Tina Peters on the red carpet at Mar-a-Lago last year.
As the Grand Junction Sentinel’sCharles Ashbyreports, a jury in Mesa County has returned a guilty verdict against former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters in a misdemeanor obstruction of justice case: a case that marks the beginning of what could be a series of convictions ultimately connected to Peters’ admitted scheme to steal proprietary election system data in a failed plot to prove the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump:
Former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters was found guilty Friday of obstruction of government operations, but acquitted on a charge that she obstructed a peace officer…
Peters’ conviction…means that separate charges of contempt of court can go forward. That’s the underlying case that led to the search warrant and subsequent obstruction charges.
There, Peters is accused of using the iPad to video record a court proceeding for her former deputy, Belinda Knisley, who at the time was facing burglary and cybercrime charges for allegedly entering the clerk’s office after being told to stay away. At that time, Knisley was under investigation by county human resources officials for creating a hostile work environment, allegedly telling clerk staff not to cooperate with state and federal investigations into tampering with election equipment.
The short version is that Peters was convicted of obstructing investigators who sought access to her iPad at a Grand Junction bagel shop in 2022. When police arrived to back up those investigators, Peters picked up a charge of obstructing the police as well–and that’s the charge Peters was acquitted of. Next, Peters will face a charge of contempt of court stemming from the use of that iPad to illegally record court proceedings, all leading up to Peters’ “main event” trial on misconduct and impersonation charges related to the actual theft of Dominion Voting Systems data.
Although not the final stop on Peters’ journey through the criminal justice system, this does mark the first conviction related in any way to her conduct as Mesa County Clerk since the 2020 elections. Sentencing isn’t until next month, which means Peters will now compete in the race to be the next Colorado Republican Party chair as a convicted criminal awaiting up to six months in jail.
Bruce Lee of Forbesreports on a new piece of going-nowhere performative legislation introduced by the Republican majority in the U.S. House, cosponsored by Colorado’s most sophomoric sophomore Rep. Lauren Boebert along with a special new friend:
With 647 mass shootings in 2022 and 85 already this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, guess what Rep. Barry Moore (R-Alabama) wants to do now? Well, on February 17, 2023, Moore introduced a bill, H.R.1095, that would declare the AR-15 style rifle the “National Gun of the United States.” Yep, three days after Valentine’s Day, he introduced this Bill that will be first discussed by the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. And the bill has a trio of co-sponsors: Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado), Rep. George Santos (R-New York), and Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Georgia).
Since the introduction of the bill on February 17th, Boebert’s budding archrival Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has also signed on as a cosponsor, but that’s it: three far-right deep south Republicans in overwhelmingly Republican safe districts, committee-less serial prevaricator freshman Rep. George Santos, and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
The description of the Bill on the Congressional website currently does not have much more (or Moore) clarification beyond its stated title: “To declare an AR-15 style rifle chambered in a .223 Remington round or a 5.56x45mm NATO round to be the National Gun of the United States.” So it does not elaborate why Moore, Boebert, Santos, and Clyde specifically feel that such legislation is needed at this point or why taxpayer money should be spent deliberating such a legislation.
We can’t say there’s anything surprising about Boebert signing on to a “message bill” with no purpose other than to express her undying love for the AR-15 rifle, which also happens to be the most commonly used weapon in high-casualty mass shootings that have dominated the headlines in recent years. Par for Boebert’s course. But of the handful of cosponsors signed on to this bill, Boebert by far is taking the biggest risk in allying with George Santos for any public-facing purpose. This has been true for years with respect to Boebert’s close relationship with Rep. Matt “Giggity” Gaetz, but to countenance Santos’ free-ranging pathological fabulism is even worse. Boebert’s proven vulnerability should inspire much more caution about who she associates with than any of these other representatives.
Teaming up with Santos is just further evidence that Boebert has learned nothing from nearly losing her seat.
There have been two interesting bits of news in the last 24 hours regarding the race to become the next Mayor of Denver — a campaign sprint that is about to kick into overdrive with ballots dropping in the mail beginning on March 13.
We’ll start with the biggest story: The first public poll of the crowded field of candidates shows that Denver voters don’t know much about ANY of the Mayoral hopefuls. According to a poll conducted by 9News/the DenverGazette/Metropolitan State University:
Ballots go out in less than two weeks and SurveyUSA found that most voters — 58% of them — are undecided. Voters who do prefer a candidate are split across a field of more than a dozen contenders, with no candidate polling above 5% and a margin of error of 4.9%.
Lisa Calderon, Mike Johnston, and Kelly Brough each poll at 5%.
Denver’s open mayoral races without an incumbent have typically drawn crowded fields of candidates. But no race in modern Denver history, including the 2003 race in which John Hickenlooper emerged from relative obscurity to win, has featured such a fractured field so close to Election Day.
Here’s the graphical breakdown from “Next With Kyle Clark”:
Lisa Calderóntook to social media to declare a minor victory, but the reality here is that pretty much every candidate is within the margin of error. In a poll with 594 respondents, the difference between 5% and 1% basically comes down to whoever answered the phone that day.
The other interesting news in the race comes from The Colorado Sun political newsletter called “The Unaffiliated,” which looked at the voting history for each of the 17 Mayoral hopefuls. Dating back to 1999, only three candidates — Kelly Brough, Chris Hansen, and Leslie Herod — have voted in virtually every election for either municipal or statewide elections.
Mike Johnston has failed to vote in a handful of elections, though his campaign claims that the voter file information is inaccurate and that he really did vote in the 2015 municipal election. Debbie Ortega missed the 2007 municipal election and failed to cast a ballot in a couple of Primary Elections prior to 2012. Calderón skipped Primary Elections in 2006, 2010, and 2014.
Some of the candidates for Denver Mayor have indefensibly-terrible voting histories. Republican Andy Rougeot has only even been a registered voter in Denver since 2018 and has only cast a ballot about half of the time he has had the opportunity. Trinidad Rodriguez rarely casts a ballot in a Primary Election. Al Gardner is a recent convert to the Democratic Party who didn’t vote in the 2003, 2005, 2011 or 2015 municipal elections. Kwame Spearman, Aurelio Martinez, and Robert Treta have rarely cast ballots in any election.
