Trump Registers for Colo Ballot; Spokesperson “Doesn’t Care” about President’s taxes

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After filing required paperwork today for Trump to be on next year’s election ballot in Colorado, a Trump campaign representative said he doesn’t care about the president’s tax returns and sees no reason for him to release them.

“I really don’t care what his taxes are,” said John “Tig” Tiegen of Colorado Veterans for Trump.

“To me, he’s still a citizen,” Tiegen told reporters at the Secretary of State’s office this afternoon. “Why force him to do something that you’re not forcing everybody else to do? You’re just singling him out. That’s all you’re doing. Honestly, I don’t care what he pays in taxes, what he doesn’t pay in taxes. There’s a tax code for a reason. If I can weasel a way out, I’m going to weasel a way out too.”

Some states are requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the state ballot. Trump is the only president in recent history who’s not voluntarily released his tax returns, and to maintain his business while in office, CNN reports.

Tiegen (on right)

Asked if he expected to see rallies in Colorado, Tiegen said, “I would hope so. Hopefully nonviolent rallies, but hopefully we would see rallies.”

Tiegen said he thinks Trump can win in any state, especially in light of the economy.

What’s required, he said, is to “get the word out.”

“Colorado’s economy has been booming for years under Democratic governors and Democratic leadership at the General Assembly — and that’s in spite of Donald Trump, not because of him,” said David Pourshoushtari, Communications Director for the Colorado Democratic Party. “Whether it’s his massive tax giveaway to the ultra wealthy, his continued sabotage and assault on Coloradans’ healthcare, or his reckless trade wars that have hurt our Colorado farmers and outdoor recreation economy, it’s no wonder Trump’s Colorado approval rating has plummeted since he took office.”

Secretary of State Jena Griswold appeared briefly at the press conference and told a Trump official to seek her assistance if she needs it.

Alex Cranberg Steps In Oily Foreign Policy Scandal (Again)


Alex Cranberg.

AP reported yesterday via the Colorado Sun and a host of other news outlets on a sweetheart deal apparently obtained by Energy Secretary Rick Perry on behalf of American oil speculators including Alex Cranberg, a former Colorado Republican megadonor with a long and dubious history of turning up where fossil fuel and foreign policy intrigue meet:

Perry’s efforts to influence Ukraine’s energy policy came earlier this year, just as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s new government was seeking military aid from the United States to defend against Russian aggression and allies of President Donald Trump were ramping up efforts to get the Ukrainians to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Ukraine awarded the contract to Perry’s supporters little more than a month after the U.S. energy secretary attended Zelenskiy’s May inauguration. In a meeting during that trip, Perry handed the new president a list of people he recommended as energy advisers. One of the four names was his longtime political backer Michael Bleyzer.

A week later, Bleyzer and his partner Alex Cranberg submitted a bid to drill for oil and gas at a sprawling government-controlled site called Varvynska. They offered millions of dollars less to the Ukrainian government than their only competitor for the drilling rights, according to internal Ukrainian government documents obtained by The Associated Press. But their newly created joint venture, Ukrainian Energy, was awarded the 50-year contract because a government-appointed commission determined they had greater technical expertise and stronger financial backing, the documents show.

The Texas Observer recaps some of the details about the close ties between former Gov. Perry and Cranberg since Cranberg relocated to Texas, after several years of Cranberg trying unsuccessfully to beat back the growing tide of Democratic political victories in our state. Among other mutual showings of affection, Cranberg supplied Perry with a private plane for Perry’s ill-fated 2012 presidential run:

Perry appointed Cranberg to the UT Board of Regents shortly after the man registered to vote in Texas following a move from Colorado. Cranberg served from 2011 to 2017 and was a controversial figure on the system’s governing board…

Democrats on three U.S. House committees last month subpoenaed documents from Perry as part of their impeachment inquiry into allegations that President Donald Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son.

…An attorney for Aspect Holdings, Cranberg’s company, told the AP that American officials supported “a fair, competitive process.”

Back in 2008, as some long-time readers may remember, Cranberg’s Aspect Energy became a significant liability to Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer–among many other scandals such as Schaffer’s involvment with now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff in a scheme to cover up labor abuses in the Northern Mariana Islands–after a deal Schaffer had helped broker to produce oil in northern Iraqi Kurdish-controlled territory ran afoul of the U.S. State Department. U.S. occupation policy required such deals to be approved by the Iraqi national government in the in-retrospect well-founded interest of not provoking sectarian conflict in Iraq.

Schaffer and Cranberg, on the other hand, were in it for the money–not American interests.

