Walker Stapleton Rides The Term Limits Pony: Please Clap!

TUESDAY UPDATE: GOP-aligned advocacy group Compass Colorado spills the beans in an email update today:

Our Colorado State Treasurer, Walker Stapleton, is now the voice behind a new ad campaign promoting term limits. The ads will run across the state. Considering that Treasurer Stapleton is a likely gubernatorial candidate, the campaign will help boost his name ID across the state. [Pols emphasis]

Which is the whole point of course, but you’re not supposed to say so.

—–

Regular readers are no doubt aware of the ad that’s been planted at the top of our site more or less continuously for a number of days now, advertising a rally on March 9th at the state capitol for usual-suspect conservative message group U.S. Term Limits:

About a week into the ad campaign promoting this “grassroots” rally, the art switched to a new theme: join Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton at the term limits rally, which is still paid for by U.S. Term Limits:

So, for starters, we can dispense with the notion that U.S. Term Limits exists to propose any kind of workable limit on the terms of members of Congress. Such a major change to the legislative branch would require a constitutional amendment, either through ratification by two-thirds of the states or by a “convention of states”–the latter being the official position of U.S. Term Limits, though it has never actually been used in American history. USTL claims further that their convention would be restricted to their pet cause, but there’s no legal way they could actually guarantee that.

Meaning the whole exercise is silliness, based on the one overriding fact that term limits poll well with (no nice way to say this) low-information voters. In states like Colorado where we have term limits in our own General Assembly, the effects of the policy are overwhelmingly negative–creating a climate in which lobbyists and political pressure groups have more experience running the government than lawmakers themselves.

Some of our longtime readers will remember a previous ad campaign from U.S. Term Limits, a large buy in support of U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer in 2008. Their “Thanks, Bob” ad (which said nothing about term limits) was parodied and laughed at generally in a race Schaffer went on to badly lose, as well as provoking an FEC complaint. But it was a good lesson in the true purpose of the organization–which is to support favored Republican candidates of Howard Rich, a New York real estate developer and member of the board of the much larger right-wing advocacy group the Club for Growth.

With protests related to government…you know, stuff (better for Walker Stapleton to keep that as vague as possible) raging throughout the land, we can understand why this “grasstops” organization run by and for well-heeled Republicans is trying to insert itself in the action. Once the organization’s true motives are unpacked, though, it’s pretty easy to understand that this is a cynical campaign vehicle–funded by a New York billionaire to support George and Jeb Bush’s cousin’s political ambitions.

And that could dry up the grassroots enthusiasm.

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.

 

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

Stapleton won’t reveal gubernatorial plans for fear of being ignored at the state Capitol if he did so

(Does that mean he’ll show up? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton will not say if he’s running for governor next year because, if he did so, “any common sense you’re trying to make when it comes to legislation goes completely out the window and people reflexively don’t want to have anything to do with you.”

Stapleton made the comment Thursday on KNUS-710 AM, but hosts Steve Kelley and Krista Kafer didn’t ask whether nonstop rumors about a possible run have the same effect.

Stapleton said it’s a “shame” that declared candidates are treated this way, but there are too many things he’d “like to try to get accomplished for the state of Colorado this legislative session.”

Stapleton, a Republican, told the conservative host he’ll sit on the sidelines and wait for others to announce their gubernatorial intentions.

“I’m keeping my head down for now, we’ll let others announce,” he said (audio below).

Despite Stapleton’s evasiveness, Kelley complimented Stapleton for not being “evasive at all.”

“Someone a long time ago who’s been quite successful in this business told me some great advice and that is, ‘Keep your head down and do you job, and people will appreciate it and recognize you for it.'”

Stapleton could have been referring to experienced politicians in his own family. Stapleton  is the second cousin of former President George W. Bush and of failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush. Jeb’s and W’s father, and Stapleton’s first cousin, is former President George Herbert Walker Bush, with “Walker” as the lineage connecting Walker Stapleton to the Bushes.

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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.

The State of the 2018 Governor’s Race

Who wants to follow this routine?

