GOP Shower Stall Showboating Backfires

Rapper Birdman’s golden toilet.

The Denver Post’s Jennifer Brown reports on a Colorado budget line-item raising hackles among Republican lawmakers:

A request for $235,109 to make nine bathrooms at a state mental-health hospital suicide-proof is prompting outrage from Republican lawmakers who suggest it is evidence of wasteful government spending.

The reaction to the proposal in the context of a $28 billion budget illustrates the intensity of the spending battles expected in the 2017 session as Colorado lawmakers negotiate a deal to find more money for big-ticket priorities, such as a potential $500 million bond to improve roads and transit…

“Are you using the same contractor that the feds and military does that costs us a million (dollars) a toilet?” asked Sen. Jerry Sonneberg, R-Sterling. “You simply do the math, it’s $20,000 a shower. Couldn’t you remodel a whole bathroom for that?”

Sonnenberg later took to Twitter to say of the request: “You can’t make this stuff up.” He included a photo of the budget request document and wrote “NO” at the top.

As the Post reports, this budget request stems from a suicide attempt last year at the Pueblo state mental hospital. That attempt identified a need to change the design of showers at the facility to make it harder to tie off a noose. Of course we’re not talking about your home bathroom, which would likely cost less than $20,000 to remodel. These are bathrooms in a secure facility, designed to be tamperproof and to protect mentally ill Coloradans from self-harm. The changes would continue existing suicide-proofing that has already occurred at other state facilities.

Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan, suggested the price tag is too much and remains unconvinced it is necessary, even as he acknowledges that preventing suicide “is a great thing.” [Pols emphasis]

We haven’t heard yet if this request was approved today by the Capital Development Committee, but we’ve heard that Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg’s public disparagement of this line-item is making at least some fellow Republicans politically uneasy. The amount may sound excessive at first glance, but in the proper context it’s not really unreasonable at all.

And suicide prevention is just not something we would advise grandstanding against.

Gardner Disses Obama Hard One Last Time

As caught on camera by The Hill yesterday, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is snarling mad at outgoing President Barack Obama over the commutation of whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence as the clock ticks down toward Donald Trump’s inauguration:

REPORTER: And what about the Manning commutation?

GARDNER: The, I’m sorry?

REPORTER: The Chelsea Manning commutation.

GARDNER: Uh, look. The last actions Barack Obama has made is to stab Israel in the back with passage of the U.S. resolution, now he’s stabbed the American people in the back by pardoning a traitor. [Pols emphasis]

It could have been worse, we suppose. We’ll refrain from speculating how lest we give Gardner any ideas.

Jeff Session Gets Grilled/Coddled In First Confirmation Hearing

UPDATE: This won’t inspire confidence from Colorado’s cannabis industry:

No word yet about recreational marijuana–but if the debate is about whether to prosecute medical marijuana patients, that’s not a good sign.

—–

Fake KKK protesters before being escorted out of today’s hearing.

CNN reports from today’s contentious hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, as fellow Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama faces hard questions from his Democratic colleagues and softballs from Republicans–not that anyone expected differently, of course:

Sen. Jeff Sessions confronted one of the biggest criticisms surrounding his nomination to become the next attorney general, insisting he’s not a racist.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, Sessions diverged from his prepared remarks to address “head on” the very allegations that helped sink his nomination for a judgeship in 1986.

“I abhor the Klan and its hateful ideology,” Sessions said…

Sessions said he would respect the 1973 Supreme Court decision allowing abortion and the more recent Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage — even if he doesn’t agree with the court’s decisions.

“I believe it violated the Constitution,” Sessions said in response to a question from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein about whether he stands by his past statements calling Roe a “colossal” mistake.

The hearings to confirm Sessions are expected to be some of the most controversial, with Democrats hoping to break Sessions’ composure and expose what they insist are disqualifying political views. It’s going to take something fairly dramatic to move the rock-solid Senate GOP majority away from confirming their longtime colleague, but these hearings are the only real chance to get it.

We’ll update, for example if Sessions gives any clue what he plans to do about Colorado’s weed.

Former Jeffco DA Busted For DUI

Scott Storey.

Former Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey, who returned to the ranks as a deputy DA after being termed out of the top job, had a little too much to drink on New Year’s Eve as FOX 31 reports:

Former First Judicial District Attorney Scott Storey was arrested on New Year’s Eve on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to court records.

