Republican Attacks on Health Care Blamed for Increase in Rates

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado health insurers have asked state regulators to approve rate increases for health insurance plans averaging about six percent in the individual and seven percent for small groups, according to data released today by the Colorado Division of Insurance.

That’s less of a price increase than last year’s uptick but still bad news for consumers, say progressive watchdogs, who blame Republicans for driving up health insurance rates by attacking the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also called Obamacare, and by blocking state laws that could have stabilized prices.

“For a change, most Coloradans aren’t facing massive hikes in their health insurance premiums for next year,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI) in a news release. “This really shows the strength of the Affordable Care Act, that despite ongoing GOP sabotage, Colorado’s insurance premiums are more stable this year. However, Coloradans are still struggling to afford their insurance after big rate hikes last year. Coloradans will still see a range of proposed premium changes ranging from -2.64 percent to 21.6 percent in the individual insurance market depending on their insurer and plan.”

In recent years, rural regions of Colorado saw the biggest increase in health insurance premiums. But the rate of such increases appears to have slowed.

“Consumers in the Western and Mountain regions of the state won’t be hit by double-digit increases this year. In fact, they’ll see Anthem asking for a small decrease in their rates,” said Fox. “Even so, considering last year Anthem requested a rate increase of over 30 percent, affordability is still a big concern for Coloradans in these areas. We could have seen more and larger rate decreases this year if it weren’t for the ongoing GOP sabotage creating uncertainty.”

Next year, seven companies in Colorado will be offering insurance plans through Connect for Health for individuals. They are: Anthem (as HMO Colorado), Bright Health, Cigna Health and Life, Denver Health Medical Plans, Friday Health Plans, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado and Rocky Mountain HMO.

These are the same same companies that sold insurance to on the individual market last year in Colorado, and as in the past, all counties in Colorado will have at least one on-exchange company selling individual health plans.

In total, sixteen companies will offer insurance in Colorado, including those firms that offer group plans.

Kaiser, with the bulk of the individual market enrollments through Connect for Health Colorado, has requested a 7.49 percent increase, Bright Health a 9.7 percent increase, Friday Health Plans 7.5 percent. Rocky Mountain HMO has requested 5.69 percent, and Cigna is asking for a 8.76 percent increase for their plans.

“I’m very pleased to see that we kept the same seven companies selling on-exchange plans,” said Interim Colorado Division of Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway in a news release. “Last year we worked hard to keep them in Colorado and I think that work is reflected in their decisions for 2019.”

Stapleton Admits Forgetting to Disclose His Wife’s $30K Income, As Required by Colorado Law

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Walker Stapleton.

Over a month ago, the Colorado Times Recorder first reported that Walker Stapleton appeared to have left Jenna Stapleton’s $30,000 salary off his personal financial disclosure (PFD) form, even though candidates like Stapleton are required by law to disclose any income generated by their “spouse.”

Stapleton didn’t respond respond to my request to explain the lapse, but yesterday Stapleton’s campaign manager Michael Fortney told ColoradoPolitics’ Joey Bunch:

Fortney: “When this was pointed out to us, our campaign updated the necessary paperwork within the rules.”

It actually took Stapleton’s campaign over two weeks to update the disclosure form. See it here.

I pointed out the apparent breach of Colorado law on June 6, and Stapleton’s campaign didn’t fix the problem until June 22, the day after the Colorado Times Recorder filed an official complaint about Stapleton’s disclosure stumble, as part of an explanation of the SOS’ new rules for enforcing campaign finance laws.

Stapleton filed a new personal financial disclosure form listing the Harmes C. Fishback Foundation as a “source of income” with “Jennifer Stapleton,” who’s its executive director, being the “recipient.” The Fishback Foundation is Staplton’s family’s $1.4 million foundation.

Jennifer Stapleton is now also disclosed on Stapleton’s list of “all offices, directorships, and fiduciary relationships held by you, your spouse, or minor child(ren) living with you.”

Fortney told Bunch that Stapleton did not break any laws because he did not “willfully” leave Jenna Stapleton’s income off the disclosure form and corrected the mistake within 30 days.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ office declined to weigh in on the matter, informing me in a July 3 dismissal of my complaint that the district attorney would be responsible for enforcing any crimes broken by Stapleton under Colorado’s Public Disclosure law.

