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Rep. Mike Coffman: The Wrong Side of the Firewall

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)

New York Times:

As they brace for losses in the House of Representatives, Republican Party leaders are racing to reinforce their candidates in about two-dozen districts, trying to create a barricade around their imperiled majority. They are pouring money and effort mainly into moderate suburban areas, like Mr. Sessions’s seat, that they see as critical to holding the chamber by even a one-seat margin. And they have begun to pull millions of dollars away from Republican candidates who have fallen substantially behind in once-competitive races…

Every election year as October forces national party strategists to make the hard calls about who in Congress can be saved and who must be cut loose–the inverse being who needs help versus who is out of danger–in order to allocate precious resources to the right districts in order to either preserve or win the majority.

In 2018, with majority Republicans looking at an increasingly desperate map and “safe” Republican incumbents in danger all over the country, the goal is to create a firewall of must-hold seats they’ll defend to the last. Because without those seats, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is done for.

It’s a firewall that no longer includes Rep. Mike Coffman:

There are between 60 and 70 Republican-held districts that are being seriously contested, and Democrats, boosted by strong fund-raising, have been expanding their television advertising in conservative-leaning districts in an effort to stretch Republicans thin. National polls have shown most voters favor a Democratic-led House over a Republican one, though the Democrats’ lead has varied.

In a tactical retreat, Republican groups have already withdrawn some or all funding from a few embattled incumbents, mainly in suburbs where President Trump is unpopular, including Representatives Kevin Yoder of Kansas, Mike Coffman of Colorado and Mike Bishop of Michigan.

After the 2016 elections, Democratic victory over Coffman was considered out of reach, even a fool’s errand after so many defeats. The double-digit lead in polling for Democratic candidate Jason Crow this year is not an invitation to complacency on the part of Democrats, not after being so bitterly disappointed in this race so many times.

But in previous years, it was Coffman’s Democratic opponents who found themselves cut off from national support as part of the October triage process. This year Coffman is the one being cut off, and every analyst following the CD-6 race has flipped to favoring the Democrat to win. Republican odds of holding the U.S. House have been slim for months based on public polls, but the difference now is the GOP strategy to hold their majority no longer relies on Mike Coffman winning re-election.

For Democrats, it’s truly now or never.

Coffman Says He’d Consider Supporting Trump Impeachment

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) during “Colorado Decides” debate on Oct. 9, 2018.

The candidates for Congress in CO-6 gathered for a debate on Tuesday in the “Colorado Decides” series hosted by CBS4 Denver, The Colorado Sun, Colorado Public Television, and radio stations 850 KOA and 630 KHOW.

Incumbent Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and Democratic challenger Jason Crow addressed a number of topics in the 30-minute debate, but one topic stood out for Coffman specifically.

At about the 14:15 mark of the debate, CBS4 Denver’s Shaun Boyd asks the candidates about whether or not they would support potential impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and/or President Trump. Here’s the exchange between CBS4 political reporter Shaun Boyd and Coffman:

BOYD: If Democrats do in fact take control of the House, and they bring impeachment proceedings against Judge Kavanaugh and/or President Trump, would you support that?

COFFMAN: We’ll have to see what the evidence is. I’m just surprised, I think [unintelligible]…the issue of Judge Kavanaugh has been fairly litigated. I’m very disappointed, though. I think the Republicans in the Senate made a mistake by not making that FBI report public, to where the American people can see that prior to the vote. I think that was a mistake. Taking the word of the Senators that in fact there was no additional information there.

We have to wait and see where the Mueller investigation goes, as to whether or not it justifies impeachment proceedings. 

BOYD: If it finds collusion, between the Trump administration and Russia, would you support impeachment?

COFFMAN: If it’s a violation of law.

BOYD: You would support impeachment?

COFFMAN: If it’s a violation of law.

BOYD: You would, then, support it. [Pols emphasis]

This is a pretty astonishing answer from Coffman, in part because it opens up the question for every other Republican incumbent in America.

The Aurora Republican has largely embraced President Trump since the 2016 election — even going so far as to say that the FBI itself should be investigated for wrongdoing related to Trump. Now Coffman is intimating that Robert Mueller’s special investigation into potential Russian collusion should be heard and might even convince him to boot out the leader of his own party.

Of course, Coffman fully understands the danger of Trump as the President relates to his own re-election, which is where his natural instinct for gutless political triangulation comes into play. Coffman sees the same polls showing him trailing Crow, driven in part by the large percentage of female voters abandoning the Republican Party, so he’s doing what he does best: Telling voters whatever he thinks they want to hear.

It’s Official: Coffman’s Shots At Crow’s Service Backfired

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora).

Politico’s Rachel Bade reports on a phenomenon being seen around the country with the midterm elections rapidly approaching–endangered Republican incumbents throwing wild haymaker punches at their opponents that are backfiring more than they help.

The local example? Rep. Mike Coffman, naturally:

Democratic House candidate Jason Crow received a Bronze Star for heroism in Iraq and a “lawyer of the year” award for his veterans advocacy. But according to his GOP adversaries, he has “neglected” Colorado veterans…

Democrats say the spots, aired mostly by the outside GOP super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund and the National Republican Congressional Committee, smack of desperation. In some cases, local Republicans, religious leaders and newspaper editorial boards have denounced the attacks.

…Backlash was swift. Local veterans who know Crow showed up at Coffman’s office to protest. Crow’s campaign highlighted the thousands of pro-bono hours he’d dedicated to helping veterans with substance abuse issues, as well as the “lawyer of the year” award he received in 2010 from the Denver Bar Association for his veterans advocacy.