Storey, who served two terms as district attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin counties, was cited for a misdemeanor charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol early Saturday morning by the Littleton Police Department, according to court records.

There isn’t much more being reported as of now, except that there was reportedly an accident that preceded Storey’s arrest. One interesting sidenote to this case is that Storey’s prosecution will presumably be handled by the office of his former subordinate, Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler. It’s widely rumored that there is no love lost between these two prosecutors, and Brauchler likely hasn’t forgotten his former boss’s conspicuous failure to endorse him in his own run for elective office in 2012.

Also, don’t drink and drive.

Aurora Post-Election Hate Crime Spree Continues

As the Denver Post’s Bruce Finley reports:

Three more hate attacks targeting African-American families in Aurora have upset residents and compelled police on Monday to step up patrols and appeal to the public for help…

The attackers may be posing as missionaries and carpet cleaner salespeople, moving door to door, to learn racial information about residents who then are targeted, the resident said. In addition to spray-painted scrawls on doors, the attacks this past weekend included threatening messages on notes, she said.

…Aurora residents have reported at least nine bias-related crimes since the Nov. 8 election and [APD Chief Nick] Metz has said he believes other incidents may be happening that haven’t been reported.

The spike in hate crimes in Aurora since the November elections is not unique; nationally a dramatic increase in such activity has occurred since Donald Trump won the presidency. Not long after the election, Trump made a two-word statement in response to questions distancing himself from these crimes, telling those responsible to “stop it.”

But they haven’t stopped. The empowerment America’s racist underbelly feels after Trump’s victory requires more of a response than a half-hearted scolding. And at this point, it’s reasonable to ask if Trump is not standing up to the spike in hate crimes since his election because he does not think it is a problem.

And that could be scarier than all these little acts of hate combined.

Brown People, Marijuana Industry in Colorado Sweat Jeff Sessions

UPDATE: Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver says “hell no” to Sen. Jeff Sessions:

“As the president’s top advisor on matters of law and justice, the man or woman in this position must possess a firm commitment to civil rights,” DeGette said. “However, Senator Sessions’ regressive record on immigration, LGBT equality and civil liberties, along with his shocking comments on the NAACP and the KKK, make him unequivocally unfit to serve in this role. I urge President-elect Trump not to make this nomination, and instead to make good on his promise to unify our divided nation. And if he does not, members of the Senate must reject Senator Sessions for this critical role.”

Sessions is the U.S. Senate’s leading anti-immigration voice, urging severe restrictions on visas and drastically expanded immigration enforcement while blocking practical reforms to our country’s outdated immigration system. While in the Senate, he has vigorously opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and voted for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Earlier in his career, when nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be a federal judge, he was turned down by the Senate amid repeated allegations of racist language, criticism of the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, and a purported joke about the Ku Klux Klan. While advising the campaign earlier this year, Senator Sessions supported Trump’s suggestion to institute a ban on Muslims entering the United States and his opposition to the 14th Amendment, which confers citizenship on people born in this country.

“This proposed nomination is another disturbing sign of where the Trump administration is headed,” DeGette noted. “If Senator Sessions was not fit to be a federal judge, he’s not fit to be Attorney General. His actions and attitudes on civil liberties make him completely wrong for the job.”

—–

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

Westword’s Michael Roberts reports, as news breaks today that GOP President-elect Donald Trump wants Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be the next U.S. Attorney General:

In an interview with Westword, Marijuana Majority chairman and founder Tom Angell also expressed concern about the marijuana views of the person who Trump would choose to fill the position of attorney general in his administration. Among the names floated at the time were New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who’d vowed to crack down on Colorado’s marijuana system during his own failed run for the presidency, and onetime New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, another well-known weed hater.

In the end, neither Christie nor Giuliani made the cut. Instead, Trump has nominated Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, one of his earliest supporters in the U.S. Senate and among those who stuck by him even after the release of an Access Hollywood recording in which the president-elect joked about groping women.

Sessions has plenty of political baggage, much of it owing to what NPR has described as his “history of racially provocative remarks” — one of which had to do with marijuana. After his 1986 nomination as a federal district judge by then-President Ronald Reagan, he was said to have maintained that he thought members of the Ku Klux Klan “were okay until I found out they smoked pot.”

