Weld County Commish: Drill Baby Drill, Recall Polis, Same Diff

Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer.

As the Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports:

Weld County is letting it be known that there’s more than one way to interpret Senate Bill 181 — Colorado’s sweeping oil and gas law giving local governments appreciably more power to regulate energy extraction.

The Weld commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Monday designating the unincorporated parts of the county as a “mineral resource area of state interest.”

Previous discussion of SB 181 has focused on municipalities that want to tighten restrictions on the oil and gas industry, but commissioners Monday expressed a clear interest in making sure the industry remains a formidable force in a county that relies heavily on mineral extraction for jobs and tax revenues.

“SB 181 changed a lot of things,” said Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer during Monday’s meeting. “We are going to use the additional authority … that was given to us so that we have a fighting chance — so that the men and women in this county have a fighting chance.”

Despite the factually deficient warnings by opponents of this year’s landmark reform of oil and gas drilling regulations that Senate Bill 19-181 would “destroy the oil and gas industry in Colorado,” the reality of the new law is nothing like a ban or even major curtailment of oil and gas drilling. Although some local governments have taken action to restrict drilling within their boundaries under the new law’s “local control,” areas of the state who are friendly to the industry have the ability to remain friendly.

We wrote early in May about a resolution passed by the Weld County Board of Commissioners in support of the oil and gas industry during the heated debate over Senate Bill 19-181. Commissioners paid almost $2,000 out of petty cash for signs and bumper stickers celebrating Weld County’s love for the industry–a clear indicator that the county government would remain every bit accommodating to drillers as they were before. And now, Weld County is wasting no time using local control to declare their little slice of feedlot heaven a “drill baby drill” zone!

This move however does create a major contradiction for Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, the board of commissioners’ ideological lightning rod who supported the failed laugh-track secession ballot question in 2013 and was herself threatened with a recall attempt just last year. In today’s Greeley Tribune, the contradiction stands out rather painfully:

In a letter responding to the recall attempt last year, Kirkmeyer, the Board of Weld County Commissioners chairwoman, said “The recall of a duly elected commissioner should be reserved for serious offenses and violations of public trust — not to retaliate for policy decisions that a handful of individuals or special interests don’t like, nor used to take over county government between regular elections and four-year commissioner terms.”

Polis, she said, violated the public’s trust in supporting and signing SB 181, which proponents say will give local governments more control over oil and gas, but opponents are concerned it will greatly decrease oil and gas in the state, especially after another oil and gas regulation bill failed to pass a public vote last November.

Let’s briefly walk through the tangled web Kirkmeyer weaves. Recalls “should be reserved for serious offenses and violations of public trust,” and not to take over governments “between regular elections!” Now, Kirkmeyer tells the Tribune that in her opinion SB-181 “violated the public’s trust,” clearing a path to support a recall of Gov. Jared Polis–but did she give that quote before or after she invoked SB-181 to protect the oil and gas industry in Weld County Monday night?

Folks, the reality of this is very simple. Months of overheated rhetoric is coming apart now that the bill is law and its true effects are becoming apparent. SB-181 is not the end of oil and gas in Colorado, and it’s certainly not the end of the industry in friendly places like Weld County. Once you understand this, it becomes evident that the real problem for SB-181’s opponents is that the industry will be less able to impose its will on communities who are not slavishly loyal to the oil and gas industry like Weld County is.

And that sounds a hell of a lot more like policy–defensible at that–than a violation of public trust.

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Who Needs Jordan Cove? Not You, Colorado

As the Denver Business Journal’s Greg Avery reports, Gov. Jared Polis is pulling the state of Colorado out of a partnership initiated by former Gov. John Hickenlooper to actively pursue the export of natural gas from the Western United States to Asian export markets via an as-yet unbuilt liquefied natural gas terminal at Jordan Cove, Oregon:

With the shift to a new governor this year, the state has changed its stance after previously partnering with Utah, northwest Colorado governments and others in advocating for developing the infrastructure and export terminals to ship the region’s abundant natural gas to overseas, especially to Asia.

“We are no longer actively involved in this energy project,” said Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office, which oversees energy policy and advocacy of the state government. “The administration’s stance is one of neutrality on exports.”

…Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2017 supported the effort, and advocated for issuing a federal permit for a liquid natural gas export terminal project, known as Jordan Cove, proposed on the Oregon Coast, that could connect to pipelines carrying natural gas west from Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and fill ocean-going tankers.

To be clear, Gov. Polis isn’t announcing that the state is opposed to the Jordan Cove scheme–in fact he says that if the plan moves forward, the state will still work with the companies involved. The state of Oregon has blocked permits needed for the project to move ahead, though the fight is by no means over. But given Colorado’s policy embrace under the new governor of a 100% renewable energy powered future, actively promoting the state’s fossil fuel reserves for export abroad simply doesn’t make sense anymore.

For self-interested residents of Colorado, the question of whether to support the Jordan Cove LNG terminal and the final pipelines to connect Colorado’s gas supply to the West Coast for export to Asia is simpler than it appears. As we’ve noted with the Keystone XL pipeline and other projects to facilitate energy exports, there is simply no economic benefit for local retail energy consumers–who will pay substantially higher prices for the same natural gas once it becomes an exportable commodity. Demand for exported natural gas also means the pace of drilling expansion is no longer a function of local market needs, meaning Colorado suffers all the harm from increased drilling just so Asia can delay their own necessary fossil fuel reckoning another few years.

With so many downsides to a project to benefit a single industry that consistently overstates its importance to the state’s overall economy, especially when factors like the harm to tourism and other land uses from energy exploitation are considered, Jordan Cove is a project whose perceived usefulness to either Colorado or the global economy is the product of dated thinking. The pressing challenge of climate change and the ambitious goals Colorado has set to do our part to reduce the impact of climate change mean that leaning on natural gas as a “bridge” to a renewable energy future is a luxury the world can no longer afford.

