Search Results for: lebsock

Online Conservative Group Turns on Republicans

(Whatever happened to… – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Divisiveness among Colorado Republicans is a familiar challenge for the state party. Extreme social conservatives and gun rights advocates have challenged the more moderate establishment for years.

Over the past year, however, a previously ordinary Republican entity has launched surprisingly aggressive attacks against its own party. The reason? It’s under new management.

Advancing Colorado is a 501(c)4 entity that in past years has been essentially an online brand used by conservatives to promote “edgy” messages against progressive policies and -obliquely- Democratic candidates. From a 2015 Colorado Independent profile of its former executive director Jonathan Lockwood:


Colorado Senate Sexual Harassment Crisis Nears Breaking Point

UPDATE #2: From the Senate floor moments ago:

Note Sen. “Handsy” Jack Tate in the background looking at the carpet.


UPDATE: The Denver Post and Aurora Sentinel both call out the GOP-controlled Senate’s inaction in hard-hitting editorials:

GOP leaders there don’t want to admit what Winter and a lot of fellow House Republicans made perfectly clear as they took turns testifying against Lebsock and others who perpetrate sexual harassment as lawmakers.

To Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City and outed pervy GOP state senators Randy “Spanky” Baumgardner and Jack “Oh, Leery” Tate, it’s not that big of a deal. They say no law was broken, so move along, folks…

There were crimes committed by these men. There’s just no law — yet — against a legislator using his or her position to extort sex from or bully Capitol staffers, lobbyists or each other.

The only difference between other forms of bribery, blackmail and assault is that the sexual kind is perfectly legal for state elected officials.



Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 8)

Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! 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.



► The State Senate is on the verge of grinding to a halt because Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham is completely abdicating responsibility on taking action against members of his caucus accused of sexual harassment. Both the Denver Post and Aurora Sentinel published editorials on Wednesday afternoon that were highly critical of Grantham’s inaction.


President Trump appears to be wavering on his proposals for imposing strict steel and aluminum tariffs. As the Washington Post explains:

President Trump said Thursday he would soon announce tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, but he said he would be “very flexible” and exempt Canada, Mexico and an unspecified number of other allied nations, including possibly Australia.

Trump’s remarks at a midday Cabinet meeting came as his White House was enveloped in an air of uncertainty over when Trump would effectively launch a trade war with the tariffs and how many countries would be affected by them.

Trump reiterated that the tariffs would be 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports, but he promised flexibility in how the government levies them…

…Republican congressional leaders and even some of Trump’s own advisers were scrambling to convince the president to hold off on his announcement and abandon his plan for tariffs, warning of severe domestic economic ramifications and possible retaliation from global trade partners.


► Florida lawmakers approved a mixed bag of changes on gun control, as NBC News reports:

Florida’s House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to approve a gun and school safety bill that would raise the age to buy all firearms to 21 and impose a three-day waiting period for most gun purchases — and potentially put guns into the hands of some educators…

…The bill passed by the Florida House also provides new mental health programs for schools and provisions to keep guns away from people who show signs of mental illness or violent behavior.

The measure also prohibits “bump stocks,” devices which allow semi-automatic firearms to fire faster, and which police said were used in an Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead.

It also would create a so-called guardian program that would let some school employees and teachers carry handguns if they go through law enforcement training and if the school district decides to participate in the program.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he is unsure about whether he will sign the legislation because of his disagreement over the provision that would put guns into the hands of teachers and support staff.


► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is taking a lot of heat from Democrats over his support for legislation that would weaken oversight of the banking industry. Critics say the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act would significantly weaken the Dodd-Frank Act that was passed after the last recession.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


GOP Harassment Intransigence Untenable, Catastrophic

Senate President Kevin Grantham.

As KUNC’s Bente Birkeland reports and we discussed in some detail yesterday the historic expulsion of Rep. Steve Lebsock from the Colorado House last Friday has shifted attention in the widening crisis over sexual harassment in the Colorado General Assembly to the Colorado Senate, where two Republican Senators have been accused of their own serial bad behavior–allegations that, like those against Rep. Lebsock, were found credible by an outside investigator.

But as the whole nation’s attention suddenly turns to Colorado as the new model for holding perpetrators of sexual harassment in positions of power accountable, there’s a problem.

The men in charge of the Colorado Senate don’t want to make history. They like the status quo.

The leader of Colorado’s Senate said that last week’s historic decision in the House to expel a legislator amid sexual harassment allegations would have no bearing on how similar cases in the Senate are resolved. Senate President Kevin Grantham said the House made a tough decision to remove a fellow legislator from the Capitol.

He added that a criminal conviction would be the standard for expelling a legislator from the Senate…

Grantham said an investigation that finds allegations of sexual harassment credible is not enough for him to support the removal of a lawmaker. He said criminal charges would be.

