Explaining Extremists’ Wins at Assembly, Buck Says Republicans are ‘Mad…Not Rational’

(The base has spoken, the bastards — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Following Saturday’s chaotic and combative GOP state assembly in Colorado Springs, Congressman Ken Buck (R-Colorado) said the GOP delegates who choose far-right extremist candidates “are not making rational decisions,” but rather are angry about “American weakness.”

On Tuesday in an interview with KOA radio’s Colorado’s Morning News, Buck said he favors the caucus and assembly process for selecting candidates for the GOP primary, as opposed to candidates who qualify by way of petitioning signatures of support from Colorado voters.

Buck said he believes that the assembly process is more “respectful” of party activists, insiders, and operatives who organize the statewide meetings where delegates are elected and ultimately decide which candidates will vie to be the party’s nominee in November’s general election.

But at Saturday’s state assembly, those same Republican “activist” delegates largely supported candidates with extreme positions and platforms, many of whom are running on false claims of stolen elections in Colorado and nationally, such as statewide candidates Greg Lopez for governor, Ron Hanks for U.S. Senate, and Tina Peters for secretary of state.

Some of these candidates also have criminal records or, in the case of Peters are facing multiple felony charges.

When asked by 850 KOA radio hosts for his thoughts on delegates’ strong support for Peters, Hanks, Lopez, and other controversial candidates, Buck said that Colorado Republican voters — and by extension, the party’s elected delegates — “are not making rational decisions about who is the best candidate that could win in a general election.”

Yeah, I think it is clearly a reflection of how voters are mad,” Buck told hosts April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz. “They are mad that the withdrawal from Afghanistan was botched and it showed the world American weakness, which we don’t believe — as Republicans — exists. They’re mad about high gas prices. They’re mad about high food prices. They’re mad about crime rising in the cities. They’re mad about losing good paying jobs — energy jobs — here in Colorado. They’re mad about illegal immigrants surging across the border. People are mad. They’re not sitting around making rational decisions about who is the the best candidate that could win in a general election. They’re looking for people who are going to fight for them, and they chose what they consider to be the best fighters.”

Despite Colorado voters’ strong preference for President Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election in which Biden prevailed with an advantage of 13 percentage points, Buck said that Republican activists believe that “rational Americans wouldn’t throw out President Trump,” and so are getting behind Trump-like candidates that they view as “strong leaders.”

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GOP Congresswoman Claims Boebert Doesn’t Attack Fellow Republicans Like Marjorie Taylor Greene Does. Not Really True.

(Toxic is as toxic does — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Boebert and Taylor Greene at 2022 SOTU speech

In her short career, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) has demonstrated a record of publicly attacking fellow Republicans, despite being praised by one of her congressional caucus colleagues for not being divisive in the party with her remarks.

Last December, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) appeared on the Colorado-based Ross Kaminsky Show to discuss proposed bipartisan legislation, but the conversation turned to Boebert when Kaminsky asked (“slightly tongue in cheek”) if Mace was seeking Boebert’s support on her bill.

The day before, Boebert had made national headlines with her bigoted, Islamophobic statements about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), referring to Omar and her progressive colleagues as “the jihad squad.” Mace condemned Boebert’s remarks publicly and garnered derivative media attention for it.

Mace began her response to Kaminsky with, “Oh! Uhhh…” and a laugh, then she dodged the question by saying, “I’m not stopping anyone [from signing on to the bill,]”

“Here’s the thing,” Mace said, qualifying her initial ambivalence in responding. “I represent a swing district. And I’ve condemned comments on both sides — yeah, whether it’s bigotry or antisemitism. One of the things that Congresswoman Boebert did, is she recognized, and took responsibility for it, and apologized. And the thing that was missing last week with Marjorie Taylor Greene — because she’s a liar — is that. I condemned [Boebert’s] remarks as any normal human would. But then I praised her for coming forward and taking responsibility for it. …You know, Congressman Boebert, to my knowledge, hasn’t attacked other Republicans — I mean, the way this Marjorie character, the way that she does. I mean, it’s important that we come together, [that] we unify.

Kaminsky concurred with Mace’s assessment of the two Congressional bombasts, saying that while he supported Boebert’s congressional campaign, he believes Taylor Green to be “a moron” and “everything that’s wrong with the Republican Party.”

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After She Called for Indicted Election Official to End Campaign, CO Republican Party Chair Urged To Resign by GOP Leader

(Whose party is it anyway? — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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Following calls by Colorado Republican executive officers for Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters to suspend her statewide campaign for Secretary of State in response to a ten-count indictment filed against her, members of the GOP State Executive and State Central Committees are criticizing the move as a violation of neutrality in primary campaigns, and at least one is urging the GOP chair, Kristi Burton Brown, to resign or be removed from her position.

Colorado’s National Committeeman, Randy Corporon, and Chuck Bonniwell, both members of the Colorado Republican state executive committee, voiced their criticism of Burton Brown on their respective political talk shows last Friday and Saturday.

Both Corporon and Bonniwell say that Burton Brown’s statement, issued last Wednesday, calling for Peters to suspend her campaign in deference to the party’s reputation and best interests as the “party of law and order” betrayed the neutrality required by party officers in primary races where multiple Republicans are vying for the party’s nomination.

Burton Brown’s statement was issued with an addendum by Joe Jackson, executive director of the Colorado GOP, asserting the party’s impartiality in the primary race for Secretary of State and other Republican contests. The statement can not be found in social media posts by the Colorado GOP.

Peters recently announced her run for Secretary of State, challenging Pam Anderson for the Republican slot in next November’s general election against incumbent Jena Griswold. Mike O’Donnell is also vying for the nomination, while David Whinney dropped out of the race, shortly after Peters announced.

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Fourth GOP Lawmaker in CO Regrets Vote Expressing Support for Election-Fraud Conspiracies

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POLS UPDATE: Kyle Clark comments on this recent bout of Republican rhetorical indigestion: —–

Joining three of his Republican colleagues, Rep. Mark Baisley of Roxborough Park admitted in a radio interview last week that he made a mistake — in part due to a failed plan by “disjointed” state House Republicans — in supporting GOP amendments validating baseless election conspiracies.

