Pettersen Lands Spot on “A-List” Committee

Congresswoman Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood)

Democrat Brittany Pettersen, a freshman lawmaker from Lakewood now representing CO-07, picked up an important committee assignment this week.

As POLITICO explains:

Democrats also named their rosters for the most desired “A” committees — Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Appropriations, and Ways and Means…

…Just two freshmen — Reps. Wiley Nickel (N.C.) and Brittany Pettersen (Colo.) — nabbed a spot on one of the panels. They both landed on Financial Services.

This is a pretty impressive accomplishment for Pettersen to be one of two freshmen — along with the fantastically-named Rep. Wiley Nickel — to earn an assignment on one of the four most influential House committees (Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Appropriations, and Ways and Means).

Only one other Member of Congress from Colorado sits on one of these top four committees: Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver is a member of the House Energy & Commerce committee.

Congressman Joe Neguse of Boulder was also recently appointed to the House Rules Committee, which is sort of like a “B-Plus Committee” but with the caveat that he’s going to have to deal with a whole lot of crazy; Reps. Chip Roy, Thomas Massie, and Ralph Norman are among the Republican members of the House Rules Committee.

Bennet, Hick Play Hardball Over Space Command

Sens. John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet.

As Byrant Harris reports for Defense News, the battle over ex-President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Space Command from Colorado Springs to Alabama as a reward to that state’s MAGA loyalists and a snub to our own state after Trump’s back-to-back defeats, continues with Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper bucking the Biden administration for a course change:

Republican lawmakers spent the last year stalling President Joe Biden’s defense nominees, but the latest threat to filling the Pentagon’s top jobs is coming from the president’s own party.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said he’s threatening to delay the six remaining Pentagon nominees because Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin refuses to meet with him over the Trump administration’s decision to move U.S. Space Command from its current location in Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Alabama…

Bennet and fellow Colorado Democrat Sen. John Hickenlooper joined Republicans in voting “no” on [Brendan] Owens because their letters to Austin have gone unanswered.

Thomas Novelly of Military.com reports that blocking assistant Defense Secretary nominee Brendan Owens succeeded in getting the DoD’s attention:

Military.com learned Wednesday that Bennet’s office has since been in communication with the Pentagon following the senator’s vote against Owens. [Pols emphasis] The Trump-era call to move Space Command headquarters has been dragging on for two years, with a final decision — supposedly — right around the corner…

In August 2021, while speaking on an Alabama radio show, Trump said the move was his decision, which sparked speculation that the former president may have intervened in the process for choosing the base, something that could have given ammunition to legal challenges.

“Space Force — I sent to Alabama,” Trump told the “Rick & Bubba” radio show at the time. “I hope you know that. [They] said they were looking for a home, and I single-handedly said, ‘Let’s go to Alabama.’ They wanted it. I said, ‘Let’s go to Alabama. I love Alabama.'”

To be clear, nobody is accusing the Biden administration of continuing to prosecute ex-President Trump’s political vendettas. This seems to us to be more a case of bureaucratic inertia, no doubt with some heavy lobbying from Alabama who would very much like the economic lift of Space Command in their state–despite Trump having turned it into a political football right before leaving office in disgrace. Unfortunately for Alabama, Trump’s actions in context have tainted the decision to move Space Command there. Even devoted MAGA toady Rep. Doug Lamborn agrees that Trump’s last-minute act of treachery against Colorado should not be allowed to stand.

Colorado’s interests are being aggressively represented in Washington. Neither side can call that a bad thing.

Colorado Republicans: Still With the Election Fraud Conspiracies

State Rep. Ken DeGraaf (R-ambling buffoon)

Colorado Republicans and their historic new micro-minorities began the 2023 legislative session by demonstrating that they had learned absolutely nothing from their 2022 election drubbing. The problem is particularly bad in the State House, where GOP lawmakers bring up their opposition to abortion rights at every opportunity — a position that is at odds with the vast majority of Colorado voters — and overthink even simple propositions such as their baffling refusal to co-sponsor a completely benign resolution honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Perhaps it should be no surprise, then, that House Republicans are once again talking about election fraud conspiracies. Last week a joint hearing of the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee went off the rails for Republicans when Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold appeared in front of the committee for her regular SMART Act hearing (State Measurement for Accountable, Responsive, and Transparent Government Act). Republican Reps. Ken DeGraaf and Scott “There is No” Bottoms — both of Colorado Springs — used the opportunity to deliver more than 10 minutes of indecipherable rantings about alleged election fraud.

We’re not exaggerating here. Neither DeGraaf nor Bottoms seemed to have much of a grasp on the theories behind their allegations. DeGraaf was particularly nonsensical; at several points, Griswold would have been completely justified in responding, I literally have no idea what you are saying right now.

You can listen to the exchange yourself, or follow along with our transcription below:

 

 

DeGraaf begins his ranting with this line:

DEGRAAF: “Questions are not necessarily conspiracy theories.”

This might have been the only cogent thing that came out of DeGraaf’s mouth. What he did not say, but perhaps should have added, is this: But do all conspiracy theories necessarily require serious questions?

DeGraaf’s opening line is one that Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl often used in 2022 when talking about her concerns about election fraud during the 2020 election. Why can’t we just ask questions? she would say. Of course, this isn’t really about asking questions; Republicans are more interested in making statements and tossing around unsubstantiated allegations.

