And Now For Some Homegrown Election Dezinformatsiya

UPDATE: CBS4 Denver News Director Tim Wieland says this bit of fake news is coming down:

This comes after the story was picked up by none other than Donald Trump, Jr. himself:

We’re pleased to see this, but coming fully two days after the original story spread far and wide the damage is most likely done. It’s just not possible for a local TV news outlet to spread their correction as widely as the conservative media machine is spreading the original false story.

And that…really sucks.


CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd.

CBS4 Denver’s longtime “Political Specialist” Shaun Boyd has come under fire many times in her career for regularly–though with some notable exceptions–serving as a go-to for local Republicans looking to see their desired spin imparted to various stories being reportedly accurately “unfairly” by other outlets. Last night, however, Boyd aired a story that went considerably farther than spin–making the ostensibly scandalous and Trump-friendly allegation that the Colorado Secretary of State’s office is “encouraging” noncitizens and dead people to vote:

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is defending the accuracy of its voter rolls after CBS4 learned the office mailed postcards urging some non-citizens and dead people to go online and register to vote. Karen Anderson says she opened her mail about a week ago to find one of the postcards. It was addressed to her mom…

“I don’t know where they’re harvesting names from but (they’re) doing it without obviously doing any kind of check,” said Anderson.

There’s the lede, and here’s the end of the story:

Anderson wrote a letter to the Secretary of State’s Office last week asking why it mailed a postcard to her dead mother. She says she still hasn’t heard back, “You hear about them trying to register dead people but I never really thought I’d see it.” [Pols emphasis]

And with that, Shaun Boyd has just wrote a story guaranteed to go viral on conservative media, which it already is this morning–reinforcing an alternate reality promoted by Donald Trump in which Colorado’s mail ballot election system is ripe for/rife with fraud. But is there anything actually problematic happening?

In a word, no–two words, hell no:

The first paragraph of Boyd’s story states that “Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is defending the accuracy of its voter rolls.” The problem with this is that the mailing list for this post card didn’t come from Colorado’s voter rolls at all. It was derived from a variety of public sources of information, intended for people who are not registered to vote, and does not change any of the requirements to register to vote like being a live U.S. citizen. It’s literally the first line of the voter registration form in Colorado:

It’s true that the voter registration form in Colorado does not expressly ask if you are, you know, dead. The presumption here, we believe being reasonable people, is that that dead people can not fill out voter registration forms, therefore anyone attempting to register a dead person to vote is already committing a crime.

This is the sort of garbage mischaracterization of uncontroversial reality that normally gets reported by a right-wing blog or faux news site, makes its way around the conservative media echo chamber, and then is either brushed off or debunked with gusto by responsible media as an example of election misinformation. Unfortunately in this case, the misinformation is being put out under the banner of a major local media outlet. Whatever that means for CBS4 Denver’s credibility in the future, it’s hugely problematic today.

Colorado doesn’t need the Russians. We’ve got Shaun Boyd.


Weekend Open Thread

“I know that when people pull apart, they usually employ misunderstanding as a weapon, deliberately getting hold of the stick’s wrong end, impaling themselves on its point in order to prove the perfidy of the other.”

–Salman Rushdie


Trump Picks Amy Coney Barrett For RBG’s SCOTUS Seat

Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

CNN reports, and the American culture wars enter a new and perilous phase:

President Donald Trump intends to choose Amy Coney Barrett to be the new Supreme Court justice, according to multiple senior Republican sources with knowledge of the process…

Barrett has been the leading choice throughout the week, since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. She is the only potential nominee known to have met with the President in person, according to two of the sources. One source said Trump was familiar with Barrett already and he met with her since she was a top contender the last time there was a Supreme Court vacancy, when the President chose Justice Brett Kavanaugh instead.

“The machinery is in motion,” one of the sources said. In previous nomination announcements, the White House had multiple rollouts planned in case the President made a last-minute decision to switch to another candidate. But one source said it would be surprising if there were a change since allies are already being told.

At age 48, Barrett is set to join President Donald Trump’s other two youthful Supreme Court Justices in cementing a 6-3 conservative majority just in time for the possible collapse of electoral democracy in November–and a pick now known to the world before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could even be buried. And she completes the sea change that puts rights once considered to be settled law in danger:

Amy Coney Barrett, who is expected to be Mr. Trump’s pick, meets the president’s unprecedented anti-abortion rights litmus test. The federal judge has referred to abortion as “always immoral” and offers something a former top candidate, Barbara Lagoa, doesn’t: A clear anti-abortion rights judicial record. During her three years on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, she has already ruled on two abortion-related cases, both times favoring restrictions on access to abortion…

Many believe that overturning Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide — is no longer a hypothetical. [Pols emphasis] The vacancy on the court follows the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was not only liberal but an unequivocal supporter of abortion rights. Though Mr. Trump’s two Supreme Court nominations — Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — have been against abortion rights, both replaced conservative justices, effectively leaving the balance of the court nearly untouched.

In 2014, when now-Sen. Cory Gardner’s opponents warned as loudly as they could that he would put abortion rights in America in fundamental danger, it wasn’t possible to see then how right they were. We have arrived at a moment in history when the worst fears of 2014, dismissed as a “tired refrain” by Colorado pundits and the political oddsmakers, have been fully realized.

Vote accordingly, but understand that more than a single election will be needed now.

The country is moving one way, and the judiciary is moving the other.


Consensus Forming: Cory Gardner is D-O-N-E

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

We’ll preface this opinion with all of the necessary clichés: It’s not over until the fat lady sings. The future isn’t carved in stone. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

These are all wise sayings, but Election Day is less than 40 days away. Mail ballots in Colorado start going out in two weeks. And as we enter the final stretch of the 2020 election cycle, a consensus opinion seems to be forming about Colorado’s U.S. Senate race.

As Ella Nilsen writes for, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is toast, thanks in part to his close association with President Trump. We’d recommend reading the entire article for the full effect, but take a look at some of the opinions provided in the story; not one of them is from someone who thinks Gardner is going to beat Democrat John Hickenlooper in November:

Jessica Taylor, Cook Political Report Senate Editor

“Gardner is one of the best incumbents [Republicans] have running; it’s just that he’s running in one of the toughest states for them,” said Cook Political Report Senate editor Jessica Taylor, who recently moved Cook’s Colorado Senate race rating from a toss-up to Lean Democratic.

