Robert Mercer is a Volunteer Sheriff in Yuma (No, Really)

UPDATE: Blair Miller of Denver7 catches up with Yuma County Sheriff Chad Day and asks for some clarifications that never come:

In an interview Monday, Day didn’t deny using the LEEF grants or having a volunteer program like the “sheriff’s posse.” But on multiple occasions, he declined to say who worked as volunteers, though he denied having any sort of tit-for-tat arrangement with Mercer or LEEF.

“To be clear, there certainly is no quid pro quo arrangement,” Day told Denver7.

He said a friend of his told him about the LEEF grants, and that he’d applied and been awarded several of the projects he’d applied for. An archived LEEF website notes that its mission is to “help law enforcement officers and agencies in training, equipment, matching funds and family line-of-duty funds grant.”

“They certainly weren’t some sort of trade for volunteer work,” Day said. “[The writer’s] assertion was that I was granting [LEOSA] status in exchange for those things…that’s not true.”

Miller had less luck hearing back from the attorney for the Yuma County Sheriff’s office…

Lees did not respond to a phone message left Monday requesting further clarification the statements attributed to him by Bloomberg.

…or from Mercer:

A spokesperson at Renaissance Technologies, where Mercer is still employed, declined to comment Monday. An email to Mercer requesting comment was not returned. Requests for comment made to the LEEF also went unreturned Monday.

Sheriff day was adamant to Blair that Mercer would or did not receive any “special treatment.”

Oh, and guess who else didn’t have a comment?

Yuma is also home to Colorado’s Republican U.S. Senator, Cory Gardner, whose spokesman said he didn’t know anything about the story aside from what he’d read in Bloomberg. [Pols emphasis]

—–

Billionaire right-wing donor Robert Mercer is apparently a volunteer sheriff’s deputy in Yuma County, Colorado — largely so he can legally carry a gun wherever he goes.

Bloomberg News has a story today about a new “sheriff” in town by the name of Robert Mercer (yes, the very same):

For most of the past six years, Mercer was a volunteer policeman in the tiny town of Lake Arthur, New Mexico, an arrangement that allowed him to carry a concealed weapon in any U.S. state under a law that applies only to law-enforcement officers. As Bloomberg Businessweek reported last month, Mercer gave up his New Mexico badge for undisclosed reasons in September. The mayor of Lake Arthur shut the volunteer program last week.

But the 71-year-old financier is still in the law-enforcement game. Last week, a lawyer for the office of Sheriff Chad Day of Yuma County, Colorado, confirmed that Mercer is a volunteer member of the agency. [Pols emphasis]

“From time to time, he serves in certain roles as designated by the sheriff,” said the lawyer, Robert Lees, who also helped set up the sheriff’s volunteer posse. Yuma is a rural county with a population of about 10,000 that borders Nebraska and Kansas.

You really need to read this entire story for yourself. There are a lot of unanswered questions here that will almost certainly be fodder for future news stories (Vanity Fair has already picked up on the Bloomberg story).

Cory Gardner with Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

Mercer is the hedge-fund billionaire who spent a great deal of money helping to elect Donald Trump, after his initial crush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, fizzled out. Mercer is thought to be the single-biggest individual donor in the 2016 election cycle, and his money has funded a variety of right-wing interests from Breitbart News to Cambridge Analytica to whatever weird crap Steve Bannon was concocting.

In 2016, Mercer’s foundation bought a brand-new Dodge Ram 1500 Limited pickup truck for the Yuma County Sheriff’s “official use.” Mercer’s “Law Enforcement Education Foundation” has also donated $20,000 worth of tasers to Yuma County, and Yuma Sheriff Chad Day says that he is hopeful that they will receive a grant to buy a bunch of new handguns.

In exchange for this generosity, Yuma County rounded up itself a posse:

Lees confirmed that two Mercer associates, George Wells and Peter Pukish, had also joined the sheriff’s office. Both men had previously volunteered alongside Mercer in New Mexico. Wells is Mercer’s son-in-law, and Pukish is a family friend and longtime employee. Both are officers of the Law Enforcement Education Foundation. Wells and Pukish didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“In addition to whatever donations they made, these people bring certain qualifications to the table,” Lees said of the three men.

The Yuma County posse has about two dozen members, Day said, of whom seven or eight live outside the county. [Pols emphasis] He said some but not all posse members qualify for privileges under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, the 2004 federal law that allows officers to carry concealed weapons nationwide.

