Here’s a clip of Rep. Ken Buck earlier this week in a House Judiciary Committee hearing, interacting with friendly witness Amy Swearer of the Heritage Foundation on the hot-button subject of the AR-15 assault rifle–a weapon whose availability to civilian Americans is once again in question as mass shootings utilizing the easily-obtainable and modifiable weapon continue to claim lives by the dozen.
In this exchange, however, Rep. Buck wants to talk about something else–innocuous, even routine use of AR-15s to kill varmints on ranches in his district:
BUCK: And, and are those individuals and and, let me just tell you from my experience and in my district in eastern Colorado an AR-15 is used to kill raccoons that are, or foxes or other animals that are predators and trying to disturb individuals. [inaudible off camera] Or trying to, you know, kill chickens or or are are disturbing agriculture in some way. Is that your understanding also of how some, not saying a majority of that 16 to 18 million, but some of those guns are used?
SWEARER: Uh yes, it’s actually not suitable for a a lot of higher-end hunting for larger game because it’s actually more suitable for, as you inferred more varmint hunting and small predator hunting.
Here’s the thing: Rep. Buck is not wrong that AR-15 are often used for varmint control, and the Heritage Foundation employee he’s talking with agrees that the small caliber of assault weapons makes them unsuitable for hunting larger game. There are of course plenty of other weapons that would be suitable for ranch varmint duty, but since you can buy AR-15s at any gun shop starting at surprisingly low prices, they’re no doubt very popular.
But folks, we’re going to go out on a limb and assert that Rep. Ken Buck does not keep an American flag-painted AR-15 in his office to celebrate its ability to kill raccoons. The AR-15 was not developed for ranches, it’s a weapon made for battlefields. The .223 ammunition used by these weapons is indeed too weak for big game–because it was designed to kill people, not elk. Incidentally, yes, it’s hell on raccoons.
The point here is simple: you can’t have it both ways. If you cherish assault weapons as a defense against tyranny based on their ability to kill people efficiently, you can’t minimize them as a mere ranch implement in the same breath. Everybody knows why Ken Buck wants AR-15s available to the masses like shovels and plows, and it has nothing to do with killing varmints.
We all benefit from honest debate, and here’s an issue for which honesty is long overdue.
With President Trump dominating the news cycle this week in extraordinary fashion, there have been a couple of important Colorado political stories that have flown under the ol’ radar. One story we wanted to be sure to rewind involves Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck, whose leadership seat is getting warmer despite the fact that he’s rarely ever sitting in the chair himself.
As the Colorado Sun reported via its newsletter “The Unaffiliated” earlier this week, there is a brewing discomfort with the GOP’s absentee chairman:
Headline from Colorado Sun political newsletter “The Unaffiliated” (9/24/19)
A Republican activist began collecting signatures Saturday at the Colorado Republican Party’s organizational meeting to oust new Chairman Ken Buck.
Peg Cage, the immediate past chairwoman of the Boulder County Republican Party, told The Sun that Buck is spending too much time in Washington as a congressman and not doing his job as chairman to fundraise, recruit candidates or serve as the GOP’s public voice.
“He’s demonstrated no leadership toward that objective goal of taking back the state,” she said. “He’s not doing the job.” [Pols emphasis]
At the party’s central committee meeting, Cage distributed forms seeking written consent from members of the governing body to force his removal. She needs to collect a majority of the roughly 450 members to force the issue. She declined to say how many she’s received, but added: “We have a long way to go, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Buck won the party’s leadership post in a close vote in April. Cage supported Buck’s opponent in the chairman’s race, state Rep. Susan Beckman. A party spokesman said he was not aware of any such effort and Buck did not return a call seeking comment. [Pols emphasis]
Ken Buck races to his side hustle.
Chairman Buck, you may recall, spends most of his week masquerading as the Congressman from CO-4. Buck’s plan to split his time in Congress with overseeing the State Republican Party from afar has not endeared him to GOP activists and doesn’t appear to be providing much benefit to Colorado Republicans.
When I reached out to @cologop for Party Chair Ken Buck’s response, I was told “Contact the official office.” Well, the Colorado GOP IS the official office. I’m asking state party chair Ken Buck, not @RepKenBuck. How does the head of Colorado’s Republican party feel? #copolitics
Congresschairman Buck’s “Jekyl and Hyde” routine is already wearing thin with reporters and GOP activists alike. When Buck was elected Party Chair in late March, the plan was that former State Party Chairman Steve House would serve as the “CEO” of the party when Buck was off playing Congressman in Washington D.C. Even though Buck was elected Chairman, this proposal was not particularly popular. As Ernest Luning reported in March:
Veteran Republican strategist Dick Wadhams, who served two terms as state chairman last decade, said he was stunned after reviewing Buck’s proposal, calling it “unworkable” and “absolutely nonsensical.”
“If Steve House wants to be state chairman, he ought to run for it, and if Ken Buck doesn’t want to be state chairman, he ought to get out of the race,” Wadhams said… [Pols emphasis]
…He also slammed Buck’s plans to run the party from Washington, D.C., saying he was “baffled” by the proposition.
Last month House stepped down as Republican Party “CEO” so that he could pursue the GOP nomination for Congress in CO-6. House was quickly replaced by former vice-chairman and congressional candidate Don Ytterberg, but as reporting from the Colorado Sun and 9News indicates, the case of the missing GOP Chairman continues to be a problem.
Congressman Buck will be running for re-election a year from now, where he is still favored to keep his seat because CO-4 is a heavily-Republican district. The odds of Buck holding onto his other title are considerably worse.
The Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, who by day masquerades as Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), tried to spin news of impeachment proceedings against President Trump today as Democrats “trying to overturn an election that didn’t go their way.”
Democrats spent 3 years trying to overturn an election that didn’t go their way. They wasted $40 million of taxpayer money to find no collusion & no obstruction. Now @SpeakerPelosi‘s call for a formal impeachment inquiry is based solely on rumors & hearsay. It’s time to move on.
Anyone familiar with Colorado politics instantly recognized the absurdity of Buck leading with his chin on this statement. This is, after all, the same Ken Buck who was elected GOP Chair earlier this year on the heels of a speech in which he cheered on a bunch of lame recall efforts by various Republican groups. Back in March, Buck stood on the stage at a Republican Central Committee Meeting and promised his audience that he would teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” Multiple recall attempts have since failed in spectacular fashion, leaving the State Republican Party to choose between being labeled insincere or incompetent (or both).
Buck’s laughable attempts at accusing Democrats of trying to re-do an election were thus widely mocked by local political reporters, as you can see after the jump below…
Speaking to Fox News host Tucker Carlson last night, Congressman Ken Buck, who also serves as Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, claimed “[Democrats] certainly see urban America as a critical constituency, and there is much sympathy in urban America for some gang members.”
The statement was noted on Twitter by Media Matters’ Deputy Director of Rapid Response Andrew Lawrence:
Tucker Carlson guest says “there is much sympathy in urban America for some gang members”…Tucker Carlson responds with “I think that’s right” pic.twitter.com/0Rl5iZsgj9
Carlson and Buck were discussing gun violence and their shared beliefs in the inadequacies of Democratic policy positions. Buck began by sharing inaccurate crime statistics, claiming that “over 80 percent of the murders in America with guns are committed by gang members. Over 90 percent of the crime in America is committed by gang members.”
Buck did not cite a source for this figure, but it appeared in a pro-gun article by conservative activist Dustin Hawkins in 2013 and was repeated by Dana Loesch in 2014. Huffington Post authors debunked it later that year:
“The 80 percent of gang-related gun homicides figure purporting to support Loesch’s claim, then, is not only false, but off by nearly a factor of five. The direct opposite is necessarily true: more than 80 percent of gun homicides are non-gang related.
