Patrick Neville, House GOP Tripped Up Badly By Prop DD

Most of the attention on the 2019 Colorado ballot now arriving in mailboxes across the state is focused on Proposition CC, the referred measure to allow the state to keep and spend tax money collected in excess of the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights arbitrary revenue growth cap–a provision in the law blamed for the state’s inability to, among other things, benefit from economic good times and planning ahead for fiscal “rainy days.”

But a second ballot measure, Proposition DD, implementing a 10% tax on newly legalized sports betting, nominally enjoys broad bipartisan support as a new revenue stream directed at Colorado’s substantial backlog of water conservation and storage projects. One of the chief Republican proponents of Proposition DD is none other than hard-right House Minority Leader Patrick Neville–and unfortunately for Neville, GOP legislative support for DD is causing him big headaches with both the rightmost nether reaches of the Republican base:

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

That’s GOP attorney Korry Lewis, daughter of Rep. Kimmi Lewis and a major player in the failed recall campaign against Gov. Jared Polis. Responding to her with an uncharacteristically vitriolic comment that was later deleted is Rep. Matt Soper, raging back at Lewis for allegedly supporting sending “more water to the Front Range. You people make me sick!” Soper says to Lewis, celebrating a new high point in Western Slope-Eastern Plains intra-GOP relations.

But gentle readers, it gets even better. Here’s Minority Leader Neville in the Denver Post this weekend, defending Proposition DD by committing what may by the worst of all cardinal sins for a Colorado Republican–disparaging TABOR!

The ballot question starts with the potential tax increase, as all tax questions must in Colorado. In this case, the question is: “Shall state taxes be increased by twenty-nine million dollars annually?”

But it’s not a tax on Coloradans, it’s a 10% tax on casinos. Sportsbooks would take a cut of each bet placed in person or through a mobile app, and this tax would be on a percentage of those earnings.

Now first of all, whether or not a tax is collected before or after the taxed transaction, it’s most certainly still a tax. For Republicans who have spent the last decade arguing that every miniscule change in the law that results in more money going into public coffers is a “tax increase”–which is also the principal argument being made by Republicans right now against Proposition CC–there’s absolutely no way to weasel out of this. It may be a tax on a vice that only voluntary participants would pay, but it’s absolutely a new tax, and excepting the segment of the voting public that views any new tax revenue as a violation of their oath to “starve the beast,” it should be okay to say so. But not to Pat Neville:

“It’s unfortunate the ballot language has to say that,” Neville said, adding that the wording might confuse some voters. [Pols emphasis]

And why, you ask, is the ballot language required to begin with the words “shall state taxes be increased by…” instead of other words that Neville thinks might more accurately describe what Proposition DD does? Article 10 of the Colorado Constitution, otherwise known as the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights:

(iv). Ballot titles for tax or bonded debt increases shall begin, “SHALL (DISTRICT) TAXES BE INCREASED (first, or if phased in, final, full fiscal year dollar increase) ANNUALLY…?” or “SHALL (DISTRICT) DEBT BE INCREASED (principal amount), WITH A REPAYMENT COST OF (maximum total district cost), …?”

Understand this: GOP Minority Leader Patrick Neville thinks it’s “unfortunate” that TABOR requires ballot measures to be worded the way Proposition DD is worded–a provision that Republicans have repeatedly hailed as a key step toward “honesty” with the voters about tax increases. With that, Pat Neville has just validated every Democrat who has ever condemned the inflexible ballot language mandated by TABOR. It’s dangerously easy from there to arrive at the conclusion that TABOR was not authored by God via the hand of convicted felon tax cheat Doug Bruce after all.

We still expect Proposition DD to pass. But the far right may well feud on the back side for years to come.

Will Republicans Join the Fight to Save Journalism in Colorado?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Colorado Media Project, a coalition fighting to give journalism a future, plans to push legislation next year to save local news in Colorado.

