Conservative media figures from “leadership program” promote GOP extremism and election conspiracies

(Garbage in, garbage out – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Bob Schaffer, LPR board chairman..

At least 18 graduates of Colorado’s most prominent conservative training program are media figures who, over the decades, have mostly dragged the Republican Party to the right, initially helping energize Tea Party Republicans to win elections but now contributing to the party’s current isolation, infighting, and increasing irrelevance.

Graduates of the training, called the Leadership Program of the Rockies (LPR), mostly populate right-wing talk radio shows and podcasts.

Two of the first LPR media yappers to have an impact in Colorado were Jason Worley and Ken Clark, who took over KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado in 2011 from founder Jim Pfaff, a hard-right social conservative, and helped shove fellow Tea Partiers toward future Sen. Cory Gardner, who in turn would bear hug the Tea Party on air.

It worked, as Gardner rode the Tea Party/Anti-Obamacare wave into the Senate.

Media Platforms Promote GOP Extremism in Blue State

But it’s been pretty much downhill from there, as LPR graduates in the media have largely pushed conservatives further and further to the right, as the state has veered more and more to the left, culminating in the disaster Republicans currently face: They hold not a single statewide governing body or have any office holder elected in a statewide election.

Bob Schaffer, the LPR’s board chair, says LPR’s goal isn’t to assist the Republican Party anyway. It looks to recruit people with an established “leadership profile” in any area of civic life, including the media, he says.

But the program is aimed partially at spawning media figures, he said. It does this by “empowering individuals to be effective leaders” in civic affairs broadly, including in “health care and academia and ministry and education and — or just, anywhere — in the Scouts, in the nonprofit world or in the media.”

(more…)

Gazette’s ‘Investigative Journalist’ Levels Baseless Attacks on the Colorado Times Recorder

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jimmy Sengenberger is best known as a far-right opinion monger on talk radio station KNUS and as a right-wing contributor to Colorado Politics, which is owned by billionaire GOP donor Phil Anschutz.

On Dec. 30, at the bottom of an article published in the Denver Gazettealso owned by Anschutz via Clarity Media, he’s identified not as an opinion columnist but as “an investigative journalist, public speaker, and host of ‘The Jimmy Sengenberger Show.’” The article doesn’t appear in the opinion section of the website, despite the headline, “Nothing Extreme About Parental Rights.”

Sengenberger

As investigative journalists ourselves, we couldn’t help but notice some differences between our approach to reporting versus his.

When reporter Heidi Beedle asserted in her Dec. 1 article that groups like Colorado Parent Advocacy Network (CPAN) and FAIR [Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism] have an anti-LGBTQ activist agenda, she provided evidence in the form of direct quotes from group leaders and citations of other news reporting.

Beedle’s reporting — and characterization of these groups as “conservative” — is backed up by facts and quotes.

Sengenberger states without evidence that “none of these groups are extremist.”

He writes that the Colorado Times Recorder “attempted to paint CPAN as a right-wing extremist group working to undermine public education and harm the LGBTQ community. The site grouped CPAN with the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, Advocates for D20 Kids, and the longstanding Independence Institute. None of these organizations are extremist.”

(more…)

Hunt: CO Christian University Is ‘Safest’ Campus Because ‘We’re Committed to Jesus’

(Would Jesus steal elections? — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Hunt

Colorado Christian University (CCU) is “honestly, the safest campus in Colorado because we’re deeply committed to Jesus,” said Jeff Hunt, a CCU leader on his podcast last month. “There’s not a lot of craziness going on.”

Hunt didn’t respond to an email seeking data to back up the claim, which he made on his Frontier Freedom Hour at 11 minutes here.

Hunt, who directs the CCU’s right-wing Centennial Institute, also didn’t supply an answer to the question of why his Christian university would be safer than other Christian universities, like Regis, a Jesuit Catholic institution in northwest Denver, a few miles from the Lakewood home of Hunt’s CCU.

Regis’ mission, as stated on its website, is partly to “embody God’s love in the world,” and it’s “rooted in an Ignatian spirituality of Christian discipleship,” which makes it sound like Regis is as committed to Jesus as CCU.

“As Catholic, part of a global community of faith called to celebrate and embody God’s love in the world, Regis educates diverse students for lives of service and meaning, equips them with knowledge and skills to be discerning persons in solidarity with others, especially all who are poor or whose dignity has been violated, and empowers them to care for the Earth, our common home,” states the Regis website.

CCU’s website contains similar statements, claiming the university “emphasizes development of Christian character and spirituality with the intent of sending graduates with personal Christian commitment and an informed sense of Christian morality into today’s communities and workplaces to provide leadership. CCU emphasizes the development of compassion, social concern, and a sense of biblical justice in the lives of its students.”

Another query that Hunt ignored was whether his own promotion of his religious commitment as somehow better than the religious feeling or ethics of others because it makes his community safer undermines the values of “compassion” and “social concern” that he claims to hold, particularly when there appears to be no data to back up his claim.

At least one member of CCU’s academic team is currently under investigation for several serious crimes. In August a judge ordered Centennial Institute Policy Fellow Jenna Ellis to testify as part of a Georgia grand jury investigation into crimes including, “solicitation of election fraud, conspiracy and making false statements to state and local government bodies.”

(more…)

Conservative CO News Outlet Stops Publishing Articles From a Conservative News Service

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Politics, a digital and print news outlet with a conservative editorial page, has stopped republishing articles from Center Square, a conservative news service that claims to be competing with the Associated Press and other newswires.

The last Center Square article appeared on Colorado Politics’ website on Sept. 21, 2021, the day before the Colorado Times Recorder published an article spotlighting 33 of Center Square’s conservative-leaning news stories on Colorado Politics’ website. The article, which I wrote, cited evidence that some of Center Square’s funders, staffers, and content lean to the Republican right — despite Center Square’s claim that it doesn’t favor conservatives.

Center Square’s parent company, the nonprofit Franklin News Foundation, doesn’t identify its sources of funding for itself or for Center Square, claiming Center Square delivers “objective, balanced” news stories with a “taxpayer sensibility.”

