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

Rep. Lori Saine (R).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REPORTS: Paul Ryan to Hang Up His Gavel

House Speaker Paul Ryan points to exit

House Speaker Paul Ryan has apparently had enough of this shit.

As Tim Alberta and Rachael Bade report for Politico today, it appears that Ryan is not going to run for re-election in 2018:

Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with President Donald Trump, Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker. He consults a small crew of family, friends and staff for career advice, and is always cautious not to telegraph his political maneuvers. But the expectation of his impending departure has escaped the hushed confines of Ryan’s inner circle and permeated the upper-most echelons of the GOP. In recent interviews with three dozen people who know the speaker—fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists—not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018. [Pols emphasis]

The Politico story makes it sound like Ryan is pretty close to definitive on his Congressional future…but he doesn’t want to say it out loud just yet:

The speaker can’t afford to admit he’s a lame duck—his fundraising capacity and deal-making leverage would be vastly diminished, making the House all the more difficult to govern. When asked at the end of a Thursday morning press conference if he was leaving soon, Ryan shot a quick “no” over his shoulder as he walked out of the room.

Ryan still wants to push forward with his big entitlement reform plan, which is a big reason why he is being so quiet about his political future, but it sounds like he’s just plain sick of Washington D.C. and the current state of the Republican Party. As Alex Shepard writes for New Republic:

He’s unsurprisingly tired of dealing with all of the crap that being speaker entails, including the never-ending power struggles and infighting. According to the report, Ryan would use his final year as speaker attempting to fulfill the dream he’s had since he was going to keg parties in college: entitlement reform.

There is an element of “you can’t fire me, I quit!” to all of this. Ryan is on the verge of passing sweeping tax reform, but he is also heading into the toughest stretch of his speakership. He’s facing a tougher than expected challenge from Randy Bryce, who has become a darling of the left over the past several months. And, perhaps most importantly, he’s about to oversee an expected bloodbath in the 2018 midterms.

It’s only going to get worse from there, which Ryan’s friends and associates acknowledge: “The best part of this scenario, people close to the speaker emphasize: He wouldn’t have to share the ballot with Trump again in 2020,” Politico writes. [Pols emphasis]

Well, yeah, there’s that. Nobody wants to play with President Trump anymore — particularly when there is a massive Democratic wave on the horizon.

For God’s Sake, Steve Lebsock, Just Resign

Rep. Steve Lebsock (D-Thornton).

The latest chapter in the sordid tale of alleged serial harassment by Democratic Rep. Steve Lebsock of Adams County, unfolding today with a press conference and a new bizarre statement from Lebsock proclaiming his innocence, is raising questions about whether Lebsock even understands the seriousness of his situation–as 9NEWS updates:

Lebsock, who remains a candidate for state treasurer, claimed in a news release on Thursday that he “was exonerated this week when he voluntarily participated in and passed a polygraph test asking critical questions about allegations made against him by Faith Winter.”

…When the accusations surfaced a month ago, Lebsock offered an apology to Winter, saying that he had a “number of drinks” at the party and “I do not remember ever saying anything that was out of line.”

Based on the transcript of the polygraph posted to his campaign website Tuesday morning, Lebsock’s memory appears to have improved.

The Denver Post’s Christopher Osher:

Rep. Steve Lebsock, a Thornton Democrat who also is running for state treasurer, added that he is willing to take additional polygraphs and release the results. Nine legislators, lobbyists or staffers have accused Lebsock of sexually inappropriate conduct, and he faces two formal complaints. He said the allegations are politically motivated…

Winter said Lebsock’s polygraph results mean little.

“Sexual harassment is about power,” Winter said in a prepared statement. “This is another abuse of power by Lebsock, who is desperate to sway the investigation. But everybody knows what happened; he’s a serial offender. I will not be bullied.”

We don’t want to spend too much time arguing the validity of polygraph examinations to determine truthfulness, because outside of TV court dramas and pseudoscientific quackery they don’t have much credibility at all:

Polygraph examinations are considered so unreliable that they can’t be used as evidence during civil or criminal trials in Colorado.

And yet, on the strength of a polygraph test he paid to have administered to himself, Lebsock is declaring himself exonerated–and opens the door for accused harassers everywhere to say the same when called out by that pesky #metoo movement:

“Steve Lebsock is the first elected leader in America to prove his innocence since the #MeToo movement started in October of this year by passing a polygraph,” Thursday’s statement said. [Pols emphasis]

This latest round of denial and victim-blaming from Lebsock directly contradicts his previous apologies to some of the alleged victims in the immediate aftermath of the initial disclosures. As 9NEWS correctly reports above, Lebsock previously claimed he “didn’t remember” what he might have said or done in Rep. Winter’s case–only to be completely sure about what he didn’t say or do in time for this polygraph test.