The votes in favor of the measures could diminish Republican prospects in the midterm elections, he said, explaining his second thoughts on voting for them.

Although the amendments to a Democratic voting-rights resolution failed, they gained lots of media attention, since they perpetuated debunked and misleading claims of election fraud.

The controversial amendments that Baisley now regrets supporting, as first reported by 9News’ Kyle Clark, were introduced by Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs) and were practically doomed to fail as soon as they were introduced. A sizeable Democratic majority in the state House ensured the amendment would be blocked, even if all 24 House Republicans voted for them.

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DougCo Sheriff Candidate Believes That Within the County, His Power Would Supersede The President’s

(That’s not how anything works — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

John Anderson, one of four GOP candidates vying to be elected Douglas County Sheriff, announced his support on social media for a model of law enforcement known as constitutional policing, but his rationale for that position aligns with another distinct controversial movement popular in some conservative political circles known as “constitutional sheriffs” which deems the sheriff as the ultimate arbiter and authority in enforcing laws in a county jurisdiction, and which has racist roots in American history.

Anderson claims to have no familiarity with the constitutional sheriff movement, but he agrees with at least part of the organization’s founding principle:

“The law enforcement powers held by the sheriff supersede those of any agent, officer, elected official or employee from any level of government when in the jurisdiction of the county,” reads the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) website.  “The vertical separation of powers in the Constitution makes it clear that the power of the sheriff even supersedes the powers of the President.”

After having that statement from CSPOA read to him and asked if he agrees with it, Anderson assented. He brushed off any suggestion or implication that such a position would be viewed as extremist or “far-right,” saying that distinction was arbitrary.

In an interview with the Colorado Times Recorder, Anderson explained that his support for constitutional policing comes from his fidelity to the U.S. Constitution, specifically in upholding the Second Amendment and other freedoms enumerated in the United States’ Bill of Rights.

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Polis ‘Is Not Even Gay’ & His Wedding Was ‘All a Sham,’ Baselessly Claims GOP Gov. Candidate

(Now THAT’S a new angle — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

At a campaign meet-and-greet event in Cañon City Monday night, Republican candidate for Colorado governor Danielle Neuschwanger launched into a monologue, filled with false accusations about Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, saying he “is not gay” and that his marriage to Marlon Reis “is a sham.”

An audio recording provided by an attendee documents Neuschwanger’s remarks on a wide range of topics, including the corrupt culture of campaigns, lawsuits against the state over mandates, “crazy” GOP constituents, a legislative candidate advocating to “ban the gays” and gay adoption, government secrets about the JFK assassination, and rival Republican gubernatorial candidates. She also delivered a derisive dismissal of the conservative training and candidate development program, Leadership Program of the Rockies.

Toward the end of her comments, Neuschwanger said, “You guys want to know something crazy about Polis? He’s not even gay.”

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‘Pro-Life’ Republican Ganahl Would Take ‘Hard Look’ at Abortion Ban as Governor

(The many, many faces of Heidi Ganahl — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Heidi Ganahl

Indicating that she may be pro-choice when it comes to state policy on abortion, even though she is personally pro-life, the leading Republican candidate for governor in Colorado says may not sign an abortion-ban bill if it landed on her desk as governor, instead promising she’d take a “long hard look” at it.

Instead, the candidate, Heidi Ganahl, says she would pursue policies that facilitate adoptions and access to birth.

“I think that Colorado is a very different state than Texas,” answered Ganahl last week when asked if she would sign a bill outlawing most abortions, as Texas has done. “So I would certainly take a long hard look at any legislation that ends up on my desk.

“I am pro-life, and I think that there are ways that we can reduce the rate of abortion in our state and our country that are important and we need to work on, like making adoptions easier and more accessible for families. Also making birth control more accessible. So, that’s the approach I would take.”

Ganahl, who is a University of Colorado regent, made the comments to Jesús Sánchez Meleán, the editor of El Comercio de Colorado. She answered five policy-related questions during the Dec. 5 interview in English, overdubbed with a Spanish translation.

Enacted Sept. 1 and commonly referred to as a “heartbeat bill,” the Texas law, Senate Bill 8, bans abortions after detection of embryonic cardiac activity — usually at around six weeks’ gestation — while also allowing any private citizen to legally sue any individual who performs an abortion, as well as any individual who aids or abets — or intends to aid or abet — a pregnant person seeking an abortion after a heartbeat can be detected.

Ganahl did not immediately respond to a message seeking to know more about her stance on abortion.

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CO Republican Chair Advises Candidates To Accept Biden As Prez, Stay Mum on Alleged 2020 Election Fraud

(Them’s fightin’ words – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a recent radio interview, Kristi Burton Brown, chair of the Colorado Republican Party, advised candidates to sidestep conspiracy narratives about the 2020 presidential election that are favored by many GOP activists, and instead to acknowledge Joe Biden’s legitimacy as the president of the United States.

But Republican candidates who have announced their runs for governor and U.S. Senate appear to be testing different approaches to answering the looming question: “Do you believe the 2020 election was stolen from former president Trump?”

The varying statements by Republican candidates confirm that the party remains divided, with some establishment Republicans, like former GOP chair Dick Wadhams, saying, “We just need to have candidates who have the guts to say, ‘No, the fraud didn’t happen, Trump lost the election,'” and the party base insisting that the election was stolen.

Appearing on KNUS in an interview with former prosecutor and former GOP candidate George Brauchler late last month, Burton Brown acknowledged the legitimacy of the Biden Presidency by saying there’s “no provision in U.S. law” to do anything about it.

Here’s how she advised candidates on how to answer the question about the election, even if they believe it was stolen.

Brauchler: “We discussed this report that came out from Cyber Ninjas in Arizona about the audit that they did of Maricopa County. … Overall, they found that, ‘Look, we think that that Biden won this thing.’ … I bring that up in the context of the question asked of Heidi Ganahl, who’s a candidate for governor, by [9news political reporter] Marshall Zellinger on the day she launched her campaign — you may have seen this — where the first question was, “Was the 2020 election stolen?”. … How does the party tackle that, moving forward?

