“Divisive Questions”–Ganahl Disavows GOP Chair’s Militia Group

UPDATE: Colorado GOP chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown responds as carefully as she may in today’s Unaffiliated newsletter by the Colorado Sun:

“I briefly accepted a role with FEC United where I was never paid and no contract was signed,” Burton Brown said in a statement to The Colorado Sun. “It was my understanding that FEC’s mission was to focus on education and business — with the specific goal of helping parents with choice in schools and helping Colorado small businesses to reopen. Those are priorities that unite Coloradans, and they are the only priorities I ever signed on to help with.”

Burton Brown didn’t deny, however, that she was president of FEC United, which has a militia arm and has spread baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. FEC stands for faith, education and commerce.

9News reported this week that at an October 2020 FEC United recruiting event, Burton Brown said she was “helping spur the growth of FEC United.”

Again, if Brown didn’t depart FEC United until she ran for Colorado Republican Party chair early this year, she was present for a lot more of Joe Oltmann’s conspiracy theorizing than she is letting on today. This statement simply doesn’t add up with the timeline and what is already publicly known.

Per usual these days, it’s an answer that only raises more questions.

—–

Former CU visiting professor John Eastman, CU Regent/GOP gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl.

Since Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl kicked off her campaign in mid-September by refusing to answer repeated questions from reporters about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential elections, this “divisive question” (her words) she insistently dodged has dominated the national news headlines. New revelations about the central role played by former CU visiting professor John Eastman, who Ganahl backed and praised as a CU Regent, in the failed plot to overturn the results of the election on January 6th brought these uncomfortable questions right back to Ganahl’s doorstep where they have smoldered like a flaming bag of poo.

Ganahl’s failure to take a position on the most important political question of 2021 was such a disaster for Ganahl’s campaign kickoff that prominent local conservative pundits weighed in to give Ganahl some space to get her message together (which as of this writing she still had not).

And as 9NEWS reported last night, dodging that 800-pound gorilla of a “divisive question” just got even harder–not just for Heidi Ganahl, but every Republican running for office in Colorado:

The Republican frontrunner for governor of Colorado said she has never had formal ties with the election rigging conspiracy theory group recently run by the state GOP chairwoman, as alleged in court testimony.

In an email to 9NEWS, Heidi Ganahl’s campaign declined to say whether she still has faith and confidence in party chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown after it was revealed Burton Brown previously led the extremist group FEC United. [Pols emphasis]

The Republican Party chairwoman’s involvement with FEC United came out recently in sworn testimony as part of a lawsuit. The Colorado Republican Party did not respond to 9NEWS’ questions about the deposition from FEC United’s founder, Joe Oltmann, who said Burton Brown was president of FEC United in November 2020.

“United American Defense Force” militia members in Denver. Photo by Colorado Times Recorder

First reported by the Colorado Times Recorder four days ago, Colorado Republican Party chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown has been outed via court filings as the past leader of the hard-right activist group FEC United–a group that features its own armed militia wing known as the United American Defense Force (UADF), and founded by noted local election conspiracy theorist Joe Oltmann. This disclosure came by way of a deposition in the defamation suit against Oltmann filed by Dominion Voting Systems.

To summarize, you’ve got the chairwoman of the Colorado Republican Party, who has herself expressed a desire to “move on” from 2020, wrapped up with the state’s most militant proponent of the “Big Lie” that the 2020 elections were stolen from Donald Trump. KBB reportedly didn’t resign as the leader of FEC United until she ran for state party chair in January of this year. That means Kristi Burton Brown led FEC United as a state party vice-chair, and presided over a great deal of election misinformation in her own right before running for Colorado GOP chairwoman on a platform of being more palatable than discredited election denier Scott “Honey Badger” Gessler.

The questions raised by these revelations of direct ties between the leader of the Colorado Republican Party and the state’s most prominent armed militia group are very serious. Only Brown can answer many of them, but Heidi Ganahl has to answer some of them. Ganahl is the only remaining statewide elected Republican in office and a candidate for the state’s highest office. If Ganahl won’t hold her own party’s leadership accountable, who will?

Ganahl should have answered the question when she had the chance to…less divisively.

Last-Minute Treachery Threatens Redistricting Independence

As Colorado’s Independent Redistricting process nears its conclusion, the “independent” piece might be getting left behind in the final chaotic hours.

Last week the Congressional Redistricting Commission approved a new map that must now be approved by the State Supreme Court. That map had its supporters and its detractors, but it seemed to be a decent consensus decision if you follow the old saying that a good compromise is one in which neither side is particularly happy.

There’s a much different story brewing with the Legislative Redistricting Commission, where two Republican commissioners (Hunter Barnett and Aislinn Kottwitz) are trying to shepherd maps — one for the State House and one for the State Senate — that would throw a life raft to a drowning Colorado Republican Party for the next decade. This is the sort of gerrymandering that Colorado voters thought they were going to avoid with the passage of Amendments Y&Z in 2018. It’s also something that we thought the legislative commission would have avoided itself given the wealth of reporting on the illegal behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts that have been undertaken by Republican political operatives.