Colorado’s new governor gets this, and policy is catching up accordingly.

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Chalk Up One For Pete Kolbenschlag

Pete Kolbenschlag.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Dennis Webb reports:

Gov. Jared Polis on Monday signed a bill slapping back at so-called SLAPP suits, like one a Paonia activist says was filed against him by an energy company…

Delta County District Court Judge Steven Schultz has ruled twice in favor of Paonia resident Pete Kolbenschlag in a libel case brought by SG Interests. The company sued over comments Kolbenschlag posted on a newspaper website about SG’s settlement with the federal government over alleged illegal bidding on oil and gas leases. In his second ruling, awarding attorney fees to Kolbenschlag, Schultz specifically found that the suit was frivolous and filed to retaliate against an industry critic, something SG Interests has denied. [Pols emphasis]

However, Kolbenschlag told the House Judiciary Committee in April that the suit remains a hardship for him in terms of finances, stress and time demands because it’s under appeal.

House Bill 19-1324 gives defendants in civil cases an expedited process to request a dismissal based on free exercise of constitutional rights to free speech and participation in public debate. Pete Kolbenschlag, a longtime contributor to this blog from Paonia, was sued by energy company SG Interests over a comment he made on a web story at a local newspaper. Kolbenschlag’s comment about SG paying over $1 million in an antitrust settlement related to bid rigging was correct, but the company sued Kolbenschlag for libel because their settlement allowed them to avoid formally admitting guilt.

This disproportionate legal response to a perfectly defensible comment on a news story is a textbook example of what’s known as a SLAPP–a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” SG Interests didn’t sue Kolbenschlag expecting to win, but their vastly greater financial resources with which to wage legal warfare on a private citizen could well have the effect of said citizen deciding further participation in debate over the issue just isn’t worth it. And the story of that person’s legal harassment serves as a deterrent to others who might follow their example.

This isn’t about getting rid of libel laws. But when a frivolous allegation of libel is being used to suppress free speech and that can be straightforwardly seen from the facts at hand, there needs to be a way to shut that suppression down. Otherwise constitutional rights become subordinate to wealth, which is a very bad thing.

Thanks to Pete Kolbenschlag, the little guy (in most cases that’s you) now has a tool to short-circuit a SLAPP.

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Recall Polis Campaign Literally Grifting Welfare Checks

The campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis’ fundraising appears to have stalled out over the past few weeks. Almost a month ago on May 6, the Independence Institute’s “Freedomfy” fundraising page for the Polis recall showed $23,740 raised toward the effort. As of this writing on June 3, the page shows only $24,046 raised–less than $500 in a month, seemingly a dramatic slowdown from their early trajectory. But that might not be the whole story–if you visit the “Official Recall Polis” website, they’re now directing to a non-Freedomfy fundraising page. We’re not sure exactly when that change was made, but the new page does not publicly show donations or a cumulative total raised.

Regardless as we’ve discussed in detail, the campaign to recall Gov. Polis has such a meager chance of success that its true goal cannot be to actually get a recall question on the ballot. Unlike recalls against state lawmakers, a successful petition to force a recall election of the sitting governor would require over 600,000 valid Colorado voter signatures–many times the amount required for any statewide ballot question, and far in excess of what has ever been collected for any purpose in this state. The logistical requirements to conduct a petition drive on that scale are infeasible and at a cost that’s frankly difficult to accurately estimate.

To anyone who understands the extreme difficulty of making good on the Recall Polis campaign’s eponymous promise, it’s clear that the real purpose of the operation is the funds being raised to support it. The Independence Institute’s Freedomfy “fundraising platform” skimmed a large percentage off the top of every online donation for the $24,000 raised through that site, more than double what GoFundMe charges–and the largest recipient of the funds raised so far has been to former Secretary of State Scott Gessler for legal fees. If they can’t raise the untold millions they would need to actually recall Gov. Polis, and it definitely looks at this point like they can’t, the consolation prize is the cash reaped by conservative organizations and lawyers.

That’s a comment late last week from the Official Recall Polis Facebook group, administrator Karen Murray fleecing the faithful for more donations. The comment in response promises a donation to the campaign when “my SSI arrives.” This is a reference to Supplemental Security Income, federal benefits paid to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or over 65. SSI is not Social Security, but a direct cash benefit paid from general tax revenues to elderly and disabled people who are still too poor to make ends meet.

Would you take this woman’s SSI money for a futile Recall Polis campaign?

Would you sleep well if you did?

One thing’s for sure. We can’t call this a “victimless crime” anymore.

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Colorado Makes National Headlines for Insulin Caps


As CNN reports today:

The skyrocketing prices of insulin are a nationwide issue and Colorado has become the first state to pass legislation that tackles the problem.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law Wednesday that places a $100 per month cap on insulin co-pays, regardless of how much insulin a patient uses. Insurance companies will pay anything more than the $100 co-pay, according to the new law.

The law also enlists the Colorado attorney general to investigate the rising prices of insulin in the state and to make recommendations back to the legislature.

“Today we will finally declare that the days of insulin price gouging are over in Colorado,” Gov. Polis said before signing the bill on Wednesday.

As CBS4 Denver notes, many Coloradans were paying as much as $900 per month for insulin medication.

 

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Even More Sicko Speculation From Recall Polis Admins

We were forwarded this exchange on one of the Facebook groups devoted to the logistically unlikely but still popular to speculate about campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis from office once he is constitutionally eligible after being in office six months. Unlike the targets of opportunity in the legislature for whom the threshold of signatures needed to recall is arguably much too low, the massive requirement to gather over 600,000 valid voters signatures to qualify a recall of Gov. Polis for the ballot makes it a silly proposition–but also a guilt-free cash cow for enterprising Republican grifters.

