DeGette Nabs Notable Endorsement

Rep. Diana DeGette (left) and Crisanta Duran

Politics is often compared to chess, and for good reason. A successful political campaign requires sound strategy and foresight to cut off your opponent at the most opportune moments.

This analogy is particularly apt in light of a notable endorsement today in the Democratic Primary race for CO-1. Incumbent Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) picked up the endorsement of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), one of the largest labor unions in Colorado. From a press release:

Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 Union announced their endorsement of Congresswoman Diana DeGette as she seeks re-election in 2020. UFCW Local 7 President, Kim Cordova, announced the endorsement at their union hall alongside Congresswoman DeGette and Local 7 members.

“United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 is proud to announce our Endorsement of Diana DeGette, a proven workers champion for another term. Diana shares our core values through her advocacy for affordable and quality healthcare, gender equity, raising the minimum wage and workers’ rights. Colorado needs her continued strong leadership in Congress to fight for workers and to ensure Labor has a voice.” – UFCW Local 7 President Kim Cordova…

…UFCW Local 7 is Colorado’s largest labor union representing Supermarkets, Packing Houses, Food Processing Plants, Barbers and Cosmetologists and Healthcare facilities. Large employers in Congressional District One include Mission Tortillas, King Soopers, and Safeway.

The significance of this endorsement will be obvious to longtime political observers. It was nearly 10 years ago to the day that Ernie Duran, Jr. — UFCW’s longest-standing President — was voted out of office after charges of nepotism. As the Denver Post reported on September 22, 2009:

During the contentious battle over the “right to work” ballot measure last year, reports surfaced about nepotism within the union under Duran’s leadership.

In 2007, Crisanta Duran was paid $133,410 and Ernie Duran’s son, Ernie Duran III, was paid $134,378 as an executive staff member, according to Labor Department filings. The elder Duran earned $162,368 that year.

“The nepotism was a big issue with the workers — Ernie hiring his family and putting them into high-paid positions,” Cordova said.

Allegations surfaced this year about misspent union funds.

Duran’s daughter is Crisanta Duran, who picked up the job as UFCW’s staff attorney not long after she graduated from law school. Duran would later earn a seat in the State House of Representatives, where she served as the first Latina Speaker of the House in Colorado (2017-19). Earlier this year Duran announced that she was mounting a Primary challenge against DeGette, the longest-serving member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation.

Duran kicked off her CO-1 campaign with much fanfare but has failed to gain any momentum against DeGette; Duran has posted a couple of miserable fundraising quarters and lost out on the endorsement of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which backed DeGette in July.

Given the controversy that surrounded the elder Duran’s departure from UFCW, it was probably unlikely that Crisanta Duran was ever going to earn the support of the grocery workers’ union — but it’s not insignificant that the UFCW decided to publicly back DeGette. In every political campaign, some endorsements mean more than others. For Denver politicos — the sort of voters that DeGette and Duran will be fighting over next spring — this is one of those endorsements.

Racist and Anti-Semitic Posts Appear on Facebook Pages of Leaders of Garcia Recall Campaign

(Wow – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

One leader of the effort to recall Colorado state Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) is speculating that her Facebook page was hacked, while another leader isn’t commenting, in response to questions about racist or anti-Semitic posts on both of their Facebook pages.

“Today reaffirms my disdain for illegals…Barbarians…3rd world pigs,” wrote Ernest Mascarenas, who’s listed in state records as one of three leaders of the recall effort, on Facebook Feb. 12, where he goes by the name Ernest Carlos. “Pissed in a bottle and threw it down the elevator shaft, landing on a elevator worker. If you like them so much and want them here that bad, take them into your home…BUILD THAT WALL.”

In another comment posted July 10 above a DailyCaller article with the headline, “BET Founder Gives Thumbs Up To Trump, Thumbs Down To Democrats,” Mascarenas wrote, “You’ll always have the dumb minorities that’ll support the Democrats… All the way to the oven.”

Multiple attempts to reach Mascarenas to discuss the Facebook posts, which were obtained from a source, were not successful.

Susan Carr, also listed in state filings as a leader of the Garcia recall, has apparently made similar comments, referring on Facebook to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) as “trying her best to do Hitler’s work.”

Carr’s 2013 apparent comment came in response to Feinstein’s calls for new gun laws after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in 2012.

Carr’s Facebook page states that by pushing gun safety legislation, Feinstein, whom Carr refers to as “some 80-year-old Jewish Senator (b 6-22-33 SF Ca)” who is “old enough to know about the events in Germany in the thirties and forties when Adolf murdered millions of Jews,” is “trying her best to do Hitler’s work in the U.S.”

