Ken Buck Caught Red-Handed Manipulating GOP Primary

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

A story from the Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson is roiling Colorado Republican Party insiders today, with allegations of criminal demands on party officials to ensure an underperforming state senate candidate appeared on the June 30th party primary ballot despite not qualifying–and the finger is being pointed squarely at Colorado GOP chairman Ken Buck:

Colorado Republican Party Chair Ken Buck, a U.S. representative from Windsor, pressured a local party official to submit incorrect election results to set the primary ballot for a state Senate seat, according to an audio recording of a conference call obtained by The Denver Post.

“You’ve got a sitting congressman, a sitting state party chair, who is trying to bully a volunteer — I’m a volunteer; I don’t get paid for this — into committing a crime,” [Pols emphasis] Eli Bremer, the GOP chairman for state Senate District 10, told The Post on Wednesday, confirming the authenticity of the recording. “To say it’s damning is an understatement.”

The district in question is Senate District 10, currently held by term-limited (and apparently ceilinged in his political career) Sen. Owen Hill. Longtime El Paso County Republican bit player Rep. Larry Liston pulled down the lion’s share of support at the district assembly, enough to keep challenger David Stiver under 30% and off the ballot.

But as Swanson continues, that’s when Ken Buck intervened:

“Do you understand the order of the executive committee and the central committee that you will submit the paperwork to include Mr. Stiver and Mr. Liston on the ballot, with Mr. Liston receiving the top-line vote?” Buck said on the call.

“Uh, yes, sir, I understand the central committee has adopted a resolution that requires me to sign a false affidavit to the state,” Bremer replied. [Pols emphasis]

It’s pretty simple: David Stiver only got 24% of the vote at the district assembly, therefore the party chair for SD-10 cannot legally sign an affidavit stating that Stiver got 30% and met the legal qualification for the ballot. The Colorado GOP central committee apparently decided that because attendance at the socially-distanced GOP assemblies was down this year, the result keeping Stiver off the ballot was “unfair.”

The problem with that is, if the assembly process is valid at all, as Eli Bremer was being asked to swear it was, the law is the law. If a former district attorney doesn’t understand that, who would? It’s another case where ignorance, never a valid defense against breaking the law yet the only defense Buck can offer, makes the perpetrator look even worse.

And as we learned during Donald Trump’s impeachment, lawbreaking doesn’t faze this lawman.

The Pandemic Comes Home To Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R).

The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul has an in-depth look today at the county suffering the highest rate of COVID-19 infection in the entire state of Colorado. It’s not Weld County, whose disproportionate death rate during the ongoing pandemic has made for a cruel backdrop to the political posturing of the area’s conservative elected officials against basically every necessary albeit economically painful step that has been taken to slow the spread.

Today, the highest rate of COVID-19 infection in Colorado is in neighboring Morgan County, also on the Eastern Plains. And here’s their story:

In Morgan County, where outbreaks of the disease at a meatpacking plant, a dairy processing facility and a nursing home have pushed the count of COVID-19 cases to 439 and killed at least 21 people through Wednesday, the rate of infection is more than three times that of Denver. [Pols emphasis]

The situation has become so dire that county health officials are using a refrigerated trailer to store the bodies of the dead because local morgue capacity has been reached. The trailer was put to use the day after it arrived in Fort Morgan, about 60 miles southeast of Greeley…

Morgan County’s infection rate is 1,540 per every 100,000 people. In neighboring Weld County, which has been hard hit by the virus, the rate is 632 infections per every 100,000 people, compared with 512 for every 100,000 people in Denver.

Like Weld County to the north and west, Morgan County is represented in Congress by Rep. Ken Buck, and Buck’s highly conspicuous votes against coronavirus relief bills while scoffing at basic protective measures like wearing a mask have already made him nationally infamous. But in the Colorado Senate, Morgan County is represented by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg–another rural Republican politico who has frequently been the subject of derision for saying things that don’t age well.

That sums up Sen. Sonnenberg’s March 26 guest column in the Colorado Springs Gazette:

What if you are the employee, especially an employee who isn’t in the vulnerable population nor living with others who are? Will the consequences be worse than the virus?

We now have a shortage of resources, scared citizens, and a police state in which the government controls every aspect of our lives. The coronavirus has created conditions that could fool our younger generations into thinking that communism seems like freedom; at least with communism people were still free to leave their homes! [Pols emphasis]

As for the relative danger of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Sen. Sonnenberg had this to say:

Last year there were over 34,000 U.S. deaths attributed to the flu. In 2009 H1N1 killed more than 12,000 Americans. Each and every year there are 35,000 deaths in car crashes with another 2+ million injured! But we didn’t shutter the economy over those health challenges, nor have we banned cars. Isn’t there a better response to this SARS-CoV-2 threat than a police state on the verge of martial law?

The very next day, March 27, Sen. Sonnenberg signed a letter from most Republican state senators excoriating Gov. Jared Polis’ stay-at-home order:

When Coloradans from across this state visit your office’s dedicated COVID-19 website – – they are met with data indicating that 44 out of 64 Colorado counties currently have fewer than five cases of the virus. [Pols emphasis] Understandably, the data you have been presented within private briefings with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is most likely more comprehensive, but that data has not been shared with the public or with our caucus. With the Denver metro area already under a “stay at home order,” what is accomplished by closing down the business activity and daily routines of Coloradans living in a county that has fewer than five cases of COVID-19 after weeks of dealing with this crisis?

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg was far from alone in his wholesale disregard for the threat faced by his constituents in the early stages of the pandemic. All but two Colorado Senate Republicans signed the letter to Polis bemoaning the fact that most counties, which were at that time generally beet-red rural counties represented by safe-seat Republicans at every level, had “fewer than five cases” of the virus.

But like Ken Buck, Jerry Sonnenberg’s extra effort to disparage steps to control the virus looks more like deadly negligence as the pandemic rages through the heart of his district, as in Weld County killing in numbers disproportionate to urban areas of the state. The same urban areas Buck and Sonnenberg claimed Gov. Polis was imposing a “police state” from that wasn’t needed in the countryside.

Today we know the truth: Ken Buck was wrong. Jerry Sonnenberg was wrong.

And we are learning of their error the worst possible way. Their constituents are dying.

Ken Buck Will Defy Polis and Attend Church May 3

(God helps those who don’t screw themselves – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Saying “we will not get through this mess without the blessing of God,” U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) told a conservative radio host Thursday that he will apparently defy Gov. Jared Polis’ (D-CO) orders and go to church May 3, one week from this Sunday.

“We don’t get through this without prayer,” Buck told conservative KOA radio host Mandy Connell Thursday. “And that’s something that I think a lot of our leaders miss, that we can have the best medical technology possible, but without the blessing of God, we will not get through this mess.”

“And we need to get back to our churches and make sure that we pray as a group,” continued Buck, saying, “I don’t care if I have to wear a SCUBA outfit to my church, I’m going to church on May 3rd.”

Polis issued revised orders this week that relaxed his previous stay-at-home order, but his rules still prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people.

Buck did not return a call seeking to know if he’d talked to health experts about his plan to attend church–and for details about the size, location, and social-distancing practices of his church congregation.

Much of Buck’s district covers Weld County, which has suffered the third most COVID-19 deaths among Colorado counties, but 9News reported yesterday that Weld County Commissioners also plan to defy Polis’ order, giving more businesses the option of opening on Monday, if they follow social-distancing guidelines.

But Weld County will continue to prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people, which would presumably include Buck’s church.


Buck, Lamborn’s COVID-19 Priority? “Baby Body Parts!”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

Michael Karlik reports for the Colorado Springs Gazette:

U.S. Reps. Doug Lamborn and Ken Buck signed on to a letter to the Trump Administration on Tuesday advising against a suspension of the ban on fetal tissue research — which they described as “research using aborted baby body parts” — in pursuit of a treatment for COVID-19.

