Republican Legislators Skeptical of Latest Recall Attempts

As news of recalls targeting a pair of Democratic state senators circulated through the Western Conservative Summit, two of their Republican colleagues offered their thoughts in response. Both expressed some skepticism at these latest attempts to replace legislators who were elected less than a year ago.

State Sen. Bob Rankin

State Sen. Bob Rankin (R-Carbondale)

State Sen. Bob Rankin (R – Carbondale) was appointed to his Senate seat earlier this year, but was first elected to the Colorado legislature in 2012. He compared these new recall petitions of Sens. Brittany Petersen (D-Lakewood) and Pete Lee (D- Colorado Springs) to the 2013 recalls of Sen. Angela Giron and Senate President John Morse:

“You know, it didn’t work out too well that last time we did it [in 2013]. We recalled two of them and then our guys both lost in the next election. It’s a kind of way to publicly protest, but I don’t think it an effective way to choose legislators. We’ve got some tough elections coming up. 

State Rep. Matt Soper (R-Delta)

Another Western Slope legislator, Rep. Matt Soper (R -Delta) also commented on the recalls. Soper is a freshman legislator first elected to office last fall, but noted he’s been working in politics for nearly two decades.

Since I don’t live in either of their districts it really doesn’t matter, but if I did as a colleague -someone who has to work with them- I wouldn’t sign a recall- just as a blanket policy. I think the recall is a tool. I might not push it myself, but I think if you live in the district and you really want to recall you should go ahead and sign it. I’d say 95 of the legislators (there are maybe five who are really partisan), think about representing their district first with every vote. But I think for all these people [recall targets Galindo, Sullivan, and now Lee & Pettersen], the voters pretty much knew what they were getting.

The group Resist Polis PAC, which is also trying to recall Governor Jared Polis, is backing both recalls. They now have 60 days to collect 18,376 valid signatures in Pettersen’s district and 11,304 signatures in Lee’s district. If successful, special elections would then be scheduled. Pettersen and Lee each won their 2018 elections by approximately 20% margins.

Lee, Pettersen Prepare To Fight Half-Baked Recalls

UPDATE: Here’s some evidence that the recall campaign against Sen. Brittany Pettersen is not off to what you’d call a well-organized start:

Sure enough, Green Mountain Presbyterian Church on West Alameda is way outside SD-22, smack dab in the heart of Sen. Jessie Danielson’s district to the west.

Forward to victory, boys.

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Sens. Brittany Pettersen, Pete Lee (D).

As the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports, just before close of business yesterday recall petitions were approved for circulation against two Democratic state senators who just won elections in 2018 by wide margins: Sen. Pete Lee of Colorado Springs, and Sen. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood.

Both won their seats by wide margins in the November 2018 general elections. Pettersen took her seat with 58% of the vote while Lee secured 62%.

“I’m proud of my record. This is an unfortunate abuse of power,” Pettersen told The Colorado Sun on Friday afternoon. “This is what (regular) elections are for when you disagree with somebody. I look forward to talking about why I ran for office and the work that I’ve done in the time that I’ve been elected and what I did last session.”

Pettersen added that she thinks the recall’s backers are “completely out of touch with voters in the community” and that “they keep messing with the wrong people.” She and her supporters have been preparing for weeks for a potential recall effort and have already been rallying support in the district.

Lee echoed Pettersen’s sentiment, saying “I’m really disappointed that people would undermine and disrespect the voters and the democratic process by attempting to recall someone for the votes that they took.”

Both lawmakers are being targeted for the same arithmetic reason: although recall elections are intended to be reserved for cases of official misconduct and crime, the signature requirement to initiate a recall election of a state lawmaker is low enough to make the job relatively straightforward for a well-funded petition gathering drive. It’s only necessary to gather 11,300 signatures to get a recall on the ballot in Sen. Lee’s urban Colorado Springs SD-11, and just under 18,400 in Pettersen’s suburban SD-22. Where the signature requirement to recall a statewide officeholder is dauntingly high, recalls of individual lawmakers have been celebrated by Colorado Republicans as giving them voting leverage they no longer can count on in a general election.

With that said, there’s real question about whether or not these recalls have any actual support among either Republican insiders or rank-and-file members. There’s no way to know for sure how a signature campaign is going until the campaign turns in signatures or they concede failure ahead of the deadline like in the case of the campaign against Rep. Tom Sullivan. But at this point we haven’t seen anything like a Republican wave of support for these two latest recalls. In fact,

If local Republican operative Tyler Sandberg of EIS Solutions is to be believed, these recalls are not moving forward with the support of the Republican donor/consultant class. It is possible that the months of infighting, nasty press, and strategic blunders like the Sullivan fiasco really have persuaded smart Republicans to give up on recalls and focus on the rapidly approaching 2020 elections.

But until anyone knows for sure whether this is a bonafide or silly-season threat to either lawmaker, Democrats are obliged to not just take the threat seriously but to capitalize to maximum advantage on the organizing opportunity this presents for Democrats in their districts. In the next 60 days we expect both will walk their districts like it’s the fall before a general election–which is the best possible defense against both the signature drive and, should it come to it, a recall election.

As for Republicans who want to pursue recalls instead of focusing on the next regular election, they’re going to keep doing it until they lose enough times to realize it won’t work. The only thing you can be sure of is Democrats will not be complacent to the threat ever again–or until the law is changed to preserve recalls for offenses that deserve the ultimate political punishment.

Throwback Thursday: Cory Gardner, Meet Dudley Brown

As Republicans bicker in hindsight over the takeover of the Colorado Republican Party in recent years by hard-right elements supported by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners advocacy group, which has led the party down a path of increasingly unelectable candidates and such political self-made disasters as the recent failed attempt to recall freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan from office, we thought it would be useful to recall a time, not so long ago, when Dudley Brown and his strident friends were welcomed into the fold by the state’s highest ranking Republicans. In 2010 when this photo was taken, the “Tea Party” insurgency against President Barack Obama was in full swing, and then-state Rep. Cory Gardner was delighted to accept Dudley’s money and brand support.

RMGO may be a scapegoat in today’s short-attention-span news cycle, but they’ve been shaping both the makeup and the direction of the Republican Party for many years. Cory Gardner knows it better than most, because he’s been a favorite of RMGO and the “softie” National Rifle Association for his whole career.

On the upside, Gardner hasn’t aged a day in ten years, has he?

Bob Beauprez is Joshua Hosler’s “Puppet Master,” Says Dudley Brown

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Dudley Brown.

Dudley Brown jumped on a conservative radio show this morning to respond, for the first time, to a Republican’s accusation that his organization, which is aligned with the right wing of the Republican Party, is “Colorado’s Taliban.”

Joshua Hosler, the former chair of the El Paso County Republican Party, expressed the view in a Denver Post opinion piece, in which Hosler also accused the State House Republicans’ Chief of Staff of threatening to spread rumors about Hosler unless Hosler agreed to stop attacking Brown’s group, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

“[Hosler] is speaking for the left side of the Republican Party,” Brown told KNUS 710-AM’s host, Peter Boyles. “We call that the establishment. He might as well admit that Bob Beauprez is his puppet master.”

Brown called Hosler a “very very minor player” in the Republican Party and a “failed state house candidate,” who is “a little butt hurt because we endorsed his opponent,” State Rep. Dave Williams.

The dispute between Hosler and Brown reflects wider divisions within the Colorado Republican Party over whether to moderate hard-line stances, stop using losing consultants, distance themselves from Trump, and other issues in the wake of devastating losses in last year’s election–as well as the prospect of another blue-wave thrashing at the ballot box next year.

“I think the frustration for both Bob Beauprez and little players like Joshua Hosler is that the [Republican] Party has moved pretty substantially to the right on guns, and that’s been due to us,” said Brown on air. “Setting all humility aside, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is the group that given [Republicans] a spine. And Greg Brophy, the former state senator, has talked about that frequently.”

(more…)

Gardner Pours Cold Water on Polis Recall

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner, former state Sen. Tim Neville.