Stapleton has yet to respond to my request for an explanation of why Jenna Stapleton was omitted from his disclosure forms, going back at least as far as 2012. Was his lawyer responsible fro the lapse? Fortney? Was Stapleton not aware of his wife’s 30K? If this wasn’t willful, then what happened?

Mesa County GOP Leader Compares Congresswoman to the Predator

(Stay classy! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The second vice chair of the Mesa County (Colorado) Republican Party shared a Facebook post last week comparing California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who’s one of the country’s leading African American women, to the alien beast in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s  famous 1987 movie, Predator.

The second vice chair, Mark McAllister shared the meme without comment, and did not respond to efforts to reach him through email and a call to the Mesa County GOP chair, Laureen Gutierrez.

Gutierrez declined an offer by the Colorado Times Recorder to comment on behalf of McAllister, who was elected to his GOP leadership position in Mesa County, in southwestern Colorado.

Waters is a past chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and the founder of the Black Women’s forum, which has over 1,200 African-American members.

Unlike some news sites, the Colorado Times Recorder (CTR) will call someone a racist if they make a racist comment and refuse to talk about it.

Under these circumstances, the racism speaks for itself. And racism is evident in the above meme, which was obtained by a source.

The Colorado Times Recorder is committed to exposing racism and bigotry in our state.

(more…)

SOS: Not His Job to Decide if Stapleton Broke Campaign Finance Rules

(Theater of the absurd — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Walker Stapleton.

To show how the Colorado Secretary of State’s (SOS) new campaign finance rules work, I filed a real-life complaint last month alleging that Republican candidate for governor Walker Stapleton broke Colorado law by not disclosing his wife’s $30,000 salary.

But the secretary of state says I messed up, because the SOS isn’t responsible for enforcing the law I think Stapleton broke.

During my vacation, in a detailed response to my complaint, the SOS didn’t say whether Stapleton was guilty or innocent of failing to disclose his wife’s 30K, which she earned as director of Stapleton’s family’s foundation.

Instead, I was told that the “district attorney,” not the secretary of state, is responsible for enforcing the law against someone “who willfully files a false or incomplete disclosure statement.”

The Colorado SOS’ Campaign Finance Manager Stephen Bouey wrote me that the SOS doesn’t enforce Colorado’s Public Disclosure law—only the “Colorado Constitution Art. XXVIII, the Fair Campaign Practices Act, or the Secretary of State’s Rules concerning Campaign and Political Finance.”

The SOS wrote me:

“Section 7 of the Public Disclosure Law states that any person ‘who willfully files a false or incomplete disclosure statement, amendment, or notice that no amendment is required,’ is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to fine of $1,000 to $5,000. Allegations concerning violations of this law carry criminal penalties that are under the jurisdiction of the district attorney, not the Secretary of State.”

I’m not a lawyer, but I’m confused, because Colorado’s Fair Campaign Practices Act, which the SOS does enforce, states that a candidate for governor “shall file a statement disclosing the information required by section 24-6-202 (2) with the appropriate officer, on a form approved by the secretary of state, within ten days of filing the affidavit required by subsection (1) of this section.”

As I see it, Stapleton didn’t file the “information required,” because he left out Jenna Stapleton’s $30,000, so he broke the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

But the SOS doesn’t see it that way:

“Failure to timely file a [Public Finance Disclosure] is a campaign finance violation. But failure to disclose required information on a PFD concerns the Public Disclosure Law, not campaign finance law. The complaint does not allege that Stapleton failed to timely file his PFD or his updated PFD, and the Secretary of State has not imposed a late filing penalty.”

The SOS went on to tell me that the Public Disclosure Law does indeed require a state candidate to list his spouse’s income. So, bingo, at least we all agree I had that right!

Again, I’m not a lawyer, so I need to figure this out, but I noticed something that might be relevant.

To break the law, it looks like Stapleton has to “willfully” omit his wife’s income.

It seems plausible that he just forgot, either because 1) Jenna’s Stapleton’s 30k amounts to grains of sand in the dunes of Stapleton’s wealth or 2) his campaign’s legal team is incompetent. Or a combination of the two.