It’s expected that Sessions will strongly deny any racist sentiments during his confirmation hearings in the Senate–where he will face many friendly fellow Republicans, but could also fail spectacularly if the questions about his long record from Democrats get the better of him. As for marijuana, we doubt Sessions will offer the same defense despite the growing number of states that have legalized. Despite Sessions’ conservative ideology at least nominally in favor of “states’ rights,” he can be expected to blissfully ignore the Tenth Amendment when it comes to stopping the spread of the evil devil-weed.

Obviously, Sessions’ history of racism is much more disturbing than Sessions’ opposition to marijuana, but neither is likely to make him a very popular figure in Colorado. Or for that matter California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, or any other state that has legalized marijuana in recent years.

In a perfect world, the racism would be enough to disqualify Sessions, as it did when he was nominated for a federal judgeship in the 1980s. But perhaps Trump can be persuaded to reconsider Sessions by the money being made on weed?

After all, he is a businessman.

Um, You’re Not Helping, RMGO

Excerpt from RMGO mailer dated October 17, 2016.

Excerpt from RMGO mailer dated October 17, 2016.

Firearm enthusiast Dudley Brown and his Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) group have been a prominent voice in Colorado politics in recent years, though they have proven much more effective at swaying Republican Primary races than earning votes in a General Election. This is not entirely the fault of the RMGO; strident pro-gun rhetoric just doesn’t have the same effect in the Denver suburbs that it might have in places like Weld County.

Nevertheless, RMGO is going to continue to solicit donations and shake fists wherever it can find Republican voters…even if their outreach isn’t particularly helpful for Republican candidates. We were recently forwarded a copy of a mail pitch from RMGO on behalf of GOP Senate candidate Nancy Doty that the candidate herself probably wasn’t too enthusiastic about reading. “State Senate candidate Nancy Doty is a proven Second Amendment patriot,” says the mailer. “That is why RMGO SuperPAC is enthusiastically endorsing Nancy Doty in Senate District 26.”

State Senate District 26

State Senate District 26

The battle for Senate District 26 is one of the most competitive legislative races of 2016, where Doty and Democrat Daniel Kagan are in a close contest to fill the seat being vacated by the term-limited Democratic Sen. Linda Newell. Located just south of Denver, SD-26 encompasses Arapahoe High School and sits just east of Columbine High School. We probably don’t need to tell you that this community has dealt with two of the most infamous school school shootings in Colorado.

It’s not a coincidence that Doty’s own campaign doesn’t spend any time talking about firearms; you’re not winning undecided voters in SD-26 by telling people that you support “permitless carry, open or concealed.”

When Donald Trump Jr. Yucked Up The Aurora Theater Massacre

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s John Frank:

Sandy Phillips, the mother of Jessica Ghawi, who died in the attack, issued a statement saying “this recording shows the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

“This recording goes beyond politics — it’s disturbing and painful,” Phillips said in a statement released by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“We’ve already known that his father is a crass, blustery billionaire who cares zero about other people’s struggles or pain,” she added.

—–

Donald Trump, Jr.

Donald Trump, Jr.

CNN broke a story yesterday about Donald Trump Jr., who was in town yesterday campaigning for his dad, that is just now starting to trickle down into local media–and it’s outraging pretty much everyone in our state who hears it:

On shows like “Opie and Anthony,” the now-defunct “The Six Pack,” and “Opie with Jim Norton,” the younger Trump made a joke about the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, expressed regret he could no longer mock overweight people, invoked Arab stereotypes, and joked about child beauty contestants being abused by their parents…

In July 2012, on the same day a gunman killed 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, Trump Jr. joked about still giving the movie “two thumbs up.”

Trump Jr. made the comment on “Opie and Anthony” after soundbites were played of witnesses speaking about the tragedy.

“Everything was going good until, uh, we saw gas and sparks, and sounded like really strong fireworks, uh, and then you just hear people yelling and actually just a few, uh, rows away from me a girl gets up holding her jaw. I guess she had got shot,” a witness said.

“Overall I give the movie two thumbs up,” Trump Jr. exclaimed in reaction.