Cory Gardner thinks Colorado Republicans should focus on winning the next election, not recalling Democratic Gov. Jared Polis from office.

Asked about the Polis recall, Gardner recently told El Paso Republicans, as first reported by The Denver Post:

GARDNER: “You know what, we gotta focus all we can on winning in 2020; getting our congressional seats back, getting our state legislature back … . “That’s where I’m at. You may agree or disagree, but boy I think we gotta get our nuts and bolts together so that we can win.”

Gardner’s comment aligns with the views of establishment figures within the Colorado Republican Party, who’ve said repeatedly that recall organizers will never collect enough signatures to get the recall measure on the ballot–and the effort itself makes the Republican Party look petty, whiny, and chaotic in the eyes of swing voters. 

But the organizers of the Polis recall have the loud backing of conservative talk radio hosts and many party activists, who are livid at the governor for signing laws this year addressing gun-safety, the presidential popular vote, and comprehensive sex-ed, among other alleged transgressions.

Recall backers also say their organizing efforts will help them win next year’s election, bolstering their voter lists and identifying more volunteers and activists.

Gardner’s decision to publicly throw water on the Polis recall came as a surprise to some political analysts, who’ve noted that Gardner has already angered Republican activists to the point where they have given him a chilly reception at the state’s largest gathering of conservatives, the Centennial Institute’s Western Conservative Summit.

KNUS radio host Randy Corporon has speculated that Gardner was considering skipping this year’s Summit, in part, because he didn’t get a fully “warm reception” there last year. Gardner has decided to attend the gathering this weekend.

On the other hand, Gardner has pleased Republican activists by, among other things, endorsing Trump and approving Trump’s declaration of a national emergency for the purpose of funding a border wall.

How The Hell Can Patrick Neville Remain Minority Leader?

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

Over the weekend, a Denver Post guest opinion piece from former El Paso County Republican Party chairman Joshua Hosler shocked the local political chattering class with allegations of threats both overt and delivered via sinister anonymous phone calls against Hosler for his criticism of powerful conservative activist group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. In particular, Hosler alleges that Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s chief of staff Jim Pfaff threatened to expose alleged professional and personal misdeeds if Hosler didn’t “back off” RMGO.

Last night, Denver7 ran a follow-up story on the fallout from Sunday’s disclosures, and got a response from Minority Leader Neville about the actions of his chief of staff on behalf of RMGO–who in addition to being a political ally is also a registered lobbying organization before the General Assembly:

House Minority Leader Rep. Patrick Neville, who is a supporter of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners sent a statement to Denver7 about the infighting among Republicans saying it’s time for the party to come together.

“…Party infighting needs to stop. We achieve great things when we come together to fight for liberty and freedom. The Democrats know we cannot be defeated if we stand together. My Chief of Staff made amends and publicly said so. He has done a great job with this caucus. Unfortunately, we still have some in the GOP who would prefer to divide us. [Pols emphasis] It is unfortunate, but it will not deter us,” Rep. Neville’s statement read.

As you can see, Minority Leader Neville doesn’t think his chief of staff’s threats on behalf of RMGO are the problem here. The problem as Rep. Neville sees it is Joshua Hosler, for daring to second-guess the decision by Colorado GOP vice chair Kristi Burton Brown, Minority Leader Neville, and RMGO to pursue a recall of freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan. Now that the Sullivan recall campaign has collapsed in a heap, it’s clear in retrospect that Hosler was right–but that’s criticism, as you can see, that Republicans in high places do not want to hear.

We’ll leave it to lawyers to assess the criminality of the threats made against Hosler by Neville’s chief of staff on behalf of RMGO, but politically this is a totally unacceptable situation. To have a state employee threatening a member of the public on behalf of an organization that both lobbies the legislature and contributes to candidates and campaigns is an outrageous conflict of interest that under ordinary circumstances would send the responsible party to the unemployment line.

But not only will Jim Pfaff keep his job, Minority Leader Patrick Neville is blaming the victim.

Folks, this is not normal. These are fundamental, essential standards being violated. It has been long suggested that the rise of the Neville clan and their allies at RMGO to dominance of the Colorado Republican Party represents something new and more sinister than any other force in contemporary Colorado politics–even accounting for such distasteful figures as Tom Tancredo.

Now it’s on display for all to see.

Disunity Rages As Polis Recall Petition Drive Kicks Off

TUESDAY UPDATE: The Greeley Tribune’s Trevor Reid reports:

The Official Recall group said that the Dismiss group’s “premature” filing suggests malicious intent, adding the Resist and Dismiss groups may attempt to hijack the Official Recall name and logo.

Asked about such attempts, Karen Murray, co-chairwoman of the Official Recall group, shared a screenshot with the Greeley Tribune showing the main image for a Facebook event, with text reading “Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis Facebook Page.” The event is not supported by the Official Recall group, and calls to remove the Official Recall name have gone unanswered, Murray said. That includes a July 5 post to the event page pointing out the use of the Official Recall name…

Tom Good, chairman for the Resist Polis PAC, said in an email that the Official Recall group’s “actions and decisions fit well into the losing tradition conservatives in Colorado experience due to personality-driven politics and self interests.” [Pols emphasis]

As you can see, this is starting off extremely well.

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UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports that Sen. Cory Gardner is hedging hard on the recall of Gov. Jared Polis–which may not sit well with the Republican faithful he needs in 2020:

Polis beat his Republican opponent, former state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, by 10 points just eight months ago and a recent poll from Keating Research showed 55% of Coloradans think the state is on the right track.

Even the state’s highest-ranking Republican officeholder, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, danced around the question when asked about the Polis recall.

“You know what, we gotta focus all we can on winning in 2020; getting our congressional seats back, getting our state legislature back … ,” Gardner said at a recent Republican Party event in El Paso County. “That’s where I’m at. You may agree or disagree, but boy I think we gotta get our nuts and bolts together so that we can win.”

Pretty far from a vote of confidence.

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Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, a longshot attempt to gather an unprecedented 600,000+ voter signatures to place a recall of Gov. Jared Polis on the ballot will start its 60-day clock this week–this being the product of the Resist Polis PAC headed by local political operative Tom Good in alliance with the “Dismiss Polis” organization fronted by the daughter of far-right Rep. Kimmi Lewis:

The first petition to seek the recall of Gov. Jared Polis — submitted by the group Dismiss Polis — was turned in Monday morning, according to a spokesperson for the Secretary of State.

Monday marks six months since Gov. Jared Polis was sworn into office. It’s also the day that those who seek his recall can officially begin circulating petitions.

A second recall, targeting state Democratic Sen. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, could be underway by the end of the week, according to a Monday Facebook post from Republican Nancy Pallozzi, who leads that effort.

The combined effort to push a petition to recall Gov. Polis along with petitions to recall specific targeted legislators has been long anticipated by Democrats. Although the Polis recall itself is extremely unlikely to succeed, the thinking is that a Polis petition will serve as an “icebreaker” with potential petition signers for the legislative recalls–since in many cases prospective signers may not even know who their state lawmakers are.

But as we reported last week, the largest of the groups working to recall Gov. Polis, the “Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis Issue Committee,” is actively opposing the Dismiss Polis/Resist Polis petition drive. In a press release that went out earlier this morning, ORCGJP announces they will not cooperate with the Dismiss/Resist petition campaign, and urge their 40,000+ members not to sign:

The Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis Issue Committee (Herein after referred to as ORCGJP) is NOT associated with any other recall groups. After careful consideration and financial review of the conglomerate group Resist Polis PAC, Recall Et All [sic] and Dismiss Polis, it is clear to us that a petition filed at this time will be a failure due to lack of adequate resources and no defined strategy. This conglomerate has stated their intention to file July 10th under the Dismiss Polis Issue Committee.

