All Bark, No Bite: Boebert, Buck, and the Freedumb Caucus

How’s this for a solid metaphor: Reps. Lauren Boebert and Ken Buck wielding an inoperable assault rifle in Buck’s Washington DC office.

While you were watching the Denver Nuggets dismantle the Miami Heat on Thursday in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the U.S. Senate approved a measure to raise the debt ceiling and avoid economic catastrophe. President Biden is expected to sign the bill today and deliver remarks from the White House at 5:00 pm (Mountain Time).

Failing to raise the debt ceiling would have been disastrous for the United States and would likely have caused a worldwide recession, but Republican opponents of the deal are still sad about not getting enough spending cuts from their hostage-taking efforts.

We noted yesterday that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was kinda sorta calling for a challenge to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the aftermath of the House vote. The Hill newspaper summed up Buck’s weakness in just two sentences:

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) “should be concerned” about a motion to remove him after the debt ceiling deal he struck with President Biden moves through Congress.

McCarthy has said he is “not at all” concerned about being removed from his position following the conservative backlash to the debt agreement.


As a result of one of the deals that McCarthy made with MAGA Republicans in January when he spent four agonizing and embarrassing days trying to win the Speaker’s gavel, any one Member of Congress could call a “motion to vacate” and force a vote for a new Speaker. Of course, the next step would require there to be enough votes to actually oust McCarthy, and that’s where fantasy turns into sad reality for Buck and his “House Freedom Caucus” friends. Last weekend, in fact, fellow Freedumb Caucus member Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-ifle) and her buddy from Florida, Rep. Matt Gaetz, were gabbing on Twitter Spaces when Gaetz acknowledged that MAGA Republicans don’t have the votes to do anything other than vaguely threaten McCarthy.


The only saving grace for House Republicans is that none of these nitwits can shoot straight.


As Aaron Blake writes for The Washington Post, this puts Boebert, Buck, and friends in a weird spot:

Even as the House Freedom Caucus assembled for 45 minutes to denounce the deal Tuesday and a protester behind them displayed a sign labeling McCarthy a “traitor,” McCarthy was largely spared the vitriol. When it was her turn to speak, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) even conceded, “I think McCarthy did the best that he could do to some extent with this deal. … McCarthy did his job, but unfortunately, Biden and the Democrat-controlled Senate did not do theirs.”…

…Forcing a vote would then be a recipe for failure — a failure that could actually strengthen McCarthy’s position within the conference. Even if Freedom Caucus types were more talk than walk, that would send a message about McCarthy’s standing. [Pols emphasis]

And then there’s the question of what the Freedom Caucus would even get out of it. Their protestations notwithstanding, GOP strategist Liam Donovan suggests that it’s not much.

“The question for these guys is how and why a future speaker would be any better for them when the one who was exceedingly accommodating got no quarter,” Donovan said. He added that the Freedom Caucus needs to decide whether “their disappointment is worth blowing up what has been a pretty effective arrangement for them to date.”

Thus far, despite the Freedom Caucus’s demonstrated affinity for blowing things up to make a point, the answer appears to be no.

In other words, Boebert, Buck and the Freedumb Caucus now have a choice between A) Bad, and B) Worse.

If the Freedom Caucus doesn’t try to oust McCarthy after getting steamrolled on the debt limit deal, they’ll look even weaker than they do now.

If the Freedom Caucus does try to oust McCarthy, they’ll almost certainly fail…which will make them look even weaker than they do now.

Congressional record for Roll Call Vote 243.

But as bad as this situation is for MAGA Republicans, it’s even worse for Boebert. We noted earlier this week that Boebert had two bad options on the debt ceiling debate, but then she surprised us and figured out a third — and even worse — direction. Boebert DIDN’T EVEN CAST A VOTE on the biggest issue of 2023, drawing the ire of her colleagues in Colorado after weeks of empty rhetoric.

Boebert’s inaction has now made her whereabouts on Wednesday a story in itself:

Where was Boebert when she missed the debt limit vote? Why is her office so reluctant to offer any details about what Boebert was doing instead? By refusing to provide details, Boebert has turned her absence into a new lead for reporters to chase. 

Voters in the third congressional district already think that Boebert cares more about social media and defending Donald Trump than she does about doing her actual job in Congress. By missing the most important vote of the year, Boebert handed Democrats the perfect example to bring the message home. And if it turns out that Boebert was doing something she shouldn’t have been doing (when she SHOULD have been casting a vote), things are going to get a whole lot worse for the Rifle Republican.

This is how a Republican incumbent pisses away a seat in an otherwise safe Republican district.

Ken Buck Weakly Sort Of Calls For Kevin McCarthy’s Head

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As the New York Times’ Carl Hulse reports, yesterday’s passage of legislation to raise the nation’s debt limit until beyond the next presidential election by the GOP-controlled U.S. House, over the objections of the far-right Republicans who pushed hardest to exploit what should have been a routine vote for maximum political damage, has prompted calls for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to be ousted from his position–a process which, as readers will recall, can be initiated by a single member of Congress as a condition of McCarthy winning the gavel in January:

[I]n the end, he delivered an agreement that met his goal of cutting spending from current levels. It was not pretty; in fact, it was downright ugly. He managed to do so only with significant help from across the aisle, as Democrats rescued him on a key procedural vote and then provided the support needed for passage. Mr. McCarthy exceeded his goal of winning the support of the majority of his members with 149 backing it, but more Democrats — 165 of them — voted for the bill than members of his own party, an outcome that will fuel Republican criticism that he cut a deal that sold out his own people. [Pols emphasis]

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R).

That’s the assessment of Colorado’s Rep. Ken Buck, in the headlines today as one of the early critics suggesting that a motion to vacate the speaker’s chair may be in order:

Representative Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado, said Mr. McCarthy had hurt himself with many House Republicans “big time, big time.”

“I think this is going to be a problem for him,” said Mr. Buck, who along with other critics of Mr. McCarthy said lawmakers would be talking among themselves about how or whether to proceed with an attempt to force out the speaker.

As The Hill’s Jared Gans reports, Buck claims yesterday’s compromise was an abrogation of the deal Speaker McCarthy made with House conservatives to win his office:

Buck on Wednesday reiterated claims from a group of far-right lawmakers who say McCarthy broke his word in the agreement that sealed their initial support for his Speakership.

Buck and others say McCarthy promised that he would push for government funding at fiscal 2022 appropriations levels as Speaker, but his deal with Biden would keep nondefense spending at 2023 levels for the next fiscal year and allow a 1 percent increase in 2025.

Buck said the difference is a “major change for a lot of people.”

As angry as the right side of the House GOP caucus may be at Speaker McCarthy, the heavy bipartisan backup he received on this compromise bill combined with a faction of pro-McCarthy conservatives led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene dims the prospects for any effort to oust McCarthy. At least for now, McCarthy appears to have successfully outmaneuvered the far-right members of his caucus who embarrassingly complicated his ascension to the speakership in January. Meanwhile, one of McCarthy’s most visible detractors from the speakership struggle, Rep. Lauren Boebert, didn’t even vote on the bill–which effectively pulls the plug on her right to complain.

When Buck says this turn of events is a “major change for a lot of people,” he’s right.

The change is that the most obstructionist elements of the House GOP caucus got sidelined.

Thanks For Nothing, Ken Buck (Default Pay Cut Edition)

Rep. Ken Buck with his finger on the problem.

As negotiations between the GOP-controlled U.S. House and the rest of the civilized world continue over what should be a routine vote to honor the nation’s debt obligations as required by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, GOP hardliner Rep. Ken Buck announced last week that in the event the federal government defaults on its debt, he would support legislation to withhold paychecks from members of Congress. MSNBC:

“I have confidence in Speaker McCarthy, and Speaker McCarthy knows exactly what I want. We have to reduce discretionary spending in this country,” Buck says.

Asked whether he would support the bipartisan bill in the House that would block pay for members of Congress if the U.S. defaults, Buck replies, “Yes, I would.”

The irony here is that Rep. Buck was one of only four Republicans to vote against Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s debt ceiling proposal calling for far-reaching spending cuts, which itself is considered long dead as negotiations over a compromise continue. Justifying his vote against McCarthy’s debt ceiling proposal, Buck upped the ante by calling for the retirement age in America for most workers to become the highest in the world.

