Get More Smarter on Friday (February 16)

Prepare for some mighty blustery weather this weekend. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Immigration reform efforts didn’t even last the work week in Washington D.C., as Denver7 reports:

The U.S. Senate failed on Thursday to pass procedural hurdles on four separate immigration measures, most of which were aimed at extending citizenship to Dreamers and enhancing security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The failure of the measures came as little surprise Thursday afternoon after another morning of fighting between the White House, which adamantly opposed any measures that were not in line with its own, and the rest of the Senate.

And in the end, the White House’s proposal, which was sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, garnered the fewest number of votes, with just 39 voting to proceed to a final vote.

A bipartisan solution cosponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., which some had said was the most-likely of the four to pass, garnered 54 votes.

All of the proposals needed to clear a 60-vote hurdle before they could proceed to final votes. None of them did.

 

► The Denver Post is calling for state Sen. Randy Baumgardner to resign from office following allegations of sexual harassment and a bafflingly weak response from Senate Republican leadership.

 

► As the Washington Post reports, a younger generation of Americans is now asking why the government won’t do anything to keep them safe:

In the familiar aftermath of America’s latest mass shooting, something new stood out: This time, the kids who survived the rampage on Wednesday were demanding to know why the adults who run the country had not done more to prevent it…

…In the familiar aftermath of America’s latest mass shooting, something new stood out: This time, the kids who survived the rampage on Wednesday were demanding to know why the adults who run the country had not done more to prevent it.

Local officials in the Parkland, Florida region are not at all happy about President Trump’s plans to visit the area in the aftermath of Wednesday’s massacre.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 15)

There have now been 18 school shootings in 2018 alone. This year is only 45 days old. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► In his first public response to Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, President Trump said that students should feel safe in their schools because, uh, well…

As the Associated Press reports:

President Donald Trump struck a solemn tone Thursday after the deadly school shooting in Florida, describing a “scene of terrible violence, hatred and evil” and promising to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” but avoiding any mention of guns…

…He did not answer shouted questions about guns as he exited the room.

While Republicans continue to say much but do nothing, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy is not mincing words in blaming Congress for sitting on its hands.

This image from CNN.com says everything in one word:

 

Here’s a brief look at what Colorado elected officials had to say in response to Wednesday’s shooting.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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The Shirtless Sheriff is Killing Brauchler’s Political Career

Former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, aka the “Shirtless Sheriff.”

Former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa — aka “The Shirtless Sheriff” — skated through yet another high-profile trial today when a jury couldn’t reach a decision on corruption charges. As KOAA reports in Colorado Springs:

The jury in the corruption trial of former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa returned a not guilty verdict on two counts of official misconduct following several hours of deliberation. On the felony charges of extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

Earlier Monday, the jury told the judge they were at an impasse in their deliberations on the charge of extortion. The defense asked the judge to halt deliberations on that charge, yet the judge disagreed and ordered the jurors to continue their efforts.

There is no decision at this time on whether prosecutors will consider another retrial on those charges.

Republican Attorney General candidate George Brauchler, aka “Totally Screwed.”

The prosecution of Maketa was being handled by the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s office, which is overseen by DA George Brauchler, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Governor Attorney General. Brauchler’s involvement in the Maketa re-trial had been called “a media disaster” by political observers…and that was before the Arapahoe DA’s office lost the re-trial.

Today’s decision marked the end of the second trial for Maketa on charges of conspiracy to commit extortion,  extortion, and two counts of official misconduct. Maketa’s first trial, in July 2017, ended when he was acquitted on several charges and the jury deadlocked on others. In the aftermath of that trial, difficult questions emerged about how Brauchler had overseen the case, with Hurlburt citing “serious preparation problems” before the trial.

Brauchler will not be able to escape scrutiny on the Maketa re-trial and a decision to attempt a second re-trial. Brauchler has repeatedly taken responsibility for all major decisions that come out of the Arapahoe County DA’s office, which is respectable in one regard but politically-awful in another. Prosecutor Mark Hurlbert (yes, that Mark Hurlbert) said last summer that Brauchler would be “personally involved in the decision whether to retry Maketa.”