We’ve written a few times in this space about the lobbying tactics spearheaded by Republican operatives Alan Philp, Frank McNulty, and Greg Brophy under the banner of a 501c4 group called the “Colorado Neighborhood Coalition.” (We’ve also noted the heavy-handed pleas to supporters from Republican Rep. Matt Soper). Evan Wyloge of The Colorado Springs Gazette has broken several stories about these shady lobbying tactics, including the news that these GOP operatives are being officially investigated by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

[You can catch up on all of this reporting by clicking HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.]

We would have thought that the redistricting commissions would be particularly careful to avoid the appearance of impropriety after these reports surfaced. Soper himself flat-out told supporters on a recorded video presentation that Philp, McNulty, and Brophy were hired by the Colorado Republican Party to “represent our interests” with their “only goal” to increase the GOP’s seat count in the state House and Senate. As we wrote on August 25:

The antics of Soper, McNulty, Brophy, and Philp are shining a new light on blatant Republican interference in the redistricting process, contrary to the rules laid out in Amendments Y&Z…and at precisely the wrong time for the GOP.

And again on August 31:

If the commission is worried about the appearance of partisan influence from Republicans, then they are likely to give extra scrutiny to any map boundaries that might so much as appear to be advantageous to the GOP.

As it turns out, Republican members of the legislative commission are apparently unbothered about how shady this all looks. That includes the Chair of the redistricting committee, Unaffiliated member Carlos Perez, whose legacy for the next decade would be sliding out of the way of an independent redistricting process.

Thursday alert email from the Colorado Democratic Party.

The Colorado Democratic Party sent out a “Red Alert” email on Thursday warning that GOP commissioners Barnett and Kottwitz are trying to ram through last-minute changes to their own proposed maps that would provide Republicans with huge advantages:

This is not hyperbole. Take a look at this one image from the Senate redistricting map proposed by Barnett, which includes a ridiculous carve-out for incumbent State Senator Kevin Priola:

Barnett ignored advice from nonpartisan redistricting staff to split Brighton and Commerce City into different Senate districts, which is something that accomplishes two stated redistricting goals: 1) Preserve political subdivisions, and 2) Avoid giving an advantage to incumbent lawmakers. Instead, Barnett included this little carve-out so that Priola would remain inside the boundaries of SD-24.

Here’s why this “Priola Proboscis” is so important: It draws Priola — a Republican — into a Democratic-leaning district, where he can remain in the State Senate until he is term-limited in 2024. This district SHOULD be represented by a Democrat. At the very least, voters in a Democratic district should be allowed to pick their representative in the 2022 midterm election, but for at least two years this district would be automatically represented by a Republican. Democrats currently hold a two-seat majority in the State Senate; that would instantly be reduced to a one-seat advantage thanks to Barnett. This is the very definition of gerrymandering, only Republicans wouldn’t even have to wait for an election to pick up a seat.

Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert even telegraphed this play in June, as Colorado Newsline reported:

“Y and Z will be the first step toward achieving a Senate majority,” Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, a Republican from Douglas County, said during a post-session news conference Thursday at the state Capitol. Holbert referred to Amendments Y and Z, which established a new redistricting process that Holbert said will get rid of unfair election advantages for Democrats.

In approving Amendments Y&Z to create these new redistricting commissions, voters were saying that they wanted more independence and less partisanship from the process. Instead, the legislative commission is on the verge of approving two Republican-drawn maps in a state where Republicans have consistently failed to win recent elections.

For months we’ve been asking aloud if the antics of GOP operatives would damage their own interests in the eyes of the commission. Now we’re left wondering if the independent commission wants to conclude hours upon hours of discussions by approving maps advocated by lobbyists who are being investigated by the state for breaking the law. It would be a shame if the legislative commission concluded their work with a shrug and a partisan rubber stamp.

Some 11th hour independence could still win the day. The legislative commission could follow the lead of their congressional counterparts and vote on final draft maps presented by the nonpartisan redistricting staff, which are scheduled to be unveiled on Tuesday.

Started at the Bottom, Digging Deeper

Ron Hanks

The 2022 U.S. Senate race in Colorado got a bit more interesting last week, with two new Republican candidates joining the field: Ft. Collins developer Gino Campana and State Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Penrose). There are now six Republicans running for the chance to lose to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet next November. If this week is any indication of things to come, the Republican Senate Primary is going to be one long race to the bottom.

Let’s start with the candidates, who at this point are separated into two different tiers. Hanks, Campana, and Eli Bremer make up the first tier of “plausible” candidates because they have at least some name ID and/or ability to raise money for a real campaign. Erik Aadland, Peter Yu, and Juli Henry fall into a separate tier; we’d be surprised if any of these three candidates even managed to get their name onto the June 2022 Primary ballot, so we won’t spend any time discussing them in this space.

For now, at least, the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination looks like a three candidate affair.

The most interesting name in the primary tier is Hanks, the copy machine killer who immediately lays claim to the far-right wing in a Republican Primary. Hanks is a full-on election fraud truther, QAnon believer, and proud member of the Donald Trump fan club who has been outspoken in his defense of Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and has made pilgrimages to 2020 recount sites such as Arizona’s Maricopa County. As you can see from his campaign launch video, Hanks is going to largely focus on two issues: “Election security” and the Second Amendment. Head on over to the ‘Issues’ page on his campaign website for more policy proposals, which are entertaining to the extent that you can make sense of the rambling rhetoric.