Dick Wadhams, Republican Strategist and former State GOP Chair:

“I think there will be a slice of the electorate who will vote for Joe Biden over Donald Trump but will vote for Cory Gardner as well if they can be convinced he’s been an effective senator for Colorado,” said Dick Wadhams, a Colorado Republican strategist and former chair of the state GOP. “That’s Cory’s only path for victory.”

“If Trump moves toward losing the state by 10 points, it makes it virtually impossible for Cory to win.”

Dave Flaherty, Republican Pollster (Magellan Strategies)

“He’s twisting himself in knots,” Colorado Republican pollster Dave Flaherty told Vox. “Justice Ginsburg’s death is an example. l think that is going to be hard to get away from; that is going to hurt him.”

“The fact Gardner has to spend hard-earned dollars to do the negative on his own is an interesting observation [of] where outside money is in a very long list of Republicans that need to be defended by Mitch [McConnell].”

Josh Freed of the center-left think tank Third Way

“Cory Gardner, unfortunately he is the example of a Republican Party that has fallen in lockstep behind a maniac,” said Josh Freed, the founder of the Climate and Energy Program at the center-left think tank Third Way. “Gardner is saying to Coloradans, ‘Don’t pay attention to my entire record; pay attention to this one thing.’ Gardner is the neighbor whose willful negligence caused your house to burn down, and he knocks on the door to apologize by bringing you a potted plant.”

Former Colorado House Majority Leader Alice Madden

“I know Cory and I served with him,” said former Colorado House Majority Leader Alice Madden, a Democrat. “He has been the king of trying to make everybody happy without doing a lot.”

Jonathan Houck, Gunnison County Commissioner

“I’ve often had a more difficult time nailing down where his position actually is,” said Jonathan Houck, a commissioner in Colorado’s Gunnison County. “He doesn’t seem to engage at a level that’s easy to discern off the bat, it takes some digging to get there.”

“I’m also supporting [Hickenlooper] because he’s done the work here,” Houck said. “The western and eastern parts of the state are sparsely populated. When John Hickenlooper was governor, he was governor of the whole state and he didn’t forget about rural folks out here.”

As you can see, there is not a lot of confusion on this topic.

Gardner has no real message in 2020, other than trying to convince voters that he’s a better version of Hickenlooper. His ridiculous flip-flop on confirming a new Supreme Court Justice is the latest in a long line of baffling failures that are out of step with the Colorado electorate. Fact checkers regularly demolish his carefully-hewn talking points, and his own television ads are idiotic. His refusal to discuss anything, with reporters or constituents, has become a running joke.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over, but the consensus opinion is that it’s right around the corner.


“Q*Bert” Crosses Up Her Talking Points

Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, the Republican candidate for Congress in CO-3, is very comfortable in the role of right-wing provocateur. Boebert has the Fox News shtick figured out, and she knows her talking points…but she doesn’t quite seem to understand how those talking points are supposed to fit together.

Boebert was a guest on Fox Business this morning. We know this because Boebert Tweeted out a segment of her interview:

Boebert is obviously pleased with her interview since she is eagerly promoting the content. But there are a couple of “record scratch” moments in this two-minute clip that make Boebert seem like a foreign language student who has memorized many of her vocabulary words but still hasn’t figured out how to fit them into a sentence correctly.

Necesito hacer popó. Donde está la bibiloteca?

For example, Boebert bashes her opponent (Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush) for being a “socialist” and wanting to “bankrupt the country” with The Green New Deal. Boebert actually says that she is not opposed to renewable energy in general, but she gets a bit lost in trying to make her point about energy independence:

“We cannot be energy independent with only renewables, and especially when we are outsourcing to China, to Africa, where we know that they often use child and slave labor.”

Say what, now?

Our best guess here is that Boebert is referring to a talking point that State Sen. Vicki Marble has used before — that the lithium mined for batteries needed for electric cars comes from child labor in Africa (or something). If that is not what Boebert is trying to reference, then we’ve got nothing else to help you here.

Boebert babbles on:

“We have the world’s cleanest coal, right here in Colorado.”

Boebert seems to understand the clean coal process about as well as President Trump, who likes to talk about “clean coal” as though it is a shinier piece of rock. As wrote in November 2018:

In his rallies, President Donald Trump repeatedly talks about “clean coal,” using the phrase more than a dozen times over the past three months. He also has said in other appearances that clean coal can be exported or “loaded up” on railway cars.

But “clean coal” refers to technologies deployed at power plants that make coal cleaner to burn, not to the fuel itself. Modern definitions require cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, and the only way to do that in a substantial way is through carbon capture. Just two coal power plants in the world use the technique, and it makes up less than 0.1 percent of American coal-fired capacity.

Speaking of things that are “clean,” Boebert then moves along to natural gas and the Jordan Cove Pipeline project:

“Our clean liquid natural gas could be sold to countries all across the world, and get them out of the grips of tyrannical, communist leaders. We can free other countries.”

Purchasing natural gas from the United States = freedom?

We assume the basic gist of this statement is that people might be able to break free from dictatorships if they had access to cheaper sources of energy, which…maybe?

As we’ve written before in this space, it’s fine to support Boebert as long as you understand that there are a LOT of policy issues that Boebert does not seem to understand herself.


Even Now, Cory Gardner Can’t Say Trump’s Name

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.

Remarks by President Donald Trump this week suggesting he may not accede to a peaceful transfer of power in the event he loses the election in November have sparked outrage, and deepened concerns about an impending constitutional crisis. As Colorado Public Radio’s Michelle Fulcher reports, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado took to the Senate floor yesterday to condemn the President’s latest comments in the strongest unprofane terms:

Sen. Michael Bennet blasted President Donald Trump Thursday over his refusal to commit to a peaceful transition if he loses in November. The Colorado Democrat also continued to condemn the Senate’s Republican leadership for pushing a fast vote to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

In the White House briefing room Wednesday, Trump said “we’re going to have to see what happens” in response to a question about whether he would agree to a peaceful transition of power. The president’s answer rankled Bennet.