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Friday the 13th


For the first time in nearly two decades, there will be a full moon on Friday the 13th; this won’t happen again for another 30 years. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Ten Democratic candidates for President took to the debate stage in Houston on Thursday night. The Washington Post does a quick breakdown of everything you might have missed.

There are plenty of “Winners and Losers” lists from Thursday’s debate. Check out the Washington Post; CNN; the New York Times; Vox.com; and Politico.

 

 The Trump administration is rolling back clean water standards to 1986 levels, and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is thrilled about the move. From the Associated Press via Fox 31 Denver:

The Trump administration on Thursday revoked an Obama-era regulation that shielded many U.S. wetlands and streams from pollution but was opposed by developers and farmers who said it hurt economic development and infringed on property rights, a move that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner cheered as “a victory for Colorado’s farmers.”…

…Environmentalists say the move would leave millions of Americans with less safe drinking water and allow damage of wetlands that prevent flooding, filter pollutants and provide habitat for a multitude of fish, waterfowl and other wildlife…

…Betsy Southerland, who was director of science and technology in EPA’s Office of Water during the Obama administration, said repealing its regulation would create further regulatory confusion.

“This repeal is a victory for land developers, oil and gas drillers and miners who will exploit that ambiguity to dredge and fill small streams and wetlands that were protected from destruction by the 2015 rule because of their critical impact on national water quality,” Southerland said.

 

► Taking money from military projects to fund a wall along the Mexico border is a serious security risk, according to a report from the U.S. Air Force. As NBC News reports:

The report, obtained by NBC News, details the importance of each of the 51 military projects chosen by the Trump administration to lose their funding, including construction of a new gate to address a growing security concern at an overseas U.S. base, projects to build facilities to safely store more than $1 billion in munitions overseas, and even replacing a boiler whose failure is “imminent” and could cause the evacuation of an entire base in Alaska…

…There is no guarantee the funds will automatically be backfilled, according to a congressional official and a U.S. defense official. The congressional official said the projects may be set back a year or more.

The funding diversions include an $8 million project for Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) promised to prevent this exact scenario last spring.

 

The mystery of two anonymous donors who covered security costs for Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Aspen this summer has been solved…but it creates a whole new batch of questions. Thanks in part to an idiotic comment from the Chair of the Pitkin County Republican Party, this story is getting an extended shelf-life.

 

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

D-Back Double Take–OF COURSE You Can’t Do This


Earl G. “Ken” Kendrick.

The Aspen Times’ Rick Carroll has an important follow-up story to a controversy we’ve been following since July–a Republican Party fundraiser in Aspen starring Vice President Mike Pence that resulted in almost $20,000 in security costs incurred by the Pitkin County Sheriff and other local government agencies, which Sheriff Joe DiSalvo had to publicly insist on being covered before receiving two large checks from Republican donors who asked to remain anonymous.

As it turns out and we predicted at the time, their desire for anonymity was untenable under Colorado law, since the checks and the identities of the check writers are a public record easily obtainable by a Colorado Open Records Act request. Earlier this week, 9NEWS identified the donors in question as an Arizona investment banker as well as E. G. “Ken” Kendrick, managing owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks and a longtime “Never Trump” Republican whose surreptitious support at a Pence fundraiser raises all kinds of juicy political questions.

Setting aside Kendrick’s “Never Trump” politics and the curious turnabout in his views of the President, there would seem to be little question that the checks to Pitkin County to cover security expenses for the fundraiser are in-kind donations that cannot be made anonymously and must be reported to the Federal Election Commission. Except kind of ridiculously, Republicans are trying to dispute this now that the proverbial jig is up:

“I do not believe it is a political donation,” said Anna Zane, chair of the Pitkin GOP. “I believe it was two good Samaritans that stepped up to pay the security costs that Pitkin County and neighboring jurisdictions incurred when the sitting vice president visited our town.”

Yet Denver attorney Mark Grueskin, whose area of expertise includes campaign finance law, said the contributions should be reported and the donors’ identities should not be protected.

“This was clearly a payment to benefit a federal campaign and a national political party,” he said, adding “it must be reported by the candidate or the party or both to the FEC.” [Pols emphasis]

In all fairness, here’s a Republican lawyer who says differently:

According to Christopher O. Murray, who was deputy general counsel for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, Love and Kendrick’s payments were not political contributions because they did not cover expenses the Pence campaign or the RNC were legally obligated to pay, or had previously committed to pay.