Brauchler has already earned a reputation as someone who is more than willing to play loose with the facts in order to make himself look good, and he’s opened himself up to critics who say that he’s just not a very good prosecutor and should not be elected as the chief law enforcement officer of Colorado (not to mention critics from his own party who worry about his ability to effectively do his job while running for statewide office).

With a second loss in the Maketa trial — combined with Brauchler’s litany of excuses over failing to get the death penalty for Aurora Theater Shooter James Holmes — it becomes relatively easy to paint Brauchler as an ambitious politician who doesn’t do his job well because he’s too preoccupied with plotting for his next office. And this latest Brauchler #FAIL couldn’t have come at a worse time, with current Attorney General Cynthia Coffman rumored to be considering re-election instead of her own no-hope bid for Governor.

Bad Optics: Catholic Church Fights Child Abuse Reporting Bill

Predator priests.

Denver7’s Robert Garrison reports on a bill in the Colorado legislature in response to a recent case of sexual abuse by a teacher in a Colorado middle school–a bill taking fire from an organization with a decidedly troubled past on the issue of child sexual abuse, the Catholic Church:

Legislation that would reform a mandatory system of reporting child abuse in Colorado is not getting support from the Catholic Church.

Senate Bill 18-058 would extend the statute of limitations in cases where a person is required by law to report child abuse but fails to do so.

Currently, the statute of limitations for failing to report child abuse or neglect in Colorado is 18 months, which could result in dropped charges in the recent indictment against three Cherry Creek school leaders accused of hiding allegations made by a specific student in 2013…

However, the lobbying arm for the three Catholic Dioceses in Colorado argues the bill goes too far…[their] statement stops short of detailing how the bill would impact the church, which has been rocked by a decades-long child sex assault scandal. And in some cases, clergy members have been accused of not reporting suspected child abuse.

One the one hand, the Catholic Church has been wrestling with the problem of sexual predators in the ranks of the priesthood for many decades, and can be taken at its word today far more than in previous years that they’re committed to putting a stop to it.

On the other hand, the church has actively covered up the abuse of children by not all, but some clergy for much of that time–going back perhaps literal centuries. The Catholic Church opposing legislation to extend mandatory reporting limitations in abuse cases could therefore be cast in a profoundly negative light.

With this in mind, we would have suggested more subtle lobbying by the church! But it’s a bit late for that now.

Tell Cynthia Coffman, Justice for Clarence Moses-EL, NOW!

A little over a year ago, ProgressNow Colorado members took action along with criminal justice reform advocates and concerned Denver residents to fight for the freedom of a man who spent nearly 30 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

With your help, Clarence Moses-EL walked free. But it’s not over.

Clarence Moses-EL was convicted of sexual assault in 1987 based on an identification that the victim says came “in a dream.” No physical evidence ever connected Clarence to this terrible crime, and DNA evidence that could have cleared him many years ago was improperly destroyed by Denver police. Over time, the case became less about justice and more about protecting the reputation of the Denver DA’s office and police department.

But justice prevailed. After a second trial that many said never should have happened, Clarence walked free.

In 2013, progressives in the Colorado legislature passed an important new law granting compensation to innocent people who are wrongly convicted and later exonerated. Under the law, Clarence Moses-EL is entitled to a significant sum. As a 62-year-old man who spent almost three decades behind bars, Clarence lacks the job skills necessary to provide for himself and his family. Clarence’s case is the perfect example of why this law is necessary.

Sadly, Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman doesn’t see it that way. Even after Clarence Moses-EL served decades for a crime he did not commit, and has been acquitted after a controversial retrial, AG Coffman has announced that her office will oppose Clarence’s request for compensation. On top of everything Clarence has suffered, this is an insult that can’t be excused. The man spent 28 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The state of Colorado ought not to force him and his family to live out the remainder of his free years in poverty.