With all of this in mind, we’ll have to wait and see what shakes out from this lucrative deal between Ukraine and Cranberg’s energy company, brokered by the now-outgoing U.S. Secretary of Energy who resigned in no small part so he wouldn’t have to talk about Ukraine. This is a bigger deal than anything Republicans have accused Joe Biden’s son of involvement in, and if Cranberg’s below-market winning bid wasn’t above board there is actual wrongdoing in this case which doesn’t credibly exist in Biden’s.

And that’s not going to help the Republicans Cranberg supports win in 2020.

Steve House Gets a Little Silly on Veterans Day


Military adviser for Steve House campaign for Congress

Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is a former Army Ranger who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq and was awarded a Bronze Star. Crow honored American service members on Veterans Day on Monday by thanking them for their service and attending the groundbreaking ceremony for the Colorado Fallen Heroes Memorial in Denver.

Steve House is one of three Republicans looking to challenge Crow in CO-6 next November. The former State Republican Party Chairman (and later State Party “CEO”)  can’t match Crow’s military record, but he does know people who do things with the word “veteran” in their job description. As Ernest Luning explains for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

House marked Veterans Day by announcing he’s been endorsed by five Coloradans with records of military service and four Republican state lawmakers with more tenuous connections to veterans.

The endorsements listed in a release issued Monday by House’s campaign include an oral surgeon who serves in the Army National Guard, a prosecutor who serves in the Marine Reserves, a Marine Corps veteran who chaired the El Paso County Republicans, and a retired Army officer who lost a primary for Elbert County commissioner last year by just two votes.

There’s also a state lawmaker from Colorado Springs who went to the Air Force Academy and two Republicans who sit on their chamber’s respective State, Veterans and Military Affairs committees — known as the “kill committees,” where legislation of all sorts routinely goes to die — and two GOP lawmakers from Western Colorado who look out for veterans while they’re at the Capitol, according to the House campaign. [Pols emphasis]

House does have a couple of endorsements from honest-to-goodness military veterans, but his announcement on Monday was watered down quite a bit by the inclusion of people who have nothing to do with the armed services of the United States.

Two of these endorsements (State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and state Rep. Janice Rich) are apparently related to “Veterans Day” because they are state lawmakers who sit on the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committees. This is sort of like claiming the support of South Americans because you are endorsed by someone who delivers packages for Amazon.com. But these endorsements almost make sense compared to state Sen. Ray Scott and state Rep. Matt Soper, both of whom are included on House’s “Veterans Day” list because they…appreciate veterans?

Scott honors the servicemen and women of Colorado and fights to ensure they are treated with honor and dignity by the State of Colorado’s highest legislative body…

…Soper has fought tirelessly for veterans and their families since he was first elected in 2018.

The House campaign must have forgotten to mention that Sen. Scott also likes to watch movies about Americans who are in the military when he is supposed to be paying attention on the Senate floor.

Via press release (11/11/19)

Perhaps on Valentine’s Day, House can wrangle the endorsement of former Utah Congresswoman Mia Love.

Recallers Rebrand: Meet Colorado Freedom Force

(The Force will not necessarily be with you – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado’s recall leaders aren’t calling it quits, they’re just rebranding and expanding.

Today, the Resist Polis PAC, which claimed to have collected hundreds of thousands of signatures but didn’t turn in any, re-launched as Colorado Freedom Force, with renamed Facebook groups and a new website complete with a new donation page. Divisions between the various recall entities, however, are presenting challenges for the new group’s organizing and fundraising plans.

On October 4, Korry Lewis, spokesperson and filing agent for Resist Polis PAC’s failed gubernatorial recall group and daughter of state Rep. Kimmie Lewis (R-Kim), filed articles of incorporation for a new 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the “Colorado Freedom Force.”

Resist Polis PAC has rebranded its regional chapter Facebook groups and shared the new website on each page, encouraging supporters to join the new email list and donate anonymously:

“Today, the most important step you can take is to join our force by adding your name. Join the Force – Click Here. This is the very best way to stay up to date with what’s going on in Colorado.

The second most important step would be to chip in to our cause. As a 501(c)4 organization, your contribution will remain anonymous, and there is no limit as to how much you can give.”


In the statewide Facebook group, several commenters expressed skepticism, questioning the group’s purpose and noting that they felt like their previous donations had been wasted. Lewis pushed back, asking to which of the two Polis recall groups the commenters had contributed money and specifying CFF’s anticipated activities.

According to Lewis, the CFF will organize in a variety of ways:

“Colorado Freedom Force is essentially a grassroots army of people throughout Colorado who are willing to take action to protect their freedoms. That may be through signature-gathering efforts (initiatives, referendums, or recalls), testifying at the Capitol, or educating voters about candidates and ballot measures.”

