Congrats, GOP! You’re The Anti-Vaxxer Party Again

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: GOP Rep. Mark Baisley explains the GOP’s party-line opposition to House Bill 19-1312 in a lengthy post today–and it’s a worst-case scenario, invoking the most discredited of misinformation about vaccines:

The stated goal of the bill is to reduce the occurrence of childhood diseases. Colorado averages approximately 90% current vaccinations for children under 3 years of age. But recent epidemics such as autism have arisen and parents are understandably suspicious of vaccines as the cause. [Pols emphasis] Citizens should not be coerced by the State to permit pharmaceutical injections into their children. Nor should they be shamed by their own government for their choice.

Furthermore, Colorado citizens entrust billions of their hard-earned dollars every year to their government to provide K12 education. This bill threatens to withhold delivering that service to children whose parents do not cooperate with their government’s controlling ambitions.

I stand in strong opposition to HB19-1312.

In today’s Republican Party, pseudoscience has triumphed. Who can argue otherwise?

—–

Measles.

As the Denver Post’s Anna Staver reported in the wee hours, and then hopefully she went to bed:

A bill to make it harder for parents to get a vaccination exemption for their children passed out of a Colorado House committee on a 7-4 vote at about 4 a.m. Tuesday morning — nearly 14 hours after the hearing started.

It was the longest committee of the 2019 legislative session so far with hundred of parents bouncing and walking their children up and down the Capitol halls late into the night…

“This is about keeping Colorado’s kids safe. We need to be proactive, not reactive. We are in the midst of public health crisis and we can’t wait for a tragedy to occur,” Rep. Mullica, D-Northglenn, said in a statement released early Tuesday morning after the bill passed. “Experts believe this option will help improve Colorado’s dismal and dangerous immunization rates.”

Owing to the hefty Democratic majority in the Colorado House of Representatives, it should be noted that the 7-4 vote in favor of House Bill 19-1312 was in fact a party-line vote. All the Republicans on the House Health and Insurance Committee voted against the bill, which is itself a compromise from earlier proposed legislation that would have eliminated the personal-choice exemption for immunization of children headed to Colorado public schools. As we discussed previously, that proposal was considered too coercive by Gov. Jared Polis, leading to this compromise measure that should still help improve Colorado’s embarrassingly low child immunization rate.

The issue of childhood vaccinations, more to the point the highly prevalent misinformation suggesting a range of negative health effects from vaccinating children that has no scientific basis, doesn’t always divide cleanly along partisan lines. One of the areas of the state with a low rate of vaccinations is “progressive” Boulder County. Over the last few years, however, the “freedom” to not have children vaccinated has been championed almost exclusively in Colorado by Republican lawmakers on the fringy side of the caucus. Two now-defeated Republican Senators in particular, Laura Woods and Tim Neville, unapologetically championed both the pseudoscience behind anti-vaxxer ideology and conspiracy theories about children being “rounded up and vaccinated” without their parent’s consent.

In case you were wondering who was going to take up the anti-vaxxer cause now that Woods and Tim Neville are history, direct your attention to all the Republicans on the House Health and Insurance Committee.

Congratulations, Colorado Republicans, for taking ownership of this fringe issue. Again.

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Recallpalooza: Inside a Growing Red-on-Red Turf War

Making sense of the competing interests within the Republican coalition, and the relationships between those interests as they relate to recall campaigns now being organized, isn’t easy. That’s been a deliberate objective after extremely negative press about the early organizers of both the Galindo recall and the longshot campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis threw both of those efforts into PR chaos.

Today, both the Galindo and Polis recall campaigns insist the variously anti-Semitic and crudely anti-LGBT elements involved at the early stages have been purged. The Independence Institute led by longtime political stuntman Jon Caldara has taken over online fundraising for both campaigns with a sweetheart deal that will financially benefit his organization greatly, and the original Galindo recall committee organized by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville along with Greeley pastor Steven Grant, who declared his intention to recall his “homosexual pervert” representative, was replaced. The “new” committee–although the Nevilles claim they’re still the masterminds of the whole effort–is trying to rebrand the effort away from Pastor Grant.

As readers may already be aware, there has been a long-running “turf war” between two ideologically competing factions within the coalition of Republican-aligned interest groups and allied lawmakers who dominate conservative politics in Colorado. On one side, you have a coalition led by the Neville political machine, along with a core group of Republican lawmakers from El Paso and Weld Counties and hardcore gun rights activists led by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. In addition to a “no compromise” position on guns, this coalition is extremely conservative on LGBT rights, abortion, and other such social wedge issues–hence the willingness to work with distasteful figures like Pastor Grant. Mario Nicolais, a moderate Republican who wound up on the wrong side of RMGO’s intraparty wrath, writes in a column for the Colorado Sun informatively:

Galindo and her Democratic allies say oil and gas concerns are just a ruse. They argue the recall isn’t about how she votes, but who she is; specifically, because she is gay and Latina.

That would be a wild accusation except a second recall group, run by state House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s brother, Joe, began their campaign with a news release touting support from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and Greeley Pastor Steven Grant.

Grant has used his pulpit to call Galindo a “homosexual pervert” who is “trying to insert her lifestyle into our lives.” From personal experience, I know RMGO front man Dudley Brown shares Grant’s beliefs; [Pols emphasis] when I ran for state Senate in 2014, Brown organized and funded a primary challenge against me.

As then-state Rep. Justin Everett explained at the time, I earned Brown’s ire by supporting civil unions in 2012 and 2013, or as Everett put it, “Dudley’s mad about the gay thing.” [Pols emphasis]

On the other side of this internal conflict is the Independence Institute, which serves as a front office for a number of conservative activists and one-off issue groups and is generally well-connected to the state’s large for-profit political consultancy firms and upper-echelon donor class. After the passage of the landmark 2013 gun safety laws that prompted the year’s recall elections, the Independence Institute proposed a compromise measure in 2015 to raise the state’s gun magazine limit to 30 rounds from the 15 round limit imposed in 2013–a measure that briefly entertained some bipartisan support. Unfortunately for Caldara, this compromise was bitterly denounced by RMGO and trounced by Republicans in the legislature, solidifying a rift that has never healed.

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Monday (April 15)

Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is engulfed in flames, and it’s not clear if the iconic structure can be saved. It’s time “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► As the Washington Post reports, the (redacted) Mueller Report is expected to be released on Thursday:

…congressional Democrats have been sharply critical of Barr’s handling of the Mueller report, accusing the attorney general of soft-pedaling the findings to protect the president.

The House Judiciary Committee is poised to issue a subpoena for the report’s redacted portions.

Barr has spent weeks redacting sensitive information from the report in preparation for its public release. Barr is shielding four specific categories of information: grand jury material, details whose public release could harm ongoing investigations, any information that would “potentially compromise sources and methods” in intelligence collection, and anything that would “unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”

 

► As Politico reports, the late 2017 tax cut plan championed by President Trump and hammered through by Congressional Republicans is not at all popular:

Multiple polls show a majority of Americans don’t think they got a tax cut at all — even though independent analyses show they did. And only about a third of the country approves of the legislation itself, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed by Congress at the end of 2017.

So as Trump moves closer to full-time reelection mode later this year, he will have to battle a stark reality: While his personal rating on the economy remains high, his signature legislative achievement is widely viewed as a political dud, one that has drawn special anger in places with high state and local taxes and pricey housing markets where deductions were limited to reduce the overall cost of the tax plan.

White House officials are clearly aware of their vulnerability on the issue and officials are dubbing this Tax Cut Week, sending the president out to tout the impact of the legislation starting in Minnesota on Monday.

On the subject of taxes, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is now saying that Trump’s tax returns shouldn’t be released because they are just too complicated to understand anyway.

 

The recall grift in Colorado just keeps growing and growing and growing.