Which is bullshit.

What this all boils down to, of course, is the idea that not just his initial public accuser Rep. Faith Winter but numerous women inside the Colorado Capitol building who have accused Lebsock of inappropriate conduct are all lying in concert for the purposes of bringing Lebsock down. Lebsock’s claim of “political motives” for this action make little sense, since nothing about this is politically beneficial to anyone. Even more important, before this situation erupted nobody cared about Lebsock’s political future one way or the other. Lebsock’s candidacy for Treasurer wasn’t gaining anything you’d call traction, but there was also no particular animus against Lebsock either–except for perhaps the women he had harassed who hadn’t been heard yet.

What we’re trying to say is that Lebsock’s allegations of “political motives” for the accusations against him from as almost a dozen women are the worst kind of nonsense. There are no political benefits to be gained from putting a stop to sexual harassment in the Colorado General Assembly, it’s a moral and (in theory) bipartisan obligation. If anything, the growing contrast between Democrats holding the bad actors in their midst accountable and Republicans covering for their own all the way to the White House makes Lebsock’s position less politically tenable, but that’s not the fault of Lebsock’s accusers. Lebsock chose to be a member of the party that is actually trying to to be part of the solution instead of the problem.

And the problem in this case is Steve Lebsock. Not all these women. Steve Lebsock.

It’s over. Resign.

Jeffco Liberty Party Coalition Gives Gardner “Enema of the State” Award

(That sounds painful – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has been taking it pretty hard from all Coloradans, judging from his low approval ratings, and his conservative base isn’t giving him a pass when it comes to criticism either.

In one recent Facebook post, for example, the North Jeffco Tea Party shared an image of an “Enema of the State” award that was apparently bestowed on Gardner by a vote at the Christmas Party of the Jeffco Liberty Party Coalition.

The award, also given to Sen. John McCain of Arizona, was for Gardner’s “Conduct Unbecoming of a Conservative.”

Gardner has also been under serious attack most of the year by some conservative talk radio hosts here in Colorado, most recently because of his abandonment (and then partial embrace) of failed Alabama Republican Roy Moore, but generally because of his close ties to U.S. Senate President Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who’s seen as a tool for moneyed GOP interests–as opposed to a champion of Tea Party principles.

This month on KNUS 710-AM, host Julie Hayden called Gardner a “swamp creature,” saying Gardner won’t support “populist” candidates who will “not be bought and paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the big-money boys.”

Gardner won’t support Republicans who “are voting based on what the voters want” because “that threatens [his] entire existence,” said Hayden, who’s a former Fox 31 Denver reporter.

Gardner did not immediately return a call for comment, but defended his opposition to Moore by saying he was “unfit” to serve in the senate.  Gardner holds a leadership role in the U.S. Senate, working closely with McConnell, and Gardner has been a reliable backer Senate leader all year. Gardner has also voted with Trump 94 percent of the time.

Hayden’s co-host, Chuck Bonniwell, who’s the publisher of a newspaper in Glendale and Cherry Creek, explained on air that Gardner “has been promised by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that if  [Gardner] is defeated, they will give him millions in lobbying contracts. I mean, millions of dollars in lobbying contracts.”

“He’ll get to spend the rest of his life in luxury and ease,” said Bonniwell, adding that Gardner “doesn’t care” if he’s re-elected. “He ain’t coming back to Colorado. He’s staying in Washington DC for the rest of his life and he will live the life of a multi-millionaire.”

“If anybody is a weasel, Cory Gardner is a weasel,” said Bonniwell.

Yesterday on Hayden and Bonniwell’s KNUS show, Anil Mathai, GOP chair in Adams Cty, asks Sen. Gardner, “Are you on crack cocaine?” for suggesting that Alabama Democrat Doug Jones vote with Republicans. Listen to Mathai here:

Not all on talk radio are critical of Gardner. Conservative KNUS host Dan Caplis is unwavering in his defense of Gardner, asking his Tea Party critics to name a single vote that Gardner has gone the wrong way on.

“Last-Minute Mike” Checks Box on Net Neutrality

Rep. Mike Coffman (R) cares a lot.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t give some mention to Rep. Mike Coffman’s letter the day before yesterday to Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai, requesting a delay in the commission’s vote on new rules that could lead to the end of “net neutrality”–the principle of internet communications that all traffic should be routed equally across the network:

After a chorus of Democratic and Independent lawmakers called for the FCC to delay its planned vote on a rollback of net neutrality protections, at least one Republican is now asking the agency to hit pause, as a few others express tempered skepticism of the proposal.