Combined money in the conglomerate equal $45,882. ORCGJP on-hand contributions are $62,533. Millions of dollars, not thousands, will be required to circulate a petition of this size to recall multi-millionaire Jared Polis. When a petition drops, we expect a mass media offensive by Polis’s team. Without adequate funding or clear plan of action, Dismiss does not have the necessary infrastructure in place to conduct this recall, and while the intention may be good, we believe the recall needs to be handled with proper due diligence and the highest degree of planning to ensure the greatest chance of success.

ORCGJP believes Dismiss’s premature filing also suggests malicious intent, and though we hope that is not the case, we have evidence suggesting Resist/Dismiss may attempt to hijack our ORCGJP name and logo. We feel we must warn potential signers that ORCGJP will not file a petition until we know we can win and have a well-oiled machine ready to roll. While we wish Resist/Dismiss well and hope they are successful, we anticipate “picking up the pieces” after the likely failure of the Dismiss recall petition. While some of their members’ intentions may be in the best interest of this recall, their leaders’ actions do not reflect a desire to successfully recall Jared Polis.

Estimates of what would be necessary in terms of funding to successfully gather the over 630,000 valid Colorado registered voter signatures vary considerably dependent on input factors like the amount of volunteer vs. paid-per-signature canvassing, advertising costs, and other expenses. The absolute bare-bones lowest number we’re heard is somewhere around $1 million for a campaign assuming unprecedented grassroots mobilization and minimal overhead, with higher estimates in the $5-$15 million range utilizing for-profit consultants on the scale that would be needed.

However you arrive at your estimate of the total cost, the tiny fraction that has actually been raised so far makes hope of success for the campaign presently getting underway simply irrational. They haven’t raised enough to physically print the petition forms, let alone carry out a successful campaign to collect the signatures. Meanwhile all the other attendant overhead costs of running a campaign chip away at the amount they’ve raised. Keep in mind that the bulk of fundraising for these groups appears to have come during and immediately following the legislative session, with two intervening months now for momentum to sputter out.

What does this all mean? It means that for all their considerable optics problems, the “Official” Polis recall group is right. The campaign kicking off this week cannot succeed, and because it is doomed to fail risks doing collateral damage–not just to the drive to recall Polis but to any other recalls Republicans may be planning against state legislators. We’ll leave it to readers to decide whether the Dismiss/Resist Polis alliance is a deception being run by allies of Gov. Polis, because in the end it really doesn’t matter.

When you’re your own worst enemy, the outcome is the same.

House GOP CoS Threatens Fellow Republican Over RMGO

UPDATE: In a column for the Colorado Sun today, GOP attorney Mario Nicolais drives home a similar theme, practically begging fellow Republicans to see reason and focus on rebuilding ahead of the 2020 elections instead of recalls that feel good but ultimately backfire:

Ironically, as the Colorado Republican Party shrinks, its center shifts to the loudest, most ardent voices who have driven away other members of the coalition. The result is a slow, downward spiral that quickens as it closes in on the bottom.

In Colorado, that quickening became evident last year as Republicans lost all levers of power across the state, often by surprisingly large margins. The Republican reaction has been to channel the same energy into recall elections, presumably to take advantage of smaller electorates and concentrated resources.

Unfortunately for Colorado Republicans, the recent spat of recall elections only emphasized an inability to aggregate enough energy and clout to be effective, even in the most hospitable circumstances. That bodes very ominous for Republican hopes of winning back legislative seats, protecting Sen. Cory Gardner, or delivering the state’s electoral votes to President Trump in 2020.

When Congressman Ken Buck took the reins of the Colorado Republican Party in March, he declared the party needed to teach Democrats “to spell r-e-c-a-l-l.” As it turns out, the primary lesson to be drawn from recent recalls is that Republicans must learn how to spell “r-e-b-u-i-l-d” if they hope to remain relevant in Colorado politics.

Smart Republicans are saying it. Is there anyone listening? Anyone who isn’t afraid of the threats that will follow (see below) if they speak out too? We’ll have to wait and see how it ends. Like the Godfather movies, it’s far healthier to watch this drama than be part of it.

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House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

As Colorado politics starts to come alive again after a long holiday weekend, in today’s Denver Post we’re shocked to read in an op-ed from former El Paso County GOP chairman Joshua Hosler about threats he has received in recent weeks over his opposition to the failed recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan–and the influence of the far-right Rocky Mountain Gun Owners over the Colorado Republican Party at manifold levels.

Hosler, a combat veteran, seems to have been the wrong guy to mess with:

In May I spoke out on social media. RMGO had launched an effort to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan, the Democrat who had defeated Wist and taken his seat in the Colorado House. Members of the Republican Party’s leadership supported RMGO’s efforts and this felt like a mistake…[a]fter that post, I received three calls from anonymous men who threatened me and my family if I did not back off RMGO and Dudley Brown. No one messes with my family, especially cowards. [Pols emphasis]

Then things got worse. On May 30th at 2:50 p.m. I received a call from the chief of staff for the Colorado House Republicans. Jim Pfaff works directly for House Minority Leader Patrick Neville. He asked when I was going to stop attacking RMGO and Dudley Brown. I responded, “I am not going to stop.”

Pfaff then threatened to smear me with rumors — false rumors that I had heard before from someone close to RMGO trying to influence my decisions — that I had rigged the party chair election and had inappropriate relationships with women in the Republican Party. I told Pfaff that I had already heard those fake rumors and it was old news. Pfaff stated, “I am sure I will find more on you.”

That the chief of state for the Colorado House Republican minority, Jim Pfaff, is the one who threatened Hosler on behalf of RMGO is extremely important to fully process. RMGO’s controversial history of attacking insufficiently strident Republicans and stacking GOP primaries with candidates personally loyal to Dudley Brown has essentially transformed the party into Brown’s fiefdom–especially where his closest allies in the Neville family hold sway. The Neville political dynasty in particular owes much of its power to RMGO’s support both for their family and their political allies, so much so that today’s it’s impossible to say where RMGO ends and the party begins in Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s House minority.

Needless to say, it’s even harder now.

The ill-fated Sullivan recall attempt was not just a product of RMGO, it was backed at the highest levels of the Colorado Republican Party. The Sullivan petition was filed by Colorado GOP vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown, who although no relation to Dudley Brown has a long work history with the Nevilles as their committee filing agent. We now know that the “official” Sullivan recall committee claims to have raised and spent nothing, meaning all of the donations and spending for this recall filed by the state party vice chair went through RMGO.

It’s clear that there are Republicans in this state who want to change course. But as this Republican just found out the hard way, changing course will require more than scapegoating one organization. There are other moving parts in the mix, including a long-running operation by two-time gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez to “purge” the party of RMGO-backed candidates and embarrassments (here’s looking at you, Lori Saine) we’ve heard may try again for the 2020 primaries. It’s evident that nothing less than wholesale regime change in the Colorado GOP is needed, but we’re not at all convinced Colorado Republicans at any level are able to understand what that means.

The one thing we do feel certain of is it’s going to get uglier before it gets better.

Sullivan Recall: Kiss That Cash Goodbye

9NEWS’ Kyle Clark put a headstone Monday on the failed attempt by the Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown with support from House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and allies (see below) to recall freshman Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan with a look at the “recall campaign’s” fundraising reports–reports that allegedly show precisely $0 raised or spent on the effort. But as anybody who knows how unaccountable “dark money” flows among nonprofit political organizations can tell you, it would be silly to think that’s the whole story:

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.

Because recall elections are–controversially–not considered candidate elections but rather “issue questions” under campaign finance law, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is not technically required to spend disclosable funds in support of a recall of a state legislator. This works the other way, of course, though the instigator of a recall by definition bears the full moral responsibility for all such spending. But just as we’ve observed with the mission-impossible recall attempt against Gov. Jared Polis, raising money quickly becomes the principal objective–and if the goal is simply to amass cash, a recall that doesn’t go forward is a much more lucrative endeavor.