Send a message to Cynthia Coffman right now: tell her to support justice for Clarence Moses-EL. We’ll share your names and comments with the AG Coffman’s office, the press and Clarence’s legal defense team as they fight for his just compensation.

Thanks for taking timely action. This may be about politics for Cynthia Coffman, but it’s not for us. This is about justice for a man who has been denied justice for almost 30 years. Clarence Moses-EL deserves better, and we all deserve a system that works to protect the innocent.

Cynthia Coffman Opts To Shaft Exonerated Ex-Prisoner

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

CBS4’s Melissa Garcia reports on a decision by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman that embroils her in a thorny prosecutorial ethics issue at a time when that may or may not help her politically in her bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination:

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced late Friday her decision to oppose awarding nearly $2 million to a Denver man who was wrongfully convicted of a brutal rape and beating.

Clarence Moses-EL, 62, spent nearly three decades in prison for the 1987 attack of a woman who lived in his neighborhood.

In a 2016 re-trial, the jury found Moses-EL not guilty of the crimes.

Awarding Moses-EL with the compensation money provided for on the Colorado Exoneration Act, passed in 2013, requires the Attorney General’s approval, along with that of the prosecuting District Attorney.

So here’s the deal with Clarence Moses-EL’s case as we understand it, in part based on excellent long-running journalism about the case by Susan Greene of the Colorado Independent. In 1987, a woman was sexually assaulted in Denver, and claimed to have identified Clarence Moses-EL “in a dream” several days later as her attacker. No physical evidence linking Moses-EL to the crime was ever produced, and DNA evidence in the case was improperly disposed of by authorities. Another man even confessed to the crime before recanting. The combination of these unusual circumstances led to Moses-EL’s conviction being thrown out, and he was acquitted after a second trial for which the former Denver DA was heavily criticized for pursuing.

The new Denver DA Beth McCann did not join Attorney General Cynthia Coffman in filing a brief in opposition to Moses-EL’s request for compensation under the 2013 law providing some $70,000 per year for the wrongly imprisoned. Given the previous DA’s repeated prosecution of Moses-EL, this can be viewed as a considerable shift that we suspect wasn’t an easy sell to the staff. Nonetheless her failure to advocate on Moses-EL’s behalf is a bitter disappointment to her supporters after the issue factored heavily in her election.

But in the upcoming battle to award Clarence Moses-EL just compensation, it’s gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Coffman who will take the brunt of the controversy after having actively opposed his request. Outside the legalistic lens that prosecutors examine such cases through, the moral conclusion in this case seems unambiguous–and outside a fairly small segment of cynical and/or racist voters, we don’t see depriving this man of rightful compensation after decades behind bars selling well politically.

Except when you consider that “a small segment of cynical and/or racist voters” could accurately describe the GOP primary electorate! We’re pretty sure Cynthia Coffman knows that, and knows her feints to the left on issues like abortion are poisonous in a Republican primary. After suffering in prison to protect the Denver DA office’s reputation, a man acquitted after nearly 30 years behind bars might suffer still more–this time in the service of Cynthia Coffman’s political aspirations.

And that’s a big problem. Or at least it should be.

Somebody please run against Jerry Sonnenberg

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jerry Sonnenberg is winding up his first term in the Colorado Senate. He is up for re-election in 2018, and no one has stepped up to run against him.  Sonnenberg ran unopposed for his first Senate term, and for all four of his previous House terms, until he was termed out in 2014.  No wonder he doesn’t return liberal constituent’s phone calls – he feels pretty safe ignoring their concerns. What are they going to do, run a Democrat against him?

Sonnenberg has referred to a fellow female Senator as”eye candy” and tweeted that he’d like to lube his assault rifle with “Obama tears”. He legislated against eminent domain for water pipelines, and for eminent domain for oil and gas companies. He sponsored legislation to prohibit protesting at oil  and gas sites, and he is a climate science denier.

In an excellent piece by Win the Fourth (WTF),  the author makes the case for fielding a Democrat to run against Sonnenberg.

