Get More Smarter on Friday (February 24)

It’s cold outside — colder than the reception you might receive if you tried to talk to Sen. Cory Gardner. Now, 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…

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has almost made it through the workweek recess without actually having to answer questions from real constituents about, well, anything. But Gardner’s consistent refusal to engage with the people he is supposed to represent is escalating into a full-out disaster for the first-term Senator, and the problem is only getting worse. On Thursday, multiple videos of Gardner evading a woman and her baby in a Broomfield hotel lobby became national news, with Gardner consistently brushing off questions by telling her — and other constituents — to just “go to my website” instead.

Gardner’s constituent indifference has become a national story.

 

► Once upon a time (also known as January), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) promised to hold a big town hall meeting before Congress votes on a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Coffman didn’t make any effort to hold a town hall meeting during the current President’s Day recess, but as Ernest Luning reports for the Colorado Statesman, Team Coffman says there will be an event in April:

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman plans to hold a traditional town hall in April, when the Aurora Republican will be at home in his district during a scheduled congressional recess, his aides said Friday.

Coffman spokesman Daniel Bucheli told The Colorado Statesman that Coffman is looking for the right venue and nailing down the date for a town hall, likely sometime during the second full week of April. He was confirming an announcement made by campaign aide J.D. Key Friday morning at a GOP breakfast meeting in Highlands Ranch.

The immediate question, of course, is whether or not this means that Congress will not be voting on a potential repeal of Obamacare in the next 6-8 weeks; Coffman promised to hold a big town hall meeting before a potential vote on repealing the healthcare law. Coffman could have just been blowing smoke up everyone’s you-know-what, which the Congressman has been known to do, but this promise would be harder to walk back given the steady crowds trying to contact their elected officials across the country.

 

► It would not be a complete surprise if Congress is unable to take action on repealing Obamacare, as Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) seemed to indicate earlier this week. Former House Speaker John Boehner was widely quoted on Thursday laughing at the idea that Republicans could coalesce around a single idea on health care reform. Meanwhile, Politico reports on a new draft document outlining another potential GOP healthcare plan:

A draft House Republican repeal bill would dismantle Obamacare subsidies and scrap its Medicaid expansion, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by POLITICO.

The legislation would take down the foundation of Obamacare, including the unpopular individual mandate, subsidies based on people’s income, and all of the law’s taxes. It would significantly roll back Medicaid spending and give states money to create high-risk pools for some people with pre-existing conditions. Some elements would be effective right away; others not until 2020.

The replacement would be paid for by limiting tax breaks on generous health plans people get at work — an idea that is similar to the Obamacare “Cadillac tax” that Republicans have fought to repeal.

Speaker Paul Ryan said last week that Republicans would introduce repeal legislation after recess. [Pols emphasis] But the GOP has been deeply divided about how much of the law to scrap, and how much to “repair,” and the heated town halls back home during the weeklong recess aren’t making it any easier for them.

The basis of the leaked plan is, essentially, to tax healthcare plans for “cost containment” while doing nothing to address coverage. This won’t end well.

 

► The Trump administration on Thursday made it clear that the President plans to crack down on the recreational marijuana industry.

 

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MUST WATCH: Constituents Corner Cory Gardner

UPDATE: Here’s another camera angle of the encounter:

—–

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Wild video now circulating on social media of a confrontation this morning between Sen. Cory Gardner and several constituents in a Broomfield office building–in which Gardner tries mightily to escape with a proffered business card and promises of a future “tele-town hall,” and fails miserably as his persistent constituents tail him onto an elevator. Transcript:

