Cory Gardner is Not a Figment of Your Imagination

Colorado Congressional DelegationCongress is nearing the end of its Memorial Day recess, which began last Friday and continues through this weekend. It’s been a busy break for most of Colorado’s Congressional delegation.

Many of Colorado’s Congresspeople used this “district work period” to meet with constituents and local groups. Freshman Reps. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Jason Crow (D-Aurora) have been all over the place in the past week (Neguse has already conducted more town hall meetings than any other freshman lawmaker in the country). Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) did some podcasting; Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) conducted a CNN “town hall” as part of his campaign for President; and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) even found some time to do a little yardwork.

Yet there is one member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation who is — once again — difficult to find in person. In fact, the only reason we even know roughly where Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has been is because of a line buried in this Politico story about former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley:

She has also been asked to campaign alongside Republican candidates who might be more reluctant to stump with the president, including Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, widely considered the most vulnerable of the 2020 cycle. The president’s approval rating in the state is underwater by 13 points, according to an April poll conducted by Morning Consult. Gardner, who was traveling internationally in connection with his position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was not present Thursday when Trump visited Colorado to deliver remarks at the Air Force Academy’s commencement ceremony. [Pols emphasis]

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (right) speaks with constituents in Arvada this week.

Gardner was also conspicuously absent from Colorado during the last long “district work period” in March, which has become standard practice for the Yuma Republican. Coloradans generally don’t even learn about what Gardner is doing until after he’s done it. Reporters can’t get answers to the most basic of questions. And town halls…those are another subject altogether; you’d have better luck finding Gardner at Disneyland than at a town hall event.

Gardner is entering his first re-election campaign as a top target for Democrats; he is generally considered to be the most endangered incumbent Senator in the country. But many of 2020’s most endangered Republican incumbents are making time for their home states. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) was shaking hands on the Memorial Day parade route, and Sen. Martha McSally (R-Arizona) popped up in several places.

Coloradans should expect their Congressional Members to be visible — particularly since Congress isn’t getting much done when they are in Washington D.C. — but what we’ve come to expect from Gardner is absence.

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Matt Arnold Beats Bob Beauprez–Again

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

A press release from perennial conservative gadfly Matt Arnold announces his latest David-and-Goliath victory over former GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez’s political machine–a battle that has its roots in the 2016 elections and an attempt by Beauprez to “purge” the GOP caucus in the state legislature of undesired Republicans:

Notching yet another appellate victory, Campaign Integrity Watchdog prevailed against the desperate attempt of “Both-Ways Bob” Beauprez” to appeal his ‘Colorado Pioneer Action’ (CPA) committee’s conviction for multiple violations of state law issued over two years ago.

The Colorado Court of Appeals ruling (case 2017CA883) was issued Thursday 30 May 2019 and not only affirms the trial court finding that ‘Colorado Pioneer Action’ (CPA) was guilty of failing to register as a political committee and disclose donors, but also affirmed the monetary penalty imposed on CPA while reversing the imposition of attorney fees on CIW’s officer Matt Arnold.

‘Colorado Pioneer Action’ (CPA) will thus be required not only to finally (after over three years of operating in violation of law) to register as a political committee, disclose its contributors, and pay penalties imposed in the trial court ruling, but also will be required to pay CIW’s court costs incurred as a result of CPA’s meritless appeal.

“The wheels of justice grind slowly,” stated Campaign Integrity Watchdog officer Matt Arnold, “but they do grind – and have ground CPA’s groundless appeal to dust.” Arnold continued, “Campaign Integrity Watchdog calls on Beauprez and Colorado Pioneer Action to quickly and fully comply with the orders of the trial and appellate courts, including registering the entity with the Secretary of State, filing required disclosures, and paying penalties imposed by law. CPA has defied the law long enough; time to man up and pay the piper.”

To briefly recap the history here, Bob Beauprez’s political organization started up a group called Pioneer Action to run ads in the 2016 election cycle. This group proceeded to launch attacks in Republican primaries on both GOP incumbents and candidates aligned with Dudley Brown and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, including “pistol-packing” Rep. Lori Saine among a number of others. This “red on red” campaign outraged the targeted candidates and their hard-right backers, and drove a wedge within the Colorado Republican Party still playing out today in the recall of Rep. Tom Sullivan.

The problem for Pioneer Action is that they did not meet the so-called “primary purpose” test required of politically active nonprofits who aren’t required to disclose their donors. Indeed the group was apparently solely focused on electioneering communications–and it doesn’t matter that these were intra-GOP attacks. Matt Arnold sued and won contending that Pioneer Action should be required to disclose their spending like any other solely election-focused organization. This appellate decision cements that victory and ensures Arnold’s attorney fees will be paid by Pioneer Action.