Whether or not Hanks can mount a truly competitive campaign will depend on his ability to raise money, which is unclear at the moment. But his very existence as a Senate candidate changes the dynamic of this race. This is a guy who has no qualms about making a lynching joke on the floor of the House of Representatives. He’ll be traveling the state in the next 9 months to hoover up support from the right-wing base, which is going to scare other candidates into taking positions that are more extreme than they might have preferred…

ELT Bremer

…which brings us to Eli Bremer. We haven’t heard much from Bremer since he first entered the Senate race in July with a clunky video that lacked any real semblance of a message beyond telling people that he is a former Olympian who competed in an event that most people probably didn’t even know existed. The inclusion of Hanks and Campana in the GOP field seems to have prompted Bremer to take things up a notch.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as The Colorado Statesman, Bremer’s campaign announced this week a slate of “county coordinators” that is mostly designed to affirm that Bremer already has a share of the nutty right-wing base:

One of Bremer’s county ambassadors drew national attention in 2014 when he questioned whether the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., “really happened.” [Pols emphasis]

Tom Ready, a dentist and former chairman of the Pueblo County GOP, defended floating a theory that the shooting had in fact been a hoax designed to promote gun control during a debate when he was running for county commissioner.

“Whether it’s true or not, it’s called an open discussion,” Ready said, though he later apologized for the comments.

This is how far things have fallen for Republicans: One of their most plausible Senate candidates literally sought out the endorsement of Tom Ready, who thinks it’s totally cool to have a “discussion” about the idea that a mass shooting of schoolchildren was just a mirage. Bremer may not be familiar with his recent Colorado political history, because having Ready’s support has not generally been a good thing (ask Bob Beauprez). Ready has a long background in Colorado Republican politics, including plenty of allegations of racism and domestic violence. If you seek out this endorsement, it means you want the support of the kind of people who would take Tom Ready seriously. How does this help Bremer if he eventually has to appeal to a wider range of voters in a General Election? (SPOILER ALERT: It doesn’t).

Ready isn’t the only questionable name on Bremer’s “county coordinator” list. Also included is Joe Webb, the former chair of the Jefferson County Republican Party who regularly referred to Democrats like Jared Polis as “brown shirts,” (a reference to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi militia); and Don Suppes, the Delta County Commissioner who is known to be a fan of white supremacist websites and a believer in the silly conspiracy idea that the United Nations is coming to take your guns. Again, these are the type of supporters that Bremer is TOUTING in a press release. If you’re standing with Bremer, you’re standing on the same side as these folks.

Hello fellow regular people!

The third plausible Republican Senate candidate is Gino Campana, a Ft. Collins developer and former city council member whose braggadocio about almost being selected as Walker Stapleton’s Lieutenant Governor nominee in 2018 caused significant media problems for the GOP gubernatorial hopeful. Campana is rumored to have the ability to self-fund a Senate race to some degree, which is the primary “qualification” that separates him from the rest of the GOP field.

Campana launched his Senate intentions this week with the release of a meandering three-minute video (titled “I am running for US Senate”) that looks more like a commercial for Ancestry.com than a campaign announcement. Campana’s launch video is mostly about his immigrant father — you don’t even see the name ‘Gino Campana’ until the :33 second mark — interspersed with images of Gino fiddling around with odd pieces of masonry as part of a tortured effort to come across as a regular guy in a plaid shirt.

The winner of the Republican Senate Primary will likely be the candidate who is best able to garner support from the right-wing base. This fact alone will put the eventual GOP nominee in an impossible position for a General Election; there is no realistic Venn diagram in which fire-breathing adherents of “The Big Lie” join with Unaffiliated voters in backing the same candidate in November 2022.

Former Sen. Cory Gardner set the bar pretty low for future Republican Senate candidates with his 9-point loss to Democrat John Hickenlooper in 2020. Don’t be surprised if the 2022 GOP candidates still manage to limbo underneath.

How Trump Almost Got His Way At DOJ

The ex-Prez.

CNN reports on the release today by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee of a damning new report on the critical days in December of 2020, following the resignation of former U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Barr’s admission that the 2020 presidential election was not stolen from Donald Trump, in which Trump attempted to persuade in the interim leadership at the Department of Justice to support his evidence-free quest to overturn the results:

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday released a sweeping report about how former President Donald Trump and a top lawyer in the Justice Department attempted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Trump directly asked the Justice Department nine times to undermine the election result, and his chief of staff Mark Meadows broke administration policy by pressuring a Justice Department lawyer to investigate claims of election fraud, according to the report, which is based on witness interviews of top former Justice Department officials…

The 400-page report by Senate Democrats, entitled “Subverting Justice,” slams the actions of [DOJ attorney Jeffrey] Clark, who they say became a crucial player in Trump’s attempt to use the Justice Department for his political gain.

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced on Thursday they were referring him to the DC Bar for a review of his professional conduct, citing rules that bar attorneys from assisting in fraud and interfering with the administration of justice.

