Felony Deja Vu: Shady Usual Suspects Working Sullivan Recall

Craigslist ad for Sullivan recall petition circulators, taken 5/31/19.

Over the weekend, a number of important details about the for-profit players being brought in to work on the hotly controversial recall campaign against freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan came to light, with a bevy of names longtime readers will remember both directly and indirectly confirmed to be involved.

And for those of you concerned with integrity in our state’s politics, it’s not good news.

Recent petition campaigns in Colorado, in particular petitions for candidates seeking access to the ballot outside their respective parties’ traditional assembly route and in 2013 petitions to force recall elections against Democrats state lawmakers, have been beset with widespread allegations of forgery, fraudulent misrepresentation of petition questions, and the hiring of out-of-state temporary employees with criminal backgrounds to collect signatures leading to all of the aforementioned problems.

In 2008, petition gathering firm Kennedy Enterprises was busted by a 9NEWS investigation after hiring “signature gatherers convicted of sexual assault on a child, theft, harassment, trespassing and drug possession.” In 2013, Kennedy Enterprises petition gatherers hired by Republicans for that year’s recalls signed up dead people, instructed signers to lie about their residence, and were caught on camera admitting to being a band of roving canvassers who “travel around the country, go from city to city, state to state, [and] put issues and candidates on the ballot for basically anybody who has money.”

In 2018, Kennedy Enterprises came under fire once again after fraudulent petitions for Walker Stapleton’s gubernatorial campaign were uncovered by a competitor in the Republican primary–and despite then-Secretary of State Wayne Williams failed attempt to cover up the Stapleton campaign’s petition fraud, Stapleton was compelled to rescind his own ballot petitions and seek the ballot through the state assembly.

Suffice to say, petition gathering in Colorado politics has a long and shady history–and that’s before we even get to Jon Keyser! Fast forward to this weekend–the ad you see above for signature gatherers to work in Centennial where Rep. Sullivan’s district is located is from a company called Northwest Petition Management. The registered agent for Northwest Petition Management is Chloe Taylor, daughter of Tracy Taylor–the same operative caught on camera in 2013 spilling the beans about Kennedy Enterprises’ business model. This is all very consistent with our understanding of the network of companies and subcontractors in Dan Kennedy’s orbit–often existing for the purpose of concealing the the better-known individual players involved.

The involvement of these highly dubious operatives in the petition campaign against Rep. Sullivan confirms a few important facts: first, that there is ample funding available to pay the premium per-signature fee charged by these gatherers. But more importantly, a network of unscrupulous operators with an undeniable history of fraud and criminal hires going back years and including last year’s gubernatorial race has been hired once again to go door-to-door in Colorado neighborhoods. The potential problems with this range from simple petition fraud and identity theft to…well, much worse. With all of this in mind, there are both moral, with respect to Rep. Sullivan and the agenda he ran on, and entirely selfish grounds for declining to go near their petition gatherers.

It’s not by accident, folks. At this point no one involved can claim ignorance. If you make the decision to hire these people knowing what everyone knows today, their shady methods are a feature not a bug.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 30)

Was that the dog, or did you just release some “molecules of U.S. freedom?” 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…

President Trump is in Colorado today to give the commencement speech at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

 

An effort to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora) continues to reflect poorly on Colorado Republicans. Arapahoe County Republican Party Vice Chair Brenda Stokes says that Sullivan “shamefully politicized his son’s death” in sponsoring red flag legislation this year. Sullivan’s son was killed in the 2012 Aurora Theater shooting.

 

► President Trump is trying to navigate the aftermath of the first public comments from special counsel Robert Mueller, in which Mueller made clear that his investigation did NOT exonerate Trump. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump on Thursday attacked Robert S. Mueller III as “totally conflicted” and “a true never-Trumper” and claimed that the special counsel would have brought charges against him if he had any evidence — a characterization directly at odds with what Mueller said in a public statement Wednesday.

Trump’s attacks came in morning tweets and later while speaking to reporters at the White House. In one of his tweets, he also seemingly acknowledged for the first time that Russia had helped him get elected in 2016 — but he strongly pushed back against that notion while talking to reporters as he prepared to leave Washington…

…Trump caused a kerfuffle earlier in the morning after seeming to acknowledge for the first time that Russia had helped him in 2016.

“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. [Pols emphasis] It was a crime that didn’t exist.”

Shortly afterward, however, he told reporters at the White House that Russia had not helped him get elected.

As Greg Sargent writes for the Washington Post, Trump can’t put this one back in the bag. Meanwhile, CNN fact-checks Trump’s newest list of lies.

 

 Colorado Gov. Jared Polis today released his “roadmap to 100% renewable energy by 2040” plan for fighting Climate Change.

In related news, Glenwood Springs is now the 7th city in the United States to be powered by 100% renewable energy.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Arapahoe GOP Official: Rep. Tom Sullivan “Shamefully Politicized His Son’s Death”

(That’s just twisted – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Explaining her reasons for supporting a recall of Colorado State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D – Aurora), Arapahoe Republican Party Vice Chair Brenda Stokes told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger that Sullivan politicized his son’s murder.