Burton Brown: “What the Democrats and media think they can do is tie us to the past and say, ‘Well, hey, if we can get Republicans to dwell in the past, they’re going to lose because they lost in the past.’ … We have to acknowledge, yes, Joe Biden is in the White House, and there’s not a provision in U.S. law to do anything about that other than accept the fact [that] Joe Biden is in the White House. … We have to acknowledge the fact, yes, Joe Biden is the president of the United States. Democrats control our nation. Democrats control our state. … We have to say, ‘You know what? We’re acknowledging the facts and we’re going to paint you a vision for the future and how we help working class average Coloradoans like us actually succeed in this state.'”

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Lawsuit Against Colorado Could Allow GOP To Dump Open Primaries Before Next Election, Says GOP Lawyer

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At Saturday’s Colorado GOP state central committee assembly in Pueblo, party leadership voted against the long-debated proposal that Republicans opt out of primary elections, which allow unaffiliated voters to participate in the selection of party nominees

But the state’s Republican governing body overwhelmingly agreed to file a lawsuit against the state challenging the legality of Proposition 108, the 2016 referendum approved by voters which established open primaries in Colorado.

The much-anticipated vote for opting out of primaries required an almost-insurmountable threshold of 75% approval of the entire central committee membership, not just those present at the meeting.

Activists in favor of opting out traveled the state over the past six months, lobbying committee members. Dueling op-eds appeared in publications and endorsements for and against the measure were tallied in anticipation of Saturday’s vote.

In the end, the opt-out proposal failed with only 33% approving (172 votes of the total membership of approximately 525) and 45% opposing the measure (241 votes).

Proponents of opting out of the state’s open primaries believe that the process favors meddling by dark money groups and Democrats, while nominating candidates who compromise on the GOP platform and principles.

Opponents believe that opting out of the primaries would disenfranchise Republican voters and turn moderates and unaffiliated voters — the largest group of Colorado voters, at 40% of the electorate — away from the party.

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Wadhams Wouldn’t Be ‘Surprised’ if Majority of CO GOP Governing Body Votes To Exit Open Primaries

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Former Colorado Republican leader Dick Wadhams “would not be surprised” if over 50% of the governing body of the Colorado Republican Party votes Saturday not to participate in open primaries anymore, falling short of the 75% that’s legally required to dump open primaries but setting the table for GOP activists to file a lawsuit that could overturn the 75% threshold and allow Republicans to eschew primaries as early as next year.

Wadhams made the comments on KHOW’s Peter Boyles show this morning in an interview in which he also cast a decidedly sour view on GOP candidates who baselessly say the last presidential election was fraudulent.

“I would not be surprised if they get over 50% of the people who show up that day,” said Wadhams on air. “And frankly, that is concerning enough to me that our state central committee, the most active Republicans around the state, might vote to support this crazy idea to eliminate the primary.

“It will not get 75%,” said Wadhams. “It will fail. But what I would wish happen, is like it would be defeated soundly. I don’t think that’ll be the case, to be honest, Peter. I think it’s past.”

A day after Heidi Ganahl, the newly minted GOP gubernatorial candidate, refused to tell reporters whether she thought the last year’s presidential election was legitimate, Wadhams said Republicans won’t be “credible in a general election” unless they say the election was not stolen.

“I think candidates ought to look at the reporter and say, ‘I do not believe the election was stolen. I do not believe we should ban 1.6 million unaffiliated voters from voting in the primary.’ And I think we just ought to take a stand on this because it’s defining our party,” Wadhams told Boyles.

“I honestly think we’ve got to have strong candidates who were willing to say, no, the election was not stolen because that’s the only way they can be credible in a general election.”

Last week, A Republican lawyer joined an ACLU of Colorado attorney in saying Republicans have a case in court to argue that the 75% threshold should be tossed out and replaced by a simple majority.

They’d have an even better argument if the party votes by over 50% to exit the primaries, say GOP activists.

The percentage required is not just based on the Republicans who show up Saturday but on the total membership of the GOP governing body, including those who aren’t present Saturday. There are different opinions on whether proxy votes will be allowed.

Trump Attorney to Represent State GOP in Suit Against CO Open Primary Law, Says GOP Activist

(As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. — Promoted by Colorado Pols

Grassroots activist leaders in the Colorado Republican Party have new hope in overcoming legal and financial barriers in their 5-year quest to withdraw from open primaries in Colorado, with an apparent offer of discounted legal representation in challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 108, a state law instituted by voters in 2016 that regulates how parties can choose their nominees for state elected office.

Attorney Chuck Bonniwell, publisher of the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle and member of the CO GOP executive committee who has led the effort for opting out of open primaries, announced on Saturday’s KNUS radio show, Wake Up! with Randy Corporon that Corporon, along with controversial constitutional law attorney John Eastman and the Claremont Institute have offered to provide legal representation at an affordable rate in order to challenge the constitutionality of Proposition 108.

Previously, motions among the state central committee proposing such a lawsuit were derailed on consideration of the cost involved, and the limited financial resources available to the state Republican Party to fund the challenge.

“I was at the Adams County Executive Committee meeting on Thursday … and the one thing that everyone agreed to — everyone, even the non-opt out people — is there ought to be a lawsuit brought by the Republican Party to vitiate a clearly unconstitutional law,” Bonniwell explained to Colorado’s Republican National Committeeman and attorney Corporon. “And I know you’ve been working [on] that along with John Eastman and others, and maybe there’s a point of agreement among everybody, which the Republican Party sorely needs. … And the question has always been, ‘Well, it will cost too much money!’ Well, you and John [Eastman] and and the Claremont Institute, you know, you’ve been willing to come up and you’ll support it for just a fraction of the money that they say that will be needed. So, it may be the one point on Sept. 18 we all can come together on and fight against this unconstitutional law.”

Despite a clause in Proposition 108 allowing major political parties to opt out of the primary elections in Colorado, there has been debate as to whether the requirement of 75% approval from a party’s entire ruling body in order to opt out of the primaries is too burdensome, and therefore unconstitutional. Republicans have not managed to meet that threshold in two previous attempts to opt out, and weren’t able to even vote due to an absence of quorum.