“In the history of this country we have never had a president, a Republican or a Democrat, who’s saying the kind of things that Donald Trump is saying at this point,” he said. “He’s become unhinged.” [Pols emphasis]

Even most Republicans were forced against their will yesterday to grudgingly speak up and assure the nation that yes, there will be a peaceful transfer of power no matter the outcome of the election, just as there has been in every American presidential election. The Denver Post’s Alex Burness has Sen. Cory Gardner’s version of the carefully-worded script:

“That’s something I’ve talked about in speeches from my very first days when Nancy Pelosi peacefully handed the gavel over to John Boehner,” Gardner said when asked to comment on Trump’s statement. “It’s a hallmark of our democracy. And I’ve spoken at length about it in the past about the continued need to use that as a symbol of democracy,” according to a pool report from Washington, D.C.

Though Gardner endorsed the concept of a peaceful transfer of power, he did not directly address what the president said, nor did he utter Trump’s name. [Pols emphasis] Trump earlier this week described Gardner as “very, very loyal to the party,” and has previously thanked him for unwavering support.

It’s a similar answer to the one Gardner gave when Trump suggested the 2020 elections might need to be delayed due to Trump’s fictional concerns about mail-in ballots–reassuring in the abstract, without actually addressing the reason we’re even discussing such decidedly un-American ideas as delaying and defying the results of elections.

The reason we are talking about the seemingly unthinkable possibility of delaying and/or defying elections in America is because Donald Trump, the man Cory Gardner has endorsed for re-election as President of the United States, talked about it first. Every time Cory Gardner sidesteps the words of the President he supports without acknowledging why the conversation is happening, he doesn’t actually help himself with either side of the electorate. It’s just enough to hurt Gardner with the GOP base, but not nearly enough save him in November. The cowardice of refusing to name Trump as the cause of all this uncertainty negates any praise Gardner might expect for contradicting Trump on the issue.

When it’s all over–maybe then Cory Gardner will find the courage to say Trump’s name.


Friday Open Thread

“I’ve come to learn there is a virtuous cycle to transparency and a very vicious cycle of obfuscation.”

–Jeff Weiner


Lauren Boebert’s Latest “QAnon” Retort Is The Worst Yet

AP’s James Anderson has the latest must-read dive into the spotty record of Republican CD-3 upstart nominee Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, whose past expressions of support for the debunked “QAnon” conspiracy theory about Donald Trump’s global war against a secret cabal of ruling pedophiles have landed her in a select group of nationally lampooned Republican candidates in this singularly (we hope) wacky election season.

Boebert’s current answer on the question of “QAnon,” after some weeks to come up with a better one, has not improved:

Boebert briefly commented on QAnon during a May interview with internet journalist Ann Vandersteel, whose site highlights conspiracy theories. Pressed by Vandersteel, she said, “If this is real, it could be really great for our country.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Boebert decried the efforts to tie her to QAnon. She said that criticism comes from a playbook in which Democrats campaigning remotely because of the coronavirus are waiting for candidates like herself to slip up.

“I made one comment: A polite ‘yes’ on a podcast,” she said. [Pols emphasis] “That one comment has been stretched and exaggerated. They can’t win on policy. It’s part of their frustration, and it will backfire.”

The problem with this answer is that it’s completely false, and everyone who has been following Boebert’s homespun campaign knows it’s false. Starting with Boebert’s original comments to QAnon/Seth Rich/Pizzagate maven Ann Vandersteel:

“Honestly, everything that I’ve heard on ‘Q’ — I hope that this is real, because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values. And that’s what I am for. And, so, everything that I have heard of this movement is only motivating and encouraging and bringing people together, stronger, and if this is real, then it could be really great for our country.”

Please do your own word count, but that looks to us like considerably more than the word “yes.”

Earlier this month, the Colorado Times Recorder reported that Boebert deleted a Youtube profile with multiple subscriptions to “QAnon” conspiracy theory channels. It’s entirely likely that one of those channels is what set Boebert off on Twitter decrying Tom Hanks’ acceptance of Greek citizenship, which is a major sidebar of the “Q” theories about Hollywood pedophiles and an international conspiracy to steal the blood of children and stay forever young.

Back in July, after unexpectedly winning the GOP nomination for Scott Tipton’s seat, Boebert addressed the “QAnon” question, and made a surprising admission about why Republicans are not making any real effort to shun “QAnon” adherents:

“The thing that I was referring to — anything that’s going to get conservatives to get involved with politics is definitely interesting and worth looking at.” [Pols emphasis]

Because “QAnon” believers are 1. a large percentage of the Republican base, and 2. voters. This is one of the more frank admissions we’ve seen from any Republican for why seemingly well-adjusted people–we are not including Boebert in this assessment–deliberately court believers in a totally unhinged fantasy world.

Given Boebert’s (we keep trying to find nice ways to say this) limited acumen, we’re inclined to think her Q-curiosity is not personally lucid of the fact that it’s a diversion intended solely to keep a particularly impressionable segment of the Republican electorate pacified. There’s no reason for Boebert to think critically about “QAnon,” because she has no reality-based frame of reference from which to know it’s nonsense. Now that she’s running in a marquee race for Congress, like most fringe viewpoints one can get away with in obscurity, this realization is seriously damaging.

A better response was urgently needed weeks ago. At this point, Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert is defined.


Throwback Thursday: Cory Gardner Rages Over “Brosurance”

As FOX 31’s Eli Stokols reported in October of 2013, then-Rep. Cory Gardner wasn’t much concerned back then about protecting patients with pre-existing conditions like he claims to be today, or anything else in the Affordable Care Act, which his single-minded purpose in office up to that time and years since has been to repeal.

No, in 2013, Gardner was incensed about a pro-Obamacare ad called “Brosurance.”

During Wednesday’s hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Gardner held up a large poster board showing the ad itself, which shows three young men engaged in a keg stand under the text, ‘Got Insurance?’

“Do you agree with this kind of advertising?” Gardner asked, gesturing toward the poster board held up by a staffer over his shoulder.

“I can’t see it,” Sebelius responded.

“It’s a college student doing a keg stand,” Gardner explained.

“I did not approve it,” Sebelius answered, talking over Gardner. “This is a state-based marketplace.”

Gardner also referred to the Brosurance campaign as something “that a board member of the Colorado exchange brought forward”, although the ad is actually the work of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and Progress Now, two progressive groups that are not associated with Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s exchange.