Buck gets some credit for honesty in stating exactly what he wants no matter how politically unpopular it may be, something that most Republicans can’t or won’t do themselves. But if Buck wouldn’t even support McCarthy’s legislation and its sweeping cuts, how can he possibly bring himself to vote for a compromise brokered between McCarthy and the White House? Given that Buck has never voted for a debt ceiling increase even when Republicans were in charge, we already know the answer. Either Buck is counting on cooler heads than his own to prevail, or he’s wilfully courting disaster.

Either way, we agree that Buck is not exactly earning his paycheck. However this standoff ends, Buck has made sure he’ll be part of the problem not the solution.

The Get More Smarter Podcast Legislative Wrap Up

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, the First Regular Session of the 74th General Assembly has adjourned Sine Die and it was a despicable failure, or a resounding success, or somewhere in between, depending entirely on how much time you spend putting money into Elon Musk’s pocket. Your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii break down the results.

To wrap up the session in style, Christy Powell returns to play “Legislating with Crayons,” and we check in on our 6th and 8th favorite members of congress from Colorado to see what in the hell they’re up to (spoiler alert: nothing good).

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

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Buck’s Debt-Ceiling Solution: Work Until You Die

Rep. Ken Buck (R) displaying his retirement policy.

Colorado’s arch-conservative but occasionally unpredictable Rep. Ken Buck was one of only four Republicans to vote against GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s sweeping spending cut proposal in exchange for what should be a routine hike in the nation’s debt limit–a proposal itself considered dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate, failing to resolve the impasse as a potentially disastrous default on the nation’s debts looms.

This week, Rep. Buck appeared on local news channel FOX 31 to talk about the debt limit negotiations, and answer the hard question: if McCarthy’s proposed cuts weren’t enough to win Buck’s support, what would be?

Especially if you’re under 30, you might not want to know the answer:

Buck said it’s important the country continues to fund border protections, national defense and social security and Medicare for people currently on those programs. But he also suggested raising the retirement age, saying, “We absolutely need to look at saving those programs and reforming those programs for folks that are under 30 years old.”

The congressman highlighted rising life expectancy nationwide, adding that the retirement age could differ depending on jobs.

“For some folks who have had mostly white-collar jobs during their lifetime and are healthy, the retirement age may very well go up to 70, 71, 72 years old. [Pols emphasis] For those folks who are working in construction, working in other areas, where their body tends to break down, we need to make sure we have a lower retirement age,” Buck said.

Let’s be clear: if Rep. Ken Buck had his way, the retirement age for most American workers would become the highest in the world.

To put this in perspective, most industrialized nations have a retirement age ranging from only 60 in China to 62-67 in most of Europe–notably excepting France, of course, where centrist President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64 was met with nationwide protests. To be clear, despite the perennial handwringing over the supposedly imminent “bankruptcy” of the nation’s social safety nets, relatively modest changes like removing the income cap from Social Security and increasing the high-income Medicare tax could fix the system’s “solvency problem” with far less pain. But those are solutions Republicans are ideologically prevented from even considering.

It’s almost always a question that Republicans don’t want to directly answer with the painful specifics, so Buck gets credit for honesty if nothing else. But in reality, Americans would readily choose any number of fixes for Social Security and Medicare before being forced to stay on the job until age 72. That’s one of the reasons you almost never hear specific proposals like Buck’s near elections or from Republican candidates considered in any way vulnerable.

If making Americans work until 72 is what Republicans want, take it to the polls.

The smart ones know how that will end, and that’s why they won’t.

Buck Co-Sponsors Anti-Skynet Bill And We’re Okay With That

A press release last week from Rep. Ken Buck’s office we didn’t want to escape without a mention–a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers that includes the famously Big Tech-averse Rep. Buck has introduced legislation to ensure the plot of the Terminator movie franchise never becomes reality.

Try as we might to scoff, after some consideration, it’s hard to see a problem with this:

Representatives Ken Buck (CO-04), Ted W. Lieu (CA-36), Don Beyer (VA-08) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Block Nuclear Launch by Autonomous Artificial Intelligence Act, legislation to safeguard the nuclear command and control process from any future change in policy that allows artificial intelligence (AI) to make nuclear launch decisions.

The Department of Defense’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review states that current policy is to “maintain a human ‘in the loop’ for all actions critical to informing and executing decisions by the President to initiate and terminate nuclear weapon employment” in all cases. The Block Nuclear Launch by Autonomous AI Act would codify the Department’s existing policy by ensuring that no federal funds can be used for any launch of any nuclear weapon by an automated system without meaningful human control. Furthermore, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, established by Congress through the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act, recommended in their final report that the U.S. clearly and publicly affirm its policy that only human beings can authorize employment of nuclear weapons. This bill follows through on their recommendation.

“While U.S. military use of AI can be appropriate for enhancing national security purposes, use of AI for deploying nuclear weapons without a human chain of command and control is reckless, dangerous, and should be prohibited,” said Representative Buck. “I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation to ensure that human beings, not machines, have the final say over the most critical and sensitive military decisions.”

Opinions differ on Rep. Buck’s suspicions about Big Tech controlling the world via your social media feeds, but if there’s anything James Cameron taught us since childhood it’s to never, ever let the machines take control of the nuclear weapons. It’s a rule right up there with don’t steam at full speed into an iceberg field and be nice to aliens with unobtainable resources you need–also important childhood lessons we learned from James Cameron. In fact, Buck sponsoring a bill to stop AI from getting control of the nukes could serve as the plot for a whole new Terminator sequel.

It’s not the most important issue Congress faces today, unless, you know, it is.

Only the future, or somebody visiting from the future (see: Terminator franchise) can say for sure.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 19)

Get outside and enjoy the weather before it cools off over the next couple of days. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.




Legislation to ban assault weapons in Colorado appears to be running out of steam but may be changed to address bump stocks instead:


Overall, Democrats have been successful this legislative session when it comes to gun violence prevention bills. As Jesse Bedayn writes for The Associated Press:

The proposals include strengthening red flag laws, raising the firearm purchasing age to 21, opening the gun industry up to legal liability and installing a three-day waiting period after buying a gun.

A measure set to be debated Wednesday that would implement a sweeping ban on semi-automatic firearms faces much stiffer odds and illustrates that even Democratic-controlled statehouses don’t have free rein on overhauling laws rooted deep in American culture.

Hundreds of people have signed up to testify at the proposal’s first hearing in what is expected to be a passionate hearing with a mix of gun owners opposing the measure and supporters campaigning to reduce gun violence that plagues the country.


In other state legislative news, Seth Klamann of The Denver Post reports on a watered-down land use bill backed by Gov. Jared Polis:

Colorado legislators advanced a marquee land-use reform bill Tuesday night, but not before making changes to it that carve out resort communities from some parts of the proposal, scale back zoning reforms in the state’s larger cities and enact a 10-year sunset on the entire policy as supporters sought to shepherd the bill through a contentious first hearing.

The bill — SB23-213 — advanced out of the Senate’s Local Government and Housing committee on a party-line 4-3 vote Tuesday night, after more than three hours of debate on more than a dozen amendments. The meeting came fewer than two weeks after legislators heard 12 hours of testimony for and against the proposal, which broadly seeks to encourage density, faster building and better planning by significantly reshaping the state’s single-family zoning policies.

The bill’s received the backing of Gov. Jared Polis and a coalition of housing, business and environmental groups who say the measure is vital to kickstart housing, but it’s opposed by local government officials who castigate it as an intrusion on their authority. But supporters say state intervention is needed, given the scale of the housing problem — both in terms of supply and affordability — facing Coloradans.

Colorado Public Radio and Colorado Newsline have more on the fate of SB23-213.


 House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he will release his plan today for avoiding the debt limit, with a proposed vote as soon as next week. McCarthy’s Republican caucus is not believed to be on board with his plan, however.


 Give your eyes a break and put your ears to work with this week’s episode of the Get More Smarter Podcast:


Click below to keep learning things…



Ken Buck “Soft Endorses” Ron DeSantis, Says Team DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in his swamp booties.

As USA TODAY’s David Jackson reports, as-yet undeclared Republican presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is changing swamps for the day to court potential supporters in the nation’s capital:

The Florida governor was scheduled to attend a “meet and greet and policy discussion” sponsored by an issue advocacy organization called “And To The Republic.” The closed-press meeting was expected to include at least five Republican members of Congress, as well as potential donors and conservative activists.

DeSantis aides declined to provide details of the governor’s D.C. trip, which comes amid heightened criticism by Trump – and other Republicans – over issues like Social Security, abortion, poll numbers, and Disney…

The prospective presidential candidate has been holding similar meetings across the country for months, especially in early primary states. He has two stops scheduled for Wednesday in South Carolina, which is expected to hold the first southern primary of the 2024 GOP nomination race.

