Ammon Bundy Bringing Latest Militia Pitch To Grand Junction

Ammon Bundy (center).

As the Daily Beast reports, far-right militia organizer Ammon Bundy, who led an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016 after his father Cliven Bundy’s standoff in 2014 with Bureau of Land Management officials in Nevada over unpaid cattle grazing fees, is on a tour to promote his new so-called “People’s Rights Network.”

In 2020, as COVID-19 was sweeping the nation, Ammon Bundy launched the People’s Rights network, a multi-state hub of activists ready to deploy against perceived government tyranny at a moment’s notice. Most of the group’s ire has been aimed at COVID-19 restrictions. The network was linked to a mask-burning on the steps of Idaho’s Capitol building last weekend, as well as the storming of an Idaho legislative session this summer and protests at the homes of Idaho health officials.

Now Bundy and People’s Rights are on a speaking tour in Utah, drawing audiences at anti-maskers’ homes and survivalist conferences—and potentially riling up new recruits for future anti-government violence, experts warn.

The tour comes as People’s Rights issues dark warnings about the future, and extremism-watchers warn that the group might return to its roots in public land battles. (The People’s Rights network did not return a request for comment.)

E&E News’ headline sums up the mood:

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Even Republicans Getting Annoyed with COVIDiots

 

Alaska State Sen. Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River) does not have some sort of anti-COVID superpower.

Earlier this week we noted a stern speech from State Sen. Julie Gonzales (D-Denver) over Republican colleagues in the state legislature regularly refusing to wear face coverings and generally ignoring COVID-19 health and safety advice from experts. This was not the first time that Republican lawmakers have flouted guidelines meant to protect everyone from COVID-19, but Gonzales’ speech was notable because her family has experienced three deaths from the coronavirus in the last year.

We were thinking of this when we caught news of a story out of Alaska on Thursday, in which state lawmakers have apparently reached their breaking point with a maskless colleague. From The Anchorage Daily News:

The Alaska Senate voted on Wednesday to allow its leaders to exclude Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, from the state Capitol and most in-person legislative activities because of repeated refusals to follow precautions against COVID-19. [Pols emphasis]

Immediately after the vote, Reinbold attempted to convene a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which she chairs. The Senate secretary and Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, withdrew all staff from the meeting.

“This meeting is canceled,” he told Reinbold, who sat in the chairman’s seat, filming Micciche with her cellphone.

Reinbold can still participate in committee meetings by phone and she can cast votes from a spot in the Senate’s spectator gallery, Micciche said.

GOP State Sen. Larry Liston during Colo. special legislative session on Nov. 30, 2020.

Reinbold has apparently been quite a thorn in the side of pretty much everyone in the Alaska State Capitol by regularly refusing to wear a mask or even to take a COVID-19 test. Again, from the Daily News:

Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, told the Senate that the time has come for “decisive action.”

“We have reached the point where it must be dealt with. We can no longer in good conscience ignore it,” he said of Reinbold’s behavior. [Pols emphasis]

There are more Republicans than Democrats in both chambers of the Alaska legislature, so this is not a partisan political battle taking place.

If common sense can prevail in an Alaska legislature that is composed mostly of Republicans, perhaps there is hope for the rest of the country.

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Global Media Blows Up Boebert’s Origin Story Bullcrap

UPDATE: Somebody give Rep. Lauren Boebert a shovel, please:

Compare this with Boebert’s detailed and unequivocal statements below. She really should stop talking now.

—–

Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-Twitter).

On Wednesday, Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert spoke on the floor of the U.S. House in opposition to the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, legislation that would bring federal law into line with Colorado’s universal background check law on the books since 2013 and credited with preventing thousands of prohibited would-be-purchasers from buying guns. As Ray Erku of the Rifle Citizen-Telegram reports, Boebert referred Wesdnesday to an alleged violent incident outside the Shooters Grill she has long invoked as part of her origin story to explain why she and her restaurant staff carry guns:

Speaking on the House floor Wednesday during a debate over background checks, the staunch Second-Amendment advocate again used the 2013 incident to justify why she openly carries firearms.

“There was an altercation outside my restaurant where a man was physically beat to death, there were no weapons involved, he was beat to death by another man’s hands,” she said.

Years before her entry into politics, Boebert told the same story to FOX News in a puff piece about Shooters Grill:

“I started open-carrying maybe a month after we opened just because I am a woman in business and I was there early hours and late nights,” Boebert said. “There was a man beaten to death in the alley behind my restaurant last year. It was very unfortunate.”

It was lost in the din as Boebert barreled to victory last fall by saturating the news cycle with her now-trademark daily firehose of Trumpian rhetoric, but this story from Boebert about a supposed beating outside her restaurant that inspired her to carry a gun was investigated and debunked last year in a report by the Colorado Sun’s Nancy Lofholm:

“There was a violent altercation in our back alley where a man was physically beaten to death and it immediately prompted the question, ‘How will I defend my people?’ So, I began to carry that day,” Boebert told the Durango Herald last year.

The Rifle Police Department has no record of such a murder. [Pols emphasis] A man did die on the sidewalk down the street from Shooters in the early morning of Aug. 22, 2013. Initially, it was investigated as a possible homicide, but an autopsy determined the man died from a drug overdose.

Although Boebert was able to get away with telling this fictional story on the campaign trail in CD-3, repeating it on the floor of the U.S. House as an elected member of Congress naturally means it’s going to be subject to more questioning. And that’s exactly what has happened since Wednesday–the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler with a blistering multi-Pinocchio fact check:

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“Everybody Shouldn’t Be Voting,” Says Candid AZ GOP State Rep

As readers know, there are a number of election-related bills making their way through state legislatures around the country in 2021 including here in Colorado. Although many of these bills are progressive reforms intended to make it easier to vote like it is (humble brag coming) here in Colorado, quite a few are very straightforward vote suppression measures intended to reduce access to early voting, mail ballots, and other conveniences that have been proven in our experience to increase turnout.