Either way, the law-breaking wouldn’t be willful. But once he’s been informed of the omission, and he fails to correct the mistake, is he now “willfully” breaking the law? The SOS told me it contacted Stapleton about my complaint, so now he presumably knows about it.

In any case, the email I got from Bouey was titled the “Final Agency Decision” regarding my complaint, and I received it within 10 business days after I received notice of the receipt of my complaint, as promised under the new SOS rules.

It stated:

“This email serves as notification under Secretary of State Rules Concerning Campaign and Political Finance, Rule 18.2.4(b)(1), that the complaint has been dismissed. A copy of the agency decision is attached to this email.”

The SOS’ rules lay out a detailed appeal process, and I’ll explain these in my next blog post after I decide whether to appeal. Stay tuned.

“This Is a Clear Example of the Media Training Your Brain.” Not.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It’s the kind of conservative Facebook post you might roll your eyes at and move on, except it was posted just before last week’s murder of five staffers at a Maryland newspaper.

“Look at this….!!!” wrote the Montrose County (southern Colorado) Republican Party on its Facebook page, referring to a meme showing two editions of the Wall Street Journal with two different headlines about the same story.

“Same exact newspaper, same exact date, sold in different areas depending on the level of political parties in that area,” states the meme (on your right). “This is a clear example of the media training your brain people. Open your eyes before it’s too late.” [emphasis added]

Except it’s not the “media training your brain people.”

As explained by the nonpartisan fact checker Snopes, newspapers print different editions at different times during the day, and sometimes the headlines and content changes as stories develop:

This image was passed around on the Internet accompanied by the claim that the Wall Street Journal had deliberately published one headline, “Trump Softens His Tone,” in a pro-Trump market area in an attempt to sway readers away from the the GOP nominee, and the other headline, “Trump Talks Tough on Wall,” in a non-Trump market area to bolster support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

However, these opposing headline editions were not distributed to different political or geographic markets, nor were they intended to influence voters.

This picture shows two editions of the Wall Street Journal published at different times of the day. The paper on the left came off the press early in the day, while the paper on the right was produced later in the day. Print newspapers sometimes undergo revisions throughout their daily runs and typically employ marks to distinguish the various editions — in this case the differing WSJ editions are distinguishable by the number of stars displayed in the masthead:

You hope that the Montrose Republicans remove the WSJ meme from their website, and I’ve asked them to do so. No response.

In any case, they’re a Colorado example of a problem that’s obviously stoked by conservatives across the country, starting with Trump and his “fake news” propaganda.

They’re not only trashing the profession of journalism, which is bad enough given how much we need reporters to hold Trump and every other politician accountable.

But they’re also putting working-stiff journalists at risk. I’m not going to blame the deaths at the Capital newspaper in Maryland on the rhetoric of conservatives. But it creates a hostile climate for journalists, to be sure, which is not deserved or supported by the conservatives who are doing the attacking.

And, again,  it de-legitimizes the honorable profession of journalism.

Take Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who said last month the media wants conservatives to “fail.” His evidence for this? Zippo.

Gardner has also said, without evidence, that the “press” is biased against conservatives like him. And he blamed the media for Mitt Romney’s loss to Obama in 2012.

If you watch FOX News or follow politics at all, you know that evidence-free news-media bashing plays a leading role in the Republican playbook, going back way before Trump.

So you wonder what conservatives have to say to the journalists in Maryland, like the Capitol newspaper’s website editor, who defended his besieged profession after the shooting last week. The Washington Post reported last week:

Jimmy DeButts, an editor for the [Maryland newspaper’s] website, published a tribute on Twitter about the craft of his fellow journalists, with a nod to the struggles of many local newspapers to continue working under tough economic conditions.

“There are no 40 hour weeks, no big paydays — just a passion for telling stories from our community,” DeButts tweeted. “We keep doing more with less. We find ways to cover high school sports, breaking news, tax hikes, school budgets & local entertainment.”

DeButts added: “We are there in times of tragedy. We do our best to share the stories of people, those who make our community better. Please understand, we do all this to serve our community.”

Maybe the Montrose Republicans, Trump, Gardner, and other conservatives think they’ll maintain power by undermining journalism.

