Buck to Try to Strike Impeachment Text Describing Ukraine-Meddling Theory as Debunked

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).

In a radio interview this morning, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck said he’ll offer an amendment striking impeachment language that uses the term debunked or discredited to describe the theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

Buck said he’s going to do this because, “It’s not just a group of right wing nuts that are saying, ‘Oh, the Ukraine interfered!’ There are a lot of people who believe that the Ukraine took steps.”

As a factual matter, it is only a group of right-wingers who still adhere to the debunked theory that Ukraine meddled in the U.S. election.

U.S. intelligence agencies do not support Buck’s view.

Buck acknowledged that when Trump asked to investigate the Bidens, Trump got “off track.” But Buck didn’t say what consequences, if any, Trump should face for his request to investigate a political rival.



Anti-abortion Measure Not Likely to Hurt Pro-Choice Candidates, Says Professor

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Would a Colorado ballot measure banning abortion after 22 weeks into pregnancy inspire more conservatives to vote next year, to the benefit of anti-choice Republicans like Cory Gardner?

I assumed so, along with others, like Colorado Sun columnist Mario Nicolais, who tweeted that the initiative, if it makes the ballot, will “rally the base.” And you’d think Nicolais would know, since the GOP anti-abortion base rallied against him, knocking him out of a GOP state Senate primary in 2012.

But maybe not, according to Denver University Associate Professor Joshua Wilson, the author of The New States of Abortion Politics (Stanford University Press, 2016).

As I reported for Rewire News yesterday, Wilson told me via email that the most “activist-minded” of anti-abortion voters might vote due to the initiative, but this represents a small number of voters.

“What’s more, they already have a strong reason to turn in their ballots,” wrote Wilson. “When you look at polling data on Trump’s most stable supporters – white evangelicals – they are also the most invested anti-abortion voters. Given that, they already have a strong reason to show up to vote.”

Wilson points out that, in fact, the abortion measure may push more pro-choice than anti-abortion voters to cast ballots.

“Abortion has recently risen precipitously as a ‘very important’ issue for Democratic voters,” wrote Wilson.

He points to a September Pew study stating: “About six-in-ten (61%) supporters of Democratic candidates now say they consider abortion to be a very important issue to their vote; this is the first time in the past decade a majority of Democratic voters have said this. The share of Democratic voters who rate abortion as very important has increased 14 percentage points since 2014 and 23 points since 2008. Republicans are about as likely today as in the past to say abortion is very important to their vote.”

But Wilson doesn’t think abortion will be a decisive motivator for Democrats either.

“Given all of the other issues that matter for Democrats, the 2020 race will be about a whole lot more than abortion,” he wrote. “So, while abortion matters far more now for Democratic voters than in the past, it is still just one of many issues that will matter, and likely one that is still sitting behind a list of others.”

Overall, Wilson said, abortion “does not decide elections.”

“To give you some polling data,” he continued, pointing to a Gallup poll, “since 2012 the percentage of voters who say that a candidate ‘must share’ their views on abortion has ranged between 17% and 27%. The percentage of voters who have said that abortion is ‘not a major issue’ has been between 24% and 34%. That leaves the bulk of voters – between 45% and 51% – responding that abortion is only “one of many important factors.”

“Looked at as a whole historically, voters tend to have views on abortion, but the details of those views are ill defined, and thus it does not drive the majority to vote one way or the other,” Wilson argues. “Rather, abortion gets eclipsed by other issues.”

KHOW radio host Dan Caplis, who discusses abortion issues, including the 22-week abortion ban, frequently on his afternoon drive-time show disagrees with Wilson.

“Damn right, it’s going to cause more pro-life folks to go out and vote, because if you hold that pro-life point of view, then it is literally a life-and-death issue,” Caplis told the Colorado Times Recorder Monday. “And it’s hard to imagine any more important reason to cast your ballot. “And I think it goes way beyond ‘white evangelicals.’ The pro-life people span all demographic right now. Communities of color. I think it’s going to be a big motivator to get people to vote.”

Actually, even some who hold the “pro-life point of view,” don’t support the the 22-week-abortion ban, saying it will set their anti-abortion movement back.

“Our misguided pro-life allies have presided over decades of regulating child killing,” Bob Enyart, a spokesman for Colorado Right to Life (CRTL), told me earlier this year. “You don’t regulate crime; you deter crime. Once again, they increase confusion where only truth should be proclaimed. Their immoral initiative 108 seeks to protect children ‘who can survive outside the womb.’ But what about the rest of them?”

KNUS Staffer Denies Nazi Comments and Associations

(Who would admit to this? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In what are apparently his first public comments since accusations surfaced that he’s a Nazi, KNUS 710-AM producer Kirk Widlund said it’s all a “smear” campaign against him, and he never stated, among other things, that America fought on the wrong side of WWII.

“It’s absolutely a smear,” Widlund told me Monday. “One hundred percent. I don’t know if they’re trying to destroy me, or the station, or the people I work with. But it’s a total smear.”

The accusations against Widlund were first published by a group called Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists, which describes itself as a “collective of private citizens” fighting fascism and other forms of discrimination and hate.

In a blog post, the anonymous authors cited social media posts allegedly penned by “Kirk Widlund.”

One post, for example, says that the United States fought on the “wrong side” of WWII.

“The sad fact of the matter is that there has been no book written; no words put to print; no joke constructed or performed on stage; no music group formed; no instrumentation conducted; no ‘epic space opera’ put to film; no technological feat; no wonder drug discovered; nothing at all that justifies or soothes the truth; we fought on the Jewish side of WW2 (Communism/Marxism and Zionism), and thus every societal ill conjured up in the last century has been a direct result of fighting on that wrong side,” states the post by “Kirk Widlund.”

“I’ve never used VK,” said Widlund, referring to the Russian website website, known for its neo-Nazi content, where Widlund’s opponents say Widlund authored the WWII post above and others.

