Gardner Allegedly Changes Tune On Pueblo Recall Within 60 Seconds

(That’s pretty fast even for “Con Man Cory!” – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Ready & Cory Gardner

According to the two people he spoke with, in the space of 60 seconds last Friday, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) flipped from expressing sympathy for state Senate President Leroy Garcia and misgivings about the recall process to telling a recall booster, “I’ve never said I was against recalls.”

Former Pueblo GOP chair Tom Ready shared a paraphrased version of the exchange on Facebook last weekend:

The State Fair’s Legislative BBQ is neutral territory for politicians. Elected officials from both sides of the aisle, often wearing Western apparel with still-visible store creases, mingle over pulled pork and potato salad. Conversations are typically friendly and casual, but talking politics is never off-limits for this crowd, especially with an active recall taking place in the host city.

Garcia confirmed the exchange last Friday between Gardner and himself, saying that Gardner approached him and his wife. As Garcia tells it:

Gardner: “Hey how are things down here?” Garcia: “Well, obviously you know it’s a bit of a busy season right now.” Gardner: “Yeah I’m kind of sorry that this is happening and I don’t know that this should be the process in which this is the way things work.”

Garcia noted that Tom Ready was standing next to them and “was caught up in the exchange” while it occurred. Ready then engaged Gardner directly about the recalls after he and Garcia had finished speaking.

Ready, who says he and Gardner have been friends for a long time, confirmed he was nearby during Gardner and Garcia’s conversation and that he spoke with Gardner immediately afterward.

“I spoke with Sen. Gardner about a minute later,” he said.

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The Pivot–“Official” Polis Recall Committee Shifts The Grift

As predictable as sunrise, 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger reports:

One of two groups seeking contributions to try to recall Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) recently diverted nearly a third of its money to a different effort.

“Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis” has received $108,000 in contributions since forming in March.

In a campaign finance filing on Monday, that group reported giving $29,657.47 to “Colorado For Trump.” The reason stated was “Board approved expenditure for pivoting purposes.”

To recap, since it’s been awhile since the Recall Polis campaign(s) have merited much attention, with the doomed effort to collect over 600,000 voter signatures heading for its September 6th day of reckoning–this is the “Official” Recall Polis campaign, not the “Dismiss Polis” effort currently conducting the petition drive to get a recall question on the ballot. Readers will recall that the “Official” Recall Polis campaign denounced the “Dismiss Polis” campaign as a sham with no resources, and Dismiss Polis responded with similar allegations against the “Official” campaign excepting the significant resources the “Official” campaign has raised and refused to spend. Because none of these efforts have a snowball’s chance in hell of actually succeeding in placing a recall question on the ballot, all of the money raised by these committees can be reasonably categorized as scammed loot from conception to execution.

With all of this in mind, this decision by the “Official” Recall Polis committee to “pivot” a third of their cash to Colorado For Trump might seem like an attempt to do right by their donors, some of whom had posted on social media about spending their disability and welfare checks on donations to the campaign. The problem is, only a third of the money raised to recall Gov. Jared Polis going to any electoral purpose is still a scam no matter how you sugar-coat it. What’s the status of the other $70,000 this committee took in? We know that some of the biggest checks early in the campaign were written to former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and online payment processors like the Independence Institute, but there’s tens of thousands of dollars slushing around that this rerouting of funds to the Trump re-election campaign does not account for. If it was our money, we’d want to know how to get it back. It’s easy, after all, to donate to the Trump campaign ourselves if we want.

And yes, this is further confirmation that the movement to recall Colorado’s popular freshman governor less than a year after his double-digit victory is just about to be relegated to the dustbin of history! Hopefully that part, anyway, is not news to anyone.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 27)

Colorado could see its first snow of the season as soon as next week. Yes, it is still officially summer. 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…

President Trump wrapped up his visit to the G7 summit in France with a long, rambling press conference that could easily just be a cold opener for “Saturday Night Live” by itself. This is the actual President of the United States of America at the peak of his lunacy.

 

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was in Aurora on Monday to talk about curbing gun violence. As the Denver Post reports:

“Be bold, be courageous. The nation is counting on you,” Giffords told a standing-room-only crowd of about 150 people during a town hall meeting in Aurora.

Giffords was shot and nearly assassinated in early 2011 during a constituent event in Arizona. To focus on a lengthy recovery, she retired from Congress the following year and has since become one of the nation’s leading advocates for gun control measures.

On Monday night, she hosted the town hall event with three Democratic members of Congress from Colorado — Reps. Jason Crow, Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter — as part of her advocacy work in the Centennial State. Attorney General Phil Weiser and several state lawmakers were also in attendance.

“The good news is, the tide is turning,” said Crow, who represents Aurora and ran for Congress on a gun control platform last year. “The majority of Americans are with us” on gun control.

Cardboard Cory — who has had a very big month already — was also in attendance on Monday:

Photo via Aaron Ontiveroz/Denver Post

 

► Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff reached a new level of self-parody on Monday.

 

► The latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure. Find out more about John Hickenlooper’s Senate candidacy, Cardboard Cory’s adventures, and whether or not wearing pants will become the signature issue of 2020.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Pueblo’s EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel Not Involved In Garcia Recall Attempt

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo

UPDATE: EVRAZ emphasizes its work with President Garcia in a tweet sharing this story:

 

Despite being cited by name in an official document filed by those trying to remove State Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo), EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel is not involved and is taking no position on the recall effort. The company is the largest private employer in Pueblo.

Reached for comment via email, EVRAZ spokesperson Patrick Waldron wrote:

EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel was not aware of [the recall] before published reports, nor are we involved in the petition.

Waldron declined to give a position on the recall itself as the company does not make endorsements in political campaigns.

The latest recall campaign is the fifth so far this year, all targeting Democratic state legislators. It’s the first, however, to cite a private business by name.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 21)

After a slow start to the week, things are heating up quickly in Political Land. 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…

President Trump had another bad day on Tuesday. As Dan Balz writes for the Washington Post:

He poked another U.S. ally in the eye, questioned the loyalty of American Jews, backpedaled on gun legislation and undercut the denials of his advisers on the economy. It was just another normal day in the Trump administration.

Take this quartet case collectively and it portrays an administration and White House in chaos, lacking in systematic policymaking. It portrays a president who changes his mind whenever it suits him, whose statements change with the moment, and who uses words carelessly and sometimes destructively. It forms a pattern of dissembling, of deliberate or unknowing falsehoods as well as efforts to divide already divided Americans from one another.

Trump is spending part of his day today slinging barbs at Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, whom he says said “nasty” things about his dumbass idea to try to buy Greenland. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, this Greenland nonsense is the perfect metaphor for Trump’s Presidency.

Trump is also further inflaming his comments about Jewish voters, as USA Today explains:

Speaking to press on Wednesday, Donald Trump reiterated his earlier comments on Israel, saying “In my opinion, if you vote for a Democrat you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.”

“I have been responsible for a lot of great things for Israel,” Trump said.

This is the second time Trump has expressed this sentiment, which prompted backlash on Tuesday from Jewish Americans. Trump, though, said his assertions are not anti-Semitic.

The Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, Morgan Carroll, had harsh words for Trump on Tuesday.

 

Cardboard Cory is getting a lot of love around the state during the August recess. The same can not be said of the real guy, Sen. Cory Gardner. Here’s more on the “Since You’ve Been Gone” tour from the Ft. Collins Coloradoan and the Greeley Tribune.