Yuma County Sheriff Chad Day

The Yuma County Sheriff’s office only has about seven 21 employees in total, though the city of Yuma has its own police department. According to Bloomberg, Mercer was connected to Day via Rocky Mountain Gun Owners head honcho Dudley Brown. Reporters Zachary Mider and Zeke Faux apparently didn’t realize — or declined to mention — that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner just so happens to be from…Yuma, Colorado. It’s no secret that Gardner has been having a hell of a time raising money for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC); it’s probably a good guess that this little arrangement helps open Mercer’s checkbook. Or, maybe this is all just a really weird coincidence.

This is a pretty incredible tale, and here’s the cherry on top:

Sheriff Day rejected a Bloomberg News request this month under Colorado’s public-records law for documents relating to Mercer and his associates, including information on their qualifications and duties. He said disclosing the names of volunteers could endanger their safety.

“Some of my volunteer resources are directly involved in confidential undercover operations that involve direct ties and associations with the Mexican Cartel which has a presence in my area,” Day wrote in an earlier email. “It would not be safe tactically or personally to identify individuals who serve in association with those types of cases.” [Pols emphasis]

According to the sheriff of Yuma County, billionaire right-wing donor Robert Mercer is a key cog in confidential undercover operations involving the Mexican Cartel, and that’s why he gets to carry a concealed weapon wherever he goes.

Sure thing.

ICYMI: Beyond the Headlines from State Assemblies

Both Democrats and Republicans held their state conventions/assemblies on Saturday. While you’ve probably seen the headlines from everything that happened over the weekend – including multiple Congressional District assemblies last Thursday and Friday – there are a lot of secondary stories that you may have missed. Let’s get you caught up…

 

“When President Trump Says Something, He Really Means It!”
This is an actual quote from Rep. Mike Coffman’s speech at the State Republican assembly on Saturday. You might remember that Coffman spoke out forcefullyabout challenging Trump during the 2016 election, but that was back when it seemed improbable that Trump might be elected President. Coffman has since decidedthat he needs to work with Trumpand has even warmed to the idea of campaigningwith Trump in 2018. Coffman’s backpedaling reached its apex on Saturday when he thoroughly buried his face in Trump’s backside.

 

Greg Lopez: Not Walker Stapleton
Former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez managed to surpass 30% of the vote at the GOP state assembly on Saturday to formally get his name on the ballot in June. Up until Saturday, the only thing anybody really knew about Lopez is that he was one of the first politicians to actually answer the question, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

According to Michael Roberts at Westword, Lopez finds his name on the ballot because of a rousing speech he delivered on Saturday. This is a nice story, but it’s not particularly accurate (watch Lopez’s nothingburger speechyourself). The reason Lopez is on the ballot is because other Republican gubernatorial candidates decided that Lopez was their best potential foil for Stapleton on Saturday. In an interview last week on “The Ross Kaminsky Show,” Mitt Romney’s Nephew let slip that he planned to vote for Lopez (Mitt’s Nephew was a delegate himself, but is seeking to make the GOP Primary ballot for Governor via the petition route). Lopez became the go-to candidate for Republican delegates who didn’t want Walker Stapleton to run away with the vote at the state assembly, and that’s why he’ll be on the ballot in June.

 

Walker Stapleton Talks Abortion
This might not seem like a big deal, but Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Walker Stapleton has rarely brought up his positions on abortion in the past. On Saturday, Stapleton’s speech to Republican delegates included a line about protecting children “born and unborn,” which is about as far as he’s ever gone (publicly) on this issue. Stapleton still has a long way to go to make up with Republicans on a number of issues.

 

Stapleton and Tancredo, for Better or Worse
Last week former Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo made the surprise announcementthat he would endorse Stapleton for the GOP nomination for Governor. On Saturday, Tancredo did one better by taking the stage himself to nominateStapleton. Having Tancredo’s support no doubt helped Stapleton with the GOP delegate crowd, but this may turn into quite the albatross for Stapleton in a General Election. There’s no going back now – take a look at the digital ad (right) that circulated on Saturday from “Better Colorado Now,” a SuperPAC that exists ostensibly to support Stapleton’s bid for Governor.

