Trump to Bypass Congress on $8 Billion Arms Deal

Don’t hold your breath expecting Sen. Cory Gardner to do anything other than stand behind Trump’s latest effort to bypass Congress.

As the Washington Post reports:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified lawmakers Friday that President Trump is invoking his emergency authority to sidestep Congress and complete 22 arms deals worth approximately $8 billion that would benefit Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries, despite lawmakers’ objections to the transactions. [Pols emphasis]

Both Republicans and Democrats urged the Trump administration this week not to take the rare step of declaring an emergency to push through arms deals that lawmakers have blocked, including a controversial sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia that some lawmakers fear may be used against civilians in the war-torn country of Yemen.

This move by President Trump is another direct effort to circumvent the authority of Congress, which is supposed to be able to approve or reject the sale of weapons to other countries. This is particularly egregious when you remember that both the House and the Senate voted this year to end U.S. support in the civil war in Yemen — a resolution that Trump quickly vetoed. Here’s more from Vox.com:

There is a provision in a weapons export law allowing the executive branch to sell arms without congressional sign-off if “an emergency exists which requires the proposed sale in the national security interest of the United States.” Administrations rarely invoke it, experts say, mainly because of how controversial it is and the high bar required to claim a dire situation exists.

President George W. Bush used the provision in 2006 to send precision-guided weapons to Israel during the Israel-Hezbollah July War, but that was last time an administration took advantage of the loophole.

President Donald Trump likely will claim that Saudi Arabia and the UAE need new munitions because they face repeated attacks from Houthi rebels. However, the Yemen war has raged since 2015, with the US supporting the Saudi-led coalition’s side. It’s jarring now to say that an emergency exists after all this time, especially when the US previously sold weapons to the Saudis through the normal process.

There’s also the fact that introducing more weapons to the war will likely worsen a catastrophic situation.

We’ll use this space to remind you that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Let the “national emergency” waffling begin anew.

Get More Smarter on Friday (May 24)

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was named first team All-NBA on Thursday — only the second player in Nuggets history to accomplish such a feat. It’s time “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► As the country prepares to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, President Trump is sending more military forces to the Middle East so that he can show Iran that he has the bigger…um, pen. From the Washington Post:

The Trump administration, facing rising tensions with Iran, plans to reinforce its military presence in the Middle East by sending another few thousand forces to the region to step up missile defense and surveillance, according to U.S. officials.

The decision to send the additional forces to U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations across the Middle East, was made late Thursday during a meeting at the White House between President Trump and top Pentagon leaders, the officials said.

Ahead of the meeting, acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan said the purpose of any additional troops would be to ensure the protection of U.S. forces and avoid the risk of Iranian miscalculation that could lead to a broader conflict.

“Our job is deterrence. This is not about war,” Shanahan said

President Trump may also commemorate Memorial Day by issuing pardons for several Americans accused of war crimes. Why would he do this? Because Fox News wants it to happen.

 

An effort to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora) by Colorado Republicans and the “no compromises” gun group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) has become a complete messaging disaster for the GOP.

 

► “Gardner’s office declined an interview request from The Denver Post this week…”

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to dodge reporters seeking answers from him about his position on abortion after Alabama passed the most restrictive abortion measure in the country earlier this month.

 

 Colorado is the first state in the country to cap rising prices of insulin. Governor Jared Polis signed legislation on Wednesday that limits the co-pay for the life saving medicine to $100 per month.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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The Real Overreach: Sullivan Breaks GOP Recall Strategy

Rep. Tom Sullivan (D).

As Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports–as word spreads nationally about the attempt by Colorado Republicans to recall freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was murdered in the July 2012 Aurora theater shooting leading to Sullivan’s run for office on a platform of gun safety, everybody and their mother is lining up not just to defend Sullivan, but plant the flag on this pivotal issue with Sullivan as the standard-bearer:

National Democrats are getting involved in the effort to help Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan survive a recall challenge that threatens to remove him from office…

“When the gun industry attacks one of our own, it’s important for us to respond in kind and demonstrate that our movement to save lives is just as powerful as they are,” wrote Democratic U.S Sen. Chris Murphy from Connecticut in a fundraising email he sent on Sullivan’s behalf. Murphy asked people to split a $35 donation between Sullivan’s recall effort and his own work to change gun laws.