Attorney Jeffrey Clark, who Trump considered installing as acting Attorney General but blinked at the prospect of mass resignations at the Justice Department, had a plan to use the Department to sow doubt in the results and push swing states to appoint “alternate electors”–the same bogus alternate electors former CU Professor John Eastman planned to invoke on January 6th to give Vice President Mike Pence a pretext to hand the election to Trump. Senate Judiciary Committee Dick Durbin explains how this step fit into Trump’s increasingly desperate fallback options:

“First phase, Trump goes to court. Loses every lawsuit, which claims there was voter fraud in the election. Next, he decides he has to take over the Department of Justice and the attorney general, and have the attorney general push this narrative on to the states to tell them to stop from sending in their Electoral College vote totals. When that failed — and our report goes into graphic detail of the efforts that were made — the third step was to turn the mob loose on the Capitol the day we were counting the ballots,” Durbin said, referring to the January 6 riot.

By the morning of January 6th, on which Colorado’s newly sworn-in Rep. Lauren Boebert declared “Today is 1776,” the only remaining possibility was that the violence at the U.S. Capitol might result in a delay of the certification of Joe Biden’s victory giving Trump’s so-called “legal team” more time to cast aspersions on the results. All of these previous gambits had failed, and violent insurrection was all that was left.

Democracy is a fragile thing. We as a country must come to grips with how close we just came to losing ours.

Or next time it’s much more likely that we will.

The GMS Podcast: Map Madness! (Feat. Evan Wyloge)

Evan Wyloge of The Colorado Springs Gazette/Colorado Politics

This week on Episode #88 of The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk redistricting maps with Evan Wyloge of The Colorado Springs Gazette and ColoradoPolitics.com. Wyloge covered the redistricting process in Arizona in 2001 and has been closely following Colorado’s map-making extravaganza; there are few, if any, people in Colorado who understand redistricting better than he does.

But the discussion this week isn’t all about maps. We also dig into the big Ron Hanks problem now facing Colorado Republicans; the State GOP’s misunderstanding of the first rule of “Fight Club”; and more ridiculous commentary from Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Ron Hanks’ Senate Campaign Kickoff Is A Literal Bomb

 

Last weekend we learned that freshman GOP state Rep. “Raging” Ron Hanks, who has quickly emerged as one of the Colorado GOP House Minority’s go-to sources for full strength conspiracy theory crazypants on a full range of issues from COVID-19 to the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, has filed to run for the Republican nomination to face incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet in next year’s midterm elections.

Today, we were treated to a campaign kickoff video introducing Rep. Hanks to Republican primary voters, and…well, let us just say that it exceeds our admittedly low expectations. Last election, readers may recall, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia ran a now-infamous ad featuring Greene blowing up signs labeled “SOCIALISM” and “GUN CONTROL.” Well move over, MTG because Hanks just one-upped her by filling an entire copy machine with Tannerite target explosive and labeling it a “DOMINION VOTING MACHINE.”

And gentle readers, you know what happens next! KA-BOOM!

It’s the height of absurdity, and we want to be more jovial about the silliness of it all but we’re tempered by the unfortunate seriousness of the “Big Lie” Ron Hanks is running for the U.S. Senate on as his central campaign plank. A low-budget stunt that makes most of us laugh dismissively is exactly what a majority of Republican primary voters want to hear. It’s harder to laugh when you realize Hanks is promoting misinformation that has already led to violence with still more (admittedly simulated) violence.

Blowing things up in effigy beats the alternative we guess.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Oct. 6)

Today is National Noodle Day and National Coaches Day. If you can figure out how to celebrate those together, we’re all ears. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

As The Washington Post reports, Senate Republicans are hell-bent on driving the United States right off the fiscal cliff:

Senate Republicans on Wednesday plan to block Democrats from raising the country’s debt ceiling, daring President Biden and his party’s top lawmakers to devise another path forward just 12 days before the U.S. government could run out of flexibility to pay its bills.

For the third time in as many weeks, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is set to hold a vote on a measure that would suspend the borrowing limit into next year, aiming to act before Congress blows past an Oct. 18 deadline that could catapult the country into an economic recession.

But the proposal is likely to be as doomed as the two that preceded it. Democrats for the moment cannot advance in the debate over the debt ceiling unless 10 GOP lawmakers join them — and Republicans once again are refusing to supply the votes as part of their broader campaign to oppose Biden’s economic agenda.

“They basically want us to be aiders and abettors to their reckless spending and tax policies, and we just aren’t going to do it,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.). [Pols emphasis]

Now, remember that raising the debt limit is necessary in part to help pay for expensive policies ENACTED UNDER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.

Earlier this week, Chris Cillizza of CNN broke down the dangerous game that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is playing:

McConnell knows — he’s a very smart dude — that his party’s current stance on the debt limit is utterly hypocritical.

But what he’s betting on is this: Democrats control the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Knowing that, voters will put blame on Democrats if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.

That’s the calculation McConnell is making — that complete opposition to anything and everything that happens in Washington between now and November 2022 will best position Republicans to retake the House and Senate majorities.

As for what’s best for the country? That’s not relevant to McConnell or Senate Republicans.