 

Judy Reyher Gets 2ndPlace
Republican state Rep. Judy Reyherand her Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat won’t be top line on the GOP Primary ballot in June. Republican Don Bendell outpolled Reyher at the HD-47 GOP assembly on Friday.

 

Coffman Making Zero Progress (or Effort) on DREAMERs

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)

Over the past six weeks, since U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) promised to restart his efforts to collect signatures on a ‘”discharge petition” to force the U.S. House of Representatives to vote on legislation that would temporarily protect some so-called Dreamers from deportation, Coffman has apparently failed to convince a single Congressman, Democrat or Republican, to sign it.

In fact, since he announced his discharge-petition campaign with great fanfare seven months ago, Coffman has convinced just five member of Congress to sign. And that’s  counting Coffman himself.

Coffman needs a total of 218 signatures of House members to force a vote on his bill, called the Bridge Act, which would grant some Dreamers, protected under Obama’s DACA program, three years of safety from deportation while Congress works on a permanent legislative fix. Coffman’s Bridge Act should not be confused with the DREAM Act, which would protect Dreamers from deportation and grant them a path to citizenship.

Why so much talking and so little walking by Coffman? His office did not return an email seeking an explanation.

But it appears likely that Coffman has simply dropped the ball on his petition, given the fact that, over about the same period of time, a bipartisan group of 196 House Members, including Coffman, signed a discharge petition, pushed by U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) to force a vote on the Dream Act. (Coffman recently said he would not support the Dream Act because it’s “unrealistic.”)

Coffman’s paralysis on his much-trumpeted discharge petition hasn’t stopped the Congressman from blowing his horn at Trump for attacking the Dreamers on Easter.

“The Presidents DACA announcement couldn’t have come at a worst time,” tweeted Coffman. “Easter is a day for many to rejoice and come together— not to put more anxiety on young people. It’s time for Members on both sides of the aisle to join forces and find a permanent solution for DACA recipients.”

DACA recipients, whose deportation has been delayed due to court decisions, are undoubtedly not rejoicing that Coffman has managed to find only four “members on both sides of the aisle,” aside from himself, to sign his own discharge petition. These are U.S. Representatives Jared Polis of Colorado, Bobby Rush of Illinois, Adam Smith of Washington, and Dina Titus of Nevada. If Coffman has found more signatories, they haven’t been recorded by the House Clerk.

Coffman grabbed the media spotlight seven months ago when he pledged to force a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to protect DACA recipients from deportation. Within days of his initial promise, he backtracked, saying he’d only try to force a vote if Congress did not find a solution after Trump officially ended the program March 5.

It’s widely believed that if House Republicans would allow a vote on Coffman’s Bridge legislation or the Dream Act, it would pass.

State Assemblies End; The Big Line Updates

With both the Democratic and Republican state assemblies/conventions now behind us, we’ve made a multitude of updates to The Big Line. If you’re looking for information on who made the ballot and who didn’t, you’ll find those updates in The Big Line. If you’re looking for a good restaurant in Colorado, you will not find that information in The Big Line. If you’re looking for an analysis of the 2018 races for Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, and Congress…it’s in The Big Line.

You may now commence with your complaints…

(P.S.: The Big Line)

Cynthia Coffman’s Campaign For Governor Is Over

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s John Frank reports on the end of the line for Cynthia Coffman, whose campaign for governor collapsed in a heap earlier this afternoon:

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, once considered a sure bet for the primary, suffered a devastating defeat and took only 5 percent of the vote, finishing behind first-time candidate Barry Farah.

The race became nasty in the final hours before the vote, as campaigns and independent political committees bombarded delegates with phone calls, emails and text messages that forced Coffman and Stapleton into a mud-slinging match…

Stapleton managed to win support despite the reintroduction of a 1999 drunken-driving conviction and a new controversy about apparent fraud in how his campaign collected voter signatures to qualify for the ballot through the petition process.

In short, Cynthia Coffman received almost no support for her bid to be governor–but managed to inflict damage on the Republican frontrunner worth much more than the amount of support she attracted to her campaign. For Democrats, this could be considered something akin to a best-case scenario.

And for a candidate attacked today as “not a real Republican,” Coffman proved she can sabotage fellow Republicans with the best of them! Which is, as any truthful Republican will tell you, a quintessentially Republican trait.