This strikes us as in incredibly strained interpretation of the law. Whether or not the campaign was “obligated” to pay these security costs for the Pence fundraiser is irrelevant. The invoice presented by Pitkin County was paid, and paid to avoid what was turning into a considerable scandal for the organizers of the Pence fundraiser after Sheriff DiSalvo’s frustration made the press. That means by any reasonable definition this was an in-kind donation to the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. It may require litigation to resolve specific circumstantial questions here, but it’s difficult to imagine the outcome being in doubt.

It’s an embarrassment for a major national Republican donor to get caught making donations on the sly via an open records request, but the real sticky wicket in this situation is “Never Trump” Kendrick’s clandestine support for Donald Trump’s re-election. There are hard questions about such a change of heart that only Ken Kendrick can answer, which could explain why he wanted to support Trump’s re-election campaign anonymously.

All together now: you can’t do that.

Friday Open Thread


“They appear to have become so attached to their outrage that they are even more outraged that they won’t be able to be outraged anymore.”

–Barney Frank

Dan Baer Drops Senate Bid, Backs Hickenlooper


Former Gov. John Hickenlooper

Democrat Dan Baer announced today that he is suspending (ending) his campaign for U.S. Senate and endorsing former Gov. John Hickenlooper.

“I am suspending my campaign for the U.S. Senate and endorsing John Hickenlooper as the candidate who will beat Cory Gardner next November,” said Baer in a statement. “We must win this seat!”

Baer’s announcement comes one day after former U.S. Attorney John Walsh dropped his own bid for the Democratic nomination in 2020. Walsh also endorsed Hickenlooper.

Baer is dropping out of a federal race in Colorado for the second time in three years as he again finds his eyes to be bigger than his stomach. Baer was a candidate for Congress in CO-7 in 2017 until incumbent Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) changed his mind on retirement and decided to run for re-election (though it took Baer a longer period of time than it should have before he finally ended that campaign). Baer’s U.S. Senate bid was notable mostly for his fundraising ability; he is a Colorado native but has only been back in the state for a few years and and would have struggled to make much of a mark in a Democratic Primary with or without Hickenlooper.

Marble Says She “Liked” Bigoted Facebook Post As Part of Her Job to Listen to People

(A like-ly story – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Ft. Collins) “liked” a Facebook post this week with an image of the burning twin towers set in the middle of this statement:

“Every time a Moslem (sic) stands up in Congress and tells us they will change the Constitution, impeach our President, or vote for Socialism, remember you said you would never forget. They said they would destroy us from within.”

The Colorado Times Recorder asked Marble why she “liked” this post.

Marble: Good morning, Jason. Thank you for calling. As we discussed before, the ‘like’ on FB can mean many things. For example, I find many posts interesting, not that I agree or disagree with them, but ‘Like’ is a way to say thanks for posting or let the person know I read it. I respect their right to say what’s on their mind…

Colorado Times Recorder: Thank you very much. Yes, I agree about Facebook likes. Fair point. Why did you like the post in this case? …To me, it suggests U.S. Reps. Ihan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are terrorists. Can you explain why you like it?

Marble: I ‘Like’ your point of view on this. I don’t think many people agree with you, but this is how you perceive it to read. I find your point of view interesting, but I don’t read things into this the way you do.

Colorado Times Recorder: I see. So in the case of the Muslim meme, why did you ‘like’ it?

Marble: I like hearing people express their views. I need to know what is on their minds. It is part of being a legislator.

Asked about the post “liked” by Marble, Amanda Henderson, Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado expressed concern about “cavalier posts on social media that incite hatred and division.”

“In this case, we are one day from grieving the attacks of September 11, 2001 and stirring this kind of thing up demonizes people simply for their religious tradition, said Henderson via email. “What we really need to do as a country is build relationships across our differences and communities where all people are able to thrive.”

The bigoted post aligns with statements from talk radio hosts and other right-wing Colorado conservatives who regularly denounce not just Muslim extremists but the entire religion of Islam.

For example, in a radio interview shortly after Trump was elected, KNUS radio host Peter Boyles denounced Islam and said Muslims are incapable of respecting the U.S. Constitution and the fundamental values of the United States, due to their religious beliefs, essentially saying there is no place for Muslims in our country. He stood behind the comments.

Pence Aspen Money Mystery Solved–Raising New Questions


Vice President Mike Pence.

