Congressional candidate Lauren Boebert joked about “jello wrestling” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an exchange with a conservative comedian who also used an ethnic slur during his introduction. Her appearance could lend credence to concerns that she isn’t prepared to be the Republican nominee for Colorado’s Third District.
True to form, even before Boebert was on the line, host Bisconte joked that Boebert “wants to win the seat… and then wrestle [U.S. Rep] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in jello or pudding, and that would be fun to watch because she is a lovely woman.”
Bisconte then told his co-host that jello wrestling was “how we stay one step ahead of the Japs, who are jamming themselves into subway cars.”
Bisconte then introduced Boebert, who had clearly been listening to the host, as she embraced the jello-wrestling joke:
While the demeaning jello-wrestling wasn’t Boebert’s idea, after Bisconte made it, he asked Boebert a straightforward “tell us about your campaign” question. She chose to respond by returning to jello-wrestling.
A conspiracy theorist group that insists the federal government planned the September 11th terrorist attacks is hosting an all-day Fourth of July music festival in Denver’s Civic Center Park.
We Are Change Colorado is the local affiliate of the national 9-11 “truther” group founded by alt-right conspiracy theorist Luke Rudkowski, who’s been promoting “New World Order” conspiracies for over a decade.
We Are Change founder Luke Rudkowski with Infowars’ Alex Jones
The messaging for the “Unite the People” festival combines the right-wing anti-government, anti-public health restriction rallies from April and May with the current Black Lives Matter protests against racism and police brutality.
As of Friday afternoon approximately 60 people had marked themselves as attending the event.
“The right-wing militants hit the capitol first because they wanted to reopen businesses, and then it was the protests over police brutality,” the artist said. “We live in a constant duality right now. I can’t speak to everyone’s views. For me, people can only appreciate each other from where they are themselves. There are still people out there who are asking for help, and for me, if people ask for help, we have to act.”
The promotional image for the unpermitted event lists ten musical acts, including Brothers of Brass at 6:00 PM and DJ Cavem at 7:00 PM. Reached for comment, Brothers of Brass band member K.R. Azad says the promo image is incorrect and that the band is not performing at the event.
DJ Cavem, a Denver-based climate change and food justice activist, rapper and vegan chef, said he initially became involved in the event through people he met while participating in the Black Lives Matter protests in late May. He said there were lots of different views represented, and that his focus was connecting climate justice to racial justice and food justice, noting the health problems residents of neighborhoods like Elyria-Swansea and Globeville face from decades of industrial contamination that eventually led to the EPA designating the area part of a Superfund cleanup site.
Asked about the alt-right conspiracy theories promoted by We Are Change, DJ Cavem said he hadn’t been aware of any of the group’s specific beliefs, but he did acknowledge the divide between various groups involed in the protests. He said he felt called to focus on sharing a compassionate message without getting caught up in politics.
“The right-wing militants hit the capitol first because they wanted to reopen businesses, and then it was the protests over police brutality,” the artist said. “We live in a constant duality right now. I can’t speak to everyone’s views. For me, people can only appreciate each other from where they are themselves. There are still people out there who are asking for help, and for me, if people ask for help, we have to act.”
As events protesting police brutality continue across the nation, two Colorado Republicans insinuated on Facebook that the violence — the instances of looting or rioting — at some of these protests did not occur randomly and was not incited by the police presence. They implied, rather, that the violence was premeditated and encouraged by liberal donors.
These Republicans, former state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt of Colorado Springs and state House candidate Samantha Koch of Denver, point to videos and articles stating that piles of bricks were found along march routes at the protests and that Antifa, or possibly liberal billionaire investor George Soros, might be behind the scheme to incite violence.
Multiple fact checkers found these articles downright fake or misleading.
On May 31 Klingenschmitt posted a link on his Facebook page to an article published by Law Enforcement Today, a right-leaning publication focused on police-related news, with the headline “Report: Piles of bricks are being staged in cities around the country, indicating riots are planned.”
“There are many who were thinking that these riots have Antifa written all over them and that appears to be getting confirmed that these riots were planned, orchestrated events,” the article stated.
Klingenschmitt represented a Colorado Springs-area House district from 2015-2017. Recently, he lost an election for a seat on the Colorado Springs City Council and failed to get on the GOP primary ballot for El Paso’s County Commissioner in District 2.
Klingenschmitt is known for his evangelical Christian television show called PIJN (Pray in Jesus’ Name) News which airs nationally on four networks and 10 online platforms. He is also known for wanting gay people disqualified for teaching because of their alleged immorality, comparing former U.S. president Barack Obama to a demon, saying that a “curse of god” led to the assault of a woman whose child was cut out of her womb, and claiming current Colorado Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat and the state’s first gay governor, wanted to execute Christians in 2014.
In response to questions regarding the veracity of the posts he shared, Klingenschmitt defended the idea that bricks were staged to intentionally incite violence in a statement to the Colorado Times Recorder.
“If you contend protesters are not throwing bricks, you are a liar,” Klingenschmitt said. “And unless you think they made the bricks in their own yard from mud and straw, they had suppliers. Do you deny these reports of organized crime are true?”
Of the cities mentioned in the article, only the Kansas City Police Department has publicly suggested that there may be links to bricks and the violent protests. Other cities, like San Francisco, have explicitly ruled out the connection between the bricks and any orchestrated violence.
On June 3, Facebook, as part of a new effort by the social media platform to crack down on the spread of fake news, flagged the post as potentially misleading. Politifact released an analysis stating that the claims in the Law Enforcement Today article and other rumors about bricks planted at protests were mostly false.
The piles of bricks largely belonged to construction sites or homeowner’s associations.
Patrick Neville’s seat is safe, but is his leadership title?
Patrick Neville with longtime ally Dudley Brown, shares his ultimately failed plans to recall fellow legislators last fall.