—–

We’re tracking happenings at the Colorado Republican Party’s state assembly, where as expected the desperate struggle by Cynthia Coffman to avoid elimination from the gubernatorial race at the hands of Walker Stapleton in the early afternoon is taking a decidedly ad hominem turn:

Longtime readers will recall the late-breaking story in the 2010 Colorado Treasurer’s race of Stapleton’s DUI in San Francisco back in June 1999–complicated by charges that he attempted to leave the scene of an accident after causing bodily injury to two victims. The story came too late to affect the race in 2010, but we’ve always expected that when Stapleton attempted his next move up in elected office the story would be more rigorously investigated.

And thanks to Cynthia Coffman, today’s the day!

Not to be outdone on the objective scale of nastiness, convicted felon tax cheat and author of the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), Doug Bruce, is working the floor against Coffman with his usual charm:

Put on your hip waders and stay tuned, we’ll update as the votes come in this afternoon.

Weekend Open Thread

“The way my luck is running, if I was a politician I would be honest.”

–Rodney Dangerfield

The Get More Smarter Show: April 13, 2018

Today on the Get More Smarter Show: in part one of our tech-challenged 23rd episode, Jason Bane talks with newly appointed Boulder County DA Michael Dougherty about the attorney general’s race and life as a prosecutor in Colorado’s most perpetually interesting jurisdiction.

Then watch part 2 of today’s episode of Get More Smarter, brought to you by technical difficulties!

Our camera flaked, but we still got the audio of your hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin talking about this crazy pre-assembly week in Colorado politics. Will Walker Stapleton’s desperate gamble pay off? Will Cynthia Coffman fade to black? And how many dozen people are running for state treasurer? We don’t answer any of these questions, but we do talk them through with our trademark pizzaz.

Catch up on past episodes of the Get More Smarter Show here. And thanks again for watching.

Colorado Democratic Assembly Results

Colorado Democrats assembled at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield from Friday, April 13, to Saturday, April 14, 2018. The crowd of almost 4,000 Democrats were enthusiastic, engaged, yet civil (in contrast to the stunning back-stabbing and skullduggery at the Republican assembly) . The CDP Assembly was superbly well-organized, with balloting completed in about a half hour, and counted in less than two hours.  Kudos to Chair Morgan Carroll and all of the CDP staff and volunteers.

All of the  congressional districts held their own assemblies; many candidates had primary challengers or Democratic challengers to Republican incumbents. In this “blue wave” year, no office held by the GOP can be considered to be off-limits. Democrats in Colorado put forward a slate of phenomenal candidates.

The official results from the Colorado Democratic Party (CDP) for statewide offices are:

CU Regent-at-Large
Lesley Smith: 3,229 votes (100.00%)

Based on these results, Lesley Smith has qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for CU Regent-at-Large.

Treasurer
Bernard Douthit: 1,074 votes (31.50%)
Charles Scheibe: 557 votes (16.34%)
Dave Young: 1,778 votes (52.16%)

Based on these results, Bernard Douthit and Dave Young have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Treasurer.

Secretary of State
Jena Griswold: 3,352 votes (98.44%)
Phillip Villard: 53 votes (1.56%)

Based on these results, Jena Griswold has qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Secretary of State.

Attorney General
Amy Padden: 360 votes (10.54%)
Joe Salazar: 1,249 votes (36.58%)
Phil Weiser: 1,805 votes (52.87%)

Based on these results, Joe Salazar and Phil Weiser have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Attorney General. Amy Padden can qualify for the ballot if the Secretary of State determines that she has collected the requisite number of valid signatures.

Governor
Cary Kennedy: 2,101 votes (61.65%)
Jared Polis: 1,120 votes (32.86%)
Erik Underwood: 187 votes (5.49%)

Based on these results, Cary Kennedy and Jared Polis have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Governor.

NOTE: These are not all of the candidates that are running for these particular offices. Some candidates have chosen to qualify for the ballot by submitting petition signatures instead of going through the caucus-assembly process.

Here are the CD results in order: ( rounded to nearest 1%). I’ll update this list with numbers as I find them.

I’ve included my notes on the assemblies I attended and on the speakers I heard.

CD1: (Denver metro)Diana Degette – 61% . Her primary opponent, Saira Rao , got 37%, and  will be on the ballot. Rep. Degette has been a reliable Democratic vote for many years in a safe district – I think Rao’s candidacy will be a needed wake-up call to be more progressive and to offer better constituent services. Rao is sharp, a great speaker, and has energized the progressive base. Degette attended her CD1 assembly on April 13 , did not attend nor speak at the state assembly April 14.

