“Both Ways Brauchler” Runs From Obamacare Repeal

The ad you see above, produced by an independent expenditure committee backing Democratic Attorney General candidate Phil Weiser, received an intense pushback from Republican George Brauchler via social media today:

The ad accuses Brauchler of supporting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, one of the logical consequences of which would be the end of the ACA’s requirement that pre-existing conditions be covered. Brauchler objects strenuously that he hasn’t taken a position on the ACA, but that’s simply not accurate. Here’s what Brauchler himself said about the ACA when he was a candidate for governor–of course no longer online now that he’s running for attorney general:

Coloradans deserve access to patient-centered healthcare and affordable premiums. Obamacare must be repealed to make this happen. [Pols emphasis]

Folks, you can’t have this both ways. If you support repealing the Affordable Care Act, you support repealing the coverage mandate for patients with pre-existing conditions. Any attempt to doublespeak this reality is misleading, as we’ve seen over and over when Republicans in Congress tried and failed to repeal the law. If George Brauchler does not support the lawsuits by Republican state attorneys general to overturn the ACA, that’s something he could easily clarify for the record. It would be a contradiction of everything he has previously said about the Affordable Care Act, but he could do it.

The fact that Brauchler would rather cry foul than clarify tells voters all they need to know.

Outspending Truth: Reporters Rage As False Claims Recycle

UPDATE: You can add the Associated Press to the list.


This past weekend, a new ad from a “dark money” group called Colorado Citizens for Truth his Colorado screens backed by a $700,000 buy. The new group’s agent is Katie Kennedy, also the registered agent for Stapleton for Colorado, Walker Stapleton’s SuperPAC Better Colorado Now, and a variety of other GOP campaign organizations.

Both 9NEWS and FOX 31 devoted segments last night to this new ad, which recycles a discredited smear on Democratic candidate Jared Polis originally published in the right-wing Washington Free Beacon in late September. Team Stapleton has desperately tried to get local press to pick up their narrative of this story, which concerns a crime committed against Polis in 1999 and resulted in a permanent restraining order against the perpetrator– secretary who had been caught misusing the company card and attempting to steal trade secrets. In the GOP’s telling of the story Polis becomes the perpetrator, not the victim, even though a police investigation determined the exact opposite.

In particular, 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark and Marshall Zelinger slammed this latest ad as a blatant disregarding of facts they had already laid out weeks before, and cited their own debunking of the original story on September 25th. Nothing has changed between then and now, so they literally just replayed Clark’s previous commentary.

At least on social media, the response to the complete failure to win over the press on this story has been a spate of silly ad hominem attacks on the reporters who refuse to write the story the way Stapleton’s campaign wants. It’s a reaction similar in some respects to the shrill but baseless attacks on Zelinger in 2016 from Republicans after he uncovered extensive forgery in Jon Keyser’s ballot petitions for the U.S. Senate race.

But the problem here, of course, is not that the entire Colorado press corps is covering for Polis as Republicans are now asking voters to believe. The problem is that this story as told by Republicans is misleading in the extreme, and relies on visceral shock value to overcome its 180-degree factual deficiencies. Recasting the victim of a crime as the perpetrator of a crime is, it’s fair to say, as deceptive as it gets.

So why do it, you ask? That’s the easiest question to answer of all. We can’t speak to the environment in every state, but in Colorado in recent elections we have seen what can only be called a premeditated disregard for truthfulness on the part of Republican candidates and political operatives. In 2014, Cory Gardner pioneered “post truth politics” in Colorado by audaciously denying his former self on any issue that could pose a general election problem. In 2016, some of the same Republican hacks behind this latest attack on Polis knowingly pushed that totally false claim that Rachel Zenzinger “used taxpayer funds for a trip to China”–over and over again, even as the local press blasted them at every step. The “China Girl” attacks on Zenzinger ultimately backfired, but the willingness to keep pushing this proven lie after everyone knew it was a lie was notable.

In the end, our local Republicans do this because they don’t care how it looks. In their arithmetic, relentlessly pushing out false claims will win over more voters than will ever see the truth about those claims and be repelled by their dishonesty. Lying is not only acceptable, it’s integral to the strategy.

The only way to make it stop, like with now-Sen. Zenzinger, is to make sure it doesn’t succeed.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 16)

Check those mailboxes, people! It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



► Ballots should be starting to arrive at your mailbox this week. CLICK HERE to visit the Colorado Secretary of State website, where you can check on the status of your mail ballot and double-check your voter registration information. Colorado Public Radio explains what to do with your mail ballot after it arrives.