Colorado Politics advising editor Vince Bzdek didn’t respond to requests for comment last year, when my original article was published.

Unanswered questions at the time, when Center Square articles were appearing in Colorado Politics, were whether Colorado Politics would publish news content from Colorado Newsline, which names its funders, including major progressive donors, and produces journalism that’s credentialed by the Colorado Capitol press corps, or from the Colorado Times Recorder, which has undisclosed progressive donors and writes from an openly progressive perspective. Both news sites offer their content for free, as Center Square does.

Bzdek, who served as an editor at the Washington Post and The Denver Post, did not respond to an email last week seeking an explanation for why Center Square’s content was dumped. Colorado Politics Publisher Jared Wright also did not return an email.

Bzdek’s silence on the disappearance of Center Square articles is particularly noteworthy given that Colorado Politics’ conservative editorial stance and its ownership by a GOP mega-donor.

Also, Bzdek has accused Denver media outlets (The Denver Post, The Colorado Sun, Westword, Colorado Public Radio) of having a liberal slant — so you’d think he might welcome the chance to talk about why his outlet scrubbed conservative content from its news site, if his concerns about Center Square’s bias are the reason Center Square articles were dropped from Colorado Politics. (In any case, Bzdek never produced data to back up his claims of partisanship by Denver news organizations.) It’s more likely Bzdek had no role in the decision to stop using Center Square content, but who knows?

(more…)

Post-Election Media Bashing: Conservative Radio Is ‘Only Way We Got Our Voice Out,’ Says Ganahl

(Preach only to the choir? — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“What really was frustrating to me is that the public, the people of Colorado, didn’t get to hear my heart. They didn’t get to hear who I am, or how I wanted to solve problems for them because [the news media] were so jaded and cynical, cynical and selective,” Heidi Ganahl told KOA radio host Mandy Connell last week.

“I would have a conversation with a reporter for an hour and talk all about policy and what I wanted to do. And the headline would be — what do you think?”

Ganahl

“Furries! Furries!” responded Connell.

“Or election deniers or you know. …” said Ganahl.

Ganahl said the situation with the media is “not fair to the people of Colorado.”

“Look at what’s happening with Twitter right now,” she told Connell on Dec. 5. “That’s not fair to the Americans who could have made a different decision about what they were going to vote if they knew what happened with the Hunter Biden story or pick your pleasure, whichever story they covered up. But in a smaller scale that happened in Colorado because we could never get our message out.”

In the end, Ganahl is left thinking that “conservative radio in Colorado is the only way we got our voice out.”

Ganahl is not the only failed conservative candidate in Colorado who’s said that conservatives should avoid media environments where challenging questions might pop up — and instead focus on their own platforms.

In the runup to his loss in 2020, former Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, said that to win, conservatives should skirt the media’s “pre-approved filter” and speak directly with constituents in order “to get our message around the people who want to twist or turn it or ignore it.” Gardner once told a right-wing talk radio host that the media is biased against “people like us.”

Asked by Connell if she regretted not accepting an offer during the campaign to debate on 9News, Ganahl said, “No, Mandy, I don’t. I just, I have no respect for [9News anchor] Kyle Clark. He does not treat women well. And I’ve spent the last couple of decades of my life working on helping women, lifting them up, and teaching them how to be strong and bold and speak up for themselves. And at the end of the day, we tried to negotiate something with 9News where he had a woman with him instead of Marshall. Nothing against [9News political reporter] Marshall [Zellinger]. We just to make a point, said, ‘You need a woman’s perspective up there to counteract his attitude towards especially conservative women.’ And they wouldn’t do it. And so at that point, it was like, ‘Fine, then never mind, I am going to put my money where my mouth is and stand up like I tell other women to do and say no, even if it will cost me, you know, some name recognition.’ But I also, you know, we had four other debates that were really good that people could watch online.”

On the other hand, Ganahl praised CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd’s coverage of the furry story, which first appeared in the Colorado Times Recorder, but she lamented that “nobody paid attention” to it because it came out late.

Meanwhile, with respect to her Democratic opponent, Gov. Jared Polis, Ganahl told Connell, “The media covered up for him and let him do his thing.”

Leading Colorado Republicans Back DeSantis, Who Championed Anti-Gay Law

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After Trump was blamed for the Republicans’ midterm wipeout in Colorado, multiple leading Republicans gushed on public platforms about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who championed Florida’s notorious ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which is seen by advocates as a clear attack on LGBTQ rights.

Ron DeSantis

Speaking on conservative radio the morning after this month’s election, state Sen. Paul Lundeen (R-Monument), who’s the new Republican leader of the state Senate, said the Republican brand is in “disarray,” and DeSantis represents “the emerging Republican brand.”

The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which was condemned by multiple Florida businesses, including Disney, bans discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public K-3 classrooms. Before it was passed, LGBTQ advocates warned that it was vague enough to potentially apply to all public schools — which turned out to be the case. When the Florida law was rolled out in late June, multiple schools in the state reportedly warned some teachers to remove photos of their same-sex spouses from their desk and flag course material which referenced LGBTQ identities. The bill has since become a template for similar anti-LGBTQ legislation in other states.

On the radio, Lundeen dodged a question about Trump being responsible for Republican woes, and instead praised DeSantis for his overwhelming election victory.

“Ron DeSantis spoke to and promoted and was very specific about the issues that Republicans care about,” Lundeen told KHOW’s Ross Kaminsky Nov. 9. “They care about affordability of life. They care about freedom from government intrusion into their life. They care about being safer in their neighborhoods and their communities. And they care, quite frankly, about having greater authority over their child’s education. So that’s the brand that Ron DeSantis ran on and won four years ago on — and won in a much bigger fashion last night. And I think that is the emerging Republican brand. Going back to the question of brand, I would like to think that we’re going because that’s what we campaigned on, and it didn’t stick.”

Likewise, Republican pundit Dick Wadhams wrote in Colorado Politics Nov. 13 that if DeSantis runs in 2024, “Colorado might be in play.”