“We have talked to legislators on both sides of the aisle already,” said JB Holston, a Denver University dean and a spark plug of the CMP. “The frames are different, but they are not incompatible. A lot of R’s look at it and say, ‘Gee, that’s an economic development, Colorado-innovation, small-business development opportunity.’ Those on the other side of the aisle resonate with the notion that democracy is at risk.”

“But I think the other notion is, when you have a one-party state, the other party doesn’t mind having journalists to the same degree,” Holston continued. “So, I think there is some of that going on.”

Holston was speaking on a panel yesterday about the CMP’s new report, “Local News is a Public Good.”

“I think one of the challenges for the conversation in Colorado, though, is, how do we scale that conversation,” Holston said. “This kind of a forum is great. How do you have a hundred times as many people in real time involved. I think the New Jersey story is a good example of how you get that done. But a lot of the challenge for this is, where do we go from here?
“Now we are putting legislation on the table for this session. This is the beginning of a scaled, Colorado-wide, collaborative conversation about the issue.”

Holston and his fellow panel members took the surprising step of advocating a tax specifically to boost journalism in Colorado (e.g., a sales tax on digital ads, a local special-district tax).

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No On CC Campaign Ends Unauthorized Use of State Logo Following CTR Story

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Following the Colorado Times Recorder’s report that the “Vote No On CC” campaign was using the new Colorado state logo without permission, attorneys for the state issued a cease and desist letter. The logo has since been removed.

Proposition CC is a referred measure from the Legislature that asks voters to keep state tax revenue over the limits prescribed by the state constitution. The proposal is so common it has a nickname, “De-Brucing,” after anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce, whose 1992 ballot initiative, the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR), added the revenue limits to the constitution in the first place.

Over 80% of all Colorado cities, counties and school districts have already passed similar measures at the local level.

Bruce, who is leading the opposition campaign, is also a convicted felon who served prison time for tax fraud, attempted bribery and money laundering.

The “Vote No on CC” website is run by a longtime friend of Bruce, Dr. Frederic Herman of Wyoming. The state logo has been replaced with an image of free market economist Frederic Bastiat, who argued that taxation is “legalized plunder.”

Opposing the taking of someone else’s property without permission is entire thrust of the No on CC campaign’s argument. Ironically, it’s the same argument the state of Colorado made to the campaign in order to get it to stop using the state logo for political purposes.

Ick Alert: Charlie Kirk, Don Jr. Coming To Fort Collins


Donald Trump, Jr. holding a dead elephant’s tail.

As the Denver Post’s Elizabeth Hernandez reports:

Donald Trump Jr. and conservative firebrand Charlie Kirk are scheduled to speak at Colorado State University next week as part of a cross-country tour put on by the conservative student organization Turning Point USA…

Kirk has caused a stir at CSU in the past. When the conservative provocateur spoke in Fort Collins in 2018, a group wielding riot shields, large flashlights and face masks with skulls on them stormed the campus while chanting Nazi slogans, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Protests before and during the speech were orderly, university officials said, but CSU’s police chief issued a dispersal order due to a risk of imminent threat of potential violence.

Kirk also has visited the University of Colorado Boulder campus and many other universities across the country.

Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk’s conservative campus organizing group, made news earlier this year when the University of Colorado chapter of the organization called for the resignation of the group’s communication director Candace Owens after her odd remarks that seemed to suggest Adolf Hitler would have been fine had he simply wanted to “make Germany great again”–and she did resign from that post a couple of months later. TPUSA and Charlie Kirk himself have been called out by fellow conservatives for hiring unapologetic racists, and freely employing over-the-top shock-jock rhetoric that ultimately makes the right look bad.

As for Donald Trump Jr.…well, he needs no introduction. Described as a “bad take machine,” President Trump’s scariest male offspring is practically guaranteed to have something newsworthily offensive to say in Fort Collins–especially inside the friendly confines of a TPUSA rally! Depending on how much worse the impeachment crisis besetting his dad gets between now and then, Junior could really show up loaded for bear.