It is unclear where Buck came up with the claim that gang members commit 90% of all crimes in the United States. According to the National Gang Center, less than one-third of law enforcement agencies reported that they regularly record each of seven major categories of offenses as “gang-related.”
Nor did Buck provide a source for his statement that “there is much sympathy in urban America for some gang members.”
The Denver Post’sAnna Staver wrote an excellent post-mortem of the Colorado Republican Party’s failed summer of recalls this past weekend, and here’s how it starts:
When Congressman Ken Buck took the reins of the Colorado Republican Party in March, he stood on the stage in Englewood High School’s auditorium and told the party faithful they were going to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.”
The room erupted in applause…
[I]n the nearly six months since that fiery speech in the high school auditorium, conservatives have tried to recall five Democratic lawmakers and the governor. Four of those campaigns failed to gather enough signatures to put a recall election on the ballot, one recall target resigned for unrelated reasons, and the attempt to remove Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, is ongoing. His opponents have until Oct. 18 to turn in their petitions.
“I think the recall process has done what it was supposed to do,” said former GOP chair Dick Wadhams. “It provided an outlet for Republicans. … Were they politically smart? I think it’s a resounding no.”
As the Republican recall threats that dominated the end of the 2019 session of the Colorado General Assembly have collapsed under their own weight in the last two weeks, Rep. Ken Buck’s speech in late March before the GOP state convention committing the party to support for recalls against Democratic lawmakers with dramatic flair has emerged as a symbol of the party’s incompetent reaction to massive defeat in the 2018 elections. Moderate GOP columnist Mario Nicolais writes in the Colorado Sun:
Rep. Ken Buck took the reins of the Colorado Republican Party promising to “teach [Democrats] how to spell r-e-c-a-l-l.” Vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown initiated the recall against state Sen. Tom Sullivan. Former state House candidate Nancy Pallozzi targeted her historical nemesis state Sen. Brittany Pettersen.
Heading into a critical 2020 election year, the Colorado Republicans spent the past six months demonstrating an ineffectual ground game and undermining their own credibility. That doesn’t bode well for President Trump’s reelection efforts or Sen. Cory Gardner’s slim hope of hanging onto the seat he narrowly won in 2014.
When the effort to recall state Rep. Tom Sullivan failed just as spectacularly as the recall-Polis movement, I asked whether the Colorado GOP knew enough to be embarrassed. I think we have now answered that question. The attempt to recall Polis may not have been an official GOP project, but it’s close enough. Marianne Goodland of Colorado Politics reports that groups aligned with House Minority Leader Patrick Neville donated $10,000 to the effort.
And remember Ken Buck’s speech when he was elected GOP state chair last March, promising Democrats would need to learn how to spell r-e-c-a-l-l in the coming months? We remember Sen. Cory Gardner standing on the stage in support of Buck.
The correct spelling is in the headline. Your dictionary (for those of a certain age) or spell-check (for those who don’t remember or never used that heavy old bound Webster’s) will confirm it. The alternative spelling, at least for disgruntled conservatives and Colorado Republicans, is F-A-I-L.
My GOP friends need to forward that alternative spelling to their state party chair. It was Ken Buck, whose day job is representing Colorado’s 4th congressional district, who pledged at the party’s last state convention that “we’re going to teach them (Democrats) how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” To applause, it’s worth noting, from the only two remaining Republicans officeholders elected statewide, Sen. Cory Gardner and University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl.
Republican sources tell us that there is a fierce intraparty debate underway today on both sides of “recall season” as to how seriously Rep. Buck’s absentee leadership of the Colorado GOP contributed to the failures. On the one hand, Buck certainly could have (and in retrospect should have) intervened in the filing of the doomed recall petition against Rep. Tom Sullivan, the failure of which effectively stymied any momentum Republicans had coming out of the legislative session. On the other hand, Buck is widely rumored to have discouraged the Polis recall behind the scenes, helping further alienate the party’s radical wing after paying them lip service.
Perhaps most telling in all of this is that Staver reports Rep. Buck couldn’t be reached for comment on how the spelling lesson ended up! At this point, that’s probably Buck’s best option. Comparing the rhetoric to the outcome of the now-faceplanted “summer of recalls” is an embarrassment to more than Ken Buck, but there’s only one chairman.
Newsmax, a right-wing media outlet not generally known for high journalistic standards, nonetheless reports news our readers will be keen to discuss:
Should Reps. Paul Cook, R-Calif., and Ken Buck, R-Colo., make their exits official, they will bring the number of House Republicans resigning, retiring, or seeking another office to 14…
Stalwart conservative Buck, 60, has held Colorado’s strongly Republican 4th District since 2014. In recent weeks, discussion of his not running again or even resigning from office persist. Last week, Buck (who also is state Republican chairman) raised eyebrows by failing to attend a major party function at which he was billed as a speaker along with Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
Centennial State sources told Newsmax that Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, who lost a tight race for state attorney general last year, and State House GOP Leader Patrick Neville, son of a popular former state senator, are considered certain candidates should Buck bow out. Both are conservative in the mold of Buck.
We reported back in May on word that Rep. Ken Buck may retire rather than run for re-election in 2020. At that time Buck’s office denied that report, saying “Congressman Buck has no official plans to retire anytime soon nor in the foreseeable future.” Something about that answer always seemed fishy, and now we may know why.
If Rep. Buck does decide to retire and focus on his newer job of chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, the prospect of a Republican primary to succeed him between Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville would be, to say the least, very exciting–pitting two Republicans who have fiercely disagreed with each other on gun policy, with Brauchler having been targeted by Neville’s allies at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners with damaging ads blasting his (erstwhile) support for Colorado’s popular red flag law. There are some other potential candidates we wouldn’t rule out, but this would be a battle royale matchup with implications for the Colorado GOP’s long-term direction.
We’ve long known it’s a good idea to fact-check anything Ken Buck says.
The new rule appears to be, don’t accept the first round of denials either.
As Randy Corporon of KNUS radio discussed over the weekend, former Jefferson County GOP Chair and CO-7 candidate Don Ytterberg will take over for House as the new right-hand man of State Party Chairman Ken Buck, who can’t be a full-time Party Chairman on account of the fact that he’s still serving in Congress himself. House has not indicated publicly that he will run for Congress in CO-6, but that’s the reason for the change from what we hear.
Ernest Luningreported last month that House was considering running for the Republican nomination in CO-6, despite (or because of) the fact that Casper Stockham is already in the race (although Stockham has the support of former CO-6 Rep. Tom Tancredo). State GOP Party bylaws prevent House from remaining in a leadership role while also running for public office.
Democrat Jason Crowousted longtime Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in 2018 to take control of a seat that Republicans had never once relinquished in the history of the district. Crow has already raised more than $1 million for his re-election campaign.
The last 24 hours of Colorado political news have focused heavily on an exchange yesterday in the House Judiciary Committee between Republican Rep. Ken Buck, who also serves as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, and retired Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in which Buck bafflingly invited Mueller to confirm that President Donald Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice once he leaves office.
That moment of unintentional help to Democrats is still making its waves, but we wanted to be sure the much more deliberate and focused questioning from freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse of Boulder, also on the House Judiciary Committee, on the subject of Donald Trump, Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer offering election dirt on Hillary Clinton in Trump Tower in 2016 received due credit–as Denver7 reports:
Neguse questioned Mueller…and stuck to the parts of Mueller’s report that focused on possible obstruction involving aides and family members of President Trump’s – specifically the Trump Tower meeting in which Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met to obtain “dirt” on the Hillary Clinton campaign.