It’s an old adage in politics, especially latter-day conservative politics, that it’s desirable to attack one’s opponent on the issues which they consider themselves strongest. John Kerry’s core asset running for President in 2004 was his decorated service in the Vietnam War, so George W. Bush’s chief political strategist Karl Rove ruthlessly attacked Kerry’s service record to both reduce Kerry’s advantage and shift attention away from Bush’s avoidance of combat service in Vietnam via the National Guard.

Likewise, the principal asset for Jason Crow in this race is his service in the Army Rangers, for which he earned the Bronze Star for his heroism at the Battle of As-Samawah in 2003. Although Mike Coffman is also a combat veteran, his record is not nearly as distinguished as Crow’s–and that’s part of the reason why Coffman’s campaign and backers have tried to “swift boat” Jason Crow by attacking him on his fictional “lack of support for veterans.”

What the polls show is that Coffman has finally met his match in Jason Crow, and the desperate attacks on Crow have only underscored to voters in CD-6 Coffman’s own inadequacies. By neutralizing Coffman’s advantage of military service, and then shrugging off Coffman’s dishonorable attacks on Crow’s own service, Crow has completely turned the tables in a game Coffman has become very comfortable about winning against the tide.

It looks like Coffman’s not the only one going down this way, but his fall will be momentous for Colorado politics.

Ways To Know Somebody’s Losing, Rep. Mike Coffman Edition

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)

We wrote yesterday about a new recent poll in a week showing perennially embattled incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman trailing by double digits to his Democratic opponent Jason Crow. As we’ve noted on a few occasions now, three polls in 2018 showing Coffman losing by a widening margin are in fact the first public polls ever showing Coffman behind in the CD-6 race. After a poll conducted by the New York Times with interesting but by all estimates credibly methodology showed Coffman down by eleven points to Crow, yesterday’s corroboration of that result in a poll funded by Democrats has Crow’s supporters very excited–and Team Coffman deeply worried.

So much so, as the Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports:

One poll, released Monday by End Citizens United, a left-leaning PAC, shows Crow leading 49 to 38 percent — outside the 4.9 percent margin of error. The 11-point spread is the same gap found in an earlier New York Times poll.

But another new poll, released to The Denver Post by the Coffman campaign, puts Crow ahead by just 1 percentage point — 46 percent to 45 percent — making the race essentially a tossup with 9 percent of voters still undecided. That poll, which comes from the right-leaning Tarrance Group, also has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

You read that correctly! In order to combat the growing agreement among observers of this nationally prominent race that Mike Coffman is losing, Coffman’s campaign took the somewhat extraordinary step of releasing an internal campaign poll.

What’s really extraordinary is that Coffman released an internal poll that also shows him losing. We don’t know about the sample or the questions that were asked to produce this result, which reportedly shows a much closer race among independent voters than the two recent public polls showing Coffman losing by double digits. But it’s a safe assumption that both were set up to be as favorable to Coffman as possible.

And the result is still Coffman losing. Not by as much, certainly. But as a response to rapidly ebbing confidence and flagging national support, a poll showing an incumbent who has split tickets and won handily against the tide for years down at all fails the test. For Democrats, on the other hand, this is certainly not a moment to get complacent. These internal poll results should motivate them even more to close the deal this year. For Democrats there has never been a better opportunity to flip a seat that has frustrated them for years, and there may never be again.

By Mike Coffman’s own most generous reckoning, it’s October–and Coffman is losing.

The News Keeps Getting Worse for Coffman

Rep. Mike Coffman (left) and challenger Jason Crow

Last week ended with bad news for Republican Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), who learned that House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Super PAC (Congressional Leadership Fund) had decided to pull out of CO-6 amid growing concern that the Crowmentum might be too much to overcome by November. In mid-September, we finally moved Democrat Jason Crow ahead of Coffman on The Big Line despite reservations about Coffman’s track record of consistently winning tough races.

New poll numbers released today mark the third public poll of 2018 showing Crow leading Coffman — which also marks the third public poll we’ve ever seen showing Coffman trailing in CO-6. As The Hill reports:

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), who’s in a tough reelection race, is trailing Democratic opponent Jason Crow by 11 points, according to a new poll from a Democratic outside group.

A poll conducted by Normington Petts for the group End Citizens United, which was shared first with The Hill, found Crow leading Coffman 49 to 38 points. Thirteen percent of voters remain undecided.

While there’s been limited polling in Colorado’s 6th District, a recent public poll from The New York Times/Siena College found Crow, a former Army Ranger, similarly up by 11 points, 51 to 40 percent.

You can argue that the poll was paid for by a Democratic-aligned group, but an 11-point lead for Crow is consistent with that New York Times poll mentioned above.

Coffman has been in elected office for 30 consecutive years. That streak looks to be coming to an end in November.

More Trouble for Coffman: Paul Ryan’s PAC Pulling Out of CO-6

The Crowmentum grows.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) appears to have reached the end of his political rope:

The Wall Street Journal confirms that House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Super PAC, Congressional Leadership Fund, is pulling out of CO-6 and will redirect resources elsewhere. Needless to say, this isn’t because Ryan is confident that Coffman will win re-election on his own.

Here’s more from Alex Isenstadt at Politico:

Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership, is cutting off support for two Republican incumbents, Michigan Rep. Mike Bishop and Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, according to a person familiar with the group’s plans.

The super PAC will cancel its planned TV advertising for both members, a move that comes as the party refocuses its funds on races that leaders feel confident they can win. The organization had $2.8 million in TV advertising reserved for Coffman and $2.1 million for Bishop…

…Democrats appear especially confident in their prospects of defeating Coffman, a fifth-term political survivor who represents a Denver-area swing district. Earlier this week, the Democratic super PAC House Majority PAC canceled nearly $800,000 in planned TV advertising in the district.