It also has a tendency to attract, as we saw in the aftermath of another threat of violence against area schools last month, unhinged conspiracy theorists convinced that nothing is as it seems:

That’s Bob Tocarciuc, one of the administrators of the Resist Polis PAC Recall Facebook group operated by local political operative with ties to the Independence Institute named Tom Good–who had a falling out with a larger Recall Polis group, then helped expose nasty anti-Semitic leaders of the group in local media one of whom was later ousted.

If you Google Bob Tocarciuc, which having a last name like “Tocarciuc” makes pretty straightforward, you’ll find the KKTV news story yesterday referenced in the Facebook post about a town hall in Colorado Springs Saturday featuring the very same Gov. Jared Polis–a town hall that apparently ended in a scuffle between security and a recall supporter. In this story, Bob Tocarciuc’s role as an administrator of a recall group is curiously omitted, and he’s presented as an innocent bystander:

As the governor left, one woman pulled out a scarf that said “Recall Polis.” 11 News spoke to bystanders who watched what happened next. They say the woman was dragged over to her granddaughter, who was sitting down.

“He went from zero to complete hands-on physical, you know, submission methods,” said Bob Tocarciuc, a man who helped the woman up.

Tocaciuc also happens to be a security guard, but he was not working the event, just attending as a citizen.

“I heard screaming to my left. I was approximately 8 feet away from the lady that got assaulted, I guess. It’s the only way I can describe it,” he said.

To be clear, the incident in question didn’t directly involve Gov. Polis, but a school district security guard involved in an altercation with an attendee as Polis was leaving the town hall event Saturday evening. But it’s not really accurate to say Tocarciuc was “just attending as a citizen” either, when he’s an administrator of a group supporting Gov. Polis’ recall. This also calls into question his impartiality as a witness to the incident.

But definitely, the false flag insanity in response to yesterday’s school shooting in Highlands ranch discredits Bob Tocarciuc much more. Since it seems to be a regular occurrence based on two similar local incidents in recent weeks, we’ve been trying to understand what makes some people immediately leap to the unfounded assumption that such events must be part of a grand deception tied to contemporary politics instead of the predictable and preventable tragedies they invariably turn out to be.

For today, we can only plead with our local media to stop giving these people airtime.

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Caldara, Gessler Rake In Recall Polis Cash

Here’s a look at the latest report of contributions and expenditures for the Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis committee, as filed with the Secretary of State:

As you can see, committee has raised somewhere a little north of $20,000 so far, which is consistent with the total shown raised via the Independence Institute’s “Freedomfy” online fundraising website. As we’ve explained previously, the Independence Institute skims a 6% flat percentage cut off the top of all donations made through their platform, plus a 30 cent per-transaction fee–more than double the fees charged by GoFundMe which the campaign used before migrating to Freeedomfy. As of today, that means the $23,720 the committee has raised so far has netted $1423 in percentage fees plus $162.60 in transaction fees from 542 donors for the Independence Institute.

But looking at the expenditures from this period, Jon Caldara’s cut is just one piece of the action:

That’s right, folks! As of the latest expenditure report filed with the Secretary of State, the #1 expenditure of the Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis committee is $3,000 to former Secretary of State Scott Gessler for legal fees. We wrote last month how the co-opting of this campaign by Caldara and Gessler represented a major shift in the focus of what is universally agreed to be an extreme longshot effort due to the unprecedented requirement to gather over 600,000 valid voter signatures–from a grassroots effort, at least nominally intended to actually go through with a recall, into a campaign primarily interested in grifting money off “low-information” conservatives riled up about unified Democratic control of state government.

Caldara’s growing skim and Gessler cashing the largest check written so far…doesn’t prove us wrong.

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Full-Day Kindergarten: A Rebuttal

Former Colorado Sen. Dave Schultheis of Colorado Springs regularly made headlines during his time in office in the finest blowhard tradition since upheld by such intellectual successors as Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, pistol-packing Rep. Lori Saine, and don’t even get Sen. Vicki Marble started! It was Sen. Schultheis who warned darkly back in 2009 that President Barack Obama was “flying the U.S. plane into the ground at full speed” 9/11 style, invoking the Flight 93 battle cry “Let’s Roll”–not long after he said he hoped babies would get AIDS to teach their slutty moms a lesson.

Anyway, former Sen. Schultheis has views about this year’s priority funding for full-day kindergarten, a campaign promise by Gov. Jared Polis that in the end passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. And the bipartisan full-day-K kumbaya isn’t fooling Dave Schultheis, indeed not patriots:

That’s right, moms! The fact is that you have too much “free time” already and really should be spending it at home taking care of children instead. After all they’re just going to get “indoctrinated,” you know, in kindergarten. Though apparently half-day “indoctrination” is okay? It’s not the most coherent argument but it’s clear he’s really suspicious of what they teach kids in kindergarten and wants to minimize exposure.

You’re laughing, but you probably shouldn’t. Instead, consider how much of the Republican base Schultheis speaks for. From vaccines to the unhinged misinformation that circulated freely about the sex ed bill–here’s looking at you, Anus Fisting Granny–there’s a whole Dave Schultheis wing of today’s Republican party. And although Schultheis himself is in retirement, their influence within the GOP coalition has only grown in the Trump years. It is not a stretch to suggest that the co-occurrence of people who want to recall Democrats from Gov. Polis on down over their “perverted” sex ed bill and those who agree (or at least would agree) with Dave Schultheis about the threat of “indoctrination” posed by full-day kindergarten is very high or even total.

It’s all fun and games until the fringe gathers enough signatures.

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Winners and Losers of the 2019 Colorado Legislative Session

(Let the recaps begin – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

THE WINNERS

Regular people

The Colorado State Capitol is the place where more law is made that directly impacts our daily lives than anywhere else. In 2019, the progressive majority went to work protecting college students from drowning in debt, helping Coloradans save for retirement, and tackling the problem of addiction with compassion. These are changes you’ll see and feel.


Local communities

For decades, one industry had the power to run roughshod over the local land use authority that everyone takes for granted to keep their homes, schools, and businesses safe. Thanks to the passage of Senate Bill 181, locals have more power to control where oil and gas drilling happens, and the state’s focus is on public safety over profit.