“Aborted fetal tissue from ongoing abortions, however, has never been used in the production of a single vaccine,” reads the Lamborn-led letter, which over 120 Republican House members co-signed. “While a few old cell lines derived from abortion in the 1960s and 1970s continues to be used for a small handful of vaccines, most vaccines today use more efficient, modern cell lines and production techniques.”

Except, well, that’s not exactly, you know, accurate:

The Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University notes that some vaccines to prevent rubella, measles, rabies, poliomyelitis, hepatitis A, chickenpox and smallpox use tissue from abortions. Scientists seeking to use fetal tissue in mice to create more realistic trials of potential COVID-19 treatments on humans have run into a 2019 federal ban on using donated tissue…

Obviously, we’re not infectious disease research experts, and are in no position to comment one way or the other about the efficacy of fetal tissue in research to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We have no problem admitting this up front so you know where we’re coming from.

What we do know is that Reps. Doug Lamborn and Ken Buck are not qualified scientists either, and themselves have no clue or concern whether fetal tissue could be useful in life-saving COVID-19 research. For both of them, this is just another opportunity to recite a gruesome pre-existing litany of misleading talking points about so-called “baby body parts” in medical research–the same stuff that motivated a psycho named Robert Dear to open fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs a few years ago.

If you’re asking the obvious question, “Really? Can they not? At least not right now?”

We’re sorry to inform you they will never miss the chance.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 15)

Hey, at least your taxes aren’t due today. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:


President Trump and many Republicans still really want to open up the country around May 1. This makes scientists and health experts very nervous, as The Washington Post reports:

A draft national strategy to reopen the country in phases, developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emphasizes that even a cautious and phased approach “will entail a significant risk of resurgence of the virus.”

The internal document, obtained by The Washington Post, warns of a “large rebound curve” of novel coronavirus cases if mitigation efforts are relaxed too quickly before vaccines are developed and distributed or broad community immunity is achieved…

…The framework lays out criteria that should be in place before a region can responsibly ease guidelines related to public gatherings: a “genuinely low” number of cases; a “well functioning” monitoring system capable of “promptly detecting” spikes of infections; a public health system able to react robustly to new cases and local health systems that have enough inpatient beds to rapidly scale up in the event of a surge in cases.

This would seem to necessitate ramping up testing and production of personal protective equipment at levels not currently being done.

Polls continue to show that the vast majority of Americans are not at all enthusiastic about rushing back to “normal” life. As explains, the Trump administration is actually pretty freakin’ far from being ready for the country to reopen.


Late Tuesday, President Trump announced that he was cutting off funding for the World Health Organization because he needs a scapegoat for his coronavirus response failures. House Democrats don’t believe that Trump can legally make this decision, but “laws” aren’t really a concern for this White House.

Trump is also holding up the distribution of stimulus checks so that the “memo” line of the checks can include the name “Donald J. Trump. No, seriously.


Today is the filing deadline for political campaigns to report Q1 fundraising numbers.


As The Denver Post reports, state officials are cautiously optimistic that social distancing and stay at home orders have dramatically slowed the transmission of COVID-19 in Colorado. Here’s more from Denver7 and 9News.

Meanwhile, Colorado wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cover most of the costs for the construction of temporary field hospitals in Denver and Loveland. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

The costs of the facilities are split between the states and the federal government under the federal Stafford Act. But Polis and other members of the National Governors Association think that’s an unfair expectation during an unprecedented outbreak.

“We believe that the unprecedented size, scale and duration of the COVID-19 impacts far exceed the response capabilities of the states and territories and warrants the full force and support of the federal government. Waiving the cost-share requirements will ensure that states and territories are able to adequately and rapidly respond to and support the American people,” read a letter from the NGA to President Donald Trump.

Polis has described the facilities as preparation for a worst-case scenario. They’ll hopefully see only dozens or hundreds of patients, he said. The Denver and Loveland facilities are for “Tier 3” patients who don’t need the full medical care of a hospital.

Colorado is also planning out how to respond to a potential second wave of coronavirus cases by preparing more medical facilities around the state.


CNN dutifully fact checks another of President Trump’s coronavirus briefings:

Another coronavirus briefing. Another series of false claims.

Speaking Tuesday in the Rose Garden of the White House, President Donald Trump denied making a comment he did make. He criticized the World Health Organization for the same thing he has done before. He wrongly suggested he was the only national leader to impose travel restrictions on China. He claimed he was “authorizing” governors to lift coronavirus restrictions even though this power always belonged to governors. He falsely claimed, again, that “nobody ever thought” there would be a crisis like this. And he repeated some of his favorite false claims about his tariffs on China.

It’s probably fair to say that CNN has had enough of Trump’s crap. We are all CNN.


If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…



Grim Update: Buck’s Weld County Now #1 For COVID-19 Deaths

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows that Weld County, with a population around 350,000, now has the most number of COVID-19 fatalities of any county in the state–more than several counties with around twice Weld County’s population including the City and County of Denver. We noted a week ago that Weld County was tied with El Paso County on this tragic data point, but since that time El Paso has fallen behind Arapahoe County and Denver while fatalities in Weld have continued to grow.

Weld County is represented in Congress by Rep. Ken Buck, the former DA of Weld County who has become a nationwide lightning rod in the debate over the response to the pandemic. Buck’s high-profile votes against coronavirus relief legislation and vocal criticism of stay-at-home orders, bitterly complaining over the weekend about a new “bailout mentality” and his unjust inability to attend Easter Sunday services, have continued even as the death toll in Buck’s district has soared.

And as Rep. Buck heads back to Washington this week, his lackadaisical disregard in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic apparently continues without interruption:

Rep. Buck’s high-visibility opposition to both relief funds to economically soften the blow of the pandemic, as well as public health orders to stay at home which Buck blames for the economic damage inflicted by the pandemic instead of the pandemic itself, have given him some of the widest publicity he has enjoyed since his election to Congress. No doubt the appearances on Fox News and mentions in a disproportionate number of stories about the relief bills than he would ever have garnered as just another near-unanimous yes vote have motivated Buck to stay his contrarian course–and operating on the disputed theory that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, it makes a kind of sense.

But to keep doing this today, after Buck’s home county has become the state of Colorado’s deadliest pandemic hotspot, reflects such a degree of fundamental disregard for the best interests of the people he represents that we can hardly find the words to express it. That any elected official could be sufficiently disconnected from what’s happening to their own constituents to feel at liberty to behave this way in the midst of such historic suffering indicates–and it is very distressing to write this–the checks and balances we rely on in our representative democracy have broken down.

Because unless something happens we cannot now foresee, Weld County is set to happily re-elect him.

Get More Smarter on Good Friday (April 10)

Have a nice “Good Friday” and a Happy Easter. If we work together, maybe we can convince President Trump to pardon a turkey on Sunday. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:


► President Trump cherishes few things more than the opportunity to stand at a podium and see if he can construct new sentences out of mismatched words. But as The New York Times reports, an increasing number of Republican advisers are worried that Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings are doing far more harm than good — and not just for the country:

As unemployment soars and the death toll skyrockets, and new polls show support for the president’s handling of the crisis sagging, White House allies and Republican lawmakers increasingly believe the briefings are hurting the president more than helping him. Many view the sessions as a kind of original sin from which all of his missteps flow, once he gets through his prepared script and turns to his preferred style of extemporaneous bluster and invective.