I’m hoping journalism–and our country–prevails, and I read about Trump’s and Gardner’s demise in the newspaper.

How YOU Can Enforce Colorado’s New Campaign Rules: The SOS’ Vetting Process Begins

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Walker Stapleton.

How could little old you possibly make a big-ass political candidate comply with Colorado’s campaign finance and disclosure laws?

In a blog post last week, I showed you, step-by-step, how simple it is to file a complaint under new rules announced Tuesday by Colorado Secretary of State (SOS) Wayne Williams.

On Thursday, to make explaining the new process more tangible and understandable, I filed a sample complaint, apparently the first test-case for the SOS’ new rules, about a possible campaign-disclosure violation by Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who’s running for governor in the Republican primary.

So here’s where things stand?

“The Elections Division will make an initial determination regarding the complaint within 10 business days,” the SOS’ office notified me via email Thursday just hours after receiving my complaint.

How exciting!

My complaint has been given a name, “Salzman v. Stapleton.” That sounds a bit scary to me, to be honest, since I don’t have a lawyer doing this like Stapleton surely will, but the process is designed to allow anyone to have a fighting chance.

Here’s what will happen next, as beautifully described in the SOS’ new rules.

(more…)

After Saying Trump Could Not Stop Trump Policy of Separating Migrant Families, Congressman Now Heading to Border to Ensure Children Are “Properly Cared For”

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) is heading to Texas Saturday with officials from the Department of Health and Human Services to assess a federal child detention facility and to receive briefings from U.S. border patrol agencies, Coffman’s office announced today in a news release.

“Tearing children away from their parents is not only immoral, it’s unacceptable and should never have occurred,” said Coffman in a statement.

But earlier this week, Coffman thought Trump didn’t have the power to change the child-separation policy, even though he opposed it.

Describing a Tuesday meeting with Trump and congressional Republicans, in which Trump claimed that Congress, not his administration, had to take action to stop the child grabbing, Coffman said he agreed with Trump.

“There was nothing to challenge [Trump] on from my standpoint,” said Coffman Wednesday on KOA radio’s Colorado’s Morning News. “We acknowledged the fact that it’s wrong to separate children from families, and he needs statutory authority. He needs Congress to pass language to allow him to change this process.” (at 2 min 30 seconds below)

“The president stated that he didn’t want the country to have this visual of separating families,” said Coffman on air. “There wasn’t really room to challenge the president on that point, because he acknowledged it.”

Hours after the radio interview, Trump reversed himself on having no power to act unilaterally, and he signed an executive order ending the child-separation policy.

Coffman has not said why he thought Trump did not have the power to do this, and his office didn’t return an email seeking an explanation.

During the KOA interview, Coffman said he thought Trump could stop prosecuting people for crossing the border entirely and instead put them back on the other side of the border, an approach he said he’d favor.

Regardless, Coffman now says he wants to insure the child migrants are being “properly cared for,” and that’s the purpose of his trip to Texas.

Listen to Mike Coffman on KOA radio June 20:

Here’s a Real-Life Example of How to File an Official Campaign Finance Complaint

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams issued temporary rules yesterday explaining how to file complaints about possible violations of Colorado’s campaign finance and disclosure laws.

Williams’ new procedures won’t scare off citizens from filing complaints, because the required form is straight-forward, logical, and easy to file.

To help you get a handle on how you can file a complaint, the Colorado Times Recorder is providing a real-life example: Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who appears to have failed to disclose his wife’s annual income of $30,000, even though Colorado law requires Stapleton and other state candidates to disclose their own income as well as that of their “spouse.

This post will lead you through process, in a step-by-step fashion, from filling out the required complaint to delivering it and waiting for a response. Watch for follow-up posts with new developments as they emerge.

STEP ONE: Identify the Colorado campaign law that the candidate broke and make sure it’s covered under Williams’ new rules. In our example about Stapleton, the applicable law is the Fair Campaign Practices Act, which is specified in Williams’ new rules. Colorado law clearly indicates that Stapleton can’t leave his wife’s income off his disclosure form. (The SOS will also review complaints relating to Article XXVIII of the Colorado Constitution and the SOS’ “rules concerning campaign and political finance.”)