“The gun lobby is trying to force a recall election to try to defeat Tom and the other Democrats who sponsored the bill. If our side wins, it’s a devastating blow to an already reeling gun lobby. And so Tom needs our help right now to defeat this recall effort.”

Birkeland reports that prominent Democrats from across the country have been in touch with Rep. Sullivan since the announcement of the recall effort against him. Sen. Chris Murphy in particular has been a leading proponent on the issue since the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting that occurred a few months after the Aurora theater shooting. We expect the involvement of these national players will escalate as the mid-July petition deadline approaches.

This is happening for an important reason. The recall campaign against Sullivan has received far more and far wider press coverage because of who Sullivan is. Although Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and their allies in GOP House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s political machine promised lots of recalls, it’s been nearly two weeks since the launch of the Sullivan recall by state party vice chair Kristi Burton Brown with no new petitions approved to circulate as of this writing. Even if more recall petition announcements are made today or after the long holiday weekend, Tom Sullivan has been firmly planted in the public consciousness now as the principal target.

And that, gentle readers, is a messaging disaster for the GOP.

By singling out the lawmaker with the most powerful story to tell in defense of his vote for 2019’s popular gun safety law, the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, Republicans have chosen the battlefield–and it’s by far their riskiest choice politically, and has the greatest chance of backfiring with lasting consequences for Republicans both in and outside of HD-37. If Republicans were to successfully recall Rep. Sullivan over a law enjoying 80% public support, the moral outrage against them would further stigmatize the party ahead of the next general election with no real effect on the Democratic majority.

On the other hand, if Democrats successfully defend Sullivan, Republicans look no less like soulless villains going into 2020 and the seat is lost for the rest Sullivan’s term. We’ll confess to some surprise that Republicans chose Tom Sullivan as the centerpiece of a strategy they have staked so much on. It’s even more surprising that they’ve let two weeks go by with no attempt to get control of the message while the Sullivan recall became national news.

It’s how a bad idea gets worse. And there’s no end in sight yet.

Friday Open Thread

“If you treat people right they will treat you right… ninety percent of the time.”

–Franklin D. Roosevelt

Colorado Makes National Headlines for Insulin Caps


As CNN reports today:

The skyrocketing prices of insulin are a nationwide issue and Colorado has become the first state to pass legislation that tackles the problem.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law Wednesday that places a $100 per month cap on insulin co-pays, regardless of how much insulin a patient uses. Insurance companies will pay anything more than the $100 co-pay, according to the new law.

The law also enlists the Colorado attorney general to investigate the rising prices of insulin in the state and to make recommendations back to the legislature.

“Today we will finally declare that the days of insulin price gouging are over in Colorado,” Gov. Polis said before signing the bill on Wednesday.

As CBS4 Denver notes, many Coloradans were paying as much as $900 per month for insulin medication.

 

Gardner Hides While Abortion Goes Under The Spotlight

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports, another excellent story covering the local fallout on what’s becoming a flashpoint issue for the upcoming 2020 elections:

Cory Gardner, a freshman U.S. senator, is facing a tough re-election fight in 2020, just as then-Sen. Udall did in 2014. And there’s another parallel: Democrats, at least for now, believe abortion is a winning issue for them in 2020, just as Udall did five years ago…

Among many Democratic strategists, a new conventional wisdom has emerged about the 2014 race. Udall had the right idea, they say. Criticisms of Gardner on abortion will stick in 2020, even if they didn’t in 2014, they say.

“Here’s what’s changed: Trump’s election and the courts,” said Laura Chapin, a Democratic consultant who has advised NARAL and is now aiding Alice Madden’s campaign for Senate. “That has really supercharged this discussion because it’s not hypothetical anymore. They have a clear path, through the courts, to overturn Roe (vs. Wade).”