It’s worth noting that Beauprez’s attempt to “purge” the GOP of undesired candidates was not in the end successful, and today the state house leadership as well as leadership of the Colorado Republican Party is dominated by RMGO’s allies. Arnold himself is now the registered agent for Values First Colorado, the House GOP’s “independent” communications arm directly involved with the Sullivan recall.

Once considered a pest to both sides of the aisle, Matt Arnold’s continuing victories over the vastly better funded Beauprez political operation and his current leadership role in the ascendant Neville faction show how the power has shifted within the Colorado GOP. It’s not our role today to judge the morality or long-term implications of this shift–but there is no longer any denying it.

Its Matt Arnold’s party now.

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Hickenlooper: Impeach The [Expletive] [Expletive]

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Okay, okay, you already know Colorado’s genteel Gov. John Hickenlooper didn’t use that kind of Rashida Tlaib-style salty language. But As Colorado Public Radio’s Andrew Villegas reports, Hickenlooper is joining with members of the Colorado Democratic congressional delegation and a growing national chorus in support of impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump:

Today, Hickenlooper is ready.

Thursday morning on CNN, Hickenlooper said it’s time to begin an impeachment inquiry against the president.

He said listening to Mueller’s statements to the media Wednesday convinced him.

“I think he laid the responsibility clearly at the doorstep of Congress,” Hickenlooper said. “I do think we have an obligation to follow where the facts lead.”

Like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a significant number of Democratic political strategists, Hickenlooper has come around more slowly to the idea of impeachment hearings–weighing the likelihood of success against the political consequences of failure so close to the 2020 elections. But just as Diana DeGette and Joe Neguse have concluded, without impeachment hearings there may be no way as a country to conclusively reckon with the events of the last three years.

Of course, one side doesn’t want that reckoning to ever happen.

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Of Camping and Campaign Bans

For Denver Mayoral candidate and occasional voter Jamie Giellis, the good news and the bad news are one in the same: The Denver runoff election finally concludes on Tuesday.

We’ve noted a few times in this space that Giellis is running what you could call a “nontraditional” campaign — which is a nice way of saying that she’s been a mess as a candidate. Both Giellis and incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock have ratcheted up the negative campaigning in recent weeks, though many of the wounds being suffered by the Giellis camp are self-inflicted. Take, for example, this mail piece that arrived in the mailboxes of Denver voters today:

 

First, let’s get to the unfortunate error: An extra ‘a’ and a few other misplaced consonants drastically change the meaning of this mail piece.

The irony of this copy-editing mistake is that it is a pretty good summation of Giellis’ all-over-the-place position on homelessness and the Urban Campaign Camping Ban. Ahead of the first round of balloting in Denver, Giellis was clear that she SUPPORTED ending the Urban Camping Ban but DID NOT SUPPORT Initiative 300 (which was commonly called “The Urban Camping Ban Initiative”). This was on April 28, 2019:

But as you can see in the mail piece above, Giellis now says that she DOES NOT support a repeal of the Urban Camping Ban, though she stands by her opposition on the now-deceased Initiative 300. Furthermore, Giellis claims that Hancock is lying when he says that she once DID support a repeal…even though she very clearly had no problem opposing it a month ago and several news outlets (including the Denver Post and 9News) have noted that she appears to have flip-flopped on the issue.

On the other hand, you could argue that the mail piece above contradicts itself at least once on Urban Camping Bans, so who can really say what her position actually entails?

On the other (other) hand, perhaps Giellis really means to propose an Urban CAMPAIGN Ban. After this election cycle, Denver voters might agree.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 30)

Was that the dog, or did you just release some “molecules of U.S. freedom?” It’s time to “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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is in Colorado today to give the commencement speech at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

 

An effort to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora) continues to reflect poorly on Colorado Republicans. Arapahoe County Republican Party Vice Chair Brenda Stokes says that Sullivan “shamefully politicized his son’s death” in sponsoring red flag legislation this year. Sullivan’s son was killed in the 2012 Aurora Theater shooting.

 

► President Trump is trying to navigate the aftermath of the first public comments from special counsel Robert Mueller, in which Mueller made clear that his investigation did NOT exonerate Trump. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump on Thursday attacked Robert S. Mueller III as “totally conflicted” and “a true never-Trumper” and claimed that the special counsel would have brought charges against him if he had any evidence — a characterization directly at odds with what Mueller said in a public statement Wednesday.

Trump’s attacks came in morning tweets and later while speaking to reporters at the White House. In one of his tweets, he also seemingly acknowledged for the first time that Russia had helped him get elected in 2016 — but he strongly pushed back against that notion while talking to reporters as he prepared to leave Washington…

…Trump caused a kerfuffle earlier in the morning after seeming to acknowledge for the first time that Russia had helped him in 2016.

