Get More Smarter on Friday (Sept. 17)

On this day in 1985, hockey player Alexander Ovechkin was born. Please celebrate responsibly. 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

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters returned from a long self-imposed exile and resurfaced finally in Grand Junction on Thursday. As The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports:

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters appeared at an event in Grand Junction on Thursday night, vowing to fight investigations into her office, chastising the Colorado Secretary of State and asking supporters for donations to fund her legal defense.

“I’m so happy to be home. This is where my heart is and this is where we’re going to take back America,” Peters told a crowd gathered at Appleton Christian Church.

The event, which was livestreamed on the Stand For The Constitution Grand Junction Facebook Page, was billed as a “Stand With Tina” rally and featured a handful of speakers. It was Peters’ first public appearance in Grand Junction after an investigation into her office was announced in August….

…In addition to detailing a website where supporters could contribute to her defense fund, standwithtina.org, Peters also explained some of the events that led the clerk to allegedly tamper with county voting machines, prompting an investigation by the Secretary of State’s Office as well as the District Attorney.

Peters said after the 2020 election, she received calls and emails from hundreds of residents who believed the election was illegitimate, and she began investigating those claims on their behalf.

That’s right. Despite being under investigation by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, the Mesa County DA, the Colorado Attorney General, and the FBI, Peters is back in town and soliciting donations to assist her legal defense for a crime she willingly committed.

CLICK HERE to read more about Peters.

 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl doesn’t want to answer questions about whether the 2020 election was legitimate (SPOILER ALERT: It was), but as she is learning, every major media outlet in Colorado absolutely DOES consider this to be a litmus choice sort of question for candidates seeking public office in 2022.

Headline from The Denver Post (9/16/21)

 

 

As Jason Salzman of The Colorado Times Recorder writes, the ongoing Republican civil war in Colorado could have major implications as soon as this weekend. Colorado Republicans may vote to opt out of Colorado’s open Primary system so that right-wing activists can more easily control who wins the GOP nomination for any particular office. Many more moderate and rational Colorado Republicans are pleading with their base to not commit what many believe would be political suicide. Here’s more on what might happen Saturday from Axios Denver and The Colorado Sun.

 

 Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman is facing calls for his resignation following a report from the Colorado Attorney General’s office outlining significant longstanding racial biases and excessive force allegations surrounding the Aurora Police Department.

Fox 31 News has more on the response to the AG’s report from the Aurora police officers’ union. The Aurora Sentinel, meanwhile, details the problematic staffing troubles facing the APD:

A record number of Aurora police officers have left the department so far this year, surpassing the number of departures in all of 2020 and further straining an increasingly lean agency, according to data presented to Aurora city council members this week.

A total of 96 officers have parted ways with the Aurora Police Department so far in 2021, with another two staffers expected to split by week’s end, Deputy Chief Darin Parker told members of the council’s public safety policy committee Sept. 16…

…The number of exits among APD ranks through the middle of September already dwarfs totals from last year, when 87 officials left Aurora police — a 61% increase over 2019.

 

 

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“Second Amendment Remedies,” Lauren Boebert Style

Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (center), with some well-armed friends.

As readers know, Republican freshman outrage superspreader Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado has been on a speaking tour in recent weeks, making eyebrow-raising stops this month in such far-flung locations as Staten Island, New York–and just yesterday, as the Midland, Texas Reporter-Telegram reports, an appearance to benefit fellow freshman firebreather Rep. August Pfluger:

Pfluger said in an interview that he wanted to host a rally with Boebert because she’s a gun-rights activist and they’ve both signed on to pieces of legislation regarding Second Amendment rights.

“She’s a champion for that issue and I want to make sure that people here in Midland, Texas, and all throughout Texas know there’s many people fighting these battles, that we’re doing it together as a team, and that we’re going to protect that right for all Americans,” he said.

Rep. Pfluger, who we keep wanting to call Rep. Pfizer but we’re sure he would not approve, kept his comments about the importance of the Second Amendment relatively tame. As is her trademark, however, Rep. Boebert was much more direct:

Boebert, who owns a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, called Shooters Grill where staff open carry, touched on several other topics during the rally besides gun rights. She criticized Biden’s “tyrannical authoritarian regime,” his policies on immigration and Afghanistan and his administration’s decision to put fences around the U.S. Capitol building, which Boebert called the “People’s House.”

“There are so many issues that come up even in a Second Amendment rally because that is what the Second Amendment protects,” Boebert said in an interview. “It protects us against all of this tyranny, all of this authoritarianism that we are seeing right now in America.

“If we want the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, we have to make sure we have a way to secure that,” she said.

Walk through this with us: if Joe Biden presides over a “tyrannical authoritarian regime,” in the present tense, doesn’t that mean the Second Amendment has not in fact protected Americans “against all of this tyranny, all of this authoritarianism that we are seeing right now?” Because it’s either that, or what Rep. Boebert is saying is that the Second Amendment hasn’t protected us…yet.

Which should make anyone who has lived through the last year of American politics uncomfortable.

There was a time, fairly recently in fact, when Republican candidates who made not-so-veiled appeals to violence by invoking the Second Amendment were pilloried for it–think 2010 Nevada failed GOP U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle and her thoughts about “Second Amendment remedies” to problems the ballot box doesn’t resolve to one’s liking.

In 2021, what was once over the line is now increasingly the party line.

Clerk Tina Peters Comes Home–Perp Walk Countdown Begins?

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, “MyPillow Guy” Mike Lindell.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Tom Hesse reports–embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who has been in hiding since mid-August as a criminal investigation began into the breach of election system security in her office that resulted in proprietary Dominion Voting Systems data being leaked to far-right conspiracy theorists, made a triumphant (at least for now) return to Grand Junction last night at an event in her honor:

“I’m so happy to be home. This is where my heart is and this is where we’re going to take back America,” Peters told a crowd gathered at Appleton Christian Church.

The event, which was livestreamed on the Stand For The Constitution Grand Junction Facebook Page, was billed as a “Stand With Tina” rally and featured a handful of speakers. It was Peters’ first public appearance in Grand Junction after an investigation into her office was announced in August.

“It’s places like Mesa County that can be the catalyst to take back our country. And we need your help,” Peters told the crowd. “And it starts today.”