There are few things more irritating in politics than watching a candidate who rarely votes asking others to cast a ballot on their behalf. We’re reminded of Jaime Giellis, the 2019 Denver Mayoral candidate who didn’t even bother to votein the 2018 Primary Election 10 months earlier. As Giellis said to Marshall Zelinger of 9News at the time, “I didn’t realize that there was a litmus test for being willing to step up and take a leadership role in the city.”
There isn’t a litmus test, but perhaps there should be; if you can’t do the bare minimum to participate in a Democracy, then you shouldn’t be asking voters to do the same for you.
On Thursday in the State House of Representatives, a handful of Republican lawmakers strode to the podium during a discussion about the Equal Rights Amendment to barf out a litany of complaints about issues ranging from abortion to the very existence of transgender people. It was a disgusting breach of decorum and common decency from a Republican micro-minority that seems intent on crossing those lines at every available opportunity.
On Friday morning, Representative Brianna Titone (D-Arvada) requested a moment of personal privilege to reflect on her experiences on the House Floor on Thursday (Titone is serving in her third term after becoming the first transgender lawmaker in state history in 2019). Titone had a very simple point for her colleagues — particularly those on the Republican side such as Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf: If you can’t manage to look your colleague in the eye when you say something, then you probably shouldn’t be saying it at all.
You can watch Titone’s powerful and thoughtful speech below, or read the entire text that follows:
TITONE:I don’t know why a resolution on the Equal Rights Amendment…turned into demeaning, dismissive, and derogatory remarks about me and people like me, among other things.
Whether you like it or not, I am your colleague. Whether you believe me or people like me should exist, I do exist, and I am your equal in this chamber. I accomplished the same thing that you did to be here, and I proudly represent ALL of my constituents in the course of my work in this chamber. [Pols emphasis]
Obviously the decisions we make here are not ones that everyone can agree on. But I do my best to do the work that my constituents put me here to do every single day. I have no problem disagreeing, and accepting that we disagree on topics. But I won’t take my disagreement to the level of insulting and demeaning my colleagues. I believe in decorum and collegiality in this forum, and I believe in respect for people despite our differences.
Yesterday I felt disrespected and diminished. Trans people are simply claiming our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But how can we have that when what you say tries to take that away from us?
Today, I’m standing up for myself and people like me. For kids who are like me. For YOUR constituents who are like me – who you refuse to acknowledge. I would like to see ways we can disagree without being disrespectful. I would like to see us be able to disagree and look each other in the eyes when we say these things. If we can acknowledge the pain that we cause each other by ignoring it, we shouldn’t be saying the things we are saying.
I sat in my chair listening and looking at colleagues – in the eyes – as they said demeaning, dismissive things to me…which felt like a VERY long time. But I got no eye contact back. Why? Can you not disagree with my existence in your presence and not look me in the eye? By the way, my existence is not up for debate. It’s not something you can disagree away, and I will not let anyone – in this chamber or outside this chamber – bully or intimidate me out of my existence. Not today, and not EVER.
That facts still remain that what was said yesterday was dangerous rhetoric that harms people and encourages bullying. If you also recognized that this rhetoric was harmful, enough to reach out to me afterwards, I hope that next time you will find it within yourself to call it out in the moment for what it is.
I have had many conversations with people inside and outside of this body who disagree with me – with people who have said they have a problem with me being in the bathroom with them. People who don’t understand why I am the way that I am. And people who fundamentally disagree with me on certain issues.
My approach? I ask them questions, with empathy. I want to understand why they feel that way. Although I am the one in the position of [being] less-privileged, the one facing the hardship, I ask THEIR feelings and their positions. Very few people bother to ask me about me. Many of you think, what could I possibly have in common with THAT person. Many of you don’t care to know or want to know about people different from you because if you did, I think it would be a lot harder for you to say the hurtful things that were said yesterday from this well.
We have been granted great power and responsibility with the badges we bestow on our lapels. This was entrusted by the people of Colorado to conduct ourselves in this chamber with decorum and respect to debate – not denigrate. I ask you to use your power wisely. Our relationships are built on trust and mutual respect. We don’t just speak to the TV cameras. We speak here to our colleagues, to our constituents, and to the young people – and the words that we say affect me, us, and them.
I implore all of you to think about the words and consider whether or not you can look your colleagues, or your constituents, in the eye when you say these things directly to them. If you can’t, I would suggest that you find kinder ways to disagree, and foster a better environment for everyone who walks these hallowed halls and those who observe us here. [Pols emphasis]
The Notorious RBG would like a word with these nitwits
The month of March is recognized as “Women’s History Month” — officially established by Congress in 1987 — which made today a good time for the State House of Representatives to discuss a resolution marking the 100th anniversary of the first effort to establish the Equal Rights Amendment.
While you might not expect this to be particularly controversial — though there is conservative opposition to the idea — you can never underestimate the ability of the lunatic Republican micro-minority in the State House to turn even the most benign discussion into an hours-long rant about abortion, transgender athletes, and even gun rights.
There’s a lot to discuss here. Keep reading, because things get progressively weirder as the yammering continues.
Senate Joint Resolution 23-006 is the Colorado legislature’s effort to prod Congress toward approving the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would guarantee equal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. What should have been a fairly straightforward discussion devolved into all sorts of ridiculous nonsense, led again by “The Unambigiously Lame Duo” of Republican Reps. Scott “There is No” Bottoms and Ken “Skin” DeGraaf. There were plenty of other Republicans rushing to the podium to air their grievances, including Reps. Richard Holtorf, Stephanie Luck, and Brandi Bradley. Once again, House Minority “Leader”Mike Lynch was apparently fine with letting his caucus elaborate at length on why Colorado voters should never, under any circumstances, allow these people to be in charge of anything.
Republican Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms on his way to mansplain the Equal Rights Amendment
Let’s begin with Rep. Bottoms, who marched through a gathering of female lawmakers to tell everyone about how he is more of a feminist than his own wife:
“I’d like to speak to this amendment, and why I strongly agree with it and to give some language to it also.”
In other words, let me explain the ERA to you ladies…
Bottoms talked about being an ordained minister and how his wife — also a minister — had a tough time being formally ordained in their “Assemblies of God’ ministry. “I know how this actually works firsthand,” said Bottoms, apparently unfamiliar with the meaning of the word ‘firsthand.’
Bottoms then pivoted from his amazing feminism to his real point: Abortion.