We wrote a couple of days ago about the recent dramatic escalation of national abortion politics following the passage of a near-total ban on abortion in Alabama, intended to serve as a vehicle to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing abortion rights in all fifty states. Although Colorado has consistently and overwhelmingly rejected attacks on abortion rights at the polls, the state’s stridently conservative Republican minority in the legislature proposes abortion bans similar to Alabama’s every year–a reminder that a political turn of fortune for Republicans in Colorado would result in a direct threat to abortion rights.

With the Trump administration’s Supreme Court appointees ready to do the once-unthinkable and the challenge that could prove to be Roe’s undoing passed into law in Alabama, the narrative that allowed Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado to “beat” the issue of abortion in 2014 and win his seat despite an avowedly anti-abortion record in a pro-choice state is rapidly disintegrating. The assurance voters were given in 2014 that regardless of Gardner’s “personal view” on abortion he would be unable to act against abortion rights didn’t survive Gardner’s votes in the Senate to confirm Supreme Court Justices who are ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, let alone his numerous votes to chip away at abortion rights in the Senate since winning his seat.

Now that the threat to abortion rights is no longer hypothetical, Gardner seems to be caught completely flat-footed:

Gardner’s office declined an interview request from The Denver Post this week. [Pols emphasis] Asked about Alabama’s restrictions on abortion by Politico, he told the news outlet that he is pro-life but hasn’t read the Alabama law. Abortion should be left up to the states, the senator said.

It’s been nearly a week since Gardner literally ran away from reporters asking about his view of the Alabama abortion ban. In a subsequent interview, Gardner reaffirmed his “personal” anti-abortion views, and said that abortion rights should be “up to the states”–tantamount to saying Roe v. Wade should be overturned, since the only way states could control the legality of abortion is in the absence of Roe’s federal guarantee.

Without the cover of public perception that Roe is invulnerable, which is most definitely a relic of the past today, Gardner’s long record of support for banning abortion sticks out like a sore thumb against the overwhelming consensus of the voters of the state he represents. It is no longer possible for Gardner to bluff his way to a draw on this issue. The more abortion becomes a marquee issue for the 2020 elections, which it was not in 2014 despite Democrats’ singleminded message, the dimmer Gardner’s re-election prospects get.

White House, Senate GOP Can’t Square Talking Points

Oh, this sign has always been there!

White House officials are still chirping about President Trump’s temper tantrum in lieu of a scheduled meeting with Congressional leaders about legislation to advance much-needed infrastructure improvements. As Politico reports, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is spinning quite the load of crap:

The White House on Thursday denied that President Donald Trump’s eruption one day earlier at a meeting with Democratic leaders was a pre-planned stunt, rebuffing lawmakers’ accusations that the president was trying to bow out of serious infrastructure negotiations…[Pols emphasis]

…Senior administration officials are insisting that the Rose Garden gathering was impromptu, spurred by Trump’s discovery of Pelosi’s comments, which one official said both Sanders and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney alerted him to.

But Democrats who were at the meeting argued Thursday it’s obvious that Trump’s outburst was planned.

The idea that Trump’s tirade was a spontaneous reaction to comments from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier in the morning is impossible to square with images from Trump’s Rose Garden fist-shaking appearance right after he walked out of the infrastructure meeting. As multiple media outlets have noted, including CNN’s Jake Tapper, you can’t seriously claim spontaneity when you have a professionally printed sign on the front of your podium.

Meanwhile, Sanders is also trying to convey that it is Democrats, and not President Trump, who are incapable of walking and chewing gun at the same time:

“So far what we’ve seen from the Democrats in Congress, Alisyn, is that they are incapable of doing anything other than investigating this president,” Sanders told host Alisyn Camerota in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”

Time for another coffee break?