Figuratively speaking, we hope.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 15)


Happy “Global Handwashing Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Oh, this is rich. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump complained Tuesday about a lack of “transparency” in the accelerating Democrats-led impeachment inquiry as House investigators heard from another key State Department official behind closed doors at the Capitol. [Pols emphasis]

George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, has been summoned to testify about a campaign by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine into investigating the president’s political rival, former vice president and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter…

…House Democrats are scheduled to huddle behind closed doors later Tuesday about the status of the inquiry.

The New York Times has more on the latest updates regarding impeachment depositions. The fact that regular updates about impeachment depositions even exist would seem to refute Trump’s “lack of transparency” complaints.

As Politico reports, Trump’s attempts to bar the doors to impeachment testimony is failing bigly:

Donald Trump’s impeachment blockade has collapsed.

The president’s former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill — the first White House official to cooperate in Democrats’ investigation of the Ukraine scandal — has sketched for lawmakers a trail of alleged corruption that extends from Kiev to the West Wing. In dramatic testimony on Monday, she roped in some of Trump’s top advisers as witnesses to the unfolding controversy.

And on Tuesday, a senior State Department official, George Kent, appeared on Capitol Hill to testify about his knowledge of the episode despite an attempt by administration lawyers to block him, according to a source working on the impeachment inquiry. The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for his testimony Tuesday morning, and Kent complied.

It’s the latest evidence that the White House’s stonewalling against congressional requests for documents and testimony is crumbling — and Democrats are feeling a new sense of momentum.

 

► Democratic Presidential candidates hit the stage in Columbus, Ohio tonight for the next big debate. Readers of Colorado Pols seem to think that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is in the driver’s seat at the moment. Over at CNN, you can read their list of seven things to watch for in tonight’s debate, including the performance of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had heart surgery just a few weeks ago.

 

► As the New York Times reports, Russia is plenty pleased with President Trump’s decision last week to remove American troops from Syria:

As the Middle East reels from President Trump’s erratic foreign policy, Russia is savoring a fresh chance to build its status as a resurgent world power and cast itself as a force for stability. The withdrawal of United States troops from northeastern Syria, coupled with Turkey’s incursion, is allowing Russia to play the part of responsible peacemaker and to present a contrast to what many in the region see as unstable leadership from Washington.

It’s too soon to tell whether Russia will be able to manage the new volatility in Syria, just as it’s not clear if the impeachment furor over Ukraine will help the Kremlin’s interests in Eastern Europe. But as Russian President Vladimir V. Putin landed in Saudi Arabia Monday for a state visit to one of America’s most important allies, it appeared clear that Mr. Trump’s moves in recent months were helping him make the case that Moscow, not Washington, was the more dependable actor on the world stage. [Pols emphasis]

Here in Colorado, residents with Kurdish ties are asking Americans to speak out against Turkey’s aggression in Northern Syria.

 

► Colorado Republicans are going to have to cast a ballot for President Trump in a GOP Primary, as 9News reports:

Trump will face a Republican primary in Colorado, unlike five other states where party leaders canceled contests in favor of automatically assigning delegate votes.

The Colorado Republican Party cannot cancel a primary if a second person is on the ballot. In Colorado, Trump will compete with Robert Ardini, of New York, for the 2020 nomination.

Ardini 2020, or something!

 

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

Cory Gardner Wants to Eliminate Obamacare, Insists GOP Solutions Will Cover Preexisting Conditions

(2013 called, wants talking points back – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

At a Colorado Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week, Sen. Gardner (R-CO) once again confirmed his desire to repeal Obamacare, without offering a plan to protect people with preexisting conditions from losing their insurance coverage.

Asked by moderator Ed Sealover if the unspecified Republican replacement plan would keep any of the popular features of Obamacare, Gardner repeated his claim that the Republican solution would preserve those elements.