 

► Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Show, featuring an in-depth interview with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

 

► Voters in Denver will receive mail ballots in the coming days in advance of a busy Spring ballot. The Denver Post runs down the candidates and issues battling it out in Colorado’s Capitol.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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UPDATE: Caldara Now Skimming Galindo, Polis Recalls

We wrote last Thursday about the co-opting of the longshot and nasty campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis, which would require an unprecedented 600,000+ signatures in order to even qualify for the ballot necessitating a multimillion-dollar petition campaign on a scale never before seen in Colorado, by the Independence Institute–the decades-old local “nonpartisan nonprofit” run by right-wing prankster Jon Caldara. Caldara’s operation is taking over fundraising in particular for the Recall Polis campaign, via an online platform that automatically skims 6% plus a per-transaction fee from every donation. That’s more than double what GoFundMe, the processor the campaign was previously using, charges for the same donations.

Well folks, you can add the campaign to recall Rep. Rochelle Galindo to Caldara’s revenue stream:

As you can see they’re raised over $4,000 toward the Galindo recall, of which Team Caldara pocketed $246 at their stated 6% skim–plus a 30 cent per-transaction fee. Over at the Recall Polis page, the $16,290 they’ve raised translates to a cool $977 off the top to the Independence Institute. As you can see above, the “goal” of $2,500 for the Galindo recall has been met–which on fundraising sites like GoFundMe would mean the funds will be released for their intended purpose.

Over at the Recall Polis campaign, the “goal” is higher–$135,000, which they haven’t met.

But it doesn’t matter, rubes!

You see, the Recall Polis campaign is a “flexible” Freedomfy campaign, meaning they’re going to take your money whether or not they reach their fundraising goal. The FAQ page for the campaign explains that “funds are setup to deposit to the Issue Committee bank account every few days and will be used as they come in for advertising and materials to run the operation.” That means the campaign’s “goal” is irrelevant, and the money flows directly to the campaign less Caldara’s 6% cut no matter what happens. A fair amount of those funds can be expected to eaten up by invoices from former Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who signed on as the lawyer for the campaign at the same time Caldara took over the money side.

Especially with the Polis recall, the enormous logistics that would be required to successfully collect the required signatures in the short 60 days allowed make success of the effort extremely unlikely–which in turn raises ethical questions about the revenue positive “help” the campaign is now getting from local right-wing usual suspects. For the Galindo recall the threshold is lower, of course, but using Caldara’s pricey platform for their fundraising siphons off valuable resources on a continuous basis from the campaign.

Above all, what grassroots conservatives need to be asking is why, in response to their grassroots anger, all the “experienced” political operatives want to talk about is monetization of the recall campaigns. This is an especially urgent question given the novel way Caldara stands to reap a much higher percentage than the market rate off funds raised in support of both of these campaigns.

Short of that, we have to assume that these people are okay with being ripped off.

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Popular, Misunderstood “Red Flag” Bill Signed Into Law

UPDATE: Denver7’s Blair Miller:

The Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Protection Act will officially go into law on Jan. 1, 2020, which is also the deadline law enforcement agencies statewide will have to adopt either model policies and procedures that are in the works or their own…

[Douglas County Sheriff Tony] Spurlock discussed how supportive Parrish’s parents were of the measure, which Spurlock began pushing for last year after Parrish was shot and killed on New Year’s Eve 2017 by a man who the department knew had a history of mental health issues and several weapons.

“For a father who lost his son and see it that way is inspiring to me and should be for to everyone in the state of Colorado. Because his concern is for other people,” Spurlock said of Parrish’s father. “And when I had that conversation with him … I knew then that I was doing the right thing to stand for this. … As the governor said, we can save lives. We can save lives today, tomorrow and the next day. And, most importantly, if we save one life, we create history for that family.”

—–

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As the Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports:

Beginning in January, Colorado judges will have the power to temporarily remove firearms from people believed to be at high risk of harming themselves or others, joining more than a dozen other states that have put into law some type of red-flag bill.

Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 1177 on Friday at the state Capitol, after nearly two months of contentious legislative hearings marked by a familiar partisan divide over the issue of gun control.

Proponents of the extreme risk protection order bill say it could be instrumental in reducing the likelihood of another mass shooting while at the same time cutting down on the number of suicides in Colorado. Second Amendment backers say the law runs the risk of depriving Coloradans of their constitutional right to bear arms when it takes effect Jan. 1.

The signing of House Bill 19-1177 into law today brings to a close another ugly debate over gun policy in Colorado, riddled with misinformation intended to incite anger among gun owners and provoke political retaliation against majority Democrats. The legislation, which allows family members or law enforcement to go before a judge and prove to an evidentiary standard that a person represents a significant risk to themselves or others and temporarily remove firearms from that person’s custody, already exists in over a dozen other states where its judicious use has saved lives.

The reality of this legislation and expected very limited utilization–170 cases per year as estimated in the bill’s fiscal note–has very little relationship to the wild arguments that have been made against the bill by gun lobby opponents. Much like the far-out claims in 2013 that guns laws passed that year would result in “gun confiscation” and that “no one in Colorado can ever get a magazine again,” the gun lobby terrorized their grassroots base this year with baseless warnings of vengeful spying neighbors and bumper-sticker raids by police–none of which are rational outcomes of the bill.

The truth is that over 80% of Colorado voters support a “red flag” law, and none of the changes from 2018’s version justify the partisan closing of ranks we saw over the bill this year. The political reality is that Republicans who supported the legislation in 2018 peeled off under intense pressure from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, who helped Democrats take down Rep. Cole Wist and Attorney General candidate George Brauchler as punishment for supporting the bill last year. And make no mistake: Brauchler started backing away from the bill even before he lost the election last fall, having nothing to do with changes in the bill’s language. RMGO’s willingness to tear down fellow Republicans rather than compromise, even at the expense of their own agenda in helping replace Wist with an ardent supporter of gun control, was enough to chill further dissent.

Now, Democrats have the job of cutting through that misinformation. After 2013 we expect they get the urgency.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (April 12)

The Denver Nuggets start their playoff run on Saturday at home against the San Antonio Spurs. It’s time “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is affirming threats to release immigrant detainees into the home districts of prominent Democrats as punishment for not letting him build his big border wall. As the Washington Post reports:

Trump said Friday that his administration is giving “strong considerations” to a plan to release immigrant detainees into “sanctuary cities,” blaming Democrats for what he characterized as an unwillingness to change immigration laws.

His comments on Twitter followed a Washington Post report that the administration had been eyeing districts of political adversaries, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), to release detainees.

“The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!” Trump wrote.

His tweets suggested that the plan, which immigration officials had rejected in November and February, was again viable.

Never underestimate the ability of President Trump to sink lower than you ever thought possible. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN:

The fact that this would even be considered speaks volumes about how Trump (and Miller) view not only the ongoing crisis at the border, but human beings more generally. [Pols emphasis]

Because this is, at heart, a story about people. People who tried to enter the country illegally, yes. But people nonetheless. And what the President of the United States wanted to do to these human beings was turn them, literally speaking, into political pawns. Ship them somewhere so that they could, maybe, accomplish a political goal of his — and, if not that, then just make things more uncomfortable for his political opponents…

…Only by seeing certain people as lesser or a threat can you treat them like political pawns on your broader chessboard.

And when you see people as something less than, well, people you can rationalize treating them in ways that no person should be treated. That’s where we are with President Trump on immigration. There is no bottom. He just keeps going lower and lower. [Pols emphasis]

 

► The Denver Post endorses Denver Mayor Michael Hancock for re-election:

Ballots for the city’s spring election will arrive in mailboxes next week, and we hope voters consider how very much is on the horizon in Denver to be excited about….

…Hancock’s administration and City Council have stood up to developers, even if at times we wish they had reacted more quickly: rejecting slot-home developments; closing a loophole that allowed developers of multi-family houses on small lots to not provide off-street parking; setting an ambitious goal for affordable housing, meeting it early and then creating a multi-million dollar fund to keep the progress going. We see the mayor’s leadership in creating Denver Day Works, a program that sets aside city work for day laborers, and in his commitment to creating new shelter beds, improving existing shelter spaces and building a daytime facility with showers and other resources.

More needs to be done, but Hancock is ready and willing to meet the challenges of a booming city and he is the only candidate ready to meet the challenges if this nation faces an economic downturn.

 

► What are Republican recall attempts in Colorado really about? Making money, of course.
 