It’s that time of year in an off-year election cycle when the rumors and name-dropping are coming from every direction. On the same day that Gov. John Hickenlooper delivered his State of the State address, we thought it would be a good time to takes a look at what we’re seeing, reading, and hearing when it comes to jockeying for Colorado’s top job in 2018…

 

IN THE RACE
Noel Ginsburg (D)
As of this writing, there are seven candidates who have officially filed with the Secretary of State’s office to run for governor in 2018. Ginsburg is the only relevant name here; the other six are just gadflies who apparently think it would be fun to run for governor. We’ve written a bit about Ginsburg already, though it’s far too early to gauge whether the Denver businessman can really make a dent in this race.

 

NOT YET “OFFICIAL,” BUT DEFINITELY RUNNING
George Brauchler (R)
Walker Stapleton (R)
Cary Kennedy (D)
Mike Johnston (D)
Brauchler and Stapleton are both going to run for governor; the only suspense is about when they will make an official announcement. Kennedy and Johnston have been moving toward a run for governor for many months now, and it would be more of a surprise at this point if they chose not to enter the race — although that could change depending on what happens with Ken Salazar and Ed Perlmutter (see below).

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 4)

Here comes the snow! Maybe. Forecasts along the Front Range call for as much as 2 feet of snow in the next two days…which probably means we’ll get an inch of rain. 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…

► The new Republican Congress got off to a curious start this week by attempting to quietly gut the House Ethics Committee before constituents (and Donald Trump) got wind of the plan and expressed their anger. House Republicans quickly backtracked on this idiotic idea, thanks in part to opposition from Trump but largely because voters made their voices heard:

This is a really, really, really, really stupid way for Republicans to start things off in 2017. As Politico explains, this move could sting for awhile:

By early Tuesday morning, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of GOP leadership realized the proposal was about to tank the entire House rules package — and implode the first day of the GOP-led Congress. They convened an emergency closed-door conference meeting around noon to discuss removing the ethics provision — but it was too late. Donald Trump had tweeted his disapproval, and the public outcry had risen to such a crescendo that all anyone wanted to talk about was an obscure House office few people had ever heard of just 24 hours before.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who added that the ethics snafu was an unforced error. “Sometimes people have to learn the hard way.”…

…The day left some members shaking their heads. Many, including Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), left the chamber Tuesday night crossing their fingers that the drama of the first day would not foreshadow the next two years to come.

“I think that there is going to be a lot of tough votes we will have to take and this wasn’t one of the toughest ones, so, I think we should learn from this,” he said. “Once you launch that ship, you’ve got to keep going… We need to go forth with more sense of purpose and direction.”

Fill the swamp! Fill the swamp! Oh, wait, that’s not right…

 

► Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) won’t reveal how he voted on the controversial measure to gut the House Ethics Committee. In other words, Tipton almost certainly supported the effort. Colorado Republican Reps. Doug Lamborn, Ken Buck, and Mike Coffman are all claiming that they opposed the measure. According to reports, 119 Republicans backed crippling the Ethics Committee; we have a sneaking suspicion that this number isn’t going to match public proclamations in another few days.

 

► A media outlet finally got around to asking some of Colorado’s top Republican officials about Donald Trump…though it wasn’t a journalist related in any way to Colorado. Come on, Colorado political reporters! How can you get scooped by something called Gray Television?

As Jason Salzman notes, there may be no more relevant question for Colorado Republicans than to be asked about Trump.

 

 

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

Now, if Only Walker Stapleton Would “Show Up” Once in Awhile

This is how you make the “Walker Stapleton face.”

Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, the inexplicable frontrunner for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2018, is mad again about PERA. From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Over the protests of Colorado’s state treasurer, the head of the state’s retirement system received a 3 percent salary increase on Tuesday—his second raise in just over a year—bringing his salary to nearly $406,000 in 2017.

Greg Smith, chief executive of the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association, also will receive an incentive payment of 20 percent for leading the $47 billion, 300-employee retirement system, which amounts to nearly $79,000. Smith’s current salary is $394,000.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, an ex-officio, voting member of PERA’s board of trustees—and a longtime critic of the system—assailed the raise, pointing out that the pension fund for the state’s more than 547,000 members faces about $30 billion in unfunded liabilities.