This week, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) sent a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai calling for a delay to let Congress pass legislation on the issue. “The Internet has been and remains a transformative tool, and I am concerned that any action you may take to alter the rules under which it functions may well have significant unanticipated negative consequences,” Coffman writes. “Therefore, I urge you to delay your upcoming vote and provide and provide Congress with the opportunity to hold hearings on the net neutrality issue and to pass permanent open Internet legislation.”

In response Rep. Coffman is getting praise from activists on the issue as one of the only Republicans calling for a delay in the vote, which set for today. Sen. Cory Gardner has already put his weasel-worded stamp of approval on the proposal, and there is very little to suggest that Coffman’s belated call for a pause in the FCC’s long-anticipated rulemaking will have any impact.

It’s just the latest instance of Rep. Coffman, perennially considered one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the entire nation, moving to inoculate himself personally against a bad story for Republicans nationally that he has no real power to affect the course of–especially not when he weighs in at the last possible moment as with his December 12 letter to the FCC. Much like Coffman’s high-publicity call for a discharge petition to force a vote on legislation to protect undocumented immigrants who came here as children, which he quietly abandoned a few days later, this is a great political opportunity to look good to left-leaning swing voters in his district.

As a practical matter, it’s meaningless. Coffman can’t stop or even slow down the destruction of net neutrality, and he remains a member of the party in power that is actually doing all these things he supposedly objects to.

At the end of the day, nothing else matters.

What’s It Going To Take, Denver Post?

UPDATE: USA TODAY’s editorial board shows ’em how it’s done:

This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt.

Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed…

It is a shock that only six Democratic senators are calling for our unstable president to resign.

—–

A Denver Post editorial published a short while ago today lambastes President Donald Trump over his Twitter attacks yesterday against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, whom he salaciously claimed “would do anything” for donations–with ever-stronger rhetoric to suggest their patience with Trump is wearing thin:

President Donald Trump took his fevered debasement of the presidency to new lows Tuesday, attacking a U.S. senator on Twitter by suggesting she “would do anything” for campaign cash…

Trump made his claim after several of the women who have accused him of sexual assault in the past held a press conference on Monday to demand accountability, and Gillibrand called on him to resign.

The women’s decision to speak out again is reasonable. The world is different than it was more than a year ago. In the heightened awareness created by the #MeToo movement, we’ve seen many prominent men lose their jobs, including a Democratic senator and a pair of congressmen from both major parties.

There’s little to disagree with in these opening paragraphs. But then this editorial takes a strange turn, almost admitting to a huge contradiction in their approach to allegations of sexual misconduct against local politicos versus…well, anybody besides the President of the United States:

We find ourselves in surreal territory. The Denver Post editorial board has called on state lawmakers accused of sexual harassment to step down. We’ve railed against the slow progress elected officials at the state and national level are making to deal with harassment. Yet we blink when it comes to calling for Trump’s resignation, for he won his election after multiple claims of harassment were thoroughly reported and published, and then capped by Trump’s own bragging about grabbing women’s genitals captured in the infamous “Access Hollywood” video.

With so many asking the question, Trump should realize his good fortune and keep his silence…

Notwithstanding the fact that Donald Trump’s victory was in fact extremely narrow and controversial, losing the nationwide popular vote by millions and inspiring a movement of American women to collect the heads of Trump-style harassers at every level of government and popular culture since he’s taken office, it is nothing short of offensive to suggest that President Trump would experience “good fortune” in the present climate by “keeping his silence.” That may be true from the point of view of a harasser hoping to squeak out from under accountability, but it’s not a responsible suggestion for an editorial board to make to anyone.

Let Trump keep talking. Let everyone see it. And respond accordingly.

And that brings us to the question that truly matters. If the Post honestly believes the President is “debasing the presidency,” what will it take for them to join Sen. Gillibrand instead of just defending her–and call for Trump to resign? We’re not asking this rhetorically, we assume there is such a line. New allegations? New accusers? Some new outrage via Twitter?

It’s not like Trump carried this state. It’s safe in this case for the state’s newspaper of record to, you know, represent. And if not now then very soon, they ought to.

Republicans Say They Have a Tax Plan…Plan

Perhaps someone will type this up before Republicans try to vote on their tax plan.