► Is it Festivus season already? President Trump seems to think so, as CNN reports:

President Donald Trump, with an empty public schedule and a litany of festering grievances, spent Tuesday unleashing fresh vitriol at his enemies over Twitter. His targets began with Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who this week released a DNA test seeking to rebut Trump’s insults about her claims of Native American heritage. But he soon moved on, griping about the porn actress who alleged to have spent the night with him, fake news, the Russia “witch hunt.”

Elsewhere, Trump’s campaign has already raised $106 million — more than any previous President at the same point in time relative to his re-election.


► The Colorado Republican Party paid for a mail piece in CO-6 touting the idea that Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) stands up to the Republican Party.


► The truth hurts. Local media outlets are tearing apart a new television ad full of falsehoods aimed at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Mike Coffman, Republicans Reach New Level of Absurdity

Republican Congressman Mike Coffman has been in elected office for 30 years, but it’s looking more and more like his political career has reached the end of the line in 2018. Multiple public polls have shown Coffman trailing Democrat Jason Crow by significant margins (Coffman has even released internal polls that show him losing), and national Republican backers are pulling out of CO-6 — a clear sign that Coffman is considered to be a lost cause as the GOP scrambles to find some way to hold on to their House majority.

Coffman’s own desperation is palpable. Long known as a politician who will take every position on every issue, Coffman hammered the panic button recently when said that he would even consider supporting impeachment proceedings against President Trump (never mind the fact that Coffman has voted with Trump 96% of the time in Congress).

But Coffman and Colorado Republicans aren’t done yet. They managed to raise the ridiculous bar another few feet with this new mailer:

In case you can’t see the embedded image, we’re talking about a mail piece paid for by the Colorado Republican Party that talks about how Coffman stands up to the Republican Party. Of course, Coffman doesn’t actually “stand up” to the Republican Party, but the very idea that the State GOP is pushing this message is almost too absurd to believe.

Almost too absurd to believe.

Tuesday Open Thread

“The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.”

–Niels Bohr

HAT-GATE: SoS Williams Beats The High Cost Of Living Large

Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R).

The Denver Post’s Ben Botkin breaks news today that could spell big trouble for incumbent Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who is facing an unexpectedly stout challenge from Democratic election lawyer Jena Griswold. Readers will recall a major scandal that erupted in the latter part of former SoS Scott Gessler’s single term, in which Gessler was found at length by the state’s Independent Ethics Commission to have improperly spent funds from an office account on travel to partisan political events. The scandal, among other things, helped scuttle Gessler’s 2014 gubernatorial aspirations.

As the Denver Post reports today, the same office “slush fund” appears to have been improperly tapped by current Secretary of State Wayne Williams:

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams wears a $475 cowboy hat to Denver Rustlers events. He wore $349.80 tuxedo pants and $699.60 dress boots to a cybersecurity conference in 2015.

These expenses are public information because Williams charged them to his state office. He paid for them out of the office’s $5,000 discretionary fund, an annual perk enshrined in state law…

The cowboy attire is tied to Williams’ involvement with the Denver Rustlers, a nonprofit that raises money for youth exhibitors at the Colorado State Fair Champion Junior Livestock Sale. A tradition since 1984, the nonprofit’s participants include civic leaders and government officials from both parties.

As was thoroughly explored during the ethics investigation into Gessler’s misuse of the same discretionary account, officials do have quite a bit of leeway when it comes to how these funds are spent. The law governing these discretionary accounts says only that the funds must be used “in pursuance of official business.” Gessler ran into trouble for using these funds to help cover the costs of partisan political activities.

For Wayne Williams, it’s a more straightforward problem.

He bought himself a pair of $700 boots and a $500 cowboy hat.

And yes, Williams through his deputy Suzanne Staiert claims that he somehow bought these items “in pursuance of official business” as the law requires. Apparently the $700 boots were mission-critical for a cybersecurity conference attended. And really, folks, what self-respecting Colorado Republican is going to show up to Larry Mizel’s annual bow-and-scrape party at the Colorado State Fair without a $500 cowboy hat?!

Back in reality, of course, this is very bad news for Wayne Williams at what could be the worst possible moment. This is such a stupid and unnecessary mistake to make, however, that it’s very hard to be sympathetic. Where Gessler at least had a case to make that he was on some official business during the travel he was busted by the IEC for, nobody is going to give Williams a pass for buying $700 boots and a $500 hat with taxpayer dollars under any circumstances. Not the IEC, and definitely not any voter who hears about this.

$700 is a lot for boots, but they could end up costing Wayne Williams far more in the end.

Kid Rep: Should Colorado Pass Amendment V?

One of the baker’s dozen of statewide ballot questions Coloradans will be voting on this election is Amendment V, a statutory referred measure that would change the minimum age of eligibility to serve in the Colorado General Assembly from the current 25 to 21 years of age. Colorado Public Radio:

Proponents say restricting 21- to 24-year-olds from serving in the legislature is an unnecessary restriction. Allowing younger candidates to run for office encourages civic engagement, they say. Opponents say younger candidates may not have the maturity and expertise to be effective legislators.