“It is unconscionable that Greg Smith will receive a 3 percent raise and 20 percent bonus for doing absolutely nothing to address PERA’s growing unfunded liability,” Stapleton said in a statement issued by his office. “This bonus is not tied to any performance. He is getting an extra 20 percent for simply showing up and maintaining the status quo. This is a prime example of all that is wrong with government.” [Pols emphasis]

We’re not going to even attempt to defend this raise for Greg Smith…but we also don’t have to worry about our own very public history of avoiding the office. This is a strangely-worded line of attack for Stapleton, who has had plenty of problems himself with just “showing up” for work while serving as Treasurer. Stapleton received a mountain of bad press when he was running for re-election two years ago because he apparently rarely bothered to show up at his office in the State Capitol. As we wrote in October 2014, Democratic challenger Betsy Markey hit Stapleton hard in a TV ad over results of an open records request showing that Stapleton’s key card left his wallet about as often as that old buy-5-get-one-free card from the local deli:

Based on data gleaned from an Open Records request of Stapleton’s state-appointed key card (which he needs to enter the State Capitol), there are probably tour guides who spend more time in the building than Stapleton himself. As the script for the ad explains:

At best…it’s inexcusable.

At worst…it’s a scandal. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Official key-card records from his Denver office confirm…

Stapleton only bothers showing up at his office around ten days a month.

Often, skipping the office for weeks at a time.

Or only showing up after three P.M.

This is a pretty straightforward ad that is hard for Stapleton’s campaign to fully refute, though Stapleton’s spokesperson, Michael Fortney, tried lamely to defend his boss when questioned by Denver Post reporter  Lynn Bartels. According to Fortney, Stapleton often forgets his key card, and when he does, he just enters the capitol through the public entrance.

Colorado’s State Treasurer makes an annual salary of $68,500. If this were an hourly position, Stapleton’s take-home pay would be more along the lines of the Federal Poverty Level.

Yeah, Let’s Make THIS GUY Our State Treasurer

Nic Morse, apparently

“What’s Nic Morse going to do next?” said no-one ever.

Nevertheless, here’s Joey Bunch reporting for ColoradoPolitics.com:

The calendar hasn’t yet closed on 2016, but increasingly the politics are turning to 2018, as Republican Nicholas Morse of Fort Collins tells me he’s thinking about running for state treasurer…

…“I wanted to put out a quick statement saying I have been asked to consider running for the state treasurer position in 2018,” he said.  “It is a position that I am interested in and something that I am going to put some considerable thought towards over the next six months.”

Morse reportedly was urged by President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign staff in Colorado to get in the race. [Pols emphasis]

Reportedly? According to who — Nic Morse?

If you’re not familiar with Norse Morse, and you shouldn’t be, he’s the Republican candidate who just barely avoided losing to Rep. Jared Polis by 20 points in 2016 (Morse came within 19.2 points of beating Polis!)

But nevermind all of that. The real star of this story is Morse’s campaign finance report. According to FEC data through October 19, Morse “raised” $163k in his race for Congress in CD-2, of which $114k is listed under “candidate contributions.” When you take a closer look at the report, however, you find this:

Image from Nic Morse campaign finance report (FEC).

Whoa…$112,500 for a website??? That’s a tad excessive. For $112,500, his website had better be able to control the International Space Station.

Anyhoo, Nic Morse for Treasurer. Or whatever.

Bush Cousin Stapleton Doesn’t Disavow Trump

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Walker Stapleton

Walker Stapleton

In an appearance on KNUS 710-AM’s Kelley and Kafer Oct. 11, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton chose not to disavow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump–as Stapleton’s second cousin, failed presidential canidate Jeb Bush, has done.

Asked by host Steve Kelley for a “quick comment” about the “top of the ticket,” Stapleton stopped short of denouncing the mogul:

Stapleton: “Well, you know, I think it’s a messy situation. It’s an unfortunate situation. I think it’s a lost opportunity to expose the many, many flaws that Hillary Clinton has.  I think she’s a very duplicitous individual. And I just wish we could find a way to pull it together. And in the last month of the campaign, we should be uniting Republicans, not dividing Republicans. So, I’m pretty frustrated, as you might imagine, with the ‘macro’ — I guess — state of affairs on the national level, which is why I am really redoubling my efforts to focus here in Colorado on what’s at stake on the ballot this election cycle.”

