Doug Lamborn Dials Up Buffoonery to New Level

Brick Tamland, ie Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs)

Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is widely regarded as one of the dimmest bulbs in Congress, and he regularly takes the opportunity to confirm his idiocy lest anyone forget. He did it again today:

Yeah, that’s what’s happening: Democrats are pushing a coronavirus relief bill as an excuse to let one of the world’s most infamous drug lords out of prison. This is such a monumentally stupid accusation that it doesn’t even need to be fact-checked, but if you’re curious, the real intent of this portion of the legislation is to help deal with the coronavirus outbreak in our nation’s prisons by encouraging the release of NON-VIOLENT offenders (in other words, NOT Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is a resident of the federal supermax prison in Florence, Colorado). As Roll Call reports:

In a 44-page section called the “Pandemic Justice Response Act,” the bill would require the release of prisoners and those in the custody of U.S. Marshals Service who are within a year of being released, or those who are juveniles, over 50 years old or have a health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, HIV, cancer or are pregnant.

Public health experts say incarcerated people are particularly vulnerable to the grave harms of the virus because they have higher rates of underlying health issues, the bill states. And the close conditions and lack of hygiene products make prisons “unusually susceptible to viral pandemics,” the bill says.

Engage in conversation with this man at your own risk.

Lamborn probably knows that his “El Chapo” accusation isn’t true, though it’s equally plausible that he totally believes this nonsense. It’s hard to know with Lamborn.

When he’s not drafting nonsensical legislation or calling constituents to yell at them for writing mean letters to the editor (and leaving voice mail messages, no less), Lamborn has been spotted literally running around the Capitol yanking paintings off the walls. This is the same guy who infamously called President Obama a “tar baby” and somehow managed to accidentally disclose classified information, so any stupid thing is possible when Lamborn is involved. He is also a bipartisan doofus; back in 2014, Lamborn was lambasted by Republican colleagues (including Mike Coffman and Cory Gardner) for openly encouraging military leaders to resign in protest over the foreign policy ideas of President Obama.

Lamborn is as bad a candidate as he is a politician — he almost didn’t make the Primary ballot in 2018 because his campaign couldn’t collect 1,500 valid petition signatures — but he’s still an actual Member of Congress because he has good timing. Lamborn narrowly won a 6-way Primary in 2006 in a district where incumbent Republicans get re-elected so long as they maintain a pulse (his predecessor, Joel Hefley, held this seat for 30 years).

If redistricting doesn’t make meaningful changes to CO-5, Lamborn will likely remain in this seat until somebody tells him that he retired. In the meantime, we can confidently say that no current or future Member of Congress from Colorado will ever be in danger of sliding underneath the bar that Lamborn has set for himself.

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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.

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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.

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Lamborn: ‘Gullible’ Minorities Believe Democrats’ Lies about Voter Suppression

(“Tar Baby” Doug strikes again! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) thinks “gullible” minorities believe lies about voter suppression from Democrats.

Lamborn made the comments Thursday on a conservative talk-radio show in Colorado Springs.

“The Democrats lie when they say, ‘Oh, this is to suppress votes,’ or ‘This is to hurt minorities.’ It’s just a lie,” Lamborn told KVOR host Richard Randall. “They want to stir up minorities who are gullible and believe that garbage.”

Randall had told Lamborn, who represents the Colorado Springs area, that Judicial Watch, a conservative advocacy group, has threatened to sue county clerks in Colorado if they didn’t “clean up voter rolls.”

Then Randall asked Lamborn if he was “concerned about voter fraud here in Colorado, but especially states like California and others.”

“Well, I am,” replied Lamborn. “And I think it’s legitimate for Republicans or anyone for that matter to make sure that county clerks and secretaries of state clean up their acts and really have transparent and accountable records, paper trails, and all of the above have cyber security.”

Experts told the Colorado Times Recorder that Lamborn is wrong in multiple ways.

(more…)

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“Law and Order,” Colorado Republican Style

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

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

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

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

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

From the letter signed by Buck and Lamborn:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lamborn Super Excited To Gut Social Security, Medicare!

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Freshly energized from President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday and acquittal in the impeachment trial yesterday, Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs is excited to move on to the next Big Thing he thinks is on the Republican agenda–slashing “entitlement” spending, meaning the Social Security and Medicare benefits millions of Americans and thousands of Lamborn’s own constituents rely on.

As Ernest Luning at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, grab that third rail and hang on tight!

“Our economy can always be better, but I see things that show it’s an economy that’s really pretty broadly based,” Lamborn said. “I think, while we need to bring, say, health care costs down, because that’s a big expense for people, and energy costs — we don’t want those to get out of control, and the administration is doing good on that, taking away regulations that increase the cost of energy — I think there’s really some good things for many if not most of the families in this country.”

