GOP Lawmaker Fresh From D.C. Riots Has “Laryngitis?”

Rep. Ron Hanks (R).

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported Friday on a mystery that emerged last week surrounding newly sworn-in Republican Rep. Ron Hanks, who disappeared after the first day of last week’s abbreviated opening of the Colorado General Assembly and hasn’t been seen since:

The Penrose Republican missed every vote on all seven bills that went through the General Assembly in the first week, including being gone when some of those bills went through a committee he’s assigned to: House State, Civic, Military and Veterans Affairs…

It’s beyond unusual for a first-term lawmaker to miss so many days early on, and Hanks has not returned phone calls or emails from the press about his whereabouts.

Curiously, this story makes no mention of what Rep. Hanks was doing before being sworn in to the state legislature last week–as we discussed in this space, and the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports in her own story this past weekend on Hanks’ absence from the legislature:

A newly elected Colorado Republican lawmaker who attended the president’s Jan. 6 rally [Pols emphasis] has been absent for the majority of the three-day legislative session that started Wednesday…

House Minority Whip Rod Pelton, a Cheyenne Wells Republican, said Hanks informed him he had a “prior commitment” Wednesday. Members are expected to inform the whip of any absences.

House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, said he reached out to Hanks on Thursday. On Friday morning, Hanks texted him and told him he was feeling “under the weather.” McKean did not ask for further details.

Let’s review: Rep. Ron Hanks traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the January 6th rally that degenerated into a violent insurrection attempt and deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol. Our readers know this, but apparently it was news to the Gazette. Hanks then appeared at the Colorado state capitol to be sworn in one week later, only to disappear after being sworn in. Hanks was then absent through the legislature’s temporary month-long adjournment Friday to avoid the COVID-19 pandemic. And only after a good deal of sleuthing by reporters, we find out that Hanks texted GOP Minority Leader Hugh McKean that he’s “under the weather?”

Folks, if every epidemiological alarm bell is not going off in your head right now, 2020 must have passed by without you noticing.

But it’s okay, because as the Gazette continues in their story that somehow managed to forget that Hank had just returned from Washington, D.C., where literally thousands of maskless Trump supporters had exchanged clouds of droplets with one another while protesting/rioting/insurrecting against Donald Trump’s election defeat:

However, as it turns out, there’s a good explanation. According to several sources, including Rick Castor, chair of the Fremont County GOP, Hanks has laryngitis. [Pols emphasis] While he notified Minority Whip Rep. Rod Pelton, R-Cheyenne Wells, that he wasn’t well on Wednesday, he didn’t know he was supposed to check in each day to let people know he wasn’t coming and to be excused, an easy slip-up for a first-term legislator to make.

And then in a final gobsmacking moment of unintended irony:

Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, is glad that Hanks is taking care of himself. If people have learned anything from COVID, it’s that you don’t come to work sick, [Pols emphasis] McKean told Colorado Politics, and he confirmed that he knew Hanks was under the weather.

Rep. Hanks was at the Capitol on Wednesday. That means he did “come to work sick,” or at least by any reasonable COVID-19 pandemic standard in a state where he may well have been contagious. After traveling to Washington D.C., Hanks should have quarantined himself simply out of preventative caution–but obviously, following COVID-19 best practices was very far down the priority list for these people.

It is legitimately shocking that the connection between Hanks’ recent travel and his coming down with any kind of upper respiratory symptom a week later is being idly dismissed as “laryngitis” with some bogus platitudes about how it’s good he didn’t “come to work sick.” With such an obvious transmission vector, why is anyone taking Hanks’ self-diagnosis of “laryngitis” at face value? Who was in close contact with Hanks when he was at the Capitol on Wednesday? Has Rep. Hanks even had a COVID-19 test since he returned from Washington? Why are we the only outlet asking these questions?

The one thing we can say is it’s a big relief the legislature has adjourned until everybody who has to be there as part of their job has been vaccinated. Prevention, after all, is only as strong as its weakest link. Not only is Rep. Ron Hanks kicking off his legislative career with an embarrassing display of COVIDiocy, it’s clear there’s nobody in charge on the right side of the aisle looking out for the health of fellow lawmakers and the public.

Until you’ve had your jabs, keep a safe distance from all such people.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 14)

Happy “Feast of the Ass.” Please celebrate responsibly. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 


► We witnessed history on Wednesday when Donald Trump became the first President in American history to be impeached TWICE — thereby cementing his place as the worst President we’ve ever had.

Congress has voted to impeach three different Presidents, but none with as bipartisan a vote as occurred on Wednesday. Chris Cillizza of CNN looks at one of the more surprising YES votes from the GOP caucus:

When Tom Rice voted “yes” on the impeachment of Donald Trump over the President’s role in inciting the riot that led to the storming of the US Capitol, most close congressional watchers assumed he had made a mistake.

After all, there was little to indicate that the reliably conservative South Carolina Republican would join nine other colleagues in breaking with the President (and the party) to back impeaching Trump. Unlike Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyoming) and Adam Kinzinger (Illinois), Rice hadn’t been an outspoken critic of Trump. And unlike Reps. John Katko (New York) and David Valadao (California), Rice doesn’t represent a swing district.

“Compared to the often raucous members of the state’s congressional delegation, Rice has been more low-profile and focused on his legislative work,” wrote the Almanac of American Politics of Rice, who has represented eastern South Carolina’s 7th district since 2012.

But Rice hadn’t made a mistake or accidentally pressed the wrong button. His vote to impeach was real — and without question, the most surprising of the 10 Republicans who bucked the President.

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post ponders the thought process of the 10 Republicans who voted in favor of impeachment.

You probably don’t need us to tell you how Colorado’s Congressional delegation voted on impeachment. The four Democrats voted YES, while the three Republicans voted NO. We double-checked that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) voted NO, since he seems to change his mind on a topic at least once every 24 hours.


► Trump’s impeachment trial now moves to the U.S. Senate, where it won’t likely be taken up until late next week at the earliest. As The Washington Post and others have reported, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled that he might support impeachment, if only to expedite the process of removing Trump’s presence from the Republican Party.


9News reports on local law enforcement efforts to secure the area around the State Capitol building in advance of planned “protests” in the next week.


► If you thought Colorado Republicans might have learned a lesson from their second consecutive drubbing at the polls in 2020…well, they didn’t. Led by new House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, House Republicans tried a bunch of pointless shenanigans on Wednesday as the state legislature briefly gaveled into session before a recess until Feb. 16 for coronavirus safety precautions.

As Alex Burness of The Denver Post notes:



More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…




Don’t Let Local Republicans Whitewash U.S. Capitol Violence

Rep.-elect Ron Hanks (R).

AP reports via the Colorado Sun on another Colorado state representative who was on the scene at last Wednesday’s deadly insurrectionist riot at the U.S. Capitol–actually a representative-elect, Ron Hanks of Fremont County, who will be sworn in to represent House District 60 tomorrow morning to succeed term-limited Rep. Jim Wilson:

[I]ncoming Colorado state Rep. Ron Hanks, a Republican from Fremont County, told a local radio station last week that he arrived for Trump’s rally at the Ellipse outside the White House early that Wednesday morning of the violence. The president used the occasion to urge supporters to “fight like hell.”

Hanks said he marched with supporters to the U.S. Capitol afterward. “I was a little surprised to see people already on the scaffolding, with the Trump flag, and so forth,” he told Heart of the Rockies Radio in Salida.

“From the standpoint of the violence, two of us went around to the back of building, which is where the next meeting was supposed to form up,” he said, “and by that time people had already entered the building.”

Another AP story with added local detail from the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi:

An incoming Colorado state representative, Republican Ron Hanks of Fremont County, was one of about a dozen lawmakers from at least nine states last week who marched to the U.S. Capitol to support overturning Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win. Only one lawmaker was known to have gotten inside the Capitol and since was charged with a crime and resigned. Others have said they participated peacefully.

Make no mistake, Rep.-elect Hanks claims to be one of the “peaceful” participants outside the Capitol, although there remains some question about that since everyone who proceeded past the U.S. Capitol Police’s original security perimeter well away from the building itself, which is thousands of people, was arguably breaking the law.

“People wearing Trump material that weren’t Trump supporters that managed to make look good people look bad just by uh, blending in” -Rep.-elect Ron Hanks (R).