 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Ken Buck on Nevilles Profiting From Recalls: “That’s for Patrick & House GOP to Decide”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Local broadcast news faces a challenge when covering politics–how to distill complex topics into brief segments that rarely run longer than four minutes?

Last week 9News’ Marshall Zelinger sat down with Congressman Ken Buck, the newly elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. The wide-ranging interview only lasted 3 minutes 30 seconds on air, which is why 9News’ decision to post the entire raw footage of the interview is so important.

Inquiring minds need only visit the Next on 9News Youtube channel to find the full 17-minute interview, “Head of Colorado GOP Ken Buck on recalls, oil and gas, Nazi question.”

At 9:45 Zelinger asks Buck if it’s appropriate for elected officials and their families to profit from recalls they’re promoting publicly.

Zelinger: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville has come out supporting recalls. His family could benefit from recalls because that’s their business. Should it be appropriate for elected officials and their families to profit off of recalls and elections? By being hired for election purposes–this is an added election outside of a cycle–perhaps this is being done in a way that benefits the family business?

Buck initially says he doesn’t understand, but then gives a response that indicates he does understand, but that he doesn’t want to get involved.

Buck: So, Patrick’s brother is a consultant in the business and certainly there were some resources from the House fund that were used in the last cycle and his brother ran some of that political operation. I think that is something that Patrick and the elected Republicans in the state House will have to decide. It’s not something the state party will intervene in in any way. Ken Buck, Next on 9News, 4/5/19

Zelinger’s question about the Neville’s family financial stake in the House GOP political machinery was just the latest reporting on the issue, the most prominent of which was Marianne Goodland’s pair of feature-length articles for Colorado Politics, particularly the second one titled “A hard look at 2018’s GOP ‘soft money’.” Goodland reported that other Republicans expressed concerns with the Nevilles’ performance and tactics:

One Republican insider told Colorado Politics he didn’t mind if Joe Neville and his companies make money off their political activities. But, he said, the lack of results in terms of election wins for the GOP is another matter… Another concern among Republicans who talked with Colorado Politics: what appears to be a large amount of unspent money left over after the election.

By early March, it was clear where at least some of that unspent money was headed- paying for recalls. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville launched a website to support recalling his own colleagues in the legislature. At least one corporate donor, Xcel Energy, expressed surprise that some of its 2018 contribution to the GOP House caucus fund was now being used for recalls.

More recently, 9News’ Kyle Clark noted that both former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and also the conservative Independence Institute are both generating revenue from another proposed Colorado recall, the moonshot that is the attempt to remove Governor Jared Polis. State law dictates that petition gathering for a gubernatorial recall can’t begin until at least six months into the governor’s term, but there are no restrictions on when political operatives can start gathering checks from naive donors.

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The First Amendment and the Right to be an Idiot

Like the Bible, gluten, and “Game of Thrones,” the First Amendment is often invoked but not always understood.

On Wednesday, Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) demonstrated a common First Amendment misperception with a ridiculous rant on the House floor:

 

During a debate about expanding a program to provide driver’s licenses for immigrants (SB19-139), several Colorado Democrats took umbrage with repeated Republican usage of the term “illegals” to describe undocumented immigrants. At one point during the discussion, Rep. Adrienne Benavidez (D-Adams County) asked House members to “use the terms that are in the bill” rather than invoke inflammatory labels. This did not sit well with Rep. Saine, who stomped to the microphone to exclaim:

Thank you, Chair, and thank you Representative Benavidez. I really appreciate you very much on a lot of your work down here, but, um…[pause]…I feel that you are impugning us. We are not children. Not lawfully present also means illegal. Let’s not play around with that. Not lawfully present equals illegal.

So, telling us we can’t use certain words at this well is an abridgment of the First Amendment. [Pols emphasis]

And with that, Saine huffed off. State Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver) immediately responded with this:

The term “illegal” is very offensive to people. It’s like calling someone “colored” or “the N word.” [Pols emphasis] That is how it feels to people…it is extremely offensive. So now that we know, maybe we could stick to the merits of the bill and temper our language just a bit because of how it makes people feel. That’s all I’m asking. I wouldn’t expect anybody to call me words that I would tell you are offensive, and now that you know, maybe we can try to change our language to be respectful of people who are truly offended when this term is used to describe them.

We’d love to tell you that this exchange put an end to using the term “illegals,” but you know that it won’t. What the discussion did illuminate, however, was an oft-forgotten point: The First Amendment does not protect you from making a complete fool of yourself.

Representative Saine is certainly not the first politician to misunderstand the First Amendment. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin loved to assert that she had a First Amendment right to not be criticized. Palin was, and is, incorrect. The First Amendment does not prohibit people from saying mean things to Palin or to California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes — or to anyone else, for that matter (we’re also looking at you, Sen. Ted Cruz).

The First Amendment grants all Americans the right to speak freely and assemble peaceably. The First Amendment also establishes freedom of the press and the right to petition the government so that your grievances may be redressed. The First Amendment even protects your right to shoot a gun at a specific page in a newspaper (so long as you are taking the appropriate safety precautions).

State Rep. Lori Saine and State Sen. Vicki Marble

The First Amendment is not a license to say anything, anytime, to anyone. You cannot yell “fire!” in a crowded theater in order to cause panic and then hide behind a “free speech” defense. You also cannot libel or defame someone with knowingly-false information (although if that person is a “public figure,” you’re probably fine from a legal perspective).

The First Amendment also does not override guidelines that are clearly stated by private organizations. You can tell us to “f*** off” in the comment section below; we probably won’t remove the comment in part because it just makes you look like a dumbass. On the other hand, we might remove certain disparaging remarks and known falsehoods made by readers if they violate our Terms of Service and because we’re not interested in providing an open forum for irresponsible assholes of any political affiliation.

Words are not just a bunch of letters and sounds, no matter how much Sen. Cory Gardner wishes otherwise. On the other hand, as politicians such as Rep. Saine and State Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Broomfield) have long demonstrated, words don’t necessarily have to form coherent sentences. Democrats on Wednesday weren’t telling Republican lawmakers that they didn’t have the legal authority to use the term “illegals”; they were merely asking that Republicans make an effort to be less offensive to a specific group of people.

So rest assured, Rep. Saine, that you have every legal right to knowingly use offensive terms in a public forum. Just know that those words say more about you than they do others.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 10)

Snowmageddon! It’s time “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Attorney General William Barr continues to toss his credibility out the window. As CNN reports:

Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers Wednesday that he will be looking to the “genesis” of the the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into potential ties between members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government began in 2016, saying, “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal” — echoing some of the more inflammatory claims lobbed by President Donald Trump for months, but declining to elaborate on his concerns [Pols emphasis]

…”For the same reason we’re worried about foreign influence in elections, I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr said. I’m not suggesting those rules were violated but I think it’s important to look at. . . . I think it’s my obligation.” [Pols emphasis]

He added that he’s not launching a full blown investigation to the FBI, and does not view it as a problem that is “endemic” to the FBI, but has in mind some colleagues to help him “pull all this information together, and letting me know if there are some areas that should be looked at.”

Barr isn’t saying that it happened, but it could have happened, and maybe it did happen. But then again, maybe it didn’t…

As Paul Waldman writes for the Washington Post, Barr is very much the good clapping monkey that Trump was searching for when he hired a new Attorney General.

 

► The Denver Post reports on the advancement of paid family leave legislation in Colorado:

The proposed insurance program, five years in the making, cleared a key Senate committee on a party-line vote Tuesday afternoon after the sponsors amended the bill to allow businesses that already offer identical benefits and local governments to opt out, increase the share employees must contribute, and push back the rollout of the program to 2023.

The committee also reduced the amount of available time off to 12 weeks. The previous version allowed up to 16 weeks in some instances.

The bill still provides wage-replacement benefits and job protections for all employees who work at least 680 hours during a year and contribute to the state fund. Seasonal workers are not covered.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 9)

Temperatures in Colorado could reach a high near 80 degrees; tomorrow it might snow as much as 7 inches. Please note that this does not give you the right to say things like, “That’s Colorado weather for ya!” It’s time “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► It seems clear that the Trump administration is in the midst of a calculated leadership purge within the Department of Homeland Security. As the Washington Post explains:

President Trump continued to dismantle the leadership of the nation’s top domestic security agency Monday, as the White House announced the imminent removal of U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph D. “Tex” Alles, the latest in a series of head-spinning departures from the Department of Homeland Security.