“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. [Pols emphasis] It was a crime that didn’t exist.”

Shortly afterward, however, he told reporters at the White House that Russia had not helped him get elected.

As Greg Sargent writes for the Washington Post, Trump can’t put this one back in the bag. Meanwhile, CNN fact-checks Trump’s newest list of lies.

 

 Colorado Gov. Jared Polis today released his “roadmap to 100% renewable energy by 2040” plan for fighting Climate Change.

In related news, Glenwood Springs is now the 7th city in the United States to be powered by 100% renewable energy.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Cory Gardner’s Wall Street Problem

If Senator Cory Gardner wants to win his tough re-election fight next year, there’s really no constituency he can ignore–which helps explain why he’s all over the map on so many issues. But over a decade in Congress, and especially since entering the Senate, Gardner has allied himself closely with the one sector of society that everyone loves to hate–Wall Street.

Depending on where the current market roller coaster heads in the next year, and predictions vary widely as of this writing, that could be a serious liability for Gardner much like the 2008 financial crisis meant doom for Republicans at the polls.

Ahead of 2020, Gardner has already raised almost $1 million from the finance, insurance, and real estate industries, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. And that’s consistent with history: in his 2014 Senate bid, Gardner raised over $800,000 from Wall Street, and has kept the money rolling in steadily ever since.

All of that campaign cash doesn’t come for free of course! National watchdog group Americans for Financial Reform laid out in a recent report that Wall Street pursued an aggressive deregulatory agenda in the 2017-2018 Congress, for which they spent almost $2 billion on congressional persuasion:

In the 2017–18 election cycle, Wall Street banks and financial interests reported spending almost $2 billion to influence decision-making in Washington. That total – of officially reported expenditures on campaign contributions and lobbying – works out to more than $2.5 million per day. A total of 443 financial sector companies and trade associations spent at least $500,000 each during this period.

Since 2008, financial industry spending has increased to levels even higher than they were before the financial crisis, and the spending in this cycle was the highest yet for a non-presidential year. This continued high level of spending reflects the ongoing battle to reshape the financial system and the industry’s persistent efforts to repeal or win exemptions from parts of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, to weaken implementing regulations, to further deregulate, and to forestall proposals for accountability and change.

Americans for Financial Reform identified 15 key Wall Street-related votes that made it to the Senate floor in the 2016-2018 Congress. Gardner voted yes on 14 of them, and was a no-vote on the other. Gardner voted to install ally of payday lenders Kathy Kraninger as their top regulator, to change around rules that allowed the merger which might create the country’s newest “Too Big To Fail” bank, and to give the banks a massive tax break at the expense of a surging deficit.

Think about that for a moment. The same dishonest bankers who crashed the economy in 2008 spent an average of $2.5 million per day trying to get Congress to roll back oversight and give them taxpayer-funded handouts. And Cory Gardner helped them at every step. If that’s not a hard-hitting political attack ad, we’d have trouble finding one.

Toxic coziness with Wall Street isn’t a new problem for Gardner, and like all such issues where his duties to constituents conflict with his political benefactors, Gardner is hoping this will go underreported back here in Colorado. The problem is there are real consequences for Colorado voters who carry the risk while Wall Street reaps the rewards. While we can’t imagine anyone would want to repeat the financial crisis of 2008 or the Great Recession that followed, that’s what dismantling consumer financial protections and post-recession banking reforms would lead to.

Gardner is ready to make all the same mistakes again.

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For SoS Griswold, Success Speaks Louder Than Trolls

Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D).

A press release today from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office celebrates the signing by Gov. Jared Polis of a package of bills that builds on Colorado’s already proud record of extremely high voter participation:

Today, Governor Jared Polis signed into law a package of legislation aimed at increasing access to and representation in our democracy. The new laws increase disclosure of political spending, expand automatic voter registration, increase voting access for all eligible Coloradans– including increased polling locations and drop boxes in the days leading up to and on Election Day — and guarantee polling locations or drop boxes on public universities and tribal lands. Campaign finance reform, expanded automatic voter registration, and improved access to voting for Coloradans were all priorities for Secretary of State Jena Griswold this year. Secretary Griswold worked with the legislature to advance this agenda.

“Colorado voters belong at the center of our democracy. These new laws will shine light on secret political spending; stop special-interests, corporations, and the well-connected from side-stepping the law; and increase access to voter registration and voting for all eligible Coloradans,” said Secretary Griswold. “I am proud of the work we accomplished with the legislature to help build a democracy that Coloradans can believe in, and further secure Colorado as a leader in election access and campaign finance transparency.”

