Weird And Creepy In SD-15

SD-15 GOP candidate Rob Woodward.

Saja Hindi and Nick Coltrain of the Fort Collins Coloradoan report on what we sincerely hope was a random incident in which a Democratic Colorado Senate candidate’s car was apparently shot at last week–with the candidate inside:

It’s not clear if Rebecca Cranston, a Democrat running for a district that largely covers Larimer County outside Fort Collins, was targeted or if the shooting was related to other reported shootings in northwest Fort Collins.

Cranston had just pulled into her driveway Wednesday night and was on her phone when she heard something hit her truck. She first thought it might have been a rock.

“It didn’t occur to me that it would be a gunshot at first, until we saw the bullet hole,” Cranston said Monday morning.

Now, Rebecca Cranston is running to succeed Sen. Kevin Lundberg, one of the most conservative members of the Colorado Senate. In 2014, Lundberg cruised to re-election by almost 20 points, so this is not a race that Democrats are depending on to retake the chamber from Republicans in November. With that said, Cranston is doing everything she can to make the race competitive, one of two dozen Emerge Colorado-trained candidates on the ballot this year.

With regard to this shooting incident last week, as of this writing there are no suspects, and Cranston herself makes it clear that it could be a completely random act. There are been a number of unexplained random shootings in Northern Colorado in recent years, and it’s entirely possible that’s the explanation–enough that we weren’t initially sure this story rose to the level of coverage.

But then something rubbed us the wrong way:

Cranston wondered if she was targeted in Wednesday’s shooting because of her campaign, though she did not accuse her opponent of having anything to do with it.

However, she accused supporters of Republican Rob Woodward’s campaign of harassment tactics such as staking out her house and at one point almost driving her off the road while fleeing earlier in the summer. She said her mail — including campaign donation checks — was also stolen around that time…

And Republican Rob Woodward, who was accused of voter intimidation in 2012 after he basically said if Barack Obama was re-elected he would fire a majority of his employees, doesn’t completely deny her allegations:

[Woodward Campaign manager JD] Key said the Woodward campaign took a photo of Cranston’s home early on in the election only to settle a question about district residency. [Pols emphasis]

Full stop, folks. You do not need to physically travel to anyone’s home and photograph it in order to “settle a question about district residency.” You can find out if someone owns a home, and what district(s) that home resides in, from the comfort of any desk with a computer and an internet connection. However, if you’re looking to harass someone about their residency by tracking their comings and goings from home, that would be more of a stake out-type operation.

We don’t know if this “one-time photo session” of Cranston’s home occurred at the same time as she says somebody staking out her house almost forced her off the road while fleeing, but if this all happened, either at once or as multiple incidents–and we have no reason to doubt Cranston’s word–it would create a backdrop of creepy that a bullet hole in Cranston’s car cannot help but make worse. 

Obviously, we hope it’s a coincidence. But we’ll be watching closely for any more “coincidences.”

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.

As Long As They Spell Your Name Right, Rep. Brittany Pettersen Edition

UPDATE: Here’s a bunch of big donors to the Senate Majority Fund who we’re guessing expect the work product to be spell-checked:

Pick up the phone and demand more for your money, y’all.

—–

When they don’t, the attack ad becomes more of a punchline. A costly punchline at that. Better luck next time, Senate Majority Fund.

Tipton And Other Republicans Return to Pueblo Racist’s Annual Fundraiser

(Gross — promoted by Colorado Pols)

Every year, Republican lawmakers gather at Tom Ready’s Steak Fry fundraiser. Ready is an unapologetic racist and anti-government conspiracy theorist whose annual backyard BBQ nevertheless continues to draw GOP candidates and elected officials of all levels, including Congressman Scott Tipton.

 Ready’s history of overt racism, homophobia and Islamophobia has been well-documented by the Colorado Times Recorder in the past. The post on the left is from a couple years ago.

Tom Ready racist NFL FB postHe continues to do so today, with posts like this one about NFL players. 

 

Confirmed attendees at this year’s event include Congressman Scott Tipton, State Sens. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa) and Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs), HD46 Jonathan Ambler, HD47 candidate Don Bendell, HD62 candidate Scott Honeycutt, Pueblo County Commissioner District 3 candidate Zach Swearingen, University of Colorado Regent Glen Gallegos, and Marla Spinuzzi Reichert, chair of the Pueblo County Republicans.

 

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Colorado Republicans Conceding Senate Majority?

UPDATE: She’s an incumbent running for re-election, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t include in this post a mention for Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail, who is similarly crushing her Republican opponent Olen Lund in fundraising totals: $147,525 for Donovan to a mere $13,175 for Lund. For a seat considered competitive, this is another ominous and notable case of Republicans falling distantly behind.