In fact, I am a little more egalitarian than my wife is. So I have fought this sometimes when she just wants it to move on because she’s fighting too big of a machine. I don’t let that happen – I fight FOR her, because I actually believe in rights of women. Not SOME rights of women, but all women. I believe in unborn women’s rights. I believe in all women’s rights, on every single level.
‘But your Letter was the first Intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerful than all the rest were grown discontented. — This is rather too coarse a Compliment but you are so saucy, I wont blot it out.’
The Unambiguously Lame Duo of Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf
“That one really speaks to me,” said Bottoms. He then moved on to explain how Republicans are the true warriors for women’s rights:
“[Adams] is saying that our brave heroes would fight for women. We are pushing back in today’s context. This started out – as mentioned earlier – this started out as a Republican mentality. When the Democrats took it over, it stalled out, completely, until Ginsberg said, ‘We should let it go and start over.’
This is where we are at with this. We believe in women, but we believe in the rights of all women, under all circumstances, under no deviation from that.”
Quoting former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg out of context was a regular thing for both Bottoms and DeGraaf. Bottoms then complained about woke culture, or something:
“We can’t even define what a woman is today. We call it ‘pregnant persons’ and things like that.”
We do? Okay.
Bottoms moved on to complain about the “right of a woman to compete in single-sex athletics” and the right of a mother to hold dominion over her female offspring:
“The right of a mother to refuse coerced medical treatment on her daughter and the right of a mother to speak up at school boards without the fear of reprisal are still being infringed TO…THIS…VERY…MOMENT.”
Bottoms would return to the podium on multiple occasions, eventually introducing an amendment to the ERA resolution to recognize the right of women to “live by moral beliefs”; to refuse abortion rights for their children (“coerce medical options”); to let them rant freely at school board meetings; and to prevent transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports. Oh, and also the ERA should include unfettered rights to shoot people with firearms. Equal rights, baby!
Representatives DeGraaf and Stephanie Luck also chimed in with their own amendments in opposition to transgender people in general.
“The rights of women are, and have been, enshrined in our Constitution from the beginning,” said DeGraaf after reading the “All men are created equal” preamble from the Declaration of Independence. “Perhaps not always recognized, but they have been enshrined.”
Republican Rep. Ken “Skin” DeGraaf smirks after saying that Republicans were the first to recognize women’s rights.
DeGraaf explained that the Founding Fathers were only using the word “men” in a general sense…or something.
“The pronoun ‘he’ is a generic that all men are created equal. [It] is a generic. It means all men or women unless it is specifically known to be male. Well, a female has an individual, a specific pronoun that is, uh, that would be considered special.
“Abigail Adams was determined to foment a rebellion if the ladies were not more generously acknowledged in the new Constitution. She didn’t. There was no rebellion fomented. So it can only be naturally recognized that they were.”
This is “DeGraaf Logic” in action: Because women didn’t rebel at the time the Declaration of Independence was drafted, it must mean that women who lived in that time understood that they did indeed have equal rights already. You could make the same dumb argument about Black slaves, of course, but let’s move along…
“The first female representatives were Republicans, as were the first representatives who happened to be female. So I’d like to say to my Democrat colleagues, ‘Welcome.’”
At this, DeGraaf smirked and left the podium. You can thank Republicans for the equal rights that you already have…even though this entire discussion is about an Equal Rights Amendment that millions of women believe is still necessary. Got it!
In a failed effort to appear smarter than he actually is, DeGraaf returned to the podium later to read some ERA history from his iPad — including, again, numerous quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg — before firing off some big words that he may or may not actually understand:
“Well, recognizing that as a heterogametic human, that my colleagues don’t necessarily recognize my equal rights before the law in this matter.”
Here’s a Wikipedia entry on heterogametic and homogametic sex that may help you make sense of what DeGraaf thinks he’s talking about. Anyway, DeGraaf uses his big thesaurus brain to move from the ERA to abortion, naturally. He cites former Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York for comments she made in 2019 that he claims were false statements that the ERA is NOT about abortion.
“Me thinks that the Representative doth protest too much. The Equal Rights Amendment-abortion connection has already been established for more than 40 years when Maloney tried to deny it.”
Boy Wonderbread continues with his explanation that “Sex is represented as the difference between homogametic and heterogometic in an XY organism such as a human,” using this as a jumping off point for an amendment about…fetacide?
“In the June 22 decision Dobbs v Jackson, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion — actually feticide. This will no doubt intensify the search by feticide advocates for a constitutional alternatives. Despite denials that no one believes the groundwork has already been laid and all eyes are on the Equal Rights Amendment.
So again, in recognized recognition of the work and intellect of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I would request that you would recognize my equality before the law and speaking to this body as a heterogametic individual and vote yes on this amendment for the sake of historical accuracy.”
It is both disgusting and infuriating to watch House Republicans turn a discussion about the Equal Rights Amendment into an extended diatribe about abortion, guns, transgender athletes, and whatever the hell DeGraaf is talking about. But the real harm here is to Colorado Republicans in general.
The further Republicans sink into DeBottoms — and the more members of its historically-small caucus that follow along — the harder it becomes for Republicans to make a serious argument in 2024 that Colorado voters should put them in charge. Other Republicans, such as Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, can scream all they want about how there are “other perspectives” in the GOP’s “diverse caucus,” but nobody can hear them over the unhinged rhetoric of the rightest right-wing members in their tribe.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) and the former occupant of the White House.
Some of the most-viewed clips of video from this week in Congress feature a running exchange between Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin and Colorado’s maven of misinformation Rep. Lauren Boebert, beginning when Boebert seized on the “low confidence” assessment by the Energy Department that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in a Chinese lab leak, and proceeded to fictionalize the response by former President Donald Trump to both the pandemic and Chinese leadership. Newsweek’s Ewan Palmer:
In a series of videos that have gained millions of views on Twitter, Raskin used his time during a meeting of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which both lawmakers are part of, as well as the House floor on Tuesday to launch a series of attacks against Boebert…
Boebert, the indefatigable Donald Trump stan, tried to make the case that Trump had blamed the Chinese for the virus’ still-unknown origin from the beginning. But Rep. Raskin wasn’t having Boebert’s historical revisionism:
Raskin said there are two facts that she “should be alerted to” before trying to defend Trump with regards to how COVID broke out.