The VK profile of “Kirk Widlund” was taken down after Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists published its post, but the group had copied the account’s content and has made it available.

“I am not a Nazi.,” said Widlund. “Those quotes they are saying are mine are not mine.”

Asked if he thought the posts were fabricated by the Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists, Widlund said he did not know where they came from.

The Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists rejected claims that the group “manufactured two years worth of social media posts in order to frame” Widlund.

“When we published our research on Mr. Widlund, we included a full and uncensored archive of every post he has made since he created the account in 2017 that anyone is free to download and verify,” wrote Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists in a statement. “Putting aside the absurd suggestion that we manufactured two years worth of social media posts for a largely behind the scenes personality at 710 KNUS, it would be impossible for us to manufacture the comment Kirk left on Lucas Martin’s photo describing Adolf Hitler as an ‘Amazing Hero,’ that is still online as of 12/10/19. We also could not have manufactured Lucas Martin’s LinkedIn profile which features endorsements by Kirk Widlund, nor could we manufacture the fact that they both attended Colorado Media School at the same time. If Mr. Widlund and Mr. Tubbs are going to claim that we manufactured two years of social media posts, they need to provide some proof.”

Widlund is named as a connection in Lucas Martin’s Linkedin profile, and Martin apparently retweeted Widlund’s VK post about being on the wrong side of WWII. The pair apparently worked together and attended the same film school.



Colo GOP Offers Workshop with Pence Nephew, who ‘Manufactured’ Trump Rallies

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The political operative who orchestrates Trump’s political rallies, which are seen as both as hate-filled and wildly successful, is conducting a training for fellow Republicans in Colorado on Saturday.

The Trump Victory Leadership Initiative is running the workshop at the conservative Independence Institute Saturday, featuring John Pence, a senior adviser for President Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.

John Pence is the nephew of Vice President Mike Pence and the son of Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN).

John Pence is “particularly responsible” for having “orchestrated and manufactured” campaign tactics to “stoke fear in this country,” said former White House aide and Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault in a July interview on MSNBC.

“I had to attend many of these rallies when I worked on the campaign and even in the White House,” continued Manigault. “There are these section leaders who start the chant, control how long the chants go and quiet them down when they want to. … “In fact, you’ll be surprised to learn that Vice President Pence’s nephew, John Pence, is one of the big coordinators of these rallies. And so this is how closely these rallies are coordinated with also what’s going on in the White House. John Pence is a very big key player in the campaign, but he’s particularly responsible for all of the staging and choreography of the campaigns and, yes, they are very much orchestrated and manufactured to get the outcome that we saw from Donald Trump saying ‘go back to your countries that you came from and if you don’t love it, leave it.’ All of that is coordinated and manufactured to stoke fear in this country.”

The Colorado Republican Party, listed as a contact for the Pence event, did not return an email asking for specifics on the tactics Pence will teach at the workshop.

The online invitation to Saturday’s training, which is free, states that John Pence “works closely with The White House’s Office of Political Affairs and the RNC to organize the President’s political activities and grassroots recruitment initiatives.”

“We can turn Colorado Red in 2020, but only if we work together and ensure all Trump supporters are registered to vote. That’s why we need your help,” states the invitation.


Gardner Again Finds Narrow Audiences in Colo Visit during Senate Recess

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) spent part of this week doing what you might call under-the-radar campaigning along the front range.

It’s been over two years since Gardner has faced constituents at a town hall meeting .

Gardner in Lodo Friday

But Gardner has attended fundraisers, invitation-only discussions with businesspeople, and small press events or gatherings, announced with little or no advance notice.

That’s the model he followed this week after heading back to Colorado for Thanksgiving break.

Gardner attended a fundraiser Friday where he posed for photos with former GOP congressional candidate Peter Yu and Sheryl Fernandez, who is state Sen. Vicki Marble’s former legislative aide.

Gardner with Buck in background

On Saturday, he stopped off at the Farm Bureau dinner, with Colorado Republican leader Ken Buck in attendance.

On Tuesday, Gardner joined a panel at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley to mark a grant announcement by the Colorado United Health Foundation.

Gardner’s office promoted the event, which included remarks by Gardner, in a news release and on Twitter after it took place, per his habit of after-the-fact announcements.

Gardner spent part of August talking to small groups in Colorado, without inviting the wider public. Until recently, he’s been a regular on conservative talk radio shows, but he declined at least one radio interview recently recently, angering the host, who’s his friend.

Gardner in Greeley Tuesday

Colorado’s junior senator went from the spring of 2016 until August of 2017 without holding a town hall, drawing sharp questions from reporters for dodging the public for so long.

Over a thousand of Gardner’s constituents were so upset that they held a town hall meeting in February, 2017, without Gardnerdirecting questions to a cardboard cutout of the senator.

The Gardner cutout, dubbed “Cardboard Cory,” went on to become a folk hero among Gardner’s opponents and others, appearing on Twitter, Facebook, and at events all over Colorado.

Activists even featured the cutout on a statewide bus tour.

As pressure mounted, Gardner finally surprised political observers by announcing he’d hold not one but three in-person town hall meetings on the same day, apparently trying to dilute the expected onslaught from the public. He started in Colorado Springs in the morning, then moved to Greeley and Lakewood (Colorado Christian University).

A Denver Post headline summarized the string of town halls this way: “On a ‘rowdy day’ of three town halls, Cory Gardner is shouted down by crowds.”


“No You Don’t” Have to Vote for “Weenie” Gardner, Says Talk Radio Host Boyles

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

To fully understand the squeeze U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) faces in Colorado, you need to tune to one of the many conservative talk radio shows in the state.

Here’s what you would have heard on KNUS’ Peter Boyles yesterday.

Caller: “What makes me the most angry is, I hear some of the other Republicans on the radio and everywhere else telling me that, when it comes to Cory Gardner, I need to swallow that pill and vote for him.”