In addition to serving as the filing agent for Resist Polis PAC, Lewis coordinated the group’s half-hearted recall efforts against Colorado state senators. She solicited donations on behalf of all three recalls: Governor Polis, Sen. Brittany Pettersen, (D-Lakewood) and Sen. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs).

(more…)

The Get More Smarter Podcast: What Happened on Tuesday?


This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, the latest effort to save the state from TABOR’s claws goes down, the 2019 election gets messy in a top swing county, washed up old politicians trying to be relevant get smacked down by the Denver Post Editorial Board, Impeachment-a-lago gets; and our Producer Ethan Black goes head to head with Ian Silverii in America’s best/worst game show, Duke or Donald.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 12)


Happy World Pneumonia Day; please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today about whether or not President Trump can legally end the Obama-era DACA program. From The New York Times:

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Tuesday appeared ready to side with the Trump administration in its efforts to shut down a program protecting about 700,000 young immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

The court’s liberal justices probed the administration’s justifications for ending the program, expressing skepticism about its rationales for doing so. But other justices indicated that they would not second-guess the administration’s reasoning and, in any event, considered its explanations sufficient.

Still, there was agreement among the justices that the young people who signed up for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, were sympathetic and that they and their families, schools and employers had relied on it in good faith.

The arguments in the case, one of the most important of the term, addressed presidential power over immigration, a signature issue for President Trump and a divisive one, especially as it has played out in the debate over DACA, a program that has broad, bipartisan support.

Coloradans who back DREAMERs are rallying in Washington D.C. today, as CBS4 Denver reports. Closer to home, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is leading a DACA rally on the campus of Metro State University.

 

Colorado gun shops are using a loophole in state law to continue selling equipment that is supposed to be banned. As Marshall Zelinger reports for 9News:

A state law banning the sale and transfer of large-capacity gun magazines has not stopped the sale and transfer of magazines that hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition.

An undercover investigation by 9Wants to Know found examples of gun stores in Colorado either ignoring the law altogether or finding a loophole to get around the law…

…Our undercover investigation found gun stores selling these “parts kits” in Arapahoe, Douglas, El Paso and Larimer counties. The kits are large-capacity magazines sold in pieces, ready to be assembled after they are purchased.

“This is a 30-round mag; we have to sell it as parts,” said the employee at Iron Horse Armory. “That’s one of Colorado’s retarded laws.”

 

Public impeachment hearings begin Wednesday on Capitol Hill. As Politico explains:

The hearings alone are a historic moment; only three presidents have been subject to an impeachment inquiry before. And though the probe was launched by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in September, this is the week when it all becomes real…

…Democrats plan to hold two weeks of hearings in the House Intelligence Committee and will later hold hearings in the Judiciary Committee, which will draft any articles of impeachment.

Three key witnesses will testify before the committee this week. On Wednesday, William Taylor and George Kent are expected to appear; on Friday, it’s Marie Yovanovitch.

As the Colorado Independent notes, two Colorado Congressmen — Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) — will play an important role in upcoming impeachment hearings. 

 

Axios got hold of the plan Congressional Republicans have put together for defending President Trump against impeachment. If you were hoping the GOP had prepared a bold new strategy…you’re going to be disappointed. The big problem of this approach, as Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, is that President Trump himself keeps kicking sand into the gears.

 

► Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast for more post-election analysis and other political jabberings:

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Gardner Didn’t Get Award for His Overall Record on Immigration, Just for His Work on One Bill

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

The National Immigration Forum, a national advocacy group, gave Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) a “Courage to Lead Award” Thursday for his work on immigration legislation last year–not for the senator’s overall record on immigration issues.

The decision by the Forum, a national pro-immigrant group, to recognize Gardner surprised immigration experts, who say Gardner, who’s up for re-election next year, has mostly been a conservative hardliner on immigration.

Ali Noorani, Director of the National Immigration Forum, explained that Gardner got the award specifically for his 2018 work on bipartisan legislation that would have established a path to citizenship for Dreamers, who came to the U.S. illegally as children, and funded border security measures, including wall construction. The legislation failed to clear the Senate.

“From a Republican perspective, that is certainly not an easy thing to do these days,” said Noorani, referring to Gardner’s role in pushing the 2018 legislation.

But the award was narrowly intended to recognize the senator’s work last year, and it should not be seen as praise for Gardner’s overall record on immigration, Noorani said.

The Forum’s decision to recognize Gardner, he said, was not based on an assessment of his immigration votes, statements, or any other actions during his career in the Senate, U.S. House, or the Colorado Legislature.