Meanwhile, polling data continues to show that McConnell’s gambit could be the wrong play. New info from Quinnipiac University indicates widespread support for President Biden’s spending proposals in Congress:

Americans say 62 – 34 percent that they support a roughly $1 trillion spending bill to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, broadband, and other infrastructure projects. This compares to 65 – 28 percent support in August. In today’s poll, Democrats support the bill 85 – 11 percent, independents support it 62 – 35 percent, and Republicans oppose it 58 – 38 percent.

Americans say 57 – 40 percent that they support a $3.5 trillion spending bill on social programs such as child care, education, family tax breaks, and expanding Medicare for seniors, compared to 62 – 32 percent support in August. In today’s poll, Democrats support the bill 92 – 5 percent, independents are split with 50 percent supporting it and 48 percent opposing it, and Republicans oppose it 68 – 28 percent.

The Associated Press has more on a pared-down spending bill that is now being discussed. As The New York Times reports, Republican refusal to budge on the debt limit might be moving more Democrats toward supporting changes to the filibuster,

 

We haz more maps!

As Chase Woodruff reports for Colorado Newsline:

One week ahead of a deadline to submit its plan for new statehouse districts to the Colorado Supreme Court for review, the state’s Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission on Tuesday received details of a third and final plan proposed by nonpartisan state staff.

The maps released ahead of the commission’s Tuesday night meeting draw new boundaries for 65 Colorado House of Representatives districts and 35 state Senate seats, as proposed by state staff based on previous feedback from the commission’s 12 appointed members. Any further changes to the two maps must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the panel, which consists of four registered Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated voters.

The deadline for the commission to submit its maps to the Supreme Court is Oct. 15. If commissioners can’t approve a final plan with at least eight votes by then, the third staff plan will be submitted.

 

Colorado Republicans remain committed to the political strategy of complaining about mask and vaccine requirements, even when that message makes no sense whatsoever. State Rep. Tim Geitner (R-Colorado Springs) is all worked up about the idea that kidney transplant patients might first be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which to most rational people would seem to be a very logical and obvious request.

 

Colorado Republican Party Chairperson Kristi Burton Brown has some serious explaining to do after court documents revealed that KBB was the leader of FEC United, a far-right conspiracy group, right up until the point in which she started running for the job of GOP Chair. 9News has more on this story:

Burton Brown and the Colorado Republican Party did not respond to 9NEWS’ questions about FEC United, an election rigging conspiracy theory group, and its affiliated militia, the United American Defense Force.

The extent of Burton Brown’s involvement with FEC United was revealed by the group’s founder Joe Oltmann and current president, Stuart Butler, in sworn depositions in September and August, respectively…

…Oltmann testified that Burton Brown was president of FEC United in November 2020 while serving as vice-chair of the Colorado Republican Party and left FEC United to run for state party chair. She was elected to lead the state party in March 2021.

FEC United and the United American Defense Force are extreme right-wing groups with violent histories.

 

Click below to keep learning stuff…

 

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Today’s Fake COVID Controversy: Want A Transplant? Get Vaxxed

Rep. Tim Geitner (R-Colorado Springs).

9NEWS reports on a policy instituted by the UCHealth system over the summer that should be uncontroversial, but in this age where medicine has been hopelessly politicized–especially where it concerns the COVID-19 pandemic–that just doesn’t happen anymore:

UCHealth confirmed Tuesday that organ transplant recipients and living donors must be vaccinated against COVID-19 “in almost all situations.”

In a statement, the hospital system said studies indicate the mortality rate for transplant recipients who test positive for COVID ranges from 18% to 32%, compared to a 1.6% mortality rate among all people who have tested positive. [Pols emphasis]

UCHealth said the policy change was driven by the significantly higher mortality rate, as well as the concern that living donors could still pass on a COVID infection after testing negative.

Clarification of this policy came after Republican state representative Tim Geitner threw a fit on social media, predictably looking to blame Gov. Jared Polis personally for UCHealth’s policy of requiring transplant candidates to be vaccinated–not just against COVID-19, but a host of other conditions along with numerous other rules transplant candidates follow out of medical necessity. From UCHealth’s statement yesterday in response to Geitner’s antics:

Transplant centers across the nation, including the UCHealth Transplant Center, have specific requirements in place to protect patients both during and after surgery. For example, patients may be required to receive vaccinations including hepatitis B, MMR and others. Patients may also be required to avoid alcohol, stop smoking, or prove they will be able to continue taking their anti-rejection medications long after their transplant surgery. These requirements increase the likelihood that a transplant will be successful and the patient will avoid rejection.

As for the objections from the patient and donor against being vaccinated before the kidney transplant can proceed? All we can ask is for readers to assess the legitimacy of these objections yourselves:

(more…)

Wednesday Open Thread

“There’s the great line: the definition of a liberal is someone who’s afraid to take their own side in a fight. And that’s my problem with my fellow liberals.”

–Paul Begala

A Few Words On Being Real With Your Donors

State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail).

As the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports, a significant development in the incipient 2022 race for Colorado’s Third Congressional District we’re obliged to note:

Democratic State Sen. Kerry Donovan is suspending her campaign’s fundraising efforts to unseat Republican Lauren Boebert in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, she told The Denver Post on Monday.

Donovan was drawn out of the 3rd District in the final map approved last week by state’s independent redistricting commission; it keeps her hometown of Vail in the 2nd Congressional District.

