State Rep. Steve Humphrey Posts Image Of Flyer Attacking Colleague Over Violence Against Women

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep Humphrey Shares RMGO Wist Attack, 9.15.18

Colorado state representative Steve Humphrey (R-Severance) shared a photo of a flyer that accuses his party’s Assistant Minority Leader, Rep Cole Wist (R-Centennial) of wanting to prevent women from being able to defend themselves.

Rep. Steve Humphrey posts photo of RMGO flyer attacking Rep. WistRocky Mountain Gun Owners distributed the flyer at this weekend’s Centennial Gun Club Firearms Festival. Humphrey  posted a picture of the RMGO table, including the flyer, with the caption “Meeting and greeting and supporting conservative Second Amendment candidates at the RMGO booth.”


The flyer, one of two on the table attacking Wist, labels the House’s number two Republicans as “anti-gun” and says he “wants to leave you defenseless,” below an image of a woman being assaulted on the street.


RMGO, along with Minority Leader Patrick Neville, attacked Wist repeatedly during this year’s legislative fight over his proposed “red flag” bill. The bipartisan bill would have created a civil legal process called an Extreme Risk Protection Order to enable family members and law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from an individual who poses danger to themselves or others.

Sponsored by Assistant Minority Leader Wist, the bill was also supported by District Attorney George Brauchler and Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, both Republicans. It passed the House 37-23, with Wist and Rep. Dan Thurlow (R-Grand Junction) joining all Democrats in support, but failed to get out of committee in the Senate.

Rep. Humphrey’s post was “liked” by two of his colleagues, Rep. Perry Buck (R-Windsor) and Rep. Shane Sandridge (R-Colorado Springs). Joe Neville, who runs the House GOP independent expenditure committee and is a former RMGO lobbyist, also liked the post.

Voicemail messages requesting comment were not immediately answered by either Rep. Humphrey or Rep. Wist. This post will be updated with any replies received.

This post was first published by the Colorado Times Recorder.

Seriously, Did Republicans Fire All Their Editors?

We took note Friday of a TV spot targeting rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood from the Republican Senate Majority Fund–an expensive production and ad buy that couldn’t even spell the targeted candidate’s name right. If it’s worth producing and distributing before the eyeballs of thousands of voters, it should go without saying that it’s worth the essential step of copyediting.

This weekend, we’re treated to another spectacular GOP proofreading failure, once again being distributed to live voters in Greeley’s House District 50 by Republican candidate Brian Thuener:

Seriously folks, how the hell does that make it into the hands of actual voters? We understand that typographical errors happen–after all, this is a blog. We commit them all the time. What we wouldn’t do is allow such elementary errors to be printed and then distributed in campaign literature–or in the case of a TV spot, aired to thousands of voters.

Too many more such incidents, and the “amateur hour” impression this kind of thing leaves won’t be a coincidence anymore. It’ll be part of the narrative of 2018.

Brian Watson, GOP Treasurer candidate: “Teachers just collect government checks.”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Brian Watson, candidate for Treasurer of Colorado, is kind of a jerk. He demonstrated that recently in a Club 20 debate with his Democratic opponent, Dave Young,  captured on video by Colorado Education Association. Dave called out Brian Watson for owing nearly a million dollars in unpaid taxes and loans for seven years: “How can you manage our state’s finances if you cannot manage your own?,” Dave Young asked.

Watson replied, ” I’m so glad you asked that question. Because while you were a junior high math teacher, collecting a check from the government, which you have done your entire career, <snip>, we job creators were on the front line.”

Watson is a “job creator”? He’s a real estate developer, and pledges that he won’t take a salary if elected to the Legislature. (Hint: he plans to moonlight at Northstar Commercial Partners, the company he founded, which owns buildings all over Colorado. Watson doesn’t need a treasurer’s $68K a year salary )

Watson, like Trump, loves debt, and spins his deadbeat history as a net positive:

I’ve restructured complex debt….I’m battle – tested

But since Watson has a history of unpaid taxes and liens, Watson has been a net drain on the economy. He finally paid off his business debts right before the Republican primary in 2012. The contractors who had to wait for payment, or had to write off debts, were probably unimpressed by Watson’s “battle testing”.

Can you say, “Conflict of interest”?

As Treasurer, Watson would be making decisions and helping to make policy that would directly impact his company’s bottom line. For example, included in Northstar’s portfolio of buildings are several renting to charter schools in Colorado. As Treasurer, Watson’s business stands to profit by renting to charter schools, which are generally taxpayer-supported public schools, while he continues to work at his real estate investment company – just like the current Treasurer, Walker Stapleton, who continued to collect a $150,000 salary consulting  at Sonomawest , / Stapleton Acquisitions), all while “moonlighting” as Colorado’s Treasurer.

At least, if elected, Watson could take a lunch break at one of the buildings his company owns near the Capitol.