Gardner, meanwhile, continues to avoid public events in Colorado. At a posh fundraiser in the Denver area earlier this week (hosted by former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley) Gardner spoke to reporters and it did not go very well.

 

► You can mark this down in the category of “Completely Unsurprising Political News.” As 9News reports:

The group trying to recall Democratic Governor Jared Polis could choose not to turn in the signatures they’ve gathered. And that might be a smart strategy.

The poorly-funded effort to recall Polis is declining whether to say if organizers are even approaching the 631,266 signatures needed as they approach a September 6th deadline.

No petition signature-gathering effort in Colorado history has needed so many signatures. The amount represents 25% of the votes cast in the last election….

…[Dismiss Polis spokeswoman Karen Kataline] confirmed that recall organizers will not submit the gathered signatures to the Secretary of State for verification if they believe they will fall short of the required 631,266 valid signatures.

Of course the recall Polis groups aren’t going to get enough signatures. But that was never really the point. Getting paid was the point.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Recall Donations Have a Funny Way of Disappearing

You could donate to a Neville recall campaign…or keep warm for a few minutes.

As we’ve discussed in this space on numerous occasions, various efforts to recall Democratic elected officials in Colorado are about two things: 1) Figuring out a way to get around the fact that pesky Colorado voters won’t support Republican candidates, and 2) Raising money by any means possible.

The fundraising aspect has become so intense, in fact, that it has sparked some nasty infighting among right-wing groups scrapping for loose change. One of the main financial beneficiaries of Recallpalooza is the Neville Clan, led by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and his political consultant brother, Joe Neville. This isn’t just speculation on our part. The Nevilles openly admit that they are promoting recalls in order to profit financially, which is perhaps somewhat more honorable than pretending otherwise but no less disgusting in general.

As Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman…well, let’s just say you can color us unsurprised:

A political fund controlled by state House Minority Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock and his brother, Joe Neville, has been attempting for months to raise money for the effort to recall Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.

But groups involved in the recall effort say they haven’t seen any of that money yet. [Pols emphasis]

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock)

The most recent fundraising email was sent Aug. 5 under the name of Take Back Colorado, asking respondents to reply to a survey on whether the governor should be recalled. It included a link to a donation site, operated by Values First Colorado, the 527 campaign committee run by Joe Neville that primarily supports Republican candidates for the Colorado state House.

Under tax law, 527 committees can raise unlimited funds to influence an election or issue but can’t coordinate with a campaign.

Joe Neville told Colorado Politics that any money received through that Aug. 5 fundraising email would go to the Resist Polis PAC, one of two groups involved in the petition effort to recall the governor. He did not respond to a request on how much money was raised by the Polis-recall emails.

But Resist Polis PAC spokeswoman Korry Lewis said the group’s dealings with the Nevilles have been frustrating, because while “we’ve been talking to them since April” about the fundraising emails, it hasn’t seen any money yet.

As we’ve already seen with failed recall attempts targeting Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan, you had better hold on to your receipts if you decide to write a check to one of these grifting operations. Some recall donors have in fact figured this out and are asking for their money back, which is sort of like waiting for a check from Bernie Madoff.

This is not the first time that the Nevilles and their friends at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners have made campaign donations disappear. Since Republican donors don’t seem to be learning anything from these mistakes, it surely won’t be the last time, either.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 13)

Enjoy your last day of summer vacation, Jefferson County students. 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…

► Eight counties in Western Colorado are among the fastest-warming places in the entire country, according to data compiled by the Washington Post:

Over the past two decades, the 2 degrees Celsius number has emerged as a critical threshold for global warming. In the 2015 Paris accord, international leaders agreed that the world should act urgently to keep the Earth’s average temperature increases “well below” 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 to avoid a host of catastrophic changes…

…A Washington Post analysis of more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark.

— Today, more than 1 in 10 Americans — 34 million people — are living in rapidly heating regions, including New York City and Los Angeles. Seventy-one counties have already hit the 2-degree Celsius mark.

Montrose, Rio Blanco, Mesa, and Ouray counties are among the Top 10 most rapidly warming counties in the United States.

 

Colorado Public Radio follows up on a story we’ve been watching closely here at Colorado Pols: The real reason for moving the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado. From CPR:

Critics of the Trump administration’s decision to move the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Grand Junction fear the real goal is to weaken the bureau.

These concerns and suspicions have only been heightened by recent statements and actions from administration leaders. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt appointed William Perry Pendley as acting BLM director. For years, Pendley advocated selling off the public lands of the agency he’s now leading…

…George Stone, with the Public Land Foundation, a nonprofit made up of many former BLM employees said there’s another saying in D.C.: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

He and many others fear BLM is the next dish to be served up, facing de-facto cuts and a marginalized position far from D.C. power players to advocate for its interests.

 

A “Draft Hick” movement is the next step in what is increasingly looking like an inevitable U.S. Senate campaign for former Gov. John Hickenlooper. Recent polling indicates that Hickenlooper holds a 51-point lead over the rest of the Democratic field should he join the race for the 2020 nomination.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Colo Republican Party Using a Voter Data App Called Sidekick

In a recent Facebook post, Recall Jared Polis heralded its use of the SideKick app, stating, “We are putting the finishing touches on our custom app to track and verify recall petition signatures. Our goal is to shatter the record for the lowest signature rejection rate in Colorado history, and with you as a volunteer, we know we can!”

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(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

During November’s election, someGOP candidates and their allies in critical Colorado races didn’t use the same voter database, potentially causing them to duplicate time-consuming canvassing efforts and to fail at effective voter mobilization.

Now the Colorado Republican Party has a new voter database that’s also being used by allied conservative groups.

Speaking to activists last month, Colorado Trump Chair Jefferson Thomas indicated that the Colorado Republican Party is now using a “door-to-door” application called “Sidekick.”

“Sidekick is our voter contact application,” said Thomas, when he asked about GOP tools that could be used in multiple elections. “There is also a front-facing database, if you will, that contains all of our voters, all of those things integrated in one system.”

The Colorado Republican Party is listed as a client on the website of CampaignSidekick, which sells the app. Other clients are state Republican Parties, like Arkansas, Arizona, and Ohio.

A campaign to recall Democratic Gov. Jared Polis is also appears to be using the Sidekick app.

The Resist Polis PAC made an expenditure to CampaignSidekick on July 1 for “consultant and professional services.”

In a recent Facebook post, Recall Jared Polis heralded its use of the SideKick app, stating, “We are putting the finishing touches on our custom app to track and verify recall petition signatures. Our goal is to shatter the record for the lowest signature rejection rate in Colorado history, and with you as a volunteer, we know we can!”

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Get More Smarter on Monday (August 12)

Today marks the second anniversary of the deadly white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia. 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…

► The Trump administration is pushing new restrictions targeting legal immigrants. From the Washington Post:

Legal immigrants who use public benefits — such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — could have a tougher time obtaining a green card or U.S. citizenship under a policy change announced Monday that is at the center of the Trump administration’s effort to reduce immigration.

The new policy for “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” which appeared Monday on the Federal Register’s website and will take effect in two months, sets new standards for obtaining permanent residency and U.S. citizenship. The Trump administration has been seeking to limit those immigrants who might draw on taxpayer-funded benefits, such as many of those who have been fleeing Central America, while allowing more highly skilled and wealthy immigrants into the United States.