That’s pretty close to what Clerk Peters’ benefactor over the last month, “MyPillow Guy” Mike Lindell, said at the beginning of his so-called “Cyber Symposium” last month devoted to exposing once and for all the “absolute proof” that the 2020 elections were stolen from Donald Trump. They’re going to “take back our country” with…revelations of vote fraud…

That never materialized.

Here we arrive at the disconnect. Not even Peters’ closest supporters, like Rep. Ron Hanks who was present last night in Grand Junction or Lauren Boebert’s former campaign manager Sherronna Bishop, can substantiate any specific allegation of fraud based on the data that was stolen in Mesa County on Clerk Peters’ watch. They tried. And when they couldn’t find any proof, Bishop marched into the all-GOP Mesa County Board of Commissioners to demand they find it.

Heidi Ganahl and Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters.

Keep this in mind as Clerk Peters publicly confesses to the crime she’s under investigation for:

Peters said after the 2020 election, she received calls and emails from hundreds of residents who believed the election was illegitimate, and she began investigating those claims on their behalf. [Pols emphasis]

Peters and her deputy, Belinda Knisley, are both the subject of local, state and federal investigations into possible criminal violations that involved revealing secure passwords and hard drives to Dominion voting machines with voter fraud conspiracy theorists. As a result, both also have been temporarily prohibited from conducting this fall’s elections and Secretary of State Jena Griswold is taking action to have Peters removed from election duties…

Again, this is Clerk Tina Peters freely admitting at least some involvement in the theft of this data as part of her “investigation” of concerns expressed about the legitimacy of the 2020 elections. The security of the compromised voting machines in question was Peters’ responsibility. The only way this becomes in some way justifiable, and even then not really since there are official channels to investigate non-fantasy problems, would be if there was actually some game-changing proof in the stolen data to substantiate the “Big Lie” as alleged by dead-end supporters of Donald Trump. But as we know now, that doesn’t exist. The only “security risk” that emerged from this breach of security is the one Clerk Peters created.

As surely as the “QAnon Shaman” had to face the music, there’s a day of reckoning coming in Clerk Tina Peters’ case too. All of this nonsense stops cold once this moves to a criminal courtroom. The criminal justice system has a remarkable way of cutting through unfounded bullshit, as hundreds of January 6th insurrectionists are discovering in federal courtrooms as we write this.

Let Clerk Peters explain the plan to “take back America” to a judge.

Heidi Ganahl Learns Cory Gardner’s Lesson The Hard Way

The launch this week of Republican Heidi Ganahl’s campaign for governor, which she herself has described as an improbable “moonshot” of an undertaking, was hobbled from the outset by a string of unforced and entirely preventable errors. After running a thinly-veiled “podcast tour” to build name ID ahead of a formal launch, Ganahl’s campaign bumbled the rollout week by prematurely filing papers for her candidacy on the Friday before the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

After turning her campaign launch into a “Friday news dump,” Ganahl’s formal announcement on Tuesday, literally at the same diner showcased one year before in an ad for Sen. Cory Gardner’s unsuccessful re-election bid, was an unsettling case of deja vu. Ganahl’s subsequent RV “launch tour” generating pitiful turnout in Colorado’s hinterlands has added to the pervading sense of launch failure.

But as Alex Burness writes for the Denver Post’s political newsletter, the biggest problem of all for Ganahl came in her refusal to answer the central political question of our times, the one question nobody gets to dodge while running for office in 2021: do you accept that Donald Trump lost the 2020 elections?

She didn’t have an answer. The first time she was asked, by The Colorado Sun, she spoke generally about how important it is for people to “have confidence that their vote matters.” The second time, she told The Denver Post she wouldn’t “get into that right now.” The third time, she criticized 9News for posing such a “divisive” question.

Everyone understands the political dilemma this question poses for a Republican candidate running in a blue-trending state. If Ganahl concedes that Trump lost, it puts her at a severe disadvantage in the Republican primary. But if Ganahl publicly embraces what a solid majority of Americans call the “Big Lie,” she’ll destroy her credibility outside the pro-Trump propaganda bubble.

So the solution is to do what Cory Gardner did and have it both ways, right?

Recent history tells us it’s not easy to try to credibly run on both paths. Cory Gardner attempted that when he aligned himself with Donald Trump but ran ads about being bipartisan and independent-minded. Reporters had a lot of questions for him, but he rarely spoke to local media and left a lot unanswered.

In the end, Cory Gardner got what he wanted. After winning office in 2014 by aggressively playing down his record on abortion, Gardner made it through the 2020 elections without ever publicly breaking in his unswerving loyalty to Trump–no matter how hard it became to ignore the reporters chasing him to the elevators and stairwells. If your question as a reporter was not on a subject Gardner wanted to answer, you simply didn’t get an answer no matter how awkward that refusal to answer became on live television.

Gardner made his choice, and lost his bid for re-election.

In her repeated refusal to engage on this and other questions which might result in disagreement amongst fellow Republicans, Heidi Ganahl is taking a page from Cory Gardner’s playbook. But whether by her poorer execution or reporters who simply refuse to let candidates arbitrate to their advantage what the relevant issues are, it’s playing out even worse for Ganahl. It’s not voters’ fault that Ganahl faces a dilemma reconciling today’s Republican dogma from the majority’s reality.

If Ganahl doesn’t want to answer the hard questions, no one is forcing her to run for governor.

Damning Aurora Report Prompts Call For Mayor Mike To Resign

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman.

As the Aurora Sentinel’s Quincy Snowdon reports, a comprehensive investigation by Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office into the “patterns and practices” of the city of Aurora’s police and fire departments has uncovered what local activists have long insisted–grossly disproportionate use of force against the city’s Black population. It’s an investigation that would not have taken place but for the landmark police accountability law Senate Bill 20-217 passed at the height of public outrage over the death of George Floyd in June of 2020:

Attorney General Phil Weiser on Wednesday released a wide-ranging review of the Aurora police and fire departments, claiming the former has regularly used excessive force and broken state and federal law by unfairly targeting minorities, and the latter has repeatedly misused chemical treatments on patients.

The so-called “patterns and practices” investigation into Aurora’s two public safety agencies is the first of its kind pursued under a bellwether state law passed last summer amid national protests over police brutality.