Donovan criticized the map, which still needs to be approved by the state Supreme Court, as anti-competitive. As it stands, it would lean — heavily, in some cases — for Democrats in four districts and Republicans in three.

More from Sen. Kerry Donovan’s message to supporters yesterday:

Last week, the Colorado Redistricting Commission voted to approve new congressional district boundaries in our state. Under the former lines, my ranch in Edwards lay within the Third District. But under the new lines, my ranch is no longer within the district. The district also became more Republican — an inexplicable change given that Colorado has grown significantly more Democratic since the last redistricting process 10 years ago.

The commission’s map must now go to the State Supreme Court for final approval. And to be completely candid with you…I believe the Court should reject the map. It makes Colorado’s districts less competitive across the board and makes a split 4-4 delegation a likely outcome, which no one can credibly say reflects the will of the voters in this increasingly blue state.

I will continue to speak up for a map that serves the needs of the people of Western and Southern Colorado and reflects the will of the people. It goes without saying that families here deserve better representation than Lauren Boebert — and the fact that this new map gives her a leg-up on her competition despite how radically out-of-step her views are should give everyone involved in this process serious doubts.

As we’ve already written in our initial assessment of the “final” congressional district map before the Colorado Supreme Court, CD-3 has shifted measurably–but not insurmountably–to the right. Although it’s not technically required for congressional representatives to reside within the boundaries of their district, Donovan being drawn out of CD-3 even by a small distance would be still another hurdle in an already uphill campaign.

In the end, suspending fundraising to see how the dust settles on the redistricting process is the honorable choice for Sen. Donovan, who gets credit for being honest early in the cycle with her donors. In the event Donovan does pull out of the CD-3 race, it’s an opportunity for Democrats who remain part of Rep. Lauren Boebert’s constituency to lead the still-conceivable charge to unseat her (here’s looking at you, Pueblo).

Or a fellow Republican who gets there first? There are plenty of Republicans biding their time who want to see Boebert ousted, but their most desirable long-term strategy for that would be for a Democrat to take out Boebert and then be vulnerable the following election. The flip side of that bet, however, is that Republicans could find themselves stuck with Boebert and the damage she does to the party brand outside the cozy confines of CD-3.

On both sides of the aisle, 2022 is the best chance CD-3 voters get to remedy their mistakes in 2020.

What Does Dominion Have To Do With School Boards, You Ask?

Now up in your school board races.

As Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports, the El Paso County Republican Party is distributing a questionnaire to local candidates running in school board races this November, party of the state GOP’s unabashed embrace of a favored slate of candidates in what are traditionally–but perhaps never again–nonpartisan races. But it’s not just the existence of a questionnaire in this case that’s raising eyebrows, but also the questions themselves:

One-third of the questions in an email sent by the county GOP to school board candidates are devoted to matters popular among election conspiracy theorists who maintain the 2020 election was rigged, despite no credible evidence having emerged to support the contention…

After warning the school board candidates must answer every question in order for their questionnaire to be considered, [El Paso County GOP chair Vickie] Tonkins asks if they “support eliminating the use of Dominion Voting Systems” and if they “support implementing a full forensic audit of the 2020 Election in Colorado.”

Other than the fact that their own elections are set to be tallied by Dominion Voting Systems hardware, these questions are totally irrelevant to a school board election, and were included for the sole purpose of clarifying loyalties–not just to the Republican Party, but to Donald Trump and the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Luning reports that the dissenting faction of local Republicans who tried and failed to oust chair Vickie Tonkins last year are upset about this questionnaire–presumably for the same reasons Heidi Ganahl refused to answer “divisive questions” about the 2020 election.

We say if the state Republican Party wants to openly partisan-ize school board elections, and the county parties want to enforce partisan loyalty by demanding candidates answer these politically-charged questions, that’s fine.

Because that means every Republican running in Colorado now has to answer those “divisive questions” too.

The Out-Outrage Strategy: Lauren Boebert Scandal Management

 

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R).

In less than 30 seconds of candid camera time on the far-right One America News network this weekend, freshman GOP controversy magnet Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert breezily dismissed the growing scandal over her misuse of campaign funds to pay personal bills:

BOEBERT: It was an error. Some money came out of the wrong account and we corrected it, self-reported it right away, talked to the FEC. Everything’s fine. We sent a letter.

It’s clear Boebert has rehearsed this answer for calm delivery, and it’s also not surprising that the OAN anchor had no followup questions like a real reporter would. But then Boebert made a startling and unprompted admission about the way she handles not just this latest budding scandal, but her entire public engagement strategy:

BOEBERT: And Democrats want to make a story about it. But here’s the thing, Dan. When I don’t see a headline attacking me, I kind of wonder if I’m not doing something right. Like, wait a second, where are the attacks today? I better start something… [Pols emphasis]

In less than a year in office, Boebert has faced a series of damaging corruption scandals over questionably large mileage reimbursements from her campaign funds coinciding with the payoff of longstanding tax liens, the oddly belated disclosure of huge sums of money paid to Boebert’s husband by the oil and gas industry, and most recently thousands of dollars of personal expenses temporarily covered without interest by “mistaken” charges to the campaign account. This is in addition to unseemly personal scandals both freshly uncovered and resurfaced since Boebert’s election. At the same time, Boebert has struggled to keep pace while more audacious (and capable) far-right demagogues in Congress like Marjorie Taylor Greene have hogged the spotlight.