With Colorado’s primary election just two weeks away, statehouse campaigns to be the major party nominees are heating up. The competition is particularly fierce among the Republican races, where so-called dark money groups are spending unprecedented amounts of money.
The disputed primaries are once again revealing an ideological split within the Republican party, one that is well-known to Colorado politicos: the rift between the establishment GOP and its far-right wing, led by House Minority leader Patrick Neville. Despite historic losses in 2018, Neville still controls the caucus, and at least one Neville supporter appears to be nearly as concerned with protecting his leadership role as with retaking the chamber.
Emily Williams, wife of state Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs), posted a Facebook video warning of a leadership coup within the caucus, specifically that “outside money is trying to take out Patrick Neville as Minority Leader.”
She’s not talking about Democrats trying to flip conservative seats, but rather a group seeking to elect moderate Republicans to red districts. She went on to attack incumbent state Rep. Colin Larson (R-Littleton), who she claims is attempting to challenge Neville, by accusing him of sleeping on the job, literally.
“And so he [Justin Everett] is trying to get back in there and be a fighter and be amazing, which we desperately need, because I’m gonna be honest with you, alright? The current guy–I kid you not–taking naps while Republicans are up late fighting on the floor for your freedoms. This guy was going in the back and catching some Z’s while everybody else did the dirty work and the heavy lifting. And, oh, by the way, he’s trying to make a run on leadership against the likes of Patrick Neville.”
Michelle Malkin speaks as Republican Caucus Chair Sen. Vicki Marble looks on.
UPDATE: Photos from rally.
Pundit Michelle Malkin is headlining an anti-vaccination rally at the Colorado Capitol on Sunday, in advance of a rare weekend committee hearing.
Conservative activist group Concerned Colorado, which calls itself “a voice for families,” invited Malkin, along with anti-vaccine activist Robert Kennedy, Jr. to speak at the event.
Malkin, a Colorado resident who once authored a book in defense of the Japanese-American internment camps, has been a regular speaker at right-wing events. However her recent support of white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes led at least one major conservative group, Young America’s Foundation (YAF), to cut ties with her.
In an opinion piece for the Washington Examiner published just after YAF’s disavowal, conservative columnist Ben Palumbo called Malkin flat-out racist.
“Malkin is just as bad as those reprehensible alt-right actors who openly peddle white nationalism…If you consistently push racist ideas and associate yourself with viciously racist white nationalists, you’re racist too.”
Malkin appearing on a June 1 video podcast with Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes.
In February, despite many years as a featured speaker, the Conservative Political Action Conference declined to invite Malkin back for its 2020 event. Instead she headlined a competing white nationalist conference also held in the D.C. area during the same weekend.
Louie Huey and other Proud Boys huddle together at the rally.
Reached for comment, Concerned Colorado spokeswoman Denice Dirks said the group asked Malkin to speak because she is a well-known opponent of mandatory vaccines. “The focus should be on the legislature bringing up such a controversial bill on a Sunday,” Dirks said, “especially when so many of our churches our opening up for the first time in months. It’s discrimination.”
A leader of one of the state’s most prominent LGBT advocacy organizations says U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s recent attack on former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is “cynical” and “beneath” the Gardner campaign.
Jason Marsden, vice president of the Mathew Shepard Foundation, told the Colorado Times Recorder that Gardner, a Republican, misrepresented a decade-old interview to attack Hickenlooper, his likely Democratic opponent in November’s election.
Gardner’s attack came during a virtual campaign event with Republican supporters in southern Colorado last week, in which the first-term senator recounted being “offended years ago” with Hickenlooper’s characterization of rural Coloradans.
“I was offended years ago when John Hickenlooper was asked to describe rural Colorado he said that we were just a bunch of backwards-looking people,” said Gardner during the virtual event. “That’s what he thinks about rural Colorado–we’re just a bunch of backwards-looking people and we have to change our mind in order to stop being backwards. Remember what happened in rural Colorado. You had a whole bunch of counties that tried to secede under his leadership and what he did.”
Gardner’s claim that the Hickenlooper was “asked to describe rural Colorado” is false, based on a recording of the interview, which took place in 2009 at the opening gala for the Denver headquarters of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
The interviewer actually asked then Denver Mayor Hickenlooper why the organization chose to locate in Denver rather Wyoming where the Shepard family lived and where Matthew was murdered.
“I think a couple things, I mean, you know, the tragic death of Matthew Shepard occurred in Wyoming,” Hickenlooper began. “Colorado and Wyoming are very similar. We have some of the same, you know, backwards thinking in the kind of rural Western areas you see in, you know, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico.”
“We’re neighbors,” said the interviewer.
“Right, well in a sense we’re all community,” Hickenlooper replied. “At the same time Denver has I think one of the more robust politically active gay lesbian, bisexual & transgender communities really in the United States.”
Marsden of the Matthew Shepard Foundation remembers the conversation well.
(This would seem to confirm the worst fears – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
During a vehicle search near the downtown Denver protest on Friday evening, police officers seized several military-style assault rifles from anti-government gun enthusiasts who call themselves “Boogaloo Bois.”
Most peaceful protesters had left downtown Denver by the time police searched a car that had been occupied by a group of young men, one of whom was wearing a military-style vest.
They found several semi-automatic assault rifles, numerous magazines and other weapons in the trunk.
CPR reporter Allison Sherry tweeted an image of the seizure:
Chevy McGee, a 20-year-old anti-government gun enthusiast who lives in Fort Collins, claims to own some of the weapons.
In a May 30 Facebook post, McGee shared the same image, writing, “Shout out to Denver PD for stealing our shit last night. None of this left the trunk of our car, and they said they had reasonable suspicion because someone called that’s why they searched it. They cuffed us and let us go after 30 minutes.”
McGee also alleges in the Facebook protest that the officers told him someone called the police after seeing one of his group wearing a military-style plate-carrier vest, which allows the wearer to add ballistic protection. McGee states that neither he nor his associates open-carried their rifles.
