Rich Guys Get Un-Deputized in Yuma County

Billionaire Republican megadonor Robert Mercer

Bloomberg News has a fascinating update to a story that we followed regularly in this space last year about Republican mega donor Robert Mercer and his pay-to-play posse scheme in Yuma, Colorado. As Zachary Mider writes for Bloomberg, Mercer will have to go play cops and robbers somewhere else:

The New York hedge fund magnate and conservative donor had his status as a volunteer deputy sheriff revoked by Yuma County, Colorado, Sheriff Chad Day on Monday, his last day in office. Day lost his re-election bid last year after Bloomberg News reported on Mercer’s role and his purchase of a new pickup truck for the sheriff’s official use. [Pols emphasis]

The arrangement provoked controversy in the prairie county that borders Kansas and Nebraska. Day submitted papers last week ending the appointments of Mercer, 72, and at least a dozen other volunteer posse members, effective Jan. 7, according to documents signed by Day and filed with the county clerk. Day also revoked the appointment of William Koch, 78, though a spokesman for the billionaire industrialist said he was never a posse member.

County records that became public in recent months show that four Mercer associates, including a bodyguard who says on LinkedIn that he’s a former “Cuban Special Operations Commander,” had also received badges from Day and that the value of Mercer’s donations of cash and equipment to the sheriff’s office totaled more than $135,000. Mercer declined to comment, and Day didn’t respond to multiple inquiries.

Chad Day is now the former Sheriff of Yuma County (and presumably the outgoing President of the Colorado County Sheriffs’ Association) in large part because he sold out his county in exchange for a new truck and a bunch of stun guns so that Mercer — who owns one of the world’s largest private collections of machine guns — and his buddies would be able to carry concealed weapons anywhere in the country. Day had insisted to Blair Miller of Denver7 that there was no quid, pro, or quo in this deal, but that’s not how it looks from Bloomberg’s follow-up investigation.

Much like Robert Mercer, Chad Day can now only pretend to be in law enforcement in Yuma County.

Mercer was apparently connected to Day via Rocky Mountain Gun Owners head honcho Dudley Brown, who is also associated with a certain U.S. Senator from Yuma. A spokesman for Sen. Cory Gardner told Miller at the time that “he didn’t know anything about the story aside from what he’d read in Bloomberg.”

For his part, Day had refused to answer detailed questions about the arrangement when it was first reported last spring, making the absurd claim that some of his “volunteer resources” were “directly involved in confidential undercover operations that involve direct ties and associations with the Mexican Cartel which has a presence in [the Yuma area].” No doubt the 78-year-old William Koch (yes, that Koch brother) was also a tremendous deterrent to any potential Mexican cartel operations.

The Bloomberg update to this story also provides more disconcerting details on some of the individuals involved in the arrangement Mercer had with Day and Yuma County.

In 2016, a foundation Mercer controls bought the pickup truck for Day’s agency. The foundation’s goals include educating local police forces about H.R. 218. At a county meeting, Day reported that he’d connected with Mercer through Brown, according to minutes of the meeting. It was a nicer truck, Day remarked, than the county would have spent its own money on.

That November, county records show, Mercer and four associates took oaths of office in Yuma, swearing “before the ever living God” to support the U.S. and Colorado constitutions. The crew included a Mercer son-in-law and three employees with backgrounds in bodyguard work, including the Cuban veteran; a self-described martial arts master; and a former Army Ranger whose LinkedIn page says he once guarded Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

The Cuban, Julio Garcia, had recently accompanied Mercer’s daughter Rebekah to the 2016 Republican convention. Garcia’s LinkedIn page boasts of training by Russian and Vietnamese special operations forces. An essay posted on a martial-arts website says he once served as a bodyguard to Fidel Castro. Garcia declined to comment.

In exchange for a shiny new truck and some other toys, Yuma County’s Sheriff deputized a guy who once guarded Afghan president Hamid Karzai and another man who served as a bodyguard to Fidel Freaking Castro!

Viva la revolución, Yuma County.

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Worst Possible Mag Limit Repeal Sponsor Strikes Again

Legislation filed for debate in the 2019 session of the Colorado General Assembly is starting to appear on the legislature’s website, and here’s one every Colorado voter should be aware of, regardless of how you feel about the hot-button underlying issue:

Rep. Lori Saine (R), in custody after being caught with a loaded gun at DIA.

House Bill 19-1021 is a bill to repeal Colorado’s 15-round limit on gun magazine capacity. This bill is scheduled for certain death in the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee at an unspecified time in the next few weeks.

But the point is not really the bill, which Republicans in the Colorado legislature have introduced every year since the magazine limit became law. It is worth noting that the 15-round mag limit in particular outraged the gun lobby nationwide and helped drive the 2013 recall elections which ousted two Democratic Senators and promoted the resignation of a third. In 2014, gun-rights groups managed a reasonable crowd to testify in hearings on repeal bills, but since then turnout has steadily dwindled.

The real problem here is the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Lori Saine. In December of 2017, Rep. Saine was boarding a flight at Denver International Airport to receive an award from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) at that organization’s annual conference. A search of her purse at the airport revealed a loaded 9mm semiautomatic handgun that Saine had “forgotten” and brought with her. Saine was arrested when she stopped cooperating with security officers, but avoided charges by profusely claiming ignorance of the loaded gun in her purse.

Because this incident did not result in a criminal conviction, Rep. Saine’s right to possess guns–and presumably the concealed carry permit that allowed her to carry one in her purse–was not affected. But in every political sense, the event renders Saine the worst possible legislator of any serving in the Colorado General Assembly to carry a bill to weaken Colorado’s gun laws. We legitimately do not understand why Republicans would allow Saine to so perfectly undermine legislation we assume they would actually like to pass.

If anyone has an explanation that doesn’t boil down to some kind of bad joke, we’d like to hear it.

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Kroenke Executive Paid Russian Spy Maria Butina To Create Pro-Putin TV Show

(From Russia with love, Colorado! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Russian spy Maria Butina

The head of a major Colorado media company hired now admitted Russian spy Maria Butina to help him create a television show starring Vladimir Putin as a conservation-minded outdoorsman.

With Butina changing her plea to guilty last week, it’s now official: a Kroenke executive hired a Russian spy to help him pitch a pro-Putin television show starring the Russian President himself. 

Jim Liberatore, CEO of Outdoor Sportsman Group (OSG), a division of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KSE), met Butina through their shared ties to the National Rifle Association. KSE purchased the Outdoor Channel, with Liberatore at its head, in 2013. He was promoted to CEO of OSG in 2017.   

Butina invited Liberatore and his wife to Moscow in 2015 as part of a National Rifle Association delegation she organized along with her Russian handler Alexander Torshin. 

Butina’s goal, which has since been detailed by federal prosecutors and in numerous media reports, was establishing a back-channel means of communication to the Trump campaign (and subsequently the administration) via the NRA.

(more…)

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Walker Stapleton. Anti-Semitism. Calling You Out.

