Ken Buck: Wrong, Gross, AND Stupid

TUESDAY UPDATE: At some point on Monday, Buck deleted the ridiculous Tweet below. Today, he re-upped the same inaccurate accusation…just with different words:

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UPDATE: Buck apparently deleted this Tweet.

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Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has gradually wandered off into right-wing nonsense land over the last couple of years, pin-balling around from promising to investigate the funding of Antifa to getting caught up in ridiculous election fraud stories. Buck’s recent announcement that he would not run for U.S. Senate in 2022 was a surprise to nobody who has been paying attention to his antics over the years; in fact, it’s hard to believe that this meme-repeating goofball who gladly recites utter bullshit is the same guy who came pretty close to winning the 2010 Senate race.

Buck was at his worst today on Twitter, combining multiple subjects into one stupefying and disgusting narrative. He is apparently still angry at President Biden for cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline and a few thousand jobs that did not yet exist but would have only been temporary anyway. Buck is also unhappy about a change in priorities for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that have been rejiggered into inaccurate right-wing talking points. And that’s how he ended up vomiting up this crap on social media:

Where to begin? First off, casually tossing around the word “rape” as an exclamation point for more clicks is disgusting and diminishes the very real issues of many different forms of sexual assault which he and the rest of the Republican Party would do well to take seriously.

Second, if you take Buck’s message at face value, his argument seems to be that…Keystone Pipeline workers are being deported to Canada? Nevermind that most of the actual jobs that were associated with the Keystone Pipeline were held by Canadians.

Maybe Rep. Ken Buck could think more and Tweet less.

Finally, the entire premise of Buck’s missive is factually wrong. As The Washington Post and other news outlets explained, the White House is absolutely NOT directing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop deporting immigrants convicted of assault and rape, which is probably why the cited Tweet from Katie Pavlich was deleted altogether. From The Washington Post:

While ICE’s new operational plans are not yet final, interim instructions sent to senior officials point to a major shift in enforcement. Agents will no longer seek to deport immigrants for crimes such as driving under the influence and assault, and will focus instead on national security threats, recent border crossers and people completing prison and jail terms for aggravated felony convictions…

…ICE officials say anyone unlawfully in the United States will still be subject to arrest, including people who committed crimes and were released before the memo was issued. Crimes such as sex offenses remain a top priority, they said.

“The commission of an aggravated felony is the most conclusive proof of a public safety threat,” ICE spokeswoman Jenny Burke said in a statement. “ICE retains its unlimited discretion to evaluate any conduct in defining a public safety threat.”

Not only is the Biden administration NOT restricting deportations for violent criminals, but acting ICE Director Tae Johnson recently confirmed to staff that agents should “prioritize” cases including “murder, rape, child abuse and major drug offenses.” In other words, THE EXACT OPPOSITE of the claim that Buck is repeating.

Buck’s ability to make a completely illogical argument while spreading misinformation would almost be impressive if we weren’t talking about an actual Member of Congress. Somehow, a man who has substantially lowered the bar on his own behavior since first getting elected to Congress in 2014 can still manage to find a way to dip ever lower.

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Making The Connection: The Lien And The Mileage Check

Cash machine!

Back in December, Colorado Pols first reported on suspiciously large mileage reimbursements from Rep. Lauren Boebert’s campaign account, pocketing over $21,000 in one lump sum on November 11th alone–compared to Rep. Scott Tipton reimbursing for about $10,000 during his entire decade in office. The Denver Post followed up this story last week, and determined through their analysis that Boebert’s mileage reimbursements were both atypical and questionable. Last Friday, Colorado Newsline’s Chase Woodruff ran a separate story about Boebert paying off just under $20,000 tax liens filed against her business Shooters Grill in Rifle in late October.

Boebert’s tax liens being paid off just a couple of weeks before Boebert’s mileage payday in nearly the same amount raised new questions in our minds, and it looks like we weren’t alone:

Colorado Public Radio followed up on the Denver Post’s analysis last week of Boebert’s campaign travels, and while they were able to account for somewhat more possible travel than the Post, they’re still well short of the reimbursement Boebert wrote herself in November–and again, the question of the tax liens in a similar amount paid off shortly before looms large:

The Pueblo-based Rural Colorado United, a political action committee that opposes Boebert, also plans on sending letters this week asking the OCE and the Federal Election Commission to look into the mileage, as well as her actions around the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot.

“We’re trying to see if there was any correlation between [Boebert] and using those funds for the taxes that she owed [for her business],” said George Autobee, co-founder of the Rural Colorado United. [Pols emphasis] The Denver Post reported last summer that the state had filed around $20,000 in liens against Boebert’s restaurant in Rifle. Boebert paid most of that off in October, according to the site Colorado Newsline.

Widely-read liberal news site Raw Story alluded to the connection:

Shooters Grill, the gun-themed restaurant owned by Boebert, accumulated eight liens for nonpayment of unemployment insurance premiums between 2016 and 2020. By early 2020, the restaurant owed the state $19,552.86. According to Garfield County records obtained by Newsline, three of the liens totaling $553.50, were paid off. The remaining five liens, totaling $18,999.36, were paid off on Oct. 22, 2020.

Boebert did not respond to Colorado Newsline’s story. There is still no information on what led to the liens on her restaurant or how they were paid off.