…Neguse went on to ask Mueller about portions of his report that discuss Hope Hicks and what she knew about the meeting, as well as the statement that President Trump allegedly dictated to her after the meeting in which they lied about the purpose of the meeting, saying it was about Russian adoptions when it was really about “dirt” on the Clinton campaign.
“According to Ms. Hicks, the president still directed her to say the meeting was only about Russian adoption, correct?” Neguse asked.
“Yes,” Mueller responded.
“Despite knowing that to be untrue,” Neguse finished. “Thank you, Director Mueller,” he said as he yielded back the rest of his five minutes.
Rep. Neguse only had a few minutes to interact directly with Special Counsel Mueller, but he used his time very effectively to elucidate one of the ten instances outlined in Mueller’s report that could amount to obstruction of justice committed by President Trump. Because Mueller proceeded from the assumption that Trump can’t be charged with a crime while in office, he isn’t conclusive on whether Trump committed a crime–leaving Congress to provide the answer via their oversight power. Neguse’s questions to Mueller confirmed the substance underlying the allegation against Trump in this particular instance, that the President instructed Hope Hicks to lie about the nature of the Trump Tower meeting.
Rep. Neguse, who supports impeachment hearings, did at least as much to damage Trump and help Democrats make their case as Rep. Buck did by restating for the cameras that President Trump can be charged with obstruction after he leaves office.
The difference is, that’s what Rep. Neguse wanted to do.
It has not been a good news cycle for Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley)
The big political news all week has been about former special counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony, which took place on Wednesday in Washington D.C. As we noted yesterday, Colorado’s own Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) made quite the fool of himself — and may have opened the door to an obstruction of justice charge — when it was his turn to ask Mueller questions during a hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee.
Buck’s questions for Mueller made national headlines (including this gem from Rolling Stone) because of the implication of his questioning and Mueller’s straightforward response. As Joe St. George wrote for Fox 31 Denver, “Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck Didn’t Help Trump During Mueller Questioning.” Here’s how The Hill newspaper summarized the importance of Buck and Mueller’s exchange:
Former special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday said that he believes President Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice after he leaves office.
“Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) asked Mueller during the former special counsel’s testimony.
“Yes,” Mueller replied.
Buck appeared to be taken aback, and asked the question again, but adding whether Mueller believed a president could be charged with obstruction of justice after leaving office. The former special counsel again said he believed that was the case.
Welp, Congressman Buck was in full damage-control mode on Wednesday afternoon, where he was a guest on KHOW radio’s “The Dan Caplis Show” and proceeded to blame Mueller for not understanding his questions. As Eli Stokols of the Los Angeles Times (and formerly Fox 31 Denver) notes:
That’s right, dear readers! Ken Buck says old man Mueller just couldn’t comprehend this ingenious line of questioning, which went exactly like this:
BUCK: Okay, but the … could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?
BUCK: You believe that he committed … you could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?
Robert Mueller (left) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) on Wednesday.
Um, sorry Ken. This is really not even sorta complicated.
Here’s more of Buck’s Wednesday interview with Jon Caldara, who was sitting in for the host on “The Dan Caplis Show“:
CALDARA: Hey, congratulations on asking what seems to be the…the only news of this Mueller…testifying. Give me your first impressions. It seemed cruel that anyone had to sit through this. How bad was it?
BUCK: Well, I tell ya, I felt bad for Mueller. He just didn’t look like he was well today, and I don’t know what was going on. But his tank of gas was on empty, because he just struggled with a lot of different questions. He misunderstood my question on two different occasions. He backtracked from it. And so, it was…it was tough to watch…
CALDARA: What made you want to ask the question about the indictment?
BUCK: Well…it’s fundamentally unfair to say that the President did not commit a crime, and nobody in his campaign committed a crime, concerning Russian conspiracy. And then to say, ‘There’s all these facts about obstruction, but I’m not going to offer an opinion.’ He knew he could not prosecute that case. And finally, in the Intelligence Committee, he said, ‘I will not opine on whether there is a case to be charged on obstruction or not.’ And that’s the only way that…that’s the answer that I wanted, and it’s the answer he gave ultimately but he didn’t give it early enough.
CALDARA: Let me be really clear with you, Congressman, because that’s important. You’re telling me that he never said that there was a case for obstruction of justice. So, you really tried to pin him on this. So, is there a case…he wouldn’t say there was. Am I understanding you correctly?
BUCK: Yes, that’s absolutely correct. What he said was that the President could be charged – or ‘A’ President could be charged after he left office. But he also said he would not opine on whether the facts presented in the report warranted a prosecution.
CALDARA: And that was THE big question of the whole morning – of the last 2 and a half years, hasn’t it been?
BUCK: Well, I think it is. And I was kind of stunned that nobody asked it. You know, I was, what, 14thor 15thin line to ask questions. And that’s why I just thought, ‘I’ve got to ask this question,’ because if they proceed with impeachment and the person who has been studying this issue for a long time has not…will not opine on that issue, [then] we have a problem.
A bit later in the interview, Buck says that he changed his approach with Mueller because some other Members of Congress took what he was going to say:
CALDARA: How much preparation do you put in for something like this, or the Republican team? Obviously the Democrats were hoping for a slam dunk. They put on a great A/V show and all the rest. It didn’t materialize. Is this something that you know is political theater and you kind of suffer through, or is there a lot of preparation to make sure you get the question you got off today…out?
BUCK: Sure, we prepared for weeks for this. And, frankly, the line of questioning that I wanted to use had been developed twice before me, and so that’s why I went to a different line of questioning and asked what I asked.
This is all nonsense.
The simple truth is that Buck made the cardinal prosecutorial sin of asking questions he didn’t already know the answer to. Mueller’s answers reflected poorly on Buck and poorly on President Trump, and all he said to say was, “Yes.”
UPDATE #4: President Trump goes absolutely bananas when asked about the Mueller comments that were precipitated by Rep. Buck’s questioning. Watch the video below and then tell us: Does this sound like a guy who reallythinks today was a big victory?
UPDATE #3: This statement from Colorado Democratic Party Chairwoman Morgan Carroll has to sting a bit:
“Mueller confirmed that the reason he did not indict Trump was because of a DOJ policy that a sitting President could not be indicted. But, I would like to personally thank Ken Buck for confirming with Robert Mueller that President Trump could indeed be indicted and criminally charged with obstruction of justice after he is out of office. Given that the investigation resulted in nearly 200 criminal charges already filed, it’s good for voters to know that Donald Trump soon could face legal consequences for his corruption after they vote him out of office in 2020.”
That is what soccer fans call an “own goal.” What Buck inadvertently argued, with Mueller’s help, was that while the evidence of Trump’s personal cooperation with Russia was insufficient to sustain a conspiracy charge, the evidence may well have been sufficient to sustain an obstruction charge, and it may have only been Trump’s current position that is saving him from an indictment.
UPDATE: This is really, really, really bad for Buck.
Tonight in Denver, the @cologop, of which @RepKenBuck is chair, hosts voter registration training as part of “Trump Victory National Week of Training.” #copolitics
Former special counsel Robert Mueller is testifying publicly before Congress about his investigation into President Trump’s office and potential Russian interference in the 2016 election. Two Members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation are part of the House Judiciary Committee, which got first crack at Mueller’s testimony: Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).
Buck appeared to be taken aback, and asked the question again, but adding whether Mueller believed a president could be charged with obstruction of justice after leaving office. The former special counsel again said he believed that was the case…
…Whether Trump would be charged with obstruction of justice were it not for the Justice Department guidance has been an area of focus for Democrats, some of whom are pushing to start impeachment proceedings against Trump in light of Mueller’s findings.