Gardner has been claiming for months that a Republican plan would continue to protect people with preexisting conditions. He continues to assert this despite voting repeatedly to eliminate coverage for preexisting conditions without offering any viable replacement.

SEALOVER: Should any of the provisions of the ACA stay in place in your mind?
GARDNER: Yes. We’ve already talked about [allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance until] age 26. We need to make sure we are protecting and providing coverage for people with preexisting conditions. The solutions we bring will provide coverage for people with preexisting conditions. But what I think is now widely recognized is that both sides of the aisle now want to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. That’s why you see it in Medicare For All and that’s why you see it in other solutions for replacement. We can provide people with preexisting conditions with affordable coverage. We ought to pursue things like we’ve helped with in Colorado that will now reduce the cost of insurance between $7-8k for a family of four.

Gardner is referring to the reinsurance waiver passed by the legislature last year and approved by the federal government in late July. He has repeatedly taken credit for its success in reducing health insurance premiums on the individual health insurance market, despite his multiple votes to repeal Obamacare, which would have eliminated the waiver program entirely.

Gardner also opposed another program designed to help insurance companies cover expensive patients. He and Sen. Rubio stripped funding from a risk corridor provision of Obamacare.

Stupid Facts Keep Messing Up O&G Talking Points


The fracking operation shown in this photo does not really exist. Probably.

Facts have a nasty habit of contradicting nonsense.

If you are someone like President Trump, you deal with the intractable fact problem by just ignoring the existence of true, provable information altogether; this approach got Trump a room at the White House, but it hasn’t been as effective since the 2016 election. Trump’s effusive display of non-factual information has nevertheless emboldened a number of politicians and right-wing sycophants eager to use their bullshit currency whenever possible.

During the 2019 Colorado legislative session, many Republicans shook their fists from the mountaintops about Senate Bill 181, an oil and gas regulation bill that opponents claimed would completely destroy the fossil fuel industry in Colorado and turn us all into a bunch of penniless fools destined to stumble around the Eastern Plains with empty gas cans. As it turned out, this was not even sorta true, but the mythology persists: Just last week a large number of fingers were again pointed at SB-181 amid news that energy giant Halliburton was laying off hundreds of workers (including 178 in Grand Junction). Halliburton itself blamed “local market conditions” resulting from low oil prices and a general surplus of oil and gas in the United States, but that didn’t stop right-wing voices in Colorado from yelling about SB-181.

As Ed Sealover of the Denver Business Journal reported last week, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) directed his ire at SB-181 during a Colorado Chamber of Commerce event in Denver:

On oil and gas regulations, Gardner swerved from federal policy to attack Senate Bill 181 — the Colorado law signed in April allowing local governments more control over drilling and requiring state officials to consider public health and safety above other factors in permitting decisions — saying that it is slowing the number of drilling-permit applications, which will lead to a loss of activity and loss of jobs in the coming years. He said he supports an “all of the above” policy of promoting both traditional and renewable energy; when pressed, he said his focus on renewables includes support for increased funding for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden but will not include any mandated percentage of national energy that should come from renewable sources.

“We should increase the percentage of fuel that is clean energy,” Gardner said. “But we should let the market work.” [Pols emphasis]

We highlighted that last part for reasons that will soon become obvious. As Greg Avery reports this afternoon for the Denver Business Journal, the market appears to be working just fine:

Jagged Peak Energy Inc., a Denver-based oil and gas company, is merging with a larger Texas company in a deal worth nearly $2.3 billion that consolidates operations in Texas’ Delaware Basin.

The deal, if it closes as expected early next year, will leave Denver with one less headquarters of a publicly-traded oil and gas company.

So…a Denver-based oil and gas company is merging with a larger Texas company not because of production problems in Colorado, but in order to consolidate operations in Texas.

We all know what’s happening here: Colorado SB-181 is now destroying the oil and gas industry in other states!