We’ve learned over the years that you can never count Coffman out completely…but it’s looking grim for the Aurora Republican.

Who Will Win in CO-6: Coffman or Crow? (Round 2)

Rep. Mike Coffman (left) and challenger Jason Crow

The Crowmentum in CO-6 looks to be very real indeed, but we need your opinion, wise readers of Colorado Pols.

As always, we want to know who you think will be the winner in November, not who you support or who you would prefer to see emerge victorious. The point of this exercise is to track how perceptions of various races are changing (or not) as Election Day nears. (Click for Round 1 results)

Who will win the U.S. House race in CO-6? Will Republican Rep. Mike Coffman hold off another challenger, or will Democrat Jason Crow emerge victorious?

Who Will Win the Race in CO-6?

 

Gazette is latest to try–and fail–to explain away Coffman’s pro-Trump voting record

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The conservative Colorado Springs Gazette tried today to argue that U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) isn’t as pro-Trump as his 96 percent pro-Trump voting record would have you believe.

The Gazette argues that the 96-percent score includes “bills most rational members of Congress support, from both parties.”

The newspaper lists 15 examples, including bipartisan measures to provide hurricane relief and reduce opioid addiction.

Trouble is, if you throw out these 15 bipartisan votes from Coffman’s list of pro-Trump votes, the Aurora Congressman still has a 95 percent pro-Trump voting score.

And if you subtract 15 more votes, among the 90 House votes on which Trump had a publicly known stance, Coffman’s pro-Trump score is 93 percent.

Coffman’s core problem is that he voted just four times against Trump.

One of those four votes was on an important healthcare bill, as the Gazette points out, but Coffman later expressed support for another Trump-backed bill to kill Obamacare. It was defeated in the U.S. Senate, due to the downward thumb of former Arizona Sen. John McCain.

With Coffman in danger of being washed out of office by the blue wave, the conservative Gazette will try to argue that Coffman isn’t as Trump-loving as he appears, but his pro-Trump voting record won’t prove the point.

FACT CHECK: Coffman Backed The Anti-Obamacare Bill, Supported by Trump, That Inspired A Thumbs Down From McCain

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a “Truth Check” aired yesterday, Fox 31 Denver’s Joe St. George reviews an ad released this week by congressional Democrats and concludes that it’s “true Congressman Coffman has sided with the President on issues like taxes. It is true he more often than not sides with the White House on votes in the House.”

St. George says correctly that Coffman challenged Trump sometimes, but he goes too far in concluding Coffman “opposed” Trump on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

St. George correctly reports that U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman voted against a House bill, backed by Trump, that would have repealed and replaced the ACA, also called Obamacare.

But it’s misleading of St. George to conclude that Coffman straight-up opposed Trump on Obamacare, based on Coffman’s single congressional vote.

In fact, Coffman actually supported the U.S. Senate’s final anti-Obamacare measure, called the “Skinny Repeal,” which failed with U.S. Sen. John McCain’s thumb pointing to the floor.

Trump lobbied heavily for the “Skinny” repeal.

After McCain’s famous thumbs down, Coffman told Channel 9 political reporter Marshall Zelinger that, unlike McCain, he would have backed the “Skinny” Obamacare repeal, calling it “viable” to him as a “negotiating tool” to get it to a conference committee. That’s what numerous Republicans were saying at the time.

But had the skinny repeal passed the U.S. Senate, it could have become law without further negotiations or a conference committee. That’s one reason McCain opposed it.

In any case, here’s Coffman telling Zellinger he’d support the “Skinny Repeal.”

(more…)

Coffman’s Objections To His 96% Pro-Trump Voting Score Don’t Add Up

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) is hopping mad about a political advertisement, produced by House Democrats, claiming that Coffman has voted with Trump 96 percent of the time.

The 96-percent figure was calculated by nonpartisan statistician and journalist Nate Silver, on his FiveThirtyEight website. Silver tallied congressional votes on all legislation on which the “Trump Administration has taken a public position.”

The 96-percent-pro-Trump score is the “bogus” work of an “East Coast blogger,” said Coffman in a news release, citing 15 votes that shouldn’t be counted as pro-Trump votes because they were passed with bipartisan support, even though Coffman voted as Trump wanted him to.

But even if you toss out all 15 votes, which indeed had the support of anti-Trump Democrats, you still find that Coffman voted with Trump 95 percent of the time.

Here’s the math.

Silver identified a total of 90 votes that Trump either supported or opposed. That’s all the votes Trump took a stance on. Coffman went against Trump’s wishes on only four votes of the 90 taken.

In his news release, Coffman lists 15 of his 90 votes that shouldn’t be counted as pro-Trump votes, because they were heavily bipartisan. (See the list of these votes cited by Coffman below.)

If you throw those 15 votes out, Coffman would have voted against trump on only four of 75 votes.

That’s 95 percent of the time.

The Democrats’ advertisement quotes Coffman as saying:

“If Donald Trump is the president, I’ll stand up to him, plain and simple. Instead, Coffman voted with Trrump, more than any other Colorado member of Congress, 96 percent…Mike Coffman didn’t stand up to Trump, plain and simple.”

If Coffman wants to show that he stood up to Trump more often, he needs to find more instances when he voted against the president. Anti-Trump members of Congress, who voted with Trump on bipartisan measures, had low pro-Trump voting scores, because they voted against Trump so often.

Via email, I asked Coffman’s spokesperson, Tyler Sandberg, if he could cite more than four anti-Trump votes by Coffman, and he didn’t respond or offer any comment, as requested.