What say you, Polsters? A poll follows on whether you think this would be a good idea. Our general view is that if you’re old enough to vote, join the Army, drink, and smoke weed legally, you should be allowed to willingly subject yourself to the rigors of campaigning for a year and a half to land a two-year contract for a $30,000-a-year job.

But your mileage may vary.

Should Colorado lower the minimum age to serve in the legislature from 25 to 21?
Not sure/other
View Result

Who Will Be Colorado’s Next Governor? (Round 7)

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton

Mail ballots are on their way this week, so it’s time to vote again. We’ve been asking our readers this question for weeks now: Who do you THINK is going to win the race for Governor?

Remember, we’re looking for your best educated guess on the outcome of this race, not who you support or who you would prefer to see emerge victorious. The point of this exercise is to track how perceptions of the race are (or are not) changing as Election Day nears. For previous results, click Round 1Round 2, Round 3Round 4Round 5, or Round 6).

Who gets to move into the Governor’s Mansion in January? Will it be Democrat Jared Polis or Republican Walker Stapleton?

Who Will Be the Next Governor of Colorado?
Jared Polis
Walker Stapleton
View Result

Elizabeth Warren Strikes Back

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D).

Politico reports, take that haters!

Sen. Elizabeth Warren released the results of a DNA test on Monday that “strongly support” her claims of Native American ancestry, hitting back at President Donald Trump for mocking her and showing her seriousness about a 2020 presidential run.

The DNA test, conducted by Stanford University professor Carlos Bustamante, showed Warren’s likely Native American ancestry dates back six to 10 generations.

The release of the results were part of a rollout from Warren’s campaign showcasing her heritage while offering evidence that she did not benefit professionally from it. She was hired as an educator, Warren argued, because “she was an award-winning legal scholar and professor.”

The attacks on Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Native American heritage from Donald Trump and her Republican opponents were always distasteful, but with DNA evidence in hand backing up her family’s oral history we can definitively put this “birther”-like question to rest. It’s another example of Republicans trying to play the “identity politics” game, and failing miserably.

We won’t miss the days when it was cool to slur Warren as “Pocahontas.” Because it never really was.

Monday Open Thread

“The thing is this: You got to have fun while you’re fightin’ for freedom, ’cause you don’t always win.”

–Molly Ivins

Wait, Frank McNulty is in Charge of an Ethics Group?

Frank McNulty

Imagine, if you can, Donald Trump leading a Girl Scout Troop. Or Cory Gardner coaching the high jump. Or Kanye West serving as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

If you think these scenarios might make smoke come out of your ears, then we’ve got something that will really bake your noodle: Republican Frank McNulty is the Executive Director of a new “ethics in government” organization in Colorado. Yes, that’s the same “Ethical Frank” who married a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist during his tenure as Speaker of the House.

As the Denver Post reported on Friday, McNulty unveiled a new secret “nonprofit” organization called The Public Trust Institute (PTI) with the publication of a 189-page report accusing Governor John Hickenlooper of failing to disclose “gifts” of private plane travel and other travel accommodations over a seven-year period. Hickenlooper’s office promptly called PTI’s complaint “frivolous” and “a political stunt,” pointing out that PTI only registered as an official entity with the Colorado Secretary of State on October 10.

You read that correctly: PTI had officially existed for all of two days when the Post reported on its 189-page complaint against Hickenlooper. As David Migoya writes:

McNulty’s new group is designed to “ensure that public officials are generally holding themselves to an ethical level,” he said, noting the group will pursue complaints objectively and without political persuasion.

“In this day and age, since politics slams to the left and right so quickly, we need someone to call balls and strikes from the outside,” McNulty said, refusing to identify the group’s revenue stream or its membership. [Pols emphasis] “The main focus is me and having that outward-facing figure. That’s where we’re comfortable right now.”

McNulty is heading up an “ethics” group that has officially existed for less than a week and refuses to divulge its revenue stream or membership. Seems totally legit.

If you’re not familiar with McNulty, allow us to enlighten you. McNulty is a former lobbyist and legislator who has made his living (somehow) as a Republican political consultant since completing his fourth term in the State House in 2014. He is best remembered for his disastrous two-year stint as the Speaker of the House (2010-12). Republicans captured a one-seat House majority in the 2010 Tea Party wave election year, but thanks to McNulty’s bumbling leadership – both inside and outside the Capitol — Democrats flipped the House into a 9-seat majority just two years later.

