Cynthia Coffman: The Courage Brauchler Wouldn’t Show

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

A story we’ve addressed a few times in this space saw a big update late last week, as outgoing Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced the state will indeed sue Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin opioid painkillers linked to a dramatic rise in overdoses and thousands of preventable deaths in the last two decades. As the Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper reports:

“Their corporate focus on making money took precedence over patients’ long-term health, and Colorado has been paying the price in loss of life and devastation of its communities as they struggle to address the ongoing opioid crisis,” Coffman said in a statement Thursday.

The Colorado lawsuit claims there have been approximately 3,000 prescription opioid-related deaths in the state since 1997.

Coffman’s lawsuit comes months after a list of counties, including Pueblo County, sued major drug manufacturers for the costs of opioid addiction in their communities.

As our readers know, the question of whether the state should join numerous other entities suing opioid manufacturers, including hard-hit Pueblo County, emerged as a point of contention in the race to succeed Coffman as Colorado’s attorney general. Democratic candidate Phil Weiser has said unequivocally that Colorado would sue with him as attorney general, while Brauchler demurred–and criticized his opponent for promising to take action:

Brauchler, the Aurora district attorney, faulted Weiser earlier this year for promising to sue drugmakers.

“Pueblo County can do whatever it wants, but I think it’s reckless for a politician to promise that, if elected, he will sue someone,” he said in response. [Pols emphasis]

A big problem with Brauchler’s refusal to commit to suing Purdue can be found in the list of donors to the Republican Attorney General’s Association, which is essentially bankrolling Brauchler’s campaign with over a million in spending so far on the race. Purdue Pharma in particular has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to RAGA in recent years, and this very strategically targeted support has been raised as an issue in other states with foot-dragging attorneys general on opioids.

After Coffman’s decision this week to file suit, Brauchler said it was a decision based on her office’s “careful” review of the facts, not a “reckless” promise, like Weiser’s.

Sorry, but Coffman’s decision to sue cuts Brauchler’s criticism of Weiser off at the proverbial knees. Given the way Coffman was treated, both by Republicans in her gubernatorial run and Brauchler in particular after he himself was squeezed out of the governor’s race Coffman would go on to lose, it’s possible that this was a deliberate snub of both Brauchler and RAGA by extension.

Either way it was the right thing to do, and it’s the Republican candidate for attorney general who was on the wrong side–of one of the most important issues the next AG will face. Would Brauchler be a credible prosecutor in a case against opioid manufacturers…or would it play out like his failed prosecution of the “Shirtless Sheriff?”

The one thing we can say with confidence is there is nothing here that makes George Brauchler look good.


9 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    Oh damn, this is going to make Moderanus' head explode.

  2. unnamed says:

    See Nutlid, this is an example of a Republican taking a principled action, whatever the motives.  Too bad she's not your nominee for Governor.  I wonder why she's not.   

    • bullshit!bullshit! says:

      To be fair, Moddy supported her. He took it pretty hard when she lost too, disappeared for a couple weeks IIRC.

      • unnamed says:

        True.  But with all of the bluster he showed with his support of her, he did not see, or refused to acknowledge the writing on the wall that her campaign for Governor was going nowhere and that she was indecisive and ill-prepared for a run for Gov.  She didn't even seem to be prepared to run for reelection.   

        • RepealAndReplace says:

          The powers that be in the GOP (that is, Tancredo) would not accept her.

          • unnamed says:

            Maybe not.  But she was not prepared.  Our little pet troll refused to acknowledge the fact that she had no traction.  Kinda like he refuses to acknowledge the disaffection the country has with a certain Russian Asset occupying the White House.

            • RepealAndReplace says:

              You are correct about unprepared. Didn't it occur to her that she would need tons of $$$ to run a primary campaign? There was no RAGA that was going to bail her out like they did in 2014. 

              And had she petitioned on, she might have carved out a niche as the somewhat moderate/conservative, and let the rest of the candidates compete for the nut jobs. She was all over the place on reproductive rights, not homophobic (in fact, she has gay friends), and now we find out, she isn't in the pocket of Big Pharma.


  3. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    The timing of the initiative hints at the "message" of the suit.

    As I mentioned in a different comment, the Feds had guilty pleas in 2007. No mention of why AG Coffman chose to wait 3 years and 8 months of her term to file.

    I'm hoping Brauchler will say something about methane standards being relaxed by the federal government and not knowing what he would do about it if elected. Who knows …. Coffman may have time to reverse stance from her initial position that "has undermined Governor John Hickenlooper’s leadership on restricting methane from oil and gas extraction."

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