We wanted to learn more about Rep.-elect Hanks, so we took a moment to listen to his interview on local radio in Salida where he discusses the momentous events of last Wednesday. That’s when we discovered that Rep.-elect Hanks had a lot more to say about Wednesday’s deadly riots at the Capitol than anybody has reported (beginning at 3:00):

HANKS: Now, the one thing that I thought was interesting, Dan, when I looked at the videos when I got home was, we didn’t see anybody wearing gas masks or helmets and I got to tell you I watch those guys dancing around like they were sparring with the police there and they had a lot more energy than I did and anybody else that had been standing out in the cold for 6 or 7 hours.

Uh, it does raise the question where did these people come from and I don’t think most people knew what was happening because they were still approaching and as we were leaving they were we were passing along news to them.

I don’t feel like it’s the same people.  I think we have to consider the reality or the possibility at least that there were people wearing Trump material that weren’t Trump supporters that managed to make look good people look bad just by uh, blending in. [Pols emphasis] Can’t prove it now but I do want people to consider that as a possibility and I will tell you from first-hand standing there those people that I was around and talking to that that’s not the kind of people that that we met…

Ron Hanks can’t prove it, but that doesn’t stop him from speculating! We can’t prove Rep.-elect Hanks has a tiny penis and had to repeat second grade either, but if we want people to “consider that as a possibility,” apparently that’s fair game.

Speaking of fairness, we should note that this interview took place last Thursday morning, at the same time as lots of local Republicans including Rep. Mark Baisley, and Rep. Richard Champion with Wayne Laugesen of the Colorado Springs Gazette who marched on the Capitol Wednesday, were claiming Antifa and not Trump supporters had actually stormed the building. These allegations have not aged well as one authentic Trump “wackadoo” after another gets picked up in the FBI’s widening investigation. Perhaps by now Rep.-elect Hanks has a better answer, but he’s not responding to requests for comment.

There are two lessons here. One is for Republicans who were once again too quick to blame others instead of acknowledge the truth of what the ugly side of their own movement looks like today–and that’s the most charitable explanation, one that assumes they are not themselves culpable. The other lesson is for reporters covering what Republicans are saying about this event. These stories about Rep.-elect Hanks’ presence in the crowd outside the U.S. Capitol Wednesday failed to report Hanks’ outrageous denial of what was actually happening–and most importantly, which side is to blame. And that’s the most important part of what he said.

Now more than ever, Americans need to know the whole ugly stupid truth.


State Rep. Kevin Van Winkle Considering a Run For Congress?

(Don’t sleep through it – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Kevin Van Winkle (R-Highlands Ranch)

Rumors of a Republican statehouse leader considering a run for Congress have been circulating the Colorado Capitol for weeks now, but they focused on former House Minority Leader Patrick Neville. Now it looks like Neville’s former right-hand man, Rep. Kevin Van Winkle (R-Highland Ranch), is also thinking about federal office.

On January 8, someone registered the URL “” The registration is anonymous and Van Winkle did not respond to multiple phone messages requesting comment, so the Colorado Times Recorder is unable to confirm that the representative or his campaign is responsible for the purchasing the domain. This article will be updated with any response received.

Van Winkle, who served as Assistant Minority Leader under Neville, ran to replace him as leader of the House Republicans when they held their caucus elections last November. He lost to Rep. Hugh Mckean (R-Loveland), considered the preferred candidate of establishment GOP leaders eager to show a shift away from Neville’s far-right philosophy after disappointing election results in 2018 and 2020.

Recently Van Winkle helped organize the Legislative Audit Committee hearing that promoted misinformation and conspiracy theories about election fraud nationally and in Colorado. Van Winkle also promoted the same debunked conspiracy theories on right-wing talk radio, appearing w/ Rep. Dave Williams. The pair of legislators went on the air and asked listeners to sign a petition rife with false information.

Colorado’s congressional districts will be redrawn this year, using data from last year’s Census. Given the state’s surging population, Colorado is expected to gain an additional seat, creating a new opportunity of office. With boundaries as yet to be determined, however, it’s anyone’s guess where the new district will be or what if any partisan lean it will have.


2020’s Top Story (Tie): The Pandemic And The Struggle For Justice

If there’s anything we’re sick of in these first days of January 2021, it’s coming up with fresh superlatives to describe the year that just ended. 2020 in the United States and in Colorado was one of the most challenging years in the lifetimes of everyone now living–a true annus horribilis if ever there was one. As we attempted to sort out the top ten stories of political importance in the state of Colorado in 2020, it became clear early on that two separate but intertwining storylines that dominated the news last year needed to be given parity at the very top: the COVID-19 pandemic, and the racial justice movement catalyzed into renewed action by the most recent spate of deaths of Black men in police custody.

President Trump and Gov. Jared Polis.

COVID-19 upends the world

Although Colorado began 2020 dimly aware of a fast-spreading respiratory infection first detected in China in December of 2019, most of us expected at that time that what would become known as COVID-19 would remain a remote threat, perhaps with some high-drama stories about stopping the disease at the border or the first hospital before it could spread. This false sense of security was deliberately promoted by President Donald Trump in the early months of 2020, even though we now know Trump was fully lucid about the danger. The deliberate choice by the Trump administration to downplay the pandemic initially, then to politicize to necessary measures taken by state and local governments to control the spread, is a principal factor in America now having the most cases and deaths from COVID-19 of any nation on Earth.

In Colorado, our Democratic-controlled state government responded to the dual threats of the pandemic and politicization of the response as best they could with limited resources and haphazard-at-best federal assistance. Gov. Jared Polis, one of the richest men in Colorado and keenly aware of the economic damage done by restrictive public health measures, tried desperately to balance the necessary restrictions with the need to keep the economy functional enough to literally feed and house the population of the state. The failure by the federal government to provide sustained economic relief for most of 2020 exacerbated the hardship of the stay-at-home orders, and helped galvanize partisan political resistance to them.

We can’s speak for the results everywhere, but in Colorado, voters were not swayed by this manufactured political dilemma. While it’s possible that COVID-19 restrictions blunted Democratic success in some other states, Republicans in Colorado were shellacked once again by voters who were far more upset about Republican “COVIDiocy” than necessary measures to keep people safe in a pandemic. Now ex-Sen. Cory Gardner tried to reinvent himself from a hard-line fiscal conservative into “Santa Cory,” who voted for every economic relief bill in sight–but Gardner’s close association with Trump’s incompetence, and a major political backfire after Gardner tried to intervene in the co-opting of ventilators ordered by Colorado by the federal government, made a cruel joke of Gardner’s earnest promises. When workers at a meat packing plant in Greeley didn’t get the tests Gardner personally promised before they were forced back on the job, they went public and further damaged Gardner’s credibility.

Because as of this writing the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage out of control, and months remain before a majority of the population is vaccinated allowing pre-pandemic normal life to resume, it’s not possible to fully assess the impact on Colorado politics today. Although the resistance to measures to fight the pandemic became a partisan political battle, the results of the 2020 elections suggest strongly that Republicans in Colorado have lost that battle. Gov. Jared Polis weathered a storm of unhinged attacks and a second half-baked recall attempt and remains popular–coming in for more criticism when he tries to appease the irrational right than when he took action to fight the pandemic. For the majority of Coloradans who have taken a science-based approach in their own handling of this unprecedented crisis, the choice between Polis’ reason and the GOP’s willful ignorance remains easy.



Top Ten Stories of 2020 #3: The Fall of the Neville Clan

Former House Minority Leader Patrick Neville

While 2020 may have been generally terrible for Colorado Republicans, they did finally get one thing right: The GOP finally squirmed away from the Neville Clan.

For years, Colorado Republicans had been beholden to decisions made by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and his political consultant brother, Joe Neville — despite the fact that the Nevilles are demonstrably terrible at politics. The death knell for the Nevilles came after the June Primary Election, in which Neville-backed candidates in a half-dozen Primary races were throttled by their less-looney opponents. When Neville friend Dudley Brown stepped down from his leadership role with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), the writing was on the wall. Patrick Neville announced in October that he would not seek another term as House Minority Leader; he knew full well that he could not win another caucus election.

Republicans started to figure out that the Nevilles were leading them astray after huge losses in the 2018 election, but that wasn’t enough to prevent them from letting Pat Neville and his pals at RMGO drive the disastrous recall train that lumbered through Colorado in 2019. The 2020 Primary Election seemed to be the final straw for Republicans who were annoyed that so much time and money was being spent on smearing fellow Republicans instead of targeting Democrats.

