We’ve been following the odd story of a piece of legislation introduced by Republican Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs this session, usually one of the House’s more disagreeable GOP members. In just a few years, Rep. Williams has garnered himself a disproportionate amount FOX News face time with his high-dudgeon bashing of illegal immigrants, a controversial brand of “reverse identity politics” about which we’ve had a few less-than-positive things to say.
So far this year however, Rep. Williams has earned most of his media from a much less overtly controversial piece of legislation he introduced in response to a practice by Colorado Republicans of charging fees in order to serve as a delegate in the party’s county, district, and state-level assemblies. In this campaign Williams has found ready allies among Democrats, who do not charge any kind of equivalent fee–and as a result, Williams is successfully moving a bill through the Democratic-controlled General Assembly over the growing frustration of Williams’ Republican colleagues.
As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports:
“I had a Denver GOP chair actually tell me on the phone that if you can’t afford fifty bucks, then ‘F’ you, I don’t want you in my party,” Williams said on the floor of the House. “That’s what I’m talking about. That’s the immoral nature of what’s been going on. I am pushing for this bill because it is immoral to force people to pay in order to play.”
Opponents of the bill, primarily Republicans, said the laws that require political parties to hold assemblies constitute an unfunded government mandate…
Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, said the fee is not a poll tax as some have argued, a view contrary to what GOP lawmakers often have said about various fees Democrats have imposed that Republicans have called a tax. [Pols emphasis]
We’re actually somewhat surprised to see Republicans persisting in their opposition to this bill after the initial round of press went very badly for them. The fact that there is no equivalent “fee” imposed by Democrats, who are nonetheless able to conduct their assembly process as the law requires without it, severely undercuts the contention that this change would “bankrupt the party.” If anything, that reinforces the argument that Republicans who need to make some changes–and some moral introspection too.
And it’s absolutely right–if Republicans want to bemoan the “Democratic sleight of hand” that has defined certain fees as something other than a tax in order to function under the strict language of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), they ought to be consistent.