A wider review of Gardner’s record shows him to be consistently obstructing or blocking immigration reform, even, in the U.S. House, opposing the Dream Act itself and Obama’s DACA rules to protect Dreamers.

As a Colorado state representative, he went beyond the typical hard-line approach of the era, siding with extremists who favored withholding immunizations, other preventative care, and schooling for immigrant kids.

Today, while Gardner has flipped on the Dream Act, he won’t say whether he supports the American Dream and Promise Act, which passed the House in June and would protect Dreamers.

And he apparently still opposes a Colorado law, called ASSET, that grants in-state tuition for Dreamers, who would otherwise likely be priced out of college.

“But we can’t start putting in place in-state tuition, whether it’s other things that are being placed by the states, without actually addressing the root problem that will only continue more illegal immigration into this country,” Gardner told a conservative KNUS radio host in 2013. “And so, that’s why we’ve got to have a policy that actually works, and I believe it starts with border security.”

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Dumbest Solution In Search Of Problem Ever Heads For Ballot


“Herbie the Hate Bug” collects signatures for the so-called Citizen Voter initiative.

Colorado Public Radio’s Andrew Kenney reports, here’s an exciting new way Republicans have found to make differing groups of people who live in America dislike one another–which history has shown has a measurable effect on how Americans vote!

The national group Citizen Voters has poured more than $1 million into an attempt to change a few words in Colorado’s state constitution.

It’s part of a well-funded, multi-state campaign to explicitly ban anyone without U.S. citizenship from voting in elections, which critics say is already part of Colorado’s existing law. Organizers say they’re on track to get on the ballot for the 2020 election.

The Colorado effort has collected more than 200,000 signatures ahead of a Tuesday deadline, likely ensuring they’ll have more than enough ruled valid to qualify for the election, according to Joe Stengel, registered agent for the initiative.

“Only people eligible to vote by virtue of being a citizen should be allowed to vote. This will ensure that will take place,” said Stengel, a former Republican state legislator from Littleton.

Let’s start with the most important thing people need to know about the so-called “Citizen Voter” initiative, which assuming the petition drive in support of placing this measure on the November 2020 ballot was carried out professionally–no guarantee of course with the shady characters involved in paid signature collection efforts–we’ll be voting on.

It’s already the law that only U.S. citizens can vote in Colorado elections. It’s the law two ways, in fact, via federal law pertinent to every federal office as well as the state constitution which explicitly makes citizenship a requirement to vote.

The state constitution says that “every citizen” may vote, and Initiative 76 would change it to say that “only citizens” may vote. [Pols emphasis]

In terms of practical effect in any Colorado election, this change would be completely meaningless. Although some local governments in other states have allowed for noncitizens to participate in low-level elections like school boards where federal election laws do not apply, that can’t happen in Colorado under the state constitution.

So why spend the money and man-hours to pass a constitutional amendment that changes nothing? That’s simple: it motivates conservative voters, who believe against all available evidence that election fraud in general and noncitizen voting in particular is rampant throughout the country. Here in Colorado, former GOP Secretary of State Scott Gessler tried for years to persuade the public that “tens of thousands of illegal voters” were swinging our elections. Gessler’s initial claims of tens of thousands dwindled down to something around a half dozen cases, since Gessler omitted basic considerations like the thousands of people who became citizens during the same period–more than accounting for Gessler’s fictional discrepancy.

We’ve always assumed that Gessler knew he was being dishonest. Likewise it’s reasonable to assume that the proponents of this initiative are fully aware that it would make no practical difference in the law. This is about showing token support for President Donald Trump’s virulently anti-immigrant agenda, and stoking the ugly anti-immigrant animus Trump has capitalized on since the moment he entered the presidential race in 2015. For this to be happening at the same time as the U.S. Supreme Court’s battle over “DREAMer” immigrant children makes for a compelling backdrop, and not in any way that makes the measure’s proponents look good.

One can only hope that the same Colorado voters who rejected Trump’s demagoguery will see through this as well.

Tuesday Open Thread


“About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.”

–Will Rogers

The Next Abortion Ban: Telemedicine


Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

A report from medical industry publication mHealth Intelligence discusses a new monkeywrench being thrown by Republicans into the gears of women’s reproductive rights–a ban on “telemedicine” physician appointments to prescribe abortion medications:

A Congressman from Texas is seeking to make telemedicine abortions all but illegal in the US.