DEGRAAF: What we’re putting our votes into now is a black box. And it’s a black box – we can’t see the code, and we haven’t seen external audits of the code. It should be a very simple code, as Rep. Baisley said.

Yes, let’s definitely cite Mark Baisley’s rhetoric on election fraud. It was about one year ago that Baisley suggested that Colorado should wrap all voting machines in tin foil in order to keep out the aliens block wireless signals from altering votes, or something.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Jan. 25)

Enjoy the not-as-cold weather today, because temperatures are predicted to drop significantly by the weekend. 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.

 

FIRST UP…

 

The Gazette “newspapers,” led by the Denver Gazette, are picking a public fight with The Denver Post in a strange attempt to increase stagnant readership numbers.

 

Colorado educators are badly in need of more assistance, as Denver7 reports:

The Colorado Education Association released its annual State of Education report and concluded the state’s education system is in a state of crisis.

The largest teachers union in the state — representing 39,000 public educators and school staff — says it is seeing a large number of educators who are considering leaving the profession because of low pay, staffing shortages, work load and safety issues — all problems exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teachers cite safety issues as their number one concern, followed by the consistent problem of low pay for educators. The Colorado Sun has more on the results of the new survey.

 

As Seth Klamann reports for The Denver Post, Democratic lawmakers at the State Capitol are looking at trying to eliminate bans on rent control in Colorado:

Nearly half of Colorado’s House Democrats have signed on to a bill that would allow local governments to enact rent control, repealing a decades-old prohibition and setting up a potential showdown with Gov. Jared Polis.

HB23-1115 does not institute any rent control or stabilization policies statewide. But it removes a state-level block on local officials rolling out one of their own, and it comes as lawmakers and Polis weigh an array of legislation to address Colorado’s growing housing crisis.

“Rents are too high,” said Rep. Javier Mabrey, a Denver Democrat, eviction attorney and one of the bill’s primary sponsors. “And that does not just mean essential workers like grocery store workers and servers. It’s unaffordable for teachers and nurses.”

Mabrey, a freshman lawmaker, is joined by fellow Democrat Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, of Glenwood Springs, as prime sponsors in the House. Twenty other members — all Democrats — have also signed on. That list includes nearly all of the chamber’s leadership, including Majority Leader Monica Duran, Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon and the House’s two whips, Reps. Iman Jodeh and Andy Boesenecker.

The Colorado Apartment Association is one of the more vocal opponents of the idea of rent control, because of course it is.

 

As Colorado Newsline explains, a national debt default could be catastrophic for the economy, but House Republicans are still playing games with demands for spending cuts:

If Congress doesn’t come to an agreement before the default date, expected in early June, economists have warned it could have drastic repercussions for Americans and across the globe. The Treasury would no longer have borrowing authority to pay for the country’s bills in full and on time, which has not happened before in the country’s history.

“Global financial markets and the economy would be upended, and even if resolved quickly, Americans would pay for this default for generations, as global investors would rightly believe that the federal government’s finances have been politicized and that a time may come when they would not be paid what they are owed when owed it,” said Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi and Assistant Director Bernard Yaros in a September 2021 report that came out during the last round of debt limit brinkmanship.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat from Denver, said in a town hall with news reporters that right-wing Republicans don’t want to “exert fiscal responsibility.” She said the debt ceiling was something people on both sides of the aisle always agreed on until the Tea Party Republicans fought raising it in 2011, like she said the MAGA Republicans are doing now.

DeGette said she’s “disturbed” by the rhetoric she’s heard from the far right and how a default could “wreak havoc” on the country’s economy.

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) thinks the debt default concerns are overblown, which says more about Buck than it does about the problem at hand.

 

 

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The Real Southern Invasion: Anschutz Gazette vs. The Denver Post

A new social media ad campaign from the Denver Gazette, a recently-launched pseudopod of the conservative-leaning Colorado Springs Gazette owned by Republican billionaire major donor Phil Anschutz, is prompting widespread backlash as an unseemly disparagement of a fellow news outlet’s journalistic integrity:

These new ads directly targeting the Denver Post, Colorado’s longstanding newspaper of record and despite its own struggles to remain in operation consistently delivering some of the best news content in the state, are just the latest development in the Gazette’s parent company Clarity Media’s well-funded attempt to wedge itself into the Denver news market with slanted news coverage and the most outrageous fringe-right editorial board west of the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post. It’s a strategy that Anschutz formerly tried and failed with the Washington Examiner, which will never supplant the Washington Post no matter how hard they try:

The Fox News-style “fair and balanced” message from the Gazette makes it plain what audience they are pandering to, namely conservatives who have been taught to instinctively reject news outlets who report things they don’t like–but that isn’t as much of a surprise as the Gazette openly attacking the integrity of another news outlet to attract that audience. This is potentially very damaging to the Gazette’s remaining credible news reporters and their relationships with colleagues, as well as possible collateral damage to the Gazette’s partnership with Denver’s leading local television station 9NEWS.

And why is it happening, you ask? From what we can see in the statistics from the last six months compiled by SEMRush, the Denver Gazette is failing miserably in its attempt to penetrate the Denver media market.

According to these stats, in the last six months, while other Denver news outlets enjoyed healthy election-year boosts in their web traffic, the Denver Gazette basically cratered. And it wasn’t for a lack of trying, with the Gazette’s parent company Clarity Media spending big on billboards and other ad formats in addition to the social media ads highlighted above over the past two years since it launched.