“If we’re going to talk about expulsion, then there still has to be criminal acts and indictments and convictions,” said Grantham. [Pols emphasis]

As of yesterday, Senate Democrats are publicly ramping up the pressure on Grantham with a daily demand to introduce for debate the resolution to expel Sen. Randy BaumgardnerDenver Post:

For the second time this week, Democrats in the Colorado Senate called for Republican leadership to allow debate on the resolution they sponsored to expel GOP Sen. Randy Baumgardner over accusations of sexual harassment…

She said Baumgardner’s actions created an intimidating, hostile and offensive workplace environment.

“For this reason, the members of the Senate Democratic caucus ask that the Senate resolution we prepared and submitted for introduction … be promptly introduced and brought to the floor for debate,” Sen. Irene Aguilar, a fellow Denver Democrat, said the day before.

First of all, let’s dispense with the absurd notion that a criminal conviction is now or should ever be the standard for taking disciplinary action in cases of sexual harassment. That’s simply not the standard in any other workplace in Colorado, where investigations with far less independence and thoroughness are routinely the basis for corrective actions up to and including termination of employment. To declare a criminal conviction, or even criminal charges, to be the minimum standard for intervening in a case of sexual harassment gives members of the Colorado Senate protection that no one else enjoys–not even, as of last Friday, their colleagues in the House.

The Democrats and Republicans in the House who voted for expulsion rejected Grantham’s argument.

“This wasn’t a criminal investigation; this was a workplace investigation,” said Rep. Polly Lawrence, R- Roxborough Park.

Grantham’s off-base call last week for Denver District Attorney Beth McCann to investigate for criminal violations fell flat precisely because of what it represented: a moving of the goalposts after GOP Senate leadership decided they didn’t like the results of the independent investigation into Republican Senators. Grantham and accused Senators like “Handsy” Jack Tate might not like it, but sexual harassment that falls short of a criminal act most certainly does exist.

And Senate President Kevin Grantham just declared that in his chamber, sexual harassment not rising to the level of a criminal act may be carried out by Senators with impunity. Or at least, unlike any other workplace in Colorado, without getting fired.

Folks, this is a political disaster of the likes rarely seen at any level of government. Republicans already lose women voters by significant margins in Colorado elections, a gap that has made the difference between defeat and victory in close races (see: Bennet, Michael).

This a mistake that could help ensure a whole generation of women never, ever vote Republican again.

What you can do to fight back this week (March 5)

Last Friday, the Colorado House of Representatives did something incredible.

They expelled a sitting lawmaker for the first time in 103 years. [1]

For years, a culture of sexual harassment without accountability flourished at the Colorado Capitol. Women who work there banded together to warn each other about who to never be caught alone with. Elected officials treated women in ways that are frankly unspeakable.

And then Rep. Faith Winter decided enough is enough.

All over the country, women are fighting back against decades of harassment and denigration at the hands of powerful men. The serial sexual harasser who was expelled from the Colorado House last Friday must not be the last. From Colorado’s halls of power to the White House itself, the work to change our culture and put an end to the harassment and abuse of people, especially women in the workplace is just beginning.

But we will change—for the better. The hard lessons our nation is being forced to learn after Donald Trump’s election are making a difference. We will emerge from the Trump presidency a better nation, just not for the reasons Trump thinks. We will be better despite him.

In that spirit, find a way to take action for the week of March 5:

Colorado People’s Alliance: American Dream Becomes a Nightmare

With the Trump-mandated deadline to end DACA rapidly approaching, March 5 is the day that we say Enough is Enough. We will tell Trump and Congress that immigrant youth are not political pawns, they are human beings and we are coming together to defend them and their families from this Administration’s deportation force.

Where: 1961 Stout St, Denver
When: Monday, March 5 at 5:00pm

Click here to RSVP.

Screening of “Care in Chaos” with Rewire’s Jessica Pieklo

Join Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, NARAL and the ACLU for this screening of the documentary “Care in Chaos.”

Where: Downtown Colorado Springs (RSVP for location)
When: Monday, March 5 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP.

The Denver Press Club: We Are Parkland

After Parkland, we’ve been hearing from Florida teenagers. Here’s a chance to listen to Colorado’s. Colorado high school students weren’t even born when Columbine happened. To them, school shootings are a way of life. How are they covering school security in their high school newspapers? What are the headlines? Do they feel safe? What would make them safe?

Where: The Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Pl, Denver
When: Tuesday, March 6 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.

Reproductive Freedom Lobby Day!

Join Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, Boulder Valley Women’s Health, Colorado Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the Freedom Fund, AAUW, NCJW – Colorado Section and the ACLU of Colorado as we join forces to fight for abortion and birth control access!

Where: Colorado State Capitol, 200 E Colfax Ave, Denver
When: Wednesday, March 7 at 8:00am

Click here to RSVP.

Women’s Lobby of Colorado: #MeToo Policies and How We Can Support Them

Women’s Lobby of Colorado is hosting this discussion with our lobby team, legislators and leaders of our survivors of sexual assault advocacy community. There will be light appetizers served.