The radio appearance marks the second time Stapleton, who’s mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2018, has passed on a chance denounce Trump. Last week, the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland posted a story about the reaction of Colorado Republicans to Trump, and Stapleton did not return the Independent’s request to comment.

Other Replicans rumored to be considering future runs for statewide office,  Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and District Attorney George Brauchler, did not returns calls and/or emails from The Independent.

With Trump unlikely to disappear from the national Republican stage after the upcoming election, the current stance of future Republican candidates toward Trump could prove important next year and beyond.

Stapleton is the second cousin of former President George W. Bush and of failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who sparred with Trump repeatedly during the Republican presidential primary. Jeb’s and W’s father, and Stapleton’s first cousin, is former President George Herbert Walker Bush, with “Walker” as the linneage connecting Walker Stapleton to the Bushes.

Jeb Bush has stated that he will not vote for Trump, and neither will his mother Barbara Bush.

Jeb Bush, whom Stapleton supported of course, wrote on Facebook:

Jeb Bush: The American Presidency is an office that goes beyond just politics. It requires of its occupant great fortitude and humility and the temperament and strong character to deal with the unexpected challenges that will inevitably impact our nation in the next four years.

Donald Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character. He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution. And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy.

The reaction of Colorado Republicans to Trump has spanned the full spectrum, from enthusiastic support to denunciation.

Dubya’s Comin’ To Denver!

The Martin Museum Residence at the DAM.

The Martin Museum Residence at the DAM.

FRIDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch:

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush will get some brotherly help and collect some Colorado cash when former President George W. Bush comes to Denver on Oct. 18.

Since February the former president has been scheduled as the keynote speaker for the Association for Financial Professionals annual conference at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

The location of the fundraiser isn’t being publicized but will be disclosed to invited guests as they RSVP…

We’re not sure what all the attempted secrecy is about with the location of this fundraiser…oh, who are we kidding, we know exactly why they’re not being up front with the location of the Martin Museum Residence for a fundraiser starring George W. Bush. Former President Bush is far and away the most protested American chief executive in a generation, with far bigger demonstrations against his policies–and in more places around the world–than anything the “Tea Party” was ever able to throw at Barack Obama.

So we hope we’re not causing any, you know, problems for this event by disclosing to our readers that J. Landis Martin’s Museum Residence is located…wait for it…at the Denver Art Museum! Which has many convenient nearby protest locations.

Original post follows…

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What’s Next for George Brauchler?

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

The Aurora Theater Shooting trial finally came to a close on Wednesday when Judge Carlos Samour Jr. sentenced convicted killer James Holmes to 12 consecutive life sentences, and another 3,318 years in prison for good measure. Following the sentencing, Samour put an exclamation point on the trial when he said, “Get the defendant out of my courtroom, please.”

Privately, at least, life should essentially return to normal for Judge Samour and the countless others who have invested much of the last few years on this case. But for Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, who is being courted by Republicans to run for U.S. Senate in 2016, he may just be exchanging one spotlight for another.

In an interview with the Colorado Independent, Brauchler acknowledged that he feels the pressure to make a decision on his political future by Labor Day – less than two weeks away. Now that the sentencing is complete, it’s a good time to look at the political ramifications of the Aurora Theater Shooting Trial for Brauchler — and by extension, Colorado Republicans in general.

We decided to do this Rickey Henderson-style by having a Q&A conversation with ourselves, so let’s get to it after the jump… (more…)

Reporters should expect to have to dog Walker Stapleton for answers

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Update: Colorado Independent reporter Nat Stein’s answer to my question of whether Stapleton’s office gave her a reason for declining comment: “His comms guy pretty much hung up on me, and three emails went unanswered,” tweeted Stein. “I just wanna talk!!”

———-

When a public official starts to develop a reputation for stonewalling the media, the trend should be highlighted, especially now that fewer reporters are out there to ask public officials anything at all. Every reasonable question should be cherished. And every denial called out.