In the context of the Denver Gazette’s failure to thrive in the Denver media market, these attacks are even more pathetic, enough to give us pause about amplifying their quest for attention. But with a major municipal election around the corner, Denver voters need to be aware of the Gazette’s true purpose, which is to supply friendly coverage and ad quotes for Phil Anschutz’s right-wing political objectives. There is no parallel between those ulterior motives and the newsroom at the Denver Post, which has taken on its own hedge fund owners when necessary. Compare that to the dead silence from the Gazette’s properties about Phil Anschutz’s lawsuits to claw back millions from Colorado tax coffers.

This desperate attack by a clearly failing venture deserves to backfire.

Take this garbage back to Colorado Springs.

Oversight Committee Chair Pre-Emptively Disses Boebert

Rep. Lauren Boebert with reality-based friends MyPillow Guy, Rudy Giuliani, and couptastic attorney Jenna Ellis.

As the Phil Anschutz-owned Washington Examiner’s Marisa Schultz reports today, the Republican chairman of the U.S. House Oversight “Q-mittee,” to which newly-installed Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy appointed nether-right rivals Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, is laying down a warning to the committee’s newest crackpot conspiracy theorists that evidence-free flights of fancy won’t be tolerated:

The House Oversight Committee chairman leading investigations into President Joe Biden said his panel being stacked with “MAGA” firebrands will not undercut the seriousness of the committee’s work.

Rep. James Comer (R-KY) brushed off reports that the White House was celebrating the appointment of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) to his committee, saying he talked to the newest and most outspoken members about keeping the committee on track.

“They’re all passionate about oversight,” Comer said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. “And I’ve spoken with them, and I said: ‘We’ll probe and investigate lots of things, but nothing’s going on Oversight stationary unless there’s evidence to back it up.’” [Pols emphasis]

It’s a pre-emptive admonition that seems to concede some of these new members like Greene and Boebert would be perfectly fine wasting the Oversight Committee’s precious time with “MyPillow Guy”-grade conspiracy theories if not kept on a short metaphorical leash. Which calls into question their suitability to service on the House Oversight Committee to begin with, but as readers know it wasn’t Rep. James Comer’s decision to make.

Can Chairman Comer hold the “MAGA Qaucus” blowhards installed on his committee to his word, and keep their investigations rooted in evidentiary reality? Can MTG and Boebert restrain their deepening personal animus long enough for the Oversight Committee to do its job credibly trolling the Biden administration? Or will the Jewish space lasers rain fire like Elijah called down from Heaven to impress the backsliding prophets of Ba’al?

Put on your hip waders and stay tuned.

Lamborn Settles Staff Lawsuit, But Ethics Troubles Not Over

UPDATE: Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog:

Allegations raised in the lawsuit remain under investigation by the House Committee on Ethics, which announced a year ago that it would review charges Lamborn misused official resources for personal purposes, including requiring congressional staffers to perform tasks for the Lamborn family and his campaign, and that he “solicited or accepted improper gifts from subordinates.” The lawsuit also alleged Lamborn let his son live rent-free in the basement of the U.S. Capitol…

“While plaintiff and defendant disagree strongly about the allegations and defenses made during the Lawsuit, the parties engaged in mediation with a Magistrate Judge and jointly agreed to accept the solution proposed by the mediator, to avoid the expense and burden of future litigation for all involved, including the public (taxpayers),” Sebastian said in a written statement…

A report released a year ago by the Office of Congressional Ethics recommended that the bipartisan House ethics committee investigate some of Pope’s allegations, following a determination that there was “substantial reason to believe” Lamborn and his wife had enlisted staff members to perform unofficial duties.

—–

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Colorado Public Radio’s Caitlyn Kim reports on a settlement reached between Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs and a staffer who alleged that Lamborn endangered the health of his staff by flouting COVID-19 guidances during the height of the pandemic–just one of the many personal indiscretions Lamborn is accused of, also using his staff for personal and family errands, and even allowing his son to sleep in a Capitol storage unit while staffed helped him get a job in Washington:

Brandon Pope claimed he was fired for complaining about Lamborn and the office’s unsafe approach to COVID-19 at a time when many other workplaces were allowing remote work, socially distancing and wearing masks…

“There has not been any admission of guilt or wrongdoing associated with this resolution,” said Cassandra Sebastian, Communications Director for Lamborn. “And Congressman Lamborn absolutely maintains that at all times, he and his office used best efforts to comply with all legal and ethical requirements.”

Confidentiality provisions preclude parties from revealing the details of the settlement, Sebastian added.

Confidentiality in an out-of-court settlement is nothing new, of course, but it’s politically bad enough that the case was not dismissed outright or otherwise resolved in a manner that fully vindicates Rep. Lamborn. This settlement does not. Brandon Pope’s lawsuit was well-founded enough to have resulted in a settlement. Most members of the voting public are legally savvy enough to understand what that means.

And even though this individual civil case against Lamborn has been settled with the parties enjoined from commenting, Pope’s allegations against Lamborn are the subject of an ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation that isn’t going away:

While the legal case has been settled, an ethics investigation into some of the allegations Pope made against Lamborn remains open. In his initial suit, Pope gave examples that he claimed showed Lamborn using office staff to conduct personal errands for his family, such as helping Lamborn’s son prep for job interviews, as well as run campaign errands.