—–

A look at the latest fundraising totals in four Colorado Senate races that are expected to decide control of the chamber in November, freshly updated yesterday, reveals an increasingly unmistakable disparity between Democratic candidates for these seats and their Republican opponents:

That’s a nice way of saying that these four Democratic Senate candidates, Tammy Story in SD-16, Jessie Danielson in SD-20, Brittany Pettersen in SD-22, and Faith Winter in SD-24 are all positively trouncing their Republican opponents’ fundraising totals, with little distinction between incumbents and contenders for open seats. Incumbent Sen. Tim Neville is the only Republican in these four races who appears to be trying to raise money–and even Neville’s considerable experience in this regard is coming up distantly short.

Of course, there is one detail that shouldn’t be overlooked, and it was Republican candidate Christine Jensen herself who let what appears to be the real strategy slip back in July:

Perhaps this was offered as a pre-emptive excuse for not raising any money herself? Candidates aren’t supposed to have anything to do with the “independent” efforts on their behalf, but this year that’s more or less been dispensed with after Walker Stapleton blurred the lines between “independent” group and campaign to the point of making them disappear in all but formality. But it’s a useful contrast between these four Democratic women, who are running their own strong and well-organized races, versus Republicans who have basically ceded the hard work of campaigning to Sen. Chris Holbert.

If in November it is these women who are responsible for flipping control of the Colorado Senate back to Democrats, especially after the scandal over that chamber’s failure to police rampant sexual harassment while under Republican control, it will be a story of national importance. In that event, these four women will have the added satisfaction of having done it the old-fashioned way–with shoe leather, call time, and money they raised themselves.

As of right now, it’s looking pretty good for them.

Caption This Photo: Book ‘Em, Grantham

Sometimes we get sent the strangest photos without context, and it’s necessary for us to figure out what the hell is going on. Yes, that’s GOP Senate President Kevin Grantham, and yes, it looks like a mug shot. In fact, it’s Grantham’s gag photo from a popular barbershop in Cañon City–perhaps the same place where Grantham discovered the revamped ‘stache he sported for the last few months of his political career.

Of course, this is the same Kevin Grantham who announced this year that only criminal cases of sexual harassment matter in the Colorado Senate, as opposed to the usual workplace standards! So maybe he’s just modeling a new look for the “Randy” caucus he leaves behind.

All yours, gentle readers.

What Would It Take for Colorado Republicans To Halt Their Plan To Hang A Trump Portrait At The Colorado Capitol?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Republican leaders said today that a portrait of Trump will adorn a wall at the Colorado Capitol by late 2018 or early 2019.

But in light of recent crimes apparently involving Trump, would they halt the placement of the Trump portrait if the president were impeached, convicted of crimes, or if enough citizens objected to it?

The Colorado Times Recorder left a message with that question for Senate Republican spokesman Sean Paige, who distributed a news release about the Trump portrait.

Paige did not respond.

On Twitter, a famously sardonic account called “Missing Pundit,” tweeted

Congrats to Colorado Senate Republicans (who won’t see this, b/c they blocked me) for your portrait. In light of recent events, might I suggest you get started with the Pence portrait, which might be needed in the near future.

To be extra safe, you might commission a gallery along the line of succession. So get a move on the Orrin Hatch and Paul Ryan portraits. Although the latter one can wait until after the election, cuz you know.

The Mike Pompeo portrait might not be a bad idea either, but by the time we get there, we might have Secretary of State Gary Busey. #copolitics

State Senate President Kevin Grantham (R-Canon City) said last month he quickly raised $10,000 for the Trump picture in the wake of news coverage of a stunt involving the placement of a Putin portrait on the wall inside the Capitol where Trump’s picture would hang.

Now, Sarah Boardman, a Colorado Springs artist, will begin work on the portrait.

In a video linked on the GoFundMe fundraising page, used to raise money for the art, Grantham said, “I am excited to announce we’re going to take the reins on this and raise the $10,000 necessary to put up President Donald J. Trump’s portrait in the hall of portraits right here in the Capitol rotunda of the Colorado State Capitol.”

When he launched the fundraising effort, Grantham said one donor funded Colorado Capitol’s portrait of President Barack Obama.

But because Trump is a “populist,” the “everyday citizens of Colorado” should ” should “have a part of this.”