(more…)

Now Is a Good Time For the CO Springs Gazette To Stifle Itself

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Republicans are saying they want to improve themselves, and a good way to move forward would be for the state’s top-money Republican, Phil Anschutz, to stifle the Colorado Springs Gazette’s impetuous and extremist editorial board, led by editor Wayne Laugesen.

The Gazette board, and especially Laugesen, are a far-right drag on Republicans who need the opposite.

It’s senseless for Anschutz to underwrite the production of rabid anti-abortion, flame-throwing opinions that play an oversized role in defining the Gazette and its affiliated platforms (Colorado Politics, Denver Gazette), which exist, at least in part, to promote conservativism to blue Colorado.

Thanks to the board and Laugesen, the brand of the Gazette is more along the lines of MAGA Trumpism than anything Colorado wants. While a good chunk of the editorial positions aligns with establishment Republicans, the ones that break through and define the platforms are Trumpist.

For those who follow Laugesen, it was no surprise that he turned up at the Jan. 6 insurrection and immediately commented that the culprits were “probably Antifa.”

Before Laugesen attended the Capitol riot (accompanying his wife and there to observe, he claims), the Colorado Springs Gazette had already — quickly and irresponsibly — raised the possibility of election fraud. A Nov. 12, 2020, editorial cited “allegations in multiple lawsuits” — which were all dismissed.

Laugesen, who never disclosed that his wife worked for Trump, sits on the Gazette editorial board along with Ryan McKibben, Chairman, Christian Anschutz, Vice Chairman, Chris Reen, Publisher, and Pula Davis, Newsroom Operations Director. So he’s not ultimately responsible for the self-defeating extremism that pours from the page.

He claims this board is hands-on, developing and approving editorial opinions together. Laugesen told the Colorado Springs Independent, “I have a hand in all editorials as do my five colleagues on the board.”

(more…)

Colorado Kids ‘Want Litter Boxes in the Bathroom,’ Says State Board of Ed Candidate Peggy Propst

(Here’s your sign — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado State Board of Education candidate Peggy Propst is the latest Republican to sound the alarm over Colorado students she claims are dressing as “furries” and want “litter boxes in the bathroom.”

Propst

“We have furries in our classrooms, kids that come to school and believe that they want to be treated as a dog or a cat and have litter boxes in the bathroom,” Propst, A Republican, told Winn Tuscon, a right-wing radio show in Arizona Oct. 28. “And this is a real thing.”

Propst cited, “in particular,” parents from one unnamed school in Jefferson County who are demanding a litter box for their daughter.

The Jefferson County School District has denied that students are identifying as furries during the school day. And the allegations are seen by advocates as veiled attacks on LGBTQ students, particularly transgender students.

Nonetheless, the alleged presence of furries and alleged demands for litter boxes in Colorado schools proves to Propst that “parents have got to put their foot down” and demand tax dollars in the form of so-called “vouchers” to remove their students from the public schools — a move that opponents argue would undermine public schools.

Some classrooms in Jefferson County schools have had cat litter since 2017, in case students are locked in a classroom during a shooting. Jefferson County is the district that includes Columbine High School, where a massacre occurred in 1999.

Colorado gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl has been widely criticized for her steadfast — but unsubstantiated — belief, first reported by the Colorado Times Recorder, that Colorado “kids identifying as cats. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it’s happening all over Colorado and schools are tolerating it.”

(more…)

FACT CHECK: Kirkmeyer Falsely Claims Her Democratic Opponent Voted To Legalize Fentanyl

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark and Marshall Zelinger tore into Barb Kirkmeyer’s false ad with unusual gusto last night, taking a moment to discuss what elevates a merely false statement by a politician into a knowing and deliberate lie–which this ad is:

—–

In a Sept. 27 interview on Colorado Public Radio, congressional candidate Barbara Kirkmeyer explained that a 2019 Colorado law reduced the penalty for possession of up to four grams of Fentanyl.

The state law, which has since been revised, mandated that fentanyl possession was “no longer a felony after four grams, and it became a misdemeanor,” said Kirkmeyer.

That’s, in fact, what happened in 2019. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Kirkmeyer’s Democratic opponent, Yadira Caraveo, voted to reduce the penalty of up to four grams of fentanyl from a felony to a misdemeanor, in an effort to help lesser offenders be near support systems and facilitate recovery. Felonies remained in place for higher amounts.

Colorado didn’t legalize Fentanyl. Kirkmeyer said so herself — last month.

But as this month’s election edged closer, and polls showed her race tightening, Kirkmeyer amped up her rhetoric and turned to a falsehood, claiming instead that Caraveo voted to legalize the drug — an allegation that’s widely known to be incorrect.

“Yadira Caraveo and liberal Democrats voted to legalize fentanyl possession,” stated Kirkmeyer in a political advertisement that’s currently airing. “You heard me. They legalized fentanyl. It’s time to get tough on criminals and save our kids.”

Last week, Denver Post reporter Seth Klaman flagged the ad as false, tweeting, “This is inaccurate. Kirkmeyer says Dems ‘voted to legalize fentanyl possession.’ In 2019, Dems – with some GOP support – voted to de-felonize possession of fentanyl up to 4g. It was still illegal to possess it in any amount; it was just a misdemeanor for smaller amounts.”

Colorado Politics reporter Ernest Luning came to the same conclusion. As did 9News’ Kyle Clark.

Numerous Republicans also voted for the 2019 bill. This year, Colorado lawmakers increased penalties for fentanyl possession.

Kirkmeyer’s campaign didn’t respond to an email asking why Kirkmeyer believes fentanyl is legal in Colorado.

Kirkmeyer on National Abortion Ban: “I support saving as many lives as possible. That’s where I’m at.”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a KOA radio interview Tuesday, Colorado congressional candidate Barb Kirkmeyer at first tried to dodge a question about whether she’d sign a bill banning abortion nationally, including in Colorado.