It’s reasonable to suggest that dismissal of the civil case against Rep. Lamborn would have been a better outcome in terms of discouraging further scrutiny by the Ethics Committee than a confidential settlement. With the allegations made by Pope in no way refuted by the settlement, the Committee has an obligation now to fully investigate and if necessary sanction Lamborn for his behavior.

Every taxpayer paid for Lamborn’s alleged abuse of office, not just Lamborn’s staff.

What’s STILL Happening to Colorado Republicans

As we’ve discussed at length in this space, Colorado Republicans have a long road ahead of them following the 2022 “Bluenami” that wiped out GOP candidates up and down the ballot. We keep looking for examples that the Colorado GOP understands its predicament and is willing to make the type of changes necessary to become competitive again, but we haven’t seen many signs of life thus far.

In a column published today in National Review, Republican Sage Naumann tried to explain how things got so bad in Colorado and what needs to be done to make them better for Republicans. Naumann is a former communications staffer for state legislative Republicans who transitioned to working for the GOP consulting firm called the “76 Group” in 2022 (the “76 Group” is run by longtime Republican consultant Josh Penry). We’ll give Naumann credit for trying to address the Republican problems in Colorado, but what makes his column for National Review truly insightful is what gets glossed over or swept under the rug entirely. This isn’t a Sage Naumann problem so much as it is a reflection of a larger issue for Colorado Republicans as a whole.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

 

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Ba’al’s Back And Boebert Says She Beat Him

Ba’al (medieval demon edition).

Back in April of last year, as readers may recall, then-CD-7 Republican candidate Tim Reichert took a hard theological line against abortion rights, declaring that every abortion that is performed anywhere for any reason is “the sacrifice of a child at the altar of Ba’al.” For those of you who didn’t learn about Ba’al in Sunday school, Ba’al is an ancient Canaanite deity who competed with the Israelite god whom we know today as…well, God (proper noun). After debuting in the Old Testament, Ba’al had a comeback career as a medieval demon in the 16th Century Pseudomonarchia Daemonum in which he is depicted as having the heads of a frog and a cat in addition to a mean-looking old man.

Congratulations, you now know more about medieval demonology than you will ever need to.

Fast forward to this past weekend, and we have Colorado’s everlasting fount of loosely theistic word salad Rep. Lauren Boebert retelling the story of the Prophet Elijah versus the “Prophets of Ba’al” in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings, Chapter 18:

So, the biggest problem with this analogy is that the Elijah vs. Prophets of Ba’al competition was not close. The Ba’al prophets prayed to make fire descend from heaven and burn their sacrifice for days, but Elijah made it look easy and his sacrifice burned right up despite being soaked in water. Boebert’s 550-vote squeaker was anything but easy, so in order to make the story work she just makes up the end:

I won again with 51% of the vote.

Sorry, but you can’t round 50.08% up to 51%. If that’s how rounding works, Boebert might as well round up to 100% and call it good.

Setting that aside, if you don’t know and don’t bother to learn what Boebert is talking about, it’s as bizarre as Reichert’s suggestion that Ba’al would prefer aborted babies on the pyre. Of course there is an audience for this kind of babble, but it’s not a majority of voters.

How to Go the Full Alan Salazar (feat. Alan Salazar)

Alan Salazar (left) and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with legendary Colorado politico Alan Salazar and coin a new term from his vast experience. Currently serving as Chief of Staff to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Salazar has been a top adviser to Congressmen, Senators, Governors, and even Presidents — for familiar names such as Roy Romer, Mark Udall, John Hickenlooper, and Bill Clinton. We discuss the traits that these successful politicians all have in common (other than hiring Alan Salazar).

Later, Jason and Ian also dive into the debt ceiling and try to understand why Colorado Republican lawmakers refused to co-sponsor a resolution honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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“Dr. Chaps” Leads GOP’s Glorious Municipal Comeback

Ex-Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt (R), now a Colorado Springs City Council candidate.

Last November’s punishing defeats for Colorado Republicans up and down the ballot have left the party searching in the dark for a rallying point to rebuild from. According to outgoing GOP chair Kristi Burton Brown, that “fresh start” coming in the form of Republican candidates running in nominally nonpartisan municipal and school board elections coming up this off-year. The abandonment of any pretense of nonpartisanship in these low-level races, and their conscious re-alignment with the larger political divide, is a phenomenon we’re calling the “Aurora Model” after former GOP Congressman Mike Coffman’s long game to assemble a controversial partisan Republican majority on Aurora’s City Council.

In Colorado Springs, where the final petitions for the mayoral and at-large City Council races are due next Monday, former GOP Secretary of State Wayne Williams is up against 2016 GOP U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn in the race to succeed former GOP Attorney General John Suthers–an intra-GOP affair with few expected surprises. But in the at-large City Council race, where the top three candidates will win a seat and five candidates are currently on the ballot, former Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt is hoping to start a Coffman-style road back to relevance. “Dr. Chaps” has been out of office for six years, but longtime readers will remember how Klingenschmitt’s joyously unhinged rhetoric made him a star of the fringe right back in 2015–claiming that an assault on a pregnant woman in Longmont was “a curse of God upon America” for allowing abortion,  that LGBT people “want to rule you” and that that gay Scoutmasters should prefer to be “drowned in the sea” than face God’s wrath. Chaps authored the 2012 book The Demons of Barack H. Obama and thinks “Obamacare causes cancer.”