STEP TWO: Answer the questions on the Colorado Secretary of State’s “Campaign Finance Complaint Cover Sheet,” which you can find here. It asks for the name and contact information of the person “filing the complaint” and the person “alleged to have committed the violation.” Then you’re asked to “briefly summarize the allegations made in the attached complaint,” making sure to “allege specific facts to support a legal and factual basis for the complaint.” Easy Peasy.

So, in my Stapleton example, I wrote in my summary:

Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who’s running for governor, failed to disclose $30,000 paid to his wife, Jenna Stapleton, for her job as “Executive Director” of the Harmes C. Fishback Foundation, which is Stapleton’s family’s foundation.

Under the Fair Campaign Practices Act (§ 1-45-110. Candidate affidavit – disclosure statement), Colorado law requires candidates for state offices to file a personal finance disclosure form with the secretary of state, listing not only their income but also that of their spouses. (CO Rev Stat § 24-6-202 [2016]).

As of June 14, Stapleton’s latest personal finance disclosure statement, dated May 25, 2018, did not list Jenna Stapleton’s income. For more details see the Colorado Times Recorder’s investigation, “In a Second Financial Reporting Lapse, Stapleton Omits $30,000 of Income on his Disclosure Form for Governor’s Race.” (Note Stapleton’s failure to respond to questions.)

The form asks you to attach a “complaint.” I used essentially the same summary above and stapled it to the complaint cover sheet.

STEP THREE: Sign and date the form and submit a hard copy to the secretary of state’s office at 1700 Broadway, Suite 200. (Yes, that’s also where Lynn Bartels works.)

I rode my bike up to the secretary of state’s office and delivered my complaint this morning, but you can also mail it in. Don’t forget to sign yours!

STEP FOUR: Feel good about yourself. Even if your complaint is thrown out, at least you care enough about campaign laws to try to enforce them as best you can. You aren’t a loafer if you get involved.

By the way, here’s why the SOS promulgated the new rules that have been explained in this blog post.

Williams’ new procedures came in the wake of a federal court ruling last week that cast wide confusion over how–and if–Colorado’s campaign finance and disclosure laws would be enforced. Williams’ rules go a long way toward clarifying the matter, at least for now, experts say. That’s important given that the campaign season is upon us, and these laws need to be enforced.

The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul explained other elements of the new process yesterday:

Under the new rules, adopted with consultation from the state’s Democratic and Republican parties and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, elections officials will have 10 business days to make a decision on whether a campaign finance complaint is meritorious.

If the complaint is rejected by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, the person who filed the allegation can appeal. There is also a process under which a flawed complaint can be fixed by whomever filed.

If a complaint is reviewed and found to have merit, it will be forwarded to an administrative law judge — as was the process before.

It appears that the Stapleton complaint used in this blog post to illustrate the new procedures was the first submitted since the new rules were announced. Again, I’ll write follow-up blog posts explaining how it goes.

Buck: Children Being Separated From Parents For Their Own Good

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Despite widespread condemnation of Trump’s mandate to separate immigrant children from their parents at the border, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) doubled down on his support for the Trump policy today, telling a radio host that the “children are being separated from their parents out of consideration for their own safety.”

In radio comments last week, Buck blamed the parents of the children, saying it’s “unfortunate” that immigrants choose to cross the border illegally.

And so it’s “just a sad reality that there is going to be some unfortunate separation of individuals when crimes are committed.”

On KOA radio this morning, host April Zesbaugh asked Buck if he agreed with U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) who called for the immediate cessation of the “policy that separates kids from their families.”

Buck:I rarely agree with Ed, but I like Ed a lot. But no, I think that it is terribly unfortunate when kids are separated from their families. But the reality is there has to be a responsibility taken by parents who bring kids to this country illegally or who don’t go through the proper asylum procedure when coming into this country. Putting kids in a detention facility with adults is a dangerous situation that’s not done in this country in our criminal system. And where these families are going are to detention centers. And so there is a public safety issue for these kids that has to be taken into account also. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s a terribly unfortunate situation. But I think that the Trump administration — and previous administrations — have had a tough time dealing with how to deal with — or how to address — families that are that are coming into this country legally.

