“Law and Order,” Colorado Republican Style

“We probably won’t see any relief in these kinds of robberies until these businesses aren’t forced to deal only in cash”

As Westword’s Thomas Mitchell reports, two Republican members of Congress from Colorado, Reps. Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn, have signed on to a letter to the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Sen. Mike Crapo, asking Senate Republicans to reject the SAFE Banking Act, legislation which would allow banking institutions to serve the presently cash only multibillion-dollar retail marijuana industry:

Two Colorado members of the U.S. House of Representatives, along with ten other members of the House, have once again announced their opposition to federal banking reform for state-legal marijuana businesses. But since they’ve already cast their votes on the matter in the House, they’re looking to the Senate for help.

Less than a month after a group of representatives led by Congressman Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from Colorado, sent a letter to Senate Banking Committee chairman Mike Crapo, urging him to advance Perlmutter’s successful House legislation that would protect banks serving marijuana businesses, another group of House members sent Crapo a letter with a starkly different stance on the bill, the SAFE Banking Act…

“The SAFE Banking Act jeopardizes public safety by legitimizing banking access for a Schedule I drug. It is important that we continue to tread lightly and consider public health concerns that surround the marijuana industry,” Buck says. “That’s why I opposed the SAFE Banking Act when it came to a vote in the House of Representatives and urge Senator Crapo to weigh these concerns when considering this legislation in the Senate.”

From the letter signed by Buck and Lamborn:

We write as Republican Members of Congress who voted against the SAFE Banking Act in the House of Representatives. Thank you for introducing a public health perspective to the question of banking for marijuana enterprises, including recreational stores that are advertising products that are appealing to children. We understand you have received significant pushback from these businesses for raising public health questions related to their business practices, and we urge you to stand strong…

We thank you again for your examination and consideration of these important public health topics. We remain opposed to liberalizing drug laws (including around banking), and we see these as some of our areas of greatest concern. We must protect our youth by preventing investment into companies that would prey upon them.

It’s important to understand that Buck and Lamborn’s objection to the SAFE Banking Act are not based in an easily-resolved technicality, but rather wholesale opposition to the legalization of marijuana. Even though they both represent a state that was the vanguard of legalization back in 2012, and has been joined by ten other states including major population centers like California and Illinois with more on the way, Buck and Lamborn refuse to allow the businesses raking in billions of dollars every year to use banking services every other legal business takes for granted.

For the cannabis industry in Colorado, the results have been needlessly tragic. Forced to operate as cash-only businesses, marijuana shops in Colorado have become lucrative targets for armed robberies–including in Aurora in 2016 in which a security guard for the dispensary was murdered execution-style. Dispensary owners have been forced to invest heavily in security and safe handling of large amounts of cash as a result.

With all of this in mind, it’s fair to ask the majority of Colorado voters who voted to legalize marijuana in 2012–what’s the bigger public safety risk here? Legal marijuana, or criminals targeting businesses forced to operate on cash? What public safety benefit is there in making an already legal industry needlessly dangerous? And where the hell is Sen. Cory Gardner, supposed best GOP friend of Colorado’s weed business? Once again, Gardner’s lip service to supporting the industry is being undercut by his fellow Republicans.

Politically, this is the sort of thing one can only get away with while holding a very safe seat–not just a safe Republican seat. It’s hard to imagine a position more opposed to the interests of the state Buck and Lamborn represent, actually supporting a status quo that invites crime against law-abiding Coloradans. Two out of three of Colorado’s GOP members of Congress were under no real pressure to sign a letter only ten other members from across the country were willing to put their name on.

It is not a principled stand. It is a slap in the face to the folks at home.

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Ken Buck’s Jaws Still Unhelpfully Flapping

UPDATE: Note that the GOP Senator who first fielded a similar question, Joni Ernst of Iowa, swiftly walked back her answer:

“That was taken entirely out of context. The point is that the Democrats have lowered the bar so far that … regardless of who it is, if you have a different party in the House than that of an elected president, you can have just random comments thrown out there with folks saying we’re going to impeach,” Ernst said when asked by The Hill about her earlier Biden comments.

“So, no, it was taken out of context. I didn’t say what the headlines [said] but simply that we‘ve lowered the bar so much, is this really what the American people want? And I would say no, it’s not,” she continued. [Pols emphasis]

Looks like Rep. Ken Buck is down, however–and not just impeachment right after an election like Sen. Ernst suggested. Buck is ready to rock right now.

And yes, that says more about Rep. Buck than it does about reality.

—–

Rep. Ken Buck (R) repeals Obamacare, except not really.

AP and 9NEWS reporting–Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, who has been at times surprisingly (and we assume unintentionally) feckless in the defense of President Donald Trump during the years of investigations leading up to Trump’s impeachment, continues to fire off rhetorical broadsides as the final vote in the Senate trial approaches that are unlikely to age well:

Following a senator’s warning that former Vice President Joe Biden could face impeachment the day after becoming president, if he were to be elected, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck said there was no reason to wait…

“Well, I would say this. There’s no reason to wait for that. Vice President Biden could be impeached now,” Buck said. [Pols emphasis] “There’s no reason that you have to only impeach someone that is in office. You can hold the hearings. You can gather the evidence. You can move forward. But the extent of the corruption that you see, at least the allegations of corruption, that you see around the Biden family is very troubling.”

Rep. Buck made these remarks in an interview yesterday on the Fox Business channel, which if you haven’t had the pleasure is where Rupert Murdoch dishes out the conservative red meat too outlandish even for the “mainstream” Fox News Channel! Obviously, the idea of a Democratic House impeaching a former Democratic vice president years after leaving office who just happens to be running for President is sufficiently far-fetched that it wouldn’t even make a believable SNL skit.

So why say it at all? The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:

Buck’s spokeswoman, Lindsey Curnutte, said the congressman believes Democrats have set the bar so low that any future president could be impeached under new Democratic standards. Buck also believes Congress has an oversight role and that there are serious allegations surrounding the Bidens, she said.

“In last night’s interview,” Curnutte said Tuesday, “he was laying out Congress’ constitutional ability to impeach former federal officials.”

Morgan Carroll, chair of the state Democratic Party, released this comment: “Ken Buck’s absurd statement demonstrates the serious moral decay of today’s Republican Party leaders. Impeachment is a serious and somber process used only for the most egregious abuses of office.”

For the purpose of distracting from the impeachment trial and undermining its legitimacy with already persuaded base Republican voters, Buck is keeping up a consistent drumbeat. Outside the not-even Fox News but Fox Business conservative news bubble, however, where no evidence to support any of the allegations against the Bidens has ever been uncovered, and a majority of Americans do not buy any of this based on their support for Trump’s impeachment and all evidence against Trump to have been considered?

Buck is just insulting people’s intelligence. Anywhere a GOP seat is less safe than Buck’s own, he isn’t helping.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Bold Predictions for 2020

This is it: The final episode of 2019 for The Get More Smarter Podcast. To close out the year, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the most important Colorado political stories of 2019 and look ahead to 2020 with some bold predictions. Will Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate in 2020? Can Sen. Cory Gardner win re-election? Which one of Colorado’s seven Congressional seats could flip next year? 

And for the first time, Jason plays America’s worst favorite game, “Duke or Donald.” Ian is the current record-holder in the game that nobody really wins, but can Jason take the title in the last episode of 2019?