“One is that Donald Trump, on more than 20 different occasions defended the performance of Chinese government and specifically President Xi in terms of his treatment of COVID-19 and said he was doing a wonderful job and a great job and they were working closely and they were constantly in touch,” Raskin said. [Pols emphasis]
“So if there’s a problem with the Chinese government unleashing the virus—which has not been proven anywhere, but it certainly could be true—You would have to pin that on your favorite President Donald Trump, not on Joe Biden.”
“The second thing is President Trump’s own special adviser on COVID-19, Deborah Birx, said that the lethal recklessness of Donald Trump’s policies about COVID-19 cost Americans hundreds of thousands of lives.
During the State of the Union address last month, Rep. Boebert Tweeted in all caps “YOU CLOSED THEM” in response to Biden mentioning the closure of schools during the pandemic. The problem was of course that Trump was President when schools were ordered closed during the early vaccineless phase of the pandemic, and it was state officials who made those decisions in any event. Similarly, to praise Trump for blaming China for the pandemic ignores the long period in which he not only refused to do so but extolled Chinese authorities for their cooperation. Only later on the campaign trail did Trump begin to refer to COVID-19 as the “China virus” as a way of shirking blame for his own administration’s mishandling of the crisis.
After Raskin’s effortless dunking on Boebert in committee, the action moved to the House floor the next day, where Raskin schooled Boebert on her impish insistence on dropping the -ic from “Democratic,” and embraced Boebert’s expressed preference to be called “Ultra MAGA” over “MAGA extremist” with a smile–since either work fine for Democratic branding purposes. With Boebert’s higher profile this session resulting from her plum committee assignments–and above all, vulnerability that no one could count on until Boebert almost lost her seat last year–we expect to see Democrats crank up the pressure, publicly challenging Boebert’s easily-disproven falsehoods and forcing her to squirm under the bright lights. That’s the best way to turn Boebert’s higher profile within the GOP caucus into a liability ahead of her next election.
At some point, Boebert might even have to admit who was in charge when all that bad stuff happened.
If it’s true that the month of March will come in like a lamb and out like a lion (or vice-versa), what do you make of today? Sort of a lamb/lion hybrid? Let’s GetMore 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.
► Here’s a quick look at what’s happening in the Colorado legislature:
► As The Denver Post reports, Colorado food banks are bracing for a rush in demand as some pandemic-era benefits come to an end:
Since March 2020, people who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, have received the maximum legal allotment for their household size. Starting Wednesday, the program will revert back to its previous formula, based on household income and certain expenses, such as rent and utilities.
The Colorado Department of Human Services estimated the average person receiving SNAP benefits in the state will lose about $90 in assistance per month, for a roughly $53 million monthly reduction overall. In January, monthly payments averaged about $538 per household in Colorado, and about 553,000 people in more than 291,000 households received food assistance.
The “emergency allotments” were supposed to expire when the federal public health emergency ends in May, but Congress opted to end them early. Nearly 30 million people nationwide will see their food assistance reduced this month. Eighteen states already reduced benefits, affecting about 10 million people.
► Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) today introduced Phil Washington at a confirmation hearing to become the next head of the Federal Aviation Administration. Washington is currently the CEO of Denver International Airport. Click here to view Hickenlooper’s full remarks.
Colorado’s relentlessly crazy Q-uintessential conspiracy theorist Joe Oltmann, who has only in recent years managed to attract the most dubious kind of media attention as the target of a massive defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems and a regular public proponent of political violence, finally found a media outlet with global heft willing to carry his message:
Joe Biden is a demon! “Armed conflict on our own soil” is coming! Arm yourself! Say what you want about Joe Oltmann, this is exactly the kind of destabilizing message that Russian state television wants to project about American politics. The “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump isn’t even about Trump anymore to someone like Oltmann–it’s just another “proof point” in a much bigger conspiracy. No amount of factual evidence to the contrary will ever convince a guy like Oltmann, which is why in American media he gets no attention other than to point out his increasingly violent extremist rhetoric.
Which is not to say Oltmann lacks a domestic audience, and even support from local Republican elected officials:
Like Alex Jones himself, Joe Oltmann has a business model behind his rhetoric. As the co-owner of DCF Guns, Oltmann is in a position to personally sell you the guns you need to “arm yourself” with in order to be ready for “armed conflict on our own soil!” And last month, right after Oltmann’s debut on RT, GOP Reps. Scott “There Is No” Bottoms and Ken “Skin” DeGraff were the stars of a “Second Amendment Rally” at Oltmann’s gun store.
Which seems more like a church bake sale, except for guns. You’re practically obligated to buy one.
At this point, we’re not so naive as to imagine Reps. Bottoms and DeGraff are unaware of Joe Oltmann’s regular violent threats to start a civil war, as well as hang and otherwise lethally dispatch disfavored politicians from Denver to Washington, D.C. Since Oltmann is not referring to these two elected officials personally, they probably just don’t feel threatened.
Someone should probably ask House Minority Leader Mike Lynch what he thinks about his members hanging out with Oltmann just to be safe–after all, we haven’t heard definitively that Lynch is off Oltmann’s death list. It’s said to contain plenty of Republicans. The one thing we know for sure is that there is no analogue on the left to this collusion by Republican elected officials with Oltmann’s calls for violence and murder.
We never want to hear about “Antifa” from Colorado Republicans again.
A free-ranging debate between six candidates for Colorado Republican Party chair last Saturday was sponsored by the Republican Women of Weld County, a group that does a pretty good job of wrangling Republican candidates for all sorts of different candidate forums. The moderators were Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun and Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman.
The venue was Ben’s Brick Oven Pizza in Hudson, Colorado, where about two dozen old white people gathered to hear the six candidates for State Republican Party Chair lay out whatever it is that they think can prevent the no-longer-slow death of the Colorado GOP following a 2022 election beatdown of epic proportions.
The candidates are:
♦ Erik Aadland, who ran for U.S. Senate on a platform of election denial in 2022 before switching horses to CO-07, where he was thoroughly dismantled by Democrat Brittany Pettersen.
♦ Casper Stockham, who ran for State GOP Chair in 2021 and lost. Stockham has also run (and failed to win) races in CO-01, CO-06, and CO-07 in recent years. Statistically-speaking, this might be Stockham’s year if only because you’d think he’d have to win something eventually.
♦ Aaron Wood, who is fairly new to organized politics but is certain that everyone else, especially outgoing party chair Kristi Burton Brown, is doing it wrong.