CONSTITUENT: We are at 380 Interlocken Crescent trying to meet with Senator Gardner as he’s going into a meeting this morning.
(Gardner enters building, applause)
CONSTITUENT: Hi, Senator Gardner!
GARDNER: How are you?
CONSTITUENT: Hi, I’m Kathryn Ashton Hirst, nice to meet you I’m one of your constituents.
GARDNER: Nice to see you. Nice to see you. How are you guys doing?
CONSTITUENT: Came from Breckenridge Colorado today.
GARDNER: Thanks for coming in.
CONSTITUENT: We’re hoping you’re going to hold a town hall for us soon.
GARDNER: Thanks. If you go to our website there’ll be a tele-town hall soon.
CONSTITUENT: We have been. I’ve tried to sign up for three of them and I have yet to hear, I have yet to hear from your office.
(Crosstalk)
CONSTITUENT: I’ve tried to sign up for town halls, and they’re not returning my calls.
CONSTITUENT #2: Tell him there’s no scheduling either.
GARDNER: Excuse me, I’m trying to…yeah do you have a card you can give them…yeah, look at our website for tele-town halls, that would be fantastic.
CONSTITUENT: We want a town hall. We have…we’ve gone to your website, we’ve called your office, and we’re trying to get on your list…
CONSTITUENT #3: How about in person?
GARDNER: Call the office and we’ll be in touch.
CONSTITUENT: I’ve been refused for three of them, Senator Gardner.
CONSTITUENT #2: I’ve been calling a lot. (unintelligible)
GARDNER: Excuse me…
CONSTITUENT: You’re going to the ninth floor.
GARDNER: Well, um, it’s, uh, if you call the office we have…
CONSTITUENT: We have called the office.
GARDNER: I’m told we have the information on our website, so…
CONSTITUENT: Well we don’t, and I’ve tried to call and I’ve tried to get on three of your town halls.
GARDNER AIDE: Excuse me, you’re blocking the elevator…
CONSTITUENT: And I have yet to have been called back.
(Crosstalk)
GARDNER: (unintelligible) you weren’t on the town hall?
CONSTITUENT: Because there’s, you guys dial us and I’ve asked to be on three of them and I have yet to be reached on any of them.
GARDNER AIDE: Could be a capacity issue.
GARDNER: Well I’m curious now that, so we called you and it didn’t work?
CONSTITUENT: No you haven’t called me. I’ve called to get on your town halls several times…
GARDNER: Oh ok, take Jorge’s (?) card, can you take Jorge’s card, and call him [Gardner motions to staffer]…
CONSTITUENT: I would love to…
GARDNER: And we will add you to the next tele-town hall. (Crosstalk)
CONSTITUENT: Okay I have asked to be added…
(Crosstalk)
CONSTITUENT #3: You had lots of town halls last year.
GARDNER: And we had several yesterday, public forums, open forums, so…
CONSTITUENT: Where?
CONSTITUENT #3: When are you going to start announcing them, Senator?
GARDNER: Well, they’re on the website, I think we talked about them yesterday, I think… (Crosstalk)
CONSTITUENT: They’re not on the website.
CONSTITUENT #3: I’ve called a half a dozen times, signed forms… (crosstalk)
GARDNER: Well, the Governor’s Ag Forum…the Governor’s Ag Forum was well-publicized, so thank you. Thank you.
CONSTITUENT: We look forward to seeing you again Senator Gardner! We look forward to that town hall!
CONSTITUENT #2: Yeah don’t hide from us!

You can detect a very rare flash of public contempt from Gardner for these constituents, when he tells them “look at our website for tele-town halls, that would be fantastic.” Gardner defends himself by claiming to have held several “public forums,” citing yesterday’s appearance at the Governor’s Ag Forum as an example (admission $200). Gardner is able to delay with affected concern that the constituent was not able to connect to his tele-town halls just long enough for the elevator door to open and Gardner to escape down the hallway with staffers watching his flanks. The whole experience is very bad for Gardner, who spends most of the recording ducking his head out from behind his staff.

Yes, Gardner (mostly) keeps cool–but watching him first try to evade his constituents, then evade their obvious points about a face-to-face meeting, shows the limits of even Cory Gardner’s world-famous slickness.

And we’ll be watching for this video in the news.

Who’s Telling the Truth About GOP Obamacare Replacement?

(¯\_(ツ)_/¯ — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Last week, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asked Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) if he could guarantee to his constituents that they’d “have coverage if you have it now.”

“The answer to that is no, right?” asked Hayes.

“Yes,” replied Sanford. “The answer is, we don’t know with precision.”

Colorado Republicans need to be asked the same question, because over the past months most them, with the exception of U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, have repeatedly implied that no one will lose their health insurance if Obamacare is repealed. But am I hearing them right? Is this a promise?

For example, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) stated KOA 850-AM Feb. 17, “And let me just say, nothing will be repealed unless it’s concurrently replaced.”

If nothing means nothing, then no one will lose their health care coverage, at a minimum, much less all the other benefits of Obamacare (e.g., coverage for under-26 family members, pre-existing conditions, no caps on coverage).

Coffman’s office sort of confirmed his stance to 9News this week.

9News: Coffman’s office told us he wants to keep the changes Obamacare made for pre-existing conditions, the ability for parents to keep children on their plans until age 26, and maintaining coverage for people who gained it under the ACA—including the Medicaid expansion, which has been criticized by some of Coffman’s fellow Republicans.