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. If you have a question or comment, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

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Ken Buck Says Impeachment Proves Existence of Deep State; Plans to Fight Back against Federal Workers

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Speaking on Greeley radio KFKA yesterday, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck of northern Colorado said the “really scary part” about the impeachment process is that “there really is a deep state,” and he pledged to fight back in part by taking a “very hard” look at pay raises and other benefits for federal employees and “job security” of “senior bureaucrats” in the executive branch.

“There is this group of bureaucrats that think they run the government and that Congress and the president, whether they’re elected or not, should answer to this group of bureaucrats,” Buck told KFKA host Gail Fallon. “And they — you know — fought against President Trump’s trying to reform government and trying to change the balance between the appointees in the in the executive branch and the career bureaucrats. And they won! That is the only winner of this. The Democrats didn’t win. They’ll learn that next November. The Republicans didn’t win. The president didn’t win. Congress didn’t win. The only winners in this are the bureaucrats.”

In attacking the so-called deep state, Buck is echoing a long-running theme of Trump, who’s long portrayed himself as a victim of deep state operatives.

Most recently, Trump even pointed to the existence of a deep state within the U.S. military.

Much has been written about the topic, including a New York Times bestseller.

And the deep state comes up repeatedly on conservative media outlets, like Fox News.

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Republicans Flummoxed on Prescription Drug Pricing


Image via AARP

While you were reading about impeachment news last week, you may have missed a significant vote in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives addressing an issue that is of utmost concern to American voters in 2020: Reducing the outrageous costs of prescription drugs.

The “Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act” (HR-3) passed out of the House on Thursday on a largely party line vote (Colorado’s four Democratic House Members voted “YES,” while all three Republicans voted “NO”) and will now head to the place where all good pieces of legislation go to die: The desk of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. As CBS News explains:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill would cap Medicare recipients’ out-of-pocket costs for medicines at $2,000 a year. It would use about $360 billion of its projected 10-year savings from lower drug costs to establish Medicare coverage for dental care, hearing, and vision, filling major gaps for seniors.

But the legislation has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate, and the White House has issued a veto threat. Still, Democrats saw a victory in the message their bill sends to voters…[Pols emphasis]

…Pelosi is claiming bragging rights because her bill would deliver on the promise that President Trump made as a candidate in 2016, when he said he would “negotiate like crazy” to lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients. It’s a pledge that Mr. Trump has backed away from as president.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner don’t know where to go from here.

Polling data continually shows that health care and prescription drugs top the list of voter concerns in 2020…much like they did in the Democratic wave year of 2018. A recent survey from Healthier Colorado found that 82% of Colorado voters believe that prescription drugs are too costly; nearly half of voters say that health care in general is unaffordable. The bill passed last week in the House of Representatives has the support of groups such as AARP, but McConnell won’t touch it in part because it is fiercely opposed by the pharmaceutical industry. As Politico reports today, the issue has put Republicans in a bind:

Yet with an election year cresting and massive divisions among his members, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is staying put. Associates say the Kentucky Republican is not eager to make a move that splits his caucus and could incur the wrath of the well-financed pharmaceutical industry.

A final decision will wait until after the Senate’s impeachment trial. Many Senate Republicans, however, know they need to do something to satisfy Trump and avoid the awful optics of doing nothing at all.

Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) this summer advanced a bill that would fine drugmakers that hike prices above inflation rates, but from the start it had more Democratic support than Republican backing. Even though a significant number of GOP members say it’s a bold stroke with crucial presidential support, many Republicans liken the move to price controls that would kill innovation.

This quote from Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy sums up the absurdity of the GOP’s position: “Thank goodness Republicans control the Senate. That said, we still need something to make medicines affordable.” Ya think?

Republicans have lambasted impeachment investigations against President Trump as a distraction from the key issues facing average Americans, but Democrats snatched that stool right out from under them last week by multitasking on important topics. As The Hill explains:

Vulnerable Democrats in swing districts can point to the legislation as keeping a long-held promise to let Medicare negotiate drug prices. Members can show they are focused on kitchen table issues despite the chaos over impeachment.

The bill also gives moderate Democrats in Congress a chance to tout a health care issue that’s separate from the “Medicare for All” debate consuming the Democratic presidential primary.

“If a Democrat wins the White House and the party takes control of the Senate, a bill to allow the government to negotiate drug prices seems much more likely to pass than Medicare for All or even a public option,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health care policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Congressional Republicans are now in the unenviable position of arguing against the substance of legislation that would reduce health care costs for millions of Americans. Republican leaders can shake their fists at the idea of “price controls” for prescription drugs, but that language only makes a dent with pharmaceutical lobbyists; controlling prices is exactly what average voters want to see from Congress on the issue of prescription drug costs.

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Gardner Smart to Act Like Impartial Juror He’s Not, Says Buck

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mitch McConnell, Cory Gardner.

On conservative KNUS last week, host Steffan Tubbs asked U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) why Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner wasn’t speaking out more on impeachment.

Buck replied with, “I think Cory is absolutely right. Cory will be part of the jury in the near future, and I think Cory is demonstrating that he is entering this with an open mind, that he wants to see the evidence. But Cory is a thoughtful and he is a senator that is well-respected because he holds his cards close to his vest. And I think that that Cory Gardner, when he speaks and when he says, ‘I’ve listened to the evidence and this is my vote,’ it’s much more convincing than if he was a partisan all the way along.”

In fact, Gardner hasn’t been spewing out news releases on impeachment, like KNUS’ Steffan Tubbs wants him to do.

But the senator has already called the impeachment inquiry a “total circus” He also voted for a Senate resolution condemning the inquiry.

The irony hasn’t been lost on 9News’ Kyle Clark, who tweeted Dec. 10: “Quite the contortion in [Gardner’s] statement on impeachment. Says it’s a ‘total circus’ to ‘appease the far-left’ but Gardner says as a juror in Senate they’ll be ‘bipartisan and fair.'”

And speaking of contortion, Buck doesn’t have a problem saying that he “absolutely” does not believe that Gardner will vote against impeachment, which is what he told Tubbs Friday.

So Buck is saying, Gardner needs to act like an impartial juror, but don’t worry my fellow Republicans, Gardner will absolutely vote with Trump.

That’s what it looks like when a contortionist defends a contortionist.

Buck’s own impeachment behavior is getting national attention.

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times spotlighted Buck as having the “most twisted” defense of opposing the impeachment.

The twisted moment came, Dowd wrote over the weekend, when Buck said that it doesn’t make sense to impeach for obstructing Congress because “we were sent here to obstruct this Congress.” It was “a campaign promise.”

If you read that a few times, then Buck’s defense of Gardner maintaining his non-silence silence to be impartial seems logical.

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Neguse and Buck: Colorado’s Best And Worst Take Center Stage


UPDATE: Rep. Ken Buck continues to put the GOP’s worst foot forward, as the Washington Post reports:

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) argued that impeaching Trump for obstruction of Congress doesn’t make sense because Republican lawmakers were “sent here to obstruct this Congress.”

…Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) pushed back on Buck, calling it “terrible ignorance” to suggest that obstruction is a good thing. [Pols emphasis]

“Whether you think Congress is behaving well or badly, whether it’s popular or unpopular, if you want a dictator, then you subvert the ability of Congress to hold the executive in check,” Nadler said. “What is central here is do we want a dictator? No matter how popular he may be, no matter how good or bad the results of his policies may be. No president is supposed to be a dictator in the United States.”