The probe, first announced last August, claims Aurora police use force against people of color about 2.5 times more than on their white counterparts, and local officers arrest black residents about twice as much as whites.

In response to this very clear finding that Aurora police and fire departments are brutalizing the population of the city they are employed to serve based on race, Sheneen McClain, the mother of slain young Black Aurora resident Elijah McClain, is calling for the city’s high-profile Republican Mayor Mike Coffman, who narrowly won his latest job after losing his congressional seat representing the area in 2018, to resign:

Qusair Mohamedbhai, the civil rights attorney who represents McClain’s mother, Sheneen, in ongoing litigation against the city, lauded Weiser’s conclusions and demanded that Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman step down from his post.

“Sheneen McClain, the single parent who raised Elijah, welcomes the findings of the Attorney General’s office,” Mohamedbhai wrote in a statement. “The report confirms what many Aurora residents already know — Aurora’s police department has a long standing culture violence and bias. Ms. McClain demands that Aurora immediately enter into the consent decree and calls for the resignation of Mayor Coffman.” [Pols emphasis]

Although Coffman was elected to office a short while after the killing of Elijah McClain in August of 2019, he’s been in charge for most of the city’s troubled response. Before Attorney General Weiser’s intervention, the officers involved in the death of McClain had been cleared of criminal charges by the local DA, and stoutly defended by the then-chief of police. It was a state grand jury that finally handed down criminal charges against the cops and paramedics accused of killing Elijah McClain at the beginning of this month. Were it not for the sustained protests in Aurora demanding justice for Elijah McClain coinciding with the national movement in 2020 for racial justice and an end to police brituality, Senate Bill 217 might never have passed–and none of this subsequent accountability would have been possible.

The facts are clear. Aurora has a massive problem with racism and police brutality. It goes right to the top. The question is now, can Mike Coffman–and the majority he wants to win on the City Council this November–be anything other than part of the problem? After all, it was Coffman himself who called the Elijah McClain protesters “domestic terrorists.”

At the end of the day, Aurora needs justice that Mike Coffman might not know how to provide.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Sept. 16)

Happy Mexican Independence Day. Please celebrate responsibly. 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

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

As The Colorado Sun reports, there’s a new proposed congressional redistricting map out for discussion:

The latest draft of Colorado’s congressional map avoids putting the state’s current U.S. House members into the same district, while creating a sweeping district across most of the Western Slope and southern Colorado. The new 8th Congressional District in the north Denver metro region would be nearly 39% Hispanic.

The new map released Wednesday groups most of the Western Slope and southern Colorado into a single, L-shaped 3rd Congressional District. Northwest high-country counties including Routt, Jackson, Eagle, Summit and Grand are grouped with Larimer and Boulder into a proposed 2nd Congressional District. And the new districts would no longer pit Garfield County Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert against Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse of Lafayette.

And the proposed 7th District, now centered in the north and west metro area, would include much of Jefferson County but stretch to South Park in the central Rocky Mountains.

This new map is not without problems, as The Sun notes:

Morgan Carroll, chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, disputed the congressional commission’s formula for determining the political competitiveness of a district.

“Measuring competitiveness by focusing on strong years for one party and ignoring 2014 — which was a strong year for the other party — is simply wrong,” Carroll said in a statement. “As a result, this could very likely end up a 4-4 map after the midterms, which is in no way reflective of Colorado voters.”

The Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission will debate this new map tonight. If at least eight votes can’t be garnered, the nonpartisan staff will produce a third proposed map on Sept. 23. CLICK HERE to see Congressional Map #2.

In other redistricting news, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office is investigating potential illegal lobbying activity committed by a handful of well-known Republican operatives. The Colorado Times Recorder also has the full video of a ham-handed presentation that Republican Rep. Matt Soper gave to several Republicans in July.

 

Republican Heidi Ganahl announced her campaign for Governor on Tuesday and is off to the worst start for a statewide candidate in recent memory.

Former State Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams has some biting criticism that applies to Ganahl, as The Colorado Times Recorder reports:

A day after Heidi Ganahl, the newly minted GOP gubernatorial candidate, refused to tell reporters whether she thought the last year’s presidential election was legitimate, Wadhams said Republicans won’t be “credible in a general election” unless they say the election was not stolen.

“I think candidates ought to look at the reporter and say, ‘I do not believe the election was stolen. I do not believe we should ban 1.6 million unaffiliated voters from voting in the primary.’ And I think we just ought to take a stand on this because it’s defining our party,” Wadhams told Peter Boyles.

“I honestly think we’ve got to have strong candidates who were willing to say, no, the election was not stolen because that’s the only way they can be credible in a general election.”

You know Republicans are worried about Ganahl’s campaign when they immediately start blaming the media for her troubles.

 

The Denver Post reports on a significant new finding from the Colorado Attorney General’s office:

Colorado’s attorney general will require the Aurora Police Department to make sweeping reforms after a year-long investigation found officers’ pattern of racially biased policing and use of excessive force routinely violated state and federal law.

The department’s officers persistently arrested and injured Black individuals and other people of color at higher rates than white residents, according to the investigation released Wednesday.

Officers also routinely used excessive force against people unnecessarily, failed to de-escalate encounters and failed to properly document information about individuals they stopped as required by state law, the investigation found.

The department’s training and accountability structures are inadequate and create a culture of violence, according to investigators’ 112-page report.

Anyone who has been paying any attention to Aurora in the last couple of years will not likely be surprised by this report. Attorney General Phil Weiser wants to create a consent decree to allow his office to work with the Aurora PD on making widespread reforms.

 

As Denver7 reports, ICU capacity in Colorado hospitals has reached its lowest levels of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Heidi Ganahl’s Gubernatorial Campaign Sputters to Life

UPDATE: Day 2 is not looking much better than Day 1.

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Heidi Ganahl during her disastrous interview with 9News on the day of her campaign launch.

Republican Heidi Ganahl finally announced on Tuesday that she is running for Governor in 2022. It may not have been the worst kickoff for a statewide campaign in Colorado history, but only because there really aren’t good records for that sort of thing. We can definitively say, however, that Ganahl’s campaign launch was the worst we’ve seen in Colorado this century.

It was that bad.