For a longer , higher quality video of the two Treasurer candidates debating, see the Aaron Harber show, Parts 1 and 2.   I’ve highlighted their statements about PERA below.


At Least He’s Not Your House Candidate–Oh Wait, He Is!

FRIDAY UPDATE: As the Denver Post reports, HD-12 GOP nominee David Reid Ross has decided to, as they say, spend more time with his family.

A Republican running for the Colorado House has dropped out after his personal alt-right blog became public knowledge…

Ross told The Denver Post he submitted his withdrawal paperwork to the Secretary of State’s Office on Thursday afternoon, as time ran short for the district’s Republicans to convene a vacancy committee to replace him.

“I don’t know if the Colorado GOP can actually erase my name from the ballot at this stage, but they are going to try,” he had stated on his blog, The House of David, late Wednesday.

So ends another budding political career! He’ll always be able to say he was nominated.


David Reid Ross (right).

Westword’s Michael Roberts reports today on newly uncovered writings by David Reid Ross, the Republican nominee for Colorado House District 12–an open seat being vacated by Rep. Mike Foote (who lost his bid for Boulder County District Attorney in June).

Mr. Ross, gentle readers, has a viewpoint:

David Reid Ross is the official Republican candidate for state representative in District 12, an area that includes parts of Louisville and Lafayette. The undated photo above, in which he’s seen posing with President Donald Trump, is included in a voters’ guide created by the Boulder County Republicans.

But the Colorado Republican Party now wants nothing to do with Ross after being informed by Westword about The House of David, a personal blog populated by well over a decade’s worth of posts that include rants and musings most sentient humans would regard as racist, homophobic, Islamophobic and more, more, more.

In the finest tradition of so many other Republican candidates and even elected officials–here’s looking at you, Jim Welker–who have had their record as a straight-up unapologetic racist, homophobe, and “more, more, more” exposed to the world at a politically inopportune moment, David Reid Ross is set to appear on the ballot in House District 12 in November as a Republican candidate and there’s not much anybody can do about it. It doesn’t look like Mr. Ross has the tether with reality necessary to understand that he is doing both himself and his party no favors by staying on the ballot, even in a district that Republicans have no realistic shot at winning.

So now Colorado Republicans can add a House candidate who says “If you love black people: never, never let them vote” to the brand! The time to have done something about this was before Reid won the nomination for this seat. As they say in this business, if you don’t vet ’em, you own them.

Republican Candidate Says Low-Income Women Should Be Sterilized, Birth Control Causes Abortions

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a series of Facebook posts from 2012, Mary Fabian, a candidate for Colorado’s House of Representatives, defended a U.S. Senate candidate who said at the time that the incidence of pregnancy after “legitimate rape” is low because a women’s body will stop such pregnancies spontaneously.

Other posts expressed inaccurate or extreme views on birth control, people who receive government assistance, and more.

In one post, Fabian criticized opponents of then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and their concerns about abortion rights, saying that Romney is “not going to legislate morality, but I’m just saying abortion is wrong, birth control kills babies after conception, too and it is sad to see our society so very brainwashed.”

She then advocated for abstinence as the only form of birth control, writing “if you don’t want the risk of a kid, don’t have sex.”

Fabian, a Republican, is running in House District 18, which encompasses Manitou Springs and parts of Colorado Springs.

In a different post, Fabian mused that perhaps there was some truth to former U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin’s infamous assertion that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin went on to say that abortion shouldn’t be an option for rape survivors because “the punishment should be on the rapist, and not attacking the child.”


A Few Words On The Game Rep. Dave Williams Plays

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

The murder of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts in mid-July of this year has provided another emotional flashpoint in the long-running debate over immigration law in the United States, a debate that Donald Trump purposefully inflamed for his own political gain in 2016 and is raging at fever pitch as the 2018 midterm elections quickly approach.

President Trump has invoked Tibbetts’ murder countless times since July, along with Republican candidates at every level to justify further crackdowns on undocumented immigrants. In the debate over the criminal threat represented by undocumented immigrants against American citizens, anecdotes like the killing of a young white woman in a low-crime rural area frequently substitute for the data that consistently shows undocumented immigrants commit crimes at a much lower rate than the native-born population.

CNN reports via FOX 31 yesterday that the family of Mollie Tibbetts wants it to stop:

Since authorities revealed the suspect in the killing of Mollie Tibbetts is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, Iowa’s Latino communities have been the target of rising anti-immigrant sentiment.

But the father of the late 20-year-old college student has had enough. He’s spoken out, and he has a message: Don’t exploit my daughter’s death to promote a racist agenda.

“I encourage the debate on immigration; there is great merit in its reasonable outcome,” Tibbetts wrote in an op-ed for the Des Moines Register on Saturday. “But do not appropriate Mollie’s soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist.”