♦ Tina Peters, the former Mesa County Clerk and Recorder who is a betting favorite to be in prison before the end of this year for a long list of alleged crimes related to breaking into her own election computers in an attempt to find the little ballot-eating smurfs that live inside the server.
♦ Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Willams, the far-right “edgelord” former State Representative from Colorado Springs who got his butt kicked by America’s least charismatic Rep. Doug Lamborn in a Republican primary for Congress last summer.
♦ Kevin Lundberg, a former State Representative and State Senator who has won more races himself than the rest of this field combined. Unfortunately for fans of sanity, Lundberg was a right-wing lunatic years before it was popular to be a right-wing lunatic–so it’s not like he’s bringing a different perspective to the race.
Let’s start with the obvious: there are no winners in this pack. As former State Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhamsobserved recently, “every one of these six candidates would drive the party into deeper oblivion with their conspiratorial, exclusionary and politically naïve agendas that are already repelling a rapidly changing Colorado electorate.”
As you’ll discover, every one of the candidates who participated in this debate proved Wadhams right.
Let’s get to it. Anything not included in direct quotes is paraphrased in the interest of time.
Wells of Colorado’s two biggest local oil producers pumped $3 billion in profits last year, and the companies see production holding steady in 2023 despite freezing temperatures sharply cutting production to start the year…
PDC Energy, which has some production in West Texas, expects to average 255,000 to 265,000 barrels of oil and natural gas equivalents per day in 2023. Close to 88% of that will be from northeast Colorado.
Pumping an average of 247,000 barrels of oil and gas in 2022 netted the company nearly $1.8 billion in full-year profits from $4.3 billion in oil and gas sales in 2022, using the sale figure before financial hedges are counted.
Dan Haley of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
Keep in mind that these huge profits were reaped during the 2022 election year, when the high price of gas and its contribution to general economic inflation was seized upon as a political weapon for Republicans to use against Democrats. As it turns out, “Bidenflation” was a river of profits flowing directly into the pockets of industries who complained the most about the policy changes from ex-President Donald Trump to Joe Biden’s administration.
The massive profits reaped by energy companies while their political surrogates blamed Democrats for high prices charged to consumers is indefensible, but the dishonesty required to make the claim is nothing new–especially in Colorado, where oil and gas producers have been openly lying to the public for years, warning that additional regulations on their business would “shut down oil and gas” production in Colorado. This misinformation reached its peak during the battle over 2019’s Senate Bill 181, which changed the mission of oil and gas regulators in Colorado to prioritize public health over growing the industry. This legislation and its now-proven fictional “disastrous impact” on the oil and gas industry helped fuel a recall campaign against a Greeley-based Democratic lawmaker that forced her resignation in the summer of 2019, as well as the successive failed recall campaigns against Gov. Jared Polis and other Democratic lawmakers that continued to sputter as recently as last year.
Four years after the passage of Senate Bill 181, not only is the industry alive and well, but in their own words thriving like they haven’t in decades:
PDC Energy’s $1.3 billion acquisition of Denver-based Great Western Oil & Gas, which closed in May, gave it more drilling locations, and now the company counts an inventory of 2,100 wells it can drill in coming years, most of which would be profitable at oil prices significantly lower than today, the company says.
“PDC Energy today is in the strongest position in its 50-year history,” said Lance Lauck, executive vice president of corporate development and strategy, during Thursday’s conference call. [Pols emphasis]
Between the passage of Colorado’s landmark oil and gas reforms in 2019 and today, the industry has endured global shocks like the pause in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia–both of which immeasurably more impactful events on the industry than the passage of SB-181. Now that we know this industry reaped massive profits after terrorizing Coloradans over the passage of legislation they warned would “shut down oil and gas” in Colorado, why would anyone trust them when they argue that further regulation to clean up the industry would do the same?
If the price of energy justifies it, Colorado producers will play by the rules to get it. But before they give in, they’ll make up a campaign of lies and foment political chaos to avoid playing by the rules. But the one thing they can’t hide is the massive profits that belie all of their false claims of persecution.
Last week we wrote about two related topics involving Republicans at the Colorado legislature: 1) The crazy, no-hope bills being promoted by the rhetorical leaders of the GOP House caucus, Colorado Springs Reps. Scott “There is No” Bottoms and Ken “Skin” DeGraaf; and 2) An open question about who is actually leading a caucus that is moving further to the right and away from the majority of Colorado voters.
Today, courtesy of Elliott Wenzler of The Colorado Sun, we can coalesce these two posts into one singular thought:
Banning abortion. Restricting transgender athletes’ participation in school sports. Slashing state revenues by cutting the income tax rate.
A wave of bills Republicans are introducing in the Democrat-controlled Colorado legislature reads like a list of hot-button GOP talking points. And that’s not by mistake, even if they have no chance of becoming law.
House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, R-Wellington, said the measures — some of which are highly controversial — are “statement bills” that show Coloradans what Republicans’ priorities are and how they would lead the state if they were in charge.
“I think if we were suddenly to be in the majority, you’d see a whole bunch of really drastic right-wing legislation,” Lynch said. [Pols emphasis] “But I think that’s largely a factor of the fact that we’ve been out of the majority for so long. We’re trying to fix these things that have piled up over the last 10 years.”
What we have here is House Minority Leader Mike Lynch (R-Wellington) making it crystal clear that the extremism on display from the Republican micro-minority in the State House is not a lack of leadership nor a problem of strategic indifference — it is instead an intentional approach geared toward attracting the attention of Colorado voters.
Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen and his pleading eyes.
We’re not entirely convinced that this is really part of a broader plan sketched out in advance. Lynch may just be saying this now in order to make it appear that he has more control over his caucus than he actually does. But regardless, this comment from Lynch is going to come back to haunt Republicans again and again ahead of the 2024 election cycle. Colorado voters have affirmed in the past three election cycles that they want no part of any “really drastic right-wing legislation.”
The few remaining rational Republicans at the State Capitol understand this problem. Back to The Colorado Sun:
The legislation may only be sponsored by a handful of Republicans, but they reflect on the entire caucus. Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, urged people not to necessarily lump the entire GOP together. [Pols emphasis]
“The Republican caucus is an intellectually diverse caucus. It brings an array of perspectives,” he said. “One or two people have a strong conviction of this specific nature and there may be other perspectives.”
Republicans should have left THIS cat in the bag.