Lamborn said he’s looking forward to the president’s second term, when Republicans can take on an annual budget deficit forecast to top $1 trillion this year, nearly twice what it was when Trump took office.

“Trump and his people have said that if he gets reelected, he is going to make that his top priority, is getting spending under control,” Lamborn said. “For whatever reasons, we haven’t really talked about the entitlement part of our budget, which is 60% or higher. [Pols emphasis] So to really have meaningful attention paid to the deficit, you have to address mandatory spending, or entitlements.” He added, “I’m keeping my fingers crossed that that is true.”

Now of course, in Trump’s SOTU address Tuesday evening, he specifically said the words “we will always protect your Medicare and your Social Security.” Two weeks ago, however, Trump said pretty candidly that “entitlement” cuts were on the horizon after the 2017 tax cut legislation blew a trillion-dollar hole in the budget. And while Trump has always assured his voters that he would never cut these essential programs relied upon by Americans without partisan distinction, his proposed budgets have relied on doing exactly that.

With that said, it is very interesting to see all of this talk about cutting Social Security and Medicare in an election year, which is generally a time when Republicans shy away from talk of “reforming” programs that millions of voters depend on. The direct linkage between such program cuts and tax cuts passed two years ago by the same Republicans overwhelmingly benefiting the wealthiest Americans is objectionable even to many conservative voters–who once believed that Trump would fight for the middle class against the corporate predators at the top and the “moochers” at the bottom of society. As it turns out, both the middle and the lower class are getting the short end of the deal.

Though perhaps not in Doug Lamborn’s safe conservative stomping ground, “hell yes we’re cutting Social Security” is a message that could prove very costly to many Republicans on the 2020 ballot with Trump in competitive races. For Republicans there’s a time to spring this long-desired agenda item on the voting public, and that is not right before they vote.

Rep. Lamborn doesn’t get these subtleties. He says the quiet part out loud every time.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Bold Predictions for 2020

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

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

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

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Republicans Flummoxed on Prescription Drug Pricing

Image via AARP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Freep” Doug Lamborn’s Impeachment Poll

As delivered via Rep. Doug Lamborn’s official email address!

Gentle readers, it goes to a real live online poll! By real of course we don’t mean, you know, real, as in a poll containing any even slightly reliable information. But in case you wanted the chance to let Colorado’s least accomplished congressman know how you feel about impeaching Donald Trump, here it sort of is.

And yes, by encouraging our readers to “reweight” this poll we’ve probably given Lamborn all the reason he needs to ignore it. But we’re pretty confident that unless it tells Lamborn what he wants to hear…he was going to ignore it anyway.

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Lamborn Tosses Giuliani Under the Bus

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) as a fictional character.

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) isn’t a member of the House Intelligence Committee (in any sense of the phrase) that is currently overseeing public impeachment hearings against President Trump, but that doesn’t mean he can’t try to advance his own ridiculous theory on the matter.

David Corn of Mother Jones and MSNBC apparently found Lamborn talking to reporters in Washington D.C. today on the second day of public impeachment hearings. Lamborn’s take on the Ukraine scandal is that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani acted as some sort of rogue actor:

LAMBORN: I have some questions about what Mr. Giuliani was doing. But that’s a side issue. That…that’s got really nothing to do with the President.

Lamborn’s comment is justifiably met with credulity from Corn, who tries unsuccessfully to get the Colorado Springs Republican to explain how 2+2 = 5.

REPORTER: But doesn’t it have everything to do with the President when the President is telling officials, ‘Talk to Rudy. Talk to Rudy.’

LAMBORN: Unless he [Giuliani] was off on his own mission doing things that people didn’t know about, kind of like a loose cannon. Then, that’s a Rudy Giuliani problem, not a President Trump one.

REPORTER: But, this is what I don’t get: The President told [Ukrainian President] Zelinsky, ‘I want you to talk to Rudy.’ The President told top diplomats when they came in to see him, ‘Talk to Rudy. Talk to Rudy.’ So the President is empowering Rudy Giuliani, so isn’t he responsible for Rudy Giuliani’s involvement in all of this? If he’s telling people, ‘Rudy’s my man.’

LAMBORN: He may have been wrong to trust Rudy Giuliani if Giuliani was doing things on his own that were improper. So maybe he was trusting him too much.

The reporter tries once more to get Lamborn to explain his incongruent logic, but Lamborn begs off by saying that he has to go vote on something.

You can watch the entire exchange below:

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The Next Abortion Ban: Telemedicine

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

A report from medical industry publication mHealth Intelligence discusses a new monkeywrench being thrown by Republicans into the gears of women’s reproductive rights–a ban on “telemedicine” physician appointments to prescribe abortion medications:

A Congressman from Texas is seeking to make telemedicine abortions all but illegal in the US.