“When I hear colleagues of mine arguing that the Congress is unpopular and therefore obstruction of Congress is a good thing, this shows terrible ignorance or lack of care for our institutions, for our democracy, for our form of government, for our liberties,” Nadler added.

—–

Rep. Joe Neguse (D).

Reporter Robin Bravender from Washington via the Colorado Independent:

A Colorado Democrat on Wednesday night delivered a forceful plea for the U.S. House to impeach President Donald Trump, while his Republican colleague helped lead the president’s defense.

Rep. Joe Neguse, a freshman Democrat, spoke of his immigrant parents, refugees from Eritrea. “They wanted their children to grow up in a place that is free, a country where leaders respect the rule of law and where they don’t use the power of government to target political opponents — a country with fair elections where everyone has the right to vote,” he said…

Neguse accused Trump of soliciting the interference of a foreign government in the 2020 U.S. presidential election for his own political advantage. “Every American deserves to know that their president will not endanger our national security, that he or she won’t seek to use their power to undermine our free and fair elections and that they won’t tap a foreign government to help tip the scales in their favor,” he said.

Rep. Joe Neguse’s powerful opening statement in favor of impeachment against Donald Trump (video above) is getting a lot of attention today as House Democrats move forward with the markup of the articles of impeachment and Republicans continue to cry foul as loudly and distractingly as they can. Neguse eloquently got to the heart of the matter:

I’d like to begin tonight by speaking directly to the Americans listening and watching who may disagree with the steps this Committee is taking. I hope you’ll understand we are proceeding on this path truly out of love for our country. We are your neighbors, we are your colleagues, your fellow worshipers, and we are all citizens of the greatest nation on earth. We are blessed to live in a country where our similarities far outweigh our differences…

In 2016, Russia interfered in our elections in “sweeping and systematic” fashion. And as we now know, the Trump campaign welcomed at that time that interference, and now, the President of the United States has solicited the interference of a foreign government in the 2020 presidential election for his own advantage. President Trump abused his power, and then, engaged in a wholesale obstruction of Congress to cover it up.

The fact remains that in the history of our republic, no president has ever ordered such a complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry, until now.

If anything is clear, it is this: every American deserves to know that their President will not endanger our national security, that he or she won’t seek to use their power to undermine our free and fair elections, and that they won’t tap a foreign government to help tip the scales in their favor.

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Comparing the thoughtful approach of Colorado’s freshman lawmaker on the House Judiciary Committee to the bad faith of Neguse’s Colorado Republican counterpart on the committee Rep. Ken Buck, makes for a remarkable contrast:

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told his colleagues to “go ahead” and vote for impeachment. “Say goodbye to your majority status and please join us in January 2021 when President Trump is inaugurated again.”

Throughout the impeachment proceedings now coming to a head in the U.S. House, the contrast between Neguse’s incisive questioning of witnesses versus Buck’s descent into silly-season obstruction tactics and even promoting the wildest diversionary conspiracy theories injected into the debate by Trump’s defenders has been a useful exemplar for both sides. Yesterday, though, Buck appears to have dispensed with debating the case against Trump on the merits, reverting to shopworn political threats instead.

Because public opinion of the impeachment process largely divides by party affiliation, the opinion of Colorado’s principal figures in the process will hew pretty closely to the observers’ partisan leanings. For voters in neither tent, however–who make up a decisive plurality in Colorado–Neguse’s diligence comes across immeasurably better than Buck’s contempt.

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The Sky is Still Blue; Up Is Not Down


Yep, still blue

Rex Huppke of the Chicago Tribune has a great column today that is worth your time. The premise of Huppke’s column is about fighting to preserve important things like truth and facts at a time when they are constantly under attack by right-wing sources:

It can feel, especially lately, as if reality has been bent sideways and backward, like facts are meaningless and, quite frankly, like many of us are losing our minds…

…First, the good: Facts still matter, and truth still exists.

Second, the bad: You can’t feel exhausted. You have to cling to the truth, tighter than ever before, because an entire political party, a massive news network and the leader of the free world are trying to pull it away.

Huppke could point to any number of recent examples in making his point, though this case he uses the release this week of a watchdog report which found that the FBI was justified in opening an investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign (and its ties to foreign governments) and was not influenced by political bias one way or the other. As Huppke summarizes:

Even a cursory review of the report reveals a thorough debunking of many of the president’s favorite conspiracy theories. It clearly states there is no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced” the decision to launch an investigation into contacts between Russians and Trump campaign members.

The report shows the FBI had an “authorized purpose” for starting the investigation, meaning it was not, as Trump claims ceaselessly, a “witch hunt.” The report even shows that while screams of bias have been leveled ad nauseam at certain investigators who were texting anti-Trump comments, there were also investigators texting pro-Trump comments. There was no evidence either form of bias had bearing on the investigation.

I speak THIS MUCH truth.

Alas, President Trump and his apologists sought their own sort of “facts.” Trump curiously called the report “far worse than I would’ve ever thought possible.” Fox News talking monkey Sean Hannity breathlessly declared it “the biggest abuse of power corruption scandal in the history of the country.”

As Huppke writes:

Up is down. Dogs are cats. The world is flat as a pancake.

Trump, members of his party and propagandists like Hannity failed to note anything debunked by the report. They didn’t just overlook a few things. They flat-out lied.

And they did it as easy as they breathe.

Like most things in life, you can have a different opinion of these developments…but you cannot claim a different set of facts. As The Washington Post reported today, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz told lawmakers that a senior prosecutor — appointed directly by Attorney General William Barr — failed to convince him that the FBI’s 2016 investigation was improper.

Trump and Hannity are free to say that they disagree with the report’s findings; what they shouldn’t be able to get away with is declaring that the report reached an entirely different set of conclusions. But it happens because Trumpians are incessant about driving false narratives, and because news outlets often let them get away with it.

Take, for example, this Monday story in The Denver Post recapping a day of impeachment hearings in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

The Denver Post (12/9/19)

The Post headline makes it look like this discussion is a difference of opinion, when in reality it is more about a difference in accepted truth. There is zero evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections, yet the headline treats the discussion as though the facts are still to be determined. As the Post’s Justin Wingerter writes later:

“Isn’t it true that President Trump had a legitimate reason to request help from the Ukraine about the 2016 election?” Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, asked a House Judiciary Committee lawyer, who was testifying during the impeachment hearing. “And I’m not suggesting for a minute that Russia didn’t interfere. Of course they interfered! But the Ukraine officials tried to influence the election.”

It’s a view asserted by an increasing number of Republicans in recent days despite the intelligence community and even Trump administration officials saying there was no evidence to support it. Democrats reiterated that on several occasions Monday. [Pols emphasis]

Again, Buck is entitled to his opinion. But media outlets should not allow him to present that opinion as fact.

Even media institutions like the New York Times are guilty of permitting this false factual equivalency. New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen was critical of a Times story that reported little more than what different sides had to say about the subject:

9News in Denver reported on different statements from Members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation, offering little in the way of context until reporter/anchor Kyle Clark Tweeted this separately:

Clark’s comments should have been included in the original 9News story, which went on to quote Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) saying this:

“The Democrats don’t have the evidence to support their case.”