Wealth, education, age and English-language skills will take on greater importance in the process for obtaining a green card, as the change seeks to redefine what it means to be a “public charge,” as well as who is likely to be one under U.S. immigration law.

 

► If former Gov. John Hickenlooper drops his bid for President and instead decides to run for U.S. Senate, the road looks pretty smooth ahead. As the Denver Post reports, Hickenlooper would enter a crowded Democratic field of candidates as a heavy favorite to capture the nomination. 

 

It is entirely possible that people trying to recall State Sen. Brittany Pettersen believe that “State Senator” means Pettersen is a Senator for the entire state of Colorado. Either that, or they really have no idea where to find Lakewood.

 

► The latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure. If you would rather read the transcript, here you go.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Recallpalooza: Meet Herbie The Hate Bug!

Photos forwarded to us yesterday from the far western reaches of Jefferson County, at the intersection of US-285 and Pine Valley Road. In the 20 minutes or so our source observed there weren’t any drive-ups to sign petitions either to recall Gov. Jared Polis or the recently-announced “citizens-only voting” ballot measure being pushed in search of a problem by Republican hanger-on George Athanasopoulos.

Much like the Recall Polis “creeper van” we took note of a couple weeks ago, this roadside scene inspires something other than credibility. Would you give your personal information to these very fine people? Also:

Sen. Brittany Pettersen’s district is miles east of here, and that doesn’t bode well for their validity rate.

Cusp of victory, folks. Stay tuned!

The Hard Truth About Suicide And Gun-Loving Sheriffs

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams (R).

FOX 31’s Rob Low correlated a data point in the renewed debate over gun control in general and Colorado’s extreme risk protection order (ERPO or “red flag”) law in particular: something so significant and troubling that we wanted to make sure it was mentioned in this space.

Supporters of Colorado’s “red flag” law say the measure is more likely to prevent suicides than mass shootings, even though it’s the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that led President Donald Trump to embrace red flag laws as a way to reduce gun violence.

In Colorado, more than half of the state’s 64 counties have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries opposed to the the red flag law. Many of those counties have the state’s highest gun suicide rates, according to statistics provided to FOX31 by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment… [Pols emphasis]

Counties with large urban populations like Denver and Boulder tend to have lower rates of suicide by gun: 6.5 deaths per 100,000 people in Denver; 8 per 100,000 people in Boulder between the years of 2013 and 2017. However, Custer County averaged 49 gun suicides per 100,000 people over the same time period.

Gun rights proponents often insist that suicides involving guns should be excluded from statistics used by gun control supporters, arguing that because only the perpetrator is harmed in suicide such incidents shouldn’t “count” as according-to-Hoyle gun violence. But the undeniable positive correlation between access to guns and their use in suicides as well as crimes against other people is why ERPO laws permit the removal of guns from persons ruled to be a risk to themselves or others. Suicide prevention is every bit as important as, and in theory more likely to form the basis of ERPO requests than individuals plotting attacks on others.

With respect to the large number of elected county sheriffs who have announced their intentions to refuse to enforce Colorado’s new ERPO law, the high suicide rate in many of these same counties is going to put these politician-sheriffs in a very difficult position after the law takes effect on January 1, 2020. It won’t be long, perhaps a matter of days, before someone who could have intervened in the suicide of a family member is thwarted by a county sheriff who refuses to enforce Colorado law. It’s not a hypothetical. It’s a certainty.

And it’s not something we’d ever want to face the news cameras to explain.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 7)

Welcome back to school, kids. 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…

President Trump is visiting Toledo Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas today in the wake of last weekend’s mass shootings. As the Associated Press reports:

Protesters greeted President Donald Trump’s arrival in Dayton Wednesday, blaming his incendiary rhetoric for inflaming political and racial tensions in the country, as he visited survivors of last weekend’s mass shootings and saluted first responders.

Critics say Trump’s own words have contributed to a combustible climate that can spawn violence such as the outbreaks in Dayton and El Paso, Texas.

Trump rejected that assertion as he left the White House, strongly criticizing those who say he bears some responsibility for the nation’s divisions.

“My critics are political people,” Trump said, noting the apparent political leanings of the shooter in the Dayton killings and suggesting the man was supportive of Democrats.

If pointing fingers healed wounds, President Trump would be our greatest surgeon.

 

► Republican politicians are starting to poke their heads up after a week of mass shootings in the United States and realizing that we have a gun violence problem on our hands. James Hohmann of the Washington Post explains the latest convert:

When the National Rifle Association endorsed Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) for a ninth term last fall, the group noted that he’s consistently maintained an “A” rating and has been “solidly pro-gun.” Literature sent to members emphasized Turner’s opposition to expanding background checks and banning assault weapons, as well as his past vote to immunize gun manufacturers from liability and to force all states, regardless of their own laws, to recognize concealed carry permits issued anywhere else.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Turner’s daughter and a family friend had just entered the Tumbleweed Connection bar in Dayton when a gunman opened fire across the street. Nine people were killed, and 27 were injured. The congressman’s daughter ran home, as he prayed for her and the community.

On Tuesday afternoon, Turner announced that he’s had a change of heart on gun control.He said he would vote for an assault weapons ban, limits on the size of gun magazines and for a federal “red flag” law that would make it easier to “quickly identify people who are dangerous” so their firearms can be taken away.

“The carnage these military style weapons are able to produce when available to the wrong people is intolerable,” Turner said in a statement. “I understand not every shooting can be prevented or stopped from these measures, but I do believe these steps are essential. … This tragedy must become a catalyst for a broader national conversation about what we can do to stop these mass shootings.”

As the saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Unfortunately, there is still not yet enough of a will from Republicans to seriously address gun violence. President Trump said Wednesday that he sees “no political appetite” for renewing a long-expired ban on assault rifles in the United States, though he left open the possibility that he would support calling Congress back into session to expand background checks for gun purchases. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing increased pressure to act on gun violence but has so far continued to refuse to even debate a pair of bills passed in February by the House of Representatives.

 

► Plans to move the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado were met with skepticism from those who worried that the real motivation for the move was to kill off the agency altogether. Those concerns are now being realized.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Colorado House Republicans Fundraising to Recall Polis