Here’s more from Rob Tibbetts’ op-ed:

The person who is accused of taking Mollie’s life is no more a reflection of the Hispanic community as white supremacists are of all white people. [Pols emphasis] To suggest otherwise is a lie. Justice in my America is blind. This person will receive a fair trial, as it should be. If convicted, he will face the consequences society has set. Beyond that, he deserves no more attention.

To the Hispanic community, my family stands with you and offers its heartfelt apology. That you’ve been beset by the circumstances of Mollie’s death is wrong. We treasure the contribution you bring to the American tapestry in all its color and melody.

In Colorado, by far the politician most eagerly exploiting Mollie Tibbetts’ murder for political gain is an elected official in no real danger of losing his seat in November: Rep. Dave Williams, Republican of Colorado Springs, who succeeded the infamous Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt representing one of the safest Republican seats in the Colorado General Assembly. Surprising absolutely no one, Rep. Williams has been on a social media tear:

We could cite many more examples, but you get the idea. Since winning his seat in the 2016 elections, Rep. Williams has repeatedly thrust himself into the national debate over immigration, appearing on FOX News in support of Trump’s policies and maximizing publicity of his stillborn legislation to retaliate against so-called “sanctuary cities.” In response to one such piece of legislation, readers will recall that Rep. Joe Salazar was filmed telling a group of supporters incredulously that Rep. Williams is “half Latino”–a gaffe Williams turned into a veritable circus of feigned outrage.

Salazar’s choice of words may have left the door open for Williams, but the incident is a useful window into the peculiar brand of “identity politics” Williams not only practices but has relied upon to differentiate himself in Republican politics. Being willing to pose in photos with unabashedly racist national Republican figures like Iowa’s Rep. Steve King (above), combined with rhetoric that mainstream Republicans avoid lest they be lumped in with racists like King, makes Rep. Williams highly appealing to the overwhelmingly white conservative Republican voters he represents. Best of all, if you’re not extremely careful about pointing this out, Williams will turn the contrived indignation on you too! As they say in show business, it’s nice work if you can get it.

Rep. Williams is not unique with this strategy of what you could accurately call reverse identity politics, but in moments like this–when the politically-motivated animus against immigrants reaches a level where decency itself requires everyone to call it out–this is when it looks the very worst.

This is when, if a man like Dave Williams has any shame, he feels it and stops talking.

“Fetal Homicide”=Personhood: The Ghouls Come Out

Rep. Lori Saine (R).

We wrote on Tuesday about renewed debate in the wake of an horrific triple murder in Frederick, allegedly committed by an Anadarko Petroleum employee who disposed on the bodies on company property including in a crude oil tank, over laws in Colorado pertaining to the unlawful termination of a pregnancy. Colorado has had such a law on the books since 2003, but crimes like the one committed this month in Frederick have been opportunistically seized upon by anti-abortion activists as a way of “back-dooring” so-called “Personhood” legal status for fetuses that leads directly to the criminalization of abortion.

We predicted that usual suspects in the Colorado General Assembly would be swift to appropriate this tragedy to serve their unrelated anti-abortion agenda, and as 9NEWS’ Steve Staeger reports we were not obliged to wait long:

State Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone), whose district includes Frederick, where these murders occurred, is planning to propose a new state law that would create a so-called “fetal homicide” charge.

“As a child, Niko was the victim of a crime, a horrific crime and he hasn’t been given full consideration by our justice system,” Saine said…

Saine wouldn’t directly say what she feels doesn’t work about current law. [Pols emphasis]

“People are asking not for an addendum or an afterthought… they’re asking why hasn’t there been four counts of murder charged on Monday,” Saine said.

Rep. Lori Saine has a well-earned reputation as one of the more ignominious Republican members of the House, much more interested in ham-fistedly flogging the culture war hot button of the moment for her personal gratification than the boring work of making laws. She’s also not immune to bouts of eye-popping hypocrisy, sponsoring bills to weaken Colorado gun laws just months after she was arrested at a Denver International Airport security checkpoint with a loaded handgun in her purse.

It’s telling therefore, after Saine called legislation to strengthen protections for neighborhoods threatened by old and new oil and gas drilling last year after two of her constituents blew up in Firestone “spiking the political football,” that she can’t even specify what’s wrong with the law already on the books in this case. But her choice of words to describe a reportedly fifteen-week pregnancy “as a child” and asking rhetorically about a “fourth murder charge” broadcast clearly what this is all about: personhood for a fetus.

Something Colorado voters have rejected by overwhelming margins over, and over, and over again.

When called out on this duplicity, it’s the usual practice to claim offense and hide behind the victims of whatever terrible crime provoked this latest push for a “fetal homicide” bill in order to escape shame. But make no mistake, this has nothing to do with justice for any victim. There is already a law on the books appropriate for this crime. This is about misusing a tragic news story to further a totally unrelated agenda, that of banning abortion. It does not deserve any kind of cover, least not behind this whole murdered family.