On the same show this morning Perlmutter said Trump “of course” has the power to stop immigrant kids from being separated from their parents, pointing out that Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, launched the policy this year–and that under previous Democratic and Republican presidents, this did not happen to children at the border, even though past administrations had the power to do it.

“I think it’s illegal and it is immoral to be separating these kids from their families,” said Perlmutter, calling the situation an “emergency” in which kids are being “housed in cages.”

“It’s just wrong,” said Perlmutter.

Anti-Abortion Group: Top GOP Candidates for Governor are Dodging Abortion Questions

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Campaign for Life, a statewide anti-abortion group, says two leading Republican candidates for governor won’t answer specific questions about abortion.

The silence from the two candidates, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and former state lawmaker Victor Mitchell, has led Colorado Campaign for Life to accuse them of being “squishy” on their alleged “pro-life” stand.

In a Facebook post this week, Colorado Campaign for Life asserted Stapleton and Mitchell “mouth Pro-life rhetoric in private” but won’t say whether they believe life begins at conception or whether they support a proposed law mandating women receive an ultrasound and the option of seeing it, prior to having an abortion.

A review of statements about abortion by Mitchell and Stapleton shows that they’ve both signaled their vague support for the anti-abortion cause, even though their campaign websites are silent on the subject.

The “Issues” section of Stapleton’s website, for example, lists “Sanctuary Cities, Retirement, Education, Energy and Land, Transportation, Second Amendment, and Jobs.” Nothing about abortion rights. In a Facebook interview last week, Stapleton said he’d defend the Colorado Constitution’s ban on state funding of abortion. And during a speech to state Republicans in April, he vowed to protect the “born and unborn,” according to the liberal blog ColoradoPols.

Stapleton did not return an email from the Colorado Times Recorder seeking details on his abortion positions.

Mitchell wrote on Facebook last year that Colorado Republicans “should nominate pro-life candidates,” but he reportedly also believes that Roe v. Wade is settled law–a view that’s considered more pro-choice. And he said he doesn’t support more restrictive abortion laws in Colorado, according to a questionnaire he filled out for the Colorado Independent. He contradicted this stance earlier this year when he said he wants to ban late-term abortions in Colorado. Mitchell did not return an email asking for an explanation of this stance.

Two other Republicans in the GOP primary race appear to have hard-line anti-abortion views.

“I believe that only God has the right to take a life, whether in the womb, beginning at conception, or before natural death,” states the campaign website of Greg Lopez, a former mayor of a Denver suburb, on his website. “I am pro-life, without exceptions.”

Another Republican in the primary race, businessman Doug Robinson, has said he voted for Colorado’s personhood amendment, which would ban all abortion, even after a rape. But responding to a questionnaire from the Colorado Independent, Robinson skipped a question asking if he would support more restrictive abortion laws in Colorado.

Surveys show Republican primary voters  to be anti-choice, but with a recent poll showing Stapleton ahead by double digits, his campaign tactics may already be focused on  the general election, where voters overwhelmingly favor abortion rights.

February poll conducted by a GOP consulting firm showed that 47 percent of Republican voters would reject a pro-choice primary candidate.

But polling generally shows Colorado’s general election voters to be pro-choice. A 2014 Pew Poll, for example, found 59 percent of the state’s population wants abortion to be legal in most or all cases.

If You Want a Semi-Automatic AR-15, Maybe You Should Start Going to GOP Fundraisers

(We’re good, thanks – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

If you want to start amassing guns, you might consider attending Republican Party fundraisers in Colorado.

To get your own military-style semi-automatic AR-15 rifle this weekend, you’d have to be lucky (or unlucky if you hate guns), because it’s the grand prize in a Saturday raffle for the Teller County Republican Party.

In May, you could have gotten one at a GOP fundraiser in Colorado Springs.

The AR-15 is the firearm used at the mass killings of students in Florida this year and Sandy Hook in 2012. it was used in the Las Vegas massacre in 2017 and San Bernadino in 2015. And, unfortunately, elsewhere.

Does that bother the organizers of the raffle?

“Absolutely not,” said Erik Stone, the elected chair of the Teller County Republican Party, told the Colorado Times Recorder. “Individual people are responsible for individual acts. Guns are inanimate objects. They are tools. They can be used the same as a car, a knife, a sword, as we saw in Kansas City. There are many weapons people can use with evil intent. And I have no problems with our raffle.”