Rep. Ron Wright’s new bill, HR 4395, would prohibit care providers from using telehealth to prescribe abortion drugs unless they have physically examined the patient, are physically present when the patient takes the medications, and schedule a follow-up visit…

Roughly 25 percent of the abortions performed in the U.S. are non-surgical, or medical abortions. The process can be paired with a telemedicine platform in two ways: a physician can examine a patient via telemedicine, then issue a prescription for mifepristone and misoprostol to the patient to terminate the pregnancy; or a remote physician can examine a patient who’s at a clinic, then issue instructions to clinic personnel to dispense the drugs from a locked cabinet that is remotely opened by the doctor.

As states have moved in recent to impose all manner of incremental restrictions and medically dubious regulations on access to abortion, telemedicine has emerged as a novel way for women to circumvent so-called “TRAP” legislation and get the care they need. It’s only natural that a ban on the practice would emerge as soon as anti-abortion Republicans became aware of it, and we fully expect to see a state-level version of this ban introduced in the Colorado legislature next January–where it will die, of course, after giving the issue’s diehards another chance to sound off in futility. This federal version was filed in the Democratic-controlled U.S. House for similar reasons.

The bill, which was filed on October 30, has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for further action. It has 12 co-sponsors: Reps. John Joyce (R-PA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Randy Weber Sr. (R-TX), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), John Rutherford (R-FL), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), [Pols emphasis] Mark Meadows (R-NC), Jody Hice (R-GA), Jim Banks (R-IN), Andy Harris (R-MD) and Bob Gibbs (R-OH).

And no surprise, Colorado’s Rep. Doug Lamborn is an original cosponsor! One of the ways Colorado’s least inspiring member of Congress defends his safe GOP seat from perennial primary challengers is by never missing the chance to jump all over sticky wedge issues the base can’t resist. Opposition to telemedicine appointments for reproductive care is difficult to oppose on the merits–if you oppose it, it’s probably because you oppose all abortion and recognize telemedicine as a way of circumventing other arbitrary restrictions.

Par for the course for Doug Lamborn, Colorado’s premiere “gynotician.”

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Colorado Republicans Stand at Historical Crossroads

Via CNN

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

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

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

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

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

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

The nation and history are watching what happens next.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what of those who chose to stand with Nixon?

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

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

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

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Blame Trump, But Don’t Forget His Republican Enablers

Republicans don’t seem to sweat President Trump’s dangerous behavior.

According to the website VeryWell Family, these are the top warning signs for children with a “serious behavior problem”: 1) Difficulty managing emotional outbursts, 2) Difficulty managing impulses, and 3) Behavior that does not respond to discipline.

You don’t need to be an expert or a parent to recognize reckless behavior in children. We’ve all seen out-of-control children at grocery stores, shopping malls, and airplanes. Our first reaction in this situation is usually to glance around in search of a parent or guardian, shaking our head in bewilderment that such behavior could go unchecked. We might be dismayed at the child’s actions, but our ire is generally reserved for the oblivious or indifferent parent nearby.

President Trump is the man-child in this analogy, and the Republican Party — particularly top GOP elected officials such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — are the parental guardians. While the world collectively shakes its head at Trump’s ridiculous behavior, it is Trump’s Republican enablers who deserve an equal amount of scorn. When Trump throws a tantrum, he doesn’t get rebuked by fellow Republicans; instead, he gets a cookie. Trump can all but beg to be impeached, as he did on Thursday, and Republicans like Gardner will still headline a big fundraiser for him days later.

Chris Cillizza of CNN has a great outline today of this phenomenon, which he calls “the real issue” regarding President Trump’s scandalous behavior:

And yet, even as his actions in office grow more and more erratic and without historical precedent, the party stays united behind him.

Why? Simple! Fear.

“What is surprising, or shocking might be the better word for it, is the fact that Republican elected officials seem willing to not just condone this sort of behavior but even defend it.”

Every GOP elected official lives in fear of becoming the next Jeff Flake or Justin Amash — conservative Republicans in good standing with the party until they decided to publicly criticize Trump for something or other. The President pounced, his base attacked and both men found themselves in deeply precarious political predicaments.

Fear of being “Flaked” explains, for example, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-South Carolina) absolute and total about-face on Trump. Ditto Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. And dozens and dozens of other Republican elected officials who voiced deep concern about the idea of Trump even being their party’s nominee in 2016 — much less the President of the United States.

If political survival is your only goal, then what Republicans are doing vis a vis Trump is not only fine, but right. Of course, leadership is a very different thing than what we are seeing out of Republican elected officials at the moment.