This Wednesday, the Denver Post reported that ethics experts are asking questions about the more than $22,000 in mileage reimbursements Boebert paid herself from her campaign last year.

Respected legal blog Lawyers, Guns & Money nailed it succinctly:

Amazing that she drove just enough to cover her tax bills! Maybe next time she can get a sweetheart loan from Deutsche Bank. [Pols emphasis]

There are enough people asking questions about both facets of this story that the burden is now on Boebert: to provide a full accounting for the reimbursements she paid herself from her campaign, and to disclose how she paid off these tax liens in one large payment just weeks before writing herself a check of a suspiciously similar size. At this point, Boebert should consider fully releasing unredacted statements from her campaign’s bank accounts and opening her internal accounting to outside review. That could be the only way to fully answer these converging questions about the movement of money between Boebert’s campaign and Boebert’s pockets.

The story is definitely not going away now. There’s opportunity, there’s motive, and there’s scrutiny only a willful lightning rod can bring on themselves. Skilled grifters keep themselves under the radar just enough to avoid attracting attention to their grift.

With Lauren Boebert, everything is right out in front where you can see it.

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Who Guards The Guards From Lauren Boebert?

Yesterday evening, Rep. Lauren Boebert took some time out of her busy schedule (she still has her committee assignments, after all) to mingle with National Guard troops deployed to defend the U.S. Capitol in the aftermath of the January 6th insurrection against the building and its occupants. No doubt the troops were polite, and some of them may not even have known who specifically Boebert is other than a random freshman member of Congress who wanted a picture.

The ones who do know who Boebert is, and her role in helping incite the violence that resulted in their deployment to the U.S. Capitol? We assume they were also professionals, though they would have had every right to be upset. Boebert’s photo-op glosses neatly over the fact that these troops are on alert today because a bunch of fellow Trump supporters agreed with Boebert that January 6, 2021 was 1776.

One thing we’re pretty sure of is Boebert did not apologize. That would have been news.

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It’s Still Donald Trump’s Party

Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner (right) with he who shall not be named (left).

And as The Hill reports, the former President could end the GOP as we know it with one weird trick:

A majority of Republican voters said if former President Trump were to start a new political party they would likely join, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds.

Sixty-four percent of registered Republican voters in the Jan. 28-29 survey said they’d join a new political party led by the former president, including 32 percent who said they would very likely join…

“If Trump were to split from the GOP and create his own party, polling suggests he might well create the second largest political party in the country, knocking the GOP down to third place,” [Dritan] Nesho added. [Pols emphasis]

Dividing the conservative coalition in American politics between the Republican Party as we knew it before Donald Trump and a new party devoted wholly to Trump’s cult of (such as it is) personality would be perhaps the greatest gift Trump could bestow on Democrats–no small feat after fueling backlash against the Trump-dominated GOP in the 2018 and again in the 2020 elections, and helping deliver the U.S. Senate to Democrats by effectively sabotaging the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff elections in January in a fit of pique over losing last November.

Divide and conquer was always Trump’s strategy. If these numbers spur Trump to action, Republicans who aided and abetted Trump’s rise to power may now be about to find out what “divide and conquer” looks like on the flip side.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (February 5)

With any luck, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will lose to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, thus sparing us many more weeks months of fawning stories about Tom Brady. 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 

 

► Senate Republicans did their best to delay and derail a badly-needed coronavirus relief plan, but Democrats stood firm as the adults in the room and got the package moving anyway. As The Washington Post reports:

The House of Representatives is poised to approve a budget plan on Friday that directs committees to start working on the details underlying President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package to shore up the ailing economy and strengthen vaccine distribution.

The Senate, in the early-morning hours Friday, approved the budget bill through a narrow partisan vote, by a 51-to-50 margin, with Vice President Harris (D) casting the tiebreaking vote in the chamber after more than 15 hours of debate.

The stimulus package would include checks up to $1,400 for low- and moderate-income families, extended jobless benefits and $160 billion to strengthen the public health response to the pandemic, improving the vaccine distribution and increased testing, among other measures.

The Friday votes signal a more partisan effort is underway in pursuing final passage of Biden’s relief package through a narrow majority. Top Democrats in both chambers say they are moving with an increased sense of urgency. The economic recovery — highlighted by a report on Friday — continues to show anemic jobs growth and scarring of the labor market.

Senate Republicans held up passage of the relief bill out of political spite more than anything — they never presented a reasonable plan of their own from which to negotiate a final version of the legislation. President Biden has apparently learned his lesson from watching Republicans obstruct good-faith efforts from Democrats when Barack Obama was President:

As Ezra Klein explains for The New York Times, the deliberations around the relief bill demonstrates once more that the Senate filibuster has outlived its usefulness:

“Democrats have an opportunity to restore our democracy and deliver on the promises they campaigned on,” the Rev. Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding, founder of Truth and Conciliation, told me by email. “But they can’t do that without breaking down structural barriers to progress — that starts with eliminating the filibuster. If we allow the filibuster to block voting rights, gun violence prevention, Covid relief and more, we’re sending a clear message to millions of voters that their votes and voices don’t count in our democracy.”