“Open carry is illegal in Denver and we did not have enough guys to open carry so I don’t wanna hear it,” wrote McGee on Facebook.
McGee’s Facebook account “NotChevyMcGee” appears to have replaced his previous account using his correct name. It was from that older account that McGee made news earlier this month.
CBS Denver featured a portion of McGee’s May 1 livestream as part of its report on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s arrest of his associate Brad Bunn for possessing pipe bombs.
McGee and Bunn were among a group of gun rights activists who intended to open-carry firearms at the state Capitol during the May Day “Reopen Colorado” protest. Open carrying is illegal in Denver, but they hoped to have so many armed supporters that police officers would decline to enforce the law.
A Denver protest of the killing of Minnesota resident George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers included numerous incidents of violence Thursday evening. Although most of the several hundred attendees left before dark, the conflict continued into the night. Eventually officers deployed tear gas canisters and pepper bullets on smaller but vocal and sometimes antagonistic groups remaining near Civic Center Park.
The initial event was a large but peaceful demonstration against police brutality. That changed around 5:30 P.M. with reports of several gunshots into the crowd, State Rep. Leslie Herod was among the first to share that via Twitter. Another widely circulated video showed a car appearing to intentionally run down a protester.
Fox31’s Matt Mauro later tweeted video of dozens of protesters surrounding the Capitol building, some of whom smashed cars and vandalized the building.
As night fell, protesters continued circulating around downtown’s Civic Center Park and shortly after 9:00 P.M. Denver police vehicles carrying dozens of officers in riot gear arrived at the intersection of Broadway and Colfax Ave.
Officers marched west down Colfax, advancing on groups of protesters who shouted slogans “No Justice, No Peace” along with taunts and insults.
(Duplicitous? Well, yeah, that’s how Gardner rolls. — Promoted by Colorado Pols)
In the midst of an effort to claim the bipartisan high ground, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) used official (non-campaign) time to headline a fundraiser for the Colorado House Republican caucus fund, controlled by perhaps the most aggressively partisan opponent of Governor Polis in the state: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.
Like any politician hoping to be reelected this November, Gardner’s schedule is packed with a mix of official and campaign events. The greatest perk of incumbency is the ability to conduct official business in a manner that benefits one’s campaign, and Gardner is no exception, as reporters frequently note.
On Friday, May 15, the senator’s schedule included multiple campaign and official activities. On the political front, the Gardner campaign launched its first campaign ad, highlighting Gardner’s official work to secure medical supplies and featuring a clip of Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) praising his effort.
In his official capacity, Gardner joined several virtual meetings. Two were with of Colorado’s powerful business lobbies: the Colorado Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Restaurant Association. During those meetings, he gave updates on federal legislation and answered questions from business owners.
Over the lunch hour, however, Gardner spent his taxpayer-funded time headlining a virtual “donor briefing” for the Colorado House Republicans’ 527 committee, Values First Colorado (VFC).
Attending the online “Lunch & Learn” wasn’t cheap: individual tickets cost $250. The host committee featured several prominent establishment names, including former Colo Governor Bill Owens, Colorado School of Mines Vice President Ann Walker, the lobbying firm Cherry Point Strategies, and charter school advocacy group Ready Colorado.
The centrist leanings of the hosts stand in contrast to the far-right positions of VFC itself. Last year the group spent donors’ money in support of failed recall efforts against Democratic legislators as well as Polis. The legislative recalls prompted major corporate donors Xcel Energy and Noble Energy to clarify that they had intended their money to support VFC’s 2018 general election work, not after-the-fact recalls.
That didn’t stop Neville from using extreme rhetoric, though. He accused Polis and the Democrats of having an “agenda to destroy Colorado,” specifically, “to turn Colorado into another California— a leftist-run, job-killing, high-tax, freedom-less wasteland where illegal immigrants, criminals and the homeless are prioritized over law-abiding and hard-working citizens.”
Last fall Patrick Neville and his brother Joe, who is paid to be the registered agent various House GOP committees via his Rearden Strategic consulting firm, split “Take Back Colorado” off from VFC, registering it as its own independent expenditure committee. But as the face of both groups, Minority Leader Neville’s over-the-top accusations can’t be separated by a filing form.
“This COVID-19 pandemic is a dream come true for Polis and the Democrats.” -Colorado House Republican Leader Patrick Neville
Two days prior to the VFC fundraiser with Gardner, Neville asked for donations via the Take Back Colorado. He wrote:
(Now THAT’S what we call an optics problem – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
On May 1, the FBI arrested a Loveland man who was armed with pipe bombs and planning to stage an open-carry protest at the Colorado Capitol during an already planned anti-shutdown rally.
Brad Bunn and his fellow organizers were hoping for an overwhelming show of force, enough to prevent police from enforcing the law for fear of a massive gun battle.
One of the pipe bombs Bunn told the FBI he made.
Thanks to the FBI and Larimer County, Colorado, Sheriff’s deputies, neither Bunn nor other openly-armed protesters made it to the Capitol.
Bunn had advocated for gun rights at the legislature before. In March, he and other Second Amendment activists testified in favor of a bill to repeal the 2019 Emergency Response Protective Order, or “red flag” law.
He posted a photo of the group with state Rep. Lori Saine of Firestone, state Sen. Vicki Marble of Ft. Collins, and Weld Sheriff Steve Reams, all Republicans, on the day of the committee hearing.
Brad Bunn (far right) and other gun rights activists posed with GOP leaders Rep. Saine (front, second from left), Sen. Marble (back, third from right) and Weld Sheriff Reams.
In the text of his post Bunn wrote, “Because I fearlessly spat in the dragon’s face, as I oftentimes do in public forums, I very honestly don’t expect to live much longer and I’m ok with this. I know the King of Kings, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and because of what he’s done for me I’m ready to step into His Kingdom whenever He deems it’s time…all I ask for is a good death.”