Kindergarteners (and their parents)

Gov. Jared Polis took office in January with a promise to make full-day kindergarten a reality for every public school student in our state. It took some time personally lobbying lawmakers, but in the end a bipartisan vote, helmed by education champions Rep. Barbara McLachlan and Jim Wilson, kept Polis’ top promise to the families of Colorado.


People who need healthcare

The progressive majority in the Colorado legislature took action on health care in a big way in 2019. Legislation to reduce insurance premiums by up to 20%, import pharmaceutical products from Canada at big savings, ensuring access to mental health care–the list goes on and on.


LGBTQ youth

After years of unsuccessfully trying, in 2019 the Colorado legislature finally passed a bill to outlaw the hateful practice of so-called “conversion therapy” on LGBTQ children. Legislation also passed to make the process of gender transition more dignified. Colorado is a hate state no more.


Gov. Jared Polis

Gov. Jared Polis’ first legislative session proved he’s a new kind of leader for Colorado. In addition to delivering on his promise for full-day kindergarten, Gov. Polis helped steer the landmark oil and gas drilling reform bill through the process, and played a big role in the passage of health care bills that will reduce the cost of care for everyone.


Don Coram

Sen. Don Coram of Montrose once again proved a partner across the aisle for passing important legislation that will make his constituents’ lives better. From water conservation to wildfire prevention and rural education, Sen. Coram commendably put the interests of the state above party and was part of the solution instead of the problem.


Spurlock & Sullivan

Two men with first-person experience with the tragedy of gun violence, Sheriff Tony Spurlock of Douglas County and Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed in the Aurora shooting, worked together to pass legislation to prevent gun violence by people suffering from mental illness in crisis–the most important gun law passed in Colorado since 2013.


The Earth

Colorado isn’t waiting for politicians in Washington to stop playing games. This year, the Colorado Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2050 was passed into law, making Colorado a leader not just in America but the entire world in doing our part to clean up the damage we’ve done to Mother Earth.


Jon Caldara

He might not be able to win elections, but longtime political stuntman Jon Caldara of the right-wing Independence Institute has finally figured out a way to cash in on duping his angry followers: a fundraising platform where he takes a 6% cut plus fees of every transaction! That’s nice work if you can get it.


Actual Legislating

After four years of divided government, in which good policy ideas would go to die in a Senate kill committee, the session was a productive breakthrough. While in the past as much time was spent positioning each party for the next election as writing bills with a chance to see the governor’s signature, 2019 was the year where lawmakers could actually make laws again. While some partisans were complaining about too much, too fast, their real beef might have been with working harder.


THE LOSERS

Polluters

Look, it sucks that the state’s #1 job is not to “foster oil and gas development” instead of looking out for public health and safety. Actually, no that doesn’t suck. That’s great news for everyone except polluters! The truth is that the industry isn’t going out of business in Colorado–but regular people just might breathe easier.


Internet trolls

Democrats are coming to take your guns! Democrats want you to freeze in the dark! Insane allegations about legislation flew wildly on social media, but the reality doesn’t live up to the rumors. The new gun law is supported by over 80% of the public and even Big Oil says they’re going to survive after all. Don’t believe the hype!


Clan Neville

Much like Jon Caldara, the Neville political dynasty can’t win elections and they proved it again in 2018–but hope springs eternal as the possibility of recalls gives the Nevilles a chance to raise more money for their family political consultant business. Unfortunately, the Neville’s loser reputation precedes them–and many locals give them the side-eye.


Gun lobby

The usual suspects at the NRA and the local Rocky Mountain Gun Owners tried once again to frighten both ordinary gun owners and politicians on both sides by threatening them over the new “red flag” law to temporarily remove guns from people who are a threat to themselves or others. But it didn’t work, and now this law supported by 80% of Coloradans will save lives.


Owen Hill

Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs didn’t take his party’s defeat in the 2018 elections well, and used 2019 as basically one long temper tantrum. Besides leading the charge on misusing Senate rules to grind the process to a halt and defending the handling of the GOP’s sexual harassment fiasco, Hill actually said that Americans should be able to “buy and own a rocket launcher.” Yikes!


Anti-Gay Activists

A mostly positive legislative session turned ugly with the introduction of a bill updating Colorado’s comprehensive sex-ed laws. Opponents organized activists out of the Centennial Institute under the banner of parental rights, but were discovered within minutes of committee testimony to simply harbor prejudice against LGBTQ people. While this sort of thing is good for ginning email lists and fundraising, it further marginalized conservative groups from the mainstream.


Lori Saine

Colorado’s most embarrassing member of the House now that Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt is history struck again this year with fictional civil rights history, a fact-challenged defense of Christopher Columbus, and leading the charge to repeal Colorado gun laws after being caught with a loaded gun in a DIA security line.


“ICEholes”

If you own an electric vehicle, there are few things more irritating than finding an old-school internal combustion engine vehicle parked in an EV charging space. Thanks to House Bill 1298, “ICEholes” will face a $150 fine–literally clearing a path to making electric vehicles a viable option for more people.


Secession (again)

Every time progressives win a majority in Colorado elections, which happens most of the time these days, disaffected conservatives get much more serious than they should about a few rural counties in northeast Colorado either seceding or joining another state. It’s a fool’s errand and only makes its proponents look silly, which happened again this year.


Vicki Marble

Lori Saine’s counterpart in crazy in the Colorado Senate, GOP Sen. Vicki Marble, kept her unbroken string of dim-bulb lowlights going with threats against reporters, baseless speculation about nonexistent illegal voters, and asking of climate change, “is anything a settled science?”