(more…)

FACT CHECK: Coffman Says He Differs With Trump On Healthcare But He Actually Favors “Straight Repeal” of Obamacare

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora told a reporter Monday that Coffman broke away from Trump on healthcare.

That should sound familiar, if you’ve been following Coffman, because he’s been saying it early and often since last year.

In fact, it’s only partially true. Coffman supports what’s essentially a Trump proposal to repeal Obamacare now–but implement the repeal at an unspecified later date.  In other words, Congress would pass legislation now with a deadline/date for repealing the law sometime in the future.

After the U.S. Senate’s dramatic failure to kill Obamacare, Coffman told a Denver TV station he’d have backed a bill to do away with the national health care law–a move that would likely have pushed millions off the health insurance rolls.

Asked by 9News’ Marshall Zelinger last year (at 1:30 here) if he’d support a “straight repeal” of Obamacare, Coffman said yes.

Zelinger: “What about a straight repeal?”

Coffman: “If you said, ‘Well, okay, we’re going to repeal,’ and the date certain for the repeal was long enough out, where it wouldn’t disrupt the markets, and it gave Congress adequate time, I think that would be appropriate.”

(more…)

NYT Live Poll: Crow Crushing Coffman

An interesting new polling method being tried out by the New York Times and Siena College is tracking results of a survey of Colorado’s CD-6 in real time–and the results they’re showing as of now are not good news for Rep. Mike Coffman:

Now before Democrats get too excited, here’s the deal:

Most experts consider this race a tossup. Neither side needs to win any particular tossup to win control, but the party that wins the most will probably take the House. Our poll is a good result for Democrats so far.

But remember: It’s just one poll, and we’ve talked to only 387 people. Each candidate’s total could easily be six points different if we polled everyone in the district. And having a small sample is only one possible source of error.

We’ll be watching this real-time publication of polls results very closely going forward to see if this number changes, but for a few reasons seeing Democratic candidate Jason Crow out ahead of Coffman by eleven points is less of a surprise than you might think: that figure is close to the margin of victory in 2016 for both Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in this district. Trailing in a public poll is also new for Coffman; prior to this year, Coffman had never been behind in any publicly-available polling results.

As we’ve explored thoroughly in this space over a period of years, Coffman’s legendary ability to split tickets that otherwise go Democratic is what has kept him in office since almost losing the seat to an underfunded challenger in 2012. But if two years of co-branding with Trump have ruined Coffman’s ability to triangulate off his own party, it’s quite possible that he’s finished. In that event, this margin of victory would not only be reasonable, but in line with recent Democratic performance in CD-6.

Who Will Win in CO-6: Coffman or Crow?

Rep. Mike Coffman (left) and challenger Jason Crow

We’ve asked you, our wise readers, to weigh in on the outcome of the race for Governor, and we’ve asked for your opinions on the other top statewide races in 2018. Now it’s time to get Congressional.

As always, we want to know who you think will be the winner in November, not who you support or who you would prefer to see emerge victorious. The point of this exercise is to track how perceptions of various races are changing (or not) as Election Day nears.

Who will win the U.S. House race in CO-6? Will Republican Rep. Mike Coffman hold off another challenger, or will Democrat Jason Crow emerge victorious?

Who Will Win the Race in CO-6?

Cynthia Coffman: The Courage Brauchler Wouldn’t Show

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

A story we’ve addressed a few times in this space saw a big update late last week, as outgoing Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced the state will indeed sue Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin opioid painkillers linked to a dramatic rise in overdoses and thousands of preventable deaths in the last two decades. As the Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper reports:

“Their corporate focus on making money took precedence over patients’ long-term health, and Colorado has been paying the price in loss of life and devastation of its communities as they struggle to address the ongoing opioid crisis,” Coffman said in a statement Thursday.

The Colorado lawsuit claims there have been approximately 3,000 prescription opioid-related deaths in the state since 1997.

Coffman’s lawsuit comes months after a list of counties, including Pueblo County, sued major drug manufacturers for the costs of opioid addiction in their communities.

As our readers know, the question of whether the state should join numerous other entities suing opioid manufacturers, including hard-hit Pueblo County, emerged as a point of contention in the race to succeed Coffman as Colorado’s attorney general. Democratic candidate Phil Weiser has said unequivocally that Colorado would sue with him as attorney general, while Brauchler demurred–and criticized his opponent for promising to take action:

Brauchler, the Aurora district attorney, faulted Weiser earlier this year for promising to sue drugmakers.

“Pueblo County can do whatever it wants, but I think it’s reckless for a politician to promise that, if elected, he will sue someone,” he said in response. [Pols emphasis]

A big problem with Brauchler’s refusal to commit to suing Purdue can be found in the list of donors to the Republican Attorney General’s Association, which is essentially bankrolling Brauchler’s campaign with over a million in spending so far on the race. Purdue Pharma in particular has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to RAGA in recent years, and this very strategically targeted support has been raised as an issue in other states with foot-dragging attorneys general on opioids.

After Coffman’s decision this week to file suit, Brauchler said it was a decision based on her office’s “careful” review of the facts, not a “reckless” promise, like Weiser’s.

Sorry, but Coffman’s decision to sue cuts Brauchler’s criticism of Weiser off at the proverbial knees. Given the way Coffman was treated, both by Republicans in her gubernatorial run and Brauchler in particular after he himself was squeezed out of the governor’s race Coffman would go on to lose, it’s possible that this was a deliberate snub of both Brauchler and RAGA by extension.

Either way it was the right thing to do, and it’s the Republican candidate for attorney general who was on the wrong side–of one of the most important issues the next AG will face. Would Brauchler be a credible prosecutor in a case against opioid manufacturers…or would it play out like his failed prosecution of the “Shirtless Sheriff?”

