Complaint Filed In HD-54 Residency Shenanigans

Rep.-elect Matt Soper (R).

Charles Ashby at the Grand Junction Sentinel reports, the controversy over a bizarre case of a legislative candidate allegedly faking their residency in the district in question, compounded by allegations of intimidation, is complicating GOP Rep.-elect Matt Soper’s ascension to House District 54:

The complaint, filed by Palisade resident David Edwards, claims Soper may not have actually lived in House District 54 for the required 12 months prior to being elected to the seat last month.

“Soper’s only other voting registration address was also in Orchard City, Colorado, in House District 61,” Edwards writes in the complaint. “It is easy to assume that, in fact, Soper’s domicile continued to be in Austin, CO, in House District 61, throughout the 12 months prior to the November 2018 election. If that is the case, Soper utterly failed to fulfill the residency requirements for the position to which he has just been elected.”

In October, The Daily Sentinel reported that while Soper had repeatedly said he was living at 10 Hartig Drive in Delta, which is inside HD54, the people who were renting that home insisted he wasn’t.

And that’s not all:

[Tenant Omar] Carreon, whose brother and parents are all disabled, said after he spoke to the Sentinel in October but before any article published, he was threatened with eviction if he spoke to the newspaper again. [Pols emphasis]

There are two separate scandals interplaying in this story: Soper’s alleged falsification of his residence, which the filed complaint focuses on, but more importantly the apparent intimidation of the renters of a house owned by the Soper family in an attempt to get them to shut up about the deception. Back in October, Mr. Carreon explained that he had agreed to collect mail for Matt Soper on Soper’s mother’s request, who owns the home. But Soper did not have a room in the home as claimed and did not reside there.

Soper’s main defense here seems to be that Mr. Carreon is a Democrat who is throwing him under the bus for partisan purposes–but given the fact that Soper didn’t even have a Democratic opponent in 2018, the motive is lacking. Not to mention that it takes guts to stand up to your landlord when they’re threatening to evict you.

We’ll be watching to see how this turns out, but it’s not the way we’d want to begin our legislative career.

Colorado Republicans Invite Hate Leader To Speak At Post-Election Retreat

(Just wow – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

anti-Muslim extremist David Horowitz

Looking to re-energize their caucus following sweeping losses at the ballot box last month, Colorado Republicans held a retreat in Sedalia immediately after the election. The event featured controversial writer and pundit David Horowitz as a keynote speaker.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Horowitz as an “Anti-Muslim fanatic” and lists David Horowitz as an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim extremist. It describes his David Horowitz Freedom Center as “a platform to project hate and misinformation.” 

Horowitz published the text of his speech on his website. It’s clear from his first sentence that he wasn’t pulling any punches:

Horowitz: Here’s my lesson from the recent election in my newly adopted state: You’re too damn nice. Democrats call Republicans “racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, xenophobes” and “Nazis.” And Republicans call Democrats … “liberals.” Stop it! What are Democrats liberal about except sex, drugs, spending other people’s money, coddling criminals, giving America’s mortal enemies like Iran the benefit of the doubt, nuclear weapons and billions in cash to finance their terrorist activities, and opening borders to terrorists, sexual predators and whoever comes along? Democrats don’t even believe in due process any more. Innocent until proven guilty? That’s for aging white men – Republicans. The Democrats are satisfied with guilt by accusation. The Democratic Party is a party of racists, character assassins and, oh, liars. Say it.

For a party looking to broaden its appeal to an increasingly diverse Colorado electorate, the choice of Horowitz is puzzling. His recent appearance at the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in August led several large corporations to drop their ALEC memberships in protest. Verizon left in September, stating,

“Our company has no tolerance for racist, white supremacist or sexist comment or ideals.”

As outrage over Horowitz’s speech grew, ALEC distanced itself from him in a statement and removed video of his speech from their site. That wasn’t enough to stem the tide of companies abandoning the organization, however.