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Polis Recall Leader: Brauchler has said “yes to running” for Governor

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Recall Polis PAC GOT image

With a possible recall of Governor Jared Polis still months away, two prominent Colorado Republicans have purportedly already stated their intention to run for his office should the effort succeed. Resist Polis PAC board member Kristina Finley identified District Attorney General George Brauchler and former El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn as each having “already said yes to running” in a Facebook comment. Finley named the two Republicans while responding to a question on the “Resist Polis” Facebook group,

Reached for comment, Finley said she “heard through the grapevine that Brauchler and Glenn said yes.”

George Brauchler currently serves as District Attorney for Colorado’s 18th Judicial District. He briefly ran for Governor last year, before switching to the Attorney General race, which he eventually lost to Democrat Phil Weiser.

Darryl Glenn

Darryl Glenn served two terms as a County Commissioner for El Paso County’s First District, from 2010-2018. He ran for U.S. Senate in 2016, losing to incumbent Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). Last year Glenn was one of several candidates to unsuccesfully challenge Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO5) in the Republican primary.

Colorado law states that a recall petition may not be circulated until the Governor has been in office for six months, hence the “Recall Is Coming 07.08.2019,” tagline on the “Game of Thrones” image posted by the recall group. On that day or any following when a petition is officially approved by the Secretary of State, a 60-day window opens, during which recall supporters must collect and submit over 631,000 valid signatures.

The Resist Polis PAC Recall group is one of two recall groups gunning for the Governor. It was launched by Tom Good, who was at one time an administrator of the other recall group, the “Official Recall Governor Jared Polis,” but is now in a dispute with its leader, Shane Donnelly.

(more…)

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Please Stop Coddling Dangerous Anti-Vaxxer Ignorance


Gov. Jared Polis (D).

The New York Times supplies the context for today’s bit of tough love:

The measles outbreak continues to spread in the United States, surpassing 700 cases this year, federal health officials said on Monday. The virus has now been found in 22 states.

More than 500 of the 704 cases recorded as of last Friday were in people who had not been vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Sixty-six people have been hospitalized.

About 400 of the cases have been found in New York City and its suburbs, mostly in Orthodox Jewish communities. That outbreak has spread to Detroit.

Los Angeles is now experiencing a fast-growing outbreak, and hundreds of university students who are thought to have been exposed and cannot prove that they have had their shots have been asked to quarantine themselves at home.

In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control declared the once-pandemic childhood disease measles to be entirely eradicated in the United States, after decades of consistent vaccination of the population in childhood steadily reduced outbreaks of the disease to nil. Unfortunately, since that moment of public health success a wave of misinformation about common childhood vaccines and in particular a now-discredited claim that vaccines are responsible for the rise in diagnosed cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has eroded the rate of childhood vaccinations enough for outbreaks to resume, steadily increasing in severity to the crisis presently underway.

In Colorado, where our rate of kindergarten vaccination is an embarrassing dead last in the nation, this renewed outbreak is taking place at the same time as a debate over legislation to tighten the state’s extremely permissive regulations for childhood vaccinations. Today, parents can claim a “personal belief” exemption from vaccinating their children with no restrictions on those children attending public school. The bill being debated today would not eliminate that exemption, but would require parents to take the additional step of filing in person at a state health department office to receive it.

And as the Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports, that’s where Gov. Jared Polis draws the line–and it’s creating significant blue-on-blue controversy in this fraught final week of the legislative session:

The Colorado Hospital Association and other health care experts across Colorado also responded strongly Friday to comments from the governor — first reported by Colorado Public Radio — that he didn’t support the current bill, House Bill 1312, to make some vaccination exemptions more difficult for parents to get.

“On behalf of Children’s Hospital Colorado, I was disappointed to see the governor’s comments this morning,” said Jessica Cataldi, a pediatrician who specializes in infectious diseases. “The multiple measles outbreaks across the country represent a public health crisis that must be addressed. I hope the governor will reconsider his position.”

[Rep. Kyle] Mullica’s bill would require parents to visit a state health department office and fill out a form in person the first time they request a personal or religious vaccine exemption for a child entering public school. Currently they need only provide written notice to the school district upon registration.

Early this year, Gov. Polis scuttled much stronger legislation also sponsored by Rep. Kyle Mullica that would have eliminated the personal exemption entirely. House Bill 19-1312, the current bill to make it moderately more difficult but not impossible to claim that exemption, was criticized by Polis Friday over requiring parents seeking a personal belief exemption from vaccinating their kids to apply in person with the state health department.

Like we said in February, no one can accuse Gov. Polis of being a so-called “anti-vaxxer,” meaning someone who actually believes these discredited theories about vaccine safety. Polis has had his own children vaccinated and makes clear that everyone needs to do so. There’s a world of difference between Polis’ concern about not being overly punitive in government’s approach to this public health problem versus Republicans in the state legislature who have openly supported anti-vaccine pseudoscience in their opposition to the bill. We believe that Polis means well in trying to strike a balance.

Unfortunately, the timing of this intransigence could not be worse–and after already lowering the expectations of what is signable legislation even in the midst of a nationwide measles outbreak, Polis risks energizing the side of the vaccine debate he claims and we believe he doesn’t side with. The resurgence of preventable disease attributable to ignorance and misinformation–no matter how well intentioned or sacred–is a greater threat than the inconvenience of applying in person for an exemption.

The 11% of Coloradans who don’t vaccinate their kids make more noise than the 89% who do.

But politically, siding with the 89% should be an easy choice.

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Another Court Ruling Says Let Your Right Wing Freak Flag Fly


Grassroots activism.

As the Loveland Reporter-Herald’s Hans Peter reports, another conservative activist with an axe to grind against Colorado Democrats is the winner of a big First Amendment settlement–this time a Loveland man who was stopped and briefly charged with disorderly conduct over homemade signs he displayed on street corners protesting against now-Gov. Jared Polis’ “perversity” in graphic terms:

Insurers behind the city of Loveland will award $70,000 as settlement in a First Amendment case brought by a Loveland man who carried a sign featuring mannequin buttocks, lingerie and criticism of then-gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis…

[Bob] Cluster sued Loveland after an incident in which Cluster was detained by Officer Heidi Koehler and Sgt. Phil Metzler June 29, 2018, according to a Loveland Police report. On that day around Cluster was holding his sign in front of Good Times Burgers at the southwest corner of East Eisenhower Boulevard and North Lincoln Avenue. Police reports indicate customers in Good Times had called police to complain about Cluster and his sign.