As the old saying goes, a fool and his money are soon parted. But in the era of “ScamPACs” and saturation-level solicitation for donations to all manner of fly-by-night political committees and campaigns, it’s extremely important that donors be aware of not just who they’re giving to, but what the specific plan is for spending their money–including obvious contingencies like the campaign unceremoniously folding up because it was the worst Republican decision since Darryl Glenn.

In every sense of the word, we hope all money donated to RMGO to recall Tom Sullivan was “disposable.” The only thing these donors can say about their money now…is that they don’t have it anymore.

“Dismiss Polis” Moves Ahead, “Official” Recall Rages

We’re monitoring fresh developments in the long-discussed longshot movement(s) to recall Gov. Jared Polis, which as of next week will finally be able to open their 60-day window to collect an unprecedented 640,000+ signatures–an effort certain to fail without a massive infusion of cash, and even then in pursuit of an historically improbable objective just to reach the ballot. The slim likelihood of success has given rise to countercharges of grift and bad character between the two principal committees, both backed by considerable damning evidence–leading to a third Dismiss Polis campaign which yesterday claimed it will shortly begin circulating petitions.

A post to the smaller of the Polis recall Facebook groups, Resist Polis PAC yesterday announced the details:

A newly drafted recall petition, submitted this week by the Dismiss Polis Issue Committee to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, appears to be the solution concerned Coloradans wanting to recall Governor Jared Polis have sought for months.

Dismiss Polis is not affiliated with any previous recall efforts and will act as a neutral, third-party organization, being the solution to the necessity of only one petition circulating to recall the Governor.

Leadership from the Resist Polis PAC team has voted to circulate the petition of Dismiss Polis this summer, as it fits with our consistent message of unity across the state.

Polis recall petitions will be printed by Dismiss Polis and can be distributed to volunteer signature gatherers across Colorado by any recall organization wishing to assist in the recall efforts. Completed, notarized petition packets would then be returned to Dismiss Polis before all signatures are turned into the Secretary of State.

Our team at Resist Polis PAC encourages any other recall groups to make the right decision for Colorado and circulate the Dismiss Polis petition. Filing a second petition will cause division in a time when Coloradans need unity more than ever. [Pols emphasis]

Sounds like they’ve got their ducks in a row, right? Think again! The above post was to the Resist Polis PAC’s Facebook group, which consists of about 2,000 people. But over at the vastly larger “Official” Recall Polis Facebook group, which has over 40,000 users, alarms are being sounded by group administrators that “Dismiss Polis” is a doomed effort–and worse, even a diversion set up by Gov. Polis himself:

It’s no secret that there are three “Recall Governor Jared Polis” groups. We have ‘Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis’ (ORCGJP), a Political Issue Committee (PIC), ‘Resist Polis’, a Political Action Committee (PAC), and now ‘Dismiss Polis’, another PIC.

I want you to read this knowing where I stand on this issue, so I will begin by saying I am heavily involved in the ORCGJP group. I was approached by the Resist group, did some research, and figured out they were actually working for Polis, [Pols emphasis] trying to thwart the efforts of of ORCGJP, so I got in with ORCGJP. You will have to figure out this for yourself, but I have already…

We believe, due on their behaviour, that the other two groups exist only to thwart the efforts of ORCGJP… Evidenced by the fact that THE VERY PERSON who took the money from ORCGJP is the head of the Recall Group (Tom Good), and has proof of past run ins with the law including theft as well as embezzelment within a leadership position. How can one support the Recall or Dismiss groups? There are even documented admissions from the other groups, bragging about shutting down ORCGJP’s website over Memorial Day…. Does this sound like behaviour of like minded individuals, getting together on a common goal?… I think not…

Bottom line… DO NOT SIGN ANY RECALL POLIS PETITION 🇺🇸 UNLESS IT IS FROM ORCGJP 🇺🇸.

To summarize, there is a good chance that a petition to initiate a recall election against Gov. Jared Polis will be approved by the Secretary of State on or near the July 8th date they can legally begin to circulate. At the same time, the overwhelming majority of grassroots supporters of a Polis recall are being told that this petition effort is fraudulent and being warned not to sign. All of this combined with the yawning gap between even the most optimistic fundraising estimates and the expected need raises hard questions about the utility of the entire effort–questions that donors will be understandably reticent to answer in the form of a check. As for using a Polis recall petition as a segue into signing petitions against legislators? This controversy could be all it takes to make that strategy a loser.

How will it end? Most likely with a whimper. But like any temper tantrum, it has to play itself out.

So Bad It’s Good: Watch The “Official” Polis Recall Video

Have you ever wondered to yourself while sitting in front of your home computer, “could I make a gripping political ad?” We have some bad news–without experience, preferably some professional training or (God forbid) a college education in video production, the answer is most likely no. Once in awhile somebody stumbles into a good concept Blair Witch Project style, but generally speaking the cutting room floor of political history is littered with bad, sometimes really bad, amateur video.

So it goes with the above minute of low-res mashup footage and extremely dramatic royalty free music, fresh from the struggling “Official” Polis recall campaign and bad enough that a high school student would lose points for turning it in. But lest you think this was a volunteer effort, the campaign actually lists an expenditure of several hundred dollars to a “videographer.”

That’s right–apparently they paid for this.

On the other hand, here’s something we already know about the Polis recall campaign–since anyone who possesses “political experience” either knows it’s a fool’s errand or is taking part only to siphon off the campaign’s money. Given the likelihood that all of the competing Polis recall operations will be footnotes in history by Labor Day, preserving this example of their low-budget folly for posterity was the least we could do.

Polis Recall Descends Into Chaos

For several months now, we’ve been closely following the competing efforts working toward the possible but highly unlikely recall of Gov. Jared Polis–a campaign that would be unprecedented in size and expense, and so far hasn’t attracted even a fraction of either the financial or popular support that would be necessary for a successful outcome. That hasn’t stopped a number of local conservative political usual suspects like Jon Caldara’s Independence Institute and former Secretary of State Scott Gessler from raking in the dough providing “services” to the campaigns. In recent weeks, however, the early split between two principal Polis recall groups further has blossomed into still another group hoping to put previous highly negative press behind them and unify the fractious groups into one cohesive effort.

Into this mess wades local reporter Sandra Fish for the Colorado Sun in a must-read story today that diligently follows up all of these confusing characters and storylines, bringing readers to the undeniable conclusion that the campaign to recall Gov. Polis is, as we’ve maintained all along in this space, a financial black hole where the “backlash” against Colorado Democrats for daring to win an election in 2018 is headed to die. There is no way that we can adequately recount the full details of this nearly 2,000 word story, so make sure you click through and read it all:

Juli-Andra Fuentes, who leads the Official Recall committee, confirmed the current situation. She said she estimates it will take at least $4.4 million, and her group won’t initiate the recall process until it has more money, enough volunteers and a candidate to replace Polis…

Some GOP political observers say the gargantuan effort to recall a governor in Colorado — especially one who spent $23 million from his own pocket to get elected — requires more financial and strategic resources than any of the groups appear able to marshal.

“They’re good people,” said Jon Caldara, a prominent Polis critic and president of the Denver-based libertarian Independence Institute, referring to those behind the recall efforts. “I don’t think anyone really believes they’re going to recall Polis.” [Pols emphasis]

Jon Caldara.

Given the fact that Caldara’s organization has directly profited from the fundraising for the “Official” Recall Polis campaign by hosting the transaction page and charging fees more than double that charged by GoFundMe, this frank admission that no one “really believes” the Polis recall will succeed is nothing short of astonishing. We noted earlier this month that the “official” campaign appears to have migrated away from Caldara’s Freedomfy site to another platform with (presumably) lower fees. Perhaps they realized Caldara’s not really there to help?

Fish reports that the campaign finance complaint we originally wrote about on June 17th has been dismissed by the Secretary of State, not terribly surprising given its amateurish literally handwritten composition. But the Sun’s own investigation confirms major problems with the recall committee’s reporting, including multiple unexplained corrections to fundraising reports with respect to Freedomfy fees in particular and in numerous cases donations appearing to lack proper itemization. Any future complaint can build on this much more credible investigation, and if not written in crayon should go over better with the Secretary of State.