This is not true. Not even a little. 9News should have reported that it is Buck’s “opinion” that Democrats don’t have the evidence to support their case. As Huppke of the Chicago Tribune reminds us, Trump supporters are muddying the waters for a very specific purpose:

Disinformation is intended to wear critics down, to make them feel that resistance is futile, that combating nonsense with facts is a waste of time.

You can’t let that happen. You need to keep your mind right.

News outlets seem to be growing increasingly worried about being viewed as presenting “both sides of the story” at a time when what the public really needs is for the media to present “the accurate side of the story.”

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Buck to Try to Strike Impeachment Text Describing Ukraine-Meddling Theory as Debunked

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).

In a radio interview this morning, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck said he’ll offer an amendment striking impeachment language that uses the term debunked or discredited to describe the theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

Buck said he’s going to do this because, “It’s not just a group of right wing nuts that are saying, ‘Oh, the Ukraine interfered!’ There are a lot of people who believe that the Ukraine took steps.”

As a factual matter, it is only a group of right-wingers who still adhere to the debunked theory that Ukraine meddled in the U.S. election.

U.S. intelligence agencies do not support Buck’s view.

Buck acknowledged that when Trump asked to investigate the Bidens, Trump got “off track.” But Buck didn’t say what consequences, if any, Trump should face for his request to investigate a political rival.

(more…)

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Buck, Buck, Neguse!


This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, President Trump is an anti-Semitic piece of garbage (more or less) who should absolutely be impeached; we find Sen. Cory Gardner at the bottom of the gutter in a new poll; Colorado Congressman Scott Tipton catches a primary challenge from a heavily armed West Slope barkeep; and Colorado Reps. Joe Neguse and Ken Buck take different roads on impeachment. Tune in now and get prepared for a special bonus podcast episode later this week.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. If you have a question or comment, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

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Ken Buck’s Spotty Impeachment Attendance Continues


Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) moonlights as the State Republican Party Chairman (or vice-versa), so he’s probably a busy guy. But it would be nice if Buck would pay a little more attention to his taxpayer-funded position in Congress.

Buck showed up briefly at a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week to ask some inane questions of witnesses, but otherwise he’s generally been hard to find on Capitol Hill when it comes to hearings on impeaching the President of the United States. As the Colorado Independent reported earlier this month, Buck missed most of the closed-door impeachment hearings this fall — he has yet to offer an explanation for his truancy — and he was largely absent again at today’s open hearing:

You can see the video yourself from today’s House Judiciary Committee hearings; the C-SPAN camera pans to an empty seat in front of Buck’s name placard during a procedural voice vote. As you can also see for yourself, the overwhelming majority of committee members — on both sides of the political aisle — are in fact sitting in their seats doing their jobs.

As we mentioned earlier, this is not the first time that Buck has wandered off in the middle of testimony. Here’s Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post last Wednesday:

Lawmakers may not want to be spending so much time on impeachment questions, as Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) acknowledged to Wingerter last week, but most of them have the good sense to at least pretend to be engaged in their work.

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Everybody Does Impeachable Things, Says Ken Buck


You’ll never catch me, logic!

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the Colorado Republican Party Chairman (or vice-versa), has been struggling to come up with a coherent and consistent defense of President Trump in the face of mounting evidence for Trump’s impeachment. While Buck has been critical of the impeachment process and protective of President Trump, he also hasn’t bothered to actually attend most of the impeachment hearings to which he has been invited. After listening to Buck question witnesses on the first day of impeachment hearings in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, it’s fair to argue that both he and Trump would have been better served in Buck’s absence.

In recent months Buck has offered various explanations for excusing Trump; he’s even been a public proponent of what has come to be called “The Sideshow Bob Defense,” which tries to excuse President Trump of wrongdoing based on the idea that his attempted bribery of Ukraine’s President didn’t work as intended. This is a particularly absurd defense from Buck; as a former prosecutor, he knows damn well that “attempted” robbery and “attempted” murder are criminal matters regardless of the outcome of the offense.

Buck took a different approach in his Trump defense on Wednesday, arguing that EVERY President — other than William Henry Harrison, who died 32 days into his first term in the White House — has committed what House Democrats would call an impeachable offense.

“The other three witnesses have identified this amorphous standard for impeaching a President,” said Buck in addressing Professor Jonathan Turley, the Republican-called legal/constitutional expert (CLICK HERE for the full clip of Buck’s ranting). Buck then listed off numerous “impeachable” offenses committed by everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama. It was as if to say, Who among us hasn’t committed an impeachable offense?

Buck concluded with this perplexing high-horsed statement:

Now isn’t the difference, Professor Turley, that some people live in an ivory tower, and some people live in a swamp, and those of us that are in the swamp are doing our very best for the American people, but it’s not pretty.

Turley responded with an attempted joke about living in an ivory tower within a swamp. Immediately following this exchange, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) began her time at the microphone by saying, “I don’t believe the people’s house is a swamp.”

Social media users were equally perplexed with Buck’s line of questioning:

Fortunately for Buck and Trump, the Greeley Congressman wasn’t quite the disaster that he was when he was questioning Robert Mueller last summer. Instead of countering his own argument — which is what happened last July — Buck followed the script of his own version of a Chewbacca Defense.

To paraphrase the debate moderator character from the movie “Billy Madison,” everyone is now dumber for having listened to Ken Buck.

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Ken Buck Blew Off Almost All The Impeachment Hearings


Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Late last month as readers will recall, several dozen Republican members of Congress charged into a secure facility in the basement of the U.S. Capitol to “protest” the so-called “secret closed-door hearings” then underway in the early phase of the House’s impeachment inquiry–a process that has now moved on to explosive public hearings that have reconfirmed the worst of the allegations against President Donald Trump.

Rep. Ken Buck supported the “raid” by the House GOP of the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in the basement of the Capitol, even though that support quickly backfired on Buck since as a member of the House Judiciary Committee Buck was allowed to participate in the very hearings he complained were inaccessible. With that Buck became more of a hypocritical figure than a sympathetic one, doing his best to help de-legitimize the House GOP’s unsteady defense of Trump against the impeachment process.

And as the Colorado Independent reports, Buck’s ditching of impeachment hearings he could have participated in was no isolated incident:

Congressman Ken Buck has railed against the closed-door impeachment proceedings led by U.S. House Democrats in recent months. The process is “occurring outside of the full view of the American people,” he wrote in an October op-ed in Fox News, before the public impeachment hearings began.

But the Colorado Republican — the only member of the state’s congressional delegation with access to those closed-door briefings — appears to have skipped the vast majority of them.

An analysis of transcripts from the 15 closed-door depositions that have been released by House lawmakers shows that Buck was present at just one, the testimony of William Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, on Oct. 22. [Pols emphasis]

As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the congressman from Weld County was among the 47 Republicans who had access to the depositions.

Ironically, it was the highly damaging testimony from acting ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor on October 22nd that prompted Minority Whip Steve Scalise to lead the charge of Republican members into the SCIF the following day, hoping to create a diversion from Taylor’s testimony. Rep. Buck himself appears to have not wanted to risk his own security clearance by joining in an unsanctioned “occupation” of a secure facility he already had access to, but promulgating the fiction that these hearings were any less open to Republicans in Congress than Democrats is an inexcusable deception Ken Buck has knowingly engaged in.

In this deception Rep. Buck is far from alone, but he’s our local case in point.