A day after Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to step aside following a White House meeting with Trump, senior DHS officials remained in a fog about the fate of their agency’s leaders, expecting more firings as part of a widening purge.

“They are decapitating the entire department,” said one DHS official, noting that the White House had given no cause for Alles’s removal.

As Politico reports, Congressional Republicans are at a loss for words in trying to understand what the White House is doing:

President Donald Trump’s congressional allies are alarmed by his purge at the Department of Homeland Security — urging him not to fire more top officials and warning him how hard it will be to solve twin crises at the border and the federal agencies overseeing immigration policy.

The president’s frantic four days of bloodletting at DHS and other agencies blindsided senior Republicans who are already fretting about difficult confirmation battles ahead. Some are worried about the rising influence of top White House aide Stephen Miller. And after November elections in which suburban voters rejected Trump’s hard-line immigration agenda, the president is once again making it the centerpiece of the GOP’s platform.

“It’s a mess,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, summing up the dynamic on the border and in Washington.

Chris Cillizza of CNN looks at the list of administration officials who said “No” to the big orange guy and subsequently lost their jobs.

 

► Attorney General William Barr said today that a redacted Mueller report will be delivered to Congress and the American public “within a week.” The New York Times has more details, including news that special counsel Robert Mueller did not review a four-page summary of the report that Barr announced last week. Elie Honig of CNN wonders how much of the report will end up blacked-out:

In the interest of transparency and public confidence in the Department of Justice, Barr should put away his redaction pen and disclose as much of Muller’s report as possible. Anything less will raise one big question: What is Barr trying to hide?

 

► These three sentences from Tyler Silvy of the Greeley Tribune tell you everything you need to know about the recall effort to oust Rep. Rochelle Galindo:

Former Weld County GOP Chairwoman Stacey Kjeldgaard, who is leading the recall effort, in a phone interview Sunday went further when it comes to oil and gas — and the potential negative economic impact of SB 181 — being the reason for the recall.

“That’s our big thing; that’s our only thing,” Kjeldgaard said.

But then there’s this: When asked whether she would be working to recall Galindo if she had voted “no” on SB 181, Kjeldgaard said, “Absolutely.” [Pols emphasis]

Recalling a freshman Democratic Representative is about a lot of things — Galindo’s sexuality, Republican anger at getting drubbed in the 2018 election, and the enormous grift opportunity it presents for numerous right-wing political operatives, to name a few — but it ain’t about how Galindo voted on SB-181.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Galindo Recall Organizers Admit It’s Not About Oil and Gas

Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley).

Another must-read story from the Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy this weekend digs into the central question around the nascent recall campaign against freshman Rep. Rochelle Galindo of Greeley–why is this happening? Is it because Rep. Galindo is a “homosexual pervert” trying to indoctrinate the children like Pastor Steve Grant, one of the original organizers of the recall campaign says? Or it it the oil and gas local control bill now awaiting Gov. Jared Polis’ signature?

Treasurer Dave Young, who preceded Rep. Galindo in HD-50, doesn’t get it–unless the answer is as simple as it seems:

A Tribune review of Young’s votes from the 2013 legislative session reveal Young’s support for limits on high-capacity magazines and for background checks for gun sales between private parties. It revealed a “yes” vote on a controversial renewable energy mandate for rural electric cooperatives that served as another basis for the failed 51st State initiative that year.

And it revealed “yes” votes on bills that increased oil and gas spill reporting requirements, monitoring requirements, increased fines for oil and gas violations and sought to change the mission and makeup of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, including forcing the commission to prioritize health and safety…

“In many, many ways, the votes I’ve taken and the policy stances I’ve had are pretty much the same (as Galindo),” Young said. “The question is, ‘Why her and not me?’ What is it about her that they’re really attacking here? I think that raises some pretty serious questions.” [Pols emphasis]

What’s the difference, asks Treasurer Dave Young? And when you look at Young’s record in the House, including plenty of votes that should by the reasoning applied to Rep. Galindo have provoked the same degree of anger against Young, it just doesn’t make sense. This includes votes in 2013, the last year recall elections were attempted and (not coincidentally) the last time Democrats were in full control of the legislature. What’s the difference, other than Rep. Young is a straight white guy and Rep. Galindo is not?

The response to this very reasonable question, not from the previously identified haters like Pastor Grant but from the “mainstream” Weld County Republicans who are trying to convince you this is not a campaign of wedge issue haters, more or less confirms Young’s suspicion.

Former Weld County GOP Chairwoman Stacey Kjeldgaard, who is leading the recall effort, in a phone interview Sunday went further when it comes to oil and gas — and the potential negative economic impact of SB 181 — being the reason for the recall.

“That’s our big thing; that’s our only thing,” Kjeldgaard said.

But then there’s this: When asked whether she would be working to recall Galindo if she had voted “no” on SB 181, Kjeldgaard said, “Absolutely.” [Pols emphasis]

Full stop. If the “negative impact” of Senate Bill 19-181 is the “only thing” driving the recall of Rep. Galindo, why would they recall her regardless of her vote on Senate Bill 19-181?

After blowing this extremely important question, Stacey Kjeldgaard threw out some empty platitudes about how Rep. Young “had connections to the community”–as if Galindo didn’t grow up in Greeley, or serve on the City Council before running for the legislature. But it doesn’t matter–by admitting that the “only thing” allegedly pertinent to recalling Rep. Galindo wouldn’t have affected their decision even if Galindo had voted against the bill, they’ve conceded the reality of the situation.

Just like Ken Buck comparing gay people to Nazis, sometimes you just have to take people at their word.

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The Weld County Recall Is Not About Weld County

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley).

Despite what Weld County Republicans are saying, the recall effort against Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley) isn’t because she voted for Colorado’s Red Flag law. It’s not about oil and gas development. Those issues are simply convenient excuses for a political party that refuses to accept the results of any election it doesn’t win.

That’s not to say that emotional issues like gun safety and local control of fracking operations won’t be exploited by Conservatives for political purposes. But to the people behind the recall, these controversial issues are tools for propaganda, not actual political objectives.

The actual objective is for white Conservative Republicans to regain power after losing everything in 2018.

It’s the political equivalent of a frivolous lawsuit; more obstructionism from a political party that is out of ideas.

Republicans know that they don’t have to win to nullify the 2018 election. Instead of working on legislation that could help Weld County and the rest of Colorado, Galindo and Colorado Democrats must now devote a significant portion of time to fighting the recall. Money and resources intended for a legitimate reelection campaign in 2020 will instead be depleted on this totally unnecessary political stunt. A community that needs to come together and solve serious problems related to growth and the local economy will instead will be even more torn apart.

The recall is funded largely by Colorado’s version of the Koch Brothers, Patrick and Joe Neville of Castle Rock [Pols note: Pat Neville lives in Castle Rock, but not Joe]. Not content with imposing their extreme agenda of failed public schools, inadequate infrastructure, uncontrolled growth, and other problems on the people of Douglas County, the Nevilles now want to export their Republican dystopia to the rest of the state, along with racism, homophobia, and the idea that only wealthy people deserve to be in politics.

Republicans love to claim they are protecting the Constitution even as they are subverting it. The recall isn’t about democracy or making sure that elective officials represent the people in their districts. Just the opposite. This is about preventing a representative from fighting for the voters who put her in office. These Republicans are telling 53% of Weld County voters that their vote doesn’t count.

A working class Latina Democrat like Rochelle Galindo, who carried 53% of the vote in Greeley, would have a hard time getting elected in affluent, white, ultra-conservative Castle Rock and surrounding Douglas County. Fine. She doesn’t live in Douglas County. She isn’t representing Castle Rock.

Galindo was elected by the citizens of Greeley to represent her home town. She cares about her constituents, listens to them, and works to make their lives better. That bothers Joe and Patrick Neville. The Nevilles want someone who will fight for them, regardless of her constitutional duty to represent the people of Greeley.