And there is the very real possibility that the damage Trump is doing to the party (let alone the country) will have impacts that last well after he is gone from office — and come back to haunt those Republicans who stood silently by. [Pols emphasis]

Republicans like Gardner have always valued political survival above the interests of anything else, but it’s still hard to fathom the idea that there is no line Trump can cross that will be a line too far for the GOP.

Sen. Cory Gardner always stands behind President Trump

Gardner has made it abundantly clear, in fact, that he won’t be backing away from Trump for any reason. As Ian Silverii writes today in the Denver Post:

That Gardner would participate in this fundraiser with the full knowledge of the whistleblower scandal probably tells us that he understands that there will be no political exit for him. If new facts emerge from the impeachment inquiry or if public opinion continues to move against him, calling for Trump’s resignation will also be an indictment against Gardner for supporting him this far. Afterward, if Gardner tries to pull the ripcord, Trump-brand forks and knives will come out of the bag instead of his parachute.

The 2020 election will be a referendum on President Trump. It should also be a referendum on his Republican enablers. History will not be kind to the likes of Gardner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but Americans won’t have to wait for those books to be written in order to take action.

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“Doug Lamborn Sided With Abusers”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

A press release from the Animal Wellness Foundation last week celebrates the recent passage in the U.S. House of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, a measure designed to prevent a particularly cruel practice against certain show horses:

The PAST Act seeks to strengthen the Horse Protection Act and end the torturous, painful practice of soring Tennessee Walking, Racking, and Spotted Saddle Horses. Soring, the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ front limbs by applying caustic chemicals such as mustard oil or kerosene or inserting sharp objects into the horses’ hooves to create an exaggerated gait known as the “Big Lick,” has plagued the equine world for six decades.

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined as a cosponsor of the Senate companion bill on July 30th, S. 1007, led by the senior U.S. Senator from Idaho, Republican Mike Crapo, that mirrors the House passed legislation. Senator Cory Gardner has not cosponsored the Senate PAST Act but was formerly a cosponsor of the House bill when he served in the Lower Chamber in the 113th Congress. Colorado Governor Jared Polis was also a longtime supporter of the PAST Act during his time in the U.S. House as well.

“Soring involves cruel and intentional infliction of pain on a horse’s legs and hooves purely for sport,” said Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO-02). “No horse should be made to suffer for competition. Though laws have been on the books for decades banning this inhumane practice, horse soring still runs rampant. The PAST Act would strengthen and improve current regulations and ensure that this practice finally comes to an end. I am proud to be a cosponsor of and advocate for this legislation because it is time for Congress to step-in and halt this brutal and unnecessary practice.”

The PAST Act passed by an overwhelming 333-96 margin. In the Colorado House delegation, the only member voting no was Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, who has never in his career allowed distasteful optics to get in his benefactors’ way:

“We applaud the Members of the Colorado Delegation who voted to end this barbaric and indefensible practice that has marred the horse show world for decades,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action and past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association. “We’re disappointed that Doug Lamborn sided with abusers, [Pols emphasis] but the landslide support for the bill is a powerful signal to the U.S. Senate that it should pony up and end this cruelty to horses once and for all.”

Folks, we’ll concede that we are not experts in the field of animal husbandry in general or horsekeeping in particular. But even a brief look at the practice of “soring” horses to produce this trademark showy gait suggests that it is extremely cruel, with only an anachronistic “benefit” to a class of people who are somehow able to enjoy watching an animal prance about oddly without an attack of conscience from the realization that the animal is prancing like that because it is in severe pain. Realizing that, “soring” lumps in with cockfighting and other such practices that are unambiguous animal cruelty and should most certainly be outlawed.

But apparently Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs is down with animal cruelty? Perhaps a horse was mean to him as a child? Being on the losing end of such a lopsided vote to outlaw this barbaric practice makes it a question worth asking–even of El Paso County’s infamously uncouth but perennially safe dullard of a congressman.

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Cory Gardner is Too Darn Busy to Condemn Racism

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:

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 Cuccinelli repeatedly 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 Ryan told 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.

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Doug Lamborn Finally Admits Why He Hates Big Bird

As the Washington Free Beacon reports, GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs is back on his high horse for another attempt to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting–and this time Lamborn is going straight for the wedge-issue jugular instead of pussy-footing around with dry lectures about fiscal responsibility:

Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn (Colo.) has introduced a bill to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which includes National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)…

“The Constitution does not grant the federal government the authority to subsidize media programming. Not only is this funding unconstitutional and wasteful, but it has also violated the conscience rights of many conservative and religious Americans,” [Pols emphasis] Lamborn said, “American taxpayers subsidized the CPB, the parent organization to PBS and NPR, to the tune of $445 million annually for the last two fiscal years.”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

In an op-ed yesterday published by the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal blog, Rep. Lamborn lambastes the popular PBS children’s show Arthur, in which a recurring character in the show recently came out as gay and participated in a same-sex wedding:

A case in point is PBS—the Public Broadcasting Service—which recently aired a surprising episode of the children’s show “Arthur” titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone.” In this episode, PBS writers deemed it appropriate to preach their liberal views on same-sex marriage to America’s young children: The episode featured—and celebrated—a same-sex wedding.