Where: The Spring Café, 1373 Grant St, Denver
When: Wednesday, March 7 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.

Repro Rights Roadshow—Denver

JOIN US to learn how the Colorado Reproductive Health Rights and Justice Coalition is working to preserve and strengthen reproductive rights in Colorado. We’ll talk about what’s going on at the Capitol and how you can help. We also want to hear from you! Tell us what’s happening in your schools and community and how we can help make your community and the state of Colorado a leader in Reproductive Rights.

Where: Woodbury Branch Library, 3265 Federal Blvd, Denver
When: Thursday, March 8 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.

Alliance to Reclaim our Schools Colorado: The Illusion of School Choice

The Alliance to Reclaim our Schools Colorado and the Caucus of Today’s Teachers present a community forum to discuss the inequities of our education system and the damage that corporate reforms have inflicted on our communities. This event is open to the Denver Metro community, including neighboring districts.

Where: Abraham Lincoln High School, 2285 S Federal Blvd, Denver
When: Thursday, March 8 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.

Fighting Ageism and More in 2018!

We’ll start at 5:30 with refreshments and networking, then kickoff a discussion of what you’d like to see in 2018. At 6:15, you’ll hear about a groundbreaking initiative that is going to be happening locally and nationally to shift perceptions about aging and to fight ageism, and how you can be involved. Then we’ll be doing a workshop from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. about key concepts and messaging, what to say (and what not to) and how you can become part of identifying and fighting ageism.

Where: Daniels Fund, 101 Monroe St, Denver
When: Thursday, March 8 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.

International Womxn’s Day Celebration and Open Mic

Celebrate International Womxn’s Day with us at Bellwether on Colfax. The event will start with a brief talk on the revolutionary history of International Womxn’s Day. This will be followed by an open mic featuring performances of all kinds – comedy, poetry, music – anything!

Where: Bellwether, 5126 E. Colfax Avenue, Denver
When: Thursday, March 8 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP.

Denver Human Services: Community Network Meeting: Services for Immigrants and Refugees

Join us for our next Community Network Meeting on Friday, March 9, 2018. We will be sharing resources available for immigrants and refugees. The presentation line up is still being confirmed, however, we hope to have representatives from the Denver City Attorney’s Office, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, and more!

Where: Denver Human Service Building-East, 3815 Steele St, Denver
When: Friday, March 9 at 8:30am

Click here to RSVP.

Colorado People’s Action: Movement Politics Candidate Training

Are you planning on running for office? Do you what to help support someone running for office?Join CPA to build skills as a candidate and transform the way in which we engage with politics and the political system and work with and keep our Representatives accountable.

¿Está planeando postularse para una oficina? ¿Quiere apoyar a alguien que se postula para un cargo? Únase a CPA para desarrollar habilidades como candidato y transformar la forma en que involucramos con la política y el sistema político y trabajar con nuestros Representantes y mantenerlos responsables.

Where: 14707 E 2nd Ave, Aurora (Suite 100)
When: Saturday, March 10 at 10:00am

Click here to RSVP.

Asian Pacific Development Center: Know Your Rights Workshop

APDC’s Know Your Rights workshops are designed educate and equip participants with need-to-know information: What do I do (and not do) when interacting with police? What can I do to protect myself when dealing with immigration enforcement? What can I do if I may have experienced wage theft? Additional modules are available addressing hate crimes or renters rights. Participants will have a chance to share their stories and experiences with APDC, or the group, if they would like. Each workshop is a space to learn how to protect yourself, your family, and your community!

Where: Asian Pacific Development Center, 1537 Alton St, Aurora
When: Saturday, March 10 at 10:30am

Click here to RSVP.

Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition: What Are Our Rights? ¿Cuáles Son Tus Derechos?

Comprendiendo y Protegiendo los Derechos de los Inmigrantes, las Mujeres, y los Trabajadores/Understanding and Protecting Workers’, Women’s, and Immigrant Rights.

Where: Asian Pacific Development Center, 1537 Alton St, Aurora
When: Saturday, March 10 at 12:30pm

Click here to RSVP.

Kick Off Potluck – Colorado Labor Education and Art Collaborative

Colorado Labor Community! Join us for a Launch Celebration and Potluck for the Colorado Labor Education and Arts Collaborative (CLEAC) AND Student Labor Action Project (SLAP). Students and Faculty in UCD’s Political Science Department invite workers, organizers, union members, students, and educators across Colorado to this new network whose mission is to support and create arts-based events that educate the public about labor history and support current labor struggles.

Where: Multi-Cultural Lounge, Tivoli Student Union, Auraria Campus, Denver
When: Saturday, March 10 at 4:00pm

Click here to RSVP.