But as we see in a separate story from Politico, Senate Republicans didn’t get the memo on these talking points:

Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) called on the Senate Wednesday to do more than confirm nominations and lambasted Congress for its lack of legislative accomplishments…

“We have done nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada,” Kennedy said. [Pols emphasis]

Republican Senators acknowledge that the upper chamber is accomplishing very little. Now that President Trump is refusing to negotiate with Democrats on any issue, this inactivity will only be amplified.

House Democrats, meanwhile, have already passed major legislation on issues such as campaign finance and ethics reform; health care access and lower prescription drug costs; landmark new anti-discrimination protections; and funding for disaster relief that President Trump inexplicably opposes.

Even if the GOP eventually gets on the same page on these talking points, Republican rhetoric won’t change reality. The difference in accomplishments between Democrats and Republicans will be plenty clear for voters in 2020.

Tate “Skeptical” about Campaign to Recall Sullivan

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Jack Tate (R).

A second Republican who represented the Aurora state house district now occupied by Democrat Tom Sullivan is expressing skepticism about the recall campaign against Sullivan, which is spearheaded by the conservative Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

State Sen. Jack Tate told KZMT 1690-AM’s Jimmy Sengenberger yesterday:

“We had an election last year and we’re going to have another election next year. And so the recall makes me skeptical because a recall provision is about getting representatives, or your elected representatives out of office due to serious issues of malfeasance, maybe criminal behavior, something that is really just outside the pale in terms of providing a function of being an elected representative. So, if you think about why there are recalls, it is about getting people out of office when we need to. But at the same time, you have to have some discipline. You can’t set up a situation where people who you elect — maybe under a trustee model, more than a delegate model — to make tough decisions are constantly facing an every-month a recall, based on having made tough decisions. If constituencies don’t like the decisions politicians make in the fray, then that’s what a normal election is for. So, I have a degree of skepticism.”

“…And now we have these recall efforts. And it’s like, there’s something that’s just too partisan, too much of a do-over with a different voting base than I am comfortable with.  So I’m thinking through this issue right now, Jimmy. “

Tate’s comment follows a sharp denunciation of the Sullivan recall effort by Republican Cole Wist, who was defeated by Sullivan in last year’s election. Wist won the house district after Tate ran for state senate.

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Weld Sheriff Sympathizes With Cliven Bundy’s Armed Standoff; Sees Similarities With Red Flag Law

(Wait, what? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: Reached for comment, Sheriff Reams corrected this story’s earlier inaccurate statement that he is a member of the Constitutional Sheriff and Peace Officer Association- he is not. He also clarified his interview remarks to say explicitly that he did not think the Bundy family and its supporters should have resorted to armed resistance and said he would never encourage an armed standoff with any law enforcement, nor does he think such action is appropriate.

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams sympathizes with Cliven Bundy in his armed standoff against the federal government and compared that situation to Colorado gun rights activists opposed to the recently passed “red flag” bill.

 
“I don’t ever look for an armed confrontation with the federal government, but you can understand when people have been pushed too far. Take this red flag bill for instance,” Reams told conservative podcast Major League Liberty last week. “The Bundys have been life-long ranchers on that land and they were basically going to be told, ‘you’re going out of business.’ The way they went about it, was that the best way of doing it? I guess that’s up for debate.”

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s dispute with the BLM over his decades-long refusal to pay grazing fees came to a head in 2014, when law enforcement arrived to remove his cattle from public land. Bundy and numerous anti-government supporters took up arms against BLM staff and rangers. With rifles aimed at them, law enforcement decided to stand down and release the cattle.

Armed private militia members near the Bundy ranch in Nevada, April 23, 2014

This isn’t the first time Reams has expressed support for refusing to follow the law, just the first time he’s allowed for the possibility of using force to do so.

During the legislative debate over the “red flag” bill, which allows judges to authorize the confiscation of guns from dangerous people, Reams told CNN he would rather go to jail than enforce the new law.

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At Least He’s Not Your HUD Secretary Forever

Not exactly…

In another edition of our long-running series, “At Least They’re Not Your Legislator,” we take you to Washington D.C., where HUD Secretary and all-around weirdo Ben Carson might like a cookie.