“You have a politician, who ran on a campaign that sadly politicized the loss of his son… and forgot about the important issues that us parents are faced with, especially with those horrible bills that just passed the state legislature.”

Reached for comment, Stokes reaffirmed her belief:

“Tom Sullivan took out-of-state money –from Bloomberg in particular– and ran on a platform which sadly in my opinion, and it will always be my opinion, he shamefully politicized the death of his son at the Aurora shooting, which tells me he cannot be independent when it comes to some of the legislation that affects other people.”

Sullivan’s son Alex was one of twelve people murdered in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting. Strengthening Colorado’s gun safety laws by establishing Extreme Risk Protection Orders was a primary message of his campaign.

Colorado Republican Party Vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown filed the Sullivan recall petition. She says she did so as a private citizen, rather than as a party official. Party chair Ken Buck affirmed her claim, despite having campaigned for his party position by saying “we need to teach [Democrats] how to spell RECALL!”

(more…)

Clan Neville Goes Low In Sullivan Recall Ad

Here’s a Facebook ad that started running last Friday from Values First Colorado, the House GOP “independent” message group operated by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s family political consulting group Rearden Strategic:

Let’s briefly go over the problems with this ad beyond the distasteful fake mug shot–the allegation that Rep. Tom Sullivan supports “spending tax dollars on heroin” stems from a silly-season amendment proposed to the budget by Rep. Dave Williams as a “gotcha” political gimmick. Although various policies to address the opioid crisis were debated this year, nothing even remotely close to “supporting heroin” was ever even introduced let alone voted on.

In other words, it’s complete bullshit.

But the far more significant development this ad represents is direct spending by the Neville political operation on the Sullivan recall. Although Rocky Mountain Gun Owners headed by longtime single-issue gadfly Dudley Brown has received the majority of the press since the launch of the Sullivan recall two weeks ago, this ad is paid for by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s in-house organization. This isn’t an unexpected development, given that Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown who filed the Sullivan recall is also the registered agent for a number of Neville-linked committees.

But this just reinforces a fact that needs restating as many times as necessary until it’s driven home: the Sullivan recall is not just about Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. The Sullivan recall campaign is sanctioned by and operated from the highest levels of the Colorado Republican Party. Kristi Burton Brown’s absurd attempt to distance her actions from her position as vice chair of the Colorado GOP is undermined even further by the GOP House Minority Leader’s political machine directly engaging in the recall against Sullivan.

No more scapegoating Dudley Brown, Republicans with a conscience. You have to own this.

The Real Overreach: Sullivan Breaks GOP Recall Strategy

Rep. Tom Sullivan (D).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tate “Skeptical” about Campaign to Recall Sullivan

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Jack Tate (R).

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

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

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

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

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

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Colorado GOP Can’t Just Get A Little Bit Pregnant

State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial) speaks about his support for “Red Flag” legislation earlier this year.

After the announcement last week of approved recall petitions to circulate against freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan of HD-37 Centennial filed by Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown, a major disagreement has erupted within the Republican coalition with a significant faction including Sullivan’s ousted Republican predecessor Cole Wist condemning the effort of both morally and strategically self-destructive for the GOP.

Faced with this unexpected intraparty criticism, as Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports, there’s an effort underway now to distance the actions of the Colorado GOP vice chair from the party as a whole:

“I would like definitely like to emphasize I’m doing this in my individual capacity as a citizen and a parent in House District 37,” Brown said. “Yes, I happened to be the vice-chair of the party, but I considered filing this recall before I got elected.”

Brown was elected to party leadership alongside Chairman Ken Buck on March 30. The “red flag” gun bill, one of the chief irritants that critics cite as the reason for the recall, passed the legislature April 1 and Gov. Jared Polis signed it 11 days later. Buck has called for the state party to be more active in recalls, but didn’t say what the official role would be in this instance.

“Kristi initiated the recall effort in her personal capacity, not as part of her leadership role with the state party. We will evaluate the HD 37 recall as it proceeds, just as we do with any potential recall or election,” Buck said.

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The distinction between a Colorado Republican Party which has openly embraced the recall strategy to blunt increasingly landslide Democratic victories in general election and one of the state party’s highest officer’s personal action to initiate the recall of Rep. Sullivan is, in a word, preposterous. It’s a direct result of the condemnation of this recall attempt in particular by fellow Republicans, which makes it difficult for the party apparatus to publicly engage as party chair Rep. Ken Buck promised they would.

As readers know, vice chair Kristi Burton Brown’s principal allies in her “personal” campaign to recall Rep. Sullivan are House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, both of whom view recalling Sullivan as a step to restoring their own damaged credibility after 2018’s heavy losses.

To summarize, you have a Colorado Republicans led by officials who have promised to support recalls, and a recall effort against a freshman House member initiated by the party’s vice chair and supported by the House minority leader’s political machine. Yet we’re being asked to believe that this is not a campaign sanctioned by the highest levels of the Colorado GOP–which is conveniently also what allows the Sullivan recall’s Republican opponents to focus their anger on the lightning rod of RMGO instead of acknowledging the bigger problem.

