As the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports, freshman Rep. Ron Hanks of Penrose, who skipped out on the initial part of this year’s legislative session after showing up on January 13th to be sworn in a week after traveling to Washington, D.C. for the now-infamous January 6th “Stop the Steal” rally, came to work at the Colorado state capitol yesterday to take his lumps. And take lumps he did, a bit more than Democratic leaders in the Colorado House had anticipated:
A Colorado House Democrat called on Tuesday for the state legislature to consider stripping Republican Rep. Ron Hanks of his committees or even expelling him for attending the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C.
The move by La Jara Rep. Donald Valdez on the day the legislative session restarted shows the ripples of last month’s insurrection across the country. It also came as a surprise to fellow Democrats as well as the House speaker, who admonished Valdez for using his moment of personal privilege to condemn anyone’s motives outside the Colorado Capitol.
As for Rep. Hanks himself, “unapologetic” is the word of the day:
In an interview with The Denver Post on Tuesday, Hanks said he stands “by everything I did on the sixth of January.” [Pols emphasis]
“As we stood between the Washington Monument and the White House, outstanding people. Those are Americans. If he wants to castigate them, that’s on him,” Hanks said of Valdez…
Hanks wrote a letter about his experience at Trump’s rally, suggesting that those who breached the White House were Antifa, not the same people from the rally. There has been no evidence that is true.
In addition to factlessly trying to blame “Antifa” for the riot at the U.S. Capitol carried out by fellow supporters of now ex-President Donald Trump, Rep. Hanks wrote a letter to his supporters just a few days before President Joe Biden was sworn into office (and after Rep. Hanks’ own swearing in) suggesting that “foreign intelligence” may yet reveal evidence of election fraud to stop Biden’s inauguration–and that “there is a nuclear and national security aspect to this election that must not fall into the hands of foreign enemies or their domestic agents.”
That is, Joe Biden.
Clearly, with the benefit of hindsight Rep. Hanks’ trip to D.C. to protest an election that was long over, and Hanks’ hope against hope right up until Biden’s inauguration on January 20th that some kind of “QAnon”-style deus ex machina would swoop in to award Trump another four years on the basis of their amazing new evidence, looks really stupid today. With respect to criminal liability Hanks may have for his participation in what became an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, however, it’s true that nothing has come out as of this writing to suggest Hanks violated the Capitol Police perimeter or entered the Capitol building.
Assuming Hanks is not charged and no further evidence emerges that he went farther on January 6th than he claims, it’s probably right that he hasn’t committed an offense worthy of being expelled from the Colorado House. If anything, Hanks’ lack of clear communication about his health issues after disappearing from the legislature in January is the more immediately troubling question. Hanks claims now that he was tested for COVID after falling ill and the test was negative, but his trip to D.C. to protest in the middle of the pandemic was itself extremely risky, warranting a quarantine period Hanks never underwent–and the lack of an honest explanation for his illness from Republican leadership was very concerning to others in the building who had shared airspace with him.
With all of this in mind, while we don’t expect expulsion is forthcoming, it’s clear that Rep. Hanks is going to be an interesting addition to the “House Crazy” caucus–a term originally coined by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar back in his state legislature days to describe the rotating pack of hard-right Republican ideologues more interested in wacky grandstands than governing.
No matter how small the GOP House minority becomes, there’s always room for another “House Crazy.”