Hundreds of former federal prosecutors and DOJ officials have signed onto a letter saying that they believe Trump would have been charged with a crime were it not for the guidance.
Buck is a former Weld County District Attorney, so he should be well familiar with the old axiom to never ask a question of which you don’t already know the answer. Folks watching the Mueller hearings caught Buck’s mistake immediately:
Did Ken Buck just get Mueller to confirm that Trump can be charged with crimes for what he’s done after he leaves office?
UPDATE: Gardner was on KOA radio this morning to talk about the BLM move to Colorado, but he couldn’t get away without being asked about Trump’s racist remarks. His answer was pretty awful:
HOST: What’s your take on that, and is it defensible to say things like that?
GARDNER: Well, I disagree with the President. I wouldn’t have sent this Tweet. I think he shouldn’t have done it, and I think we oughta be focused on things that are bringing this country together and moving this country forward…I wouldn’t have sent that Tweet. I just disagree with it.
“I wouldn’t have sent that Tweet.” Unreal.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)
The House of Representatives is preparing to hold a vote today to rebuke President Trump for his racist comments over the weekend about four Democratic Members of Congress. In the meantime, as the Washington Post reports, Trump is really digging in on his disgusting remarks:
Trump lashed out at the freshman Democrats again on Tuesday and questioned why Congress was not rebuking them instead.
“The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party,” Trump wrote on Twitter, listing several grievances about the lawmakers. “Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!”
His tweets marked the third day in a row of attacks on the lawmakers — a series that began Sunday with tweets in which the president said the four Democrats should “go back” to “the crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the lawmakers were born in the United States, and the fourth is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Somalia.
As we wrote yesterday, Colorado Republicans have been reluctant to speak out about Trump’s remarks. The Washington Post has been keeping track of Republican responses (and non-responses) to Trump’s comments; as of this morning, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is the only member of Colorado’s congressional delegation to offer an opinion, expressing (very) mild disagreement in an interview with Fox News.
Still silent on the matter are Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), and Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). As Justin Wingerter of the Denver Post reports, Gardner has just been too darn busy to speak out about racism:
Sen. Gardner on KNUS:
Host: “Did you see the tweet over the weekend…from the president?”
Gardner: “We’ve been working on the BLM move and that’s basically everything we’ve been trying to get done”
H: “Short and succinct. I translate that into ‘I don’t want to talk about it'”
Gardner obviously does not want to talk about any of this, either because he doesn’t disagree with President Trump or because he doesn’t want Trump to think that he disagrees. Gardner’s excuse that he has been solely focused on “the BLM move” is as silly as Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinellirepeatedly insisting that he didn’t have a response to Trump’s remarks because he hadn’t logged onto Twitter recently.
Gardner’s silence on Trump’s racism nevertheless speaks volumes, particularly considering that other endangered Republican Senators up for re-election in 2020 have still managed to find their voice.
Here’s Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa):
“Yeah I do [find Trump’s comments racist]. They’re American citizens. I personally think the GOP has a stronger platform to talk about. That’s what we should be focusing on.”
And Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine):
“I disagree strongly with many of the views and comments of some of the far-left members of the House Democratic Caucus – especially when it comes to their views on socialism, their anti-Semitic rhetoric, and their negative comments about law enforcement – but the President’s tweet that some Members of Congress should go back to the ‘places from which they came’ was way over the line, and he should take that down.”
Gardner’s refusal to discuss Trump’s comments reminds us of something that then-House Speaker Paul Ryantold CBS News after he was elevated to the top job: “I think you can walk and chew gum at the same time. I think you can oppose the president on some issue that you fundamentally disagree with, but also work with the other party on issues you do agree with.”
Maybe now that the BLM’s move to Colorado has been announced, Gardner can manage to turn his attention to another issue…not that we’re holding our breath or anything.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck said Wednesday that when it comes to immigration, the Trump Administration has done an “outstanding job of trying to clean up the mess of past administrations.”
“The mistreatment of children really tugs at the heartstrings,” Buck told KFTM radio’s John Waters Wednesday (Listen below). “But this administration really has done an outstanding job of trying to clean up the mess of past administrations.”
Buck is echoing false statements by Trump, who’s also said past administrations launched the policy of separating children from their parents at the border.
But fact multiple independent fact checkers concluded that Trump, in fact, instituted the blanket policy of prosecuting parents and separating them from children, as part of his “zero-tolerance” approach to the border. It was at least publicly rescinded by the president after a national outcry, but loopholes remained, causing further outcry.
“There is a lot of misinformation,” said Buck.
Some of it is coming from Trump himself, who told NBC Sunday that he “inherited separation from President Obama” and that “I was the one that ended it.”
“When I became president, President Obama had a separation policy. I didn’t have it. He had it. I brought the families together. I’m the one that put them together,” Trump told Telemundo Thursday.
Buck defended U.S. border control personnel, suggesting that they have no ill will toward immigrant children.
“I’ve met with the people that supervise the border,” Buck said on air. “They have children of their own. They have a heart for children. And they are just overwhelmed by the number of children that are being sent across the border.
We’re working to get more information about fresh reported infighting between organizers of a highly improbable recall effort against Gov. Jared Polis and Rep. Ken Buck, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. The above message from leader “Official” Recall Polis organizer Shane Donnelley is from late last week, the day after we wrote about a third Polis recall organization starting up with the goal of supplanting the two previous troubled efforts.
But as you can see, Donnelley isn’t saying Buck is merely against his Polis recall campaign. If Donnelley is to be believed, Colorado GOP chairman Ken Buck doesn’t support recalling Gov. Polis at all. That distinction is important, since during Buck’s election campaign for GOP chairman he praised recalls against Democrats in general and promised the state party’s support.
What happened? First and foremost, it’s generally agreed that the state party was badly burned by the ill-fated recall campaign against Rep. Tom Sullivan, which despite a lame attempt to distance the effort from the state party vice chair who started it severely impacted both the Colorado GOP’s reputation as well as the overall enthusiasm for pushing recalls in retaliation for the 2019 legislative session. While Republicans spent a month unsuccessfully defending the Sullivan recall, the passage of time dissipated momentum the recall movement writ large may have had last May.
Again, we’re operating from limited and unconfirmed information–but if it’s true that Ken Buck is working behind the scenes to quash the recall of Gov. Polis, it’s a major development that needs to be reported. What this tells us is that the failure of the Sullivan recall was a much bigger loss than Sullivan’s HD-37 seat would have been worth to the GOP had it succeeded, having effectively tainted the whole idea of recalls in response to the 2019 session. As we said from the outset, making Sullivan the face of the GOP’s recall movement was a stupendous mistake.
So it seems that, after winning his chairmanship pushing recalls, Buck may be backing down.
Entering the second day of reaction to the failure of the Republican campaign to recall freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial, the conversation is moving beyond initial shock into the important follow-up questions–how high up does the blame for this fiasco extend? And how exactly did this incredibly bad idea even get off the ground?
With the effort now officially dead, pointy fingers are converging on the Colorado Republican Party itself, and the central role of vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown in launching the campaign against Sullivan–9NEWS yesterday:
Kristi Burton Brown, Vice Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, posted on Facebook that the recall effort she initiated against the first-year lawmaker was ending.
“While we are pulling the recall today to focus on other essential efforts, Sullivan does not get a free pass. 2020 is the year to oust him, with the support of voters who now know how extreme he is,” wrote Brown.
The obvious first question–who is “we?” Wasn’t this done in her “personal capacity?”
