Recallers Rebrand: Meet Colorado Freedom Force

(The Force will not necessarily be with you – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado’s recall leaders aren’t calling it quits, they’re just rebranding and expanding.

Today, the Resist Polis PAC, which claimed to have collected hundreds of thousands of signatures but didn’t turn in any, re-launched as Colorado Freedom Force, with renamed Facebook groups and a new website complete with a new donation page. Divisions between the various recall entities, however, are presenting challenges for the new group’s organizing and fundraising plans.

On October 4, Korry Lewis, spokesperson and filing agent for Resist Polis PAC’s failed gubernatorial recall group and daughter of state Rep. Kimmie Lewis (R-Kim), filed articles of incorporation for a new 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the “Colorado Freedom Force.”

Resist Polis PAC has rebranded its regional chapter Facebook groups and shared the new website on each page, encouraging supporters to join the new email list and donate anonymously:

“Today, the most important step you can take is to join our force by adding your name. Join the Force – Click Here. This is the very best way to stay up to date with what’s going on in Colorado.

The second most important step would be to chip in to our cause. As a 501(c)4 organization, your contribution will remain anonymous, and there is no limit as to how much you can give.”


In the statewide Facebook group, several commenters expressed skepticism, questioning the group’s purpose and noting that they felt like their previous donations had been wasted. Lewis pushed back, asking to which of the two Polis recall groups the commenters had contributed money and specifying CFF’s anticipated activities.

According to Lewis, the CFF will organize in a variety of ways:

“Colorado Freedom Force is essentially a grassroots army of people throughout Colorado who are willing to take action to protect their freedoms. That may be through signature-gathering efforts (initiatives, referendums, or recalls), testifying at the Capitol, or educating voters about candidates and ballot measures.”

In addition to serving as the filing agent for Resist Polis PAC, Lewis coordinated the group’s half-hearted recall efforts against Colorado state senators. She solicited donations on behalf of all three recalls: Governor Polis, Sen. Brittany Pettersen, (D-Lakewood) and Sen. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs).

(more…)

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School Districts Take Action On Vaccinations


Measles.

The Colorado Sun’s Jennifer Brown reports:

Concern that Colorado is vulnerable to a major outbreak of measles, mumps or whooping cough has prompted a few school districts to try something new: follow state law.

Colorado requires that school districts exclude students from school if they do not have up-to-date immunizations or exemptions on file. But most districts do not follow that law, and the state health department has no mechanism to enforce it…

Littleton Public Schools picked Friday as the day students still not in compliance — despite numerous phone calls, emails and letters going back to May — were excluded from school. On Thursday, school officials called the nearly 100 students left on the list. And on Friday, those still without vaccinations or exemptions were sent to the office, where parents were required to pick them up.

Boulder Valley School District, which has the highest vaccine-exemption rate in the state, set Dec. 2 as its deadline…

Readers will recall that this year’s legislative session saw a battle over legislation requiring parents seeking an exemption to immunization requirements for their children to file their request in person with the state health department. Debate over the issue went sideways after Gov. Jared Polis waded in less than helpfully to sympathize with anti-vaxxer parents while still supporting vaccination in principle–a mistake Polis walked back later by announcing some limited executive measures to combat the problem.

Republicans, meanwhile, are plowing ahead with making “vaccine freedom” a central election issue. A “Vaccines and Health Choice” summit at the Colorado State Capitol hosted by the Colorado GOP’s “gruesome twosome” Rep. Lori Saine and Sen. Vicki Marble was postponed last week due to bad weather but is expected to be rescheduled soon. During the last four years of Republican majority in the Colorado Senate, legislation to weaken vaccine exemption requirements was the rule that chamber with Senators like Marble and Sen. Laura Woods eager to position the GOP as the anti-vaxxer party.

With school districts now taking matters into their own hands after years of unproductive debate, we expect there to be another concerted attempt to improve Colorado’s bottom-ranked child immunization rate legislatively in the 2020 session. Hopefully better cooperation between the first and second floors of the Capitol–insider shorthand for the legislature and the governor’s office–will result in what every responsible party says they want, fewer unvaccinated children in Colorado schools.

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Something BIG Is About To Happen, Say Polis Recall Crazies


That’s what the Resist Polis PAC, the organization that just wrapped up the humiliating failure of a recall petition drive against Gov. Jared Polis, allegedly netting less than half the required total and never turning in any signatures to how for sure, is telling supporters on Facebook. Stay tuned! These folks are about to (their words) “shake up Colorado Politics forever!” This time they we’re being asked to believe they mean it, unlike the Polis recall that didn’t shake up much of anything. You can sign up to get the big news first, and be assured gentle readers that this time,

Colorado Politics will never be the same again. [Pols emphasis]

Are you excited? Because we’re excited.

The possibilities stretch the imagination, don’t they? At least as much as the “summer of recalls” stretched and eventually busted wide open the bounds of credulity! Tell us what you think the next move for the once-vaunted Recall Polis PAC will be via the poll below.

For best accuracy, aim low.

What will the big announcement from the Recall Polis PAC be?
They are giving back the money
They persuaded the other Recall Polis group to give back the money
They are setting their remaining money on fire
The money will be donated to the TWRTRUMGPTTP PAC
Another recall because why the hell not
Secession 2020
Leading mass emigration to a red state
Not sure/other (specify)
View Result

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Garcia, Magnanimous In Victory, Accepts Post’s Mea Culpa


Senate President Leroy Garcia (D).

Colorado Public Radio’s Taylor Allen reports from yesterday’s well-deserved “victory lap” press conference by Senate President Leroy Garcia, after the recall campaign against him collapsed in a heap at the end of last week:

Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia on Thursday said he’s looking forward to the new legislative session — especially after surviving a recall effort to oust him…

Garcia was one of the six legislators who was the target of ousters during what he calls “the summer of recalls.”

“[It] spotlighted Colorado in a way that we wanted to be spotlighted in,” Garcia said. “And it’s sad to say that some Republicans took Colorado to a new low.”

“Quasi-newsman” Joey Bunch of the Colorado Springs Gazette does what he can to lessen the blow for the GOP:

“It’s no secret Republicans struggled with the new majority, and quite frankly, I would argue, with the reality,” Garcia said. “Some reverted to political shenanigans, in addition to endless temper tantrums.”

He called the recalls a tactic that was better left to Washington politics. Garcia didn’t say it, but the notable difference is that in Washington, it’s Democrats trying to oust Republican President Donald Trump via impeachment.

It’s difficult to see how impeachment “whataboutism” helps Republicans look any better after the once-balleyhooed “summer of recalls”–especially since a majority of Coloradans support impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump in the most recent poll, and unlike the recalls Trump is increasingly likely to actually be impeached. Beyond that, the moral difference between the failed Colorado recall attempts based on wild misinformation and Trump’s impeachment over serious abuses of foreign policy for political gain are fundamental enough to make the comparison absurd.