Stone said the winner of the raffle will have to pass a background check before receiving his or her grand prize.

“If they cannot pass a background check, they will receive a cash prize in lieu of the firearm,” said Stone, adding that he is not only a gun-rights advocate but also an NRA certified instructor who recently taught a free concealed-carry class for teachers and first responders. “Everything will be done completely legally.”

At a GOP fundraiser in May, your chance to win an AR-15 would probably have been more pricey. Instead of being raffled off, the weapon was the first of six “live auction items” at the El Paso County Republican Party’s annual fundraiser at the Antlers Hotel in downtown Colorado Springs.

The estimated value of the AR-15 for this weekend’s raffle is $1,500. The second prize in the raffle is 10 one-once Liberty Silver Dollars, with a retail value of $200. Money goes to Republican efforts in Teller County, located outside of Colorado Springs.

Stone said the AR-15 has multiple uses. It is America’s number one gun choice for killing varmints, he said, which is the same point made in March by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) when he said farmers and ranchers in his district use the AR-15 to shoot “pests, raccoons, or foxes or other smaller animals that are trying get into their chickens or disrupt their operations.”

Gun-safety advocates say you don’t need a semi-automatic weapon to kill raccoons or other farm pests. It’s essentially a military weapon, designed for rapid-fire killing not hunting or other civilian use, they say.

Stapleton Condemns Racism but Some Say He Should Go Further in Addressing His Great-Grandfather’s KKK Ties

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Walker Stapleton.

Swirling on the fringe of Republican Walker Stapleton’s run for governor is the question of how, and if, he should address the fact that his great-grandfather, former Denver mayor Benjamin F. Stapleton, was a leader of the Klu Klux Klan in Colorado in the 1920s.

Benjamin Stapleton’s KKK ties have led community groups and associations to remove “Stapleton” from their names. It’s led one of Stapleton’s GOP opponents to accuse Walker Stapleton of using his family’s vast wealth to try to cleanse his name in the community.

In a vote earlier this year, after a prolonged debate, residents of the Stapleton United Neighbors neighborhood association came seven percentage points shy of the required 60 percent necessary to change their neighborhood’s name to “Central Park United Neighbors.”

Stapleton has mostly avoided comment on the debate about his great grandfather, but last month he told the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins that he’d “leave it to others to opine on what happened in Colorado 100 years ago.”

“I absolutely condemn racism and I’ll leave it to others to opine on what happened in Colorado 100 years ago,” Stapleton told the Independent, a left-leaning publication.

“I think that whoever lives in that community, whoever has a business in that community, whoever is involved in economic development in that community, whoever is involved in nonprofits in that community— that community should decide,” he added.

In this comment, which appears to be his only response to the KKK controversies involving his family, Stapleton stops short of specifically condemning his great-grandfather’s actions or apologizing for them, leading some to question whether his response goes far enough.

(more…)

“Media Is Afraid” GOP Will Retain Control of U.S. Senate, And They “Want Us to Fail,” Says Gardner

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senator Cory Gardner (R).

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said last week that he’s not planning to run again for his current U.S. Senate leadership position, in which he’s charged with electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate.

His reason for stepping away: “I am going to be focused on 2020,” he told The Hill, a Washington DC publication.

Translation: He’s going to work on his own re-election campaign in Colorado, where he’s even more unpopular than Trump–and that’s in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton by five points.

Gardner, who doesn’t return my calls, likely sees the obstacles to his own re-election in 2020 as similar to those facing Republicans this year.

A big problem is the media, according to Gardner. The media is making the November election look really lousy for Republicans.

Telling fellow conservatives at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver Friday that Republicans will be able to confirm scores of judges if they can retain control of the U.S. Senate in November, Gardner said the “media is afraid of this,” and they “want us to fail.”

Gardner (at 57 min 45 secs here): There is only one body that confirms judges and that is the United States Senate. We have the potential to confirm scores more of these constitutional judges, but we have to keep the senate.