That was of course farcical. After the recall petition against Rep. Sullivan was approved, Colorado Republican Party chairman Ken Buckinsisted that his vice chair was acting “in her personal capacity, not as part of her leadership role with the state party.” But Colorado GOP “CEO” Steve House had already eagerly explained how the Colorado GOP would support recalls for electoral advantage–not to mention Buck’s own speech before his election as state party chair promising to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L” (video above). Combine that with the vice chair’s “personal” leadership role in the Sullivan recall, and it’s simply absurd to not hold the Colorado Republican Party directly responsible for the outcome.
And that opens the door to more pressing questions that Republicans must reckon with. Is Ken Buck’s absentee leadership of the state party while he tries to serve in Congress at the same time creating a leadership vacuum? Did Buck simply not have time or the presence of mind to recognize that the vice chair leading the Sullivan recall would indelibly link the party to the recall? Who exactly is in charge over there?
As the saying goes, victory has a thousand fathers. But as much as many Republicans want to lay the blame for this massive defeat at the feet of Dudley Brown, the man everyone loves to hate and has little credibility to lose, this is the Colorado Republican Party’s in-house disaster. The party’s vice chair is centrally to blame–and the statements of the party’s chairman and the “CEO” who runs the day-to-day operations on behalf of the absentee chairman oblige them to take the blame as well.
It’s time for Chairman Buck to own up to this disaster and clean house.
Or make way for someone who, for whatever reason, can.
No disaster relief for you, says Congressman and State GOP Chair Ken Buck.
The House of Representatives has approved $19 billion in disaster relief funds for hurricane and flood-ravaged areas such as the Florida panhandle, Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Puerto Rico. The legislation advanced by a vote of 354-58, with all ‘NO’ votes coming from Republicans (more on that in a moment).
The Senate had already overwhelmingly passed the disaster relief measure, and President Trump — who has repeatedly expressed his support — is expected to sign the bill once it reaches his desk. Yet as the Associated Press reports, this seemingly-popular bill took quite a long time to actually get through the sausage-making process in Washington D.C.:
…conservative Republicans in the House held up the bill last week, objecting on three occasions to efforts by Democratic leaders to pass the bill by a voice vote requiring unanimity. They said the legislation — which reflects an increasingly permissive attitude in Washington on spending to address disasters that sooner or later hit every region of the country — shouldn’t be rushed through without a recorded vote…
…As the measure languished, disasters kept coming — with failed levees in Arkansas, Iowa and Missouri and tornadoes across Ohio just the most recent examples. The measure is supported by the bipartisan party leadership in both House and Senate.
The legislation is also being driven by Florida and Georgia lawmakers steaming with frustration over delays in delivering help to farmers, towns and military bases slammed by hurricanes last fall. Flooding in Iowa and Nebraska this spring added to the coalition behind the measure, which delivers much of its help to regions where Trump supporters dominate. [Pols emphasis]
Panama City, Florida in the wake of Hurricane Michael
Colorado’s Congressional delegation did not vote strictly along party lines; Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) joined all four Democrats in voting ‘YES’ on Monday. The two ‘NO’ votes from Colorado’s delegation were from Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs). While Lamborn’s vote is as unsurprising as it is unimportant, Buck’s vote is a different story because of his other job as Chairman of the State Republican Party in Colorado.
When Buck decided to run for the vacant State GOP Chair position earlier this year, he made it clear that he had no plans to give up his Congressional seat. Buck now does both jobs, though the day-to-day operations of the State Party have been handed off to former Chairman and new “CEO” Steve House.
Buck and his spokespeople will say that his votes in Congress are made strictly as a representative of CO-4, where a solidly right-wing base of supporters might actually approve of their Congressman acting like a heartless dickhead. While this may be technically accurate, it doesn’t change the fact that the man who is also the leader of the Colorado GOP was among a small contingent of Congressional Republicans who opposed providing disaster relief for suffering communities across the country.
Buck can claim that what he does in Congress is unrelated to his work as State Party Chairman, but it’s just not possible to cleanly separate the two roles on policy issues. Would Buck have voted differently on the disaster relief measure if he were casting a vote on behalf of all Colorado Republicans? If so, then what does that say about the residents of CO-4? There was always going to be an obvious conflict of interest for Buck to do both jobs at the same time; these are the type of votes that turn a small discomfort into a festering wound.
Buck can be the symbol of the Colorado Republican Party or he can represent his Congressional district…but he can’t do both. Republicans who don’t think this is going to be a problem in 2020 are kidding themselves.
UPDATE: According to an email we received from Buck’s Communications Director Brittany Yanick, “this is falsely reported information.” Writes Yanick: “Congressman Buck has no official plans to retire anytime soon nor in the foreseeable future.”
Earlier today we saw some interesting news from Nathan Gonzales, Editor and Publisher of “Inside Elections” whose expertise is following Congressional races and how they may ultimately impact majority control of either chamber:
Retirement Watch: GOP Rep. Ken Buck told several people at his April weekend fundraiser in Sarasota, Fl. that he is considering not seeking re-election.
We haven’t seen any more information about this report from Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who was busy today railing about the House Judiciary Committee’s vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for refusing to turn over the unreacted Mueller report to a select number of Representatives (the Judiciary Committee voted by a 24-16 margin to hold Barr in contempt this afternoon). At the same time, we wouldn’t be quick to dismiss this report as entirely inaccurate.
Buck very nearly defeated Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) in a closely-watched Senate race in 2010; he might have even won had he not eaten his foot in a disastrous “Meet the Press” appearance a few weeks before Election Day. Buck put his political aspirations on hold in 2013 while battling lymphoma, then returned to the center stage to win election to Congress in 2014 when then-Rep. Cory Gardner vacated his seat to run for U.S. Senate.
Ever since he was first elected to Congress, there has been regular speculation about Buck’s next potential campaign. It’s no secret that Buck would like another shot at the Senate; if that were to happen in 2020, Gardner would have to step aside, or Buck would have to be comfortable with a bruising Republican Primary. Buck would also need to figure out what to do with his other job as Colorado Republican Party Chairman.
Hopefully Buck isn’t battling health problems once more, which would be an obvious question to ask of someone with a recent history of cancer. Of course, it might just be that Buck has soured on being in the House Minority and/or is getting tired of the blowback after regularly making a fool of himself on a number of high-profile issues (from LGBTQ rights to race relations).
Regardless of what Buck decides, CO-4 is still a Republican seat until redistricting in 2021. Buck coasted to a 21-point victory in 2018 and should have little trouble keeping his job for at least one more cycle. Should Buck bow out, however, there would be a mad scramble among Republicans to position themselves for the GOP nomination in 2020 — think of names like House Minority Leader Pat Neville, Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, and nutcases-extraordinaire such as Sen. Vicki Marble and Rep. Lori Saine.
For now, consider this report unconfirmed; but if it’s true, there could be a big shakeup coming among Colorado Republicans.
The numbers are terrifying. The pictures are heart-wrenching. The reality is undeniable.
Gun rights advocates always default to saying that this is a complicated political issue – that solving the problem requires a delicate balance between 2ndAmendment rights and protecting children from being shot in their classrooms. This is patently absurd. There can be no more “on the other hand…” rationalizing on this subject. If we can shield children from being gunned down at school, we do it. What is the point of allowing for a “well-armed militia” to protect a country that won’t even protect its own children?
As Aurora Sentineleditor Dave Perry explains in a column today, we can’t hope to curb gun violence until we get rid of the politicians who will do everything in their power to stand in the way of solutions:
House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock)
…the state House legislator who represents the community where this shooting occurred has been a stalwart opponent of the red-flag and other common-sense gun control bills. GOP state Rep. Patrick Neville not only attended Columbine High School during the school shooting there 20 years ago, he is a lauded leader in the movement to arm teachers in schools, rather than pass gun control laws.