To be clear, if Democrats will not get rid of the filibuster, it is better that they use budget reconciliation than that they fail the American people totally. But the fact that Democrats are using budget reconciliation at all is evidence that even Sinema and Manchin know the filibuster has gone too far, that the chamber cannot operate under supermajority rules, all of the time.

This is a terrible way to legislate. Enough with kludges. End the filibuster, and make the Senate great again.

 

Colorado Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) now faces an official Congressional Ethics complaint related to her questionable campaign expenditures to herself for $22,000 of “mileage” reimbursements. Boebert’s troubles in this regard could be just beginning; it sure looks like she might have used these curious reimbursements to help her pay off liens related to her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado.

In related news, Boebert picked up her first serious Democratic challenger for 2022 when State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail) formally announced her CO-3 campaign.

 

Colorado College released its annual State of the Rockies conservation polling data. Check out this press release for some of the topline numbers. The Denver Post summarizes the data:

A 61% majority of voters across Colorado and seven other western states are more worried than hopeful about nature, pointing to climate change impacts, and 57% plan to get outdoors more often when the COVID-19 pandemic abates, a new opinion poll has found.

Uncontrollable wildfires, loss of pollinators, and low water in rivers ranked among top concerns, according to results unveiled Thursday from the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project poll.

The poll also found strong support for protecting nature — 85% favor restoring Clean Water Act coverage for smaller streams and wetlands and 93% support requiring oil and gas companies to pay all costs of cleanup and land restoration. The results show 84% of respondents want the government to create new national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, tribal protected areas at historic sites and other recreation areas.

“We’re seeing strong voter concern for nature, which is translating into calls for bold action on public lands in the West,” said State of the Rockies Project director Katrina Miller-Stevens, a Colorado College economics professor. “If federal and state policy leaders are looking for direction on public lands, the view from the West is clear.”

TL;DR: Pollution is not popular.

 

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

 

(more…)

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$20,000 Lien, $20,000 Check: Boebert’s Other Shoe Drops?

Rep. Lauren Boebert in front of Shooters Grill in Rifle.

Chase Woodruff at Colorado Newsline reports on a potentially explosive new angle on the story of Rep. Lauren Boebert’s dubiously large reimbursements from her campaign accounts for mileage, racking up more such expenses in one election season than her predecessor did in a decade:

Less than two weeks before being elected to represent Colorado’s 3rd District in Congress, Rep. Lauren Boebert paid off the last of nearly $20,000 in state tax liens that had accumulated on her restaurant since 2016, records show…

On Feb. 13, 2020, three of the liens, totaling $553.50, were satisfied and released, records show. The remaining five liens, totaling $18,999.36, were satisfied on Oct. 22, 2020, according to Garfield County records.

Boebert did not respond to multiple requests for comment on what led to the liens being filed on Shooters Grill, or how they were paid off.

The state tax liens filed against Shooters Grill in Rifle reportedly stemmed from nonpayment of unemployment insurance premiums. Hopefully that delinquency didn’t result in hardship for any of Boebert’s employees last year, particularly during Boebert’s ill-advised battles with the Garfield County Health Department to keep her restaurant open during the height of the stay-at-home order last spring.

So, there’s that. But the more pressing question for Boebert to answer could be the timing of the repayment of these liens on October 22 in the amount of $19,000, followed by the huge $22,000 reimbursement for “mileage” just a couple of weeks later. Unless Boebert can fully account for the 38,000 miles of reimbursement she pocketed, it sure looks like the campaign was reimbursing Boebert for the consequences of her own flaky business practices.

Tax liens the motive, mileage reimbursement the opportunity? It adds up a bit too well, folks.

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Boebert Mileage Reimbursement Scandal Gets Official Complaint

Vroom!

We’ve been discussing in this space recently a story about Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and a rather questionable mileage reimbursement check she wrote herself from her campaign account back in November. According to Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post, this questionable reimbursement has now officially led to a Congressional ethics complaint.

From “The Spot” newsletter:

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s mileage reimbursement is now the subject of a formal complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics. Accountable.US, a liberal government watchdog group, asked investigators to look into large reimbursement payments Boebert received from her campaign account last year.

“Rep. Boebert’s curious campaign travel expenses warrant an immediate investigation by the (OCE),” wrote Kyle Herrig, the group’s president. “She has refused to provide exculpatory evidence to the public, so it is critical she is held to account for this potential abuse of campaign funds.”

The complaint cites a Denver Post article published Tuesday, which analyzed the reimbursements. Boebert’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the ethics complaint Thursday. [Pols emphasis]

Boebert addressed the matter publicly for the first time Wednesday. On Twitter, she wrote that she drove often across a massive district during last year’s campaign, as the Post article notes. “Glad the media wrote a story about the hard work I put into my campaign,” she added.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, first reported here at Colorado Pols in December and recently updated by The Denver Post (and many, many others), Boebert reimbursed herself more than $22,000 for “mileage” in 2020…which is a pretty absurd figure for anyone to claim. Boebert is basically saying that she drove nearly 37,000 miles between April and November 2020, which would be enough to circle the earth one-and-a-half times. Driving 37,000 miles in a matter of months would also be enough to qualify Boebert for the Guinness World Record for “Longest Journey By a Car In a Single Country.”

In other words: Nope.