No long ago, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton declined to take questions from the evil Denver Post about why he withdrew his support from a bill aimed at making money for PERA, the state’s public retirement program. Then Stapleton shamelessly called the resulting article “completely misleading,” even though he’d refused to talk to the reporter about it.

Now Stapleton declined to comment on a softball request by the Colorado Independent’s Nat Stein about a #BlackLivesMatter campaign to change the name of the Stapleton neighborhood, because former Denver mayor Benjamin Stapleton was a member of the KKK.

Stein reports:

The Stapleton legacy — or its name, at least — still lives on in state government. Republican Walker Stapleton is currently serving his second term as state treasurer. His press office declined to comment on this article.

And as for the obvious question — well, what should Stapleton be named instead? — Pullen said Black Lives Matter 5280 hopes Stapleton could be renamed after a woman of color who made significant, historical contributions to Denver.

Nat Stein did not respond immediately to a request via Twitter to explain why Stapleton’s office refused to address questions about his family’s KKK history. My suggestion is to push harder for an answer.

Sorry, Walker Stapleton: Price of Gold Plunges

ChartBuilderIn 2010, as the nation was in the grip of a major economic downturn, right-wing candidates capitalized on uncertainty about the economy by seeking to outdo each other with frightening predictions about the future–and what they would do to save us. In the case of then-candidate for Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, he responded to a question in a primary debate about the economy by suggesting the state invest in gold to hedge against what he foresaw as a “hyperinflationary environment.”

STAPLETON: The Treasury’s portfolio has not changed markedly in the last eight or ten years under Treasurer Mike Coffman, under Treasurer Mark Hillman and now under Treasurer Cary Kennedy. And that’s been okay, it’s weathered the storm fairly well. The problem is that we, I believe we are entering a hyper-inflationary environment. We’re going to need to shorten the duration of a lot of the state’s investments, the duration of the portfolio to adjust to a hyper-inflationary environment…

And I think hedging, using using gold to hedge against inflation or another precious metal is something the state needs to investigate. It’s something we haven’t done in the past, and it could be an effective method of dealing with a hyper-inflationary environment.

Fast-forward to today’s news:

“We see further downward pressure on gold prices, possibly stabilising at an eventual rate of US$1,000 a troy ounce,” said Mr Howie Lee, a Phillip Futures investment analyst. “It seems to be an end of an era for the precious metal. Even in a crisis, it has not picked up much appeal.”

Amid the recent turmoil in Chinese markets that spread to bourses across the globe, gold prices have remained weak. According to a Bloomberg survey on Jul 29, traders expect gold prices will drop to US$984 an ounce before January next year. That would be the lowest since 2009.

One factor weighing on the outlook for the yellow metal is a US Federal Reserve rate hike expected later this year that will push the greenback even higher and raise the opportunity cost of holding gold, which carries zero interest.

The traditional sales tactic for gold and other precious metals involves spreading fear about the economy to motivate investors to “hedge” their investments against uncertainty. Since Barack Obama became President in 2009 in the midst of a recession he did not create, a natural alliance has formed between Obama’s political enemies and gold trading companies. Republicans set themselves up for victory in 2010 by making voters believe that the world was about to end, which boosted gold trading companies as rattled Americans bought up gold to survive the coming Obamanation.

But between Stapleton’s dire predictions of “hyperinflation” and today, something else happened: the American economy didn’t collapse after all. In 2010, the U.S. economy was already emerging from the depths of recession, a process that has continued to this day. The economic fears that prevailed in 2010 have slowly dissipated, and as a result the price of gold has plunged by hundreds of dollars in the last few years (see chart above right). There are predictions now that the price of gold could fall even more, below $1,000 per ounce and perhaps much farther.

Safe to say, thank goodness Colorado didn’t fill the state treasury with gold!

Now that the price of gold is dropping like a rock, we’d say the question of what Walker Stapleton was thinking in 2010 is even more relevant. Why did this supposed financial expert make such wildly inaccurate predictions about the economy, and then propose a remedy that now appears absolutely foolhardy? We know there are plenty of theories–we want to hear it from Stapleton personally.

Because as much as everyone rushes to excuse yesterday’s “Tea Party” nuttiness, it happened. He said it.

Throwback Thursday: Walker Stapleton Says “Buy Gold!”