After I criticized Neville earlier this year for his moronic stance, Republican staffers in the House emailed reporters here saying no Sentinel writers would be permitted to speak with GOP House members because of my editorial views on the opinion page.
That’s who’s calling the shots, folks. Elected officials beholden to the likes of the National Rifle Association and, worse, wild-eyed and vicious gun-extremists from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners…[Pols emphasis]
…Here’s what will happen if the Nevilles in Colorado and the nation get booted: Other Republicans and cringing pro-gun Democrats will vote with gun-control advocates because they value their seats in Congress and state legislatures more than they value gun rights. And they know it. And you know it.
As news of the shooting in Highlands Ranch was breaking on Tuesday, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER Pat Neville Tweeted the following:
Prayers for the students and families at STEM School, Highlands Ranch. Details still unfolding, one thing I do know is don’t repeat the name of the perpetrator. We need to #fixit.
This is the very same Rep. Pat Neville whose brother, Joe Neville, is the political consultant behind “Values First Colorado,” which was literally running these ads on Facebook yesterday:
The Nevilles have long been closely aligned withDudley Brown and his “no compromises” gun rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) – which recently filed a lawsuit attempting to overturn the “red flag” legislation and is excitedly advocating for recalls across the state. When RMGO announced their lawsuit at a press conference last week, Rep. Neville stood proudly behind the dais in solidarity. We know where Rep. Neville stands on the issue of preventing gun violence – it’s the same place he’s always stood.
Pat Neville isn’t going to do a goddamn thing to prevent gun violence in Colorado or anywhere else. He’s not the only Colorado politician who will continue to sit on his hands while innocent children are killed, but this is the guy who House Republicans have consistently chosen to lead their caucus. If we want to take real steps to curb gun violence, we must first oust the politicians who have demonstrated time and again that they have no serious interest in supporting anything that might possibly reduce the number of guns available to anyone at any time. On the federal level, this includes politicians like Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), the latter of whom is now the State Republican Party Chairman.
For politicians in Colorado and the rest of the country, preventing gun violence in schools is a binary choice. Either you work to solve the problem, or you don’t. Period.
Local broadcast news faces a challenge when covering politics–how to distill complex topics into brief segments that rarely run longer than four minutes?
Last week 9News’ Marshall Zelinger sat down with Congressman Ken Buck, the newly elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. The wide-ranging interview only lasted 3 minutes 30 seconds on air, which is why 9News’ decision to post the entire raw footage of the interview is so important.
Inquiring minds need only visit the Next on 9News Youtube channel to find the full 17-minute interview, “Head of Colorado GOP Ken Buck on recalls, oil and gas, Nazi question.”
At 9:45 Zelinger asks Buck if it’s appropriate for elected officials and their families to profit from recalls they’re promoting publicly.
Zelinger: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville has come out supporting recalls. His family could benefit from recalls because that’s their business. Should it be appropriate for elected officials and their families to profit off of recalls and elections? By being hired for election purposes–this is an added election outside of a cycle–perhaps this is being done in a way that benefits the family business?
Buck initially says he doesn’t understand, but then gives a response that indicates he does understand, but that he doesn’t want to get involved.
Buck: So, Patrick’s brother is a consultant in the business and certainly there were some resources from the House fund that were used in the last cycle and his brother ran some of that political operation. I think that is something that Patrick and the elected Republicans in the state House will have to decide. It’s not something the state party will intervene in in any way. Ken Buck, Next on 9News, 4/5/19
Zelinger’s question about the Neville’s family financial stake in the House GOP political machinery was just the latest reporting on the issue, the most prominent of which was Marianne Goodland’s pair of feature-length articles for Colorado Politics, particularly the second one titled “A hard look at 2018’s GOP ‘soft money’.” Goodland reported that other Republicans expressed concerns with the Nevilles’ performance and tactics:
One Republican insider told Colorado Politics he didn’t mind if Joe Neville and his companies make money off their political activities. But, he said, the lack of results in terms of election wins for the GOP is another matter… Another concern among Republicans who talked with Colorado Politics: what appears to be a large amount of unspent money left over after the election.
By early March, it was clear where at least some of that unspent money was headed- paying for recalls. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville launched a website to support recalling his own colleagues in the legislature. At least one corporate donor, Xcel Energy, expressed surprise that some of its 2018 contribution to the GOP House caucus fund was now being used for recalls.
More recently, 9News’ Kyle Clark noted that both former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and also the conservative Independence Institute are both generating revenue from another proposed Colorado recall, the moonshot that is the attempt to remove Governor Jared Polis. State law dictates that petition gathering for a gubernatorial recall can’t begin until at least six months into the governor’s term, but there are no restrictions on when political operatives can start gathering checks from naive donors.
(Colorado’s only OTHER statewide elected Republican official – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
The red meat was indeed raw and juicy at the Colorado Republican Central Committee meeting last month.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner shouted about needing “a fighter” at the top of his lungs. Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO) threatened recalls and dared Democrats to take his guns from his “cold dead hands.” District Attorney George Brauchler said “the front was bloody” and warned that soon Coloradans will have to call California “our overlords.”
Compared to violent language and imagery favored by Buck, Gardner, and Brauchler, University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl’s speech was relatively tame.
“We’re on the right side of history. We have the right solutions for the problems our state faces, and Ken Buck has a track record of winning and winning big, as our president likes to say. “It’s time to get to work to re-elect President Trump, to re-elect Senator Gardner, and to win back the state legislature.” CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, Republican Central Committee meeting, 3/30/19
This straightforward endorsement wouldn’t be significant were it not for the fact that during her 2016 campaign for CU Regent, Ganahl refused to even utter the name of her party’s presidential candidate.
Yesterday in Washington, the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the increase in white nationalism and hate crimes in the last few years, with prominent examples like the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 and the mass murder of Jewish congregants at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in October of 2018 serving as a backdrop to the reported three years of consecutive increases in such crimes. USA TODAY:
Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray called white supremacist violence “a persistent, pervasive threat” during testimony before the House Appropriations Committee.
In November, the FBI released a report that showed a 17% increase in hate crimes from 2016 to 2017, although the bureau pointed out the number of law enforcement agencies reporting the data had also increased.
While majority Democrats in the Judiciary Committee wanted to talk yesterday about the statistically undeniable increase in hate crimes in the United States since Donald Trump became President, undeniable even factoring better reporting of hate crimes or any other kind of excuse one could make to explain the increase away…Republicans on the committee had other ideas. Right Wing Watch’sJared Holt:
Conservatives on the House Judiciary Committee, of which notably few were even in attendance, made it clear today that they are not equipped or willing to engage in a meaningful conversation about understanding and solving white supremacy and hate crime in America.
A panel of experts and people with lived experience who study and feel the effects of violent extremism in this country sat under the lights in the Rayburn House Office Building this morning–next to right-wing activists Candace Owens, communications director for Turning Point USA, and Zionist Organization of America’s Mort Klein. The esteemed experts attempted to share factual information and proposed solutions, but their messages were frequently derailed by the conservative duo’s efforts to change the topic of discussion and wield the hearing as a bludgeon against Democrats. Republican members of the Judiciary Committee in attendance, including Reps. Louie Gohmert and Ken Buck, egged them on and, at one point, Rep. Greg Steube yielded his time to Owens to make whatever comments she wanted to. Buck asked Owens if her status as a “pro-life” conservative “triggers” liberals. [Pols emphasis]
Owens testified that she was participating in the hearing because she had been the victim of a hate crime in high school, which is true. But Owens spoke only briefly about that incident and then pivoted to make accusatory and incorrect claims, such as that the GOP’s Southern strategy was a myth, ignoring the fact that RNC chairman Ken Mehlman apologized for the Southern strategy’s existence in 2005.