CD2: (Boulder area – Jared Polis vacated the seat to run for Governor) Joe Negeuse – 91% Joe gave a helluva speech, as he always does. His personal story touches many people. Boulder will be well represented by him, as he’ll certainly win the primary, and almost certainly the general election. His primary opponent, Mark Williams, did not make the ballot.  The GOP has put up a couple of “Nicks” against Neguse: Nick Thomas and Nicholas Morse. I don’t know who won the GOP assembly vote, but they won’t beat “the Goose”.

CD3: (most of the western slope and SW CO – currently held by Scott Tipton) Diane Mitsch Bush had the highest delegate vote with 56%; Karl Harlon also cleared the 30% threshold with 41%, and will be on the ballot.

CD4: (Mostly NE CO – current incumbent Ken Buck) The Doctors were in the house! Veterinary doctors Karen McCormick and Chase Kohne each had throngs of energetic supporters on stage for their nominations. Each gave a rousing speech:

Kohne’s best line, in my opinion: “If you want to shoot an AR15, go down to the recruiting office and join the military.”

McCormick’s nominators are emphasizing Dr McCormick’s support for Dreamers and immigrants. Karen McCormick emphasized Cannabis, immigrant rights, healthcare, union support, bipartisan cooperation to get laws passed. Full disclosure: I live in CD4. I’m voting for McCormick, will be fine with Kohne as well.

CD5 (El Paso area, currently held by Doug Lamborn) Stephany Rose Spaulding won the delegate count and will be on the ballot. I don’t know about the other CD5 candidates, whom you can read about at the EPCO Young Dems site.  It’s great to see so many young Democrats running from what has6been the Tea Party GOP’s bastion in Colorado.

CD6 Aurora / Arapahoe County area, currently held by Mike Coffman. Jason Crow won top ballot with 64% , while Levi Tilleman will also be on the ballot with 35%. I saw Crow speak to the assembly, and found his persona to be authentic and appealing. PPP surveyed 761 voters, and found that Crow polled 44-39 against Coffman in Febrary 2018.

CD7 Ed Perlmutter, the Democratic incumbent, did not attend the Assembly as far as I know. Ed, a very popular Congressman in his district,  is not  being primaried in this election.

 

Author’s note – this diary started as an open thread based on my  live blogging at the Colorado State Assembly. I’ve updated it with ballot results.

 

 

Trump Calls Michael Cohen Today to “Check In”

So, uh, about that FBI raid…

This seems like an absolutely terrible decision, as the New York Times reports:

President Trump phoned his longtime confidant, Michael D. Cohen, to “check in” on Friday as lawyers for the two men went to court to block the Justice Department from reading seized documents related to Mr. Cohen’s decade of work for Mr. Trump, according to two people familiar with the call.

It is not clear what else they discussed in a call that came days after a series of F.B.I. raids. Depending on what was said, the call could be problematic for both men, as defense lawyers often advise their clients not to talk to each other during investigations. Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen still were trying to determine what exactly was seized.

The raids were even broader than have been previously reported. Prosecutors said the raids were part of a monthslong investigation into Mr. Cohen. In addition to searching Mr. Cohen’s office and hotel room, prosecutors also obtained warrants to seize material from his cellphones, tablet, laptop and a safe deposit box, according to people briefed on the warrants.

The Justice Department on Friday revealed that Cohen has been under criminal investigation for several months because of his business dealings.

Republicans Take Aim at Walker Stapleton

Screenshot from WhoIsWalkerStapleton.com

Sometimes the best way to figure out the frontrunner in a Primary race is to take a look at which candidate is getting attacked the most. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has been the prohibitive favorite for the Republican gubernatorial nomination since before he was even an official candidate, but until recently other Republican candidates had largely stayed away from direct attacks. Now that the GOP Primary is kicking in to high gear, the gloves are coming off.

Stapleton’s campaign has been busy trying to consolidate support, with Tom Tancredo and Rep. Ken Buck recently announcing their endorsements and pals at the Colorado Springs Gazette going out of their way to prop him up. But at the same time that Stapleton is touting new supporters, he’s taking an increasing amount of fire from the right.