Last Friday, industry titans AT&T, Dow Chemical and Honeywell, also quit ALEC over Horowitz’s speech.     

Horowitz, who said via email that he did not charge for his appearance, was invited by State Sens. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) and Vicki Marble (R-Fort Collins) .

Lundberg dismissed concerns about Horowitz’s beliefs and positions, telling the Colorado Times Recorder he was aware of the concerns raised by companies that dropped their ALEC memberships, so he listened to the speech before inviting Horowitz to speak to the Republican caucus. He did not find the speech to be racist.  

Lundberg: “I believe he had some very salient points to make. He doesn’t mince words. He dives right in and tells you what he thinks in a very forthright manner. He does have some observations that are worth paying attention to… I came to the conclusion that Mr. Horowitz was not being fairly represented, and I felt he has valuable things to say to the Colorado Republican caucus and so I asked him to speak to us and he did.” 

Lundberg expressed disappointment that ALEC “capitulated” to “bullying” in issuing its statement disavowing Horowitz’s speech. He noted that “ALEC does an incredibly good job in informing and empowering state legislators with the basic principles of limited government, free markets and federalism.”

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Democrats To Dominate State House Committees

Incoming Speaker of the Colorado House KC Becker.

As the Denver Post’s Nic Garcia reports, Republicans in the Colorado House of Representatives are set to be less influential than they have been in decades, with the 2019 lopsided Democratic majority resulting in big Democratic majorities on every House committee:

The consequences for Colorado conservatives following stinging losses in November are coming into sharper focus at the statehouse.

Democrats will have a three-vote majority on state House legislative committees, which vet, debate and amend potential bills before the full body deliberates them, leadership in the lower chamber announced Sunday.

The increase in power means Republicans and the right-leaning interest groups that rely on the GOP to advance their agendas will be at a significant disadvantage in January.

A three-vote majority on committees for Democrats effectively mutes House Republicans, but also gives House Democratic leadership a comfortable margin within their own caucus to ensure that one or two holdouts are not able to stall priority legislation on behalf of special interests. As Garcia reports, this is the largest majority that Democrats have enjoyed in the Colorado House since 1959–which we shouldn’t have to remind readers was a very different Democratic Party than today’s.

Blame for the heavy losses in the Colorado House primarily falls on Republican House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, although the caucus chose not to take their defeat out on him by ousting him from his leadership role. But that didn’t stop the last Republican to serve as Speaker of the Colorado House, Frank McNulty, from throwing some shade at “Boy” Neville:

“House Republicans have put themselves in this position,” [McNulty] said. [Pols emphasis]

Frank McNulty, who presided over the loss of the House in the last “blue wave” of 2012 after grandstanding against LGBT rights to scandalously end that year’s legislative session, would be the one to know about self-sabotage! Unless McNulty is willing to admit to his own prodigious errors, though, we can’t say he has much room to talk.

To the victor goes the spoils–and when you win this big, there are plenty of spoils to go around.

“Overreach”–What Losers Always Say To Winners

With Democrats about to take charge of the governor’s office, the statewide offices of treasurer, attorney general, and secretary of state, and in full control of both chambers of the Colorado General Assembly, the narrative from defeated Republicans has shifted to dire warnings of the “overreach” in store from Democrats without a Republican majority somewhere along the line with veto power to check their aspirations.

The Greeley Tribune recently editorialized:

Five years ago, Democrats in Colorado controlled all the levers of power. They held majorities in the House and Senate. The governor also was a Democrat.

As leaders of political parties in the U.S. often do when they find themselves in this position, the Democrats pressed their advantage — passing gun control legislation and a controversial renewable energy standard. They also pursued tight regulations on the oil and gas industry.