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Impeachment Logic with Ken Buck


Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley)

Congressional Republicans are scrambling to figure out how to proceed with their full-throated support of President Trump in the wake of Wednesday’s public impeachment hearings, in which Ambassador William B. Taylor, Jr. and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, testified for hours in front of members of the House Intelligence Committee. Taylor’s testimony was particularly damning, and not just because it included new revelations about a phone call between Trump and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland that makes it appear that Trump was really only interested in investigating political rival Joe Biden.

While we have yet to hear from Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) on his opinion of Wednesday’s hearings, Congressman/State Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) talked to Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post and gave his thoughts on what took place yesterday. We’ll get to Buck’s incredible nonsense in a moment, but first we should present some background information.

Buck had previously been a fan of what has come to be called “The Sideshow Bob Defense,” owing to the nefarious character from the long running TV show “The Simpsons.” In essence, this theory is based on the idea that Trump did not actually commit a crime because his extortion attempt with Ukraine was unsuccessful. This is, of course, completely absurd; attempting to commit a crime is still a crime. Ineptitude is not a defense.

“Convicted of a crime I didn’t even commit. Hah! Attempted murder? Now honestly, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted chemistry? Do they?”

As we wrote last month, Buck’s usage of “The Sideshow Bob Defense” was patently ridiculous:

As for whether or not Trump committed a crime even if the quid pro quo is universally acknowledged, that’s not up to Ken Buck to decide. Federal law says clearly that seeking assistance from a foreign government in an American election is a crime. Again, if anyone out there should be expected to know this without being told, it’s a former prosecutor. At the end of September, Buck even said “I don’t think this is necessarily even wrong” in reference to what  federal law clearly defines as a criminal act. Today, Buck sidesteps the question by saying only that it’s not an “impeachable offense,” but his credibility to make that judgment is already spent after he argued that what is clearly a crime is in fact not.

You’ll never catch me, logic!

Buck never misses a chance to remind a reporter that he is a “former prosecutor,” though it appears that the former Weld County District Attorney either didn’t really know what he was doing at the time or forgot everything he once knew about the law…which leads us back to his comments to The Denver Post today:

“Whether it’s appropriate or not, the voters can decide. It’s not impeachable,” the congressman said in a phone interview Thursday morning, a day after public hearings in the impeachment inquiry began…

…Buck compared the allegations against Trump — that he withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine because the Eastern European ally would not investigate the son of Joe Biden, a possible Trump opponent — to conditions the U.S. government routinely places on foreign aid, while reiterating that he does not believe Trump withhold the money in order to force an investigation into the Bidens.

“For example, we put tariffs on Mexico and say to Mexico, ‘Help us stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States’ and Mexico agreed to do that and has been doing that and the president withdrew the tariffs. That’s a quid pro quo. It’s not illegal. In and of itself, a quid pro quo does not violate the law,” Buck said. Over the summer, Trump threatened to place tariffs on all Mexican goods, but backed off after an agreement was reached on immigration enforcement.

This is objectively wrong. Period.

It is irrelevant whether or not Buck thinks President Trump’s request of Ukraine is illegal. We don’t need Buck’s opinion here because the law itself is clear.

Now take a gander at how the Greeley Congressman would raise the bar on Presidential misconduct:

The congressman declined to say whether he believes it’s appropriate for a president to ask such a favor, calling that a hypothetical scenario. A quid pro quo, as Democrats allege Trump engaged in, would only be an impeachable offense if it rises to the level of a crime, said Buck, a former prosecutor.

“In other words, if I’m the president of the United States and I say to (Russian President) Vladimir Putin, ‘If you go and kill these three political opponents of mine, I will give you aid, or I will stop giving Ukraine aid,’ yes, that’s a crime,” the congressman said.

It’s getting hot in herre

It’s noteworthy in itself that Buck declines to say whether he believes President Trump’s actions to be appropriate, but the real problem here is Buck’s faulty response to Trump’s actions as a “hypothetical scenario.” Trump did talk to the President of Ukraine and he did ask him to “do us a favor, though” and start an investigation into the Bidens. There’s nothing hypothetical about any of this.

Furthermore, according to “Buck logic,” Trump would have to ask another country TO MURDER SOMEONE for this sort of request to rise to an impeachable offense.

WUT?

Most adults understand that this scenario would still include separate crimes — for murder and for bribery. Then again, most adults also don’t believe that people are purchasing AR-15 rifles in order to obliterate raccoons.

You might remember that Buck damn near sunk President Trump during the testimony of former special prosecutor Robert Mueller when he repeatedly asked if Trump could be charged with a crime and kept getting the same affirmative answer. Buck later attempted to defend his blunder by saying that “only very soft people” are worried about Trump’s actions. In other words, it’s not necessarily a good thing for Trump that Ken Buck is trying to publicly defend him.

Buck tells The Denver Post that he will “will go where the evidence takes me in this case.” If Buck was making an honest attempt to understand the evidence, this might be reassuring.

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Trump Torpedoes GOP Talking Points on Impeachment


It was two weeks ago that Republican Members of Congress stormed a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in the basement of the Capitol in order to highlight their protest that impeachment investigations were unjust because hearings were held behind closed doors (nevermind that Republican members of these particular House committees were always able to attend the hearings).

Two days later, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) co-sponsored a resolution in the Senate criticizing the House for a lack of openness on impeachment matters. “I hope people will read the resolution and that everyone supports a fair and transparent process,” said Gardner. This was more than Gardner had said previously about President Trump’s actions; Gardner infamously bombed in front of a group of reporters when asked whether it was appropriate for the President of the United States to ask a foreign government to interfere in American elections.

Today, Gardner and his fellow Republicans learned once more that following Trump’s lead will only get you hopelessly lost:

Via CNN (11/8/19)

 

President Trump now says that Democrats should NOT hold public impeachment hearings after he and Republicans spent weeks bemoaning the fact that hearings were being done outside the public view. “They shouldn’t be having public hearings,” said Trump on Friday. “This is a hoax. This is just like the Russian witch hunt.”

None of this should be a surprise to anyone who has paid even a lick of attention to national news in the last couple of years. Republicans are continually sticking their necks out for a President who won’t even blink at doing something to contradict their every word. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chair, ran into a similar problem just a few days after supporting the GOP’s SCIF Storming when it became clear that officials involved with Trump’s Ukraine dealings were confirming every bit of the whistleblower’s fears.

House Democrats had already effectively neutered the Republican’s “lack of transparency” strategy by agreeing to make everything public (on-camera testimony in House committees will begin next week). That hadn’t stopped the GOP from continuing with their attacks on the legitimacy of the “process” for impeachment discussions, but Democrats don’t really need to undermine the Republican strategy when President Trump will do it for them.

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Colorado Republicans Stand at Historical Crossroads


Via CNN

On Thursday the House of Representatives voted along party lines to formalize the process for impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

For weeks Republicans have railed against Democrats for not opening a “formal” impeachment inquiry — it was easier for Republicans to attack the process than to defend Trump on the merits of his actions — but on Thursday the GOP demonstrated that this argument was more style than substance. If Republicans can’t assail the process or defend the President’s decisions, then what’s left?