On the other hand, the Denver Post took a very different approach to the end of “recall season”–apologizing for their role in hyping what turned out to be a toothless threat from the Garcia recall organizers. Here’s reporter Alex Burness and politics editor Cindi Andrews commendably leveling with Post readers:

Reporters hate being lied to. But it does happen — pretty often, actually — and we are constantly sharing newsworthy statements we have no way to verify. We make sure to attribute these statements to the speakers, so they are not confused for verified facts…

With the previous recall efforts, organizers dropped their efforts when it was evident they wouldn’t have enough signatures — they didn’t go to the trouble of delivering near-empty boxes. We work very hard to avoid being conduits for false information, knowing we can’t always control that.

But we can reflect. And, as the grifters found out, lying to honest reporters doesn’t pay. They’ve permanently damaged their credibility, and their Budweiser-box display in Denver may have done long-term damage to their movement back home. The chair of the Pueblo County GOP told me Wednesday she wishes the organizers had just stayed home. [Pols emphasis]

Looking back not just at the failed Garcia recall but at every one of the attempts launched by Republicans to exact opportunistic revenge for 2018’s devastating losses, it’s clear that the credibility damage from these months of wasted time and money should extend well beyond the two amateur sideshow freaks who delivered the Garcia recall campaign’s four signatures. The Colorado Republican Party’s entire leadership elected this year cheered on and even helped organize the most optically disastrous of the recalls. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville raised money for his family political operation on the pretense of recalling his Democratic colleagues.

Leroy Garcia may be taking the high road, but Republicans still have much to answer for.

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The Boundless Griftiness of Colorado Conservatives


Juli-Andra Fuentes

Today is the deadline for Republicans to submit petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in their efforts to recall Senate President Leroy Garcia. Organizers of the Garcia recall have hinted that they may actually submit signatures today, rather than just letting the deadline pass with a sheepish admission of failure; given the 2019 track record of Republican recall efforts, you have every right to be skeptical of any announcement.

Readers of Colorado Pols are well aware that the various recall attempts of Democratic elected officials that we’ve seen over the past few months have been largely about grifting — using “organizing” efforts to convince poor conservative saps to sign over their social security checks (quite literally). Some recall donors did come to realize that their money was basically being set on fire, but there’s not a lot of recourse for someone hoping to recoup money that disappeared into coffers overseen by self-identified “board members” like Juli-Andra Fuentes.

Fuentes, you may recall, was one of the main public faces of the “Official Recall Jared Polis” organization that didn’t even bother collecting petition signatures and crapped all over attempts by a different Polis recall group to actually attempt a real recall effort. About $30,000 raised by Fuentes’ group was “donated” to another invented organization called “Colorado for Trump,” which seemed to be largely about Fuentes trying to force President Trump to call her personally (you can’t make this stuff up).

Kyle Clark of 9News has kept an eye on the transactions of the “Official Recall Jared Polis” group and their band of gypsies. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the tale just keeps getting weirder:

CLARK: We continue to track the money raised for the recall of Democratic Governor Jared Polis. The “Official” recall group never attempted a recall, but it kept the money; gave thousands of dollars to its leadership as gifts; then reclassified the money as “consulting fees” when we asked about it. But that’s not even the strangest part.

Almost $30,000 in donations meant to recall Gov. Polis was instead shifted to a new political committee called “Colorado for Trump.” It’s run by the same woman who ran the failed recall group, Juli-Andra Fuentes. The Trump campaign is upset — says it has no association with her group [and] even threatened legal action. Fuentes has told me the President should call her personally.

But now Fuentes has changed her group’s purpose with the Secretary of State’s office. It says the word “Trump” is actually the initials T-R-U-M-P. Says that it stands for “Truth will Restore the republic and Unbiased Media gives Power to the people.”…

…At least we know what happens when a recall fails and the donations land in another bank account. They go, “TWRTRUMGPTTP.”

This is funny…if it isn’t your money.

As we’ve discussed before in this space, there are several downsides to the year of Recall-palooza for Republicans. The 2020 election is just around the corner, and all of this griftiness will undoubtedly make it harder for GOP candidates and staffers to raise money and find volunteers for legitimate campaigns.

For example, as Joey Bunch reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, two notable Colorado Republicans have started a new online platform with the hopes of connecting like-minded conservatives that requires some stringent security measures. Former State Rep. Matt Knoedler and longtime GOP operative Allen Fuller (who is also Bob Beauprez’s son-in-law) are the minds behind “CaucusRoom,” which sounds kind of like a cross between MySpace and the NextDoor app. Knoedler and Fuller say their platform will encourage conservatives to organize online and find like-minded neighbors, but this is the their number one selling point: “Bank-level verification of all members to weed out bots and fake accounts.”

Here’s how the process is explained on the “CaucusRoom” website:

Every CaucusRoom user goes through a verification process that requires more information than other social networks. This allows us to ensure the friends and neighbors you interact with on CaucusRoom are truly your friends and neighbors, and helps to keep out bots and those who are not interested in being positive members of our community…

In order to verify all of our users are real people (no bots or fake accounts!), we require that each user enters complete and accurate information when they sign up. This includes your full name, home address (no P.O. boxes please!) and your real birthdate. [Pols emphasis]

We have no reason to suspect that “CaucusRoom” won’t keep your personal information secure and that your name won’t show up on some weird list in six months, but after all the lies and grifting associated with Republican recall efforts, we’d absolutely think twice about signing up for something like this. That might not be fair to Knoedler and Fuller, but that’s what happens when Republicans let these wacky recall efforts go unchecked.

If you signed your name to a recall petition in the last 6 months, there’s no telling what actually happened to that information (it didn’t get submitted to the Secretary of State, we know that much). If you made a donation to one of these recall efforts, there’s a very good chance that your money went into somebody else’s pocket for purposes that had nothing to do with recalling anyone. If you are a Republican trying to organize for other campaigns and goals heading into 2020, everything you do is tainted by the recall nonsense.

Elections have consequences, and so do recalls — even when they fail.

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Halliburt-Oh No! Big Oil BS Explodes In Local GOP Faces


The last 24 hours have witnessed a remarkable turn of events that has played out mostly on social media, and resulted in considerable embarrassment for local Republicans and the fossil fuel energy industry PR people who they work closely with. The long battle this year over Senate Bill 19-181, landmark legislation reforming the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission that passed this year, has been a story of hyperbole and engineered backlash slowly giving way to the reality of a law that, while reforming regulatory oversight of oil and gas drilling to prioritize public safety over “fostering” more oil and gas drilling, does not represent anything like the disaster for the industry Republicans and industry flacks like the Colorado Oil and Gas Association warned it would be.

Closing the gap between propaganda and reality over SB-181 was part of the reason why the spate of recall attempts mounted by the Colorado GOP in 2019 against various state legislators and Gov. Jared Polis fizzled–in marked contrast to the infamous 2013 recalls over gun safety legislation. As energy companies assured their investors that they were still able to operate under the new regulations and the swift destruction of the industry in Colorado failed to materialize, the outrage evaporated–and unlike the social wedge issues that have kept the far right frothing at the mouth, it’s the energy industry that has the money to actually retaliate if they wished to. And they don’t.