Calls placed to both state Senate GOP leaders Saine and Marble, as well as Sheriff Reams, went unanswered.
Bunn was the last red flag repeal proponent to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 12. Asserting that he is a combat veteran, he recounted being armed and suicidal after returning from Iraq, and credited the Larimer Sheriff’s Department’s use of a 72-hour mental health hold with saving his life. He argued that there was no need for a red flag law given the existing three-day hold rules.
His conclusion, however, took a much darker turn, especially considering the crimes with which Bunn is now charged. He described the law as treasonous, stating that he had sworn an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
“It is treason. I will say it’s so plain and clear. It is treason. To take our weapons. Don’t do it,” Bunn testified. “Combat officers, combat soldiers of all branches have taken that solemn oath. We will keep it regardless of the cost. We will keep it. Repeal this. It is treason to disarm the American populace. Repeal it, please. I’m asking nicely.”
(Fact check: “pants on fire,” basically – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Sen. Cory Gardner continues to claim credit for obtaining 100 ventilators for Colorado, despite the federal government having blocked a state deal for 500 machines.
In an online interview with KNUS 710AM radio host Steffan Tubbs, Gardner said he has worked very closely with Governor Polis to obtain medical supplies, including ventilators.
“I’ve worked very closely with the governor,” said Gardner. “When the governor said we needed more tests, we went out and fought and got more tests for Colorado. When the governor said we needed more ventilators, I went out and fought and got more ventilators for the state of Colorado. When the governor said we needed more masks for Colorado, I went out and fought and got more masks, including just getting another hundred thousand from Taiwan this past week.”
As reported by numerous state and national news outlets, the Federal Emergency Management Agency canceled Colorado’s deal with a medical supplier for 500 ventilators. President Trump later tweeted that the federal government would send Colorado 100 ventilators “at the request of Senator Gardner.” Trump’s statement, though praised by Gardner himself was widely criticized as the worst form of political pandering. The Denver Post editorialized that “Trump is playing a disgusting political game with our lives.”
As he has in other recent interviews, Gardner also refused to criticize President Trump for his handling of the pandemic.
Read the full transcript of Tubbs’ question and Gardner’s answer below:
KNUS Host Steffan Tubbs: How do you think Governor Polis and the president have led this pandemic?
Sen. Cory Gardner: Look, I get asked all the time to provide a grade on this or that or to provide the score. It’s important that we always do better and better. I’ve worked very closely with the governor when the governor said we needed more tests. We went out and got more tests for Colorado. When the governor said we needed more ventilators, I went out and bought and got more ventilators for the state of Colorado where the governor said we needed more masks for Colorado. I went out and got more masks –including just getting another 100,000 from Taiwan this past week– two million in the United States from Taiwan.
(Just call him DA Makes Stuff Up – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
District Attorney George Brauchler is falsely claiming that Gov. Polis is withholding millions in federal COVID-19 funding from rural counties and cities.
In a Sunday opinion column in The Denver Post, Brauchler warned of an impending “crime wave” due to several pandemic-related issues, including a lack of funding for local law enforcement.
The Federal CARES Act provided $450 million to Colorado for counties and municipalities to offset some of their massive COVID-19 expenditures. Otherwise, the resulting budget crunch would lead to reducing public safety resources. Recently, Governor Polis’ administration indicated that it intends to keep that money to backfill the state’s budget. We will likely have less law enforcement resources just as we need them most.
He then concludes, “I want to be wrong, but these factors must be discussed as we weigh the impact of the governor’s orders on our state.”
If Brauchler indeed “wants to be wrong,” then he should be pleased to know that Governor Polis has already taken the time to correct this particular error.
In an April 17 letter to the governor, Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) became the first Colorado elected official to get this wrong–expressing the same concern that Brauchler is now repeating weeks later.
Republican state Reps. Mark Baisley & Shane Sandridge among protesters at anti-quarantine rally.
(Every picture says a thousand stupid words – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Colorado Times Recorder reporter Madeleine Schmidt co-authored this post.
Approximately 250 people rallied at the capitol today against public health orders aiming to stop the spread of COVID-19, many of them equating such orders to “tyranny” and criticizing Gov. Jared Polis’ leadership. Very few wore masks or practiced social distancing.
Two Colorado lawmakers attended the protest. State Reps. Mark Baisley (R-Roxborough Park) and Shane Sandridge (R-Colorado Springs) chatted and mingled with other protestors in front of the Capitol.
Sandridge said he heard about the rally in an email from legislative staff. He said he expected Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) to attend as well, but that the Republican caucus hadn’t done any official organizing around the event.
Like the majority of attendees, neither legislator used a mask, though Sandridge did have a cloth gaiter around his neck.
Asked about his decision not wear one, Sandridge dismissed the need for wearing facial coverings outdoors.
“I just don’t think people are into masks,” he said. “Not outside.”
At least one counter-protester was in attendance. Dave Rodriguez, a retired nurse practitioner, wore protective gear as he stood across the street from the protesters.
WEDNESDAY POLS UPDATE: Here is UFCW President Kim Cordova on MSNBC from Monday night confirming that most workers at the JBS Greeley plant were never tested:
Obviously, there’s a major factual discrepancy here in Cory Gardner’s taking personal credit for delivering thousands of tests to the JBS Greeley plant versus the apparent reality that those tests were never carried out. Presumably Gardner should be as interested in getting to the bottom of this as he has been at swinging deals for (some) of the ventilators Colorado tried to order, and personal protective equipment from foreign diplomatic contacts to mitigate federal shortage and broken promises.
We’ll say it again: these are Coloradans, and workers who have been declared essential national assets by the President of the United States during the current emergency. But for a host of reasons that sadly must include the social status and ethnic diversity of this underprivileged workforce, they are not being treated as essential.