The one thing we can say with confidence is there is nothing here that makes George Brauchler look good.

Coffman Campaign Telegraphs Trump Fears

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)

If you’ve been alive this week, you are surely aware that Donald Trump’s Presidency is imploding from within while the Big Orange Guy storms around the White House looking for traitors to his one-man cause.

Trump’s approval ratings were in the toilet well before this dumpster fire of a week, and as Paul Waldman writes for the Washington Post, that could mean serious trouble for Republican candidates around the country:

With only two months remaining before the midterm elections, it’s difficult to imagine something will happen to turn his fortunes around. Unemployment is about as low as it can go. Republicans in Congress have stopped trying to do any ambitious legislating (if they can keep themselves from forcing another government shutdown, it will be a victory). And while it is theoretically possible Trump could engineer some kind of resounding foreign-policy triumph during the next few weeks, it seems rather unlikely.

Which would mean that between now and November, this is about as good as it’s going to get. As pollster Gary Langer pointed out, Trump has the lowest approval rating of any president heading into his first midterm election (the polling data go back to 1954). But what is most striking is the intensity of feeling he produces in his opponents. In the latest Post poll, 53 percent of respondents disapprove of him strongly, while only 7 percent disapproved of him somewhat. If you don’t like Trump, you really don’t like Trump.

Democrats hope it means the people who really don’t like him will stampede to the polls in November to register their discontent by voting out any and all Republicans — and they might. [Pols emphasis] As Harry Enten of CNN argues, “For Republicans to have a realistic (i.e., within the margin of error) shot of maintaining control of the House in 2018, Trump’s approval rating must remain at least in the low 40s nationally.”

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is exactly the kind of Republican incumbent that should be very worried about Trump’s impact on his re-election. On Friday, Coffman’s campaign telegraphed their Trump fears by promoting this out-of-nowhere statement from former Independent Presidential candidate Evan McMullin:

The key part of the statement is at the beginning of the second paragraph:

[Coffman] is now under attack by super PACs trying to mislead members of Colorado’s 6th district by casting him as a yes-man for President Trump, but Mike is nothing of the sort. He is an independent-minded leader who has remained committed to American values, his constitutional duties in Congress and serving his district, even when it puts him at odds with the president and his own party.

The problem with this statement is FACTS. 

In July 2016 Coffman made national news after running a television ad in which he promised to “stand up to Trump” if the Republican nominee made it through the General Election. It didn’t take long for Coffman to shift his position; Coffman votes with Trump an astounding 95.6% of the time:

538.com’s “Trump Tracker”

Democrat Jason Crow is giving Coffman the toughest re-election fight in his 30 years as an elected official, and Coffman’s coziness with Trump is giving Crow and his allies plenty of fodder for television ads; this spot from the League of Conservation Voters is probably the ad that McMullin references in his statement.

Voters in CO-6 likely don’t give two shits about what Evan McMullin thinks about Coffman, but the fact that Coffman’s team is trying so hard to promote this tells you everything you need to know about their fears in November.

Shooting The Messenger: Coffman Slams New York Times For Publishing Anonymous Anti-Trump Opinion

(In other words, we’re a few days away from Coffman praising anonymity — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)

Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman bashed the New York Times this morning for publishing an opinion piece, written by an anonymous “senior” Trump official who was aiming to spotlight the dangers posed by the president.

The Times should “probably tighten up on these anonymous sources,” explained Coffman to KOA 850-AM Morning News host April Zesbaugh, adding that it was “very disappointing” because “anybody in the White House or outside the White House could have written that.”

Coffman turned his attack on Times, instead of addressing the content of the op-ed, which included this:

“The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making…”

From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions.”

The New York Times prefaced the opinion piece by writing that the senior Trump official who wrote it is “known to us” and his or her “job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.”

Professional journalists carefully use anonymous sourcing to inform the public of information that would otherwise be impossible to report–about topics ranging from the Vietnam War (Pentagon Papers) and presidential law-breaking (Watergate) to child abuse in the Catholic Church (See Spotlight.) to the exposure of government waste via whistle blowers, and much more.

Journalists will advise readers to beware of anonymous sourcing from news outlets that aren’t trustworthy. The New York Times, though not perfect, is among the most trusted news outlets in the world.

An email asking Coffman, a Republican, what he thinks of the substance of the Times opinion piece, for example, its plea for Americans to cross party lines and stand up to Trump, was not returned.

Not only did Coffman not answer Zesbaugh’s question about whom he thinks wrote the piece but he chose to provide a non-answer that didn’t address the shocking information about Trump in the op-ed.

Politicians, like Trump himself in his rantings against the news media, are known known to attack the press when confronted with stories they disagree with.

Coffman’s shoot-the-messenger attack on the Times reflects his decision last year to call for an investigation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, after FBI surveillance led to the resignation of Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Here’s a transcript of Coffman’s statement this morning:

ZESBAUGH:  You’re in the beltway – how much buzz is there today about who in the White House wrote that OpEd in the New York Times?

COFFMAN: Oh, I don’t know  [laughs].  You know, I  think they should probably tighten up on these anonymous sources. I mean, the fact is, anybody in the White House or outside the White House could have written that. So,  [It’s] very disappointing.

Listen here:

Mike Coffman: Nothing Left But Triangulation?

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

We are obliged to take note of a story from late last week with some import on Colorado’s perennially most competitive congressional race, for incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman’s swing CD-6 seat–as CBS4 Denver reports, the powerful Koch brothers have omitted Coffman from their list of candidates they and their wealthy “liberservative” friends will be lavishing money on, at least to kick off the 2018 election cycle:

The political network created by the billionaire Koch brothers announced plans to support eight House Republicans on Thursday, pledging financial resources and activists to help re-elect several vulnerable congressmen deemed “principled” conservatives.