Patrick Neville may yet re-emerge as a Congressional candidate (if the opportunity arose in CO-4), and the Nevilles will likely continue running various political grifting operations so that they can line their own pockets while they simultaneously jab sticks at every other GOP consultant in the state. But it is notable that Republicans are no longer holding back in their criticisms of the Nevilles (see this December story from The Denver Post for more details). Patrick Neville’s petulance, meanwhile, isn’t making him any new friends.

There’s no avoiding the fact that Colorado is now a solid blue state. Republicans have their work cut out for them if they hope to claw back some power in Colorado, but at least they will no longer be fighting with one arm tied behind their back.


Top Ten Stories of 2020 #4: Lunacy Becomes GOP Platform

Republican Rep. Larry Liston (now Senator-elect) during special legislative session on November 30, 2020.

Republicans have not been very competitive in Colorado elections in recent years, helping to turn what was once a swing state into a solid blue rectangle. Republican ineptitude was not a new story in 2020, but there was a different flavor to the Colorado GOP’s brand of nonsense in the weirdest year any of us can remember.

It was perhaps inevitable that Colorado Republicans would further descend into madness in 2020 after spending much of 2019 on rudderless grifting operations they called “recall attempts.” But it still would have been hard to predict just how absurd things would get for GOP politicians in our state. Nobody knew much about Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert at this time a year ago, but now she’s the face of the Colorado Republican Party despite the fact that virtually every news outlet in the state reported that she basically has no idea what she’s talking about on any issue.

The coronavirus pandemic opened up a new rabbit hole for Republicans, who immediately responded to efforts to contain the spread of the virus by declaring that wearing a mask was against freedom and that stay-at-home orders were reminiscent of a “Gestapo-like mentality.” A group of Republican lawmakers, including then-House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, launched a ridiculous effort to convince Douglas County to end its association with the Tri-County Health Department IN THE MIDDLE OF A FREAKING PANDEMIC. Neville, for one, took this as an opportunity to convince a few idiots to give him money so that he could sue Gov. Jared Polis for making people wear masks.

The GOP attack on the Tri-County Health Department also included State Sen. Jim Smallwood, who contracted COVID-19 after inexplicably traveling to California when the state legislature paused all activity in mid-March. In other words, the people who were urging others to disregard health precautions were themselves becoming health risks because they disregarded health precautions. Meanwhile, Republicans were also busy trying to paint the COVID-19 outbreak as a racial issue…up until it turned out that deep red counties were being hit harder than anywhere else.

Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, the new face of the Colorado GOP.

Republican attacks on the Tri-County Health Department ended up going nowhere from a practical standpoint, but they had very real and unsettling consequences elsewhere. In May, for example, Aurora police arrested a man for vandalizing a Tri-County Health office and making all sorts of violent threats. It was not a coincidence that these deranged actions happened after local Republicans began rattling cages about health department officials who were just trying to keep people safe.

Things got even weirder in May after global protests that followed the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers created a new opportunity for Colorado Republican leaders to play the fool. While the rest of us were gripped by rallies and calls for social justice, GOP leaders primarily complained about vandalism in Denver. Some Republican county party leaders were pretty sure that Floyd’s death was just a big ruse of some sort. Others fully supported violent counter-protests around the state. There was even a common refrain that the City of Denver was a burning pile of rubble…something that could be easily verified by anyone who just looked around.

It would take us too long to list every absurd thing that Colorado Republicans said or did in 2020, but here are a couple more examples:

♦ Congressman Ken Buck, who also serves as the State GOP Party Chairman, made a complete fool of himself on Fox News in trying to explain his idea that Antifa was funded by George Soros, or something.

Neville compared the killing of Elijah McClain in 2019 to protestors who tried to super glue themselves to a railing at the state capitol.

♦ Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert was far from the only Republican to express belief in QAnon conspiracy theories.

♦ This ridiculous Op-Ed from Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) speaks for itself.

♦ Rather than spend the last weeks of the 2020 election campaigning for Republicans, a group of activists instead devoted their time and effort on once again not recalling Gov. Polis.

Colorado Republicans enter the new year with their party in tatters. Their highest-ranking statewide elected official is CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, and the GOP might just elect disgraced former Secretary of State Scott Gessler as its new Party Chairman. Republicans need to find candidates for five big statewide races in 2022, but it’s hard to envision anyone but the most far-right candidates emerging from the various Primary elections. Heck, it could still be months before some in the GOP finally stop pretending that Donald Trump was re-elected as President.

Colorado Republicans had a lot of problems well before 2020. Thanks to a year of astonishingly-terrible decisions, the future of the state GOP is considerably bleaker today.


Top Ten Stories of 2020 #7: Not Once, Not Twice, But Thrice


We don’t have to tell you that 2020 has been a strange year. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many Colorado businesses were forced to close their doors; some shut down permanently, while others closed and re-opened and closed and re-opened depending on the level of positive COVID-19 cases in the community.

The Colorado legislature was not immune (pun intended) to the vagaries of 2020. Lawmakers convened as usual in early January, where they were greeted in part by a motley crowd of “protestors” angry at one thing or another. Democrats kicked things off with a focus on health care and transportation funding. For their part, Republicans opened the 2020 legislative session by affirming their commitment to bashing immigrants. All in all, it was a fairly predictable start under the golden dome in Denver.

Things were progressing in a relatively normal fashion until the coronavirus pandemic hit home. By early March, the adults in the room were growing increasingly concerned about the public health problems associated with gathering hundreds of people into a relatively small space day in and day out. On March 14, the legislature adjourned for two weeks in hopes of returning on March 30. That proved to be impractical for coronavirus reasons, forcing lawmakers to wait until mid-May to reconvene.

Only the best people

In the meantime, Republicans tried to prevent the legislature from returning at all in 2020, arguing unsuccessfully that the state Constitution requires the legislature to be in session for 120 consecutive days. After losing that battle about being required to do their damn jobs, Republicans such as State Sen. John Cooke shifted to expressing delight that a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall triggered by the pandemic would make it difficult for Democrats to accomplish any of their goals.

When the legislature finally returned to work in mid-May, there were new arguments to be had. There was much discussion about remote participation at the State Capitol, which Republicans predictably grandstanded against on the general GOP theory that the best way forward in any situation is just to oppose everything. Republicans also generally refused to wear face masks or take other basic COVID-19 precautions. Policy-wise, others in the GOP insisted on fighting back against vaccinations, which was a particularly strange approach when everybody knew that a COVID-19 vaccine was our best bet to exit 2020’s Groundhog Day-esque existence.

Between the first and second parts of the 2020 legislative session, the world had changed considerably. Democratic lawmakers changed, too, passing a landmark police reform bill in response to worldwide protests about civil rights and equal justice sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Yet, the final days of “Legislative Session: Part Deux” were dominated by the familiar asinine antics from Republicans. State Rep. Richard Holtorf mocked lawmakers concerned about their own pre-existing medical conditions. As Kyle Clark of 9News neatly summarized: “…it turned into a battle between legislators who have pre-existing health conditions and another who suggested that they are sissies.”

After a flurry of activity over the course of less than four weeks, the legislature at last closed up the 2020 legislative session on June 15th.

But they weren’t done yet…




Pat Neville Doxxes Reporter In Retaliation For Story

UPDATE: Not going over super well with the local press corps.


Shocked readers forwarded us yesterday this post to outgoing GOP House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s Facebook page:

This weekend, the Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson and Alex Burness did indeed publish an unflattering deep dive into the state of the Colorado Republican Party after another devastating election in 2020 left the party with its smallest minority since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President. And in that story, there was a great deal of criticism of Pat Neville and his family’s for-profit political strategy firm Rearden Strategies, which received big checks to perpetuate failure amid allegations of intraparty score-settling and wholesale neglect of winnable races.

It’s not surprising that quit-before-being-ousted Minority Leader Neville was displeased by a story that laid a considerable degree of blame for the Republican Party’s misfortunes at his feet. But that apparently wasn’t enough. Neville’s Facebook post also included Swanson’s personal information, what’s known as “doxxing,” revealing the reporter’s home address and other personal details. We’re concealed all of this information in the above screenshot, and we won’t be linking to Neville’s post.

It’s difficult to look at this as anything other than a case of outright intimidation. Neville’s close ties with the militant right wing of Colorado politics, from Nazi apologist Michelle Malkin to the so-called “United American Defense Force” militia wing of the political group FEC United, means this could easily be construed as a legitimate risk to the reporter’s safety. While it’s true that the information Neville posted may exist in the voter file or other sources, giving a reporter’s home address to a hostile audience like Neville’s social media following is unambiguously a threatening move.