The response to both of these problems for Boebert has been to deliberately provoke public outrage on a continuous basis, in order to both distract from her very real scandals as well as to keep up with her fringe colleagues in Congress as they court essentially the same class of supporters. Boebert is totally unconcerned about hypocrisy, to the extent that she deliberately chooses hypocritical lines of attack in order to confound her critics. Boebert’s tactic of smothering her real problems with continuous bilious rhetoric is right out of her mentor Donald Trump’s playbook.

It’s a dangerous and deplorable game, but it’s undeniably brought Congresswoman Boebert a long way.

And it will work until some kind of breaking point is reached.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Oct. 4)

Happy Mother Cabrini Day, the first state holiday named for a woman in American history. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

Is COVID-19 in retreat? We’ve learned not to get overly excited about a drop in COVID cases, but as The New York Times reports:

The reasons remain somewhat unclear, and there is no guarantee that the decline in caseloads will continue. But the turnaround is now large enough — and been going on long enough — to deserve attention.

The number of new daily cases in the U.S. has fallen 35 percent since Sept. 1.

Worldwide, cases have also dropped more than 30 percent since late August. “This is as good as the world has looked in many months,” Dr. Eric Topol of Scripps Research wrote last week.

As the Times notes, COVID-19 has a curious habit of showing rapid increases for two months followed by significant decreases in case numbers…for two months.

 

The 2022 U.S. Senate race in Colorado got a bit more interesting last week, with two new Republican candidates joining the field: Ft. Collins developer Gino Campana and State Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Penrose). Hanks immediately lays claim to the far-right wing in a Republican Primary — he is a full-on election fraud truther who has been outspoken in his defense of Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters — who will force Republican candidates up and down the ballot to respond to whatever absurd position he decides to take in a given week.

For more on Hanks’ surprise U.S. Senate candidacy, check out Colorado Newsline, The Colorado Sun, and Denver7.

 

Via The New York Times (10/2/21)

The editorial board of The New York Times voices new concerns about the “Eastman Memo” and its author, former University of Colorado visiting professor John Eastman:

However horrifying the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol appeared in the moment, we know now that it was far worse.

The country was hours away from a full-blown constitutional crisis — not primarily because of the violence and mayhem inflicted by hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters but because of the actions of Mr. Trump himself.

In the days before the mob descended on the Capitol, a corollary attack — this one bloodless and legalistic — was playing out down the street in the White House, where Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and a lawyer named John Eastman huddled in the Oval Office, scheming to subvert the will of the American people by using legal sleight-of-hand.

Mr. Eastman’s unusual visit was reported at the time, but a new book by the Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa provides the details of his proposed six-point plan. It involved Mr. Pence rejecting dozens of already certified electoral votes representing tens of millions of legally cast ballots, thus allowing Congress to install Mr. Trump in a second term.

If you’re not familiar with the “Eastman Memo,” click here to get started on learning more.

 

Colorado Public Radio reports on big local rallies on Saturday in protest of a new anti-abortion law in Texas. The Associated Press has more on the Women’s March that drew hundreds of people to the State Capitol in Denver. The Ft. Collins Coloradoan reports on rallies in Larimer County, while The Pueblo Chieftain does the same for Southern Colorado.

 

Click below to keep learning stuff…

 

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GOP Chair To “Our Candidates”–Shut Up About Tina Peters

MONDAY UPDATE: As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports:

The somewhat shadowy U.S. Election Integrity Plan, which operates in the Grand Valley and elsewhere in the state, went after GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown over a leaked message from Brown to an unknown school board candidate elsewhere in the state.

In the message, Brown warns the candidate not to post or say anything publicly about Peters while local, state and federal investigators dig into allegations that the Mesa County Republican clerk and others inside and outside of her office may have played a role in possible criminal violations of state election security laws…

We’re sorry to report that the cat has exited the proverbial bag.

—–

Heidi Ganahl and Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters.

As the world awaits the next developments in the criminal investigation into Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, accused of allowing/facilitating a major breach of election system security in a clueless and fruitless attempt to prove that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, local Republicans continue to face a delicate balancing act in which some amount of distance is necessarily kept from the glaring misconduct Peters is accused of–while taking care not to offend the substantial faction within the Republican Party rank-and-file who believe the “Big Lie” and consider Peters to be a hero.

A window into that difficult position was provided by the leak of a text message dialogue from late August between Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown and an unknown school board candidate up for election this November. Readers will recall that the Colorado GOP has openly embraced a slate of partisan Republican candidates for nominally nonpartisan municipal and school board races across the state.