But despite all the news in recent weeks about the energy industry’s success adapting and prospering in the new regulatory environment of SB-181, energy services giant Halliburton announced this week the layoff of 650 employees in four states, including 178 in Grand Junction. The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Dennis Webb:

Company spokesperson Emily Mir said in an email Tuesday that the company “made reductions to its employee workforce in Grand Junction due to local market conditions. Making this decision was not easy, nor taken lightly, but unfortunately it was necessary as we work to align our operations to reduced customer activity.”

She said that across Halliburton’s Rockies region, which includes Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and North Dakota, about 650 employees were affected…

In July, the Houston Chronicle reported that Halliburton cut 8% of its North American workforce as it took fleets of hydraulic fracturing equipment out of the field due to a continued slump in demand for frack services due to low oil prices.

The extremely close relationship between the Colorado GOP and the oil and gas industry means that they regularly coordinate to achieve common goals. Sure enough, Colorado Republicans and energy PR flacks leapt on this story with a ferocity and quickness that strongly suggests they were coordinated. And of course, the acrimony was laid entirely at the feet of Gov. Polis and SB-181:

The hard push from local Republicans and their comms operatives to hype this story against the prevailing narrative on SB-181 shows how desperate they are to inflict political damage on Democrats ahead of the 2020 elections. 2019 is coming to a close for the Colorado GOP as a “lost year” of further weakness after their devastating losses in 2018, and they’re scrambling for any political leverage they can find in the wreckage.

But a funny thing happened after yesterday’s coordinated message offensive against SB-181: notwithstanding FOX 31’s Joe St. George who got duped again, local reporters pushed back just as hard on the GOP’s spin.

(more…)

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Ben Engen Cashes In On Moribund Garcia Recall


GOP operative Ben Engen.

As readers know, all of the recall attempts initiated by Colorado Republicans in retaliation for last year’s landslide victories for Democrats in this state have fizzled except one: the recall petition due later this month against Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo, the immediate successor to ex-Sen. Angela Giron who was successfully recalled in the fall of 2013.

By all accounts, that ain’t happening again in 2019. Everything we’ve heard from Pueblo is that the signature drive against Garcia has flatlined much like the failed campaigns against Sens. Brittany Pettersen and Pete Lee, Gov. Jared Polis, and the particularly ill-fated recall attempt against freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan–whose advocacy for gun safety legislation after his son was killed in the Aurora shooting made him an audacious but in the end self-injurious target for Colorado Republicans.

But as we learned with the failed but financially lucrative Recall Polis drive, success isn’t the only objective! Not when there’s cold hard cash to be made along the way by all those friendly and super “helpful” for-profit political consultants–consultants who get paid win or lose. And sure enough, in the Committee to Recall Leroy Garcia’s latest fundraising report, you’ll find big line-items for consultants:

Recall Garcia started the reporting period with $2,378 on hand, and reported $4,429 raised, $4,844 spent, with $1,962 cash remaining on hand. Given the pitiful amount of money we’re talking about here, it’s fascinating to see that the biggest expenditure, over $1,700, is for “fundraising consultants!” That suggests to us that the return on investment was…rather poor.

But at least as interesting to us is the $1,200 paid to Ben Engen of Constellation Political Strategies, the young Republican operative who became infamous as the “Johnny Appleseed of recalls” after a video surfaced of Engen very frankly admitting to a GOP audience that recalls were about a “re-weighting of the electorate”–giving Republicans the chance to sneak otherwise unobtainable wins via a recall “that just comes out of nowhere and blindsides” Democrats.

In the end, it’s Republicans who got burned by “recall season.” But for the for-profit side of Republican politics, the checks still cashed. And that’s all that matters.

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Getting Stupid With The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel


The headline appeared at the Grand Junction Sentinel yesterday, bold face and ominous:

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

Followed by a story that might make what’s known in the business as “low-information voters” think that oh yes indeedy, Gov. Jared Polis remains in political hot water despite this summer’s failed attempt to place a recall question on the ballot:

The majority of those surveyed feel the recent efforts to recall Colorado Gov. Jared Polis will have a meaningful impact on state politics, according to a poll on gjsentinel.com.

Efforts to recall Polis dominated the state’s political landscape this summer, but the groups gathering signatures ultimately fell well short of the 631,266 valid signatures required.

Slightly more than 65% of respondents affirmed the recall efforts, with 289 saying that it represented a large segment of the voting population. Others felt it sets the stage for further recall efforts (153) and sends a message to the governor (91).

Skeptical yet? You should be, because in the 5th paragraph a crucial detail is added below the fold:

Daily Sentinel polls are open-access and do not meet the criteria to be considered true scientific polls. [Pols emphasis]

That’s right, folks–although the Daily Sentinel is a legitimate news outlet that generally adheres to mutually accepted journalistic standards, this is a story about an online poll published on the Sentinel’s website. The respondents to the poll are self-selected visitors of the website. Basically the exact opposite a reliable cross-section of public opinion, online “polls” can be skewed simply by promoting the poll to an audience likely to vote a certain way. Even without deliberate manipulation there’s nothing to establish the poll’s respondents as representative of anything.

We also put up online polls from time to time, which are similarly unscientific and open to manipulation by anyone who cares enough about a poll on our blog to do it. The difference is that we would never represent such a poll as anything more than a discussion item for our readers. When you see a headline on this blog reporting the results of a “poll,” it’s an actual poll conducted with transparent standards and methodology.

With President Donald Trump Tweeting out the similarly absurd “results” of online polls at the hard-right propaganda website Breitbart News, it’s more important than ever that legitimate news organizations draw a bright white line between credible surveys of public opinion and garbage data with no credibility whatsoever.

For the Grand Junction Sentinel, that means never, ever writing a headline as misleading as this one again.

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SB-181 Madness: Apology Time Yet?


As Colorado Public Radio’s Ben Markus reports:

Six months after shouting that new legislative drilling regulations were an existential threat to their industry in Colorado, the state’s oil and gas producers are now whispering a different message to Wall Street:

No big deal.

The law was billed by both supporters and opponents as a sea change in how the industry is policed, giving local governments and state agencies greater authority to decide where and how drilling can occur. But in filings with the federal Security and Exchange Commission, some of Colorado’s largest drillers now express confidence that they can easily navigate the regulations spinning out of Senate Bill 19-181.

“We do not foresee significant changes to our development plans, as we have all necessary approvals of more than 550 permits to drill wells over the next several years,” Noble Energy representatives wrote to investors.

During the long debate in the Colorado General Assembly this year over Senate Bill 19-181, the landmark reform bill changing the relationship between state oil and gas regulators in the industry from “promotion” of more drilling to the protection of public health and safety first and foremost, the oil and gas industry’s PR armies warned of historic doom and gloom for Colorado’s economy. It would be nearly impossible, and we surely don’t have time to do it ourselves, to list out every time a Republican lawmaker or oil and gas industry press flack claimed with absolutely zero factual basis that SB-181 would “shut down oil and gas production in Colorado.”