There’s no excuse. It’s totally unacceptable. And as surely as now-ex Rep. Steve Lebsock crossed a line when he tried to intimidate his detractors, there needs to be accountability for what Neville did here to prevent it from becoming precedent.


Ken Buck Makes Party Chair Exit Official

Rep. Ken Buck (R) pointing at his biggest problem.

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck announced Thursday that he will not seek a second term as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party…

Buck was narrowly chosen for the top spot by the Colorado GOP’s central committee — a gathering of about 400 politicians, party officials and activists — in March 2019, months after Republicans suffered an electoral shellacking in 2018.

This November wasn’t much better for Republicans. Though they mostly held their ground in legislative races, Democratic candidate Joe Biden won the largest presidential margin here in several decades and Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner was easily defeated by Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper.

Taking the job with a bold promise to teach Democrats to “spell R-E-C-A-L-L” after 2018’s historic defeat for Republicans in Colorado, Rep. Ken Buck’s term as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party was an unqualified disaster. The promised recalls failed one after another including the particularly misguided attempt to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed in the Aurora shooting and whose advocacy for gun safety is above reproach. As a result, recalls have turned from a feared weapon of political retaliation in Colorado politics into something of a joke.

Later, during the 2020 primary season, Buck was accused by fellow Republicans in El Paso and Weld Counties of shenanigans including pressuring an official to submit falsified assembly vote counts to the state–incidents that continue to reverberate in recent news stories, and for which Buck remains under investigation by the state’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.

In Congress the last couple of years, Buck hasn’t fared much better. Buck’s attempts to “help” President Donald Trump during investigative hearings that led to Trump’s impeachment became national headlines when his questioning backfired and reaffirmed that Trump could be prosecuted after leaving office. Buck has been an embarrassing spectacle of “COVIDiocy” throughout the pandemic, though we’ll concede that is probably least likely to hurt his image representing a district apparently full of like-minded denialists.

It’s been rumored off and on that Buck might retire from Congress, owing to health issues and/or his supposed disenchantment with Washington politics. For Republicans, it’s clear in retrospect that hiring a part-time GOP chairman was a very bad idea. In a year when Republicans in some other states clawed back gains made by Democrats in the 2018 elections Buck achieved absolutely nothing–and is leaving the Colorado GOP with no vision for the future other than a gaping hole where Donald Trump is supposed to be.

Whoever succeeds Buck won’t just be picking up the pieces. They’ll be starting from scratch, because there is nothing Ken Buck has done for this party that’s worth carrying forward.

Unless you’re a Democrat! In which case this is all going swimmingly.


Crackpot GOP “Election Fraud Hearing” #Fails Very Bigly

Soon-to-be-ex Rep. Lori Saine (R-Not Helping).

Yesterday, as readers know, the Legislative Audit Committee in the Colorado legislature convened at the request of outgoing GOP Rep. Lori Saine to hear “expert testimony” on whether elections in Colorado–carried out in 62 of 64 counties on Dominion Voting Systems hardware–were somehow not free and fair, in so doing supporting the contention by outgoing President Donald Trump, also without evidence, that the recent elections across the nation were rigged.

We predicted yesterday before the hearing “there is a 100% chance that this silly spectacle will accomplish precisely nothing other than making Republicans look like fools.” And as the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul recapped afterward, we were right:

There was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Colorado presented during a day-long, legislative hearing held by Republicans Tuesday on the state’s election integrity. But there was plenty of bipartisan praise for Colorado’s voting systems and processes… [Pols emphasis]

[GOP Rep. Lori] Saine, who lives in Firestone, told The Colorado Sun before the meeting that she called for it after hearing concerns from constituents. “You’ve got certain states with election integrity issues,” she said last week. “But did it happen here in Colorado? It’s really kind of on us to help answer that question. Did it happen here? Did we have widespread fraud?”

The resounding answer from county clerks, Republican former Secretary of States Scott Gessler and Wayne Williams, and even Jenna Ellis, a top attorney for Trump, was no.

Ex-Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R).

In what can best be described as a bizarre anticlimax, instead of raising any legitimate concerns about Colorado elections, fellow Republicans in yesterday’s LAC hearing helped Democrats shut down baseless speculation about the reforms passed in 2013 that have given our state one of the consistently highest rates of voter participation. And when it came to the dreaded Dominion Voting Systems hardware used by almost every Colorado county this year? As Colorado Public Radio reports, former GOP Secretary of State Wayne Williams, under whose leadership Dominion was chosen, was unusually direct:

“I can state that in Colorado, our voting systems accurately record the votes of every Coloradan and we’ve proved it with respect to Dominion 868 times,” Williams told the committee. He also added that in Georgia, which also uses Dominion technology, the results held up after a full hand recount.

“There is no one in Moscow, nobody in Beijing, nobody in Antifa, nobody in the Trump campaign that has changed a single ballot in the state of Colorado [Pols emphasis] because you physically can’t do that unless you broke into the clerk’s office, you bypass the cyber locks,” Williams said. “You somehow circumvented the 24-7 video surveillance and the security protocols that are in place.”

Republican Scott Gessler, a former Secretary of State and election attorney, also testified, telling the panel, “I think Dominion has generally performed very well in Colorado.”

It’s just stunning to us how far-right Republican legislators with a clear interest in spreading a false narrative of a stolen election not only failed to accomplish that, but in fact actively helped dispel the unfounded claims Donald Trump is reliant on to keep his base’s anger at full tilt. Former GOP Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who supplied “expert testimony” in one of Trump’s failed post-election challenges in Nevada, said “Dominion has generally performed very well.” Gessler complained about certain other issues like signature verification, and actually suggested that voters should be fingerprinted. But no one–not Gessler, not even Trump’s credibility-free Colorado resident attorney Jenna Ellis, could come up with an allegation of fraud in Colorado–let alone evidence of fraud.

And that left us wondering once again: what the hell was the point of any of this? Rep. Lori Saine, Rep. Dave Williams, Ellis, Gessler, and so many other Republicans who participated in this day-long WebEx spectacle were not there to debunk Trump’s voter fraud conspiracy theory mythology, just the opposite–but in the end that is overwhelmingly what the content of the hearing served to accomplish.

Thanks, we guess? President Trump, who you can bet was paying attention, cannot be thankful.


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 16)

On this day in 1773, colonists living in Boston threw a bunch of tea into the harbor. The original “Tea Party” was much less insane than the modern version. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 


► Don’t blink, but Congress might actually be getting close to approving a new stimulus bill. As The Washington Post reports:

Congressional leaders are near an agreement to add a new round of stimulus checks to a roughly $900 billion relief package as they rush to complete a deal before the end of the week, according to three people familiar with the talks granted anonymity to share internal deliberations.

A bipartisan proposal released earlier this week by a group of moderate lawmakers excluded another round of $1,200 stimulus checks. But as congressional leaders tried to resolve differences in recent days, they decided to try and include a round of direct payments in the emerging legislation.

They are rushing to complete a deal because they must pass a new spending bill Friday night at midnight in order to avoid a government shutdown. House Democrats had sought a much larger stimulus package before the election but have softened their position since President-elect Biden’s victory in hopes of securing some immediate relief.


► Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged on the Senate floor on Tuesday that Democrat Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. Later, McConnell reportedly implored his caucus to refrain from any attempts at challenging the legitimacy of Biden’s victory when a joint session of Congress meets to certify the Electoral College results. But as the editorial board of The Washington Post explains, this is no time to pat McConnell on the back:

Millions of Republican voters may now believe that their democracy no longer functions — not because there was fraud, but because their leaders lied to them or remained silent while others did so. Even many Republicans who refused to help Mr. Trump try to overturn the presidential results are signaling that they will pursue new voting restrictions in the name of election integrity, acting on the basis of the falsehoods about the voting system that Republicans have promoted since the election. Their defaming of democracy hurts us all.

Jamelle Bouie of The New York Times does not disagree:

To affirm Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the winners of the election more than a month after the end of voting — as Mitch McConnell did, on Tuesday morning, when he announced that “our country officially has a president-elect and vice-president elect” — is to treat the outcome as unofficial pending an attempt to overturn the result.

In short, Republicans are establishing a new normal for the conduct of elections, one in which a Democratic victory is suspect until proven otherwise, and where Republicans have a “constitutional right” to challenge the vote in hopes of having it thrown out.