Mr. Trump “sometimes drowns out his own message,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has become one of the president’s informal counselors and told him “a once-a-week show” could be more effective. Representative Susan Brooks of Indiana said “they’re going on too long.” Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said the briefings were “going off the rails a little bit” and suggested that he should “let the health professionals guide where we’re going to go.”…

One of Mr. Trump’s top political advisers, speaking on the condition of anonymity so as not to anger the president, was even blunter, arguing that the White House was handing Mr. Biden ammunition each night by sending the president out to the cameras. [Pols emphasis]

Anybody who has watched even a snippet of one of Trump’s coronavirus briefings can understand these sentiments. Of course, Trump wouldn’t give up the opportunity to air his grievances on national television if the microphone was made entirely of coronavirus particles.


As The Denver Post reports, Colorado officials are urging residents and small businesses to act swiftly in order to collect federal stimulus money. Meanwhile, the Colorado Springs Independent points out that the federal government is bailing out on coronavirus testing in local areas:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has ended support for community COVID-19 testing sites effective April 10, leaving in doubt the future of the drive-up test site in Colorado Springs.

Dr. Leon Kelly, El Paso County coroner, said county Public Health is trying to find supplies and personnel to help run the testing site.

UCHealth, which established the site in a tent off South Parkside Drive, said Thursday it hopes to continue operating the site without FEMA support. weighs in on the “ventilator patronage” story that broke in Colorado this week.


As The Washington Post reports, city and state governments are bracing for serious economic trouble:

The economic carnage unleashed by the novel coronavirus nationwide hasn’t just shuttered businesses and left more than 17 million Americans seeking unemployment benefits — it has also threatened city and state governments with financial devastation, according to local leaders, who say their ability to maintain roads, schools and basic social services is at risk at a time when their residents need help most.

Many states and cities, which were already cash-strapped, are now in dire straits, facing plunging tax revenue and spiking costs.

“I do think cities across the country are looking at some degree of austerity,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg (I), who predicts his municipality will face as much as a $100 million shortfall. “This is a reckoning for us.”

Colorado lawmakers are worried that the state budget could take a hit of some $3 billion.


Former Vice President Joe Biden, who will be the Democratic nominee for President, announced new policy proposals for expanding Medicare and forgiving student debt.


If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…



It’s a Whole New Ken Buck, We Guess!

Rep. Ken Buck, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated into a global emergency, and particularly in recent weeks as even many political conservatives in the United States began to take the crisis seriously, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado emerged as a national symbol of opposition to both public health orders to control the spread and stimulus spending to soften the blow to the economy–spending, we should add, that even Colorado’s highest-ranking Republican Sen. Cory Gardner has eagerly embraced. Buck also harshly criticized the stay-at-home order issued in Colorado by Gov. Jared Polis, contributing to a climate of misguided “resistance” that directly contravenes the work being done to control the spread of the coronavirus in Colorado.

Well folks, sometime between when Rep. Buck said it’s “craziness to shut down businesses” and yesterday, he appears to have found the epidemiological equivalent of religion! In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, an immeasurably more contrite Ken Buck lavishes praise on the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic–after decrying just a few weeks ago that “we have no leader” in rare (and not wholly misplaced) criticism of Donald Trump:

I write to thank you for your continued leadership as the head of the Coronavirus Task Force. Under your direction, the Task Force has assembled the best and brightest minds to help our nation defeat the coronavirus (COVID-19) and provide sound guidance to the American people. In this vein, I urge the Coronavirus Task Force to develop and distribute clear, concise sanitation guidelines to ensure American businesses can safely and confidently re-open as soon as possible. [Pols emphasis]

Current federal guidance to combat COVID-19 in the workplace is limited and generically focused on stopping the immediate spread of the virus, not sterilizing businesses before reopening to the public. Additionally, varying reports detailing how long COVID-19 can live on different surfaces and what types of cleaning solutions are most effective at killing the virus add confusion as businesses contemplate restarting operations. One thing is clear, one-size-fits-all guidelines will not work for every industry in America. Main Street businesses need expert help to ensure the safety of their employees and customers as they reopen for business.

Establishing clear guidelines now will also give manufacturers and suppliers time to build critical supply chains to distribute these needed materials and give businesses confidence before reopening their doors. [Pols emphasis] Furthermore, these guidelines will help ensure that the $700 million provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to clean federal workplaces is not being wasted…

How can this be the same Ken Buck? Buck voted against the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act–which leaves him less than entitled to complain about how the money is spent. But before we even assess that, we need to hear Ken Buck explain his much more fundamental change of heart about businesses “reopening” their doors.

Because if you’ll recall, Ken Buck never believed those doors should be closed.

Are we glad Rep. Buck has shifted from condemning the closure of non-essential business to hoping businesses get really strong cleaning products “before reopening their doors?” Every responsible person should be, not least the beleaguered residents of Buck’s own Weld County.

What Buck doesn’t get to do, or any other Republican eating their poorly-aged words today, is to take their irresponsible naysaying at a moment it was least needed back. And if Buck’s newfound concern doesn’t play at least as widely as his votes and prior statements, that’s yet another travesty.

Welcome to “The Coronavirus Election”

With the lack of a coordinated national strategy for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, news outlets across the country have been focusing heavily on the languid response from the Trump administration and the “every state for itself” dynamic that has emerged from the federal government’s ineptitude.

Here in Colorado, Republicans in leadership positions — including State GOP Chair/Congressman Ken Buck, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert — have busied themselves by questioning decisions made by Gov. Jared Polis, local health officials, or Congress in general. In states, counties, and congressional districts where elected officials have acted quickly to combat the coronavirus spread, communities are weathering the storm much better than in places where leaders — often Republicans — have dithered.


As Politico explained over the weekend, coronavirus is now the top election issue of 2020, and with that understanding comes serious electoral consequences:

What remains on the air has adapted to the new reality of American life. High-spending issue groups on the left are slamming Trump for missing the mark on his virus response. Priorities USA has budgeted more than $6 million to run anti-Trump TV and digital ads related to the virus in battleground states. Unite the Country is touting Biden as a steady-handed leader necessary in a time of crisis.

With the obvious caveat that there is still a lot of time to go until Election Day, it would be tough to argue that Republicans are not in trouble thanks to the actions of many of their leaders. A majority of Americans now disapprove of President Trump’s coronavirus response after a brief jump for Trump early in the crisis.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, any comparison between President Trump and likely Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden comes out clearly in Biden’s favor:

We’re now learning that President Trump’s efforts to promote an anti-malarial drug for use against the coronavirus is causing internal administration tensions. Anthony Fauci, the administration’s own leading expert, privately challenged this optimism about hydroxychloroquine, and fittingly, Trump prevented Fauci from publicly reiterating this skepticism at Sunday’s briefing.

Only hours earlier, Joe Biden presented a striking contrast. On ABC’s “This Week,” Biden called on Trump to exercise the Defense Production Act to marshal the private sector to speed lifesaving equipment to hospitals, urged stricter social distancing and reiterated the need to “follow the science” and “listen to the experts.”

It’s now clear that this stark contrast could define the 2020 campaign. Democrats are unveiling new ads highlighting Trump’s serial failures to take the coronavirus seriously. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign is urging surrogates to claim, laughably, that Trump is “leading the nation” in the “war against coronavirus,” and to cast the former vice president as “the opposition in that war.” [Pols emphasis]

We wouldn’t want to be in charge of trying to make this message work when there are SO MANY terrible Trump quotes on the pandemic — many of which Americans have already seen and heard repeatedly.

Here in Colorado, Republicans don’t have a lot of positive news to share about coronavirus response efforts. It’s fair to say that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) will be favored to win re-election in his heavily-Republican district, an advantage also enjoyed by fellow Congressmen Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs). But if any of these races tighten, the incumbents don’t have much to talk about other than their efforts to blame China for the coronavirus. Unlike Buck, Lamborn, and Tipton, Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) hasn’t completely buried his head in the sand, but backing the largest government spending bill in congressional history doesn’t jibe with his long, vocal opposition to any form of stimulus spending and will be hard to explain to whatever base of support he still maintains.