Who Will be the Democratic Nominee for President in 2020?


Who fills this spot in 2020?

What time is it? Poll time!

With the next Democratic Presidential debate coming up on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio, it’s time again to ask the wise readers of Colorado Pols to predict the Democratic nominee for President in 2020. When we last asked this question in September, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were neck-and-neck at the top of the poll.

As always, we want to know what you think will happen here — not what you want to happen or who you personally might support. If you had to place a bet — right now — on the outcome of the Democratic Primary, where would you put your money? Who do you predict will be the Democratic nominee for President in 2020?

Click after the jump to cast your completely un-scientific vote…

(more…)

At Least It’s Not Your Congressman (Ship Spotting Edition)


In Colorado politics, one of the seminal faux pas a candidate can commit is using a scenic photo of a mountain range that turns out to not be located in the state of Colorado. Various locations from Alaska’s Denali to the Canadian Rockies, not to mention a Utah canyonscape or two, have embarrassingly stood in for Colorado locales in ads and other literature–which understandably tends to punch holes in a candidate’s authenticity.

Well folks, here’s the nautical version of getting your mountains wrong, courtesy Florida GOP Rep. Brian Mast:

As the world continues to wrestle with the aftermath of what could be the most successful Russian intelligence operation against our country since the theft of the atomic bomb, it’s hard to imagine a more…tragicomic mistake from a Republican congressman.

Colorado Kurds Ask Their Neighbors (You) To Care


Denver7’s Ivan Rodriguez reports:

Members of Colorado’s Kurdish community gathered outside the state Capitol Sunday afternoon to protest Turkish attacks in Syria.

President Donald Trump ordered U.S. troops in northern Syria to step aside, clearing the way for an attack by Turkey, which regards the Kurds as terrorists…

Kani Murad said aside from being Kurdish, she believes this is a humanitarian issue and not political.

“No matter where you are, you should still care about those people, about those families who have been displaced,” she said. “People have lost family members, lost children, and don’t know what to do.”

In past years, Colorado politicos on both sides of the aisle have expressed support for the Kurds well beyond the official American position. In 2014, then Rep.-now Gov. Jared Polis called for the establishment of an independent Kurdistan in a Denver Post op-ed:

In Iraq, the Kurdish people have been an immeasurably valuable ally to the United States, because we share common democratic values and general respect for human rights. For a long time, we shared a common enemy: the repressive dictatorship led by Saddam Hussein. Kurdish soldiers fought alongside American troops and our coalition partners during the first Gulf War, and the Kurds were the most actively pro-America voice in Iraq following our 2003 invasion. They have also been reliable opponents of the violence and extremism of al-Qaeda terrorist groups.

Though the United States has provided half-hearted support for Kurdish autonomy in Iraq, our foreign policy has often treated the Kurds as a political tool to weaken Iraqi groups we oppose, rather than as an ally with whom we have shared interests. After the Gulf War, the United States deliberately encouraged the Iraqi Kurds to rise up against Saddam Hussein in a bid for independence. Kurdish leaders were under the impression that the United States would provide support. We didn’t; the uprising failed; and more than 30,000 civilians were killed.

Although some Colorado Republicans including Sen. Cory Gardner have put out hand-wringing statements of “concern” about President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds in northern Syria and allow a Turkish military offensive to proceed, the situation on the ground is by all accounts rapidly deteriorating after Trump ordered the last of American forces out of the country–a decision announced just yesterday. The Kurds themselves are no strangers to being betrayed by the United States out of political expediency, but the sudden and inexplicable nature of this decision by Trump seems worse than previous episodes.

For members of Trump’s party like Sen. Gardner, his decision to abandon the Kurds to the Turkish Army is a political problem. For Colorado’s Kurdish population, it’s a death sentence for members of their families. It’s difficult for those of us who have lived our lives in peace and prosperity to fully comprehend what it’s like to live in a war zone where civilians are dying indiscriminately.