Carson appeared Tuesday in front of the House Financial Services Committee and had a bit of trouble with some real estate terminology, as Politico reports:

[Rep. Katie Porter ] asked Carson to “explain the disparity in REO rates — do you know what an REO is?”

“An Oreo?” Carson responded.

“No, not an Oreo. An R-E-O. R-E-O,” Porter said, prompting Carson to offer, “real estate?”

“Real estate owned – that’s what happens when a property goes into foreclosure, we call it an REO, and FHA loans have much higher REOs, that is, they go into foreclosure rather than into loss mitigation or to non-foreclosure alternatives like short sales, than comparable loans” at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, said Porter, who later tweeted out the exchange.

We’re almost more amused by the fact that Sec. Carson thought he was being asked to talk about a cookie.

No Infrastructure For You! Sad Trump Refuses to Negotiate

UPDATE: As Jennifer Rubin writes for the Washington Post, Pelosi sure knows how to push Trump’s buttons:

Whether Pelosi intended this result or not, her ability to treat Trump as a spoiled child and provoke even more self-destructive behavior has several positive benefits for Democrats in this context. First, it puts the blame for not accomplishing anything on infrastructure — or anything else — squarely on Trump’s shoulders. Second, he makes it nearly impossible for incumbent Republicans to run in 2020 on any record of accomplishment.

—–

President Trump was scheduled to hold a meeting with Congressional leaders on a major infrastructure deal this morning, but after making House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wait for him, Trump finally stormed into the room and promptly declared that he would no longer work with Democrats on any issue. The entire meeting lasted about 3 minutes.

As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump abruptly ended a meeting with Democratic leaders on Wednesday, saying he was unable to work with them on legislation following comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he was “engaged in a coverup.”

Trump made an unscheduled appearance in the Rose Garden shortly afterward and in a meandering 10-minute address said he had left the meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) at which they were supposed to talk about working together on a $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

“Instead of walking in happily to a meeting, I walk in to look at people who said I was doing a coverup,” Trump said, adding that he can’t work on infrastructure “under these circumstances.”

“I pray for the president of the United States, and I pray for the United States of America.”

 — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Here’s more on Trump’s meltdown from Politico:

The breakdown came as Trump declared he will not work with Democrats as long as they are investigating him. The explosive encounter at the White House shattered a feeling of good bipartisan vibes stemming for positive budget talks on Tuesday and startled attendees, who said Trump made them wait, complained about their probes, canceled the meeting and left in a span of just a few minutes…

…Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who attended the White House meeting, said it was “high drama in the Cabinet room.”

“I don’t know where this leaves us as a nation. We have so many things that have to be done for this country and they can’t be done unless we work together,” Durbin said. “If the president walks out of the meeting, it’s a setback for the country’s priorities.”

Durbin said that Democrats couldn’t get a word in, and Pelosi told the House and Senate Democrats afterward about the importance of doing an infrastructure package.

Trump’s fuse was apparently lit after Pelosi met with Democratic Congressional leaders on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of moving forward with impeachment hearings in order to force the White House to cooperate with a growing list of subpoenas and requests for information and testimony. “We believe that the President of the United States in engaged in a cover-up,” Pelosi told reporters after the meeting.

Schumer later said that he believed Trump’s tantrum was a pre-planned stunt. In his Rose Garden remarks, Trump launched into weird diatribe from behind a podium with a sign reading, “NO Collusion, NO Obstruction.” Here are some actual quotes from the actual President of the United States:

“It turns out — and I think most of you [the media] would agree to this — I’m the most transparent President probably in the history of this country.”…

…”We have the best unemployment numbers that we’ve had in the history of our country. In some cases, 51 years, but generally in the history of our country.”…

…”Instead of walking happily into a meeting, I walk in to look at people that have just said that I’m doing a cover-up. I don’t do cover-ups. You people [the media] probably know that better than anybody.”