Colorado Latino Advocacy Day 2018

Don’t forget to Save the Date for LAD’s (Latino/a Advocacy Day) 12th year anniversary! Join us Sunday, March 11th and Monday, March 12th. Political power starts with YOU! This two-day program provides advocacy trainings and briefings on policy issues that most impact Latinos in Colorado. Over 200 Latinxs from across Colorado are expected at LAD this year. TWO HUNDRED policy advocates swarming the State Capitol to demand change for our communities. Imagine that!

Where: Colorado State Capitol, 200 E Colfax Ave, Denver
When: Sunday, March 11 – Monday, March 12

Click here to RSVP.

Warm Cookies of the Revolution: Netflix & Chill (With Strangers!): “If A Tree Falls”

You bring a pillow and we’ll bring the popcorn, candy, and drinks. We’ll watch this incredible documentary that explores the effectiveness and limits of activism, as well as who we label “terrorist” and why, then talk about our own connection to these issues.

Where: McNichols Civic Center Building, 144 West Colfax Ave, Denver
When: Sunday, March 11 at 11:00am

Click here to RSVP.

Thanks again! We’re grateful for everything you do, and we’ll see you next week with more ways to make a difference.

Sexual Harassment Story Shifts to State Senate

The state legislature is back to work today after a dramatic daylong session in the State House on Friday that culminated in the expulsion of Rep. Steve Lebsock over multiple claims of sexual harassment.

There will still be plenty of discussion about Lebsock and his surprise decision to switch his party affiliation on Friday, but for the broader story of addressing sexual harassment at the State Capitol, all eyes now turn to Senate President Kevin Grantham.

As Bente Birkeland of KUNC reports today, Grantham seems fairly oblivious to the significance of what happened on Friday:

By a vote of 52-9, the State House on Friday expelled a sitting legislator for the first time in more than 100 years. The vote to expel Lebsock included 16 Republicans, which eliminates any suggestion of some sort of partisan effort. Grantham may not want Friday’s vote to “change [the] Senate process” for dealing with sexual harassment, but a fundamental shift occurred whether he likes it or not. It is completely ludicrous for Grantham to publicly state that Lebsock’s expulsion doesn’t change anything for his caucus; it changes everything.

Three sitting Senators — all Republicans — have been accused of sexual harassment. There have been multiple complaints of sexual harassment against Sen. Randy Baumgardner — at least one of which has already been deemed credible by an independent investigator — but the only action taken has been for Baumgardner to voluntarily resign as the chair of the Transportation Committee and agree to take part in some sort of “sensitivity training.” Grantham apparently thinks this is sufficient in Baumgardner’s case, which is particularly ridiculous given that two more formal harassment complaints have been filed against Baumgardner since Grantham’s statement that the matter is closed.

Grantham has also said that a sexual harassment complaint against Sen. Larry Crowder has been deemed a “closed” matter, though he has yet to make any definitive statements about a complaint against Sen. Jack Tate (which has also been deemed credible by an independent investigator). As of today, Grantham is still sticking by his ridiculous argument from last Thursday that he would only address “criminal” complaints against a sitting Senator.

Grantham’s current position is morally and ethically indefensible, but it is also politically unsustainable. The longer he drags out this absurd argument, the more Grantham endangers his entire caucus in an election year that was already looking grim for Republicans.

Colorado Week in Review: 3/2/18

Your deliberately oversimplified glance at what happened in Colorado this week.

Get More Smarter on Friday (March 2)

It’s a beautiful day outside. Read this, then go take a walk. 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.



► Most political eyes in Colorado today are focused on the State Legislature, where the House is debating a measure to expel Rep. Steve Lebsock (D-Thornton) one day after Republican lawmakers tried (unsuccessfully) to delay the process. Here’s more on today’s events from the Denver Post.


► Chaos. From CNN:

The chaos and bombast that have driven President Donald Trump’s White House into its deepest crisis yet just burst America’s borders.

Trump’s sudden announcement Thursday of punishing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, after a typically disorganized and opaque rollout, left much of the world feeling the whiplash that has rocked Washington all week…

…Given the on-again-off-again nature of Thursday’s announcement and subsequent lack of details, there was more than a suspicion that the trade move had been fast-tracked to distract from a disastrous week.

A feud between Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the resignation of his confidante Hope Hicks, successive political blows to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and signs of multiple lines of inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller leading deep into the President’s inner circle mean Trump has plenty of incentive to try to change the subject.

According to NBC News, Trump’s “trade war” declaration came out of a dark place:

According to two officials, Trump’s decision to launch a potential trade war was born out of anger at other simmering issues and the result of a broken internal process that has failed to deliver him consensus views that represent the best advice of his team.

On Wednesday evening, the president became “unglued,” in the words of one official familiar with the president’s state of mind.

Trump mad! Trump impose tariffs!


► As the Washington Post explains, the White House was still struggling on Friday to defend Trump’s “trade war”:

President Trump on Friday declared a global trade war and said it would be “easy to win,” promising to hammer “reciprocal taxes” on any country that charges tariffs on U.S. goods and services.