In our kitty-corner neighbor Arizona, these vote suppression bills briefly included a now-gratefully dead measure that would have allowed the state legislature to override the popular vote in presidential elections through a process that basically assumed that would be necessary. The bill died, but other legislation to cut early voting hours and impose increased identification standards for mail ballots are still in progress. And as CNN reports, Arizona state Rep. John Kavanagh is saying the quiet part out loud with regard to these vote suppression bills with what can be best described as a breathtaking frankness:

“There’s a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans,” Kavanagh said. “Democrats value as many people as possible voting, and they’re willing to risk fraud. Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don’t mind putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote — but everybody shouldn’t be voting.” [Pols emphasis]

He pointed to Democrats’ emphasis on registering voters and pursuing those who have not returned ballots — tactics that Republicans have successfully implemented in other swing states — and said doing so means that “you can greatly influence the outcome of the election if one side pays people to actively and aggressively go out and retrieve those ballots.”

“Not everybody wants to vote, and if somebody is uninterested in voting, that probably means that they’re totally uninformed on the issues,” Kavanagh said. “Quantity is important, but we have to look at the quality of votes, as well.” [Pols emphasis]

Just over forty years ago, Heritage Foundation founder Paul Weyrich gave a speech to a convention of evangelical Christian leaders in which he declared with a similar degree of frankness to Rep. Kavanagh that “I don’t want everybody to vote…as a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” This quote has been regularly dusted off and thrown back at Republicans during battles over voting rights, with the general reaction from Republicans being to deny the premise and, for that matter, even knowing who Paul Weyrich is–despite the fact that everybody knows about the Heritage Foundation.

Well folks, in Arizona Republicans aren’t even trying to hide it anymore. “Everybody shouldn’t be voting,” a statement that would have ended political careers in most of recent American history, is now the stated goal of elected Republican legislators.

It seems to us that ought to clarify this debate everywhere.

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Joe Biden Wants You Paid Yesterday

Your Biden Bucks are on the way.

Eli Stokols, veteran Colorado political reporter now with the Los Angeles Times, reports that President Joe Biden has signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan a day earlier than originally scheduled, the purpose being to get the economic relief in this historic legislation into pockets across America that much sooner:

President Biden signed a sweeping $1.9-trillion coronavirus relief package into law Thursday, authorizing a massive infusion of federal aid aimed primarily at working families.

Biden, who is set to address the country at 5 p.m. (Pacific) in his first Oval Office address, had planned to sign the legislation into law Friday. But the president and his advisors, who emphasized the urgency of delivering $1,400 direct relief checks and extended unemployment benefits throughout the legislative process, announced just after 9 a.m. (Pacific) Thursday that they didn’t want to wait any longer…

Its enactment comes one year to the day since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. The outbreak has devastated the economy, costing some 10 million jobs and claimed more than 529,000 lives in the U.S.

Despite having earned no Republican support, the stimulus package is broadly popular with the country, with three of four Americans supporting its passage, according to recent polling.

Spend it wisely–but not too wisely, since it’s about goosing the economy!

Colorado state and local governments, spend that $6 billion wisely.

The rest of you buy something nice.

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Scott McInnis Offers Incoherent Take On Boebert, CD-3 Politics

Scott “McPlagiarist” McInnis.

Podcaster Armin Thomas of the election analysis website Elections Daily brings us an interview with former Congressman and spectacularly failed 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis, who now serves as a member of the Mesa County Board of Commissioners after his big-league aspirations collapsed in a plagiarism scandal we covered play-by-play in this space as it happened.

McInnis had a lot of words to say in this interview about freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert, the politics of the Third Congressional District, and his own fall from grace a decade ago. But as for the intelligibility of those words, well…

THOMAS: Thoughts on current Rep. Lauren Boebert?

MCINNIS: Well look, she’s young, uh, and a lot of us are young and full of energy, and this district needs someone that’s a fighter, that’s all there is to it. I mean, I can tell you Ben Campbell got more attention probably than any other US senator and it was immensely beneficial for this district. Now, granted this is controversial, but if you take a look, for example, take a look at when they said she [Boebert] led a group of people over for this problem at the Capitol, when those people unfortunately did that to the Capitol [sic], you know, the press came right out, said there she is, they have a picture of her. It was her family, she was taking them on a tour…

I tell you, I’ve been looking at letters to the editor and I look at their party affiliation. They are all Democrats, or they’re Republicans, or I can’t find any but maybe there’s one out there [What the hell does this mean? – Pols]  – so this is a very focused political attack against her because they were stunned that they lost this seat because they thought they [the Democrats] had the right candidate and they spent 3 or 4 times the amount of money that she spent. If you compare her to her previous opponent [Democratic former State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush], 10 years from now she’ll be in her early-mid 40s and her opponent would be in her 80s. That’s what the Democrats. [sic]

Those of us who remember Scott McInnis from his time in Congress and failed bids for higher office after leaving Congress in 2005 can tell you, yes, this is actually how he talks. We feel sympathy for any interviewer trying to get a coherent answer out of McInnis, or even correctly transcribe what he says, because his manner of speech is honestly quite difficult to follow. Once you get past that, you realize that McInnis is actually likening Lauren Boebert to former U.S. Sen. Ben “Nighthorse” Campbell for getting “attention” in a way beneficial to the residents of CD-3. And while Campbell doesn’t have many friends in the Democratic Party after switching parties in 1995, that comparison is demeaning enough to a well-respected statesman be bipartisanly offensive.