In Weld County, which remained steadfastly red, the consequences of all this were almost unimaginable. A group of activists and elected officials — led by the Board of Weld County Commissioners — began to push a secession movement. The group pointed to a divide between the urban Denver metro area and much of the rest of the state…

As all sides in Colorado politics take stock of this year’s landslide victory for Democrats up and down the ballot, we’re seeing reactions that closely parallel–at least on the surface–the response to the last big Democratic surge in Colorado in the 2012 elections. Hand-wringing about the supposed horrors of life under Democratic control in Colorado leads to talk of certain areas of the state either seceding or (new in 2018) joining Wyoming.

And that’s how it’s spun: Democratic “overreach” prompts a completely unhinged secession movement that is nonetheless taken at least somewhat seriously. And of course, in 2013 Democratic “overreach” led to recalls! Some variation of this faux concern warning  to victorious Democrats has been the conclusion of the majority of post-election opinion from conservatives, as well as the state’s crop of aging white male “centrist” opinionmakers.

But does it have any basis in reality? In a word, no.

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It’s a 41-Seat Democratic Colorado House Majority

Updating on close Colorado House races that were at least technically undecided at the start of the long holiday weekend, none of which appear to be as of this writing–after Rochelle Galindo’s come-from-behind victory in Greeley’s HD-50 race, the Pueblo Chieftain reports that Bri Buentello in Pueblo County’s HD-47 is pushing her race out of recount territory:

The other race that has been unfinished is the state House District 47 contest but the additional ballots counted Friday lengthened Democrat Brianna Buentello’s lead over Republican Don Bendell.

In that contest, Buentello’s total vote is now 16,204 to Bendell’s 15,898 —a difference of 304 votes.

If Buentello’s lead grows, the race may not require a mandatory recount as was expected. That only happens if the victory margin is a half-percent or less.

With Buentello securing her victory in HD-47, the 41st member of the Colorado House majority will be Rep.-elect Brianna Titone, after Republican opponent Vicki Pyne conceded the HD-27 race on Saturday–Colorado Public Radio:

Brianna Titone declared herself the winner of the race to represent House District 27 in Arvada on Friday. Her opponent, Republican Vicki Pyne, conceded on Saturday.

Titone became Colorado’s first transgender lawmaker, and one of the first nationwide.

Titone said she didn’t focus on her gender identity while campaigning. But in a political climate with a federal administration that has sought to roll back protections for transgender people, Titone does acknowledge that her win is meaningful.

These three late Democratic House wins put the finishing touches on an historic 2018 election for Colorado Democrats, leaving them in total control of the state’s executive and legislative branches. These will all be competitive races in two years, of course, but the strength of their wins positions them all as strong incumbents.

It’s a very big deal, and it’s (almost) official.

The 2018 Election Ain’t Over Yet

SATURDAY UPDATE: Democrat George Stern has defeated Republican job-hopper Faye Griffin in the race for Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder.

—–

Jefferson County Democrat George Stern has moved ahead of Faye Griffin in the race for Jeffco Clerk and Recorder.

The 2018 Election was very good for Democrats, and it may yet get gooder.

In Arizona, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has moved ahead of Republican Martha McSally in a nail-biter of a U.S. Senate race. In Florida, we could be looking at a recount in the state’s top two races, for U.S. Senate and Governor, while there may be some legal battles over an oddly-designed ballot in one Florida county. And in Georgia, the outcome of the race for Governor is still uncertain (though Republican Brian Kemp has declared victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams).

Here in Colorado there are a number of races that appear to be trending blue but are still uncertain. We wrote Thursday about three Democrats who moved ahead of their Republican opponents as late ballots were counted (HD-27, HD-47, and HD-50). As the Greeley Tribune reports, Democrat Rochelle Galindo now looks to be the winner in HD-50.

Elsewhere:

♦  In HD-47, Democrat Bri Buentello appears to have defeated “Deadbeat” Don Bendell, though a recount seems likely.

♦ In Arvada’s HD-27, Democrat Brianna Titone is closer to being the state’s first transgender lawmaker. The race between Titone and Republican Vicki Pyne may be headed to a recount.