Kill ’em all, let Ron sort ’em out?

Axios’ Juliegrace Brufke reports that Colorado’s own Rep. Ken Buck will be in attendance for this evening’s event, which the DeSantis would-be campaign is touting as a “soft endorsement.”

Only two House Republicans, Chip Roy of Texas and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, have endorsed DeSantis. But they and six more— plus Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) — have attached their names to the DeSantis event.

Sources close to DeSantis said they see the additional lawmakers’ participation as “soft endorsements” [Pols emphasis] that will help DeSantis build momentum toward a campaign announcement, likely in the next few months.

Other House Republicans announced as taking part in the event are Bob Good (Virginia), Randy Feenstra (Iowa), Mike Gallagher (Wisconsin), Darin LaHood (Illinois), Laurel Lee (Florida), and Ken Buck (Colorado). [Pols emphasis]

Assuming Buck is willing to cop to Team DeSantis’ assessment of his attendance as a “soft endorsement,” that’s definitely setting Buck up to take the wrath of a large number of fellow Republicans back home in Colorado–including the “Ultra MAGA” faction that just won control of the state party apparatus Buck himself used to preside over. While DeSantis makes moves that signal the official launch of his campaign, Donald Trump has been laying down withering rhetorical fire on DeSantis and any proxies bold enough to come between them. And if you’re a believer in the early polling, Trump is way out in front of DeSantis in the FiveThirtyEight poll average.

Although Buck was a reliable albeit gaffe-prone defender of Trump during Trump’s term in office, Buck did not carry the torch for Trump’s coup attempt like Reps. Lauren Boebert or even Doug Lamborn. If DeSantis can by whatever combination of circumstances pull out of his 25%+ deficit in the polls to become a serious threat to Trump, obviously that’s good news for Buck.

If DeSantis falters, Buck just put himself on the wrong side of America’s most vengeful politician.

Buck All Over Phillips County “Chinese Spy Helicopter” Mystery

Brian Porter at the Fort Morgan Times put out a story late last week bizarre enough that no matter how it ends, it’s worth a mention in this space on grounds of sheer absurdity:

[Phillips] County Commissioner Garold Roberts initiated the concern over “the red helicopter” Wednesday during a Northeastern Colorado call with U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, his staff and which included county commissioners from Elbert, Logan, Phillips and Yuma Counties…

Buck queried whether it could be a “Chinese spy helicopter” before directing his staff to pursue answers. [Pols emphasis]

“Is there a way to get more information that it is an ag project or whatever it is?” Buck asked. “Why are they doing it? What is the purpose? We need to get to the bottom of it. Let’s find out why it is flying over Colorado. They shouldn’t be operating, unless local law enforcement and officials can understand why.”

Rep. Ken Buck with his Chinese helicopter getter.

It’s not quite true, of course. Unless operating in controlled airspace of some kind, it’s perfectly legal to fly a helicopter around the Eastern Plains without proving in advance to the county government that you’re not a Chinese spy. Much like mysterious drones spotted buzzing around the area a couple of years ago, there are perfectly good reasons for federal authorities to patrol the vicinity of nuclear missile silos in the area while not necessarily telling the local yokels the details. Or it could just be a hobbyist flying his homebuilt autogyro proudly over the Land of the Free?

Don’t get us wrong, we were as disappointed as anyone that Colorado missed out on the Chinese spy balloon North American tour, especially after it was shot down and found to not contain Balloon Boy. But not every unidentified flying object is going to turn out to be from China now.

Presumably, Rep. Buck has enough of a security clearance to at least confirm it’s not a “Chinese spy helicopter” buzzing the fields of Phillips County, and when he does he’ll be good enough to inform Phillips County commissioners so they don’t worry–or, depending on their flavor of conspiracy theory, worry more.

Like they said on the X-Files, “trust no one.”

Ken Buck Gets Brutally Acosta-ed Trying To Defend Trump


President Donald Trump, Rep. Ken Buck.

Fresh from Rep. Ken Buck’s drubbing last week at the hands of CNN’s White House correspondent Phil Mattingly over Buck’s trophy AR-15 and Buck’s dreadfully inaccurate recounting of Colorado’s “red flag” gun safety law, Buck was back on CNN this weekend to defend former President Donald Trump in the wake of Trump’s indictment last week by the New York DA on criminal charges related to Trump’s “hush money” payments to porn star Stormy Daniels–a scheme for which Trump former attorney Michael Cohen went to prison.

As readers know, Rep. Buck has a knack for unintentionally blowing himself out of the metaphorical water while trying to defend Trump going all the way back to Trump’s first impeachment back in 2019, when Buck established while questioning Robert Mueller that Trump could face charges in the Ukrainegate scandal after he left office. Yesterday, CNN’s veteran political reporter Jim Acosta confronted Buck over Trump’s indictment, and Buck thought he had some clever prosecutorial-sounding arguments.

But Acosta was ready:

Ken Buck: The problem with having an elected District Attorney review a case like this as the final arbiter of whether to go forward or not, is he was saying during the campaign that he was interested in pursuing a case against Donald Trump. You just don’t have the same level of comfort in a state prosecution that you do with a Federal prosecution.

Jim Acosta: But of course when the focus was on Hillary Clinton back in 2016 you and other prominent Republicans were taking it to the Democratic nominee at that time. I’m gonna bring up a comment of yours from a Trump rally in 2016. It was reported at that time. You said to the crowd quote- and this was October 26, 2016- “Lady Justice doesn’t see black or white. She doesn’t see male or female. She doesn’t see rich or poor. But soon, Lady Justice will see Hillary Clinton.” Setting aside the fact that Hillary Clinton was never charged with any wrongdoing, why not demand accountability in this Trump case, no matter who the prosecutor is?

This is a textbook example what’s known as “bringing the receipts.” Of course Buck’s burning desire to see Hillary Clinton prosecuted for any conceivable wrongdoing makes his strained protestations of Trump’s indictment by a grand jury look hypocritical. Buck is far from alone in this hypocrisy. But what we have a right to not expect from a former prosecutor serving in Congress, even a prosecutor once reprimanded for misconduct, is to be bald-facedly lied to:

Buck: Well, I think there should be accountability in this case but Hillary Clinton was being investigated in the federal system, and as I said there are layers and layers of protection for defendants in the federal system that make sure that we’re not just targeting someone because of their former status as a government official. Uh, that same protection doesn’t apply. So we’re not dealing with a blind- a blindfolded Lady Justice in this situation. We’re dealing with a political prosecutor who has stated that he’s going after President Trump. I haven’t seen the indictment. I can’t give an opinion as to the strength of the indictment at this point. But I am suspicious when the former federal prosecutor walked away from this case, the former DA Cyrus Vance the Manhattan prosecutor didn’t prosecute this case, [Pols emphasis] and now this District Attorney after making a campaign promise is prosecuting this case.

As we know from former DA Cyrus Vance’s comments since the indictment, Buck is totally mischaracterizing Vance’s decision not to prosecute Trump. From Meet the Press yesterday via the Independent:

Mr Vance replied that the Department of Justice, which typically holds seniority when it comes to investigating crimes, had asked his office to stand down its investigation into numerous aspects of the former president’s activities, presumably including the hush payments to Ms Daniels. Mr Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen would end up going to prison as a result of those payments, which prosecutors argued were illegal campaign contributions for reasons of both their size and secrecy…

But Mr Vance went on to say that he was surprised by – and apparently disagreed with – the decision of federal prosecutors not to pursue criminal charges against Mr Trump over the matter at the time. [Pols emphasis]

“I was somewhat surprised after Mr Cohen pleaded guilty that the federal government did not proceed on the areas in which it asked me to stand down,” said the former DA.

The reason the previous DA didn’t press charges against Trump is Trump’s Justice Department asked him not to, and then “surprised” DA Vance by failing to file criminal charges against Trump themselves. That’s completely opposite of the impression Buck gave that Vance didn’t think the case was worth prosecuting.

As for all these “layers and layers” of oversight that supposedly exist at the Justice Department…isn’t a grand jury supposed to remove prosecutorial bias from the equation?

Acosta: But wasn’t there a grand jury looking at this? You’re not saying the grand jury is political?

Buck: I’m not saying the grand jury is political at all. I have a great deal of respect for grand jury investigations. [Pols emphasis] The grand jury only receives information and only is able to really decipher the information its given by the prosecutor. There may have been one or two witnesses on behalf of President Trump but defense attorneys are never gonna put their full case in front of a grand jury.