Candace Owens of the hard-right college organizing group Turning Point USA recently caused a stir in Colorado when she spoke before Boulder County Republicans shortly after recorded comments of her saying Adolf Hitler “just wanted to make Germany great” in a way that could be interpreted as an excuse for Naziism if it only happened inside one country. Boulder Republicans gave Owens a pass, but the Turning Point USA chapter at CU Boulder later called for her to step down. But at yesterday’s hearing Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, fresh off his most recent lowlight last week comparing gay people to Nazis, had Owens’ back:
Buck, who was a longtime Weld County district attorney and is now the new chair of Colorado’s GOP party, was among the Republicans who defended Owens during the testy hearing.
“I think you’ve caused my friends on the left to go to their safe spaces,” said the 4th District Colorado Republican. [Pols emphasis]
As for Owens’ blanket denial that Republicans intentionally courted whites in Southern states with coded racist campaign messages, initiating the great Southern realignment from the Democratic Party to the GOP by the early 1980s? There’s simply no historical basis for this contention. The strategy was publicly avowed by its principal architect Lee Atwater, and it is an historical fact that the Republican Party apologized for it back in 2005:
Mehlman, speaking before the NAACP, said Republicans had been wrong to try to make use of racially divisive issues.
“Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization,” Mehlman said, according to his prepared remarks. “I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.” [Pols emphasis]
While the “Southern strategy” helped Nixon win the White House in 1968, Democrats went on in the ensuing decades to solidify their support among black voters, as Mehlman acknowledged.
What changed between 2005 and today to make Republicans deny this dark but important period of their own history? That’s simple. The strategy became popular again–and not just in the South. The low-information apologetics of Candace Owens, backstopped by members of Congress like Ken Buck who are seemingly out to prove Owens wrong, is a bizarre spectacle that says a great deal about today’s GOP politics.
Readers were shocked this past week by an exchange in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Tuesday between Rep. Ken Buck, newly elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, and a woman who had experienced discrimination as an LGBT woman seeking pediatric care for her children:
Rep. Ken Buck: Um, is it your position that, uh a uh orthodox Jewish doctor should be required to work with a uh–an orthodox Jewish doctor whose grandparent was killed in the Holocaust be required to work with a–um, a Nazi, uh patient?
The clear suggestion here is that a doctor who doesn’t like gay people would be just as justified in refusing treatment to a gay family as a Jewish person who had ancestors killed in the Holocaust would be justified in refusing to treat a Nazi. Needless to say, this comparison is extremely offensive to both gay and, by cheapening the pertinent history to crassly make Buck’s point, Jewish people.
Yesterday, 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelingerbroadcast an interview with Rep. Buck in which he’s asked about this ghastly comparison–and Buck launched into a defense of his words that demonstrates he meant exactly what he said:
“My point was, and it’s similar to the (Masterpiece Cakeshop) baker case in Jefferson County. We’re getting to the point where we’re forcing people to conduct business that they may not want to conduct. We have to be very careful, it’s not a line we haven’t crossed in the past, we’ve certainly crossed that line with African-Americans in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and it was very appropriate not to have segregated lunch counters, not to have segregated buses, but we keep finding more and more groups that we are putting into a category of forcing people to conduct business with,” said Buck.
What Buck is trying to say here is that he doesn’t think LGBT people should be a protected class of people under discrimination law, as they would be under the legislation under debate and are in Buck’s home state of Colorado as well as 20 other states. That’s consistent with the ballot measure Amendment 2 passed by Colorado in 1992 and later found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Buck’s brazen contempt for the law in the state he represents in Congress invites its own criticism.
But more importantly, what Buck’s “clarification” doesn’t contain is any reasonable justification for comparing gay people to Nazis. The underlying assumptions necessary to make this a valid comparison are simply unworkable for anyone who doesn’t virulently hate LGBT people. It seems fundamentally absurd to even have to write this, but the Nazis were directly responsible for the deaths of six million Jewish people, and started a war that killed 50 million people globally. To compare that abominable history to LGBT Americans who want health care without being victims of discrimination is…
It’s sick, folks. And treating this as a defensible viewpoint for a member of Congress from the state of Colorado, not to mention the chairman of the state party, is totally unacceptable. We honestly do believe that in previous years, before Donald Trump desensitized the nation from outrage, Buck would have been compelled to apologize for these comments–not double down on them on prime time TV. But if it isn’t clear from this episode how deep the moral rot in today’s Republican Party runs, erupting to the surface in the hate-rooted recall campaigns against Rep. Rochelle Galindo and Gov. Jared Polis, here may be all the proof you’ll ever need.
Ordinarily one would call on the Colorado Republican Party to stand up against these kinds of outrages, like when Ryan Callcalled outVicki Marble for blaming African American health problems on eating too much chicken–but that’s obviously a problem in this case! In the end, despite all the protestations to the contrary, history may be forced to conclude that the unconcealed hatred common in Buck’s horrific analogy and the stated motivations of recall organizers reflects who Colorado Republicans really are.
Want to prove us wrong? For God’s sake, somebody condemn this madness.
At last weekend’s Colorado Republican Central Committee meeting, Senator Cory Gardner gave Congressman Ken Buck such a full-throated endorsement that his voice almost cracked.
Nominating Buck for Colorado Republican party Chair, Gardner praised his experience and his fundraising and organizing ability before concluding simply, “We need him. I need him. This country needs him.”
“It’s about our federal government. It’s about all of us. It’s about making sure we are prepared for redistricting and reapportionment. It’s about making sure we raise the money and the resources so we have the dollars to fight the fight. Ken Buck has been in the U.S. Attorney’s Office He’s been Attorney General [he hasn’t] He’s been a district attorney. He’s been in the US Congress. He knows what it takes to bring people together across the four corners of the state. From rural Colorado to urban Colorado and everywhere in between. Ken Buck knows how to organize a party. He knows how to bring the grassroots together. He knows how to bring the people who are going to fight for President Trump together. He knows how to win Colorado in 2020, he knows how to win Colorado in the Senate. He knows how to make sure Hillary Clinton- Guess What? Last Democrat to win Colorado- that’s what’s going to happen. Because Ken Buck’s a fighter. We need him. I need him. This country needs him. And I’m proud to second the nomination of Ken Buck to be our party chair.”
Coming from the highest profile Republican in the room, Gardner’s endorsement helped Buck secure his victory over Rep. Susan Beckman. Three days later, Buck made national news for comparing a lesbian mom to a Nazito her face during a House Judiciary hearing on the Equality Act.
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo, posed an even more outlandish scenario to one of the witnesses, Jami Contreras, who faced discrimination in seeking medical care for her child because she is in a same-sex marriage.
“Is it your position,” Buck asked Contreras, “that an Orthodox Jewish doctor whose grandparent was killed in the Holocaust be required to work with a Nazi patient?”
Nazis are not a protected class, meaning that adherents of a political ideology — in this case, fascism — are not covered by the anti-discrimination statute of the Civil Rights Act. A seemingly confused Contreras answered by pointing out that she and her wife were raising their child according to “Christian values” and wanted only protection from prejudice.
Rep. Ken Buck (R).
We’re picking our jaws up off the floor after being sent the video clip you can see above featuring GOP Rep. Ken Buck, the newly-elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, questioning a witness testifying on behalf of HR5, the Equality Act–a bill introduced in the U.S. House to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect Americans from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in addition the basis of race, sex, religion, and national origin. Colorado already has discrimination protection enshrined in law for LGBT residents, but federal law has never been updated to match the protection that already exists here and in many states.