Boebert has not offered any explanation for her self-generosity, other than to say that such a ridiculous amount of driving was because of all the “hard work I put into my campaign.” Earlier today, Boebert also tossed out a stilted whataboutism response mentioning a Democratic colleague in Congress.

We’re guessing the Office of Congressional Ethics is going to want a little more detail on these “reimbursements” than what Boebert has spun up thus far. We’re also going to guess that Boebert does NOT have a shoebox full of receipts stashed away somewhere.

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House Impeachment Managers Playing Chess, Not Checkers

The plot thickens!


The (second) Senate impeachment trial against former President Trump is set to begin on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

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Donovan Officially Announces Campaign Against Boebert

State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail) filed paperwork on Wednesday to become an official candidate for Congress in Colorado’s third congressional district, which is currently represented by freshman Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle).

Today, Donovan made the news, uh, super-official with a video announcement that included a not-so-subtle jab at Q*Bert:

“Real toughness isn’t something you wear on your hip. It’s what you get done for people…

…I’m a rancher, an educator, and a state senator. And I’ve been able to get things done, like expanding rural broadband and cutting the cost of health care, because I’ll work with anyone, regardless of their party…

…At this extraordinary moment in our history, we need to work together to fix what’s been broken. The last thing we need are people in Congress who talk tough and stoke division and fear.”

You can watch the full video below:

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Colorado’s First Family, Vaccines, And The Same Old Bigotry

Gov. Jared Polis gets vaccinated.

Five days ago, the RMPBS reported on Gov. Jared Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis receiving their first doses of coronavirus vaccine at the Salud Clinic in Commerce City:

As thousands of Colorado senior citizens reported to Coors Field Saturday, January 30 to receive their COVID-19 vaccines, Governor Jared Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis arrived at Salud Clinic in Commerce City to get their first doses of the vaccine.

“I’m putting my arm where my mouth is,” the governor told a group of patients at Salud Clinic…

Polis and Reis’ vaccination comes roughly two months after the couple tested positive for COVID-19 on November 28, 2020. Polis never faced more than mild symptoms, however Reis was hospitalized for two days after experiencing a worsening cough and shortness of breath.

The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul:

Polis, 45, said he received the vaccine because he is among about 200 people who were given priority access to ensure continuity of government. Others in his age group likely won’t receive the vaccine until this summer unless they have two or more comorbidities.

West Virginia First Lady Cathy Justice receives her COVID-19 vaccination in December.

Although the decisions about who gets priority for vaccination while the demand outstrips the supply in these first few critical months of availability are under a great deal of understandable scrutiny, it’s easy to understand why Gov. Polis and his spouse needed to get vaccinated ASAP–along with members of the legislature, and other top elected officials. Although the work of elected officials is routinely devalued by the right, so much so that political institutions are considered less popular in many cases than communicable diseases, Gov. Polis is currently presiding over a state of emergency affecting six million people. It’s critically important work, and if it were a Republican in office we believe there would be absolutely no quarrel on this point.

Polis’ duties as governor obligate him to be in contact with the public every day, and lawmakers in the General Assembly likewise can’t be expected to convene in a public space to do the people’s business without every available protection. And of course the First Gentleman gets the shot too, because married couples can’t be expected to socially distance from one another.

For everyone who doesn’t believe government’s best use is to be drowned in the bathtub, we’d say this is a no-brainer. But here in Colorado, it seems, there’s another aspect to this that Gov. Polis’ Republican critics are zeroing in on: the fact that Colorado has a male governor…and also a First Gentleman.

Former Arapahoe County DA turned talk radio ghoul George Brauchler blew the dog whistle much louder:

Got that, folks? “He–his husband.” There’s really no way to not get what Brauchler is emphasizing, and it’s as distasteful as it is obvious.

The spouses of governors in other states, even in states where politicos getting vaccinated has become a controversy, don’t seem to be getting singled out for this extra degree of criticism after getting vaccinated along with their husbands. We didn’t hear this hue and cry in late December when First Lady-elect Jill Biden got her vaccination alongside the incoming President either, or when former Second Lady Karen Pence received hers.

Is there room for reasonable debate, and even tough questions, about the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Colorado? Of course. There is an argument for, as some other governors have chosen, foregoing the vaccine even if justified for continuity of government in order to prioritize health workers and the most vulnerable getting it first. This isn’t about hiding from legitimate policy or political questions that may exist.

But once Republicans turn it into another tawdry display of homophobia, we’re done listening.

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Like We Said, Lauren Boebert’s Mileage Maths Don’t Add Up

THURSDAY UPDATE #2: Open mouth, insert foot:

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THURSDAY UPDATE: This story is everywhere. Here are just a few of the links:

♦ Fox 31 Denver

♦ Yahoo! News

The Independent (United Kingdom)

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Back in December, we took note of exceptionally large reimbursements paid to Rep. Lauren Boebert from her campaign accounts for mileage supposedly racked up while campaigning around the admittedly sizable Third Congressional District spanning much of the western and southern reaches of the state. Even considering distances driving around her rural district, Boebert’s $22,000 check to herself was a dramatic increase over what her predecessor Rep. Scott Tipton billed, more in one year that Tipton had in a decade.