The first wave of endorsements includes a handful of sometime-critics of President Donald Trump, particularly on immigration and spending…

Absent from the list are some of the nation’s most vulnerable House Republicans including Reps. Barbara Comstock of Virginia and Mike Coffman of Colorado in addition to any Republicans from top House battleground states such as California, New Jersey or New York.

In 2016, Americans For Prosperity-Colorado played an outsize role in helping Coffman retain his seat against former Sen. Morgan Carroll. The organization, which has a deep-pocketed presence in the state and frequently exchanges staff with “hard side” Republican entities like the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate, ran voter contact campaigns in the district with a negative message against Carroll, and has run ads in support of Coffman both in and out of the election cycle for years.

It’s therefore a very significant development that AFP has decided to sit out at least the start of 2018 in CD-6, depriving Coffman of an important asset that he’s taken for granted in the past. In response to this announcement, Coffman is doing something we’ve seen countless times in his career, as we briefly noted Friday:

“We differed recently on an issue. It was important to them, they wanted a ‘no’ vote on the farm bill. Let me tell you: I was with them last time — I voted ‘no.’ But I voted ‘yes’ this time.”

Triangulation 101.

We’ve written many times in this space about the political strategy of “triangulation,” in which a candidate running in a difficult race either criticizes or welcomes criticism from his traditional political allies in order to gain advantage with swingable voters. On specific issues like immigration, but increasingly in general as Coffman has faced the unprecedented division caused by the current Republican president, Coffman has put himself rhetorically at odds with Trump and the GOP leadership in his chamber of Congress.

With that in mind, and while we’re sure Coffman would have been happy to have this organization’s help, he knew exactly where to go with this snub by the Koch brothers. It’s not the best outcome, but the fallback of playing off the Koch brothers brand politically doesn’t look bad to Coffman and his campaign team. It was an easy, almost reflex choice at this point. The reason is simple: it works. This ability to be all things, not to all people but to enough people for a majority coalition, is how Coffman wins in a district that Democrats carry in other races easily.

Coffman’s ability to triangulate off his own party and split Democratic tickets in CD-6 is arguably the greatest frustration for Democratic strategists in Colorado since their takeover of the state between the 2004-06 elections. It’s a close contest between Coffman and the stinging defeat of Sen. Cory Gardner’s 2014 election, but Coffman’s ability to survive repeated challenges since redistricting in 2011 took away Tom Tancredo’s impregnable conservative base is more vexing in the long run. Coffman’s thoughtful and highly qualified challengers in 2014 and 2016, though they ran disappointing campaigns in the end, both represented high hopes–hopes that Coffman dashed, and then made a mockery of with a voting record since 2016 95.6% in line with Donald Trump’s wishes.

In 2016, we said that if Coffman could not be defeated that year, Democrats should probably stop trying. He won again easily. But the historic political upheaval that has followed under President Trump, certainly compared to what the political climate would be today had Trump lost, alters the equation. Today, even after shifts in special election results that would swamp Coffman’s margins of victory, we are still not ready to write Coffman’s epitaph.

But it is possible that Mike Coffman has triangulated himself into a corner–and 2018 is the year it ends.

Mike Coffman Argues for “Zero Tolerance” on Immigration

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) changes his position on immigration reform about as often as most people change their underwear.

Back in June, amid the fervor surrounding the Trump administration’s decision to forcibly remove immigrant children from their parents, Coffman issued this statement in opposition to Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The final words of Coffman’s statement were unambiguous:

My colleagues should mark their words and this moment — history won’t remember well those who support the continuation of this policy.

Coffman’s words got him mentioned in a number of national news stories related to immigration reform, which was exactly the point. Maybe Coffman actually believed those words at the time, or maybe it was all bullshit. Either way, Coffman apparently thinks differently now — a mere two months (to the day) from his zero tolerance on zero tolerance statement. As David Weigel and Mike DeBonis report for the Washington Post:

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), who has cast himself as a moderate on immigration policy, told voters last week the president “probably has a more generous plan for DACA than I would [propose]” and it might be time to “transition to zero tolerance” when it came to overall immigration policy.

Yes, you are reading this correctly. The same guy who said in late June that “history won’t remember well those who support the continuation” of a “zero tolerance” immigration policy is now saying that it might be time to “transition to zero tolerance” immigration policy. One is black, the other is white. Or vice-versa.

As the Washington Post helpfully points out, this isn’t the first time that Coffman has suggested a “zero tolerance” immigration policy; Coffman argued in favor of the idea in an Op-Ed he penned in January 2017. But the timing of this flip-flop-flip is odd considering that Coffman just started airing two television ads focused on how much he loves the various immigrant communities in his home district.

So how, exactly, do you explain these two completely different policy positions? Like this, apparently:

“Mike Coffman has been a bipartisan leader on immigration reform, no matter how much Democratic operatives want to lie about and distort his record,” Coffman’s campaign manager Tyler Sandberg said. “Mike led the opposition to the Trump administration’s inhumane family separation policy, something that Trump ultimately backed down on. However, unlike many Democrats in D.C., Mike does not support open borders.”

Perhaps Team Coffman is confusing the words “bipartisan” and “bipolar,” like when basketball player Charles Shackleford confused “ambidextrous” with “amphibious.

Or perhaps Coffman’s staff are in need of a new word, kind of like when boxer Mike Tyson famously suggested that he would “fade into Bolivian” after he was done fighting.