Boyles: “No you don’t.”

Caller: “But yet at the same time, these guys will not support President Trump. And I’m like, ‘How am I supposed to swallow the pill to vote for somebody who is basically a sellout, and yet you guys won’t stand behind Donald Trump because you know what the alternative is. It’s a Catch 22. It’s a double standard that they set for me, but they don’t want to follow it for themselves when it comes to supporting Trump.”

Boyles: “That’s the gimmick that they say to me all the time. I say no. You could turn Cory Gardner into a candidate…. Right now, he’s a weenie. He really is a weenie. He can just stand there and be a pretty little boy too, but guess what. That’s not Trumpian.”

What to do about this kind of thinking, if you’re Gardner?

He’s got to win over independent voters in Colorado, who account for over a third of the electorate. Overall, they hate Trump, who has a “less than zero” chance of winning here next year, according to failed Rep. Coffman’s campaign spokesman, who’s credible on this.

Independent voters don’t want to hear Gardner praising Trump like he’s been doing, by voting with him 90% of the time, inviting him to campaign here, wanting you to just get to know the president, and refusing to criticize Trump’s Trumpian behavior (Ukraine, obstruction of justice, attacks on the press, women, civil servants, intelligence services).

But Gardner’s overarching but sometimes muted praise of Trump, and his restraint in denouncing the president’s extremism, sounds like weeniness to the talk radio crowd, like Boyles, who reach a small audience but represent the Republican base.

They want Gardner to go Full Fox News, thumping his chest, and talking witch hunt, hoax, perfect phone call, Hillary, shit hole countries, invasion from Mexico.

If Gardner does what his base wants, he loses the independents. If he criticizes Trump, then he loses the boots, if not the votes, of his activists.

So what does Gardner do. Mostly these days, he’s silent on the issues that matter most.


Controversial Former GOP Lawmaker, Judy Reyher, Runs Again for Pueblo House Seat

(For Democrats, the gift that keeps on giving – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After losing a bitter primary race to fellow Republican Don Bendell last year, former Colo state House Rep. Judy Reyher has thrown her hat into the contest to displace Democrat Bri Buentello, who defeated Bendell in a close race last November.

“You all remember when I posted a few months ago I was stepping away from politics to do something else,” wrote Reyher on Facebook this week, stating that she’d “officially filed” her paperwork to enter the race for the Pueblo-area House seat. “I can tell you it broke my heart to post that sentiment. Should have known better.”

Reyher thanked “Republican House leaders” and others for “all of the approval and confidence I have received.”

Bendell challenged Reyher in the GOP primary in 2018 for the seat, in part because of, as he put it, “mistakes” she’d made.

Asked at the time why he was challenging Reyher, Bendell said: “I had been asked by a few people privately to get involved because they felt like there had been a few mistakes made that are going to be used by the Democrats against us,” Bendell said. “And we can’t lose that seat. And they felt like I would have a better chance to beat the liberal they are running from Pueblo in the general election.”

Reyher’s “mistakes” apparently included Facebook posts, which were first spotlighted by the Colorado Times Recorder, with comments such as, black people are “hatred filled beings.”

Reyer said, after losing the primary to Bendell, that Bendell couldn’t win the general election, due to allegations from his children that Bendell failed to pay child support for 17 years.

Reyher was appointed to the Legislature in 2017 amid a cloud of controversy, narrowly beating GOP activist Tamra Axworthy in a vote by members of a GOP vacancy committee.

The seat had become vacant in 2017 after former State Rep. Clarice Navarro (R-Pueblo) resigned to join the Trump Administration.

Reyher, who did not immediately return a call for comment, lost to Bendell the following year.


Conservative Radio Host Wants To Hear From Gardner on Impeachment

(Him and everybody else – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) is dodging his conservative talk radio allies as the impeachment hearings move forward.

KNUS 710-AM’s Steffan Tubbs explained to his listeners Wednesday that he texted Gardner’s press office Tuesday morning to request an interview with Gardner on Thursday or Friday to discuss “impeachment inquiry, campaign, and Thanksgiving plans.”

Tubbs sent his text again to Gardner’s office on Wednesday morning and got a response saying, “Hey Steffan, taking a look at schedule and will circle back.”

Gardner’s office eventually texted Tubbs, “Unfortunately at this point the schedule is packed Thursday and Friday at that time. Sorry about that, and thanks for the invitation!”

Tubbs read Gardner’s response on air and then played audio of cricket noises.

Tubbs then said, “I’ve known Cory a long time. He is my friend.”

But that didn’t stop Tubbs from mocking Gardner’s recent news release–about multiple topics (mental health, China, renewable energy).

“You would not even have an internet story about what these press releases are talking about,” said Tubbs. “They might as well be saying, ‘Senator Cory Gardner woke up this morning and put first his left shoe on, tied it, and here comes the right shoe, it was followed closely after the left show, and in fact he did tie the right show as well.'”

“We are at a very critical time in this administration,” said an agitated Tubbs. “He is a Republican senator from Colorado.”

“There is nothing, nothing, on his Twitter account that has to do with impeachment,” said Tubbs. “…Where is his voice?”



Conservative Group Hands an Award to Gardner

(Foxes for Henhouse Security – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) received a “Congressional Champion” award last week from ConservAmerica, a group formerly called “Republicans for Environmental Protection.”

“We recognized Sen. Gardner for his strong commitment to protecting the environment while also promoting the economy of Colorado, as well as for his role in founding and co-chairing the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus in the Senate,” spokesman Robert Dillon emailed the Colorado Times Recorder.

The Roosevelt Caucus is a group of Republican Senators who look at environmental problems “through a conservative, limited government lens.

That’s also the perspective of ConservAmerica, whose motto is, “Conservation Is Conservative.”

The “About” page on ConservAmerica’s website is broken, but on a previous “About” page, found on the Way Back Machine, the organization states its “mission is to educate the public and elected officials on conservative approaches to today’s environmental, energy, and conservation challenges.”