Shame on Lori Saine. Or should we say, even more shame on Lori Saine.

Worst Product Placement Ever, Americans For Prosperity Edition

Joey Bunch of the Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette ran a puff piece this past weekend celebrating recipients of the so-called “Pinnacle of Prosperity Award,” handed out by Koch Brothers-funded political advocacy group Americans For Prosperity:

The well-connected conservative organization Americans for Prosperity-Colorado tapped its 22 favorite Republicans Thursday to receive the Pinnacle of Prosperity Award…

“These members have shown a commitment to building an environment where individuals and small business can succeed,” AFP state director Jesse Mallory said in a statement. “Through their hard work in Denver, more Coloradans are realizing the benefits of a smaller government footprint in their everyday lives. And they must continue their focus on removing government barriers that impede success and implement policies that empower individuals.

“We hope these members will continue to lead the charge on passing occupational licensing reform so more Coloradans can chase their dream, enhancing education freedom so our children get the individualized attention they deserve, and defending TABOR against big-government spenders that only want to expand government’s ill-advised reach.”

What a prestigious honor, isn’t it? Honoring these legislators’ “hard work in Denver” to “empower individuals,” making sure “our children get the individualized attention they deserve!”

Keep that last one in mind:

Because AFP Colorado given a “Pinnacle of Prosperity Award” to none other than Rep. Tim Leonard of Evergreen, one of the worst examples of an “own goal” in recent memory. As we’ve had the unfortunate duty of recounting in this space, Leonard’s idea of giving kids “the attention they deserve” consisted of going to jail for contempt of court in 2016 rather than cooperate with his ex-wife on his kids’ educational needs. Last month, Leonard attempted unsuccessfully to reduce his child support obligations by claiming his work as a legislator–yes readers, that “hard work in Denver”–was too time-consuming to keep his secondary employment.

It doesn’t matter how Rep. Leonard may have scored on some list of votes. By giving Leonard this award after he shamed his office and the Colorado General Assembly as a whole, trying to use his elected office to cheat his own kids, AFP has taken proud ownership of one of this year’s biggest disgraces in Colorado politics.

Great job, guys.

Get More Smarter on Friday (August 10)

For many of you, this is the last weekend before the start of the new school year. Please act accordingly. 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.



Politico breaks down the numbers from Tuesday’s special congressional election in Ohio, and finds even badder news for Republicans this fall:

Deep suburban antipathy toward President Donald Trump has turned the old GOP electoral coalition inside-out in many areas in 2017 and 2018 — like Ohio’s 12th District, which for two decades sent former Rep. Pat Tiberi to Congress on the back of his popularity in the Columbus suburbs. His anointed successor, Republican Troy Balderson, took a different path to a small special-election lead, instead building on Trump’s rural strength while Democrat Danny O’Connor cut deeply into Tiberi’s old base.

In Columbus’ Franklin County, where Tiberi regularly received more than 55 percent support, O’Connor held Balderson to just one-third of the special election vote. In Delaware County — a wealthier, whiter bedroom community to the north — Balderson scraped together a majority where Tiberi used to win 70-plus percent. But the further Balderson got from the city, the better he performed compared to Tiberi’s baselines, taking up to 71 percent of the vote in further-flung counties.

It’s a shift that was underway before Trump arrived on the political scene — but the president accelerated it. In 2016, Tiberi and some other Republicans even combined their traditional suburban power with growing rural strength on Trump’s ticket. But that combination has proven unattainable in elections during the president’s tumultuous first term, and Republicans across the country will have to confront the full force of that change in the November elections.


► Fox News is all in on embracing white anxiety, as CNN reports:

It wasn’t so much a dog whistle as it was an airhorn. Or perhaps a primal scream. But whatever it was, Laura Ingraham’s forceful denunciation of “massive demographic changes” served as another raw example of a Fox News host echoing white nationalist language…

…The Fox News audience is almost 100% white, according to Nielsen. And on the channel’s highest-rated shows, the politics of white anxiety play out practically every day, as hosts and guests warn about the impacts of immigration and minimize or mock the perspectives of people of color. The talk show segments are clearly intended to appeal to people who perceive they are losing their grip on power.

In 2018, Tucker Carlson, at 8 p.m., and Ingraham, at 10 p.m., spend the most time on this subject. (The host in between, Sean Hannity, concentrates more on defending Trump.)

“The America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore,” Ingraham said Wednesday night. “Massive demographic changes have been foisted on the American people, and they are changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don’t like.”

In related news, former Congressman Tom Tancredo was his familiar racist self in a recent talk with the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club. This is the same Tancredo who formally nominated Walker Stapleton for the Republican gubernatorial nomination last spring.


