Ken Buck Scrambles Obamacare Repeal Message

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As the Denver Post’s John Ingold reports, Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley just helped deprive Coloradans of whatever security they might have felt about health care, after other Colorado Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman and Sen. Cory Gardner assured us that the Affordable Care Act would not be repealed without a replacement in place:

In a meeting with constituents in Douglas County on Tuesday, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck said he believes that fully implementing a replacement could take years after the vote to repeal the law. His fellow Colorado U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, though, told constituents in a video message last week that he would not vote to repeal the law without “a concurrent replacement.”

…Buck said he believes that a repeal of the heath care law will occur “soon” but will have its effective date delayed. Crafting, passing and fully implementing the replacement plan, he said, “will take a while to formulate.”

“I think other Republicans are expressing their optimism that something can happen concurrently,” Buck said. “I think realistically, if we do the process the right way, replacement is going to take a period of time.”

To be fair, Buck does assert that “there won’t be a change that happens next month that is going to completely alter the health care system, but Buck’s willingness to accept repeal without any replacement creates major uncertainty for everyone who has gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act–or benefited from improvements to coverage like keeping kids on parents’ plans longer and requiring pre-existing conditions to be covered.

Obviously, this sets up a conflict between Buck and the promises made by other Colorado Republicans–and given the reticence of most Republicans to be specific about the plan for health care going forward, we wouldn’t look for any clear answers anytime soon.

If that’s cold comfort for you, there are protests just about every day lately.

Who’s Telling the Truth About GOP Obamacare Replacement?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s a serious promise.

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

Ken Buck Spills Obamacare Beans in Secret “Constituent” Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CPAC Conference? Call It The Beau-PAC Conference!

Bob Beauprez (right).

With the upcoming 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington making headlines after disinviting their keynote speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, those of us with Google alerts tracking two-time Colorado gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez are getting fresh updates. As Politico reported yesterday on the controversy:

Milo Yiannopoulos lost his keynote speaking slot at the Conservative Political Action Conference after tapes surfaced of the right wing provocateur and senior Breitbart editor advocating for sexual relationships between “younger boys and older men.”

“Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the group which sponsors CPAC, in a statement Monday afternoon. The group called Yiannopoulos to “further address these disturbing comments,” but defended its original decision to invite him as a nod to “the free speech issue on college campuses.”

…President Donald Trump, along with Vice President Mike Pence, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, will be headlining this year’s event, along with top White House aides Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus. But the Milo controversy quickly threatened to taint the event and raised questions about what it would mean if other speakers still attended.

CPAC organizers had a conference call at 1 p.m. on Monday to discuss the controversy and how to address it, according to a GOP source familiar with the matter. The decision to disinvite Yiannopoulos was unanimous and did not even need to be deliberated, the person said. Among those on the call were ACU board members Amy Frederick, Bob Beauprez, Mike Rose, Matt Smith, Matt Schlapp and Becky Norton Dunlop, along with Vice Chair of the ACU Foundation Millie Hallow. [Pols emphasis]

To have been a fly on the wall for that conference call! There hasn’t been much coverage of the Yiannopoulos meltdown in local press, which is odd since he just toured through Colorado on a college speaking tour that generated plenty of earned media. But it seems to us that somebody should pick up the phone and ask American Conservative Union board member Beauprez what led to their unanimous decision to ban this guy.

And if you happen to be headed to CPAC this weekend, you can catch Beauprez as the moderator of this truly fascinating panel discussion on Saturday morning:

We can’t explain the ID of Beauprez as the representative of Colorado’s 10th congressional district, since Colorado only has seven congressional districts. Perhaps it’s an acknowledgement of how long Beauprez has been out of office? We digress. Anyway, we are of course very interested in hearing what Beauprez and Rep. Ken Buck have to say about border security.

In…Heaven. Aren’t you at least a bit curious?

Ken Buck Only Member of Colo. Delegation to Back Travel Ban

Rep. Ken Buck presses whatever button President Trump prefers.

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has generally refused to answer reporter questions about his position on Donald Trump’s travel ban for immigrants, leaving local news outlets such as Denver7 and the Denver Post to guess about his position on one of the more pressing issues in the country. But Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman will not be denied; as Luning reports, Rep. Buck on Monday offered his unqualified support for the Muslim travel ban:

“Our country has always offered hope for the oppressed and homeless, but hope also requires safety and security,” Buck said. We should not let people into this country unless we can thoroughly vet them. America welcomes Muslims from 190 countries and temporarily bans all individuals from 7 countries. The President’s executive order is a temporary effort that addresses a serious issue with terrorist hot spots.”