The campaign to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was murdered in the Aurora shooting leading to Sullivan’s run for office on a platform of gun safety, is being run in-house by the Colorado Republican Party far more than any previous effort–including the recalls of 2013. Being by orders of magnitude the most divisive recall effort yet undertaken, including everything that happened in 2013, this is either a sign of a brazenness we haven’t seen before from a major state party or severe mismanagement that is going to further damage an already severely weakened coalition.

If you’re a Republican and against the Sullivan recall, it’s not enough to idly say so while hunting scapegoats.

It’s time to make a choice. What are you willing to live with and still call yourself a Republican?

Rally For Our Rights: Start The Revolution Without ‘Em

We’ve been accused from time to time of posting photos of protest events that don’t quite capture the size and power of a crowd turning out to rally at the Capitol. Sometimes, like with the Women’s March events whose crowd size could literally be determined from orbit, this isn’t really an issue–but for Republicans hoping to avoid what seems to be perpetual embarrassment, it’s really very important that we get their crowd sizes “right.”

So above you can see what we think is the most flattering view of yesterday’s Rally For Our Rights protest at the Colorado Capitol–that’s everybody, right? We haven’t done a formal count of every visible head in this photo but we can’t imagine it’s more than a hundred people. It would be interesting to compare the list of attendees at yesterday’s pint-sized rally with the similarly underwhelming crowd at the previous week’s “Stand For Colorado” rallies and see how many of them attended both.

And again, for comparison, this is what a protest march in Denver can look like:

This year, Republicans have complained as loudly as they have since (not coincidentally) the last time Democrats had full control of lawmaking in this state in 2013, and vowed revenge. To listen to conservative activists tell the story to their gullible base, Democrats have taken Coloradans’ voting rights, gun rights, parental rights, and mineral rights all in one 120-day session–enough to drive any talk radio listener to distraction.

So where are the crowds of angry protesters?

The short answer is, they don’t exist. There is a core group of local conservative protesters who organize these recurring events, attend them all, yet despite all their agitation fails to grow into a mass movement no matter how much “momentum” conservatives feel they have at any given time.

On the issue chiefly motivating political backlash among gun owners thus year, the state’s new Extreme Risk Protect Order law to temporarily remove guns from persons judged in court to be a treat to themselves or others enjoys north of 80% public support in Colorado polling. We wouldn’t be surprised if that number has softened in the face of widespread misinformation about the law’s effects during debate this year, but it’s still heavily supported both here in Colorado and across the nation.

Setting aside their limitless bluster,  the reason these people can’t build a crowd to support there issue is there is no such crowd. This is now, just like in 2013, an angry sliver of the electorate making threats above their fighting weight. Does that mean they don’t matter, or can’t do political damage? Of course not.

But they’re not a majority. Not even close.

Get More Smarter on Friday (May 17)

Go forth and make us proud, graduates. It’s time “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Supporters of President Trump would love for you to believe that the investigation into Trump’s campaign and potential collusion/obstruction involving contacts with Russia should be classified “case closed.” The reality is much more complicated, as the Washington Post reports:

A federal judge on Thursday ordered that prosecutors make public a transcript of a phone call that former national security adviser Michael Flynn tried hard to hide with a lie: his conversation with a Russian ambassador in late 2016.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington ordered the government also to provide a public transcript of a November 2017 voice mail involving Flynn. In that sensitive call, President Trump’s attorney left a message for Flynn’s attorney reminding him of the president’s fondness for Flynn at a time when Flynn was considering cooperating with federal investigators.

The transcripts, which the judge ordered be posted on a court website by May 31, would reveal conversations at the center of two major avenues of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election…

…Sullivan also ordered that still-redacted portions of the Mueller report that relate to Flynn be given to the court and made public.

Chris Cillizza of CNN lays out one big lesson from this news:

At nearly every turn of the probe into Russian interference into the 2016 election, President Donald Trump was working to make sure Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, knew that the White House was on his side — and that the President himself thought Flynn was a good guy.

Now we seem to know why.

Trump was worried — and it turns out, rightly — that Flynn knew things that would be problematic for the President as it related to Russia. And that if Flynn cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe — as he eventually did — it would have negative consequences for the administration. Court records released Thursday night revealed previously unknown details of Flynn’s cooperation.

 

Recall fever in Colorado is exposing some significant bad blood between Republicans and the “no compromises” gun group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

 

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is working hard on trying to brand himself as a supporter of LGBTQ rights. The organization “One Colorado” isn’t buying it.

 

Colorado’s outdoor industry is bracing for massive financial hits because of President Trump’s trade war with China; one local retailer says that “people will be shocked” at the extent of necessary price increases. Colorado’s economy in general is not well-positioned to withstand heavy losses from rising tariffs.

Meanwhile, a proposed aid package for American farmers harmed by Trump’s trade war could reach $20 billion.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Sullivan Recall Implosion: Whining About RMGO Is Not Enough

Cory Gardner with Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

The week’s political news in Colorado has been dominated by the approval of petitions to recall freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial, a campaign kicked off by the vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party Kristi Burton Brown with support from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s family political consulting operation. As most of our readers know, Tom Sullivan’s son Alex was murdered in the July 2012 Aurora theater mass shooting, which led to Tom’s run for office on an unapologetic platform of enacting gun safety legislation.