The only obvious step forward is to actually consider the case against President Trump and to vote accordingly. As the editorial board of the Aurora Sentinel wrote on Wednesday:

Credible, compelling, consistent and growing allegations against Trump extorting Ukraine for his own political gain have reached a tipping point…

…Trump himself has now offered honest Republicans a way out of having to defend an indefensible, lying, untrustworthy and incompetent president. Trump has admitted his “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Democrats are documenting them and making the unequivocal case for impeachment. Gardner and others can now finally step out from under the pressure to appease Trump’s misguided base of supporters. But to do that, they must commit to representing the voters in their district, not the delusional, fear-driven scheme of Republican Party leaders.

This is the way out for Gardner and other Republicans of becoming complicit with a duplicitous president. The nation is about to see Trump’s malevolent scandal exposed, and all voters will see which Republicans have the temerity to spurn or defend it.

The nation and history are watching what happens next.

Clockwise from top left: Cory Gardner, Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton.

History does not yet appear to motivate Republican members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation. Instead, they appear more concerned about the present and how they will be perceived by Trump in 2020. Congressmen Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) are the co-chairs of Trump’s re-election campaign in Colorado; even if you could figure out a simple way to explain this to Lamborn, there’s little chance that he would bother to listen to the arguments. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley)? He moonlights as the Chairman of the State Republican Party (or vice-versa) and has been clear about his loyalty to Trump.

As for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)…well, Quid Pro Cory gave up any pretense of a conscience long ago. Gardner may not have a breaking point when it comes to Trump.

It seems clear that Colorado Republicans aren’t going to be moved by the present, but surely they can comprehend the impact impeachment proceedings may have on their own legacies. David Greenberg, a history professor at Rutgers University, examined this subject for The Washington Post:

Still, people return to this notion for a reason: It acknowledges the potentially high stakes of any political action — how a single vote or decision can loom large in someone’s legacy when the day of reckoning finally comes. It appeals to transcendent ideals that may be obscured by the fervor of the moment; sometimes these coalesce crisply over time, making right and wrong seem obvious and incontestable in retrospect. When, for example, a dying Sen. John McCain went to the well of the Senate to give his thumbs-down on the gutting of Obamacare, he knew this was an act he’d be remembered for…

But the Watergate saga does tell us this much: Those loyalists who abandoned Nixon early, when it mattered — who stood up for principle over party, for integrity over professional advancement, before Nixon was politically doomed — are remembered and praised for their courage. [Pols emphasis]

And what of those who chose to stand with Nixon?

None of these men has been well remembered. All of their obituaries led with the fact that they defended Nixon. That decision became the headline of their entire lives. [Pols emphasis]

Wherever the impeachment inquiry leads, Tipton, Buck, Lamborn, and Gardner have shown no indication that they will do anything but march alongside Trump.

But there is never a wrong time to do the right thing.

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Ken Buck’s Impeachment Denial Gets Harder By The Day


Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As Politico reports, yesterday was another day of damning testimony against President Donald Trump in the ongoing House impeachment inquiry, with a decorated veteran National Security Council staffer testifying that the transcript Trump dubiously relies on to proclaim his innocence has itself been compromised:

A senior White House official told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he believed President Donald Trump undermined national security when he appealed to Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rivals, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by POLITICO…

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Vindman, a National Security Council official overseeing Ukraine policy, told investigators, referring to Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce probes into Joe Biden and his son.

Vindman, who became the first White House official to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry, also wrote that he reported Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky to the NSC’s top lawyer after listening in on the conversation from the White House Situation Room alongside other national security officials.

The testimony of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was swiftly attacked by Trump’s congressional surrogates like ex-Rep. Sean Duffy, who openly questioned Vindman’s loyalty to the United States before walking his smears back a short while later. Other Republicans like Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming have been much more vocal in, if not explicitly endorsing Vindman’s damaging testimony against the President, at least defending the honor of a career military officer with no grounds for accusation of political bias.

Among Colorado’s Republicans in Congress, though, it’s just another day of blanket denial:

I see nothing!

We’ve noted previously that Rep. Ken Buck, the former Weld County district attorney and assistant U.S. Attorney, seems to have lost all of his prosecutorial critical thinking skills upon election to Congress. The ongoing impeachment inquiry against Trump is causing Buck’s newfound willful ignorance to stand out in sharp relief. Despite the insistence of Trump and his Republican defenders that the phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky occurred in some kind of fictional isolation, it’s well known that the call was just one piece of a much broader pressure campaign involving numerous proxies including Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and members of Trump’s Cabinet.

As for whether or not Trump committed a crime even if the quid pro quo is universally acknowledged, that’s not up to Ken Buck to decide. Federal law says clearly that seeking assistance from a foreign government in an American election is a crime. Again, if anyone out there should be expected to know this without being told, it’s a former prosecutor. At the end of September, Buck even said “I don’t think this is necessarily even wrong” in reference to what  federal law clearly defines as a criminal act. Today, Buck sidesteps the question by saying only that it’s not an “impeachable offense,” but his credibility to make that judgment is already spent after he argued that what is clearly a crime is in fact not.

The good news is that Rep. Buck isn’t pretending to be excluded from these hearings anymore.

The next step, and we may never see it, is for Buck to acknowledge what is actually coming out of them.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Colorado’s Big Border Wall


This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii ponder attempts by Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck to distance the GOP from their recall failures; discuss GOP troubles with continuing to defend President Trump; break down another harsh editorial calling on Sen. Cory Gardner to resign from office; and consider where to start building a wall in Colorado. Later in the show, Ian plays “Duke or Donald” with guest contestant Fawn Bolack, co-founder of “Keep Abortion Safe.”

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. Thanks for listening!

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Colorado GOP Runs From Recalls They Once Hyped


Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).

A week after the spectacular failure of the last of the recall campaigns from Colorado Republicans, launched against several individual Democratic legislators and Gov. Jared Polis over the summer, the Denver Post’s Alex Burness circled back with Republican leaders for a post-mortem look at what went wrong–Republicans who were willing to return his calls, that is, because evidently many were not.

It’s not easy to capture to full magnitude of the failure for Colorado Republicans without resorting to language that seems hyperbolic, but objectively is not an exaggeration of any kind. After the 2018 elections resulted in an historic bloodbath for the Colorado GOP–destroying their gubernatorial candidate, wiping out the GOP’s hold on the attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer’s office ,and losing their only remaining legislative majority–Republicans in this state faced a hard choice: to learn the lessons dwindling moderates in their midst were begging them to learn and fundamentally change course, or embrace a future where all the elections look like 2018.

As we now know, Colorado Republicans chose the latter.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

This infamous clip of now-state GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck promising to make Democrats “learn how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L,” cheered on by the state’s highest ranking Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, has become a major embarrassment for the party leadership now that the recalls have failed. The recalls did not fail narrowly, but failed calamitously with juicy attendant details like the conservative operative class in the state glomming on to the cash flow and “gifts” of thousands of dollars to individuals after the campaign had already failed. Any way you look at what happened–from building donor confidence to mobilizing the base to credibility with the media–this summer was another unprecedented disaster for Colorado Republicans on par with their electoral defeats last November.

So we can’t claim to be surprised to see, as the Post’s Alex Burness reports today, Colorado Republicans making absurd excuses to deflect responsibility. Defeat, as they say, is an orphan:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the Colorado GOP chair, told The Denver Post on Friday that the recall failures don’t fall on him in any way. [Pols emphasis]

“I didn’t cast any net,” he said. “There’s a lot of people in the grassroots … who went after legislators. I didn’t direct any recall effort.”