From there, the conservation turned to McInnis’ failed gubernatorial campaign in 2010, and for those of us who were present for that self-inflicted catastrophe, McInnis’ fictional retelling of those events is a real hoot:

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 11)

Almost all of the weatherpeople say snowpocalypse is coming on Friday, which probably means it’s going to rain a little. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

The Washington Post digs deep into Republican efforts to roll back voting access across the country:

The GOP’s national push to enact hundreds of new election restrictions could strain every available method of voting for tens of millions of Americans, potentially amounting to the most sweeping contraction of ballot access in the United States since the end of Reconstruction, when Southern states curtailed the voting rights of formerly enslaved Black men, a Washington Post analysis has found.

In 43 states across the country, Republican lawmakers have proposed at least 250 laws that would limit mail, early in-person and Election Day voting with such constraints as stricter ID requirements, limited hours or narrower eligibility to vote absentee, according to data compiled as of Feb. 19 by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. Even more proposals have been introduced since then.

Proponents say the provisions are necessary to shore up public confidence in the integrity of elections after the 2020 presidential contest, when then-President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of election fraud convinced millions of his supporters that the results were rigged against him.

But in most cases, Republicans are proposing solutions in states where elections ran smoothly, including in many with results that Trump and his allies did not contest or allege to be tainted by fraud. The measures are likely to disproportionately affect those in cities and Black voters in particular, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic — laying bare, critics say, the GOP’s true intent: gaining electoral advantage.

The 2022 Republican Party: If you can’t beat ’em, cheat ’em.

 

► The House of Representatives on Wednesday gave final approval to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. As The New York Times explains, the measure is expected to be a big boost for the American middle class:

The economic relief plan that is headed to President Biden’s desk has been billed as the United States’ most ambitious antipoverty initiative in a generation. But inside the $1.9 trillion package, there are plenty of perks for the middle class, too.

Whether they are direct stimulus payments, an array of tax benefits or an expansion of the Affordable Care Act, the bill will bring a big economic lift to middle-income families.

Congresswoman Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) was the lone voice on the American Rescue Plan for Colorado Republicans, offering up a confounding opposition speech on the House floor. This came only after Boebert and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) joined with Republican colleagues in a silly attempt to adjourn at 10:07 in the morning.

Not a single Republican voted in support of the ARP. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN, this is really not good politics for the GOP:

Republicans are in a political bind. They stand uniformly opposed to a bill that the American people really like. And they clearly have no real reason for their stance other than the unstated one: They weren’t consulted enough and didn’t want to give Biden a big win in his first 50 days in office.

That’s not a politically defensible position. But its the position Republicans find themselves in at the moment.

Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Denver next week to promote the ARP.

 

► Let’s check in on the state legislature, where Republican lawmakers seem more interested in playing games over masks than anything else…

Colorado Newsline reports on a massive state stimulus package announced on Wednesday:

The $700 million COVID-19 recovery plan includes several elements of a stimulus proposal Polis released in the fall — housing assistance; shovel-ready infrastructure projects; workforce and economic development; rural broadband investments; and additional relief for small businesses.

Over the past year, Colorado’s economy fared better than legislators on the Joint Budget Committee expected last June when they cut $3 billion in state spending. So legislators from both parties and the governor’s office want to use some of the extra general fund money to help the state recover from the pandemic-driven economic downturn.

As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post, the current legislative session could see the biggest changes to marijuana laws in Colorado since weed was first legalized in 2014.

The State Senate passed a bill regarding the reporting of lost or stolen firearms.

Legislation to remove a prohibition preventing municipalities from creating their own affordable housing regulations is moving forward.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports on a measure to fund out-of-school education initiatives.

 

Nearly five years after being snubbed by Senate Republicans as Barack Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland was finally confirmed by the U.S. Senate…as Attorney General

 

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

 

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The GMS Podcast: Using a Giant Carrot as a Stick

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the massive stimulus package that was just passed by Congress and try to figure out what in the hell Rep. Ken Buck stands for. We also introduce a new segment we call “Legislating With Crayons,” and we dive into another episode of “The Boebert Report.”

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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Rep. Jayapal Requests Ethics Investigation of Boebert

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-isky).

This just in from CNN, after the local group Rural Colorado United launched a campaign this week calling for the House Committee on Ethics to investigate freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert’s actions surrounding the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory:

Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington has sent letters to the House Committee on Ethics and the Office of Congressional Ethics requesting they launch investigations into three Republican lawmakers, over accusations of the trio “instigating and aiding” the deadly January 6 riot on the Capitol.

Jayapal asks the two groups to “thoroughly investigate” the activity of the three members of Congress — Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Paul Gosar of Arizona — in the time leading up to the insurrection and refer all potential criminal wrongdoing to the Department of Justice.

For each member, Jayapal lists examples of their conduct in the weeks before January 6. Many of the examples have been frequently reported on, such as Boebert filming herself carrying a concealed firearm around the Capitol Grounds, the fiery speech Brooks gave at the Trump rally on the day of the insurrection and Gosar’s ties to extremist groups. The letter also makes note of Boebert’s tweets regarding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location on the day of the insurrection. [Pols emphasis]

The Hill’s Tal Alexrod:

In each of the letters, Jayapal listed rhetoric and actions she said contributed to fueling the mob, which ransacked the Capitol in a failed attempt to halt Congress’s certification of the Electoral College results showing Joe Biden defeating Donald Trump in the November presidential election.

Jayapal noted that Boebert released a video of her walking around federal buildings with a firearm and that the morning of the riot she tweeted that “today is 1776,” referencing the Revolutionary War.