But that’s a aspiration, not a promise, and Coffman’s constituents want to know if Coffman would vote for a still-unkown Obamacare replacement that would throw people off the health insurance rolls.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) expressed the same promise in the form of an aspiration, as he likes to do when dealing with a tough question.

Gardner: “What we have to do is create a bipartisan health care plan, health insurance plan, to make sure that we can do better than Obamacare,” said Gardner on KOA 850-AM Jan. 13.

Is he saying his constituents won’t lose their insurance? I think so, but he needs to be asked point blank–and repeatedly, because that’s often what it takes with Gardner (e.g., Will he vote for Trump? And will he hold a town hall? And what about the federal personhood amendment?)

In some communications, Colorado Republicans are stopping short of promising that their constituents won’t lose their health insurance, but they’re guaranteeing that elements of Obamacare won’t be lost.

“…[U]nder the Republican replacement plans, no individual with a pre-existing condition will be denied insurance coverage or see their rates spike,” wrote Congressman Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton in The Denver Post Jan. 13.

That’s a serious promise.

But the larger question remains. What exactly are you saying? Will you vote for a bill that doesn’t guarantee health insurance for all Americans who have it under Obamacare? If not, how many are you willing to throw off the rolls or put at risk of losing their coverage?

Ken Buck Spills Obamacare Beans in Secret “Constituent” Meeting

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) says an Obamacare replacement plan is YEARS away.

Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Independent produced some impressive journalism this week when she managed to 1) Learn about a secret “constituent” meeting with Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), and 2) Find a way to get inside the room at said secret meeting.

As Goodland learned firsthand, Rep. Buck is making some fairly bold assurances about healthcare reform efforts in Congress that don’t really jibe with some of the other GOP talking points we’ve seen and heard over the last week:

President Trump has said his administration plans to unveil a replacement plan next month, but Buck told the crowd that it could take several years to come up with a replacement. “We need to come to consensus on how much we’re willing to pay. We will leave some people behind, one way or another” either by charging too much or coming up with a plan that won’t cover everyone, he added.

He pleaded with the audience to remove from their minds the idea that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would happen before a replacement plan is in place. [Pols emphasis]

The healthcare marketplace, insurance companies and employers will have a chance to adjust before the ACA is gone, he insisted. “The idea that anyone wants to disrupt the economy in that way isn’t true.”

Whoa! These are some pretty strong statements coming from Buck that definitely don’t jibe with paid advertisements in Republican districts promising that the GOP “has a plan” for healthcare reform. Says Buck:

  1. Any Obamacare replacement plan is years away from reality.
  2. Any GOP healthcare plan will definitely not cover all Americans.
  3. Congress will not repeal Obamacare until a replacement plan is in place.

This is most definitely not the narrative that Republican leaders would have you believe about Obamacare…but that doesn’t mean Rep. Buck is wrong.

Cory Gardner’s Out of This World Constituent Outreach!

UPDATE: Sen. Gardner brings his super-duper surprise outreach to Ft. Collins on Wednesday evening:

—–

With a recess underway and thousands of Coloradans looking to ask their GOP Sen. Cory Gardner questions about what’s going on in Washington, D.C. under President Donald Trump, Gardner is doing his best to look like a politico engaged in outreach to his constituents–without actually, you know, doing so:

“Meeting with Coloradans” in Gardner’s case appears to mean either staged and access-managed events, like today’s panel at the Governor’s Forum of Colorado Agriculture (admission $200), or impromptu drop-ins at random locations that occur too fast for the word to get out that he’s even there–thus preventing ordinary constituents who have been trying to speak with him for weeks from being able to do so.

During today’s ag event at the Raddison Hotel Stapleton, FOX 31’s Joe St. George caught up with Gardner, and tried to ask him repeatedly why he’s not holding any public events during the congressional recess:

Folks, how many times did Gardner dodge the question about in-person town halls? We counted five times in under two minutes. Even by Gardner’s slippery standards, that could be a new record. Nothing about that made Gardner look good.

But Gardner did count among his “outreach” visits today a stop at the Colorado Space Coalition! Word is he was finally cornered by a “constituent” there, who had traveled to see him all the way from under Denver International Airport.

We joke. But to actual Colorado voters who just want to talk to their Senator, it’s probably not very funny.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 22)

If George Washington were still alive today, perhaps he would celebrate his birthday in a fashion that befits “National Margarita Day.” Now, 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…

► Colorado’s ongoing budget problems and the need for TABOR reform has not gone unnoticed by Republican lawmakers. Unfortunately, GOP leaders at the State Capitol — including Senate President Kevin Grantham — are not at all interested in doing anything about the problem.