After the episode, many conservatives, including Rev. Franklin Graham and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, came out in opposition. Even the state of Alabama opted against airing the program and instead barred the episode from Alabama Public Television.

When confronted with criticism, Marc Brown, the creator of “Arthur,” explained: “That’s not the kind of world we want to live in, and we want children educated so they can see there’s not just one type of family.”

Taxpayers now know with complete certainty that the goal of the PBS cartoon is to impart social liberalism to children… [Pols emphasis]

Although Lamborn has an ally in President Donald Trump, who has similarly proposed the defunding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in his dead-on-arrival budgets, it’s a safe bet that Lamborn’s bill is headed directly for the circular file in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. Of course it’s not really about passing a bill like this so much as it is, you know, talking about it–much like Lamborn’s campaign as a state lawmaker to swap the names of Mt. Democrat and Republican Mountain so the latter would be taller.

But what’s newsworthy in the age of Trump is that Lamborn seems to be much more open about his desire to defund PBS because PBS offends his homophobic sensibilities. That’s an “evolution” from his much less overtly prejudicial past statements on the issue, and not in a good way.

No doubt it’s how he always felt, but apparently it’s okay to come out and say it now.

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Colorado GOP Chair Voted ‘NO’ on Disaster Relief Bill

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.

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Rep. Doug Lamborn Scoffs At You Meddling Kids

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

The Colorado Independent’s Robin Bravender reports on freshly quotable remarks from Colorado’s least inspiring Congressman, Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs–who has a thing or two to say about these whipper-snapper first-year Democrats, and their high-falutin’ idears for green energy and other such pies in the sky:

The Democrats’ sweeping plan sounds “too much like a Soviet five-year plan or something like that,” Lamborn told his colleagues Wednesday at a U.S. House hearing about climate change. The 5th District Republican, who represents Colorado Springs, said of the Green New Deal: It’s “simply not going to work.”

…Lamborn, 64, told the Natural Resources Committee he can understand how some of his younger colleagues have bought into the idea.

“You only have to be 25 years old to be a member of Congress, and we have young people that bring a lot of great qualities, but maybe they don’t bring a lot of life experience,” he said. “I guess I can understand if someone has not a lot of life experience and they’re proposing something that’s extremely unrealistic, well, impossible.”

He can’t understand how “adults and grownups, who are more mature,” would also be advocating for the plan, he said. [Pols emphasis]

Ouch, grandpa! Of course, there are plenty of “grownups” well over the age of 25 who argue a swift and determined migration to renewable energy is an urgent priority–and if Lamborn speaks for the rest of the Republican Party in declaring 25-year-old Americans are not “adults and grownups,” well, that’s a big problem for Republicans in…every future election? It’s tough to imagine the 18-25 bloc of voters ever taking that kindly.

It’s not really a surprise to see Rep. Lamborn put off by bold initiatives from the new Democratic majority in the House, with basically no legislative accomplishments of his own to celebrate after over a decade in Congress. When Lamborn does make the press, it’s usually for embarrassing self-injury like referring to President Barack Obama as a “tar baby.” In the Colorado legislature, Lamborn was best known for his quest to swap the names of Colorado’s Mount Democrat and Republican Mountain so that Republicans would have the taller mountain (this is not a joke).

So no, like that special baby boomer in your life who talks about “kids today” with a disapproving sneer, it’s a safe bet that Rep. Lamborn is never going to be a supporter of the Green New Deal. It may unfortunately be necessary for another election to pass before anything like this plan has a realistic chance of becoming law, serving until then as a point of contrast between the two parties for voters.

And though his own seat may be safe, Lamborn is a good contrast for voters everywhere too.

Especially the younger ones.

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Report: BLM HQ Will Move West

As Erin Prater writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette:

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is prepared to move ahead on moving the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to the West, according to reports.

Grand Junction is expected to be a prime possibility for the new national headquarters, partly because of the work of Colorado’s two U.S. senators, Republican Cory Gardner of Yuma and Michael Bennet of Denver…

…Rep. Scott Tipton’s office said Thursday that the department will conduct an analysis to help choose a location in the next six to eight months, Interior Department senior adviser Susan Combs told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, according to the release Thursday. “Ninety-nine percent of the land that the BLM manages is located in the West, and the decisions made by the Bureau have daily impacts on those who live there, so it only makes sense to move the headquarters to a Western state. This would ensure that decisions would be made by those who understand the land best, resulting in more effective land management programs and policies.