► In his never-ending quest to antagonize every other country on Earth, President Trump is now targeting Turkey with new tariffs (say that three times fast!) From the Washington Post:

President Trump said Friday that he told his administration to double steel and aluminum tariffs against Turkey, reflecting the rapidly deteriorating state of relations between the two countries.

The announcement would mark a major policy shift, but it was made in a Twitter post with little context. [Pols emphasis] Trump remarked that Turkey’s currency, the lira, was weakening against the U.S. dollar, a phenomenon that had made existing tariffs less effective.

Doubling the tariffs to 20 percent for aluminum and 50 percent for steel would magnify the impact of the trade restrictions.

Trump is mad at Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in part over the country’s refusal to release an American pastor charged with espionage.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Republicans Trade Orange Jumpsuit for Suspenders in HD-25

Steve Szutenbach (r), the new Republican candidate in HD-25.

A very quiet Republican vacancy committee in Jefferson County has selected a new candidate for State House in HD-25 after incumbent Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) decided to drop out of the race on account of being a deadbeat dad.

Steve Szutenbach is the Republican candidate running against Democrat Lisa Cutter for what is now an open seat. Leonard, who remains the only sitting legislator in at least 40 years to have served time in jail, dropped his re-election bid earlier this month but will remain a State Representative until January.

Here’s a short bio of Szutenbach posted by the Jefferson County Republican Party on its Facebook page:

Steve was born in Chicago, IL. and raised in Florida. Steve is an Air Force veteran having served 6 years of active duty and 8 years of reserve duty. Steve has worked as a contractor for the Department of Defense with Science Applications International Corp., Affiliated Computer Services and Lockheed Martin in the field of Information Technology. He was also project manager and business development lead for Frankie Friend, Inc. a Denver based company focused on nuclear engineering projects for the Department of Energy.

Steve currently is a small business owner working on patenting new products. Steve is no stranger to Colorado politics having served as aide to Senator Tim Neville for 5 sessions. [Pols emphasis]

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that another acolyte of Jefferson County State Senator Tim Neville has advanced through the bizarre underbelly of Jeffco GOP politics. The vacancy committee interviewed just three “finalists” for the race before deciding on Szutenbach.

In Which James Coleman Cheerleads for the Oil and Gas Industry

Liberty Oilfield Services CEO Chris Wright speaks to the crowd before introducing Rep. James Coleman (right) at last week’s “Energy Proud” event in Denver.

On July 26, State Rep. James Coleman (D-Denver) cheerfully touted his 100% rating through the 2018 legislative session from Conservation Colorado, one of the state’s foremost organizations focused on conservation and environmental policies. Coleman even acknowledged his 100% rating by Tweeting a message with the tagline, “Thanks for your support!.”

Seven days later, Coleman was a featured speaker at an “Energy Proud” event organized to praise the many wonders of oil and gas extraction and the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing. The event was heavily promoted by oil and gas interests, including the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), that are generally not worried about any of the conservation and environmental stewardship ideals that Coleman boasted about one week earlier.

As Western Wire reports:

A former Interior Department Secretary called people working in the oil and gas industry “revolutionaries” and Colorado officials said energy issues transcended traditional party lines at a rally in Denver Thursday.

The “Energy Proud” event was hosted by energy companies on the west steps of the state Capitol before a few thousand people, and comes just days before an August 6 deadline for anti-oil and gas proponents to submit signatures for a proposed 2,500-foot setback in Initiative 97.

“It’s not often that I get to speak to a crowd of revolutionaries,” said former Interior Department Secretary and former Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton. “That’s exactly what you are because you have accomplished a revolution.” [Pols emphasis]

Two days after this “Energy Proud” event, proponents of a measure designed to weaken local control of oil and gas drilling submitted petition signatures to get Initiative 108 onto the November ballot.

This was all a carefully-orchestrated public relations effort for the oil and gas industry — or the “revolutionaries,” as Gale Norton called them — as they seek to drill holes in every piece of land they can find in Colorado. The cherry on top of this bullshit sundae was to find a Democratic state legislator who could be easily convinced to stand up in front of a crowd of oil and gas people and sing their praises.

Seven days earlier, James Coleman was proudly boasting about his 100% record alongside environmental group Conservation Colorado.

Enter James Coleman.

The Denver Democrat spoke briefly to the assembled crowd after an introduction from Liberty Oilfield Services CEO Chris Wright, beginning his remarks with platitudes about “hardworking Coloradans” and taking a bipartisan approach to the issue of oil and gas extraction. Here’s an excerpt from Coleman’s remarks, which you can watch in full below:

A lot of times, we put politics in front of relationships. I had the opportunity to get to know Chris Wright, the man who just introduced me, many years before I ran for office. When the recession hit in 2008, many folks got laid off. But his company, Liberty — which is why I’m proud of him and what he’s done — he didn’t lay off one person because of what was happening in the economy. [Pols emphasis] That is the kind of person that we need.