One side of Cluster’s sign read: “As governor, Jared Polis will be breaking old taboos & barriers and making us proud again to be Coloradans.” On the other side were the buttocks of a mannequin wearing underwear with the bottom cut out and a Polis slogan regarding a “bold vision.”

We have no interest in displaying photos of Bob Cluster’s signage on our site, but if you click through you’re welcome to view it at the Reporter-Herald. Suffice to say it’s as offensive as it is predictable. The attorney representing Mr. Cluster is Andy McNulty, the same lawyer who represented a Facebook troll who was kicked off of Senate President Leroy Garcia’s Facebook page–resulting in a swift payout of some $25,000 in taxpayer dollars to that plaintiff with McNulty pocketing his fees. In this case, there wasn’t any involvement by any targeted politician, of course, and the city isn’t admitting any civil rights wrongdoing in their settlement. News reports say that a local business called police to complain about Cluster’s sign and unpleasant demeanor on the street corner.

But just as with Garcia’s decision to boot a troll from his official Facebook page, the lesson is the same for the Loveland police: it’s never worth the blowback that results from suppressing political speech. The act of suppression inevitably results in more negative exposure than anything these people could do themselves with sidewalk antics and nasty Facebook comments. And in this latter case, letting some random crank exhibit his poor taste unmolested before the voters of Loveland has no political downside except to Polis’ opponents.

So let these people do what they’re going to do. If anything, get out of the way and take photos. As long as decent people still comprise a majority of voters, they’ll know how to respond.

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BREAKING: Big Oil Abandons SB-181 Repeal Initiative


Fracking near a high school in Greeley, Colorado.

That’s the word from the AP via FOX 31–there will be no attempt to repeal Senate Bill 19-181 this year, the landmark legislation granting more local control over oil and gas drilling and reforming the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to refocus its mission on public health and safety:

Opponents planned to ask voters this November to repeal and replace the law, but last week the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office rejected four versions of their proposed ballot initiative.

Officials said the proposals violated a law requiring initiatives to address only one subject.

Opponents of the oil and gas law say they’ll wait to see how the new rules take shape before deciding whether to ask voters to overturn it. [Pols emphasis]

Although their ballot initiative drafts were rejected by the Secretary of State’s office, the industry of course had both the time and resources to try again. The fact that they are choosing not to do so, instead waiting for the process of implementing the new law before deciding whether to commit to the costly process of a statewide ballot measure, only demonstrates again what proponents of SB-181 have maintained from the beginning: despite the shrill warnings that this legislation would “destroy oil and gas in Colorado,” nothing even remotely close to that is going to happen.

There will be more deference to local authority and a greater focus on public health and safety by the COGCC, but the fossil fuel industry will continue to play a major role in the state’s economy–subject to market forces that already act for and against fossil fuel production every day. Much like with the 2013 recall elections over gun safety laws, there’s a rush right now to do as much retaliatory political damage to majority Democrats as possible before it becomes clear that the overblown allegations that motivated backlash were not accurate. This is most evident in the recall campaign against Rep. Rochelle Galindo, where wild predictions of devastation for the oil and gas industry are the primary deflection from that campaign’s less savory motivations.

But the enormous expense of a statewide ballot campaign does not lend itself easily to a political bluff, and the smart money is moving on. This could be a watershed moment, the first sign of months of bellicose rhetoric meeting the wall of a far less controversial reality.

That would be good for the blood pressure of both sides of the aisle.

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“Horrifying” Sex Ed Bill Is Top Reason To Oust Polis, Says Recall Leader

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The President of the Official Polis Recall campaign thinks the “worst of it,” when it comes to the transgressions justifying Polis’ removal from office, is a proposed comprehensive sex ed law working its way through the Colorado legislature.

In a KNUS radio conversation replete with misinformation, Juli-Andra Fuentes, the group’s president, called Colorado’s proposed sex ed law “horrifying” because “you must include the experiences” of LGBTQ students, and “abstinence will not be taught”

And no “religious connotation” can be included, said Karen Murray, a co-chair of the Official Recall Polis site, who was also on the show.

Juli-Andra Fuentes

KNUS radio host Peter Boyles, amplifying misinformation promoted by right-wing anti-LGBT hate groups, chimed in with, “Why does the third-grade boy need to know how to put a put a prophylactic on a banana?”

Which prompted Fuentes to say, “Well, it’s not only that. They’re basically saying you cannot employ gender norms, and that by doing that, that’s shame-basing and stigmatizing.”

In fact, the sex ed bill allows schools to not offer sex ed at all, but if they do, the curriculum must be comprehensive, meaning both abstinence and LGBTQ-related information should be offered and religious perspectives can be included.

Boyles said on air that the “truth always knocks these suckers down,” but his own inflaming comment about the third grader, the condom, and the Banana is not true. The legislation states that the information in sex-ed classes should be age appropriate. Boyles said later in the interview that teaching sex ed to older LGBTQ kids would be “fine.”

Fuentes’ comments reflect her Recall Polis group’s website, which lists the sex-ed bill, described as “Radical Sexual Education Overhaul in Our Schools,” among the top reasons to recall the governor–which is widely seen as an extreme long shot to succeed.

Republican efforts to recall other Colorado lawmakers refer to the sex ed bill in a similar manner.

The Recall Colorado website backed by Colorado House Republican leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock lists the proposed law as a top reason that three legislators should be removed from office, describing the comprehensive sex-ed bill as “State Sexuality Indoctrination: A state indoctrination plan to undermine parental rights to educate their children about sexuality.”