 

► Is anybody home at the State Department? As CNN reports, foreign policy experts are concerned about the radio silence from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his debut on the international stage over two days in Europe last week — and said less than 50 words in response to press questions, according to pool accounts. On Wednesday, he departs for Mexico — a trip Americans first learned of from the Mexican press…

…That silence may reflect ongoing upheaval in the Trump White House, administration power struggles, Tillerson’s personal inclinations or the growing pains of a former ExxonMobil CEO adjusting to running a governmental organization. Regardless of the reason, diplomats, analysts and current and former State Department officials say there are risks if the dead air continues.

A voiceless State Department, they say, allows other countries to set the narrative about US policy and events, unsettling allies and potentially shortchanging US businesses, citizens and interests overseas.

 

► A 9News “Truth Test” uncovers something you probably won’t be surprised to learn: Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) does not have anything resembling a plan for the repeal and/or replacement of Obamacare, despite what you may have heard from some paid media ads running in the Denver area. More paid media could be in the works as well, as the Washington Post reports:

The American Action Network, founded by veteran GOP fundraisers to support the speaker’s agenda, will spend $2.2 million on TV and digital buys over the next two weeks to promote GOP efforts related to overhauling the law across two dozen media markets. That’s in addition to $5.2 million already spent on Obamacare-related advertising since the start of the year…

…Politically, lawmakers are trying to soothe fears among voters that they are going to scrap the law without a clear roadmap for what comes next. While some of the opposition efforts at town hall meetings are being organized by progressive outside groups, there is also organic anxiousness. Our reporters who have fanned out across the country report back that many people they’re interviewing have never before attended these sorts of meetings.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows that SUPPORT for Obamacare continues to rise in the United States.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (February 21)

You have only one shopping day left until George Washington’s birthday. Now, 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…

► Congress is taking a break for its annual President’s Day Recess, but that doesn’t necessarily mean elected officials such as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) are likely to make themselves available to constituents. As the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports, local residents are so incensed with Gardner’s inaccessibility that they are planning their own town hall meeting as protest. The Denver Post has more on Friday’s town hall meeting (sans Gardner):

Organizers invited U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who declined, but Farnan said it’s important to hold it anyway so that residents can share their ideas and demonstrate that town halls still matter.

“You should be standing in front of your constituents and hear what they have to say as long as it’s civil and respectful,” Farnan said.

Aides to Gardner said the Republican senator has meetings this week with the Colorado Space Coalition, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Colorado Health Care Association — to name a few — but no public forums. [Pols emphasis]

But they defended his outreach efforts and noted his past use of telephone town halls, a tool that has become an increasingly popular substitute on Capitol Hill.

You may not have any real access to your own U.S. Senator, but if you’re lucky, you might get invited to listen to him talk on the telephone! That’s pretty much the same, right?

Unfortunately for Sen. Gardner, this routine is wearing thin across the state. In the meantime, Colorado residents show no sign of letting up on demonstrations and protests.

 

► Before leaving Washington D.C. last week, House Republicans released a vague outline of a proposal about what to do with Obamacare if they end up repealing the health care law. On Monday, former South Carolina governor and current Rep. Mark Sanford admitted in a television interview that he could not guarantee that the Republican health care plan would allow all Americans to keep their current health insurance coverage.

As The Hill explains, Republicans may have a hard time convincing constituents that this vague new plan is even half-baked.

 

► We all know that campaign finance loopholes are big enough to accommodate whatever metaphor you prefer, but some paid campaigns are so brazenly sketchy that it’s hard to believe they could exist. For example, this barrage of advertisements promoting Walker Stapleton’s campaign for Governor apparent interest in term limits. The intent is so obvious that even Republican-aligned groups like Compass Colorado can’t help but applaud the name recognition boost for Stapleton.

 

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Gardner has had “number of great conversations” with Trump

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Asked by a conservative radio host this morning to “characterize his current relationship with President Trump and his team” and whether Gardner was a “persona non grata,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said:

Gardner: “Oh, I’ve had a number of great conversations with the President. The opportunities to work together are real. He is very, very clear that he wants us to be successful in Colorado and that we have the chance to do things that will make our state a better, stronger place.”

Gardner’s warm comments about Trump come as the President is battling journalists and after weeks of protests in Colorado against both Trump’s actions and against Gardner himself for backing Trump and voting with him 100 percent of the time.

Told by KNUS 710-AM host Craig Silverman that citizens are “clamoring for a town-hall meeting” and protesting, Gardner did not indicate he’ll hold town hall meetings, as requested by citizens who’ve jammed Gardner’s phone lines since Trump took office.