As for local elected officials, their flighty contrarianism won’t age well. As we wrote last month:

…once again Colorado Republicans have positioned themselves as a brand on the wrong side of the issue dominating the headlines and impacting the lives of every Colorado voter. In a state already becoming more hostile to Republicans at the ballot box in every election, branding themselves as the “COVID resistance” party as a way of contrasting with our state’s Democratic majority government seems extremely ill-advised…

…Republicans are inviting a backlash from voters in November that could be truly historic.

The coronavirus outbreak is one of those history-defining moments that people will never forget. The 2020 election will proceed accordingly.

The Get More Smarter Podcast: COVID Conspiracies

We’re a little late this week with a new episode. But then again, days of the week have lost all meaning anyway.

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett about everything the state legislature is not doing at the moment; we discuss the many ways in which local Republicans are digging coronavirus holes for themselves; we try to make rational arguments for two coronavirus conspiracy theories; and we find Sen. Cory Gardner unfamiliar with the man in the mirror.

Look out next week for some bonus content, featuring an exclusive new interview.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 3)

Hey, you made it through another week of this — that’s not nothing. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:


The Trump administration is struggling to actually implement many of the economic relief measures contained in last month’s $2.2 Trillion spending bill. First, here’s CNN on those stimulus checks that were supposed to be coming right away:

Americans likely won’t begin to see direct payments from the coronavirus stimulus bill until at least April 13 and it could take 20 weeks for all the checks to be mailed, Trump administration officials told lawmakers, according to a House Democratic memo obtained by CNN.

The timeline means tens of millions of Americans will have to wait to get badly needed assistance, despite repeated earlier suggestions from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the money would go out as soon as April 6.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is also confounding the banks, as The Washington Post reports:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin vowed from the White House podium yesterday that small businesses battered by the coronavirus epidemic could access $350 billion in taxpayer-backed cash quickly starting on Friday. But as the rescue effort debuts, banks are concerned in part about how to assess the risks of small businesses applying for assistance directly to them, even as the federal government is guaranteeing those loans.

JPMorgan Chase, for instance, posted a notice online that it won’t be accepting applications from prospective borrowers. “Financial institutions like ours are still awaiting guidance from the SBA and the U.S. Treasury,” it said.

Banks are asking questions about the length of the loans, the interest rates they can charge, and how much due diligence financial institutions are responsible for performing on borrowers

Take the politicians out of Washington D.C.! Put businesspeople in charge! This is working out great!


Is the White House overestimating or underestimating the potential death toll from COVID-19? Nobody knows, because it’s unclear how the White House came up with its projections. From The Washington Post:

Leading disease forecasters, whose research the White House used to conclude 100,000 to 240,000 people will die nationwide from the coronavirus, were mystified when they saw the administration’s projection this week.

The experts said they don’t challenge the numbers’ validity but that they don’t know how the White House arrived at them. [Pols emphasis]

White House officials have refused to explain how they generated the figure — a death toll bigger than the United States suffered in the Vietnam War or the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They have not provided the underlying data so others can assess its reliability or provided long-term strategies to lower that death count.

Some of President Trump’s top advisers have expressed doubts about the estimate, according to three White House officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. There have been fierce debates inside the White House about its accuracy.

There is a non-zero chance that President Trump literally picked these numbers out of a hat.


As CNN reports, two top Trump administration officials were publicly voicing concerns about U.S. readiness in the face of a pandemic LAST APRIL:

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Tim Morrison, then a special assistant to the President and senior director for weapons of mass destruction and biodefense on the National Security Council, made the comments at the BioDefense Summit in April 2019.

“Of course, the thing that people ask: ‘What keeps you most up at night in the biodefense world?’ Pandemic flu, of course. I think everyone in this room probably shares that concern,” Azar said, before listing off efforts to mitigate the impact of flu outbreaks.

The Trump administration is facing scrutiny over its preparations for the coronavirus pandemic and its slow response to provide states and cities assistance in testing kits and personal protective equipment. The 2019 summit, hosted by the assistant secretary for preparedness and response in the Department of Health and Human Services to “discuss and solicit input on implementing the National Biodefense Strategy,” offers insights into early awareness of the potential for a pandemic threat.

Transcripts of Azar’s and Morrison’s comments at the summit, which have not been previously reported on, are available on the HHS website.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said no one predicted a pandemic crisis like the one caused by coronavirus. [Pols emphasis]


Here’s the latest fact-checking from CNN of President Trump’s coronavirus “news briefings.”


► Weld County has surged to the top of the list in Colorado for the largest number of coronavirus deaths. Weld County is represented in Congress by social distancing skeptic Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). Sure, maybe it’s a coincidence.


If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…



COVID-19 Tragically Zeroes In On Rep. Ken Buck’s Weld County

Rep. Ken Buck, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

9NEWS reported last night that Weld County is being hit very hard by the expanding COVID-19 pandemic, now tied for the most number of deaths in the state so far–a tragic distinction disproportionate to the county’s population:

Weld County is tied for the highest number of deaths in the state related to COVID-19. 16 people have died in the area. The county also has one of the largest number of cases, even though the number of people who live there is far less than other counties.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says there are 329 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Weld County, roughly the same number as El Paso County. The population of Weld County is nearly 400,000 less… [Pols emphasis]

Patients with COVID-19 symptoms now crowd the emergency rooms. Steven Loecke is the Chief Medical Officer for several Banner Health hospitals in Northern Colorado. He says the hospital in Greeley is seeing the most action.

Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic necessarily has enormous political implications, and the response to the outbreak by government authorities from the President of the United States to the smallest municipalities is a principal factor now in every voter’s decisionmaking, even the most partisan political diehards can agree that significant components of the response to the pandemic have been carried out with overwhelming bipartisan agreement–most recently the massive $2.2 trillion stimulus bill to blunt the effects of shutting down large parts of the economy to contain the disease.

With that said, the “resistance” to public health measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmingly come from one political party, Republicans–including President Donald Trump himself until he was belatedly convinced to take the crisis seriously. In Colorado, Rep. Ken Buck, who also serves as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, has enthusiastically led the opposition to the statewide stay-at-home order by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. In Congress, Buck’s repeated votes against the successive coronavirus relief packages–in one case one of only two votes against in the entire chamber–have significantly raised Buck’s national profile, earning him cable news appearances and adulation on the far right.

As readers know, Rep. Ken Buck served as the District Attorney of Weld County before his election to Congress, and Weld County is one of the two population centers of his district along with similarly conservative but more affluent Douglas County.

Folks, we don’t want to spell this out. If we do, some in the chattering class will say it’s “too soon.”

But how can you not connect these dots? And how can the resulting outrage not transcend politics?

These are hard words to write. But to not write them would be the greater disservice to our readers.

Colorado GOP Delegation Backs COVID Blame Projection Bill

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Michael Karlik at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

U.S. Reps. Scott Tipton, Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn have co-sponsored a House resolution that condemns the Chinese government’s response to COVID-19 and asks the country to take responsibility for originating the novel coronavirus…

Tipton blamed the severity of the global pandemic on the Chinese government’s failure to act quickly and be “immediately forthcoming” about what it knew. “This recklessness by the Chinese government cannot be tolerated, and they should face severe consequences including sanctions and reparations to nations they have impacted,” he said.

Colorado’s three Republican members of Congress, Reps. Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton are all on board, with Lamborn earning a name-check from leading congressional Trump apologist Rep. Elise Stefanik:

Here’s the intro to House Resolution 907:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of the People’s Republic of China made multiple, serious mistakes in the early stages of the COVID–19 outbreak that heightened the severity and spread of the ongoing COVID–19 pandemic, which include the Chinese Government’s intentional spread of misinformation to downplay the risks of the virus, a refusal to cooperate with international health authorities, internal censorship of doctors and journalists, and malicious disregard for the health of ethnic minorities.