Folks, this is gibberish. As a former prosecutor, Buck cannot throw shade directly on the grand jury process, which is intended to provide precisely the “layer” of oversight Buck claims did not exist. First, Buck lied by claiming the DA is “The final arbiter of whether to go forward or not.” That’s the grand jury’s job. Then under questioning, Buck suggested that grand juries only know what prosecutors tell them–which sounds an awful lot like an attack on the grand jury’s credibility? Acosta saved his question about the grand jury until after Buck had gone so far to impugn the indictment process that he couldn’t take it back, and as a result Buck’s whole argument fell apart in a heap.

It’s not the first time we’ve marveled at Ken Buck wrecking his own side’s case in the process of trying to defend his fellow Republicans. Acosta walked Buck right into this rhetorical trap, but it was a trap of Buck’s own making.

Once again, Ken Buck managed to do more collateral damage than he would by simply keeping quiet.

The GMS Podcast: Mayoral Madness with City Cast Denver

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, Colorado House Democrats invoke Rule 14 to stop the 19 Republicans from filibustering a package of gun safety laws while yet another mass shooting unnecessarily takes the lives of more American children. The GOP is the party of insurrection, gun violence, and coddling criminals, and our 8th favorite member of Congress from Colorado is leading the charge.

BUT FIRST, in our efforts to cover the Denver Mayor’s race without covering the Denver Mayor’s race… it’s a crossover episode! We’ve got Bree Davies and Paul Karolyi from City Cast Denver on the show to discuss their efforts to interview all 17 candidates who were at least at some point running for Mayor of that big smoldering crater in the ground to the east of Lakewood.

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Ken Buck’s Theater of the AR-bsurd on CNN


Rep. Ken Buck (R) daring Joe Biden to take his AR-15.

Yesterday afternoon, senior White House correspondent for CNN Phil Mattingly recorded a segment with Colorado’s Rep. Ken Buck on the subject of gun control laws generally and the AR-15 rifle in particular–the latter being the overwhelming weapon of choice in American mass shootings, and also a personal trophy hanging on the wall of Rep. Buck’s congressional office, one that Buck recently dared Democrats to “come and take.”

The conversation began with a discussion of “red flag” laws like Colorado’s, which Buck asserts would not have prevented the most recent school shooting in Nashville, since it “hasn’t stopped gun violence in Colorado and it won’t.”

Phil Mattingly [00:01:51] But I think this kind of gets to my question because I wasn’t asking about the guns specifically here. This was an individual that had known mental health issues, was seeing a doctor for those mental health issues and yet was able to get access to guns to use. And you’re saying red flag laws in Colorado- You’ve opposed red flag laws generally, particularly on a national scale in the past- wouldn’t work. So those things don’t necessarily net out. What’s your answer here, then?

Buck: Well, my answer is I don’t know what the law is in Tennessee. If you’re telling me there’s no red flag law.

Mattingly: There’s not.

Buck: I don’t oppose red flag laws that give defendants, in this case, the gun owner, the right to appear in court and defend themselves. The problem, the gun, the red flag law in Colorado is there is no due process… [Pols emphasis]

As anyone who knows how Colorado’s “red flag” law works already knows, Buck is straight-up lying when he claims there is “no due process.” A temporary extreme risk protection order (ERPO) requires a hearing and a judge’s order, and the one-year ERPO comes only after a second hearing. It’s not the first time we’ve marveled at this former prosecutor’s seeming total ignorance about laws he is professionally charged with understanding.

From there, the interview turned to Ken Buck’s beloved piece of wall art–since the bolt of the weapon allegedly isn’t present, as the D.C. District Attorney’s office learned to their chagrin, it’s not a fully illegal assault rifle. But with AR-15s just like Buck’s continuing to cause disproportionate harm in mass shootings happening almost daily, it’s certainly fair to ask Buck whether he stands by his previous bravado.

And that’s where things took a turn for the weird:


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 1)

If it’s true that the month of March will come in like a lamb and out like a lion (or vice-versa), what do you make of today? Sort of a lamb/lion hybrid? Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.




Here’s a quick look at what’s happening in the Colorado legislature:

♦ House Bill 1215 is targeting excessive and opaque hospital facility fees.

♦ Lawmakers are working on strengthening “Equal Pay for Equal Work” legislation originally passed in 2019.

♦ Legislation to increase auto theft penalties advanced out of a State Senate committee.

♦ 9News reports on proposed legislation to help alleviate a teacher shortage in Colorado that educators say is worse than it has ever been.


 As The Denver Post reports, Colorado food banks are bracing for a rush in demand as some pandemic-era benefits come to an end:

Since March 2020, people who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, have received the maximum legal allotment for their household size. Starting Wednesday, the program will revert back to its previous formula, based on household income and certain expenses, such as rent and utilities.

The Colorado Department of Human Services estimated the average person receiving SNAP benefits in the state will lose about $90 in assistance per month, for a roughly $53 million monthly reduction overall. In January, monthly payments averaged about $538 per household in Colorado, and about 553,000 people in more than 291,000 households received food assistance.

The “emergency allotments” were supposed to expire when the federal public health emergency ends in May, but Congress opted to end them early. Nearly 30 million people nationwide will see their food assistance reduced this month. Eighteen states already reduced benefits, affecting about 10 million people.

It sure would have been nice if Congress had renewed Sen. Michael Bennet’schild tax credit” program.


Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) today introduced Phil Washington at a confirmation hearing to become the next head of the Federal Aviation Administration. Washington is currently the CEO of Denver International Airport. Click here to view Hickenlooper’s full remarks. 

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is doing his best to get in the way.


Check out the latest episode of the Get More Smarter Podcast with hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii:

Click below to keep learning things…



Neguse, Crow Top List of Most Effective Members of Congress

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish)

We wrote last week about answering one of the bigger questions from the 2022 election cycle: Are Democrats in Colorado really a lot better than Republicans when it comes to both governing and campaigning, or are Republicans just THAT BAD? The answer, as we discussed, is simple: “Yes.”

Colorado Public Radio reports on another proof point in this regard:

Out of 435 U.S. House members, Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse came in top of the class for the 117th congress, at least when it came to getting bills signed into law, according to the website

The Boulder Democrat had 13 bills passed into law, either as stand-alone legislation or incorporated into larger packages, a record he said is reflective of a Colorado ethos of “rolling up our sleeves, finding ways to build bridges and work with people who might have a different worldview than your own to get things done.”

Neguse added he’s made it a priority to deliver results for the communities he represents, “so that means to me finding ways to get bills across the finish line, onto the president’s desk, [and] to pass laws that ultimately are going to have an impact on people’s lives here at home.”

Colorado Democrats are working hard on governing. Colorado Republicans are…doing other things. Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) was responsible for the most success in enacting legislation, but Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) was not far behind.

Here’s how Colorado’s Congressional delegation stacked up in the 117th Congress (2021-22) in terms of “legislation enacted” via

Legislation signed into law by sponsor for 117th Congress (2021-22).


There are a lot of other interesting numbers in the analysis…


Missed Votes

This is a good marker of the degree in which a Member of Congress is living up to the bare minimum of their job responsibilities. Colorado Republicans missed the majority of votes among the state’s Congressional delegation, topped by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley); Buck ranked #29 for the largest percentage of votes missed in the 117th Congress (5.5%). Congressperson Lauren Boebert (R-ifle) ranked #102 (2.4%), and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) checked in at #126 (2.0%).

None of the Democratic members of Colorado’s delegation missed even 1% of the total votes in the 117th Congress. Neguse led the way on that metric by missing just 0.1% of all votes.


Bills Introduced

Rep. Lauren Boebert is (probably) #1 in Tweets and near the top in Angertainment, but otherwise proved fairly useless in the last Congress.

Both Neguse (#3, 99 bills) and Crow (#24, 54 bills) ranked in the top quarter of all Members of Congress in terms of number of bills introduced. Boebert checked in at #62 with 41 bills introduced, many of which were silly resolutions attacking President Biden for one thing or another.

The rest of Colorado’s delegation rounds out thusly: Buck (#194, 25 bills); Rep. Ed Perlmutter (274, 18 bills); Rep. Diana DeGette (#303, 16 bills); and at his typical position in the rear, Lamborn (#350, 12 bills).


Bills Passed Out of Commitee

Neguse leads the way here (#5, 20 bills), followed by Crow (#23, 11 bills); Perlmutter (#75, 6 bills); and Lamborn (#93, 5 bills). DeGette and Buck tied at #183, with 3 bills each making it out of committee. Boebert tied for #379 by failing to see a single piece of legislation advance out of a committee hearing. 