“We’ll continue to reach out across Colorado through meetings and offers to have appointments throughout the eight offices we have in the state–and also making sure we’re reaching out via tele-town halls,” said Gardner, adding that it is “great that people are interested.”

“Tele-town halls provide us with a great way to reach thousands of Coloradans at one time instead of just five or 10 at one time,” said Gardner.

Republicans across the country are turning to tele-town halls, instead of actual town hall meetings, where they’ve been greeted by large numbers of citizens upset about Obamacare, cabinet selections, Planned Parenthood cuts, and more. Images of large crowds and defensive lawmakers have viralized across social media.

Gardner has apparently been irked by some of the protests he’s faced, labeling callers and protesters as hailing from California and New York and as being “paid,” with some hired via CraigsList or tricked into calling via computers and surveys.

Asked if Gardner has the kind of relationship with the President that allows Garder to “kid around with Trump,” Gardner told Silverman, “Oh, absolutely.”

“I think it was on television even, on Tuesday, before the inauguration, the president introduced me to a crowd and talked about being able to work together for the common good of Colorado,” said Gardner on air. “And that’s something we will continue to do.”

“Overall, we have got to make sure that we to come together as a country the way [Trump] talked about on i guess it was Wednesday, November 9, after the Election,” Gardner said.

“You always leave me in a good mood,” Silverman told Gardner at the end of the interview, asking that the Republican to remember him to his family.

Get More Smarter on Friday (February 17)

Have a nice President’s Day Weekend; try the meatloaf. Now, 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…

► As the Associated Press reported this morning, President Trump is considering mobilizing the National Guard — as many as 100,000 troops — to undertake mass deportation efforts across the country. Colorado is one of the states listed in the draft memo obtained by the AP.

Again: The President of the United States of America is considering deploying the military to conduct mass roundups and deportations across the country. This is all kinds of wrong.

 

A “shit sandwich.” That’s how Vice Admiral Robert Harward viewed an offer from President Trump to become the next National Security Adviser — an offer Harward publicly declined — which leaves the Trump administration scrambling to find another candidate for one of the most important jobs in the White House. The resignation of former NSA Michael Flynn highlights a massive credibility problem among national security experts, as the Washington Post explains:

Multiple former national security experts conjectured that the hang-up specifically was Trump’s deputy national security adviser, KT McFarland, a TV commentator who has not served in government since the Reagan era. Few foreign policy professionals consider her qualified for the job. [Pols emphasis]

…Harward certainly knows the struggles that Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson have had hiring their own staff — neither has an announced deputy; Harward was not about to subject himself to the same micromanaging from the White House. Former State Department official and vocal Trump critic Eliot Cohen says, “It makes it very difficult for any serious person to take the job under less reasonable conditions than Harward seems to have demanded, i.e., control of staffing.” He explains, “No sane person would take this extremely important and difficult job without (a) control of staffing, and (b) eliminating or neutering Bannon’s shadow NSC staff.” …

…Harward’s decision reflects how far the president and this administration have fallen in the eyes of esteemed national security experts, including current and former officials. The White House is without an experienced chief of staff or normal internal decision-making procedures. [Pols emphasis]

 

► Congress is preparing for its annual President’s Day recess, which will keep lawmakers out of the nation’s capitol until February 27. Before he skipped out of town, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) released a video in which he declares that he will not support a repeal of Obamacare without a concurrent replacement plan. The New York Times on Thursday reported on a potential new GOP healthcare plan that would redirect money from the lower- and middle-class to the benefit of the wealthy in America.

 

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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!

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 15)

Welcome, comrades! 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…

► National Security Advisor Michael Flynn may be gone, but the Russian cloud enveloping the White House isn’t dissipating one bit. As the New York Times reports today in its lead story:

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election…

…The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I. is sifting through as it investigates the links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government, as well as the hacking of the D.N.C., according to federal law enforcement officials. As part of its inquiry, the F.B.I. has obtained banking and travel records and conducted interviews, the officials said.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

As the Washington Post writes this morning:

The credibility gap – maybe chasm is a better word at this point – keeps widening for Donald Trump and his White House.