In psychology, the term “projection” refers to ascribing one’s own flaws and insecurities to another party in order to assuage one’s own guilt. The accusation that the People’s Republic of China made “multiple, serious mistakes in the early stages of the COVID–19 outbreak” may have basis in fact, but this allegation applies every bit as well to the early response by the United States government to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That should be the priority of the U.S. House of Representatives, not China.

President Donald Trump’s weeks of denial of the severity of the pandemic, insisting that the virus would “go away” and that the number of cases was declining, perfectly fit the accusation in this resolution of “intentional spread of misinformation to downplay the risks of the virus.” Trump called the World Health Organization coronavirus test used to good effect in other countries “a bad test,” which could fairly be called “a refusal to cooperate with international health authorities.” While we wouldn’t say that scientists in the United States have been “censored,” watching Dr. Anthony Fauci facepalm while Trump fictionalizes the latest pandemic updates seems close enough. Finally, there’s the “malicious disregard for the health of ethnic minorities.” Check.

We all accuse the other side of being crazy, but in this case we think a clinical explanation might honestly be right. We’ll leave it to qualified psychologists to make the diagnosis, but we will say that rarely does the projection so perfectly characterize the original sin.

Ken Buck Goes 0-for-3 on Coronavirus Legislation

Who has a crooked forefinger and keeps voting against coronavirus relief?

Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chairman (or vice versa) had his third chance to vote for coronavirus relief legislation today.

As Justin Wingerter writes for The Denver Post:

With the apparent support of all but one Coloradan, the U.S. House passed the largest economic stimulus package in American history Friday, a more than $2 trillion agreement to boost a national economy ravaged by coronavirus.

The bill passed on a voice vote, a tactic used for uncontroversial legislation. As a result, House members were not required to record where they stood on the historic bill. But in comments before, only one Coloradan signaled opposition.

“I agree we are facing an unprecedented emergency, one tied directly to China’s nefarious actions. However, as President Trump said, we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” said Rep. Ken Buck in a speech on the House floor.

Buck has been consistent in his opposition of new funding to combat coronavirus — whether to help first responders or the American economy — as well as his general opposition to, well, science. Buck has been vocal about his disagreement with the idea of closing businesses where people tend to congregate in groups, and he reiterated on Friday that he believes we’re almost done with this virus problem anyway:

“There is no attempt by Congress to reduce spending elsewhere in the budget to pay for this bill. The sad truth is that most of this money in this bill is unrelated to fighting the coronavirus. We believe that the fight against the virus will take six to eight weeks, yet this bill spends money decades into the future,” added Buck, who is the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, during his remarks Friday.

Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) had a much different take, which seems to place him well within the overwhelming majority of Members of Congress:

“Our country and the American people are in crisis and it requires our action now,” said Crow, of Aurora, in a speech on the House floor Friday. “To be clear, this is not a perfect bill, but it is the bill that America needs today.”

Rep. Ken Buck only presses the red button.

Let’s recap Rep. Buck’s record over the last few weeks:

♦ Thursday, March 5: Buck is one of only two House Members to vote “NO” on coronavirus relief legislation aimed at providing emergency resources for first responders and other healthcare professionals. The bill quickly passed through the Senate and was signed into law by President Trump.

♦ Saturday, March 14: Buck votes “NO” on the second major piece of coronavirus legislation, known as The Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This bill also quickly passed through the Senate and was signed into law by President Trump.

♦ Friday, March 27: Buck completes the trifecta and opposes a $2 trillion stimulus package that had already sailed through the U.S. Senate without a single vote of opposition and will absolutely be signed into law by President Trump as soon as it hits his desk. And get this: Buck didn’t even have to record an official vote (Congress approved the measure by a “voice vote”) but he still insisted on making it clear that he would not support legislation to provide financial relief to struggling Americans.

Congressman Ken Buck absolutely doesn’t get it, and neither does Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck. These “positions” probably won’t cost Buck his Congressional seat in 2020, because he’s firmly entrenched in a strong GOP district. His hot takes on coronavirus probably won’t cost him his State Party Chairmanship, either, in part because state GOP leaders are equally baffled about how to respond to the outbreak.

But if you think Buck’s actions this month are going to age well, both politically and in general, that’s a bet we wouldn’t hesitate to accept.

Get More Smarter on Friday (March 27)

We’d wish you a “Happy Friday,” but today kinda feels just like Thursday. And Wednesday. And also Tuesday. Anyway, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:


► UPDATE: The House passes the stimulus bill. Colorado Rep. Ken Buck voted against the legislation, giving him a perfect 0-3 record on coronavirus-related legislation.


Members of the House of Representatives are heading back to Washington D.C. to vote on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill that is in no danger of failing because one Kentucky Republican (and it’s not even Mitch McConnell) is being kind of a dick. As The Washington Post explains:

The House of Representatives prepared to vote Friday on a $2 trillion economic relief package to address fallout from the coronavirus, with scores of lawmakers begrudgingly returning to the Capitol after one GOP member threatened to raise a procedural objection.

With the economy reeling and millions of Americans seeking unemployment benefits, House leaders had hoped to pass the sweeping measure by a “voice vote” that would not require members to show up in person. Those who wanted to could come to the Capitol to speak in favor of or against the legislation that will send $1,200 payments to many Americans and free up large loans for businesses of every size.

If they used a “voice vote,” members in quarantine or who simply did not want to travel would not have to do so. There are now roughly 86,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, and 1,300 people have died just in the past few weeks.

But Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) threatened to raise procedural objections that would require a majority of the House to be present to quash, and so on Thursday evening leadership in both parties began urging members who could do so to return to Washington in order to have the numbers to overcome whatever objection Massie might raise. [Pols emphasis]

Massie may have seriously misread this situation, because President Trump is not happy:

As The Washington Post notes in a separate story, Rep. Massie’s colleagues are not at all surprised that he’s needlessly throwing wrenches:

During his seven years in Congress, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has established a reputation as a uniquely irascible congressional gadfly — one who is frequently at odds with his own party’s leadership, rarely votes for major bills negotiated with Democrats, and, to make an ideological point, is willing to use the House rule book to inconvenience his colleagues.

In other words, he’s the Kentucky version of State Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs).

Just in case you thought opposition to the relief bill was relegated to some looney from Kentucky…Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) are railing about their own grievances with the legislation.


 Eight of Colorado’s 9 Members of Congress are urging President Trump to approve a Major Disaster request for Colorado. Who was the lone dissenter? Hint: His name rhymes with “suck.”


► Many of Colorado’s most prominent Republican lawmakers — including Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville — are growing increasingly vocal about their opposition to “stay at home” orders because…tyranny, or something. These actions are bad for their health and the health of their friends and family — and new polling info suggests that these positions will hurt them politically in November.

If you are interested in making specious and dangerous arguments yourself, here’s a cheat sheet to get you started on messaging.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and the Denver Post have more on the partisan pushback to coronavirus responses.


► Not all the coronavirus news is bad news, as The Washington Post reports from the state of Washington:

The suburban hospital that handled the first onslaught of coronavirus patients weeks ago — a crush of seriously ill and dying nursing home residents that signaled the beginning of the national health crisis — is now offering cautious optimism to people across the United States who are searching for an end to the springtime nightmare: They believe they might have flattened the curve here.