Greeley is a test case, a chance to develop a template to use in the future. If this recall is successful, there will be more. Republicans won’t be satisfied until they have nullified every election in this state. So much for democracy.

Let’s recognize recall elections for what they are: The last stand for the privilege and entitlement of rich, racist Conservatives who can’t win legitimate elections.

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GOP Chairman Buck Defends Comparing Gays To Nazis

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Readers were shocked this past week by an exchange in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Tuesday between Rep. Ken Buck, newly elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, and a woman who had experienced discrimination as an LGBT woman seeking pediatric care for her children:

Rep. Ken Buck: Um, is it your position that, uh a uh orthodox Jewish doctor should be required to work with a uh–an orthodox Jewish doctor whose grandparent was killed in the Holocaust be required to work with a–um, a Nazi, uh patient?

The clear suggestion here is that a doctor who doesn’t like gay people would be just as justified in refusing treatment to a gay family as a Jewish person who had ancestors killed in the Holocaust would be justified in refusing to treat a Nazi. Needless to say, this comparison is extremely offensive to both gay and, by cheapening the pertinent history to crassly make Buck’s point, Jewish people.

Yesterday, 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger broadcast an interview with Rep. Buck in which he’s asked about this ghastly comparison–and Buck launched into a defense of his words that demonstrates he meant exactly what he said:

“My point was, and it’s similar to the (Masterpiece Cakeshop) baker case in Jefferson County. We’re getting to the point where we’re forcing people to conduct business that they may not want to conduct. We have to be very careful, it’s not a line we haven’t crossed in the past, we’ve certainly crossed that line with African-Americans in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and it was very appropriate not to have segregated lunch counters, not to have segregated buses, but we keep finding more and more groups that we are putting into a category of forcing people to conduct business with,” said Buck.

What Buck is trying to say here is that he doesn’t think LGBT people should be a protected class of people under discrimination law, as they would be under the legislation under debate and are in Buck’s home state of Colorado as well as 20 other states. That’s consistent with the ballot measure Amendment 2 passed by Colorado in 1992 and later found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Buck’s brazen contempt for the law in the state he represents in Congress invites its own criticism.

But more importantly, what Buck’s “clarification” doesn’t contain is any reasonable justification for comparing gay people to Nazis. The underlying assumptions necessary to make this a valid comparison are simply unworkable for anyone who doesn’t virulently hate LGBT people. It seems fundamentally absurd to even have to write this, but the Nazis were directly responsible for the deaths of six million Jewish people, and started a war that killed 50 million people globally. To compare that abominable history to LGBT Americans who want health care without being victims of discrimination is…

It’s sick, folks. And treating this as a defensible viewpoint for a member of Congress from the state of Colorado, not to mention the chairman of the state party, is totally unacceptable. We honestly do believe that in previous years, before Donald Trump desensitized the nation from outrage, Buck would have been compelled to apologize for these comments–not double down on them on prime time TV. But if it isn’t clear from this episode how deep the moral rot in today’s Republican Party runs, erupting to the surface in the hate-rooted recall campaigns against Rep. Rochelle Galindo and Gov. Jared Polis, here may be all the proof you’ll ever need.

Ordinarily one would call on the Colorado Republican Party to stand up against these kinds of outrages, like when Ryan Call called out Vicki Marble for blaming African American health problems on eating too much chicken–but that’s obviously a problem in this case! In the end, despite all the protestations to the contrary, history may be forced to conclude that the unconcealed hatred common in Buck’s horrific analogy and the stated motivations of recall organizers reflects who Colorado Republicans really are.

Want to prove us wrong? For God’s sake, somebody condemn this madness.

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Neville Clan: Still Recall Central

There’s been some confusion in the last few days as recall efforts against freshman Rep. Rochelle Galindo of Greeley have received publicity over two groups working on the effort: with a few wealthy Weld County landowners pledging big bucks for the campaign and the Recall Colorado organization led by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville working with local pastor Steve Grant firing up hater grassroots opposition.

In an interview Wednesday on AM600 talk radio, Joe Neville of Rearden Strategic tried to sort out the current state of play, while still portraying themselves in a management role over the effort:

LAKEY: Now, the House District 50 – there was a different gentleman who – I guess – pulled the [recall] petitions. Not all of these recalls are connected. I mean, everybody is kind of teaming up where possible, but it’s not all coming from, like, one central organization. And House District 50 fits that description, does it not? It’s put on by some local folks, that they are pulling the petitions and hoping to team a bunch of people together. But not everything flows through Joe Neville.

NEVILLE: That’s correct. That’s absolutely correct. What our goal is with ‘recallcolorado[.com], is we’re working to help out the grassroots. So, we have run recalls before, we have the ability to raise resources, and we’ll put volunteers out there. But these recalls – it’s the people’s district. And they sense, too – because the legislators work for the people, and so the people, they’re the ones who are putting these recalls together, the citizens in these districts. And we’re just there to help support them and get them the resources they need, to help them with getting ballot signatures and get this on the ballot – get the recalls on the ballot. And then when it comes time for the election, we’ll be there to help with that part, too. But really, it’s helping them be effective and give them the best chance possible to make sure the recall is successful.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

From there the conversation turned more specifically to Pastor Grant, who the Nevilles originally connected with to organize the HD-50 recall after he vowed to bring down his “homosexual pervert” representative:

NEVILLE: And, you know, we need to stand up, not only to the press, but the fact of the matter is, you know, whether it was with Trump or [what] we’ve seen just over the past few months, people aren’t going to put up with it anymore and they’re going to start focusing on holding these politicians accountable. And that’s what we’re doing with the recalls. And you know, the guy that stood up – the pastor that stood up, good for him! Good for all these people that are involved in this, because it’s not just one issue. It’s several issues that are affecting these people in this district, and they have a right to hold their politicians accountable. [Pols emphasis]

LAKEY: Yeah. The [recall] petitions are not approved yet. Where are we at in that process? Because I know my listeners are chomping at the bit, and the people all across Colorado are chomping at the bit, to get their hands on a petition. The Galindo petition, particularly – it’s in the approval process? Is that what we say?

NEVILLE: Yep, it’s in the approval process. There are several different stakeholders. I mean, this was such a polarizing effort that several people had started entering petitions. So we had to put – you know, pause it, bring everybody to the table, try to figure out what petition we’re going to move forward, because the last thing we want is multiple petitions out there, splitting up the effort. We’ve come to that conclusion, I believe. [Pols emphasis] And within the next few days we should have a final one turned in and approved. And so I’m guessing within the week, here, is when things should start moving forward. And we’ll definitely be reaching out to everybody that signs up at recallcolorado.com and telling them where to go and pushing them to the main center of the first — what looks like it’s going to be the first recall in Colorado this year.

To whatever extent there is an attempt to put daylight between less-savory organizers of this recall effort and the money men funding the petition campaign, consider it scrambled! After the jump, we’ve reprinted for posterity the original March 26 press release from the Nevilles praising Pastor Grant and celebrating his participation in the Galindo recall. It looks like, barring a specific indication to the contrary, the House Minority Leader and his family business are going to be the glue that sticks all the disparate –and unpleasant–pieces of this operation together.

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In Your Face: GOP Asks “Dr. Chaps” To Deliver Morning Prayer

The subject of considerable outrage in the Colorado House this morning is the request by an as-yet unknown Republican House member for former Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt of Colorado Springs to deliver the morning prayer ahead of the day’s floor work:

That’s just the tip of the iceberg of the issues with Rep.-cum-Rev. Klingenschmitt, who gained nationwide infamy ahead of and during his single term in the Colorado House of Representatives for his virulently anti-LGBT remarks both in his official capacity as well as on his Youtube “video ministry” taped programs. Klingenschmitt once claimed that a grisly attack on a pregnant woman in Longmont was “a curse of God upon America” for allowing abortion. He said that LGBT people “want to rule you” and that that gay Scoutmasters should prefer to be “drowned in the sea” than face God’s wrath.