His threats, made in a series of Twitter posts, looked to escalate his new protectionist policies far beyond the steel and aluminum tariffs he said he would impose next week. Instead, he vowed to impose trade restrictions on any country that he felt had an unfair trade relationship with the United States, following through on nationalist threats that many aides had spent more than one year trying to contain.

Over the past 24 hours, Trump has drawn the blueprints for the more restrictionist U.S. trade policy in roughly 100 years. The White House has provided no information or details about how these trade practices would go into effect. Instead, they’ve been sketched out in rough terms in off-the-cuff remarks after a meeting with steel and aluminum executives and in a series of social media posts that many trade experts said grossly misrepresented how trade works. [Pols emphasis]


Get even more smarter after the jump…


BREAKING: GOP Attempts To Derail Sexual Harassment Investigations

UPDATE 3:45PM: After a long day of debate and caucus meetings by both Republicans and Democrats, House Speaker Crisanta Duran told reporters a short while ago that the vote to expel Rep. Steve Lebsock from the Colorado House will take place tomorrow. 44 votes are required for the expulsion resolution to succeed, and by most reports the whip count for Democrats is either unanimous or close to it with the obvious exception of Rep. Lebsock.

With House Democrats ready to vote to expel Lebsock, it is House Republicans who are are now in the position of either supporting victims of harassment, or a lawmaker who has been found in an outside investigation to have more likely than not committed all of the harassment that has been alleged. Needless to say political considerations like how this may affect Republican lawmakers down the road are at work, but there is a transcendent moral imperative to act that could leave Republicans in a very bad place depending on what they decide to do tomorrow.

All we can say is, everyone is watching.


UPDATE #5: Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman:

“The legislature’s decision to take disciplinary action and whether or not allegations merit a criminal investigation are separate questions. To suggest otherwise is an attempt to delay and distract from what should be a straightforward process informed by the findings of experienced, objective workplace investigators.

The public rightly expects elected officials to do more than make it through the workday without committing a crime. The potential for a criminal investigation does not remove our obligation to create a work environment free from all forms of harassment.”


GOP Senate President Kevin Grantham.

UPDATE #4: Statement from the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault:

The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault applauds the efforts of House Leadership to balance the need for a fundamentally fair process with the need to exercise one of the state’s core principles, accountability. Therefore, we call on the House to vote yes on HR18-1005 to expel Representative Steve Lebsock from the Colorado General Assembly, and we call on the Senate to hold accountable those in their chamber who have been found to have credible complaints against them, and restore our state Capitol as a safe and welcoming place.

As investigations have unfolded, we have heard countless survivors express that the state capitol building no longer feels like a safe place to participate in civic engagement of any kind whether that be testifying in committee, meeting with their elected officials privately behind closed doors, or simply getting onto the buildings elevators with no ability to control who they might have to share that elevator with. Survivors have described the Statehouse as a hostile environment after months of investigations have produced little to no consequences for cases of sexual misconduct that resulted in findings of responsibility. For any survivor who has reported sexual victimization, it is imperative that disclosures be taken seriously and that those who have caused harm be held accountable. Failure to acknowledge and address sexual harassment conveys both the message that the behavior is acceptable and that reporting harassment does nothing to effectively end it.

When elected officials in positions of power commit sexual harassment, this affects not only the survivor but also the entire community and state. The State Capitol is a workplace and, in this historic moment, all of Colorado is looking to the General Assembly to set a tone and standard for accountability in the workplace. The cornerstone of a successful harassment prevention strategy is the consistent and demonstrated commitment of senior leaders to create and maintain a culture in which harassment is not tolerated. The process that has been set in place by the General Assembly itself to investigate complaints has been followed and it is now the responsibility of the General Assembly to act on the findings by the investigators.


UPDATE #3: Denver7 reports as everyone tries to make sense of today’s bizarre GOP-engineered scrambling of the process of investigating sexual harassment in the Colorado General Assembly:

McCann’s office said it had not received the request from Grantham as of 11:30 a.m., though Grantham said his office had sent the request over.

Colorado has two criminal statutes that could be used in such a prosecution, but sexual harassment is not a criminal offense.

Prosecutors would likely have to charge any lawmaker with criminal sexual assault or unlawful sexual contact, a class 1 misdemeanor in most cases and a class 4 felony if the person uses force, intimidation or a threat to make the contact. Another option would be to charge them with harassment, a class 3 misdemeanor. There is a civil statute for sexual harassment. Grantham noted in the press conference, “I’m not a lawyer and I don’t pretend to be one,” but said legislative counsel had been working on the issue.


UPDATE #2: 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman points out an obvious problem with Senate President Kevin Grantham’s plan to ditch the agreed process for the higher bar of a criminal investigation–that’s not how it’s supposed to work:


Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 1)

In like a lamb. 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.