Now the first problem with this is, as we said at the time, is that the ad in question was in no way under the control of then-HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, being just one of many independent efforts to spread the word about the new coverage options available to Americans under the Affordable Care Act. In this case, the ad didn’t even have any official connection to the Colorado health coverage marketplace it was promoting. And because Sebelius had nothing whatsoever to do with the “Brosurance” ad, Cory Gardner pestering her about it in an official hearing was a colossal waste of everyone’s time.

It’s a moment lost down the memory hole after years of hot air over the Affordable Care Act, which has only gained popularity since its passage despite a ruthless campaign of over-the-top misinformation against it. But it’s an excellent example of how little Republicans like Cory Gardner cared about health care policy during their ultimately failed campaign to repeal the law. Petty grandstands like this faux outrage over “Brosurance,” and misinformation such as Gardner’s false claims of “hundreds of thousands of cancellations” while the ACA drove the rate of uninsured in Colorado to record lows, have been the whole strategy–up until the 117-word bill Gardner introduced this summer to paper over a decade of not caring about people with pre-existing conditions.

In 2020, kegstands for health coverage seem like a small complaint indeed.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (September 24)

Election Day is now 40 days away. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
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*Register to vote or get other election-related information:


► Dear Leader Trump is worried enough about his odds of winning another term in office that he is refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the increasingly-likely scenario in which he loses to Democrat Joe Biden. As The New York Times reports:

Via The New York Times (9/23/20)

Asked whether he would “commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the November election,” Mr. Trump demurred, passing on a chance to call for a calm and orderly election process.

“We’re going to have to see what happens,” he told a reporter during a news conference at the White House. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”…

…“Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” the president said. That was an apparent reference to mail-in ballots, which for months he has railed against, without evidence, as rife with fraud and likely to produce a delayed, tainted or outright illegitimate election result.

Mr. Trump’s refusal — or inability — to endorse perhaps the most fundamental tenet of American democracy, as any president in memory surely would have, was the latest instance in which he has cast grave uncertainty around the November election and its aftermath. Democrats are growing increasingly alarmed as Mr. Trump repeatedly questions the integrity of the vote and suggests that he might not accept the results if he loses.

Democrats may be growing increasingly alarmed, but what about Republicans? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that there would be an “orderly transition” in January but wouldn’t comment on Trump’s earlier statement. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) blasted the suggestion that a peaceful transfer of power would even be questioned by a sitting President. But for the most part, Republicans stayed quiet. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner? He said some…words:


As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, Trump’s recent comments about the upcoming election are quite troubling:

Add it all up and we have a President who is now on record saying: a) he won’t commit to a peaceful transition of power unless b) all mail-in ballots are eliminated because c) that would mean he would win again and d) has repeatedly raised the possibility of staying on beyond even the eight-year term limit on the presidency…

…So, what Trump is doing is creating the perfect excuse to never concede: He is saying that the vote will be fair and he will agree to a peaceful transition of power if there are no mail-in votes. Which he knows literally cannot happen. And so, if he loses, he already has his fallback plan in place: The acceptance of mail-in ballots means the entire election was a hoax and a fraud. And why should he admit he lost an election that was rigged against him?…

…If you don’t think that’s a uniquely dangerous position to hold for the continued strength of our democracy, well, you’re just not paying attention.


With coronavirus cases increasing in the area, Boulder County Public Health issued a new order for residents between the age of 18-22. As Denver7 reports:

In an effort to slow the sharp rise of positive COVID-19 cases in Boulder, and transmission of those 18 to 22 years old, Boulder County Public Health issued a new public health order that prohibits all people in that age group from gatherings of any size.

This applies to all indoor, outdoor, on-campus and off-campus locations, according to the order.

In addition, the order identified 36 addresses where people have repeatedly violated the public health orders, and requires those individuals to stay at their residence at all times. The only exceptions to this part of the order are to seek medical care, exercise outside alone, and obtain necessary supplies such as food, pet food, medical supplies and products needed for safety and sanitation via curbside pickup or contact-less delivery.


► Sandra Fish of The Colorado Sun takes a look at Senate District 27, which appears to be the top State Senate battleground of 2020. This story is not good for Republican candidate Suzanne Staiert:

Staiert is representing a dark money nonprofit whose affiliated super PAC spent $175,000 on advertising supporting her campaign.

It’s the newest twist in a nasty campaign filled with mailers and digital and TV advertising that question her past job as deputy secretary of state. She even filed a criminal complaint regarding one of the mailers that she says is false.

Staiert faces Democrat Chris Kolker, a financial planner, in a seat being vacated by current Republican state Sen. Jack Tate. Kolker is an afterthought in the campaign, barely mentioned in the messages from outside political groups who are aiming at Staiert, the attorney who pressed ethics complaints against former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

More than $508,000 in outside spending is targeting Senate District 27, most of it opposing Staiert. It’s one of the Democratic Party’s top legislative contests in the November election, and a Sun analysis shows the district is seeing the most outside money of any statehouse race so far.

Staiert has a strange record of shady affiliations with dark money groups. She is also very sensitive to any sort of criticism. “It’s been really just stressful and unpleasant,” says Staiert of the common practice of examining candidate records and backgrounds.


 Several new data points make the case that another Blue Wave is coming to Colorado. Read until the end for the “Holy Shit Numbers.”


More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…




Gardner or Hickenlooper…and By How Much?

Sen. Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper.

When we last asked this question in early September, the results indicated again that Democrat John Hickenlooper is headed for a comfortable victory over Republican Cory Gardner in November.

Ballots will start going out in a little more than two weeks, so it’s time to ask once more: Who is going to win Colorado’s marquee race? Senator Cory Gardner or former Governor John Hickenlooper? This is obviously not a scientific survey, but Colorado Pols readers have traditionally been pretty accurate in predicting the outcomes of big races in Colorado.

As always, we want to know what you think will happen here — not what you want to happen or who you personally might support. If you had to place a bet — right now — on one of the following options, what would you select?

Click after the jump to cast your vote…




Caption This Photo: Worst Test Drive Ever

Former infamously freak-right state Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt may have missed out on a bid for El Paso County Commissioner in this year’s troubled Republican assemblies, but that hasn’t stopped him from living large–sort of, anyway:

Reportedly, Klingenschmitt’s online “ministry” of Youtube sermons and interviews was at least at one point a fairly lucrative gig–probably not $200,000 Porsche lucrative, though, and we suspect that since Klingenschmitt’s self-engineered removal from legislative office his star power has dimmed considerably. Better luck next primary, we guess.