Click here to check out the complete report card for the 117th Congress.

The Circle of Strife: Republicans Set Sail in Separate Leaky Boats

MONDAY UPDATE: Republicans in Jefferson County are having their own set of problems, as this Facebook post explains:


UPDATE: Going great!


[Pols Note: This is Part Two of a three-part series]

Oh Captains, My Captains!

In part one of “The Circle of Strife,” we covered the ongoing feud between the El Paso County Republican Party and the State Republican Party. On Tuesday evening, the State GOP voted by a 139-123.8 margin (yes, 123.8) to allow a neutral group of observers to oversee the Feb. 11 election for new officers in El Paso County. The reason for this unprecedented vote is because of concerns that two-term El Paso Chair Vickie Tonkins (who is also seeking re-election) is trying to rig the election in her favor. 

This is not a new accusation – similar charges were made when Tonkins was re-elected in 2021 – but the El Paso GOP is so mad about being bigfooted by its statewide siblings that it filed a lawsuit against the State Party to stop the influence of a “neutral group of observers.” Meanwhile, accusations of election interference are also being made in Adams County regarding Chairperson JoAnn Windholz

While these battles are fascinating on their own, they are also part of a longer trend for Colorado Republicans that goes back more than a decade. It isn’t the GOP’s neverending circular firing squad that is solely responsible for recent election losses; but when you understand the history of these conflicts, it’s easy to wonder how Republicans even have the time or energy to worry about Democrats.

The timeline we reconstructed below begins in January 2019, but Republican leadership problems go much further back. For instance, the “Coffmangate” scandal of 2015 was as wild and ridiculous as anything Colorado Republicans have done since. The short version of “Coffmangate” is that a handful of powerful Republicans – including then-Attorney General Cynthia Coffman – attempted to overthrow State Republican Party Chair Steve House just three months after his election to the post. The scandal included some pretty believable stories of blackmail, which made it national news throughout the summer of 2015.

January 2019 was a pivotal time for the State Republican Party. The 2018 election had been devastating to Republicans both because of the results and because of the shattering of expectations that had grown after Donald Trump’s Presidential election in 2016. Democrat Jared Polis trounced Republican Walker Stapleton in the race for Governor by nearly 11 points; Democrats won all four statewide constitutional offices for the first time in modern history; Republicans lost six seats in the state legislature; and Democratic newcomer Jason Crow ousted longtime Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in CO-06 by an 11-point margin.

The 2022 election was dubbed by one Republican as “an extinction-level event.”

Then-State GOP Chair Jeff Hays was wrapping up a disappointing two-year term by promising not to seek re-election. Colorado Republicans SHOULD have been introspective about their 2018 performance and looking to chart a different path forward ahead of the 2020 election cycle, where they would be trying to re-elect the last remaining well-known Republican in Colorado (Sen. Cory Gardner). Instead, the GOP went with a new leader who only worked at the job of Chair when he had time away from his regular job of serving in Congress. Naturally, a part-time effort generated half-assed results. 

In May 2020, we chronicled Rep. Ken Buck’s disastrous first year as State Chair. In that same spirit, here’s a broader timeline of the many, many, many Republican missteps that brought them to their current “Circle of Strife.” 

As you’ll see below, there is one consistent commonality among all of the personalities involved with the Colorado Republican Party: Regret, rinse, and repeat. Republican leaders keep making the same mistakes by appealing to the right-wing for short-term gains and then finding themselves flummoxed when that same group creates a whole new batch of problems.



Please Don’t Tell Kevin McCarthy How Ken Buck Really Feels

Rep. Ken Buck identifies the caster of the “stupidest vote in the world.”

We wrote earlier this week about Rep. Ken Buck’s opposition to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s decision to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota from her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee–a move that required a vote of the full House due to that committee’s importance. After earning some plaudits for pushing back on what’s widely considered to be tit-for-tat retaliation for the removal by Democrats of arguably much more deserving Republicans from their committee spots in the previous Congress, as NPR reported yesterday, Rep. Buck relented after a “conversation” with McCarthy about supposedly making it harder to do this in the future:

Some Republicans have been calling for Omar’s removal from the committee for years. But others voiced concerns about due process this week, and with a razor-thin Republican majority, it wasn’t clear that the resolution had enough votes to pass.

Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., supported the move only after language was added allowing members to appeal their removal to the House Ethics Committee. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., dropped his opposition after a conversation with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Wednesday, in which Buck proposed future removals be handled by a majority vote in the evenly split Ethics Committee.

“He committed to the process of getting something like that done,” Buck said Wednesday, adding that Congress needs to “stop this nonsense of kicking people off committees because it’s just wrong.”

Buck’s complaints that “kicking people off committees” is bad practice apparently didn’t apply to Rep. Omar, at least not enough for her to be anything more than a bargaining chip for this seemingly meager concession to apply in future circumstances. The lack of any real concession from McCarthy has led to speculation that Buck may have received some other reward for ending his opposition. Either way, as Roll Call’s Rachel Oswald scooped yesterday, Buck’s two-faced grumbling about the situation didn’t end with his cave-in to McCarthy:

Following the vote, House Foreign Affairs member Ken Buck, R-Colo., was overheard in an elevator calling it the “stupidest vote in the world.” [Pols emphasis] Fellow Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, agreed and added that all it does is make Omar a “martyr.” They both also agreed that it was simply a retaliatory vote in response to Democrats removing certain Republicans from committees in the 117th Congress.

Buck and Simpson urged fellow passengers in the elevator to not let leadership know their thoughts.

That request was not honored, and Rep. Buck’s disingenuousness is on full display–right after voting “yes” on what Buck himself describes as the “stupidest vote in the world.” If that is how Buck felt about voting to remove Rep. Omar from her committee assignment, he should have stuck to his principles and voted against it.

The lesson here must inevitably be that Buck has no principles. Or at least…principles that can be swamped.

Buck Buckles After McCarthy Cucks Buck On Big Tech

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The goodwill extended below to Rep. Ken Buck for defending Rep. Ilhan Omar is hereby retracted.

If you’re wondering what swampy quid pro quo Rep. Buck received for abandoning his principles, you’re not alone. In a way, it’s good for Buck to disabuse us of notions of his integrity whenever we entertain them.


Rep. Ken Buck (R-’em all).

NBC News reported late Friday that Colorado’s periodically maverick-y GOP Rep. Ken Buck is not happy with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s decision to remove Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from her post on the House Foreign Affairs Committee:

The GOP effort to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee took another blow Friday, with Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., pledging to oppose it.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy has pledged to remove the Minnesota Democrat from the panel for past comments that he characterized as antisemitic. That would require a full House vote, and Buck’s statement Friday means McCarthy likely cannot afford to lose any more Republican votes if he wants Omar removed.

“I think that we should not engage in this tit for tat. I am opposed to the selection — or the removal — of Congresswoman Omar from committees,” Buck said in an interview on Meet the Press NOW.

Buck said he had “a little bit less certainty” about McCarthy’s decision to bar California Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, which McCarthy could do as Speaker.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

Buck joins several other Republican representatives unexpectedly defending Rep. Omar–enough that McCarthy can’t lose any more if he follows through with the required vote to remove her. McCarthy’s retaliation against these high-profile critics of President Donald Trump are broadly viewed as score-settling for Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar bring stripped of their committee assignments in the previous Congress, after making violent threats and inferences against their colleagues. Buck didn’t support that action either, of course, but he gets credit for consistency at least in standing up for Rep. Omar.

And as the Phil Anschutz-owned Washington Examiner reports, there’s another reason why Buck might see little downside to pushing back on McCarthy:

House Republicans are set to hand libertarian Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) the gavel for the subcommittee responsible for antitrust, a snub to one of Republicans’ most vocal Big Tech critics and a sign the conference will try to steer clear of major clashes with Silicon Valley. [Pols emphasis]

Top Republican Big Tech critic Ken Buck (R-CO) was expected to take over the House Judiciary Committee panel responsible for antitrust, which would have positioned him to promote bills and oversight efforts aimed at curbing the power of Silicon Valley. Massie is viewed as more aligned with House Republicans who do not favor stronger government intervention to address perceived abuses and free-speech violations on the part of tech companies…

In the last Congress, Buck aligned himself with liberal Democrats on bipartisan measures that would step up antitrust scrutiny of the largest tech companies. The bills did not become law, thanks to opposition from centrists in both parties. Buck has made clear that he favors a more significant role for the federal government in counterbalancing the market and political influence of Big Tech, a stance long rejected by his party but that has gained currency among conservatives as they’ve found themselves opposed to tech gatekeepers on culture war issues.