“Five minutes after insurrectionists first breached the Capitol, Representative Boebert tweeted from inside the House chamber, ‘We were locked in the House Chambers’ at 2:17 p.m.,” the Washington Democrat wrote. “She then tweeted a minute later, ‘Speaker has been removed from the chambers.’ She was one of only two Members, the other being Representative Mo Brooks (AL-O5), who tweeted the location of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”

The only response that Rep. Lauren Boebert has ever offered to the allegation she helped incite violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th has been blanket denial that in no way addresses her actual words and actions. Along with Reps. Mo Brooks and Paul Gosar, Boebert stands out for having promoted the January 6th rally-turned-riot to her hundreds of thousands of social media followers in terms that very much suggest she supported an extra-constitutional resolution to the 2020 presidential elections.

And that’s before Boebert’s Tweets in the moments after the Capitol was breached by rioters regarding Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location. There is somewhat more debate about this detail than the rest of Boebert’s unquestionably clear incitement in the weeks before the insurrection on January 6th–since it’s shocking to think that member of Congress would have knowingly tried to assist rioters rampaging through the Capitol.

On that one outrageously ill-advised Tweet, there is an issue of cluelessness or culpability that needs to be sorted out once and for all. As for the entirety of Boebert’s statements and actions leading up to the January 6th insurrection, however, there’s not really much to dispute.

It is only a question of accountability.

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Boebert Speaks for Colorado Republicans on Stimulus Bill

C-SPAN was on point with the chryons during Boebert’s floor speech today.

The House of Representatives today gave final approval to the American Rescue Plan (ARP), President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed by the Senate last weekend that poll after poll has shown to be one of the most popular pieces of legislation in modern U.S. history. As expected, Colorado’s Congressional delegation voted along partisan lines.

But before today’s scheduled vote (and after unsuccessfully trying to force the House to adjourn at 10:07 am) Republican Members of Congress dialed up the rhetoric on the House floor in opposition to — we’ll say it again — one of the most popular pieces of legislation in modern U.S. history.

Colorado Republicans were represented in Congress by Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle), who gave one of her typical “firey” speeches in opposition to whatever it is that Democrats are proposing (Colorado’s other Republican Members of Congress, Reps. Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn, did not speak publicly).

This is an important point that we don’t want to gloss over: Boebert has been THE Colorado Republican voice on the federal stimulus package. If Colorado Republicans aren’t cool with this, NOBODY has spoken out to say otherwise.

We should also note that this discussion came on the same day that Colorado lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — introduced the state version of a COVID stimulus plan.

You can watch Boebert’s full speech after the jump, or read our full transcription and commentary that follows.

 

 

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Call ‘Em Out: COVIDiot Colorado Republicans’ Dangerous Game

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling)

Pat Poblete of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports on an incident yesterday in the Colorado Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee that should be getting more attention:

The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee had wrapped up roughly a half-hour of public testimony on a bill from Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, seeking to create a veteran suicide prevention pilot program when Chair Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, called a halt to proceedings. After a 10-minute recess, she cited health and safety concerns in adjourning the panel for the day without taking action on Garcia’s bill or the other four on the calendar.

A spokeswoman for Senate Democrats said the move was driven by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, who refused to wear a mask.

“As a person who buried 3 family members from COVID, Senator and chairwoman Gonzales takes this very seriously, as she should. If Sonnenberg doesn’t want to wear a mask, he has the option to participate remotely, not put people at risk.” [Pols emphasis]

As everybody in Colorado should be aware of by this time, there is a statewide mask mandate in effect to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. In Colorado, compliance with the mask order is overall considered pretty high–and it’s unusual enough for locals to engage in maskless “civil disobedience” that when they do it generally makes the pages of Westword or another local media outlet where they are roundly shamed.

But in the Colorado State Capitol, Republican lawmakers play by a different set of rules.

And even though in just about any other setting in this state a person going maskless to deliberately challenge the mask order would be confronted, shunned, and/or removed from the premises, the Colorado GOP Senate minority spokesman had the gall to defend Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg after he put everyone in this hearing room in danger:

“Senator Sonnenberg sat at least 12 feet from the nearest human being before removing his mask, which he put back on each time an individual approached him. To shut down a committee for the sake of shaming a Senator who posed no health risk is ridiculous,” said Sage Naumann, a spokesman for the Senate Republican caucus.

Nope, sorry–what’s ridiculous is a Senator who refuses to follow a public health order in a deadly pandemic. The root of the problem is longstanding arrogance on the part of Republican lawmakers even as their minorities have shrunk in elections, who treat the capitol as their personal fiefdom where the rules that apply to everyone else do not apply to them. For example, every member of the public is obliged to pass through metal detectors and weapons are not allowed in the building–unless you’re a lawmaker, in which case you’re allowed to carry a gun in the building because…well, you’re a lawmaker. And that is why even though the governor can mandate the use of face masks everywhere else, Republican lawmakers like Jerry Sonnenberg feel at liberty to disregard that order in one of the most public locations in the state.

It’s tough to say what happens next–is this an obstruction tactic Republicans in the Colorado Senate intend to pull regularly going forward? Complacency about mask wearing has been widespread from House Republicans in particular ever since the mask order was put in effect, and this wasn’t the first time Democrats have had to contend with this kind of risky behavior from their colleagues. The question is whether the Democratic majority should tolerate it, and we frankly see no reason why they should.

If Republicans want to play this dangerous game, Democrats should continue to throw down like Sen. Julie Gonzales did yesterday. Don’t sweep it under the rug. Republicans in the legislature should be held to the same standard every Coloradan is expected to meet when we enter any public indoor space. This ridiculous behavior putting others directly at risk should be exposed and shamed. Coloradans know Gov. Polis plans to drop the mask order by summer if cases continue to decline. Poll after poll shows that the public overwhelmingly supports requiring face masks until the pandemic is over.