(Everybody on the gravy boat — Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Patrick Neville "Take Back Colorado"
House Republican Leader Patrick Neville is using the statehouse GOP caucus fund to promote another recall effort, this time of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. Neville didn’t pull any punches in his email soliciting donations:
Take Back Colorado logo
Governor Polis has unleashed the most radical and overreaching agenda in Colorado’s history. Chip in now to support a recall of Jared Polis and help us take back Colorado!
Neville sent the email via Values First Colorado (VFC), which also operates “Recall Colorado,” an entity dedicated to recalling Neville’s Democratic colleagues in the state legislature. Take Back Colorado appears to be an “entity” in name only; there is neither a political committee nor a business of that name registered with the Colorado Secretary of State. VFC’s enthusiastic support of statehouse recalls caused some concern among corporate donors earlier this year. Both Xcel Energy and Noble Energy issued statements saying they intended their 2018 donations to VCF to be used to elect Republicans in November’s general election, not recalling Democrats from office. Following those statements, Neville created a new political committee, “Recall Colorado,” presumably to separate recall funds from VFC’s regular election work. The committee’s lone campaign finance report filed on July 15 shows no money raised or spent over its first 30 days. VFC also filed a campaign finance report on July 15. Top donors include the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association ($10,000 on June 12) Farmers Insurance Group ($5,000 on June 13), Ralph Nagel of Top Rock Investments ($5,000 on May 9), and United Health Group, which also gave $5,000 on May 9. The report also revealed VFC’s largest expenditure: $18,000 to Rearden Strategic for “Digital Marketing.” Rearden is owned by Patrick Neville’s brother Joe. That family connection has already raised eyebrows among Colorado press, leading 9News’ Marshall Zelinger to ask party chair Ken Buck if he thought it appropriate for the Neville family to profit from recalls. It’s unclear how much money VFC has spent on Take Back Colorado so far, but at the very least it has created a logo, built a donation page on its fundraising site, and generated an email.
The email promoting Take Back Colorado is very similar in format and wording “Recall Colorado” emails sent by VCF. The logo is identical except for the addition of the words “Take Back.” The same disclosure, that “Take Back Colorado is an entity operated by Values First Colorado and is “Paid for and authorized by Values First Colorado,” appears at the bottom of the message. A phone call to VFC’s registered agent Joe Neville requesting comment was not immediately returned.

Get More Smarter on Friday (August 2)

Happy National Water Balloon Day. 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…

UPDATE: Nevermind, then. Ratcliffe has withdrawn from consideration.

Here’s a shocker: President Trump’s pick to be the next director of national intelligence seems to have a problem with making things up about himself. From the Washington Post:

President Trump’s choice to lead the nation’s intelligence community often cites a massive roundup of immigrant workers at poultry plants in 2008 as a highlight of his career. Rep. John Ratcliffe claims that as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Texas, he was the leader of the immigration crackdown, describing it as one of the largest cases of its kind.

“As a U.S. Attorney, I arrested over 300 illegal immigrants on a single day,” Rat­cliffe (R-Tex.) says on his congressional website.

Um, nope. Court documents show that only 45 people were charged by Ratcliffe’s office — and six of the cases were dismissed.

Ratcliffe’s background has come under scrutiny since Trump announced Sunday that he plans to nominate the lawmaker to be the next director of national intelligence, replacing Daniel Coats, a former longtime senator and diplomat who was often at odds with the president.

Ratcliffe has dialed back his earlier claims that he had won convictions in a high-profile terrorism case as a federal prosecutor. His planned nomination has drawn opposition from Senate Democrats and tepid support from key Republicans.

Some current and former intelligence officials have said Ratcliffe is the least-qualified person ever nominated to oversee the country’s intelligence agencies — previous directors have been former diplomats, senior intelligence officials and military leaders — and questioned whether he would use the position to serve Trump’s political interests. [Pols emphasis] The post was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to coordinate the 16 other agencies of the nation’s intelligence community.

As CBS News reports, Ratcliffe doesn’t appear to be all that interested in the subject he would be tasked with overseeing:

The House Intelligence Committee conducts the vast majority of its work behind closed doors and, often, beyond the walls of the Capitol. But a CBS News review of the eight open hearings the committee has held to date show that Ratcliffe engaged comparatively little during those sessions with the substance of intelligence topics in the panel’s purview.

While in open session, he did not ask any questions related to the work of the intelligence community — or unrelated to the Mueller investigation — in his six-month tenure on the panel.

Democrats are planning to put up a prolonged fight in an effort to prevent Ratcliffe’s nomination from being approved in the Senate.

 

► Opponents of recently-passed legislation to add Colorado to a list of states that would choose the President via a national popular vote have submitted signatures to get their measure on the ballot in 2020. Whether this actually makes political sense is another topic altogether.

 

A bunch of new laws go into effect in Colorado today, including a measure to provide cost transparency by hospitals and a cap on co-pay costs for life-saving insulin medication.

 

► According to an analysis by the Washington Post, a majority of House Democrats now support moving forward with impeachment hearings against President Trump. Aurora Democratic Rep. Jason Crow recently announced his support for impeachment proceedings.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Donors to “Official” Recall Polis Group Want Their Money Back

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

From Colorado Times Recorder intern Noah Zucker:

Across Colorado, the conservative movement to recall Democratic Gov. Jared Polis has been divided for weeks. Now, supporters of one of the groups promising to remove the governor believe they’ve been cheated out of their donations.

Recall discussions started on social media soon after Polis took office. In the ensuing months, the initial “Recall Polis” effort split into two groups: “Resist Polis PAC Recall” and the “Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis.” The word “official” in the second group’s name doesn’t denote any formal standing. It’s simply what they decided to call themselves.

On July 8, the Resist Polis group filed a recall petition with the Secretary of State and, upon approval, launched a signature gathering effort. Over 631,000 valid signatures from registered Colorado voters must be collected in 60 days to successfully put the gubernatorial recall on the ballot.

“Does anyone know how to get our money back from the fraud group if we donated?” Taylor Winters asked in the Resist Polis PAC Recall Facebook group last week.

Winters, a member of the Resist Polis PAC group, said that Shane Donnelly, who runs the “official” Recall Polis Facebook group, “took people’s money [and] did nothing with it,” before refusing “to cooperate for a common goal” with the rest of the recall movement.

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Neville: “Establishment Republicans” Oppose Recalls Because They’re Not Profiting from Them

(You’re not supposed to say that part out loud — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado House Republican leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock thinks “establishment Republicans” don’t support efforts to recall Democrats from office because the establishment Republicans aren’t “profiting from it.”

While Neville said his organization, RecallColorado.com, is “willing to work with anyone and spend money on any of these recalls” in Colorado, “there’s a lot of different establishment Republicans out there trying to discourage that, because they’re not profiting on it.”

Neville made the comments during an interview on KLZ AM-560’s Rush to Reason show Thursday.

It’s not news that Colorado Republican Party leaders are bitterly divided on whether Democrats, including state legislators and Gov. Jared Polis, should be recalled from office.

What’s new is Neville’s accusation that opposition from establishment Republicans stems from their not making money from the recalls.

So-called establishment Republicans who’ve come out against the recalls include Ryan Call, who’s a former leader of the Republican Party; Cole Wist, a former state lawmaker; State Sen. Bob Rankin (R-Carbondale); and Tyler Sandberg, a prominent GOP political operative.

Sandberg did not immediately return a call seeking to know whether he opposed the recall efforts because he was not profiting on them.

But some folks who could arguably be called “establishment Republicans,” such as state GOP vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, appear to support recalls, so the division between establishment and grassroots Republicans on the recall question may not be so stark.

In addition to Neville, recall campaigns have been supported by non-establishment Republicans such as pro-gun activist Dudley Brown.

Journalists have raised questions about whether Neville’s family members and their allies are themselves profiting from the recall campaigns.

9News’ Marshall Zelinger questioned GOP state leader Ken Buck on the topic in April:

Zelinger: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville has come out supporting recalls. His family could benefit from recalls because that’s their business. Should it be appropriate for elected officials and their families to profit off of recalls and elections? By being hired for election purposes–this is an added election outside of a cycle–perhaps this is being done in a way that benefits the family business?

Buck understood the logic behind the question but didn’t answer it.