Not just Cory Gardner, but every meat eater in America should feel a sense of responsibility. Original post follows.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) might want to pick a better anecdote to showcase his strong relationship with Vice President Mike Pence than their recent work to reopen Greeley’s JBS meatpacking plant.
Speaking online to an invite-only group of Republican activists Monday evening, Gardner was asked to describe his work with Pence during the pandemic.
Gardner recounted their recent effort to address the deadly outbreak at the JBS facility, concluding, “We got 5,000 tests for that plant, and they’re up and running again as of this past Friday.”
JBS is indeed open for business, but only after the company’s leaders broke its promise to test all employees for COVID-19 before they returned to work.
As Denver Channel 7’s Investigative team reported, “Contact7 Investigates has confirmed promises from the White House and JBS management to provide testing for employees at the massive meatpacking plant in Greeley have not been kept.”
As noted above, it wasn’t just corporate managers who reneged on the deal, Vice President Pence himself also publicly promised that JBS workers would get tests. According to Gardner, he was intimately involved in the discussions that led to that promise.
“I’ve got a very, very strong relationship with the vice president we speak regularly,” said Gardner during yesterday’s online gathering. “In fact, it was a couple weekends ago we were in the middle of the JBS meatpacking plant up in Greeley–in Northern Colorado. We were trying to keep the plant from closing.
“We were trying to find a way to protect those workers, keep the plant open, make sure that it didn’t impact our food supply, and make sure that it didn’t hurt our cattle markets.
“I probably spoke–just that weekend alone–to the vice president six or seven times as we were getting the CDC on the phone. I spoke to Admiral Giroir. We were working with Dr. Birx to try to find a guidance and a solution to keep that plan from closing and then what it would mean. So the vice president, we worked together. We got 5,000 tests for that plant, and they’re up and running again as of this past Friday.”
The plight of untested workers called back to their jobs in a Colorado facility linked to over 100 cases and five fatalities was reported by NBC national news two days ago, the day before Gardner touted his involvement.
In follow-up report by the Rachel Maddow Show Monday, United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 7 representative Kim Cordova, who represents the JBS workers, explained the situation: “Once they started testing their supervisors and it became apparent that the numbers were alarmingly high, they abruptly stopped testing without consulting Weld County. They never tested any of the frontline production workers.”
A call to the JBS Media Relations office was not immediately returned.
Today President Trump announced he will invoke the Defense Production Act to force meatpacking plants to stay open. Bloomberg reports he will sign an executive order to address a “liability issue” raised by Tyson Foods, which, along with JBS, is one of the nation’s largest meat processing companies.
Gardner’s office did not immediately return an email inquiry seeking to know if Gardner knew the workers were never tested for COVID-19 and, if so, why they didn’t receive tests. This post will be updated with any response received.
(White House? What White House? — Promoted by Colorado Pols)
If there is a limit to Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-CO) willingness to refrain from criticizing President Trump, it seems musing about the benefits of ingesting bleach isn’t the last straw.
Asked to evaluate the administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gardner refused, saying it was not important to give a grade, but to learn and improve every day, before abruptly ending the Q&A session.
On a virtual meeting with the Colorado Hispanic Chamber yesterday, KBNO News Director Fernando Sergio had a rare opportunity: he was able to ask Gardner a direct question that the senator was obliged to answer in public.
Sergio began by noting that most Americans are unhappy with the White House, citing the President’s own statement Thursday, when he proposed using sunlight and disinfectant as medicine. He then asked Gardner to “rate the administration’s response to this crisis.”
Ignoring the mention of Trump’s statement, Gardner responded by first pointing to the projections of hospitalizations and deaths that have been revised downward “as different actions were taken.” He then refused to evaluate the administration’s response so far, instead offering his opinion of what it should do going forward.
KBNO News Director Fernando Sergio:How do you rate the manner in which this administration has managed this crisis? I understand that we have never faced such a challenge in our modern history, but nevertheless the American people —I’d say more than less— are not very happy with what this White House is doing because of the information that comes out from Washington. It is very, very confusing, such as what the President stated yesterday.
In terms of your leadership and your relationship to him, to the party— in your experience as a member of Congress, how do you rate the way in which this White House has managed this crisis?
Gardner:I think if you look at the early models of what was being projected in terms of hospitalizations and the surge and the number of people that would be in ICUs and the number of expected deaths as a result, all those models changed as different actions were taken.
I think it’s important to not look and try to provide some kind of a grade. I think what’s important is that we do better and better every minute of the day. And that every action we take is better than the day before, that we learn from the day before we provide better service and better health outcomes, and that’s exactly what we have to do. We have to be guided by the health experts, we have to be guided by the science and we have to do the right thing when it comes to improving our actions all of the time.
And Mike I apologize- I’ve got a 2:30 call that I have to do with [agriculture] groups from across the state of Colorado. So I’m gonna have to jump off of the call and join that call, I apologize.
Earlier in the day, the American coronavirus death total surpassed 50,000. The most widely cited study featuring a lowered death projection was published by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The president himself repeatedly mentioned newsstories covered IHME’s April 7 revision of its national death projection from 90,000 to 60,000. Yet on the same day the president made his dangerous disinfectant comments, analysis by the Washington Postexplored the White House’s problematic promotion of the study’s figures, citing its “misunderstanding the math” behind the IHME’s projections.
While Gardner is unwilling to comment on the White House response to the pandemic, the President isn’t holding back from trumpeting his aid to Colorado and linking it to Gardner directly.
Today he followed up his April 8 tweet about sending Colorado 100 ventilators “at the request of Sen. Gardner,” with another, this time thanking Coloradans for letters supposedly sent to Trump “for all the Ventilators we got you.” He also included Gardner’s twitter handle.
Video of the Colorado Hispanic Chamber’s entire virtual town hall with Sen. Gardner is available on its Facebook page. The exchange between Sergio and Gardner is at the very end, starting at 1:25:30. Sergio takes over a minute to ask his question. Gardner’s answer lasted just 31 seconds.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has been notoriously difficult to reach for comment recently, particularly when it comes to criticizing President Trump.