The gospel-truth assumption that SB-181 was intended to and would speedily bring about the shutdown of oil and gas drilling in Colorado helped fuel the wave of irrational anger that Republicans deliberately sought to inflame during and after the 2019 legislative session, for the purpose of justifying recall attempts against opportune state legislative targets as well as Gov. Jared Polis. In Greeley, a town heavily dominated by oil and gas-friendly politics and politicians, the supposed threat of SB-181 ripping the local oil and gas industry apart provided cover to the attempt to recall now ex-Rep. Rochelle Galindo via a far nastier anti-LGBT “whisper campaign.”

But then a funny thing happened. Word started to leak out that despite all the weeping and gnashing of teeth over SB-181’s impending destruction, SB-181 wasn’t going to destroy the oil and gas industry at all. Energy producers started quietly telling their investors that they had all the permits they need for years of unhindered operations and were prepared to work with the new law’s additional protections. The gap between dire forecast and reality with regard to SB-181 isn’t the only reason the “summer of recalls” have sputtered out one after another in recent weeks, but it’s just not possible to maintain the level of public backlash required to pull off a recall without something to substantiate the allegations.

So the next time–and you can be assured there will be a next time–somebody tells you SB-181 is destroying/has destroyed past-tense the oil and gas industry in Colorado, here’s your rejoinder! And if you really want to irritate your conservative friends, follow that up with a brief lesson on the global energy economy, which as you and Gov. Polis already know dictates the fate of Colorado’s oil and gas industry far more than SB-181 ever could.

And yes, hopefully next time…nobody believes the hype to begin with.

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Recall Cashola: From Grifting To “Gifting”


FRIDAY UPDATE: Amateur hour continues, writes Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette:

After Colorado Politics reported that a Polis recall committee had disclosed distributing $11,000 in contributed funds as gifts to people involved in the group, the committee has amended state filings to say that the payments were for “consultant and professional services” instead of “gifts.”

The amended report from “Official Recall Governor Jared Polis” group — filed at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, hours after CoPo’s story was posted — labels the purpose of those expenditures as “BOARD APPROVED – THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT COLORADO.”

The previous filing identified the purpose as as “BOARD GIFT – THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT COLORADO.” Other information about the payments was not changed.

That’s a swell amendment, but we’d say the grounds for the mother of all campaign finance complaints have only been reinforced by this act of ex post facto backside covering. We assume that will be the next shoe to drop–unless it just plain becomes time to start arresting people for fraud! We’ll leave that question to the lawyers, who should be coming directly.

—–

As the Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports, the end of the road has come for the Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis Issue Committee–and after diverting $29,000 into a committee calling itself Colorado For Trump, thousands of dollars in donations to the committee are being given out as “gifts” to the abortive campaign’s organizers:

The Official Recall of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis group — which didn’t participate in the recent failed recall attempt by two other groups — has given $11,000 of the money it raised for the effort as gifts to staffers.

According to online campaign finance records filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, committee manager Shane Donnelley got $5,000 as a “thank you for caring about Colorado” gift, and secretary Lisa Pascoe and Weld County lead Rene McGill both received $3,000.

“Whether you call it a grift or a gift, this is just the latest in a string of events that show these recalls are being driven by scammers who are looking out for their own interests at the expense of unwitting voters,” said Curtis Hubbard, the spokesman for the Democratic group working against the recalls, Democracy First.

When we last checked in on the ashes of the failed push to recall Gov. Jared Polis earlier this month, the chair of the committee Juli-Andra Fuentes said she was waiting for a phone call (that wasn’t coming) from President Donald Trump personally before deciding what next to do with the $29,000 she diverted to “Colorado For Trump” from the Recall Polis committee–which might include legal defense if she’s sued by the Trump campaign for misuse of their brand.  Shane Donnelley, as readers know, is one of the original organizers of the committee, but stepped back from a public role after anti-Semitic posts from Donnelley and another principal organizer Judy Spady wound up on the evening news.

The diversion of tens of thousands of dollars into the bogus Trump committee, and the thousands paid to local political operatives like Jon Caldara and Scott Gessler for their “Freedomfy” fundraising platform and legal fees respectively are well-known scandals at this point. But this latest disclosure of $11,000 given away as “gifts” to organizers after a campaign that accomplished absolutely nothing–helping principally to discredit the Polis recall petition drive after it commenced–is absolutely gobsmacking in its audacity.

This is a campaign whose donors literally contributed their SSI checks.

And they’re pocketing the money.

It may not be on a grand scale, but it is easily as disgraceful as anything we’ve seen in this business.

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“Recall Polis” Grift Descends To New Depths Of Griftiness


With the campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis now consigned to the dustbin of history, we’ve been following developments surrounding the roughly $100,000 raised by the “Official” Recall Jared Polis committee–which readers will recall is the committee that decided not to launch a recall attempt without the huge financial and volunteer commitment that would be necessary and condemned the “Dismiss Polis” campaign for moving ahead without the resources to succeed. Earlier this month, we took note of a large transfer of funds from the “Official” Polis Recall committee to a committee named “Colorado For Trump,” and took that as a sign that their operations were winding down.

But as 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark reports in the video above, that’s not where this sorry story ends:

You read that correctly: “Colorado For Trump” is not affiliated with the Trump campaign whatsoever, and is in fact run by the same Juli-Andra Fuentes who ran the “Official” Recall Polis committee. The Trump campaign is threatening legal action, and now Fuentes is talking about all kinds of alternative destinations for the committee’s remaining cash:

Of course Scott Gessler gets some of the money! Gessler attaching himself to the revenue stream of this summer’s failed recall attempts has got to be one of the most under-reported angles on the whole story and we hope somebody catches up with him for a few questions. As for the rest of the cash, this boils down to a hard lesson in the pitfalls of political giving–in particular giving to PACs and other entities without a clear purpose and accountability for the monies raised.

This is a campaign that literally had donors pledging their disability and Social Security checks to make donations in their misguided low-information fervor to bring Gov. Polis down. To see that money now slushing around in the hands of obviously marginal people with no sense of responsibility to the donors they spent months fleecing is…well, it ought to be a crime. The only reason it may not be is because the “ScamPAC” industry pays the mortgages of a lot of people in politics. Like Scott Gessler.

When does it stop being a political campaign and just become a fraud? This situation is pushing the boundary.

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“Dismiss Polis” Turns To Next Existential Threat: Vaccines!


The social media groups for the now-defeated recall attempt against Gov. Jared Polis have been fairly quiet in the week since the effort met its ignominious end–which makes sense since when one suffers a humiliating defeat that should rightly make one question the last six months of their lives’ work at least, if not much larger and more basic questions about their worldview, it’s probably a good idea to look at the floor and think about things for awhile quietly.