Who do we sympathize with? That poor car salesman, fully aware that he is, as they say in the retail automotive business, “schlepping a lookie-loo.”


This Is An Actual Lede About Your President

President Donald Trump.

The Washington Post’s Greg Miller reports, and we have nothing to add:

In unguarded moments with senior aides, President Trump has maintained that Black Americans have mainly themselves to blame in their struggle for equality, hindered more by lack of initiative than societal impediments, according to current and former U.S. officials.

After phone calls with Jewish lawmakers, Trump has muttered that Jews “are only in it for themselves” and “stick together” in an ethnic allegiance that exceeds other loyalties, officials said.

Trump’s private musings about Hispanics match the vitriol he has displayed in public, and his antipathy to Africa is so ingrained that when first lady Melania Trump planned a 2018 trip to that continent he railed that he “could never understand why she would want to go there.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.


Watch Closely When Politically Connected Gun Nuts Kill

UPDATE #2: The Loveland Reporter-Herald updates that Brandon McLaughlin has been released from Larimer County Jail as the investigation continues, over the objections of the family of the victim:

“Frustration does not even come close to how the family feels about this decision from the DA,” she said when reached by telephone after the hearing. “We are crestfallen. We are shocked. And every single member of the family is devastated that this happened today.”

She said that prosecutors explained that the investigation is continuing and could result in future charges. But for today, the man who shot their son, brother, husband and father was released from jail without charges.

“We don’t know what that means,” Kimber Kreutzer said. “We don’t know what they are investigating. I know that the case is closed, and I know that Brandon McLaughlin gets to leave jail, and we as a family do not agree with that decision. The whole family is united that we did not want to see him leave jail.”

We’ll be following this closely.


UPDATE: The Fort Collins Coloradans updates from today’s hearing–no formal charges yet, though Brandon McLaughlin reportedly is still in custody on a $100,000 bond:

“It is clear that Mr. McLaughlin shot and killed the victim; however, the exact circumstances of the interaction between the two men remain unclear,” Jodi Lacey, district attorney’s office spokesperson, said in an email.

Investigators are still trying to determine whether McLaughlin acted in self-defense or in defense of someone else, and if not, if he acted with intent or deliberation, according to Wednesday’s announcement.

A first-degree murder conviction requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted after deliberation with the intent to cause the death of another person. The lesser charge of second-degree murder only requires a determination that the person knowingly caused the death of another person, according to state law.

We’ll continue to follow this story as it develops, but at the very least it’s confirmation of the old rule that where guns are present, tragedy ensues. It’s true even in the most devout of gun-worshipping households.

And depending on what happens next, the resolution of this case could raise its own questions.


Brandon Gerald McLaughlin, charged with first-degree murder in Larimer County.

This afternoon at 1:30PM in the Larimer County Justice Center, there’s a hearing on a disturbing case out of Berthoud of an alleged first-degree murder committed earlier this month by a man with connections to Northern Colorado’s increasingly notorious far-right gun rights activism scene. As the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported last week:

[Brandon] McLaughlin, 37, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder on Sept. 5 by Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputies when they responded to an early-morning disturbance involving a gun and found the victim, 37-year-old Edward Brooks Kreutzer, at the scene.

An autopsy performed by Larimer County Coroner James A. Wilkerson IV found that the manner of Kreutzer’s death was homicide and the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.

In the first appearance Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Robert Axmacher said the evidence in the case was “overwhelming” against McLaughlin and asked that bond be set to a $250,000 cash, property or surety bond…

Despite this request for a high bond, the attorney for accused murderer Brandon McLaughlin, Dagna Van Der Jagt, persuaded presiding Judge Greg Lammons to reduce the bond to a workable figure for the defendant:

Eighth Judicial District Judge Greg Lammons who is presiding over the case set McLaughlin’s bond at $100,000 and included the prohibition of alcohol, drugs and weapons, enhanced pretrial release supervision, GPS monitoring and prohibits McLaughlin from going within a certain distance of Kreutzer’s widow’s place of employment or the home where his child resides.

There’s no reason to assume any impropriety in the decision to allow this first-degree murder suspect to bond out of jail awaiting trial, although bonds for first-degree murder defendants are considered rare. With that said, there’s a high degree of interest around today’s hearing in Larimer County because of who the defendant is connected with. Lesley Hollywood of the local gun-rights group Rally For Our Rights testified on McLaughlin’s behalf at his bond hearing, saying that McLaughlin has been an “absolutely wonderful father” to their daughter and should be released on bond. Hollywood and the defense attorney in this case, Dagna Van Der Jagt, are both graduates of the right-wing Leadership Program of the Rockies political candidate training program. Since the passage of Colorado’s landmark gun safety bills in 2013 and continuing with 2019’s “red flag” law, Hollywood (not her real name of course) has found her calling as Dudley Brown’s “soccer mom” counterpart.

As for McLoughlin personally, we’re looking for more information beyond a photo of him in 2011 wearing a Revolutionary War costume beating a drum with the Northern Colorado Tea Party at the Colorado Capitol. It appears that social media presences for this individual have been scrubbed, and despite the very high degree of loquatiousness from Lesley Hollywood about any and every news story on the subject of guns, she hasn’t had anything to say about this case on her own social media. Instead, Rally For Our Rights is plowing ahead with their 2020 voters guide, “Your Rights Your Guns Your Vote.”

For those who argue the solution to every problem in society is more guns, the optics of this situation are, needless to say, not good.

That’s what we know as of this writing, and we’ll be watching this case closely to see how it develops. What we have heard but obviously can’t confirm is that behind the scenes, this case is very much on the radar of local Republican officials. What we can say based on the available information is that it deserves much more attention than it has received up until now.


Hello Again, Blue Wave

Welcome back

At this point two years ago, it was becoming clear that the 2018 election in Colorado was going to be very good for Democrats. We wouldn’t find out until much later that the 2018 cycle would be historically good for Democrats, but the signs were there by late September: Democrat Jared Polis was running away with the governor’s race, for example, and there was unmistakable “Crowmentum” in CO-6.

This year, the June Primary gave us an early glimpse that 2020 could be another strong year for Democrats in Colorado. Polling has consistently shown the top of the ticket with unmistakable blue undertones — both Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden and Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper have enjoyed a solid advantage for months now. President Trump’s re-election campaign is virtually non-existent in Colorado, with no indication that the Big Orange Guy will eventually turn his focus back to a state that he lost comfortably in 2016. And Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has turned his own re-election campaign into a vessel focused on making weird imitations of Hickenlooper.