At EvergreenHealth Medical Center, two miles from the shuttered Lifecare nursing home where 35 patient deaths were linked to the virus, officials say their rate of new covid-19 cases has remained steady for two weeks, leveling off at a trickle. On some days, doctors here see just one new case and haven’t seen more than four in a single day since mid-March. Few need admission to the intensive care unit, which is now half full, two weeks after overflow necessitated transfers to nearby hospitals…

…“It is a glimmer of hope,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. “This is suggestive that some of the things we’re doing together is having some very modest improvement. The things we did two weeks ago are now appearing in our hospitals.” [Pols emphasis] 


If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…



Ken Buck on Coronavirus: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

When it comes to social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO4) appears to be taking a “do as I say, not as I do” approach. While he has said people should try to avoid publics places for the next months, and that “elderly Americans…should be concerned” about the coronavirus, he is also still attending group events and has been photographed shaking hands with senior citizens.

Congressman Ken Buck shaking hands at the Weld County Clerk’s office, March 21, 2020

Following the Weld County Republican Party Assembly on March 21, Donna Windholz posted a picture of Buck, who also serves as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, enthusiastically shaking hands with Lynn Miller at the Weld County Clerk’s Office. Lynn Miller is the husband of former state representative Pat Miller, who is once again a legislative candidate, 27 years after she last left office. Windholz believes Buck was improperly using his position as state party chair to support Miller over other primary candidates.

Congressman Buck’s notable disregard for social distancing reinforces his statements earlier this week, when he told the Denver Post, “it’s just craziness to shut down businesses.” He also mentioned that “elderly Americans…are rightly concerned about the virus.” Lynn Miller, the man with whom Buck is shaking hands in the image above, is 73 years old.

His position differs from other members of the Colorado delegation, who have supported Governor Polis’ decisions to close non-essential businesses and public gathering places.

Buck’s hasn’t been shy about being a contrarian on the issue of stopping the coronavirus. He was one of only two House votes against the $8.3 billion federal aid bill signed by President on March 6.

The following week, Buck held a telephone town hall. As part of a longer answer about whether or not people should stop attending church, Buck noted that he continues to shake hands with constituents and that he is “not a good example of someone who avoids social contact.”

His full answer, transcribed below included contradictory statements as to whether one should or shouldn’t attend church, but at least as of March 11, Buck said that he would still be going.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 19)

Hey, look: Snow! It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.


*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:


Two down, one to go?

The Senate on Wednesday approved the second major piece of legislation related to the Coronavirus outbreak, allowing lawmakers to fully focus on a massive stimulus bill. From Politico:

With Senate leaders vowing to work at “warp speed” to blunt the financial fallout from the pandemic, the Treasury Department unveiled to lawmakers a plan for $250 billion in direct payments to Americans starting April 6…

…According to the Treasury Department’s proposal, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, the so-called “phase three” proposal would include $50 billion to aid the hard-hit airline industry, $150 billion for other distressed sectors of the economy, two rounds of direct payments of $250 billion each on April 6 and May 18, and the creation of a small business interruption loan program.

The document notably does not mention a payroll tax cut, which President Donald Trump has suggested he wanted to be included in the package. But the idea lost steam in recent days as lawmakers from both parties rejected the idea, citing the need to grant immediate, large-scale relief.

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) voted “YES” on Wednesday; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) did not cast a vote because he is currently in self-quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Bennet may have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus but has opted not to self-quarantine. Congress is not currently able to conduct tele-voting, but Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) says that he would be comfortable with such an option.

We posted this here yesterday, but it’s worth repeating for a reminder of the Coronavirus legislation being discussed:

The first bill, which started in the House, passed the Senate, and was quickly signed by President Trump, dealt primarily with medical and emergency response needs. This was the bill that was opposed by only two House Members, one of who was Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). In the Senate, only Kentucky Republican Rand Paul voted “NO.”

BILL TWO (Families First CoronaVirus Response Act)
The second bill, which also started in the House, deals with issues like paid family leave and Coronavirus testing and health care regulations (Rep. Buck also voted against this bill). Since the bill passed in the House on Saturday, outside groups have been pressuring Republican Senators to add their support. The Senate approved this measure on Wednesday and President Trump signed it into law today.

This is the trillion-dollar “bailout” bill that will likely include sending money directly to Americans within the next couple of weeks. As The Washington Post reports:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said the Trump administration is working on a plan that would send most Americans $1,000 within three weeks and an additional $500 for every child as a way to flood the country with money and try to blunt the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy…

…Mnuchin’s comments are part of the rapidly evolving fiscal stimulus plan that the White House and congressional leaders are scrambling to assemble amid growing signs that large parts of the economy are grinding to a halt. House Democrats, meanwhile, are working on their own set of proposals, and negotiations with the White House are expected to begin very soon.

For more on federal legislative efforts and a host of other Coronavirus-related questions, check out this interview from Tuesday with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) on The Get More Smarter Podcast.


► President Trump spoke today at another Coronavirus press briefing, which German Lopez of called “a disastrous failure in leadership.” You won’t be shocked to learn that he made another big mistake:

11:49: *Trump starts playing with ball of yarn

11:51: *Trump threatens to use Marines to invade Coronavirus

11:52: *Trump pulls a piece of meatloaf from his breast pocket and takes a bite


► Two Members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah).

The first state lawmaker in Colorado (that we know of) has tested positive for COVID-19. Two members of a municipal delegation that recently traveled to Washington D.C. have also tested positive.


► Governor Jared Polis ordered all Colorado schools to close until April 17 as part of continuing efforts to contain the Coronavirus outbreak. Polis also ordered a temporary ban of any gathering of more than 10 people.

Most Colorado school districts closed their schools late last week. Polis said Wednesday that it is “increasingly unlikely” that Colorado schools will open again before the end of the school year.

The Denver Post breaks down some of the other “emergency powers” that Gov. Polis could choose to activate.


If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…



Rep. Ken Buck’s Dangerous Irresponsibility Rolls On

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports–after Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado became a national embarrassment as one of only two House votes against the initial coronavirus relief legislation to pass Congress, and one of a relatively small contingent of House Republicans to vote against the second, Buck is doubling down on his “what, me worry?” approach to the rapidly-widening global pandemic:

“You don’t shut restaurants down for 30 days,” Buck said in an interview Wednesday, referring to a policy enacted in Colorado and many other states.

“I have no problem with (stopping) sporting events or things that don’t impact our civil liberties and don’t impact everyday life. Those are things that I think we can suspend for a period of time. But it’s just craziness to shut down businesses or parts of the economy that are absolutely necessary,” the congressman added…

“We don’t have a leader. It was FDR who said, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ We need leaders to stand up and say we’re going to have a measured response,” said Buck, who is usually a defender of President Donald Trump.

That’s right, readers–Colorado’s far-right lightning rod congressman/state GOP chairman just invoked FDR to criticize President Donald Trump! That is of course interesting, but it’s a distraction from the larger problem here so don’t get stuck on it. There’s no question that the emergency public health measures taken by the state of Colorado along with many others are very painful economically. That’s why Congress needs to pass relief legislation for American workers affected by the pandemic considerably broader in scope than what’s currently being offered by the GOP Senate majority.

With that said, virtually every public health expert literally on the entire planet says these measures, and even more strict isolation measures than exist in most places in the United States today including Colorado, are desperately needed to contain the spread of the coronavirus–or if not contain it, at least spread out the rate of infection enough to not overwhelm the hospitals. If this all sounds old hat to you, that’s because it’s beaten into all of our heads for weeks.

But not Rep. Ken Buck, folks! Buck doesn’t want to hear any of your damn pesky “expert” warnings about any global pandemic. When you’ve already made the decision to blow off the science on a whole range of issues from guns to climate change, ignoring the coronavirus threat comes…well, frighteningly easy, apparently.

Buck Keeps Making Colorado Look Bad (COVID Edition)

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As the Denver Post’s Sam Tabachnik reports, it’s ugly deja vu all over again:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck said the massive federal coronavirus relief package that he voted against early Saturday morning is “a 110-page, multi-billion dollar boondoggle.”

