Plan, we haven’t checked to see how many involve state attorneys general going against their own governors, but we’re guessing that’s a minority of cases.

So what gives? Yesterday, we were forwarded documents produced from a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request of the attorney general’s office by the DC-based group Public Citizen. These documents appear to show a major role in Colorado joining the lawsuit against the Clean Power Plan by one Mike Nasi. Nasi is a Texas-based energy industry attorney who has apparently helped direct the energy industry’s response to the Clean Power Plan, new rules on mercury emissions, and a variety of other subjects. It should be noted that neither Nasi nor his law firm Jackson Walker LLP are registered lobbyists in the state of Colorado.

Despite this, Nasi testified in favor of the industry-sponsored Senate Bill 15-258 this year, the so-called “Electric Consumers Protection Act” to forestall any state implementation plan for carbon dioxide reduction. After SB-258 died, Gov. Hickenlooper announced that the state would support and comply with the Clean Power Plan.

Enter Cynthia Coffman.

There’s a wealth of information in the CORA “doc dump” from Public Citizen (two files, here and here) about the collusion between her office, pro-energy Colorado lawmakers like Sen. John Cooke, and Nasi in advocating against the Clean Power Plan. This in turn sheds light on Nasi’s multistate roundup of willing attorneys general to sue the administration. We hope readers will take a look at these documents and help us establish more details about the connections and players involved. In light of Colorado’s readiness–according to the governor, anyway–to be a leader in implementing the Clean Power Plan, this back-channel maneuvering by the attorney general to join this lawsuit stands out as especially dubious.

And maybe even, dare we suggest it, misconduct.

Republican EPA Bashers Jump The Gun Over “New Disaster”

UPDATE: Spill downgraded even further for the record:

—–

Standard Mine Superfund site near Crested Butte.

Standard Mine Superfund site near Crested Butte.

As the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports, Republican usual-suspect haters on everything the Environmental Protection Agency has ever said or done went on a tear yesterday, after word spread of another spill of minewater from an old Colorado mine in the presence of an EPA crew:

News Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency was responsible for another mine spill, this time near Crested Butte, came with a quick political punch…

The Standard Mine spill included gray-colored sediment from a holding pond at the mine. The contractor was de-watering the pond containing un-mineralized sediment and water from the lower mine adit.

The water and sediment was treated to a pH of 7, which is considered normal. The treated water from the pond was being discharged into Elk Creek. But a vacuum truck pumping water from the pond accidentally dipped into the gray-colored sediment, which led to the discharge into Elk Creek.

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

The Denver Post’s Bruce Finley reports, Republicans are so…damn…mad:

“They told us things were going to be different. Now we have a spill. … We’ve apparently got a real challenge with the EPA, not only with notification but their accountability and their ability to adequately execute these types of cleanup projects,” [Rep. Scott] Tipton said. “They’ve got resources. They’re the ones in charge of the program. And they’ve had two spills in my district alone. Is there a better way to approach this?”

…Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who threatened legal action after the Gold King disaster, said she’ll do all she can to protect state resources and hold the EPA responsible.

“Once again the Environmental Protection Agency has apparently endangered Colorado’s waterways while drilling at an abandoned mine,” Coffman said. “I continue to be concerned that the EPA wants to zealously regulate Colorado’s resources but refuses to be accountable for their own activities when they negatively impact our state.”

(more…)

Coffmangate: Still Trying To Prove What Doesn’t Matter

Julie Naye, Mitt Romney in 2012.

Julie Naye, Mitt Romney in 2012.

Several months have passed since the Colorado Republican Party exploded in a spate of allegations between supporters of party chairman Steve House and a group of critics led by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman who sought House’s resignation. In a confrontation at a Denver restaurant between Coffman and House also attended by conservative firebrand Tom Tancredo, House was accused of breaking a promise to hire ex-Sen. Ted Harvey as the state party’s executive director–and was threatened with the exposure of an alleged extramarital affair if he didn’t immediately step down.

[Check out our Coffmangate archive if you need a refresher]

Following that meeting, in which House at first agreed to resign and then rescinded that decision, House accused Coffman and others present at the meeting of attempting to extort him over the affair–a very serious allegation to level against a sitting state attorney general. House was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Colorado GOP’s executive committee after hearing from Coffman, and remains chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

But the story hasn’t ended there. Accusations have continued to circulate on both sides of this unhealed rift within the Colorado GOP, albeit mostly by House’s detractors who are determined to pin whatever they can on him–from financial improprieties to “collusion” with national GOP strategists against the party grassroots.

In addition, House’s critics appear committed to proving that he was indeed having an affair with a woman by the name of Julie Naye. The fixation with proving that House was having an extramarital affair, especially after House was backed by the executive committee in a near-unanimous vote, has always struck us as bizarre. Even if it’s all true, the existence of an affair is no excuse for blackmail. If anything, continuing to talk about this alleged affair helps underscore the likelihood that blackmail occurred here.

The Church Lady does not approve.

The Church Lady does not approve.

The latest round of this back-and-forth consists of a series of screenshot images purportedly of Julie Naye’s website. The images are being circulated by Jen Raiffie, an Adams County “Tea Party” activist who has been vocal in support of House over the affair allegations. We are unable to verify any of these images as authentic, but they do appear to make the case that Naye is some kind of paid sex worker. At least one image contains text that implies racism in Naye’s alleged business practices, specifically that she “declines the African American Male.”

So let’s assume for argument’s sake that these images are authentic. Yes, it’s politically a black eye for people like Tancredo, or even Mitt Romney of whom photos with Naye exist (see top right). But does it justify blackmailing Steve House as some are claiming today? Of course not. If anything, it’s another data point against the people who went after House. The absolute worst-case scenario here in no way justifies criminal extortion involving the state’s top law enforcement officer.

Obsession with salacious rumors may be exciting, especially for gossipy moral conservative types. But in the eyes of the law, it’s not what matters–nor will it save Coffman from a criminal investigation that we continue to hear is ongoing.

All that matters is what House’s enemies did with those rumors.

Bipartisan support for Colorado’s clean-air laws undermines accusation of Obama overreach

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

It’s irritating when officials and pundits here in Colorado grandstand about President Obama’s climate change initiatives as being overreach, without pointing out that, as a matter of fact, state efforts to regulate global-warming emissions from power plants have won bipartisan support.

An article in The Denver Post last month reported that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has decided to sue the federal government to stop Obama’s Clean Coal Plan, which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions in Colorado by 28 percent from 2012 levels over the next 15 years.

The Post reported that “Coffman describes the measure as another EPA and Obama administration authority overreach.”

To its credit, The Post added this fact:

Colorado lawmakers under a Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act in 2010 required regulated utilities to develop plans for reducing air pollution. These plans launched utilities on efforts to replace coal plants with energy generated using renewable sources and natural gas.

Omitted, however, is the crucial information that Colorado’s Clean Air, Clean Jobs of 2010 received bipartisan support, getting the votes of numerous GOP lawmakers in the Colorado legislature, including muckety-muck Republicans like former state senators Josh Penry and Greg Brophy and former state representatives Frank McNulty, Ellen Roberts, and Amy Stephens.

Thanks to the 2010 law, and other state measures, some of which admittedly had less bipartisan support, Colorado already has a plan to reach 70 percent of the reductions mandated by Obama’s Clean Coal Plan, according to Western Resource Advocates.

Colorado has worked in a bipartisan way to address climate change, and the attorney general should be asked to explain why she’s politicizing and wasting time on a lawsuit that runs counter to  Colorado’s approach to this issue.