Moving the headquarters of the BLM to the American West has been a long-running project that has the support of Colorado’s entire Congressional delegation, as well as the backing of local officials and Gov. John Hickenlooper. Colorado isn’t guaranteed to be the new home of the BLM, but Grand Junction is at least among the frontrunners.

It’s too soon to tell if this pending move will have a significant effect on BLM policies in the West or is more of a publicity stunt, though a new HQ would almost certainly create some new jobs in Colorado.

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At Least You Weren’t In Charge of this Media Event

Clean Drinking Water Ceremony

Residents of Fountain, Colorado are being told that they can once again use groundwater that was contaminated by firefighting chemicals two years ago, though the safety of the water from the Widefield Aquifer is still under debate.

Congressman Doug Lamborn’s office was promoting a “Safe Drinking Water Ceremony” on Wednesday to mark this event, and we couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the effort. Just try to imagine being the person in charge of trying to attract media outlets to this “ceremony”:

Today, June 20, 2018 at 2:00pm MT, City of Fountain Mayor Gabriel Ortega; Colonel Eric Dorminey, Vice Commander of the 21st Space Wing, Peterson Air Force Base; congressional delegation from the offices of Congressman Doug Lamborn, Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Cory Gardner; Curtis Mitchell, P.E., City of Fountain Utilities Director; and other City Officials will participate in a ceremony to commemorate the delivery of safe, filtered groundwater from the Widefield Aquifer to Fountain residents.

INFORMATION: Congressman Lamborn was pleased to facilitate meetings at the Pentagon between Air Force leadership and local officials in order to ensure a timely response to the PFOS/PFOA issue. In 2017, the United States Air Force installed Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) treatment units at two city-owned wells in downtown Fountain. GAC is a proven, effective treatment method that removes the Perfluorinated Compound (PFC) contamination discovered in Fountain’s groundwater supply in October 2015. The City of Fountain recently received positive results from one of seventeen laboratories nationwide authorized by the Environmental Protection Agency to test for PFCs. Tests confirm that PFCs have been removed to non-detectable levels in Fountain’s GAC filtered groundwater supply. Non-detectable levels are less than 2.5 parts per trillion, well below the Environmental Protection Agency’s current Health Advisory Limit of 70 parts per trillion.

Somebody should get a raise for this.

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Owen Hill Enters Hail Mary Phase

Sen. Owen Hill (R).

The Colorado Springs Independent reports on the latest jabs from state Sen. Owen Hill in the CD-5 primary–with polls showing Hill third in the race and Rep. Doug Lamborn cruising to another victory over his split opposition, Hill is throwing the kitchen sink at both of his primary opponents:

The race for the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District June 26 primary is heating up with State Sen. Owen Hill sending out fliers that needle two of his opponents as “counterfeit conservatives” and “swamp things.”

Those labels, the fliers say, apply to El Paso County Commission President Darryl Glenn and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, who’s seeking his seventh term in office…

We haven’t heard from Lamborn, but Glenn tells us via email, “Here’s my official and only statement: As a brother in Christ, I would encourage Owen to seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit before he designs his marketing materials.”

Meanwhile, a story in the Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette smacks of a Hill-inspired hit job, though the subject matter is most certainly fair game:

Darryl Glenn, one of four Republicans challenging U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in the June 26 primary, has been paying himself a salary out of campaign funds equal to what he makes as an El Paso County commissioner, according to campaign finance documents filed Thursday…

Glenn tried something similar two years ago when he paid himself $70,815 after losing a run for the U.S. Senate, but the FEC made him return the money to his campaign fund.

Meanwhile, Glenn’s campaign paid more than $20,000 to family members for consulting work during the 10-week reporting period, something he’s been doing since he launched his congressional run last summer with the $232,545 left over from his Senate bid.

It’s not a good story for Darryl Glenn, but at this point it’s difficult to see anything meaningfully altering the trajectory of this race. Sen. Hill’s once-promising political career appears to have hit a wall when he opted to challenge Rep. Lamborn in 2018. If the polls showing Hill distantly trailing Glenn are accurate, it means Lamborn has once again managed to split the perennial dissatisfaction with his lackluster representation of this conservative stronghold and secure himself another two years in office.

If you’re one of the military contractors and other vested local interests who purchases Lamborn’s rubber-stamp support, this is fine. If you’re a thoughtful conservative living in a district crying out for a thoughtful–or at least noticeable–conservative voice in Congress to represent them, this is the perpetuation of a demoralizing status quo. Either Hill or Glenn would be a representative more in line with the ideological stridency of CD-5 than Lamborn. And either would also be…well, just plain smarter. It’s a low bar, but they would meet it and the whole state would arguably be better off for it.