As most of our readers know, Colorado presently has the second-highest rate of voter participation in the country, beat out only by the perennial do-gooders of the state of Minnesota. Automatic Voter Registration (Senate Bill 19-235) and two other bills expanding access to voter service centers and voters with disabilities, along with The Clean Campaign Act of 2019 (House Bill 19-1318) requiring more disclosure from SuperPACS and banning foreign spending on local elections all signed into law today, meant to build on that record of success while keeping disclosure laws up to date with the times.

Secretary Griswold took some silly-season fire last week after an open records request from Scott Gessler’s vindictive former deputy Suzanne Staiert revealed Griswold’s office had run a press release on Alabama’s controversial abortion ban by staff at Planned Parenthood for suggested edits–an incident ripe for wedge issue pearl-clutching, but in truth a routine occurrence on both sides in regular consultation with their friendly organizations. After Republican lawmakers run industry-authored “model” bills year after year and brag about conservative operatives from Americans for Prosperity working out of their offices during the legislative session, it’s ridiculous to get upset about a few suggested edits to a press release from an advocacy group that works on the issue.

What matters is this: Colorado’s nation-beating election system got even better yesterday with the help of legislation supported by Secretary of State Jena Griswold. If we top Minnesota in 2020 and become America’s most participatory electorate, Secretary Griswold will get the credit–deservedly, unlike Griswold’s Republican predecessor who opposed the 2013 reforms he later took credit for.

In the end, there are two kinds of political news: news you talk about for a couple of days and then forget about and news that changes things. The legislation signed by Gov. Polis is the latter, and it’s that success Secretary Griswold’s detractors tried to step on.

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Susan Beckman Shakes Her Fist at “Fatalist” 3rd Graders

Rep. Susan Beckman (R-Littleton)

One of the more notable Democratic accomplishments of the 2019 legislative session came in the form of several bills packaged together to help Colorado combat Climate Change and reduce our carbon footprint. Earlier this month, the editorial board of the Denver Post added themselves to the list of those who appreciated the legislature’s work on Climate Change:

Democrats achieved much in 2019 with their complete control of the Colorado state governance, but of all the policies that Gov. Jared Polis has or likely will sign into law, none is as important as the work lawmakers did to reduce Colorado’s carbon footprint.

There’s a good chance toxic D.C. politics will prevent the federal government from ever responding to the threat of climate change. States and local governments must step up and do what they can, and individuals, for that matter, must start chipping in too.

That’s why we applaud the relatively moderate “climate change” legislative agenda passed by Speaker of the House K.C. Becker, House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, Senate President Leroy Garcia, and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg.

Democrats were able to pass important climate legislation despite opposition from right wing Republican hardliners like science-doubting Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Firestone) and Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction), who somehow believes that humans have actually improved Earth’s climate. On some of these bills, including HB-1261, the legislation passed with no Republican votes whatsoever…

…Which brings us to Rep. Susan Beckman (R-Littleton). In an illuminating Facebook post published on Friday, Beckman lamented the fact that third graders in her district had encouraged her to support HB-1261. Beckman says she is “very concerned” about the “fatalist view” being taken in these letters from third graders:

Facebook post from Rep. Susan Beckman (R-Littleton)

Here’s a closer look at the two samples provided by Beckman:

“The first reason the bill should pass is because air pollution hurts people’s hearts, lungs and more. If air pollution is doing this then we can get really sick or maybe even die. If people die, then babies can’t be born, and if no more babies are born, then there will not be any more people on Earth.”

—–

“Another reason the bill should pass is because greenhouse gasses are connected to climate change. This is crucial because climate change causes icebergs to melt. If icebergs melt it causes floods. When there are floods people have to move to another place. If people are too slow and cannot get away, they would drown.”

KIDS: We would like to be able to breathe the air and not die in a flood.

REP. BECKMAN: Stop being so negative!

While we’re on the topic of fatalism, we should note that this is the very same Susan Beckman who lost her bid to become the Chair of the Colorado Republican Party and then complained of “flagrant abuse” of election rules after Ken Buck was declared Party Chair. Such a Negative Nancy!

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Tightening Debate Qualifications Put “Benkenlooper” On Notice

Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper.

CNN reports, the winnowing’s got to start some time:

The Democratic National Committee will double the qualifying thresholds and require that 2020 candidates meet both in order to participate in the third and fourth primary debates, the committee announced Wednesday.

Candidates had to achieve 1% in three polls from an approved list of pollsters or receive campaign contributions from 65,000 unique donors, including 200 donors each from 20 different states, to qualify for the first Democratic primary debates in June, which will be hosted by NBC News, and the second set of debates in July, which will be hosted by CNN.