And what does President Trump have to say about all of this? As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix”:

Trump’s response to these serious allegations, which have already cost him his national security adviser and now threaten the foundations of his presidency, has been decidedly flippant.  In a tweetstorm Wednesday morning, Trump blamed the “fake news” media and Hillary Clinton for the stories and sought to pivot the conversation to how the information regarding the contacts between his campaign and the Russians leaked out…

…Given the seriousness of those allegations, tweets about the Clinton campaign or the “fake news” aren’t going to cut it.  Congressional Republicans are getting more and more worried that this situation is spinning out of control and has the possibility to do serious damage to the entire party less than a month into the Trump presidency.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — has been rather quiet about the White House Russia scandal. In an interview with Denver7 on Tuesday, Gardner said…well, nothing, really. Gardner seems to be falling apart in general under the strain of his 100% voting record with Trump.

Meanwhile, Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) is pushing for a full investigation into the Trump administration’s ties with Russia. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is also pushing for an official inquiry.

 

► Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is suing Boulder County for its unwillingness to open up its lands for oil and gas drilling.

 

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Cory Gardner Makes Stupefying Ass of Self on “Paid Protesters”


Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Last night, Denver7 aired an interview with Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado that touched on a variety of hot topics–the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the Trump administration’s ties to the Russian government, as well as Gardner’s recent controversial remarks suggesting that citizens showing up at his offices in Colorado and flooding his voicemail boxes are “paid protesters.”

We’ve covered Gardner’s non-answers on the Flynn/Russia questions, but Gardner’s incredibly feeble attempt to defend these allegations of “paid protesters” is worth a note in the record all by itself:

On Tuesday, he addressed the insinuation he made last month that some people protesting him and calling his office were paid protesters. He clarified that he believes there are organizations that are working to connect politically-active people across the country with various lawmakers in Washington, citing a conversation his wife had with one organization.

“We have a number of Coloradans – a large percentage, if not a huge percentage of the people calling our office who are Coloradans. [They are] people who are concerned about nominations, people who are concerned about the price of their health care,” Gardner said.

“But we do have people from out of state calling the office. In fact, just the other day, my wife was contacted by an organized survey effort. She answered the survey and was immediately connected to my very own office.”

“She was not paid to do that, [Pols emphasis] but somebody was paid to make that connection happen not knowing that was my wife,” Gardner said.

Understand this, folks: Cory Gardner was given a wide-open opportunity to defend his insistence that “paid protesters” are responsible for the demonstrations and flooded voicemail boxes at his offices. But the “example” Gardner cites is not a “paid protester” at all, but one of countless automated contact campaigns run by activist groups connecting ordinary (and unpaid) citizens with their elected officials. There’s absolutely nothing inappropriate about that kind of activity, and the contacts between citizens and lawmakers facilitated by these campaigns are as legitimate as any other.

Presumably, this would include Mrs. Gardner as well.

For a politician known for being cool under fire and ready with a slick answer to any question, Gardner’s justification in this interview for accusing the thousands of protesters converging every week outside his offices of being “paid” is an insult to everyone’s intelligence. Gardner’s out-of-hand dismissal of the growing dissent against the Trump administration in Colorado and nationwide spread widely, and was picked up by conservative mouthpieces here and elsewhere as a way of rationalizing what is happening.

Every American who heard Gardner’s original statement needs to know he can’t defend it.

As #Russiagate Explodes, Gardner Silent

UPDATE #6: Watch Sen. Cory Gardner say absolutely nothing about Michael Flynn in an interview aired moments ago by Denver7:

That really clears things up. Thanks, Cory!

——

UPDATE #5: Via TPM, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado officially punts:

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) indicated to reporters on Capitol Hill that he was not concerned Flynn had remained in his role for more than two weeks after the Justice Department reportedly warned the White House about the content of his calls with the Russian ambassador.

“That has nothing to do with his judgement,” Perdue said when asked if that time gap made him concerned about Trump’s judgement. “It’s an unfortunate circumstance. It’s been resolved. And we’re going to move forward.”

Asked if there should be an investigation in the wake of Flynn’s resignation, Perdue said he had “no idea.”

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) similarly demurred when asked about the potential for an investigation. He told reporters that Congress needs “to see what the White House says” before determining next steps. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) told reporters that they would need more information before determining whether a probe is necessary, too. [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE #4: Via Blair Miller, Sen. Cory Gardner releases a statement praising the Trump administration’s policy on Russia with no mention of Michael Flynn:

In Cory’s world, the biggest story of the day didn’t happen. We’ll update if that changes.