♦ Arapahoe County is still working on a couple of important totals. In House District 38, Democrat Chris Kolker and Republican Susan Beckman are only separated by about 500 votes.

♦ In the race for Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder, Democrat Joan Lopez has moved ahead of Republican incumbent Matt Crane and is the likely winner.

♦ In the Clerk and Recorder race in Jefferson County, Democrat George Stern has taken the lead over serial job-hopper Faye Griffin. Several thousand ballots still need to be counted, though most of them look to be from last-minute voters; as we’ve seen in other races this cycle, these late voters tend to favor Democrats.

 

December 4 is the deadline for candidates to request recounts in qualifying races.

What’s Your Favorite Blue Wave Win?

This week’s historic victory for Colorado Democrats leaves in its wake innumerable stories of hard work and triumph. There are so many big markers for the history books, like the first gay man elected governor of any state, the sweep of downballot statewide offices, recapturing the Colorado Senate after four years at the mercy of a one-seat GOP majority, the come-from-behind wins growing the Democratic House majority to unexpected heights, major Democratic wins in suburban Denver local governments–we could go on and on, and over the next few weeks we’ll be expounding at length on what this all means.

Use this thread to tell us about the 2018 success stories you were close to, or enjoyed reading about, or anything else you found inspiring coming out of the midterm elections in our state. Before the inevitable plunge back into partisan squabbles and pundit second-guessing, take a moment to contemplate significance of what we’ve just been through.

You earned this moment, Colorado.

Dem Women Pull Ahead In Three Close House Races

Bri Buentello (D).

As the final ballots are counted up, three close Colorado House races are trending toward Democratic control–starting with the Pueblo Chieftain’s report on the red-hot HD-47 race between Democrat Bri Buentello and Republican “Deadbeat” Don Bendell:

Democrat Brianna Buentello apparently has won a narrow 54-vote edge over Republican Don Bendell in the race for the House District 47 seat but the race is headed for an automatic recount, according to Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz.

Buentello received 15,275 total votes in the contest to Bendell’s 15,221, according to the unofficial final results posted by Ortiz’s office Wednesday night…

Bendell had a 259-vote lead after the initial votes were tallied Tuesday night but Pueblo County had more than 13,000 uncounted ballots remaining. Ortiz’s staff finished counting those late Wednesday.

Rochelle Galindo (D).

And the Greeley Tribune reports from HD-50:

With more than 2,000 votes left to be counted, there’s nothing decided when it comes to Greeley’s House District 50 race.

Democratic candidate Rochelle Galindo leads Republican Michael Thuener 50.21 percent to 49.79 percent, taking the lead after more results were uploaded at 7 p.m. Wednesday after trailing Thuener throughout Election Day.

The candidates have just 70 votes separating them, with at least two more results uploads planned and 2,381 votes left to count, according to a news release from Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes.

Brianna Titone (D).

And finally, the Denver Post reports from Arvada’s HD-27:

In Arvada-centered House 27, Brianna Titone took the lead over Republican Vicki Pyne late on Wednesday in a district that has run deep red. Titone would be the state’s first openly transgender legislator.

“I had conversations with a lot of challenging voters that were often disenfranchised and angry about politics in general,” Titone said, adding that she felt confident about the results. “I told them that what I want to do is I want to bring the people back into government. I don’t want them to be voiceless.”

 

Assuming all three of these races hold their margins through recounts, we’re looking at a 41-seat Democratic majority in the Colorado House. That’s the biggest majority Democrats have enjoyed in the House at any point since that party took the legislature back in 2004, and a sign of just how big the blue wave in Colorado was this year.

In the particular case of Brianna Titone, on course to win the HD-27 seat, it’s worth noting that this is the seat formerly held by Libby Szabo, whose anti-LGBT votes and crass remarks while serving in the House made embarrassing national news. Along with the election of the first LGBT governor of the state in Jared Polis, electing Titone to HD-27 is a major development–reflecting the sea change in Colorado politics since the bad old days of Amendment 2.