Among the first to respond to this story was Morgan Carroll, longtime representative of the vicinity of the Century Theater in Aurora and now a candidate for Congress:

She released a statement about Trump Jr’s comments saying, “The tragic Aurora shooting happened just five minutes from my house, in the district I was elected to represent. Donald Trump Jr. should apologize immediately to the families and victims affected by this terrible tragedy. The loss of life, and horror faced by this community and all in that theater that day, is no joke.”

Through his spox, incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora also expresses a measure of displeasure:

Coffman’s spokeswoman, Cinamon Watson, said of Trump Jr.’s comment, “That’s a filthy, disgusting, lewd, awful thing to say. He should be embarrassed and ashamed.”

We haven’t seen any evidence that Junior is in fact ashamed–or any reports about him at all since yesterday’s abortive whistlestop at The Sink in Boulder, which was moved after The Sink’s owners informed the Trump campaign that they need to have permission to invade their restaurant for a campaign event:

But as you can see from these crass remarks about the Aurora theater shooting and the dozens of our neighbors killed and wounded there, Donald Junior doesn’t just say the word “deplorable.”

He lives it.

My Free Speech Zone: From Sea To Shining Sea

Yesterday afternoon, I headed north to Loveland to join a small but dedicated group of protesters outside Donald Trump’s rally at the Budweiser Events Center–located on the grounds of the The Ranch (Larimer County Fairgrounds).

I’ll let the Loveland Reporter-Herald’s Pamela Johnson explain what happened next:

Larimer County sheriff’s deputies escorted one protester from the Donald Trump rally in Loveland on Monday after he led people with signs out of an enclosed “free-speech area” to stand on the sidewalk so people driving past could see their signs.

Alan Franklin, political director with ProgressNow Colorado, as well as a handful of other protesters said the deputies and mounted members of the Sheriff’s Posse corralled them away from the curb, coming very close to them with their horses, and threatened arrest if they didn’t return to the fenced-off free-speech zone.

“I consider this to be a very big violation of the First Amendment,” said Franklin after he was kicked off the grounds of The Ranch events center complex. “These folks done screwed up.”

He was the only protester forced to leave, though others were threatened with arrest if they did not return to a designated free-speech area, which they did.

So, here’s the deal: unbeknownst to myself or other non Trump supporters who showed up outside his rally, the Larimer County Sheriff’s office had set up a “free speech area” completely removed from the scene. This small fenced-off area was 20 feet or more from the sidewalk next to the access road for the event, and so far from the line for rally attendees that a bullhorn wouldn’t even reach them.

This wasn’t an acceptable situation, so I proposed to the few folks then in attendance that we walk down to the sidewalk where more people could see us. Pamela Johnson picks up the story from there:

He and a handful of other protesters walked about 20 feet from the free-speech area to the sidewalk along the road that leads to the parking lots inside the events center complex. That is where deputies and posse members ordered them back to the protest area.

Several protesters said the officials told them they had to be in the designated area because it is on “private property” and “private public property,” which fired up Franklin. The protesters, he said, were being peaceful and not belligerent when deputies confronted them.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really familiar with this concept of “private public property” the Larimer County Sheriff and posse kept insisting applied to our situation. I didn’t have a chance to discuss it with the deputy the posse called in, though, as apparently his only job was to enforce the “request” from the horse-mounted posse that I completely exit the “private property” of the Larimer County Fairgrounds.

But as it turns out, and as I explained to every cop on the scene that I was pretty sure of, that’s not right:

Deputies on scene would not explain why they asked Franklin to leave or answer the question of why they would say the county events center is private property. They referred inquiries to Sheriff’s Office spokesman David Moore, who said Sheriff Justin Smith would answer questions Tuesday.

County Commissioner Steve Johnson, however, when reached by phone, looked into the private-public property issue. The Ranch is public property, he said…

“So while I agree with the deputies’ actions and believe the time, manner and place of assembly can be regulated reasonably … the justification that it is private property, if that is in fact what they said, does not conform with our understanding,” Johnson said after consulting with County Attorney Jeannine Haag.

The problem is, the assertion we were on “private property” was the only pretext for ordering us back into the “free speech area.” No one was obstructing vehicle or foot traffic. The armed volunteer horse-mounted posse assigned to patrol the “free speech area” were openly hostile–they might as well have been wearing Trump buttons. The Sheriff deputy who threatened me with arrest for trespassing and escorted me to my car was polite, while repeatedly insisting that free speech is important. His actions spoke much louder.