Back in July, we took note of an interesting FOX 31 story following up a Republican Party fundraiser in Aspen starring Vice President Mike Pence. As Joe St. George reported at the time, Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo sought to collect over $18,000 in reimbursement for security costs related to the fundraiser. After a surprising amount of rigamarole and a round of bad press for the Trump campaign, DiSalvo’s invoice was paid–by donors who wished to remain anonymous.

That’s a big problem, of course, since these were arguably in-kind campaign contributions to the GOP and the Trump 2020 campaign with no reporting to the Federal Election Commission. But it wasn’t a big problem to find out who wrote the checks, whether these donors who requested anonymity knew it or not, because as we noted then Colorado’s open records law made the checks and the checkwriters’ identities a public record the moment they were given to the Pitkin County Sheriff.

Which is where 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger picks up the story yesterday:

“Usually, we don’t have this much trouble. And we do ask way in advance, so it doesn’t usually come as a surprise to the hosts,” said DiSalvo. “I usually use that time to contact the hosts and say, ‘this is an impact on my small department, and it does cost a lot of money, could you please reimburse us?’ I’ve never really had a problem, and I’m not saying that this is a problem this time because we did get reimbursed, but it was kind of uncharted waters for me to have to dig and dig and dig just to find out who the host of this party was, and I still don’t know.”

…There is no requirement that the president or vice president reimburse local law enforcement for visits, even if they’re political and not official visits. If someone pays, it’s usually from a campaign account.

Since the payment came directly from individuals and not the Trump campaign, it isn’t tracked by the Federal Elections Commission. Whereas contributions [EG] Kendrick made to Gardner’s reelection campaign and former Congressman Mike Coffman’s 2018 campaign are searchable. Those contributions were made to the campaigns and recorded with the FEC. These payments were not.

Earl G. “Ken” Kendrick.

The two donors who wrote equal $9,087 checks and asked to remain anonymous were Mark Horace Love, an Arizona investment banker and (much more newsworthy) Earl G. “Ken” Kendrick, the managing owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. This is where it gets politically quite interesting, since Kendrick’s family has been long on record as fiercely opposed to Donald Trump–reportedly giving big money to a PAC that spent millions in a failed attempt to stop Trump from winning the nomination in 2016.

Much like Sen. Cory Gardner’s about-face from calling for Trump to pull out of the presidential race in October of 2016 to endorsing and defending Trump today, Ken Kendrick’s about-face from a “Never Trumper” to trying to sneak in-kind money to the Trump re-election campaign presents big and obvious questions. What changed? A good place to start would be with Kendrick’s expansive business networks in Arizona and elsewhere. For example, in July fellow Diamondbacks owner and close associate of Kendricks, Mike Ingram, was targeted by a congressional investigation after allegedly getting “help” on a permit from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt for a southern Arizona home development over objections that it could harm threatened species. What else might be out there to underwrite Kendrick’s change of heart?

One thing’s for sure: somebody at this level of the game, and we’re not talking baseball, should have known better.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (September 12)


On this day 45 years ago, it was 1974. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Immigration advocates are facing a setback after a big Supreme Court decision late Wednesday. As the New York Times reports:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Trump administration to bar most Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the United States, while the legal fight plays out in the courts.

The Supreme Court, in a brief, unsigned order, said the administration may enforce new rules that generally forbid asylum applications from migrants who have traveled through another country on their way to the United States without being denied asylum in that country.

The court’s order was a major victory for the administration, allowing it to enforce a policy that will achieve one of its central goals: effectively barring most migration across the nation’s southwestern border by Hondurans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and others. Mexican migrants, who need not travel through another country to reach the United States, are not affected by the new policy.

It was the second time in recent months that the Supreme Court has allowed a major Trump administration immigration initiative to go forward. In July, the court allowed the administration to begin using $2.5 billion in Pentagon money for the construction of a barrier along the Mexican border. Last year, the court upheld President Trump’s ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.

From Vox.com (9/12/19)

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is livid with her colleagues’ decision, however. As the Washington Post explains:

No vote was recorded in the Supreme Court’s order, which is standard on a matter like this, but Sotomayor wrote an uncharacteristically blistering five-page dissent. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cosigned.

“The rule here may be, as the District Court concluded, in significant tension with the asylum statute,” Sotomayor said. “It may also be arbitrary and capricious for failing to engage with the record evidence contradicting its conclusions. It is especially concerning, moreover, that the rule the Government promulgated topples decades of settled asylum practices and affects some of the most vulnerable people in the Western Hemisphere.”…

…The bulk of Sotomayor’s critique relates to process. She argues, essentially, that it’s in poor form for the Trump administration to immediately come running to the Supreme Court, with two Trump appointees and five of the nine justices appointed by Republicans, every time a lower court puts on hold a policy while legal challenges are being heard. She would prefer to let the process play out the way it has in the past.