We say let every Coloradan see this. If Republicans want to turn mask resistance into a legislative obstruction tactic, they’ll pay a terrible price next time the voters have their say.

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Boebert, Lamborn Vote to Adjourn…at 10:00 in the Morning

Qaucus leaders Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene

At 10:07 am this morning in Washington D.C., the House of Representatives held a Roll Call vote on a Motion to Adjourn, which is absolutely as stupid as it sounds.

The Motion to Adjourn failed to pass, but not before 149 Republican Members of Congress voted ‘YES’ on ending their day before it even began — including Colorado Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs). This has been a common vote recently, spearheaded by Boebert’s fellow Qaucus member, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. As The Hill reported last week:

Greene’s efforts to delay congressional business by forcing futile procedural votes to adjourn the House each day are disrupting committee hearings and virtual constituent meetings — and ticking off a growing chorus of Republican colleagues.

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) had to rush out of a committee hearing with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on monetary policy. Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) had to step out of a video conference with an international conservation group. And Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) had to halt a Zoom meeting with local chambers of commerce from the Great Lakes region.

“Aggravated,” Wagner replied when asked by The Hill how she felt about having to vote on one of Greene’s motions to adjourn one recent morning.

Before stepping onto the House floor, Wagner added, “Ms. Greene doesn’t have three hearings today like I do.”

Greene doesn’t have as much on her plate as most of her colleagues after being stripped of her committee assignments in February on account of the fact that she is a complete lunatic, so she’s made it her personal mission to waste everyone’s time. Today, Boebert and Lamborn played along with Greene’s commitment to pointless obstruction, presumably in an effort to slow the final passage of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

ABC9 News in Georgia summarized what Greene and colleagues accomplished this morning:

Via ABC9 News in Georgia

 

Wow. Please clap.

How dare you make Doug Lamborn do his job!

As The Hill reports in a separate story from today, this “Motion to Adjourn” nonsense is wearing thin with Republicans:

Forty-one House Republicans on Wednesday voted against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s latest motion to adjourn, yet another sign her party is growing increasingly frustrated with the Georgia Republican’s procedural delay tactics.

That figure was more than double the 18 Republicans who voted against her motion last week to end House business for the day.

Some of those Republicans who have bucked Greene and GOP leaders have correctly predicted that the number of “no” votes will only grow as Greene continues to force more of these votes. [Pols emphasis]

It will be interesting to see how long Boebert and Lamborn continue to play along with this silly stunt (Greeley Republican Rep. Ken Buck did not vote on the motion today).

In some ways, it might be a good thing if Greene keeps this up, because it really separates the serious from the unserious in Congress. It’s difficult for Boebert and Lamborn to say that they are there to represent their districts when they regularly try to skip out on doing their jobs altogether.

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Introducing The Colorado House GOP “Doxxer Caucus”

Colorado House GOP “doxxer caucus,” clockwise from top: Reps. Patrick Neville, Kim Ransom, Dave Williams, Shane Sandridge.

Today in the Colorado House, House Bill 21-1107, a bill sparked by the ugly backlash against public health authorities over necessary restrictions to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic last year passed by an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority:

Under current law, it is unlawful for a person to make available on the internet personal information of a law enforcement official (official) or a human services worker (worker), or the official’s or worker’s family, if the dissemination of the personal information poses an imminent and serious threat to the official’s or worker’s safety or the safety of the official’s or worker’s family. A violation of this law is a class 1 misdemeanor.

Further, a worker meeting certain requirements specified in statute may submit a written request to a state or local government official to remove personal information from public records that are available on the internet.

The bill adds the same protections for public health workers, including employees, contractors, or employees of contractors of the department of public health and environment, or of county or district public health agencies, who are engaged in public health duties, and for members of county or district boards of health, other than elected county commissioners.

Colorado House Democrats celebrated passage of the bill today, which should be noted has a Republican Senate sponsor for its next round, Sen. Paul Lundeen:

“State employees working to keep our communities and correctional systems safe take risks while serving Colorado,” said Rep. Kerry Tipper, D-Lakewood. “This straightforward bill will ensure that these employees and their families are protected from those who would do them harm by posting their personal information online. State employees deserve to feel safe in their own homes.”

The vote in the House was overwhelmingly bipartisan, 61-4, with only four Republican representatives voting no: Reps. Patrick Neville, Kim Ransom, Shane Sandridge, and Dave Williams. Gold Dome veterans know these four as fixtures of the far-right outer orbit of the House Republican caucus, with ousted House Minority Leader Neville having reduced the House GOP to its smallest minority in most of our lifetimes for two consecutive election cycles. Neville also has a personal penchant for vengefully disclosing nonpublic information, giving out the home address of Denver Post reporters to his followers after they published a story he didn’t like.

While it’s good to see bipartisanship to protect public health workers who have been subjected to horrendous undeserved vitriol during the pandemic for making the hard calls necessary to keep us all safe, today’s vote is also a reminder that the line between lawmaker and perpetrator is sometimes…uncomfortably thin.

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Redistricting Commissioners and the Unaffiliated Voter Myth

 

Somewhere near Leadville, Colorado, on the way to Mount Elbert — Colorado’s highest mountain peak — there is an unmarked road that meanders beneath a towering forest of Aspen trees. If you follow this path and take a left at the beaver dam, you might be lucky enough to come across the spartan home where Bigfoot raises his Yeti children. Should you continue along the rocky road ahead, you will eventually reach a charming village inhabited by that rarest of mammals: The “real unaffiliated voters” of Colorado. 