As the Washington Post reports, Congressional Republicans are indicating that the House and Senate have come to some sort of agreement on a tax plan that could (potentially) make it through both chambers to the desk of President Trump:

House and Senate Republican leaders have reached an agreement in principle that would lower the corporate tax rate to 21 percent beginning in 2018, a person briefed on the discussions said, part of a compromise $1.5 trillion tax plan they hope to vote into law by next week.

The agreement would also lower the top tax rate for families and individuals to 37 percent, a change that would deliver a major tax cut for upper-income households…

It’s unclear if all Senate Republicans support the changes, and Republicans can only afford to lose one GOP more vote if they hope to pass the agreement next week, as Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) already opposes the measure. [Pols emphasis]

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has expressed concern about lowering the top tax rate, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has complained that Republicans did not do more to further expand the Child Tax Credit. But neither has said whether they would oppose the bill.

Republican leaders seem to be fairly confident that they have an agreement in place, though it’s not yet clear if they have the votes to support a final proposal that is expected to be approved by a “conference committee” made up of leaders from both chambers. Staffers are also still working to finalize a draft bill, which would need to be examined by the Joint Committee on Taxation to ensure that it abides by Congressional budget rules.

Republicans are hoping to hold a vote on their wildly-unpopular tax plan sometime next week — before Alabama Democrat Doug Jones is sworn in to replace Republican Luther Strange in the Senate.

There’s Tone Deaf, And Then There’s Cory Gardner

UPDATE: Watch a CNN panel laugh raucously at Sen. Cory Gardner:

—–

Roy Moore, Cory Gardner.

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports on the response by National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) chairman Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, to last night’s come-from-behind victory by Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones of Alabama–a Democratic victory that puts Gardner in a difficult position as one of the Republicans who abandoned Roy Moore as allegations of child molestation beset Moore’s campaign:

Sen. Cory Gardner, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Tuesday that Alabama voters deemed Roy Moore unfit for election, but also that he hopes Democratic victor Doug Jones will vote with Republicans once in the U.S. Senate.

“Tonight’s results are clear – the people of Alabama deemed Roy Moore unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate,” Gardner said in a statement. “I hope Senator-elect Doug Jones will do the right thing and truly represent Alabama by choosing to vote with the Senate Republican Majority.”

Gardner’s statement whistles right past the enormous divisions Roy Moore’s Senate run opened within the Republican Party, with President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee having fully committed the party’s brand in support of Moore. Gardner himself went back and forth on Moore through the course of the Alabama special election to replace Jeff Sessions, supporting appointed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in the primary, then enthusiastically backing Moore as the primary winner before souring on Moore again with Mitch McConnell’s apparent consent after decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct against girls as young as 14 resurfaced. After Trump endorsed Moore, McConnell’s rhetoric suddenly went soft leaving Gardner out on a limb. Gardner stopped calling for Moore to be expelled at that point, but still voiced his personal opposition.

As for Gardner’s thoroughly lampoonable call for Jones to essentially caucus with Republicans, yes–we get why he said this. You could even argue that Gardner’s opposition to Moore was meant to set up the circumstances by which he could call for something like this with a straight face. But in the end, the ability of a Democrat to prevail in deeply red Alabama as happened yesterday is more than the admittedly shocking allegations against one Republican candidate. Elections across the country in 2017 have clearly indicated a huge shift of support away from Republicans since Trump’s election. In some cases, the 20-point or larger swings still weren’t enough to flip safely Republican seats, but if you apply those equivalent swings across the nation the 2018 elections begin to look very, very good for Democrats–a landslide, in fact, that could reach historic proportions.

So no, sorry Sen. Gardner, we don’t see Doug Jones caucusing with Republicans! If anything, after next November that might be a whole new punchline. In the meantime, the deep divisions created by Moore’s campaign within the Republican Party, in which Gardner is now fully entangled, are going to be fascinating to watch play out.

Wednesday Open Thread

“The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

–Frederick Douglass

VOTE: Who Will Win the U.S. Senate Race in Alabama?

UPDATE 9:00PM: Doug Jones wins!

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UPDATE 7:20PM: Roy Moore leads 53-48% with 22% of precincts reporting.

———

Roy Moore, left, and Doug Jones (AL.com)

Today is Election Day in Alabama, where a special election to fill the Senate seat of now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions has become one of the most-watched races in recent memory.

Thanks to a number of factors, from the odd timing of the election to the difficulty in projecting voter turnout in a largely-rural state, political prognosticators have been all over the map on what might or might not happen in Alabama today. A good number of polling firms, in fact, are flat-out refusing to put out numbers in the traditional horse race format because there are so many unknown components at play. In other words, friends, you have as good an idea of what is going to take place today as anyone else!