Then, after being pressed, she said, “Quite frankly, I’m going just to tell you. I support saving as many lives as possible. That’s where I’m at.”

For Kirkmeyer, the phrase “saving as many lives as possible” means banning abortion if possible. As she told fellow state senators this year in explaining why she voted against a bill that protected the right to an abortion in Colorado law, “A baby in his mother’s arms should be just as valued as when that baby was in his mother’s uterus.”

Yet, during last week’s debate with her Democratic opponent on 9News, when asked if she’s interested in a national abortion ban, Kirkmeyer replied, “at this point, no.”

She went on to say during the debate, “And I’m going to support whatever saves lives. It’s not an all-or-nothing thing to me. If there’s a way to save some lives, I’m going to work to save some lives.”

(more…)

After Fellow Republicans Denounced it, Kirkmeyer Still Billed Taxpayers for Driving to Work

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“I’ve always had this test as an elected official that, you know, if you can’t go home and look yourself in the mirror, you probably shouldn’t be doing it, right?” said Colorado congressional candidate Barbara Kirkmeyer earlier this year. “If your children would be embarrassed by what you’ve done, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. I’ve tried to live by that test.”

It’s a fair question, then, to ask why Kirkmeyer, as a Weld County commissioner, continued to reimburse herself for miles driven back and forth to work after Republican state lawmaker John Cooke called it “downright arrogant,” and a fellow Republican on the Weld County Commission, Sean Conway, stated flatly at the time, “I just don’t think it’s appropriate.”

Kirkmeyer

The Greeley Tribune concurred the following year, writing that it wasn’t illegal, but, “We don’t think she should do it.”

Kirkmeyer took advantage of the reimbursements on a grand scale, collecting enough money to buy two new cars — on top of her annual salary as commissioner, which ranged from about $80,000 to $105,000 during her tenure in office beginning in 2009.

Her defense?

“I’ve worn cars out, worn tires out,” Kirkmeyer told the Greeley Tribune in 2017.

Over the course of her 11 years on the commission, from 2009 to 2020, Kirkmeyer banked over $73,000 in tax money for trips to and from work, according to a Colorado Times Recorder analysis of her reimbursement records — the first complete compilation of her expense reports submitted during her tenure as county commissioner from 2009 to 2020. (Expense reports from her first period on the board, from 1993 to 2000, were not reviewed for this article.)

The total mileage for her trips to work and back was about 130,000 miles.

That’s a lot of driving, to be sure, but Kirkmeyer’s critics said 1) she could have lived closer to the office 2) driving to work was part of her job, and, 3) it wasn’t fair for county commissioners to collect money for driving to and from work while other county employees, like sheriff’s deputies, could not.

(more…)

I Thought Boebert’s Book Would Be Worthless, But I Reviewed It Anyway

(So you don’t have to — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep.-elect Lauren Boebert (R-ifle).

You get a sense of what’s coming in U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-CO) new book, My American Life, when the jacket cover brags about her voting to “oppose the presidential electoral certification.” And a blurb from Trump promising that after “reading her story, you will love her as much as I do.”

That’s a big clue that you shouldn’t read this book.

And sure enough, there’s nothing in it for you, trust me, including the forward by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who writes that America “needs more representatives like Lauren.”

More representatives like Lauren?

No one in their right mind would arrive at that conclusion after reading this memoir.

Boebert uses her own life story — massaged with misrepresentations — to glorify some of the worst aspects of American culture, business, and politics.

Her job at McDonald’s is presented as her proof that all you need to do is work hard to succeed in America — even if you drop out of high school like she did. And later when she was working at an energy company, she didn’t need six weeks of parental leave. She was happily back at work after four weeks. “I’m sure Pete Buttigieg will be disappointed,” she writes.

The intense pain of her teen marriage, widely documented, is downplayed instead of used as a warning. “Love at First Sight” is the title of the chapter telling the story of meeting her boorish (and troubled) future husband when she was behind the counter at McDonald’s and he came in for a burger. “What are we doing later?” were Jayson Boebert’s first words to Lauren, who was 17 years old.

(more…)

10 Reasons Why Priola Would Abandon the GOP for Promoting Election Conspiracies

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republican pundit Dick Wadhams says that newly minted Democratic lawmaker Kevin Priola’s decision to leave the Colorado Republican Party because of the party’s support of election deniers has “no credibility” because, in Colorado’s last election, the election deniers “got routed.”

Priola

State Rep. Colin Larson went further last week, calling Priola’s decision “political BS” because “[a]nyone in our party carrying the insurrectionist banner was roundly defeated” in the June primary election.

In a letter explaining his move, state Senator Priola, formerly a Republican, wrote that he didn’t want to be “part of a political party” that “continues to peddle claims that the 2020 election was stolen.”

“I was very struck in his letter about citing the election denier issue as one reason he’s leaving the party. Look what happened in Colorado,” Wadhams told KHOW’s Dan Caplis Aug. 23. “The election deniers, the conspiracy theories got routed. I mean, Ron Hanks, Tina Peters, Greg Lopez. And then I guess there were a bunch of local and state legislative primaries where the election deniers got beat. Colorado is a beacon in defeating election deniers and conspiracies. I don’t understand that. That had no credibility with me at all.”

No credibility? Political BS?

Is it credible for Priola to want to run from the Colorado Republican Party in the race to save democracy? Needless to say, if you’ve been following Colorado politics, the facts support Priola here. But in case you’ve been focused elsewhere over the past several years, I’ll explain.

(more…)

Kirkmeyer Takes Aim at “Entitlements” Like Medicaid

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

During a wide-ranging interview with conservative pundit Jon Caldara, Colorado congressional candidate Barb Kirkmeyer said she’d reduce federal spending, in part, by transforming Medicaid into a block grant system, a move that could lead to cuts for low-income Coloradans who rely on the federal-state health care program, say experts.