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UPDATE #3: Still nothing from Sen. Cory Gardner, but Rep. Ed Perlmutter joins the chorus demanding answers:

UPDATE #2: Colorado’s senior Sen. Michael Bennet weighs in strongly:

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UPDATE: Local liberals turn up the heat on Cory Gardner:

“So far, the response from Colorado Republicans in Congress has been totally unacceptable,” said ProgressNow Executive Director Ian Silverii. “Sen. Cory Gardner, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has said nothing at all about Flynn’s resignation. What does Sen. Gardner know about the Trump administration’s contacts with the Russian government, and when did he know it? Every day that Gardner remains silent makes him complicit in what has happened.”

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Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports on the local reactions to the Michael Flynn controversy now dominating national headlines–and in some cases, lack thereof:

[A]mid the controversy and rumors swirling about Washington, Colorado Congressmen from each side of the aisle are pressuring Flynn and the administration for more details regarding the call and say Flynn should resign if he misled the administration.

“As national security advisor, Michael Flynn is responsible to the President, Vice President, and the American people,” Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., said in a statement to Denver7 Monday evening. “It is his duty to be fully transparent and forthright in his actions—anything less is unacceptable. If in fact he purposely misled the President, he should step down immediately.”

Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, also called for Flynn’s resignation if Flynn indeed discussed the sanctions…

Given the swiftly-spreading news yesterday that Flynn’s head was on the chopping block, we can’t give Rep. Mike Coffman credit for anything more than beating the deadline by a few token hours. Despite some opportunistic victory lapping by Coffman boosters after Flynn’s resignation became public, it’s just plain silly to give him credit for causing it. He got word a few hours in advance that it was happening, and put out a statement. It was just-in-time politics, not a profile in courage.

And much more telling is another Colorado lawmaker who hasn’t said a word:

Requests for comment from Sen. Cory Gardner’s office Monday on the matter amid a request for another story went unreturned. [Pols emphasis]

As of this writing Sen. Cory Gardner has not responded to the situation at all, and as the state’s ranking Republican elected official and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, his silence…well, as they say, it roars. Many other Republicans have called for in-depth investigations of the Trump administration’s ties to the Russian government, but not Gardner.

And at this point, whatever he says or does isn’t leadership at all. It’s CYA.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (February 14)

Happy Valentine’s Day! (unless you are in PakistanIt’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…

► The word of the day week month year is “Russia.” Washington D.C. and the rest of the country are in a tizzy after last night’s resignation from Michael Flynn, who had served as Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor for about three whole weeks. Flynn resigned amid growing concern over his conversation(s) with Russia back in December — which would appear to be a violation of the “Logan Act” that prohibits Americans from working to undermine foreign policy goals.

President Trump’s sort-of-official response is that Trump himself asked for Flynn’s resignation (though this has been contradicted by White House sources, including Kellyanne Conway). This story is now so far out of the bag that calls for a full investigation into the Trump administration’s ties with Russia will grow louder with each passing hour. From the Washington Post:

A top Senate Republican said Tuesday that Congress should probe the circumstances leading up to the resignation of President Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn.

“I think in all likelihood it should be part of the intel committee’s review of what’s happened with Russia, yes,” said Senate GOP Conference Vice Chair Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Here in Colorado, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is also calling for a full Congressional investigation (as House Republicans dawdle). Meanwhile, all eyes and ears are on Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who has thus far remained silent on Flynn and the Russian controversy. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gardner should have direct access to information about this growing scandal.

 

► Check out the latest episode of the “Get More Smarter Show” to learn more about the nomination of Colorado judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

 

► Former one-term Republican lawmaker Victor “Dracula” Mitchell has officially entered his name in the 2018 governor’s race. Mitchell tells the Colorado Springs Gazette that he plans to roll out his campaign with a $3 million contribution from his own wallet. The registered agent on Mitchell’s campaign finance report is former Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

 

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

What you can do to fight back this week (February 13th)

Last weekend was supposed to be all about a nationwide protest by anti-abortion conservatives.

Instead, something else happened.

 

“More than a hundred” turned out to protest against Planned Parenthood, reported the Denver Post–and “more than a thousand” converged on Sen. Cory Gardner’s office in Denver to defend abortion rights, and demand Gardner stop his threats to defund women’s health care.

The overwhelming show of support for Planned Parenthood Saturday in Denver is just another example of what we’re seeing across the nation as America rises up to resist the Trump administration and the Republican Party’s disastrous agenda. Sen. Gardner has tried to blame the rallies outside his office on “paid protesters,” but the good people of Colorado are making a liar of Gardner day after day.

The resistance is real. The people of Colorado will not be silent. Donald Trump, Cory Gardner, and their right-wing allies at every level of government ignore you at their peril.