What’s the message from on high about Clerk Tina Peters? Clam up about Tina Peters:

This gets rather dicey when you consider that Brown appointed a member of the so-called “U.S. Election Integrity Project,” which is fiercely defending Clerk Peters, to the Colorado GOP’s in-house “Election Integrity Operations Action Committee.” After learning of the message above, USEIP volleyed back hopping mad at Kristi Burton Brown:

Turns out the CO GOP Chair Kristi Burton Brown is as feckless as the rest of the GOP establishment across the nation when it comes to election integrity. In a leaked message KBB’s cowardice and lack of understanding of the law is on full display as she encourages candidates to steer clear of the fight in Mesa County. In fact, KBB declined to do her homework that would show many of Griswold’s claims have no legal backing. However, it’s no surprise. KBB has been completely silent on the topic of election integrity since she’s been elected in December…

It’s worth remembering that Peters is being defended in the lawsuit seeker her removal from elections duties by Scott Gessler, who was KBB’s unsuccessful opponent for the job of party chair in leadership elections held in the spring. That may not have been known when KBB sent her message warning about supporting Peters, but it’s a good bet there’s no love lost between the two. Since KBB wrote this message, of course, things have only gotten worse for Peters–it’s now public knowledge, for example, that Peters indeed turned off the security cameras covering the machines.

All told, it was probably good advice–but the reaction Brown got when her advice went public speaks much louder. How can this rift heal without ripping the scab off the GOP’s whole Trumpian identity crisis?

Kristi Burton Brown doesn’t know the answer to this question.

Ron Hanks Will Attack And You Don’t Want That

“Raging” Rep. Ron Hanks (R).

As the Colorado Sun’s political tag team Sandra Fish and Jesse Paul report in case you missed the Friday news dump–the Republican Party’s substantial election-denying insurrection-downplaying conspiracy-theorizing Tina Petersdefending civil war-threatening history-mangling wing has a champion entering the ring for the 2022 U.S. Senate race, and you’d better get ready because if you don’t he might…um, well, physically break your neck:

State Rep. Ron Hanks, a controversial Republican who has peddled unfounded claims about the 2020 presidential election being fraudulent, on Friday filed to run for U.S. Senate.

“The U.S. Senate race needs to be shaken up a bit,” Hanks said in a text to The Colorado Sun… [Pols emphasis]

Folks, freshman GOP state Rep. “Raging” Ron Hanks doesn’t “shake up” the U.S. Senate 2022 Republican primary so much as take a sledgehammer to it. In less than a year in office, Hanks has gone from no-name absentee COVIDiot to the volume-11 voice of the hard right in the Colorado House GOP minority. Yes, Hanks’ attempt to remove House Minority Leader Hugh McKean failed. And yes, the “stolen election” Hanks was so sure had happened he thought that foreign intelligence services might swoop in to prevent Joe Biden’s inauguration still is lacking that vital component known as evidence.

But you understand none of that matters, right? At least not to the Republican primary voters Rep. Hanks is targeting his message at. Whatever a majority of Americans outside the conservative media message bubble may know to be factual, Hanks is poised to take advantage of one simple reality: a solid majority of rank-and-file Republicans believe the 2020 elections were stolen from Donald Trump.

As of today, Ron Hanks is the U.S. Senate candidate in Colorado willing to tell them so.

It is not a development we would recommend underestimating.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Oct. 1)

Happy “World Vegetarian Day.” Try the grilled cheese. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

As Colorado Newsline reports, a debt limit disaster has been averted for the time being:

Congress made a last-minute dash to avert a government shutdown on Thursday, with the U.S. Senate and House approving a short-term spending bill just hours ahead of a midnight deadline.

Every Democratic and independent senator and 15 Republicans supported the bill in the 65-35 vote. The GOP senators in the “aye” tally included Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy of Louisiana; Susan Collins of Maine; Roy Blunt of Missouri; and Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Both of Colorado’s senators — Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper — are Democrats.

The House later passed the federal spending bill — which will keep government agencies funded at current levels through Dec. 3, and provide $28.6 billion in aid for regions struck by extreme weather — on a vote of 254-175.

All three Republican members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation — Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn — voted ‘NO.’

 

…But the slog continues. The Associated Press updates on efforts by Congressional Democrats to work out an infrastructure deal while avoiding a debt ceiling disaster that Republicans refuse to even discuss:

Democrats were back at it Friday, doggedly determined to rescue a scaled-back version of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion government overhaul and salvage a related public works bill after a long night of frantic negotiations that resulted in no deal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was gathering the party’s lawmakers for a private morning session to assess the path forward. She vowed there would be a “vote today” on the companion $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is popular but has become snared in the broader debate. But the situation was highly uncertain, and no schedule was set.

Holdout Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia sank hopes for a compromise late Thursday, despite hours of shuttle diplomacy with White House aides on Capitol Hill, when he refused to budge on his demands for a smaller overall package, around $1.5 trillion. That’s too meager for progressive lawmakers who are refusing to vote on the public works measure without a commitment to Biden’s broader framework on the bigger bill.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson again said the quiet part out loud regarding discussions on an infrastructure deal in Congress: The only Republican policy idea is performative obstruction:

 

If you could use a primer on all the drama in Congress, this rundown from The New York Times might be helpful:

 

 

State Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown has been advising Colorado Republican candidates to avoid talking about Mesa C0unty Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters. This seems like perfectly reasonable advice, but KBB is doing it quietly because Republicans are still terrified of upsetting a base that believes deeply in “The Big Lie.”

 

If you’re not familiar with the “Eastman Memo,” then you should really get acquainted with the specifics.

 

Click below to keep learning stuff…

 

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