“I think the other thing we could look at again the Medicaid situation. You know, I’ve been talking with folks about maybe we put that into a block grant, same as what we did with temporary aid for needy families, the Welfare reform stuff, and even with our child welfare, and looking at our child care programs as well,” Kirkmeyer told Caldara. “Looking at block grants. And then having states say, ‘This is what’s best to serve our constituents.’ You know, ‘Here’s the block of money.’ That’s exactly what happened back in late ’90s. Here’s the block of money that comes to the state. States, you still have to match. You don’t get to drop your match just because we are block-granting it to you. But we are going to give you more flexibility to meet the needs of the residents of your state.

Kirkmeyer

“And I think that’s what we need to do with Medicaid.”

In her conversation with Caldara, Kirkmeyer first brought up her Medicaid proposal in response to Caldara’s question (at 18 min 12 sec) about what “on the federal level we should spend less on.”

“I think we need to look at the entitlement programs and get a handle on them,” replied Kirkmeyer. “… I think we need to look at the whole Medicaid situation.”

Converting Medicaid to a block-grant program is a longstanding goal of conservatives and has been denounced by Medicaid proponents as a stealth way to cut the program.

“Block grants are just code for cuts,” said Adam Fox of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI), when asked by the Colorado Times Recorder about Kirkmeyer’s proposal. “We saw what would have happened if efforts to repeal the ACA would have been successful, because they would have block granted Medicaid and forced devastating cuts to eligibility and the services available. Block grants are just a way to eviscerate the benefits Coloradans need.”

The primary reason block grants would likely result in cuts for state Medicaid spending is that the Medicaid program, as currently designed, guarantees coverage to all eligible individuals. The program’s funds are not limited and can respond to “fluctuating need; eligibility criteria can be tightened (consistent with federal standards), but coverage cannot be rationed among eligible people on a first-come, first-serve basis,” as explained in a Kaiser Family Foundation report. Block grants, “typically limit the number of people served through priority lists, waiting periods, and by simply closing down enrollment. Individuals generally have no federal right to the services financed through the block grant,” states the report.

(more…)

Tom Sullivan, Whose Son Died in the Aurora Theater Massacre, Faces a Republican Who Has a Top Rating From the NRA

(In the name of all that’s good and decent — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In his race for the state Senate, Tom Sullivan, who first ran for the state legislature after his son was killed in the Aurora Theater massacre and has made gun safety a top priority ever since, faces a Republican opponent, Tom Kim, who received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and appears to oppose the basic gun safety measures Sullivan has pushed into Colorado law.

Sullivan

On his campaign website, Kim makes no mention of his stance on guns or his “A” rating from the NRA, but in a May Facebook ad, Kim touts himself as a “gun owner and member of the Centennial Gun Club” and questions whether a fellow Republican supports the Second Amendment.

Kim and Sullivan are competing to represent Senate District 27, which is located in and around Centennial, southeast of Denver.

Kim’s top NRA rating, which was apparently awarded during his Republican primary campaign against JulieMarie Macklin, was based on Kim’s answers to an NRA questionnaire. That’s why his rating is “Aq” on the “Voting Card” below, with the “q” referring to the questionnaire, which was obtained by the Colorado Times Recorder.

Kim’s specific answers to the NRA’s questions were not found, but to obtain an “Aq” rating, based on the NRA’s questions, it’s fair to conclude that Kim answered many if not all of the questions to the approval of the NRA. “Aq” is the highest rating a candidate can receive without having a voting record.

One of the NRA’s questions, for example, asked if Kim would support “mandating the locked storage of firearms in one’s own home?”

Sullivan, who’s currently a state representative, was a co-sponsor of a bill, which became law last year, that required “firearms be responsibly and securely stored when they are not in use to prevent access by unsupervised juveniles and other unauthorized users.”

In another question, the NRA wanted to know if Kim would support any “new restrictions on the purchase and possession of ammunition beyond current law?”

Kim

Kim did not return a call to discuss the gun-storage law and to obtain his positions on other gun measures. Sullivan also didn’t return a call for comment.

For his part, Sullivan states on his website that, going forward at the Capitol, he wants to focus, among other things, “on firearm suicide prevention as well as public awareness around responsible firearm ownership.” He says he respects Second Amendment rights.

Kim’s top rating from the NRA means he will likely “not just try to stop the passage of [gun safety] laws but seek to repeal laws that have already been passed,” according to Tom Mauser, whose son died in the Columbine school shooting and is a spokesman for Colorado Ceasefire, a group formed to stop gun violence.

Mauser expects the NRA, which sent out a fundraising appeal three days after the Aurora Theater shooting, to campaign against Sullivan, whom Mauser sees as a “strong advocate” for gun safety and a stark contrast to Kim.

“The NRA has nothing to offer on the gun violence issue,” said Mauser. “They have nothing, other than they want to reverse what’s been passed, and they want to have more people carrying concealed [weapons]. They want to have more people carrying [weapons openly in public]. They want to have teachers armed. To the NRA, the solution is more arms, and I don’t think that’s where most Coloradans are.”

Prior to the pandemic, Kim’s gun club was known for its annual “Machine Gun Santa” event, in which members were invited to bring their children to pose for a picture with St. Nick and an arsenal of fully automatic weapons.

(more…)

Wadhams Falsely Claims Kirkmeyer is Not An “Activist on Abortion”

(Saying it doesn’t make it so — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Longtime Republican strategist Dick Wadhams told The Denver Post  that congressional candidate Barbara Kirkmeyer “does not have a record of being an activist on abortion.”

In fact, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Kirkmeyer celebrated the decision and specifically noted her long history of working with the anti-abortion movement.

The end of Roe was an “exciting day for those of us who have toiled for the pro-life cause for so long!” wrote Kirkmeyer, a Republican.

On her Facebook page, she stated, “Roe v Wade was a terrible decision that was not Constitutionally sound, and millions of unborn babies have died as a result.”

Roe guaranteed the right to abortion early in pregnancy. Kirkmeyer has said she’s against all abortion, whatever the circumstances, at whatever stage of pregnancy, even for rape and incest. She’s now saying she favors abortion to save the mother’s life. Her campaign website also includes the statement, “I have been pro-life my entire life.”