Gardner’s reluctance to publicly cross his party’s leader has been widelyreported, but that didn’t stop him from attacking his likely election opponent, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, for failing to do the same.
Asked by radio host Hugh Hewitt if Hickenlooper has called on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to “get out of the way” [referring to negotiations over the most recent COVID-19 stimulus bill], Gardner derided Hickenlooper’s “absolute silence.”
Gardner went on to claim that Hickenlooper’s silence must mean that he agrees with those he has failed to criticize, in this case Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
Hewitt: “Has your opponent, John Hickenlooper, I mean, he hasn’t won yet, but has John Hickenlooper called on Chuck Schumer to get the hell out of the way?”
Gardner: “Silence. There’s absolute silence because they must appreciate the politics, the style. They must like holding the American small businesses hostage to a political outcome that quite frankly, I don’t know if it’s in disagreement. There’s no Republicans out there saying, ‘Well, hospitals don’t need more money.’ We ran out of money in a fund that was approved unanimously two, three weeks ago. And now they’re holding it up. You know, you look at how many millions and millions of jobs have been saved by the paycheck protection program. And they would rather play politics.”
Gardner’s claim that not publicly criticizing a politician’s negotiating style is tantamount to agreement is striking considering his own behavior in a very similar situation.
Last October, Gardner repeatedly refused to answer reporters’ questions about whether he believed it was appropriate for President Trump to have asked the Ukranian president to investigate Joe Biden.
In a political fundraising email sent yesterday, statehouse Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) underreported the number of Coloradans hospitalized with coronavirus by half. He claims “fewer than 900 people” have had hospital stays, but publicly available state data put the total at over 2,000.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment updates and publishes COVID-19 related data daily online.
Neville’s email asks for donations to fight “the Polis Police State and his leftist propaganda media.”
“Nearly 300,000 Colorado residents are out of work and struggling to provide for their families, while less than 900 people statewide have been hospitalized with Coronavirus.
…Take Back Colorado is fighting to reopen Colorado and get people back to work, but we’re up against the Polis Police State and his leftist media propaganda machine that wants every Colorado resident to be entirely beholden to the Government.
I know times are tough, but your DONATION right now will help us take our fight to reopen Colorado directly to every resident who is fed up with the Polis lockdown and wants to get back to work….
Rep. Pat Neville”[emphasis added]
Neville sent the email just after midday Tuesday, so it’s possible the totals on the state’s COVID-19 website weren’t yet updated. Even if that was the case, the previous day’s total listed 1,880 hospitalizations.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) wanted to make it absolutely clear to his fellow Republicans at their virtual state assembly on Saturday that he stands firmly with President Trump. In place of a standard candidate speech, Gardner’s campaign played a video montage of Trump praising Gardner as the two men shared the stage in February at the Trump campaign rally held in Colorado Springs.
President Trump: I want to bring up a man who’s going to win the election with us and really he has been- he’s been so rock solid. You know there were stories, will he…? Because we’re doing great in the state. We’re doing great. We fight together. And he’s been so great. Cory Gardner, please come on up, please.
Sen. Cory Gardner: Look at this enormous crowd! I can’t help but think about the enormous accomplishments we’ve had together over the past several years for this great state. The results are simply astounding because I believe in Colorado. I believe in America. I believe in the power of this great nation. And I believe in all of you. And I just have one message for all of you and to our friends and allies around the globe. When it comes to America, you ain’t seen nothing yet. God bless you. Let’s win in November!
Careful listeners will note that Trump starts and then stops a thought- “He’s been so rock solid. You know there were stories- will he…?” Although one can never be sure what the President was alluding to at that moment, it’s a reasonable guess that he was referring to Gardner’s support of President Trump, especially during the impeachment trial.
Both the President and Sen. Gardner took criticism for Trump’s most recent act of appreciation for Sen. Gardner, when he announced via Twitter that he was awarding Colorado 100 ventilators “at the request of Senator Gardner!” Gardner then went on Fox News to thank Trump for the shipment.
Gardner’s first words in the video are “Look at this enormous crowd!” Along with Denver Nuggets basketball games at the Pepsi Center, Trump’s rally was among the last large events in Colorado. The rally took place at the Broadmoor Arena in Colorado Springs, which has a capacity of 9,000. The Denver Post estimated as many as 20,000 people attended the event on February 20, with those who couldn’t get inside filling the parking lots. Three weeks later, Governor Polis announced a statewide ban on public gatherings of more than 250 people.
The full video of the GOP state assembly is available on the party’s Facebook page, with Gardner’s segment beginning at 1:12:35. There you can also see a brief speech from Gardner’s primary challenger Margot Dupré. Dupré is a real estate agent from Colorado Springs who launched her longshot challenge to Gardner because she believes there is too much corruption in the federal government.
Even in its purest form, political opposition research is by its nature a fishing expedition. Researchers scour public records for evidence of lawbreaking or wrongdoing by their target. Any evidence found can then be used for legal action, media pitches or paid advertising.
When a political goal is prioritized over factual accuracy, however, then the endeavor is less about catching fish and more about slinging mud. How much mud depends on how much those paying for it can afford.
In the case of former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), a trio of conservative attack groups sprung into existence to turn what might have been a standard political hit based on public records into a red herring about September 11th.
The groups have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into amplifying a single misleading news headline that created a false impression that an obscure line item in the governor’s budget has something to do with the terrorist attacks of 2001.
That misnomer about 9/11 has not been repeated by the mainstream media since first appearing in print last fall, but that has not stopped the groups from airing that attack for weeks.
The catalyst for these relentless ads? A political research project that started over two years ago.