The announcement of the recall against Sullivan has been met with severe and in some notable cases bipartisan backlash, with Democrats morally outraged by the threat to Sullivan for keeping his most sacred campaign promise and some moderate Republicans fearfully warning that the attempt will backfire with the voting public in HD-37–cementing Democratic control of a winnable swing seat for Republicans, and sideswiping the credibility of attempts to recall lawmakers in other parts of the state.

In a Denver Post column today, conservative writer Krista Kafer sums up the desired frame for Republicans who see the danger of going ahead with the recall of Rep. Sullivan, laying 100% of the blame for the situation at the feet of RMGO–to the exclusion of “Republicans” Kafer calls on to stand up to RMGO as though they are a distinct entity:

It is not enough to condemn behind closed doors RMGO’s depraved behavior, as many do. The GOP needs to openly rebuke these tactics and to act to ensure they fail. I am calling on my fellow Republicans and fellow gun owners to refuse to sign the recall petition against Rep. Tom Sullivan and to vote against the measure should it come to that.

There will be opportunity in the 2020 election to hold this legislature accountable for its actions. The legislature passed several pieces of legislation that are antithetical to economic prosperity, personal freedom, and constitutional rights. Ideas have consequences and the cost of these harmful laws will be evident over time. Republicans can make a strong case that new leadership is warranted. If, however, Republicans do not oppose the morally corrupt tactics of RMGO, we will not deserve to make a comeback.

Since news of the Sullivan recall broke early this week, there’s been a consistent effort by Republicans who don’t support it to insulate the Colorado Republican Party as a whole from the recall effort. The problem with this, of course, is that the recall was filed by the vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party. With the party making no attempt to distance themselves from the actions of Colorado GOP’s vice chair, no one else should either.

But even that’s not the full picture: over many years and accelerating after the 2013 recall elections, RMGO has worked successfully to install their favored candidates by winning Republican primaries. That reshaping of the Republican caucus is a major reason why close RMGO ally Patrick Neville was able hold on to his minority leadership position even after 2018’s devastating losses and allegations of mismanagement.

Whether it’s a genuine moral objection as is plainly the case from Rep. Sullivan’s Republican predecessor Rep. Cole Wist, who admits now that he was “in denial” of the extent of RMGO’s control of the Colorado Republican Party, or simple lucidity of the destructive political consequences of recalling the father of an Aurora shooting victim over gun safety legislation, the bottom line is the same: the problem is bigger than Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. In fact, vilifying RMGO while the party they effectively control carries out RMGO’s agenda makes everyone who engages in that diversion culpable.

And until the “civil” Republican talking heads accept that, Kafer is right: they don’t deserve a comeback.

Former Rep. Cole Wist Blasts RMGO, Recalls in New Op-Ed

Former Republican State Rep. Cole Wist is fed up with right-wing recall madness.

Earlier this week, former Republican Rep. Cole Wist raised eyebrows with a direct and thorough rebuke of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) and their latest recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora). What makes this particularly noteworthy is that Wist was defeated by Sullivan in the 2018 election cycle, in part because RMGO went after him for his 2018 support of “red flag” legislation.

In an Op-Ed published today by The Colorado Sun, Wist elaborates on his social media comments from earlier in the week and goes into greater detail about the recall grift that we have regularly discussed in this space:

Too many in politics are in it for their own personal gain, not any actual desire to affect policy or make life better for our communities

Take my experience as an example. I sponsored a bill that was opposed by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a group whose stated purpose is to advocate for gun rights. They didn’t like my bill, so they raised money to attack me and littered my district with nasty fliers hoping to elect my Democratic opponent, Tom Sullivan, who is an outspoken supporter of sweeping gun control.

Why would a group that says it’s about gun rights help elect a gun control supporter? Well, so they can raise more money. And that’s just what they are doing now. They are trying to recall Tom Sullivan, whom they helped elect, so they can raise more money. [Pols emphasis]

Since the 2018 election, it seems there has been a steady drumbeat for recall elections. What’s behind recall fever? Yes, many voters are frustrated with sweeping legislation passed by the legislature this year on a number of fronts, but for many trying to instigate these recalls, it’s mostly about money and feeding the political election machine.

Wist later makes it clear that while he disagrees with Sullivan’s politics, he doesn’t dispute what happened in November:

I disagree with Rep. Sullivan on a number of policies. And, I am opposed to numerous pieces of legislation that he voted for this last session. However, Rep. Sullivan won the election, and I lost. He ran on gun control and then pursued it.

Recall enthusiasts are still pushing their nonsense rhetoric, of course, as Nic Garcia reports for the Denver Post:

Yet, according to the Republicans behind the recall, Sullivan duped voters.

When I pushed Kristi Brown – the state GOP’s vice chair and leader of the charge to recall Sullivan – on this logic, she acknowledged Sullivan’s track record as a gun control activist. But she added that the legislation he sponsored went further than a previous version of the bill. She added that his votes on sex ed and oil and gas reform were part of the “overreach.”

