Shawn Mitchell: Jim Welker Award Nominee

We’ve followed with varying quantities of dismay the antics of state Sen. Shawn Mitchell for years, with bemused memories of his “they all look the same” humor on the Senate floor, the truly funny stuff like that Capitol security breach, though a little more dismayed when it veered into sexual harrassment territory during the recently concluded hearings investigating the state-chartered Pinnacol Assurance.

For all the flashes of “creepy” that Mitchell has betrayed over the years, we have to say it’s these recent Pinnacol hearings that have unleashed the man’s true character. It’s more than simply mocking the proceedings by cracking jokes about “the chairwoman’s underwear,” Mitchell’s dismissive attitude toward the more significant issues of widespread mishandling of worker’s compensation cases, combined with a totally unprofessional disregard for the rules governing these hearings–his behavior has been totally unacceptable, it cries out for censure, admonishment, a well-leaked bawling out in the Minority Leader’s office, some kind of action to demonstrate that essential rules of decorum still apply among our state’s highest elected officials.

It came to a head at the end of last week, as the Durango Herald alone sees fit to report–the Denver Post, as we noted previously, finds covering for Mitchell in defense of the Pinnacol status quo preferable:

Legislators wrapped up an acrimonious investigation into Colorado’s workers compensation company Friday, voting to pursue seven bills to change the company’s practices.

The votes to crack down on Pinnacol Assurance fell on party lines, with six Democrats voting yes and all Republicans voting no..The bills will be considered in January when the Legislature starts its 2010 session…

“What is happening here today with this bill, and with the others that follow, is a travesty,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell got into a shouting match with Carroll, the chairwoman, during debate about the surveillance bill, daring her to have sergeants-at-arms eject him from the meeting. [Pols emphasis]

“Behave yourself like an adult!” Carroll said, banging her gavel. “Good God!”

Indeed. This latest incident, and Mitchell’s deportment in these hearings generally, has been reported to us as one of the most embarrassing scenes in the legislature’s institutional memory. Between Doug Bruce kicking photographers, Michael Garcia whipping it out, and Dave Schultheis wishing AIDS on babies, this is, well, no small charge. But given the indifference Minority Leader Josh Penry has already shown about the behavior of his caucus this year, we’re not expecting much to come of it. It’s a sad acknowledgement of where are are today, like wishing those punk kids didn’t spray graffiti everywhere.

At the very least, in light of all the memorable moments we’ve had in this most exciting of off-years, we’ll be giving an award at the end of the year for “Most Despicable Legislator in Colorado,” to be known in shorthand as the “Jim Welker Award.” Seriously, we’re going to make a plaque and everything. Mitchell’s the first nominee, we’ll have the unfortunate duty of profiling others soon.

14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. twas brillig says:

    Can’t wait to see him spring into action.  

  2. Ray Springfield says:

    There seems to be a archetype of some type that takes over people’s minds some time. They lose all sense of logic and explode. It appears in road rage, and very often from politicians.  

  3. MADCO says:

    What will be the period of eligibility?  

  4. RedGreen says:

    also reported on Mitchell’s antics today:

    Carroll charged that Mitchell interrupted proceedings and put non-legislative committee members on the spot. At one point, Mitchell asked Carroll to order a marshal to escort him out of the committee room.

    Although Carroll didn’t do that, Mitchell stormed out of the meeting before all proposed bills were approved.

    Mitchell said Carroll had an “agenda to water down workers compensation reforms that have helped employers in Colorado.”

    “I had enough,” Mitchell said on his way out of the Capitol. “She can continue to run her dog-and-pony show.”

    Earlier, Mitchell characterized the hearings on Pinnacol as “a travesty” and “a waste of time.” Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, also left the meeting early.

    Carroll said there was “no excuse” for Mitchell’s outburst, which she characterized as a “temper tantrum.”

    “They don’t like the fact there was a female Democratic chair. … if the chair were Republican and male, you would have had a different outcome,” Carroll said. “It had nothing to do with substance.”

  5. PolitianWatch says:

    Recently there has been a Wiki War going on and it appears that those in the Shawn Mitchell corner are winning. The Shawn it seems doesn’t want it known that he talked about the underwear of the most honorable chairwoman Morgan Carroll at a formal legislative hearing.  

    These incidents need to be added to his bio on Wikipedia. If you really want to make a difference in Shawn’s life I encourage you to go there and update it with these horrible incidents. It will be funny and eventually the Wiki will have to accept the truth.

  6. allyncooper says:

    As some of you know, I have been reporting on the Pinnacol story on Pols since last session when there was an attempt to appropriate $500 million of surplus funds from Pinnacol.

    Senator Mitchell’s hostility toward the work of the interim committee was apparent from the start when at the first meeting, which I attended and reported in Pols, he displayed his disdain by repeatedly questioning the purpose of the committee and what he was even doing there.

    His outburst at the final meeting and his heated exchange with Madam Chair Carroll was indeed embarrassing to say the least, and I can attest accurately reported. I didn’t report this on Pols because I actually thought such outrageous behavior wasn’t even worthy of reporting, except in publications like the National Enquirer.

    The fact is Senator Mitchell had his agenda set from day one and did his best to disparage and discredit the work of the interim committee and display his vitriolic personal animosity toward Senator Carroll. If Senator Mitchell had no intention of ever serving on that committee in good faith, he should have declined to do so. From observing Senator Mitchel in action on that committee, I can honesty say he is a case of arrested development and a fraud. As such, he should return the pay and per diem money he received as a member of the committee, rather than have the hard pressed taxpayers he claims to care about fund his sophomoric antics and personal vendetta.  

    My thought immediately after witnessing the confrontation at the hearing was disbelief that we have “leaders” like this running the state of Colorado. Senator Mitchell’s antics are beneath the dignity and decorum of the Colorado Legislature, and unfortunately a stain on the reputation of his fellow Republicans who serve their state with honor and propriety. He is a poster boy of why their party is increasingly parochial and isolated, and that serves the interest of no one in a democratic society in which a credible and viable party of opposition is essential.

    I will be interviewing Senator Carroll  about the Pinnacol hearings and posting that interview on Pols.  Stay tuned.  

  7. Half Glass Full says:

    … isn’t Mitchell term-limited?

    Maybe he realizes that he’s reached the glass ceiling (irony in that) as far as his political career goes, so he figures f@#% it, I’ll behave like a spoiled brat.

    No one has been mentioning Mitchell for any higher office, have they? He’s probably depressed, realizing he has to return to his humdrum law practice.

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