Today we saw three more indications that 2020 is shaping up to be another banner year for the Blue Team: 1) A national prognosticator moved Colorado’s Senate race from “Toss Up” to “Lean Democrat”; 2) The DCCC is spending money on television in order to boost Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in Colorado’s most competitive Congressional race; and 3) Polling results from Douglas County suggests that a once solid-red county is now very much in play. Let’s break down each of these points individually, saving the biggest news for last…


Cook Political Report Projects Hickenlooper Victory

As Jessica Taylor writes for Cook Political Report, Gardner’s decision to support a confirmation process for a new SCOTUS nominee has probably doomed him to a November loss:

In the past we have been hesitant to move incumbents out of Toss Up unless there are extenuating circumstances. We have for two incumbents so far this cycle. First, Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in Alabama remains the heavy underdog in a state that Trump won in 2016 by 28 points. We now rate that contest as Lean Republican, with former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville favored to win. Then, in July, we moved Arizona GOP Sen. Martha McSally to the Lean Democrat column — who was appointed to this seat after losing a race for the same position just two years ago — after consistently trailing Democrat Mark Kelly.

There has been a dearth of quality public polling in Colorado too. But in talking with sources privately, Democrats have never had this race very close, often showing a low double-digit gap that has since closed to high single digits. Still, Hickenlooper has retained the edge. And several Republicans who are monitoring the race closely who may have initially hoped that Gardner could outperform the president enough to win now seriously doubt that is the case…

Gardner’s vote, though, may well seal his fate, even if it was probably heading toward a loss anyway. [Pols emphasis]

The writing has indeed been on the wall for Gardner for some time, as evidenced by the regular reluctance of Republican Super PACs to spend big money in Colorado. The status change by Cook Political Report just says out loud what many political observers in Colorado have been saying for months: There’s no good path to victory for Gardner in 2020.


Democrats Start Spending in CO-3

Diane Mitsch Bush was also the Democratic candidate for Congress in CO-3 in 2018, but she was running against an entrenched incumbent in Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez). Tipton’s loss to the comically-unqualified Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert in the June Primary opened up a new lane for Mitsch Bush that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is eager to exploit. Remember: The DCCC did not invest significant resources in CO-3 in 2018, and that bet proved correct when Mitsch Bush lost to Tipton by nearly 8 points.

In 2020, things are noticeably different for Mitsch Bush. She earned “Red to Blue” status from the DCCC in August — a marker that she wasn’t able to reach two years ago — and two consecutive polls have shown that CO-3 is essentially a toss-up. Polling shows that Biden and Trump are running neck-and-neck in this district, which is a YUGE difference from 2016, when Trump carried CO-3 by 12 points.

Voters in CO-3 are opening the door for Democrats, who are plenty happy to stroll inside and take a seat on the couch.


Douglas Freakin’ County is a Toss Up

Darien Wilson, Democratic candidate for Douglas County Commissioner

Colorado Republicans are having trouble focusing in 2020; many of their activists are out chasing their tails instead of campaigning for candidates. Whether it is the result of apathy or ignorance (probably a little of both), this sort of behavior is a dangerous combination when you add in a tough national environment for Republican candidates. Sprinkle in a bit of COVID and BLM truther idiocy, and you have a full-fledged recipe for disaster on your hands.

According to the campaign of Darien Wilson, a Democratic candidate for Douglas County Commissioner, polling data shows that this once hopelessly-red county is up for grabs in 2020. Via press release from Meyers Research:

According to the results of our recent survey, Democrat Darien Wilson has a clear path to defeating Republican incumbent Lora Thomas in the contest for Douglas County Commission. The combination of Trump’s collapse of popularity in this county and the Mountain West generally, combined with Thomas’ political attacks on the public health system during a global pandemic, create a dead heat race once contrast messages are introduced.

Wilson has the real opportunity to grow her support thanks to Donald Trump at the top of the ticket. Trump and Joe Biden are locked in a tight race, with neither candidate reaching majority at the outset: 48 percent of Douglas County voters support Biden today while 49 percent support Trump.

Initially, Thomas sits just above the majority threshold, capturing 52 percent to Wilson’s 42 percent. Once voters are introduced to contrast messages on both candidates, the race moves to a dead heat, with 48 percent of voters backing Democrat Darien Wilson and an equal 48 percent supporting Republican Lora Thomas. This race has the potential to go down to the wire come Election Day.

These are what we would call “Holy Shit Numbers.” Donald Trump carried Douglas County by better than 18 points in 2016, and Republican Walker Stapleton’s no-hope gubernatorial bid in 2018 still garnered him 55% of the vote in the southern Denver suburbs.

If Douglas County is this close in 2020, then suburban Republicans should start boarding up the windows.


There is still plenty of work to be done before (and after) ballots start arriving in mailboxes in three weeks, but it is definitely “freak out time” for the Colorado GOP.


Cory Gardner’s Hickenlooper Wannabe Campaign Continues

Hot on the heels of Sen. Cory Gardner’s last negative ad, in which Gardner lovingly hand-washes somebody’s Maserati while reciting various falsehoods about former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s record, Gardner has a new TV spot out today lamenting the fact that Hickenlooper is running negative ads about Gardner:

Back in 2010, Hickenlooper ran a particularly well-received ad in that year’s gubernatorial race depicting himself showering fully clothed–highlighting the fact that in that he didn’t campaign on negative attacks against his opponent. Of course, in 2010 Hickenlooper didn’t need to go negative, since the Republican gubernatorial campaign that year collapsed in a heap of plagiarism allegations and the emergence of a laughably unqualified GOP nominee who proceeded to garner 11% of the vote.

In 2020, nobody is going to begrudge Hickenlooper for taking the gloves off against Cory Gardner, certainly not after the ruthless character assassination campaign waged by Republicans against Hick from the moment he got into the U.S. Senate race. But with this latest ad from Gardner, there’s something else becoming quite clear: Gardner is mimicking Hickenlooper’s greatest hits as his own campaign strategy. And it’s…weird:

Here’s the problem: everybody knows Hickenlooper is the beer-drinking friendly former governor who once took a shower fully clothed. When Cory Gardner steps out of that shower, or toasts you with his Coors Light or whatever he’s drinking in the ad above, the viewer doesn’t think of Cory Gardner–they think about John Hickenlooper. Sure there’s a message in the ad attacking Hickenlooper, but the visual is just Gardner pretending to be Hickenlooper. With Gardner struggling to offer an affirmative case for re-election in a state that has abandoned his politics, these ads are practically an admission that Gardner has nothing original to offer. They’re the ads you make on the way to losing.