RMGO leader Dudley Brown

One of the major problems with this, um, logic is that RMGO’s Dudley Brown already blew it up in an interview with RealVail.com last week:

REAL VAIL: Some sheriffs and prosecutors who supported red flag last year, including Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek, switched sides this year and opposed it. Why do you think that is? Did the bill change that much from 2018 to 2019?

BROWN: Nope, I don’t think they were that different, last year and this year’s bill. [Pols emphasis] I don’t think it was different enough to warrant some massive swing. It’s just this year sheriffs are able to read the tea leaves and that their constituents are now understanding what the concept of red flag is. And now they’re realizing that they’re going to face a big backlash from their constituents if they’re forced to carry out these, quote, protection orders. They don’t want to do it.

It’s tough to claim that the Sullivan recall is about “overreach” when one of the recall leaders admits that the “red flag” legislation that so angers them wasn’t much different than a similar bill in 2018. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of the meaning of the word “overreach.”

Efforts to recall Democratic lawmakers in Colorado are about two things, and two things only: 1) Making money for Republican consultants, and 2) trying to find a back door for Republicans to capture seats that they can’t otherwise win in a regular election. Every other rationale is just another way to justify one of the first two reasons.

Neville: Removal of Ryan Call As Chair of Fundraising Committee Would Be “Wise Move”

(It’s war. For Colorado Republicans, it’s always war. – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

Republican leaders expressed what appeared to be cathartic disagreement yesterday over whether to support a move by Colorado’s Republican Party to recall a state lawmaker for backing a gun-control bill, after the lawmaker, whose his son died in the Aurora theater massacre, campaigned on the issue.

The dispute prompted a top Colorado Republican to say it would be a “wise move” to oust the former leader of the Republican Party from his chairmanship of a key GOP fundraising committee.

Colorado’s GOP House minority leader, Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, made the comment on KNUS radio during day of intense infighting among conservatives, which opened wounds, inflicted by Republicans on themselves, that have been festering under the party’s skin for at least a decade here.

The pain was evident on Twitter, where warriors representing factions of the Republican Party put aside restraints and publicly denounced one another’s stances.

After a conservative radio host Chuck Bonniwell slammed Tyler Sandberg, who was former U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s campaign manager, for telling a news site that Trump has a “less than zero” chance of winning in Colorado, Sandberg tweeted, “Chuck, take my advice, put down the meth pipe.”

But the proposed recall campaigns, opposed by the deep-pocked oil and gas industry and other corporations, were the focus of most of the day’s debate.

Former Colo GOP Chair Ryan Call came out against the recall campaign of State Rep. Tom Sullivan of Aurora, which led to this conversation on KNUS 710-AM’s Chuck and Julie Show, with Neville and hosts Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden:

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 15)

May 15 is Peace Officers Memorial Day. It’s time “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

A memorial service will be held today for Kendrick Castillo, the 18-year-old STEM school student who likely saved the lives of many of his classmates when he intervened during a shooting at the Highlands Ranch school last week.

 

► The Republican-controlled state legislature in Alabama on Tuesday passed the most restrictive abortion law in the country. Chris Cillizza of CNN explains where this is all headed:

The state’s Republican governor — Kay Ivey — is expected to sign it. When she does, two things will happen: 1) Alabama will become the state with the country’s most restrictive abortion law and 2) the law will immediately become fodder for the swirling debate over if (and when) the Supreme Court might consider overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

That two-pronged goal was clearly the intent of the bill’s sponsor — state Rep. Terry Collins (R), who said after the vote: “This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn, because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection.”…

…The point here is two-fold. First, there’s no doubt that legislation like the abortion ban in Alabama is aimed at the larger goal of prohibiting abortion nationwide. Second, the court has been mysterious enough on the issue to make it very difficult to predict with certainty how it might rule — and when — on these challenges to Roe.

 

► Allies of the United States are voicing their skepticism over an aggressive military shift against Iran. From the New York Times:

As the Trump administration draws up war plans against Iran over what it says are threats to American troops and interests, a senior British military official told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday that he saw no increased risk from Iran or allied militias in Iraq or Syria.

A few hours later, the United States Central Command issued an unusual rebuke: The remarks from the British official — Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, who is also the deputy commander of the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State — run “counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from U.S. and allies regarding Iranian-backed forces in the region.”…

…“We are aware of their presence clearly and we monitor them along with a whole range of others because of the environment we are in,” General Ghika said.

But he said, “No, there has been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria.”

As Politico reports, Trump administration officials will brief Congressional leaders on Thursday about their latest saber-rattling (or sabre-rattling, if you prefer) over Iran.

 

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WTF: Bizarre Sullivan Recall Launch Confounds Colorado Politics

UPDATE #2: The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:

The Republican who lost his seat last year to Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan said Tuesday that he does not support efforts to recall Sullivan over the recently passed red-flag bill.

Cole Wist’s remarks came a day after paperwork was filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office that allows Sullivan’s critics to begin collecting signatures. Sullivan, of Centennial, has been a vocal gun control proponent since his son, Alex, died in the Aurora theater shooting.