Obviously, this is a pretty large problem and I’m considering the next steps. Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, a politically activist conservative elected sheriff with (I assume) a well-formed opinion on the presidential race, needs to fully explain the actions of his deputies and the policy that was followed in my case (or not followed).

Freedom of speech and assembly is about as fundamental as it gets, and those rights do not appear to have been respected yesterday.

Mike Pence: Stop Admitting Police Racism Exists

Mike Pence, Donald Trump.

Mike Pence, Donald Trump.

AP via 9NEWS reports from GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence’s campaign stop in Colorado Springs yesterday:

Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence says U.S. society should “set aside talk” of institutional racism in the wake of more police killings of black men.

Pence told a group of evangelical church leaders Thursday in Colorado Springs that recent police shootings in Oklahoma and North Carolina require officials to “speak with compassion” and assure the public that “justice will be served.”

But he added that “Donald Trump and I both believe that there’s been far too much of this talk of institutional bias or racism in law enforcement.” [Pols emphasis] Pence said “we ought to set aside this talk” that he described as “the rhetoric of division.”

Corey Hutchins at the Colorado Independent further documents Pence’s comments:

“Sadly, our opponent once again refers to what she calls the institutional racism in law enforcement,” Pence said. “We’ve heard this week, again, the systemic racism in law enforcement in this country.”

His voice rising, Pence said he and Trump believe police “are not a force for racism in America,” but “a force for good,” deserving support and respect.

Police violence against minorities is one of the most controversial topics of debate we have in America today, and the recent heightened awareness of the issue following numerous high-profile police killings of African-Americans and resulting protests has forced basically everyone in the country to form an opinion. The truth is that minorities are indeed disproportionately killed while interacting with police compared to whites, and investigations into places like Ferguson, Missouri have revealed what very much appears to be systemic racism in the targeting of black communities with traffic enforcement and other small-time high-fine violations.

Whichever side you fall on with regard to the issue, we cannot imagine any scenario in which not talking about a problem is helpful to the goal of solving it. That seems like the worst possible way to, you know, govern.

But here we are.

State senator shares video showing shady, ugly guns

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado State Sen. Randy Baumgardnbaumgardner-gun-video-9-19-2016er has apparently removed a video, which he’d shared on his Facebook page, showing a man frantically firing weapons (apparently a sawed-off shotgun and fully automatic rifles and pistols) that are shady or, at worst, illegal under federal and state laws), unless you work the loopholes.

Banned high capacity magaizes are also shown in the video, which you can see here.

Baumgardner is glorifying some of the weapons and magazines used in the two worst gun massacres in Colorado history.

Maybe this occurred to him, because Baumgardner apparently removed the video, called a “Case of Mayhem,” sometime after he shared it over the weekend.

A call to Baumbgardner’s office confirming that he shared the video and seeking his reason for posting it, and an explanation for his taking it down, was not immediately returned.

The Moffat County Republican, whose Twitter handle is CapitalCowboy, is part of GOP State Senate leadership.

FratPAC: GOP House Candidate Has Some ‘Splaining To Do

FratPAC.

FratPAC.

The Colorado Independent’s Susan Greene blows the lid off what could be a most damaging story in Colorado House District 3, the open swing-district race between Democrat Jeff Bridges and his Republican opponent Katy Brown:

Katy Brown, the Republican vying for Colorado’s highly competitive House District 3 seat, touts her experience as a web developer, Cherry Hills councilwoman and community service volunteer. Yet she has erased from her public profile one of her pet causes: championing fraternities’ and sororities’ political agenda in Washington. [Pols emphasis]

Brown served from 2012 through December 2015 on the board of the Fraternity Sorority Political Action Committee, also known as FSPAC, or FratPAC. The group describes its role as “helping position the fraternal community [to] influence legislation that will preserve the fraternity and sorority experience for future generations of student leaders.”

…FSPAC spent much of 2015 pushing for the Safe Campus Act, a bill introduced by three House Republicans that would have made it tougher for universities and colleges to suspend or sanction students accused of sexual violence. The measure would have restricted schools from investigating sex assault cases unless police are involved. It also would have extended due process rights to fraternities and sororities so that, as FSPAC wrote, “entire organizations cannot be suspended without cause.”