So far, only one of three state lawmakers listed on the Recall Colorado website is facing an actual petition drive that, if successful, would trigger a recall vote.

That’s State Rep. Rochelle Galindo, a Democrat from Greeley.

A Greeley leader of the recall campaign called Galindo, who is gay, a “homosexual pervert,” and said he’d told Galindo to vote against “this homosexual sex education bill,” according to Colorado Politics.

(more…)

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Open The Door To Stupid, Haters Will Follow


Gov. Jared Polis Tweeted yesterday in support of victims of the bombings in Sri Lanka against Christians celebrating Easter Sunday:

Local blog Colorado Peak Politics, operated by Republican consultant group EIS Solutions, apparently found this message of support less than satisfactory–and proceeded to complain about it, because that’s what internet trolls do:

Oops! Suddenly this cheap little shot on Gov. Polis’ faith, or whatever Peak Politics presumes about Polis’ faith, has veered off course into old-fashioned anti-Semitism. It’s not that this conservative blog itself called Gov. Polis (who happens to be Jewish) a “Christ killer,” but by drive-by slamming Polis on a question of faith while Polis was trying only to offer condolences to Christians in the wake of a terrible tragedy, they opened the door to much cheaper shots. The progression from their dig on Polis’ lack of Christian faith to the anti-Semitic slur that followed is unfortunately not much of a leap.

And that’s the moral of the story. You don’t have to attack over everything.

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


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

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

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

I stand in strong opposition to HB19-1312.

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

—–

Measles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Recall Polis Campaign Goes Psycho Over Sol Pais


UPDATE: Moderator of the Recall Polis Facebook group sounds the all clear:

It would appear that the faithful remain unconvinced.

—–

The news is breaking from multiple local outlets that an 18-year-old woman from Florida who was allegedly “obsessed” with the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton and made credible threats of violence against area schools is dead, having been found at Echo Lake near Mt. Evans this morning:

The FBI Denver office confirmed the agency had responded to the base of Mt. Evans Wednesday morning and, in a tweet just before 11 a.m., said there was no longer a threat to the community.

According to Clear Creek County Sheriff Rick Albers, Pais’s body was found at 10:50 a.m. about a half-mile from Echo Lake Park, located near the Mount Evans Scenic Byway about 45 miles west of Denver.

The drama over threats made by Sol Pais and the resulting lock-out of hundreds of area public schools yesterday and again today has riveted media and dominated local social media discussion for the last 24 hours. And over at the closed Facebook group page for the conspiracy theory-positive Recall Polis campaign, there’s a clear consensus emerging that this is what’s known among the InfoWars crowd as a “false flag” operation:

Now, Jennifer McCreary may think she’s a “crazy woman” to think this could have been a trick to distract the voters of Colorado from the Polis recall campaign–and to be brutally honest, lots of our readers will agree. But you know who doesn’t think this is “crazy?”

Pastor Steven Grant and hundreds of fellow Recall Polis members, that’s who!

(more…)

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UPDATE: Caldara Now Skimming Galindo, Polis Recalls


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

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

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

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

But it doesn’t matter, rubes!

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

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

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

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

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Popular, Misunderstood “Red Flag” Bill Signed Into Law


UPDATE: Denver7’s Blair Miller:

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

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

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

—–

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As the Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Polis Recall: Never Mind The Details, The Grift Is On


UPDATE: A reader astutely points out that Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute has been using his Denver Post column as a vehicle for enthusiastically promoting recalls of late:

We’d say the opportunity for a “dollar sign” (see below) conflict of interest is rather large. Wouldn’t you?

—–

In the last 24 hours, the “campaign” to recall Gov. Jared Polis, which kicked off with a spate of nasty revelations about the anti-Semitic and otherwise unpalatably extreme views of its organizers, has shifted gears–into a new operation run by familiar faces in Colorado politics, and with a new sense of purpose.

What’s the purpose? We’ll let 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark explain:

“Dollar signs.” Lots of them. Here’s a TL;DR version:

Yesterday, it was announced that former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has been “retained” as counsel for the Recall Polis organization, presumably to help the group navigate an unprecedented path to collecting over 600,000 valid Colorado voter signatures–many times the amount ever collected in a petition drive before. And that’s not all:

In a move just as noteworthy, fundraising for the Recall Polis campaign is being taken over by the Independence Institute , run by longtime local political walking clown show operative Jon Caldara, and their recently-deployed “Freedomfy” crowdfunding online platform. And with that bit of news, there’s something every person considering a donation to the Recall Polis campaign on “Freedomfy” needs to know:

Compared to every major crowdsource fundraising platform with the apparent exception of Indiegogo, “Freedomfy” is ripping you off. The Independence Institute charges an exorbitant fee of 6%, plus 30 cents for every individual transaction. That’s more than double the fees charged by GoFundMe, the platform the Recall Polis organization from is migrating away from. What’s more, GoFundMe has an active pool of over 50 million donors. We don’t know how many members “Freedomfy” has, but it’s not anywhere near 50 million.

With that said, there’s one thing GoFundMe hasn’t got–a percentage flowing to Jon Caldara.

We’ve already discussed at length how attempting to recall Gov. Jared Polis, a campaign that can’t even under the state constitution begin until he’s been in office six months, is a fool’s errand logistically. The massive signature requirement to place the question on the ballot would require a multimillion dollar petition gathering operation of unprecedented scale–to say nothing of what the actual recall election would cost proponents if it made the ballot. But that hasn’t dissuaded a strident segment of the Republican base in Colorado from raving.

And where there’s passion, especially poorly thought-out passion, there’s money! Caldara sets up a fundraising stream that he nets the skim from, and Gessler submits billable hours that there is now a stream of money to cover. That’s what they call a sustainable business model. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if there’s ever a recall of Gov. Polis–in fact that could be considered a less desirable outcome.

