Long periods of inactivity occasionally interrupted by pointless platitudes.
If you were going to summarize Republican Walker Stapleton’s history with his self-professed signature issue of PERA reform, this is about where you’d end up.
As Brian Eason writes for the Colorado Sun, Stapleton has spent the last eight years as State Treasurer talking about the importance of reforming PERA (the Public Employees’ Retirement Association) but rarely bothering to actually do much to support his rhetoric. This won’t likely come as much of a surprise to anyone who is even remotely familiar with Stapleton, but the details are still pretty damning:
“Everything I said about the need to fix this problem seven or eight years ago I think has been borne to be true,” he told The Colorado Sun in an interview. “I’m proud of the fact that I was right on a lot of the things that I said were wrong.”
But when it came time to actually fix it? Stapleton — by his own admission — was largely absent from the public debate. [Pols emphasis]
By his own admission…
By Stapleton’s own admission, he wasn’t even conscious when lawmakers were voting on the most significant piece of PERA legislation (SB12-200) in the last decade. This is a direct quote from Stapleton via Colorado Public Radio:
“I was not physically even at the legislature. I think I was asleep by the time they finally passed the deal.”
It’s been pretty clear for awhile now that the Republican nominee for Governor is not a good candidate, but Eason’s story reinforces a more fundamental problem voiced by Democrats and Republicans alike: Walker Stapleton just doesn’t show up, and he’s not really interested in arguing otherwise. His legacy at the State Capitol is an empty parking spot.
Stapleton’s poor attendance as State Treasurer has been well-documented. Eason’s story in the Colorado Sun is different in that it takes a more focused look at Stapleton’s “involvement” with the one cause he has championed above all others:
In the fall of 2017, he trashed the board’s plan in interviews and editorials. In December, he offered suggestions of his own. But in the spring of 2018, when lawmakers set about to craft the final product, he went uncharacteristically silent.
He wasn’t at the negotiating table when the bill was drafted. Nor did he testify publicly on the measure, as he’d done on pension-related bills in years past.
“At the time it was really hard to tell whether he was a critic of what was being proposed or whether he was supporting it,” said Terry Campbell, PERA’s lead lobbyist.
“Largely absent” will be the inscription on Stapleton’s political gravestone.