But of course the world is never rid of bogeymen, especially when you see them everywhere–and in the “Dismiss Polis” Facebook group, they’ve already moved on to the next crisis:

Back in June, Gov. Polis announced an executive order aiming to improve the state of Colorado’s last-in-the-nation ranking for kindergarten immunizations, with a number of limited steps directing the state Department of Public Health and Environment to look at the problem and standardize the process for requesting exemptions under the law. This order came after Polis controversially opposed a substantially stronger bill from Rep. Kyle Mullica (D) to require vaccine exemption requests to be filed in person. We haven’t seen it confirmed, but it’s reasonable to speculate that this position posting is either related to that executive order or is simply an existing position at CDPHE being turned over.

Either way, Gov. Polis is in no way part of any kind of “crackdown” on child immunizations–to the extent that he took a lot of criticism in the last session for opposing Rep. Mullica’s legislation. How do you get from that reality to sounding the alarm on the Polis recall internets over “immunization compliance inspectors?”

It’s easy if you’re already unhinged.

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(NOT) BREAKING: Polis Recall Petition Drive Ends In Failure


UPDATE #4: Progress Now Colorado tries to take the edge off the bad news for President Donald Trump’s next briefing:

—–

UPDATE #3: Gov. Jared Polis’ full statement:

“After all that fuss, I was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t turn in a single signature on the recall. I hope the remaining misguided efforts against others see the same results as Tom Sullivan’s did before. Recalls should not be used for partisan gamesmanship.

“Yesterday I was in Rifle, last week I was in Ignacio, Cortez, and Durango, and next week I’ll be in Trinidad and Lamar. Across the state, people are so excited that kids everywhere are able to attend kindergarten free of charge, and that for the first time in history, health insurance rates are going down more than 18% next year. Mom and pop stores across the state are already benefiting from our tax cut that reduced taxes for 144,000 small and medium-sized businesses across our state.

“Now that this sideshow is over, I will continue to focus my full attention on building upon our bipartisan success with kindergarten and saving money on health care. For my nine months in office I’ve held regular meetings with Republican and Democratic legislative leadership, and after the remaining recall efforts fail I plan on inviting both sides to a joint bipartisan leadership meeting to discuss how together we can improve our schools, reduce our traffic, and save people even more money on health care. Let’s see what amazing things we can do for Colorado, together.”

—–

That’s not very many boxes.

UPDATE #2: Colorado Sun:

Friday was the end of a 60-day period during which supporters of the recall needed to collect 631,266 valid signatures — or more than 10,521 a day — to make the special election happen. No campaign has ever collected that many signatures in Colorado.

Organizers said they collected more than 300,000 signatures…

Organizers also said they will not turn in the signatures that they did collect. If they did, the people who signed would have been prohibited from signing any other petition to recall Polis during his term in office. The maneuver also prevents the public from knowing who signed the petition.

We feel this is crucial to reiterate. No news story should quote the campaign’s 300,000 signatures claim without noting that this number has not been and at this point will not ever be verified, since the petitions will not be turned into the Secretary of State for verification.

For all we know, those forms could be blank.

—–

UPDATE: Marshall Zelinger of 9NEWS reports that the “Resist Polis” campaign collected roughly 300,000 signatures, less than half the required number and nowhere close to the necessary margin for account for the inevitable invalid signatures. They will not be turning collected signatures in, meaning even these pitiful numbers cannot be verified–but based on the typical validity rate for ballot measure petitions, the number of valid signatures is almost certainly far below the announced total..

In short, the campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis has now been confirmed to be a massive waste of time and energy that in hindsight received much more attention than it ever deserved. Updates, reactions to follow.

—–

That’s the word from a press conference underway now at the “Resist Polis” campaign, whose 60-day window to collect over 630,000 valid Colorado voter signatures ends today.

We’re updating as word comes in, so watch this space.

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“Official” Polis Recall Celebrates Impending Failure Of Polis Recall


If you don’t have the pleasure of being on the “inside” of the 41,000-strong private Facebook group ostensibly devoted to the recall of Gov. Jared Polis–note that the 41,000 did not all join this group for that purpose, since the group has been around threatening the same fate for some years to Gov. Polis’ predecessor–you have to rely on windows into their peculiar little world such our occasional updates.

Readers will recall that the “Official” Recall Polis group distanced themselves from the petition campaign that comes to a close at the end of this week, suggesting that the task was so disproportionate to the resources available that the faction plowing ahead must be supported by Polis himself. And as that fateful deadline approaches, “ORCGJP” chairwoman Juli-Andra Fuentes wants you to know it was all one giant scammy scam-scam just like she told you:

Recalling a statewide official is an immense, difficult and expensive task as putting the recall issue on the ballot requires 631,266 valid signatures, and with a 30% rejection rate, means collecting over 900,000 signatures. Further, with only 60 days to conduct the recall (11,000 signatures a day), means that a statewide governor recall has much less time allotted than a statewide ballot initiative, which only requires about 100,000 valid signatures over 180-day period; still even ballot initiatives often fail.

The recall petition currently being distributed has not even come close to having the resources necessary to get on the ballot. Merely printing petition sections costs roughly $65,000 and those numbers generously assume $5 per section and 70 signature lines per section. According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Dismiss Polis, Resist Polis and Recall Et ALL combined, did not have enough to even cover printing costs and printing is only the first step. The best and most successful volunteer efforts have collected about 40,000 signatures over a six-month timeframe; with only approximately 3,000 Facebook followers, it would be unrealistic to expect Dismiss, Resist and Et ALL to collect 11,000+ signatures a day. Paid signature collectors cost between $3 to $15 a signature so, between that the cost of printing, the math is simple…

The organizers of Dismiss Polis, Resist Polis and Recall Et All are not going to get a recall on the ballot, and it is our belief that was by design. The undertaking of a project of this magnitude needed a tremendous amount of planning and resources for it to be successfully executed. As we all know, if elections have consequences then obviously so do recalls. The consequence of them filing a petition prematurely is they have likely ruined any chance to recall the governor at this time. [Pols emphasis]

Last week, 9NEWS reported that the “Official” Recall Polis campaign divested itself of a large percentage of its funds by writing a $29,000 check to Trump For Colorado. As the statement above indicates this is a committee winding down its operations, not planning to rise again from the ashes of what everyone expects will be a failed attempt to recall Gov. Polis come close of business Friday. As for the stillborn petition drive, we’ve heard rumors that they are “six digits short” of the needed 631,000 signatures to meet the minimum threshold–let alone the hundreds of thousands of additional signatures needed to cover the always-hefty percentage of invalid signers.

They’ll try to spin whatever they get, of course, but what will be no surprise is that their stated goal of 900,000 was a fool’s errand. We’ll be working backward from that figure to calculate just how egregiously this campaign has wasted all of our valuable time.

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Outrage Fatigue: Get a Grip, Cattlemen


The latest threat to liberty.

As the Denver Post’s Nic Garcia reports this burger-grilling Labor Day:

Gov. Jared Polis has rattled some farmers and ranchers with his suggestion that Colorado help its agriculture industry get a foothold in the burgeoning plant-based meat alternative market.