These are some interesting comments from Coleman. Did he come up with these remarks himself, or did he just repeat talking points that were handed to him? The reason we ask is because Chris Wright launched Liberty Oilfield Services in 2012. Its predecessor company, Liberty Resources, was founded in 2010. Liberty didn’t lay off anyone following the 2008 recession because the company didn’t yet exist.

Anyway, let’s get back to Coleman’s talking points:

These are the kind of people that we need. The kind of leaders who care about people and take care of Coloradans. Because at the end of the day, all we care about it providing for our families, serving our neighbors and our communities, putting clothes on our backs, food on the table, roofs over our heads. That’s what you all do and are allowing us to do because of the great work you do here in the state. Thank you for all you do.

Of course, these are also the kind of people who can’t be bothered to worry about whether their extraction methods are harmful to local communities and schools. As Think Progress writes:

According to a Denver Post investigation, in the eight months following a deadly April 2017 gas explosion in the town of Firestone, at least a dozen explosions and fires have been associated with industry pipelines along Colorado’s Front Range. That area is part of the Southern Rocky Mountains.

Low-income communities of color in Colorado have also fought against drilling efforts along the Front Range. And studies have shown elevated cancer risks in parts of the wider area…[Pols emphasis]

Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton was also a featured guest at the “Energy Proud” event, and he gleefully played up Coleman’s statements in a separate interview:

“I think it’s really important to recognize, as James Coleman said, that this shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Stapleton told Western Wire. [Pols emphasis]

Representative Coleman is running for re-election in HD-7, a safe Democratic district in northeast Denver with a sizable minority population and low-income communities of color. In fact, HD-7 contains a larger percentage of African-Americans and Latinos than any other state legislative district in Colorado. Coleman’s district is also near the Suncor Oil Refinery that regularly spews hydrogen cyanide gas across north Denver.

Maybe Coleman really believes that he is a true conservationist who listens to the concerns of the people in his district but genuinely supports the oil and gas industry anyway. Maybe not. Either way, you can be sure that voters are going to be regularly reminded of Coleman’s duplicitous nature should he ever attempt to seek higher office in Colorado.

Petulant Deadbeat Tim Leonard Drops Re-Election Bid

Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) models jailhouse orange.

Republican State Rep. Tim Leonard will soon give up the distinction of being the only sitting Colorado legislator in at least 40 years to have served time in jail. That’s because Leonard is dropping his re-election bid in HD-25 (Evergreen) on account of the fact that he’s a “Deadbeat Dad” who was using his job in the legislature as an excuse to avoid child support obligations to the mother of his six children.

As right-wing website Complete Colorado reports, Leonard still seems to think that he’s some sort of victim here:

Leonard told Complete Colorado Tuesday by phone that his decision came after a July 3 family court ruling, in which a judge refused Leonard’s request to lower his alimony and child support payments, based on his legislative earnings…

…Leonard, who was divorced six years ago, has six children ranging in ages from 10 to 24. He said it saddens him that the time commitment and financial constraints prevent him from being both a single dad and a legislator.

“It really narrows the field,” Leonard said. “You can’t have citizen’s candidates anymore. It self-selects.”

Yes, it is very heartbreaking that Leonard cannot be both a “citizen legislator” and a “deadbeat dad” at the same time. Leonard tells Complete Colorado that a judge said he had to decide between remaining a state legislator and financially supporting his children, which is more than a bit of a stretch. Here’s what Judge Diego Hunt actually said last month:

“The court does find that (Leonard’s) decision to become a legislator was his good-faith decision, but the court does not find that this an objectively reasonable decision given the significant reduction in income. The court also concludes that (Leonard) can make significantly more from his commercial real estate business but chooses not to dedicate his time to his company and is therefore voluntarily underemployed. [Pols emphasis]

“The court also finds that (Leonard’s) career choice unreasonably reduces the children’s financial support.”

Leonard reportedly plans to officially withdraw from the race today, which gives Republicans 10 days to select a replacement candidate through a vacancy committee. Lisa Cutter is the Democratic candidate in HD-25.

Even More Colorado Republican “Family Values”

Don Bendell, GOP HD-47 nominee.

We wrote earlier this month about the ongoing highly public embarrassment of Republican Rep. Tim Leonard’s should-be-private divorce proceedings, which have deservedly risen onto the media’s radar twice now: once when he went to jail for contempt of court after refusing to follow court orders on his children’s education, and again more recently when he unsuccessfully tried to cut his own child support payments on the argument that his part-time job as a legislator was too rigorous to maintain his previous outside employment.

Safe to say that as a poster child for the Republican Party’s alleged “family values,” Leonard failed the test.