Kirkmeyer Facebook ad

In her campaign for Colorado’s new congressional seat, Kirkmeyer has promoted herself as an anti-abortion activist, bragging in a campaign video this year that she was the “only candidate” in her race to speak at an anti-abortion rally at the Colorado Capitol, where she denounced legislation, introduced by Democratic lawmakers, to codify the right to an abortion in state law.

“The pro-life cause isn’t always popular, but I’m confident we are on the right side of history,” Kirkmeyer said in a March Facebook ad. “Back in January, I was the only candidate for CD 8 to speak at the March for Life Rally.”

Wadhams didn’t return a voice mail seeking to know why he thinks Kirkmeyer has not been an “activist on abortion.”

Kirkmeyer, who’s currently a state senator, faces Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo.

Caraveo, a medical doctor, is a pro-choice Democrat who’s promised to “fight to guarantee a woman’s right to choose at the federal level, just as we’ve done in Colorado.”

The two are vying to represent the 8th Congressional District, which lies mostly north of Denver. The district was assigned to Colorado after the 2020 Census, and it’s expected to be among the most competitive races in November.

Colorado Chamber of Commerce Endorses Election Conspiracists for the Legislature

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mark Baisley (R).

Earlier this month, the Colorado Chamber of Commerce announced its endorsements of state legislative candidates for the 2022 election, saying the candidates selected by the chamber, “all demonstrated a dedication to working with the business community to support forward-thinking policies that will promote job creation and opportunity for all Coloradans.”

But at least ten of the chamber’s 43 chosen candidates — about a quarter of the selections — are on record as promoting baseless conspiracies that Trump won the 2020 presidential election. The chamber endorsed 35 Republicans and 8 Democrats.

Mark Baisley (R-Roxborough Park)

Baisley was a featured speaker at an election-conspiracy rally in April, and he’s attended multiple events sponsored by election-conspiracy groups.

Kenneth DeGraaf, running for a Colorado Springs House seat

DeGraaf promotes election conspiracies on his campaign website, writing that he finds Tina Peters’ “arrest for revealing Dominion vulnerabilities disturbing.” He also links to one of the debunked “reports” on Mesa County election results written by election fraud conspiracy group U.S. Election Integrity Plan. In January, DeGraaf joined a number of fellow El Paso County election deniers on a Zoom call featuring MyPillow CEO and prominent election conspiracist Mike Lindell.

Stephanie Luck (R-Penrose)

In April of 2021, Luck was still asking John Eastman, Trump’s insurrectionist lawyer, if there were legal avenues to overturn the 2020 presidential election. And her policy director, Carolyn Martin, represented Luck, who’s introduced bills relating to election conspiracies, at a panel of the U.S. Election Integrity Project (USEIP). Luck’s local GOP, the Fremont County Republicans, published a party platform rife with debunked conspiracies concerning Dominion Voting machines and electronic voting.

Ty Winter, running for southeastern Colorado House seat

Ty Winter made multiple election fraud conspiracy statements on social media following the 2020 election. He posted a Nov. 7 Tweet from then-President Trump stating, “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” On Nov. 19 he shared an image of the word “Fraud” combined with stylized vote total lines, captioning it with “Joe Biden is the system’s pick for President. Donald Trump is the PEOPLE’S pick for President. THE PEOPLE WILL WIN!!!”

On Dec 20, 2020 Winter shared a post by religious right leader Franklin Graham quoting Stalin and claiming that the election may have been rigged. Winter also served as Chair of the Las Animas County GOP when it posted debunked election fraud conspiracies to its Facebook page.

(more…)

GOP Lawmaker: Rich People Should Get Bigger Tax Refund

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R).

Thanks to a law recently passed by Democrats, everyone in Colorado who filed an income return tax last year, no matter how much they made, will be receiving a $750 refund.

But a Republican lawmaker says it would probably be “more equitable” to send bigger tax-refund checks to Coloradans with high incomes — and less money to lower-income folks.

Wasserman’s group calculates that 62% of Coloradans — those with incomes of $91,000 or less — will receive a larger TABOR refund than they would have if the Democrats hadn’t adjusted the refund formula.

(more…)

“The way they distribute that money is probably not the most equitable way,” said Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, a Republican from Sterling, on conservative talk radio Friday. “The guys that pay in the most, still only get the same amount as you and I.” So he’s saying the rich deserve more money back because they paid more taxes.

Sonnenberg is correct, that, if not for the Democrats’ legislation in April, taxpayers with higher incomes would be getting a fatter tax refund check, while the checks of lower-income and middle-income earners would be for smaller amounts.

And that’s the way it should be, says Scott Wasserman, director of the Bell Policy Center, a research group focused on economic opportunity.

“Conservatives have thus far completely tried to avoid talking about how the legislature chose to rebate these funds through a much fairer refund mechanism that gives those who are struggling a bigger amount of economic relief than they would have otherwise received,” said Wasserman via email.

This year, Colorado was required to refund billions of dollars to taxpayers because tax revenue exceeded limits set under TABOR, or the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which is an amendment to the Colorado Constitution.

Wasserman’s group calculates that 62% of Coloradans — those with incomes of $91,000 or less — will receive a larger TABOR refund than they would have if the Democrats hadn’t adjusted the refund formula.

(more…)

Aadland Follows QAnon Backers, Proud Boys, and More on Far-Right Social Media

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Aadland

Erik Maulbetsch is a co-author of the post.

Colorado congressional candidate Erik Aadland follows multiple white nationalist, election conspiracy, and QAnon groups on the far-right social-media platform Parler.

Aadland follows the well-known Parler site of the Proud Boys, whose leaders face “seditious conspiracy” charges for their involvement in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Several members of the group have been arrested for their alleged roles in organizing the insurrection.

Among the 104 accounts Aadland follows on Parler, at least a dozen promote QAnon, the multi-pronged conspiracy theory about, among other topics, Democrats being Satanic pedophiles and “deep state” government workers plotting against Trump. In 2019, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, declared QAnon to be a domestic terror threat.