Colorado has seen a few rocky campaign starts in recent memory, including Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Cary Kennedy’s cringeworthy Facebook Live moment in 2017 that featured the candidate driving around her neighborhood before pulling into her driveway for the big reveal. But whereas Kennedy’s official announcement was a creative idea that just didn’t work, Ganahl’s launch was a daylong massacre punctuated by one of the worst sit-down interviews we can recall from a Colorado politician.

Ganahl stumbled last week in teasing her campaign launch, first telling reporters that there would be some sort of announcement followed a day later by her campaign inexplicably filing the paperwork to make her candidacy official — thus ruining any last bit of suspense. Her first campaign event on Tuesday was held at Rosie’s Diner in Monument (at 8:00 in the morning), which is an auspicious location that still carries bad juju from former Sen. Cory Gardner’s much-maligned 2020 TV advertisement.

Soon afterward, Ganahl faceplanted in front of a handful of reporters by refusing to answer questions that any rookie campaign staffer should have easily anticipated. It was a foreboding start to a rough day for Ganahl.

“I’ll try and win no matter what the path forward is. Whatever my party decides is the path forward…We’ve got a long road ahead.”

     — Heidi Ganahl’s inspiring words Tuesday, as quoted by The Colorado Sun

After leaving Monument, Ganahl’s campaign continued on a Front Range tour that somebody apparently forgot to prep outside of these weird “Meat Heidi” signs. From what we hear, Ganahl made a stop at a Camp Bow Wow location in Centennial that was attended by plenty of dogs but no human beings. This is particularly strange when you consider that Ganahl lives in nearby Lone Tree; you’d think her campaign could have wrangled a few neighbors to show up in Centennial.

Things already weren’t going well for Ganahl by the time she rolled into Westminster and sat down for a completely disastrous interview with Marshall Zelinger of 9News. You really need to watch the entire four minute conversation to truly appreciate just how terrible this was for Ganahl, but here are some of the lowlights:

♦ Ganahl was asked about the fact that she deleted a big chunk of her social media history just last week. She responded by saying that it is her “policy as a businessperson” to nuke her social media posts once every six months or so (yeah, right). When Zelinger asked why, she replied, “I don’t think that’s important.” D’oh!

 

♦ Zelinger then asked Ganahl the same question she had botched earlier with reporters from The Denver Post and elsewhere: Do you think there was fraud in the 2020 election?

Ganahl’s response: “Why all the divisive questions?”

When Zelinger pushed her for an answer on what is — again — a very obvious question, Ganahl barfed this out: “Oh my goodness, Marshall. Let’s talk about what’s important to the people of Colorado. And that’s kids, it’s skyrocketing crime. I just said that kids are killing themselves at record rates and we want to talk about other things that aren’t that important to many people.”

Seriously, that was her answer. Word for word.

 

♦ Later, Ganahl was tossed a softball about incumbent Gov. Jared Polis, which she used as an opening to complain about how Colorado handled contact tracing in late 2020 that coincided with an increase in deaths at nursing homes. Zelinger followed up Ganahl via email to ask what she would have done differently had she been in charge, and she responded, “Everything.” Ganahl had time to think about this answer, and she still only came up with “Everything.”

 

An optimist would say that everything will be downhill from here — that Ganahl can’t possibly be any worse than she was on Tuesday. A realist would note that Ganahl has been prepping a run for governor for at least a year now; if this is what happens when Ganahl and her campaign have time to prepare, we can only imagine how rough things will get when Team Ganahl has to think on its feet.

As we’ve seen from polling data, Ganahl wasn’t likely to beat Polis next year no matter how her campaign got off the ground, but nothing that starts this poorly is likely to end well.

California Experts Debunk Local “Hickerbilly” Conspiracy Theories

Heidi Ganahl and Mesa County Clerk and Recorder (and fugitive) Tina Peters

With the California gubernatorial recall election having ended in a blowout well beyond any reasonable disputation, we took note of this report in the San Francisco Examiner yesterday about how the recent election system security breach in Mesa County, Colorado was impacting the use of Dominion Voting Systems elections hardware in the California special election.

It’s a tale that has a little bit of everything. But the twists and turns do not include a real threat to the security of the Gavin Newsom recall vote, experts say. Despite the bizarre episode, city and state voting is secure, they insist.

It all started in May, when a county clerk in Colorado named Tina Peters assisted in the theft of voting machine software and other information, Colorado state officials say. The voting machine software and other Dominion voting machine details were posted online and shared elsewhere by hackers and far-right conspiracy theorists. State and federal law enforcement launched investigations, but Peters disappeared. My Pillow founder and staunch Trump ally Mike Lindell said he was hiding the missing Peters. Newsom challenger Larry Elder, meanwhile, has promoted election fraud claims, including Dominion theories…

Rep. Lauren Boebert with 2020 primary campaign manager Sherronna Bishop.

To be clear, actual elections experts with actual qualifications in California are looking at the situation now, not the pack of self-described “hickerbillies” who tried and failed to convince Mesa County’s all-Republican Board of Commissioners that something nefarious was to be found in the data pilfered from the Mesa County Clerk’s office. The fact is, now that we’ve seen what was stolen and the lack of proof sought by the thieves of a larger conspiracy that might somehow justify their criminal actions, only one real threat has emerged from the whole controversy:

Eight cybersecurity experts say there is now a legitimate risk to election security – because of the software and other Dominion details leaked by the conspiracy theorists. The conspiracy theorists made their own Dominion claims credible by stealing and circulating sensitive security details about the machines, they believe…

“Release of the code is sufficient to demand emergency action,” David Jefferson, a signer of the letter and retired computer scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory told The Examiner. “We don’t know of any threat to this election, however.” [Pols emphasis]

“The release of the code was apparently politically motivated, and it is not a minor thing,” statistics professor and election security expert Philip Stark, of UC Berkeley, told The Examiner. “They pointed out a security issue – and they are part of it.”

It was clear early on in the investigation into the security breach in Mesa County that despite the breathless insistence of conspiracy theorists including alleged “QAnon” progenitor Ron Watkins, no evidence of anything justifying the wild initial claims about the data stolen from the Mesa County Clerk’s office was forthcoming. County clerks and election system experts alike attest that the affected machines are not connected to the internet, and the software can’t be tampered with remotely in any way. There’s no evidence that has emerged from this breach of any external vulnerability to Dominion’s systems at all–only when trusted individuals turn off cameras and allow tampering in a secure space.