Well folks, in today’s Pueblo Chieftain, reporter Peter Roper tells us the story of the GOP’s nominee for HD-47, Don Bendell–and his story could very well have Republicans wishing he had not ousted the previous occupant of the seat, Judy Reyher, despite Reyher’s serial racist tirades on social media that made her radioactive to the Republican brand in her own right:

The three children from Don Bendell’s first marriage claim their father was a “deadbeat dad” for nearly 17 years before he began paying court-ordered child support payments — after they were adults.

Bendell, the Republican candidate in House District 47, confirmed that he didn’t start paying the $500-a-month, court-ordered support until early 1997, but said his ex-wife had refused some earlier efforts to pay her and had “brainwashed” his children against him.

Britt Bendell, 43 and a housing supply salesman in North Carolina, said he became angry when he saw news articles from Colorado that his father was running for office as a family-values Republican.

“He never did anything for us, his three children from his first marriage,” the son said Monday. “It took years before my mother was able to get any child support from him.”

To call this a bad story for a Colorado Republican legislative candidate, even one in a seat that has been held by a Republicans for several election cycles, is a humongous understatement. Whatever Bendell says about his ex-wife’s alleged “brainwashing” of his children, court-ordered child support is not negotiable based on whether the parents get along. That’s the point.

In both of these cases, we have legal matters that began as rightfully private affairs, but were aggravated into being newsworthy by two factors: their own actions in the cases, and the fact that these men are running for elected office. Leonard is entitled to reasonable expectations of privacy in his divorce case, but not when he goes to jail for contempt of court or directly invokes his status as a legislator to shirk his child support obligations. Likewise, nobody really cares that Don Bendell is divorced–but it does matter that he blew off court-ordered child support for 20 years.

It’s possible that post-Donald Trump, Republicans simply have no claim on “family values” anymore.

Even if that’s true, making it this painfully obvious seems like a mistake.

Steve Lebsock Would Like You to Pay Attention to Him

Former Rep. Steve Lebsock and dog (right)

The Colorado Republican Party has been working hard to stir up a bigger story about some dumbass comments made recently by former State Rep. Steve Lebsock, who is apparently not content to ride off into the sunset as the first state lawmaker in 100 years to be kicked out of the legislature. In case you’ve already purged this story from your memory, Lebsock is the former Thornton Democrat who switched his party affiliation to Republican just before being formally expelled from the legislature in March as a result of multiple accusations of sexual harassment and attempted retaliation for said accusations.

Other than a bizarre trip to Las Vegas in late April for a stay at a Trump Hotel — where Lebsock symbolically “toasted” President Trump — we hadn’t heard much from the disgraced former lawmaker since he was escorted out of the State Capitol on March 2. But earlier this month, Lebsock reappeared for an interview with Karen Kataline on 600 KCOL, which is apparently a real radio station or something. The Colorado Republican Party latched onto some of Lebsock’s comments and even sent out a press release on Wednesday calling attention to the matter in hopes of turning Lebsock’s sad narcissism into a broader controversy involving Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County).

As Anna Staver writes for the Denver Post:

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada, flatly denied he ever offered a job to a former state representative in exchange for the man’s resignation…

…Months before the expulsion vote, Lebsock told reporters that a prominent Democrat offered him a job if he’d resign.

The former Democrat from Thornton never said who called him with that offer until earlier this month during a radio interview with Karen Kataline on 600 KCOL.

Lebsock told Kataline that Perlmutter called him twice within 48 hours after sexual harassment allegations first surfaced in early November, and then he went a step further:

“He even went so far as saying, ‘Look, Steve, if you resign you know we will make sure that you land well and get a job and all that,’” Lebsock said. “I couldn’t believe it, and I said, ‘Ed, there is no way I’m going to resign because I didn’t do anything wrong.’”

We’ll get to this first part of this quote in a minute, but first, notice how Lebsock continues to claim that he “didn’t do anything wrong” in relation to sexual harassment allegations. Lebsock initially apologized for his behavior before abruptly reversing course; he protested his innocence by concocting a silly conspiracy theory about Democrats trying to prevent him from running for State Senate, which made little sense given that he was already at the time a declared candidate for State Treasurer. Of course, Lebsock was most certainly NOT innocent, as anyone who followed this story could attest. The day-long hearing on March 2 that resulted in Lebsock’s expulsion clearly indicated that a majority of lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle believed that Lebsock was a menace who had no place as a State Representative.

Now, back to the part about Lebsock alleging that Perlmutter offered him a job if he resigned his seat. Lebsock didn’t back up his own chest-pounding when offered a chance — as Anna Staver writes in her Post story, Lebsock did not return calls seeking comment about his claims of a job offer. Perlmutter’s office, meanwhile, did not hesitate to respond. Here’s the statement from Perlmutter campaign spokesperson Ashley Verville:

“Ed Perlmutter never offered Mr. Lebsock a job. What Ed did offer was to help Mr. Lebsock find treatment and counseling to deal with his issues because Mr. Lebsock created a hostile work environment.