If you wanted to be really kind, you could argue that Coffman is suffering from an acute case of “Analysis Paralysis,” but his immigration rhetoric changes so often — and so drastically — that you’d really have to squint to see this as anything other than Coffman just telling different audiences whatever he thinks they want to hear at any given moment.

Perhaps Mike Coffman himself really doesn’t know where Mike Coffman stands on the immigration issue. That’s a strange thought considering that Coffman is seeking to be elected to his sixth term in Congress; he’s debated this issue at length for at least a decade now.

Or…maybe Mike Coffman doesn’t actually possess a firm opinion on immigration policy. Maybe he’s simply unwilling and/or unable to pick a side and stay there.

Whatever the answer, the bottom line is the same: Mike Coffman probably shouldn’t be in Congress anymore.

Military Hero Calls Out Trump–Where Is Mike Coffman?

Rep. Mike Coffman. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Vox reports on the angry response unfolding to the decision by President Donald Trump to strip former CIA Director John Brennan of his security clearance, anger that shows no signs of slowing:

The man who led the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011 has a message for President Donald Trump: Revoke my security clearance, too.

Retired Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, who led US Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014, wrote a short, but blistering op-ed for the Washington Post on Thursday afternoon, challenging the president on his decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan.

In the statement, he praised Brennan’s service to America, and his “unparalleled integrity.”

McRaven continued, writing, “I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.”

As we reported yesterday, Republicans in the U.S. Senate have generally knuckled under to the President over this action. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado defended Trump by saying that Brennan’s criticism of the President was what was “disgraceful,” not Trump’s retaliation against Brennan. The blowback like you see above would seem to make Gardner’s dismissal a big mistake.

Gardner’s deference to Trump on this highly controversial matter could become even more toxic if, as is being reported today, the President is about to proceed with more revocations of security clearances of critics of his administration. Trump is reportedly considering stripping former assistance AG Bruce Ohr of his clearance, and Sean Hannity is hitting the airwaves making the case for Trump to do the same to former NSA Director James Clapper.

And if Gardner won’t speak up about what’s happening, will Rep. Mike Coffman? Coffman has sided with Brennan in some of the public opinion battles over Trump’s policies, but he has also made bizarre statements about “investigating the FBI” when asked about the Russia investigation and the case against Trump. We haven’t seen any public comment from Coffman about Trump going after security clearances, and given the number of fellow former military officers in particular weighing in it’s a question he should have already answered.

So…why hasn’t he?

Birther Pat Boone Sings Birther Mike Coffman’s Praises

Mike Coffman.

The Charleston City Paper alerts us to a recent endorsement for Rep. Mike Coffman that we had somehow missed when it came out last month–the (highly) venerable crooner Pat Boone–though the manner in which they let us know is pretty amusing:

An entertainer who made his career singing Christian hymns, but is better known lately for stoking racial division, Pat Boone is apparently a man in high demand by Republican politicians looking to lock up support of conservative senior citizens.

And as the spokesman for the 60 Plus Association, he is apparently ready and willing to supply his endorsement to deserving Trump supporters these days. So ready, in fact, that he’s got a simple form to fill out that gives him all the English words he needs to signal his support.

“I’m still singing at concerts, but today I’m singing the praises of Katie Arrington. Seniors can depend on Katie Arrington,” an announcement read today in a Twitter post by Rep. Katie Arrington, who is running for Congress in the 1st District.

Pat Boone.

What does this have to do with Mike Coffman, you ask? Well, the City Paper directs us to a bunch of other people whom Pat Boone “sings the praises of”–

In a statement released by 60 Plus, Boone remarked, “I’m still singing at concerts, but today I’m singing the praises of Rep. Joe Wilson. Seniors can depend on Joe Wilson.” Boone and his wife, Shirley, reside in Beverly Hills, California.

In a statement released by 60 Plus, Boone remarked, “I’m still singing at concerts, but today I’m singing the praises of Larry Stutts. Seniors can depend on Larry Stutts.” Boone, 80, and his wife of 60 years, Shirley, reside in Beverly Hills, California.

“I’m still singing at concerts,” Boone remarked, “but today I’m singing the praises of Senator Richard Shelby.”

“I’m still singing at concerts, but today I am singing the praises of Charles Poindexter,” Boone said.

And yes:

In a statement released by 60 Plus, Boone remarked, “I’m still singing at concerts, but today I’m singing the praises of Rep. Coffman.” Boone and his wife, Shirley, reside in Beverly Hills, California. [Pols emphasis]

Please note that this release was posted in its entirety to Rep. Coffman’s congressional website. With that in mind, let’s count up the problems: first, the organization 60 Plus is well-documented as a right-wing “alternative” to the much better-known American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), set up to put a demographically appropriate face on standard fare conservative agenda items like privatizing Social Security and Medicare. Their endorsement actually hurts with seniors who are literate about these essential programs, and anyone younger who entertains the hope of functional Social Security and Medicare in their own retirement.

Second, there’s Pat Boone. In 2011, Boone declared that President Barack Obama’s birth certificate was “a fraud,” following the lead of now-President Donald Trump and so many others back when the imagined controversy over Obama’s citizenship was nearing its second peak ahead of his re-election. Boone continued to champion “birther” conspiracy theories for years afterward, and to our knowledge has never retracted any of them. Rep. Mike Coffman, as our longtime readers know, had his own bout of “birther” verbal diarrhea when he declared in 2012 at a Republican fundraiser that President Obama “is just not an American.”