 

► On orders from the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency is scaling back clean water standards to where they were in 1986. From the Washington Post:

In the halls of Washington and on sprawling farms and ranches, in courtrooms and corporate boardrooms, a legal tug of war has unfolded over a 2015 rule that gave the Environmental Protection Agency much broader authority over the nation’s waterways. Critics say the Obama rule gave the federal government far too much power; supporters countered it would prevent the loss of vast swaths of wetlands. Court rulings have temporarily blocked the regulation in 28 states, while keeping it in effect in 22 others.

On Thursday, the Trump administration plans to scrap the Obama-era definition of what qualifies as “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, returning the country to standards put in place in 1986…

…critics say the rollback will speed the conversion of wetlands and headwaters, which provide critical habitat for wildlife and support the nation’s drinking water supply. Americans drained about half of the 220 million acres of wetlands in the contiguous United States between the 1780s and 1980s, most of it to expand farmland. That rate began to slow after George H.W. Bush took office, pledging to stem the tide of wetlands loss.

 

 As CBS4 Denver reports, Colorado Democrats are leading the charge in Washington D.C. in pushing for new gun safety regulations:

Congressman Joe Neguse said he favors changes to federal law, and hopes Republicans will too.

“If my colleagues are serious about addressing gun violence, about addressing suicide — Colorado happens to have the 10th highest rate of suicides in the United States, 50% of those involve a firearm — if my colleagues are serious about that, I would hope that they would join us tonight in supporting this bill so that we can finally do something about the pervasive gun violence that is ravaging communities across our country,” he said during Tuesday’s hearing.

While the bills have support in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, there’s an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate. President Donald Trump at first seemed to favor some changes in gun laws several weeks ago, but it’s unclear where he stands now.

 

 Ten Democratic candidates for President will take to the debate stage tonight in Houston, Texas. The New York Times previews the big show.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

House Minority Leader Attacks Fellow Republicans Over Fundraising Groups

(This is going swimmingly — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville took to the airwaves to attack his Republican colleagues last week. He dismissed the fundraising efforts of his former state Reps. Dan Thurlow and Polly Lawerence, calling them “the JV squad.”

The pair of former legislators, considered “establishment” Republicans compared to the far-right Minority Leader, launched an independent expenditure committee to support GOP legislative candidates. Former Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and other Republicans have since joined the group, Friends Of The Future, as advisors.

During a Sept. 6 appearance on KNUS 710AM’s Chuck & Julie Show, Neville mocked the moderate politicians for imitating his small-dollar fundraising prowess:

“They’re kind of like the JV squad reuniting, wearing their letter jackets and talking about all the great things they did. Imitation is the biggest form of flattery, so in this case they’re seeing how successful we’re being with developing a small dollar donor base so we don’t have to be totally dependent on these large donations from corporations or other big donors…” House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, KNUS, 9/6/19

Asked by KNUS host Julie Hayden which Republican fundraising entities conservatives should support, Neville briefly mentioned his official House 527 Values First Colorado, but quickly moved on to promote “Recall Colorado,” another 527 Neville and his brother Joe created, ostensibly to separate their recall fundraising from their regular election cycle work.

Values First Colorado is the official House 527 and then we also have RecallColorado.com. We’re transforming that into small dollar donations that we’re really trying to turn into a base that we can hand off towards future election cycles so that’s really main effort that we’ve put into it. It’s becoming Take Back Colorado, now that we’re getting past the recall cycles and getting closer to 2020, we’re running out of time to initiate a lot of these recalls. So that’s what we’re going to transform that into. So recallcolorado.com, there you go.”

Neville’s claim that he’s transforming Recall Colorado into “Take Back Colorado” (TBC) as part of an effort to shift from “recall cycles” to “future election cycles” is interesting for a few reasons.

(more…)

Thursday Open Thread


“The damage done in one year can sometimes take ten or twenty years to repair.”

–Chinua Achebe

What In the Hell Is Cory Gardner Doing?


Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

Senate Democrats are pushing for another vote to get Republicans on the record supporting President Trump’s money grab for building his great big wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. As Politico explains:

Last week, the Trump administration unveiled its plan to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funding to build the president’s border wall, a move which came after Trump declared a national emergency in February to access the funds. Among the states with projects the administration plans to raid are Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina — all of which have senators up for re-election in 2020.