“Mr. Lebsock has clearly chosen a different path, and for many months now we’ve seen Mr. Lebsock make several attempts to distract from his own bad behavior and this allegation is just another example. Furthermore, shame on the Republican Party for perpetuating this nonsense and continuing to listen to a guy who is the first legislator to be expelled from the Colorado State House in more than 100 years – obviously showing their desperation this election cycle.”

We can understand why Colorado Republicans might try to make this into a bigger story than it is, but this appears to be nothing more than the delusional rantings of guy (Lebsock) who is more than a few sandwiches short of a picnic. From what we understand, it was Lebsock who first called Perlmutter in the immediate aftermath of the initial accusations in November; Perlmutter returned Lebsock’s call, and the two men spoke once again a few days later. It seems more than plausible that Perlmutter did little more than offer to help Lebsock  find treatment and counseling for his problems.

Perlmutter is adamant that he never offered Lebsock a job, and basic logic backs up this claim. After all, why would Perlmutter make such an offer? Perlmutter and Lebsock have no personal history as far as we can tell, and Perlmutter has been around politics long enough to understand that this kind of arrangement wouldn’t make sense for either man.

So, why would Lebsock say these things if they weren’t true? Well, for the same reasons he makes a lot of ridiculous claims: Steve Lebsock needs people to pay attention to him, and it matters not in what light he is portrayed. Lebsock has become a carnival barker or a Fox News analyst — someone who says stuff in hopes that somebody will be interested that he said stuff. This is just another sad chapter about a sad man who would be better off looking for a new chapter in his life instead of relentlessly rewriting the same pages again and again.

Rep. Tim Leonard’s Shocking “Deadbeat Dad” Request Denied

State Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen).

A story from Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette takes another look at the highly dysfunctional post-divorce personal life of Republican Rep. Tim Leonard–who went to jail for contempt of court in December of 2016 over a conflict with his ex-wife stemming from Leonard’s refusal to cooperate on his kids’ educational matters. The story made Leonard look like a petty and vindictive ex-husband trying to make his former wife’s life as difficult as possible–to the point where the rare sanction of sending Leonard to jail for contempt was imposed by the judge.

Well folks, Goodland reports today that Leonard wasn’t finished messing with his ex-wife–and this one is offensive on multiple levels:

Few lawmakers, if any, can claim they can live on $30,000 per year, even with an allowance that pays a per diem for meetings outside of the 120-day session.

But Republican Rep. Tim Leonard of Evergreen recently made that kind of argument as he attempted to get his child and spousal support obligations reduced in a Jefferson County court. [Pols emphasis]

The full story is behind a paywall, but the short version is that Rep. Leonard, who works part-time as a Colorado lawmaker, attempted to claim that his part-time job in the General Assembly is sufficiently consuming in its responsibilities that he is unable to obtain a second source of income in order to meet his child support obligations. Leonard’s child support was based on an average of his earnings over the past decade, and apparently he’s not doing whatever he did before that paid more than being a legislator pays.

Fortunately, Judge Diego Hunt isn’t buying any of this and denied Leonard’s request to reduce his support requirements:

At the July 3 hearing, Hunt called Leonard’s decision to become a lawmaker, from the financial perspective, a “voluntary reduction in income.”

Leonard is not precluded from making a career decision that could help cover his family support obligations, Hunt said. “The court does find that (Leonard’s) decision to become a legislator was his good-faith decision, but the court does not find that this an objectively reasonable decision given the significant reduction in income. The court also concludes that (Leonard) can make significantly more from his commercial real estate business but chooses not to dedicate his time to his company and is therefore voluntarily underemployed. [Pols emphasis]

“The court also finds that (Leonard’s) career choice unreasonably reduces the children’s financial support,” Hunt said.

We’ve been sympathetic in the past to the low salary paid to Colorado lawmakers, and for that matter other officials like Governor and the constitutional offices where the prescribed pay in the law is considerably below market for the equivalent private-sector position. But in the case of legislators, under the current system they are not only permitted but expected to remain separately employed. Leonard is not a member of minority leadership in the House, and there’s just no reason why he would be any less able to work in the off-season than any other lawmaker.

So, there’s that. But the real problem here, of course, is that Leonard is attempting to make an excuse of the “burden” of part-time lawmaking in order to shirk his child support obligations. It’s very difficult to imagine a more politically toxic and self-inflicted problem for Colorado House Republicans. That Republicans re-appointed Leonard to the House Education Committee after he went to jail for violating court orders related to his children’s education is bad enough–now you’ve got the same Rep. Leonard trying to cut his child support obligations, an action that would directly hurt his kids, by asserting in essence that his service in the legislature is what’s more important.

More important than his kids. If that doesn’t deeply trouble you, you need to re-examine your own priorities.