In the aftermath of Saturday’s deadly attack on a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, capping a week of political violence that included a racially motivated shooting in Kentucky and pipe bombs mailed by a pro-Trump Floridian to numerous Democratic leaders and other critics of President Donald Trump, NBC News reported on an underlying spike in social media attacks on Jewish people in particular–using code language anyone who follows politics locally or nationally ought to recognize.

Separate researchers who were independently looking at [Instagram and Twitter] said attacks on Jewish people had spiked on both services ahead of the midterm elections on Nov. 6, similar to a rise in harassment before the 2016 presidential election.

Many but not all of the posts mention billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros, the researchers said. Soros is frequently the subject of unfounded conspiracy theories, and his home was among the targets in a series of attempted bombings this month. [Pols emphasis]

Jonathan Albright, a researcher at Columbia University in New York who directs a center on digital forensics, told NBC News that the amount of anti-Semitic material posted to Instagram and tied to Soros was possibly the worst sample of hate speech he had seen on the site.

Billionaire investor George Soros has served as a boogeyman for the far right for many years, stemming from his support both for Democratic candidates and liberal nonprofit organizations working in support of a wide range of progressive agenda items. Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton regularly invokes Soros as a villain on the campaign trail. In truth, conservative funders from Sheldon Adelson to the Koch Brothers spend vastly more on American politics than Soros–but Soros has been the subject of intense vilification because he was born in Europe, and perceived to be a corrupting foreign influence by the nativist right.

And of course, George Soros is Jewish.

RYAN WARNER: …Recently it was reported that Americans for Prosperity, a political advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers, will be investing in your campaign perhaps to the tune of as much as a million dollars. While it sounds like that money might be welcome when you look at what your opponent is spending, I wonder what kind of influence comes with a sizeable contribution like that.

WALKER STAPLETON: Probably the same kind of influence that comes from Good Jobs Colorado which is being backed by checks from George Soros, a wealthy international financier… [Pols emphasis]

Full stop. The term “wealthy international financier” has stood in for “Jew” among anti-Semitic bigots literally for centuries. Henry Ford’s infamous anti-Semitic book The International Jew was entirely based on the trope of wealthy Jews controlling the world through financial treachery and a lack of national loyalties, like its forged predecessor The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In terms of identifying thinly-concealed prejudice against Jewish people, the phrase can be fairly considered a dead giveaway.

So the next logical question is, Did Walker Stapleton use these words by accident?

The answer: we don’t think so. And here’s why.

Stapleton was nominated for governor at the Republican State Assembly this year by former Congressman Tom Tancredo. Tancredo is a past board member of the openly racist organization VDARE, which had planned to host its annual conference in Colorado Springs but was turned away after negative press. Tancredo’s anger over the supposed bad treatment of VDARE led him to first consider a run for governor himself, then to endorse Stapleton once he was satisfied Stapleton took the “issue” seriously. If you go to VDARE’s website to read about Jewish people, this is the kind of thing you’ll find:

Jewish activity collectively, throughout history, is best understood as an elaborate and highly successful group competitive strategy directed against neighboring peoples and host societies. The objective has been control of economic resources and political power. One example: overwhelming Jewish support for non-traditional immigration, which has the effect of weakening America’s historic white majority. [Pols emphasis]

The individual in custody for the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh entered the building screaming “All Jews Must Die,” and in his social media rantings before the attack peddled conspiracy theories that Jewish immigration groups were funding the “caravan” of asylum seekers slowly traveling north through Mexico toward the U.S. border. The attack in Pittsburgh on Saturday was a direct expression of the ideology promoted by VDARE as you can read above. The ideology of Tom Tancredo. The man who nominated Walker Stapleton.

The same Walker Stapleton now demonizing “wealthy international financier” George Soros.

Stapleton’s embrace of Tom Tancredo, like Donald Trump himself, was not an accident. Employing Tancredo to tacitly reassure far-right voters about Stapleton’s own views was not an accident.  The hatred being stirred up in order to turn out conservative votes across the nation and right here in Colorado, from fact-free conspiracy theories about “Soros funding the caravan” to Stapleton’s own ad campaigns vilifying so-called “sanctuary cities,” is not an accident. Based on these facts, we have absolutely no reason to believe that Stapleton’s choice of specific racist code words to describe Mr. Soros was an accident either.

At some point, you have to stop being polite and call this out for what it is.

After the deadliest hate crime against Jewish people in American history, the time has come.

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Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack Discussion Thread

UPDATE: Amanda Henderson of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado:

At the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado our hearts are breaking with the Jewish community at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and with our Jewish family who has been experiencing an increase in anti-Semitic hate and vitriol over the past several years. Hateful and violent rhetoric must stop. Our leaders must lead. This is the time to stop pitting one person against another and to work for freedom and thriving for all.

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It’s difficult to find words to describe what happened today at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, but we’ll use this space to aggregate local responses and news updates on what appears to be the deadliest attack on Jewish people in American history. This is a tragedy with enormous social and political import that we’ll all be unpacking for some time. Both Colorado U.S. Senators have expressed their outrage and sympathy:

If you would like to give in response to this tragedy, we suggest the Anti-Defamation League and HIAS.

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“MAGA Bomber” Busted

Miami Herald:

The Miami Herald has learned that the suspect who has been arrested is a man in his 50s from Aventura. He is being questioned by FBI agents with the Joint Terrorism Task Force since his arrest this morning at about 10 a.m…

Live shots from a Local 10 news helicopter show federal agents examining a white van that appeared to be covered in pro-Donald Trump and right wing stickers. Investigators covered the vehicle with a blue tarp. Police have blocked off traffic at Peters Road heading north on State Road 7.

Federal investigators quickly centered the investigation on the dozen crudely fashioned “pipe bombs” sent to top Trump critics, including Hillary Clinton and Cory Booker, on a mail sorting facility in Opa-locka. The devices have been recovered in New York, Washington D.C., California and South Florida, all with the return address of Debbie Wassermann-Schultz’s office. Several words, including her name, were misspelled on the packages.

We’ll update as more is learned in this case, but hopefully this means the pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump will stop now. Lots of politics lurking in this story, and we advise everyone to make sure the time and manner of your response is something you’ll be proud of in hindsight.

With that said, yes–“MAGA Bomber” is looking like a pretty accurate moniker.

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Brauchler’s Aurora theater shooting trial conduct disqualifies him as attorney general candidate

(This is a must-read – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sandy Phillips (left) and daughter Jessica Ghawi.

We’ve known George Brauchler for six years. We spent nearly every day together in the courtroom for five agonizing months while he tried our daughter’s killer. But in the race for Colorado’s next Attorney General, we cannot support his candidacy.

We came to know George during one of the darkest times in our lives. Our beautiful 24 year-old daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was gunned down in the Aurora movie theater on July 20, 2012 by a madman armed with military-style assault weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Jessi went to a midnight showing of Batman and never came home. Eleven others were killed that night, and more than 70 sustained life-changing injuries, not to mention the emotional scars that come with living through a real-life nightmare. 