 

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CO GOP Efforts to Opt Out of Open Primaries Complicated by Proxy Votes, Quorum Requirement, Potential Court Interventions

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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A prominent attorney and legal advisor to the state Republican Party told conservative talk radio listeners last Saturday that GOP activists could potentially mount a legal challenge to a requirement in state statute that in order for Republicans to opt out of the primaries, 75% of the governing body of the state party must vote in favor.

Christopher Murray, a Republican attorney with the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schrek, appeared on KNUSGeorge Show, to discuss the likelihood of achieving the high bar for opting out, the viability of a legal challenge, and some of the parameters of the opt-out vote.

“Both major political parties have the ability to opt out of Colorado’s primary election,” explained Murray, professing neutrality on the topic. “Now, I’m going to say ‘have the ability.’ It is a hard thing to do, right? So, … I think folks who are for this would probably say, ‘But man, is the deck stacked against us!’ … Seventy-five percent of the total number, total voting members of the state central committee have to vote for an opt out. If they do that, and they do that before October 1 of this year … then the Republican Party at all levels is out of the primary election and chooses its candidates by convention.”   

Murray said that GOP bylaws dictate that a vote be taken by the central committee every two years on whether to opt out of the primaries. The motion failed in both 2017 and 2019, illuminating the “Herculean task” faced by opt out supporters, as Murray characterized it.

RELATED: Republicans Seek to Close Open Primaries, Exclude Unaffiliated Voters

In order to vote in person, many committee members will have to travel long distances to Pueblo for the Sept. 18 meeting.

However, proxy votes will be allowed to accommodate those who are absent, according to Murray, presumably within certain qualifying parameters.

[Three hundred and seventy-five votes are required] either in-person or by proxy, unless — unless — you don’t have 75% of the committee in attendance, right? Because if the vote won’t work, then there’s no reason to have the vote,” said Murray on air. “So far, — and the two times we’ve tried to do it, there have not — and when I say ‘tried to do it,’ I just mean ‘try to have that vote’ — there has not been 75% of the committee in attendance.

Even with proxy votes being allowed, the 75% standard is viewed by some as unreasonably burdensome to meet, and therefore possibly unconstitutional.

Show host George Brauchler, a GOP executive committee member who has opined publicly against opting out of the primaries, then inquired about the possibility of a legal challenge.

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ACLU Attorney Agrees With GOP Activists: Strict Rules for Opting Out of Open Primaries Could Be Struck Down

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Citing “interference with the political rights of association” of the Colorado Republican Party, an American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU) attorney says Colorado Republican activists advocating to opt out of open primaries might have a viable legal case in challenging a state law requiring a supermajority of 75% of the party’s governing body to opt out of open primaries.

Despite their claims that the supermajority requirement is unfair and likely unconstitutional, the opt-out advocates aim to convince 75% of the 518-member GOP Central Committee to vote Sept. 18 to ditch open primaries, and thereby ensure a Republican-only process is in place for the 2022 election cycle.

“The party members who want to challenge that 75% requirement might very well have a point,” Mark Silverstein, Legal Director of the ACLU of Colorado, told the Colorado Times Recorder. “Here, the state of Colorado in Proposition 108 says that a decision by the political party can be made to opt out, but the state won’t consider that decision valid unless there’s this supermajority.

“How does the state have the right to dictate to the Republican Party what percentage of its membership — or what percentage of its central committee — must vote to make a decision for the party? You know, what if the state said [that] before the Republicans can take a position on abortion, it must be approved by 90% of its members? It is certainly interference with the political rights of association of the Party. Nobody would think that the state could do that.”

In a radio interview last month, Randy Corporon and Chuck Bonniwell, both attorneys and members of the GOP executive and state central committees, discussed why the authors of Proposition 108 might have included the 75% requirement for opting out.

They cited as precedent cases in which the courts have ruled that, under First Amendment protections for the freedom of association, private entities such as political parties cannot be forced to accept nominees chosen by electors who include nonmembers of the party.

Bonniwell asserts that the opt out clause releases Proposition 108 from “forcing” the parties to participate in the open primary against their wills.

The supermajority requirement, however — while protecting the intention of Colorado voters who prevailed in passing Proposition 108 — could possibly be ruled as creating an overly burdensome barrier for parties exercising their option to opt out of open primaries, they said.

Bonniwell also points out the added difficulty imposed by requiring approbation by 75% of all of the committee members, and not just 75% of the members present and voting on the issue.

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Signs Point to Possible But Difficult Road to Victory for GOP Activists Who Want to Opt Out of Primaries

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With a crucial vote coming before the Colorado Republican Party’s state central committee next month on whether to continue allowing unaffiliated voters to participate in Republican primary elections, recent voting records of that governing body indicate that grassroots Republicans hold power over establishment members, and could indicate that the state GOP will opt out of open primary elections.

Three different votes on issues before the state central committee in the past year indicate that, with the current composition of the 518-member committee, grassroots-affiliated members could prevail in their campaign to have the GOP opt-out of open primaries and, instead, select their nominees for federal and state races through systems of caucus, convention, or assembly in which only Republicans can participate.

First, last summer, the state central committee elected Randy Corporon — a Tea Party leader, conspiracist attorney, talk radio host, and Trump supporter — to the position of National Committeeman for the state of Colorado.

Corporon cites this win over Eli Bremer, an establishment Republican who recently announced his campaign to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), as proof that the grassroots-affiliated central committee members hold sway with their numbers.

“When I was elected Republican National Committeeman with more votes than the next two establishment candidates, Bill Cadman and Eli Bremer,” said Corporon on his Saturday morning conservative talk radio show on KNUS, “that’s the Republican Central Committee. That’s those delegates voting. And so we know that the people who actually take the time to donate their time to the Republican Party and be a part of this structure are the conservatives that want to see a fighting Republican Party.”

Then, this spring, the Colorado GOP state central committee voted to install Kristi Burton Brown as Chairwoman of the party over her establishment rival, former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

Burton Brown cut her teeth in politics as a teenaged grassroots activist organizing for Colorado’s first Personhood Amendment, an anti-abortion referendum that failed in 2008. Similar versions of Personhood subsequently failed again, twice, in 2010 and 2012.