At a moment when Republicans are facing hard questions about the avowedly hateful people working to recall Gov. Jared Polis and more recently Rep. Rochelle Galindo of Greeley–notably House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s alliance with Pastor Steve Grant, who has vowed to recall what he called his “homosexual pervert” representative–bringing in a figure as uniquely polarizing as “Dr. Chaps” to stare down the House in his clergy robes and expect to be joined in prayer cannot possibly be an accident.

This was a very intentional provocation. The ugly message was loud and clear.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (April 5)

Today is “Opening Day” for the Colorado Rockies; have fun parking downtown this afternoon. It’s time “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Remember when President Trump asserted that he was “totally exonerated” after Attorney General William Barr issued a summary of the Mueller report? That talking point is not aging well.

As the Washington Post reports:

Revelations that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s still-confidential report may contain damaging information about President Trump ignited a fresh round of political fighting on Thursday, ushering in a new phase of the nearly two-year-old battle over the Russia probe.

Members of Mueller’s team have told associates they are frustrated with the limited information that Attorney General William P. Barr has provided about their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump sought to obstruct justice, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.

While Barr concluded the special counsel’s evidence was not sufficient to prove that the president obstructed justice, some of Mueller’s investigators have said their findings on obstruction were alarming and significant, one person with knowledge of their thinking said.

Some on the special counsel’s team were also frustrated that summaries they had prepared for different sections of the report — with the view that they could be made public fairly quickly — were not released by Barr, two people familiar with the matter said.

The truth shall set you free, as the saying goes…though it may yet have the opposite effect for many in Trumpland. Attorney General William Barr appears to be well on his way to getting tossed under the ol’ bus.

 

► Colorado lawmakers have reached an agreement on transportation funding, though as the Denver Post reports, the details are murky:

Colorado’s Republican and Democratic lawmakers reached a second and potentially final deal to spend $300 million more on transportation in the next budget year, but the big question still left to answer is what gets cut to pay for it.

This new deal struck Thursday afternoon is $36 million less than the amount agreed to in the Senate last week. The House got approval from their counterparts before announcing this compromise, which directs the six members of the Joint Budget Committee to find $70 million for the Department of Transportation in the $30.5 billion state budget.

“We are giving permission for your JBC members to go into conference committee and dig through the couch cushions a little harder,” Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, told her fellow Democrats during a meeting to explain the agreement.

This can serve as your regular reminder that TABOR is awful.

 

► Elections matter. Leadership matters.

Consider the rollout on Thursday of a plan from Gov. Jared Polis to reduce health care costs in Colorado. The “Roadmap to Saving Coloradans Money on Health Care” includes several pieces of legislation that have bipartisan support. Most of these bills could have been passed and implemented in prior years, but Senate Republicans had no interest in governing with their one-seat majority. This is why Colorado voters overwhelmingly elected Democrats in 2018.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Polis Health Care Plan Shows Why Elections Matter

“Roadmap to Saving Coloradans Money on Health Care” rollout on Thursday

Governor Jared Polis rolled out a detailed plan on Thursday morning for reducing health care costs in Colorado called the “Roadmap to Saving Coloradans Money on Health Care.”

In an event at Denver Health Medical Center, Polis outlined a proposal that includes several pieces of legislation currently making their way through the State Capitol. As KOAA News reports:

Polis already signed a hospital transparency bill into law last week.  That law requires hospitals to report their annual spending and expenditures as part of an effort to lower health care prices.

There are already bills going through the legislature to import prescription drugs from Canada and introduce a reinsurance pool designed to lower premiums for private insurers.

In addition to short-term solutions, Polis also mentioned plans to incentivize preventative care, introduce healthy options to children at schools, improve immunization rates and introduce a separate plan to address behavioral health.

Here’s more detail from a press release:

“Health care costs too much,” said Governor Jared Polis. “No Coloradan should have to go without care because they can’t afford it. This roadmap will be our guide to saving people money on healthcare and ensuring better access to affordable care for everyone in our state.”

Colorado has taken significant steps to increase access to health care and insurance coverage during the past decade. As a result, today only 6.5 percent of Coloradans don’t have health insurance compared to 15.8 percent in 2013. Despite this improvement, the cost of care has been increasing at an alarming rate, especially in rural areas and mountain communities.

All of the central legislative efforts outlined in Polis’ health care proposal have bipartisan support. In other words, these are all bills that could have been shepherded through the legislative process at any point in the last several years.

The reason you aren’t already saving more money on health care costs is because that would have required Senate Republicans to do something other than obstructing Democratic bills and obfuscating about sexual harassment with their one-seat majority in 2017 and 2018. Republicans such as former Senate President Kevin Grantham liked to say that they served as a “check” on Democratic control; in reality, they were an obstacle to reasonable discussions about all sorts of common-sense legislative approaches.

There is absolutely no way that these health care savings efforts would have been produced without Colorado voters giving Democrats both a majority and a mandate in November 2018. The right leadership matters. Elections matter.

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Oil and Gas Reform Bill Clears Final Hurdle, Now Awaits Governor’s Signature

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg

One of the most heavily-discussed bills in Colorado completed its journey through the state legislature on Wednesday. Senate Bill 181 was given final approval by the State Senate — including all amendments added by the State House — and now moves to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, who is expected to sign the legislation within the coming days.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, one of the prime sponsors of SB-181, announced the bill’s success in an email message earlier today:

SB181 marks the most sweeping and comprehensive reforms to oil and gas laws our state has seen in over 60 years! Health and safety will finally be the top priority in the regulation of oil and gas. Local governments will finally be able to have a voice in what is happening in their communities.

Here’s a quick summary of what the bill accomplishes:

♦ Puts health and safety first by clarifying the mission of the regulator, the COGCC, is to regulate (not foster) the oil and gas industry.

♦ Empowers local governments to have decision-making authority over the siting of oil & gas activities in their community and allows local regulations to be stronger than state requirements.

♦ Strengthens protections for wildlife, dramatically increases air quality and emissions standards, and addresses & prevents abandoned orphan wells.

♦ Protects property owners from forced pooling by increasing the threshold of consent required before forcing other mineral interest owners.

♦ Enhances worker safety by raising safety and training standards.

♦ Reforms the COGCC by reducing industry representation and influence on the commission.

9News has more on the final passage of SB-181, which included more than 30 hours of public testimony.

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The “Very Fine People” Who Want To Recall Rochelle Galindo

THURSDAY UPDATE: Colorado Public Radio reports that petitions to recall Rep. Rochelle Galindo have been approved for circulation–but it’s unknown which organization the approved circulators are affiliated with.

—–

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

The Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy reports on efforts getting underway to recall House District 50 Rep. Rochelle Galindo–efforts that loom deadly serious due to the amount of money at least hypothetically in play, and much like the nascent campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis shocking for the audacious prejudice on display by some of its organizers:

A local group working to recall Rep. Rochelle Galindo, D-Greeley, hasn’t yet finalized its paperwork with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, but it’s already sitting on $325,000 in pledged campaign donations from a Weld County landowner and oil and gas companies.

Motivated by the low threshold required to initiate a recall of a House member–in the case of Rep. Galindo in HD-50, a mere 5,696 valid signatures–Republican donors are ready to spend big on a do-over of the 2018 election. To put that in a perspective that should sober every Colorado Democrat, $325,000 breaks down to just over $57 for every required signature to qualify a recall for the ballot. Basically, these guys could buy every petition signer a nice dinner. With drinks.

Therefore ignoring the threat this represents would be foolhardy in the extreme.

The problem, as Silvy continues in yet another excellent deep dive story that should spike traffic for the Greeley newspaper of record, is that the people who are actually ready to organize such a recall–led by House Minority Patrick Neville–are, to put it mildly, problematic.

Colorado Senate Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s brother Joe Neville, who runs the political action committee Values First Colorado, publicly announced his involvement in a separate Galindo recall this past week. Neville is from Castle Rock, and is working to recall other legislators around the state and followed a similar recall path in 2013.

Aligned with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners’ Dudley Brown and controversial Greeley Pastor Steven Grant, Neville’s group, at this point, has no buy-in from the local group.