Gardner was selected for the award by ConservAmerica’s staff and board members, said Dillon.

Democrats say Gardner is trying to greenwash himself in advance of his 2020 election. They label Gardner as an enemy of the environment who sides with Trump on rollbacks in Obama-era policies protecting air, wetlands, public lands, and more.

Progressive environmental activists are pressuring Gardner to join Colorado’s Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in pushing the CORE Act, which is the first bill in a decade to set aside new wilderness in Colorado.

It cleared the U.S. House last month but faces a difficult road in the U.S. Senate without the “full-throated support” of Gardner, reported Colorado Public Radio.

Yet, Dillon says, “Gardner is trusted and works with members on both sides of the aisle, characteristics that are essential when you’re trying to advance policies and negotiate legislative text. The Senate should be about finding common ground and developing solutions that work for the majority of Americans. Sen. Gardner exemplifies the kind of policy-maker committed to good governance that is becoming increasingly difficult to find these days.”

Multiple awards Gardner has received in recent months have come under scrutiny as being either products of conservative groups like ConservAmerica or as being given on the basis of such a narrow analysis as to diminish their meaning.

For example, Gardner often cites his fifth-highest-ranking on a 2019 bipartisanship ranking that was given without considering any of his actual votes on legislation.


Fired Radio Host Introduced Gardner at Conservative Summit

Conservative KNUS radio host Craig Silverman, who was fired on air Saturday for criticizing Trump, is a huge fan of Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.

Silverman said so when he introduced Gardner last year at a giant gathering of conservatives near Denver.

“This man [Gardner] may well be the first person from the great state of Colorado to become President of the United States,” Silverman told the crowd.

Silverman said Gardner is “respected” by, among others, “our President, Donald J. Trump.”

But Silverman’s increasingly skeptical view of Trump isn’t shared by Gardner, who endorsed Trump and won’t even tell reporters whether it’s appropriate for the President of the United States to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent.

Now Silverman is saying “let’s not hide from hard truths or label it fake news,” while fellow Republican Gardner voted for a resolution slamming the impeachment inquiry.

Silverman, who voted for Trump, said on air Oct. 24 that he still “loves a lot of his policies,” but he asked fellow KNUS radio host Chuck Bonniwell, “What about [Trump] calling Republicans who don’t support him ‘human scum?'”

“He calls a lot of people bad names,” replied Bonniwell, before Bonniwell started screaming at Silverman over the impeachment hearings, with Silverman praising Ambassador William Taylor and asking whether Trump did “corrupt things in Ukraine to try to win the election” and Bonniwell calling Taylor a “joke.” Listen here at 3 min 30 seconds.

Silverman didn’t return a call seeking to know if he thinks Gardner should speak out on Trump like he’s done.

In Silverman’s view, should Gardner say, for example, whether it’s appropriate to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival?

Has Gardner’s behavior has made Silverman think less of the senator?

Listen to Silverman vs. Boniwell on KNUS Oct. 24:


Gardner Wasn’t Corresponding with Peterson Air Force Base Leaders Before Funding Was Lost

(Representing – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

A records request reveals that U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) or his staff apparently didn’t correspond with leaders of the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs during the six months prior to the U.S. Military’s decision in September to take $9 million from Peterson’s 2018 construction budget and spend it on one of Trump’s top priorities: A wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Gardner said he had personal assurances that Colorado bases, like Peterson, would not lose funding, in the wake of Trump’s emergency declaration, which Gardner supported, allowing $3.6 billion to be spent on the wall.

It was revealed after Peterson’s money was diverted to the wall that Gardner did not promise to protect the base’s money from 2018, only from 2019. And it was 2018 funds that were transferred from Peterson’s budget to the wall project.

This left journalists wondering whether Gardner knew Trump was going to cut the 2018 funding from Peterson’s budget, when Gardner was promising that 2019 funds would be safe (without mentioning the 2018 funding).

The absence of email correspondence between the top brass at Peterson could show that Gardner was unaware of Trump’s plan to divert the 2018 Peterson funding–or that he wasn’t trying to save the funds.

Or it could simply mean Gardner’s office, which did not return a request for comment, was directing any efforts to try to save the funding elsewhere.

In any case, the Peterson money is now earmarked for the border wall, and we still don’t know what happened or what Gardner knew and when.

The records request from the Colorado Times Recorder focused on correspondence from March 1 to September 13 between Gardner and Peterson Base Commander Col. Thomas G. Falzarano, Vice Commander Col. Sam Johnson, Command Chief CMSgt. Jacob C. Simmons, and/or Col Kirsten G. Aguilar.


Threat of Ill-Defined “Radical Left” Is Gardner’s Dominant Campaign Theme

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner can’t talk about issues like guns, Trump, and abortion without getting into trouble with his Republican base or independent voters–or both–but he apparently thinks he can get away with talking about the “radical left.” Or “loony left.” Or the “fringe left.”

That’s safe territory for him, he thinks.

Hence, a new Gardner campaign ad states, “Don’t let the radical left destroy Colorado jobs.” 

But who’s he referring to? The people who make up his high disapproval rating? The attendees at the women’s march? Just the people carrying “Cardboard Cory” cutouts?

Gardner’s recent advertisement and trail of radio interviews, where he often drops “radical left” line, don’t shed much light on the question.

“Loony Left”

Whoever they are, Gardner apparently thinks the radical left can swing elections.

Prior to the 2018 election, Gardner worried that “loony left” and “radical left” voters could create a “problem” for Republicans, leading Democrats to victory.

“Obviously, voter motivation and intensity is important in elections,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner told a KHOW radio host Ross Kaminsky in September of 2018. “And if more on the radical left, the loony left, get out and vote than the right, that’s a problem.”