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Bid to Opt Out of Open Republican Primaries in CO Is Close to Success, Now With Help From Tancredo, Say Organizers

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Tom Tancredo.

As grassroots Republicans continue their statewide road tour to lobby 517 county GOP officers and other central committee members to vote to end open primaries for their party, leaders of that effort are celebrating their successes and the most recent big-name recruit to their cause, Tom Tancredo.

Randy Corporon, Colorado’s Republican National Committeeman, and Chuck Bonniwell, who sits on the state GOP governing committee, updated listeners on Saturday morning during a joint appearance on Corporon’s KNUS conservative talk radio program.

Bonniwell sees open primaries, which allow unaffiliated voters to cast ballots for Republican, Democratic, or other candidates, as an existential threat to the survival of the state Republican Party. He believes that the open primary system allows Democratic donors to fund establishment Republicans’ campaigns in the primaries, causing the grassroots Republican candidates to lose.

“They pour all their money into electing RINO Republicans who will sign on to the bills in the legislature,” said Bonniwell. “We lost Patrick Neville as leader because the new group that came in elected Hugh McKean, who loves to work with Democrats and denigrate other Republicans. We will, in two to four years, have no conservative members left.”

September 18 is the deadline for Bonniwell and his fellow GOP activists to convince at least 388 central committee members, or 75%, to vote with them, as required by statute to opt out of open primaries. The central committee, made up of Republican delegates from across Colorado, will meet on that day to determine how Republican nominees will be selected in the future.

Bonniwell is encouraged by his group’s progress in convincing state GOP officers to end open primaries.

“The party is really struggling,” said Bonniwell. “I’ve gone around the state along with Anil Matthai, … Peg Cage, Jimmy Mack, … Ben Nicholas. And we’ve gone to virtually — we’ve done 45 counties, talked to the Republicans, everybody who will meet with us, and it has all of a sudden started to snowball. It is really starting to go because they haven’t seen, often, a[n] executive committee member, ever! And they are desperate in a lot of these places. The economic stress in eastern Colorado is just heartbreaking, if you’ve been out there. But we started to gain a lot of traction. And so the establishment decided, ‘Uh oh! We’d better squash these guys. They look like they’re starting to get enough people to opt out of the primaries and have a Republican run primary.’ … So, we’ve got to get 75% to say ‘yes’ at the September 18th meeting. And obviously we’re threatening [to reach] that [threshold] or they would not have pulled out Jon Caldara and the Independence Institute and all the rest of them to attack us. It means we’re really making a difference.”

Politicos and pundits are weighing in on the prospect of reversing a voter mandate from 2016 which allows for unaffiliated Colorado voters to participate in the party primary election of their choice to determine party nominees for legislative seats, statewide executive offices, and Congressional representatives in the general election.

Last week, Jon Caldara of the conservative think tank Independence Institute wrote a column for The Gazette. And on the same day, The Colorado Sun published a column by Mario Nicholas.

Both columnists punctuated their opposition to the state GOP opting out of open primaries with ominous predictions for the party, which featured words such as ‘death’ and ‘defeat.’

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Republicans Seek to Close Open Primaries, Exclude Unaffiliated Voters

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Just four years after Colorado’s first open primary, a faction of Republican leaders are attempting to opt-out of the laws approved by voters in 2016 which allowed unaffiliated voters to cast votes in partisan primaries. If successful, the largest group of Colorado voters, those without affiliation to a political party who represent nearly 40% of the state’s 4 million voters, will lose their voice in determining Republican nominees for U.S. president and state office races.

Chuck Bonniwell, one of a few dozen members of the Colorado Republican Party Executive Committee and host of a conservative podcast focused on state politics, is traveling the state in an effort backed by a contingent of grassroots Republicans to garner enough votes among county GOP officers to opt out of the open primaries

“Chuck and his merry band of rebels are now touring the eastern and southeastern part of the state, basically talking to all kinds of Republican grassroots groups about changing the way that we have this open primary system. Their point is it’s destroying the Colorado Republican Party. They want to go back to having a closed primary. They’re fighting an uphill battle,” explained Bonniwell’s wife and co-host during an episode of their show earlier this month.

As with other issues, Colorado Republicans are divided on opting out of open primaries along the now-familiar fault lines of grassroots conservatives who generally support former President Trump, his statements, and his policies, versus more traditional, so-called “establishment” party members who are generally more moderate and centrist. Control over the party and regaining political standing for the GOP in Colorado are at stake.

Republican campaign adviser, former Colorado chair of the GOP, and political commentator Dick Wadhams appeared on Bonniwell and Hayden’s show in February and discussed the prospect of opting out of open primaries.

“To be honest, I think it would be a mistake,” said Wadhams. “And in fact, I was engaged in that debate when this came up a few years ago when there was a [failed] vote in the state central committee to attempt to get the 75% to to opt out of the of the primary and go to a state convention for nominations. And I just I think that would be a mistake, because if we’re going to be able to appeal at all to unaffiliated voters who determine elections in this state — and always have, by the way, — [it would be counterproductive.]”

In order to opt out of open primaries, 75% of the GOP state central committee members would have to vote in favor. Bonniwell and others have contested the legality and constitutionality of that requirement, since the open primaries were approved by simple majorities in a vote of the people.

Nonetheless, it appears that Bonniwell’s group will not initiate a challenge to that rule, and will attempt to garner the approximately 390 votes needed, which is the equivalent of 75% of the state central committee.

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Colo Republican Leaders Deny Party Division, Claim Pro-Trumpers Have Won Control

(For if it prosper… – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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So-called grassroots Republicans have lots of excuses for the party’s diminishing returns in Colorado politics over the past two decades, but they want you to know that the party is united and ready to claim its deserved mantle of victory in 2022.

According to two grassroots members of the Colorado GOP executive committee, the 20-year losing trend is a result of many factors. It’s the media. It’s “Trump derangement syndrome” and ignorant voters. It’s fickle unaffiliated voters. It’s legalized cannabis. It’s Democratic dark money playing in Republican open primaries. It’s ballot harvesting, rigged elections, and voter fraud. It’s Antifa posing as Trump supporters in a false flag operation of violently storming the U.S. Capitol.