Though their motivation beneath the headlines obviously differed, Rep. Buck found common cause with some liberal House members including Rep. Joe Neguse of Boulder in legislation to step up anti-trust regulation and scrutiny of the largest tech-opolies like Google, Amazon, and Apple. That effort appears to be effectively dead in Kevin McCarthy’s House, scuttling one of Buck’s biggest remaining political objectives in what’s generally believed to be the latter days of Buck’s career in Washington.

Like Bob Dylan said, when you’ve got nothing you’ve got nothing left to lose.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Jan. 10)

Vote early AND often for Denver Nuggets’ players Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon as NBA All-Stars. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.




Happy inauguration day! Governor Jared Polis and Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera were sworn-in for their second term in office this morning. Click here for more.


The opening day of Colorado’s legislative session on Monday clarified how Republicans plan to deal with their new micro-minorities: By doing the same shit that got them in the voters’ doghouse in the first place. The complete lack of self-awareness from Republicans — including freshman Rep. Ken DeGraaf — is actually pretty remarkable:


As The Colorado Sun reports in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter, Monday was not a good start for Republicans:

“A little blip.”

That’s what House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, R-Wellington, called the disruption Monday by the GOP superminority in the House during the launch of the legislative session. The “blip” was caused by new Republican state Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf , both of Colorado Springs. DeGraaf nominated Bottoms for speaker (who seconded his own nomination) to protest Democrats’ support for abortion access and gun control measures.

It’s traditional for the House speaker vote in Colorado to be unanimous, [Pols emphasis] and since Democrats are in control of the chamber that means they chose the leader — Julie McCluskie. Bottoms’ nomination failed (he picked up eight GOP votes) and McCluskie was sworn in with bipartisan support. McCluskie’s nomination, in fact, was seconded by Lynch…

Here’s the question that may define the 2023 legislative session in the House: Democrats have signaled they are willing to bring Republicans into the conversation. But are Republicans willing to work with Democrats? Eight members of the House GOP caucus signaled “no” on Monday.

The takeaway: Democrats don’t have to work with the GOP to get their agenda passed this year. And Bottoms and DeGraaf on Monday gave them another reason not to bother. [Pols emphasis]

House Republicans haven’t quite hit rock-Bottoms yet, but they’re on the wrong track.

The Denver Post has a gallery of photos from opening day.


► As Marshall Zelinger reports for 9News, Democrats in the state legislature are planning to do more about gun safety. Nick Coltrain of The Denver Post notes that Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) is gearing up for a fight with its rapidly-waning influence. Public opinion is definitely on the side of Democrats:

According to a poll commissioned by Giffords and conducted by the highly regarded Global Strategy Group, 73% of voters this November considered gun violence an important factor in their decision. And of the 78% that cited crime more broadly as an important factor, two-thirds said shootings and mass shootings were among their more specific concerns — outstripping crimes like burglary, carjackings, and retail theft.

“Nationally, we’ve seen a huge shift in the politics of the issue,” Giffords Executive Director Peter Ambler said. “It’s gone from having this sort of third-rail reputation to being something that has significant bipartisan appeal. Colorado has been at the epicenter of that transformation.”

Republican Rep. Ron Weinberg of Loveland is inadvertently strengthening these arguments with his own idiotic decisions.


Click below to keep learning things…



Will The Real Ken Buck Please Stand Up?

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Throughout the stalemate in the U.S. House over the selection of the next Speaker of the House that has dominated national political news all week, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado has become increasingly vocal about the dilemma faced by would-be Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Although Rep. Buck has voted for McCarthy in each of the six rounds of balloting so far, Buck has made no secret of his growing consternation, telling almost everyone who asks that McCarthy is quickly running out of time and support. Jeff Rice reports for the Sterling Journal-Advocate, a Buck-friendly publication in his district:

Buck told CNN on Wednesday that he had talked with McCarthy and with Rep. Steven Scalise of Louisiana about the possibility of McCarthy stepping aside to see whether Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, could garner the votes needed to win the Speaker’s chair.

Buck told CNN’s Jake tapper on Wednesday that he can no longer support McCarthy because it’s become clear the California Republican cannot break the deadlock that Boebert and her cohorts have caused.

“Kevin McCarthy, I think, will make the decision at some point and what’s going to happen and what should happen sooner rather than later, is some of the senior members, some the cardinals on appropriations and the committee chairman and some of the other folks who have been here a long time, have supported Kevin are going to have to have that private conversation with him that this doesn’t make sense and we need to move forward,” Buck said.


“I’ve had a number of conversations with Kevin, and I basically told him at some point this needs to break loose,” Buck said in the interview. “He either needs to make a deal to bring the 19 or 20 over, or he needs to step aside to give somebody the chance to do that.

“I don’t know what that timeframe is, but it makes sense that at some point today we’re able to move forward in a way that we elect a speaker,” Buck continued…

Buck suggested Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise is “next in line” if progress can’t be made on McCarthy’s bid to lead the House.

Listening to Rep. Buck on CNN, you would certainly agree with the growing consensus that McCarthy’s bid for the speakership is damaged beyond repair. The problem is, Buck basically contradicted all of this in a story last night from CBS4 Denver’s notoriously slanted political reporter Shaun “Furry Panic” Boyd:

Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican who represents Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, says the Republican Party will emerge stronger from a standoff at the nation’s capitol over who should be the next Speaker of the House.

Buck says McCarthy’s opponents aren’t cohesive – some want rule changes, others want policy commitments – and they keep changing their demands.

“You got 20 people dissenting at this point and they have 20 different reasons,” Buck said. “They were voting for Jim Jordan and Jim Jordan was voting for Kevin McCarthy, and that didn’t make sense to anybody. So they nominated Byron Donalds, who was voting for himself, so it made a little bit more sense.”

Buck believes McCarthy will ultimately prevail… [Pols emphasis]

The interview that Buck gave to Shaun Boyd is so far removed from what Buck told CNN that’s it’s almost impossible to believe it was same person talking. We assume this was done for the purpose of giving Buck cover after contributing significantly to McCarthy’s deteriorating position in Buck’s CNN interview. But it takes a shamelessly credulous reporter like Shaun Boyd to write this story knowing–or at least who should have known–what Buck was telling literally everyone else.

As for Ken Buck, never assume he’s telling you anything except what he thinks you want to hear.

Buck Votes Against Own Gun Safety Bill, Says He Didn’t Read it Closely Enough

(Ken Buck at his finest — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Congressman Ken Buck, who has campaigned for nearly two decades on his pro-gun stance, finally found a gun safety bill he could support, at least until it came time to vote for it.

Buck, a Republican, is a co-sponsor of a proposal to create a voluntary waiting period to purchase a firearm, but ultimately voted against it after its hearing Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee. Back in July, Buck co-sponsored H.R.8361, the bill introduced by Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) with the goal of preventing those who may experience suicidal thoughts from being able to immediately obtain a gun.

Anyone may add themselves to the “no-buy” list, which firearm dealers would consult as part of the national instant criminal background check system before making a sale. Those who change their mind can remove themselves from the list after a three-week waiting period.

Buck’s co-sponsorship of this bill angered Colorado’s most extreme gun rights group, the National Association of Gun Rights (NAGR), the national arm of Dudley Brown’s Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. NAGR’s sent an email on Tuesday urging its members to call Buck and demand he “reverse course” and pull his support.

Yesterday, during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill, Buck did just that.

“I have proudly cosponsored this legislation because I believe in doing everything we can to minimize suicides and protect people from themselves under certain circumstances,” said Buck. “I have issues with this bill and I will ask the gentlelady [Jayapal] if there’s a way to work to address them before or after the end of this markup.”

Buck then listed several changes he wanted to make to the bill.

Buck’s explanation for his flip-flop after being a co-sponsor for five months? He didn’t read the bill carefully enough.

“I apologize to my friend from Washington [state] for misleading her when I initially co-sponsored this bill,” he said. “I still would like to work on this bill, make it stronger and bring it back — since we have six days left in this Congress, perhaps next Congress — and see if we can’t do something to reduce the number of suicides in this country.”

Jayapal welcomed some of the changes Buck suggested and thanked him for his partnership and for reading it thoroughly, to which Buck replied, “I wish I’d read it thoroughly earlier.”

In another email sent after Buck voted against the bill, NAGR asked its members to call Buck again and vote against the bill, this time on the floor.