In spring of 2018, more than a year before then-Gov. Hickenlooper would declare his candidacy for the presidency, national GOP opposition research firm America Rising requested records of all his out-of-state travel expenses while in office. He wasn’t the only target; the Republican firm was looking for dirt on all the Democratic contenders. Furthermore, his name was already in the mix as a potential challenger to Sen Cory Gardner. As a former Governor, Hickenlooper traveled extensively to promote Colorado’s interests across the nation and overseas. Within a week, the state produced 161 pages of records.
Seven months later, Republican lawyer and former Speaker of the Colorado statehouse Frank McNulty, who had already been working with the same public records of travel documents obtained by America Rising, filed paperwork for a nonprofit organization, the Public Trust Institute (PTI).
(Awesome branding exercise underway – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Several Colorado Republican leaders are calling for El Paso County GOP Chair Vickie Tonkins to resign after she used the party’s official Facebook page to ask followers if they believe the COVID-19 pandemic is a manufactured hoax.
She also confirmed to Colorado Politics reporter Ernest Luning that she wrote on her personal Facebook page that the outbreak is a “PSYOP,” using the same term she posted to the county page. The post has since garnered bipartisan national attention, including a tweet from Guy Benson, political editor of the conservative blog Townhall, and coverage from the left-leaning sites Raw Story and Huffington Post.
Denver GOP Chair Kristina Cook, joins former county chairs Jake Viano (Denver), Joe Webb (Jefferson) and Eli Bremer (El Paso) in calling for Tonkins to step down.
Former El Paso County Chair Eli Bremer first flagged the post and shared it with other Colorado Springs conservative Facebook groups.
Reached for comment, Tonkins dismissed criticism over the post itself, attributing it to the tension between the establishment and grassroots elements of the party, and claiming Bremer had other reasons for sharing the post:
“The individual [Bremer] that started the misinformation of my saying Coronavirus is a hoax…which I never said…does not like the fact a black woman is in the position and won by over 60 votes… The grassroots said they wanted something different and who could be more different than me.”
While Tonkins did not state that Coronavirus is a hoax on the El Paso County page, she did describe the outbreak as a “PSYOP,” in a comment exchange on her personal page. Another El Paso County Republican, Missy Ward, shared a screenshot of the comment.
“Ward, without my permission, took a screenshot of my personal page and made this a story. The post may not have been up for even an hour…but they saw an opportunity to get me, I guess. Not sure why they hate me so much but that is what it is.”
Tonkins also says she was focused on those who are suffering financially during the pandemic.
“My intentions, which my naysayers say we should always look at, is that people are not just dying from this virus, people are losing their jobs and can’t pay their bills and is time we step up to help them. Maybe had I put “the media thinks” [in the original post] I would have been heralded as a hero. This has been blown out of proportion by my haters and I say let’s move toward helping our communities which is my heart and the heart of the Republican Party. People are making this about politics and I am thinking about people!”
Joe Webb, who led the Jefferson County GOP until last year, concluded his own public Facebook post about the incident by insisting Tonkins resign, and calling on the county party’s executive committee to remove her if she doesn’t.
This is not a time to play politics but because Vickie Tonkins added to the public health emergency and may have assisted in making the curve steeper regarding infections she needs to resign as Chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party at once. If she fails to do so then members of the Executive Committee must take matters into their own hands within social distancing parameters. We all need to contribute to flattening the curve. Many other reasons exist for her resignation but I listed the most serious one. Personal responsibility for your actions should matter.
Denver GOP Chair shared Webb post noting that she agreed with Webb. She added that Tonkins’ post jeopardizes the Republican Party’s mission of electing its candidates.
(Good to know, thanks – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Republicans must not only retain the White House this fall, they must also hold the U.S. Senate, says Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO). If they don’t do both, he warns, even if President Trump is reelected, Chuck Schumer won’t approve any of Trump’s judges: “he’ll block every single one of them.”
Gardner delivered his warning via live video to the Jefferson County Republican Assembly, which held its March 17 county assembly online using remote video chat:
“We know what the left wants to do! They want socialism. They want to destroy the fabric of who we are as a country. And that Supreme Court and our court system is that body that will say, no, you’ve gone too far. You can’t do that. You’ve stepped outside the bounds of the plain meaning of the text. And that’s exactly what we have to do with our judges. So not only do we need a president to make sure they’re selecting good constitutional based judges, but we have to have a United States Senate majority in order to confirm those judges. Because if we lose the majority and President Trump is still in the White House, Chuck Schumer is never going to approve any of his judges. He’ll block every single one of them. Colorado was ground zero. We know that Chuck Schumer thinks his path to becoming majority leader is by winning Colorado. We’re not going to let that happen.” — Sen. Cory Gardner to Jefferson County GOP, March 27, 2020 (at 10:45)
It’s unclear if Gardner is arguing that a hypothetical Senate Majority Leader Schumer would be wrong to block President Trump’s future judicial nominees, or whether he’s simply making a prediction of Schumer’s actions based on partisan assumptions.
What is clear, however, Gardner has steadfastly supported his own caucus leader Mitch McConnell’s strategy of blocking judges under Obama, but prioritizing the confirmation of Trump’s nominees over all other Senate business. McConnell bragged about his success on Fox News’, when host Sean Hannity noted —tongue firmly in cheek— that he was “shocked President Obama left so many vacancies and didn’t try to fill those positions.” McConnell responded bluntly:
“I’ll tell you why. I was in charge of what we did the last two years of the Obama administration.”
Gardner called for the Senate to refuse to confirm Obama’s choice to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Merrick Garland, the same morning Obama announced Garland as the nominee. In explaining his decision not to meet with Garland, Gardner said the “stakes were too high and the American people deserve a role in this process.”
Two years later, however, he met with and voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh despite another looming election (the 2018 midterms) which would determine control of the U.S. Senate.
Weld Sheriff Steve Reams and District Attorney Michael Rourke at the Weld County Republican Assembly
Sheriff Steve Reams is the top public safety official in Weld County, Colorado. Yet even after his county declared a pandemic health emergency last week, the coronavirus isn’t his top concern. Reams is worried about socialism.