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Caption This Photo: The Harasser And Beth Humenik

We did a double-take over this photo Tweeted yesterday by the Colorado Senate Republicans:

That’s Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who was in Colorado over the weekend visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. With him are a number of Colorado Republican state senators, Chris Holbert, Kevin Lundberg, Don Coram, Randy Baumgardner, Beth Martinez Humenik, Kent Lambert, and Kevin Priola.

It’s particularly interesting to see Sens. Baumgardner and Humenik laughing it up together in this picture, since Baumgardner was the subject of a major sexual harassment scandal this year and Humenik is one of the Senate GOP’s two representatives on a new committee charged with developing new policies to end harassment in the General Assembly. Readers might recall that Baumgardner was stripped of his remaining committee assignments just before the session ended in May, and well after the vote to expel him failed, when more evidence came out that Holbert (left) appears to have helped suppress before the vote.

Anyway, if you were wondering whether the lip service paid to putting a stop to sexual harassment in the GOP-controlled Senate was a farce all along, you can stop.

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.

Christine Jensen Wants to Repeal/Replace Obamacare Because…Um…

(Asked to clarify, Jensen…could not — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Christine Jensen

At a campaign stop last month in Wheat Ridge, Colorado State Senate candidate Christine Jensen said “abuses abound” in Colorado’s health insurance program for the poor, which, she said, is a significant cause of Colorado’s budget woes.

“There are some that would much rather drive a nicer car than pay for the health care for their own family,” said Jensen, a Republican, in a Facebook video of the event.

Asked yesterday to clarify how many such people are in the Medicaid program, Jensen said she didn’t know the specifics but it “needs to be investigated.”

The Colorado Times Recorder was unable to identify records that illuminate how many Medicaid recipients are doing this, and how much money could be saved from taking away their health insurance.

Jensen also said that the state has a “moral obligation” to provide health insurance for poor people who “truly need it,” but she said in the video that there are “not nearly enough” efforts to crack down on Medicaid abuses.

 

(more…)

Gold Dome Sexual Harassment: Only An Election Can Fix This

Senate President Kevin Grantham.

As the Colorado Independent’s John Herrick reports, a few members of the Colorado General Assembly convened yesterday as a “Legislative Workplace Interim Study Committee,” to address an issue that dominated the headlines during the 2018 session of the legislature: what has been exposed to be a pervasive and well-entrenched culture of sexual harassment by lawmakers against lobbyists, legislative staffers, and even fellow elected officials.

Certainly no one can object to a meeting to address this crisis, which resulted in the expulsion of one lawmaker this year and what should have been career-ending allegations against at least one other. Unfortunately, as Herrick explains, there’s little reason to be optimistic that this committee will be able to effectively tackle the problem.

And why, you ask? Because Republicans and Democrats on this committee do not agree on the facts of what happened this year or what to do about it:

Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Republican, mostly dismissed sexual misconduct complaints brought against three members of his party: Baumgardner, Sen. Jack Tate of Centennial and Larry Crowder of Alamosa. In the House, Duran, a Democrat, called on Lebsock to resign before an investigation into allegations of harassment were completed. She also stripped him and Rep. Paul Rosenthal, who was accused of making unwanted sexual advances on another gay man at a political event in 2012, of their committee leadership positions. Duran dismissed the complaint against Rosenthal because the allegations occurred before he was in office.

Hoping to iron out a policy that can be enforced fairly and consistently, leaders from both the House and Senate called for the summer committee to meet over the interim between sessions. From the Senate, they appointed Sens. Bob Gardner, a Republican from Colorado Springs, Beth Martinez Humenik, a Republican from Westminster, and Dominick Moreno, a Democrat from Commerce City. From the House, they named Lori Saine, a Republican from Firestone, and Faith Winter, a Democrat from Westminster. Speaker Duran — a term-limited Democrat from Denver — appointed herself to the committee that she chairs.

The choices made by Republicans to serve on this committee are problematic to say the least. Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik was a steadfast ally of Senate President Kevin Grantham as Grantham deliberately worked to undermine the investigation into Sen. Randy Baumgardner’s repeated confirmed instances of sexual harassment. It was Sen. Humenik who stood with Grantham at the press conference in which Grantham punted responsibility for the actions of his caucus, arguing that a criminal offense should be the minimum standard for intervening in harassment cases unlike every other workplace in Colorado. Worse, Humenik helped Senate Republicans deflect from the credible allegations against Baumgardner by filing an frivolous retaliatory complaint against a Democratic Senator accused of using an unmarked women’s bathroom.