Beef is big business in Colorado. It’s the state’s largest export, totaling nearly $4 billion. So the mere idea that the state could put resources toward the competition has upset industry leaders. What’s more, it’s not a practical idea, some experts say…

“What we can’t and shouldn’t change is that Colorado is a very unique place for beef production,” said Terry R. Fankhauser, vice president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. “To have a governor make any sort of reference that we shouldn’t embrace and support that is problematic.”

2019 has been the year in which Colorado Republicans have positively thrown the kitchen sink at Democrats from Gov. Jared Polis on down, seeking to gin up outrage after Democrats triumphed in the 2018 elections leaving the GOP with its rumpiest of rump minorities since the era of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After Gov. Polis and the Democratic majority in the legislature destroyed the oil and gas industry, taught your children to go gay, and passed a law so that anyone who doesn’t like your car’s bumper stickers can take your guns–of course Polis is coming for your beef burgers next. Of course he is!

Here in our safe space for reality, though, where we know that the oil and gas industry is doing fine, the kids are whatever they’re born to be, and the state’s new extreme risk protection order law absolutely does not target anyone over their choice of bumper stickers, when somebody says that Gov. Polis is trying to destroy the beef industry by supporting agribusiness’ pursuit of meatless protein products like the “Impossible Whopper,” we’re more than a little skeptical.

This might seem obvious to you, but it’s apparently not to the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association so we’ll review: in an era when the global consumption of beef along with food of every kind is skyrocketing and billions of new hungry people are being born, food production is not a zero-sum game. There is a market for every single juicy all-beef patty produced by Colorado cattle feedlots and for all the meatless protein made by funky genetically-engineered yeast (look it up) the world can produce too. And there will continue to be a burgeoning market for all of these products for the rest of our lives unless something very bad happens.

So do you think, maybe just once, Gov. Polis could do something completely inoffensive like promoting Colorado agriculture and not have a bunch of Republicans in cowboy hats freak out? This endless over-the-top drama gets really, really tiresome. It was tiresome six months ago.

Maybe after the recall fails things will become less silly.

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Polis ‘Splains Global Energy Economy To COGA, COGA Freaks Out


Gov. Jared Polis (D).

The Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports on a delightful and long-overdue showdown between Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association yesterday, which culminated in Gov. Polis giving attendees at COGA’s annual meeting a remedial run-through of the state of global energy markets and oil prices in particular that left industry flacks, hacks, and shills with their jaws agape at the galling effrontery of it all:

Gov. Jared Polis told a large gathering of energy workers and executives Wednesday that what happens in oil-rich Venezuela and Russia — and in global commodity markets far and wide — has more bearing on the industry’s future in Colorado than do the potential effects of a sweeping and controversial state oil and gas bill passed earlier this year.

“Commodities pricing and the market is what drives things,” Polis said during a question and answer session with Colorado Oil and Gas Association President Dan Haley during a packed luncheon at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. “It has nothing to do with me, nothing to do with — well you know — our state politics and less even to do with national politics. It really has to do with supply and demand.”

But many in the room felt that emphasizing market forces over the effects of new regulations on energy extraction brought about by Senate Bill 181 was disingenuous on the part of the governor…

The Colorado Sun’s John Frank and Mark Jaffe, oh my!

“Well you know, I happen to be a Democrat so I worry much more about Trump’s tariffs and their impact on the infrastructure for the oil and gas industry and other industries, the closing down of overseas markets, the damage to the workforce readiness that he’s done with cracking down on immigration. So you can choose which side you worry about the economic threats from, but obviously I’m much more worried about who is president today than who will be president in a couple years,” Polis responded.

A moment later, after Polis rejected the suggestion that government regulation has the power to move markets, contradicting some economists, Haley asked the governor the question that served as the title for the conference session: “Can you still drill for oil in a blue state?”

“It’s just a silly question,” Polis said, adding that “it’s a geological question, it’s not a political question.” [Pols emphasis]

The Denver Business Journal’s Greg Avery–it’s just downright heresy!

“As long as commodity prices are good, you’re going to have a good business,” said Polis, a Boulder Democrat. “It has nothing to do with me, or very little.” [Pols emphasis]

…Polis’ remarks sounded outrageous to some. Barbara Kirkmeyer, Weld County Commissioner and a vocal supporter of the oil industry, afterward said she didn’t think the governor was being genuine when he said industry jobs are important.

“Telling oil operators about economics and then mocking?” Kirkmeyer said. “That’s unreal to me.”

Ever since the passage of Senate Bill 19-181 in the Colorado General Assembly this year, opponents have warned of dire consequences for the fossil fuel industry, lost jobs, and massive declines in oil and gas production. These warnings were never well-grounded in reality, especially after a host of amendments were made to the bill to placate the industry late in the legislative process. Dan Haley of COGA himself admitted that the bill would not have the destructive impact some opponents had irrationally forecast, the industry has continued to expand in key producing regions, and Barbara Kirkmeyer’s avowedly pro-oil Weld County just signed an agreement with the state to ensure a backlog of permit requests panic-filed during last year’s fight over Proposition 112 are processed quickly.

So, there’s that. But more importantly, Gov. Polis is absolutely right that the economics of drilling for oil and gas in Colorado and everywhere else are set by global energy markets, not by local regulations. Currently the price of oil is hovering between $55 and $60 a barrel, having recovered somewhat from a plunge at the beginning of 2019 to as low as $45 a barrel. Persistently high oil prices from 2010-14 ($80-$110) drove expansion of drilling in Colorado under Gov. John Hickenlooper, and the current low price of oil represents a vastly greater threat to the profitability of drilling here than any regulatory factor.

This is not liberal propaganda. It’s Energy Economics 101.

That energy industry bigwigs attending the COGA conference yesterday became so incensed over this reality check from Gov. Polis is more an indicator of long-term concerns about the viability of the fossil fuel industry than it is a reaction to any genuine impact of SB-181. When Polis tells them that if commodity prices support drilling, drilling will happen, he is right. And if the economics support drilling in Colorado, drillers can afford to follow rules to protect public health and safety.

We’ve remarked previously about the odd, almost religious devotion the fossil fuel industry demands from the political establishment in Colorado, backed up by a potent electoral operation and perfectly willing to mount wildly destructive attacks on the entire system like 2018’s Amendment 74. Popping that bubble makes the industry’s backers very upset, but that’s all Polis did yesterday–with facts no one can deny.

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The Pivot–“Official” Polis Recall Committee Shifts The Grift


As predictable as sunrise, 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger reports:

One of two groups seeking contributions to try to recall Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) recently diverted nearly a third of its money to a different effort.

“Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis” has received $108,000 in contributions since forming in March.

In a campaign finance filing on Monday, that group reported giving $29,657.47 to “Colorado For Trump.” The reason stated was “Board approved expenditure for pivoting purposes.”