For Colorado Democrats, the 2018 wave just keeps rolling.

Learning Nothing: Boy Neville Stays House Minority Leader

For any Republican hoping that Tuesday night’s historic electoral bloodbath for their party in Colorado, in which Republicans lost their last remaining chokehold on Colorado government as well as constitutional statewide offices they have held for many years, would result in a significant change of course–we’re sorry to bring you this news.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

That’s right–with Republicans facing what could be their smallest minority in the Colorado House since Democrats “Blueprinted” the state in 2004 once three outstanding races narrowly favoring Democrats are resolved, House Republicans have re-elected Rep. Patrick “Boy” Neville as their Minority Leader. Along with his father, now-ousted Sen. Tim “Pa” Neville, the Neville clan has exercised disproportionate control over Republican caucuses in both the Senate and the House. In the Senate, nominal Republican Senate leadership found itself dependent on the “Neville faction” to move legislation–and when they were intractable, no progress could be made.

With the re-election of Patrick Neville as House Minority Leader, all the baggage Republicans brought with them into the 2018 elections, from covering for serial sexual harassers to non-mainstream positions on abortion, guns, vaccination of school-age children, and so many other issues will be front-and-center when the General Assembly convenes this January.

As Ed Sealover reports, avoiding “an intraparty fight” was the objective for House Republicans today. The problem is, an intraparty fight is exactly what Colorado Republicans need to have right now if they wish to alter their present trajectory toward permanent minority status.

As of now, it doesn’t look like they do.

A Pueblo Candidate, Who Didn’t Pay Child Support, Posts Meme Criticizing Women Who Keep Children “From A Loving Father”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A Pueblo state legislative candidate, who failed to pay child support for nearly 17 years, recently shared a Facebook meme stating, “THE REAL DEADBEAT IS THE WOMAN WHO KEEPS HER CHILD FROM A LOVING FATHER.”

Don Bendell, a Republican who’s running for the state house seat occupied by Judy Reyher, admitted that he started paying court-ordered child support after his three children had grown up.

The meme, which depicts a man holding a young girl in his arms, is noteworthy because, by using the phrase “the real deadbeat,” it appears to downplay the problem of fathers, like Bendell himself, who don’t support their children.

Asked about the post by the Colorado Times Recorder, Bendell responded via email:

Bendell: I DID NOT fail to pay child support. I did get behind, owned, and apologized for it. I paid every penny that I owed plus interest. My ex-wife and I lived in Ohio and she took my three children from my first marriage and moved them to NC where she was from in 1979 while I was out of town on a business trip. We got divorced in Ohio and I did not “flee NC authorities,” as I was not even there. Deadbeats run and hide and try not to pay. I DID PAY, every cent. It is old news but salacious and inaccurate slurs have been used against me in this campaign. I have spoken about issues and my solutions for them, and that is what people care about.

I do not downplay men who do not pay, but you are downplaying women who use their children as chess pawns in custody battles to attack loving fathers.

Children should never be put between parents in a divorce as kids always find a way to blame themselves in such  adult matters.

Bendell’s children alerted the Pueblo Chieftain to their father’s history after Bendell was selected by Pueblo-area Republicans to run for the state house seat against Democrat Brianna Buentello.

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Grady Nouis. Gotta Go.

Today the Denver Post published the results of background checks run by that paper on most (but not all) Colorado legislative candidates running in 2018. As Jackson Barnett reports, some candidates chose not to cooperate:

Some candidates declined to provide their full birthdates, which are required to run checks through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation: Susan Kochevar, Susan Lontine, Vicki Pyne, Jay Frank Kucera and James D. “Jim” Wilson.