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Senate Republicans Come Out Against “Bump Stock” Ban

Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham.

The mass shooting last October in Las Vegas, Nevada that killed 59 people and wounded hundreds more brought to light a relatively novel modification to semiautomatic long guns to enable far higher rates of fire than can be achieved by pulling the trigger for each shot as the weapon was originally designed. So-called “bump stocks” were found installed on multiple weapons used by the Las Vegas shooter, enabling him to achieve a rate of fire that was indistinguishable to responding police from that of a machine gun.

Which he used to kill dozens and dozens of people.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting “bump stocks” were identified as a major contributor the outsize death toll, and lawmakers including Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado got behind legislation to quickly ban their sale. But as we’ve seen countless times in the wake of mass shooting incidents, the impetus for passing legislation quickly faded under intense “management” of the situation by gun lobbyists and PR professionals. Hardcore pro-gun activists like Dudley Brown of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners in Colorado crassly told news reporters that “bump stocks” were only for enthusiasts to “see what automatic fire sounds like.”

Nonetheless legislation has been introduced this year in the Colorado General Assembly to deal with “bump stocks.” Senate Bill 18-051 bans “multi-burst trigger activators,” including bump stocks and devices that automatically depress the trigger on semiautomatic weapons faster than a human could. And with over 80% of the public supportive of banning “bump stocks,” you’d assume it’s a no-brainer–right?

But as the Denver Post reports, you’d be wrong.

Senate President Kevin Grantham, who had a relative at the concert in Las Vegas where the shooting took place, is a prominent opponent.

“This won’t save a single soul,” the Canon City Republican said. [Pols emphasis] “This won’t help the problem that they perceive. I think all it does is infringe on somebody’s ability to operate within their Second Amendment rights.”

Who would seriously argue that a lower rate of fire in the Las Vegas shooting would not have saved lives? That’s the first clue that something is seriously amiss here. The high rate of fire afforded by the use of high-capacity magazines and “bump stocks” is exactly what made the Las Vegas shooting unprecedented in its destruction.

If that isn’t obvious to you, you’re in very deep denial.

Senate President Kevin Grantham goes on to explain that a ban on “bump stocks” would lead to infringement of “people’s rights to have pieces of equipment,” as if that’s something that doesn’t exist today? Of course there are “pieces of equipment” that are regulated in modern society, many of which are–wait for it–weapons! And that leads to a very basic question for the President of the Colorado Senate: should automatic weapons be legal? Should any weapon be legal? What kind of regulation of guns would not infringe on Second Amendment rights under Grantham’s expansive interpretation?

We’re not asking this question flippantly. Two years ago, Republicans in the Colorado legislature actually introduced legislation to ease to process of acquiring fully automatic weapons that require special licensure from the federal government. It may be wildly out of the mainstream, but it is not at all unreasonable to suggest–underscored by Grantham’s comments about “bump stocks”–that Colorado Republicans don’t support any regulations whatsoever on the type of weapons civilians can legally obtain.

And if that’s what Kevin Grantham believes, let’s stop screwing around and have him say so.

To as many voters as possible.

Rep. Lori Saine Just Can’t Help Herself

Rep. Lori Saine (R), in custody after being arrested at DIA with a loaded gun.

Last month, Republican state Rep. Lori Saine was arrested at Denver International Airport after bringing a loaded 9mm semiautomatic pistol into an airport security checkpoint concealed in her purse. Saine was arrested after requesting an attorney during police questioning, and was released the next after a court appearance.

After an investigation by the Boulder DA, no charges were filed. Rep. Saine didn’t knowingly bring her pistol into the security checkpoint, and Boulder County DA Stan Garnett gave her the benefit of the doubt. We have no doubt Rep. Saine is relieved to have escaped without charges that could have, among other things, made it more difficult for her to own guns.

But much like ex-Rep. Jared Wright, now the General Manager of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s politics blog who left a loaded handgun in a House hearing room back in 2014, this will not go down in history as a model of responsible gun ownership.