“The tremendous backlash from the pro-gun grassroots has already caused one Republican Congressman to abandon his support of this gun control scheme,” the email also noted, without mentioning that the Congressman in question was Buck himself.

Buck’s office declined to comment beyond his statements during the hearing.

O’Dea Continues Another GOP Tradition: Bombing on National TV

We wrote earlier about Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea inexplicably spending the last week of the 2022 election cycle touring the Western Slope and Eastern Plains of Colorado. This is a strange tradition for GOP Senate candidates who know they are about to lose, from Bob Schaffer in 2008 to Cory Gardner in 2020.

On the checklist of bad traditions among Republican Senate candidates in Colorado, there is another box that O’Dea apparently decided to mark off: Completely imploding on national television. When Democrat Michael Bennet was running for his first full term in the Senate in 2010, his Republican opponent was then-District Attorney Ken Buck. That race went down the wire, and most observers believe Buck lost the Senate race with a disastrous late-October appearance on “Meet the Press” in which he compared homosexuality to alcoholism and used the term “buyer’s remorse” in discussing the case of an alleged rape in his judicial district four years earlier.

Buck’s “Meet the Press” appearance was so bad it was even lampooned by “Saturday Night Live.” Had Buck not bombed so memorably, he might well have been elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Joe O’Dea makes his “nailed it” face after repeating for the 100th time his joke about how he doesn’t even agree with his wife 98% of the time.

On Tuesday evening, O’Dea sat down for an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN and flopped in a much different manner. You really should watch the entire seven-minute interview to grasp the extent of the problem for O’Dea, but we’ll break it down into a couple of pieces.

But first, it’s important to understand some context here. Candidates don’t just end up talking to Jake Tapper on CNN; this is the sort of interview that campaign staffers (or national GOP helpers) work hard to arrange. A couple of people had to go to a lot of trouble to get this interview to happen in the last few days before an election. Some of those same people apparently didn’t bother to prepare O’Dea for some difficult questions.

This is a masterclass in how to show voters that you have absolutely no business being anywhere near Congress.

Tapper’s first question is about former President Donald Trump’s outspoken opposition to O’Dea after the Colorado businessman said he would campaign against Trump in 2024. O’Dea dodges this question, which leads to Tapper replaying a moment from a Senate debate last week when Bennet talked about O’Dea’s previous support for Trump.


Tapper asks O’Dea “did it bother you” when Trump pushed his family separation policy at the border or said that there were fine people on both sides after white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, VA in 2017. Here’s O’Dea’s response:

JOE O’DEA: Well, I believe that [President] Obama started that policy to be quite frank with you.

JAKE TAPPER: Not really.


O’Dea goes on to say that the border is “leaking like a sieve” and talks about fentanyl “coming right up I-25.” Tapper notes that former President Trump did not solve the border problem, either, and adds that every time immigration reform has come up in Congress in the last 20 years, it is Republicans in the House of Representatives who have blocked it from becoming law. Tapper asks O’Dea if Republicans share some of the blame for a lack of action on immigration reform. O’Dea calls the border situation “a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions”; he says that he is going to run an immigration reform bill and make sure it passes both the Senate and the House.

This is the point where things really start to go downhill for O’Dea. Tapper asks O’Dea about his appearance on “Meet the Press” last week and a question from Chuck Todd about whether O’Dea is comfortable with the idea of using migrants as a “political tool” (such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard).

TAPPER: Do you think it was right for them to ship off migrants under false pretenses into other parts of the country? That part of it — not just bringing attention to [the issue], but that part of it — was that the right thing to do?

O’DEA: [long pause] Well, I know that President Biden is shipping them all over the country right now in airplanes. Nobody said a word.

What? President Biden is flying migrants all over the country?

It appears at this point that a small part of O’Dea’s brain realized that he is screwing up, so he reverts to repeating his same talking points from before.

O’DEA: Every state is a border state now. We’ve got a humanitarian crisis down there — epic proportions. And I believe that Gov. Abbott and Gov. DeSantis are trying to bring some attention to this because of the failed policies of Joe Biden. And Michael Bennet’s right with him. 98% of the time he has failed because he’s with his President instead of stepping out and getting something done. We need change, and that’s why I got into this race.

Epic proportions!

Tapper then shifts to a question about gun violence that clearly surprises O’Dea (for some reason).

We are all Jake Tapper when listening to Joe O’Dea.

TAPPER: You do not support raising the age limit for purchasing a semi-automatic weapon — the kind used in Uvalde [Texas] and other massacres. Why should an 18-year-old be able to purchase a semi-automatic weapon before he’s even mature enough to buy a beer?

O’DEA: [long pause] Look, this is about crime. We don’t need any more gun laws. What we need is more cops. And this is about Michael Bennet and Joe Biden having the wrong priorities. Here they pass this inflation reduction act — 87,000 new bureaucrats for the IRS — instead of focusing that money on getting our border under control, focusing that money on putting more cops on the ground here. Colorado had one heck of a weekend. I gotta tell you that we had 12 shootings this weekend, and we lost some Coloradans. Crime is at an all time high here.

TAPPER: Yeah, but, why should a 19-year-old be able to buy a semi-automatic weapon when he can’t even buy a beer or a handgun? That’s my question.

O’DEA: Well, he can sign up and go into our military. So, I just believe that we don’t need any more gun laws. What we need is more cops…

TAPPER: You’re…I’m…I’m sure you know of all the training that enlistees undergo when it comes to how to use a firearm.

Mercifully for O’Dea, Tapper wraps up the interview at this point. Unfortunately for O’Dea, his inch-deep understanding of a bevy of important issues has already been revealed. When the best thing you can say about O’Dea’s interview was that it wasn’t quite as bad as Ken Buck in 2010, you know things did not go well.

In fact, you might even say this interview was a disaster…of epic proportions.

Wildfire Recovery Act Passes, No Thanks to Boebert and Buck

Reps. Lauren Boebert and Ken Buck

Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) celebrated the passage on Tuesday of legislation intended to help communities recover from devastating wildfires.

Via press release from Neguse’s office:

Congressman Joe Neguse and Congressman John Curtis (R-UT), Co-Chairs and Founders of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, announced that the House of Representatives passed their legislation to help ensure impacted communities have the resources they need to recover from devastating wildfires. The bipartisan Wildfire Recovery Act would increase flexibility in the federal cost share for Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG) to bring in additional resources for communities as they rebuild from wildfire damage. [Pols emphasis] The bill is sponsored by California Senator Alex Padilla in the U.S. Senate.

“Coloradans have been impacted by multiple natural disasters in recent years, from the devastating wildfire season in 2020 to the record-breaking Marshall Fire just this past year. For them and for all the communities across this country impacted by wildfires, floods, and more, we must ensure full and adequate federal support for recovery,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “The Wildfire Recovery Act helps to support state and local governments in cases of disaster, covering the costs of critical services needed for protection and recovery. The strong bipartisan support for this bill – demonstrated by the House vote today – gives me hope that Colorado families and communities will never again have to navigate recovery alone.”

The Wildfire Recovery Act has a ton of bipartisan sponsors, as you might expect for something that wouldn’t look like a political maneuver no matter how hard you squinted. In short, the legislation allows people impacted by devastating fires, such as the Marshall Fire in Boulder County in 2021 that destroyed more than 1,000 homes, to qualify for additional federal assistance through Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG).

The Wildfire Recovery Act was approved on the House Floor on Tuesday by a wide margin (328-88). Two of those ‘NO’ votes, all of which came from Republicans, were cast by Colorado Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) and Ken Buck (R-Greeleyish).

These votes are indefensible considering what Aldo Svaldi reported for The Denver Post on Tuesday:

Nearly 320,000 single-family homes in Colorado are at risk of wildfire damage with potential losses highest in El Paso County, according to CoreLogic, a property information firm that prepares an annual Wildfire Report.

California, Florida, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico are the top five states in terms of the number of homes susceptible to wildfire damage, CoreLogic estimates. But given their much smaller populations than the first three states, Colorado and New Mexico are more vulnerable on a percentage of homes basis.

As you can see from the map below, the five Colorado counties with homes that are most at-risk for severe fire damage include THREE that are within areas represented by Boebert (Eagle and La Plata) and Buck (Douglas).

Via the annual “Wildfire Report” from CoreLogic.

El Paso County is considered to have the highest risk of single-home damage, which is probably why even Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs voted for the Wildfire Recovery Act.

As far as we can tell, neither Buck nor Boebert have said anything about why they would have voted against a bill that would provide significant help for people IN THEIR OWN DISTRICTS.