Buck: So, Patrick’s brother is a consultant in the business and certainly there were some resources from the House fund that were used in the last cycle and his brother ran some of that political operation. I think that is something that Patrick and the elected Republicans in the state House will have to decide. It’s not something the state party will intervene in in any way

9News anchor Kyle Clark raised the profit issue after Brown and allied Republicans, like Burton, dropped their plans to recall Aurora Democratic lawmaker Tom Sullivan in July.

KYLE CLARK: The failed attempt to recall Democratic State Rep. Tom Sullivan did not raise one dollar and it did not spend a dollar. We learned that from some financial filings. Now that sounds funny unless you heard us saying weeks ago that this recall was really about a gun rights group called Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. The head of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners says, they funded the entire recall and guess what? They don’t have to disclose their donors. So we are left to take that special interest group at its word that this was not just a fundraiser designed as a recall that was never going to succeed. We are left to take them at their word that they took in $30,000 and spent more than that $45,000 on a failed signature-gathering effort. If those happen to be your dollars, and your trust, my condolences.

Editorial Boards Across Colorado Discourage Recall Fever

For several months newspaper editorial boards from every part of Colorado have been opining against the various recall efforts underway or under consideration by right-wing activists around the state. There are now more than a dozen editorials from across Colorado encouraging readers to “just say no” to signing a recall petition. Here’s a quick look at some of the most recent offerings:

The Denver Post (7/22/19)

From the Denver Post:

This summer we urge Colorado voters to decline to sign recall petitions for three elected officials.

These men and women – Gov. Jared Polis, Sen. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, and Sen. Pete Lee of Colorado Springs – have done nothing nefarious, or illegal or untoward. Rather, they face recalls for their votes, or in the case of the governor his signature, on issues the petition gatherers disagree with.

These are not matters that should be decided by a special election. These are issues that should be decided by the next regular election. That’s how our Democracy works – someone is elected for a term and barring some exceedingly rare and horrendous action on the part of an elected official, they serve that term until the next election. Then voters can have their say.

Recalls are not meant to be do-over elections.

The Colorado Springs Business Journal (7/26/19)

From the Colorado Springs Business Journal:

Recall elections come with a massive price tag, and not just in terms of dollars and cents.

It’s difficult to pinpoint how much a special election — the process required under Colorado Secretary of State rules — costs on a statewide level. However, in Colorado Springs alone as recently as April, the cost of a citywide special election was estimated at a half-million dollars. It stands to reason the cost of recalling a statewide official like the governor would be exponentially higher.

“It’s far better to rein in the recalls and stop the silliness now, for the sake of good governance, for our business climate and for our state’s future.”

And that’s an untenable investment to ask of taxpayers, especially when you consider that special elections historically have low voter turnout.

Recall costs aside, the process is also disruptive to good governance. When lawmakers must constantly step lightly in order to avoid losing their jobs, what chance do they have to draft thoughtful or change-making legislation? How can we expect any level of productivity?

The Colorado Springs Independent (7/24/19)

And from the Colorado Springs Independent:

It’s a sniveling threat from some far-right interests, and it’s all because the Legislature passed and the governor signed some very progressive policies during the 2019 session.

Which leaves us with a question. At what point did we become a selfish, whiny society that has made it easier to threaten to take someone’s job away than to admit you made a mistake and change it when the opportunity arises?…

…So rather than find better candidates and prepare them for victory in 2020 and beyond, they’re whining and threatening those who are doing the job for one simple fact: They’re. Doing. Their. Jobs. When it swings back to the right, what’s to stop the far left from doing the same thing?

You get the idea. From the Pueblo Chieftain and the Greeley Tribune to the Durango Herald and the Grand Junction Sentinel, the conclusion has been the same: This recall madness is wrong and it needs to stop.

Get More Smarter on Friday (July 26)

It’s been a long, strange week in the land of politics — particularly if your name is Ken Buck — so let’s wrap things up. 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

 It would seem to be inarguable that Russia (and perhaps others) interfered in the 2016 election, and it seems likely that they are going to try again in 2020. As CBS News reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is actively working to make sure that nobody in the United States is effectively able to prevent future interference:

Hours after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified Wednesday that Russians are still meddling in the U.S. political system, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the advancement of legislation to secure the nation’s election system. Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith also blocked a set of bills on election security Wednesday.

In blocking the legislation crafted by Senate Democrats to provide more funding for election security, McConnell declared the effort partisan and insisted the Trump administration has already done much to secure the nation’s elections.

One bill McConnell objected to would have both required the use of paper ballots and provided funding for the Election Assistance Commission. He also objected to legislation that would have required campaigns and candidates to report offers offers of election-related aid from foreign governments.

McConnell’s blocking of the legislation also comes as the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report identifying significant vulnerabilities — like aging voting equipment, paperless machines without backups and insecurity voter registration basis — exist in the United States’ election system.

As Paul Waldman writes for the Washington Post, McConnell’s rationale for cutting off election security funding is essentially that Republican candidates benefit from his inaction:

Republicans have quite plainly looked at our current state of electoral dysfunction and concluded that it’s working pretty darn well for them. Donald Trump is president, isn’t he? Why would we want to mess with a system that’s producing such wonderful outcomes?

 

► We’ve spent a lot of time in this space recently discussing the various recall grifting operations taking place across Colorado — including at least one example of a recall effort convincing poor saps to part with a piece of their Social Security checks. As Politico reports, the conservative ScamPAC business is humming these days:

After recruiting thousands of donors for the American Conservative Union — the powerful organization behind the annual CPAC conference — a Republican political operative pushed the same contributors to give millions to a PAC that promised to go after then-President Barack Obama, but then steered much of their donations to himself and his partners.

The PAC, called the Conservative Majority Fund, has raised nearly $10 million since mid-2012 and continues to solicit funds to this day, primarily from thousands of steadfast contributors to conservative causes, many of them senior citizens. But it has made just $48,400 in political contributions to candidates and committees. Public records indicate its main beneficiaries are the operative Kelley Rogers, who has a history of disputes over allegedly unethical fundraising, and one of the largest conservative fundraising companies, InfoCision Management Corp., which charged millions of dollars in fundraising fees.

The saga of how politically connected fundraisers used one of the nation’s leading conservative organizations as a springboard for fundraising that mainly benefited the fundraisers themselves sheds light on the growing problem of so-called scam PACs — organizations that take advantage of loosened campaign finance laws to reap windfalls for insiders while directing only a small portion of receipts to actual political advocacy.

If only you could still make a fortune by pretending to raise money for the purposes of attacking Hillary Clinton. Those were the days, eh, Ted Harvey?

 

► Westword’s Chase Woodruff explains how Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton are actually trying to scuttle public lands legislation by introducing a new bill of their own. We waded into this topic earlier this week.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Why “Overreach” Is The Dumbest Word In Colorado Politics

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

A new poll from Republican David Flaherty’s Magellan Strategies, who since last year’s landslide election for Democrats has been increasingly frank about the bleak future of the Colorado Republican Party given the state’s demographic and electoral trajectory, is prompting much discussion today in the local political chattering class. The poll offers quotable quotes to both sides, but ends in a conclusion you already know: Republicans are in serious trouble in this state going into next year’s election, and there’s no authentic appetite for recalling either Gov. Jared Polis or Democrats in the legislature. The Colorado Sun’s John Frank:

President Donald Trump gets low marks. Gov. Jared Polis is popular. And people lean toward thinking that the state is headed in the right direction…

“I think having President Trump at the top of the ticket is not good for any Republican running,” said Ryan Winger at Magellan Strategies, which released its poll numbers Thursday.