Five years ago, now-Treasurer Walker Stapleton was locked in a tense primary battle against J.J. Ament, son of longtime Colorado political fixture Don Ament. In 2010, more or less all Republican candidates for office were working hard to prove their “Tea Party” mettle, which in practice meant the enthusiastic embrace of a smorgasbord of really extreme ideas–things that would sound just plain nutty in, say, 2015.

As you can see in the clip above, Walker Stapleton was no exception:

STAPLETON: The Treasury’s portfolio has not changed markedly in the last eight or ten years under Treasurer Mike Coffman, under Treasurer Mark Hillman and now under Treasurer Cary Kennedy. And that’s been okay, it’s weathered the storm fairly well. The problem is that we, I believe we are entering a hyper-inflationary environment. We’re going to need to shorten the duration of a lot of the state’s investments, the duration of the portfolio to adjust to a hyper-inflationary environment…

And I think hedging, using using gold to hedge against inflation or another precious metal is something the state needs to investigate. It’s something we haven’t done in the past, and it could be an effective method of dealing with a hyper-inflationary environment.

It’s important to remember the political climate on the right during the summer of 2010. The recent passage of the Affordable Care Act had been spun into a B-movie nightmare in which your grandmother and Sarah Palin’s disabled son were about to be put to death. The recent recession, which resulted from problems that began long before Barack Obama became President, was viewed as a precursor to a “socialist takeover” of the economy. Glenn Beck, then at the peak of his influence, warned right-leaning Americans of all these things and more–and urged them to buy gold to protect their wealth from destruction at the hands of the liberals subverting America.

And it all sounds…well, incredibly stupid now doesn’t it? Contrary to Stapleton’s dire predictions on the primary campaign trail, a “hyper-inflationary environment” never materialized. In fact, the overall economy has recovered strongly from the Great Recession. And it’s a good thing Stapleton never kept his pledge to buy gold with the state’s money, since gold has lost over a third of its value since its peak in 2011.

In all the years since, Stapleton has never been asked to explain these nutty remarks, but incidents like this help explain his amateurish flopping like a fish over a bill to shore up the state’s public employees retirement system–a bill he supported before the right wing made it known that he shouldn’t have.

There’s a good chance that Walker Stapleton simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and substitutes whatever he hears on talk radio for financial expertise.

At someday, that may well catch up with him.

Stapleton Kicks Off Taxpayer-Funded “Statewide Tour”

Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Fresh off an avalanche of bad press for absurdly denying having backed legislation to shore up the state’s public employee retirement system when questioned about it on right-wing talk radio, Colorado Treasurer Walker “Bush” Stapleton is heading out on a “listening tour” of all 64 counties in Colorado–including the counties with basically no people in them. From Stapleton’s press release:

Today, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton announced the kick off of a 64-county tour across Colorado. The goal of this summer-long road trip is to update civic and community leaders on what is happening at the State Capitol, and to hold meetings with county elected officials to get a better understanding of the issues impacting local communities…

“As I begin my second term, it is important to step out of the office, hit the road and continue to listen to the needs of people across our state,” said Treasurer Stapleton. “When I was in the private sector, I found it immensely useful to go out and talk to customers and co-workers. That’s where the good ideas come from, the people, not the boardroom. But you have to be willing to put in the legwork.”

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reports that Stapleton claims the trip has been “in the works” since March–apparently he’s more willing to talk to Bartels about this trip than her colleague John Frank about the recent controversy over the Public Employees Retirement Association bill. We don’t doubt that Stapleton was planning this tour for longer than he has been in hot water over his backpedaled support for legislation to reduce the unfunded liability owed by PERA, but we can’t see how this helps him either.

Setting aside the PERA gaffe, Stapleton’s aspirations for higher office are very well known, and this “fact-finding tour” to every county in the state can easily be portrayed as an improper campaign (or at least pre-campaign) activity paid for with taxpayer dollars. It’s one thing when the Governor tours the state for “fact-finding”…but the Treasurer? Coming from a politician everybody knows is angling for a run for higher office in three years, this kind of self-serving junket is just too easy to criticize.

Enough that it’s likely to cost Stapleton–politically, since you’re the one paying–more than it was worth.