I’m going to rant just a bit,” wrote Reams on Facebook. “I understand that nobody wants to catch Coronavirus but statistically, even if you catch it you’re likely to be just fine. What I’m concerned with is our Country catching a huge case of socialism.We (our government) has self imposed an economic crash in the name of saving us from a virus and now they are offering the “solution” through money that isn’t really available; let’s call that debt.If you read the attached article, examine what is being suggested and ask yourselves if this is makes sense. Maybe it’s just me but I’d rather take my risk with the virus then socialism.”
When criticized by a commenter, Sheriff Reams reiterated his position:
Reach by phone, Reams acknowledged that the pandemic has created a challenging environment:
“It’s frustrating on both sides, as a citizen and as a law enforcement office to see so many people disregarding the public health warnings and then people asking government to enforce [the public health emergency declarations] to make them feel safer,” Reams told the Colorado Times Recorder. “Asking for the government to be the fix for all this is probably the wrong way of thinking for all of us. It creates a fear of government from citizens who are going to worry, ‘What if I need go somewhere?’ It reeks of police state.”
Despite his discomfort with government enforcement of public health restrictions, however, Reams isn’t willing to go as far as he did with the 2019 “red flag” gun law, when he publicly declared the law unconstitutional and said he would go to jail before enforcing it. Asked if he would do that same now, he answered he doesn’t intent to make public health orders a priority of enforcement.
When it comes to social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO4) appears to be taking a “do as I say, not as I do” approach. While he has said people should try to avoid publics places for the next months, and that “elderly Americans…should be concerned” about the coronavirus, he is also still attending group events and has been photographed shaking hands with senior citizens.
Congressman Ken Buck shaking hands at the Weld County Clerk’s office, March 21, 2020
Following the Weld County Republican Party Assembly on March 21, Donna Windholz posted a picture of Buck, who also serves as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, enthusiastically shaking hands with Lynn Miller at the Weld County Clerk’s Office. Lynn Miller is the husband of former state representative Pat Miller, who is once again a legislative candidate, 27 years after she last left office. Windholz believes Buck was improperly using his position as state party chair to support Miller over other primary candidates.
Congressman Buck’s notable disregard for social distancing reinforces his statements earlier this week, when he told the Denver Post, “it’s just craziness to shut down businesses.” He also mentioned that “elderly Americans…are rightly concerned about the virus.” Lynn Miller, the man with whom Buck is shaking hands in the image above, is 73 years old.
His position differs from other members of the Colorado delegation, who have supported Governor Polis’ decisions to close non-essential businesses and public gathering places.
Buck’s hasn’t been shy about being a contrarian on the issue of stopping the coronavirus. He was one of only two House votes against the $8.3 billion federal aid bill signed by President on March 6.
The following week, Buck held a telephone town hall. As part of a longer answer about whether or not people should stop attending church, Buck noted that he continues to shake hands with constituents and that he is “not a good example of someone who avoids social contact.”
His full answer, transcribed below included contradictory statements as to whether one should or shouldn’t attend church, but at least as of March 11, Buck said that he would still be going.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has earned broad bipartisan praise for his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic. Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, however, isn’t among those conservatives offering him their approval.
On the morning of March 18, Kirkmeyer, who is a Republican candidate for state senate District 23, posted a campaign cartoon attacking Polis for a variety of policies and promising, “as your State Senator, I’ll be Jared Polis’s worst nightmare.” The cartoon depicts Governor Polis as a wind-powered passenger ship about to be sunk by a torpedo bearing the logo of the Kirkmeyer campaign.
The most prominent policy she appears to be attacking is wind energy, depicted by a large windmill powering the “SS Polis.” Wind power generates nearly a fifth of Colorado’s electricity. Kirkmeyer’s own Weld County is home to three Vestas factories, two in Brighton and one in Windsor, that build wind turbine components. Vestas announced last year that it was adding 200 jobs at its Brighton plants.
Below the windmill, the cartoon lists three policies: “Government-run health care, Red flag gun law,” and “Job-killing regulations.” During the coronavirus pandemic other Republicans have thanked Polis specifically for his decision to relax regulations to allow medical professionals licensed in other states to be quickly approved to work in Colorado and suspending via emergency order requirements for state employees to obtain a doctor’s note to call in sick.
Last Thursday, while speaking with reporters at the White House, President Trump noted that his planned trip to Colorado on Friday with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) was canceled. We now have a video clip of that statement:
“I was going out to Nevada, as I said. I was going to Colorado, where we have Cory Gardner running and he’s doing a great job, by the way. He’s done a fantastic job, but we’ve postponed that. I think we’re gonna have Cory coming in here- maybe on Friday. We’re gonna do our event from the White House. We have a lot of things that we’re moving around because of what’s happening and because I want to be here.”
The only reported event on the President’s schedule was a high-dollar Denver fundraiser with Gardner. The possibility that Trump would hold the campaign fundraiser at the White House raised the eyebrows of numerous reporters, both nationally and locally.
The Gardner campaign, which has been notoriously reluctant to engage with the media, immediately released a statement. https://twitter.com/jmdobkin/status/1238149672016830465
No such non-campaign event had been previously announced. However, the $100,000 per couple fundraiser did include a “roundtable.”
It’s unclear if such a roundtable either took place already or is still in the planning stages. Neither Gardner’s office, nor his campaign have responded to inquires about the event. An email to the White House’s Office of Public Liaison was not immediately returned.
The Colorado Times Recorder has also reached out to two conservation organizations (Colorado Wildlife Fund and the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation), both cited by Gardner in a recent press release about securing funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund. This article will be updated with any comments received.
More and more meetings and events are being canceled every day in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s certainly possible this roundtable has been postponed or canceled, but if that’s the case, no one is willing to say so.