The message yesterday at the Colorado Capitol was that we Americans are not taking it seriously enough.

CoPols Denver Meetup (board games and costumes optional)


Saturday
October 26, 2pm > (there ain’t no curfew)

exact location – TBD

harryd – can you check with your Lincoln triangle guys?
I’ll check with the lads at The Abbey.

“check” = parking, any special events we should know about, dress code, budget, and whatever else is good to know

 

 

Protesters Spotlight Trump Official’s View That Public Lands Should Be Sold

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a protest Friday, Sierra Club activists spotlighted environmental threats posed by William Perry Pendley, the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) acting director, who spoke on a panel at the annual conference of this week’s Society of Environmental Journalists at Colorado State University (CSU).

The activists fear that Pendley, who was appointed to his position in July, will, among other things, push Trump to sell public lands.

“PENDLEY’S PUBLIC LANDS LIQUIDATION! PRICES REDUCED,” stated a sign held by one of about a dozen demonstrators at the event.

“This longtime president of a nonprofit that advocates selling off millions of acres of federal lands — who is now overseeing 245 million acres, more than 10% of the entire U.S. landmass — is right out of Trump central casting.” said Jim Alexee, director of Sierra Club Colorado in a statement about the protest.  “It’s up to us to stop Trump’s latest yes man from carving up and auctioning off our last wild places — not to mention sacred Native American spaces — to Big Oil and Gas.”

In fact, Pendley once said all public lands owned by the government should be sold, writing in the National Review in 2016 that the “Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold,” and the government has a “constitutional duty” to do so.

Asked about this stance by the Colorado Times Recorder at the SEJ event, Pendley said his personal opinions would have no impact on his decisions in his job, just as he said his denial of global warming would have no bearing on his actions at BLM.

“Once again, those views [about a “constitutional duty” to sell public lands] I expressed then,” he said. “That was then. This is now. My personal opinions in that regard are irrelevant.”

Promises no “wholesale” selling of lands, but how much?

Pendley told journalists at the SEJ conference that the Trump Administration does not favor the “wholesale” transfer of public lands, but he did not offer his definition of “wholesale,” leaving conference goers to speculate on how much land he might actually want the government to let go of.

“The Administration has been crystal clear,” said Pendley. “The president of the United States and the secretary of interior have been crystal clear. We do not believe in, we will not participate in, the wholesale disposal or transfer of federal lands. Bottom line.”

With respect to his 2016 National Review article, which was titled, “The Government Should Follow the Constitution and Sell Its Western Lands,” Pendley told the SEJ conference, “Well, I didn’t say there’s a constitutional duty to sell the land. What I did say was that the property clause, which is in Article 4, gives all that power to Congress. I also said that the founders intended to sell all the lands, but things change. Times changed. Congress passed the National Parks Act in 1910. Congress passed…the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, for which it said we have come to the end of the disposal era. We are no longer selling our federal lands. We are holding on to them. In other words, times changed. We are talking about the past.”

Pendley concluded his 2016 National Review article, after reviewing the congressional action mentioned above, by writing that it’s “hardly surprising that westerners think” federal lands in the West should be sold.

Environmental activists worry that Trump will nominate Pendley to direct the BLM, bumping him up from his acting role in the position.

“We also need to stop Pendley from being confirmed as the permanent Director of BLM, because it’s likely Trump will nominate him for that position,” said the Sierra Club’s Alexee.

Trump Public Lands Director Won’t Say Why He Denies Global Warming–And Says He Has Yet to Be “Briefed” on It

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Acting BLM Director William Perry Pendley.

In a contentious exchange with journalists Friday, the acting director of the federal agency in charge of most public lands in the U.S. insisted his “personal views,” which include a denial of global warming and hostility toward immigrants, have no bearing on his job and he repeatedly refused to discuss his opinions on some topics.