In the era of Donald Trump and Lauren Boebert that followed Klingenschmitt’s brief time in the state legislature, Klingenschmitt’s wacky crusades seem almost passé. Although Klingenschmitt himself has been on the sidelines, the Republican Party has undeniably shifted in Klingenschmitt’s direction in the last few years.

Assuming there aren’t too many more late entrants, Klingenschmitt has a pretty decent shot at winning his first elected office since vacating his Colorado House seat to unsuccessfully run for the state Senate in 2016. Though perfectly in keeping with the city’s reputation for rehabilitating Republicans stepping down from state office, for Republicans hoping to move past the last several increasingly disastrous election cycles, Dr. Chaps is yet another sign that Republicans have no interest in meaningfully changing course in order to become more competitive across the state.

Republicans hate to admit it in polite company, but Dr. Chaps is who they are.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Jan. 20)

More snow is on the way (probably). 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.

 

FIRST UP…

 

We should soon know exactly how many candidates for Mayor of Denver are actually going to be on the ballot in April. Thursday was the deadline to submit a laughably-easy 300 valid petition signatures for ballot access As Joe Rubino reports for The Denver Post, the following candidates have been officially certified for the April ballot:

Kelly Brough
♦ Lisa Calderón
♦ Leslie Herod
♦ Mike Johnston
♦ Debbie Ortega
♦ Trinidad Rodriguez
♦ Andy Rougeot
♦ Kwame Spearman
♦ Ean Thomas Tafoya
♦ Thomas Wolf

Another 11 candidates for Mayor submitted their petition signatures on Thursday and are awaiting confirmation from the Denver Clerk and Recorder. Those candidates are:
Matt Brady, Renate Behrens, Alex Cowans, Paul Fiorino, Al Gardner, Marcus Giavanni, Chris Hansen, Sylvia Herring, Aurelio Martinez, Jesse Lashawn Parris, Ken Simpson, Robert Treta and James Walsh. As Rubino explains for the Post:

If even one of the remaining candidates whose signatures are still going through the verification process makes the ballot, it would surpass 2011 as the longest list of mayoral candidates since at least 1975 and possibly ever.

Abass Yaya Bamba and Terrance Roberts were somehow unable to collect 300 valid petition signatures and will not be on the April ballot.

The official list of candidates for Mayor of Denver will be finalized on Feb. 3.

 

In a separate story, Rubino reports on the five candidates invited by the Denver Business Journal to take part in a candidate forum on Thursday. This is a pretty good indication of how the top of the field of candidates for Mayor is shaking out at the moment:

The former head of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce Kelly Brough, State Sen. Chris Hansen, State Rep. Leslie Herod, former state senator Mike Johnston and Denver City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega were the five candidates the Denver Business Journal invited to appear on a panel Thursday morning focused on the overlap between city policies and business concerns in the Mile High City.

The panel covered topics including crime, affordability, homelessness, revitalizing the city’s ailing downtown and a backlog in the city’s permitting processes that is hindering development.

 

Colorado’s economy continues to do well, according to a press release from the office of Governor Jared Polis:

Today, Governor Polis and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced that Colorado’s unemployment rate declined in December to 3.3%, below the national rate of 3.5%…

…Colorado’s strong labor market added 8,600 jobs in December in industries including leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and business and professional services.

 

The Colorado Sun reports on the launch of the Colorado SecureSavings Plan:

The Colorado SecureSavings program was designed to help nearly 1 million workers with no retirement plan to start one at no cost to the employer. Companies with existing plans must be exempted by the state. Others with at least five employees must enroll in what state Department of Treasury officials called a “10- to 15-minute” process.

“This is about how (to help workers in) Colorado sustainably retire with dignity on their own terms,” state Treasurer Dave Young said. “Instead of being tied to an employer, like a traditional retirement plan, the Colorado SecureSavings Program travels with the employee (to a new job). … This allows small- and medium-sized businesses a broader compensation package.”

SecureSavings essentially sets up a Roth Individual Retirement Account for the worker and is open to all-sized businesses, including the self-employed, gig workers and farm laborers. After an employer enrolls, their workers are added to the portal so they can then choose to opt out or stick with it. After 30 days, 5% of a worker’s paycheck after taxes is deducted and placed into the retirement account. Vestwell Holdings manages the program for the state while BlackRock and State Street Global Advisors manage the investments.

This is a great idea. Our only question is why there is no space between the words “Secure” and “Savings.”

 

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Boebert Completes Whackadoo GOP House Oversight Q-mittee

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R).

With Republicans in narrow control of the U.S. House of Representatives, it’s widely expected that the next two years will feature a variety of retaliatory investigations into President Joe Biden–looking to balance the scales after Donald Trump’s unprecedented scofflaw presidency generated two impeachments, and more recently Trump’s long-concealed income tax returns showing that you probably paid more taxes than Trump for at least part of Trump’s time in office. That’s before we even start talking about Javanka and the Saudis.

Although the reciprocal investigations set to be launched by the new GOP House majority are certain to take up a lot of time and oxygen, as Politico reports, the White House is breathing a major sigh of relief after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy stacked the House Oversight Committee with what can best be described as some of his most dysfunctional caucus members:

House Republicans’ installation of some of their most incendiary conservatives on the Oversight Committee is sparking an unexpected feeling inside the White House: unbridled glee.

The panel tasked with probing Biden policies and actions, as well as the president’s own family, will be stocked with some of the chamber’s biggest firebrands and die-hard Trumpists — including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) — ideal figureheads for a White House eager to deride the opposition party as unhinged.