In order to qualify for the third and fourth set of debates in September and October respectively, candidates will now have to achieve 2% in four polls from a slightly changed list of approved pollsters and receive 130,000 unique donors (from the date of their campaign’s creation), including 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 US states.

As we discussed over the weekend, Gov. John Hickenlooper appears to have qualified to participate in the first round of Democratic presidential debates set for late June in Miami based on the required qualification of a 1% or better showing in three qualifying nationwide polls. The new higher standard announced today, however, will knock Hickenlooper off the debate stage unless he substantially improves his position between now and September. Sen. Michael Bennet remains focused on gaining enough support to qualify for the June debate. A CNN town hall later this week will give Bennet what’s likely to be his best shot at a national introduction.

We aren’t the ones who rule conclusively when the fabled “window” opens and closes in a presidential race, but this is a process that will work itself out through the summer and fall. On the other side, our local contenders will either have pulled off the legendary Broncos “revenge tour,” or ended up like the Rockies in…well, most years.

But as seems to be the rule in crowded primaries near and far–you can’t win if you don’t play.

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DMB: Back For Another Run At Scott Tipton

Former Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush (D-Steamboat Springs).

As the Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper reports:

Five months ago, Diane Mitsch Bush lost a bid to defeat U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., but the Steamboat Springs Democrat is already announcing her intention to take on Tipton again next year in the 3rd Congressional District.

Bush, a former state legislator and Routt County commissioner, received 43 percent of the vote last November while Tipton, a four-term incumbent from Cortez, won with 51 percent…

“We need a representative who works to fix our broken health care system, protects family agriculture, believes that women’s rights are human rights and addresses climate-change head-on,” she said in a message asking for financial contributions.

Former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush’s 2018 campaign against incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton was always considered the “reach goal” for ambitious Colorado Democrats. Rep. Bush’s loss was disappointing but attributable in part to a vigorous primary and two minor candidate challengers who soaked up votes that may well have trended against the incumbent. In an interview with the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Mitsch Bush explained why she thinks 2020 is her year:

“Now we’re moving into a presidential year, when Democrats tend to turn out more,” she said in an interview. “We also have a major U.S. Senate seat on the ballot. I think Democratic turnout will be higher and the unaffiliated turnout that leans this way will be higher too.”

In addition, Mitsch Bush said she’s launching her campaign months earlier than she did in the last cycle and is “starting out with a much clearer strategy.”

“Last time, I was very reticent to talk about his record at first. But what I found out was that many folks just don’t know how he’s voted,” she said, citing Tipton’s record on health care, veterans issues, public lands and reproductive rights.

Since 2018 (and arguably ever since his election in 2010) Tipton has done little to distinguish himself in Congress, relying on incumbency and the district’s Republican voting advantage to survive. But there’s a good argument to make that if Tipton was going to be ousted, the 2018 “wave election” was the year for it to happen.

With that said, each election brings a new landscape, and DMB was the most qualified challenger among the Democratic CD-3 contenders last year. She’ll be the Democratic nominee in this Cook PVR R+6 district once again in the absence of something unexpected, and R+6 isn’t enough of a cushion to ever really rule out a successful challenge.

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Mueller: If the President Did Not Commit a Crime, We Would Have Said So

UPDATE: Rep. Diana DeGette responds:

—–

Robert Mueller

Special counsel Robert Mueller today offered his first public comments on his investigation into President Trump and his campaign for President in 2016. Mueller declined to get into many specifics about the work of the special counsel’s office, but what he did not say may be more consequential than anything else, as the New York Times reports:

[Mueller] declined to clear President Trump of obstruction of justice in his first public characterization of his two-year-long investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mr. Mueller said, reading from prepared notes behind a lectern at the Justice Department. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.” [Pols emphasis]

Mueller did not take questions from reporters at an event in which he also announced that he is closing his office and resigning from the Justice Department to return to a private life. But before he finished speaking, Mueller offered some not-so-subtle suggestions about what happens next:

He also said that while Justice Department policy prohibits charging a sitting president with a crime, the Constitution provides for another process to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing — a clear reference to the ability of Congress to begin impeachment proceedings. [Pols emphasis]

Although his remarks closely matched statements contained in his nearly 400-page report, Mr. Mueller’s portrayal of Mr. Trump’s actions was not as benign as Attorney General William P. Barr’s characterizations. While Mr. Barr has seemed to question why the special counsel investigated the president’s behavior, Mr. Mueller stressed the gravity of that inquiry.

“When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

Mr. Mueller also stressed that the evidence his team uncovered of Russia’s effort to interfere with the 2016 presidential election was a threat to the nation’s political system and “deserves the attention of every American.”

We’ll have more on this story as it develops.

