Conservatives Say Restaurants Should Stay Open in Violation of Polis’ Order to Close

(Darwinism in action – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“I will go to any restaurant that stays open. You will have my business.”

“At this point, I have not been given anything official. So we will be open for business.”

“Many people will visit your restaurant!”

Those comments, which appeared on the private Facebook page for alumnae of Leadership Program of the Rockies (LPR), came in response to the following question, posed by a member of the group:

“For a restaurant business owner, what would legally happen if they chose to practice civil disobedience and stay open when the government demanded they close? Asking for a friend.”

Leadership Program of the Rockies is a training institute for conservatives that’s seen many of Colorado’s leading Republicans pass through its doors since it opened in 1989. Its board includes former Republican power broker Alex Cranberg, CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer, and former Colorado state Treasurer Mark Hillman. Graduates of the program in former state lawmaker Ted Harvey, former state Sen. Nancy Spence, state Rep. Mark Baisley, former GOP Senate Presidents Bill Cadman and Kevin Grantham, former Colorado Treasurer Mark Hillman, former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, and many GOP state lawmakers.

One LPR graduate, Elliot Fladen, posted the comments about the restaurant ban from LPR’s alumnae Facebook page on his own Facebook page in an effort, Fladen says, to get LPR leaders and others to #DoyourpartCO, speak up, and help educate those who say they would thwart efforts to contain the disease.

“Now normally I wouldn’t share this from a private alumni page or at least blot out the people’s names,” wrote Fladen on his personal Facebook page when he posted the LPR comments. “But these people are actively advocating initiating force by thwarting Governor Jared Polis’ lawfully issued executive orders and thereby putting lives in jeopardy by turning themselves into disease vectors. This is the sort of behavior that needs be discouraged in the most expeditious way possible. So if you know these people, talk some sense into them.”

Fladen, who also wrote that LPR teaches “empty sloganeering,” was subsequently banned from the page, he says, but he has no regrets.

“We need to encourage others to respect the measures that are in place to protect us,” he told the Colorado Times Recorder, saying the issue goes beyond LPR alumnae to anyone who sees these kinds of remarks on social media or anywhere.

LPR President Shari Williams did not return a call seeking to know if she was aware of the Facebook comments and if she believes LPR should push back on the notion that restaurants and others should commit civil disobedience during a pandemic.

Graduates of LPR, which was originally called Republican Leadership Program and his ties to the Koch network, expressed different opinions about whether LPR itself and others should speak up against the sentiments in the comments.

State Rep. Larry Liston (R-Colorado Springs), who went through LPR in 1989, called Polis’ restaurant order “pretty heavy-handed” and supports restaurants who decide to stay open for dine in services.

“It’s no skin off of his back,” said Liston, referring to Polis. “He’s a mega-millionaire. He’s got it made.”

“It’s life or death for some of these restaurateurs,” he said.

Liston said he would personally eat at “any number of restaurants” that stay open, and he would support their decision to operate in violation of Polis’ order to shut down for dine-in service.

“Personally, just speaking for myself, there’s probably any number of restaurants that I would go into,” said Liston. “I would be very cognizant of my surroundings, to make sure everything is swabbed down, not just with a dirty dish towel.”

“I think a good restaurant could use this to its advantage and say, ‘We are going to go above and beyond to make the customer safe, and then let the customer decide,'” said Liston.

“I can envision a restaurant owner saying, ‘Hey, this is my survival. And I am going to do what I think is right. I’m going to have a good clean environment. I’m going to make sure my employees wash their hands three times an hour or whatever. I’m going to do my best to serve the public and stay in busininess,'” said Liston.

LPR graduate Kevin Lundberg, a former state senator, said he also was “troubled” by the Polis restaurant order.

“If I were governor, I would not have ordered it,” said Lundberg. “Just strongly suggested at this stage.”

“It doesn’t have to come from a government mandate,” said Lundberg, adding that he isn’t sure Colorado has reached the point where Polis’ order is justified under the law and therefore could be “overreach.”

The legal basis for Polis’ emergency orders is available on website of the governor’s office.

“It should come from responsible citizens, and it’s what most of us are doing.” said Lundberg. “I certainly am.”

“I want us to come out of this with a structure of governance, not a paradigm shift of who’s in charge of what,” said Lundberg.

State Sen. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) supports at least abiding by the restaurant shutdown ordered by Polis, who’s gotten bipartisan praise for his handling of the crisis.

“As a state senator and attorney, I don’t suggest that anyone defy the order,” said Gardner when told that some conservatives were saying they would ignore it. “I think it’s far better to challenge the order in court.”

“The courts remain open,” said Gardner, who’s also an LPR graduate. “And the Legislature remains able to meet, even though we are adjourned. There is no need to behave as if there are not legal ways to seek redress with respect to the governor’s orders.”