According to a brief bio of McNulty on PTI’s website, the former Highlands Ranch Republican “gained firsthand experience of the ethical challenges facing U.S. government systems” during his time as an elected official. This is a curious way to phrase McNulty’s “experience”; the reason McNulty has “firsthand” knowledge here is because he personally crossed every ethical line he could find while regularly engaging in bad-faith negotiations at the legislature.

Here’s a look at some of McNulty’s not-so-greatest hits:

♦ McNulty shut down voting on all legislation late in the 2012 session so that a bipartisan bill legalizing civil unions couldn’t be approved. He also threatened to remove Republicans from committee assignments for suggesting that they supported civil unions;

♦ McNulty skipped numerous working days during the legislative session so that he could attend Republican political strategy seminars across the country;

♦ McNulty rammed through legislation to increase per diem rates for legislators without allowing any testimony;

♦ McNulty literally invented a story about government red tape in order to justify his maniacal budget-cutting proposal. When that wasn’t enough, he made up numbers so that Colorado’s budget would look worse than it was;

♦ McNulty married a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry during his tenure as House Speaker;

♦ McNulty has been at the forefront of numerous shady attempts at rigging the redistricting process in favor of Republicans;

♦ McNulty instructed Republican House candidates to run on repealing FASTER transportation fees in 2010, then absolutely refused to consider the idea once the GOP took majority control of the House. Unsurprisingly, the GOP caucus never forgave him for hanging them out to dry;

♦ McNulty even plagiarized his own opening day speech when he took control of the Speaker’s gavel in 2011.


It’s no exaggeration to say that McNulty’s unethical and unwise leadership cost Republicans their majority in the State House in 2012. While McNulty was re-elected for a final term himself in ’12, his credibility was so damaged that the former House Speaker didn’t even try to run for a caucus leadership position.

The reason we bring all of this up about McNulty is not to bash the guy, but to issue an important warning: If Frank McNulty is associated with a government ethics watchdog group, then you can be damn sure that the group in question is about as legitimate as a $10 Rolex.

“The Public Trust Institute.” Yeah, sure thing.

Walker Stapleton Gets The Women, Because Female Dogs

And how do we know that, gentle reader? Why, in last night’s debate in Colorado Springs, he said so!

STAPLETON: I’m outnumbered in my house, I have uh, three women that I live with each and every day, one son and a female dog, so…

But in the trademark manner we’ve come to recognize with Walker Stapleton’s unbroken string of ghastly unforced errors in debates, it didn’t go over quite the way he intended. Because whether you’re talking up your own family or taking cheap “dog whistle” shots at your opponent’s family, the female dog doesn’t count.

If this is not obvious to you, gentlemen, please ask the nearest woman to explain. She will.

Stapleton Welcomes Trump’s Endorsement

(Hugs all around! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Walker Stapleton, who’s Colorado’s Republican candidate for governor, welcomed the endorsement of Trump yesterday, telling KNUS radio host Steffan Tubbs that he was “really happy to have the President’s support.”

“I’ll be able to walk in the front door of the White House. Jared Polis won’t get his calls returned,” Stapleton told Tubbs. “That’s not going to help the state of Colorado. And so I’m happy President Trump endorsed me, and I welcome his endorsement.”

Stapleton previously said he wants Trump to campaign with him in Colorado, so his acceptance of Trump’s “complete and total” endorsement doesn’t come as a surprise.

But Stapleton dismissed Tubbs’ question about whether Trump would be coming here, saying only that he doesn’t control the “President’s schedule” or Trump’s “Twitter account.”

Stapleton has little choice but to cozy up to Trump, even though the President lost Colorado by five points in 2016, making such a strategy risky, say political observers.

With Democrats highly energized to vote, and independent voters leaning left in the polls, Stapleton has no chance of winning if even a fraction of the Republican base doesn’t show up at the polls in November, political analysts say.

So if Stapleton were to distance himself from Trump, he’d potentially piss off Trump-loving GOP voters, making them shake their heads in disgust and stay home on election day.

Stapleton isn’t alone among key Colorado Republican candidates in embracing Trump. Others include George Brauchler, who’s running for Attorney General, State Senator Tim Neville of Littleton, who’s a candidate for a critical state senate seat, Brian Watson, who’s running for State Treasurer, and others.

Here’s the text of Stapleton’s comments to Tubbs yesterday:

Stapleton (Here at 21 minutes): I was really happy to have the President’s support, and here’s what Coloradans have to recognize. President Trump is going to be the president for the next two years. And it will help Colorado to have a governor who has a collaborative productive relationship with the White House and President Trump. We rely on the federal government for everything from school funding to infrastructure funding to the future of healthcare in Colorado. I’ll be able to walk in the front door of the White House. Jared Polis won’t get his calls returned. That’s not going to help the state of Colorado. And so I’m happy President Trump endorsed me, and I welcome his endorsement.