From Rep. Buck’s questioning of this witness, it’s pretty clear he doesn’t respect Colorado’s version of the law:
Chairman Jerry Nadler: Thank you gentlemen for yielding. The gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Buck?
Rep. Ken Buck: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Ms. Contreras, I want to ask you a quick question, you said in your testimony that, uh that you uh had chosen a doctor, and uh the doctor refused to work with you and another doctor came in and worked with you. Did you receive inferior medical care?
Witness: Uh, possibly. I don’t know, to be honest with you. So we didn’t do any research on that doctor, we didn’t have the opportunity to…
Rep. Ken Buck: Did you have any complaints about the medical care that you received from that doctor?
Witness: There were some things in that uh meeting that were less than what we were looking for and what we expected from a pediatrician, yes.
Rep. Ken Buck: Did you, is your daughter healthy now?
Witness: She was healthy at the time, luckily, yeah.
Rep. Ken Buck: Um, is it your position that, uh a uh orthodox Jewish doctor should be required to work with a uh–an orthodox Jewish doctor whose grandparent was killed in the Holocaust be required to work with a–um, a Nazi, uh patient? [Pols emphasis]
Witness: Um, well, here’s what I, here’s what I believe. I believe that the Religious Freedom Act, uh religious freedoms are a core American value, I think it’s very important, um, I think it’s important that you know that I was raised on Christian values, came from a Christian home. Me and my wife are raising our children on those same values, which is respect everyone, love thy neighbor, treat everyone equally, um, which is…
Rep. Ken Buck: Would you answer my question? Should that doctor be required to take that patient?
Witness: I think that there are some people here who could answer that a little bit better than I could but I think that everyone should be treated equally.
Rep. David Cicilline: Mr. Buck, if you will yield, I’m happy to answer that question.
Rep. Ken Buck: I will not yield, I will not yield.
Rep. David Cicilline: I don’t think Nazis are a protected class…
Rep. Ken Buck: I reclaim my time. I will not yield. Professor Coleman, I have a question for you.
Chairman Jerry Nadler: Gentleman doesn’t want an answer, doesn’t have to yield.
Rep. Ken Buck: Well, that’s a nice cheap shot from the chairman, I appreciate that. I didn’t know the chairman…
Chairman Jerry Nadler: It’s not a cheap shot, it’s a real shot. [Pols emphasis]
You’re reading that right, folks. Rep. Ken Buck just today in the U.S. House of Representatives attacked an LGBT witness testifying about discrimination she experienced trying to obtain medical care for her children by comparing her to a Nazi. There’s a lot we could say about this, from the very reasonable point by Rep. David Cicilline that Nazis are not a protected class of people subject to discrimination to responding at length to the sheer outrageousness of Buck likening this mother’s experience getting medical care for her children with a Nazi seeking treatment for themselves.
The more you try to rationalize this, the worse it gets.
Even in Rep. Buck’s Eastern Plains arch-conservative district, it’s very difficult to imagine a majority of residents standing behind this extremely offensive suggestion. You’ve got to be awfully deep-fried in your disdain for LGBT people to genuinely believe their children should be victimized in a medical setting as if their parents had committed a crime against humanity. At any other time in modern American history, we would think that these scurrilous remarks would be both national news and a career-ending disaster.
But in Trump’s America–and apparently in Buck’s Colorado Republican Party–it’s just another sad day.
On Saturday, Colorado Republicans selected Rep. Ken Buck to serve as State Party Chairman for the 2020 election cycle. Since Buck is not inclined to give up his day job as a Member of Congress, this means that former GOP Party Chair Steve Housewill oversee the day-to-day operations of the State Republican Party. This is not an April Fool’s joke.
We’ll get back to House in a moment, but first, a recap: Buck won a narrow victory over State Rep. Susan Beckman on Saturday after four rounds of balloting and a late change from Sherrie Gibson. After failing to generate much interest from Republican voters on the first three ballots, Gibson dropped out of the race for State Chair and endorsed Buck, which was enough to propel the Greeley Congressman to a 51.3% to 47.7% victory over Beckman.
These two paragraphs from John Frank of the Colorado Sun sum up both Buck’s election and the weird state of the Colorado GOP in 2019:
The third top candidate, Sherrie Gibson, the African American former party vice-chairwoman, emphasized the party’s need to diversify, saying the GOP “is not a party of just old men.”
Moments later, she endorsed Buck, 60, saying he’s the best for the job. [Pols emphasis]
In his acceptance speech on Saturday, Buck voiced strong support for President Trump and spewed out a number of highly-partisan statements. As Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) stood behind him, Buck enthusiastically talked up recall efforts in Colorado; cast the 2020 election as a battle between “freedom-loving Republicans versus socialist, corrupt Democrats”; suggested that Hillary Clinton, and not Donald Trump, “colluded” with Russians in 2016; and was defiant about so-called “red flag” gun safety legislation that has widespread support among Colorado voters.
There are those within the Colorado Republican Party who seem to understand that they should make changes in order to better compete with Democrats in 2020, but as Buck demonstrated on Saturday, right-wing rhetoric and Trump love still rule the day for the State GOP. As Justin Wingerter writes for the Denver Post:
Buck will find himself between a Colorado Republican base that strongly backs Trump and moderate Republicans who are uneasy with the bombastic president. But Saturday’s gathering of party officials was loudly supportive of Trump and bitterly critical of any Republicans who say otherwise.
Yet as Ryan Winger of Republican-aligned polling outfit Magellan Strategies explained in February, this blind loyalty to Trump doesn’t fit well in Colorado:
When Republicans say the problem is our guys weren’t enough like Trump, there’s a complete disconnect there between what they’re thinking and what other voters in Colorado are thinking.
Consider this 2017 story from John Frank, then of the Denver Post, about House’s decision not to seek another term as Party Chairman:
House served a tumultuous two years as the party’s leader after his historic ouster of the incumbent chairman in 2015 with the backing of the more conservative members of his party.
Months into his term, House faced an unsuccessful coup attempt led by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman that involved accusations of extramarital affairs and threats. And he came under fire in the 2016 election for his perceived bias against Donald Trump, drawing numerous death threats.
Two years later, Republicans are back in the same place — only with significantly more electoral ground to make up after huge Democratic gains in 2018.
Colorado Republicans probably needed to make significant changes in order to be more successful in 2020, but in the end, few in the GOP seemed to be interested in such a move. They’d rather someone like Buck just tell them what he thinks they want to hear.
Congressman Ken Buck gave a fiery campaign speech at the Colorado Republicans Central Committee meeting Saturday. Cheered on by U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, Buck hit all the usual red meat issues: guns, abortion, oil and gas, before delivering the coup de grace: a call for recalls.
Buck dared Democrats to “come and take” his guns, invoking Charlton Heston by saying they’d only get them from his “cold dead hands.” He claimed Democrats also want to “kill babies now after birth, while we want to stand up for life at every stage of life.”
Then he mentioned the failed anti-fracking ballot initiative Proposition 112, which Republicans have been claiming shows opposition to an oil and gas safety regulation bill moving through the state legislature.
“They want to shut down the oil & gas industry. We need to remind them [Democrats] that we won Proposition 112 and we need to teach them how to spell “RECALL.”
As he belted out his punchline, “we need to teach them how to spell “R-E-C-A-L-L,” the applause came not only from the audience, but from the three other Republicans who had just endorsed him for party chair: Regent Heidi Ganahl, District Attorney George Brauchler, and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner.
Buck’s speech did its job; the Colorado GOP Central Committee members elected him Chairman. Buck narrowly defeated State Representative Susan Beckman, who had broad support from her colleagues in the legislature, including House Minority Leader Patrick Neville who introduced her.