Jessi was a force. She was smart, feisty, and was thriving in her career in Colorado, covering the Avalanche for a local radio station. That night, we exchanged texts before the movie started. “I need my mama,” she texted. We’d later find out, the response “I need my baby girl,” would be the last text she would read.  We take solace in the fact Jessi knew how much she was loved, and was reminded this right before she died.

When we first met George, like many people, we were taken with his charm. He was this confident prosecutor, with a big, warm smile, who promised to bring justice for our family. But over time, we felt like our family was not George’s primary concern. It increasingly appeared as if his conduct during the trial was not about pursuing justice but about his political aspirations. George could have taken a plea deal and saved us months of sitting in the courtroom with our daughter’s killer, listening to the most gruesome details of what transpired that night in the theater. But George pursued — and lost — the death penalty, to boost his name recognition for gubernatorial bid. Not to mention, he spent nearly $5 million of taxpayer dollars to end up with same life without parole sentence we could have gotten years sooner.

We’ve had numerous conversations with George about gun safety. After the Aurora theater shooting, Colorado responded by passing common-sense gun safety laws, including background checks on private and online gun sales and limits on high-capacity magazines. We cannot wrap our minds around how, after trying a shooter who was able to amass an arsenal of weapons and ammunition and cause so much devastation, George still believes we should allow weapons of war on our streets and unlimited magazines on our gun store shelves. He has made no pretensions about his lack of support for the gun laws that are on the books in Colorado. Not only does he oppose these measures, but if elected Attorney General we believe he would work to repeal these live-saving laws and fight any efforts to strengthen them.

George might like the voters to think his views are moderate. But what moderate embraces the endorsement of an extreme right-wing radical like Ted Nugent who called for President Obama to be shot and said America would have been better off if the Confederacy had won the Civil War? Even after a number of Aurora survivors, ourselves included, called for George to denounce the endorsement, he refused.

Colorado deserves an Attorney General who will put people over politics and public safety over partisanship. And George Brauchler just isn’t that person.

Our journey has not been one we would wish on anyone, but it always brings us back to Colorado, where Jessi’s life was taken from us six years ago. We carry her spirit in our hearts as we meet people and advocate for change. For Jessi, and the tens of thousands of others taken and wounded every year, we will never stop speaking out and sharing our story, especially when there is so much at stake.

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips are the parents of Jessica Ghawi, who was murdered in the mass shooting at the Aurora Theater on July 20, 2012. Soon after Jessica’s death, they became activists for the prevention of gun violence. They currently travel the country, reaching out to and meeting with other survivors through their non-profit organization, Survivors Empowered.

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Terror Scare Hits CNN, Obamas, Clintons

UPDATE: New York Times reports as the investigation continues:

Pipe bombs were sent to several prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, setting off an intense investigation on Wednesday into whether a bomber is going after political figures vilified by the right wing.

CNN received a similar bomb, addressed to John O. Brennan, a career intelligence officer who served as Mr. Obama’s C.I.A. director. The discovery of the device caused a mass evacuation of the Time Warner Center in Midtown Manhattan, where the network is located.

None of the devices harmed anyone; it was not immediately clear whether any of them could have exploded. One law enforcement official said investigators were examining the possibility that they were hoax devices.

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UPDATE: Politico:

The U.S. Secret Service on Wednesday morning released a statement that it had intercepted two packages, one addressed to Clinton and another to Obama.

Shortly after the statement was released, the Time Warner Center in New York City, where CNN’s New York bureau is located, was also evacuated due to a suspicious package. The package has been removed.

In addition, police in Florida have responded to a suspicious package at Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz’s Sunrise office, which was evacuated, Sunrise police confirmed to POLITICO. Police have also dispatched a bomb squad and are determining what was in the package.

—–

CNN reports following the evacuation of their New York offices this morning:

A US intelligence official tells CNN it is too early to tell whether there is a nexus to terrorism at this point regarding the suspicious packages sent to multiple locations today.

The official says the intelligence community is monitoring the situation regarding the suspicious packages, saying it is still very early in the process.

Intelligence agencies could become involved later on but at this point law enforcement is still assessing the facts on the ground, the official tells CNN.

We’ll be watching this developing story for updates and local reactions. Until we know more, it’s best not to speculate about motives and responsibility.

With that said, be safe out there. No political disagreement merits violence, ever.

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John Morse’s Revenge Continues

Former Colorado Senators John Morse and Angela Giron (D).

As the Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports:

A national gun control group is hoping to flip control of the Colorado Senate and other key races in the state by injecting $650,000 into campaigns and efforts to mobilize Democratic voters.

“The politics on this issue have shifted dramatically in favor of gun safety — and nowhere is that more true than in Colorado,” Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt said. “We are proud to support candidates up and down the ballot who will put public safety ahead of gun lobby priorities.”

Democrats hold a safe majority in the Colorado House of Representatives, but Republicans control the Senate by a single seat. Senate Republicans blocked a “red-flag” bill during the 2018 legislative session that would have let law enforcement confiscate weapons from people in the midst of mental health crisis. Sen. Tim Neville, R-Jefferson County, fought to kill the red-flag bill and was the sponsor on another proposal to remove the permit requirement in order to carry a concealed weapon.

In 2013, following mass shooting tragedies in Newtown, Connecticut and (especially) the July 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the unified Democratic majorities in the Colorado House and Senate debated and passed a landmark package of gun safety bills: most controversially, laws requiring background checks on most transfers of guns including private sales and a limit on magazine capacity at 15 rounds.

These laws provoked an intense backlash from national pro-gun organizations like the National Rifle Association and the hard-line National Association for Gun Rights headed by local gun rights extremist Dudley Brown. Brown, who believes there should be no pre-sale checks on gun purchases of any kind, and allied local groups flush with NRA cash initiated a recall election in September of 2013 that successfully recalled two Democratic Senators: Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo. A third Democratic Senator, Evie Hudak of Arvada, voluntarily resigned rather than putting her swing district (and herself) through the pain of a recall.

Since that time, though, all of the gains made by Republicans as a result of the events of 2013 have been retaken by Democrats. The successors for Morse and Giron both lost their seats in 2014, and fringe-right Sen. Laura Woods held Evie Hudak’s former seat for only two years before being ousted by Rachel Zenzinger in their second matchup in 2016. And despite annual attempts by Republicans to repeal the laws passed in 2013, they remain on the books. In the meantime, the ongoing and worsening tragedy of mass gun violence in America has shifted the politics of the issue to the point where Democrats in Colorado and elsewhere no longer fear taking the gun lobby head-on.

In 2013, Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute predicted the recalls would create a “wave of fear” among Democrats across the land, and for a few years, yes–it probably did. We submit to you that those days are over, and history will record that it was Morse, Giron, Hudak, and everyone else who tried to reduce the impact of gun violence instead of make excuses for it who were on the right side.

And yes, flipping the Colorado Senate would be a powerful way to say so.