Words are just sounds made by blowing air through your mouth. We’ll update this post as soon as Trump walks back his promise not to negotiate with Democrats until they stop being mean to him.

DeGette, Neguse Reach Tipping Point on Impeachment

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette)

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports, two members of Colorado’s Democratic delegation in Congress, Reps. Diana DeGette and Joe Neguse, have decided after deliberation that the evidence laid out in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation warrants the commencement of impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump:

As impeachment talks again ramp up among congressional Democrats, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse said Tuesday it’s time to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat, had publicly been mum on impeachment since release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report April 18. He broke that silence in a tweet Tuesday.

“The findings detailed in the special counsel’s report, and the administration’s pattern of wholesale obstruction of Congress since the report’s release, make clear that it is time to open an impeachment inquiry,” the freshman congressman said.

Colorado Independent:

“The facts laid out in the Mueller report, coupled with this administration’s ongoing attempts to stonewall Congress, leave us no other choice: It is time for Congress to officially launch an impeachment inquiry against the President of the United States,” DeGette wrote on Twitter…

DeGette’s and Neguse’s comments came as other House Democrats who have been wary of impeachment also stepped up pressure to take that route following McGahn’s refusal to testify. One House Republican, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, has also called for Trump’s impeachment.

“For quite some time now, the administration has been engaged in a wholesale obstruction of Congress in terms of its ability to conduct oversight and conduct its investigatory work,” Neguse told The Colorado Independent in a brief interview on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

At this point it is clear to most people paying attention that the Mueller report was very far from the “exoneration” the Trump administration has insisted from the beginning it represents. The report exhaustively details ten incidents in which the President almost certainly committed obstruction of justice, only deferring from calling these incidents crimes due to the inability to bring criminal charges against a sitting President. The inability of the Justice Department to criminally charge the President also means Trump can’t clear himself of any conclusive allegations in the report, leaving an unresolved crisis that arguably can only be addressed by Congress in an impeachment proceeding.

While it’s clear that support for impeachment hearings in the House is growing, the end result depends on a number of factors. The highest hurdle, of course, is persuading Senate Republicans to take action against a sitting President from their own party. But for the present in the House, impeachment hearings are more than a political stick to beat the opposition with. The Trump administration’s continuing obstruction since the Mueller report’s release means impeachment hearings could be the only way to get to the truth–regardless of whether the Senate has the political will to convict.

The one thing we can say for certain is that history’s verdict will be much more than the words “no collusion.”

Priest Now Says He Wasn’t Representing the Catholic Church In Testimony Against Conversion Therapy Bill

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

With Colorado Gov. Jared Polis planning to sign legislation next Friday banning licensed therapists from trying to turn gay youth into heterosexuals, a priest, who said he was “representing the Catholic Church” when he testified in March against the conversion-therapy ban, is now saying he testified “on my own behalf.”

In fact, the Archdiocese of Denver, which speaks for the Catholic Church on such matters locally, did “not take a position on this bill,” according to Mark Haas, a Archdiocese spokesman.

“I testified on my own behalf and just meant to identify myself as a Catholic priest who would be bringing a Catholic perspective to the conversation,” Rev. Matthew Hartley, Parochial Vicar at St. Joan of Arc Church in Arvada, said in an email after the Colorado Times Recorder asked who gave him authority to speak for the Catholic Church.

In his March 18 testimony before the Colorado Senate’s State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee (here at 1 hour 41 minutes), Hartley denounced the bill banning conversion-therapy on minors, telling lawmakers it was “outdated, irrational, in violation of religious freedom, and discriminatory.”

The Archdiocese of Denver supports the right of its religious leaders, like Hartley, to express their political opinions.

“We support his right, like that of any citizen, to participate in the political process,” said Haas.

Johnny Hultzapple, a South High Student who testified for the ban on conversion therapy for minors, objected to Hartley’s claim to represent the Catholic Church, a couple weeks before Hartley announced he wasn’t really representing the Church.

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