Part of the reasoning could be Grant himself, who in a March 17 sermon titled Reclaiming America Part 2 and published on the website of his Destiny Christian Center church, calls Galindo a “homosexual pervert,” and vows to do anything in his power to remove her from office. [Pols emphasis]

Reached by phone, Pastor Steven Grant of Destiny Christian Center Church confirmed those sentiments about Rep. Galindo, elaborating that “she’s trying to insert her lifestyle into our lives.” Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political site first reported on Grant’s sermon attacking Rep. Galindo late last week, but it was mostly inaccessible behind the Gazette’s paywall:

“My representative is a homosexual pervert, Rochelle Galindo, at the Colorado statehouse,” Grant says in the video.

“And I wrote her and said, ‘You campaigned as a moderate, and now you are legislating as an extremist, and I will do whatever it takes to get you removed from office.’ I just told her that, straight out. She needs to know before it happens.”

Grant says he told Galindo to vote against “this homosexual sex education bill,” legislation he maintains “literally removes words like ‘he’ and ‘she’ because it is offensive to those who are gender-fluid, whatever that is. I think they need their fluids changed.” [Pols emphasis]

It’s a fascinating predicament–on the one hand you’ve got rich Republicans with money to burn who would love to make trouble for Democrats after last year’s landslide election left them powerless. But the people actually working to put a recall on the ballot are themselves highly divisive figures, enough to toxify the entire effort in just a few short sentences (see above). Apparently that’s given some of the big donors pause–but with the Neville family publicly fronting the recalls before the Republican Party faithful last weekend at the party’s annual meeting, and Neville allied with the unapologetically bigoted Pastor Grant on the ground in Greeley, these are the ones bringing us all to the proverbial dance.

And as they say, you dance with the one who brought you.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 3)

Sign us up as investors in the first business to start delivering marijuana AND fast food at the same time. Now, let’s “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Attorney General William Barr says that he will make a “redacted” version of the Mueller report available to lawmakers by mid-April. The House Judiciary Committee isn’t satisfied with that approach, as CNN reports:

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a subpoena to obtain the full confidential report from special counsel Robert Mueller, sending a warning to Attorney General William Barr not to redact Mueller’s report and setting the stage for a clash between Congress and the Trump administration.

Wednesday’s vote, which was divided along party lines, comes the day after an April 2 deadline House Democrats set for Barr to provide the full Mueller report to Congress. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler now has the ability to issue a subpoena for Mueller’s unredacted report as well as the underlying evidence collected during the 22-month investigation into Trump’s team…

…”The big question is, do we get the entire report and the documentation? Or does he redact it so it’s meaningless?” Nadler told on CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday.

Colorado is represented on the House Judiciary Committee by Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).

 

► So-called “red flag” gun safety legislation is through the state legislature and awaiting the signature of Gov. Jared Polis. The editorial board of the Pueblo Chieftain has a strong message for those who think they are doing their community a service if they refuse to enforce the new law:

Sheriffs and the deputies who work for them are supposed to be in the business of enforcing laws. That’s why it’s a little surreal to hear so many of them across Colorado vowing not to enforce the so-called “red flag” bill…

…The larger point here is that sheriffs shouldn’t be in the position of picking which laws they choose to enforce. That’s a slippery slope that, taken to its extreme, would lead to anarchy.

► The newly-elected Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party wasted no time in embarrassing the State GOP on Tuesday. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) made the wrong kind of headlines for his questioning during a hearing to amend the Equality Act when he asked a witness (who was testifying about her experience with discrimination after a same-sex marriage) if she thought requiring Christian doctors to treat gay patients was comparable to forcing Jewish doctors to treat Nazis. From Yahoo! News:

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo, posed an even more outlandish scenario to one of the witnesses, Jami Contreras, who faced discrimination in seeking medical care for her child because she is in a same-sex marriage.

“Is it your position,” Buck asked Contreras, “that an Orthodox Jewish doctor whose grandparent was killed in the Holocaust be required to work with a Nazi patient?”

Nazis are not a protected class, meaning that adherents of a political ideology — in this case, fascism — are not covered by the anti-discrimination statute of the Civil Rights Act. A seemingly confused Contreras answered by pointing out that she and her wife were raising their child according to “Christian values” and wanted only protection from prejudice.

Click here for the full exchange during Tuesday’s hearing.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 2)

At least you don’t have to worry about lame April Fool’s Day jokes for another year. It’s time to “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Trump administration may or may not have an actual plan for health care reform, but the answer to that question won’t be settled anytime soon. President Trump is heeding Republican worries about picking another health care reform fight ahead of the 2020 election cycle, as CNN reports:

President Donald Trump on Monday night backed away from his push for a vote on an Obamacare replacement until after the 2020 elections, bowing to the political reality that major health care legislation cannot pass in the current Congress.

Trump’s statements come a week after his administration announced that it now agreed with a judge’s ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be scrapped. The opinion was a dramatic reversal from the administration’s previous stance that only portions of the act could not be defended…

…”The Republicans are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare. In other words it will be far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare. Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House. It will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America,” Trump declared in a series of tweets. “Also, Republicans will always support Pre-Existing Conditions. The Republican Party will be known as the Party of Great HealtCare. Meantime, the USA is doing better than ever & is respected again!”

Trump’s decision comes at a good time for White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who has been getting hammered by media outlets for nonsensical health care statements he made on the talk show circuit last weekend.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) says that he opposes President Trump’s latest threats to close the U.S.-Mexico border. Of course, Gardner says a lot of stuff that he doesn’t mean, like his “opposition” to Trump’s “emergency declaration” for border wall money.

 

► The Associated Press reports on the advancement of some significant legislation at the State Capitol:

A House committee on Monday advanced a bill to ask Colorado voters if the state can retain excess tax revenue and a companion bill that would spend that revenue on roads and schools.

The House Finance Committee votes came after Democratic Speaker KC Becker argued the state should do all it can — especially at a time of sustained economic growth — to address Colorado’s chronically underfunded transportation and education needs…

…One bill would ask voters in November if the state can keep excess revenue that would otherwise be refunded under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. The other would allocate that excess revenue in equal parts to K-12 schools, higher education and transportation.

Even some of the most staunch defenders of TABOR are admitting that the spending restrictions need to be changed — and soon.

 

► So-called “red flag” gun safety legislation has officially made it through the state legislature and is now on its way to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis. From 9News:

The bill would allow the seizure of weapons from persons the court deems to pose a significant risk to themselves or others.

The 38-25 passing vote included two Democrats who voted against it: Rep. Bri Buentello (D-Pueblo) and Rep. Donald Valdez (D-La Jara)…

…Colorado Republicans defeated a similar bill last year, insisting it infringed on citizens’ Second Amendment rights. But Democrats won both statehouse chambers in November, and Polis called for a “red flag” law while campaigning last year.

It would allow family or law enforcement to seek a court order to have guns seized if they believe the owner is a threat. If approved, a subsequent court hearing would be held to determine whether to extend the seizure, up to 364 days.

Polis is expected to sign the legislation, which is overwhelmingly popular among most Colorado voters.

 

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“Gun Sanctuary” Resolutions Being Adopted by Some CO Counties Have White Supremacist Roots

(Know your history or repeat it – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Nearly half of Colorado’s 64 counties are joining a nationwide trend of passing resolutions opposing laws they don’t like, asserting that their elected county sheriffs need not enforce measures they view as unconstitutional and harkening back to a movement that has roots in white supremacy.

A proposed measure to allow law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from individuals who are proven to be dangerous has led many Colorado counties to declare themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries, meaning they don’t want their elected sheriffs to enforce gun restrictions like the so-called “red flag” bill that’s progressing in the state’s legislature. One Colorado sheriff, Steve Reams of Weld County, told CNN that he’d go to jail before enforcing the proposed law.

This idea of county supremacy, where sheriffs are seen as defenders of the constitution in the face of what conservatives view as overreach from state and federal governments, has roots in far-right and white supremacist movements.