That’s Republican donor and ex-House candidate Rick Enstrom rightly condemning Saine’s negligence after her arrest. But sometime between then and now, whatever contrition Rep. Saine may have had after her arrest for being careless with her gun seems to have evaporated:

Because Rep. Lori Saine is a prime sponsor of legislation introduced this week to repeal Colorado’s 2013 law limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds. This is the same legislation that Saine has sponsored for several years running now, part of the annual futile exercise mounted each year by Colorado Republicans to placate pro-gun voters by making a run at the 2013 gun control bills passed in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting.

Yes, Rep. Saine’s bill was always going to die in the House State Affairs Committee like it has each year. But this time, there may well be a discussion about hypocrite lawmakers who can’t keep their own guns safe. Like ex-Rep. Wright and Rep. Saine. As the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Saine will be sitting right there in testimony while her own irresponsible actions are held up as grounds for killing any bill she offers on the subject of guns.

Because to any outside observer, this is madness.

Where Are They Now? department: Jennifer Kerns 3.0 edition

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The “Hot mess” from California just got owned by Joy Reid.

The 12/23/17 AMJoy Show featured Jen Kerns attempting to distract from the Russian collusion scandal by rehashing the Uranium One “scandal”. This was round two – after Jen Kerns U1 talking points  were dissected by Reid on October 30.

In Colorado, we’re used to Kerns lying, just making stuff up – and getting away with it, for the most part.

In 2013, Jennifer Kerns emerged as the spokesperson for the recall effort against Senators Giron and Morse. The recall,  ostensibly for the Senators’ so-called “anti-gun” votes, almost shifted control to Republicans in the Colorado Senate.

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Top Ten Stories of 2017 #10: Vicki Marble vs. The Cub Scout

State Sen. Vicki Marble, left, speaking to 11-year-old Ames Mayfield.

Kicking off our recap of the top ten stories in Colorado politics for 2017 is another story about one of Colorado’s most consistently off-message state lawmakers–GOP Sen. Vicki Marble of Larimer County, representing a long stretch of northern Colorado suburbs, exurbs, and agricultural communities along the I-25 corridor. A few years ago, Sen. Marble made national headlines for a now-infamous lecture in a Capitol hearing on health problems caused by African-Americans eating so much damned chicken. Marble’s unfortunate response to that rather straightforward controversy deepened her self-dug hole, and the embarrassment only slowly faded with time–after delivering a big fat black eye to the Republican brand well outside the boundaries of the state of Colorado.

You might think based on that disastrous experience that Republicans in Sen. Marble’s district would be…you know, careful about putting her in the spotlight, since like Forrest Gump said about a box of chocolates you never know what you’re going to get. Or in Sen. Marble’s case you do know what you’re going to get, and it’s all the gross chocolates nobody wants.

But as the Washington Post reported a few days after our initial exposure, you’d be wrong:

When Ames Mayfield’s Cub Scout den met with a Colorado state senator last week, the 11-year-old came prepared with a long list of typed-up questions. He excitedly raised his hand to ask his first one…

But after the meeting, the leader of Ames’s Cub Scout pack, which oversees various dens, requested a meeting with his mother. The leader told Ames’s mother, Lori Mayfield, that her son was kicked out of his Cub Scout den, the mother said in an email to The Washington Post.

The son’s den leader was apparently upset over Ames’s questions, particularly the one on gun control, Mayfield said. The mother was told her son’s question was disrespectful and too political. [Pols emphasis]

…After Mayfield posted the videos on YouTube, the website Colorado Pols published a story about the senator’s exchange with the Cub Scouts. It was after this article published that Ames’s pack leader requested a meeting with his mother.

Ex-Rep. Don Beezley (R).

Looking deeper into the local Cub Scout organization that included Ames Mayfield’s pack, we found much evidence to suggest the entire operation is “too political”–just not in the direction of Mayfield’s politics. We were genuinely surprised to learn that of the leaders of this Cub Scout pack is former Rep. Don Beezley of Broomfield, who can accurately be described as a fringe blowhard on par with Marble herself. And although the Cub Scout pack invited one of the Colorado General Assembly’s most controversial Republican lawmakers to speak to a bunch of children, we’ve never seen anything to suggest a Democrat was ever similarly invited.