The real risk, as these Bay area experts spell out with admirable clarity we’d love to see more of from local media, is that the exposure of this proprietary data will lead directly to future attempted security breaches. We have every reason to believe Dominion is working right now to address any issues that may arise, but that’s not the point: by leaking this code to the world in the first place, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and her fringy band of zealots who refuse to accept the outcome of the 2020 election have given bad actors a wealth of knowledge to attempt the very thing Peters and her accomplices say they don’t want.

If Peters and her co-conspirators figure this out before sentencing, some contrition before the judge might help. But we don’t have to argue with these “hickerbillies” forever. No matter how sincerely and earnestly their misguided intentions, the public trust has been criminally violated for no justifiable purpose.

Just lock them up already.

Republican Redistricting Lobbyists Investigated by State SOS

GOP operative Alan Philp

As the redistricting process in Colorado lumbers along toward a theoretical conclusion early next month, we’ve been following in this space the story of some well-known Republican operatives who can’t seem to figure out how to lobby staff and members of Colorado’s two independent redistricting commissions without breaking the law.

Former House Speaker Frank McNulty, former State Sen. Greg Brophy, and longtime Republican consultant Alan Philp have made a number of very obvious mistakes in their ham-handed efforts to tilt the drawing of new legislative and congressional maps toward GOP interests. As Evan Wyloge reports for The Colorado Springs Gazette, there is apparently enough concern with their activities to justify an investigation from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office:

An investigation into whether a secretly funded nonprofit organization has been illegally lobbying the state’s redistricting commissioners will move forward, after the secretary of state reviewed a complaint filed against the group and found enough evidence to warrant a full probe. [Pols emphasis]

The decision to further investigate Colorado Neighborhood Coalition, the 501c4 nonprofit organization run by longtime Republican operatives at the center of the complaint, could have broad implications for the transparency now required around the redistricting process, and comes after several efforts to influence the redistricting commissions without full transparency have emerged…

…The complaint, filed in August by former Democratic lawmaker Stanley Matsunaka, accuses two Colorado Neighborhood Coalition employees — former House Speaker Frank McNulty and former state lawmaker Greg Brophy — of lobbying the commissioners without registering their activity or their clients. Matsunaka also accused a third Colorado Neighborhood Coalition employee, former Colorado Republican Party executive director and now political consultant Alan Philp, of failing to file proper disclosures of his lobbying activity, even though he is registered as the group’s lobbyist.

Philp responded to questions from Wyloge by predictably calling the investigation a “partisan” attack before offering this amusing excuse:

Philp added that he believes he was told in an email by the Secretary of State’s Office, after the complaint was filed, that his disclosures were sufficient.

You have an email from the Secretary of State’s office, eh? Is there a reason you didn’t bother to save a copy of this email? This might have been a good thing to keep in your files if such a thing actually existed.

In related news, The Colorado Times Recorder posted the full video of a redistricting lobbyist training conducted in July by Republican State Rep. Matt Soper. This is the training in which Soper prefaces his comments to people involved in the training by saying, “I never want you to mention that you heard this coming from me.”

The net effect of all these shenanigans from Republicans is to shine a light back on their own partisan interference in the redistricting process, which is something that makes redistricting commissioners and staff very nervous…and absolutely isn’t going to help them in trying to get new maps drawn in their favor.

Has The Fever Of Recallpalooza Finally Broken?

UPDATE: Here’s how the Recall Polis ringleader was pre-coping with yesterday’s loss Monday afternoon:

We haven’t seen any word since. Perhaps we won’t.

—–

Now-Rep. Lauren Boebert gathering Recall Polis signatures in front of Shooters Grill in Rifle.

The Los Angeles Times’ political unit recaps last night’s failure to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, rejecting the recall question by a slightly greater margin than Newsom enjoyed in his 2018 election win–an historic victory over far-right activists abusing the recall process meant to resolve serious cases of malfeasance to force electoral do-overs with a “reweighted” electorate. That’s a victory, as we’ll discuss, that will resonate beyond the borders of the Golden State:

The recall offered Republicans their best chance in more than a decade to take the helm of the largest state in the union. But the effort was undercut when Newsom and the nation’s leading Democrats, aided by visits to California by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, portrayed the campaign to oust the governor as a “life and death” battle against “Trumpism” and far-right anti-vaccine activists…

[Larry] Elder was a perfect foil, [GOP strategist Dave] Gilliard said. The Republican opposed abortion rights and supported offshore oil drilling, anathema to the state’s Democratic majority. Elder has also been a die-hard supporter of Trump, an immensely unpopular figure in California. In fact, Gilliard said, recall proponents pleaded with Trump’s advisors to “convince him to stay out of it,” which was successful until recent days when he started making baseless claims that California’s recall election was “rigged.”

…Newsom is the second California governor to have faced a recall election, which was projected to cost $276 million dollars, a price tag blasted by Democrats. In 2003, California voters upset over rolling power outages, budget cuts and a steep increase in vehicle license fees recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis from office and elected actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who remains the last Republican to have served as the state’s chief executive.

“Herbie the Hate Bug.”

The massive expense of the 2021 California recall election is even more outrageous when you consider that Newsom was already up for re-election in 2022. Far from being at a disadvantage after this fight, however, Newsom has a fully operational campaign ready to march triumphantly into next year’s elections. The specter of the 2003 gubernatorial recall election in California, which has been the model for every subsequent recall election organized by conservatives in recent years, has been decisively put to rest.

What does this mean in Colorado–where Republicans in 2019 made a serious, party-sanctioned effort to recall opportune target Democratic lawmakers, followed by two “official” and a whole slew of fundraising operations masquerading as recall campaigns against Gov. Jared Polis? After 2019’s incoming Colorado Republican party chair Ken Buck promised to teach Democrats how to spell “R-E-C-A-L-L” and his vice-chair now successor Kristi Burton Brown personally spearheaded the disastrous recall campaign against Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial, in Colorado the GOP recall movement quickly degenerated into small-scale grifting operations whose questionable spending habits and complete lack of progress toward their stated objectives became a major embarrassment to Republicans at all levels.