When he was elected to lead the state party on the fourth ballot in March, Buck promised to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” Now, though, he claims he did not endorse the concept of mass recalls in Colorado.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

Buck’s cowardly denial of any responsibility for recalls he ran for the chair of the state party promising to support is an indicator of just how thoroughly weak and disorganized Republicans are as the last days of October 2019 come to a close. Practically from the moment Democrats visited historic destruction on Republicans in last November’s elections, Republicans had threatened retaliation via recalls. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville openly threatened his Democratic colleagues with recalls during this year’s legislative session. Republican operatives criss-crossed the state spreading the gospel of recalls as a way to “reweight the electorate,” and score victories that are now out of reach in general elections.

History will likely record that the attempted recall of Rep. Tom Sullivan, a freshman Democrat whose advocacy for gun safety is rooted in his son’s tragic murder in the July 2012 Aurora theater shooting, is the moment where the GOP’s recall strategy went off the rails for good. Ironically, this is the recall attempt that Colorado Republicans are most obliged to take ownership of, since it was initiated by Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown personally. Attempts to recast Brown’s action as “personal” after the Sullivan recall was clearly doing more harm than good simply have no credibility.

Cole Wist, a Republican who lost his house seat to Sullivan in 2018 — and who publicly bashed the Sullivan recall effort — said there is an important distinction to be made between staying out of recalls and actively condemning them.

“I didn’t see one elected Republican speak out against it,” he said. “The state party needs to own this failure. [Pols emphasis] They stirred the pot, and when they could see that the strategy wasn’t going to work, they didn’t speak up. They retreated and disappeared while rank-and-file members of the party floundered and were exploited by political consultants.”

When exactly high-ranking Republicans belatedly realized that the recalls were going to fail is irrelevant. The fact is that top Republicans kept up appearances of support for the recalls very late in the game, such as when Sen. Cory Gardner told recall organizers in Pueblo at the end of August that “I’ve never said I was against recalls” about sixty seconds after telling Senate President Leroy Garcia “I’m kind of sorry that this is happening.” For rank-and-file Republicans, any emotional (not to mention financial) investment made in these recalls has been a tremendously demoralizing experience.

And above all, while Democrats have been organizing like it’s an election year to oppose the recalls, the GOP spun its wheels throughout this whole critical off-year when they should have been preparing for the 2020 general election. When all is said and done this could be the most damning of the many indictments against Rep. Ken Buck’s absentee leadership of the party while still trying to serve in Congress, and with the greatest long-term impact. Here we are a year after the 2018 Democratic wave, and Colorado Republicans have totally squandered the backlash they hoped to foment as Democrats carried out the agenda they promised voters. There are many mistakes to point out, but there are no excuses. This was the strategy Republicans chose.

Cory Gardner, Ken Buck, House Minority Leader Pat Neville, the Colorado GOP as an organization.

For Colorado Republicans who really want this nightmare to end, the housecleaning starts there.

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Buck Says Democrats Should Join Him on the High Road and Oppose Impeachment

(“The high road?” — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

At a political moment when even the most somnolent people are wondering why more Republicans aren’t ripping Trump, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck was repeatedly attacked by KNUS host Randy Corporon yesterday for not supporting Trump sufficiently because, among other things, he didn’t cosponsor the resolution censoring Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for his satirical comments about Trump.

Buck, a Republican, said the Schiff’s alleged lapse didn’t rise to the level required for censure.

The radio host sharply disagreed–and so did another KNUS host, Chuck Bonniwell, who called Buck’s response to Corporon “pathetic.”

But the strangest part of the Buck’s KNUS interview came later when, in an oh-my-god-crazy false equivalency, Buck told Corporon he’d use his “principled” stance on the Schiff censure to shame Democrats into joining him later in not voting for impeachment, which is based, among other things, on blackmailing a foreign power to investigate political opponents.

“I have gone to Democratic colleagues,” said Buck on air, “and I’ve said to those Democratic colleagues, ‘Listen, I didn’t co-sponsor this censure motion because this is not censurable conduct. The president, and you know it, has not engaged in impeachable conduct. And I hope you remember the principled people on our side of the aisle who did not support this censure motion when it comes time to vote on impeachment, because impeachment is something that is far greater — in significance — to the integrity of this country and the process and frankly, historically significant, that any censure motion.’
“And I will continue to take the high road. And I will continue to talk to my Democrat colleagues and appeal. Now, not all of them. There are some of them that are gone, and, you know, they talked about impeachment before this president ever signed a single bill into law. But many of them are having a lot of doubts about this process. And frankly, the American people are having a lot of doubts about the impeachment process, the way the Democrats are going about it, as well as the substance of what they’re bringing out.”

At the end of the interview, Corporon essentially told Buck to toss civility, rationality and principles out the window and back Trump, no matter what.

“What Republican leadership is doing is trying to change the president when in fact, the message that should be garnered from the president’s victory and the president’s success so far is that you can’t do politics as usual anymore,” advised Corporon. “You can’t try and play to the middle in order to win elections. Being polite and civil in these debates, when you’ve got an Alinsky-fueled left that is so crazed right now, because they just can’t believe that Hillary Clinton is not the president of the United States — neither can she.  Are Republicans learning the message that Donald Trump is providing on what it takes to actually win in the 21st century?”

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Buck Protests “Closed” Hearing He Should Have Just Attended


Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The dust has barely settled on yesterday’s bizarre stunt pulled by some two dozen House Republicans, in which members barged into a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in the basement of the Capitol and refused to leave–delaying the testimony of a Defense Department official in the continuing impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump for five hours and creating a media spectacle in hope of squelching explosive testimony the day before from the acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor.

There was some confusion yesterday about who among the Colorado Republican congressional delegation took part in the protest. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs was reportedly part of a “relief supply” operation, bringing pizza and Chick-fil-A sandwiches to keep the protesting congressmen fat and happy during their five-hour occupation. And after this Tweet from Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley, who moonlights as the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, many assumed that Buck was inside the SCIF as well:

But as it turns out:

A representative for Rep. Ken Buck, who’s on the Foreign Affairs Committee and was listed as a lawmaker who planned to attend, told BuzzFeed News that Buck did not attend but tweeted criticism of the closed testimony.

This confirmation that Rep. Buck was not part of the group who “stormed” the SCIF does settle some of the questions about consequences he might have faced for barging into a secure area of the Capitol, which many Republican members apparently did carrying their unsecured personal electronics with them in a big no-no violation of the rules. As a former assistant U.S. Attorney and county prosecutor, Buck better than most of his colleagues should know and be respectful of security protocols.

But there’s a more rudimentary problem with Buck’s blasting of the “behind closed doors” impeachment hearings going on in the secure basement of the Capitol. Because Rep. Buck currently sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee–one of the three committees jointly holding the impeachment hearings–Buck is allowed to attend the hearings along with all of the other Republicans who serve on those committees. Every Republican member of the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees is just as able to participate as the Democrats who serve on those committees. The letter from the committee Republicans Buck links to complains about lack of access to hearing transcripts after the fact, which Democrats say they will provide in due course–but that’s a red herring anyway because Buck is allowed to participate in the hearings.

The fact that Buck not just could have been there but should have been as part of his job, and instead chose to throw the digital equivalent of spitwads via Twitter, only proves that yesterday’s protest was a sham.