Gardner, who once thought people protesting him were paid, painted a darker picture of the leftist problem in July at the Western Conservative Summit (at 1:24:15) warning that “fringe liberals” are rallying “against the values that made America great” and “espousing far left radical ideas that are rooted in socialism.”

This kind of rhetoric about the threat of radical, loony, fringe leftists is the dominant theme of Gardner’s re-election campaign, starting in his first campaign ad last year.

“Do you want to protect the Senate from a radical far-Left takeover in 2020?” Gardner asked in the ad.

If you’re getting scared, though you don’t exactly know who the radical threat is and why they’re dangerous, that’s what Gardner wants.

If you’re wondering what’s up with Gardner’s campaign, think about all the stuff Gardner isn’t talking about.



Two Former GOP Lawmakers Share Fake News that Humans Don’t Cause Climate Change

(Says a guy who claims to have punched a bear — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

On Facebook this week, two former Republican state legislators were among a group of conservatives who shared a fake news item with the headline, “NASA admits that climate change occurs because of changes in Earth’s solar orbit, and NOT because of SUVs and fossil fuels.”

The article was deemed “false” by Snopes and other fact checkers.

Neither former state Representatives J Paul Brown (R-Ignacio) nor Judy Reyher (R-Swink), who shared the post,
returned calls seeking to know if they would remove the fake news from their social media feeds.

Brown shared a Facebook comment about the article falsely calling “man made global climate change” a “hoax” and objecting to a post by Facebook debunking the article.

Reyher shared a portion of the Natural News article falsely reporting that NASA “has known that the changes that occur in planetary weather patterns are completely natural and normal. But the space agency, for whatever reason, has chosen to let the man-made global warming hoax persist.”

Snopes’ correction reads:

This story was picked up by the website Natural News, where it gained further virality. One of the more telling approaches for outlets that promote a specific brand of climate-change denial is to report as news their “discovery” of something that, while perhaps new to them, is fundamental to the field of climate science and in no way in conflict with the concept of anthropogenic climate change.

When climate scientists discuss evidence for anthropogenic changes in the climate system, they do not simultaneously argue that there are no natural causes of variation in the climate system. Asserting that would be a straw-man argument. Evidence of natural climate variability is not evidence of a lack of human input into the climate system.

Erik Maulbetsch contributed to this post.


Trump Registers for Colo Ballot; Spokesperson “Doesn’t Care” about President’s taxes

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After filing required paperwork today for Trump to be on next year’s election ballot in Colorado, a Trump campaign representative said he doesn’t care about the president’s tax returns and sees no reason for him to release them.

“I really don’t care what his taxes are,” said John “Tig” Tiegen of Colorado Veterans for Trump.

“To me, he’s still a citizen,” Tiegen told reporters at the Secretary of State’s office this afternoon. “Why force him to do something that you’re not forcing everybody else to do? You’re just singling him out. That’s all you’re doing. Honestly, I don’t care what he pays in taxes, what he doesn’t pay in taxes. There’s a tax code for a reason. If I can weasel a way out, I’m going to weasel a way out too.”

Some states are requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the state ballot. Trump is the only president in recent history who’s not voluntarily released his tax returns, and to maintain his business while in office, CNN reports.

Tiegen (on right)

Asked if he expected to see rallies in Colorado, Tiegen said, “I would hope so. Hopefully nonviolent rallies, but hopefully we would see rallies.”

Tiegen said he thinks Trump can win in any state, especially in light of the economy.

What’s required, he said, is to “get the word out.”

“Colorado’s economy has been booming for years under Democratic governors and Democratic leadership at the General Assembly — and that’s in spite of Donald Trump, not because of him,” said David Pourshoushtari, Communications Director for the Colorado Democratic Party. “Whether it’s his massive tax giveaway to the ultra wealthy, his continued sabotage and assault on Coloradans’ healthcare, or his reckless trade wars that have hurt our Colorado farmers and outdoor recreation economy, it’s no wonder Trump’s Colorado approval rating has plummeted since he took office.”

Secretary of State Jena Griswold appeared briefly at the press conference and told a Trump official to seek her assistance if she needs it.


Gardner Didn’t Get Award for His Overall Record on Immigration, Just for His Work on One Bill

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

The National Immigration Forum, a national advocacy group, gave Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) a “Courage to Lead Award” Thursday for his work on immigration legislation last year–not for the senator’s overall record on immigration issues.

The decision by the Forum, a national pro-immigrant group, to recognize Gardner surprised immigration experts, who say Gardner, who’s up for re-election next year, has mostly been a conservative hardliner on immigration.

Ali Noorani, Director of the National Immigration Forum, explained that Gardner got the award specifically for his 2018 work on bipartisan legislation that would have established a path to citizenship for Dreamers, who came to the U.S. illegally as children, and funded border security measures, including wall construction. The legislation failed to clear the Senate.

“From a Republican perspective, that is certainly not an easy thing to do these days,” said Noorani, referring to Gardner’s role in pushing the 2018 legislation.

But the award was narrowly intended to recognize the senator’s work last year, and it should not be seen as praise for Gardner’s overall record on immigration, Noorani said.

The Forum’s decision to recognize Gardner, he said, was not based on an assessment of his immigration votes, statements, or any other actions during his career in the Senate, U.S. House, or the Colorado Legislature.

A wider review of Gardner’s record shows him to be consistently obstructing or blocking immigration reform, even, in the U.S. House, opposing the Dream Act itself and Obama’s DACA rules to protect Dreamers.

As a Colorado state representative, he went beyond the typical hard-line approach of the era, siding with extremists who favored withholding immunizations, other preventative care, and schooling for immigrant kids.

Today, while Gardner has flipped on the Dream Act, he won’t say whether he supports the American Dream and Promise Act, which passed the House in June and would protect Dreamers.

And he apparently still opposes a Colorado law, called ASSET, that grants in-state tuition for Dreamers, who would otherwise likely be priced out of college.