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Giffords PAC Acts Swiftly After Ad Hits Too Close To Home

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports on a controversy that erupted this week over an ad from Giffords PAC, hitting Rep. Mike Coffman’s opposition to gun safety laws and support from the National Rifle Association with a visual that bore a disturbing similarity to actual events in Colorado over a decade ago:

The parents of Emily Keyes said Wednesday that the super PAC behind an ad that depicted text messages similar to those sent during the final moments of her life had apologized, and said they believe the similarities were unintentional…

John-Michael and Ellen Keyes said in a statement the PAC had spoken with them and that they were satisfied with the committee’s response.

“Our initial response was profound disappointment…. The Giffords organization reached out to us directly to offer both their regret and apologies,” the Keyes said in a statement to Denver7. “They assured us that the similarities were coincidental and they would be altering the advertisement and reposting a new version on social media and other internet sites. We believe that any connection to the tragedy our family experienced was unintentional.” [Pols emphasis]

“We respect the ability to exercise a political voice and we understand that mistakes happen,” they added. “We appreciate the prompt attention paid by the Giffords organization and their commitment to remedy the situation.”

Although the text message dramatization in the ad does not recite the exchange of texts between 2006 school shooting victim Emily Keyes and her family verbatim, the use of the first name “Emily” was considered by many local observers to be close enough–and the fact that Coffman wasn’t elected to Congress until two years after the 2006 Platte Canyon High School shooting gave Coffman an opening to cry foul.

With that said, Coffman’s long record of support for and backing from the NRA is a matter of public record and has been a liability for years–more so since the July 2012 Aurora theater mass shooting in the heart of his district. It’s an issue that Coffman most certainly doesn’t need resurfacing in any capacity in the October before the toughest general election of his lifetime, an election in which Coffman has fled to the center on every available issue in hope not being swept away by an anti-Trump wave. That’s why Coffman seized on the negative initial response from the Keyes family–and howled from behind the family’s justifiable upset about how the ad is “beneath basic human dignity.”

Once the family is satisfied with the explanation from Giffords PAC and the changes to the ad, however, Coffman’s faux outrage lost its cover. Now, the only fact that remains is that Mike Coffman has an A+ rating from the NRA. Which is distantly out of step with a majority of voters in CD-6. And unlike previous elections, the polls say the voters in CD-6 get it now.

So, as they say, protest too much while you can.

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Brauchler Now More Skeptical Of Laws Allowing Police To Take Guns From Dangerous People

(Backpedaling to appease Dudley Brown? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

George Brauchler.

The Republican candidate for Colorado attorney general, George Brauchler, is now more skeptical than he was this spring of legislation allowing law enforcement officials to ask the courts for permission to take guns from people deemed to pose a significant risk to themselves or others.

His new assessment of so-called “red flag” legislation comes in the wake of what he sees as the abuse of such laws, like one in Broward County, Florida, convincing him that the focus should be on mental health care not a red flag bill.

“I don’t think my position has changed from the one that I took versus now,” Brauchler told the Colorado Times Recorder when asked to clarify statements he made on a KNUS radio show. “The difference is, we have more information about how something like this can be used.”

“I said at the time, I am skeptical of giving the government this kind of authority,” he continued. “And I had preached and pitched to the House Judiciary Committee, ‘Look, I want to sunset this bill,’ in addition to a bunch of other changes, because I wanted to see if it would be abused. And if it’s not, let’s tweak it and make it great.”

“I have absolute faith that [Douglas and Arapahoe County Sheriffs] Tony Spurlock and Dave Walcher would do right by this, but who comes after them, or who comes after the people who come after them?” asked Brauchler. “Once this thing is on the books, does it have the potential to be abused? And I think the answer that we’ve seen now is, yeah, it does. So we have to figure out another way to tackle this problem without taking on the Second Amendment.”

Colorado’s version of red flag legislation was defeated in May by senate Republicans–after clearing the state house in a 37-23 vote, with support mostly from Democrats but some Republicans as well, like Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist (R-Centennial), who was a sponsor of the bill.

At the time, Brauchler defended the red-flag bill in high-profile arguments with fellow conservatives, like State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton), who accused Brauchler of being scared to oppose the bill, which, Neville said, could lead to “possibly taking away people’s kitchen knives or whatever else they have in their home. This is insane. But, yeah, it’s politicians. Some take a look and they run their campaigns by polls…  Could that possibly be some of the motivation for George Brauchler?”

But Brauchler stuck to his guns, even earning praise from the liberal blog ColoradoPols for taking a gun-safety stand that’s “toxic to his base of support.”

Brauchler now says the red-flag legislation around the country is proving the fears of Second Amendment supporters to be true, that the law could be “ripe for abuse in the wrong hands.”

“I don’t think Colorado can go that direction—or should to in that direction—if we have the ability to tackle this same problem without having to confront the Second Amendment,” Brauchler said.

Red-flag bill proponents argue that the gun confiscations in Broward County, show that the law is working. Since the law was passed there after the Parkland high school massacre, through July, 108 gun confiscations occurred, including 28 relating to domestic violence, 45 connected to mental illness, and 34 relating specifically to people contemplating suicide.

“I want to stay away from taking on the Second Amendment and really focus on, how can we really help people and keep them from hurting themselves and others, whether it’s by a gun or a car or whatever,” said Brauchler.

Listen to Brauchler on KNUS 710-AM Sept. 25:

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Local Domestic Violence Activists Rally To Deborah Ramirez

UPDATE #3: Denver7’s Blair Miller with more local support for Deborah Ramirez:

Lisa Calderon, who currently teaches at Denver’s Regis University and was Ramirez’s supervisor while the two worked together at Safehouse Progressive for Nonviolence (SPAN), said the attacks on Ramirez were unfair.

Ramirez has been working for Boulder County as a volunteer since 2013, but had been a victim’s advocate coordinator for SPAN before that and still is a board member. Calderon, who was the policy director of SPAN from 1995 to 2007, said Ramirez joined the nonprofit about halfway through her tenure.

“She is someone who has great integrity,” Calderon said of her former co-worker and employee. “She’s dedicated her life to working with victims.”

Calderon said that Ramirez was initially a volunteer but that she decided to hire her because she was detail-oriented and went above and beyond at work. Calderon said Ramirez was eventually responsible for a 24/7 crisis response team, a group of volunteers coordinated by Ramirez to go to domestic violence incidents and provide support to victims.

If any of you have advice for Sen. Cory Gardner on what to do about this, now’s the time.

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UPDATE #2: Sen. Michael Bennet says it: the nomination “should not move forward” until the FBI can investigate.

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UPDATE: The Denver Post with a similar theme:

Friends of Deborah Ramirez say she’s a private person with a life and career focused on volunteerism and community service.