Congressman Buck is the only member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation to offer his full support for Trump’s travel ban. Even Colorado Springs Rep. Doug Lamborn made it clear that he opposes Trump’s Executive Order creating the travel ban.

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…)

Ken Buck is Using Zika for Political Purposes

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

o-zikalata-570Ken Buck and other House Republicans are using the Zika crisis to advance their anti-choice, anti-woman agenda. And, as is often the case, he is blaming the Democrats.

Congressman Buck is already on record as opposing abortion in cases of rape and incest. Now, the House version of the Zika bill, which Ken Buck supports, makes it clear that Republicans also oppose family planning in cases of Zika, microcephaly, and other severe Zika-related birth defects.

The $1.1 billion House bill – almost a billion dollars short of the $1.9 billion requested by the President – includes no money for contraceptives or condoms and no funding for a Planned Parenthood facility in Puerto Rico, one of the areas hardest hit by the virus. Instead, the bill provides for after-the-fact health care, including pediatric subspecialty care, for mothers, children and others experiencing complications from Zika. Let’s hope that this care includes ongoing counseling and financial support for parents who will be faced with raising a severely handicapped child. Microcephaly is a lifelong condition and is associated with developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, problems with hearing and vision, and other problems.

Federal law already prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions. Any money that would have gone to Planned Parenthood would, by law, be limited to educational materials, examinations, and contraceptives. None of the money included in any Zika-related legislation would or could have been used to pay for abortions. House Republicans are using Zika to achieve the political objective of defunding Planned Parenthood.

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FACT CHECK: Zika bill, supported by Buck and Coffman, has anti-Planned Parenthood agenda

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

zika_0_3On KNUS 710-AM yesterday, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck accused U.S. Senate Democrats of holding up funds to fight the Zika virus.

Buck: “Senate Democrats filibustered that bill. They wanted more money for Planned Parenthood for abortions related to the Zika virus.”

In fact, Senate Democrats did not want more money for abortions, and federal dollars can’t be used for abortion anyway.

The truth is, U.S. House Republicans, including Buck and Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, passed a Zika-relief bill in June, but the legislation blocked the United States’ Zika-response funds from going to groups (like Planned Parenthood) for birth control and family planning programs—even though Zika affects the developing fetus and appears to be sexually transmitted.

Since then, Senate Democrats refused to pass bill, which they see as fatally flawed. The New York Times reported June 28:

Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, said Republicans had poisoned the chances for moving ahead by blocking money for Planned Parenthood, knowing Democrats would never agree.

“They’re just not living in the real world, and they’re just not facing the fact that this is an emergency,” Mr. Nelson said. He noted that at least five babies had been born with microcephaly in the United States — the most recent one in Florida — but said he expected the disagreements to continue.

Yet, Buck told KNUS host Krista Kafer, “This is tragic in a number of ways. It really is going to create a human tragedy, number one, and, number two, a burden on taxpayers in the future if we don’t start dealing with the epidemic , certainly the disease, that is rampant in some parts of this country.”

Trump Supporter Who Poisoned Groundwater Places Trump Billboards on I76

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The plains roll on for hundreds of miles  under blank blue skies near Roggen, Colorado. Sage, scrub grass, fracking tanks, and a few cattle dot the vast landscape.  Roggen itself is a ghost of its former prosperity – the town consists of a grain elevator, a telephone co-op,  two churches, a convenience store, and a post office.

Yet, Roggen boasts two new roadside attractions: gigantic “Trump for President” billboards facing west and east, placed to catch the eyes of all travelers along I76.

Trump billboard on Cervi’s land near Roggen, CO

I wanted to find out who felt strongly enough about Mr. Trump’s candidacy to build, paint, and place these monumental political advertisements in this desolate area. I investigated, and found a family saga rooted in the heyday of Colorado political journalism, in the gas and oil boom years, including rodeo circuit stardom and family tragedy, and the criminal indictment and sentencing of the landowner, Mr. Mike Cervi, for violating the Safe Water Act by injecting petroleum wastes into the High Plains / Ogalalla Aquifer from 2001 – 2002.