Aadland’s account hasn’t posted its own comments or other content on Parler. The account bears Aadland’s name, identifies him as “WinterLion,” and describes him as “Patriot. Combat Veteran. Truth is my religion.”

The QAnon accounts followed by Aadland include the user “WWG1WGA” who has the handle @KAGDonaldTrump and has over 15,000 followers; QAnon promoter X22 Report, with nearly a quarter million followers; and Joe M, with the handle @StormIsUponUS, 364,000 followers. Aadland also follows Ghost Ezra, a QAnon account best known for its rabidly antisemitic posts on Telegram, another far right platform, but that nevertheless has over 22,000 followers on Parler.

Aadland, who’s said the 2020 presidential election was “absolutely rigged” and has likened Jan. 6 insurrectionists to “political prisoners,” also follows multiple Parler accounts of election conspiracists, including Rudy Giuliani, General Michael Flynn, Dinesh D’Souza, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Team Trump, Mike Lindell, Devin Nunes, Jenna Ellis, and more.

Screenshot of the list of accounts Erik Aadland follows on Parler

(more…)

Aurora Mayor Hoped to Push Homeless to Other Communities But Objects to Dougco Doing Same

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman pretending to be homeless.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman is up in arms about homeless people coming to Aurora from Douglas County, despite saying last year that he hoped Aurora’s camping ban would result in Aurora’s unhoused population migrating from Aurora to “another community.”

“No jurisdiction should export their homeless to another jurisdiction without that jurisdiction consenting to that,” Coffman told KOA Morning News host Marty Lenz this morning, referring to a proposal to reintegrate homeless prisoners with family and in facilities in Aurora so that they don’t simply end up in Douglas County jail again.

“I just hope that Douglas County rises up to the occasion to take care of that population that’s in their community,” Coffman said. “And I believe that they will.”

Coffman told KOA he’s concerned about the wider homeless population in Douglas County, not just released prisoners, coming to Aurora. Douglas County commissioners have faced stiff opposition to building a homeless shelter.

Yet, Coffman has said he hopes Aurora’s camping ban will coerce unhoused people to exit Aurora. Under the Aurora ban, officials will forcibly remove people from encampments and offer shelter options elsewhere in the city. But Coffman and others do not think most displaced people will use the shelter option.

Last May, in a discussion of Aurora’s camping-ban proposal, Coffman told KHOW’s Dan Caplis that he hoped homeless people in Aurora’s encampments are “going to discover” that “Aurora, Colorado, is not the best place for them to be.”

“They will find –,” Coffman told Caplis, before breaking into a laugh and restarting his sentence, “they will find another community that will greet them with open arms and says, ‘Hey, listen, we’ll provide all these services, and we’ll require nothing of you. And you can, you know, live off the taxpayers.’”

Asked today by KOA’s Lenz if he thought Aurora’s camping ban might force homeless people to “shift to other counties,” Coffman replied with another laugh, “It seems that they move around in Aurora.”

Coffman has said the same thing before, yet he flat-out dismisses experts and various studies which advocate for a housing-first approach to effectively and efficiently address community challenges presented by homlessness.

Currently, Aurora has 130-150 shelter beds available to unhoused residents, offering over-night placement with group-living accommodations.

“The challenge with the homeless people in encampments is, not that many of them have taken us up on our shelter option that we provide for them. And they just tend to move from one location to another, whether that’s outside of Aurora or inside of Aurora.

“So far it appears that they are moving inside of Aurora.”

Someone’s ‘Smoking Too Much Weed’ at Kirkmeyer’s Office?

(Getting wacky tobacky in the CD-8 GOP primary — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

We know many in Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational pot, love their ganja, so some might say it’s risky for one Republican to pay for an ad accusing “someone” at her GOP opponent’s “headquarters” of smoking too much marijuana — as voters may be drawn to the pot-smoking candidate’s campaign.

Saine

But congressional candidate Lori Saine was willing to take the risk this week.

“Someone must be smoking too much weed at Kirkmeyer headquarters,” states a light-hearted online ad released by Saine, referring to her opponent, state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer (R-Weld).

The humorous approach in the ad, which shows a guy taking a bong hit and coughing, comes in response to false accusations that Saine, who’s among the most far-right elected officials in Colorado, is a “liberal.”

Various advertisements, paid for by a Super Pac with ties to Kirkmeyer, have labeled Saine as a “liberal” and a “Democrat,” in hopes of scaring conservative voters away from her. Kirkmeyer called the accusation that Saine is a liberal “silly,” even though it’s clearly coming from her supporters. Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, a third candidate in the race, is also falsely labeled a “liberal” in ads.

Saine’s ad goes on to call Kirkmeyer, also a conservative, a “fake.”

The humor in Saine’s ad is likely welcomed by people on all sides of the political spectrum because Colorado’s primary election has been widely seen as much, much more terrifying than humorous — with election and climate denial, voter manipulation, apathy, misinformation, and so many other depressing developments.

The winner of Saine’s June 28 GOP primary, which — in addition to Kirkmeyer — includes former Green Beret Tyler Allcorn, will take on Democrat Yadira Caraveo to represent the district, which lies mostly north of Denver. An eighth congressional district was assigned to Denver after the 2020 Census.

See the ad here.

Kirkmeyer: ‘Calling Lori Saine a Liberal Is Silly’

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Congressional candidate Barbara Kirkmeyer, a Weld County Republican, said today that she had “nothing” to do with political advertisements that label two of her GOP primary opponents, Jan Kulmann and Lori Sain, “Liberals” and imply that they are “Democrats.”

“I would just say this, first of all, that I did not put out that piece,” Kirkmeyer told KCOL’s Jimmy Lakey this morning. “I didn’t have any involvement in that piece. I didn’t do anything with that piece. Any writing of that piece. Nothing. I don’t know who that group is.”

Last week, Lakey said on air that “people that support Barbara Kirkmeyer” are responsible for the ads, which are both digital and mailed fliers and are paid for by conservatives who’ve supported Kirkmeyer in the past and opposed Saine.