As for Sen. Bob Gardner, as Herrick reports, he helped kill a bill to set new standards for sexual harassment cases on college campuses that even Sen. Humenik supported, in addition to his loquacious defense of Sen. Baumgardner during the unsuccessful hearing to expel Baumgardner from the Senate. Rep. Lori Saine, one of the legislature’s most embarrassment-prone members herself, claimed that Steve Lebsock’s serial harassment of women and retaliation against accusers simply didn’t rise to the level of expulsion–a view that fortunately didn’t prevail with her fellow House Republicans.

For all of these reasons, there is very little hope that this committee will be able to come up with anything like a comprehensive solution to ensure women who work at the state capitol in any capacity are protected from harassment and abuse. The actions of Republicans in the Colorado legislature have made such a mockery of the proper way any responsible employer should respond sexual harassment allegations that to expect them to come up with a solution is simply ludicrous. There’s no solving a problem when half the people tasked with solving the problem don’t think there’s a problem.

But there is one sure-fire way for the voters of Colorado to make this right, and that is to relieve the Republican Party of its one-seat Senate majority in the November elections. In the end, the failure of the Colorado General Assembly to police itself on sexual harassment is the failure of Republican Senate leadership. Every Colorado Senate race is now a battleground for the #MeToo movement.

If that’s not a powerful message to carry into election season, we don’t know what is.

Lang Sias Move Could Change Top Senate Race

Christine Jensen.

Walker Stapleton’s decision to tap Arvada Rep. Lang Sias to be his running mate at the top of the Republican ticket in 2018 may lead to a significant domino effect that could change the makeup of at least one big legislative race in Jefferson County.

Sias was running for re-election in HD-27, where he would almost certainly have won in November in what has proven to be a reliably-conservative district in recent years. But now that he is running for Lieutenant Governor, Sias can’t still be on the ballot in HD-27. Republicans will need a new candidate for that House seat.

Sias’ departure from the race in HD-27 only makes this seat marginally more competitive for Democrats, but the bigger impact could be in nearby Senate District 20. State Rep. Jessie Danielson is the Democratic candidate in SD-20 who is running to succeed term-limited Democrat “Unaffiliated” Sen. Cheri Jahn; Democrats have generally fared well in this Wheat Ridge/Golden/Arvada district, but SD-20 is always among the most competitive State Senate races in the state because of its voter registration makeup, and it is again a top target for both parties in 2018. The Republican candidate here is Christine Jensen, a longtime resident who lost out to…wait for it…Lang Sias when a Republican vacancy committee needed to replace Rep. Libby Szabo in 2015.

It makes plenty of sense for Jensen to seek the HD-27 Republican vacancy once again, where she would be the favorite to waltz into office in November instead of running as a slight underdog in SD-20. Jensen would also be a better ideological fit in HD-27; she is probably a bit too conservative for the Senate district. This is similar to how Sias managed to salvage his political career after multiple losses in successive elections (Sias lost a GOP Primary in CD-7 before dropping successive State Senate bids, first to Democrat Evie Hudak and later in a Republican Primary for the same seat by Laura Woods; Democrat Rachel Zenzinger unseated Woods in 2016). Had Sias not made it through that 2015 GOP vacancy committee, he would not be in a position today to be Stapleton’s running mate, so there’s no shame in Jensen following a similar path.

If Jensen seeks the vacancy in HD-27, Republicans would have to scramble to find a new candidate in SD-20. This probably isn’t an ideal scenario for Senate Republicans, but it’s a pretty easy call for Jensen.

 

“Unite Colorado” Rally a Sad Sack of Fizzle

9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger Tweeted photos from today’s “rally” for the so-called Unite Colorado slate of candidates, formerly known as the Centrist Project–an out-of-state funded project supporting state legislative candidates running mostly in swing Democratic districts, with the clear purpose of splitting Democratic votes and electing Republicans despite an oncoming Democratic “wave year.”

As we’ve discussed it’s a novel strategy, but judging from today’s turnout it’s not amounting to much:

The “Unite Colorado” candidates running to disrupt tight Democratic races (with a few token Republican-held districts thrown in for what we assume are diversionary purposes) have quite a bit in common strategically with the “Walk Away” movement being promoted by conservative media outlets–both attempting to demoralize and divide Democrats, and thereby reduce what are almost universally expected to be major Democratic gains in the midterm elections. None of the Unite Colorado candidates need to win in order to achieve their objectives, only pull enough votes away from Democrats in close races to swing them–much the same way that Libertarian candidates have undercut Republicans in swing races for many years.

But where Libertarians have a well-established party apparatus and ideological niche they speak for, Unite Colorado is a contrived movement, led by a young conservative activist who actually says that “It doesn’t really matter to voters” where you “stand on the issues.” It doesn’t even matter if you agree! It’s only important, says Nick Troiano, that your candidates be “different.”