The Posse Comitatus movement, from the Latin for “power of the county,” began in the ’70s, and grew out of the Ku Klux Klan. It aimed to protect white Americans from civil rights laws that they viewed as unconstitutional. They believed that there was no legitimate form of government beyond the county level, and that there was no higher law enforcement authority than the county sheriff. Its founder, William Potter Gale, believed that the U.S. Constitution was a divinely inspired document meant to elevate white Americans above Jews and people of color.

The Posse Comitatus is no longer active, but lives on today in the form of the constitutional sheriff movement. The Constitutional Sheriff and Peace Officer Association (CSPOA) formed in 2011, and is based around the same extremist constitutional theory as the Posse Comitatus – that sheriffs can and should disregard laws they see as unconstitutional.

The movement has continued to grow alongside the anti-federal sentiment that was sparked during the Obama administration, with Colorado occasionally at the center of it, especially when it comes to gun control legislation.

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Big Oil’s a Great Neighbor–Just Ask New Orleans

Former Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

AP reports via the Colorado Springs Gazette on a lawsuit filed by the city of New Orleans, Louisiana against several oil companies alleging massive damage to wetlands that used to protect the city from flooding and hurricanes:

Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Friday announced the lawsuit, which alleges that pipeline work has caused massive damage to Louisiana’s wetlands and “threatened the safety of our people.”

Cantrell’s statement cites analyses from Tulane, Louisiana State University and the Rand Corporation, saying coastal land loss could cost the state more than $133 billion in lost capital.

“New Orleans has been harmed. … The land that’s been lost was a protective barrier defending us from hurricanes and floods. If the current trend holds, New Orleans will be a literal coastal city within the next fifty years,” she said.

It’s a newsworthy development but how does this affect Colorado, you ask?

Whiting Oil and Gas Corporation, a subsidiary of Whiting Petroleum Corporation, and Aspect Energy LLC, both based in Denver, also are among the firms named in the suit.

Both Whiting and Aspect Energy are local energy firms with deep political connections to Colorado. Whiting Petroleum’s Vice President of Corporate and Government Relations is none other than former Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman, who also ran GOP Senate “independent expenditure” campaign through his public relations company a la the Neville family’s Rearden Strategic and the 2018 House IE effort. In his position as VP of Corporate and Government Relations, we expect Cadman is intimately involved in the company’s dispute with New Orleans–and not on the side of New Orleans.

But don’t worry, Colorado! Coastal Louisiana might have been devastated over the course of decades by the oil and gas industry’s irresponsible development and at-best half-hearted remediation, but apart from the occasional house blowing up in Colorado…wait, never mind, that’s not a persuasive argument! Scratch that. We are a mile above sea level, which admittedly makes coastal flooding less likely. So, there’s that. We still get floods though, in the same places that oil companies drill

On second thought, maybe Coloradans should be paying attention? Louisiana’s experience with oil and gas development is more relevant to the present debate than the industry’s surrogates in Colorado will ever admit.

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Landmark Drilling Protection Bill Nears Polis’ Desk

Photo courtesy Gov. Jared Polis.

As the Denver Post’s Judith Kohler reports, another major victory for majority Democrats in the Colorado General Assembly today as Senate Bill 19-181, legislation reforming regulation of the oil and gas industry, empowering local communities to control land use within their boundaries, as well as getting the state out of the business of “fostering” oil and gas development passes the House:

The House voted 36-28 for Senate Bill 19-181, which the Senate passed March 13. The Senate will now consider amendments added in the House’s Thursday night session.

The legislation would revamp the state’s oil and gas regulations by changing the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and putting public health and safety front and center when development is considered. It would also clarify that local governments have the authority under their planning and land-use powers to regulate oil and gas as they do other types of activities.

A press release from House Democrats following yesterday’s voice vote:

“This bill has been a long time coming and it attempts to address the concerns of many local communities about the increased quantity of oil and gas drilling happening in their communities and because they don’t have a say in it,” said Speaker KC Becker. “This bill ensures taxpayers aren’t footing the bill for cleaning up abandoned wells; it strengthens laws around forced pooling, mapping of flow lines and air quality; and finally reforms the COGCC.”

The landmark bill directs the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to regulate oil and gas development to protect public welfare, and clarifies that local governments have the same authority to regulate the oil and gas industry as they have with every other industry in Colorado – including the mining industry. The bill also removes the prohibition against local governments requiring oil and gas companies to cover the direct costs of regulating, monitoring and permitting the sites in their communities…

The bill addresses emissions and air quality by requiring increased monitoring and implementing a rule-making process to reduce emissions to better meet federal regulations. A “brown cloud” returned to Denver earlier this month and reports showed that the air quality was worse than that of Beijing.

From here, the bill goes back to the Senate for consideration of a considerable number of amendments passed by the House during their lengthy floor debate on the bill. Some of these amendments could be contentious between Democrats, as Westword’s Chase Woodruff explains in a freshly-updated story:

While some of the approved amendments were small technical fixes or clarifications requested by state agencies, several others include major, last-minute changes to the bill. Environmental and community activists had already been disappointed by amendments adopted amid pressure from industry groups just before its final passage in the Senate, and spent the last several days urging Becker to pass a “clean bill” without any further amendments. Still, with many of the bill’s key provisions intact, activists welcomed its passage by the House this morning. [Pols emphasis]

“Despite some concerning amendments, SB 181 is still a step in the right direction,” Anne Lee Foster, spokeswoman for anti-fracking group Colorado Rising, said in a statement. “There were some very obvious loopholes granted to industry.”

We’ll see how those amendments are resolved in the final negotiations between the House and Senate–where we expect Gov. Jared Polis’ office, for whom this bill is a top-tier priority, will help keep things on track. A final determination will help everyone understand the consequences for both sides–whether the bill is considered a sufficient solution to the problem to supporters, versus the political efficacy of compromises made to reduce the umbrage taken by the bill’s vexatious opponents.

Today is not the end of the fierce battle over one of the 2019 session’s biggest bills, but the end is now in sight.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 29)

March is on its way out in a sorta lion-lamb hybrid style. It’s time to “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Grand Junction Sentinel reports on the confirmation hearing for President Trump’s new Secretary of Interior: Rifle, Colorado native David Bernhardt.

Bernhardt on Thursday touted his experience and defended his ethics — denying one senator’s accusation he lied about his ethical integrity — during his Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to become secretary of the Department of Interior.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who strongly backs Bernhardt’s nomination, said in introducing him to the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee that he believes Bernhardt would become the seventh Interior secretary from Colorado if confirmed. Recent secretaries from the state include Ken Salazar during the Obama administration and Gale Norton during the George W. Bush administration…

…Bernhardt’s work as an attorney and lobbyist for oil and gas, water and other industries affected by Interior Department policies has caused him to come under intense scrutiny from critics over the policies he has espoused during the Trump administration and questions about possible conflicts of interest.

That scrutiny was laid bare during Thursday’s hearing when Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told Bernhardt he’d read recently obtained department documents showing Bernhardt had blocked release of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report with new analysis of the dangerous effects of toxic chemicals.

As the Colorado Independent reports, Bernhardt says he will stop recusing himself from cases that might cause a conflict with his former lobbying clients. That’s some straightforward graft right there.

During Thursday’s confirmation hearing, Bernhardt also updated news about the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to move its headquarters to the Western U.S. — perhaps in Grand Junction.

 

► Lawmakers in the United Kingdom rejected a third proposal for managing England’s Brexit. As CNN explains:

The defeat of the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement by 344 votes to 286 came on the same day that Britain was originally supposed to leave the European Union, and left the path forward on Brexit unclear.

The rejection of May’s plan raises the chances of a lengthy delay to Brexit or Britain crashing out of Europe without a deal on the new deadline of April 12.

May had offered to resign if Parliament passed her deal, but ultimately she was unable to persuade enough MPs to back a plan they had resoundingly rejected in two previous votes.

It may now rest on British lawmakers to find a way out of the impasse when they run a second vote on alternatives to May’s deal on Monday.

 

► As Colorado Public Radio reports, a last-minute budget deal that includes new money for transportation funding may yet be held up before passage.

 

► So-called “red flag” gun safety legislation has passed out of the State Senate and now returns to the State House for consideration of amendments. House Bill 19-1177 is expected to win final approval in the House before making its way to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis.

 

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