Rep. Ron Wright’s new bill, HR 4395, would prohibit care providers from using telehealth to prescribe abortion drugs unless they have physically examined the patient, are physically present when the patient takes the medications, and schedule a follow-up visit…

Roughly 25 percent of the abortions performed in the U.S. are non-surgical, or medical abortions. The process can be paired with a telemedicine platform in two ways: a physician can examine a patient via telemedicine, then issue a prescription for mifepristone and misoprostol to the patient to terminate the pregnancy; or a remote physician can examine a patient who’s at a clinic, then issue instructions to clinic personnel to dispense the drugs from a locked cabinet that is remotely opened by the doctor.

As states have moved in recent to impose all manner of incremental restrictions and medically dubious regulations on access to abortion, telemedicine has emerged as a novel way for women to circumvent so-called “TRAP” legislation and get the care they need. It’s only natural that a ban on the practice would emerge as soon as anti-abortion Republicans became aware of it, and we fully expect to see a state-level version of this ban introduced in the Colorado legislature next January–where it will die, of course, after giving the issue’s diehards another chance to sound off in futility. This federal version was filed in the Democratic-controlled U.S. House for similar reasons.

The bill, which was filed on October 30, has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for further action. It has 12 co-sponsors: Reps. John Joyce (R-PA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Randy Weber Sr. (R-TX), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), John Rutherford (R-FL), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), [Pols emphasis] Mark Meadows (R-NC), Jody Hice (R-GA), Jim Banks (R-IN), Andy Harris (R-MD) and Bob Gibbs (R-OH).

And no surprise, Colorado’s Rep. Doug Lamborn is an original cosponsor! One of the ways Colorado’s least inspiring member of Congress defends his safe GOP seat from perennial primary challengers is by never missing the chance to jump all over sticky wedge issues the base can’t resist. Opposition to telemedicine appointments for reproductive care is difficult to oppose on the merits–if you oppose it, it’s probably because you oppose all abortion and recognize telemedicine as a way of circumventing other arbitrary restrictions.

Par for the course for Doug Lamborn, Colorado’s premiere “gynotician.”

New Polling in New Hampshire Shows Same Four at Top


Last week we took note of a new poll from Quinnipiac University showing that the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination in Iowa appears to be centering on four candidates: Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg. According to new polling results out today from Quinnipiac, the battle for New Hampshire looks much the same:

Biden receives support from 20 percent of New Hampshire likely Democratic primary voters, with Senator Elizabeth Warren getting 16 percent, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg getting 15 percent, and Sen. Bernie Sanders at 14 percent.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard gets 6 percent, businessman Andrew Yang gets 4 percent, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar and businessman Tom Steyer are each at 3 percent. No other candidate tops 1 percent, and 14 percent of likely voters are undecided.

Just as with last week’s Quinnipiac polling from Iowa, the top four Democratic candidates are essentially tied when you consider the margin of error. There’s still time for other candidates to move up (keep hope alive, Sen. Michael Bennet!), but it’s looking more and more like a four-candidate race at the moment.

What Does This Even Mean? DougCo GOP Edition


We get forwarded all kinds of bizarre social media postings from both official and decidedly unofficial Republican Party mouthpieces (here’s looking at you, Tom Tancredo) some of which are straightforwardly offensive in any of the customary ways individuals on the fringes of the American political right offend the socially well-adjusted. Others, however, just leave us scratching our heads as to what exactly they’re trying to say at all:

Folks, where are the Douglas County Republicans going with this? In Colorado, it’s the law that students must have the opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance–though they also have the freedom to not recite it. Is somebody forcing kids to pray to Mecca, which would be the only way we can think of this makes any sense?

The problem must be that we expect it to make sense.

But again, this is “official” Republican Party content. You can’t just ignore it.

Gardner Helped Kill an Obamacare Provision That Was Similar to Colorado’s New Health Insurance Cost-Saving Program

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Pols readers might be interested in the post, below, by Kery Murakami, which appeared in the Colorado Times Recorder Friday.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has been talking up Colorado’s new reinsurance plan, which is expected to lower health insurance premiums for individuals next year by almost a fifth.

He’s also been taking credit for getting federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to approve the program, saying in a press release in July he weighed in “a number of times” to get permission.

But Gardner’s trumpeting of a program is causing eye-rolling by national healthcare experts.

That’s because Gardner was a major player in killing a similar provision of the Affordable Care Act that aimed to do the same thing as Colorado’s program, deriding it as taxpayer “bailouts” of insurance companies.

And, according to a study by economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research, ending the provision, called risk corridors, played a large part in insurance prices going up in the first place.

In fact, if not for the measures Gardner supported, the study found that premiums would have gone up by 10 percent in 2017 instead of 37 percent.

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