These state House and Senate candidates did not respond to efforts to reach them by phone, email and social media: Kent Edward Jarnig, Kim Bishop, Terri Carver, Monica Duran, Mike Donald, Liz Rosenbaum, Mike Weissman, Tim Geitner, Alysia Padilla, Alex Valdez, Kevin Van Winkle, Donald E. Valdez, Joan Poston, Kevin R. Smith and Lori A. Saine.

Of those who cooperated, the vast majority of candidates do not have criminal records in Colorado, according to Post research.

Among the candidates who provided the Denver Post with their birthdate in order to run a Colorado Bureau of Investigations background check, there are a number of fairly mundane items, including many quickly-dismissed charges that nonetheless appear on their permanent record. Several candidates have arrests and deferred judgements for driving under the influence, which experience has shown is not in itself a disqualifying offense to serve in the Colorado legislature. Overall, the criminal records detailed by the Post don’t seem nearly as serious as back in 2010, when a similar investigation found both many more and more severe offenses in the records of a large number of candidates.

That is, until we get to the case of Grady Nouis, the Republican nominee in Arvada’s HD-29. Erik Maulbetsch of the Colorado Times Recorder has covered Nouis’ criminal and alt-right background in some detail in this space, and the Post’s summary of both can best be described as career-ending:

Nouis also has been in the orbit of groups and events associated with far-right views. In a Facebook live video he recorded while at an anti-Shariah law protest earlier this year, Nouis repeatedly used a racial slur during a confrontation with African-American counter-protesters.

While the audio can’t be understood at the beginning of the argument, Nouis, who is white, then complains about an African-American woman: “She called me a n***** and said I can’t say it back.”

He repeated the word several more times, the video shows…

Nouis’ past convictions for running a drug house to distribute marijuana and “magic mushrooms” might be politically survivable, perhaps even a campaign point in the right environment–probably not as a Republican House candidate in a swing district, but somewhere. What sinks Nouis of course is the racism, which we already knew about from the Times-Recorder’s stories and knew would appear in mass media inevitably. In the event Grady were to win his seat, which was never likely against beloved incumbent Rep. Tracy Kraft Tharp, Republicans would be under intense pressure to push him out a la Rep. Jim Welker back in 2006.

The caveat bring this isn’t 2006–and there may not be the moral resolve in today’s GOP to do the right thing.

Whatever the Colorado GOP itself does, we do think there will be calls, perhaps bipartisan calls, for Nouis to pull out of the race following this damning report–in which his is clearly the worst of all the unsavory stories dug up by the Post’s background checks. If Nouis won’t do what’s both right and politically expedient for his fellow Republicans, voters will render the question moot in two weeks’ time.

Likely with collateral damage (see photo top).

Third Party Dude: Don’t Vote For Third Parties

Nick Troiano (Crypto-R).

We’ve discussed a couple of times this year a novel effort headed by a former Republican operative with ties to a variety of conservative rebranding campaigns, Nick Troiano, pushing a small slate of purportedly unaffiliated state legislative candidates in Colorado. Despite their outraged insistence otherwise, the campaign appears squarely focused on derailing Democrats in swing races. Troiano once infamously said, “it doesn’t really matter to voters…where you stand on the issues, or even if you align with them on issues.”

What matters is the ability to sow chaos in races that may be decided by literally dozens of votes.

In every district where Democrats are facing so-called “Unite Colorado” candidates, who are flush with cash from the out-of-state funded quasi-party organization backing these “independent” campaigns, they’ve led with the simplest of messages: don’t be fooled. These individual candidates are well-meaning, but the overall operation is not. This is not intended to grow any bonafide alternative to the Republican/Democrat duopoly in American politics, just another Republican-conceived vehicle to undermine their Democratic opponents.

Who apparently knows this better than anyone? Nick Troiano:

That’s what the same Nick Troiano had to say after the 2016 elections, and he’s right. With Democrats’ backs against the wall, the stakes as high in any election of our lifetimes, and a landslide shaping up against Republicans that could rival the historic 2010 wave they themselves enjoyed, now is most certainly not the time to abstain.