► Republican lawmakers in Colorado are doing everything they can to avoid having to make a decision on sexual harassment allegations at the State Capitol. On Thursday morning, House Republicans tried unsuccessfully to create a new ethics process to deal with sexual harassment instead of just waiting until Friday to vote on an expulsion resolution for Rep. Steve Lebsock (D-Thornton).

And then…Senate President Kevin Grantham held a press conference to announce that Republicans wanted the Denver District Attorney’s office to investigate sexual harassment allegations so that they could avoid making a decision about their own troubled caucus members such as Sen. Randy Baumgardner and Sen. Jack Tate. The Denver DA’s office replied quickly:

We’ll provide more analysis of what Republicans are trying to accomplish once we figure that out ourselves. That includes you, Cynthia Coffman.


► Meanwhile, the State House is still scheduled for a Friday vote on a resolution to expel Lebsock. It may be a difficult decision for some legislators, but as we wrote on Wednesday, there is nothing confusing about the allegations and a subsequent investigation.


► Congressional Republicans are quite flustered in the debate over gun safety after President Trump appeared to be taking a firm (for him, anyway) stand in favor of tighter restrictions on firearms.

While Republicans dawdle on gun safety, some of the largest retailers in the country are moving ahead with changes of their own. Walmart and Kroger joined Dick’s Sporting Goods in creating tighter restrictions on gun sales in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.


President Trump unveiled a bunch of new tariffs. From the Washington Post:

President Trump on Thursday said he had decided to impose punishing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum in a major escalation of his trade offensive, disappointing Republican congressional leaders and inviting retaliation by U.S. trading partners.

Speaking at the White House, the president said he had decided on tariffs of 25 percent for foreign-made steel and 10 percent for aluminum…

…The announcement capped an on-again, off-again episode with the president initially expected to announce the trade action on Thursday morning only to cancel amid a fierce pushback from opponents. Trump acted following a determination by the Commerce Department earlier this month that rising import volumes threatened U.S. national security.

The president’s move, relying upon a little-used provision of U.S. trade law, is expected to trigger immediate legal challenges by U.S. trading partners at the World Trade Organization and invite retaliation against American exports.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Denver Mayor Faces Troubling Sexual Harassment Allegation

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Westword’s Michael Roberts reports and it’s not good for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock:

Last night, Mayor Michael Hancock issued an extraordinary video apology for what his office has termed “inappropriate behavior” toward Denver Police Detective Leslie Branch-Wise when she was part of his security detail approximately six years ago. The clip, on view below, was prompted by Branch-Wise’s participation in a February 27 Denver7 report in which she shared text messages from Hancock, one of which asked if she’d ever taken a pole-dancing course before warning her, “Be careful! I’m curious;)!”

Hancock’s star has continued to rise despite past links to stories alleging sexually inappropriate behavior — most notably involving the Denver Players/Denver Sugar prostitution ring. But the latest revelation, which is emerging amid the post-Harvey Weinstein rise of the #MeToo movement, suggests that this time around, he won’t so easily avoid paying a political price as he’s gearing up to run for his third term as mayor.

In her interview with Denver7, Branch-Wise made public an open secret among political observers and the press: She was the Denver police officer to whom Hancock friend and political adviser Wayne McDonald was accused of making inappropriate comments in 2012. This behavior prompted Branch-Wise to request removal from the mayor’s security detail, and Hancock sacked McDonald four days later…

But allegedly, Mayor Hancock was something rather less than sympathetic.

He joined in.

[Hancock] goes on to say that “during Detective Branch-Wise’s time on the security team, we became friends, but my text messages in 2012 blurred the lines between being a friend and being a boss. Unfortunately, I didn’t know until just a few days ago that she felt our text exchanges were unwelcome and contributed to the pain and disrespect she was already feeling. [Pols emphasis] But it is obvious now that she did feel that way. I sincerely apologize to Detective Branch-Wise. I apologize to my wife and family and to the people of Denver.”

DPD Detective Leslie Branch-Wise requested a transfer off Mayor Hancock’s security detail following alleged sexual harassment by Hancock’s aide Wayne McDonald, and received a settlement that reportedly prevented her from filing any other lawsuits against city employees. It should be noted, as Westword correctly does, that McDonald also sued and received a settlement over the case.

But none of those details excuse Hancock’s own behavior, or the possibility that justice for the police officer in question may have been thwarted because of the McDonald case. Hancock problematically denies that his conduct rose to the level of sexual harassment, but in its context–and above all, based on the opinion of the victim–that simply can’t be justified with the reported information.

Politically, this creates a dicey situation as Democrats in the Colorado General Assembly pursue a resolution to expel a lawmaker accused of both many more and arguably more severe instances of sexual harassment. We are not the ones tasked with handing down punishment in these cases, but it’s very important that accountability in all cases of sexual harassment be both consistent and sufficiently severe to deter further offense.

And that means everybody, even the Mayor of Denver.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (February 27)

Take a minute to give a polar bear a hug today. 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.