To recap, since it’s been awhile since the Recall Polis campaign(s) have merited much attention, with the doomed effort to collect over 600,000 voter signatures heading for its September 6th day of reckoning–this is the “Official” Recall Polis campaign, not the “Dismiss Polis” effort currently conducting the petition drive to get a recall question on the ballot. Readers will recall that the “Official” Recall Polis campaign denounced the “Dismiss Polis” campaign as a sham with no resources, and Dismiss Polis responded with similar allegations against the “Official” campaign excepting the significant resources the “Official” campaign has raised and refused to spend. Because none of these efforts have a snowball’s chance in hell of actually succeeding in placing a recall question on the ballot, all of the money raised by these committees can be reasonably categorized as scammed loot from conception to execution.

With all of this in mind, this decision by the “Official” Recall Polis committee to “pivot” a third of their cash to Colorado For Trump might seem like an attempt to do right by their donors, some of whom had posted on social media about spending their disability and welfare checks on donations to the campaign. The problem is, only a third of the money raised to recall Gov. Jared Polis going to any electoral purpose is still a scam no matter how you sugar-coat it. What’s the status of the other $70,000 this committee took in? We know that some of the biggest checks early in the campaign were written to former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and online payment processors like the Independence Institute, but there’s tens of thousands of dollars slushing around that this rerouting of funds to the Trump re-election campaign does not account for. If it was our money, we’d want to know how to get it back. It’s easy, after all, to donate to the Trump campaign ourselves if we want.

And yes, this is further confirmation that the movement to recall Colorado’s popular freshman governor less than a year after his double-digit victory is just about to be relegated to the dustbin of history! Hopefully that part, anyway, is not news to anyone.

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Greg Lopez Announces Campaign…for 2022


Greg Lopez

Some day there will be an entire generation of Coloradans who don’t remember a time when Greg Lopez was not a candidate for statewide office.

The former Mayor of Parker ran for U.S. Senate in 2016 (he dropped out of the race before he could fail to make the Primary ballot) and sought the GOP nomination for Governor in 2018 to no avail. Lopez can’t run for Senate in 2020 without mounting a Primary challenge against incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), so he has set his course for 2022 instead.

On Tuesday, Lopez announced via something called “The Richard Randall Show” that he will be a Republican candidate for Governor in three years:

Greg Lopez joins me today to make his announcement about his run for Colorado Governor in 2022. He just narrowly lost the 2018 primaries, and now with our current Governor just making us more and more like California in the Mountains it is time for Greg Lopez.

The Bronze Medal

You could quibble with Randall’s definition of “narrowly lost,” as you can see from the graphic at right (you could also quibble with the phrase “California in the Mountains,” but we can’t even begin to help you with that one). Lopez was never a serious threat to actually win the GOP nomination in 2018, though he was one of two Republican candidates with a criminal record, and the first statewide candidate in memory to have both asked and answered the question, “When did you stop beating your wife?

Lopez managed to get his name on the ballot for the Republican Primary in 2018 largely because better-known and better-funded campaigns promoted him as a good foil to frontrunner Walker Stapleton. Perhaps Lopez can do even better in 2022 with such a ginormous head start on the rest of the field. If nothing else, it should give him time to make a new campaign video instead of recycling the same one he used in 2018.

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Colo Republican Party Using a Voter Data App Called Sidekick

In a recent Facebook post, Recall Jared Polis heralded its use of the SideKick app, stating, “We are putting the finishing touches on our custom app to track and verify recall petition signatures. Our goal is to shatter the record for the lowest signature rejection rate in Colorado history, and with you as a volunteer, we know we can!”

(more…)

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

During November’s election, someGOP candidates and their allies in critical Colorado races didn’t use the same voter database, potentially causing them to duplicate time-consuming canvassing efforts and to fail at effective voter mobilization.

Now the Colorado Republican Party has a new voter database that’s also being used by allied conservative groups.

Speaking to activists last month, Colorado Trump Chair Jefferson Thomas indicated that the Colorado Republican Party is now using a “door-to-door” application called “Sidekick.”

“Sidekick is our voter contact application,” said Thomas, when he asked about GOP tools that could be used in multiple elections. “There is also a front-facing database, if you will, that contains all of our voters, all of those things integrated in one system.”

The Colorado Republican Party is listed as a client on the website of CampaignSidekick, which sells the app. Other clients are state Republican Parties, like Arkansas, Arizona, and Ohio.

A campaign to recall Democratic Gov. Jared Polis is also appears to be using the Sidekick app.

The Resist Polis PAC made an expenditure to CampaignSidekick on July 1 for “consultant and professional services.”

In a recent Facebook post, Recall Jared Polis heralded its use of the SideKick app, stating, “We are putting the finishing touches on our custom app to track and verify recall petition signatures. Our goal is to shatter the record for the lowest signature rejection rate in Colorado history, and with you as a volunteer, we know we can!”

(more…)

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Recallpalooza: Meet Herbie The Hate Bug!


Photos forwarded to us yesterday from the far western reaches of Jefferson County, at the intersection of US-285 and Pine Valley Road. In the 20 minutes or so our source observed there weren’t any drive-ups to sign petitions either to recall Gov. Jared Polis or the recently-announced “citizens-only voting” ballot measure being pushed in search of a problem by Republican hanger-on George Athanasopoulos.

Much like the Recall Polis “creeper van” we took note of a couple weeks ago, this roadside scene inspires something other than credibility. Would you give your personal information to these very fine people? Also:

Sen. Brittany Pettersen’s district is miles east of here, and that doesn’t bode well for their validity rate.

Cusp of victory, folks. Stay tuned!

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The Hard Truth About Suicide And Gun-Loving Sheriffs


Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams (R).

FOX 31’s Rob Low correlated a data point in the renewed debate over gun control in general and Colorado’s extreme risk protection order (ERPO or “red flag”) law in particular: something so significant and troubling that we wanted to make sure it was mentioned in this space.

Supporters of Colorado’s “red flag” law say the measure is more likely to prevent suicides than mass shootings, even though it’s the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that led President Donald Trump to embrace red flag laws as a way to reduce gun violence.

In Colorado, more than half of the state’s 64 counties have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries opposed to the the red flag law. Many of those counties have the state’s highest gun suicide rates, according to statistics provided to FOX31 by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment… [Pols emphasis]

Counties with large urban populations like Denver and Boulder tend to have lower rates of suicide by gun: 6.5 deaths per 100,000 people in Denver; 8 per 100,000 people in Boulder between the years of 2013 and 2017. However, Custer County averaged 49 gun suicides per 100,000 people over the same time period.

Gun rights proponents often insist that suicides involving guns should be excluded from statistics used by gun control supporters, arguing that because only the perpetrator is harmed in suicide such incidents shouldn’t “count” as according-to-Hoyle gun violence. But the undeniable positive correlation between access to guns and their use in suicides as well as crimes against other people is why ERPO laws permit the removal of guns from persons ruled to be a risk to themselves or others. Suicide prevention is every bit as important as, and in theory more likely to form the basis of ERPO requests than individuals plotting attacks on others.

With respect to the large number of elected county sheriffs who have announced their intentions to refuse to enforce Colorado’s new ERPO law, the high suicide rate in many of these same counties is going to put these politician-sheriffs in a very difficult position after the law takes effect on January 1, 2020. It won’t be long, perhaps a matter of days, before someone who could have intervened in the suicide of a family member is thwarted by a county sheriff who refuses to enforce Colorado law. It’s not a hypothetical. It’s a certainty.