Despite all of this uncertainty and the admission that they won’t be able to kick off their campaign on schedule, Fish reports the “Official” Recall Polis is warning its 41,000+ supporters to not sign on to any other petition or ally with the competing campaigns. There’s nothing stopping any of these groups from simply pulling a petition and starting their 60-day clock to collect the over 600,000 valid voter signatures required, but once a voter signs any recall petition the first petition turned in is the only one that will count.

As Sun Tzu famously observed, “tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” From the outset the desire of Colorado Republicans for retaliation against Democrats after their victory in the 2018 general elections at all levels has been stymied by infighting and terrible political judgment. Republicans frittered away crucial weeks when they arguably possessed momentum from the legislative session pursuing a recall against the worst possible target in Rep. Tom Sullivan, and now a longshot recall against Polis that might have at least had utility coat-tailing a couple of legislative recall petition drives is mired in division and scandal.

Bottom line: Jon Caldara is right that Gov. Polis won’t be recalled, and legislative recalls at this point are a distraction from the general election getting closer every day. If all of this doesn’t amount to a compelling argument for Colorado Republicans to give it up and start focusing on the next election where majorities are actually in play, it’s tough to know what does.

Colorado Gun Nuts Mourn Loss of NRATV

Local pro-gun activist Laura Carno on NRATV.

As the New York Times reports, production of new programming at the controversial NRATV outlet operated by the National Rifle Association is ending and the channel will go dark, following a decision by the organization’s leadership after a spate of infighting between the storied gun-rights organization and its unruly media arm:

“Many members expressed concern about the messaging on NRATV becoming too far removed from our core mission: defending the Second Amendment,” Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.’s longtime chief executive, wrote in a message to members that was expected to be sent out by Wednesday. “So, after careful consideration, I am announcing that starting today, we are undergoing a significant change in our communications strategy. We are no longer airing ‘live TV’ programming.”

…N.R.A. officials had grown leery of the cost of creating so much live content for NRATV, which was started in 2016, and wondered whether it was worth the return on its investment. The site’s web traffic was minuscule, with 49,000 unique visitors in January, according to a report provided by Comscore.

Some N.R.A. board members and officials were also unnerved by the breadth of its content, which strayed far beyond gun rights and encompassed several right-wing talking points, including criticism of immigration and broadsides against the F.B.I. A show hosted by Ms. [Dana] Loesch that put Ku Klux Klan hoods on talking trains from the popular children’s program “Thomas & Friends” drew outrage from some within the organization.

Although we had no idea that the reach of NRATV was so small, the sudden end of NRATV is nonetheless significant to Colorado politics. Since its founding in 2016, NRATV has heavily featured Colorado pro-gun activists like Laura Carno of Colorado Springs in their programming. This year, NRATV has already devoted generous airtime to the battle in the Colorado legislature over the state’s new “red flag” law to allow for the temporary removal of firearms from persons ruled by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others. NRATV didn’t exist in 2013 when the gun lobby organized recalls against Democrats over the passage of gun safety bills that year, but the outlet would have doubtless played a big role in publicizing the “backlash” against Democrats in 2019 over red flag despite the law’s overwhelming popularity.

Except now, due to a power struggle at the top of the organization’s leadership and a recognition that NRATV has strayed from its core mission into multi-issue right-wing advocacy that divided rank-and-file gun owners, that’s not going to happen. Carno and friends will have to find legitimate media outlets to pitch their stories. And we don’t expect that will be nearly as accommodating as in-house paid media.

One might even say that the NRA…overreached.

Buck Goes Cuck? GOP Chair Tries To Shut Down Polis Recall

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

We’re working to get more information about fresh reported infighting between organizers of a highly improbable recall effort against Gov. Jared Polis and Rep. Ken Buck, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. The above message from leader “Official” Recall Polis organizer Shane Donnelley is from late last week, the day after we wrote about a third Polis recall organization starting up with the goal of supplanting the two previous troubled efforts.

But as you can see, Donnelley isn’t saying Buck is merely against his Polis recall campaign. If Donnelley is to be believed, Colorado GOP chairman Ken Buck doesn’t support recalling Gov. Polis at all. That distinction is important, since during Buck’s election campaign for GOP chairman he praised recalls against Democrats in general and promised the state party’s support.

What happened? First and foremost, it’s generally agreed that the state party was badly burned by the ill-fated recall campaign against Rep. Tom Sullivan, which despite a lame attempt to distance the effort from the state party vice chair who started it severely impacted both the Colorado GOP’s reputation as well as the overall enthusiasm for pushing recalls in retaliation for the 2019 legislative session. While Republicans spent a month unsuccessfully defending the Sullivan recall, the passage of time dissipated momentum the recall movement writ large may have had last May.

Again, we’re operating from limited and unconfirmed information–but if it’s true that Ken Buck is working behind the scenes to quash the recall of Gov. Polis, it’s a major development that needs to be reported. What this tells us is that the failure of the Sullivan recall was a much bigger loss than Sullivan’s HD-37 seat would have been worth to the GOP had it succeeded, having effectively tainted the whole idea of recalls in response to the 2019 session. As we said from the outset, making Sullivan the face of the GOP’s recall movement was a stupendous mistake.

So it seems that, after winning his chairmanship pushing recalls, Buck may be backing down.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 25)

Welcome to the recreational marijuana market, Illinois. 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…

 And…we’re back to the “threaten to destroy Iran” stage of Trump diplomacy, as CNN reports:

President Donald Trump threatened Iran with “obliteration” on Tuesday, saying that an attack on “anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force.”

“In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration. No more John Kerry & Obama!” the President tweeted.

Earlier Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the White House is “suffering from mental disability” and behaving as “no sane person” in the wake of new sanctions imposed by US this week — partly in retaliation over the downing of an American drone.

Those comments prompted a response from Trump who said “Iran’s very ignorant and insulting statement, put out today, only shows that they do not understand reality.”

It is frightening to see just how little it might take to provoke conflict with the United States under President Trump. All it takes is a couple of childish insults and Trump threatens destruction.

 

► It’s nearly impossible to know where Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) might appear in person in Colorado. We only ever find out about Gardner’s whereabouts after the fact.

 

U.S. authorities are scrambling to deal with a growing humanitarian crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border. From the Washington Post:

U.S. immigration and health authorities, facing what they say is a financial and logistical crush, have scrambled to move hundreds of migrant children out of an overcrowded Border Patrol station after lawyers who visited the facility last week described scenes of sick and dirty children without their parents, and inconsolable toddlers in the care of other children.

The alleged conditions at the U.S. Border Patrol station in Clint, Tex., raised the specter that hundreds of children — some still in infancy — who had arrived unaccompanied or had been separated from their relatives after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are being exposed to additional undue trauma as they languish for days or weeks in ill-equipped Border Patrol stations, lawyers said.

House Democrats are pushing new legislation aimed at delivering emergency aid to the border, though the White House is threatening to veto the bill.

Meanwhile, Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders announced on Tuesday that he will resign from his job, effective July 5.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Recalls, Then and Now

By my count there are three distinct groups working to recall Gov. Polis. The Spite Wars they’re waging on Facebook is sowing confusion among the newbies who think such a simple thing as recalling a sitting governor shouldn’t be complicated. A frequent comment is “Look what we did in 2013!”

Yeah, about 2013. After an horrific mass murder modest gun safety laws were passed that annoyed Dudley Moore of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. A fairly mendacious campaign followed that did lead to the recall of two others, including Angela Giron from my home, Pueblo. Recall elections quickly filled those recall vacancies with solid Republicans.

BUT… (I love the occasional dramatic gesture) at the very next regular election both of those Republicans were voted out of office and replaced with Democrats. Further, the laws that prompted those recalls remain on the books to this very day.

In the end, the recall campaigns accomplished nothing but the invalidation of the votes of the majority, which promptly voted to undo that recall at the next opportunity.  Yet this blunt, ineffective method is the only tool wielded by the Recall Polis crowd today.