An independent expenditure committee (IEC) called “Build Colorado’s Future” — which has been linked to Mitt Romney’s Nephew — has been running digital ads lately that link to the website WhoIsWalkerStapleton.com. The site is an opposition research dump hitting Stapleton on his checkered history with trying to reform PERA, his problems with petition signatures (also detailed in a separate website StapletonPetitionFraud.com), and a 1999 DUI case in California that alleges Stapleton is guilty of a hit-and-run.

Screenshot of a digital ad targeting Walker Stapleton from a Republican-aligned group called “Build Colorado’s Future.”

During a 9News debate between Republican candidates for Governor on Thursday — which did not include Stapleton or Cynthia Coffman, both of whom declined invitations — Mitt Romney’s Nephew (Doug Robinson) went after Stapleton right off the bat. Here’s his response to a question about whether illegal immigrants suspected of traffic violations should be reported to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE):

I’m not familiar with DUIs. Walker? He’s not here.

A bit later, Robinson jumps right into an answer about issues on which he disagrees with Stapleton:

I would say first, marijuana policy. Where has he been? He’s been the Treasurer of this state. We’re not getting the taxes that we promised. He had a platform to stand up and to protect Coloradans as marijuana [policy] was rolled out, and he hasn’t been there.

Two, PERA. He says he’s been a voice for PERA for a long time. I am tired of voices. I want action. The PERA situation is twice as bad as it was when he was first on that board. He’s missed, I think, about half of the board meetings. He’s not here today. I expect somebody who’s in that position to stand up and be courageous, and take on tough issues and solve them.

Victor Mitchell responded to the same question by going after Stapleton on his signature PERA issue.

I don’t think PERA beneficiaries should be beaten down and demonized. I think that’s fundamentally wrong. People who receive PERA benefits today don’t receive social security [benefits]. It’s their life. It’s their check. And they haven’t done anything wrong — they’ve paid into the system. We love to throw the word ‘crisis’ around. I don’t believe PERA is in crisis.

Stapleton is seeking to make it onto the Primary ballot via the state assembly process on Saturday, where he will compete against Coffman and a handful of other Republican candidates such as Steve Barlock and Greg Lopez (Robinson and Mitchell are trying to petition onto the ballot). Barlock has been particularly vocal about his concerns over Stapleton’s family ties to the Ku Klux Klan; Walker’s great-grandfather, Ben Stapleton, was Mayor of Denver from 1923-31 and received significant support from white supremacist organizations.

Get More Smarter on Friday (the 13th)

Do you know how many movies have been released as part of the “Friday the 13th” franchise? If you guessed “12,” then you’re already pretty smart. Still, it’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY… 

► Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tells friends that he is prepared to be fired by President Trump. From NBC News:

One source who spoke to Rosenstein said he seemed fully aware he may soon lose his job and was at peace with the possibility, confident he had done his job with integrity…

If Rosenstein is fired, the next in line to oversee Mueller’s probe is Solicitor General Noel Francisco, though Trump could choose to replace Rosenstein with anyone who has been confirmed by the Senate.

 

► The State Assemblies for both Democrats and Republicans will be held on Saturday. The big contests are obviously those for Governor, but both parties also need to vote among candidates for State Treasurer. Among Democrats, there is also an important contest for Attorney General.

Last night, two Republican candidates for Governor (and Greg Lopez) participated in a debate on 9News that was notable largely for the roundhouse punches thrown at Walker Stapleton by Mitt Romney’s Nephew.

 

► President Trump reportedly plans to pardon Scooter Libby, former Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, largely to send a message to potential witnesses in an investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller. From the Washington Post:

President Trump’s plan to pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby is the latest signal to his associates that he has the power and inclination to reward those who stay loyal during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Libby was convicted of four felonies, including obstruction of justice and perjury before a grand jury, related to the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame during his time as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000.

Richard Painter, who was the chief ethics lawyer in George W. Bush’s White House from 2005 to 2007, tweeted: “So what’s the message here? Lie to a grand jury to protect political superiors and you will get a full pardon?”

Um, yeah, pretty much.

 

► Former FBI Director James Comey is promoting his new book set to be released last week, and early reports indicate a bombshell of a tome. CNN’s Chris Cillizza runs down 11 of the most incredible parts of Comey’s memo that have already been released. Nothing in Comey’s book, however, may be bigger than the revelation that the “pee pee tape” could be real. From the Daily Beast:

We regret to inform you that James Comey, the former director of the FBI, says it’s “possible” that a pee tape involving Donald Trump and Russian prostitutes actually exists.