And it’s not something we’d ever want to face the news cameras to explain.

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Colorado House Republicans Fundraising to Recall Polis

(Everybody on the gravy boat — Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Patrick Neville "Take Back Colorado"
House Republican Leader Patrick Neville is using the statehouse GOP caucus fund to promote another recall effort, this time of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. Neville didn’t pull any punches in his email soliciting donations:
Take Back Colorado logo
Governor Polis has unleashed the most radical and overreaching agenda in Colorado’s history. Chip in now to support a recall of Jared Polis and help us take back Colorado!
Neville sent the email via Values First Colorado (VFC), which also operates “Recall Colorado,” an entity dedicated to recalling Neville’s Democratic colleagues in the state legislature. Take Back Colorado appears to be an “entity” in name only; there is neither a political committee nor a business of that name registered with the Colorado Secretary of State. VFC’s enthusiastic support of statehouse recalls caused some concern among corporate donors earlier this year. Both Xcel Energy and Noble Energy issued statements saying they intended their 2018 donations to VCF to be used to elect Republicans in November’s general election, not recalling Democrats from office. Following those statements, Neville created a new political committee, “Recall Colorado,” presumably to separate recall funds from VFC’s regular election work. The committee’s lone campaign finance report filed on July 15 shows no money raised or spent over its first 30 days. VFC also filed a campaign finance report on July 15. Top donors include the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association ($10,000 on June 12) Farmers Insurance Group ($5,000 on June 13), Ralph Nagel of Top Rock Investments ($5,000 on May 9), and United Health Group, which also gave $5,000 on May 9. The report also revealed VFC’s largest expenditure: $18,000 to Rearden Strategic for “Digital Marketing.” Rearden is owned by Patrick Neville’s brother Joe. That family connection has already raised eyebrows among Colorado press, leading 9News’ Marshall Zelinger to ask party chair Ken Buck if he thought it appropriate for the Neville family to profit from recalls. It’s unclear how much money VFC has spent on Take Back Colorado so far, but at the very least it has created a logo, built a donation page on its fundraising site, and generated an email.
The email promoting Take Back Colorado is very similar in format and wording “Recall Colorado” emails sent by VCF. The logo is identical except for the addition of the words “Take Back.” The same disclosure, that “Take Back Colorado is an entity operated by Values First Colorado and is “Paid for and authorized by Values First Colorado,” appears at the bottom of the message. A phone call to VFC’s registered agent Joe Neville requesting comment was not immediately returned.
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Donors to “Official” Recall Polis Group Want Their Money Back

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

From Colorado Times Recorder intern Noah Zucker:

Across Colorado, the conservative movement to recall Democratic Gov. Jared Polis has been divided for weeks. Now, supporters of one of the groups promising to remove the governor believe they’ve been cheated out of their donations.

Recall discussions started on social media soon after Polis took office. In the ensuing months, the initial “Recall Polis” effort split into two groups: “Resist Polis PAC Recall” and the “Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis.” The word “official” in the second group’s name doesn’t denote any formal standing. It’s simply what they decided to call themselves.

On July 8, the Resist Polis group filed a recall petition with the Secretary of State and, upon approval, launched a signature gathering effort. Over 631,000 valid signatures from registered Colorado voters must be collected in 60 days to successfully put the gubernatorial recall on the ballot.

“Does anyone know how to get our money back from the fraud group if we donated?” Taylor Winters asked in the Resist Polis PAC Recall Facebook group last week.

Winters, a member of the Resist Polis PAC group, said that Shane Donnelly, who runs the “official” Recall Polis Facebook group, “took people’s money [and] did nothing with it,” before refusing “to cooperate for a common goal” with the rest of the recall movement.

(more…)

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Colorado Celebrates Healthcare Savings; Gardner Shamelessly Claims Credit


Gov. Jared Polis outlines his healthcare savings plan in April. Note the absence of anyone who looks anything like Sen. Cory Gardner.

As Anna Staver reports for the Denver Post, healthcare costs will decrease significantly next year thanks to legislation passed by the Colorado legislature earlier this year:

Colorado has received federal approval for a new program that is expected to save families who buy health insurance through the individual marketplace thousands of dollars a year, Gov. Jared Polis is announcing Wednesday.

The program, known as reinsurance, is expected to drop premiums by an average of 18.2% when it gets under way in January, state officials estimate…

…The reinsurance program is expected to pool $260 million in state and federal money and use it to cover the costliest medical bills among the 250,000 Coloradans who buy their health insurance on the exchange. Taking that burden off of insurance providers will enable them to lower premiums overall.

Colorado is the ninth state to secure a federal waiver for a reinsurance program. Minnesota’s reinsurance program brought down its 2018 premiums by about 11.3%, and Alaska’s dropped by a statewide average of 26%, according to a Georgetown University Health Policy Institute report.

We noted this impressive 18% savings when figures were first projected by the Colorado Division of Insurance earlier this month. The reinsurance program is part of a broader healthcare savings plan promoted by Gov. Jared Polis and passed by Democrats in the state legislature. This reinsurance program is such a good idea, in fact, that Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is now TRYING TO TAKE CREDIT FOR IT:

This did not go over well with Colorado lawmakers such as State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail):

Likewise, Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) was not amused:

 

But wait, it gets even more ridiculous. Not only did Gardner have nothing to do with this proposal — his support for getting rid of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would ultimately kill off the reinsurance deal entirely. As the Colorado Sun reports:

That’s because the Trump Administration — the same one that is expected to sign off on the program — is also backing a lawsuit to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act, the health law that makes a lot of the funding for the reinsurance program possible…

…Earlier this month, a panel of judges at the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard a lawsuit brought by the state of Texas and others — with the Trump Administration’s backing — arguing that the whole Affordable Care Act should be thrown out. The argument requires its own explainer (like this one), but the upshot from the hearing was that it didn’t gowell for defenders of the health care law. A challenge to the law also known as Obamacare appears headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

If that lawsuit ultimately succeeds, then Colorado’s reinsurance program in its current form is basically doomed. The subsidies that provide money for the program — and the entire section of federal law that the program lives under — would be gone. Lawmakers would need to do some significant tinkering just to preserve any vestige of it.

This is not the first time that Gardner has been so blatantly duplicitous on the issue of healthcare. In March 2017, Gardner was one of four Republican Senators who signed onto a letter defending the expansion of Medicaid in states like Colorado. A few months later, Gardner voted in favor of a proposal to gut the ACA that quite literally would have ended Medicaid coverage for millions of Americans.

To recap, Coloradans are going to see a major decrease in healthcare costs in 2020 thanks to Gov. Polis and Democrats in the state legislature. Senator Gardner had nothing to do with this and is supportive of federal policies that would destroy this reinsurance plan, but he’s raising his hand like a conquering hero in the meantime.

Please, don’t clap.

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