We’ve already seen this spread to down-ballot races. Sean Parnell, a Republican House candidate, refused to concede his race against the Democratic incumbent, Conor Lamb, citing voter fraud and signed onto a lawsuit, since dismissed, to throw out mail-in ballots.

But as Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, McConnell may not be able to prevent his caucus from being forced to cast a politically-dicey vote in favor of Biden in early January.


A Legislative Audit Committee meeting at the state capitol on Tuesday failed to uncover even a hint of impropriety in the 2020 election in Colorado. As The Denver Post reports:

Former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, told committee members that Coloradans can be confident that their elections are free and fair, and instances of fraud that may have been successful are in the dozens, not hundreds of thousands.

The motions by Republicans — one to launch an audit of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office and another to direct the state auditor to research a potential performance audit — failed on tie votes of 4-4.

Sen. Paul Lundeen, a Monument Republican, told The Denver Post that while the meeting didn’t uncover massive voter fraud, every person’s vote should be protected. [Pols emphasis]

This is a completely pointless statement from Lundeen that perfectly summarizes yesterday’s worthless hearing.


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado church that sued the government in order to be allowed to host as many COVID-19 super-spreader events as it wants.


More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…




Let the Nonsense Commence!

UPDATE (10:44 am): 9News political reporter Marshall Zelinger has already had enough:


UPDATE (10:15 am): The first witness is Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis, who is testifying remotely. Ellis says she is here to encourage legislators “to take election integrity seriously.” She concludes her statement without offering any sort of evidence of election impropriety in Colorado. Great start!


UPDATE (10:07 am): The Legislative Audit Committee has already called a recess because of technical problems with its remote participation software. This seems like an appropriate sign.


Look behind you…ah, nevermind.

You’ve seen this movie before.

Republicans who will trudge through the snow today to attend a special meeting of the Legislative Audit Committee, called by Chair and outgoing Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone), are every minor character in any horror movie you’ve ever seen. They are the group of mismatched friends who reach a literal fork in the road and say to each other, “let’s split up,” while every person in the movie theater says to themselves, No, don’t do it!

Saine and Republican lawmakers have invited conspiracy theorists and self-appointed election experts to the State Capitol for the purpose of “investigating” nonexistent election fraud in Colorado. There is a 100% chance that this silly spectacle will accomplish precisely nothing other than making Republicans look like fools, but they’re doing it anyway. 

As Marianne Goodland wrote last week for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

The Dec. 15 committee hearing is expected to look into election voting systems — Saine told Colorado Politics she has invited Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems to send a representative — as well as other allegations around election irregularities, contained in a press release Wednesday, that have already been thoroughly debunked. [Pols emphasis] 

A number of fairly well-known Republicans are scheduled to appear today, including disgraced former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and President Trump’s legal mastermind Jenna Ellis, who loses election fraud lawsuits more often than most of us drink a cup of coffee. Some lesser-known names will also appear to blather on about algorithms related to Dominion Voting Systems, the Denver-based election technology company that conspiracists allege is somehow connected to a former President of Venezuela who has been dead for seven years.  

Yeah, Scott Gessler will fix it!

Oh, and all of this will take place after the Electoral College on Monday voted without incident to confirm that Democrat Joe Biden is the President-elect. The same Joe Biden who carried Colorado by a whopping 13 points in November.

The only tangible impact of continuing to question an election that the Department of Homeland Security called “the most secure in American history” is to ensure that local election officials continue to receive threats of violence for doing their jobs effectively; in Michigan, election offices and the state capitol were both closed on Monday in response to credible threats of violence. There is nothing else that can be accomplished, despite Saine’s ridiculous claims that “It is our duty as elected representatives of the people to put to rest any doubt the public may have concerning the integrity of our elections.”

But let’s play along for a moment and pretend that Saine called this hearing for reasons other than spreading discredited disinformation. What’s the best-case scenario here for Republicans? Is Saine hoping to call into question an election in which she won her own race for a seat on the Weld County Board of Commissioners? 

Perhaps Republicans think they will uncover something that could somehow change the result of the Presidential race (Biden +13) or the U.S. Senate race in Colorado (in which Democrat John Hickenlooper defeated incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner by 9 points). It’s important to note that the losing candidates in November’s election all conceded their respective races in Colorado — in some cases even after a recount was conducted. Any concern about election irregularities isn’t actually coming from candidates themselves.

Rep. Lori Saine (R), in custody after being caught with a loaded gun at DIA in December of 2017.

Suppose Saine and friends actually discovered something relevant today: As Goodland explained last week, the Legislative Audit Committee doesn’t have the authority to DO anything about it. The State Auditor can’t audit county election operations, and it can’t “investigate” private companies like Dominion Voting Systems. 

For Republicans conducting today’s spectacle, their best case scenario may be convincing President Trump to Tweet something nice about them. That would be neat.

For Democrats attending today’s hearing, they need only to restrain themselves from following Republicans down the rabbit hole. There is no real point in arguing with Saine or any of the people she calls to “testify” today, because it’s not possible to win over conspiracy theorists with tactics of “logic” and “reason.” Democrats should just keep their COVID-19 face masks firmly attached and let the hearing conclude as quickly as possible.

This is a clear abuse of authority on the part of Saine, but it’s not out of character for a lawmaker who thrives on gibberish and was once caught trying to sneak a loaded gun onto an airplane. Republicans know full well that today’s hearing is a bad idea, but they’re moving ahead because they’re terrified of disappointing Trump’s unhinged base of supporters.

And besides, accomplishing nothing is basically the Colorado Republican brand. 


House Speaker KC Becker Gets More Smarter

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with House Speaker KC Becker about last week’s special legislative session and what it’s like being called into work when you thought you had swung the gavel for the last time back in June (Becker is term limited).

Later, Bane and Silverii take a first, detailed look at the 2022 election cycle in Colorado, when five big statewide races will be on the ballot. After getting pummeled in Colorado in 2018 and 2020, can Republicans put up more of a fight in 2022?

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn


Ken Buck, Call Your Office: Dominion Lunacy Lands In Colorado

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

We wrote last Thursday about an attempt by Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck to assure restless Republicans in Colorado that despite what they’re been hearing nonstop since Donald Trump lost the election over a month ago, the vote in Colorado was fair and accurate. Colorado’s election system has basically every characteristic that Trump has been baselessly attacking to contest the election results–above all “unsolicited” mail ballots sent to every active voter, so needless to say this rumor control session was a little what you’d call “off message.” Reportedly many Republican faithful came away less than pleased.

In particular, Republican county clerks were on hand to debunk allegations about Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, widely utilized by Colorado counties and a central component of the unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that alleges millions of votes for Trump nationwide were “flipped” to his victorious opponent. Weld County Clerk Carly Koppes, a Republican who carried out the 2020 election in her red county on Dominion systems, said flat-out it’s not even possible to do what Trump’s supporters are alleging:

Koppes added that it’s not even technically possible for Dominion software to switch votes because the software does not designate which candidate is assigned a particular oval on the paper ballot.

Well folks, in case you thought that the leadership of the Colorado Republican Party along with GOP county clerks thoroughly debunking the prevalent conspiracy theories about Dominion would be enough to convince…well, even Republican elected officials apparently, you’d be wrong! As the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports, at least eight of Ken Buck’s falcons can no longer hear their falconer:

Colorado election officials — including Republican county clerks — have pointed to the state’s proven track record of election security that has served as a model for other states, and federal judges have dismissed allegations by President Donald Trump that the election was stolen from him.

But seven Colorado House Republicans and one representative-elect penned a letter Monday to outgoing House Speaker KC Becker calling for an audit of the Dominion Voting Systems software used by the state and creation of a special committee…

“Free and fair elections are foundational to keeping our Republic and voters must have confidence in the election system,” they wrote in the letter. “The committee through educational hearings and sworn witness testimony from experts can help uncover any fraud or weaknesses in Colorado systems to help restore faith in the election process.”

Led by outgoing House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, the letter was signed by most of Neville’s hard-right wing of the smallest GOP House minority in decades–including Reps. Kim Ransom, Shane Sandridge, and Dave Williams, and a new face in Rep.-elect Ron Hanks of Penrose–signaling that he is going to be a low-information treasure in the Colorado General Assembly. Although this request for an investigation based on zero actual evidence was appropriately circular-filed by Democratic House Speaker KC Becker, we’re still looking at a very substantial portion of the House GOP minority willing to subsidize misinformation so potentially toxic to American democracy that Republican leadership in Colorado is leading the local campaign to debunk it.