Cervi’s Journal – the founding Cervi business

Eugene Cervi produced and edited Cervi’s Rocky Mountain Business Journal in Denver from 1954 until his death in 1970.   Cervi’s Journal later became the Denver Business Journal. “Gene” and his daughter, editor Cle Symons Cervi, were both inducted into the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame.   Gene Cervi was twice Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, although he was critical of JFK. Later in his career, the “Journal” became more conservative and more pro-business in viewpoint.

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Ken Buck Tweets False Choice: Security vs. Environment

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Representative Ken Buck (CD4) tweeted yesterday that  his amendment helps soldiers “focus on immediate national security needs, not climate change”.  However, the Department of Defense’s own analysis says that climate change is a major threat to stability worldwide, and should be included in all planning.

Ken Buck’s tweet on June 14, 2016:

Ken Buck's tweet

That’s Buck, standing with the military against evil Greenies.

And he’s using Bernie Sanders/ Elizabeth Warren language about “crony capitalism” just to confuse folks:

So what’s got Mr. Buck going all “Fight the Power” here? Rep. Buck doesn’t like the Department of Defense spending on renewable energy sources to power its facilities.

For example, Fort Drum, New York has a military base running 100%  on biomass.  The public might applaud this energy self-sufficiency – remember all that rhetoric about not being “addicted to oil”?  But Buck’s standing strong against it. Ken Buck’s amendment would have prevented using renewable energy on this project.

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Ken Buck and the Politicization of Policing

Rep. Ken Buck (right), with his gun.

Rep. Ken Buck (right), with his gun.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

By Bob Seay

On the surface, Ken Buck’s “Blue Lives Matter” proposal looks good. (“Rep. Ken Buck introduces ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bill to make targeted killing of a police officer a hate crime”, March 17) Like Mr. Buck said, “I can’t imagine anyone would be opposed to protecting police officers.” I agree. My brother is a cop. I would do anything to protect him and his fellow officers.

But Mr. Buck’s bill is not intended to protect police officers. It is a cynical political ploy designed to further divide our country and to garner votes for himself and his Right Wing colleagues.

Conservatives typically oppose laws for hate crimes, which they often refer to as “thought crimes.” They maintain that all violent crimes should be prosecuted vigorously, regardless of who the victim might be. Colorado and many other states already require either the death penalty or life without parole for the killing of a police officer. There is no legal or prosecutorial benefit to be gained by classifying the killing of a police officer as a hate crime. There is, however, a strong potential political benefit to be had by exploiting the deaths of these honorable men and women.

Good cops resolve conflicts. Likewise, a true statesman sees the big picture and works to bring people together. With this bill, Buck has intentionally done just the opposite. His deliberate appropriation of the slogan “Black Lives Matter” is a giant middle finger to people who are legitimately concerned about the very real problem of the use of excessive force by rogue officers. The title “Blue Lives Matter” virtually guarantees that this bill will incite division and violence, much of which will be directed at the very officers that Mr. Buck claims to want to protect. It inflames the conflict and divides people. This is type of schoolyard taunting is very popular among the Donald Trump -Ted Cruz wing of the Republican party. It also has the potential to make the country explode.

If Ken Buck is really concerned about protecting police officers, then he should come out against armor piercing “cop killer” bullets. He should make it harder for criminals and potential terrorists to acquire military-grade weapons. He should provide funding for more training in conflict resolution so officers are better equipped to deescalate potentially deadly situations before anyone is killed.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a total of 94 police officers were killed while on duty last year, 52 in traffic-related accidents and 42 from gunfire. These men and women died while protecting us and our values. They deserve our utmost respect and gratitude.

Ken Buck wants us to believe that those who oppose his bill are in favor of people killing police officers. Nothing could be further from the truth. We oppose his bill because we don’t want to make the job of policing more difficult and more dangerous than it already is.

Bob Seay is a Democratic candidate for Congress for CD-04. His website is http://BobForColorado.org 

 

 

 

Ken Buck Ain’t No Racist (Maya Angelou Edition)

Rep. Ken Buck.

Rep. Ken Buck.

NBC News reports on a relatively mundane vote today in the U.S. House to rename a United States Post Office after author and civil rights activist Maya Angelou:

On days when the House of Representatives does not have much to do by way of work, the body names post offices. Usually these are fairly mundane affairs, the body will unanimously vote to approve the naming of a post office no matter what member puts the request forward.