“But we can’t start putting in place in-state tuition, whether it’s other things that are being placed by the states, without actually addressing the root problem that will only continue more illegal immigration into this country,” Gardner told a conservative KNUS radio host in 2013. “And so, that’s why we’ve got to have a policy that actually works, and I believe it starts with border security.”



Gardner Helped Kill an Obamacare Provision That Was Similar to Colorado’s New Health Insurance Cost-Saving Program

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Pols readers might be interested in the post, below, by Kery Murakami, which appeared in the Colorado Times Recorder Friday.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has been talking up Colorado’s new reinsurance plan, which is expected to lower health insurance premiums for individuals next year by almost a fifth.

He’s also been taking credit for getting federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to approve the program, saying in a press release in July he weighed in “a number of times” to get permission.

But Gardner’s trumpeting of a program is causing eye-rolling by national healthcare experts.

That’s because Gardner was a major player in killing a similar provision of the Affordable Care Act that aimed to do the same thing as Colorado’s program, deriding it as taxpayer “bailouts” of insurance companies.

And, according to a study by economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research, ending the provision, called risk corridors, played a large part in insurance prices going up in the first place.

In fact, if not for the measures Gardner supported, the study found that premiums would have gone up by 10 percent in 2017 instead of 37 percent.



Opponents of Prop CC Argue that Colo Needs to Change Its Budget “Priorities.” But How?

(Just tap into that secret stash of gold bars in the Capitol basement! — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Throughout their successful campaign to defeat Propostion CC, opponents of the ballot measure argued that the state of Colorado doesn’t need more money. It just needs to change its budget priorities. But how?

“I’m not going to do it tonight after two beers,” former GOP Gov. Bill Owens joked at yesterday’s celebration of opponents of Prop CC, which would have dedicated TABOR refunds to education and transportation.
“It’s not my job anymore to do the budget, but I do believe that state needs to make it a priority to live within these normal increased means, just as we do,” he said.
I think government has to make a very good case for more than what it gets now,” Owens continued. “I’m not greedy. I’m fully willing to fund government. But there comes a point when we have a right to say, ‘You guys have enough unless you can convince me otherwise.'”

“Transportation isn’t just being underfunded because of a tight budget; it’s being underfunded because of a choice. My priorities would be transportation and education, and just narrow it,” said Owens, declining to say where he’d get the budget dollars to fund his priorities.



Williams’ Appointment as Trump Liaison Could Fire Up Already-Flaming GOP Chaos in El Paso County, Critics Say

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

In what some are calling yet another utterly-dysfunctional move by the El Paso County Republican Party, which is already in chaos, an outspoken right-wing state legislator was selected last week to serve as a liaison between the Trump Campaign and Republicans in El Paso County, which has the most GOP voters of any county in Colorado

Sate Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colo Springs) was picked by El Paso County GOP Chairwoman, Vick Tonkins, to “work hand-in-hand with the experts advising and working in the field with President Donald Trump, Senator Gardner, and the State GOP,” according to an El Paso GOP news release.

But Williams isn’t the lawmaker that should be associated the GOP in Colorado, as it tries to win over independent voters who swing toward Democrats on social issues, in particular, say Williams’ critics, adding that the ultra-conservative lawmaker is the last face Republicans want connected to U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.

Williams has been a divisive figure in the El Paso Republican circles and across the state, denouncing gay rights throughout his career. He opposed civil unions, for example, referring to them as “homosexual marriages.” Sounding like Trump, who’s invited Williams to the White House, he once said at the Colorado Capitol, “People have been murdered, mayhemmed, [and] raped” by immigrants in sanctuary cities. Williams gone even further, introducing legislation that would hold lawmakers legally responsible for crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in so-called sanctuary cities.

The appointment of Williams comes on the heels of serious budget shortfalls, leadership resignations, accusations of ineptitude, and backstabbing that some say could upend the El Paso Republican Party’s ability to perform its most basic functions (caucus process, GOTV) relating to next year’s critical election. And critics say the state GOP has refused to intervene to help solve financial and personality problems there.

Depressed turnout in El Paso County, where so many of the state’s Republicans congregate (157,208 registered Republican voters), would likely be the death knell to Republican hopes statewide.

With the rapidly growing number of Trump-hating independents and Democrats pooling in previously-thought-of swing areas of Colorado, the GOP must orchestrate a phenomenal turnout of voters around Colorado Springs–or it has little chance of winning Colorado’s U.S Senate race next year, say analysts.

Hence, the importance of having a functional Republican Party entity in El Paso.

But in a news release, El Paso GOP Chairwoman Tonkins said, “As the only Hispanic millennial Republican in the State House, and with strong ties to local and state parties, as well as the Trump Administration, Rep. Williams is the best person for the job.”

“Voters are ready to reject the radical agenda of Democrats in Colorado by supporting President Trump,” Williams told the Colorado Springs Gazette last week. “From job-killing oil and gas regulations to giving away our electoral college votes to California, the Democrats know their crazy record doesn’t come close to the real results the president is delivering for our state. It will be an honor to help restore balance to Colorado by mobilizing Trump supporters to get out the vote in our state’s largest Republican count.”


Gardner Money Trail Leads to Trump Hotel Restaurant

(Better have been one hell of a sandwich! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner is set to attend a “Save the Senate Retreat” in Washington D.C. Thursday at the Trump Hotel, featuring the president himself, Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and others.

But it looks like Thursday won’t be the first time this year that Gardner has dined at Trump’s DC property.

Back on June 21, Gardner’s campaign dropped $600 at the hotel restaurant, called BLT Prime, according to campaign information compiled by OpenSecrets.org. More Gardner cash was spent at the Trump restaurant in July.

Gardner’s campaign didn’t return a call seeking to know the cost of the menu items selected–or the guest list.

But the Trump Hotel appears to have a history of jacking up the prices on GOP guests.