…In its new poll, Magellan forecasted that 36% of 2020 voters would be unaffiliated with a political party, 33% will be Democrats, 30% would be Republicans and 1% would be from other parties. So it showed a 3-point advantage to Democrats.

The Denver Post’s Nic Garcia reports beneath the obligatory headline “Democrats overreached but…”

Asked if Democrats “went too far and were out of touch with everyday Coloradans,” 45% agreed. Meanwhile, 40% of voters said Democrats did not overreach.

Despite those feelings, most voters — 47% — said they’re not interested in efforts to recall Polis or state lawmakers, according to the poll conducted by Magellan Strategies, a Republican Colorado-based firm…

The survey results, released Thursday morning, mirror earlier findings: Coloradans are generally pleased with Polis, split on the direction state is going and unhappy with President Donald Trump.

And 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger:

Based on the 500 survey responses, 45% felt that Polis and the legislature overreached this past session, compared to 40% who did not think so…

Unaffiliated voters are the largest bloc in Colorado, and 50% of unaffiliateds support not recalling Polis, compared to 32% who would recall him. Of the Republicans surveyed, 62% said yes compared to 24% saying no. The Democrats responded 66% no and 21% yes to a Polis recall.

The survey also showed Polis had a job approval rating of 49%, 12 points higher than those who felt he was not doing a good job. [Pols emphasis]

Practically from the moment that Colorado Democrats won in a landslide in last year’s elections, Republicans have employed the word “overreach” to describe the Democratic agenda for 2019. The theory was that Colorado voters weren’t upset with local Republicans and Republican policies so much as they were lashing out against President Donald Trump–and that despite the clear mandate for Democrats won in the 2018 elections, they would “go too far” and provoke a “grassroots backlash.”

After relentlessly beating this word into the heads of reporters, the Republican base, and as far as their message penetrates into the plurality of unaffiliated voters in Colorado who decide elections, it’s not at all surprising to see the spurious notion of “overreach” echoed back in poll numbers, much like the polling on the Affordable Care Act that consistently showed voters hated “Obamacare” but loved what the law actually did. And yes, we’ll concede that 45% of respondents agreeing Democrats “overreached” is a message win for the GOP.

But it’s a hollow victory. Even if Republicans are correct that 2018 was a referendum against Trump, dislike for the sitting Republican President greatly exceeds voter concerns about Colorado Democrats “overreaching” according to these poll numbers. Democrats ran on and were elected to pass a Democratic agenda, and Polis’ enduring high favorability is proof that staying the course was the right decision in the face of over-the-top Republican obstruction this year.

In the end, Democrats keeping their promises will never be as offensive to a majority of Colorado voters as Trump’s chaotic Presidency and the Colorado Republicans who have enabled it. That’s what this poll says most clearly, and it’s not even close.

Recalls: The Last Gasp of a Beaten Republican Party

GOP operative Ben Engen.

The 2018 election, which in Colorado was an unprecedented landslide in modern political history for Democrats, almost immediately resulted in threats by Colorado Republicans to initiate recall elections this year. Back in April, we were forwarded since-deleted video of a briefing by GOP political consultant Ben Engen of Constellation Strategies in which Engen very frankly lays out the real reason why Colorado Republicans should pursue recalls–because voters “aren’t as aware…of a special election like a recall that just comes out of nowhere and blindsides them.” Engen admitted that Republicans can’t win the seats that would be targeted in recalls in general elections, instead telling them to rely on the “re-weighting of the electorate” afforded by an “surprise” recall election.

It took a few months, but in a must-read AP wire story today running coast-to-coast local reporter James Anderson unpacks Engen’s admissions in their full context–and in so doing severely undercuts the whole strategy:

Once reserved for targeting corrupt or inept elected officials, the recall has become part of the toolkit for Republicans seeking a do-over of election results. One GOP strategist in Colorado has put a name to it — “recall season.”

“…There’s a drop-off in turnout from presidential to midterm elections, and the same thing between midterms and off-year elections,” Engen said. “Initiators of a recall can use the timing to maximize that enthusiasm gap.”

To Democrats, that’s essentially an admission that Republicans are using the recall not as a vehicle to oust corrupt officials, but rather as an attempt to game the system and flip seats they otherwise could not win in a regular election. [Pols emphasis]

“The strategists see that a recall may be the best chance of winnowing down the electorate in such a way as to sneak through a seat,” agreed Jason Bane, a Denver-based Democratic operative. “They need something that goes under the radar for it to work.”

Here’s the thing: if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Republican only interested in politics from a team-sports perspective, Engen’s frank admission that the recalls are nothing more than an exploitation of voters’ short attention spans for political advantage isn’t a problem for you. But for regular people not already part of the daily talk radio/social media rage fest against majority Colorado Democrats who actually poll quite well, this is all they need to know to realize that recalls are a massive waste of time and money–solely for the purpose of giving angry partisans a do-over.

And that makes them much less likely to sign a recall petition.

As Anderson summarizes in today’s story, recalls are emerging as a go-to tactic in several other Western states where Republicans are in decline–like in California, where a freshman Senator was recalled in June 2018 just to deny Democrats a supermajority in that state’s legislature for a few more months. In all of these cases, recalls are being used to obstruct the clear intent of general election voters, and achieve electoral results that Republicans no longer obtain legitimately.

If you’re a Republican, and this acknowledgment that your party is in long-term decline and reliant on desperate measures to obstruct an increasingly permanent majority doesn’t trouble you, you’re not likely to be receptive to arguments that the recalls underway in Colorado constitute a gross misuse of the system. But a growing number of influential Colorado Republicans have soured on recalls after the disastrous misfire against Rep. Tom Sullivan. Editorial boards across the state are sounding off as loudly as they can. There is a scenario in which the entire recall movement simply falls apart over the next few weeks as the dubious campaigns underway die on the vine.

But whatever happens will not be a show of strength. In every way that matters, this is a story of GOP weakness.

They admit it.

Please, Please Don’t Throw Me Into the Recall Thicket!

“Everywhere you look, people are circulating petitions to recall elected officials throughout the state. And yes, it’s all a little silly.”

The Pueblo Chieftain (July 18, 2019)

As you may have heard, there are a lot of nonsense recall campaigns being instituted by a handful of disgruntled Republicans still steaming over big election losses in 2018. Most, if not all, of these recall efforts appear doomed to fail because of disunity, disorganization, and a general lack of sense.

On Thursday, Republican Nancy “Don’t Call Me Pelosi” Pallozzi received official approval to restart her recall of State Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), apparently after the group realized that they were basing their complaints in part on legislation that Pettersen never even had a chance to vote on (not to mention that the group was trying to collect petition signatures well outside of Pettersen’s actual Senate district).

Newspaper editorial boards across the state have been calling out these recall efforts for months. On Thursday, the editorial board of the Pueblo Chieftain took its turn at the piñata:

If you support the brand of democracy that our country’s founders intended, then you should be worried by all this…

Absent some scandals or demonstrations of monumental incompetence, these recall efforts have to be viewed as what they really are — attempts to undo the will of the voters. The recall supporters are like those kids on the playground who always insisted on a “do-over” every time they lost a game. [Pols emphasis]

Do you want to make this summer a little less silly? Then don’t sign a frivolous recall petition.