Or vote for a third party.

Like “Unite Colorado.” We couldn’t agree more, Nick.

Wait, Frank McNulty is in Charge of an Ethics Group?

Frank McNulty

Imagine, if you can, Donald Trump leading a Girl Scout Troop. Or Cory Gardner coaching the high jump. Or Kanye West serving as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

If you think these scenarios might make smoke come out of your ears, then we’ve got something that will really bake your noodle: Republican Frank McNulty is the Executive Director of a new “ethics in government” organization in Colorado. Yes, that’s the same “Ethical Frank” who married a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist during his tenure as Speaker of the House.

As the Denver Post reported on Friday, McNulty unveiled a new secret “nonprofit” organization called The Public Trust Institute (PTI) with the publication of a 189-page report accusing Governor John Hickenlooper of failing to disclose “gifts” of private plane travel and other travel accommodations over a seven-year period. Hickenlooper’s office promptly called PTI’s complaint “frivolous” and “a political stunt,” pointing out that PTI only registered as an official entity with the Colorado Secretary of State on October 10.

You read that correctly: PTI had officially existed for all of two days when the Post reported on its 189-page complaint against Hickenlooper. As David Migoya writes:

McNulty’s new group is designed to “ensure that public officials are generally holding themselves to an ethical level,” he said, noting the group will pursue complaints objectively and without political persuasion.

“In this day and age, since politics slams to the left and right so quickly, we need someone to call balls and strikes from the outside,” McNulty said, refusing to identify the group’s revenue stream or its membership. [Pols emphasis] “The main focus is me and having that outward-facing figure. That’s where we’re comfortable right now.”

McNulty is heading up an “ethics” group that has officially existed for less than a week and refuses to divulge its revenue stream or membership. Seems totally legit.

If you’re not familiar with McNulty, allow us to enlighten you. McNulty is a former lobbyist and legislator who has made his living (somehow) as a Republican political consultant since completing his fourth term in the State House in 2014. He is best remembered for his disastrous two-year stint as the Speaker of the House (2010-12). Republicans captured a one-seat House majority in the 2010 Tea Party wave election year, but thanks to McNulty’s bumbling leadership – both inside and outside the Capitol — Democrats flipped the House into a 9-seat majority just two years later.

According to a brief bio of McNulty on PTI’s website, the former Highlands Ranch Republican “gained firsthand experience of the ethical challenges facing U.S. government systems” during his time as an elected official. This is a curious way to phrase McNulty’s “experience”; the reason McNulty has “firsthand” knowledge here is because he personally crossed every ethical line he could find while regularly engaging in bad-faith negotiations at the legislature.

Here’s a look at some of McNulty’s not-so-greatest hits:

♦ McNulty shut down voting on all legislation late in the 2012 session so that a bipartisan bill legalizing civil unions couldn’t be approved. He also threatened to remove Republicans from committee assignments for suggesting that they supported civil unions;

♦ McNulty skipped numerous working days during the legislative session so that he could attend Republican political strategy seminars across the country;

♦ McNulty rammed through legislation to increase per diem rates for legislators without allowing any testimony;

♦ McNulty literally invented a story about government red tape in order to justify his maniacal budget-cutting proposal. When that wasn’t enough, he made up numbers so that Colorado’s budget would look worse than it was;

♦ McNulty married a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry during his tenure as House Speaker;

♦ McNulty has been at the forefront of numerous shady attempts at rigging the redistricting process in favor of Republicans;

♦ McNulty instructed Republican House candidates to run on repealing FASTER transportation fees in 2010, then absolutely refused to consider the idea once the GOP took majority control of the House. Unsurprisingly, the GOP caucus never forgave him for hanging them out to dry;

♦ McNulty even plagiarized his own opening day speech when he took control of the Speaker’s gavel in 2011.