Victims’ groups and college administrators’ guilds condemned the police reporting requirement, saying it would intimidate some sex assault victims and prevent them from coming forward. Some critics denounced the bill for giving more protections to frat boys than to rape victims. Ultimately, some sorority and fraternity advocacy groups backed off their support of the bill, saying it was too divisive. It’s unclear whether FSPAC formally withdrew support for the Act, and the organization did not respond to inquiries for this story.

Katy Brown (Alpha Chi Omega).

Katy Brown (Alpha Chi Omega).

The fight over what just about everyone agrees is a major problem with sexual assault on college campuses has raged back and forth with national stories meant to persuade that either the problem is very widespread as experts and victim advocates suggest, or that the problem is exaggerated–and complicated by “personal moral failings” and deception of alleged victims.

In early 2015, Rolling Stone retracted a feature-length story on sexual assault at the University of Virginia after significant problems with the victims’ story were uncovered. Anecdotes like the UVA case are regularly used to discredit all claims of sexual assault, and undermine the larger movement to address the problem.

And that’s the side Katy Brown was on.

Since the UVA scandal, which resulted in the bill supported by Katy Brown’s FratPAC to “protect” alleged rapists on campus, other cases of extremely lenient sentences, like that of convicted Stanford University rapist Brock Turner, and more recently University of Colorado’s Austin Wilkerson, have moved public opinion back toward respect for victims and anger at a status quo that lets rapists walk free.

In a highly educated swing district like HD-3, Brown’s long record as a board member of FractPAC could be a very serious liability. The brief moment of glory the “men’s rights movement” enjoyed when the UVA story was retracted does not change the fact that sexual assault is a major problem on college campuses. As a longtime board member of FratPAC, Brown fought not just against cracking down on “rape culture” on college campuses, but also proposals against hazing pushed by the families of hazed dead students.

If this doesn’t take the shine off Brown’s fluffy-positive “crypto conservative” campaign, we don’t know what will.

Tom Sullivan Scaring The Hell Out of Senate Republicans

SD-27 candidate Tom Sullivan (D).

SD-27 candidate Tom Sullivan (D).

We’ll post a more comprehensive look at newly-released fundraising numbers for Colorado legislative races covering the period of July 28-August 31, but we wanted to start with a race that Republicans shouldn’t be worried about–but thanks to a uniquely strong Democratic candidate with a compelling background, a seat that’s in play:

SD 27

Tom Sullivan (D)
Raised this period: $31,555.56
Cash on hand: $38,693.58
Total Raised: $101,484.24

Jack Tate (R)
Raised this period: $9,301.00
Cash on hand: $84,126.60
Total Raised: $96,464.17

In the most recent fundraising period, Democratic candidate Tom Sullivan more than tripled appointed incumbent Jack Tate’s haul–$31,500 to $9,300. With that performance in August, Sullivan has now outraised Tate for the entire election cycle, although Tate has more cash on hand as Sullivan spends down his cash campaigning.

Why is this happening? Tom Sullivan’s powerful personal story as the father of an Aurora theater shooting victim is combining with Sullivan’s by-all-accounts impressive work ethic to put this race in play in a way Senate President Bill Cadman simply never anticipated. This would be the second time Cadman has underestimated Tom Sullivan, the first being when he insulted Sullivan during a legislative panel about gun control–only to be shamed in national media when Sullivan disclosed who he was.

We’ve heard rumors that Republicans are privately growing very worried about this race. We’re not sure what exactly is going on with Jack Tate, who has his own reputation as a good campaigner and fundraiser. If Tate is serious about holding on to Dave Balmer’s old Senate seat, to which he was appointed just last December after Balmer’s resignation, he can’t afford to get humiliated like this.

But for Tom Sullivan, sweet revenge against Cadman is closer than ever.