No administration wants to feel the heat of congressional investigations, and Biden’s team is no different. But privately, the president’s aides sent texts to one another with digital high fives and likened their apparent luck to drawing an inside straight. One White House ally called it a “political gift.”

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar both lost their committee postings in the previous Congress for their unhinged-trending-threatening rhetoric directed at colleagues. In Kevin McCarthy’s House, they get a starring role in what’s expected to be the focus of the new majority. As readers know the once-fast friendship between MTG and Colorado’s premiere far-right edgelady Rep. Lauren Boebert has soured to the point that we wouldn’t intentionally place them in the same room of any kind, let along a committee hearing room.

The theory in Biden’s favor here is that an Oversight Committee dominated by some of the least credible, most distractable extremists in the Republican caucus will be self-limited by its own incompetence and infighting. Although MTG has restored her good standing in the caucus with her loyalty to McCarthy in the clutch, she’s still the same discredited lunatic who gave the world the “Jewish Space Laser” conspiracy theory.

Just like Lauren Boebert said. Boebert, “very familiar” with QAnon and “Great Replacement” conspiracy theories of her own, has little room to criticize MTG in this regard–which of course doesn’t stop her. As for Paul Gosar? Our best suggestion is to not make eye contact.

If you’re wondering how this crew of proudly counterfactual misfits is possibly going to convince the American people that Biden is anywhere near as corrupt as Trump was, you’re not alone. But this is what the GOP-controlled U.S. House is going to spend the next two years leading off the news with.

“It’s the Industry That is Unappreciated in Speeches”

Colorado Republicans kicked off the 2023 legislative session by immediately proving that they had no intention of acting like serious adults and adjusting the course that brought them to their smallest representation at the State Capitol in generations. This week, they are literally counting the appearance of certain words in “the “State of the State” speech (SOTS) delivered by Gov. Jared Polis.

Republican legislators are still obsessed with their imaginary gripe about a “war on rural Colorado” being waged by Democrats — the sort of closed-loop idiocy that results in Republicans projecting “MeatOut Day” as a larger coordinated attack on Colorado’s livestock industry — and they can prove it by hitting ‘control-f’ on their computers.

On Wednesday, House Republicans issued the following statement signed by four members (Reps. Richard Holtorf, Marc Catlin, Ty Winter, and Ryan Armagost) attacking Polis for literally not saying the word “agriculture” enough times in his SOTS speech on Tuesday:

Statement from House Republicans following the “State of the State” speech.

 

One line in this statement is particularly ridiculous: “It’s the industry that is unappreciated in speeches” is beyond parody. The rest of the statement isn’t any better.

“In his 70-minute, 8,000-word monologue, the governor mentioned “agriculture” one single time. For perspective, the name ‘Gandalf’ was used three times. The governor may find humor in Lord of the Rings and Star Wars references while addressing the state, but Colorado’s struggling ranchers and farmers don’t quite find it as funny when they’re the ones being left out.”

Gov. Jared Polis saying lots of different words on Tuesday.

You can read the entire text of Gov. Polis’s prepared speech by clicking here. Polis did not actually “leave out” ranchers and farmers, but apparently he didn’t use those words enough for House Republicans. In Polis’s prepared remarks, the words “agricultural,” “farmer,” and “rancher” are all included:

“Farmers and ranchers across the state fear that Colorado won’t have the water resources to sustain the next generation of agricultural jobs.

When Colorado is 150, I want our state to have the water resources necessary for our farms, communities, and industries to thrive, and the tools in place to protect our state’s waterways and defend our rights.”

The word “water” appears 24 times in the SOTS speech. It is true, however, that the word “food” only appears twice in the speech, which obviously means that Polis is anti-eating. Also suspicious: No mention of the words “cow,” “chicken,” “steak,” or “hamburger.” And not once did Polis say “meteorite.”

In order for Republicans to start winning again in Colorado, they need suburban voters to swing in their direction. But their focus is elsewhere:

“There’s more to Colorado than a handful of metros and cities like Denver and Boulder. Our districts encompass the vast majority of geographical territory in the state.”

This would be great news for the GOP if dirt could vote. Alas, people still make the decisions in a democracy, and people in Colorado tend to live near “metros and cities.”

Wednesday’s statement from House Republicans closed with the all-too-familiar perpetual victimhood approach:

“We may be an afterthought to those in their ivory towers or gold domes looking down, but our agriculture community remembers every day the struggles we go through to keep Colorado’s economy and people strong. Agricultural businesses and families have earned more than one or two passing lines when discussing the current and future state of Colorado.”

So many gold domes.

This is what House Republicans are doing with their time. If Polis would just say “agriculture” a half-dozen times, then everything would be cool? Is that really the argument here?

Instead of recognizing the root causes that led to their micro-minority status, Republicans keep focusing on losing issues such as opposition to abortion rights and mindless support of people carrying any sort of firearm in any situation (even at the State Capitol). Last week ended with no House Republicans co-sponsoring the completely-benign annual resolution honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — an unprecedented move that won’t help the GOP attract future support from Black voters. That resolution passed in the State Senate on Tuesday with only Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen adding his name as a co-sponsor.

You can argue that government functions best when there is more than one political party piloting the ship. You can’t make that argument when one of those political parties is spending time and energy counting the number of specific words in a speech and extrapolating some sort of ridiculous grievance from the result.