 

It’s no exaggeration to say that McNulty’s unethical and unwise leadership cost Republicans their majority in the State House in 2012. While McNulty was re-elected for a final term himself in ’12, his credibility was so damaged that the former House Speaker didn’t even try to run for a caucus leadership position.

The reason we bring all of this up about McNulty is not to bash the guy, but to issue an important warning: If Frank McNulty is associated with a government ethics watchdog group, then you can be damn sure that the group in question is about as legitimate as a $10 Rolex.

“The Public Trust Institute.” Yeah, sure thing.

How Dare You Call Me a Deadbeat Dad, Says Deadbeat Dad

Don Bendell, GOP HD-47 nominee.

As the Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper reports, last night featured a debate between the two candidates vying to succeed ousted fringe-right Rep. Judy Reyher in Pueblo’s HD-47. As readers will recall the Republican in this race, Don Bendell, ran into trouble when his three children accused him of shirking his child support obligations for many years:

Republican Don Bendell and Democrat Brianna Buentello were polite in their House District 47 debate Thursday night until Bendell was given the final word and he accused Democrats of running a “gutter-level” campaign by calling him a “deadbeat dad” who avoided paying child support for 17 years…

But here’s the thing: Bendell’s Democratic opponent Bri Buentello reportedly didn’t even mention the story of Bendell’s failure to pay his child support in yesterday’s debate. It’s possible that she talked about it elsewhere, but the example Bendell cited was one of independent groups sending mail into the district–which Buentello has no control over. But it doesn’t really matter, because by bringing this up at the very end of their debate, it’s clear that Bendell is the one who wanted to talk about it.

Only problem? He doesn’t have anything mitigating to say:

“Forty years ago, I got behind in child support,” Bendell told the small audience at Pueblo Community College. “I apologized. I paid it. Plus every penny of interest.”

Referring to campaign mailers from a group called Our Colorado Values that have labeled him “Deadbeat Don,” Bendell said that wasn’t true and blamed his first wife, Linda Bendell, for turning his three biologic children against him when they divorced shortly after he left the Army in 1970.

Those children— Britt, Brenna and Brooke— told The Chieftain they became alarmed when they heard their father was running for office in Colorado.

“He’s not the man he appears to be,” daughter Brooke said.

You see, the reason why there are mailers appearing in HD-47 accusing the Republican candidate of being a “deadbeat dad” is because he was in fact a deadbeat dad. It wasn’t the Democrats who brought Bendell’s failure to pay court-ordered child support to the media’s attention, it was Bendell’s own children. And while Bendell may have “fallen behind” on his child support decades ago, he only recently paid it back.

It’s one of those situations where, although you may feel very strongly about saying something in your defense, you just shouldn’t. Bringing your closeted skeletons up voluntarily at the tail end of a debate, thus ensuring it’s the impression everyone attending was left with, is pretty much never a good idea, especially if you have no excuse to offer.

Thus the “party of family values” veers off the rails once again.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 11)

We swear, it’s almost over. For now, 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…

► Dozens of accusations of judicial misconduct against new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh have been transferred to the 10th Judicial District, which is headquartered in Denver. Westword looks at 10th Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich, the man who will be in charge of handling these complaints. Don’t expect a whole lot here, since Tymkovich is on President Trump’s short list of potential future Supreme Court justices.

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) will say absolutely anything if he thinks it might help him get re-elected. The New York Times, meanwhile, re-confirms that Republican leaders are pulling up stakes in CO-6 and abandoning Coffman.

 

► Democrats across Colorado are calling on State Rep. Jovan Melton (D-Aurora) to resign from the legislature after new reports surfaced about prior domestic violence arrests. Melton is thus far refusing to step down and is getting some public support from prominent figures in the black community, as Colorado Public Radio reports. The CPR story also links to a police report from 1999 that is pretty horrible.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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