As it turns out, we weren’t the only ones who found the idea that Boebert racked up almost 39,000 miles running for Congress hard to swallow. As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports today after doing his journalistic due diligence, the huge reimbursements you read about here first could actually be a problem worth investigating:

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert paid herself more than $22,000 in mileage reimbursements from her campaign account last year. Boebert’s campaign defends the reimbursements but three ethics experts who reviewed the money transfers for The Denver Post say they raise questions… [Pols emphasis]

To justify those reimbursements, Boebert would have had to drive 38,712 miles while campaigning, despite having no publicly advertised campaign events in March, April or July, and only one in May. Furthermore, because the reimbursements came in two payments — a modest $1,060 at the end of March and $21,200 on Nov. 11 — Boebert would have had to drive 36,870 miles in just over seven months between April 1 and Nov. 11 to justify the second payment.

“This highly unusual amount of mileage expenses raises red flags and the campaign should feel obligated to provide answers,” said Kedric Payne, a former investigator for the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent body in Congress that examines misconduct allegations.

The Post took the basic question and put it to the test–and by their reckoning from Boebert’s public events calculated by mapping drive times, they were able to account for around 17,600 plausible miles driven. That’s still a lot of driving, and would make for a hefty reimbursement consistent with what Wingerter reports Rep. Don Young who represents the entire state of Alaska billed his campaign for mileage in 2020. But it still only accounts for about half of what Boebert reimbursed herself.

It’s a big district, and it’s true that Boebert energetically stumped in the 2020 campaign, ill-advisedly (at least from a public health standpoint) campaigning in person despite the raging pandemic that kept her opponent mostly at home campaigning via Zoom. But put in context either with her predecessor or others running for Congress in big districts, Boebert’s reimbursements for enough driven miles to circle the globe 1.5 times still don’t add up. And that could mean even more trouble for Rep. Boebert in less than a month in office–this time from the Ethics Office and/or the Federal Election Commission.

It’s just the latest question involving Rep. Boebert that doesn’t make sense unless it’s exactly what it looks like.

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Kerry Donovan to Run Against Lauren Boebert

State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail)

Congresswoman Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert has generated a significant amount of attention since winning election in Colorado’s third congressional district. Much of that attention has been, well, less than flattering, but it has nevertheless made her into a social media curiosity and a familiar name to politically-interested observers around the country.

A handful of mostly-unknown people have voiced their intent on Twitter to challenge Boebert in 2022. This sort of announcement generates significant social media interest, largely because so many people are annoyed by Boebert, but none of the floated names have thus far seem to be particularly serious challengers.

Until now.

State Senator Kerry Donovan (D-Vail) has filed paperwork to run in CO-3 and is rumored to be making an official announcement soon. Donovan is serving her second term in the State Senate after winning re-election in 2018. She is also a rancher whose family has called Eagle County home for generations.

Donovan is unquestionably one of the stronger candidates that Democrats could hope to put forward in CO-3, although the results of redistricting will go a long way in determining how much of a challenge Boebert might truly face in 2022. Boebert defeated Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush by seven points in November, and the geographically-enormous CO-3 district has been a reliably-red district for the last decade. It will be hard for any Democrat to be successful here if the voter makeup of CO-3 doesn’t significantly change as a result of reapportionment. There is also the possibility that Donovan’s residence could be drawn into a different district — CO-2, perhaps — though there is no residency requirement to run for Congress.

In the meantime, there’s not a lot of political downside for Donovan in making this decision. She’s term-limited in 2022, so she wouldn’t have to risk her current seat, and it probably won’t be all that difficult to raise money as a viable Boebert opponent. With as much interest as Boebert has drawn in Colorado and nationally, anybody looking at a serious bid for CO-3 probably needed to jump sooner rather than later.

The Colorado legislative session kicks off on Feb. 16, so Donovan is going to be putting a lot of miles on her car. Probably not drive-around-the-earth type of miles, but she’s going to be plenty busy.

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Be Careful What You Wish For, Weld County

Weld County Colorado depicted as Wyoming’s big package.

As the Casper, Wyoming Star Tribune reports, Gov. Mark Gordon is giving aid and comfort to the longshot campaign by conservative activists in Weld County, Colorado to secede from our state and give our northern neighbors a penetrating new appendage:

On Monday, Gordon — appearing on Colorado’s KOA News Radio — said he was supportive of the county’s fringe movement to secede from Wyoming’s southern neighbor, adding fuel to a long-shot ballot initiative campaign launched last month that, if successful, would call on Weld County commissioners to begin exploring potential annexation by the Cowboy State.

“We would love that,” Gordon said on the program. “From time to time states have said, ‘Gosh, we like what Wyoming is doing,’ and we’d be happy.”

…If would be difficult for Weld County to actually secede from Colorado, even if it managed to gain the support of a majority of voters. If the initiative is passed, an actual motion to secede would need to be approved by the Colorado state Legislature and accepted by the Wyoming state Legislature. Afterward, it would go to the U.S. Congress for final ratification.

A stamp of approval from Wyoming’s Republican governor shouldn’t be interpreted as support from the state of Wyoming as a whole, of course, given the major demographic change that would result from adding Weld County’s 342,000 residents to a state with fewer than 600,000 residents spread across 98,000 square miles of territory. Weld County may be majority Republican, but do Wyoming’s rugged individualists really want to dilute their own power by making Greeley their largest city?