As of today, we have a pretty good indicator of what Colorado’s recall evangelists and grifters would have done with millions of dollars had they ever been given access to that kind of money. The Recall Polis campaign fleeced small donors for their welfare and pension checks, so in that respect one might feel more sympathy over the smaller amount of money grifted here versus the millions and millions wasted in California trying to recall Gavin Newsom. The scale of the financing would only have magnified the scale of their failure.

And in both places, the idea of trying again, without a justification of the kind recalls were actually created for…

Well folks, that’s the most ridiculous thing we can possibly imagine. How about you?

This is Your Guy? Really?

“I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this.”

     — former President Trump, speaking to Vice President Mike Pence ahead of finalizing the Electoral Vote count

The complete history of the Donald Trump administration has yet to be written, which is good for people who sell books but scary as hell for the rest of us. In fact, we may only know about 30-40% of just how terrible things really were inside Trump’s White House…particularly near the end of his time in the Oval Office.

As CNN reports, a new book from legendary journalist Bob Woodward and Washington Post reporter Robert Costa shows once again how hard many elected officials and public servants had to work to protect America FROM Trump:

Two days after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, President Donald Trump’s top military adviser, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, single-handedly took top-secret action to limit Trump from potentially ordering a dangerous military strike or launching nuclear weapons, according to “Peril,” a new book by legendary journalist Bob Woodward and veteran Washington Post reporter Robert Costa.

Woodward and Costa write that Milley, deeply shaken by the assault, ‘was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election, with Trump now all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies.’

Milley worried that Trump could ‘go rogue,’ the authors write.

That guy

The Woodward/Costa book also includes more details about Trump’s efforts to convince Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results of the 2020 election to keep him in the White House:

When Pence did not budge, Trump turned on him.

“No, no, no!” Trump shouted, according to the authors. “You don’t understand, Mike. You can do this. I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this.” [Pols emphasis]

Trump called Pence again the morning of January 6. “If you don’t do it, I picked the wrong man four years ago,” Trump said, according to the authors. “You’re going to wimp out,” he said, his anger visible to others in the office.

Trump has often been described — both during and after his Presidency — as a petulant child prone to temper tantrums when things didn’t go his way. But the quote above puts that analogy in a new light. Trump tried to appeal to Pence by saying, “I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this.”

This is completely absurd, which is why you know it must be true. Did Trump also tell Pence that he would be uninvited from his birthday party if he failed to overturn the election?

For Republican candidates such as new gubernatorial hopeful Heidi Ganahl, stories like this prompt the same question over and over again: You’ll screw up your own political future just to continue perpetuating the lie that THIS GUY lost the 2020 election?

Death Threats Against Jena Griswold: You Already Know Why

Fact-deprived conspiracy theorists and the armed activists who love them continue to insist without evidence that the 2020 elections were stolen from Donald Trump, the fervent belief in which pushing a small but troublingly well-armed and vociferous segment of the population toward what they tell us could be another civil war. The failed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th resulted in a temporary realignment of some Republicans away from Trump and the subversive conspiracy theories underpinning continued resistance to Trump’s defeat, but that proved to be only temporary–GOP congressional leadership soon came crawling back as it became clear that the Republican rank and file were unshakably loyal to Trump.

Today, across the country “dead-ender” supporters of Trump are still agitating without evidence that the election was stolen, though attempts to prove that to anyone outside their own self-reinforcing circle of misinformation have fallen apart. But as Denver7’s Sloan Dickey reports, for those already convinced that what they want to believe is true, there’s no need to wait any longer to start making death threats:

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office shared some of those threats with Denver7. The comments were posted to [SoS Jena] Griswold’s personal and public social media accounts and sent in direct messages. The messages make direct and gruesome threats against her life.

“I KNOW WHERE YOU SLEEP, I SEE YOU SLEEPING. BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID. I hope you die,” one message said.

“Everyone knows… there are people looking for you,” another said.

Thousands more posts and threats, many with unrepeatable vulgarity, have filled her online accounts over the past year. She says the threats come as she works to increase access to voting and election security in Colorado.

In Mesa County, where Republican elected officials have been threatened with civil war over public health measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently pilloried for purchasing new election equipment from the same Dominion Voting Systems at the center of the most prevalent conspiracy theories about 2020, the rhetoric hasn’t gotten as personal. Given the vitriol fellow Republicans in Mesa County have contended with for months from their own putative base, it’s not hard to understand how Colorado’s Democratic Secretary of State would be targeted with much, much worse.

While in the end you can’t call these grotesque threats against Secretary of State Griswold a surprise, it’s our sincere hope that they’re dealt with as rigorously as the law allows. With the scandal over Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ allegedly criminal actions trying and failing to prove the “Big Lie” dominating the headlines, we feel there’s a need for the public to understand what’s happening to Secretary of State Griswold as a byproduct of the same pressure.

There’s no excuse for any of it, and Republicans have the primary obligation to stand up against it.

Ganahl Faceplants on First Serious Questions

UPDATE: Via “The Unaffiliated” newsletter from The Colorado Sun:

“I’ll try and win no matter what the path forward is,” she said. “Whatever my party decides is the path forward.”

Ganahl has a difficult path ahead of her. “We’ve got a long road ahead,” she said Tuesday, acknowledging her challenges.

Well, we’re certainly inspired.

—–
Newly-announced Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl met the media for the first time as a candidate this morning. It did not go particularly well.

Ganahl was primed and ready to talk about her own life story and to barf out platitudes about “freedom” and “the Colorado spirit” and all the other specious crap that newly-minted statewide Republican candidates recite like mantras.

But when it was time to answer some real questions, Ganahl took a header into the floor:

D’oh!

Look, we get that answering a question about the legitimacy of 2020 election is a delicate task for a Republican candidate in 2022. However…if you aren’t prepared to answer this question, then you shouldn’t be running for statewide office. Period.

In a normal world, this simple question would be met with a straightforward answer: “Yes, the 2020 election was legitimate.” Ganahl either doesn’t believe this to be true or is too afraid to reveal to her Republican base that she is not an election fraud truther.

As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN, supporting “The Big Lie” is now part of the Republican DNA:

There’s an interesting nugget buried in the new CNN national poll that shows just how much election denialism has fused with what most people think it means to be a Republican.