That was the case today when a vote to rename a post office in California to “Medal of Honor” post office passed 381-0.

However, it was not for the next vote, cast to rename a post office in Winston-Salem, N.C. after Civil Rights icon Maya Angelou. That measure passed with only 371 votes.

Nine Republicans voted against the Maya Angelou bill and one voted present.

Maya Angelou.

Maya Angelou.

House Democrats responded indignantly:

Rep. Steve Israel, D-Ny., released a statement saying:

“Naming post offices is one of the most benign and bipartisan duties we perform in the House of Representatives, and there is rarely any opposition. That’s why I was shocked today as nine Republicans voted against naming a post office after Maya Angelou, indisputably one of our country’s greatest poets, authors and civil rights activists. The fact that these nine Members would cast a no vote shows a blatant disrespect and only adds to the damaging actions they’ve taken this year to reverse progress from long and hard fought civil rights battles.”

Today’s 371-9 vote to name a Post Office after Maya Angelou featured Colorado’s own Rep. Ken Buck as one of the very much in the minority “no” votes. We haven’t seen a statement from Buck explaining his vote, but this wouldn’t be his first brush with racial controversy since winning election in 2014. Not long after taking office, Buck took to social media to complain about President Barack Obama treating a group of “Hispanic students” (actually Native American) to lunch–a display that caused Buck, for whatever reason, to ‘lose his appetite.’

Anyway folks, when we find out what Rep. Buck’s problem with Maya Angelou is, we’ll let you know.

Ken Buck Replaces Brophy with Former AFP Lobbyist

Hide your watermelons, kids: Brophy is back in Colorado.

Hide your watermelons, kids: Greg Brophy is back in Colorado.

Yesterday we came across a short entry from Legistorm.com that caught our attention because of the name that was not included in the story. Take a look:

A longtime staff member for retired Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Col.) has returned — again — to the Hill from a prolonged hiatus.

MacArthur “Mac” Zimmerman is the new chief of staff for Rep. Ken Buck (R-Col.) following a seven-year absence from Congress…

…Zimmerman waited until 2014 to return to politics, this time as a lobbyist for Americans for Prosperity.

The story includes an interesting summation of Zimmerman’s strange political ride since his former boss, Rep. Tom Tancredo, retired from CD-6 in 2007. Not mentioned in the Legistorm article, however, is why Rep. Ken Buck was looking for a new Chief of Staff in the first place.

Former State Sen. Greg Brophy had an unsuccessful run for Governor in 2014, but he ended the year on a high note when the newly-elected Buck chose him to run his congressional office in Washington D.C. Brophy had served as Buck’s Chief of Staff ever since…until a few weeks ago when Buck let him know that he would be resigning. There was no press release from Buck’s office, and we apparently missed this late Friday Denver Post blog entry from Mark Matthews in which Brophy declines to talk about his next professional role (if one exists).

We don’t know why Buck made a change at the top of his staff, though it is certainly noteworthy that his new COS, Mac Zimmerman, had been working for the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity. Buck has risen quickly in the Koch world, as we noted late last year when he was a featured speaker at a big Koch fundraising event in New York.

As for Brophy, we don’t know what he’s doing now…other than auditioning to be a “silencer lobbyist.” Trophy re-tweeted this message on Wednesday:

Fort Morgan’s Cargill Plant Fires 150 Muslim Employees in Dispute over Religious Freedom

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

On December 23, 2015, Cargill Meat Solutions Plant in Fort Morgan fired 150 mostly Somali Muslim employees after forbidding Islamic prayers at work, saying, “If you want to pray, go home”. The employees are not eligible to be rehired for six months.

Screen capture of ABC news video

Cargill employees fired for praying at work. Attribution: Denver Channel, 12/30/15

The meat processors, some of whom had worked at the plant for 10 years, had been allowed, under long-standing policy, to take five minutes to pray during their own unpaid lunch and break times, in a “reflection room” provided by the plant. This policy, in place since 2009,  allowed its employees the freedom to pray at work, and allowed the company to produce meat products profitably and on time. Six hundred of the 2100 workers at Cargill’s Fort Morgan plant are Somali Muslims.

Then, suddenly, according to CAIR’s Hussein, Cargill cracked down and stopped allowing Muslim prayer at work. Members of other faiths, presumably, are still allowed to use the company “reflection room” to pray during break time.

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