On the southern side of the border, Colorado Republicans need to consider what the loss of one of the state’s principal conservative population centers would mean for their ability to compete in future statewide elections. In 2020, subtracting Weld County’s just under 100,000 Republican votes from the statewide races would not have mattered much–but in a close race, like the 2010 U.S. Senate race decided by less than 30,000 votes, it could have been decisive. In short, Weld County seceding to join Wyoming doesn’t change Wyoming’s political composition nearly as much as Colorado’s, and if this unlikely campaign were to succeed it would only speed along Colorado’s transition to permanent Democratic political dominance.

Of course, none of this really matters because the chances of getting even far enough along in this process for our two state’s legislatures to actually consider this, let alone send along to Congress, at each step sorting out the political consequences that on balance hurt Republicans more than the satisfaction of spiting Denver Democrats could ever be worth, are basically nonexistent. Weld County, after all, was one of the counties that put secession on the ballot back in 2013, and it lost. Obliged though we may be to entertain these frivolous subjects when they make the news, there is–at least for now–no reason to take them seriously.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 3)

Happy Setsubun. Please celebrate responsibly. 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 

 

► Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell finally reached agreement on an operating structure for the new Congress. As POLITICO reports:

The final agreement on the so-called organizing resolution for the evenly-split Senate allows Democrats to take control of committees and comes after weeks of negotiation between the two leaders…

…The lack of an organizing resolution had created an unusual situation in the Senate, where Republicans still technically held committee gavels and were overseeing the confirmation process for President Joe Biden’s nominees, even though Democrats hold the majority. It also meant that new members of the Senate had not yet received their committee assignments. Schumer announced new committee assignments for Democrats on Tuesday.

McConnell initially asked that Senate Democrats commit to protecting the legislative filibuster as part of the agreement, which Schumer rejected.

Just remember this when you hear Senate Republicans whining about bipartisanship; Democrats had to scratch and claw to take the control that voters already awarded to them.

 

As Meg Wingerter reports for The Denver Post, Colorado will soon expand the eligibility requirements for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. And as The Colorado Springs Independent notes, the state is pushing quickly to ramp up a new at-home testing program.

 

As The New York Times reports, the House of Representatives will vote to strip Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments after Republicans leaders dithered on the subject:

The House will vote on Thursday to strip Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments, a top Democrat announced, forcing congressional Republicans to take a public stand on the Georgia freshman who endorsed conspiracy theories and calls to execute Democratic politicians before she was elected.

Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, said on Wednesday that he had spoken with Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, and that “it is clear there is no alternative to holding a floor vote on the resolution to remove Representative Greene from her committee assignments.”

House Democrats, incensed by a series of social media posts made by Ms. Greene before she won her seat in November, threatened earlier this week that they would take the unusual step of moving unilaterally to remove Ms. Greene from the education and budget committees if Republicans themselves did not take action. Party leaders generally have authority over who represents them on committees.

The vote will make Republicans go on the record for the first time on whether Ms. Greene should be rebuked for her past comments.

This is not great news for Colorado Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, who faces a lot of the same problems as Greene as well as some that are all her own. Boebert’s latest issue involves new questions about writing herself a $22,000 check from her campaign account for “mileage reimbursements.” As The Denver Post explains:

Boebert’s former campaign manager and her finance director declined to comment or provide evidence Boebert drove nearly 39,000 miles last year.

As we’ve noted previously, Boebert claims that she drove enough in 9 months to circle the earth 1.5 times.

 

As The Washington Post reports, the Biden White House may release visitor logs from former President Trump’s tenure:

The Biden administration is looking at whether it could make public White House visitor logs from early last month, a step that could reveal whether people connected with the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol visited 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“I’m not even sure if it is technically possible. That feels like the first question. So let me talk to our technical gurus and see what I can find out,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

We already know that some of the most prominent people spreading the baseless conspiracy theory that Trump was cheated out of reelection darkened the West Wing’s doorstep in his waning days: My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, retired general Michael Flynn, and Sidney Powell. But the logs could flesh out more fully who was bending the president’s ear and shaping his mind in the run-up to the deadly Capitol riot.

Also…we may find out that 90% of the Trump White House visitor logs are GrubHub deliveries.

 

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

 

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Paramilitary Weirdos Taking Over El Paso County GOP?

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Ernest Luning usefully updates this story, and though it appears that the United American Defense Force militia group will not be providing security at this weekend’s El Paso County GOP central committee meeting as previously reported, the state of play is still quite confusing:

El Paso County Republicans have been sounding the alarm over plans by the party’s embattled chair to engage a group of armed volunteers to provide security at the county GOP’s meeting Saturday, when hundreds of Republicans are expected to gather at a Colorado Springs church to elect party officers.

The head of the United American Defense Force, however, said Tuesday that El Paso County GOP chair Vickie Tonkins had no business saying the group would be involved with the political party and could have exposed his organization to legal jeopardy.

Luning’s in-depth story does appear to confirm that the embattled current county chair Vickie Tonkins is plotting with the far-right organizing group FEC United to fill lower ranking leadership positions in the county party organization with election-denier loyalists, but–and this is probably good, we guess–it doesn’t look like anyone actually asked the militia wing of FEC United to send heavies “security” to the central committee meeting. Or the militia boys said no when they were asked, or maybe reconsidered after the press started sniffing.