But alas, also-rans, it was not to be. Not this year.

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Trump’s EPA, Colorado Springs’ Pollution: Dirty Deeds Afoot?

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

A story published Friday by the Colorado Springs Independent, a frequent source for the straight dope on happenings along the Ronald Reagan Highway when the Phil Anschutz-owned newspaper of record for that city turns a blind eye, is causing considerable concern among Colorado Springs’ neighbors to the south along the city’s principal drainage Fountain Creek. It’s a situation we’re discussed a number of times as Pueblo has sought to hold the Springs accountable for unchecked stormwater and sewage pollution surging into Fountain Creek–but under Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, the story may be taking a sinister turn:

Despite protests from fellow plaintiffs, the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to revisit a possible settlement with the city Colorado Springs over alleged Clean Water Act violations caused by the city’s longterm neglect of stormwater management, according to documents obtained by the Independent.

The renewed negotiations come as U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch scheduled an August trial in the lawsuit on May 22, the day after the state’s lead attorney in the case was reportedly fired for a reason the Colorado Attorney General’s Office won’t discuss.

Margaret “Meg” Parish, first assistant attorney general in the Natural Resources & Environment Section, wrote several scathing letters to the EPA in recent months, calling the EPA’s action “shocking and extraordinary” and expressing “deep concern and disappointment” that the agency would unilaterally reopen settlement discussion without consulting co-plaintiffs. Besides the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), those include Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

The move was particularly alarming, she noted, because the state and EPA had signed an agreement in which both agreed not to communicate with the city without the presence of the other.

The EPA is a lead plaintiff in the long-running litigation over Colorado Springs’ pollution of Fountain Creek, obviously possessing resources local municipalities do not have–especially smaller, poorer communities like Pueblo versus Colorado Springs–to force polluters to work in good faith to clean themselves up. What’s happening here could be interpreted as an end run around the upcoming trial, allowing Colorado Springs to settle on terms vastly more favorable to the city than the trial would likely produce. It follows a request last year by GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn for the EPA to drop the lawsuit entirely.

What changed between the EPA working in good faith with Pueblo and other downstream communities to hold Colorado Springs accountable for stormwater and sewage pollution? Donald Trump became President, appointing the most controversially permissive EPA administrator in the agency’s history in Scott Pruitt. The recent completion of the Southern Delivery System, which pipes Arkansas River water north to Colorado Springs, facilitates future growth in Colorado Springs while increasing the treated sewage flows into Fountain Creek. And now you have the Republican city administration of Colorado Springs cozying up with this new EPA, seemingly in opposition to the parties the EPA was charged with assisting.

When Lamborn’s request to the EPA to terminate its involvement in the lawsuit agaist Colorado Springs was reported, Lamborn’s fellow Republican Rep. Scott Tipton who represents Pueblo stood up for his constituents–reminding Lamborn that “the lawsuit was filed by both the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a reason.”

Now that it appears the treachery is moving from the planning to the operational stages, it’s definitely time for Pueblo’s representative in Congress to throw down! If Tipton’s split loyalties between his constituents in Pueblo and his party allow Colorado Springs to escape accountability for polluting Fountain Creek, it’s a very serious problem for Tipton’s re-election.

However this situation resolves, it’s a hard lesson in how times have changed–and how elections matter.

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Little Love For Owen Hill In Poll That’s Great For Lamborn

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Ernest Luning at the former Colorado Statesman reports:

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn holds a 10-point lead over Darryl Glenn in the crowded 5th Congressional District’s Republican primary race just two weeks before mail ballots go out, according to a new survey released Wednesday by GOP polling firm Magellan Strategies.

Lamborn, seeking his seventh term, tops the field of five Republicans, with 37 percent of likely primary voters picking the incumbent if the election in the Colorado Springs-focused district were held today. Glenn, an El Paso County commissioner who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2016, follows with 27 percent, and state Sen. Owen Hill comes in third with 10 percent support.

Tyler Stevens, a former mayor of Green Mountain Falls, and Bill Rhea, a former Texas state judge, bring up the rear at 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

With two relatively well-known GOP primary challengers this year in the form of El Paso County commish and 2016 U.S. Senate nominee Darryl Glenn alongside state Sen. Owen Hill, this poll reflects what’s setting up once again as a best-case scenario for incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn. Lamborn’s undistinguished record in Congress leads to discontent just about every election from CD-5’s conservative Republican base, but the challengers never seem to quite have it together.

This year looks to be no different. Lamborn’s 10-point lead over Glenn, who is turn in a surprising 17 points ahead of Owen Hill, means that once again the opposition to Lamborn is fatally split between multiple primary challengers. Because most voters in this overwhelmingly Republican congressional district would write-in Donald Duck before voting for any Democratic candidate, the net result is another two years of rubber-stamp mediocrity in a district that would support far more inspiring Republican representation.