Aurora Victims Ordered To Pay Massive Court Costs–Again

FRIDAY UPDATE: Cinemark appears to be feeling the sting of bad press, with 9NEWS updating last night on the company at least starting to back off–with caveats, of course:

The victims of the Aurora theater shooting have been given an ultimatum: They will not have to pay the nearly $700,000 in court costs they owe the nation’s third largest theater chain if they drop their appeals in a civil case…

Among the people who sued Cinemark and now may have to pay thousands of dollars are the families of Alex Teves and Jessica Ghawi, who died in the movie theater. Yousef Gharbi, who survived a bullet wound to the head and Farrah Soudani, whose friends had to hold her insides in after she was shot, also owe the theater money.

…9NEWS Legal Expert Scott Robinson told 9NEWS back in June that he believes Cinemark asked the victims to repay court costs “to discourage future lawsuits against their chain for personal injuries.”

“The question is, how big is going to be the backlash that the public chooses to impose on what appears to be a corporate bully?” Robinson said.

—–

Aurora shooting memorial, July 2012.

Aurora shooting memorial, July 2012.

Salon reports on yet more insult piled on injury for survivors of the 2012 mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater–after the family of shooting victim Jessica Ghawi was ordered to pay the legal fees of online gun and body armor dealers after unsuccessfully suing them for damages, more victims are on the hook for massive amounts of money to corporations who, it can be reasonably argued, need it a lot less:

In 2012, 12 people were killed and at least 70 others were wounded when James Holmes walked into the Cinemark’s Aurora Century 16 theater and opened fire.

While Holmes was found guilty in 2015, a group of survivors filed a state lawsuit against Cinemark in 2012, claiming lax security allowed the heavily-armed Holmes to enter the theater and carry out the shooting. Ultimately, a jury of six sided with Cinemark in the civil case in state court, finding that there was no way they could have foreseen the attack and that additional security would have done little to stop Holmes, who was wearing body armor and was armed with gas canisters and multiple firearms.”

A judge at the same time also dismissed a similar lawsuit in federal court, saying Cinemark’s lack of security was not a substantial factor in the deaths.

Colorado law allows the winning side of civil cases to seek costs. [Pols emphasis] According to the Los Angeles Times, Cinemark’s lawyers at the time told a judge the money was needed to cover the costs of preserving evidence, retrieving and copying records, travel and other expenses – including $500,000 for expert testimony.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, survivors are now on the hook for some $700,000 in court costs largely because a few survivors refused a settlement offer from Cinemark:

“It was the 12th hour, we were all feeling the same way. We all knew they were liable. We knew they were at fault,” Weaver said. “[The settlement] was a slap in the face. But I said, ‘Let’s go for it because it’s better than nothing.’”

The deal came with an implied threat: If the survivors rejected the deal, moved forward with their case and lost, under Colorado law, they would be responsible for the astronomical court fees accumulated by Cinemark… [Pols emphasis]

Then one plaintiff rejected the deal. Her suffering had been profound: Her child was killed in the shooting, she was left paralyzed and the baby she was carrying had been lost.

The settlement offered by Cinemark’s lawyers was for $30,000 to each of the three most severely injured plaintiffs, with the remaining 38 splitting up a paltry $60,000 between them. It’s not for us to judge whether this monetary settlement should be considered appropriate given Cinemark’s alleged liability, or whether the wounded plaintiff who lost her unborn child was justified in rejecting the deal.

What we can say is that these victims should not be paying Cinemark. We understand that Colorado law as it stands today is intended to protect defendants in civil suits by forcing plaintiffs to consider the consequences of frivolous lawsuits. In this case, however, much like the suit by Jessica Ghawi’s parents against online weapons dealers, it was not a frivolous suit–certainly not when you realize that Cinemark was about to settle.

Today it’s being reported that the plaintiffs are appealing the order to pay Cinemark $700,000 in “reasonable” court costs. We hope that this situation is resolved in a way that doesn’t cause further harm to victims and survivors of the Aurora shooting. Looking ahead, a legislative revisiting of this unfortunate situation seems called for.

This is not an outcome for anyone to celebrate.

Laura Woods raffles off an AR15

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Sen. Laura Woods wants to be sure you’re clear:

—–

woodsar15

Desperate for attention and apparently cash starved, one brick shy of a full load Senator Laura Woods has decided to auction off every mass killer’s weapon of choice, an AR15 to fund her floundering campaign.

This is good news for Rachel Zenzinger, Woods’ sane opponent, in that these types of antics will not work in the Arvada/Wesminster senate district they are both seeking to represent.