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.

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.

“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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Levi Tillemann’s Macestravaganza: Don’t Try It For Reals

The story of second-tier Democratic congressional candidate Levi Tillemann’s freakshow campaign video macing himself and graphically depicting the aftereffects has gone national, with news outlets from The Hill to Deadspin urging their readers to drop what they’re doing and gawk in horror at a person willingly subjecting himself to laughably extreme pain and indignity. The spectacle of Tillemann’s self-incapacitation by pepper spray hasn’t inspired support so much as bemusement–at the over-the-top lengths longshot political candidates will go to to put themselves on the radar.

But once you stop laughing/staring blankly in horror/whatever your first blush reaction to this video may have been, at some point the next logical question must present itself, presumably as Tillemann intended–would giving teachers pepper spray actually work?

FOX 31 did a Truth Check on the question last night, and the answer appears to be no:

Exact quote in ad: “Empower schools and teachers with non-lethal self defense tools like this can of pepper spray […] trust me this will stop anyone in their tracks.”

Verdict: Not exactly.

Reason: It is true that pepper spray has previously stopped school shootings. In 2014, a shooter at Seattle Pacific University was disarmed because a student had access to pepper spray.

However according to some law enforcement experts — the tactic would not “stop anyone in their tracks.”

“Absolutely one of the dumbest plans I have ever heard in my life,” Grant Whitus, a retired Jefferson County SWAT team member, told the Truth Check.

“To even use it effectively law enforcement is taught to take it out and shake it and then spray it and you get an effective range of 12-15 feet. How do you get 12-15 feet in front of a mass shooter and not get shot?” Whitus added.

Much like a well-timed kick to the groin or a handy baseball bat, there’s certainly a chance that pepper spray could be effectively employed against a school shooter in certain scenarios. But practically speaking, it’s not a reliable solution for school shootings given the easy countermeasures a shooter could employ to protect himself, and the highly unequal terms on which a pepper-spray armed teacher would confront someone carrying a gun.

So to summarize, an idea that Tillemann thought was such a groundbreaking contribution to the debate over gun violence in schools that he felt compelled to graphically demonstrate it on himself…isn’t even a good idea.

That’s something you should be 100% sure about before you mace yourself.

Gun Nut Assholes Afoot As Primary Election Nears

FOX 31 reports, with passions running as high as ever over the issue of gun control and the primary elections just a couple of weeks away, the issue’s trademark nastiness was bound to bubble up sooner or later:

A man said he is rattled and his children are frightened after someone put a target practice paper with bullet holes in his backyard one day after he put up a sign for a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in his front yard…

Ryan is a supporter of Mike Johnston, the former state legislator now running for governor of Colorado in 2018. On Friday, he planted a sign for Johnston in his yard.

On Saturday, Ryan said someone put a target practice paper in his backyard with bullet holes in it.

“It was so surreal. I think here in Stapleton, you think you are in a bubble but it brought me back to reality,” said Ryan.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston has made gun safety a major campaign theme, so it’s not a surprise that his name has come to be associated with the issue in the minds of angry supporters of gun rights–and with public opinion turning against the laissez faire interpretation of the Second Amendment that has prevailed in recent years, ardent gun rights supporters, especially in the state of Colorado, are very angry. That makes this incident deplorable, but unsurprising in the least.

On the upside, for every piece of human debris who thinks this kind of intimidation is cool there are a dozen who will be just a little bit more anti-gun after they see it.

How Colorado Republicans Blocked an Opportunity to Save Lives

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Alec Garnett (D-Denver)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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