For them, the Colorado GOP’s dismal political prospects are definitely NOT due to Trump’s documented sinking popularity, rapidly changing state demographics, GOP policy positions, nor candidates’ tone-deaf messaging.

And it definitely is not due to intraparty power struggles between establishment and “grassroots” or Trump factions of the Republican Party. That is, until their message discipline falls apart and their truth comes out.

Randy Corporon, conservative radio host, GOP National Committeeman, and member of the CO GOP Executive committee appeared from CPAC in March on a conservative podcast hosted by Chuck Bonniwell, also an Executive Committee member, and they agreed that the Republican Party is united, as verified by the optimistic vibe among CPAC attendees.

“Somebody asked a few minutes ago if I had to describe the takeaway so far at CPAC, what would I say in two words,” recounted Corporon. “And I said, ‘Party Unity.’ The swamp has no idea what’s coming. … I was on with Peter Boyles this morning and he talks about a division in the Republican Party. I just don’t see it. This is a sorting, a flushing out of the old guard, you know, four-decade-long establishment Republicans who are at the end of their power and they know it.”

Bonniwell begins his response by agreeing, but changes tack to the more familiar frame that has come to define his confrontational and provocative style. He passive-aggressively slams Republican pollster David Flaherty of Magellan Strategies and sardonically insults former Colorado Republican legislator Lois Landgraf for launching an organization to train candidates and promote an element of reasonableness among conservatives.

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CO Republican Lawmaker Wants Other States To ‘Clone’ an AZ-style ‘Fraudit’ of Ballots Cast in Last Year’s Presidential Race

(Oh hell no – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Penrose), appearing on a Western Slope QAnon sympathizer’s Facebook show, praised the Republicans’ recount of presidential ballots in Maricopa County, Arizona, and expressed support for similar efforts in other states.

Hanks’ one-session tenure in the General Assembly has been marked by controversy, as evidenced by requests for an investigation, for his expulsion, and for his resignation in light of his actions shortly before he was sworn in as a legislator.

Sherronna Bishop, a right-wing conservative activist, organizer, and former campaign manager and aide to U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), interviewed Hanks on June 17 to discuss the end of the Colorado legislative session and other timely political topics including the third-party recount currently underway in Arizona.

Bishop frequently posts live video updates as “America’s Mom” on Facebook, the same account where the Hanks interview was published. In her posts, she openly worries that her Facebook account is in jeopardy from administrators due to her extreme posts which range from embracing white nationalists to cozying up to election conspiracy theories.

In his conversation with Bishop, Hanks discussed his impressions of the controversial third-party “audit” after visiting Arizona to observe the process.

The Maricopa recount has been labeled a “fraudit” and is widely disputed for being led by a conservative partisan, authorized by the Republican-controlled Arizona state senate following formal audits to ensure the veracity of results, and initiated to sow doubt around election integrity in Arizona and other states.

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Arizona State Senator Thanks CO Conservative for Educating AZ Lawmakers on ‘Our Ability To Do the Audit’

(At the center of every Tootsie Pop is a Colorado Republican operative – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

An Arizona lawmaker thanked a Colorado conservative last week for educating the Arizona legislators about their authority to challenge the state’s certified 2020 presidential election results–and about their ability to conduct an audit on ballots cast in the populous urban center of Maricopa County.

Rob Natelson, a senior fellow at the Independence Institute, a local conservative think tank, denies advising the AZ legislators to launch the audit. He said that the AZ lawmakers invited him to present over two Zoom calls, and that he incurred no expenses in giving his presentation.

“I wanted to give a shout out to Rob Natelson, our country’s premier Constitutional scholar, who educated the legislators in Arizona on the plenary power we possess in elections, our abiliyt to do the audit, and our responsibility to finding the truth, all at no cost,” stated Arizona state Sen. Kelly Townsend, a Republican, on Telegram, a messaging app that’s been described as a haven for the far right.

In response to an inquiry from the Colorado Times Recorder, Natelson said:

“My communications with the [Arizona] legislature were limited to clarifying issues of constitutional law. I informed lawmakers that … the Constitution grants the state legislature power to determine the method of choosing presidential electors. I said that they should take action only if they thought there were irregularities and if they thought those irregularities might have changed the election result. I don’t recall suggesting any particular course of action.”

Arizona Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) did not respond to a request for comment regarding her social media post mentioning Natelson, who is a weekly columnist for The Epoch Times.

The “recount” of all 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, Arizona, was launched by the GOP-controlled AZ state senate in late April, five months after the 2020 presidential elections results in AZ were certified and following two formal audits of random samplings of Maricopa ballots and a formal hand-recount that revealed no discrepancies.

By statute, formal audits are required before certifying results in more than 40 states, including in Colorado.

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CO GOP Rep. Says Democrats Used Climate and Racism to Justify ‘War on Everything’ in 2021 Session

(“War on everything”  and other sweeping statements – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Andy Pico (R).

Colorado Representative Andy Pico (R-El Paso County) claimed Democrats in the legislature centered climate change and racial justice in guiding their legislative agenda in an unprecedented, historic session that wrapped up last week.

Appearing on KVOR’s Jeff Crank Show out of Colorado Springs, Pico described the recently-adjourned legislative session with foreboding rhetoric and redundant descriptions of stark partisanship.

“They use climate change as their excuse for justification of a war on everything: on oil and gas, on electrical generation, on vehicles, on the natural gas to heat your homes,” Pico said, ” … Environmental justice and environmental racism are written into a dozen of these different bills. … It’s reparations by another name.”

At least 8 times in the 15-minute interview, Pico figuratively referred to the Democratic majority “waging war” and a range of different “wars” on various economic sectors and special interests in Colorado, including “wars” on agriculture, law enforcement, coal, and “natural gas to heat your homes.”

Five times he characterized Democrats “ramming through” legislation.

He also charged Democrat majorities with silencing Republican debate and killing Republican bills.

Yet Pico contradicted his dour characterization of partisanship a few different times in the interview.