With that, once again Rep. Buck becomes an unintentional Democratic asset.

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GOP Chair Linked To Illegal Ukrainian Money Speaking in Denver Next Week

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ken Buck and the Colorado Republican Party are inviting supporters to a fundraising luncheon next Wednesday featuring Republican National Committee co-chair Tommy Hicks, Jr., who’s been linked to two Ukrainian men arrested last week for illegally funneling foreign money to U.S. candidates and political committees.

The son of a Dallas billionaire and hunting buddy of Donald Trump Jr., Hicks served as chair for America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC, prior to being named co-chair of the Republican National Committee earlier this year.

The Washington Post reported that the Ukrainian associates of Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Frumen, donated $325,000 to America First Action. According to the indictment, the money was falsely reported as coming from a fake liquified natural gas company set up to conceal its true donor.

Four days after making the illegal six-figure donation to Hicks’ group, Parnas posted this picture of he and Fruman enjoying a “power breakfast” with Hicks and Trump Jr. at the Beverly Hills Polo Lounge.

(more…)

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Colorado Republican Leader: “Cory Gardner Played Ken Buck”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The leader of the Adams County Republican Party Independent Expenditure Committee says U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) isn’t really liked in Adams County.

He also believes Gardner feared a primary challenge from Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO4) so much that Gardner “stroked his ego,” convincing Buck to run for state party chair in order to take him “off the playing field.”

Ben Nicholas, who also serves as District Captain for the Adams Republicans in House District 35, shared his beliefs with the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club on Sept. 9.

I believe that Cory Gardner played Ken Buck. I believe that he, somehow, stroked Ken’s ego, to a point saying “you’re the only person that can save the state party. And in doing so, when Ken agreed to run as the chairman, it took him off the playing field as a possible primary contender for his position. Ken Buck’s the only one who had the name recognition, really to challenge Cory Gardner. And Cory Gardner is not really liked in Adams County. Ben Nicholas, Adams County Republican Party District Captain & Founder, Adams GOP IEC

Nicholas’ statements came during a question and answer section following his speech, “Fundraising for Freedom.” In his lecture he explained the reasoning behind Adams County GOP’s decision to follow the lead of former state chair Ryan Call, who created an independent expenditure committee for the Colorado Republicans in order to raise money above the relatively low state limits. Call shared the impact of the GOP IEC with committee members at the same March 30 meeting at which they elected Buck chair.

(more…)

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Ken Buck Keeps On Squashing Republican Dreams


Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).

As the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck will seek reelection to his congressional seat next year, the Windsor Republican said Wednesday, dispelling any speculation that he was planning to give up the seat.

“I have been running for this position and I will continue to,” Buck, who is in his third term, told The Colorado Sun.

The confirmation comes as several high-profile members of the Republican Party were considering campaigns for Buck’s 4th Congressional District seat if he decided not to run for another term. The potential contenders included 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, who fell short in his 2018 bid to become Colorado attorney general, state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling and state House GOP leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock.

Speculation about Rep. Ken Buck’s next move exploded over the summer, as national conservative “news” sources like Newsmax confirmed rumors we had been hearing that Buck was moving toward retirement from his ultra-safe CD-4 congressional seat–and prospective successors jockeying for pre-position like repeat GOP loser George Brauchler and embattled House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.

Rep. Buck’s “moonlighting” as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, a job he narrowly won last spring and then immediately raised eyebrows by appointing former party chair Steve House as “CEO” to run day-to-day while Buck continues to serve in Washington–a job House has now ditched to run for CD-6–is creating significant discord among the party’s involved membership and (more importantly) donor base. A petition campaign of state party central committee members is underway to oust Buck from his party position, and confirmation that Buck intends to continue splitting his attention between these two demanding jobs may only increase calls for him to pick one.

Since Buck took over the state party promising to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L,” all Republicans in Colorado have managed is a series of failed recall attempts that have devastated the morale of the rank-and-file. Buck’s failure to prevent the vice chair of the party Kristi Burton Brown from “personally” filing the ill-fated recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan indelibly linked the official state party apparatus to the recalls.

With all of this in mind, if Buck decides that he wants another term as CD-4’s representative in Congress, there’s little we can see standing in his way as of this writing. As for the mess Buck has made of the Colorado Republican Party trying to do two jobs?

Somebody’s going to have to clean it up.

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Thank God Ken Buck is No Longer a Prosecutor


Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Surveying the responses from Colorado politicos to the rapidly-deepening impeachment crisis threatening to end Donald Trump’s presidency, we were struck in particular by Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley’s defense of Trump in an interview with the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter. Buck as readers know was formerly the district attorney of Weld County, and never misses a chance to remind audiences of his steel-trap prosecutorial mind:

“The chief of law enforcement in the United States asked the chief of law enforcement in a foreign country to assist on an ongoing investigation,” Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican who sees no reason for an impeachment inquiry, told The Post in an interview. “He didn’t suggest what the outcome was. He asked for cooperation from the new government because of election interference in the 2016 election, as well as alleged crimes (involving) the former vice president in the country.”

Buck said Democrats and the press have attacked Trump constantly, fostering cynicism among the public that amplifies otherwise minor revelations, such as those unveiled this week.

“I don’t think this rises to an impeachable offense,” said the congressman, who is chair of the Colorado Republican Party. “I don’t think this is necessarily even wrong. [Pols emphasis] Could it have been handled better? Sure. But it is not something that, I think, is suggesting this president was trying to interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation or trying to affect the outcome of an election in 2020.

In order for Rep. Buck to suggest that this wasn’t “necessarily even wrong,” he has to ignore all of the context of this story in addition to the phone call in question–the freezing of hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid just before the call and un-freezing of the aid in its aftermath, Trump’s private attorney Rudy Giuliani who Trump told the Ukrainian president would “be in touch” along with Attorney General William Barr, the resignation of the special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker on Friday…the list goes on and on. It’s true that Republicans are being asked to swallow a lot here in order to stay loyal, but for Ken Buck apparently no encouragement is needed to put his own credibility on the line in defense of Trump. To the point of absurdity:

“Vice President Biden is not going to be the Democratic nominee,” Buck added. [Pols emphasis] “I think that is more than just conventional wisdom at this point. And what the president was doing involved a matter within the scope of the executive branch.”

Whether or not Democratic primary voters ultimately agree, it’s widely known that Trump considers Joe Biden to be his most dangerous potential Democratic adversary. Biden may be in a tight three-way race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but to assert flat-out that Biden is “not going to be the nominee” is a ridiculous attempt at clairvoyance. It’s a useful thing to say if the goal is to minimize Trump’s actions, but as a prediction it simply it has no factual basis.

In recent months Ken Buck’s reputation has been under heavy assault, as his early support for recalling Colorado Democrats collapsed in a heap along with those efforts and his absentee management of the Colorado Republican Party has allowed the conservative backlash coming out of the 2019 legislative session to dissipate in confusion. But it should be noted that Buck’s questionable judgment goes back to his days as a deputy U.S. Attorney where he was reprimanded for damaging the case against a politically-connected gun dealer and then as Weld County DA, when a sexual assault case Buck dismissed as “buyer’s remorse” helped seal his narrow defeat in the 2010 U.S. Senate race.

As rumors of Buck’s retirement continue to swirl, nobody’s quite sure what his next move will be.

But we sincerely hope he’ll never be asked to prosecute another case.

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