All that’s left now is for Gardner to jump out of his own plane.


Chuck Schumer Throws His Body On The Machine

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Michael Bennet.

As The Hill reports, Democrats in Washington are beginning to engage in whatever resistance they can without the votes to actually stop the Republican majority with steamrolling ahead on a new Supreme Court Justice six weeks before Election Day 2020:

Senate Democrats are limiting the ability to hold committee hearings in retaliation for Republicans decision to try to fill a Supreme Court seat in the middle of an election year, the first action in what is likely to be an increasingly combative battle over procedure in the Senate.

A Democratic aide confirmed that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) had invoked the so-called “two hour rule,” which can be used to limit the ability to hold committee hearings after the Senate has been in session for more than two hours…

“Because the Senate Republicans have no respect for the institution, we won’t have business as usual here in the Senate,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.

A campaign of procedural obstruction to slow down business in the Senate, not unlike the delay tactics waged by Colorado GOP minorities in the General Assembly under Democratic control in 2019, certainly do have the ability to protract and exact the maximum political damage from a majority determined to carry out their agenda. Although Republicans have the votes to push a Supreme Court nominee through to a confirmation vote, even without confirmation hearings, our local Republicans are an example of how well a cohesive minority can jam up the majority–and that’s before we start talking about the moral differences between then and now.

Procedural obstruction may not be the limit of what Democrats can do. Colorado-based liberal commentator David Sirota suggests threatening a full government shutdown, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly ruled out, or impeaching William Barr to play havoc with the Senate calendar. But we also know from Colorado experience that while the minority gets their say, it’s the majority who gets their way. And as CNN’s Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica report, it’s the threat of what Democrats have the power to do in the increasingly likely event they win the Senate majority and the White House that might prove the only real bargaining chip:

Sean McElwee, co-founder and executive director of the progressive group Data for Progress, called the threat of eliminating the filibuster, adding justices to the court and new seats in the Senate, the Democratic Senate minority’s “only credible threat.”

“You need a number of Democratic senators to be sending that message to McConnell, because it’s really the only point of leverage that Democrats have,” McElwee said. “Most of the procedural stuff that I’m seeing come out there is a bit of a fantasy, to be entirely frank.”

In the end, Democrats have little to risk from fighting it out over this nomination, and employing every kind of resistance tactic feasible to disrupt Republicans as they barrel with majority power toward the inevitable–along with very explicit promises about how Democrats will remediate the judiciary’s lurch to the right under Donald Trump after victory in November. The specific question of a government shutdown is more complicated because of the ongoing economic and health emergencies of 2020, but everything short of that seems like a no-brainer.

With all of this in mind, however, it’s not pre-emptive concession to acknowledge that this outcome was ensured by Trump’s victory in 2016, and Republican control of the U.S. Senate predating Trump. Unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blinks, the only remedy for anything that happens before next January comes at the polls in November.


Budget Crunch Forces State Employee Furloughs

As The Denver Post reports:

Most state employees who make more than $50,000 annually will be taking up to four furlough days before the end of the fiscal year, the governor’s office announced Tuesday.

The number of furlough days will be dependent on an employee’s salary. Some employees will be exempt, but those taking the days include the governor and lieutenant governor. Employees who are exempt include those working necessary services during the pandemic as well as those in public safety.

The State of Colorado’s fiscal year resets on July 1.

Furlough days are calculated based on an employee’s annual salary. Here’s how that works, according to a press release from the governor’s office:

Colorado State Employee furlough days


Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 22)

So long, summer; hello, autumn. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Register to vote or get other election-related information:


► President Trump still plans to nominate a new Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Justice by the end of the week, and it’s looking like Senate Republicans are going to ignore their own hypocrisy and allow a confirmation vote to take place. As The Washington Post reports:

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced Tuesday that he believes President Trump should get to choose a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg regardless of whether he wins in November. The move clears the way for a vote this year by the GOP-led Senate on a nominee that Trump is expected to name Saturday.

Late Monday, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) announced that he would support a confirmation vote for a new SCOTUS nominee — despite the fact that Gardner argued vociferously in 2016 that a new SCOTUS pick should wait until a new President was elected. As Denver7 reports:

There has been immense pressure for the Republican senator to make a statement on what he would decide to do with a potential nominee since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last Friday, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans blocked hearings and a vote for President Obama’s March 2016 nominee, Merrick Garland, saying at the time that voters should decide the pick in an election year. Justice Antonin Scalia had died in February of that year…

…Denver7 asked Gardner’s office on Friday following the announcement of Justice Ginsburg’s death what the senator would do with a potential nomination but did not receive a response until his office sent out a news release Monday. He declined to comment on the nomination to some reporters in Washington D.C. and did not directly address a question about the vacancy at an appearance on the Western Slope this weekend.

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “nothing matters but SCOTUS” political strategy appears to have worked again. The big question now: Will voters punish Republicans at the polls?


► The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States has surpassed the 200,000 mark. As The Washington Post reports, President Trump told rallygoers in Ohio on Monday that everything is cool:

President Trump falsely claimed at a Monday night campaign rally that the coronavirus “affects virtually nobody” below the age of 18 and is mainly a risk to elderly people with heart problems and other preexisting conditions. In a March 19 interview with Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward, however, Trump acknowledged that “plenty of young people” were affected and admitted that he had downplayed the risks of the virus.

COVID-19 cases in Colorado are on the rise for the third straight week, potentially marking a third spike in our state. Classes at the University of Colorado-Boulder are moving online for at least two weeks because of an outbreak among students.

Meanwhile, the City of Denver is shifting COVID-19 testing strategies toward a focus on smaller pop-up testing sites.


► President Trump went on Fox & Friends on Monday and reminded us that Sen. Cory Gardner is “very, very loyal to the party.”


The Denver Post editorial board endorsed Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) for re-election in CO-6.