The Chieftain makes a very succinct point in this regard by using the example of the various convoluted recall efforts targeting Gov. Jared Polis:

There’s been no indication he’s done anything illegal or improper during his first six months-plus on the job. To the contrary, he’s shown himself to be pretty much the person he advertised himself to be on the campaign trail last year. [Pols emphasis]

Are there people who disagree with some of his initiatives? Sure. Those were, in large part, the same people who voted against him last November. But guess what? Polis won that election, with the support of the majority of the state’s voters.

From The Durango Herald (April 12, 2019)

The Greeley Tribune made a similar argument in March about recall efforts targeting then-Rep. Rochelle Galindo:

The best advice we can offer recall backers is put your money into electing a better candidate in 2020. [Pols emphasis] In 2018, 22,783 people cast ballots, with more than 12,000 voting for Galindo. Republican candidate Michael Thuener received more than 10,000 votes, but still lost by 7 percentage points.

Recall elections are costly, especially considering the two-year timeline of elections for the District 50 seat. Instead, it’s fine to oppose Galindo, but let her do her job. Then if she’s not working for this community, elect a new candidate, but do it in 2020.

The Galindo recall was the first such effort of 2019…and also the first to acknowledge that its actions were strictly an attempt to re-do the November election. Back in April, former Weld County GOP Chairwoman Stacey Kjeldgaard candidly (or accidentally) admitted that that Galindo recall effort was mostly about the fact that she was a Democrat and not because of any of her actions or votes at the State Capitol.

“Recall is a tool voters should use only to remove people from office who are seriously negligent in performing their duties or are engaged in official misconduct.”

The Grand Junction Sentinel (June 18, 2019)

A few months later, the Grand Junction Sentinel hit on the same points:

Some Coloradans don’t like recent legislative outcomes, so they’re interested in either changing them or punishing lawmakers for taking certain positions…

…Throughout its history, The Sentinel has taken the position that recalls are only appropriate in cases of malfeasance or incapacity. Competence is in the eye of beholder. One voter’s anger over a legislator’s record is another’s joy. There’s a huge difference between recalling someone because they are corrupt and trying to remove them from office because you disagree with their policies.

Ditto Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry from May 14:

There’s a handful of loosely related far-right extremists trying to undermine Colorado’s election system to serve their own political purposes. Among them is Joe Neville, who runs a political action committee called Values First Colorado. He’s the brother of GOP state Rep. Patrick Neville, a champion for snuffing bills like Colorado’s red flag law in favor of arming teachers with guns in schools. Joe Neville wants to recall a few Democratic state lawmakers because they voted for bills focusing on things like protecting children from sexual abuse by providing better sex ed at school, and a bill making sure local cops aren’t tools of national immigration police.

We’re not talking about extreme measures like making kids get their vaccines or making bikers wear motorcycle helmets, we’re talking about no-brainer legislation that real people in Colorado have repeatedly said they want.

These recalls are beyond Colorado crazy. This is Trump crazy.

About a month earlier, the editorial board of the Durango Herald explained how previous recall efforts merely proved that organizers were the ones who were out-of-touch with Colorado voters:

Colorado in this respect has been spooked by 2013, when two Democratic members of the state Senate were recalled, including the Senate president, after they supported gun-control measures. (Durango Rep. Mike McLachlan, another Democrat, also was targeted.) Republicans were elected in their stead, and then, in the 2014 election, they were defeated by Democrats. It was a circular exercise.

Last year, an effort to recall La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt, one of two Democrats on the three-seat board, fell just short of the number of petition signatures needed. Then, in November, voters put a third Democrat on the commission.

“Oh, please don’t try to recall me.”

And here’s the editorial board of the Denver Post from April 10:

Some of the folks who are spinning this web of outrage, especially state House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, should know better. His vocal support of the recall efforts of Sen. Jeff Bridges, Rep. Meg Froelich and Rep. Rochelle Galindo is painting him and the caucus he leads as political operatives rather than thoughtful lawmakers doing the work of the people at the Capitol.

Colorado Republicans aren’t really pretending that these recall efforts are anything other than an attempt to line the pockets of consultants and sidestep Colorado voters in order to sneak in a few more Republican lawmakers. As these editorials show, the folly of these recalls look the same anywhere you travel in Colorado.

We’ve thought for awhile now that the idiocy of these recall efforts is backfiring on Colorado Republicans by giving Democrats new reasons to organize and reach out to voters a year ahead of the next election. Ol’ Brer Rabbit would be mighty proud.

House GOP Chief Of Staff Pfaff Answers Accusation Of Threatening Fellow Republican

(Republican Party events are probably great fun these days — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Republicans continue to air internal disputes over the airwaves and social media, accusing and denying various claims of blackmail, threats and extortion.

House GOP Chief of Staff Jim Pfaff joined KNUS’ Chuck & Julie show for an hour-long interview on Monday. Responding to ongoing claims in a Denver Post column by former El Paso County Chair Josh Hosler that he threatened Hosler’s family, Pfaff technically denied the accusation, but with some significant qualifications:

KNUS host Julie Hayden: I mean one of the things he did in [the op-ed] is he attacked you for saying you were going to attack his family, right?
Pfaff: “It’s just amazing that he has been implying that the whole time. Now, if he feels threatened or whatever, I don’t– all I did was just tell him, “What if I were threatening you.” I didn’t threaten to threaten him. I didn’t say I was going to do it. And obviously, after the phone call, I didn’t.”

Listen to the exchange here, which begins with Hayden’s radio partner Chuck Bonniwell reading from Hosler’s guest column:

Pfaff also explained the origins of the dispute, recounting Hosler’s issues with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) president Dudley Brown:

House Minority Chief of Staff Jim Pfaff: About mid-May, someone told me that Josh was putting together a book to try to expose Dudley Brown and RMGO for personal issues. And I’m like, “WHAT?!” But I kind of pawned it off for a little bit, until I got a call from someone who …would have been dragged through the mud by what Josh was trying to claim with Dudley, had they talked to him. Well, fast forward [to] just a few days after that, and he and I are having a Twitter battle over this whole thing. We’re ramping up — [Colorado Republican Party Vice Chair] Kristi Brown is ramping up the whole recall. And I’m like, going back and forth on Twitter with him, like, “Can we just back off of this? Why are we fighting together? We got to get this thing going! Maybe it won’t work, but it’s definitely not going to work if we’re all in a circular firing squad.

The recall Pfaff is referring to was the failed attempt to remove Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial), a joint effort of RMGO and the Colorado Republican Party. Although embraced by Minority Leader Neville and Vice Chair Brown, (both considered RMGO allies) the wisdom of the longshot endeavor had been questioned by other GOP officials and leaders.

Hosler stands by his column, saying via email that he has a recording of Pfaff’s threat that he has shared with others and that the Denver Post would not have printed his column without that recording. In an email, Editorial Page Editor Megan Schrader said that while she had not heard a recording of the call, in the fact-check she conducted with Pfaff he did not refute the conversation he had and that he would let Hosler’s statement stand on its own.

Rep. Dave Williams

Hosler also confirmed the claims made on Facebook by El Paso County GOP Women President Missy Ward, that Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs) shared false rumors about Hosler w/ Pfaff in an attempt to blackmail him. Hosler further accused Williams of using those same rumors to “extort” him last year:

“While I was Chairman of El Paso County Rep Party, Rep. Williams tried to use the same rumors that Pfaff tried to use to extort me. Rep Williams said if I didn’t make sure he did not get a primary in 2018 he would smear me with the same false rumors he shared with Pfaff.”