Colorado Christian University Attacks Abortion With Your Tax Dollars

Jeff Hunt of the Centennial Institute, billed as Lakewood-based Colorado Christian University’s “think tank” and the annual host of the overtly partisan Republican Western Conservative Summit, Tweeted proudly today that he’s headed to Washington, D.C. for tomorrow’s March For Life anti-abortion rally along with dozens of CCU students–a rally taking on new significance after last summer’s repeal of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing abortion rights for all American citizens.

To commemorate the occasion, CCU registered a new trademark to serve as a branding tagline: “Pro-Life U.”

Although nominally a separate organization, the Centennial Institute is inextricably co-branded with Colorado Christian University, and regularly pushes the limits of its 501(c)(3) tax status in its unabashedly partisan Republican program that culminates in the annual Western Conservative Summit. But in the context of the ongoing national struggle over abortion rights, in which Colorado has emerged as a crucial bulwark for abortion rights and a haven for abortion care increasingly unavailable in other states, there’s another problem:

Colorado Christian University is funded in part by public education funds. Back in 2004, GOP Gov. Bill Owens signed the College Opportunity Fund legislation that re-allocated dwindling higher education funding to “follow the student.” As part of the dealmaking to get Republican support in the legislature for this rejiggering, CCU and Denver’s Catholic Regis University were included as eligible institutions for COF funding. This arrangement was challenged unsuccessfully in the 2008 Colorado Christian University v. Weaver case, which found that Colorado wasn’t required to exclude CCU by federal law.

But does that mean the taxpayers of Colorado are obligated to fund an institution actively working to undermine the state’s voter-affirmed policy on abortion rights? Is it possible that a supermajority of abortion rights supporters in the Colorado legislature someday might reasonably conclude that’s not a good use of taxpayer money?

The one thing we can say for sure is that the political landscape that allowed Colorado Christian University to suckle up on the taxpayer teat in 2004…looks very different today. In 2023, CCU receives taxpayer money while battling against the will of Colorado voters. And that doesn’t seem sustainable.

Preventing Voter Fraud to Make Room for More Election Deniers

 

Every accusation is a confession. 

This phrase has become increasingly popular since the rise of Donald Trump in Republican politics. Its origins are often misattributed, in part, to former Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. The concept of “accusing the other side of that which you are guilty” may have been a tactic espoused by Goebbels, but it is not clear that he publicly said this directly (though he did accuse critics of Nazi Germany of doing something similar).

Whatever the etymology of the phrase, it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t often apply to Republicans – particularly those who incessantly accuse others of election fraud. Real examples of actual election fraud are actually very rare, but when it does happen, it is almost always a Republican committing the fraud (see HERE, HERE, or HERE for just a few examples in Colorado). Earlier this month, a Republican election official in New York pleaded guilty to using voters’ personal information in order to obtain multiple absentee ballots. 

The latest example of concerns about election fraud involves the entire Colorado Republican Party. As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Colorado Republican Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown wants state Republicans to decide whether an outside entity should run the El Paso County GOP’s upcoming officer elections.

Responding to what she described as “ongoing internal conflict” between Republicans in Colorado’s largest county, Burton Brown called a special meeting of the state GOP’s central committee for Jan. 31 in an email sent to committee members late Monday.

The county party is scheduled to elect a chair, vice chair, secretary and bonus members — based on top-ticket Republican votes received in the November election — to two-year terms on Feb. 11, part of the regular reorganization Colorado’s political parties undertake in odd-numbered years. The state party picks its own leadership at the end of March, with ballots cast by the newly elected county officers and bonus members, along with elected GOP officials.

As things stand, the El Paso County Republican Party’s leadership election will be run by two-term county chair Vickie Tonkins and her lieutenants, but under the proposal floated by Burton Brown, the state party could decide to substitute a “neutral party outside El Paso County” to conduct the election.

Burton said she decided to call the special meeting — which will be held online on the Zoom teleconference platform — after receiving a request submitted last week in a petition that expressed concerns Tonkins won’t operate the party election fairly.

“We need a county organization in El Paso County that will support our Republican nominees — not attack them,” read the petition, which was signed by nearly 100 of the state central committee’s roughly 460 members.

El Paso County Republican Chairwoman/Supervillain Vicki Tonkins

Why would so many Republicans be concerned that El Paso County GOP Chair Vicki Tonkins might try to rig an election in order to help her supporters? 

Because Tonkins seems to do just that on a regular basis. 

Colorado Republicans made similar accusations two years ago, when Tonkins was re-elected as El Paso County GOP Chair despite “voting irregularities.” After Tonkins defeated Peggy Littleton by just seven votes, Littleton accused Tonkins of wrongly denying credentials for several voting members who Littleton believed were in her corner. 

Then-El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder went so far as to call the El Paso County GOP elections a “sham.” A group of Republicans later took their concerns to State GOP Party leaders and appealed for a new election, but the state GOP central committee allowed the results to stand.  

Tonkins has continued to face accusations of bias; last February critics charged that Tonkins was bending the rules for her preferred candidates ahead of the GOP precinct caucuses in March 2022. Tonkins largely succeeded in ousting many longstanding Republicans in El Paso County. Mistrust of Tonkins continued into the fall, when a group of Republicans – including the campaigns for gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl and Senate hopeful Joe O’Deacreated their own separate GOTV headquarters in Colorado Springs. Just days before the November election, Tonkins gathered her troops in El Paso County to officially “censure and condemn in the strongest possible terms” these Republicans – going so far as to even call on them to “cease and desist” using the word “Republican.”