He was Colorado’s only House member — and one of only 40 in the chamber — to vote against the measure, which would deliver $50 billion toward paid sick leave, free virus testing and enhanced unemployment benefits…

Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, called the relief measure “imperfect” but said in a statement that he voted in favor because there would be “much more severe consequences should Congress have failed to unite and act with great urgency tonight.”

The Colorado Independent:

[House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi was engaged in intense negotiations over the bill with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and congressional Republicans ahead of the vote. Trump tweeted his support for the measure ahead of its passage.

“I fully support H.R. 6201: Families First CoronaVirus Response Act,” he wrote. “I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come together and VOTE YES! … Look forward to signing the final Bill, ASAP!”

The president’s endorsement was not enough to sway Buck, who took to Twitter to call the package “a 110-page, multi-billion dollar boondoggle shoved on us at the stroke of midnight.”

A little less than two weeks ago, as readers know, Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley was one of only two votes against an initial coronavirus relief bill backed by President Donald Trump. This time, Buck was part of a small (but at least greater than two) faction of hard-right conservatives, for whom showing rock-ribbed “fiscal discipline” as their constituents grapple with a global pandemic is apparently good politics.

Given the relative safety of Buck’s strongly Republican-leaning rural and small-town district, it’s possible that these high-profile contrarian votes against bills addressing headline dominating issues aren’t career-enders for Buck even if they are totally inimical to the best interests of the people Buck represents. That’s the conventional wisdom which has allowed Buck to take progressively more extreme public stands that would seriously threaten politicians in most districts, but we have to wonder if this unprecedented situation could endanger even the most basic political presumptions.

Either way, as the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, it’s surprising that Buck really seems to have no idea how these kinds of ideological lightning-rod grandstands affect the entire Republican brand–and can only further imperil fellow Republicans ahead of another very difficult election. If Buck can’t even think past his own antics long enough to consider the damage to the party he leads, he should not have the job.

Ken Buck Gun Stunt Backfires Big Time

We took note last Friday of a bizarre out-of-the-blue Tweet from Rep. Ken Buck, who also serves as the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, seemingly threatening violence against Sen. Joe Biden and former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke with an AR-15 style rifle Buck keeps in his Washington office.

Although we’re sure Buck got plenty of favorable attention from the far right for this spontaneous bit of pro-gun bluster, the reaction from others has been considerably less favorable. Sandy Phillips, mother of an Aurora theater shooting victim, clapped back graphically (trigger warning):

Phillips is referring to the .223 Remington rifle cartridge, used by Buck’s rifle as well as the weapon responsible for most of the killing in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting. As KDVR’s Eric Ruble reports, yesterday Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial had his own response:

The representative posted his response to Buck on his Twitter page Tuesday afternoon. In a video, Sullivan is holding a photo of the gun used to kill his son and the cross that memorialized Alex at the site of the [Aurora theater] shooting.

In the video, Sullivan said, “Congressman Buck, hi. This is Tom Sullivan, state representative House District 37 in your home state of Colorado. This is what’s in my office. This is one of the 12 crosses that they set out by the movie theater the night after my son Alex was murdered in the Aurora theater massacre. This here is the Smith and Wesson MP-15 that murdered my son and 11 others. If you ever feel the need and want to come down and see my office, I suggest you bring Sen. Gardner along with you. This is what it looks like. Feel free to stop by any time.”

Even for a representative who has repeatedly embarrassed himself in the last year making things worse for President Donald Trump while trying his earnest best to defend him, last week was a very tough week reputation-wise for Rep. Ken Buck. Buck was one of only two votes against the bipartisan coronavirus response legislation signed into law by President Trump last week, a half-baked move that left Buck looking deplorably out of touch during an emergency.

It’s possible this unbidden bravado with the assault rifle Buck quite controversially keeps in his Capitol Hill office was meant to distract from Buck’s political self-immolating vote against coronavirus relief. Unfortunately, however, Buck appears to have simply traded one villainous countenance for another. It’s like telling a second tasteless joke because nobody laughed at the first one.

We understand that gun nuts live to wave their guns around, but the state’s highest Republican officials should know they’re not saying these things in a vacuum. Ken Buck makes himself look bad, but as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and a high-profile GOP member of Congress the damage doesn’t stop with him.

Buck Ends Bad Week With Dumb Tweet

SUNDAY UPDATE: The mother of Jessica Ghawi, one of the 12 victims of the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, responds with outrage we are in no position to question:


Rep. Ken Buck (R-Dumbass)

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has a second job (or vice versa) as the Chairman of the State Republican Party in Colorado. If you’re a Republican in this state, you had better hope that Buck is better at being Party Chair than he is at being a Congressman.

Earlier this week, Buck made news for being one of only two Members of the House of Representatives to vote AGAINST an $8.3 billion funding package for Coronavirus relief. That same bill quickly passed through the Senate and was signed by President Trump this morning. Needless to say, this was not a good look for Buck.

But he wasn’t done screwing up! Today, Buck is making national headlines for a tasteless Tweet he sent out taunting former Vice President Joe Biden and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke to come to his Washington D.C. office and relieve him of the ridiculous AR-15 rifle that hangs on his wall:

Fellow Congressman Eric Swalwell was quick to point out that Buck’s red, white, and blue AR-15 isn’t even a functioning weapon:

Buck was subsequently lampooned in stories by media outlets across the country, including Westword; Denver7CNBC, The Hill newspaper; Business InsiderRaw Story; and The Daily Caller.

In the same week, Buck managed to publicly oppose funding to combat the Coronavirus that is freaking people out everywhere…and then followed up by making silly threats against the man who could well end up as the Democratic Presidential nominee.

Most of Colorado is proud that Buck is not their Congressman. For those of you in CO-4, we’re very sorry.

Get More Smarter on Friday (March 6)

Happy “National Day of Unplugging.” If you’re reading this, you’re probably doing it wrong. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.


► On Thursday afternoon, Governor Jared Polis announced the first two positive tests for Coronavirus in Colorado. As The Denver Post reports:

Polis announced the second case at a Thursday afternoon news conference that had been called to discuss the first case.

The state said Thursday evening that the second patient is an older woman from Douglas County who had returned to Colorado from an international cruise. She is “isolated at her home per CDC guidelines,” the state health department said…

…“At the end of the day we have a very robust health care system in this state,” Polis said. “We’ve been preparing for this moment, we are now in execution mode of this plan.”

Polis was calm and reassuring in Thursday’s press conference, a marked difference from the chaotic federal government response driven by the Trump administration (which continues to demonstrate that nobody is talking to anybody else about how to deal with the Coronavirus outbreak).

On Friday, Trump signed an $8.3 billion spending package for Coronavirus response. Colorado Rep. Ken Buck was one of only three people IN THE ENTIRE CONGRESS who voted to oppose the bill.

The White House is also considering options for helping the tourism industry, which has been getting pummeled because of COVID-19.


The Colorado Option has landed!


Democrats and Republicans in Colorado will hold their caucuses on Saturday to determine ballot access for races from U.S. Senate down to county coroner. The Denver Post has more on what will be a critical day for Senate candidates not named John Hickenlooper.

On the Republican side, expect some right-wing challenges to candidates who are considered more “moderate,” because the far right in Colorado is still convinced that they need the craziest candidates in every district.

Also, a guy named “Critter” will be seeking the U.S. Senate nomination from the Unity Party.


► Presidential campaigns (those of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, mostly) will be making the rounds this weekend ahead of six more elections on Tuesday. Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and Washington will hold Primary Elections on March 10, while voters in North Dakota will do the caucus thing. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, Michigan will be the big prize on Tuesday:

On Thursday morning, with much fanfare (and tweeting), former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign announced that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had endorsed his presidential bid.