Saine has also said the Kirkmeyer’s supporters were responsible for the ads.

“You know, it was, I guess, to some degree, an attack piece,” Kirkmeyer told Lakey, adding that she hadn’t heard Saine or Kulmann “refute the facts that were on that card.”

Among the accusations on the advertisement was the statement that Saine “Led the ‘NEVER TRUMP’ Movement in Colorado” — an allegation that’s not true, as evidenced in part by the fact that Saine was one of a minority of state GOP lawmakers who signed a letter in 2016 backing Trump. Saine has also refuted the allegation.

But Kirkmeyer said she thought the ad, which was paid for by Conservatives for Retaking Congress, was wrong to call Saine a liberal.

“Calling Lori Saine a liberal is silly,” Kirkmeyer told Lakey. “You know, that’s just silly. But at the same time on your show, Lori Saine said she was the only one who’s a conservative. Isn’t that kind of the same thing?”

RELATEDRepublican Super PAC Falsely Claims Right-Winger Lori Saine Is a Liberal

Saine is among the most far-right elected officials in Colorado, and though no Saine firebrand, Kulmann would not be accurately characterized as a liberal.

The winner of the race will take on Democrat Yadira Caraveo to represent the district, which lies mostly north of Denver. An eighth congressional district was assigned to Denver after the 2020 Census.

Right-Wing Radio Host Calls on Kirkmeyer to Denounce Ads Calling Saine a Liberal

(It’s kind of silly, after all — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

On his radio show today, conservative talk radio host Jimmy Lakey called on congressional candidate Barbara Kirkmeyer, a Weld County Republican, to “rebuke” political advertisements that falsely label Kirkmeyer’s GOP opponents, Jan Kulmann and Lori Saine, “liberals.”

The ads, which are both digital and mailed fliers, are paid for by fellow conservatives who’ve been associated with Kirkmeyer in the past.

“It’s people that support Barbara Kirkmeyer,” said KCOL’s Lakey, referring to the Super PAC that sponsored the political ads targeting Kulmann and Saine.

“If there is no public rebuke from the Barbara Kirkmeyer camp of this evil Super PAC putting out this type of information, then I will choose on my ballot either Jan Kulmann or Lori Saine, and the other said candidates will not be under consideration,” said Lakey, who lives in the district and was himself a Republican congressional candidate in Colorado in 2010.

Colorado Conservatives for Retaking Congress, the conservative super PAC responsible for the ads, has earmarked $25,000 each for attacking Saine and Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, according to OpenSecrets records. The group has a Colorado Springs business address with registered agent Katie Kennedy, who previously served as the registered agent for at least one organization that opposed Saine and supported Kirkmeyer.

“Calling Lori Saine, for example, a liberal? That is one of the silliest things I’ve ever heard of,” said Lakey on air.

“Barbara, if you’re listening, you should rebuke this type of lying and dirty campaigning,” Lakey continued, adding that he’s “close” to Kirkmeyer, who did not respond to an email seeking comment on the ad.

Lakey himself is among the most hard-right media figures in Colorado, once comparing Michelle Obama to Chewbacca, the ape-like Star Wars character.

RELATED: Republican Super PAC Falsely Claims Right-Winger Lori Saine Is a Liberal

(more…)

Conservative Super PAC Falsely Claims Right-Winger Lori Saine Is a Liberal

(This is some kind of joke, right? — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In an ad flying around the internet, a conservative political group is alleging that congressional candidate Lori Saine, who’s one of the most conservative elected officials in Colorado, is a liberal.

Saine, a Weld County commissioner, has staked out the most right-wing ground in her primary campaign against three fellow Republicans.

Colorado Conservatives for Retaking Congress, the super PAC responsible for the ad, has earmarked $25,000 each for attacking Saine and Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, who’s also running for Colorado’s new eighth congressional seat in the same primary, according to OpenSecrets records.

Though not a Saine firebrand, Kulmann would not be considered a liberal either.

Colorado Conservatives for Retaking Congress, formed last year, has a Colorado Springs business address with registered agent Katie Kennedy, who’s associated with multiple political organizations backed by so-called establishment Republicans. The group’s donors were not disclosed.

Kennedy previously served as the registered agent for at least one organization that opposed Saine and supported state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, who’s one of Saine’s GOP opponents in Saine’s current congressional race.

In 2020, Weld Strong, a conservative political group that listed Rockies owner Charles Monfort among its donors, ran digital ads for Kirkmeyer and against Saine. The two candidates were competing in different Weld Country races, Kirkmeyer against Rupert Parchment and Saine against Tommy Holton.

This suggests that Kirkmeyer’s supporters could be behind this year’s attack on Saine, but Kennedy didn’t return an email seeking comment.

(more…)

Reams Jumps Off the Stage To Stop Saine From Joining GOP Debate

(Lori Saine wins the debate in 0.5 seconds — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Reams jumps to stop Saine.

Republican Steve Reams, the master of ceremonies at a GOP debate yesterday, leaped off the stage to cut off congressional candidate Lori Saine as she rushed to join the debate.

“I’m Lori Saine, and I accepted the invitation,” announced Saine as she approached her opponents on stage.

But Reams hit the floor and chased Saine to the aisle where she joined the ticket-holding onlookers.

The confrontation occurred after event organizers barred Saine from the debate because, they say, she missed the deadline to RSVP.

Saine says she asked to be included later, and it’s a bad “look” for Republicans to exclude a fellow Republican.

The sideshow got surprisingly little reaction from the audience, despite Reams’ jump from the stage and the pre-debate hullabaloo over whether Republicans should have allowed Saine to join the debate.

But Saine’s brush with civil disobedience was easy to miss. It was over in a blip, and Saine could barely be seen — much less heard — as she was nabbed by Reams in the cave-like Grizzly Rose event center, where the event, organized by the Republican Women of Weld, took place. Reams may have been leaping off the stage to get a note about the program, for all the audience could tell.

Watch here;

So the debate, featuring Saine’s three opponents for Colorado’s new congressional seat went on, uninterrupted.

(more…)