Every Colorado legislator can submit up to five different bills each legislative cycle, and the State Constitution guarantees that every one of those bills must at least be granted a committee hearing. Thus, there is no way for Republicans or Democrats to prevent crazypants legislation from getting its moment in the spotlight…supposing either caucus would want to get in the way here.
Wenzler writes in The Sun that “Democrats are effectively powerless to stop controversial GOP measures from seeing the light of day.” While this is true in a technical sense, from a strategic sense Democrats have no interest in preventing “really drastic right-wing legislation” from getting its turn in the spotlight.
If Republicans want to talk about cutting taxes for rich people and screwing over the lower- and middle-class, Democrats should be happy to hand over the microphone.
The 2024 election, like all elections, will be another chance for voters to decide which political party they would prefer to be in charge in Colorado. House Republicans are doing all of the the heavy lifting…for Democrats.
Don’t take our word for it, Democrats can say. The Republican House Minority Leader himself says that if the GOP is in control, “really drastic right-wing legislation” would be just around the corner.
Last Thursday, Colorado Senate Democrats announced a quartet of bills to prevent and reduce the impact of gun violence, an issue that Colorado has led the nation as a model for reform–going all the way back to the passage by voters of a constitutional amendment closing the so-called “gun show loophole” in the wake of the 1998 Columbine High School massacre.
In 2013, in response to the mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater the previous year, Colorado passed landmark universal background check and gun magazine limit legislation that provoked a furious backlash from the gun lobby and short-term losses for Colorado Democrats politically. Having regained their mid-2010s losses with interest in just a few years, Colorado Democrats passed crucially important “red flag” legislation in 2019 creating a legal process to temporarily remove guns from individuals judged to be a threat to themselves or others. By this time, Republican threats of retaliation had lost their political bite, and a spate of attempted recalls that year sputtered out.
The last decade of intense partisan conflict over gun safety legislation in Colorado has taken place against the backdrop of a shifting national debate over guns, which culminated in the passage last year of the first significant federal legislation to address gun violence since the lapsed 1994 assault weapons ban. Both federally and in Colorado the issue has undeniably evolved in the direction of greater reform, driven by public opinion polling that consistently shows the public is ready to embrace more aggressive reforms than politicians are willing to risk politically.
But here in Colorado, where we’ve made progress on this issue the rest of the nation is still catching up to, the situation this year doesn’t neatly fit the script: some of the state’s foremost proponents of gun safety legislation, whose motives on the issue are unassailable, are not on board with a so-far-unintroduced statewide ban on assault weapons. As Colorado Public Radio’sBente Birkelandreported last week:
[W]hile the overwhelming majority of Democratic lawmakers agree with an assault weapons ban in principle, some influential party members appear ready to stand in the way of advancing one this year, with one of the legislature’s strongest advocates saying he doesn’t think an outright ban is the right approach at this moment.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, I think, before we step into that,” said Democratic state Sen. Tom Sullivan of Littleton, who mentioned giving the state licensing authority over gun stores as something he wants to see in place first. “If you look at those other nine states that have [assault weapons bans], they’ve already passed all of that kind of stuff we’re woefully behind on.”
Sullivan got involved in politics after his son, Alex, was killed in the Aurora Theater shooting. He is the other co-chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Caucus.
He emphasized that he supports an assault weapons ban in concept, but believes the best approach would be a federal law. “That’s really where we need it because as far as an enforcement mechanism to it, we need feds here in the state to enforce it.”
Speaking with the Denver Post’sSeth Klamann and Nick Coltrain for an in-depth story on the absence of the assault weapons ban bill from the package of bills announced at last Thursday’s press conference, Sen. Sullivan was a little more direct in explaining his opposition:
“I don’t know what they’re really trying to accomplish,” Sullivan said of efforts to define and limit assault weapon access. “I’m trying to save lives. And the way we save lives is by passing things like safe storage and red flag laws.”
He doesn’t disagree with an assault weapon ban in theory, but he said it needs to be a federal, not state, requirement. He and others raised practical questions, too, like local law enforcement’s ability to enforce a state-level ban. [Pols emphasis]
That last is a critical point. In the fall of 2019, 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelingerconducted a statewide investigation into compliance with the 2013 law limiting gun magazine capacity to fifteen rounds. Zelinger found that gun stores across the state were either skirting the 2013 law with workaround gimmicks like “magazine repair kits,” or just plain disregarding the law under the often-correct assumption that their county sheriff will not enforce it.
Which leads to this straightforward question that proponents of a statewide assault weapons ban, unfortunately, don’t have a good answer for: if the state can’t (or won’t) enforce the magazine limit, how can anyone reasonably expect a statewide assault weapons ban to be enforced? This is why Sen. Sullivan says we need to give the state the power to enforce state law through licensure of gun stores (see above) instead of relying on politician sheriffs who have decided they wield the power to arbitrate what laws they want to enforce.
With grandstanding politician sheriffs refusing with apparent impunity to enforce laws they don’t like and easy access to anything we prohibit in Colorado across the border with fireworks in Wyoming, Sen. Sullivan makes a compelling argument that restrictions on gun products are more likely to be successfully enforced at the federal level. Sullivan has been consistent on this position throughout his time in office. At the very least, we would argue that until we enforce the statewide magazine limit legislators sacrificed their careers to pass ten years ago, it’s folly to expect lawmakers to pass new statewide gun hardware restrictions to be simply ignored at will by their would-be enforcers. By focusing on access to weapons by youth, slowing down gun acquisition by a few often critical days, improving the state’s proven-effective “red flag” law, and giving victims of gun violence legal tools for accountability from manufacturers, Democrats are focusing on policies that will make the greatest real-world impact.
This may not be the most satisfying answer, but it’s the right answer.
We wrote last week about answering one of the bigger questions from the 2022 election cycle: Are Democrats in Colorado really a lot better than Republicans when it comes to both governing and campaigning, or are Republicans just THAT BAD? The answer, as we discussed, is simple: “Yes.”
Out of 435 U.S. House members, Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse came in top of the class for the 117th congress, at least when it came to getting bills signed into law, according to the website GovTrack.us.
The Boulder Democrat had 13 bills passed into law, either as stand-alone legislation or incorporated into larger packages, a record he said is reflective of a Colorado ethos of “rolling up our sleeves, finding ways to build bridges and work with people who might have a different worldview than your own to get things done.”