Almost 6 in 10 (59%) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said that “believing that Donald Trump won the 2020 election” was very or somewhat important to what being a Republican meant to them…[Pols emphasis]

…The idea, then, that the election was stolen is a wild conspiracy theory. But it’s also a wild conspiracy theory that Trump very much continues to push. And that much of the base of the party continues to believe because, well, Trump told them to believe it.

What the poll makes clear, then, is that for a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, believing the Big Lie is an important part of calling oneself a “Republican.”

(For more on this idea, check out Greg Sargent’s take last week for The Washington Post.)

Heidi Ganahl and Mesa County Clerk and Recorder (and fugitive) Tina Peters

Ganahl faces a similar problem when it comes to commenting on efforts by the GOP base to remove itself from Colorado’s open primary system. The right-wing base in Colorado wants to have the ability to choose its nominee for a General Election without having to worry about the input of, well, anyone else. Moderate Republicans recognize this potential problem for what it is, but the GOP Central Committee will still try to make it official on Saturday, Sept. 18. Ganahl doesn’t want to take a position on this subject because she could risk alienating the very people who might end up deciding who gets the GOP nomination for Governor in 2022 — a group that could decide that former 2018 candidate Greg Lopez is the more acceptable candidate to challenge Democratic incumbent Jared Polis in 2022.

Here’s more from Alex Burness of The Denver Post on Ganahl’s kickoff this morning:

On Saturday, state party officials will vote on a controversial proposal to end open primaries on the GOP side, which would exclude millions of voters from the process of selecting its nominees for major offices. Ganahl declined to take a side in that debate, and also declined to say whether she believed the 2020 presidential election was conducted legitimately. [Pols emphasis]

“I’m not going to get into that right now,” she said. Many state lawmakers say election integrity is a problem, and a smaller faction question whether the election was outright stolen.

Ganahl’s refusal to answer these two questions is a serious red flag about who she is as a candidate. It should also scare the crap out of Republicans hoping to make a serious run at Polis next year. Any dope could have predicted that these questions would be first out of the media chute; it’s inexcusable that Ganahl didn’t have a prepared answer for either one of them. Inexcusable, perhaps, but not surprising giving how bad Ganahl bungled the simple process of just announcing her candidacy.

Statewide Republican candidates have been crushed in Colorado in the last two election cycles, losing to Democrats by an average of 10 points. Somehow, Heidi Ganahl managed to find a way to limbo underneath what was already a very low bar.

Heidi Ganahl Recycles 2020 Loser Cory Gardner’s Ad Venue

Republican CU Regent Heidi Ganahl launched the campaign she herself has described as a “moonshot” bid to unseat the popular incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis today, and while there’s more analysis coming on the particulars of that launch, sharp-eyed observers took note last night that the location chosen for Ganahl’s kickoff announcement early this morning in Monument, about an hour south of where most reporters covering the gubernatorial race live, is a place we’ve seen before. That is, quite recently:

 

It’s not deja vu: Ganahl launched her campaign this morning from the same Rosie’s Diner prominently featured in a Cory Gardner for Senate ad from almost exactly one year ago. This particular ad saw heavy airplay across the state last summer and fall, being glowingly positive and focused on Gardner’s come-lately support for big servings of federal stimulus cash–the “Santa Cory” approach Gardner tried and failed on the way to defeat in last November’s elections.

By now you’re rightly asking yourself: why would anybody do this on purpose? We suppose recycling venues like this might be a decent idea had Gardner actually won his election last year. As it is, we’re half expecting Ganahl’s first ad to portray her washing John Hickenlooper’s Maserati.

It’s just weird, folks. And it starts conversations that don’t help Heidi Ganahl.

Lauren Boebert: The Sublime And Not So Much

Rep. Lauren Boebert, Andrew Wommack.

The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Debbie Kelly reports from controversial evangelical Christian minister Andrew Wommack’s “Truth & Liberty Conference,” held last weekend at Wommack’s superspreader church campus in Woodland Park, at which Rep. Lauren Boebert waxed spiritual about her unlikely ascension to Congress, and what she sees as a divinely ordained mission to effect supernatural change right here on the Earth plane:

“God wants us to be involved in the affairs of government,” said U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from the Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District and a keynote speaker.

“There are some things that are unjust that are taking place that God wants to make right,” she said. “He’s going to use his church, his children to infiltrate these people. … [Pols emphasis] They just don’t know they are being deceived…”

“It’s time we take what we know about the word of God and run with it,” said Boebert, who has become controversial for her outspoken conservative stances. “We don’t need to sit back and ask God, ‘Why is Nancy Pelosi being so mean today?’ We need to take the word of God and the promises he provides for us and go forward.”

To that end,

Boebert said she’s working on presenting articles of impeachment on President Joe Biden and wants to remove Pelosi, a Democrat from California, from her position as U.S. House Speaker, saying they aren’t doing their jobs properly.

None of that is going to happen, of course, though Boebert’s choice of words in describing herself as an “infiltrator” in Congress do make a strange–and by that we mean more than a little unsettling–kind of sense.

Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib (D).

But as the Staten Island Advance’s Paul Liotta reports from another event headlined by Rep. Boebert on September 2 in New York City’s coziest (and most conservative) borough, all that religious talk has an ugly side depending on the audience:

After characterizing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens/the Bronx) as a person who is wrong but has a heart filled with “rainbows and unicorns,” she described Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar as “black-hearted, evil women who want to destroy our country” [Pols emphasis] — an opinion some members of the crowd greeted with applause…

Boebert suggested that she, the staffer, and Omar were alone in an elevator together. She didn’t press the emergency break, as a member of the Sept. 2 audience suggested, but said she looked over at Omar to make a disparaging remark.

“Look it there. It’s the ‘jihad squad,’” she said she told her staffer.

As you can see, Rep. Boebert’s spiritual journey is not focused on interfaith dialogue.

Referring to colleagues of color as “black-hearted evil women” puts a stop to…well, any dialogue.

It’s difficult to argue that Lauren Boebert is doing what Jesus would do.

Kristi Burton Brown Keeps Using That Word

Responding to the announcement last Friday of a sweeping new mandate from the Biden administration requiring millions of American workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Colorado Republican Party chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown fired back a volley of pointed if not exactly coherent words in opposition–including the one key word that gets thrown around so often in politics, by persons who know what the word means and those who do not–to CBS4’s Rick Sallinger.