“I believe that some of the governor’s orders are overly broad,” he said. “There may be reasons to limit various sizes of meetings. But some of them are clearly an infringement on First Amendment rights. I see a lack of care and thought is drafting some of these orders. The situation is serious but it should not prevent us from having a little thought in how we do things.”

Subbing for Mandy Connell on KOA Tuesday, Mike Rosen, a staunch Republican, pushed back on callers who opposed the restaurant ban, saying “Overreaction is better than under-reaction.”

In an interview with The Denver Post yesterday, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) called it “craziness” to shutter restaurants.

“You don’t shut restaurants down for 30 days,” Buck told The Post.

“I have no problem with (stopping) sporting events or things that don’t impact our civil liberties and don’t impact everyday life. Those are things that I think we can suspend for a period of time. But it’s just craziness to shut down businesses or parts of the economy that are absolutely necessary,” the congressman added.

Buck’s public statements do not reveal if he would encourage restaurants to violate the shutdown order.

21 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    @ Senator Larry Liston: "…..then let the customer decide."

    Restaurant is clean and sanitized; staff washes their hands every 10 minutes……. 

    How do Senator Liston and former Senator Lundberg plan to protect diners from other diners? You boys didn't think about that, did you?

    • JohnInDenver says:

      As best I can tell, there is a law in place prohibiting Representatives and Senators from trading on insider knowledge.

      The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act (Pub.L. 112-105, S. 2038, 126 Stat. 291, enacted April 4, 2012) is an Act of Congress designed to combat insider trading.It was signed into law by President Barack Obama on April 4, 2012. The bill prohibits the use of non-public information for private profit, including insider trading by members of Congress and other government employees.

      I personally would have thought there would have been some educational value and deterrence by the verdict in the case involving Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY). 

      [He] was indicted in 2018 for federal crimes related to insider trading after being accused of using nonpublic information he obtained while he was a member of the House of Representatives and sitting on the committee that oversees the pharmaceutical industry in which he heavily invested.

      Collins pleaded guilty to two counts, resigned from the House, and was sentenced to 26 months in prison for his role in an insider trading scheme.

  2. Duke Cox says:

    I am very proud of “Der Fladenmaus”. Nicely done, Elliot.

    My Cat wonders if Listons’ intention extends to Chinese restaurants?

    Or only “Murikan” eateries?

    • kwtree says:

      Good work, Elliott. 

      I do see the other side, from my family’s perspective. My niece, is a bartender in San Francisco, and is now unemployed in one of the most expensive places to live on earth. My sister, who is waiting for her covid19 test results, depends partly on the air BnB they run in Boulder. If she’s positive, that income is also probably going blooey. I have, of course, lost a third of my income when schools closed. My daughter got her first job after having her baby. It was, unfortunately, in an upscale restaurant that has now closed for at least 30 days. She does have other skills and will be pursuing other job options.

      But so many people really don’t have other options. For the family restaurants, the immigrants laboring in the kitchens and laundries – the servers and bussers – the whole  hospitality industry is full of people who don’t have other job skills.  Yes, keeping bars and restaurants closed will save lives, by keeping the virus from spreading so fast – but it is also ruining lives. If this stimulus money doesn’t come through or isn’t enough or doesn’t last- what then? 

      Republicans won’t raise taxes to pay for all of this trillions of dollars in disaster spending. For them, it’s “magic money” that the next Democratic administration will have to figure out how to pay for. And will the restaurant and hotel workers actually see any of that money?

      This rambling rant is to say yes, make those brutal choices, demand sacrifices – but don’t judge the people who are unhappy with forced choices and unwilling sacrifices. They have a right to feel what they feel, and to express it appropriately. The problem with these GOP legislators is that they are being willfully blind to the science and expressing themselves in bigoted and scapegoating ways. 


      • MADCO says:

        Not obscure

        – If you are not infected, stay that way

        – Don't infect others.




      • kickshot says:

        The GOP’s willingness to throw out a safety net varies inversely with their short-term expectations for electoral success. They know that dump is toast. That became obvious when Burr and his cronies triggered and/or participated in the stock market selloff. Dump lost the only platform that could have propped him up. He can’t even slime socialists anymore.

  3. ElliotFladen says:

    For sure there is MASSIVE costs associated with shutting everything down.  But this is a pandemic; the alternative is having millions die gasping for air desperately needing a ventilator as they suffocate but not being able to get one as the system got overwhelmed 

    • Diogenesdemar says:


      Do you ever ask yourself why you remain in the party of Ttump?  Actually, I’m sure you have — so, why?  You don’t seem like an “inertia” guy, nor even a “tradition” guy?

      Realistically, do you even hope, let alone dare to imagine, that there’s actually still any Republican Party (except in name only) left remaining?


  4. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    One place to find real Republicans……..

    TheBulwark dot com .     "Conservatism conserved."

  5. Duke Cox says:

    I am curious if we will ever be able to quantify how many people died because of the words, "It's just the flu."

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