Which means, among other things, it’s time for Chairman Buck to make some phone calls.


Get More Smarter on Friday (December 4)

There are 47 days left until Democrat Joe Biden takes the keys to the White House. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 


As Denver7 reports, the first batch of COVID-19 vaccinations in Colorado could arrive by late next week:

Denver Public Health and the Tri-County Health Department have been told to expect their first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of next week.

Colorado’s first allotment will amount to 46,800 doses.

No specific timeline has been announced as to when the vaccine will be administered to various groups, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that healthcare workers be vaccinated first, and then elderly residents at long-term care facilities.

Meanwhile, new polling data suggests that just 60% of Coloradans are willing to take a COVID-19 vaccine. As The Denver Post explains:

Only 60% of surveyed Colorado voters in the November election plan to take the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available, according to poll results released by Healthier Colorado on Thursday.

To reach herd immunity, that percent needs to be closer to 70, according to Healthier Colorado…

…The survey asked participants whether they would plan to receive an FDA-approved vaccine for the coronavirus at no cost to them when it became available. Of those who responded, 21% said they would not take the vaccine and 19% said they were unsure. The responses were different across party lines — 3 out of 4 Democratic voter participants, 76%, said they would take the vaccine, compared with 42% of Republican voter participants. Although 38% of Republican voters said they would not get the vaccine, 20% indicated they were still unsure. It was 15% for Democrats.

“It’s going to be up to us here in Colorado to set the record straight on COVID-19 vaccines,” said Jake Williams, executive director of Healthier Colorado, in a release. “The polling shows that we have work to do in building confidence in these vaccines, and our economic recovery depends upon our ability to do so. Fake news is a pandemic in itself, and we need to fight it for the sake of people’s health and our economy.”

State health data indicates that more than 2,000 more Coloradans may die from COVID-19 before the end of the year.


Colorado Newsline updates an important discussion from this week’s special legislative session:

The original bill stipulated that only businesses located in counties that are complying with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions under the so-called “red level” would be eligible for relief. That would have made businesses in Weld County — where commissioners have said they won’t enforce capacity restrictions and an indoor dining ban — ineligible for financial assistance of up to $7,000 cash.

The bill was changed first to allow compliant cities within non-compliant counties to still receive aid for businesses, and then on the House floor, sponsor Herod introduced an amendment extending that exemption to certain businesses in unincorporated areas of non-compliant counties. To qualify, they must be within a mile of a city or town that’s complying with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Local government compliance means “good-faith efforts to enforce or promote” COVID-19 orders from the governor and the state Department of Public Health and Environment, within the scope of a city or county’s authority and “in consideration of available resources, including engaging law enforcement,” the bill says.

This would have been a lot easier if local governments would just, you know, follow safety guidelines.

Meanwhile, a quarantined Gov. Jared Polis is still making sure approved legislation moves along quickly:


The New York Times reports on a disturbing story involving the Trump administration and anti-immigrant goober Stephen Miller:

The Trump administration is rolling out sweeping changes to the test immigrants must take to become United States citizens, injecting hints of conservative philosophy and making the test harder for many learners of the English language.

The new citizenship test that went into effect on Tuesday is longer than before, with applicants now required to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly instead of six out of 10. It is also more complex, eliminating simple geography and adding dozens of possible questions, some nuanced and involving complex phrasing, that could trip up applicants who do not consider them carefully…

One test question that has drawn particular scrutiny provides a new answer to the question, “Who does a U.S. Senator represent?” Previously, the answer was “all people of the state”; on the new test, it is “citizens” in the state. [Pols emphasis]

In other words, the new citizenship test requires applicants to know the incorrect answer to some very important questions. A U.S. Senator represents ALL of the people in a particular state.

CLICK HERE to try out the test yourself, via the NY Times.



More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…




Get More Smarter on Thursday (December 3)

According to the Urban Dictionary, beautiful people are always born on December 3. We can’t even pretend to explain this one. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 


► The Colorado legislature concluded a three-day special session on Wednesday with plenty of success. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

The Colorado state legislature finished up a three-day sprint of lawmaking on Wednesday afternoon, passing a series of bills meant to throw a lifeline to businesses and families as the coronavirus pandemic surges.

“This is not the end of the conversation. There’s more that the federal government needs to do. And yes, there’s more that the legislature will be able to talk about when they convene,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “But you know what? This is going to help a lot of people and small businesses get through the next couple months.”

All told, lawmakers swiftly approved some $342 million in coronavirus aid packages for small businesses, housing relief, and public health response efforts (among others). The CPR story has the full list of legislation approved in an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner.

You can read more from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, The Denver Post, and Denver7.


► President Trump posted a weird, rambling, 46-minute video on his social media channels on Wednesday. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

There have been a lot of low moments for democracy over the past four years, but none that reached quite as low as what happened on Wednesday afternoon: The release of a 46-minute rant by the President of the United States aimed at undermining the election results.

I’m not going to reproduce any of the myriad lies and conspiracy theories Trump leaned on in the address, which he opened by grandiosely declaring “this may be the most important speech I’ve ever made,” because, well, that’s exactly what the outgoing President wants. He wants the media to report on what he said and, in effect, launder the lies so that they come out looking somehow new or more relevant. (And some media outlets will do just that! Conservative stations and publications will cover this speech like a legitimate presidential address, repeating the debunked junk coming out of the President’s mouth like it is actually up for debate.)

What Trump is doing here has moved beyond laughable or embarrassing. It is now into the downright dangerous phase…

…He stood at a podium bearing the presidential seal and flanked by the American flag and another flag bearing the presidential seal on it. It was hard to miss this message. This was the President speaking in his formal capacity. Not as a losing candidate for office. As the leader of the free world.

Trump’s move to throw the power of the presidency behind disproven claims that seek to actively undermine the very idea of safe and fair elections and the peaceful transition of power creates a clear moment of choosing for elected Republican leaders who have, by and large, stood by silently as he has made his increasingly outlandish claims about what happened on November 3.

We’re certainly not holding our breath waiting for more high-profile Republicans to speak out against Trump’s ridiculous claims of election fraud, but we won’t fault you for holding out hope. Philip Bump of The Washington Post offered a very succinct reaction to Trump’s diatribe:

Via The Washington Post (12/2/20)


Colorado Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to put election fraud claims back in the box. You might remember that State Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck demanded an investigation into already-debunked claims about fraud in Colorado’s mail ballot process.


As Sandra Fish writes for The Colorado Sun, state and local officials are putting the final ribbon on the 2020 election:

All but one of the state’s 63 counties [sic] certified their election results last week. Gunnison County experienced a delay after elections officials contracted COVID-19 and expects to certify results this week.

The Secretary of State’s Office will certify the statewide results as soon as an automatic recount for district attorney in the 18th Judicial District is completed. That recount began Tuesday and must be completed by Dec. 8 but is expected to finish sooner.

Initial results in the 18th JD showed Republican John Kellner with a lead of less than 1,500 votes over Democrat Amy Padden. Both candidates are hoping to succeed The Magnificent Putz in a district largely composed of Arapahoe County.


The United States set two awful records on Wednesday: For the first time, we surpassed 200,000 new daily coronavirus infections and 100,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned Wednesday that the worst is still yet to come, warning that the U.S. death toll could reach 450,000 by February. Redfield predicted that the next three months are “going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”


More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…




Rep. Dave Williams: So Much For “Law and Order”

Donald Trump, Rep. Dave Williams (R).

Here’s a clip of hard-right GOP Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs speaking on the floor of the House today as the COVID-19 relief special session of the legislature wrapped up–and these are words, as we’ll explain, we never thought we’d hear out of Rep. Williams’ mouth:

You know, there were a hundred restaurants–I believe this was in Representative McKean’s neck of the woods, we had a hundred restaurants saying we’re not going to comply and to that I say God bless you.

I think we need a little bit more civil disobedience. [Pols emphasis]

I’m sure many of you would not have expected me from Colorado Springs a very conservative district that I represent to you and say that but I think we’ve come to a point where we are beginning to see the bubbling of soft tyranny…

But as readers will recall, it’s not the conservative Colorado Springs district Rep. Williams represents that makes his call for “civil disobedience” against COVID-19 public health orders unexpected. Back in July as the controversy over the Trump administrations deployment of federal riot control police under nebulous command to major cities like Portland, Rep. Williams wrote a letter begging Trump to send in the troops:

A Republican state lawmaker has asked the Trump administration to send in federal law enforcement to Denver to quell what he considered lawlessness and restore “law and order.” Colorado’s top Democrats say the suggestion is unnecessary and could only lead to further inflammation of tensions.