Just like when Ted Harvey discovered he could cash in by sending out fundraising letters with Hillary Clinton’s face on them, turning recalls into cash machines is an end unto itself.

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GOP Chairman Buck Defends Comparing Gays To Nazis


Rep. Ken Buck (R).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Polis Health Care Plan Shows Why Elections Matter


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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s more detail from a press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s The Dumbest Thing You’ll Read All Day


Gov. Jared Polis (D).

Conservative message group Compass Colorado, one of a stable of press release-issuing GOP aligned front groups who pop up in inboxes from time to time, thinks they have figured out what’s really motivating Gov. Jared Polis to, their words, “stymie” Colorado oil and gas through the passage of Senate Bill 19-181–and Compass Colorado director Kelly Maher isn’t talking the usual capitalism-destroying cave-dwelling econightmare that the left has been fighting for all these years.

Why, Polis is doing it to (cue evil laughter) make money, of course!

According to his own financial disclosure statements, Polis is an investor in two Denver-based Bow River Capital funds that invest heavily in the Canadian oil and gas industry – a market with a much looser regulatory framework than that of Colorado or the United States. Polis personally has more than $250,000 invested in these funds. [Pols emphasis] If Polis scuttles oil and natural gas development in Colorado, the value of his personal investment holdings in Canada could increase as domestic supply contracts as a result.

Shortly after Polis started investing in Bow River energy funds, he joined forces with a fellow Democrat Congressman to sponsor legislation that would impose a burdensome regulatory framework on the oil and gas industry domestically. Polis’ pursuit of this legislation asking the oil and gas industry to follow the same rules as other industries is hypocritical given his investment in the more-lax Canadian oil and gas industry.

“Jared Polis’ radical environmental agenda could cost Colorado families hundreds of dollars a year in increased utility costs,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. “As part of this agenda, Polis also wants to end oil and gas development in Colorado, which will hurt our economy and cost our state hundreds of high-paying jobs. If he’s a “true believer” when it comes to the dog whistles he’s sending out to his radical environmental base, why does he continue to profit off of the investments in Canadian oil and gas?”

It all sounds terribly damning like there should be taiko drums thundering in the background, until you apply a bit of crucial context to this wild allegation. Gov. Polis’ 2015 congressional financial disclosure listed his net worth as somewhere between $142 million and $468 million, the range reflecting the value range of assets reported in the disclosure. Most informal estimates place Polis’ net worth on the high side of that range, and the booming markets of the last couple of years have most likely not been adverse to his bottom line either.

With this in mind, the idea that Polis is supporting this bill in order to “profit off investments in Canadian oil and gas” is without a doubt one of the silliest allegations leveled in a legislative debate that has been severely factually challenged from the beginning. The theory that Democrats want to plunge the world into some kind of primitivist dark age, as dumb as that is, at least has some anecdotal one-liners that can be thrown around in a debate. This is just prima facie stupid.

Gov. Polis’ GOP opponents (and yes, a Democrat or two) have tried for years to turn his wealth into a liability, but the arithmetic falls apart under even casual scrutiny. There’s just no rational way to make the charge stick. In addition, there’s something perhaps even more contemptible about wealth-adoring Republicans suddenly upset about Democrats who possess money.

But that’s for another blog post. For today, let’s just try to keep it somewhere in the vicinity of real.

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UPDATE: Polis Recall Responds To Anti-Semitism Report


UPDATE: After a segment last night on 9NEWS recounting the Greeley Tribune’s story of anti-Semitic views held by organizers of a possible recall of Gov. Jared Polis, it looks like the Recall Polis organizers may be taking steps to come across as less overtly anti-Semitic:

In the aftermath of that report, a post went up on the Facebook group suggesting that one of its “high profile” leaders, presumably group administrator Judy Spady of “Israel did 9/11” infamy, has been excused:

“The highest standards of humanity”–now with one less Nazi! Here’s to getting the “vetting” right next time.

We feel better about the whole thing now, really.

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On Sunday we blogged about a story from the Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy, which took an unflattering look at some of the “grassroots” activists behind a Facebook group with nearly 30,000 members who are organizing for a potential recall of Gov. Jared Polis. At least two organizers of this group including its purported leader Shane Donnelley have made what can be characterized as highly anti-Semitic postings to social media over the years, to include commenting that ‘Hitler was good to the German people’ and another claiming that “Israel did 9/11.” Our blog of this report has spread fairly widely on social media along with the original story since Sunday, and Colorado Public Radio mentioned the story briefly in their interview on the subject with Gov. Polis yesterday.

Overnight last night, two people identifying themselves as principal organizers of the Recall Polis campaign, Christine Martinez and Juli-Andra Fuentes, responded at length to our post, perhaps mistaking us for the original outlet but in any event seeking to clear the air surrounding the Greeley Tribune’s disclosures and the intentions of the Recall Polis group.

Because we strive to be eminently fair, and also because we didn’t want to see any of this memorable response deleted once…well, you know, folks sobered up, we’ve reprinted Martinez’s two comments from the original post in their entirety after the jump. If you’re in a hurry, the TL;DR version:

Needless to say, the “suggestion” that we take down our post is respectfully declined.

(more…)

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Check Out Colorado’s New Logo!


As introduced today by Gov. Jared Polis in his inimitable style:

We think it looks cool! Your mileage may vary. Reportedly this logo was in existence prior to Gov. Polis taking office, but was used in other contexts than the “official” logo while former Gov. John Hickenlooper was in office. Hickenlooper’s logo design, featuring a monochrome green triangle with a second down-facing triangle serving as the logo for various departments, is what graces state vehicles, literature, and signage today:

It’s a design that was criticized in some circles, especially the department logos featuring a drill bit to “honor” the state’s mineral extraction heritage. We haven’t seen how those departmental logos will update to match the new main logo, but we’d guess that the drill bit’s days are numbered–perhaps excepting departments that deal with, you know, drilling.

Out with the old, in with the new-ish.

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