And that’s all before we address the substance of Sen. Marble’s responses to Mayfield’s questions, which were wildly age-inappropriate. Marble graphically described cases of rape and murder to Cub Scouts. Marble’s wholesale denial of the previous “ChickenGate” controversy earned her a public shaming from the Denver Post’s editorial board, but we come back to Marble’s disturbing justifications for carrying weapons to young children as the worst aspect of a story long on lowlights. Kids should not be subjected to this stuff. Yes, if Ames Mayfield hadn’t had hard questions for Marble, she might not have said some of it. But it was all in her waiting to be said. And what appears to be the partisan political leadership of this Cub Scout pack knew it full well.

In the end, Sen. Vicki Marble’s second trip under the national microscope helped add to a coalescing national narrative of a Republican Party offensively out of touch with the electorate they represent–and tone-deaf enough to not just make a fool of themselves in a closed setting, but double down on said foolishness before an incredulous national media.

Which makes her a fitting microcosm of today’s Republican Party.

You Say You Want a Revolution, Well, You Know…

The Washington Post’s Samantha Schmidt via the Denver Post on the recent escalation of rhetoric as investigations targeting the Trump administration get closer to the top, escalation that’s starting to feature terminology unfamiliar to most Americans–very disturbing terminology–to describe the course of events:

Conservative commentators on Fox have compared the FBI to the KGB, the notorious Soviet-era spy organization that routinely employed torture and summary executions. Fox News legal commentator Greg Jarrett argued on a segment of Hannity earlier this month that Mueller “has been using the FBI as a political weapon. And the FBI has become America’s secret police.”

“Secret surveillance, wiretapping, intimidation, harassment and threats. It’s like the old KGB that comes for you in the dark of the night banging through your door.” Hannity assured viewers “this is not hyperbole you are using here.” Tom Fitton, president of the conservative organization Judicial Watch, made the same comparison on Fox News on Wednesday, saying, “Forget about shutting down Mr. Mueller. Do we need to shut down the FBI because it was turned into a KGB-type operation by the Obama administration?” [Pols emphasis]

Apparently these strong words weren’t strong enough. Saturday night, Fox suggested that the Mueller probe might be “a coup in America.”

Of course, any sane person who understands the correct definition of these words knows that a legally sanctioned investigation by law enforcement cannot be accurately described as a “coup.” It is an investigation by law enforcement, and no one in America is above the law. And we would make the comparison between Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump administration and Ken Starr’s thoroughly partisan years-long investigation of far less consequential matters regarding Bill Clinton Republicans took so seriously–but frankly the comparison is laughable enough to be an insulting distraction to Mr. Mueller.

Yet here is the nation’s #1 conservative news network telling its viewers Mueller’s investigation is a coup.

In our thirteen years of covering Colorado politics, we’ve become accustomed to the occasional unhinged voice calling for insurrection, revolution, or some other extraconstitutional form of radical change to the American system of government. Once in awhile, like with former GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez’s regrettable musings about President Barack Obama “pushing the boundaries” toward civil war back in 2012, that kind of talk gets dangerously close to being legitimized by individuals with real political clout.

Now fast-forward to December of 2017, when it’s coming from the White House.

We don’t want to add any more incendiary rhetoric to an already raging fire, but this is not good. And if you’re not seriously concerned about where this rhetoric could be leading, check your history books.

You should be.

Rep. Lori Saine: Idiot With a Gun, Not Criminal With a Gun

Rep. Lori Saine (R).

As the Boulder Daily Camera reports, special prosecutor Stan Garnett of Boulder County has decided not to press criminal charges against Rep. Lori Saine, who was caught last week inside a Denver International Airport security checkpoint with a loaded 9mm pistol:

The Boulder District Attorney’s Office has decided not to charge Colorado Rep. Lori Saine for reportedly having a gun at Denver International Airport last week.