“I officially request that your administration expand its ‘Operation Legend’ efforts to include Colorado, specifically in the city of Denver as violent, deadly crime is on an upswing according to many news reports. Sadly, the violence is being largely ignored by radical Democrats who are in a position to stop it,” said Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Dave Williams in a letter dated July 23…

Williams’ closing line from this letter is particularly ironic:

The people of Colorado have been left to fend for themselves and you, being the President of law and order, are our only hope. [Pols emphasis]

As of today, the line from Rep. Williams is screw “law and order!” For one of Colorado’s leading “deplorable” lightning rods, law and order is only a thing when one is getting one’s way.

We’re seeing a lot of that lately.


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 2)

On this day in 1409, The University of Leipzig opened its doors. Neat! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 


► A special COVID-19 legislative session that began on Monday is still expected to conclude today. The Associated Press has more on how things have been going at the State Capitol:

Colorado’s Democrat-led Legislature is plowing ahead on special session legislation to provide limited state relief to businesses, students and others affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats have overcome Republican objections to the scope of the aid and GOP attempts to limit the Democratic governor’s ability to decree public health orders.

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed bills to direct $5 million to help residents to pay utility bills; $50 million to assist landlords and tenants; and $100 million to the governor’s office for use in the public health emergency.

Meghan Lopez of Denver7 has extra deets on Tuesday’s legislative events.


► Attorney General William Barr took his head out of President Trump’s rear-end and looked around on Tuesday. As The Washington Post explains:

Barr said Tuesday that he has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” undercutting claims that President Trump and his allies have made — without evidence — of widespread and significant voting irregularities.

His comments to the Associated Press, while caveated, make Barr the highest-ranking Trump administration official to break with the president on his allegation that the election was stolen, and they might offer political cover to other Republicans to stake out similar positions.

Trump himself, though, has shown no sign of backing down, and some of his Capitol Hill allies were critical of Barr’s assertions. Trump’s relationship with his attorney general was already deteriorating, with the president frustrated that Barr was unwilling to launch aggressive measures to support his fraud claims or take other steps that might benefit his reelection campaign.


As Jessica Seaman reports for The Denver Post, Gov. Jared Polis appeared on Tuesday with Dr. Anthony Fauci to discuss the status of COVID-19 in Colorado:

“Colorado is not alone in seeing a spike in cases,” Fauci said during the virtual news conference, adding, “If you look across the United States we are really in a public health crisis right now because we are having a surge the likes of which is worst than the surges we all saw in the late winter, early spring.”

The addition of Fauci, who serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to Polis’ briefing on Tuesday comes as state and public health officials are concerned that Thanksgiving and the upcoming December holidays will create a “surge upon a surge.”

Fauci said that the majority of Americans could receive a vaccination for COVID-19 by the second quarter of 2021. As Denver7 reports, a group of Denver Metro-area mayors are asking Polis to do more to enforce restrictions intended to slow the spread of the virus.


The United Kingdom became the first country to grant formal approval for a COVID-19 vaccine. The first doses of a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech could start being distributed in the UK by next week.


Here’s one way to be sure that Democrat Joe Biden is the President-elect: Senate Republicans are suddenly very concerned about the national debt after spending like drunken sailors for the last four years.



More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…




Get More Smarter on Tuesday (December 1)

At last, we have reached the final month of this wretched year. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 


► The first day of a (likely) three-day special legislative session kicked off on Monday with a flurry of bills and a bit of controversy. As Jesse Paul explains for The Colorado Sun:

Monday was the first day of the special legislative session. It comes as coronavirus is raging in Colorado and an estimated 1 in 40 people are actively contagious with the disease.

Lawmakers, however, felt it was critical that they return to the Capitol to pass $200-plus million in relief for people who are increasingly feeling the economic effects of the pandemic.

While some Republicans were wearing masks at the Capitol on Monday, others were not. Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, was photographed wearing a mask on the crown of his head, apparently in jest.

State Rep. Larry Liston channels Anthony Michael Hall in “Weird Science”

Much of the news later in the day was focused on a Republican legislative aide who showed up at the Capitol fresh off of an apparent positive COVID-19 diagnosis. This is particularly bad news for Republican lawmakers who continue to refuse to wear masks.

Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has more on the actual work that took place on Monday:

Not all 100 lawmakers were actually present, but the Colorado Legislature convened its special session Monday in hopes of passing measures designed to provide immediate aid to businesses, individuals and public health workers until a vaccine is widely available…

…On the table are eight main bills to provide tax breaks for businesses most impacted by what the pandemic has done to the economy, help to parents who are having a hard time finding adequate child care services while they try to work, mortgage and rent assistance to those facing foreclosures or eviction because they are unemployed, aid in paying heating bills that will go higher due to the colder temperatures, improving supplies at food banks and providing better broadband access for students who lack it.


As The Washington Post reports, Congress is again kicking around the idea of another COVID-19 stimulus package, but don’t get your hopes up.


Colorado set a new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations on Monday as officials continue to worry about another increases in cases following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Meanwhile, Westword takes a look at which areas of Colorado could soon be forced to move from ‘Level Red’ to the maximum ‘Level Purple’ on the COVID-19 emergency scale. The short version: Things are bad everywhere.


Lawyers for President Trump have tried to challenge election results in six key states…and they’ve now failed in every one of them. As The Washington Post reports:

Wisconsin and Arizona on Monday became the last two of six states where President Trump has contested his defeat to finalize their vote counts, dealing a fresh blow to his quest to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory as a chorus of Republicans and Democrats offered support for the election’s integrity.

Trump and his allies vowed to continue pressing legal claims challenging the election results in several states, but such efforts have met with resounding failures in the courts across the country. Monday’s certifications brought to a close a key period in which Trump and his advisers had said they would be able to derail Biden’s win.

Even Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has disembarked from the Trump train and is touting the accuracy and fairness of his state’s election process.

The Electoral College will meet on Dec. 14 to make it official that Democrat Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States.


► The Big Line 2022 is in the house!


More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…




Capitol COVID Kerfluffle Ignores Obvious Point

Rep. Larry Liston (R) on the House floor yesterday. Behind is a half-masked GOP aide who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in November.

As the brief special session of the Colorado General Assembly got underway yesterday, the presence of a Republican legislative staffer who had posted to social media on November 24 saying “I have COVID” on the House floor, improperly wearing her mask to boot, set off a round of recriminations that earned disproportionate media coverage relative to the actual purpose of the session–which is economic relief for Coloradans to offset federal inaction. Denver7 reported on the controversy:

A Colorado Republican staffer who recently tested positive for coronavirus attended a session on the state House floor Monday morning, the first day of a special legislative session for lawmakers to provide pandemic-related aid, according to House Speaker K.C. Becker, D-Boulder.

Becker called the staffer’s actions a “reckless breach of the House’s safety protocols, and it will not be tolerated,” but Republican leaders disputed Becker’s claims, saying the staffer tested positive on Nov. 17 and has since been cleared to return to work…

“The statement that this individual tested positive last week is in error, after consulting with the Aide and finding that the test was performed on November 17th and cleared to return to work in person on the 24th, there should be minimal concern about their condition,” McKean said.

Apparently the staffer in question got a doctor’s note saying that she was clear to return to work, and her Facebook post saying “I have COVID”  in the present tense referred to an original positive test on the 17th of November. That’s well and good, but policy at the state capitol at this dangerous time of rapid and uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 is more strict than simply getting a doctor’s note:

Becker said the staffer was sent home and will not be allowed back at the Capitol until she tests negative. [Pols emphasis]

Wait a minute, you ask–the staffer hasn’t tested negative? Colorado Public Radio confirms the answer is no:

In another Facebook post on Monday the staffer wrote, “I took [my doctor’s] medical, scientific advice, that those who have had covid recently should not retest to confirm they are clear because they will get a positive test.”

…But Democrats say the staffer violated procedures by failing to show proof of a negative test to be allowed inside the Capitol building [Pols emphasis] and did not properly wear a mask at times on the House floor.