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Closing: The Last Abortion Clinic In Missouri

CBS News reports as the wholesale rollback of abortion rights in conservative states gains momentum, this time with the state of Missouri facing the possible cutoff of abortion services at the state’s last clinic:

The last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri says it expects to be shut down this week, effectively ending legal abortion in the state.

In a statement Tuesday, Planned Parenthood said Missouri’s health department is “refusing to renew” its annual license to provide abortion in the state. If the license is not renewed by May 31, Missouri would become the first state without a functioning abortion clinic since 1973 when Roe v. Wade was decided…

“This is not a drill. This is not a warning. This is a real public health crisis,” said Dr. Leana Wen, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Lisa Cox, a spokesperson for The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, told CBS News on Tuesday morning via email that Planned Parenthood’s license was “under review,” and did not respond to additional questions.

The possible administrative shutdown of Missouri’s only abortion clinic comes just after a new law imposing an arbitrary eight-week limit for abortion procedures in the state–a law made to be challenged in court like Alabama’s new abortion ban, setting up a potential legal vehicle for the overturning of Roe v. Wade before a solidifying conservative U.S. Supreme Court. The lack of any functioning abortion clinic in the state would not render that challenge moot, but it underscores the political determination of Missouri Republicans to curtail abortion rights by any available means.

And we’ll say it again–if Colorado Republicans ever regain a majority, this is their agenda too. As long as their name isn’t Cory Gardner, they’ll have no problem telling you so.

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Clan Neville Goes Low In Sullivan Recall Ad

Here’s a Facebook ad that started running last Friday from Values First Colorado, the House GOP “independent” message group operated by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s family political consulting group Rearden Strategic:

Let’s briefly go over the problems with this ad beyond the distasteful fake mug shot–the allegation that Rep. Tom Sullivan supports “spending tax dollars on heroin” stems from a silly-season amendment proposed to the budget by Rep. Dave Williams as a “gotcha” political gimmick. Although various policies to address the opioid crisis were debated this year, nothing even remotely close to “supporting heroin” was ever even introduced let alone voted on.

In other words, it’s complete bullshit.

But the far more significant development this ad represents is direct spending by the Neville political operation on the Sullivan recall. Although Rocky Mountain Gun Owners headed by longtime single-issue gadfly Dudley Brown has received the majority of the press since the launch of the Sullivan recall two weeks ago, this ad is paid for by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s in-house organization. This isn’t an unexpected development, given that Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown who filed the Sullivan recall is also the registered agent for a number of Neville-linked committees.

But this just reinforces a fact that needs restating as many times as necessary until it’s driven home: the Sullivan recall is not just about Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. The Sullivan recall campaign is sanctioned by and operated from the highest levels of the Colorado Republican Party. Kristi Burton Brown’s absurd attempt to distance her actions from her position as vice chair of the Colorado GOP is undermined even further by the GOP House Minority Leader’s political machine directly engaging in the recall against Sullivan.

No more scapegoating Dudley Brown, Republicans with a conscience. You have to own this.

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How President Trump Honors Our Fallen Heroes

President Donald Trump fondles the American flag.

The email we were forwarded from Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. this morning needs a moment to sink in:

It’s Memorial Day in the United States and Team Trump would like to take this time to thank every veteran who has served this great Nation, and to honor those who fell protecting it.

Because today is such an important day for Americans, President Trump wanted to do something extra special for his best supporters.

In honor of Memorial Day and these heroic Patriots, the President has activated an exclusive discount for 25% off all of our patriot gear in the Official Trump Store. [Pols emphasis]

Just think for a moment what the reaction would be from Republicans to President Barack Obama’s campaign marking the solemn occasion of Memorial Day, the day the nation closes shop to honor the military men and women who lost their lives in defense of our country, with a campaign gear swag sale? Sean Hannity would never forgive them. It would dominate cable news chatter for weeks. It would become legendary in the GOP’s apocrypha of those evil treasonable valueless Democrats.

But on Memorial Day 2019, it’s official! They died for MAGA hats.

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Words Mean Things, Wayne New Edition

Denver City Councilman Wayne New.

Denverite reports on another race-related faceplant by another conservative figure in always-entertaining Denver politics, this time Councilman Wayne New’s self-proclaimed ignorance of things he…well, calls himself:

City Councilman Wayne New said he was once a Dixiecrat, aligning himself with a racist splinter group of the Democratic party that opposed integration, during a District 10 forum Thursday night.

After challenger Chris Hinds questioned New’s politics, the incumbent responded, “This is a nonpartisan race and politics don’t enter into it and I don’t know why you’re bringing it into it so strongly. I’ve been a Republican, I’ve been a Democrat, I’ve been a Dixiecrat, I’ve been an independent now for six or seven years.”