She’s the senior volunteer coordinator at the Boulder County Department of Housing & Human Services, where she’s worked since February 2013. The 53-year-old Boulder resident also is on the board of the nonprofit Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, which helps domestic violence victims…

“I believe her without hesitation,” [Scott] Fliegelman said in an interview. “I can’t imagine that Debbie would fabricate anything, much less anything of this nature, and that’s why I really felt for her.” [Pols emphasis]

Fliegelman said Ramirez is a humble person who went to Yale, then chose a career path focused on helping others, including women in crisis.

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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (left) meeting with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) in late July.

Denver7’s Blair Miller has more reaction to the explosive allegations yesterday from a Colorado woman of sexual misconduct by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at Yale University in the 1980s, including more information on the background of the accuser that reinforces her credibility:

A Colorado woman is the second in recent weeks to come forward publicly and accuse U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of committing sexual misconduct while he was a teenager, and she has hired high-profile Colorado attorneys to represent her…

Lara Day, a spokesperson for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, confirmed to Denver7 Monday that Garnett would be transitioning out of representing [Deborah] Ramirez and that Boulder-based John Clune of Hutchison Black and Cook would be taking over as counsel for Ramirez. Garnett did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Denver7 Sunday night.

Clune declined to comment when reached by Denver7 Monday morning.

But Clune did release a statement on Twitter from the board and staff of Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN), where Ramirez is a volunteer and board member, who spoke in support of Ramirez and her character.

“We know Debbie Ramirez to be a woman of great integrity and honor. We stand by her and her courageous decision to come forward. It is never simple or easy for survivors to share their experiences. To do so in the face of public scrutiny requires a level of personal strength that is true to the person Debbie is. She has our support, our respect, and our admiration,” they wrote. [Pols emphasis]

One of the most important lessons from the recent movement for accountability for men who commit sexual misconduct of all kinds has been the overarching need to set aside presumptions and respect the women who are coming forward with these painful stories of abuse. In the case of both of the public accusers against Brett Kavanaugh, we have credible, well-educated and professional women with nothing to gain from coming forward with these allegations and everything to lose. Deborah Ramirez’s experience in particular as a volunteer and board member of a local domestic violence charity means she understands the issues women face holding their assailants accountable.

Today, as supporters of Kavanaugh leap reflexively into attack mode against Ramirez, they’re doing so without any regard to her actual background–a background that, like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s, is inherently credible. Although Kavanaugh’s supporters doubtless feel compelled to do so this is extremely risky, because there is absolutely nothing in the story of either of these accusers as reported so far to justify the bile being hurled against them.

With the midterm election fast approaching, popular backlash against these attacks on women who are by all accounts above reproach could take down many more Republicans than Brett Kavanaugh, whose prospects of serving on the U.S. Supreme Court appear to be dimming by the hour.

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Why Dudley Brown Is Working To Elect Tom Sullivan

The Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports on a curiosity we’ve discussed in this space many times–the willingness of the hard-right gun rights organization Rocky Mountain Gun Owners to attack fellow Republicans who stray from their strident line. With the election approaching, RMGO is focusing its wrath on GOP Rep. Cole Wist of Centennial:

A conservative group that describes itself as “Colorado’s only no-compromise gun rights organization” is working to make sure a top Republican state representative loses his seat.

“We love election time,” Rocky Mountain Gun Owners posted on its Facebook page. “It’s when politicians are reminded that their votes have consequences.”

The group spent the weekend delivering flyers to voters in House District 37 that accused Rep. Cole Wist, R-Centennial, of “voting like a gun-grabbing Democrat” and urged people to vote against “Cole ‘The Mole’ Wist.”

The supreme irony of this situation is that Rep. Wist’s Democratic opponent is Tom Sullivan. Sullivan’s son died in the Aurora theater shooting in July of 2012, and since that time Sullivan has been one of the strongest citizen voices at the Capitol in favor of gun safety legislation. Sullivan’s fearless advocacy on the issue has frequently shamed Republican lawmakers into silence, and as a lawmaker it’s would be fair to conclude that Tom Sullivan would be RMGO’s worst nightmare.

Except Sullivan isn’t RMGO’s nightmare. For RMGO, it’s much worse that a Republican had the temerity to support a “red flag” bill this year to provide legal tools to temporarily remove firearms from the possession of mentally ill people in crisis. That’s all Rep. Wist did, and along with AG candidate George Brauchler it was enough to earn these Republicans a determined foe they do not need in this difficult election.

“Mainstream” Republicans have often expressed their frustration with RMGO’s red-on-red hostile engagement strategy over the years, but director Dudley Brown knows exactly what he is doing. From Brown’s point of view, ensuring that the Republican caucus is (pardon us) bulletproof in its opposition to even the smallest measure to reduce gun violence is more important than supporting Republican majorities in the short term.

And if guns are your single issue–no small segment of Republican voters–you’re with him.

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George Brauchler Whiffs Two More Cases

George Brauchler.

Republican Attorney General George Brauchler has always talked a big game when it comes to his skills as a prosecutor, but as we’ve recounted in this space a number of times in recent years, the talk hasn’t always been matched by a record of courtroom victories–particularly in recent high profile cases involving fellow Republicans and law enforcement.

Westword’s Michael Roberts documents two more losses for Brauchler this week alone:

District attorneys from different jurisdictions don’t usually take each other on in court. But that’s what happened in regard to Denver DA Beth McCann and 18th Judicial District DA George Brauchler, whose face-off involved a disagreement over life-without-the-possibility-of-parole sentencing of juvenile offenders.

The Colorado Supreme Court has now sided with McCann. The Supremes found that McCann’s expansive strategy toward LWOP resentencing, which Mitch Morrissey, her predecessor as Denver DA, called “illegal” in this space, doesn’t actually run afoul of the law.

The matter gets into the legal weeds pretty quickly, but the short version is that Denver DA Beth McCann’s interpretation of the law prevailed–and more juvenile offenders may potentially be considered for a shorter sentence after the legislature eliminated life without parole for juvenile offenders. The second case this week, also via Westword’s Michael Roberts, concerns a mistrial in the death of State Trooper Cody Donahue:

Last week, a mistrial was declared in the case of Noe Gamez-Ruiz, a commercial truck driver charged with criminally negligent homicide for a November 2016 accident that killed Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cody Donahue.

Now, political insiders are speculating that the way the proceedings were short-circuited — the judge took action after defense complaints that prosecutors withheld relevant evidence [Pols emphasis] — could impact one of the biggest races on the November 2018 ballot. Why? Because the high-profile embarrassment took place on the watch of 18th Judicial District DA George Brauchler, the Republican nominee for Colorado Attorney General, and a new hearing in the matter is scheduled to take place shortly before election day.

Especially since Brauchler has turned his focus to running for higher office in recent years, his career has been marked by complex failures like the ones above. In all of these cases, Brauchler is ready to long-windedly defend himself and pay lip service to whatever victim is getting short shrift. But the failures aggregate: add these to Brauchler’s controversial plea deal sparing prison time for a cop who created and solicited child porn, the failure to win a meaningful conviction (twice) against former El Paso County Sheriff “Shirtless” Terry Maketa, and the loss of the death penalty phase of the Aurora theater shooting trial–resulting in months of needless suffering by survivors and families.