—–

UPDATE: Former GOP Rep. Cole Wist, who lost in 2018 to Rep. Tom Sullivan after Rocky Mountain Gun Owners turned on him, denounces the recall attempt:

This is truly a remarkable moment in Colorado politics.

—–

GOP operative Tyler Sandberg slams RMGO.

We’re less than 24 hours into the attempted recall of freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial by Kristi Burton Brown, the vice-chair of the Colorado Republican Party and longtime ally of the Neville family of politicians and operatives–who are in turn closely linked with the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the hard-right single-issue advocacy group with a reputation for bloodying fellow Republicans in pursuit of caucus unity.

But by far most notable about yesterday’s oddly low-key launch is the highly visible and public lack of Republican consensus on initiating this recall attempt–with the substantial wing of the party not aligned with RMGO denouncing the group, the Nevilles, and the hit on Rep. Sullivan. Colorado Public Radio:

“Recalls can identify people, but it also can strengthen elected officials that survive them. The long-term strategy has to be to win November elections,” said Republican political consultant Michael Fields, who heads Colorado Rising Action.

Former GOP chairman Ryan Call said initiating recalls is “a dramatic departure from the historic role and practice of the Republican party in Colorado.” He added that the party historically gets behind recall efforts if there’s malfeasance or if someone in public office is acting in a way that doesn’t align with campaign pledges, which he doesn’t see as the case here.

“We have seen a pretty significant shift in public policy under single-party control of state government, but Democrats are pretty much governing how they promised they would,” [Pols emphasis] Call said. “Voters may have hoped for a more balanced and bipartisan approach, but what we saw during the legislative session is consistent with what most Democratic candidates said they would do while they were running.”

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette confirmed RMGO’s eager involvement in his story today, which anyone with knowledge of Kristi Burton Brown’s ties with the Neville political machine could already have surmised:

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a hard-line Second Amendment advocacy group, is committed to help Kristi Brown oust Sullivan, said Dudley Brown, executive director of RMGO.

“I welcome any group that wants to jump in on it,” Kristi Brown said. “A lot of Colorado parents in my district are upset with Rep. Sullivan and the way he voted.”

The response to yesterday’s news that Rep. Sullivan would be the next Democrat targeted for recall, especially the unenthusiastic response from fellow Republicans, underscores a longstanding divide between the Neville/RMGO axis anchored by Minority Leader Patrick Neville and the rest of the Republican establishment in the state. The recent exposure of highly questionable management of the 2018 House campaigns managed by the Nevilles, which resulted in the smallest GOP House minority in decades, has put the once-formidable political dynasty on the defensive–enough so that they were given a dubious welcome at best when they arrived to “help” with the now-defunct recall campaign against Rochelle Galindo.

But more importantly, going after Tom Sullivan, whose powerful backstory inspires both personal sympathy and support for his agenda of reducing gun violence, is politically hazardous to the point of being totally inexplicable. We’ve talked to a number of smart people on both sides of the aisle, and literally no one can understand why RMGO would start with Rep. Sullivan, kick off the campaign against Sullivan without other targets among which to distribute the backlash–and above all let the news break with no attempt to control the message. To say this is not how you’re supposed to do things is an understatement, and we’re left wondering if they simply didn’t care how it looks to the outside world.

Either way, there is a bipartisan consensus following yesterday’s news that a recall of Rep. Sullivan would be a grave mistake–both objectively for our state’s politics, and politically for Republicans. And that is something we did not expect to see, at least not so quickly and so openly. After years of struggling for dominance within the GOP, the overreach of this recall attempt could represent the beginning of the end for the Nevilles and RMGO.

And Now They’re Trying to Recall Tom Sullivan

UPDATE #2: Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland confirms that the recall against Rep. Tom Sullivan was initiated by none other than Colorado GOP vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown:

A campaign to try to recall Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial from office is official. The effort is directly linked to the Colorado Republican Party — which historically has stayed out of many recall efforts and not initiated them.

“Rep. Tom Sullivan needs to be recalled because, like the rest of the Democrats in the legislature this session, he did not represent the families of Colorado,” said Kristi Burton Brown, an attorney and the vice-chair of the Colorado Republican Party. She filed the request with the secretary of state.

Kristi Burton Brown has a long association with the Neville political machine, serving as the filing agent for the Values First “independent expenditure” group that (mis)managed the 2018 House GOP’s defeats. The vigorous pushback this attempt seems to be getting from within the Republican Party is indicative of a serious intraparty divide–in addition to what’s expected to be overwhelming public distaste for recalling the father of an Aurora shooting victim for passing popular gun safety legislation.

What happens next? We’ll all find out together. But it’s not going to be pretty.

—–

UPDATE: The problems here are obvious…

—–

State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial) speaks about his support for “Red Flag” legislation earlier this year.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, which bills itself as “Colorado’s only no-compromise gun rights organization,” has been teasing out some sort of announcement that would appear to be related to another recall attempt of a sitting lawmaker. It’s probably no coincidence that a recall petition was filed this afternoon against freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora), who has been on the receiving end of mean words from RMGO head honcho Dudley Brown because of Sullivan’s strong support for a “red flag” bill that passed through the Colorado legislature this year.