More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…




COVID-19 Shuts Down Classes At CU-Boulder

Despite the best-laid plans of officials and the fervent hopes by all parties that it wouldn’t be a disaster, Jesse Paul at the Colorado Sun reports the return to class at the University of Colorado’s flagship Boulder campus has not gone well:

The University of Colorado Boulder is moving to remote learning for at least two weeks amid a coronavirus outbreak that has sickened hundreds of people on its campus.

Starting on Wednesday, all classes will be held virtually until at least Oct. 7.

“I know this situation is extremely difficult, and I wish, as I know we all do, that our circumstances were very different,” Chancellor Phil DiStefano wrote in a letter to the campus community on Monday. “The next two weeks are about more than our ability to see each other in person. The risks to our broader community are too great, and COVID-19 spreads too easily, for any further noncompliance with public health measures to go without immediate consequences.”

CU Boulder isn’t the first college campus in Colorado to have its reopening plans disrupted by an outbreak of COVID-19. Colorado College in Colorado Springs was forced to do the same after cases exploded soon after the beginning of the fall semester in August. CU’s outbreak is also not unique among major national universities who have had to take emergency steps backward after trying to reopen their campuses for the fall semester.

Students are being allowed to remain in their dorms at CU, and that’s good since sending them home would only serve to spread the infection from the student population in Boulder to their families across the state and nation. Although college-age people have a very low mortality rate from COVID-19, as a disease vector into more vulnerable populations these outbreaks on college campuses are an ominous sign with winter looming.

All of which should serve as additional confirmation that anyone telling you the COVID-19 pandemic is either over or overblown is a fool, and here on the state’s leading political blog we assess the political fallout from that foolishness–being, as it is at least in our state, the exclusive domain of Republicans. We are a long way from out of the woods, and whether due to youthful stupidity or a misguided political agenda someone tells you it’s okay to let our collective guard down, it’s very, very important that we not listen to them.


Cory Gardner: Sure, Let’s Confirm a New SCOTUS Nominee!

Brave as ever, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) waited until the very end of the day to issue a statement about his position on filling the Ruth Bader Ginsberg vacancy before the election.

Cory Gardner’s teeth

As The Denver Post reported in February 2016, that Cory Gardner was totally opposed to holding confirmation hearings in an election year and refused to even meet with President Obama’s eventual choice, Merrick Garland:

Asked his opinion about the high court vacancy, Gardner said the successor to the recently deceased Antonin Scalia “ought be chosen by the American people through the election of the next president.” [Pols emphasis]

Pressed…on what he would say to the argument that he should wait to see who the president nominates, Gardner responded: “Again, I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.” [Pols emphasis]

It’s gross, folks. It really is.


Fact Checkers are Demolishing Gardner Talking Points

UPDATE (MONDAY): Gardner’s pre-existing medical conditions ad is so dishonest that even CBS4 Denver political reporter Shaun Boyd didn’t have anything nice to say (Boyd is well-known in Colorado political circles for her eagerness to toss softball after softball toward Gardner). From a CBS4 “Reality Check”:

There is maybe no provision of the Affordable Care Act that is more popular than protections for people with pre-existing conditions. And that has created a predicament for Republicans like Senator Cory Gardner who has voted repeatedly to repeal the law…

…This ad is meant to convince you Cory Gardner is sincere about his promise to protect people with preexisting conditions… Problem is, unlike the protections in the law he wants to repeal, his protections don’t go far enough.



Via Politifact (9/18/20)

Politifact is out with a new fact check on legislation being promoted by Senator Cory Gardner’s campaign that has already been blown to bits by local fact checkers.

Despite spending his entire career railing (and voting) against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Gardner is campaigning on a 117-word bill that he introduced in late July that is intended to give the impression that he is doing something serious about protecting pre-existing medical conditions. The reason is simple: Protecting pre-existing medical conditions is popular with voters, and Gardner is not.

Rather than concentrate on a TV spot from Gardner’s campaign about his legislation regarding pre-existing medical conditions, Politifact instead skips straight to the meat of the discussion: Does Gardner’s bill do what he says it would do?

A campaign spokesperson reiterated in an email that Gardner’s goal is “to guarantee coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions and ensure they cannot be charged more as a result of their underlying medical conditions.”

Thomas Miller, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C., quipped that the main goal might be something else entirely.

“It’s probably about 100 words too long,” Miller said. “It could have said, ‘I’m running for election. I’ll do whatever is necessary.’” [Pols emphasis]

Politifact’s ultimate ruling is consistent with what other news outlets have discovered: Gardner’s bill is crap.

Because protecting people with medical conditions requires many moving parts, the brevity of Gardner’s proposal makes it appear to be a fig leaf for a political problem rather than a means to guarantee protections for people with preexisting conditions. [Pols emphasis]

The legislation is unclear on whether it guarantees that people with health problems will be able to buy insurance in the first place. And, even if they can, they may well find it priced out of reach because the legislation does not bar insurers from varying premiums widely on the basis of age, gender or occupation.

Viewed in its most favorable light, Gardner’s 117-word proposal would only serve as a place holder for larger legislation, upon which more protections would have to be layered to bolster the effectiveness of its guarantee.

In an effort to defend Gardner, his campaign spokespeople have been working really hard to move the goalposts in describing “things that are true.” A spokesperson tells Politifact above that Gardner’s “goal” is to “guarantee coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions and ensure they cannot be charged more as a result of their underlying medical conditions.” That’s a cute bit of wordplay about a “goal” that skips past the fact that this is not what Gardner’s legislation would actually accomplish.

Responding to a Fox 31 News “truth check“, a Gardner spokesperson said, “Insurers would be required to take on and cover individuals with pre-existing conditions no matter what happens to Obamacare.” That’s not what health policy experts say. But our favorite Gardner campaign narrative came in response to a 9News “Truth Test” about his pre-existing conditions TV spot:

In an email, Gardner’s campaign spokeswoman defended the bill.

“One thing is 100% true: Cory Gardner authored the bill and he says it guarantees coverage, which means insurers would be required to cover and take on individuals with pre-existing conditions,” wrote spokeswoman Meghan Graf.

It is 100% true that Gardner authored the bill! It is 100% true that Gardner “says” it guarantees coverage! It is 100% true that Gardner is an actual U.S. Senator!

Here’s one more thing that is true: Gardner’s pre-existing medical conditions stunt is not working.