The point is that George Brauchler is wrong a lot, and loses. A lot. And that’s a poor case for promotion.

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

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep Humphrey Shares RMGO Wist Attack, 9.15.18

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

This post was first published by the Colorado Times Recorder.

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“Fetal Homicide”=Personhood: The Ghouls Come Out

Rep. Lori Saine (R).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ghoulish “Fetal Homicide” Politics Revisited

Murder victim Shannan Watts.

FOX 31 reported last week in rather inflammatory fashion about laws in Colorado pertaining to the killing of a pregnant woman, an issue that flares up politically every time such a horrible crime is committed:

After a Frederick man was arrested on murder charges after the disappearance of his pregnant wife and two daughters, a debate has reignited about Colorado’s laws regarding the killing of a fetus…

Watts faces three counts of first-degree murder and three charges of tampering with physical evidence. He is not charged for the death of the unborn child.

However, Colorado has laws that increase penalties for those who commit crimes against pregnant women. [Pols emphasis]

Social media has flared with people discussing Colorado’s lack of a fetal homicide law…

In 2003, Colorado passed a law establishing as a felony crime the unlawful termination of a pregnancy. In 2013, this law was strengthened considerably by the passage of House Bill 13-1154, which included situations in which a person “recklessly or carelessly” terminates a pregnancy in addition to deliberately intending to do so. Most importantly, this legislation specifically exempted any action by a woman with regard to her own pregnancy or actions of a health care provider–and also specifically stated that the legislation was not intended to “confer personhood, or any rights associated with that status, on a human being at any time prior to live birth.”

Why are these distinctions so important? Because so-called “fetal homicide” bills, like so many local media outlets were duped into clamoring for despite the laws on the books in Colorado that already address the issue, are deliberate steppingstones to criminalizing abortion by establishing individual rights for fetuses–something Colorado voters have repeatedly rejected in the form of “Personhood” amendments.

It’s upsetting that every time such a heinous crime in committed in our state, there’s a rush by anti-abortion activists to fictionalize the “need” for a fetal homicide law in order to further their own totally unrelated agenda. In truth, Colorado has a law making the wrongful termination of a pregnancy a crime, and there’s little evidence to suggest that such an additional charge would deter someone already intent on committing murder.

So please, let’s not do this. It’s deceptive and it’s totally unnecessary.

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Brauchler Flip-Flops, Faceplants On Guns

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler (R).

An in-depth story in the Vail Daily by freelance reporter David O. Williams could spell big trouble for GOP attorney general candidate George Brauchler: after taking fire from fellow Republicans for supporting “red flag” legislation to get guns out of the hands of dangerous persons with mental illness, Brauchler appears to be backtracking in order to shore up base Republican support heading into the general election:

Brauchler last month said Colorado’s background check law, passed in a package of gun bills during a heated 2013 legislative session that led to the unprecedented recall of two Democratic lawmakers, “has some value to it because we’re able to stop people who shouldn’t get guns.”

But in a 2017 Denver Post story surveying the positions of various candidates for governor (before he dropped out to run for attorney general), Brauchler said he opposed the background check law. He also opposes the 2013 law limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds…

Opposing every one of the gun safety laws passed in 2013 by the Colorado General Assembly is an article of faith among Republicans, but the shift in public opinion that occurred this year after a mass shooting at a high school in Florida gave Brauchler a bit more space to side with the overwhelming majority of the public who supports common-sense measures like tightening background checks.

But as of now, Brauchler is back to dissing the 2013 universal background check law:

“That universal background check bill would have done nothing had it existed on July 19 (2012) or before for our shooter in Aurora,” Brauchler said. [Pols emphasis]

As for the magazine limit law, by far the most reviled by gun rights supporters of any of the measures passed in 2013? Here’s what Brauchler says now:

Brauchler said Holmes’s gun actually jammed after 65 trigger pulls and malfunctioned because he didn’t properly clean his weapon after practicing with it several times in the mountains.

“So, do I think that changing the magazines might have given someone a better chance? Maybe,” Brauchler said. “But this guy practiced changing out the magazines quickly. His problem was he did not anticipate a jam, had never experienced a jam and didn’t know the immediate action drill to clear a jam was, so that kind of providential turn of events did more, in my opinion, than any magazine capacity ban would have done.”

Longtime readers will recall when former GOP Sen. Bernie Herpin, who briefly held recalled Senate President John Morse’s seat in 2013-14, claimed it was “a good thing” that the Aurora theater shooter had used a 100-drum magazine, because of the fact that the weapon eventually jammed. This contention is severely undercut by the reality that 65 rounds were fired successfully through that weapon before it jammed, resulting in the majority of the bloodshed in the shooting. Whatever practice the shooter may have had changing magazines, that still would have been preferable to firing off 65 rounds with no interruption whatsoever.

The fact that we are obliged to explain this to the prosecutor in the trial of the shooter shows the extent of the gun lobby’s dogmatic control over Republican politics–to the extent that something as obvious as “yes it would have been better if the Aurora shooter had not been able to cook off 65 rounds in a row” can’t be admitted to by someone who absolutely knows better. Of course a few seconds after every 15 rounds could have made a difference. It’s absurd to suggest otherwise.

Though unsuccessful in persuading fellow Republicans to go along, Brauchler had some credit coming for his support of the “red flag” bill, even though it was toxic to his base of support. This nonsensical denial of the obvious devastating effect of a high capacity drum magazine in the Aurora shooting undoes that goodwill entirely, and makes Brauchler look like just another hapless tool of the gun lobby.

And it’s easy to see why survivors and families of the victims are begging voters to not promote him.

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George Brauchler Blows Another One

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler (R).

CBS4 Denver reports on a disturbing case out of El Paso County, involving a former sheriff’s deputy who copped a plea and avoided prison time after he created and solicited child pornography:

A former El Paso County Sheriff’s deputy who created a pornographic image involving a young boy took a plea deal that allowed him to avoid prison time…

[Donald] Fair pleaded guilty to one count of sex assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, a Class 4 felony. Under Colorado law, there is no mandated prison time for that charge. Instead, Fair was sentenced to sex offender intensive supervised probation for 10 years to life. Fair must register as a sex offender.

And which prosecutor gave ex-Deputy Donald Fair a plea deal that allowed him to stay out of prison, you ask?

“This outcome is the best we could hope for in this case under current Colorado law,” District Attorney George Brauchler said. “A young innocent child is not further traumatized by testifying and being cross-examined during a trial, and the perpetrator is monitored and given therapy to keep the community safe… For this case, for this moment, for these facts, this is justice.”

Ipso facto, a plea agreement means that this is not the “best” we could hope for under current law, presuming as we should that the best course is the harshest available penalty for a very serious crime committed by a sworn law enforcement officer. We understand prosecutors have discretion and every case is different–but if you’re not going to hold accountable law enforcement when they heinously break the law…well, who do you hold accountable?