Cast your vote in the poll below, and remember: As always in our polls, we want to know what you THINK is going to happen, not what you might prefer to see in the outcome.

Who Will Win the U.S. Senate Race in Alabama?

 

GOP HD-47 candidate says Reyher “embarrassed our party” and was “selected under a cloud of suspicion”

(Harsh – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tamra Axworthy formally ended her campaign to fill a vacant seat in the Colorado House of Representatives, stating in an email to media today that she can’t “understand why the [Republican] party would move ahead with seating a candidate who was selected under a cloud of suspicion and who has embarrassed our party with racially charged offensive remarks.”

On Nov. 27, GOP vacancy committee appeared to have selected Otero County GOP Chair Judy Reyher to fill a House seat held by State Rep. Clarice Navarro (R-Pueblo), who resigned to join the Trump Administration.

But Axworthy challenged the vacancy committee’s decision at the end of last month, even going so far as to email reporters what she saw as proof that six members of the 11-person committee had voted for her over Reyher. (See the texts below and to the right.)

Axworthy says state Republicans ruled against her anyway, proving to her that the “process is set up to favor the establishment” and “was rigged to favor Judy, the Chair of her own vacancy selection, from even before the resignation of Clarice Navarro was publicly announced.”

​​”Even when 6 out of the 11 voters provide written statements that show a different outcome from the official party narrative, party insiders are content to ignore it and sweep the matter under the rug,” wrote Axworthy.

“This was certainly confirmed to me when I learned that the party, being aware of a further appeal, certified Judy’s appointment and sent it to the Secretary of State without first directly addressing the evidence of 6 separate voters attesting to a different outcome.”

Axworthy is so disheartened by the outcome that she “more than likely won’t be running in a primary” against Reyher, who sparked a national media flareup with her racist comments on Facebook (African Americans are “hatred-filled beings.”) and to The Denver Post (Black people “hate white people with a passion.”). Still, Reyher insists she is not a racist.

“You should never say never,'” wrote Axworthy about a primary challenge to Reyher, “but how can anyone decent run for office when the deck is so stacked against outsiders who wish to serve in an honest, and in this case, non-bigoted way?”

Republican officials, including Freemont County Republican Chair Gregory Carlson, who chaired the vacancy committee meeting after Reyher recused herself, insisted that Reyher was elected fairly by secret ballot, according to an email obtained from a source.

(more…)

Whither Naming The Neighborhood “Stapleton?”

Walker Stapleton: NOT responsible for the sins of his great-grandpa. Or his cousin George Bush. We should stop.

9NEWS reports on an increasingly hot topic in the affluent northeast Denver neighborhood built over the former Stapleton International Airport:

Two community forums were held Tuesday to discuss the use of the name ‘Stapleton’ — in a building with the name ‘Stapleton’ above both entrances.

Change The Name Stapleton held two meetings at The Cube near Northfield Stapleton.

“I heard everything from, ‘I am diabolically opposed to a name change’ to, ‘It is absolutely what we need to do to have social justice.’ And, to me, that’s the best thing you can ever hear is to have that spectrum of opinion on a very complicated topic,” said moderator Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler.

The “topic” is, of course, that former Denver mayor Ben Stapleton “had ties” to the Ku Klux Klan before and during his long administration of the city–a tenure running from 1923-1947 with a four-year gap between 1931 and 1935. To say that Stapleton “had ties” to the KKK is a bit of an understatement; Stapleton was in fact himself Klansman #1128, and after early denials openly appointed members of the KKK to city government–leading to an unsuccessful attempt at a recall. Later as the KKK lost popularity he turned against his former allies, but by no account we’ve read became repentant a la Robert Byrd or other publicly rehabilitated Klansmen.

All of which does rightly lead to the question, should the Stapleton neighborhood keep its controversial name? In recent years as the movement to take down monuments to the Confederacy and other commemorations of racists and racism across the nation has accelerated, this has repeatedly bubbled up as a topic of discussion. We don’t see any sign of that lessening, and the diverse and generally liberal residents of this Denver neighborhood might well decide a change is necessary at some point. That’s not a rejection of the city’s history, more of acknowledgment of the city’s diverse reality today. Which we readily concede the KKK wouldn’t be very pleased to see.

Above all, Colorado Republicans ask, please don’t hold this against the great-grandkids!

But perhaps Walker Stapleton has something to say about it, and that would certainly be a headline.

Ulterior Motives of Lobbyists Defending Sen. Jack Tate Exposed

Sen. Jack Tate (R).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You know, like lobbyists do.

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

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

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

Even when it’s hard. Especially in fact.