Neguse added he’s made it a priority to deliver results for the communities he represents, “so that means to me finding ways to get bills across the finish line, onto the president’s desk, [and] to pass laws that ultimately are going to have an impact on people’s lives here at home.”
Colorado Democrats are working hard on governing. Colorado Republicans are…doing other things. Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) was responsible for the most success in enacting legislation, but Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) was not far behind.
Here’s how Colorado’s Congressional delegation stacked up in the 117th Congress (2021-22) in terms of “legislation enacted” via GovTrack.us:
Legislation signed into law by sponsor for 117th Congress (2021-22).
There are a lot of other interesting numbers in the GovTrack.us analysis…
This is a good marker of the degree in which a Member of Congress is living up to the bare minimum of their job responsibilities. Colorado Republicans missed the majority of votes among the state’s Congressional delegation, topped by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley); Buck ranked #29 for the largest percentage of votes missed in the 117th Congress (5.5%). Congressperson Lauren Boebert (R-ifle) ranked #102 (2.4%), and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) checked in at #126 (2.0%).
None of the Democratic members of Colorado’s delegation missed even 1% of the total votes in the 117th Congress. Neguse led the way on that metric by missing just 0.1% of all votes.
Rep. Lauren Boebert is (probably) #1 in Tweets and near the top in Angertainment, but otherwise proved fairly useless in the last Congress.
Both Neguse (#3, 99 bills) and Crow (#24, 54 bills) ranked in the top quarter of all Members of Congress in terms of number of bills introduced. Boebert checked in at #62 with 41 bills introduced, many of which were silly resolutions attacking President Biden for one thing or another.
The rest of Colorado’s delegation rounds out thusly: Buck (#194, 25 bills); Rep. Ed Perlmutter (274, 18 bills); Rep. Diana DeGette (#303, 16 bills); and at his typical position in the rear, Lamborn (#350, 12 bills).
Bills Passed Out of Commitee
Neguse leads the way here (#5, 20 bills), followed by Crow (#23, 11 bills); Perlmutter (#75, 6 bills); and Lamborn (#93, 5 bills). DeGette and Buck tied at #183, with 3 bills each making it out of committee. Boebert tied for #379 by failing to see a single piece of legislation advance out of a committee hearing.
Click here to check out the complete report card for the 117th Congress.
The Unambiguously Lame Duo of Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf
Republicans in Colorado are working with historically small minorities in the state legislature, with just 19 of 65 seats in the State House and 12 of 35 seats in the State Senate. These micro-minorities, combined with ineffective or altogether absent leadership, makes it relatively easy for a few lawmakers to become the face of the entire GOP caucus.
As we wrote earlier, House Minority Leader Mike Lynchdoesn’t appear to be all that interested in charting a reasonable path for his caucus to follow. This is how “The Unambiguously Lame Duo” of freshman Republicans from Colorado Springs have come to dominate the GOP discussion at the State Capitol in 2023. State Reps. Scott “There is No” Bottoms and Ken “Skin” DeGraaf have made a lot of noise in the first two months of the legislative session — and nearly all of it has been bad for Republicans.
In order to better understand just how nutty these two have been in their first few months, we compiled a list of the bills that they have sponsored in the current legislative session. Lawmakers are limited to five bills apiece; while Bottoms has only introduced four bills, the filing deadline for new legislation has passed. As you’ll see below, “The Unambiguously Lame Duo” has had difficulty finding support for their legislative proposals even among Republican colleagues.
Let’s start with Bottoms. None of his bills even made it out of a committee hearing:
Bottoms is laser-focused on restricting abortion rights, which speaks to DeGraaf’s quote about not learning from history. Colorado voters have said over and over and over and over that they DO NOT want restrictions on abortion rights. Bottoms also used one of his four bills to promote a thing that doesn’t even exist. There is no such thing as a pill that would “reverse” an abortion.
We wrote about Bottoms’ income tax cut proposal earlier this month. That legislation was so poorly-written that the nonpartisan Legislative Council Staff determined that middle- and lower-income Coloradans would end up paying MORE money in taxes if HB23-1063 were to become law.
As for DeGraaf, he managed to max out his allocation of bills but at least hasn’t (yet) seen all of his legislation summarily postponed indefinitely in a committee hearing:
DeGraaf’s list of bills run the gamut from virtually unintelligible to flat out silly.
“Distributed Ledgers Voting” has something to do with paper ballots and preventing election fraud and…frankly, who the hell knows? His “Due Process Asset Forfeiture Act” is the only one of the nine bills from Team DeBottoms that seems to have even a remotely plausible premise.
DeGraaf has a lot of red meat in his bill folder. He introduced a “guns for everyone” bill that sought to pre-emptively stop ANY prohibitions on firearms, and he was the designated carrier of the annual doomed effort to create a school vouchers program in Colorado.
Rep. Ken DeGraaf is smoking a lot of this.
And then there is HB23-1163, which was axed in the House Committee on Energy and Environment on Thursday. DeGraaf’s legislation sought to clear the air, so to speak, on his belief that carbon dioxide is being inaccurately blamed as a pollutant and a cause of Climate Change. DeGraaf enlisted the help of a couple of wacko academics to provide supportive testimony, including Dr. Paul Prentice, a fellow at the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University. According to Prentice’s bio at CCU, “He believes that God created you to be free, and that you cannot have a controlled economy and maintain a free society.”
Here’s a sample of Prentice’s testimony from Thursday:
PRENTICE: This whole idea of anthropomorphic, carbon dioxide driven, carbon-dating climate change. You see that, certainly, over long periods of time, the graph of temperature and the graph of carbon dioxide appear to be moving in tandem. But when you explode the graph, and look at it more carefully, so that you have 50 and 100 year time periods instead of millennia, you actually see that the lead in that is FIRST the temperature rises, and then later, the carbon dioxide increases. So if there is any causality, it’s the opposite of what people are assuming – that carbon dioxide is causing the warming. It’s actually the opposite. [Pols emphasis]
Um, yeah. At this point, Democratic Rep. Stephanie Vigil of El Paso County jumped in to comment and ask a question:
VIGIL:It sounds like you are at odds with a number of folks in your profession.
Understated, but accurate. Vigil then asked Prentice why the U.S. military is planning for climate mitigation and the construction of more renewable energy resources.
VIGIL: Why does the U.S. military not share your view on this, and why are they falling for this if indeed they are falling for something?