Full stop. Negative COVID-19 test results are required for a growing number of privileges these days including international air travel. Although many COVID-19 patients return to work once recovered without being retested, certainly any organization is justified in requiring a negative test result from recently COVID-positive employees to return to the building. It’s our understanding that free COVID-19 testing is available literally across the street from the Capitol in the Legislative Services Building for this purpose.

Taken together with the flouting of the statewide indoor mask mandate by Republican lawmakers including Rep. Larry Liston wearing his mask on his head (photo above right) and many others not wearing one at all, this staffer’s irresponsibility and the defense of it by Republican leadership is just more dangerous disregard for the safety of others from a party that has made such behavior a campaign plank. The state capitol should have higher standards for disease prevention than the bare minimum given the building’s necessary openness to people from all walks of life and medical circumstances. From Republican lawmakers laughing off masks they’re required to wear to known COVID-19 positive GOP staffers lounging at half-mask on the floor, their conduct is a grave insult to the thousands of Coloradans who have died of this disease.

Instead of making excuses for behavior even little kids know is bad, just do better.


Behold: The Big Line 2022!

The 2020 election is over (yes, even for you, President Trump), which means it’s time to gaze into our crystal ball and take a first look at 2022.

Go check out The Big Line 2022, then come back here and air your grievances. Keep in mind that early editions of The Big Line are more speculative than scientific; we will adjust names and odds throughout the next two years as things change and more information becomes available. Note that we had a harder time than normal coming up with Republican challengers in several key 2022 races because the Republican bench in Colorado is basically a phone booth.

Percentages listed on The Big Line are intended to reflect our estimation of the outcome of the biggest election battles in Colorado in 2022. Love it or hate it, The Big Line is usually pretty accurate; the only race we got wrong in 2020 was in CO-03, where nobody really knew anything heading into Election Day.


More Stimulus, Less Sideshow: COVID Relief Session Kicks Off

Clockwise from left: Senate President Leroy Garcia (D), House Speaker KC Becker (D), Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R), House Minority Leader Pat Neville (R).

Faith Miller reported yesterday for Colorado Newsline on the goals for the (hopefully) three-day extraordinary session of the Colorado General Assembly that gaveled in today to work on a package of economic relief bills at the request of Gov. Jared Polis:

The administration of Gov. Jared Polis and Democratic leaders in the state House and Senate have framed the session as a necessary stopgap after coronavirus relief talks between Republicans and Democrats in Congress fell apart.

“We had all been expecting and hoping for greater federal action, which hasn’t materialized,” House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, told reporters during a virtual news conference Nov. 29.

Becker added that lawmakers will be provided with KN95 masks and asked to get diagnostic COVID-19 tests before Nov. 30. Rapid surveillance tests will be available for legislators, staff and reporters each day of the special session, which is expected to last a few days.

From the joint statement by Democratic House and Senate leaders:

“Congressional inaction has left millions stranded – completely abandoned in their time of need. Small businesses have been drowning for months waiting for comprehensive federal aid, while hardworking Coloradans anxiously watch housing and unemployment support dissipate,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo. “The amount the Colorado state government can do to alleviate the burdens of struggling communities is limited, but it’s not nothing. That’s why we are using everything in our power to deliver the support families and businesses need to make it through another couple months. I fully believe that federal relief is on its way, but Coloradans simply can’t wait any longer. This stimulus package will help cover the immediate needs of those hit hardest by the pandemic and buoy us until more help is available.”

“We have to do everything possible in Colorado to help families, workers and businesses get through the challenging months ahead,” said Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder. “This pandemic is taking its toll on nearly every Coloradan, with businesses on the brink of closing and families struggling to avoid eviction or foreclosure. Only Washington can deliver the kind of comprehensive relief our communities need, but Coloradans can’t wait any longer. Our state government will step up with every tool we have, despite our limited budget, to do what we can to help bridge the gap until Congress acts and until a vaccine is ready.”

With Republican co-sponsorship for the most important parts of the proposed stimulus package–relief for capacity-restricted businesses, targeted tax relief, childcare and rental assistance, utility assistance–we don’t expect to see much in the way of conflict over the headline measures of the session. The more accurate our forecast in this regard proves to be, the more satisfied we’ll be on the other side that local Republicans have learned enough from their second consecutive electoral shellacking to come back a degree more reasonable than their counterparts in Washington.

Because the goal of these hopefully no more than three days lawmakers will be spending in one another’s airspace is to get something positive done for the people of Colorado who are suffering most. Not as much as the need requires, which is well beyond the state’s fiscal capacity. But something.

And less of, well, this:

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, the minority is as the minority does.


Get More Smarter on Monday (November 30)

In honor of Cyber Monday, this edition of Get More Smarter is 300% more free than normal. Get More Free-er! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 


► Lawmakers in Colorado kicked off a (likely) three-day special legislative session this morning. As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post:

With the coronavirus spreading uncontrolled throughout the state, lawmakers hope to spend as little time together as possible, and so they enter the special session with a specific and limited game plan. If all goes as expected, they’ll be in and out of the Capitol in three days — the minimum time it takes to pass a bill — having passed at least seven measures (and probably no more than 10) that’ll spread a total of about $328 million in COVID-19 relief around the state — $228 million in economic stimulus and $100 million to protect public health.

“Our objective is to go in there with precision, focused, with a greater majority on the items we’ve already identified and talked about,” said state Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo. “There’s not time or need for any sorts of shenanigans, and they wont be tolerated by me.”

Everyone seems to be mostly on the same page.

If you were wondering about mask-wearing at the Capitol, Burness also has you covered:



The New York Times reports on an important Supreme Court case about redistricting that began this morning:

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments on a question that goes to the heart of American democracy: Must the government count everyone living in the country, citizens or not, in the census totals that the House of Representatives uses to reallocate its 435 seats among the states?

For more than two centuries, the answer has been “yes.” Both Article 1 of the Constitution and the 14th Amendment require that House seats be allotted according to “the whole number” of persons in each state. That phrase has long been read to include all the nation’s residents, whether American citizens, foreigners admitted here on visas or immigrants with no documents at all. But President Trump signaled in a memorandum this summer that he intends to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the 2020 census totals that he hopes to send to the House next year for use in reapportionment.

Federal courts have ruled in three separate lawsuits that Mr. Trump lacks that authority, saying in one case that the question was not even close. But the Supreme Court will have the final say.


Governor Jared Polis and first gentleman Marlon Reis have tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, as experts had warned, Colorado is seeing a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations since Thanksgiving.


Republicans are worried that President Trump’s constant lies about voter fraud could depress turnout in two critical runoff elections in Georgia that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. has everything you need to know about the Georgia runoffs.


More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…




GOP State Rep: Spread COVID This Thanksgiving For Freedom

As readers know, Gov. Jared Polis and public health officials across the state and nation are begging Americans to avoid multi-household gatherings this Thanksgiving as the COVID-19 pandemic rages unchecked and hospitals fill to capacity much, much too early in the season.

But Republican Rep. Mark Baisley of Douglas County, who you might remember from his embarrassing misinformation about “altered death certificates” in the spring that helped fellow COVIDiots deny the severity of the pandemic, has his own message for HD-39 constituents: Americans have the God-given right to be stupid.

COVID-19 public health compliance officer.

Rep. Baisley perfectly sums up the problem with the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic in just these few paragraphs without realizing it. Yes, Americans have rights to freedom of assembly, and religious freedom. But Gov. Polis is not urging Coloradans to avoid mingling households over Thanksgiving in order to trample their freedoms. It’s about saving lives from a deadly disease that is spreading out of control. Just because one has a right to do a thing does not make it smart to do it wherever and whenever, and if a global pandemic that has killed 250,000 fellow Americans isn’t enough to convince someone to be serious about the safety of themselves and their families, we have no idea what could.

The true penalty for not following the direction of public health experts, like Gov. Polis says invoking the Grim Reaper, will not be administered by the state. Extended families who spread COVID-19 among themselves this Thanksgiving will pay a greater price than anything Polis could possibly do to them for disregarding public health orders. It is not unreasonable to predict that some number of people in HD-39 who agree with their state representative and turn Thanksgiving into a political grandstand against Jared Polis at the cost of common sense will die.

In short, one may be able to argue eloquently in favor of the right to assemble in front of an oncoming train, but respecting that crossing signal makes a lot more sense. Though it’s long been said that “the Constitution is not a suicide pact,” it was perhaps never more true than at this moment.

Here’s a concept: keep your family safe because you want to. Let that moral obligation transcend piffling partisanship.