It’s a question we find ourselves asking over and over again about Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, whose time in office before his abortive run for governor that was downgraded to a run for attorney general has been marked by a series of high-profile prosecutorial failures. This is, after all, the same George Brauchler who failed to win a death sentence against the Aurora theater shooter, subjecting survivors and families to months of needless suffering–much like Brauchler claims the victim in this latest case would suffer in court.

Another huge failure by Brauchler was the attempted prosecution of former local GOP darling and El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who escaped multiple felony charges after a bumbling effort by Brauchler’s office after the case was punted to him from the similarly inept El Paso County DA. There’s a consistent theme emerging in Brauchler’s highest-profile cases of incompetence that lets both crooks and bad cops off the hook. Needless to say, that’s very bad for someone running to be the state’s chief law enforcement officer.

If he wants to change that impression, we would suggest Brauchler focus on winning some cases.

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Gun Nuts Are Such Nice People, Death Threats To Kids Edition

A man who loves his guns.

Elizabeth Hernandez of the Denver Post reports on a disturbing development with a smell anyone who has followed the fraught debate over gun safety in Colorado since the historic 2013 session of the state legislature will recognize:

The Converse sneakers extended onto the coffee table and the friendship bracelets bedazzling the arms of the teenage girls on Tuesday night didn’t make the tone of the meeting any less serious — Colorado’s student activists were concerned about a social media threat connected to a protest they were planning against the NRA and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners on Saturday.

By Wednesday night, key organizers said the threats were too much and they planned to withdraw from the protest…

Dudley Brown, a gun lobbyist and founder and executive director of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, said his group doesn’t plan a counter-protest, but that he understands why the group would receive threats.

“Do I believe people should act violently?” Brown asked. “No, of course not. When you make controversial statements on politics, crazies come out and send you things. I don’t agree with it, but I understand it.”

Back in 2013, when the Colorado General Assembly passed landmark legislation to tighten gun background checks and limit magazine capacity, Democratic lawmakers who supported those bills were subjected to an intense barrage of violent threats for gun rights supporters. In one particularly egregious case, Franklin Sain of Colorado Springs, the targeted legislator obtained a permanent restraining order before asking the filed charges to be dropped. Many other cases couldn’t be conclusively identified, but these were extremely and unambiguously threatening messages to lawmakers that most certainly justified investigation.

After the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida earlier this year resulted in a group of students from that school becoming highly visible advocates for taking action to reduce gun violence, some of those students have been similarly subjected to very adult threats to their safety. One student David Hogg, was the victim of a “SWATing” incident in which heavily armed police were dispatched to his home on a false report.

Clearly there is not unanimity on the issue, although public polls consistently show much more support for gun control that politicians on either side are willing to act on. With that said, if your views on this issue either way are so overpoweringly strident that you feel justified threatening to hurt kids, you have just crossed over into the segment of the population who should not own guns.

Meaning you’ve just proven the point you wanted to refute.

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Hot Red-on-Red Action: RMGO Craps On George Brauchler

The “no-compromise” gun rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners hasn’t forgotten about GOP attorney general candidate George Brauchler’s support this year for a “red flag” law to allow for the temporary removal of firearms from persons in a mental health crisis. Although the go-to GOP refrain following a mass shooting tragedy is the need to “focus on mental health,” when an actual proposal to do just that comes up here’s what you’ll see:

Fellow Patriot, this is absolutely absurd and a gross violation of the Bill of Rights!

So-called “red flag” gun confiscation laws are designed to STRIP law-abiding citizens of Second, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights by mere accusation from an anti-gun family member, friend, ex-partner, or just about anyone…

Your flood of petitions, phone calls and emails made it impossible for them to pass this GUN CONFISCATION bill.

Then in June, pro-gun primary voters tossed another Republican, Dan Thurlow, out of office for voting for this GUN CONFISCATION scheme.

But, apparently Wist and Brauchler didn’t get the message.

Now they’re threatening to push their gun confiscation bill again regardless of what happens in November.

George Brauchler openly told the gun haters at the Denver Post he wants “to renew efforts to create a ‘red flag’ law in Colorado that would allow GUNS TO BE CONFISCATED. . .”

That’s why I need your help to send them an early message that sponsoring GUN CONFISCATION is not acceptable from any politician.

Brauchler isn’t the only one coming in for criticism from RMGO, being featured along with Rep. Cole Wist who sponsored the legislation in question. Neither of these Republicans can afford to lose too much Republican base support if they want to win in November, but RMGO’s supporters are a powerful and frequently decisive factor in Republican primaries. In the general election, the few points of softening of Republican support that result from being on the RMGO’s naughty list could still be a major problem in a close race.

The thing to remember? Dudley Brown doesn’t care. Dudley wants Republicans to be afraid of him. He wants them to know that their political calculus means nothing to him. And if Brauchler or Wist lose in November, Dudley Brown wants to be held responsible.

Just the guy you need in the mix with a tough election coming, said no Colorado Republican ever.

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Mother of Aurora Theater Shooting Victim: Do NOT Elect George Brauchler

TUESDAY UPDATE: It would be difficult to be more tone-deaf than George Brauchler:

—–

Sandy Phillips (left) with daughter Jessica Ghawi.

Last Friday, survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida visited the Never Again (Colorado) chapter to discuss gun violence prevention at Shorter Community AME Church in Denver. Among the speakers at the March for Our Lives Road to Change event was Sandy Phillips, the mother of Aurora Theater Shooting victim Jessica Ghawi, who made a passionate plea to the audience to oppose Republican George Brauchler’s campaign for Attorney General.

The entire event can be viewed on Facebook. Phillips discusses Brauchler’s campaign at the 52:40 mark:

Having gone through the trial with the Aurora killer, we were very supportive of George Brauchler at the time. I ask everyone in this room: Please do NOT elect him as your AG [Attorney General].

We knew that when he decided to try the case, that he was wanting [to pursue] the death penalty. We also knew that we would never get it. We are grateful that they found out so much during that trial – things that none of you should ever have to know. God forbid that you should. So we were grateful that there was a trial, however, that trial cost over $10 million dollars, I believe. And afterwards – we knew that George was very assertive in his opinions – afterwards we really found out how far right he was. When he was running for Governor and got his endorsement from Ted Nugent, who is on the board of the NRA, that was it. That was our last conversation. 

And he said to me, ‘well, you know, there aren’t any laws on the books that could have prevented what happened to your daughter.’ And I said, ‘as a leader of this state, it is your job to make sure that we do have laws on the books that would prevent this from happening.’ [Pols emphasis]

As your AG, he would have the power to try – or not try – to try his best to roll back [gun violence prevention] laws that are in place. So I urge you, please, whoever is running against him…and I don’t know who it is [several people in the crowd yell out “Phil Weiser”]…I will work for him, from now until the [inaudible].

Brauchler is seeking the open seat for Attorney General in November against Democrat Phil Weiser.