We have no reason to expect truthful explanations from anyone involved.

But if it means El Paso County Republicans can do their business Saturday without fear of being shot, take the win.

—–

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

Representing the state’s biggest bastion of conservative political power, the El Paso County Republican Party has seen its share of red-on-red intraparty conflict over the years as the party’s competing corporate and freakshow wings jostle for control. But as the Colorado Springs Independent’s Heidi Beedle reports, the party’s most recent turn to the hard right in the aftermath of the 2020 elections is taking on some…disconcerting attributes:

According to documents obtained by the Indy, the El Paso County Republicans will be using United American Defense Force (UADF), the armed wing of conservative political group FEC United, as security for its Feb. 6 Central Committee Meeting. During the Central Committee Meeting, county and district leaders will be elected by Republican Party members. According to a document provided to the Indy titled, “UPDATED Tentative – Agenda Saturday, February 6, 2021,” the sergeant-at-arms for the meeting is listed as “UADF Security.”

FEC United, a right-wing political organizing group founded by local conspiracy theorist Joe Oltmann, surged to prominence last year during the protests against public health measures to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This organizing set the stage for the group’s leading role in “Stop the Steal” protests in Denver–and elsewhere, in order to avoid Denver’s prohibition against openly carrying firearms. But what makes FEC United different from so many other conservative political groups is their Sinn Fein-style alliance with an armed militia group known as the United American Defense Force (UADF).

And it looks like FEC United is on a mission to purge the El Paso County Republican Party of the insufficiently faithful, thus resolving an increasingly bitter dispute between the party’s leaders and members:

FEC United’s involvement in the El Paso County GOP is a point of contention between party members and the party leadership of [chairwoman Vickie] Tonkins and Treasurer John Pitchford…

On Jan. 24, the El Paso County Republicans hosted FEC United members at its party headquarters on Centennial Boulevard. When the Indy arrived, a greeter asked, “Here for FEC?” Shortly after, the Indy was asked to leave the meeting. A Facebook post from FEC United about the event read “Pikes Peak FEC United! The El Paso County GOP bi-annual Committee meeting occurs February 6th. In that meeting we have the opportunity to vote out the corrupt RINOs, install anti-corruption / pro-Constitution leadership, and retain Vickie Tonkins and John Pitchford who have led the charge for the past 2 years in the El Paso County GOP! We need you to volunteer to be one of the leaders who can vote in the El Paso County GOP Committee Meeting by becoming a precinct leader, division leader, or House District leader.… A small requirement to help us clean up the local Republican Party and help preserve the Republic! If you’re interested in becoming a precinct leader, contact John Pitchford.”

The tension between the chair and treasurer of the El Paso County GOP and its active members reportedly goes back to last summer, when chair Vickie Tonkins was layered with punitive approval processes and Treasurer John Pitchford was removed and later re-instated. The alliance with FEC United does not appear to be welcomed by most current members either–hence the plot to “vote out the corrupt RINOs” from lower leadership positions at this coming Saturday’s central committee meeting.

Which will now have “security” provided by FEC United’s armed militia group.

All we can say is, if you’re hoping this is an aberration and not the future of Republican politics, you’re not alone. There’s a very good reason we don’t do armed political movements in America, and we got the most sobering reminder possible short of full scale war on January 6th.

Let’s not go down this road, okay? Not even in El Paso County.

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The GMS Podcast: Weld County, WY and House Speaker Garnett

House Speaker Alec Garnett (D-Denver)

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii wrap up a month that seemed like it would never end and revisit “The Boebert Report.” We also discuss the race for the next State Republican Party Chair and the odd story of Weld County, Wyoming.

But the highlight of this week’s show is a visit from House Speaker Alec Garnett, who discusses the delayed legislative session and what to expect when lawmakers reconvene in a few weeks.

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

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

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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Wednesday Open Thread

“The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.”

–Edward R. Murrow

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Look Out: Democrats Might Actually Act Like A Majority

President Joe Biden (D).

As CNN reports, Democrats in Washington are moving ahead with a plan to pass a comprehensive $1.9 trillion economic relief package via the budget reconciliation process, after a meeting between President Joe Biden and Senate Republicans to discuss their tiny fraction of a relief bill by comparison failed to impress:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said President Joe Biden told Senate Democrats at lunch Tuesday that he wants a “big, bold package” on Covid-19 relief and that he told Senate Republicans that their $600 billion proposal is “way too small.”

It was a point White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated during her briefing — there are certain “bottom lines” that Biden wants to be in the next round of Covid-19 relief, including direct payments reaching more Americans than what the Republican proposal would include.

“His view is that at this point in our country, when 1-in-7 American families don’t have enough food to eat, we need to make sure people get the relief they need and are not left behind,” Psaki said.