These “real unaffiliated voters” are a special breed of Coloradan. They do not hold political opinions of their own, and they do not “lean” toward Republicans or Democrats in a given election cycle. According to legend, if you could add up all of the votes cast by these folks over the last 100 years, you would find that they voted for Republican and Democratic candidates in precisely equal numbers. It is a true miracle of democracy. 

This secretive tribe of “real unaffiliated voters” must be the pool of Colorado voters from whom a group of whiners from the Colorado Republican Party would like to serve on the new Independent Redistricting Commissions. As we move closer to finalizing the memberships of these two new commissions, Colorado Republicans are increasingly complaining that the “Unaffiliated” members are not sufficiently unaffiliated, whatever that means. As Republican attorney and former Solicitor General Richard Westphal wrote in The Denver Post in January:

In order for this new citizen-centered redistricting process to work, the unaffiliated members selected must be genuinely unaffiliated. [Pols emphasis]

How do you tell the difference between someone who is “genuinely unaffiliated” and “disingenuously unaffiliated”? You don’t, because those aren’t real things. If you are an “unaffiliated” voter in Colorado, that means you choose not to affiliate with a particular political party. That’s it. There is no “Unaffiliated Party” or club in which you might seek membership. There is no required blood oath that you must faithfully split the ticket in every election.   

In 2018, Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved two Constitutional amendments that made changes to how Colorado redraws maps for congressional (Amendment Y) and state legislative districts (Amendment Z) every 10 years. Amendments Y & Z create 12-member commissions responsible for approving new district maps; each commission is supposed to consist of four Republicans, four Democrats, and four Unaffiliated voters. In order to make sure that commission applications weren’t filled with people who were only pretending to be Republicans/Democrats/Unaffiliateds, the amendments included a requirement that candidates must have been affiliated with one (or neither) political party for at least the preceding five years.

Doctors work on removing opinions from an Unaffiliated voter’s brain.

A plurality of registered voters in Colorado are now “unaffiliated.” Choosing to be politically unaffiliated does not mean that you also forgo holding political opinions, maintaining friendships with people interested in politics, and donating money to candidates for public office. Unaffiliated voters haven’t been lobotomized. 

Unaffiliated voters are often categorized as being “independent” citizens, which is both unfair and inaccurate. As studies have found, true “independents” generally avoid politics altogether; the Pew Research Center noted in 2019 that 81% of “independent” voters actually lean heavily toward either Republicans or Democrats.

True “unaffiliated” or “independent” voters are actually a lot like recently-appointed commission member Lori Schell. As The Durango Herald wrote last week, Schell supported Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar for President in 2020 and has donated to the political campaigns of Democratic State Rep. Barbara McLachlan because she is a personal friend. Schell is also a longtime unaffiliated voter in Colorado, but former State Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams is very suspicious of this:

Wadhams…said he does not know Schell, but said her past record supporting Democrats undermines confidence in the Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission.

He said: “I don’t know how any reasonable person could look at the fact that she has apparently been active on behalf of Democrats in the past and was a backer of Amy Klobuchar’s presidential campaign – those are definitely signs of Democratic activism – and not come to the conclusion that her selection violates at least the spirit of the redistricting commission. I think it undermines the confidence that voters should have in members who are allegedly unaffiliated.”

Further adding to Wadhams’ distress about the nature of the unaffiliated members added to the commission, another unaffiliated member, Jolie Brawner of Denver was a supporter of the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, a socialist U.S. senator from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats.

This might be important if we were at all concerned with Dick Wadhams’ definition of an “unaffiliated” voter, but we’re not. In fact, actual math tells us that the two people mentioned above are a pretty accurate representation of Colorado voters

As we’ve seen in recent elections in Colorado, “unaffiliated” voters here are generally apt to support Democratic candidates. In the 2020 election, Democrat Joe Biden carried Colorado by 14 points in the race for President; in the fight for a U.S. Senate seat, Democrat John Hickenlooper defeated Republican Cory Gardner by 9 points. Neither of these outcomes are statistically possible unless a majority of “unaffiliated” voters cast their ballot for Democrats instead of Republicans.  

[As an aside, if it turns out that one of the next appointments to the commission is an “unaffiliated” voter who has previously donated money to Republican candidates, do you really think Wadhams is going to complain? Of course not.] 

What Republicans are really doing in voicing concerns about “unaffiliated” members of redistricting commissions is an attempt to intimidate these Coloradans into pretending to be something they are not. Amendments Y and Z contain no language prohibiting thoughts and opinions from the commissioners — only the requirements for affiliation. People like Wadhams, who supported both measures along with every Republican in the legislature, are fully aware of this but are nevertheless clutching their pearls in horror. 

It would be swell if we could fill an entire redistricting commission with only people who have no partisan leanings whatsoever. If you can find those people, maybe you can ask them to take a picture of you standing next to Bigfoot. In the meantime, let’s stick to reality.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 9)

Happy “World Panic Day.” Please celebrate responsibly, or totally freak out; we’re not sure how to proceed here. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

As The Washington Post reports, President Biden is planning a big push to sell Americans on his soon-to-be-approved $1.9 trillion stimulus plan:

With passage of the plan this week all but assured, Biden plans to escalate his administration’s outreach to Americans over the coming weeks to defend the measure and lay out other priorities. It starts with his first prime-time address.

Biden’s remarks on Thursday aren’t the starting gun for a new communications campaign — for weeks, aides have done scores of interviews with national, local, and specialized media in an effort to muscle the legislation to the Resolute Desk.

But they will mark a new, more intense phase, including the president’s first formal press conference, sometime this month, which White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced on Friday.

The American Rescue Plan includes $6 billion for state and local government assistance in Colorado alone. POLITICO has more on Wednesday’s expected vote in the House of Representatives.