Signature collection starts July 8 and can only extend 60 days. With three competing recall groups circulating petitions it’s hard to imagine a scenario where one of them gets the nearly 700,00 valid signatures required to trigger a recall election. Weirder things have happened, but if this effort is successful in recalling a governor who won by 10.6 percentage points, it’s sobering to imagine the electoral backlash the majority might unleash at the next opportunity. Should these hardcore conservatives succeed, it could mean the death of their movement in this generation.

 

 

 

Grift Alert: Complaint Filed Against “Official” Recall Polis Campaign

We’ve discussed at length in this space about the nascent “official” campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis, which has raised somewhere north of $25,000 online despite not being able to start a petition campaign due to a constitutional requirement that a sitting governor be in office for six months before being recalled. The signature requirement to initiate a recall of the governor is well in excess of 600,000, which would require an unprecedented petition drive with a presumed cost in the millions. This raises questions the feasibility of the campaign, and invites questions about how the tiny fraction of the required total raised so far is being spent.

We’ve discussed the role of local political organizations like the Independence Institute in the Polis recall campaign’s fundraising, with Jon Caldara’s Freedomfy website skimming an unusually large percentage from online donations to the campaign and former Secretary of State Scott Gessler the group’s largest expenditure so far for “legal expenses.” During the past month, the campaign’s online fundraising has apparently moved away from Caldara’s platform, but it’s evident that fundraising is slowing not exponentially growing in the manner that would be needed for this campaign to ever get off the ground.

To this climate of uncertainty and questionable objectives you can now add a finance complaint filed last week against the campaign alleging potentially thousands of dollars of unaccounted for funds–a complaint sure to make donors to this campaign feel much better:

In short, this complaint alleges that the campaign has raised funds that have not been reported, and juggled fundraising platforms to obfuscate the total amount raised. The Secretary of State’s office is now evaluating this complaint to determine whether to proceed to an investigation, but this is very much in line with the concerns we’ve been raising about this campaign for months now. Once you realize that recalling the governor is logistically so difficult that an effort dwarfing the scale of anything that has been attempted in Colorado history would be needed, it’s obvious that even if they’re hiding a percentage of the money they’ve raised this is never going to happen. Money donated to this campaign would be better used to literally light a charcoal grill.

And that’s before the grifting! Usual suspects like Caldara and Gessler got their cut, but at least there was some disclosure. If it turns out that much larger percentages of the campaign’s take have been pocketed along the way as this complaint suggests, we’re talking about a whole new level of “ScamPAC”–perhaps even a matter to be referred from the Secretary of State to a criminal prosecutor.

In the meantime, we can only say again: if you’re dumb enough to make a donation to the Official Recall Polis Campaign, please don’t spend your SSI check. It stops being funny when needy folks get scammed.

Blockhead Republicans Prepare Another Idiotic Recall Attempt

Brittany Pettersen

State Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood)

The big story in Colorado politics this week was the implosion of an asinine recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial). The Sullivan recall attempt fizzled amid an onslaught of terrible press, bickering over money, and a general sense from everyone with half a brain that this was a stupid idea altogether.

Naturally, this week in politics is coming to a close with ANOTHER absolutely idiotic recall attempt of a sitting lawmaker who was easily elected to office last November. This time, Republicans aren’t trying to recall a man who lost his son in a mass shooting over his support of gun safety legislation, but they found the next-worst look for a recall effort. As Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Republican Nancy Pallozzi says she will mount a recall attempt against state Sen. Brittany Petterson of Lakewood in Senate District 22.

Petterson defeated Pallozzi in a 2016 race for a state House seat by 19 percentage points. [Pols emphasis]

On a closed Facebook page Pallozzi set up for the recall effort, she announced Thursday that “[e]verything is moving along and we are hoping to have the petitions in hand by July 16th, if not sooner. We are finalizing the wording to submit to the secretary of state’s office in July.”

According to the page, the Pettersen recall effort is intended to coordinate with a recall attempt against Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.

You read that correctly, dear readers: The Republican candidate who lost to Pettersen in a State House race by nearly 20 points in 2016 wants to recall her then-opponent, nevermind that Pettersen was swept into a State Senate seat two years later by a 16-point margin.

Republican Nancy “Don’t Call Me Pelosi” Pallozzi believes that Pettersen should be recalled because of…well, there’s probably some sort of reason in there somewhere, but Goodland’s story doesn’t mention anything specific.

WHO DO WE WANT TO RECALL? Brittany Pettersen!

WHY DO WE WANT TO RECALL HER? We don’t know!

Please clap, or something.

Following Corporate Donors’ Surprise At Funding Recalls, Patrick Neville Forms Separate Committee

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Following the Colorado Times Recorder’s reporting that corporate donors Xcel and Noble Energy were surprised to learn that money they donated to Colorado House Republicans was possibly being spent on recalls, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s Recall Colorado entity has formed a new independent group, presumably to collect and spend money on recall campaigns.

On May 30 the Colorado Secretary of State approved paperwork filed by Patrick’s brother, Joe Neville, to create “Recall Colorado,” a 527 political committee. Despite its name, the stated purpose makes no mention of recalls, nor of elected officials currently in office. Rather, it says it will “educate and inform Colorado voters regarding candidates for the Colorado legislature, primarily supporting Republicans and opposing Democrats.”

The Recall Colorado website and brand was created and funded by another 527 committee, Values First Colorado (VFC), which serves as the House GOP caucus fund.

As previous reporting by the Colorado Times Recorder has indicated, at least two prominent corporate donors have publicly stated that they did not expect money from their 2018 election cycle donations to be spent on recalls. As of election day last year, Values First Colorado and other Neville-controlled independent expenditure committees still had approximately $300,000 — or about one-fourth of its total amount raised during the election cycle — still in the bank.

VFC has since published the “Recall Colorado” website, paid for legal support for the recalls, and solicited donations under the Recall Colorado brand, listing Patrick Neville as “Director.”

Until its collapse earlier this week, VFC was supporting the campaign to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial). Republican Vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown, who initially filed the recall petition, announced Tuesday that she shutting down the recall and “refocusing” her efforts on Senate Democrats who aren’t up for reelection next year. Brown has worked closely with VFC: she served as the group’s registered agent for the 2018 cycle.

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Why Didn’t Ken Buck Do Something?

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Entering the second day of reaction to the failure of the Republican campaign to recall freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial, the conversation is moving beyond initial shock into the important follow-up questions–how high up does the blame for this fiasco extend? And how exactly did this incredibly bad idea even get off the ground?

With the effort now officially dead, pointy fingers are converging on the Colorado Republican Party itself, and the central role of vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown in launching the campaign against Sullivan–9NEWS yesterday:

Kristi Burton Brown, Vice Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, posted on Facebook that the recall effort she initiated against the first-year lawmaker was ending.

“While we are pulling the recall today to focus on other essential efforts, Sullivan does not get a free pass. 2020 is the year to oust him, with the support of voters who now know how extreme he is,” wrote Brown.

The obvious first question–who is “we?” Wasn’t this done in her “personal capacity?”

That was of course farcical. After the recall petition against Rep. Sullivan was approved, Colorado Republican Party chairman Ken Buck insisted that his vice chair was acting “in her personal capacity, not as part of her leadership role with the state party.” But Colorado GOP “CEO” Steve House had already eagerly explained how the Colorado GOP would support recalls for electoral advantage–not to mention Buck’s own speech before his election as state party chair promising to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L” (video above). Combine that with the vice chair’s “personal” leadership role in the Sullivan recall, and it’s simply absurd to not hold the Colorado Republican Party directly responsible for the outcome.

And that opens the door to more pressing questions that Republicans must reckon with. Is Ken Buck’s absentee leadership of the state party while he tries to serve in Congress at the same time creating a leadership vacuum? Did Buck simply not have time or the presence of mind to recognize that the vice chair leading the Sullivan recall would indelibly link the party to the recall? Who exactly is in charge over there?