On Friday, New, who is from Georgia, apologized in a statement. He told Denverite that he would not have used the term had he known what it meant.

“I feel like an idiot,” he said in an interview. “The only thing I ever knew about Dixiecrats is what my parents told me — that a Dixiecrat is conservative fiscally and cared about social issues. [Pols emphasis] I always thought it was so positive.”

Okay so, that’s not what a “Dixiecrat” actually is–or was, we say hopefully while unfortunately aware that the term and type are not completely extinct in Wayne New’s native state of Georgia. But for those who weren’t paying attention during this part of 20th Century American history class, the “Dixiecrats” weren’t really concerned with fiscal policy at all. What motivated the Dixiecrats was the single “social issue” of preserving racial segregation, and the desire by Southern states to fend off federal intervention in the Jim Crow legal framework that systematically oppressed African Americans.

If you didn’t already know the history of the Dixiecrats and the peak of their segregationist movement in the 1948 presidential elections, click here and let Google do the educating! It should be noted that Wayne New has changed his political stripes over the years the way most people change socks, switching from Republican to independent just months before his 2015 City Council campaign. But that only reinforces the moral of the story, which is that you really, really need to know what these terms mean before you use them.

Especially to describe yourself.

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Bennet Fights To Make Prez Debate Stage

Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper.

Politico updates on the fortunes of Colorado’s other Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet, who is working against the clock to register enough support to qualify for presidential debates set to kick off at the end of June:

The low-key Colorado Democratic senator has a relatively centrist record that may be out of step with some primary voters, a recent cancer diagnosis and no real national profile. He’s not a cable news staple and shies away from the press in the Capitol.

And Bennet’s already facing crunch time. He’s the Democratic senator most in danger of missing the first debate in June, which would mark a major setback to Bennet’s already narrow path toward breaking out in a field of 22 other prominent White House hopefuls.

In a 30-minute interview with POLITICO ahead of a swing to New Hampshire, Bennet acknowledged the steep odds of getting 65,000 donors and cracking 1 percent in the polls one more time over the next month in order to qualify for the debate stage. He wouldn’t disclose how close he is to hitting the donor threshold and declined to guarantee he could make it happen.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper has already met the threshold to appear on stage in Miami in June 26 or 27–with 20 candidates participating, the debate is being necessarily broken up into two groups. A strong debate performance by Hickenlooper is broadly considered to be essential if he wants to move up in this historically large pack. For Bennet, whose “slow burn” campaign has made little attempt to quickly register in national polls, it’s less certain whether appearing in the early debates are as important.

“He is realistic about the big field,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a close friend who worked on health care legislation with Bennet. “The way he looks at it: … with a field so big it’s not like anybody is a prohibitive favorite.” [Pols emphasis]

For as long as that’s true it gives hope not just to Bennet’s campaign but the other nearly two dozen Democrats who have filed to run for President in 2020. With that said, favorites will emerge, and any candidate without a plan for being on the positive side of that consolidation will be sidelined long before the early primaries.

Until then, you can’t rule anybody out. We stopped doing that when Donald Trump became President.

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Trump to Bypass Congress on $8 Billion Arms Deal

Don’t hold your breath expecting Sen. Cory Gardner to do anything other than stand behind Trump’s latest effort to bypass Congress.

As the Washington Post reports:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified lawmakers Friday that President Trump is invoking his emergency authority to sidestep Congress and complete 22 arms deals worth approximately $8 billion that would benefit Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries, despite lawmakers’ objections to the transactions. [Pols emphasis]

Both Republicans and Democrats urged the Trump administration this week not to take the rare step of declaring an emergency to push through arms deals that lawmakers have blocked, including a controversial sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia that some lawmakers fear may be used against civilians in the war-torn country of Yemen.

This move by President Trump is another direct effort to circumvent the authority of Congress, which is supposed to be able to approve or reject the sale of weapons to other countries. This is particularly egregious when you remember that both the House and the Senate voted this year to end U.S. support in the civil war in Yemen — a resolution that Trump quickly vetoed. Here’s more from Vox.com:

There is a provision in a weapons export law allowing the executive branch to sell arms without congressional sign-off if “an emergency exists which requires the proposed sale in the national security interest of the United States.” Administrations rarely invoke it, experts say, mainly because of how controversial it is and the high bar required to claim a dire situation exists.

President George W. Bush used the provision in 2006 to send precision-guided weapons to Israel during the Israel-Hezbollah July War, but that was last time an administration took advantage of the loophole.