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‘I’m Having the Time of My Life’ in DC, Says Boebert; Gets to Troll Liberals Every Single Day

(“Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?” – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) made an appearance at the Fremont County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner last Saturday, and delivered her rehearsed and flippant quip to the friendly crowd:

“I’m having the time of my life there [in Congress], because every single day I get to troll liberals.”

Apparently, she read the room fairly well. Her message resonated somewhat, as her audience chortled and snickered after the briefest delay in responding to Boebert’s cue, a pause to wait for the laughter.

It was a very “meta” moment, since her glib comment about trolling liberals could effectively serve to actually troll liberals.

Trolling can be defined as commentary which is designed to stir contention and emotional response for fun or entertainment, and which doesn’t propose or promote specific platform ideas or positions.

Fact checking Boebert’s statement to the Fremont County Republicans, it appears that on Twitter — arguably the most popular social media platform for trolls — her statement can be rated as “mostly true.”

In an anecdotal survey, scrolling through the past week of tweets from Boebert’s two Twitter accounts — @laurenboebert and @RepBoebert — it was determined that, using narrow criteria to identify trolling tweets*, Boebert averaged nearly 2 per day, or about 1/3 of all her tweets.

But with more liberal criteria (pardon the expression), Boebert’s trolling tweets could account for half or a slight majority of her posts.

Political content rates among the highest of categories in terms of where trolling is observed.

With the rise of divisive and oppositional partisan politics, 24-hour cable infotainment channels, and a broadening of the social media landscape, trolling in the political realm has become a popular device to engage audiences and fortify a base of followers who are ideological allies. But its efficacy as an electoral strategy of persuasion and coalition building is harder to calculate.

Boebert’s propensity for trolling was obvious even before she launched her campaign for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat, representing southern and western parts of the state, when she drove from Rifle to Denver with her Glock strapped to her hip to troll Beto O’Rourke on the campaign trail.

And she hasn’t slowed down since.

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GOP Stands for ‘Bland Milquetoast,’ Says Neville in Response to Minority Leader McKean’s Voting Error

(With friends like these… – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Patrick Neville (R).

On a Colorado talk radio show Tuesday, former GOP House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) lambasted a bill that would modify background check requirements for firearm purchases, exchanges, and transfers.

And at the same time, he took a swipe at his successor and rival, Rep. Hugh McKean (R-Loveland), who won his leadership position last year by proposing a shift away from the intra-party divisiveness and far-right positions that characterized Neville’s tenure.

McKean had mistakenly cast a ‘yes’ vote for the gun-safety bill when it cleared the Colorado House Monday.

In his interview with Peter Boyles on KNUS, Neville did not miss his opportunity to attack McKean early on, with a comment that highlighted his lingering animosity from the contentious legislative leadership campaigns in November:

“You know, I’m not going to do exactly like he did to me, … and issue a press release and say he doesn’t fit the values of the party. But it did happen. … One of the most controversial bills we’ve dealt with all year, of course. … I spent a lot of time on it. And then yesterday, our minority leader accidentally voted for the bill.”

Presumably, Neville was referring to a press release from McKean in December admonishing Neville for “reprisal” in doxxing Denver Post reporter Conrad Swanson over an article about Neville’s leadership of the House GOP caucus, his handling of a House fund, charges of nepotism involving his brother Joe Neville, and a losing electoral record among GOP legislative campaigns.

McKean characterized Neville’s reprisal as “not acceptable and does not represent the values we, as Republicans, hold.”

In his interview with Boyles on Tuesday, Neville seemed to admit that the doxxing incident had been a mistake on his part, though he doubled down on his actions at the time when he came under criticism.

An email to Neville requesting clarification on this statement, and seeking comment for this post, was not immediately returned. This post will be updated with any response received.

Later in their on-air discussion, Boyles and Neville drift to the perennial topic of how the Colorado Republican Party can make a comeback in Colorado.

Neville identifies the need for strong, principled messaging and caucus unity among GOP legislators in order gain the trust and confidence of voters:

“The Republican Party hasn’t really stood for anything other than basically bland milquetoast,” said Neville. “And because of that, the voters don’t trust us. And then you see where it’s happening right now. We’ve got to have some intra-party discipline on some things.”

Neville illustrated his point by calling out state Sen. Kevin Priola (R-Adams County) for diverging from his caucus to support Senate Bill 21-260, a transportation-fee bill to fund infrastructure investment, despite an initiative passed last fall to apply TABOR restrictions to fees enacted by the legislature.

Neville also called out deceased former U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for having undermined the repeal of Obamacare by voting with Democrats in 2018.

Neville wasn’t the only Colorado conservative to hammer McKean following his mistaken vote on Monday.

Late Monday afternoon, following his mistaken vote for the gun bill, McKean was criticized in an email blast from Neville’s longtime ally, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a hardline group, founded by Dudley Brown, that opposes all gun-safety measures, including background checks.

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Fact Check: CO Sen. Vicki Marble cites fake news in arguments for gun bill, Sen. Fenberg corrects the record

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

During debate this morning on the Senate floor of the Colorado General Assembly, Senator Vicki Marble (R-Larimer/Weld) advocated for adopting legislation that would allow Colorado citizens to legally carry a concealed firearm without a permit,  using false information which was later contested and exposed by Sen. Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder).

In her arguments, Sen. Marble states:

[…] I want to read you something.  And please, pay attention.  This came out December 10, 1993. [reading from her cell phone]:  ‘Waiting periods are only a step. Registration is only a step. The prohibition of private firearms is the goal.’ Janet Reno, U.S. Attorney General, on Good Morning America.  I think that explains why we are a strong ‘yes’ for this bill, and why we are a vehemenent [sic] ‘no’ against all and any gun control.

Sen. Fenberg then rose to address the senate. He began by pointing out an inherent contradiction in the proposed legislation (SB18-097) which would, in effect, override existing Colorado law requiring a state-issued permit in order to legally carry a concealed firearm, while leaving the current law in place.