As the saying goes, victory has a thousand fathers. But as much as many Republicans want to lay the blame for this massive defeat at the feet of Dudley Brown, the man everyone loves to hate and has little credibility to lose, this is the Colorado Republican Party’s in-house disaster. The party’s vice chair is centrally to blame–and the statements of the party’s chairman and the “CEO” who runs the day-to-day operations on behalf of the absentee chairman oblige them to take the blame as well.

It’s time for Chairman Buck to own up to this disaster and clean house.

Or make way for someone who, for whatever reason, can.

Root Cause of Recall Disaster Is Establishment Republican Calcification, Says GOP Activist

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial).

Former GOP congressional candidate George Athanasopoulos defended Colo House GOP leader Patrick Neville, pro-gun activist Dudley Brown, and others today against accusations that they botched a recall campaign against Democratic lawmaker Tom Sullivan of Centennial.

“Anybody who’s trying to finger [Patrick Neville, Joe Neville, or Dudley Brown] for the blame is either misguided or is straight lying for their own benefit,” said Athanasopoulos on KNUS’ Chuck and Julie Show this afternoon.

“The story I heard is that [Brown] contracted [a firm to gather] signatures,” said Athanasopoulos. “There was a contract. There were benchmarks. There were stipulations. There were agreed-upon prices, and [the signature-gathering firm] absolutely failed to deliver. Instead of throwing good money after bad, they did the responsible thing, which was [to] say, ‘Hey, we’re going to pull the plug.'”

“This illustrates the fact that we have a political class, consultants here in Colorado, who are inept, who lie, who cannot meet contractual obligations. It’s the same thing we’ve been talking about on the air for years,” said Athanasopoulos “It’s a never ending clown show of pigheaded buffoonery, to use a colorful term.”

So why aren’t there better GOP consultants in town? Athanasopoulos traces the problem to moneyed Republicans hiring their consultant friends for short-term gigs instead of developing local firms who are both competent and trusted.

“Instead of hiring fly-by-night firms, who hire anybody with a pulse, who may or may not be Republican — in fact, are probably not — we need to stand up something organic,” said Athanasopoulos on air. “There are lots of young Republicans in the state of Colorado, lots of them, who would love to have a part time job supporting the Republican cause.”

Co-host Julie Hayden, a former Fox 31 Denver reporter, says the established consulting firms squash the newcomers.

“If you come in here and try to open up another consulting agency, they will destroy you,” said Hayden. “And they make it impossible. So we have this group, as you said, of incompetent clown shows that won’t let go of the reins and won’t let the voters do what they want.

“George, I think you’ve hit it on the head, and it’s why we keep harping on this, about the establishment people, the donors and the consultant class who control Colorado politics in this state, and they’re just doing a horrible job!” said Hayden on air. “They can’t get anybody elected.”

Weld County Commish: Drill Baby Drill, Recall Polis, Same Diff

Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer.

As the Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports:

Weld County is letting it be known that there’s more than one way to interpret Senate Bill 181 — Colorado’s sweeping oil and gas law giving local governments appreciably more power to regulate energy extraction.

The Weld commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Monday designating the unincorporated parts of the county as a “mineral resource area of state interest.”

Previous discussion of SB 181 has focused on municipalities that want to tighten restrictions on the oil and gas industry, but commissioners Monday expressed a clear interest in making sure the industry remains a formidable force in a county that relies heavily on mineral extraction for jobs and tax revenues.

“SB 181 changed a lot of things,” said Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer during Monday’s meeting. “We are going to use the additional authority … that was given to us so that we have a fighting chance — so that the men and women in this county have a fighting chance.”

Despite the factually deficient warnings by opponents of this year’s landmark reform of oil and gas drilling regulations that Senate Bill 19-181 would “destroy the oil and gas industry in Colorado,” the reality of the new law is nothing like a ban or even major curtailment of oil and gas drilling. Although some local governments have taken action to restrict drilling within their boundaries under the new law’s “local control,” areas of the state who are friendly to the industry have the ability to remain friendly.

We wrote early in May about a resolution passed by the Weld County Board of Commissioners in support of the oil and gas industry during the heated debate over Senate Bill 19-181. Commissioners paid almost $2,000 out of petty cash for signs and bumper stickers celebrating Weld County’s love for the industry–a clear indicator that the county government would remain every bit accommodating to drillers as they were before. And now, Weld County is wasting no time using local control to declare their little slice of feedlot heaven a “drill baby drill” zone!

This move however does create a major contradiction for Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, the board of commissioners’ ideological lightning rod who supported the failed laugh-track secession ballot question in 2013 and was herself threatened with a recall attempt just last year. In today’s Greeley Tribune, the contradiction stands out rather painfully:

In a letter responding to the recall attempt last year, Kirkmeyer, the Board of Weld County Commissioners chairwoman, said “The recall of a duly elected commissioner should be reserved for serious offenses and violations of public trust — not to retaliate for policy decisions that a handful of individuals or special interests don’t like, nor used to take over county government between regular elections and four-year commissioner terms.”

Polis, she said, violated the public’s trust in supporting and signing SB 181, which proponents say will give local governments more control over oil and gas, but opponents are concerned it will greatly decrease oil and gas in the state, especially after another oil and gas regulation bill failed to pass a public vote last November.

Let’s briefly walk through the tangled web Kirkmeyer weaves. Recalls “should be reserved for serious offenses and violations of public trust,” and not to take over governments “between regular elections!” Now, Kirkmeyer tells the Tribune that in her opinion SB-181 “violated the public’s trust,” clearing a path to support a recall of Gov. Jared Polis–but did she give that quote before or after she invoked SB-181 to protect the oil and gas industry in Weld County Monday night?

Folks, the reality of this is very simple. Months of overheated rhetoric is coming apart now that the bill is law and its true effects are becoming apparent. SB-181 is not the end of oil and gas in Colorado, and it’s certainly not the end of the industry in friendly places like Weld County. Once you understand this, it becomes evident that the real problem for SB-181’s opponents is that the industry will be less able to impose its will on communities who are not slavishly loyal to the oil and gas industry like Weld County is.

And that sounds a hell of a lot more like policy–defensible at that–than a violation of public trust.

BREAKING: Sullivan Recall Implodes

UPDATE #5: The Denver Post’s Anna Staver:

“This gives Rep. Sullivan and the Democrats a victory,” said Dick Wadhams, a former Colorado GOP chairman. “Clearly, it was unwise to start this fight.”

Wadhams said he thinks recalls have a place in Colorado’s political process, but they need to be “well thought out.” And he isn’t convinced it’s a good idea for state party leaders to wade into the process before one gets on the ballot — even acting as a resident, as Kristi Brown said she was — because it makes any failed attempt look like it’s a failure of the GOP.

“The Colorado Republican Party was all over this aborted recall attempt,” Wadhams said. [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE #4: Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland:

“If there was any chance of this recall succeeding they wouldn’t be running away from it, and their statement shows that they learned nothing from this failed attempt,” said a statement from Our Colorado Way of Life, the issue committee fighting the effort. “We hope that they will cease this endless election cycle and let voters decide Colorado’s future during normal elections, but we are ready to beat them again if they launch additional recalls.”

One GOP operative called the decision to pull the plug a devastating blow to Republicans that could hurt efforts to get money behind other potential recall efforts. [Pols emphasis] He said there were internal disagreements on messaging and strategy.

—–

UPDATE #3: Rocky Mountain Gun Owners head honcho Dudley Brown has posted a statement to RMGO’s official Facebook page that is fairly defensive about how donated funds are/were being spent:

“I take the responsibility of spending RMGO donors’ money quite seriously,” said Dudley Brown, RMGO’s Executive Director. “At this point, the best use of our resources is to refocus on other efforts.” [Pols emphasis]

“It’s clear from our work on the ground in HD-37 that Sullivan is out of step with his constituents and Colorado at-large,” continued Brown.

The statement goes on to include this nonsensical assertion: “Our work on the ground in HD-37 has made it clear that voters are ready for a change.”