For anyone who follows Colorado politics and the current state of right-wing recall fever, this is a predictable turn of events — particularly considering Brown’s considerable hubris and his need to raise money to support his militant organization. The irony is nevertheless impossible to ignore given the circumstances of the 2018 election.

Last year, Sullivan defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Cole Wist in HD-37 by an 8-point margin. In the run-up to the November election, Wist was attacked by RMGO over his support of “red flag” legislation. Brown has since claimed Wist as a political scalp, though Sullivan’s 8-point margin of victory makes that assertion fairly ridiculous. Here’s Brown in a new interview published today by David O. Williams of RealVail.com:

REAL VAIL: Red flag had Republican sponsorship last year from former state Rep. Cole Wist and even the National Rifle Association said it was open to some forms of the law. Why not RMGO?

Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners

BROWN: Cole Wist, he lied to me last year when I called him and said, ‘I heard you were working on red flag. Oh no, I’m not.’ And then we filed a [Colorado Open Records Act request] and found out, yes, he was. And he had been lying to me all along. And so we went out and lit-dropped his district and mailed and we put a little bit of effort into ruining his life. And he paid the price. [Wist lost to primary red flag sponsor Rep. Tom Sullivan, a Democrat who lost his son in the Aurora theater shooting.] [Pols emphasis]

RV: Is that why not a single Republican backed red flag this year, out of fear of RMGO?

DB: I know a lot of RINOs [Republicans In Name Only] all bellyached about, ‘RMGO didn’t play on the team.’ We’re not owned by the Republican Party and when Republicans don’t play on the pro-gun team, we will piss in their ice bowl. We don’t care. [Pols emphasis]

Brown is now taking time away from pissing in the ice bowl of Republicans (whatever the hell that means) to go after Sullivan. Some Colorado Republicans are less than amused by RMGO’s recall quest:

To recap, RMGO is trying to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed in the Aurora Theater shootings, because of his support of “red flag” legislation that polling shows has the support of 80% of Colorado voters. This comes less than a week after the deadly shooting at a STEM school in Highlands Ranch, and a month after hundreds of schools in the Metro Denver area were locked down because of a threat from a Florida woman who flew to Denver and immediately bought a shotgun and ammunition at a gun store near Columbine High School.

No, this doesn’t make any sense. But somebody’s got to pay the bills for Dudley Brown.

“Stand For Colorado” Rallies–The Power Of Dozens

UPDATE: Colorado Public Radio reports from Grand Junction’s sleeper of a “Stand for Colorado” rally:

When 89-year-old Tom Foster saw only a few people mulling around, he thought he had the wrong time.

“You know, at my age, I’m accused of that every once in a while,” he said with a smile.

Foster was intent on staying, however, and said he was “disappointed” in people. He believes their “apathy” is helping erode the Constitution and the U.S. as a whole.

Clearly, revolution is at hand.

—–

Stand for Colorado rally in Grand Junction.

Last week we took note of conservative rallies scheduled for Friday evening across the state, organized by a Denver AM radio host in protest of Democratic control of the state government and the results of this year’s action-packed legislative session. Featuring a variety of speakers representing the Republican political coalition from the oil and gas industry to religious activists protesting “the hypersexualization of our children,” these rallies received a considerable amount of pre-event publicity from local media–enough that a large turnout wasn’t an unreasonable expectation.

Except, as the Denver Post reports and you can see from the photo above, not so much!

Late Friday afternoon, about 200 conservatives stood at the west steps of the Capitol for 90 minutes and cheered while activist speakers denounced nearly every major Democratic bill of the 2019 session as byproducts of socialism, corruption, sexual promiscuity or government overreach.

“We are wild, we are crazy and we’re going to force local control right down their throats, the way they forced (Senate Bill) 181 down our throats,” said Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, referring to an oil and gas regulation bill…

Organizers reiterated repeatedly that their theme was “Freedom versus force.” California was said to be controlling Colorado’s votes and its policies. Planned Parenthood was said to be grooming future abortion customers by teaching sex education. Public school students were said to be “marinating in ideas like capitalism is evil and socialism is not that bad.”

Headline from the Grand Junction Sentinel (5/11/19)

Two hundred protesters was the very generous estimate given for the biggest of the “Stand for Colorado” rallies at the state capitol in Denver by the Post, which may have been more like half that depending on your camera angle. In other cities it was more like a handful of local conservative usual suspects–the Grand Junction Sentinel’s glass-half-full count of the rally there was “more than 50.” Which leads to the next question: objectively speaking, was this turnout a failure? A show of weakness for bellicose conservatives where they put so much effort into demonstrating grassroots power?

Seriously, how the hell is it not? Rally crowd size isn’t the sole indicator of support, of course, but if throw one you need to not embarrass yourself. After the high bar set in recent years by (clockwise from top) Women’s Marches, public school teacher walk-outs, Jeffco students rallying to save AP History, and one of numerous protests in support of abortion rights outside Sen. Cory Gardner’s offices in 2017, the same couple hundred protesters showing up to listen to the same intemperate speeches they’ve been hearing since the birth of the “Tea Party” movement just doesn’t pack the intimidating punch it’s supposed to.