It is inexplicable why any voter in Colorado would continue to support the likes of Boebert and Buck when they go to such great lengths to work against the interests of their constituents.

Republicans to Introduce 15 Week Abortion Ban

UPDATE: Wait, really?


What has two thumbs and just screwed Colorado Republicans?

As Inae Oh reports for Mother Jones, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is going to make the final two months of the 2022 election considerably harder for many Republicans candidates in Colorado (and around the country):

Lindsey Graham is set to introduce a new bill to restrict abortion nationally, specifically banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy. [Pols emphasis]

This will mark the sixth time that the South Carolina governor has introduced legislation to restrict abortion at the federal level. The plan, which will be introduced Tuesday, has no chance of surviving a Democratic-controlled Senate; even if Republicans seize control of Congress, it would still likely face serious challenges, including an all-but-certain veto from the president.

But what’s interesting here is that by once again proposing nationwide abortion restrictions, Graham is reportedly hoping that the legislation will convince voters that the GOP is willing to make some concessions on the issue—that amid intense outrage, the Republican Party is not as cruel as the Democrats have been portraying. [Pols emphasis] But much of Graham’s logic here weaponizes the stigma, as well as the general misunderstanding of the term “late-term abortions,” and it’s difficult to see newly mobilized voters falling for it in our post-Roe landscape.

If a “15 week” abortion ban sounds familiar, it should: This is the same arbitrary restriction proposed by Mississippi lawmakers that led to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Supreme Court decision in June that essentially overturned Roe v. Wade.

This bears repeating. Senator Graham is introducing a bill to ban abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy — a timeline that has no scientific or medical basis whatsoever — that would create the same abortion restrictions as the Mississippi law that led to the destruction of federal abortion rights in the United States. Graham thinks that this will somehow be helpful to Republicans; he apparently didn’t get the memo that “nuance” is dead when it comes to abortion rights.

Graham’s legislation is a disaster for every Republican candidate in Colorado who is not running in a safe Republican district. Current elected officials, including Reps. Ken Buck (R-Greeleyish) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) have already signed on to the idea of making further abortion restrictions at a national level (so long, “state’s rights”). Here’s a short list of those 2022 candidates in Colorado who will find this to be particularly unhelpful in the weeks before Election Day on Nov. 8:

Joe O’Dea, U.S. Senate

O’Dea has spent the last couple of months diligently trying to take every conceivable position possible on the issue of abortion rights, other than the only one that really matters: Supporting a woman’s right to choose. His latest answer on the subject is that he wants to go to Washington D.C. to “bring balance to women’s rights.”

O’Dea says that he would like to restrict abortions at an equally-arbitrary deadline of 20 weeks of pregnancy. It will be hard for O’Dea to argue that he would oppose Graham’s 15 week deadline given that his own 20 week deadline is not based on any tangible scientific evidence.

John Kellner

John Kellner, Attorney General

Kellner already screwed this up when he said out loud at a candidate forum in August that he considered himself “somebody who supports the Dobbs decision returning this back to the states to make a decision” and later couldn’t answer a ‘yes or no’ question about whether he supported a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions. But Graham’s bill destroys whatever wiggle room Kellner might have tried to hold onto because the concept of “state’s rights” would go out the window.

If a Congress were to approve Graham’s legislation, it’s tough to believe that Kellner would still work to protect abortion rights in Colorado if elected Attorney General. He could just say, Oh, I support state’s rights but Congress changed the law, so what are you gonna do?

♦ Erik Aadland, Congress (CO-07)

Aadland is about as far right as you can get on the issue of abortion rights. He cheered the demise of Roe V. Wade and praised the Texas abortion law that basically made bounty hunters out of regular citizens who even heard the word “abortion” whispered by a neighbor.

♦ Barbara Kirkmeyer, Congress (CO-08)

Kirkmeyer has been one of Colorado’s most consistent anti-choice advocates for decades, but even she sees the political danger in talking about her position. Kirkmeyer opposes abortion for any reason. We don’t even need to ask if Kirkmeyer would vote YES on Graham’s bill if given the opportunity. She’s like political Thanos in this regard:


To be clear, Graham’s bill is bad for any Colorado Republican trying to finesse a position on abortion rights that is anything other than supporting a woman’s right to choose. Election after election, and poll after poll, have proved Colorado is an overwhelmingly pro-choice state — which is why dolts like GOP Lieutenant Governor candidate Danny Moore are trying to pretend reality is different. From The Colorado Sun’sUnaffiliated” newsletter:

“The Republican Party is not trying to take away anybody’s right to choose,” Danny Moore, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor [Pols emphasis], said last week on Jeff Fard’s interview show in response to a question about abortion. That statement comes despite the GOP’s efforts at the state Capitol and through ballot measures to restrict or outright ban abortions in Colorado. Moore said he thinks voters should decide Colorado’s abortion laws — even though they already have time and again through ballot measures — while criticizing the law passed by Democrats this year enshrining nearly unfettered abortion access in the state. (Heidi Ganahl, Moore’s running mate, wants to roll back Colorado’s new abortion-access bill and believes the procedure should be banned except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of a mother is at risk.)

Danny Moore is apparently unaware that many interviews with politicians are recorded or written down and are easily accessible to anyone with a connection to the Internet.

Lindsey Graham is expected to announce his national abortion ban legislation sometime today.

The GMS Podcast: Asshats in Key States

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea’s pledge to decide what rights women should get to have, and we consider how the breakdown of the national map for Senate Republicans (“Asshats in Key States”) is causing problems for O’Dea in Colorado.

We also talk about the latest state fundraising reports; the deadline for the recall of State Sen. Kevin Priola; and we bemoan the fact that the campaign for Denver Mayor is already well underway even though the midterm election still has eight weeks to go.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at Or send emails to or

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To Hell With “State’s Rights” Say Buck, Lamborn

Rep. Ken Buck (top) and Rep. Doug Lamborn.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this summer overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling guaranteeing abortion rights in all fifty states, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado celebrated what he characterized as the restoration of state authority to regulate abortion as they saw fit:

The Supreme Court made the right decision in overturning Roe v. Wade, a tragic abortion mandate that has cost over 73 million unborn babies their lives. The power to decide this profound moral question has officially returned to the states, where it will be debated and settled in the way it should be in our democratic society—by the people.

In his statement the same day, Rep. Doug Lamborn likewise heralded the turn of the struggle over abortion rights “to the states.”

While today we are rejoicing, the fight now turns to the states where the American people must go on the offense for life.

But in the same press release where Lamborn said “the fight now returns to the states,” Lamborn contradicted himself by vowing to pursue further federal restrictions on abortion that would apply in all 50 states–no secret, but also making no sense right before celebrating the return of the fight “to the states.” And true to form, as the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler reports, both Lamborn and Buck have signed on to legislation severely restricting abortion rights at the federal level–demonstrating they were lying about wanting states to decide the question at all:

When the Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, which in 1973 established a nationwide right to an abortion, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion for Dobbs v. Jackson that the legality of abortion would now be up to individual states. “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” Alito said. “Roe and Casey [in 1992] arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

Many Republican foes of abortion celebrated the ruling as a victory for states’ rights. Yet since Alito’s draft opinion was leaked on May 2, 28 lawmakers have also signed onto a proposed nationwide ban — one that would impose abortion restrictions even in Democrat-led, pro-abortion rights states. [Pols emphasis]

This would seem to be a direct contradiction to the idea that states could chart their own course. Blue states that have less restrictive laws in place suddenly would find those laws overridden by a federal law.

Kessler reports that Rep. Ken Buck signed on as a co-sponsor of the so-called “Heartbeat Protection Act,” which would ban abortions if a “heartbeat” can be detected–an effective ban since this occurs before most people even know they’re pregnant–on May 27, after the Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe was leaked. Rep. Lamborn signed on as a co-sponsor on July 11th, after the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe was published. In both cases they knew that this ruling was coming, and it makes it impossible for them to claim to support returning the question of abortion rights “to the states.”

Will this glaring contradiction hurt Buck or Lamborn in the state’s two safest Republican districts? Of course not. But for fellow Republican candidates like Joe O’Dea trying (and generally failing) to walk a tortuous fine line on an issue expected to turn out voters in force against anti-abortion politicians, Buck and Lamborn’s example is a reminder that there is no longer any tenable middle ground on the issue. With Republicans in control of Congress, this is the kind of legislation that will pass. And a Republican President will sign it.

These are not hypotheticals anymore. Those with nothing to lose have exposed those who do.