The Boulder DA’s Office released a statement Thursday saying that Assistant District Attorney Ken Kupfner had reviewed the case and deemed charges could not be filed.

“The evidence in this case indicates that Lori Saine forgot the firearm was in her purse,” the statement read. “Based on the evidence presented, it is the District Attorney’s position that no criminal case against Ms. Saine can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and thus pursuant to the ethical standards guiding prosecutors in Colorado, no charges will be filed in this case.”

Under the law, accidentally bringing a weapon into an airport security checkpoint, while we can all agree is a stupid thing to do, is not a crime unless someone knowingly brings the weapon into the checkpoint. It does appear that Rep. Saine was not aware that a loaded 9mm handgun was in her purse, which means her case doesn’t meet the test for criminal charges.

News reports have suggested that, although weapons frequently turn up at DIA security checkpoints, very few people are ever arrested and jailed–most being given a citation and summons to appear in court. There has been some speculation based on this that Rep. Saine wasn’t given fair treatment by TSA and Denver police, but today’s Denver Post story explains what happened:

“When Denver PD officers, who were not aware that Ms. Saine was a public official, contacted Ms. Saine, she indicated that she ‘totally forgot’ about the gun,” the statement went on to say. “After being mirandized, Denver police attempted to further interview Ms. Saine, who refused and instead requested an attorney, as is her right.”

It’s certainly Rep. Saine’s right to request an attorney, but halting voluntary cooperation with the police in a matter where you can readily explain all the pertinent details with no need for lawyer can justifiably result in being transported and booked into jail while waiting for that process to play out–which then requires a hearing to set bond and eventually be released as Rep. Saine was. It’s the same process thousands of people innocent and guilty go through every year for all kinds of offenses, but it looks like DIA is sufficiently familiar with this kind of incident that they don’t usually arrest the offender and put them through the unpleasantness of incarceration.

Unless you don’t cooperate. In that case, when they have a gun in your purse inside an airport checkpoint, the cops can detain you while they sort everything out. We haven’t heard if at any point the words “I’m a state representative” were uttered by Rep. Saine afte the initial contact, but these days that tends to put Denver cops into strict by-the-book mode too.

The bottom line is that Rep. Saine appears to have been treated professionally by all parties, and had her case evaluated by a Democratic prosecutor who determined it didn’t meet the standard for criminal charges. Nothing about this experience can be considered unfair to Rep. Saine. The fact remains that Rep. Saine is demonstrably irresponsible with her own guns, much like former GOP Rep. Jared Wright who left a loaded pistol sitting in a House hearing room a couple of years ago. It remains to be seen if Rep. Saine will face any sanction from House Republican leadership over this episode, but it certainly doesn’t make her or the “gun nut” contingent of the Colorado legislature look good.

If you don’t know for sure every waking moment where your own guns are, we think there’s an argument to be made that you shouldn’t have guns. You certainly aren’t the right person to be trying to repeal gun laws as Rep. Saine has year after year. And lawmakers who stroll around the Capitol packing heat–in a building with metal detectors and armed police protection–maybe shouldn’t be allowed to do that either.

It would be a shame if someone were to actually get hurt because of a Colorado Republican’s negligence with guns–like a loaded pistol falling out of a purse no one remembered it was in, or a mislaid gun being picked up by a kid on a Capitol tour.

Ulterior Motives of Lobbyists Defending Sen. Jack Tate Exposed

Sen. Jack Tate (R).

Back on November 20, we took note of a story from Ernest Luning of the former Colorado Statesman featuring a number of female lobbyists rising to the defense of Sen. Jack Tate of Centennial–following allegations of sexual harassment against him from a legislative aide who reportedly left the Capitol rather than deal with his unwanted advances. In particular, we recognized an undisclosed connection between at least one of the lobbyists most stoutly defending Tate’s character and legislation that both was sponsored by Tate as well as passed through Sen. Tate’s Business, Labor and Technology (BLT) Committee.