All told it’s an insult to the intelligence of all voters, but especially Democratic voters.

As of today, though, it doesn’t look like many real-life Democrats are buying in.

You In? Asks The Boob-Grabbin’ Senate GOP Majority

The Republican Colorado Senate Majority Fund kicked off their campaign to hold the GOP’s one-seat majority in the one chamber of the Colorado legislature they control last week–an uphill battle after sexual harassment scandals dominated the headlines from the past session, and the Republican leadership of the Senate in particular failed in dramatic fashion to confront the problem.

With that in mind, we respectfully submit a small change to the Senate Majority Fund’s “Defend the Majority” campaign logo — with the infamous “Boob Grabber” in mind:

We think this helps clarify the stakes in the 2018 elections…quite well.

How Colorado Republicans Blocked an Opportunity to Save Lives

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Alec Garnett (D-Denver)

I am respectfully responding to my colleague and friend Senator John Cooke’s recent op-ed regarding the “red flags” legislation introduced this session.  Red flag laws save lives.  When a person is in crisis, loved ones and law enforcement are often the first to see signs that they pose a threat.  The bi-partisan proposal we brought forward this year would have established a process to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who pose a serious threat before they harm themselves or others.

Red flag laws are on the books in eight states and are being proposed in over 25 others. Without laws like these, family members and law enforcement are often helpless to prevent tragedies despite having seen major warnings signs. One tragic example is Douglas County Deputy Sheriff Zackari Parrish III – who we named this year’s legislation in honor of. Deputy Parrish was killed in the line of duty last New Year’s Eve by an individual in the middle of a mental health crisis. The shooter was identified as a significant risk by several law enforcement agencies and by his own mother months before the encounter, but there wasn’t anything law enforcement or his family could do, and on a fateful night, there were tragedies.

Unfortunately, Senate Republicans chose to oppose this commonsense measure that is proven to save lives and increase the safety of our first responders and Coloradans.  The op-ed used misleading and inaccurate opposition talking points, which I felt strongly should not go unanswered and uncorrected.

The Republicans argue that the bill goes too far in setting up an “ex parte” – or emergency hearing — process for issuing an emergency protection order.  But ex parte hearings are not extraordinary; this is the same process domestic violence survivors use to obtain a protection orders.

Sen. Cooke also claims the bill does not provide enough due process.  The fact is, this life saving bill included substantial due process safeguards. The bill provides for a full hearing before a judge within 7 days following the emergency order, places the burden of proof on the family member or law enforcement officer, requires they meet the highest standard of evidence to demonstrate why the order is needed, and allows the individual to request a hearing after an order is issued to reassess whether it is still necessary.  Additionally, challenges against similar laws in Indiana and Connecticut have been dismissed and this bill went beyond those states’ laws in protecting individuals’ due process rights.

Senate Republicans then argue that the bill did not go far enough in addressing mental health.  I would ask them to explain to the people of Colorado how a bill that was supported by Mental Health Colorado and which explicitly allows for individuals to seek the treatment they need does not address mental health.  Researchers who have studied this policy identify it as one of the most effective suicide prevention laws. And yet, opponents who claim to advocate for mental health hide behind the falsehood that this does nothing to support mental health.

The rest of the Republican arguments fare no better and reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the bill. For example, there are in fact dozens of safeguards in the bill to protect individuals from false and malicious claims, including prosecuting acts of perjury. It is frustrating that the Senate Republicans seem to have so little understanding of the details of the bill, when the reasons they used to justify voting against this life-saving measure are simply incorrect.

On the whole, the op-ed shows the internal conflict many Senate Republicans faced: if they were to vote for a sensible, well-measured bill that had support from unified law enforcement, leading Republicans statewide and House Republicans, they risked crossing the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and its boss, Dudley Brown.

Unfortunately, I could not convince them, even after weeks and weeks of discussions prior to introduction, to support the safety of our first responders and the public by going against the fringe gun groups that hold my Republican colleagues hostage under the threat that they will “primary them from the right.”

Coloradans want leaders who stand for something, not against everything. They want elected officials who will continue fighting for solutions to address the scourge of gun violence and improve access to mental health services to those in crisis. Voters will remember where their elected officials stood on this issue in November.

Eighty percent of Coloradans support red flag laws. But this is not about polling. This bill is about saving lives. And when I introduce it again next year, I will again fight for Colorado to be among those leading the charge to save lives and protect communities.

Rep. Alec Garnett (D-Denver), is assistant majority leader of the Colorado House of Representatives