Here are ways you can make a difference this week as Colorado continues to fight back:


 

Be Our Valentine Rally

Come prepared to take action and meet others who are working to resist Trump’s agenda. You can engage in your free time, and there are ways for everybody to participate. We’ll be encouraging our Members of Congress in Senate and House to represent us, not Trump. If we stand together, indivisible, we will win. Welcome to the resistance!

Where: Skyline Park next to Sen. Gardner’s Office, Corner of 17th St. and Arapahoe St.
When: Tuesday, February 14 at 12:00 pm.

Click here to RSVP.


 

Valentine’s Action: Ask Sen Gardner to “Make a Date” with CO!

Senator Cory Gardner has no public events scheduled in Colorado, not even during the Congressional recess during the week of President’s Day. This Valentine’s Day, let’s ask him to #MakeaDatewithCO and schedule public town hall meetings. Plan a party to make your own Valentine cards (or check the discussion board to see if there’s one near you), or participate from home by creating your own Valentine!

Click here to RSVP and get more information.


 

Tell your Colorado legislators to support a national popular vote

Under the current system of electing the President, candidates have won the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide in 4 of the nation’s 57 presidential elections. The National Popular Vote bill, Senate Bill 17-099, would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.

Where: Colorado State Capitol, Room 357
When: Wednesday, February 15 at 1:30 pm.

Click here for more information and to take action online.


 

Trump Team in Denver: Rally to Protect the EPA!

Bring signs, bring friends, and bring your unyielding energy (and maybe some coffee) to 1445 Market Street this Wednesday! Let’s make sure that our leaders know that we want them to reject Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator, maintain the BLM methane rule, and prioritize our planet and it’s inhabitants!

Where: 1445 Market St, Denver
When: Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00 am.

Click here to RSVP.


We Are One Colorado Tour: Boulder

One Colorado is bringing the “We Are One Colorado” tour to 13 cities across the state to talk about how to build on — and protect — our victories and continue to advance equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans and their families. One Colorado will also present the findings of their statewide LGBTQ needs assessment that was conducted in 2016.

Where: Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Avenue, Boulder, CO 80303
When: Wednesday, February 15 at 6 – 7:30 pm.

Click here to RSVP.

On Thursday, the We Are One Colorado Tour will stop in Breckenridge. Click here for more information.


 

General Strike Against Trump

On Friday, February 17, 2017, Strike4Democracy will coordinate over 100 strike actions across the United States, and beyond, to plan for a series of mass strikes to stand up for America’s democratic principles. As the nation suffers through ICE raids, travel bans, Trump’s mobilization on the border wall, as well as attacks on the rights of workers, women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and our environment, February 17th provides a beacon to those who are searching for a way to protect and defend our shared humanity.

Click here to RSVP and get more information.


One Billion Rising – Denver: 2017 March & Rally

1 in 3 women across the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. That’s ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. Every February, we rise – in hundreds of countries across the world – to show our local communities and the world what one billion looks like and shine a light on the rampant impunity and injustice that survivors most often face. We rise through dance to express joy and community and and celebrate the fact that we have not been defeated by this violence.

Where: Denver Pavilions, 500 16th St, Denver
When Saturday, February 18 at 11:00 am.

Click here to RSVP.


 

Defend Our Constitution March

We have been a broken nation in the past, but the current presidency has divided us and openly stomped on our rights at a new level of deception. The very Constitution that this country was built on is at stake. We must defend our rights before we no longer have any! We must unite to show that we are not to be stomped all over! If anything good can come out of this regime, let it be the uniting of the people. Let their hatred fuel our love and passion enough to truly create a change. Let all minority groups join together to create the majority in our fight.

Where: Denver’s Civic Center Park, Colfax and Bannock
When: Saturday, February 18 at 1:30 pm.

Click here to RSVP.


 

Not My President’s Day Rally Denver, CO

Come stand in solidarity with the masses who do not and will not accept a fascist, morally bankrupt and hateful person as our president. There are sister rallies happening across the nation. Let’s show this administration that Denver will continue to denounce these vile policies. We will not be silenced or tempered. We are here to STAY.

Where: Colorado State Capitol, 200 E Colfax Ave, Denver
When: Monday, February 20 at 5:00 pm.

Click here to RSVP.


Thanks again for everything you are doing to fight back in defense of our shared values. Every week I am blown away by the smart and passionate Colorado citizens I meet at these events. I wish we were coming together under better circumstances, but the unity of purpose and momentum we are building together to stand up to Trump will positively impact our nation long after Trump is a footnote in the history books.

We are doing more than fighting back against one man. We are organizing for a better America, and a better future for all of us.

And there’s no turning back now.