PRENTICE: Yes, I do not know WHY, but I know that they have fallen for it. Um…[long pause]…I’m trying to be polite here. The experience of childish, magical thinking has gotten so deep in our institutions that people don’t even think of the assumptions under which they are making these arguments. The military has taken these actions based on false assumptions.
Right. DeGraaf and THIS GUY know the real causes of Climate Change, and everybody else is doing it wrong.
Anyway, the Dynamic Dolts of Bottoms and DeGraaf have introduced a total of nine pieces of legislation. Seven of these bills have failed to advance out of a committee hearing. The final two — HB23-1086 and HB23-1170 — will be heard in committee next week.
When Republicans are trying to claw back from their micro-minorities in 2024, they’re going to need some better arguments than what “The Unambiguously Lame Duo” is presenting. As it stands now, Democrats need only to point to the lists above and say, THIS is what Republican leadership looks like.
Denver Post political reporters Seth Klamann and Nick Coltrainfollowed up on the antics yesterday from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners at a press conference announcing new gun safety legislation, in which the “no-compromise” gun rights group’s executive director Taylor Rhodes disrupted the event from the sidelines and later accused Sen. Tom Sullivan, career postal service employee and father of an Aurora theater mass shooting victim of “going postal” in anger over Rhodes’ own rudeness:
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a gun rights organization that has already pledged to fight gun control legislation in court, reiterated that threat Thursday: The group’s executive director, Taylor Rhodes, interjected to ask lawmakers about the legality of the proposals. As Fenberg tried to move on, Rhodes and Sullivan promised to see each other in court.
Rhodes later said his group plans to turn the building “into a circus” over the bills. [Pols emphasis]
As our longtime readers know, RMGO has alternately been a close ally or a nagging thorn in the side of Republicans in the Colorado legislature for many years, generally dependent on the degree of deference shown to the group at the time by GOP leadership. Running afoul of RMGO’s “no compromise” position on gun rights that includes opposition to any kind of background check or restriction on weapons capability has resulted in damaging attacks on fellow Republicans by the organization. As we wrote yesterday, since the group’s apex of power in 2013 when three Democratic Senators were driven from office over gun safety bills passed that year, RMGO’s influence has waned in recent years, failing to make good on their promises of recalls in response to the “red flag” law passed in 2019.
This year so far, however, RMGO has dominated the headlines around the gun safety debate in the Colorado legislature–and not in good ways, from the group’s lobbyist testifying that Black male children should be excluded from gun death stats to yesterday’s uncouth disruption of the Senate Majority’s press conference. How is that sitting with Republican House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, you ask?
House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, a Wellington Republican, said that disruptive tactics aren’t part of his caucus’s plan and that he won’t promote that kind of behavior. [Pols emphasis] But he pledged as much a fight as his minority can muster.
“You will see as vigorous of an opposition to this as any legislation you’ve seen come through here,” Lynch said.
Minority Leader Lynch says he won’t “promote” behavior like RMGO exhibited yesterday, but he also won’t condemn it outright–because to do so would bring the organization’s wrath down upon himself. What we’re left with is the gun lobby in full control of the GOP’s message on gun policy at the Capitol, demanding adherence to an extreme position that the voting public doesn’t share, and engaging in antics that Republican leadership will publicly condemn but in every other respect condone.
This isn’t 2013, when the state’s leftward political trajectory was still in doubt. After a decade of evolving public opinion on the issue of gun safety, the effect will be to alienate even more swing voters from a GOP minority that can’t afford any more attrition. If that isn’t what Republicans want, they have to actually do something different.
That is not what we are seeing. What we’re seeing is the same old circus.
Denver7’s Meghan Lopezreports on the press conference by Colorado Senate Democrats today announcing four new pieces of legislation intended to curb gun violence. All of the legislation announced today concerns lawful access to weapons, not outright bans on any particular type of firearm:
Democratic lawmakers have unveiled a series of bills that will add more regulations around the purchase and possession of firearms in Colorado.
On Thursday, House and Senate Democrats hosted a press conference announcing four bills. They mark the biggest slate of gun reforms in the state since a package of gun bills passed in 2021 in the wake of the Boulder King Soopers mass shooting.
The four pieces of legislation announced today–raising the age limit to 21 to purchase firearms; a three-day waiting period for delivery of gun purchases; strengthening the state’s “red flag” law; and tightening liability on gun manufacturers–are certain to provoke a significant confrontation with the gun lobby, whose power has waned along with the Republican Party’s sweeping losses in recent elections. After the high point of pushback from the gun lobby after the General Assembly’s passage of landmark gun safety reforms in 2013, their bellicose threats have proven politically impotent, best demonstrated by the failure in 2019 to recall now-Sen. Tom Sullivan of Centennial in a campaign spearheaded by the Colorado Republican Party’s Kristi Burton Brown with the help of the far-right Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.
That’s the same RMGO who made national news earlier this month when staffer Kevin Lorusso challenged statistics on gun violence deaths among children by asserting Black males should be removed from such statistics, as their deaths are supposedly “a different issue.” In a garbage non-apology, RMGO claimed Lorusso “misspoke,” while Lorusso himself maintains he meant exactly what he said. The same press release also declared that RMGO would not be answering any more questions about the incident, because apparently that’s something a public advocacy organization gets to arbitrarily declare.
But at today’s presser by Colorado Senate Democrats announcing their new gun safety bills, RMGO still felt empowered to ask questions. Or at least shout them out of turn:
Let’s set aside the breach of decorum under the dome this represents on the part of RMGO, wherein we’re old enough to remember when this kind of disruption would have been vociferously condemned by both parties. Given that Sen. Tom Sullivan is a career employee of the United States Postal Service who lost his son in the July 2012 Aurora theater mass shooting, we’re trying to imagine a lower blow than suggesting Sen. Sullivan might be “going postal.” It’s a statement perfectly calculated to be as inhumanly awful to Sen. Sullivan as possible, and there’s no way it was an accident.
In their long history of bedeviling Democrats and fellow Republicans alike with their uncompromising mission of not just gun rights but free proliferation, one has ever accused RMGO of being tactful. At some point, however, one has to ask whether this kind of pointless ad hominem vitriol is persuasive to anyone, even those who agree with RMGO on the issue.
The only way to make the vileness stop, if that’s even possible, is to never let it win.