We don’t mind admitting we’re a little surprised by Sen. Hill’s weakness in this race, since those who know him from his service in the state senate would consider him to be the more formidable challenger to Lamborn. That’s credit you have to give to Glenn, just like we did in 2016 when he won the GOP Senate primary–even if it doesn’t change the end result.

Better luck in 2020 is all we can wish to Colorado’s foremost conservative stronghold.

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This is Really Not a Good Year for Incumbent Republicans

Clockwise from top left: Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo. Springs).

Four states held Primary elections on Tuesday (Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia), and perhaps the biggest takeaway from those results is this: 2018 is a terrible year to be an incumbent Republican.

As the Washington Post reports:

Republican members of the House fared especially poorly Tuesday in primaries across four states, offering fresh evidence that this fall will bring another change election and a new batch of outsiders promising to shake up Washington.

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger was felled by former Baptist pastor Mark Harris despite a massive spending advantage, an outcome that caught D.C. Republicans off guard. Harris portrayed the third-term lawmaker as a creature of “the swamp” and relentlessly hammered him over his March vote for the $1.3 trillion spending bill. Pittenger is the first incumbent of either party to be forced out of Congress this year.

In the primary to take on Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D), wealthy businessman Mike Braun won an upset over two GOP congressmen, Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, who have been rivals since college and spent months beating the tar out of each other.

In West Virginia, Rep. Evan Jenkins (R) lost to state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the primary to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D).

The fifth Republican Member of Congress (from Tuesday alone) who will not be returning to the House in 2019 is Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci, who won the GOP Primary for U.S. Senate in unspectacular fashion; Renacci managed just 47% of the vote against four unknown candidates despite plenty of campaign support from President Trump.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza includes all Members of Congress in his list of “Losers” from Tuesday, though we’re really only talking about Republicans here:

There was a time when being a sitting member of Congress was a major advantage when running statewide. You had a political base and a fundraising base. Those days are done — at least for now.

Here in Colorado, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is regularly fighting for his political life, but 2018 may be his toughest challenge yet should Jason Crow emerge from the Democratic Primary (which is likely). Polling results released in February showed Crow with a 5-point lead over Coffman, marking the first time a public poll showed Coffman trailing anyone since he was first elected in CD-6 in 2008.

Recent polling also shows Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) to be in serious trouble this fall, thanks in large part to his support for the Great Republican Tax Cut for Rich People and his regular enthusiasm for gutting health care benefits.

In CD-5, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) almost failed to make the June Primary ballot altogether, though he’ll still have a tough fight for his seat against three four Republican challengers. Our final incumbent Republican is Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who is probably safe because of a combination of relatively-weak Democratic challengers and a sustained effort to build a more “independent” image; still, it’s worth pointing out that Buck seriously considered abandoning his seat in CD-4 last fall in order to run for Attorney General.

We’re still six months out from the General Election, but disdain for GOP incumbents partnered with a growing blue wave should make the rest of 2018 very uncomfortable for at least two long-tenured Republican Members of Congress in Colorado.

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Lamborn Makes The Ballot Because Election Law Means Squat

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

That’s the word from Denver7’s busy political reporter Blair Miller:

Six-term U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn will get the chance to try for a seventh term, as a federal judge on Tuesday ruled that Lamborn should be on the Republican primary ballot in Colorado’s 5th congressional district.

U.S. District Court of Colorado Judge Philip A. Brimmer made the ruling Tuesday afternoon, a day after Lamborn’s attorney argued that Colorado’s residency requirement for signature gatherers violated the U.S. Constitution…

The group that had originally petitioned to get Lamborn off the ballot will appeal to the 10th Circuit and hope that ballot certification will be postponed further, a spokesman for the group, Kyle Fisk, told Denver7.

“We are disappointed that a federal chose to overrule the unanimous decision of the Colorado Supreme Court as well as overturn the will of the people of Colorado as expressed by their elected representatives,” Fisk said in a statement sent to Denver7. “We have filed an immediate appeal to the 10th Circuit. We have also requested that Secretary Williams not be allowed to certify the ballot until the 10th Circuit hears the appeal.”

It’s a decision that effectively upends Colorado law on petition signature gathering, and there will be fallout from this decision that could seriously weaken the ability of not just Colorado, but other states to regulate their own election processes. At the same time, there’s the argument, apparently successful in federal court, that a six-term incumbent member of Congress should not be forced off the ballot by a technicality.

For the record, we don’t buy that argument for a minute. And the can of worms opened today, just so Colorado’s least beloved member of Congress can get another two years of uninspired representation of Colorado’s foremost conservative bastion, will in all probability not be worth the trouble.

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