We’ve said it before–if you can’t compete, don’t try.

BREAKING: Rep. Rochelle Galindo Will Resign

UPDATE: Denver Post:

[P]olice would not specify the nature of the complaint against Rep. Rochelle Galindo, a first-term House Democrat representing Greeley, saying it is “sealed,” though not by a judge.

Police last week received a complaint naming Galindo, Greeley police Sgt. Kyle Peltz said Sunday night — after Galindo announced her resignation.

“It is currently being investigated,” Peltz said. “It has been sealed due to the ongoing investigation.”

—–

Rochelle Galindo (D).

News breaking this Sunday afternoon we’ll be working through all week, freshman Democratic Rep. Rochelle Galindo of Greeley, who was facing a recall campaign against her presently in the signature gathering phase, will resign following an as-yet unspecified allegation Galindo denies but accepts will end her term in office:

It has been the honor of my life to serve as the Representative for State House District 50. I have served my community to the best of my ability have given a voice for the underrepresented. With that, it is with great sadness that I announce that I will be resigning my seat as the Representative for State House District 50 effective immediately.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Rep. Rochelle Galindo Announces Resignation

(May 12) – Rep. Rochelle Galindo, of House District 50 announces resigation.

“The allegations against me are false. That said, they will make my fight against the pending recall effort untenable. I will not put my constituents through what will surely be a recall campaign based on political smear tactics and false allegations. Instead, I will resign my seat as the elected representative of House District 50, effective immediately,” said Rep. Rochelle Galindo.

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd reports that Democratic House leadership agree with Galindo’s decision:

House Speaker KC Becker and House Majority Leader Alec Garnett issued a response to Galindo’s resignation.

“Today Rep. Galindo submitted a letter of resignation. We agree with Rep. Galindo’s decision to step down at this time and allow someone else to serve the people of House District 50.”

Galindo’s resignation effectively ends the recall campaign underway against her, which despite voluminous bluster from Republicans was the only such campaign to have advanced beyond the rhetorical phase. It remains to be seen how this development may affect those other efforts, which seem based on early fundraising reports to have much more bark than bite. It’s worth remembering that the overwhelming majority of financial support for Galindo’s recall came from a single local donor whose interests may or may not extend beyond his home turf.

With that all necessarily explained, we’re very sad to see Rep. Galindo’s career end this way. At this point, what we don’t know about this situation dramatically exceeds what we do–but we’ll update as that information becomes available.

Get More Smarter on Friday (May 10)

Sunday is Mother’s Day. If you forgot to order flowers, enjoy that premium pricing! It’s time “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Our great negotiator-in-chief Donald Trump is defending his decision to raise import tariffs on some Chinese goods from 10% to 25%, even as economists warn of the damage this could do to businesses in the United States. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump on Friday defended his decision to impose steep tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports and promised that much steeper penalties would follow, putting the rest of the world on notice that he will follow through on his protectionist agenda no matter the blowback. [Pols emphasis]…

…The chain of events that began with higher tariffs and continued through Trump’s tweets have sown unrest in financial markets around the world and have left investors and business executives unsure of what is to come. Trump in the past has threatened severe penalties only to back down days later, but he has also shown a willingness to dig in and trust his instincts, even if advisers have warned against it. He believes the strength of the economy gives him leverage to use aggressive trade tactics.

“At this stage, it is difficult to envision this as a bluff anymore,” said Eswar Prasad, a senior professor of trade policy at Cornell University. “He seems deadly serious about taking on China in a broad economic confrontation irrespective of the consequences to the U.S. economy.” [Pols emphasis]

“No matter the blowback.” Swell.

 

► As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Republicans are quietly — and anonymously — admitting that they don’t have a lot of hope for a big electoral comeback in 2020:

It’ll be nearly impossible for Republicans to win a majority next year in the Colorado House, where GOP candidates could win every competitive district and still fail to net the nine seats necessary to control the chamber.

That Republicans have no hope to win control of the State House won’t surprise many political observers, but even the State Senate could be out of reach for the GOP:

Next year, there won’t be as many narrowly divided districts on the ballot — and Republicans will be playing defense in some tough races, including an open seat in a district that’s trending Democratic.

By general agreement, the Republicans’ top target next year will be Jefferson County’s Senate District 19, held by Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, while the Democrats’ top targets will be Adams County’s Senate District 25, held by Republican Kevin Priola, and Arapahoe County’s Senate District 27, held by Republican Jack Tate, who won’t be seeking another term…

…There is a wild card, however, that could tilt the balance of power in the Senate after the 2020 election. Several threatened recall elections might put additional, off-cycle Senate seats in play next year, opening the door at least a crack to a Republican majority in the chamber.

Speaking of those recall elections, read on…

 

► As we’ve noted in this space on several occasions, the attempted recall elections in various stages of reality in Colorado are all about A) Grift, and B) Republicans looking for a way around General Elections that they can’t seem to win anymore. The “CEO” of the Colorado Republican Party, Steve House, said the quiet part out loud last weekend in Pueblo.

 

 

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