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Gardner, NRA Tied Up in Campaign Finance Fiasco

And that’s how you make Cory Gardner’s famous “loophole sausage”

Last week Politico Magazine outlined the strange case of a “mystery” organization that received millions of dollars from the National Rifle Association (NRA) to produce a plethora of advertisements promoting Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in 2014. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was one of the primary beneficiaries of this spending, though his campaign’s involvement with the entire process reeks of illegal coordination.

From Politico Magazine:

To get its message out, the NRA turned to an unknown consulting firm, Starboard Strategic, paying it $19 million. More than a third of that money was invested in must-win Senate seats in Colorado, North Carolina and Arkansas — three of the most expensive in the country — paying for a host of television, radio and internet ads…

…Acquiring business of this magnitude would be an incredible feat for a firm with no reputation. The question is whether it was really accomplished by Starboard, or another outfit called OnMessage.

Well-established and well-connected, OnMessage is as transparent as Starboard is opaque. What the Federal Election Commission and the public do not know is that the two entities appear to be functionally one and the same. [Pols emphasis]

Friday’s story from Politico Magazine prompted an official complaint today from the Campaign Legal Center “alleging that the National Rifle Association (NRA) violated federal law by using a common vendor to coordinate illegally with four U.S. Senate campaigns.”

“There is substantial evidence that the NRA funneled millions through a shell corporation to unlawfully coordinate with candidates it was backing,” said Brendan Fischer, director, federal reform at CLC. “The NRA using inside information about a candidate’s strategy to create ‘independent’ ads supporting him creates an unfair advantage, and it violates the law. According to the Supreme Court, groups like the NRA can only make unlimited expenditures if they are independent of the candidates they support, and it falls to the FEC to enforce the laws that preserve that independence and prevent corruption.”

As you can see from the graphic at right, OnMessage and Starboard Strategic are essentially the same company, which is a problem when you finish connect the dots on this sordid affair. Let’s go back to Politico Magazine:

In 2014, among OnMessage’s most prominent clients were three Republican challengers vying for Senate seats in the same races where the NRA would pay Starboard some of its biggest outlays of the cycle: Thom Tillis, in North Carolina; Cory Gardner, in Colorado; and Tom Cotton, in Arkansas. All of these candidates would defeat Democratic incumbents, cementing the result for which GOP leaders and the NRA had mobilized: a Republican majority in the upper chamber to match the one in the House. Each challenger paid OnMessage $5 million to $8 million, far more than they paid any other vendors.

Campaign-finance rules prohibit coordination between official campaigns and outside groups, such as the NRA, who support the same candidate. Those restrictions, in turn, give force to a fundamental law governing political spending. Outside groups can independently disburse unlimited sums to influence elections. But they can give no more than $5,000 when giving directly to a candidate…

…Two former FEC chairs, one Republican and the other Democrat, reviewed the findings of Politico Magazine and The Trace, and said they found them troubling. “This evidence raises substantial questions about whether OnMessage and Starboard Strategic were used as conduits for coordination between the NRA and the candidates it was supporting,” Trevor Potter, the Republican, said. “It’s pretty serious,” added Ann Ravel, the Democrat. “It doesn’t seem right.” Both former chairs independently came to the same conclusion: “The FEC should investigate.“

The NRA was apparently funneling millions of dollars to Starboard Strategic at the same time that Gardner’s 2014 campaign was also spending millions of dollars with OnMessage for campaign consulting work. This is about as obvious a case of illegal coordination as we’ve ever seen.

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Sell Out Your County and Lose Your Seat

Soon-to-be former Yuma County Sheriff Chad Day

One of the more interesting Primary Election stories that you might have missed happened in Yuma, Colorado, where Sheriff Chad Day lost his job in a Republican Primary to challenger Todd Combs.

Day will be out of a job just months after news reports detailing agreements to “deputize” a mega-rich GOP donor and his friends who were looking to take advantage of a loophole in the law that would allow them to carry a concealed weapon wherever they went. In exchange for adding billionaire hedge-fund manager Robert Mercer and pals — none of whom live anywhere near Yuma, Colorado — to a list of volunteer “posse” members with the Sheriff’s Department, Day received a shiny new Dodge Ram 1500 Limited pickup truck for his official use, as well as $20,000 worth of tasers and an apparent promise to get more money for new handguns. Day defended this decision by making absurd claims that Mercer and his buddies were an important part of some sort of undercover police operation against a Mexican drug cartel (we couldn’t possibly make this up).

Yuma County voters were apparently not pleased that Day was selling out their community for gifts from out-of-state billionaires, and they promptly voted him out of office. Day is also the current President of the Colorado County Sheriffs’ Association, which doesn’t reflect well on the rest of the state — fortunately he won’t be holding that title much longer.

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If You Want a Semi-Automatic AR-15, Maybe You Should Start Going to GOP Fundraisers

(We’re good, thanks – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

If you want to start amassing guns, you might consider attending Republican Party fundraisers in Colorado.

To get your own military-style semi-automatic AR-15 rifle this weekend, you’d have to be lucky (or unlucky if you hate guns), because it’s the grand prize in a Saturday raffle for the Teller County Republican Party.

In May, you could have gotten one at a GOP fundraiser in Colorado Springs.

The AR-15 is the firearm used at the mass killings of students in Florida this year and Sandy Hook in 2012. it was used in the Las Vegas massacre in 2017 and San Bernadino in 2015. And, unfortunately, elsewhere.

Does that bother the organizers of the raffle?

“Absolutely not,” said Erik Stone, the elected chair of the Teller County Republican Party, told the Colorado Times Recorder. “Individual people are responsible for individual acts. Guns are inanimate objects. They are tools. They can be used the same as a car, a knife, a sword, as we saw in Kansas City. There are many weapons people can use with evil intent. And I have no problems with our raffle.”

Stone said the winner of the raffle will have to pass a background check before receiving his or her grand prize.

“If they cannot pass a background check, they will receive a cash prize in lieu of the firearm,” said Stone, adding that he is not only a gun-rights advocate but also an NRA certified instructor who recently taught a free concealed-carry class for teachers and first responders. “Everything will be done completely legally.”

At a GOP fundraiser in May, your chance to win an AR-15 would probably have been more pricey. Instead of being raffled off, the weapon was the first of six “live auction items” at the El Paso County Republican Party’s annual fundraiser at the Antlers Hotel in downtown Colorado Springs.

The estimated value of the AR-15 for this weekend’s raffle is $1,500. The second prize in the raffle is 10 one-once Liberty Silver Dollars, with a retail value of $200. Money goes to Republican efforts in Teller County, located outside of Colorado Springs.

Stone said the AR-15 has multiple uses. It is America’s number one gun choice for killing varmints, he said, which is the same point made in March by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) when he said farmers and ranchers in his district use the AR-15 to shoot “pests, raccoons, or foxes or other smaller animals that are trying get into their chickens or disrupt their operations.”

Gun-safety advocates say you don’t need a semi-automatic weapon to kill raccoons or other farm pests. It’s essentially a military weapon, designed for rapid-fire killing not hunting or other civilian use, they say.

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