Rates for the least expensive rooms on Thursday night, when the “Save the Senate Retreat” takes place, are about three times higher (about $1,400 per room) than the normal rate (about $500).

Money flows from Trump to Gardner, as well. Trump sent a fundraising letter last week for Republican senators who condemned the impeachment inquiry.


Activists Dress as Toilet Paper and Poop as Part of Campaign to Wipe Out Corporate Abuse

Activists with the progressive Colorado Consumer Protection Coalition want to wipe away “unfair terms in contracts that remove everyday Coloradans’ ability to hold [corporations] responsible for everything from sexual harassment in the workplace to abuse and neglect in nursing homes.”

Toilet Paper with Poop on right

But how to do this?

On Halloween, how about dressing as a roll of toilet paper and pile of poop?

You use the toilet paper (e.g., laws, activism, public pressure) to wipe away the poop (e.g., clauses in contracts stopping you from holding corporations accountable) that’s buried in online “user agreements,” employment contracts, and fine print everywhere.

In addition to sending what some corporations might see as a below-the-belt message, the poop and toilet paper handed out candy and cards to the lunchtime crowd on Denver’s 16th Street Mall Thursday, which was Halloween.

The messages focused in particular on “forced arbitration,” a term that refers to often-hidden clauses in user agreements and other contracts that require consumers or employees to agree to use the corporation’s protocol for dispute settlement/arbitration, instead of a public process, like the court system or a lawsuit. Among other things, this serves to leave no public record of corporate misdeeds.

“Virtually nobody realizes that they’re giving up their legal rights when they sign a contract or click on a user agreement online because corporations hide forced arbitration in the fine print,” said Wendy Howell from the Colorado Working Families Party in a news release. “We’re here today to highlight companies that have earned a treat for eliminating unfair arbitration clauses and to expose others that have tricked their customers and workers into being trapped in an ugly corporate abuse of power.”

Demonstrators also said they wanted to spotlight some corporations, like McDonald’s, that have eliminated unfair arbitration clauses as deserving of treats.

“We’re trying to use the fun of the holiday to get the word out,” Robert Lindgren, Political and Organizing Director of the Colorado AFL-CIO told the Colorado Times Recorder. “We’re trying to do something different to have people take a break from their day and learn something new. Also, we wanted to do something that might get more traction as we share photos of goofy people in costumes.”

The Colorado Consumer Protection Coalition, which is a coalition of over 30 community groups, is pushing Colorado lawmakers to pass legislation next year “to bring transparency and fairness to forced arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution between corporations and consumers and employees,” according to the news release.


Gardner Falsely Claims His Vote Protects People with Pre-existing Conditions

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner joined fellow Republicans Wednesday in voting to maintain a Trump rule that encourages states to allow the sale of so-called “junk” health insurance that wouldn’t cover people with pre-existing conditions.

Gardner’s ‘no’ vote on the resolution was expected, in part because he’s already stood multiple times against protecting people with pre-existing conditions, because Gardner appears to have embraced a political strategy of backing Trump, even when he’s under hot political pressure not to do so, and because the vote was forced by Democrats to put Republicans on the record in support of Trump’s rule.

But what surprised health care analysts was Gardner’s own brazen–and false–claim that his vote Wednesday actually “maintains critical pre-existing condition protections.

In fact, a years-long trail of analysis documents the fact that Trump’s rule reduces protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Even Gardner’s GOP Senate colleague, Susan Collins of Maine, who was the sole Republican to vote with Democrats Wednesday, has stated the Trump rule allows for the sale health insurance plans that “do not provide protections for enrollees who suffer from pre-existing conditions.”

A second apparent falsehood in Gardner’s statement explaining his vote Wednesday left already-head-scratching observers scratching their heads harder.



Trump Ignites Feverish Fight Between Colo Conservative Radio Hosts

“He’s a narcissist, incredibly flawed, and I think he’s the greatest president of my lifetime,” said Chuck Bonniwell, right-wing radio host, to Craig Silverman, another conservative host, both on Colorado’s KNUS radio.

“I’ve heard you say that, and I love a lot of his policies,” replied Silverman. “But what about him calling Republicans who don’t support him ‘human scum?'”

“He calls lots of people bad names,” replied Bonniwell, who’s a Republican activist and publisher of the Cherry Creek Chronicle. ..”I find repellent, that’s not quite the same as human scum, the Republicans who refuse to support the president and who are no better than the Democrats. …He’s actually building the wall. He’s brought jobs back to America. I’m willing to forgive his many personal faults if his policies are great for America.”

“But what if he does corrupt things in Ukraine to try to win the election?” said Silverman, sliding toward an issue that tripped up Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who’s refused to say if it’s appropriate for a president to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival.

“What corrupt things!” said Bonniwell, who loves to say how much he hates GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.

“…Do you like the procedure that’s being implemented to impeach the president?” asked Bonniwell.

“Oh my gosh, Chuck…This is normal.”

“It’s sad that you don’t recognize justice….” said Bonniwell.

Listen to the Oct. 24 battle on KNUS 710-AM here:



Five Colorado Governors Urge ‘Yes’ Vote on Prop CC Ballot Measure

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Gov. Roy Romer (D).

With a ballot measure allowing Colorado to use already-collected TABOR taxes for roads and schools expected to be close, five Democratic Colorado governors have joined together in calling on citizens to vote ‘yes’ and get their ballots submitted by mail or at drop-off locations by next Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Gov. Jared Polis and former Govs. John Hickenlooper, Bill Ritter, Roy Romer and Dick Lamm endorsed the measure, called Proposition CC, in a news release sent to reporters today.

“Our schools and infrastructure are not keeping up with our growing economy and population,” said Polis. “Proposition CC will reduce congestion and improve our schools. The amazing thing is that we can do it without raising taxes.”

Funds from Prop CC are earmarked for roads and schools, including community colleges and trade schools.