But William Perry Pendley, the acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management, contradicted his no-personal-opinion stance by offering strong opinions on other topics.

“You have been clear in the past, on twitter and elsewhere, that you don’t think climate change exists,” New York Times reporter Lisa Friedman told Pendley during a panel discussion at the annual Society of Environmental Journalists’ conference in Ft. Collins. “I’m hoping that you can clarify for us, first, what did you mean by that? What don’t you think exists? Is it, you don’t think greenhouse gases are warming the earth? Is it something else? What scientists do you rely on for those conclusions, and if the answer required is that this is your personal opinion, maybe you could explain to us some concrete things that you’ve done to help inform or discuss this issue and ensure that personal opinions are not at play in making policy decisions.”

“Nope, not going to clarify,” replied Penley, who’d said earlier in the session that, in his role as BLM director, he’d not yet been “briefed” on climate change issues, in his new job, and did not know when he would be briefed. “Those are my personal opinions.”

“I’m a Marine. I follow orders,” Pendley responded, saying his boss, Secretary of Interior David Benhardt, has said global warming exists and humans have an impact. “He’s told me the way it’s going to be, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”

In response to another journalist’s question, Pendley refused to say whether he still thought “illegal immigration is spreading like a cancer,” as he wrote in a 2007 fundraising letter.

“My personal opinions are irrelevant,” responded Pendley, who will be visiting the border next week to inspect BLM land that his agency must clear for use in construction of Trump’s proposed border wall along the Mexican border. “I have a new job now. I’m a zealous advocate for my client. My client is the American people. And my boss is the president of the United States and Secretary Bernhardt. So what I thought, what I wrote, what I did in the past is irrelevant. I have orders. I have laws to obey, and I intend to do that.”

But Pendley was eager to offer his personal opinion on multiple other issues that arose in the session.

When the panel’s moderator asked all the members of the panel for their thoughts on the proposals by Democratic presidential candidates to stop all new fossil fuel leasing from public lands and public waters, Pendley said, “I’ll jump in,” and he slammed the idea.

“I would be absolutely devastating not just to the American West but to the entire country,” he said. “A tremendous amount of the energy we use every day, whether it’s natural gas or oil, comes from federal lands.

“I can give no other word for it than, absolutely insane and a terrible blow to the American people, to the West. We’ll see how that stands up,” he added. “…I think the overwhelming majority of American people would vote against it.”

Pendley’s desire to pick and choose which of his views to discuss leaves much on the table–because he was widely known as a hardened conservative activist, with extreme views, prior to his appointment to his post by Bernhard in July.

He once accused federal land managers and advocates of “tyranny” for “waging war on the West.”

Pendley served under much-criticized Secretary of Interior James Watt from 1981-1984 and was accused at the time of selling coal resources at the Powder River Basin to industry entities at a $100 million loss to taxpayers.

As the long-time Director of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a conservative advocacy group based in Colorado, Pendley supported Cliven Bundy, the renegade anti-government activist who occupied public lands in a 2014 standoff with the Bureau of Land Management.

On Thursday during an interview on talk radio in Dener, Pendely inched toward supporting folks like Bundy.

The radio host referenced “families fighting with the government” and a “shoot out,” and then asked Pendley about people who feel like the government isn’t on their side.

Without responding directly to the “shoot out” comment by the Libertarian radio host Ross Kaminsky, Pendley framed himself as a defender of the people against government.

“Over the last 30 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with loggers, miners, ranchers, recreationists, canoeists, boaters,” Pendley told KHOW radio’s Ross Kaminsky. “You name it, I’ve worked with them, represented them, gone to the Supreme Court on their behalf. And so, I get their situation vis a vis the federal government.”

“When I was with the Reagan Administration, our desire was to be a good neighbor — [for] the federal government [to] be a good neighbor to local citizens. That’s President Trump’s desire. That’s Secretary Bernhardt’s desire, to be a good neighbor.”

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