But Democrats are seeking to pressure Republicans to go on the record with their support for Trump’s national emergency by forcing another vote disapproving of it in the next month.

You may recall a similar vote back in March that turned Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) into a crispy waffle. After pretending that he was opposed to President Trump’s efforts to go around Congress for wall money, Gardner ultimately folded and voted “NO” on a resolution of opposition to Trump’s bogus emergency declaration. It was this vote that prompted the Denver Post editorial board to famously un-endorse Gardner, an unusual and incredibly damaging moment for Gardner’s re-election hopes in 2020.

But since Gardner has already taken his lumps for that terrible decision last March, you would think his response to this latest effort by Senate Democrats would be pretty straightforward. You would be wrong.

Let’s go back to Politico:

Democrats plan to attack Republicans politically for supporting Trump’s wall over projects in their home states. Democratic challengers bashed Republicans last week when the list of military projects affected was announced. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, referenced a Denver Post editorial criticizing Sen. Cory Gardner for failing to speak out against Colorado funds being diverted.

“I think from my perspective, at the end of the day we should all be fighting for our states on issues that matter and no matter what the president is doing if it’s going to harm our communities then we should be standing up against it,” Cortez Masto said. “At least from what I’ve seen from the Denver Post it’s having an impact, absolutely.”

When asked Wednesday if he’d support the national emergency declaration, Gardner responded: “I haven’t seen the resolution of disapproval, but I mean, the Democrats refuse to fund the border.” [Pols emphasis]

Trying to shift blame to Democrats is the same dumbass comment that caused the Denver Post to rip into Gardner just last weekend, but that’s not what makes this response from Gardner so supremely stupid (although continuing to touch a hot stovetop is pretty silly in itself). What is truly baffling here is that Gardner is avoiding a direct response about a question he’s already answered.

Because Gardner was not one of the 12 Republicans to support the March resolution condemning Trump’s emergency declaration, there would be no logical reason for him to support a similar resolution in the coming weeks — yet he still dances around the question. Even Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) was smart enough to acknowledge to Politico that he would oppose such a resolution — and Tillis famously wrote an Op-Ed for the Washington Post condemning Trump’s emergency declaration just days before he flip-flopped and voted in the opposite direction.

Perhaps feigning ignorance is such a reflex for Gardner that he doesn’t even think twice about muttering that sort of statement anymore, but these defensive responses don’t serve him well at all. Gardner has already proven that he’ll acquiesce to President Trump on any topic; anybody paying even a lick of attention to this knows that Gardner will absolutely do it again if Senate Democrats force another vote. What’s the point of pretending otherwise?

At Least It’s Not Your State House


North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R) yucks it up after today’s surprise vote.

As the Raleigh News & Observer reports, North Carolina House Republicans pulled a fast one today while many Democrats were away from the chambers commemorating the 9/11 terrorist attacks–using the absence of most of the Democratic minority to jam through an override of Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the GOP-controlled legislature’s budget. It’s the latest treacherous move by Republicans in that state’s continuing partisan battle over expanding Medicaid:

In a surprise move Wednesday morning, the N.C. House of Representatives voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget with just over half of the 120 members present to vote.

Democrats in the chamber objected to the bill being brought up, saying they were told there would be no votes during the 8:30 a.m. session and that it was just a formality so work could begin. Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincolnton Republican, made the motion to reconsider the state budget and chaos in the chamber quickly ensued…

Moore ignored the objections of the Democrats that were in the room and instead mowed through the vote with only 64 members voting. The vote was 55-9. Later, multiple Democratic House members who were there but who weren’t able to vote in time had their votes recorded as “no.” But it still wasn’t enough to change the outcome.

About three hours after the morning vote, Cooper held a press conference to condemn Republicans for what he called “an assault on our Democracy.” He’s been negotiating the budget with Republican leaders for months and was caught off-guard by Wednesday’s vote.

“Today, on the 18th anniversary of 9/11, while the state was honoring first responders, Republicans called a deceptive, surprise override of my budget veto,” he told reporters.

Democrats in the North Carolina House say Speaker Tim Moore explicitly told them there would be no votes on the morning of the 9/11 anniversary, freeing them up to attend other events. We suppose it might have been a telltale warning that Republicans were not at any 9/11 commemorations themselves, but in parliamentary give-and-take like everything else there’s a natural inclination to take people at their word.

Looks like North Carolina Democrats won’t be doing that again.

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