► Democrats in the State House are proposing a measure to expel Rep. Steve Lebsock from the legislature. We’ll update this story as more information becomes available.


► DACA recipients in Colorado are optimistic for the first time in months after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the Trump administration’s ruling from last fall. The Department of Homeland Security must continue to accept applications for DACA renewals beyond the March 5 date originally targeted as the end of the program.


► The United States Congress consistently polls as one of the most disliked organizations in the entire country. Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican majority:

Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress appear very wary of entering into a gun debate.

The House finishes work for the week this afternoon. The Senate GOP’s fast track effort to move a narrow, but bipartisan background check compliance bill was blocked Monday night, and the balance of the chamber’s week is scheduled to be spent on nomination votes.

Senate lawmakers in both parties are all over the map on what they want (or don’t want) to do.

Bottom line: If the first day back on Capitol Hill for lawmakers since the Parkland shooting was any indication, this time is not, in fact, different when it comes to the gun debate — at least so far.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan says that “We shouldn’t be banning guns for law-abiding citizens.” This is a completely nonsensical statement, since everybody is a law-abiding citizen until they commit a crime.

Change may not come as quickly as some might have hoped…but change is coming.


► As Attorney General Cynthia Coffman continues her quixotic efforts to win the Republican Gubernatorial nomination, she keeps running into more questions than answers.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Get More Smarter on Friday (February 23)

Huzzah! Happy National Banana Bread Day! 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.



► Senate Republicans are facing a new round of serious questions about sexual harassment at the State Capitol after another complaint was filed against state Sen. Randy Baumgardner and an earlier complaint against state Sen. Jack Tate was deemed credible by outside investigators. From Bente Birkeland at KUNC:

A complaint alleging that Sen. Jack Tate harassed a woman at the state Capitol has been found credible. The woman, a former intern, alleged that Tate flirted with her and touched her in an elevator in an unwelcome manner during the 2017 legislative session. The former intern was 18 years old at the time, and has asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

In an independent investigation, the Employers Council sided with the accuser…

…Tate declined to comment for the moment. He added that he would make a comment when he feels it is appropriate to do so. The woman said she wants leaders in the state Senate to hold Tate accountable.

You may recall that a group of female lobbyists rushed to Tate’s defense in December as some sort of pre-emptive character defense of the accused sexual harasser; we’re guessing these women feel about as terrible now as they looked at the time.

The Tate story is actually the second story of harassment involving Senate Republicans breaking in the last day. Bente Birkeland of KUNC reported on Thursday that third sexual harassment complaint has been filed against Baumgardner. It was just last week that Senate President Kevin Grantham gently slapped Baumgardner on the wrist after an initial harassment complaint was investigated and found to be valid…but not before complaining that the investigation itself was flawed.

In all, three sitting Republican Senators are facing sexual harassment complaints deemed credible by an outside investigation (Sen. Larry Crowder is the third). Harassment complaints about state Rep. Steve Lebsock (D-Thornton) are still under investigation.


► The National Rifle Association (NRA) is spinning wildly out of control amid escalating concerns over gun violence in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Florida. Efforts to combat gun violence are being met with newfound support from unlikely sources, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Here in Colorado, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) checked his courage at the door.

Also, President Trump completely changed his tune on gun control (surprise!) during his CPAC speech today. From CNN:

President Donald Trump spent the last two days insisting that he was ready to find compromise on gun control measures in the wake of the murders of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last week…

…That all changed during Trump’s speech Friday morning at the Conservative Political Action Conference just outside Washington. Talking about the stakes of the 2018 election, Trump said that if Democrats win back control of Congress “they’ll take away your 2nd Amendment.”

As he closed his speech, Trump again said Democrats want to repeal the 2nd Amendment: “They will do that, they will do that,” he said.

Which is, of course, not true. It is also hugely toxic to any attempt to find shared ground on the sort of “common sense” changes to gun laws that Trump, um, trumpeted later in his CPAC speech.

Of course, it is completely implausible that the 2nd amendment could actually be “taken away.” Repealing a Constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate just to move that proposal along to each of the 50 state legislatures (of which 38 would need to approve).


► Governor John Hickenlooper quietly (inexplicably-so) signed his name to legislation on Thursday evening that fixes a drafting error related to the most consequential bill of the 2017 legislative session. The “special districts” or “pot tax” legislative fix signed by Hickenlooper is essentially the same bill that Colorado Republicans refused to consider during a brief special legislative session in October 2017.


► Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. As the Washington Post reports, the Russiagate scandal engulfing the White House takes another leap forward today:

Rick Gates, a former top official in President Trump’s campaign, plans to plead guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI, according to court papers filed Friday by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The guilty plea, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, caps a busy week for Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and related issues. It also ends a tumultuous period for Gates, who found himself re-indicted, changing lawyers, and agreeing to plead guilty all within 24 hours…

…Gates’ plea raises the pressure on Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman. Both men were hit with a 32-count indictment on Thursday, following an earlier 12-count indictment of the pair back in October.