President Donald Trump likely will claim that Saudi Arabia and the UAE need new munitions because they face repeated attacks from Houthi rebels. However, the Yemen war has raged since 2015, with the US supporting the Saudi-led coalition’s side. It’s jarring now to say that an emergency exists after all this time, especially when the US previously sold weapons to the Saudis through the normal process.

There’s also the fact that introducing more weapons to the war will likely worsen a catastrophic situation.

We’ll use this space to remind you that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Let the “national emergency” waffling begin anew.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (May 24)

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was named first team All-NBA on Thursday — only the second player in Nuggets history to accomplish such a feat. It’s time “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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► As the country prepares to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, President Trump is sending more military forces to the Middle East so that he can show Iran that he has the bigger…um, pen. From the Washington Post:

The Trump administration, facing rising tensions with Iran, plans to reinforce its military presence in the Middle East by sending another few thousand forces to the region to step up missile defense and surveillance, according to U.S. officials.

The decision to send the additional forces to U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations across the Middle East, was made late Thursday during a meeting at the White House between President Trump and top Pentagon leaders, the officials said.

Ahead of the meeting, acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan said the purpose of any additional troops would be to ensure the protection of U.S. forces and avoid the risk of Iranian miscalculation that could lead to a broader conflict.

“Our job is deterrence. This is not about war,” Shanahan said

President Trump may also commemorate Memorial Day by issuing pardons for several Americans accused of war crimes. Why would he do this? Because Fox News wants it to happen.

 

An effort to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora) by Colorado Republicans and the “no compromises” gun group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) has become a complete messaging disaster for the GOP.

 

► “Gardner’s office declined an interview request from The Denver Post this week…”

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to dodge reporters seeking answers from him about his position on abortion after Alabama passed the most restrictive abortion measure in the country earlier this month.

 

 Colorado is the first state in the country to cap rising prices of insulin. Governor Jared Polis signed legislation on Wednesday that limits the co-pay for the life saving medicine to $100 per month.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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The Real Overreach: Sullivan Breaks GOP Recall Strategy

Rep. Tom Sullivan (D).

As Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports–as word spreads nationally about the attempt by Colorado Republicans to recall freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was murdered in the July 2012 Aurora theater shooting leading to Sullivan’s run for office on a platform of gun safety, everybody and their mother is lining up not just to defend Sullivan, but plant the flag on this pivotal issue with Sullivan as the standard-bearer:

National Democrats are getting involved in the effort to help Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan survive a recall challenge that threatens to remove him from office…

“When the gun industry attacks one of our own, it’s important for us to respond in kind and demonstrate that our movement to save lives is just as powerful as they are,” wrote Democratic U.S Sen. Chris Murphy from Connecticut in a fundraising email he sent on Sullivan’s behalf. Murphy asked people to split a $35 donation between Sullivan’s recall effort and his own work to change gun laws.

“The gun lobby is trying to force a recall election to try to defeat Tom and the other Democrats who sponsored the bill. If our side wins, it’s a devastating blow to an already reeling gun lobby. And so Tom needs our help right now to defeat this recall effort.”

Birkeland reports that prominent Democrats from across the country have been in touch with Rep. Sullivan since the announcement of the recall effort against him. Sen. Chris Murphy in particular has been a leading proponent on the issue since the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting that occurred a few months after the Aurora theater shooting. We expect the involvement of these national players will escalate as the mid-July petition deadline approaches.

This is happening for an important reason. The recall campaign against Sullivan has received far more and far wider press coverage because of who Sullivan is. Although Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and their allies in GOP House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s political machine promised lots of recalls, it’s been nearly two weeks since the launch of the Sullivan recall by state party vice chair Kristi Burton Brown with no new petitions approved to circulate as of this writing. Even if more recall petition announcements are made today or after the long holiday weekend, Tom Sullivan has been firmly planted in the public consciousness now as the principal target.

And that, gentle readers, is a messaging disaster for the GOP.

By singling out the lawmaker with the most powerful story to tell in defense of his vote for 2019’s popular gun safety law, the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, Republicans have chosen the battlefield–and it’s by far their riskiest choice politically, and has the greatest chance of backfiring with lasting consequences for Republicans both in and outside of HD-37. If Republicans were to successfully recall Rep. Sullivan over a law enjoying 80% public support, the moral outrage against them would further stigmatize the party ahead of the next general election with no real effect on the Democratic majority.

On the other hand, if Democrats successfully defend Sullivan, Republicans look no less like soulless villains going into 2020 and the seat is lost for the rest Sullivan’s term. We’ll confess to some surprise that Republicans chose Tom Sullivan as the centerpiece of a strategy they have staked so much on. It’s even more surprising that they’ve let two weeks go by with no attempt to get control of the message while the Sullivan recall became national news.

It’s how a bad idea gets worse. And there’s no end in sight yet.

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