Fenberg then challenged Sen. Marble’s citation of Reno:

[…] I do this with all due respect, but the quote about Janet Reno — who I don’t take direction from, I don’t think anybody in this chamber takes direction from. I think I was 11 years-old, maybe, when she was supposedly on Good Morning America. […] Mr. President, I don’t know if Janet Reno made that quote, but there is — a quick Google search shows Snopes.com says she did not, that it’s a fabricated quote.  […] Again, on this debate and every other debate, I think it’s incredibly important that we base all all of these conversations and decisions for the state of Colorado simply and purely based on fact.  And when we quote memes that might not be fact-based and may not have actually been said to justify the pursuit of legislation, I think we need to take that seriously.

The source of Janet Reno’s quote for Sen. Marble’s argument is not known, but a keyword search on Snopes.com website was confirmed to access a fact check post which deems a meme from 2015 –with the same quote and attribution cited by Sen. Marble on the Senate floor — to be false.

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WATCH: In “Just the Facts” Facebook post on gun violence, Colorado sheriff calls abortion “a genocidal act”

In the wake the Parkland, FL school shooting last week, Garfield County sheriff Lou Valario posted a live feed to his Facebook page in a bimonthly update from the Sheriff’s office called “Just the Facts,” which is broadcast live on Facebook.

Sheriff Valario acknowledges from the outset that his post will be controversial, inspired by his anger around the Parkland, FL school shooting in which 17 people died.

He editorializes about societal reactions to the tragedy, possible solutions to address the problem, and then directly calls out a perceived hypocrisy of gun safety advocates in supporting abortion rights. He specifically refers to abortion as a “genocidal act.”

In relation to the February 14 shooting, the Garfield County sheriff – himself a National Rifle Association member and former firearms instructor — points to liberal politicians and the “Hollywood elite” who are quick to politicize mass shootings and blame guns for gun violence, while ignoring other factors that might contribute to similar tragedies.

In his video, Sheriff Valario condemns the singling out of the AR-15 as the weapon of choice for many mass shooters, and chastises those who would frame the NRA as “the second coming of ISIS,” while calling to end the designation of schools as Gun Free Zones.

Valario asserts that “taking away guns” will never happen in this country.

It is the last statement in his dispatch that could prove to be his most controversial.  Valario attempts to conflate legal abortion with mass shootings, saying that any argument for gun laws and gun control is undermined and indefensible as long as abortion is legal.

Quoting Sheriff Velario from his Facebook live post:

The biggest American tragedy, however, when it comes to these liberal politicians and these Hollywood elites, is something […] that they support and condone […]. And that is the murder of hundreds of thousands of babies every year through abortion.  So these folks, apparently, pick and choose which lives they think are important, which lives they think are tragic.  But yet, when it comes to this genocidal act, they don’t want to do a thing about it, and they fully support and condone it. So, until they look in the mirror and they tell me that that’s something that needs to be corrected in this country, I will not be lectured by them on gun control.  This is “Just the Facts”.

Watch the entire post from the Garfield County Sheriff below.

Just the Facts with Sheriff Vallario

Posted by Garfield County Sheriff's Office – Colorado on Monday, February 19, 2018

 

Attorney: Arguments to SCOTUS in baker case will allege bias of CO Civil Rights Commission

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Nicole Martin, the Alliance for Defending Freedom attorney who has represented Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, appeared Denver’s KNUS radio Thursday, September 7, to update listeners on preparations for the highly anticipated hearing of arguments in Phillips’ case by the United States Supreme Court in the coming months.

Speaking with show hosts Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden, Martin highlighted developments surrounding the case since the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and subsequent court appeals ruled against Phillips, who refused services in 2012 to a gay couple requesting a wedding cake for their matrimony celebration.

Martin explained how these developments have steered her legal team’s strategy and tactics in preparing to argue Phillips’ defense to the Supreme Court.

One evolution in the ADF case is to claim that Phillips faced a biased Civil Rights Commission, which demonstrated a prejudice against people of faith. In her radio appearance, Martin points to a statement made by Commissioner Diann Rice:

“So, we pointed out to the court — […] when we were trying to get the stay of that Colorado Civil Rights Commission order while the appeal and the Colorado Court of Appeals was pending, she revealed herself to be openly hostile and biased toward people of faith when she compared Mr. Phillips – whose father was a World War II vet and helped liberate one of the first concentration camps – when she compared Mr. Phillips and his assertion of his First Amendment rights to slaveholders and Nazis. So, we focused on that.”

Rice’s actual statement, however, appears to be a broad, historical observation, framing the root of the debate.

At issue is whether equal protections for the couple, guaranteed under public accommodation laws, supersede Phillips’ claim to his First Amendment rights, which his legal team has framed in terms of religious liberty and artistic expression. Phillips’ devout Christian beliefs were cited in his refusal to sell gay wedding cakes.

Right wing online news outlets have widely cited Rice’s comments as proof of bias against people of faith in general, and against Phillips in particular.

In July 2014, while announcing the commission’s decision to stay the order against Phillips, Rice made the following statement:

“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting,” Rice said during consideration of Phillips’ case. “Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.”

Another development which Martin believes will bolster Phillips’ case came from the activism of a Christian radio host and provocateur from Castle Rock named Bill Jack, who, in response to the original ruling against Masterpiece Cakeshop, solicited cakes with anti-gay messages and imagery from bakeries.  Jack filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Commission when those bakeries refused his request.

Martin explained how Bill Jack’s case, in which the commission ruled against his complaint, will be used in arguments to the Court:

“So we did beef up the brief extensively, based on that blatant double standard that it depends on […] who the message speaker is.”

Interestingly, in an interview from April 2015, Bill Jack made his own Nazi comparison from the other side of the debate, saying he believed the Civil Rights Commission were “acting like the Nazis. They are acting like those who want to re-educate the public,” referring to the commission’s order that Masterpiece Cakeshop rewrite company policy to comply with lawful, non-discriminatory practices.

Martin’s appearance on KNUS coincided with the filing of amicus curiae briefs – or, “friend of the court” briefs — in the Supreme Court case.

When Hayden inquired who had authored amicus briefs in support of Phillips’ case, Martin replied that she didn’t know specifically, but the list of supporters was long.  The only amicus author she mentioned was The Conference of Catholic Bishops.

After Martin’s interview aired, it was revealed that the United States Department of Justice, led by Trump-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had filed a brief in support of Phillips’ defense.

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