Bloomberg:

While the 10 senators who participated described the meeting as “excellent” with “a very productive exchange of views,” in a joint statement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had emphasized that Congress had to act urgently and “boldly” and had pointed out many areas of disagreement with the Republicans…

While Biden “is hopeful” that what he calls the American Rescue Plan “can pass with bipartisan support, a reconciliation package is a path to achieve that end,” Psaki said. Using reconciliation, Democrats could potentially pass the bill in the Senate with only their 50 votes plus that of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Meanwhile, one of the more worrisome members of the Democratic coalition, “ConservaDem” Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, says he won’t oppose moving forward without Republicans:

“I will vote to move forward with the budget process because we must address the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis,” Manchin said. “But let me be clear – and these are words I shared with President Biden – our focus must be targeted on the COVID-19 crisis and Americans who have been most impacted by this pandemic.” Manchin also signaled his opposition to using budget reconciliation for non-emergency measures: “I will only support proposals that will get us through and end the pain of this pandemic,” he said.

President Biden’s meeting with Senate Republicans yesterday caused some upset with Democrats under pressure from their base to maximize the value of their tenuous 50 seat+1 majority in the U.S. Senate. But once again, Republicans self-sabotaged by coming to the table with a proposal so inadequate to addressing the need there was simply no point in trying to negotiate from it.

For anyone who follows the state of Colorado’s perennially fraught TABOR-constrained budget issues–and that should be more of you even though we know it’s not–the difference between the Republicans’ $600 billion relief proposal and the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan literally represents the difference between fiscal continuity and fiscal calamity. The $350 billion in Biden’s proposal is a lifeline to state and local governments whose revenues have been slashed during the pandemic even as demand for the services local governments are responsible for providing exploded.

With Republicans not putting forward even remotely serious counterproposals and Americans increasingly desperate for economic aid to get through what everyone hopes is the latter stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time for Democrats to stop trying to bargain with Republicans to pass legislation they have the power to pass without them–and it seems as though they get that. After Republicans exploited their only slightly less narrow majority in the U.S. Senate for six years to generationally tilt the U.S. Supreme Court, Democrats should feel no political apprehension whatsoever in exercising their 50+1 majority power to get the most money possible to Americans who need it.

Who knows? If Democrats start acting like they know how to lead, voters might even reward their leadership.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (February 2)

The Groundhog has spoken (er, whatever): There will be six more weeks of winter. 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 

 

► House impeachment managers — a group that includes Colorado Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) and Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) — have provided a first glance at the arguments that will be presented next week in former President Trump’s second impeachment trial. As The Washington Post reports:

House Democrats made their case to convict former president Donald Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in a sweeping impeachment brief filed with the Senate on Tuesday that accused Trump of whipping his supporters into a “frenzy” and described him as “singularly responsible” for the mayhem that ensued.

In the brief, the nine House impeachment managers argue that Trump is not protected by the First Amendment’s freedom of speech provision, which was never intended, they wrote, to allow a president to “provoke lawless action if he loses at the polls.”

“If provoking an insurrectionary riot against a Joint Session of Congress after losing an election is not an impeachable offense, it is hard to imagine what would be,” the brief states.

Democrats also rejected the claim embraced by many Republicans that it is unconstitutional to convict a president after he has left office — an argument that Trump’s lawyers are expected to make in his defense.

“There is no ‘January Exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution,” the House Democrats wrote. “A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last.”

Trump’s legal team is expected to file its initial response to the impeachment trial summons later today.

Meanwhile, as Aaron Blake writes for The Washington Post, Trump’s new lawyer and his Senate lapdog, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, are making some rather odd threats about the upcoming trial:

They suggested that holding a lengthy trial including witnesses could open up “Pandora’s box,” in Graham’s words, because Trump’s team could then call its own. But the types of witnesses they floated don’t seem to pose much of a threat.

Graham focused on the idea that Trump’s defense would then call witnesses that could reinforce that certain elements of the Capitol siege planned and coordinated the attack beforehand…

…This is a strategy that has been floating around in conservative circles for weeks. The suggested implication: If these people preplanned it, that means they couldn’t possibly have been incited by the president. (“If these federal law enforcement agencies had prior knowledge that this was a planned attack then POTUS didn’t incite anything,” Donald Trump Jr. claimed a few weeks back.)

It’s the very definition of a straw-man argument.

Don’t make us call our own witnesses who will corroborate…the case for impeachment!

 

If you don’t know anything else about Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-Fox News), you are probably aware of her carefully-crafted image as an everywoman who carries a gun around with her. On Monday, Q*Bert popped that bubble when she made it clear that she has never take a gun onto the House floor despite weeks of insinuations otherwise.

The word you’re looking for is “poser.”

 

 The El Paso County Republican Party is literally partnering with armed militia groups.

 

Senate MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell is speaking out against bonkers Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

“Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country,” McConnell said of the conspiracy-loving Greene. “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality. This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”

See, McConnell knows that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) is set to meet with Greene this week to talk about her views — and, likely, to dole out some sort of punishment. According to Politico, McCarthy remains undecided about the best way to deal with Greene — and whether stripping her of committee assignments, for example, for comments she made prior to coming to Congress would set a dangerous precedent.

McConnell’s comments are designed to push McCarthy right off the fence on which he is currently sitting. It’s aimed at forcing McCarthy’s hand. It’s McConnell saying, essentially: This is not what the Republican Party is going to be in the future — and it stops now.

Whether or not House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has the stones to actually reprimand Greene is another story entirely.

 

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

 

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