This is all silly and ridiculous nonsense from a political party that thrives on silly and ridiculous nonsense, but the latest effort by outgoing State Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown (KBB) to remove Tonkins from overseeing an internal election underscores a very real problem for all Colorado Republicans. The Republicans who succeed in winning election to county party offices in February are the same folks who will be casting votes for the next group of people vying to run the entire State Republican Party in March. If Republicans can’t solve this local problem, they’re not going to be able to fix their statewide issues. 

Kristi Burton Brown

This entire circus is full of delicious irony. When KBB was elected State Party Chair in March 2021 – fresh off of serving as the President of the militia group FEC United – she was celebrated in some circles as the “grassroots” candidate who defeated the “establishment” choice of former Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Both KBB and Gessler had courted Republican voters by talking about their commitment to – wait for it – fighting election fraud and the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. 

Following the November 2022 “Bluenami” that decimated Republicans statewide, critics began lambasting KBB as a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only). Those critics have also referred to the state GOP leadership as “asswipes” and “whores.” To the surprise of nobody, KBB announced in late December that she would not seek re-election as State Party Chair. 

Several Republicans have announced that they will seek to become the next State GOP Chair, including retread loser Casper Stockham; GOP “activist” Aaron Wood; failed 2022 State Senate candidate Stephen Varela; and failed 2022 Senate/congressional candidate Erik Aadland, who lost to Democrat Brittany Pettersen in CO-07 by 15 points. During his campaign for Congress, Aadland regularly cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election, at one point saying that Democrat Joe Biden’s victory was “absolutely rigged.” 

In short, Colorado Republicans are trying to prevent one of their own (Tonkins) from rigging a county leadership election so that they can be confident that there will be no malfeasance in March when Republicans select new State Party leadership from among a bunch of candidates who are themselves election deniers. 

Colorado Republicans…this is your life.

Who’s Holding Boebert Accountable? MTG, Not Colorado GOP

UPDATE: Pundit emeritus Chris Cillizza has more on Marjorie Taylor Greene’s recent rehabilitation, at least in part at Lauren Boebert’s expense:

How did Greene pull off such a coup? How did she go from an outcast in Congress to a member of the House Republican conference in good standing?

…Part of what changed is that McCarthy realized that he needed MTG more than she needed him. McCarthy was laser-focused on being Speaker and long before the 2022 election, Greene made clear that any path to that job went through her.

…MTG 2.0 is a far savvier version of the original, and someone who had quite clearly made the conscious choice that being a backbench bomb thrower isn’t enough for her.

With that, Boebert has taken MTG’s place as the GOP caucus’ “backbench bomb thrower.”

—–

Reps. Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R).

As readers know, the once-enthusiastic friendship between the “Q-some Twosome” in Congress, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado has transformed, in the way some high-profile relationships sadly do, into a bitter and increasingly public rivalry.

It was reported as far back as last spring that Boebert was growing tired of MTG hogging the far-right spotlight–and despite Boebert’s own footsie played with “QAnon” conspiracy theorists, Boebert believes that MTG is an even bigger liability to the GOP than…anyone else would say Boebert herself, but she obviously doesn’t feel that way about herself.

During the protracted struggle over Kevin McCarthy’s ascension to the Speakership, in which Boebert emerged as one of the final obstinate holdouts raking McCarthy over the coals to the bitter end, the animus between MTG and Boebert was on full public display on social media and conservative outlets frequented by both. The Daily Beast broke the story yesterday of a confrontation between MTG and Boebert on January 3rd that reportedly just about became a scene from a movie:

On the first day of Congress this year, Jan. 3, the mounting tension between Greene and Boebert reached its boiling point. According to multiple sources, the two women were nearly in a screaming match in the Speaker’s lobby ladies room just off the House floor…

The first source said Greene was in a stall and, upon coming out, confronted Boebert about taking money from McCarthy for her re-election and then turning against McCarthy when it came time to vote. The Colorado Republican was allegedly unaware that Greene was also in the bathroom at the time.

“That’s when Lauren said, ‘Don’t be ugly,’” the first source said, before she—in the words of this source—“ran out like a little schoolgirl.”

The point here is not to poke fun at adolescent drama playing out in a bathroom between people with “Honorable” in their titles, although it’s all there for public consumption. From the point of view of any Republican who wants the new GOP House majority to appear united and functional, which might encourage American voters to vote Republican again in future elections, MTG was in the right to call Boebert out–while Boebert’s antics were destructive to the new Republican majority’s credibility at a moment they could least afford it.

In short, MTG was doing what Colorado Republicans are too scared to do: hold Boebert accountable.

For the moment, Boebert doesn’t appear to have been directly punished by McCarthy, receiving despite her behavior during the confirmation battle a post on the House Oversight Committee to join in the coming two years of bedevilment of Joe Biden’s administration. But especially given Boebert’s vulnerability to a viable challenger demonstrated in last year’s elections, Boebert needs all the friends can. McCarthy spent big to prop up Boebert’s underperforming re-election. Much like Liz Cheney herself, who held a fundraiser for Boebert before January 6th rent them asunder, MTG is right to point out Boebert’s disloyalty to those who have tried to help her.

Notwithstanding Matt Gaetz, Boebert is relieving herself of friends instead of gaining them. There’s no way that ends well for Boebert, or her longsuffering constituents, in the long run.