Pfaff posted a link to his radio interview on Facebook, calling the dispute a “petty situation” and saying he “answered the accusations made against [him] by Josh Hosler.”

Rep. Mark Baisley (R-Roxborough Park) supported Pfaff on Facebook, commenting:

“I listened live to your interview, Jim. I believe that you clarified matters. It was not a case of getting too cozy with [Rocky Mountain Gun Owners]. Rather, some leftover tenderness from a lost election that did not seem fair to Josh.”

Longtime Colorado conservative Matt Arnold, who is the filing agent for Neville’s House GOP caucus fund, Values First Colorado, took issue with Bailey’s assertion that Republicans can’t afford this much infighting because a “far more determined and cruel enemy is lurking.” Arnold tracked Pfaff’s complaints about “establishment GOP operatives mucking up the system,” saying that the GOP’s real enemy is the “establishment crony class.”

Pfaff’s comments about the establishment echo those he made on the radio, when he told the hosts:

There is a cadre of consultants who make a lot of money by keeping the status quo that we’ve lived with for the last 15 years. I complained about it when I was chairman of the Douglas County Republican Party and on the state committee. This has been a problem for a long, long time. I’ve been a consultant myself in previous years, prior to going to Washington D.C., and I don’t have a problem with people making money doing consulting. My problem is that they’re not about winning.

Do Not Sign That Recall Petition

(Another Republican voice of reason — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senator Robert Kennedy once said “All of us might wish at times that we lived in more tranquil world, but we don’t.  And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity” 

As Coloradans, we have a lot of freedom.  Through our state constitution, written in 1876 and continually amended, we have created a government of, by, and for the people.  Colorado voters expect the people they send to Denver as state senators and representatives to be busy during their 120 session. Those four months are challenging but they are also filled with opportunity.

Far from what you expect out of Washington D.C.; the Colorado General Assembly is comprised of 100 of the most unique individuals that you could assemble.  Every two years brings new blood, new vision and new leadership to each chamber. Every legislator can sponsor five bills, guaranteed to have a hearing, regardless of where they are from or what party they belong to.  

The 2018 election produced 19 Democrats out of 35 seats to hold the majority in the state senate and an astounding 41 Democrats out of 65 seats in the House of Representatives.  There were several controversial bills of the legislative session, from energy policy to new gun laws. Despite heated rhetoric of the folks in the minority, at least one Republican lawmaker voted for 441 of 460 bills that passed both houses and headed to Governor Polis.  The Governor vetoed five bills, and signed the other 455.

We only have a few short months of time when elected officials can govern.  We expect senators and representatives to put aside partisanship and do what is in the best interest of the entire state, not just their districts.  Voters should protect the politicians that aren’t afraid to offer controversial topics, to expand our democracy by representing a minority or contrary opinion in those beautifully restored chambers in Denver.  Only through debate, compromise and contrition can we craft the best public policy.

Unfortunately, this April, when Colorado Republicans elected a new leadership team, they decided to go in a totally different direction.  Chairman and Congressman Ken Buck of Weld County, said during his victory speech that “we need to teach Democrats how to spell recall.” 

You would think that being in the minority would encourage Republicans to develop a new strategy that would expand their beleaguered base.  By electing Buck, Republicans have decided that after every general election they lose they can try a second time to pick up certain seats by targeting them in a recall.  

The right to recall an elected official is an important constitutional right that doesn’t exist in every state.  Elected officials that take bribes, trade their votes for money or influence, or commit other crimes while in office should be recalled.  There are emergencies that exist that require the people to remove an elected official and replace them before their term expires.

But with this power comes great responsibility: voters must judge when a recall is little more than a partisan attempt to circumvent the will of the majority and instead allow a minority of voters to replace that elected official.    In November of even numbered years, we see more voter participation and information about candidates. I trust Colorado voters to get the decision right the first time, and hope those that lost would try harder in two years, not in ten months when less than 30 percent of the voters participate in a surprise election.

Think about the cost of designing ballots and verifying signatures that the Colorado Secretary of State must do prior to an election.  Mailing every voter in a state senate district, or even statewide, is an unnecessary expense when our tax dollars could go toward so many more worthwhile projects.

Voters, please do not sign a recall petition.  Every state representative is up for election in 2020, as are 18 of the 35 state senate seats.  We have one more 120 day session as well as months of time to contemplate how this legislature and our new governor have behaved in office.  Colorado has to fund K-12 education, transportation infrastructure, healthcare, PERA and dozens of other pressing issues. Every cent spent pushing unnecessary recall elections is a wasted dollar that could be spent elsewhere in the budget.

The push to recall Governor Polis started as soon as he was sworn in.  What is the rush? Are Colorado Republicans are afraid that 2020 will reveal more losses across the state as Trump heads their ticket? Why should Democrats, or anyone, have to learn how to spell recall? Should we allow a small minority of passionate voters free reign to terrorize our elected officials?

As we move closer toward 2020, I like to think we are at a time and place where we can sit down and solve the problems we face.  I prefer to follow once more the example of Senator Robert Kennedy, who said “what we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another and a feeling of justice  toward those who still suffer within our country.”

Joshua Hursa is the former President of the Denver Metro Young Republicans and a longtime Colorado political activist.  

 

Pettersen Recall Gets Recalled After 3 Days

We noted over the weekend that efforts to recall State Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) were off to a bit of a rough start, with the first petition-gathering event taking place at a location that isn’t even within the boundaries of SD-22. As Anna Staver reports for the Denver Post, the entire Pettersen recall effort is being retooled while the group tries to figure out what they are supposed to be mad about:

We don’t yet know the details of why Republicans are attempting a do-over on the Pettersen recall petition, though we can speculate a couple of potential reasons. Perhaps the group decided that Nancy “Don’t Call Me Pelosi” Pallozzi was not the ideal figurehead for the effort. It’s also possible that the group needs to get its hands on a more accurate map of the Lakewood Senate district.

Or perhaps the Recall Pettersen team realized that they made a pretty big mistake in their homework. The recall petition targeting Sen. Pettersen included an incorrect complaint about an alleged vote on HB-1312 (School Immunization Requirements), stating that Pettersen should be recalled in part “because she voted for the passage of” HB-1312.

Trying to increase vaccination rates among Colorado children was a hot topic at the State Capitol for much of the 2019 session, and HB-1312 was ultimately killed before it could come to a vote in the State Senate. Since Pettersen was not on any of the committees that heard earlier versions of the bill, she never cast a vote on HB-1312 one way or the other.

None of the various recall attempts underway in Colorado make any real sense from a practical perspective. Pettersen was elected in November 2018 by a nearly 17-point margin, which does not suggest an undercurrent of disagreement among voters. The feuding groups trying to recall Gov. Jared Polis are likewise ignoring the fact that he defeated Republican Walker Stapleton by 11 points last fall.

The Pettersen recall malfunction is yet another entry in a growing list of blunders from a handful of Republicans activists and consultants who are trying to figure out a way to get around the fact that Colorado voters elected a bunch of Democrats in 2018. We called these efforts “half-baked” in a previous post, but even that might have been a significant overestimation on our part.