“I’m voting for Prop CC because our teachers are undervalued and deserve more resources, and our roads and bridges are in need of repair,” said Hickenlooper. “Prop CC will help us address both of those critical issues by making needed investments in Colorado’s priorities, without raising taxes.”

Colorado’s only living Republican Governor, Bill Owens, is against Prop. CC, saying this is not the type of short-term budget fix that he’s supported in the past.

But the Democratic governors say the measure is needed as an investment in the state.

“Coloradans treasure our way of life — our identity is tied to this place we live and love,” said Ritter. “But we need to do what almost every public and private sector leader has told us: we need to invest to keep it. The best part? We can do it with no new taxes, with unprecedented transparency and accountability. Let’s vote to uphold our values and grow Colorado responsibly.”

Opponents say Prop CC amounts to a tax increase because Colorado will keep TABOR refunds that would otherwise have been returned to taxpayers, while proponents point out that the measure doesn’t raise tax rates or result in anyone paying more taxes.

During the past 14 years, taxpayers received just one refund under TABOR rules, in 2015. The checks ranged from $13 to $41. This year, the refund is estimated to be around $60.

Romer believes the TABOR rules, which mandate the refunds, are hurting Colorado.

“TABOR’s 30-year-old formula for growth has shackled Colorado’s investments, leading to some of the most underfunded roads, bridges and schools in the country,” said Romer. “It’s time to unleash Colorado and move into the 21st-century by investing in things Coloradans have been demanding for decades.”

Lamm echoed this sentiment.

“With one vote on this commonsense measure we can untangle our broken tax code and start fixing things, with a 3rd party independent monitor to track where every dollar goes. Vote Yes on Prop CC before November 5th!” said Lamm.


FACT CHECK: Prop CC Ballot Measure Would Not Take Away Tax Exemption For Seniors and Veterans

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Opponents of Proposition CC are saying the ballot measure would “take away” a property tax exemption for seniors and veterans when, in fact, it would not.

Prop CC allows Colorado’s state government to keep already-collected taxes that otherwise would have been refunded under TABOR–and to spend the money on schools and roads.

9News and ColoradoPolitics reported that Prop CC would not affect the Homestead Property Tax Exemption, which significantly reduces property taxes for seniors and disabled veterans.

Asked by a viewer, “Does Prop CC affect the Homestead Property Tax Exemption,” 9News anchor Kyle Clark replied succinctly on air, “No, it does not.”

Viewers may have been confused by widespread misinformation about Prop CC that’s being spread by its opponents.

The Arapahoe County Republican Party posted on its Facebook page that Prop CC would “take away Seniors’/Veterans’ property tax exemption.”

A message asking the Arapahoe GOP to remove the inaccurate information was not returned.

The official website of the “No on CC” campaign states that Prop CC “would hurt seniors and veterans” by putting their property tax exemptions “at risk.”

“Proposition CC would take that refund money away,” falsely states the No on CC campaign.

ColoradoPolitics reporter Marianne Goodland cleared up misinformation from the “No on CC” campaign in a post Saturday that referenced No on CC’s false statements.

Goodland reported:

A rumor making the rounds (including here) is that Proposition CC will eliminate long-cherished property tax exemptions for seniors and disabled military veterans, if it passes on the Nov. 5 ballot. Not so, say experts such as state Treasurer Dave Young and the state economists who wrote a fiscal analysis of the measure. Among the reasons: Proposition CC is a statutory measure that seeks to change state law, not the state Constitution. However, the property tax exemptions for seniors and disabled veterans came about from voter approval of not one, but two constitutional measures.

Others who’ve been spreading misinformation about Prop CC include Pueblo County Republican Chair Marla Spinuzzi Reichert.

Riechert shared a Facebook post stating, “Prop CC will hurt Colorado’s Disabled Veterans and their families the most.”



Child Sex Abuse Occurs in “Every Organization,” Says Denver Catholic Leader

Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila apologized Wednesday for sexual abuse of children in the Colorado Catholic Church, and then he went on the defensive, saying “perpetrators infect every organization,” not just the church.

“We must learn from the suffering of the victims and never assume that we could not face another perpetrator in our midst,” said Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila in a video statement after the release of a partial investigation of sexual abuse in portions of Colorado’s Catholic Church. “Just in the last few years, it has become even more apparent that perpetrators infect every organization: the Boy Scouts, public schools, the Olympics, news organizations, colleges. These abuses can manifest in every part of our lives if we are not alert and responsive.”

Does Aquila think the church is being scapegoated?

The archdiocese’s office didn’t return an email seeking an answer to that question, but abuse survivors and advocates say the answer is a resounding no.

“On the one hand, we do know that child sexual abuse happens in every community and every organization. So that’s true,” said Jenny Stith, Director of the WINGS Foundation, which helps adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. “But I think he may have been using that tactic to minimize the fact that the Catholic Church has such a history with this.” “In general, the response to the abuse within those institutions has been similar and self-protective,” added Stith. “And if there are any similarities, those are the ones that should should be highlighted.”

Aquila’s mention of news organizations could have been a reference to harassment and abuse that was publicized with the emergence of the #MeTo movement and mostly involved adults.

The investigation into abuse in the Catholic Church in Colorado, which turned up 166 incidents since 1950 involving 43 priests, focused narrowly on child sex abuse–and did not address any problems or incidents involving adults.

Denver KHOW radio host Dan Caplis, who doesn’t conceal his social conservativism, views sex assault in the public schools as “similar to what’s occurred in the church.”

Efforts to find out if Caplis thinks Catholics have been scapegoated were unsuccessful.

Regardless, Aquila has promised to stop abuse in the church.

“I want to remind you that a year ago, as your archbishop, I made a series of public promises to ensure the sins of the past are not repeated,” said Aquila in the video released Wednesday. “Today I stand by those promises and reassert my promises. …In these times we are called to be holy and to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on Jesus Christ for he alone is the one who can bring healing and redemption to each one of us personally and to the church.”