Gates could provide the special counsel with valuable information about the inner workings of Trump’s operation: He served as a senior figure in the campaign and had access to the White House as an outside adviser in the early months of the administration.

Click here for more analysis on the importance of these latest moves from special counsel Robert Mueller.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Once Again: Everybody Knew About Randy Baumgardner

Sen. Randy Baumgardner (R).

KUNC’s Bente Birkeland breaks the latest news on the ongoing sexual harassment scandal plaguing the Colorado General Assembly–a new complaint alleging that Sen. Randy Baumgardner created a “hostile work environment” for legislative staffers:

Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who is facing calls to resign in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, has been named in a new complaint at the state Capitol. The accuser, a man who worked as a non-partisan Senate staffer in 2016, alleges that Baumgardner created an offensive and hostile work environment.

In a formal complaint filed with the Senate on Wednesday (Feb. 21, 2018), the male staffer alleges that Baumgardner repeatedly gave a female staffer unwanted attention throughout the 2016 legislative session.

The male staffer, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said when Baumgardner entered the room where they worked it felt negative and disruptive, and made others uncomfortable and impeded his ability to do his job.

“The female staffer would shake her head and call him ‘creepy and disgusting,’” the male staffer wrote in the complaint. “Bottom line, this became an environment that we all endured. It was a cloud that hung in the air, and at the time we didn’t know what to do about it.”

This latest complaint reinforces a point we have made repeatedly since the first word of allegations against Sen. Baumgardner made it into news reports. Like Rep. Steve Lebsock in the House, Baumgardner was well known as a lawmaker prone to sexual harassment. A recurring theme in news reports about the culture of sexual harassment in the Colorado General Assembly has been common knowledge among staff and others professionally obligated to do business with Colorado lawmakers of who to avoid–or not be caught in the same room alone with, or not drink with, et cetera.

…this became an environment that we all endured. [Pols emphasis]

In contrast to the ostracization Lebsock has earned from his fellow Democrats, it is this common knowledge of Baumgardner’s behavior that makes the relative absence of punishment from Republican Senate leadership so galling. There is simply no way that Senate President Kevin Grantham can claim ignorance of Baumgardner’s reputation. And if Grantham really was this ignorant, that’s a problem too.

Either way, this new complaint means that despite Grantham’s efforts, “the matter” is not concluded.

Grantham Harassment Footdragging Confounds Political Reason

Sen. Grantham’s extremely tough choice re: Sen. Randy Baumgardner.

The Denver Post’s John Frank updates with the latest word from a standoff in the Colorado Senate over the fate of Sen. Randy Baumgardner, a sexual harassment complaint against whom has been found credible by outside investigators prompting every Democrat in the chamber to call for Baumgardner’s resignation:

Senate President Kevin Grantham, the top Republican in the Colorado legislature, said Monday he expects to make a decision by the end of the week on whether to discipline a fellow GOP lawmaker after a sexual harassment complaint.

The movement follows a week when Grantham faced significant pressure to take action against state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, of Hot Sulphur Springs, who faces a substantiated complaint that he slapped and grabbed the buttocks of a legislative aide multiple times during the 2016 legislative session…

The Senate president blasted Democrats for creating a “partisan circus” with the call for Baumgardner to resign and pushed back against those who suggested he is delaying action in the case.

Senate President Kevin Grantham has reportedly been in possession of the investigative report on Baumgardner’s conduct since the end of January. Predating this latest complaint, however, and as we’ve said numerous times since the General Assembly’s sexual harassment scandal first broke, Baumgardner’s alleged behavior toward women with business at the Capitol was very widespread knowledge for many years prior to 2018. Much like with Rep. Steve Lebsock in the House, it’s impossible for Grantham to argue he had no knowledge of Baumgardner’s conduct because everybody else did.

But unlike Lebsock, Randy Baumgardner wasn’t bounced from his committee chairmanship. He wasn’t pulled off prime sponsorship of Senate Bill 1, the chamber’s showcase transportation bill. While Democrats in the House called for Lebsock to resign as the stories about his conduct snowballed, Grantham and Senate Republicans turtled up in self-defense–continuing to promote Baumgardner in the press, and taking no action whatsoever to protect women at the Capitol from further offense. Women who had potentially been victimized by Baumgardner had no choice but to continue to deal with him if they wanted to work on legislation of his or before his committee.

The two weeks that Grantham has sat on a report validating this most recent sexual harassment charge, with no action taken to even prevent it from happening again, demonstrates nothing short of contempt for Baumgardner’s victim(s). There is absolutely no excuse for stalling action so long after this report was issued–and given the possibility of Baumgardner doing this to another woman, every day nothing has been done is a moral indictment of Republican Senate leadership.

And for Grantham to claim injury from Democrats demanding this situation not be allowed to continue is…astounding.