 

Jury selection is underway in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who faces several charges related to the murder of George Floyd last May.

 

► To the Colorado legislature we go…

Republican lawmakers in Colorado wasted 10 hours on Monday extending debate on a bill to require safe storage of firearms.

The Colorado Sun previews upcoming legislation that is essentially Colorado’s version of a COVID-19 stimulus bill.

Legislation to opt Colorado students out of standardized testing this year — due to COVID-related problems — has come back to life.

Denver7 reports on the advancement of legislation intended to lower the cost of prescription drugs for Coloradans.

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado’s budget may not be in as much trouble as lawmakers feared after more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colorado Public Radio reports on concerns about long hours and low pay for staffers at the state legislature.

 

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, early successes for Congressional Democrats may be prodding Republicans to act quicker around the country in introducing voter suppression programs:

It’s no accident that the GOP’s redoubled anti-democratic and anti-majoritarian efforts have come even as President Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package is winning the support of large popular majorities. Indeed, for Republicans, the broad popularity of Biden’s first big move is itself arguably making their plunge into anti-democratic radicalization more urgent.

As NBC News reports, this is exactly what just happened in Iowa:

Via NBC News (3/9/21)

 

 

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

 

(more…)

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Safe Storage: 10 Hours For 10 Minutes’ Common Sense

As Colorado Newsline’s Faith Miller reports, debate on the floor of the Colorado House of Representatives went on and on for hours last night over what most people would consider to be a no-brainer bill, House Bill 21-1106, which requires gun owners in households with either children or people prohibited from possessing guns to take reasonable steps to secure them:

Under HB-1106, a person could be prosecuted for unlawful firearm storage if a young adult could gain access to a firearm without their parent or guardian’s permission; or if someone barred from having a gun lives on the premises where a firearm is not properly stored. To comply with the bill, a firearm would have to be kept on the lawful owner’s person or stored in a way that “a reasonable person would believe to be secure.”

Licensed gun dealers would be required to provide a locking device with each firearm purchase, or they could be subject to a $500 fine. The locking device would need to prohibit someone from using a gun unless they could open the lock with a key, combination or fingerprint verification.

“Federal law already requires firearm dealers to provide a secure storage device with the sale of every handgun,” Duran said on the House floor. “However, the law does not require that gun owners actually use the device or any other best practices to secure their firearms.”

But as AP’s Patty Niebert reported via the Colorado Sun, House Republicans led by disgraced ex-House Minority Leader Patrick Neville found this modest safety measure to be an affront to his right to keep a loaded pistol under his pillow, on his kitchen counter, or wherever else he damn well pleases:

GOP Rep. Patrick Neville brought his own locking device to show how long it takes to unlock and load a gun. He joined other Republicans in calling the bill “denied defense” — citing instances of home intruders and domestic violence where quick access to a firearm could be life-saving for self-defense.

“I’m afraid that this bill will cost lives. If you know about weapons and you know about hazard situations — you know you need quick access, easy access,” said Republican Rep. Shane Sandridge, a former police officer.

The illogic of suggesting that a bill requiring safe storage of a gun in a household with children and/or felons running around would “cost lives” is pretty outrageous when you think it through. The few additional moments necessary to unlock a weapon in a defensive situation are a small price to pay to prevent children from shooting themselves deliberately or accidentally with a gun left in easy reach. And if your household doesn’t include children or persons prohibited from having a gun, you would still be free to stash loaded weapons all around your house for instant access like a character in a Quentin Tarantino movie.

Like we learned in Kill Bill, it’s probably just best to keep kids away from your double life as an international assassin. Actually there are a few such movies. Fortunately most of us do not have this problem, but the problem of kids and felons getting their hands on improperly stored guns is substantially more reality-based.

Closer to reality, yesterday’s ten-hour marathon debate featured the usual complaints from Republicans about the rural/urban divide, the “real tragedy” of kids not learning to be safe around guns, and how the state’s county sheriffs might decide not to enforce a safe storage law if they don’t like it. None of these objections even came close to challenging the basic premise of the bill, which is that guns should not be left easily available to misuse by children and prohibited people. Politically, it might have been a good idea to introduce this bill right after a Republican lawmaker left a loaded gun in committee hearing room several years ago at the Colorado Capitol.

But with polls showing that some 78% of Americans support requiring locks on all guns–not just in the at-risk households specified under House Bill 21-1106–Democrats can feel confident about brushing aside Republican stalling tactics and passing the bill. Outside a very small and not very reasonable segment of the population, this just isn’t the controversy it’s played up to be.

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Ready For Snowpocalypse ’21?

That’s right, Colorado–we’re basking in springlike weather today, but by Friday it could be a very different world outdoors with the growing possibility of an historic blizzard of an intensity that locals swap stories about many years after. The last time Colorado’s Front Range saw as much snow as this admittedly optimistic forecast model predicts was March of 2003 when three feet of heavy wet snow fell on the metro area and six feet in the foothills, effectively shutting down the urban corridor for several long days.

Or…the storm could fizzle like a Jared Polis recall! You just never know. But you’ve been warned.

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ARP, The BFD We’re Lucky As Hell To Be Getting

Rep. Doug Lamborn’s (R) exact facial expression while taking a dump on his home state of Colorado.

CBS4 Denver’s Danielle Chavira reports on the passage in the U.S. Senate this weekend of the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion comprehensive package of economic relief measures intended to see the nation through to the light slowly emerging at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic’s tunnel:

Colorado Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet praised the passage of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill on Saturday morning. The Senate approved the bill after debating it for more than 24 hours…

“With today’s vote, we are one step closer to providing the relief our country urgently needs,” said Bennet. “One year after the first confirmed COVID-19 case in our state, Coloradans continue to struggle in the face of this public health and economic crisis. From funding for public health jobs to expanded tax credits for working families, this bill will help us put an end to the pandemic and improve the lives of countless Americans.”