Within hours, Bernie Sanders’ campaign announced that the Vermont senator would cancel a planned trip to Mississippi on Friday and instead head directly to Michigan.
These things are not a coincidence.

Michigan, which will hold its primary on March 10, is not only the biggest delegate prize of that day (125 delegates) but also hugely important, symbolically speaking, given that it was one of three critical Midwestern states President Donald Trump flipped to his side in the 2016 presidential race.

In the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary, Bernie Sanders pulled out a surprise victory over Hillary Clinton in Michigan.


Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 5)

Yeah, that’s right: You get an afternoon version of Get More Smarter today. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.


The U.S. Senate voted 96-1 to approve an $8.3 billion package for Coronavirus response. Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul was the sole “NO” vote in the Senate.

On Wednesday, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was one of just TWO House Members to vote “NO” on Coronavirus funding. President Trump is expected to sign the legislation into law as soon as it reaches his desk.


As Philip Bump writes for The Washington Post, President Trump’s penchant for making up numbers is a particularly bad habit during a global pandemic:

On Tuesday, a World Health Organization official stated that the mortality rate for covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, is at 3.4 percent globally. Asked about it during an interview Wednesday night with his friend Sean Hannity on Fox News, Trump disagreed with that number.

“I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number,” Trump said. “Now, and this is just my hunch [Pols emphasis], and — but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this. Because a lot of people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor. They don’t even call a doctor. You never hear about those people.”

Trump eventually settled on a number of “way under 1 percent” for the COVID-19 mortality rate. The source for this information? There is no source:

Trump twice admits that he’s simply making up the percentage he’s talking about, calling it a “hunch” and saying that it’s his personal assessment. Yes, he has access to more experts on the subject than your average American, which may inform that personal estimate, but his access to experts didn’t prevent him from reiterating obviously inaccurate information at an event with drug companies earlier this week.

Bump sums up Trump’s manufactured numbers with a sober warning:

We don’t know the mortality rate of the coronavirus in the United States in part because we don’t know the spread of the virus thanks to the government’s slow, faulty start in measuring it. We do know, though, that, by themselves, numbers offered by Trump aren’t trustworthy. That the world he presents is often not the real one.



 According to data from Public Policy Polling, Americans are very nervous about Coronavirus and very dissatisfied with how the federal government is handling response efforts:

Voters take the virus a lot more seriously than the president does. Only 8% of voters agree with Trump’s claim that the virus is a Democratic hoax, while 82% think the virus is real. Only 16% of Trump’s own voters agree with him that the virus is a hoax.

Trump’s handling of the coronavirus could threaten his reelection. By a 20-point margin, voters say his administration’s handling of the virus makes them less likely to vote for him this fall. Independents say they’re less likely to vote for Trump by 32 points because of how he’s dealt with this issue. Only 37% of voters agree with Trump’s assessment that his administration is doing a “great job” dealing with the coronavirus, while 53% disagree.


►  The Colorado Option has landed. As The Denver Post reports:

The long-awaited Colorado bill to create a variation of a public health insurance option — an effort that has garnered national attention and the ire of hospitals — was unveiled Thursday, just before the midway point of the legislative session.

Although Democrats are preparing for a contentious fight about the proposal they’re calling the Colorado option, they say they believe they can pass it.

The bill would provide Coloradans who purchase insurance on the individual market another choice by the state through private insurance at what’s expected to be a more affordable cost by Jan. 1, 2022. The bill targets counties that only have one option to create competition and lower premiums and will require hospitals to participate. If everyone on the individual market opts to use the plan, that’s about 8% of Coloradans, bill sponsors have said. In some rural parts of the state, participation is expected to be higher.


Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, and listen to House Majority Leader Alec Garnett explain what might happen next if a legislator or staffer at the State Capitol ends up testing positive for COVID-19.


Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Whaaa??? Ken Buck Votes No on Coronavirus Funding

THURSDAY UPDATE: By a vote of 96-1, the U.S. Senate approved the $8.3 billion coronavirus response legislation that passed out of the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was the lone dissenting voice in the Senate; he joins Colorado Rep. Ken Buck and Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs as literally the only Members of Congress who refused to support a funding bill to help in the response to the ongoing COVID-19 threat. President Trump is expected to sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk.


UPDATE #2: This is working out well:


UPDATE: Here’s Buck’s, uh, rationale for today’s vote. We’re sure it’s not lost on our readers that a guy accusing Democrats of “politicizing” the coronavirus just did exactly that:

Cool. Maybe you can ask the coronavirus to stop infecting people while you have this spending debate.


Rep. Ken Buck (R) pressed the red button today.

There were only two “NO” votes today when the House of Representatives voted to pass an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill for coronavirus (COVID-19) response. As CNBC reports:

The House passed a sweeping bill Wednesday allocating more than $8 billion in emergency funds to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The vote was 415-2. Republican Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado and Andy Biggs of Arizona were the only members to vote against the legislation. [Pols emphasis]

The emergency funding package, which provides more than $3 billion in vaccine research and $2.2 billion in prevention and preparedness efforts, was unveiled hours earlier following days of negotiations on Capitol Hill.

The coronavirus bill will head to the Senate, where leaders there hope they can quickly bring it to a vote. If the bill passes that chamber, it will move to the Oval Office desk of President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.

Yeah, that part about Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) caused a double-take for us, too. But here’s the official vote count:

We can’t imagine what kind of ridiculous logic Buck will try to use to justify voting “NO” on funding for coronavirus response. Remember that this is the same Ken Buck who is the Chairman of the State Republican Party in Colorado, so he’s really going to have a lot of explaining to do here.

Colorado GOP Chairman Sponsors Bill To Punish Colorado

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

As originally reported earlier this month by Fox News, and we wanted to be sure to mention this before it slips down the memory hole:

Republicans in the House and the Senate are introducing legislation that would block federal funds from states that allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses — the latest move in an escalating fight over “sanctuary” laws.

The Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act would block funds to sanctuary states — which limit local cooperation with federal immigration authorities — and those that give licenses to illegal immigrants. Specifically, it would halt Justice Department (DOJ) grants, in particular those awarded under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which is a top source of federal criminal justice funding for states.

The legislation is being introduced in the Senate by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. It is being co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Mike Rounds, R-S.D. Meanwhile, in the House, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., is introducing companion legislation. [Pols emphasis] That bill is co-sponsored by 21 other members.

“Tennesseans know all too well what can happen when illegal immigrants are granted driver licenses,” Blackburn said in a statement…

Here in Colorado, as readers should know, we’ve had a law on the books since 2013 (the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act) that allows undocumented immigrants to who meet specific requirements, including an affidavit promising to apply for legal status if they haven’t already, to obtain a state-issued driver license. The licenses issued to noncitizens are clearly marked to not provide evidence of citizenship. “What can happen” when undocumented immigrants are allowed to obtain driver licenses is pretty simple: they get driver’s licenses. That means they’ve passed driver safety tests, and are able to do basic things expected of everyone on the roads in Colorado like purchase auto insurance.

For Colorado’s Rep. Ken Buck, who is leading the unlikely House effort to pass this legislation despite the fact that it would jeopardize federal funding for his own state, this gratuitous attack on a law put in place to protect all Colorado residents from untrained, uninsured motorists is both insult and injury. Since Rep. Buck is incapable of snapping his fingers and making the undocumented population in Colorado disappear, what he’s essentially saying with this bill is that it’s better to have uninsured, untested motorists on Colorado roads. How is that a responsible position for any public official to take?

Especially with one of our own elected lawmakers leading the charge, this attack on Colorado–and every other state trying to develop reasonable policies to manage public safety and immigration issues–is the public policy equivalent of Buck cutting off Colorado’s nose to spite our face.