The most infamous section of the Steele dossier, which was full of salacious claims involving Trump and Russia, included a totally unverified claim that the now-president paid prostitutes in 2013 to pee on a Moscow hotel bed where Barack and Michelle Obama once slept.

In his new book, Comey revealed Trump asked him to investigate the claim that any such video existed in order to prove that it wasn’t true. In an interview Friday on Good Morning America, Comey said for the first time that the near-mythical tape could really exist.

Of course the “pee pee tape” might be real. Seriously — would anyone in America actually be surprised to learn that this is a real thing?

Meanwhile, the White House is prepping an all-out messaging war against Comey. Trump is attacking Comey as a “slime ball,” but Politico writes that the President may be on the verge of a complete explosion (or implosion — some kind of ‘splosion, anyway).

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Team Anschutz Spins So Hard For Stapleton It’s Silly

Walker Stapleton.

The Colorado Springs Gazette, which owns the political news site formerly known as the Colorado Statesman and is owned and managed by the family of billionaire Phil Anschutz, has a long and growing track record for brazenly partisan bias in both their news and editorial coverage. This FOX News-like lack of objectivity has manifested itself in many ways, from undisclaimed attacks on critics of a political organization that had directly paid members of the Gazette’s staff and the wife of the paper’s editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen, to more recent examples of arguable bias in favor of Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton against the entire rest of the field–most prominently helping shower Attorney General Cynthia Coffman in bad press ahead of the Republican caucuses.

With Stapleton’s campaign suddenly imperiled this week by admitted fraudulent petitions, moving Stapleton to commit to making the ballot via the state assembly coming up Saturday, the editorial board of the Gazette is shifting into overdrive to spin this disastrous situation into something resembling a positive:

Integrity has long defined Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton…

His adherence to ethical and moral principles explains why he asked the Colorado secretary of state’s office Tuesday to disqualify all petitions the agency had approved to put him on the primary ballot.

Stapleton learned a Colorado Springs-based petition gathering firm he hired, Kennedy Enterprises, used a contract worker who was not a registered to vote in Colorado. By state law, only registered voters qualify to gather petitions. Stapleton says the firm previously assured him all petition workers qualified. Upon learning otherwise, he abandoned the petitions instead of preparing to defend them in a potential court challenge.

…We are not surprised Stapleton, a small business owner, made the quick executive decision to risk his candidacy and ditch questionable petitions. He cares about the people of Colorado. Win or lose, he wants a process that is fair for us all.

Integrity. Pass it on.

This over-the-top sycophantic editorial spins what happened beyond useful recognition. For one thing, they claim that Stapleton called his ad hoc press conference “shortly” after learning that he had submitted fraudulent petitions. The truth is that an opponent of Stapleton’s raised questions about Stapleton’s petitions almost two weeks ago–before Stapleton’s petitions were validated. These excuses about the back-and-forth between Stapleton’s campaign and his contractors are both unverifiable and irrelevant. What matters is that Stapleton submitted fraudulent petitions, and our Republican Secretary of State validated them.

And then it came out that the petitions were fraudulent.

The reason that Stapleton “came forward” Tuesday was simple: having recognized a serious problem, Stapleton wants to avoid the fate of 2016 U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser–who responded catastrophically to revelations of forged petitions among those he used to qualify for the GOP primary ballot. The ongoing investigation into Keyser’s forged petitions dominated the headlines for the remainder of the primary after the story broke, and Keyser placed 4th out of 5 candidates in the final vote.

Given the results of the related court case over petition signatures turned in by Doug Lamborn, in which Lamborn faced the court’s relatively lenient standard of “substantial compliance” and kept his spot on the ballot, there’s an argument that Stapleton mishandled his response here and created unnecessary uncertainty for his campaign. The fastest road out of this for Stapleton will be to dominate the assembly on Saturday, which would settle the question of his place on the June primary ballot.

But whatever happens this weekend, do not insult the intelligence of Colorado voters by suggesting that this was a display of “integrity.” The known and checkered history of petition gathering in Colorado in general and the contractors employed by Stapleton’s campaign in particular make it impossible for Stapleton to plausibly claim he was caught unawares by this scandal. And if he really was caught unawares, that invites its own competency questions.

Nobody gets a medal for this debacle, least of all Walker Stapleton.

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