Obviously, it is completely illogical to claim that “voters are ready for a change” in an announcement about ending a recall attempt in HD-37, but nothing in this recall attempt ever made sense anyway.

—–

UPDATE #2: Here’s a video clip from Colorado GOP chairman Ken Buck’s election as party chairman that hasn’t aged well:

Note enthusiastic applause from Sen. Cory Gardner too! We look forward to the follow-up questions.

—–

UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger asks the next logical question:

To which the answer appears to be “no.” Ka-ching!

—–

Rep. Tom Sullivan (D).

Word breaking from numerous sources that Colorado Republican vice chair Party Kristi Burton Brown is ending the hotly controversial attempt to recall freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial:

The Democrats were so scared by this recall that they pulled out every stop to defend Sullivan: from Attorney General Weiser to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, Democrat Socialists screamed their “outrage” and exposed their true colors. Nearly $100,000 of out-of-state money was spent almost immediately to defend the Democrats’ radical agenda.

We have been able to confirm everything we already knew: Tom Sullivan’s days as a State Representative are almost over. While we are pulling the recall today to focus on other essential efforts, [Pols emphasis] Sullivan does not get a free pass. 2020 is the year to oust him, with the support of voters who now know how extreme he is. The best strategies are unified strategies and, in order to accomplish the most good in the shortest time, we have decided to pull essential resources from this recall and free up volunteers to help finish the National Popular Vote petition effort and to focus on recalling Democrat Senators who are not up for re-election in 2020.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of a Denver Post story this morning in which Rocky Mountain Gun Owners’ Dudley Brown expressed doubts that the signature drive would be successful:

“We’re not confident,” Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Executive Director Dudley Brown said Monday when The Post asked whether the recall will get onto the ballot. “It’s been tough work.” [Pols emphasis]

The audaciousness of the recall campaign against Rep. Sullivan, who was elected on a platform of gun safety legislation after his son Alex was killed in the 2012 Aurora theater mass shooting, has dominated headlines and effectively stymied the GOP’s declared strategy for initiating recalls in numerous legislative districts–and in doing so severely weakened the momentum Republicans arguably possessed toward the end of the 2019 legislative session.

The division this recall attempt has caused within the Republican Party is not going away either, particularly given the role of GOP leadership figures like Kristi Burton Brown and Minority Leader Patrick Neville. Republicans disgusted by the overreach of attempting to recall Rep. Sullivan over other more vulnerable Democrats–and there are a considerable number of such Republicans today–must also reckon with the fact that this “faction” is in effective control of the Colorado Republican Party. Are Colorado House Republicans really prepared to go into the 2020 election cycle with the Nevilles at the helm after they waded into this misguided recall? Right after losing 2018 in an historic landslide?

We’ll be updating this post throughout the day with coverage and reactions. It’s anybody’s guess what happens next. The magnitude of this defeat for the whole Republican Party in Colorado, no matter which side of this particular recall individuals came down on, will take some time to become fully evident. At the very least, this is a cold bucket of water for anyone with “recall fever.”

It’s a very big deal though. The game, once again, has completely changed.

Recall Polis Campaign Literally Grifting Welfare Checks

The campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis’ fundraising appears to have stalled out over the past few weeks. Almost a month ago on May 6, the Independence Institute’s “Freedomfy” fundraising page for the Polis recall showed $23,740 raised toward the effort. As of this writing on June 3, the page shows only $24,046 raised–less than $500 in a month, seemingly a dramatic slowdown from their early trajectory. But that might not be the whole story–if you visit the “Official Recall Polis” website, they’re now directing to a non-Freedomfy fundraising page. We’re not sure exactly when that change was made, but the new page does not publicly show donations or a cumulative total raised.

Regardless as we’ve discussed in detail, the campaign to recall Gov. Polis has such a meager chance of success that its true goal cannot be to actually get a recall question on the ballot. Unlike recalls against state lawmakers, a successful petition to force a recall election of the sitting governor would require over 600,000 valid Colorado voter signatures–many times the amount required for any statewide ballot question, and far in excess of what has ever been collected for any purpose in this state. The logistical requirements to conduct a petition drive on that scale are infeasible and at a cost that’s frankly difficult to accurately estimate.

To anyone who understands the extreme difficulty of making good on the Recall Polis campaign’s eponymous promise, it’s clear that the real purpose of the operation is the funds being raised to support it. The Independence Institute’s Freedomfy “fundraising platform” skimmed a large percentage off the top of every online donation for the $24,000 raised through that site, more than double what GoFundMe charges–and the largest recipient of the funds raised so far has been to former Secretary of State Scott Gessler for legal fees. If they can’t raise the untold millions they would need to actually recall Gov. Polis, and it definitely looks at this point like they can’t, the consolation prize is the cash reaped by conservative organizations and lawyers.

That’s a comment late last week from the Official Recall Polis Facebook group, administrator Karen Murray fleecing the faithful for more donations. The comment in response promises a donation to the campaign when “my SSI arrives.” This is a reference to Supplemental Security Income, federal benefits paid to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or over 65. SSI is not Social Security, but a direct cash benefit paid from general tax revenues to elderly and disabled people who are still too poor to make ends meet.

Would you take this woman’s SSI money for a futile Recall Polis campaign?

Would you sleep well if you did?

One thing’s for sure. We can’t call this a “victimless crime” anymore.

Get More Smarter on Monday (June 3)

Today is Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. 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…

► Ah, diplomacy. President Trump is on a brief visit to Europe this week, with the main focus being a stop in England so that he can have tea with the Queen and insult a bunch of Brits. From the Washington Post:

President Trump met Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace on Monday, beginning three days of royal feting and carefully calibrated diplomacy. The royals had lunch and a tea with Trump. They showed him old paintings of George Washington and an honor guard in scarlet tunics.

But first, Trump mocked the relatively popular London mayor as a “stone cold loser” — and short in stature. And then Trump complained at length on Twitter about CNN news coverage of his trip, which had only just begun. [Pols emphasis]

Headline from The Washington Post (6/3/19)

Before he had even landed in England, Trump was already tossing barbs at the Royal Family; in an interview with the Sun, Trump called Megan Markle “nasty” in response to remarks Markle made long before she became Duchess of Sussex. During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Markle called Trump “misogynistic” and “divisive” — descriptions that Trump essentially affirmed in his comments to the Sun.

It’s no wonder that 2 in 3 Britons have unfavorable unfavourable opinions of Trump. Large anti-Trump demonstrations are planned for Tuesday, and the Trump baby balloon (see image at right) is expected to make another appearance.

 

Congress is back in session after a long Memorial Day weekend. As the New York Times reports, budget and debt issues loom large for Congressional leaders:

A Congress that has struggled all year to legislate returned Monday to face two urgent deadlines that, if not met, could lead to a disastrous default on the federal debt and to automatic spending cuts that would sweep like a scythe through the military, federal health care and other popular programs.

In October or early November, fiscal analysts predict that the Treasury will run out of room to borrow money to keep the government operating, a catastrophe that could damage the stability of the United States economy and force the government to default on its debt.

That is about the same time that back-to-back budget deals would expire and strict spending caps enacted in 2011 would come back into force, automatically cutting military and domestic spending across the board by $125 billion. Lawmakers say they need to act now, before recesses in July and August, to avert a crisis. But so far, a divided Congress has found even usually easy things hard — like passing disaster relief…

“We don’t have a lot of people in government right now who know how to govern or who want to govern,” said Representative John Yarmuth, Democrat of Kentucky and the chairman of the House Budget Committee. [Pols emphasis]

As CNN notes, outgoing White House economist Kevin Hassett says that tariffs and deficits are bad for America…which probably explains why Hassett is the “outgoing” White House economist.

Elsewhere, Colorado Public Radio looks at the damage to Colorado businesses from Trump’s economic policies.

 

The recall effort targeting Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora) is full of more shady characters than a Quentin Tarantino flick.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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