And without researching in detail, we postulated there would be more such undisclosed relationships between the lobbyists defending Tate in Luning’s story and Sen. Tate–relationships that make their rushing to defend Tate from allegations leveled by a young legislative aide something worse than merely dubious.

Today KUNC, the outlet responsible for breaking the story of widespread sexual harassment in the Colorado General Assembly, published their own research into the lobbyists who defended Sen. Tate. And it’s worse than we could have imagined:

Five women lobbyists who voiced support for Sen. Jack Tate after sexual harassment allegations against him also did business before the committee he chairs earlier this year…

All five women lobbyists worked on bills sponsored by Tate or before his committee. Three of them donated to his campaign.

They’ve also come under fire from other women for their support in a series of Facebook posts, where some questioned their motivations, drawing objections from some of the lobbyists in lengthy comment threads.

Colorado Common Cause Executive Director Elena Nunez talked about the potential for conflicts.

“I think some of the conversations around some of the latest allegations and defending some legislators and not others really reveals that,” she said. “The dynamic really reveals the challenge of confronting sexual harassment in a political context.” [Pols emphasis]

That’s a very polite way of saying that not only do lobbyists have a straightforward ulterior motive for defending allied lawmakers accused of harassment, but lobbyists contribute to a culture of harassment by defending accused lawmakers against allegations from junior staffers. The reason that men with power feel comfortable engaging in behavior toward women that would make their mothers slap them silly is they know they will have defenders eager to ingratiate themselves with men who have power.

You know, like lobbyists do.

Today’s story documents the extensive connections between the lobbyists who defended Sen. Tate and legislation that Tate either sponsored or that appeared before Tate’s key Senate committee. In one case, nearly half the legislation one lobbyist was registered on was directly connected to Sen. Tate either by sponsorship or the Senate BLT Committee. That these lobbyists were able to offer their “defenses” of Sen. Tate with no disclosure whatsoever of these mutually gainful relationships is a huge problem–and now that it’s been disclosed, the credibility of Tate’s lobbyist defenders simply evaporates. The game is up.

There isn’t just one reason why sexual harassment becomes tolerated within the culture of any organization. There are lots of reasons. Yes, the men who can’t keep their hands and lecherous comments to themselves are the ones who bear 100% of the blame.

But as for the shame, it seems there is plenty to go around. There are lessons here for the men who behave this way, but also everyone who interacts with them and the institutions that provide harassers with a venue. The days of such behavior being tolerated–and enabled–are over, and we all must catch up to this new reality.

Even when it’s hard. Especially in fact.

ALEC: So THAT’S Where Lori Saine Was Taking Her Gun

Since the arrest earlier this week of GOP Rep. Lori Saine on allegations she brought a loaded 9mm handgun inside a security checkpoint at Denver International Airport, an unresolved detail, potentially irrelevant but still worth nailing down–where exactly was Rep. Saine traveling to with the gun she is alleged to have “knowingly” transported?

Yesterday evening the notorious American Legislation Exchange Council Tweeted the answer!

And as it turns out, it’s relevant as hell:

That’s right, folks! Rep. Lori Saine and her gun were traveling to Nashville, Tennessee to attend this year’s ALEC States & Nation Policy Summit, where she received the Public Sector State Chair of the Year Award. ALEC, as readers know, is a conservative organization that brings together (mostly) right-wing state lawmakers with conservative activists and lobbyists to formulate “model legislation” that has turned up around the country–including highly controversial examples like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, prompting a years-long campaign by a broad coalition of progressive activists to pressure corporations to withdraw their support from ALEC.

As a relatively unproductive member of the GOP House minority in Colorado, we’d be hard-pressed to tell you what Rep. Saine may have done to earn this national recognition, but it’s fascinating and we’d love to know more! ALEC’s reputation for secrecy makes that difficult, but perhaps Rep. Saine’s newly elevated profile will motivate reporters to inquire.

We assume it wasn’t for smuggling guns, because she’s not very good at that.