AP’s Alan Fram via the Denver Post:

Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper voted in favor. The bill includes Bennet’s idea to create a “Health Force” that will employ people to vaccinate against and test for COVID-19. It also includes an estimated $6 billion in funding for Colorado’s state and local governments, Hickenlooper said.

“People need help now,” the Democratic senator said in a statement. “This relief bill provides stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits, vaccines, small business grants and many other critical programs. We’re close to the end of this pandemic — we can’t let anyone fall through the cracks.”

Even this moran is getting a check.

The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein wrote Sunday about how times have changed in the decade since President Barack Obama passed a much smaller stimulus package over unhinged objections that would eventually snowball into the “Tea Party” reactionary political movement:

Since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, polling has found substantial support among Americans for providing more government aid for those in need. That is partially due to the nature of the current crisis, which for a time opened a deeper economic hole than even the Great Recession. But the shift is also the result of a reorientation on economic policy — on the left and on the right — that has transformed the political landscape.

On the right, congressional Republicans may still fret about higher deficits — but the most popular politician among their voters does not. As a candidate and as president, Donald Trump blew past Republican concerns about the deficit, pushing for trillions in additional spending and tax cuts and running unprecedented peacetime debt levels.

And on the left, Democratic lawmakers have increasingly learned to ignore fears about spending too much. Party leaders have said they suffered crippling political defeats in the 2010s precisely because they did not deliver enough meaningful economic relief under Obama — a mistake that they see an opportunity to correct under Biden. [Pols emphasis] Democrats also repeatedly tout the 2017 Republican tax cut, which is expected to add approximately $2 trillion to the national debt, as a reason to be skeptical of GOP concerns about fiscal restraint.

Colorado Republican Party field testing their new message.

Make no mistake, despite the popularity of this aid package with ordinary Americans the Colorado Republican Party is sounding off angrily, setting themselves up to look villainously out of touch once the direct benefits in this legislation reach the overwhelming majority of Coloradans–CBS4:

“It is completely shameful how Senator Bennet and Senator Hickenlooper have sold out Colorado’s middle class and voted for this completely partisan liberal wishlist. This bill is the worst of Washington – Coloradans won’t forget that Bennet once again chose to follow Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi in passing a wasteful, partisan, and extreme spending bill,” said Joe Jackson, spokesman of the Colorado GOP.

And then there’s Rep. Doug Lamborn, the former state lawmaker who knows that our state runs an incredibly tight budget due to TABOR and other constitutional fiscal chokeholds–but still clings to the offensive fabrication of a “blue state bailout.”

The massive spending bill goes on to continue unemployment insurance through August, in many cases paying people more to stay at home than they would earn working. It goes on to give a $50 billion bailout for disgraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a $350 billion bailout for the failed policies of poorly run blue states and localities… [Pols emphasis]

Like we said about Lauren Boebert last week Lamborn is trashing his own state. The estimated $6 billion in aid coming to Colorado’s state and local governments under this bill mean the difference between being able to meet the most basic responsibilities to the people of Colorado and cuts that everyone in the state will see and suffer from. There are so many Republicans in Colorado who know better than this: the Republican members of the Joint Budget Committee in the state legislature, or city governments from Colorado Springs to Grand Junction who have suffered devastating revenue shortfalls in no way related to “fiscal mismanagement.” Republicans in Washington blame the states, then Republicans in the states stoically absorb what they know is just plain wrong.

Fortunately, by the narrowest of margins, the U.S. Senate delivered relief on the scale of the massive need.

And if the theory is correct, voters will not forget it in 2022.

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Volunteer Fish Stories: Lauren Boebert’s Latest Lie

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Green Screen).

Chase Woodruff at Colorado Newsline took it upon himself to research a claim from Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert instead of taking it at face value–and as seems to be so often the case with Colorado’s favorite pistol-packing train wreck in Congress, Boebert’s story isn’t holding up real well under scrutiny:

Speaking at a campaign event in Silver Cliff in October 2020, Rep. Lauren Boebert told a crowd of supporters the story of how she had brought a “message of freedom and independence to women at the Garfield County jail.”

“For seven years, I had the opportunity to counsel at-risk women, women who had thought they had ruined any hope for a prosperous future,” Boebert said. “I was able to bring them hope.”

Except according to the official record, not so much:

But a volunteer attendance log maintained by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, obtained by Newsline through a public records request, shows that Boebert volunteered at the jail on a total of nine occasions over a period of just two and a half years, [Pols emphasis] beginning in May 2014 and ending in November 2016.

And that’s not all:

The volunteer records maintained by the Sheriff’s Office also show that Boebert misrepresented her own criminal history, as well as that of her husband, Jayson, while applying to volunteer at the jail.

Boebert’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment…

The first problem is that Boebert lied on the campaign trial about the extent and duration of her volunteer work. But perhaps more importantly, it appears that Boebert lied on the application to volunteer by claiming that she had not been arrested (when she had been the year before) and that she had no connection to anyone who had done time in Garfield County Jail (like now-husband Jayson Boebert did).

If it weren’t for the fact that Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario is an avowed Lauren Boebert fanboy, we would expect there to be some sort of repercussions. Since that’s unlikely, it’s just another falsehood voters will have to pass judgment on in 2022–yet another Boebert claim to fame that turned out to be as fake as her green-screen video.

Tawdry fiction. It’s Lauren Boebert’s calling card.

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Weekend Open Thread

“Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous impatience.”

–Hyman Rickover

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