The word in question is “unconstitutional.”

“I mean it’s absolutely unconstitutional. Joe Biden does not have the power to tell private business owners what to do with their employees,” she said.

As we discussed last Thursday ahead of the vaccine mandate’s formal announcement, it wasn’t that long ago when even most Republicans were uncontroversially in support of requiring vaccines for a range of childhood diseases. As recently as 2015 both Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman saw no political risk in endorsing mandatory vaccination for school-age children. As for the constitutionality of vaccine mandates?

Colorado GOP chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown.

In a timely in-depth story last week, Politico explains how The U.S. Supreme Court decided that question 115 years ago in the case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts:

The year was 1904, and when [Rev. Henning Jacobson’s] politically charged legal challenge to the $5 fine for failing to get vaccinated made its way to the Supreme Court, the justices had a surprise for Rev. Jacobson. One man’s liberty, they declared in a 7-2 ruling handed down the following February, cannot deprive his neighbors of their own liberty — in this case by allowing the spread of disease. Jacobson, they ruled, must abide by the order of the Cambridge board of health or pay the penalty.

“There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good,” read the majority opinion. “On any other basis, organized society could not exist with safety to its members. Society based on the rule that each one is a law unto himself would soon be confronted with disorder and anarchy.”

And that wasn’t the last ruling upholding the constitutionality of vaccine mandates:

In 1922, the Supreme Court further clarified in Zucht vs. King that a school system could refuse admission to a student not meeting vaccination requirements, and that this would not be in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause for singling out a particular class of individuals, the National Constitution Center says on its website Constitution Daily.

Then, in 1944, in Prince vs. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court held that states may require vaccination regardless of a parent’s religious objection, making it clear that religious exemptions offered by states are elective, rather than mandated by the First Amendment, the Constitution Daily explains.

In short, there are words you can use to describe a vaccine mandate. “Unconstitutional” isn’t one. It’s not just factually wrong, it’s tragically ignorant of modern American history.

For generations of Americans in the 20th Century, vaccine mandates to attend school from preschool to university, not to mention as necessary to travel or to work in high-risk professions, were part of everyday life. The eradication of once-devastating epidemics of diseases like polio and smallpox taught a lesson to those generations that they never forgot, but relentless misinformation has chipped away at was once nearly universal consensus in recent years. The partisan politicization of the latter-day anti-vaxxer movement is a phenomenon we have witnessed here in Colorado over the last several years very clearly as local Republicans openly courted anti-vaxxer activists, and that embrace transitioned smoothly into the partisan political resistance to COVID-19 prevention measures.

The consequences of the partisan political backlash against what used to be one of the country’s greatest strengths, the ability to work together to overcome deadly diseases, are far-reaching. But to call what used to be considered our patriotic duty as Americans “unconstitutional” shows how far the reasoning that drives Republican rhetoric has degenerated.

This is the hubris that makes great nations weaker.

It’s Playtime In Lauren Boebert’s House!

Salon reports, but most of what you need to know is in the annotated photo above:

In a video reviewed by Salon and apparently recorded on July 25, the 8-year-old son of Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., can be seen singing, dancing and playing with cigarette lighters — while left alone in a room a few feet away from a high-capacity rifle. This would appear to violate a new Colorado state law, under which gun owners are required to store their deadly weapons in a gun safe, with a trigger or cable lock, whenever the owner is aware, or should reasonably be aware, that a “juvenile or a resident who is ineligible to possess a firearm can gain access to the firearm.”

Freshman GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert launched her bid for public office as a then-unknown owner of a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, by traveling 200 miles to Denver to call out Democratic Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke over banning assault weapons. Boebert campaigned with a Glock pistol on her hip everywhere it was legal to openly carry one, which is everywhere in CD-3 but not in Washington, D.C.–giving Boebert another opportunity to go viral with her gun on green-screen display.

In February, Boebert inexplicably appeared in a virtual hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee with an over-the-top number of firearms awkwardly stacked up on shelves behind her, revolting her colleagues but earning lots of adoring pro-gun press:

Everybody remembers Rep. Boebert’s pithy rejoinder to critics about those weapons being “safely stored,” right?

Salon reports that several now-deleted Tiktok videos shot over the course of a month or more this past July and August by Boebert’s eight-year-old in show firearms which can be readily seen in the background, including a long rifle that apparently didn’t move between videos. While the child filming doesn’t pick up the guns in view, he was apparently doing the next best thing for unattended children–playing with lighters!

In one video, Boebert’s son says that Donald Trump “is the real president, not Joe Biden — Joe Biden sucks.” Then he explains, “My mom is Lauren Boebert” before describing a red cigarette lighter as Biden and a green lighter as Trump. In several other videos, Boebert’s son lights and relights the lighters, tossing them on the floor behind him towards the rifle…

The videos are all gone now, but this must have been the most heartwarming child talent performance since Balloon Boy’s 2009 Youtube single “Not Pussified.” Which you can’t watch either, because sometime between 2009 and the present day Balloon Boy realized it was not casting him in the most auspicious light.

In 2021, Colorado passed House Bill 1106 requiring firearms in homes with either minor children or adults legally prohibited from possessing firearms to be safely stored via at minimum a lock on the weapon’s action if not locking them up in a gun safe. That law took effect on July 1, so if these videos were shot when claimed they could be direct evidence of a crime. In addition to plainly unsafe storage of firearms, we have to think child protective services in Garfield County might want to look into eight-year-olds playing with fire unsupervised. You’d hate for that to become an issue that the fire department (or God forbid the Forest Service) has to deal with.

Because Lauren Boebert’s public image is more or less a continuous rolling provocation constantly being piled on with fresh outrages for the express purpose of keeping her critics off-balance, what should be career-ending or at least severely damaging incidents don’t register like they should. But stop and think for a moment about someone who has so fervently pushed gun rights as a defining issue, making a big deal about carrying one with her everywhere she goes, stacking up so many guns to show off in an official hearing that it looked like they were going to fall on her, daring her critics to complain–being this irresponsible with guns and her own children.

It’s nothing short of abominable, and Boebert’s fellow gun owners should be among the most angry.

She’s making fools of them too.