The media knows this. The media is afraid of this. And that is why they want us to fail. They are already writing their stories. You can see it in the news. They don’t want us to think we are just going to lose the house and the senate, but sometimes I get the feeling they are cheering it on. This past election was a rebuke of their narrative that our movement is on the outs.

This is not the first time Gardner has claimed the media is aligned against Republicans. Back in 2012, Gardner blamed Mitt Romney’s loss in part on the media.

He once told a right-wing talk radio host that the media is biased against “people like us.”

In focusing on the media as a big Republican problem in November, Gardner is skirting discussion of the GOP legislative collapses on healthcare, immigration, and trade, or the mood swings of President Trump, or the tax bill’s failure to deliver promised wage increases for middle-class voters.

Cory Gardner Said a Proposed Abortion Ban Was Just Symbolic, but He Has Yet to Co-Sponsor It Again

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

It’s been almost four years since U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) was running around Colorado saying that federal personhood legislation, which aimed to ban all abortion, even for rape, and which Gardner co-sponsored as a member of the U.S. House, was “simply a statement that I support life.”

Reporters repeatedly objected, reading the text of the anti-abortion bill directly to Gardner, but the words of the bill, and the fact checkers views of it, slid off Gardner, as did all those political advertisements warning everyone about Gardner’s extreme anti-choice views. Gardner said his Democratic opponent was just “trying to distract voters.

If the personhood legislation was indeed the symbol Gardner said it was in 2014, you’d think Colorado’s Republican senator would have co-sponsored the senate version of the bill once he was seated in the senate.

But Gardner’s name doesn’t appear on the Life at Conception Act, the Senate’s personhood legislation, sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Eleven other U.S. senators have co-sponsored the bill but not Gardner.

I called Gardner’s office to find out why he’s not on board with the bill, which is pretty much identical to the one he co-sponsored as a Congressman from northern Colorado in 2913. No response.

It doesn’t appear that Gardner’s anti-abortion position has changed since Colorado voters installed him in the senate.

You’d expect him to take action to restrict a women’s right to choose, and he has.

Since he was elected senator in 2014, Gardner has voted seven times to de-fund Planned Parenthood (e.g., Four Obamacare repeal measures, backed by Gardner, contained provisions that would have rescinded funds from the women’s health organization.)

Gardner hasn’t objected to Trump’s orders to gag some federally funded clinics from even talking about the option of abortion, a rule which will cause Planned Parenthood to lose millions of federal dollars.

And before that, Gardner didn’t object to Trump’s order imposing the same rule on U.S. funded clinics internationally.

Gardner continues his anti-abortion fight. So why hasn’t he co-sponsored the personhood bill again? It’s just a statement of his support for life, he said before about the bill, which came to define the 2014 campaign.

Giant Conservative Gathering Looks Counter-Productive, from My Seat on The Blue Wave

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Dave Williams (R), Congressman Steve King (R-IA).

I bounced around the Western Conservative Summit, which is billed as the “largest gathering of conservatives outside of Washington DC,” and I kept thinking, how can this colossal event possibly help the conservative cause, much less the Republican Party?

My first stop was the exhibit hall, where I stopped at a booth for the “Association of Mature American Citizens.” Exactly what the right-wing needs, I thought.

But it turned out to be an alternative to the AARP, because the AARP is considered a leftist entity!

But the AARP is one of the most popular mainstream organizations in our country, I told the woman at the desk.

No, she replied, it needs to be replaced with a group that will protect health care from government control and balance the budget.

I was passing the “NRA: Stand and Fight” booth when I say Raymond Garcia, a Republican  candidate for Colorado State House. He made the Denver Post a while back for his extreme Facebook posts, like, “Hillary Meal Deal: Two Fat Thighs, Two Small Breasts, and a Bunch of Left Wings.”

At a time when women appear to represent the decisive force in American politics, it’s hard to see how Garcia can be anything but a destructive element for conservatives. But the former Marine didn’t flinch, telling me, “You have to fight fire with fire,” and promising to battle the left with the same tactics it uses on the right.

Next stop, the Colorado Right to Life table, which is also likely to grab the attention of all those mobilized women in America.

Colorado Right to Life is a no-holes-barred  group that opposes all abortion, even for rape, arguing that the crime of the father has nothing to do the acceptability of abortion.

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