Coffman apologized for his statements after one of the more memorable involuntary press appearances in modern Colorado political history, and has tried for years now to live down this moment of unscripted ugly. It’s safe to say that Pat Boone’s endorsement does not help him do that, and after Coffman took ownership of Boone’s endorsement by posting it to his own website he should definitely have to explain again what he meant about Obama not being “an American.”

After all of that, yes! Google makes it a really stupid idea to use the same quote over and over. But in Mike Coffman’s case, the story getting to that moral is what’s more important.

Caption This Photo: Mic Drop, Mike Coffman Style

Yesterday, a traveling tour called Tax Cuts Work, hosted by a group called the “Job Creators Network,” arrived in Centennial to present GOP Rep. Mike Coffman with an award for his help passing the controversial Trump tax cut legislation. Depending on who Coffman is speaking with, it’s an award he might not draw attention to:

And apparently there were some technical difficulties during Coffman’s acceptance speech.

Does Coffman Still Favor An Investigation Of The FBI?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

As special prosecutor Robert Mueller turns up the heat on Trump and his associates, Republicans are fighting back with increased intensity, not just through Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Last month, U.S. House Republicans proposed impeaching Rod Rosenstein, who has refused to fire Mueller, but quickly withdrew the proposal in favor of trying to hold him in contempt of Congress, a move widely seen as attempting to lay the groundwork for Trump to fire him.

In addition, Trump’s attacks on the FBI are escalating, raising questions about whether Congress would support an investigation of the FBI itself.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) backed that position last year, after a FBI phone tap led to the resignation of Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Asked if the actions of the FBI needed to be investigated, Coffman said:

Coffman: “You know, I think it should be looked into. And here’s one thing. Did the FBI go through the procedures in place in current law to be able to be able to tap into that phone conversation? Are there other violations of law?

Coffman said at the time that he didn’t have a good feeling about Flynn.

Coffman’s office didn’t return an email seeking to know if he still holds this stance and whether he’d join with Trump and other Republicans in pushing for further investigations of the spy agency as Mueller’s investigation of Trump, which relies in part of FBI material, moves forward.

Coffman, who’s expressed broad support for the Mueller investigation, also said last year that the FBI should not just investigate Trump but also the Obama Administration.

KHOW Morning Host: Coffman Is “Right” To Call Social Security A “Ponzi Scheme”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a post Tuesday, the Colorado Times Recorder reported, among other things, that KHOW 630-AM’s morning host Ross Kaminsky said Social Security is “clearly” a “Ponzi scheme,” like U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) said a few years back.

In response, Kaminsky submitted the following opinion piece, posted in its entirety below.

Kaminsky wrote:

Regarding your article on my conversation about Social Security as a Ponzi scheme…

I’m sure you know this because I made it clear on the air, but just in case:

THEY CALLED ME and asked to be on the show to “explain to (my) listeners why Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme.” I told them that I think it is in almost all important aspects similar to a Ponzi scheme, and I’d be happy to have the debate but they need to be prepared for a host who will challenge almost every assertion they make.  I think I won the debate easily, because the facts are so clearly on my side. But that’s not my main point with this note.

One thing that I thought was slightly off, at least in tone, was when you say I “dredged up an old conversation.” I was accommodating the wishes of a group that I disagree with to address my audience. I enjoy real debates on real issues, as you know. It’s not very important but to the extent that you make it sound like I went back to some old conservative talking point(s), you make it sound like I do predictable conservative radio. I think I do neither, and it was the liberal guest who “dredged up” the topic, not I.

Secondly, PLEASE STOP calling me conservative. I am NOT conservative. My listeners know I’m not conservative. And you’ve known it for years. I’m libertarian or, if you prefer a little more specificity, Objectivist (though most people wouldn’t know what that means, so I’m fine with libertarian with a lower-case ‘l’), in my thinking. If you’re going to put adjectives in front of my name, I expect you to be accurate. How would you like it if I started talking about you on the air as Communist Jason Salzman? Or even Socialist Jason Salzman? (Maybe you are socialist…I don’t actually know…but I’m pretty sure you’re not communist.) Or, how about this one: Conservative Jason Salzman? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I’ve always been responsive to your requests for comment from me, and the least I expect from you in return is to characterize me and my show accurately.

Finally, on the merits of the issue, yes I’m against Social Security as it’s currently structured and in a libertarian ideal world this would not be a government function. But we live in the real world and what I was pointing out primarily yesterday is that people think that Social Security represents 1) actual savings by the government on workers’ behalf, 2) something very much like either insurance or a pension in terms of how those things function and are structured in the private sector, and 3) a contract with the government. None of those things is true.

So you and I will disagree about whether Social Security is a legitimate function of government, but to the extent that the system pays former contributors out of current workers’ wages because there are not any actual assets underlying the “trust fund”, and secondarily that there is no enforceable contract between a worker and the government, it is mendacious to claim it does not have significant characteristics of a Ponzi scheme. It’s just one that has been blessed by Democrats when they had the power to do it and which subsequent Republicans didn’t have the courage to undo or fix because, really, they got in on the fun of raiding nearly $3 trillion of taxpayer money.

As a listener quipped, if Charles Ponzi began operating now, he’d be charged with running a “Social Security scheme.”

You should be honest enough to just say that you’re fine with the government running such a scheme, as I am honest enough to say that in my ideal world the program wouldn’t exist…and Americans would not have been trained out of being responsible for their own retirements.

Finally, you didn’t address an issue I raised which should trouble conservatives liberals like you: because it’s the biggest tax that many/most low-wage workers pay, because it’s not inheritable by one’s children, and because lower incomes correlate substantially with lower life expectancies, Social Security goes a long way to keeping poor people (and poor families) poor. Of course also having a horrendous “rate of return” also keeps them poor because richer people can put some money into real investments with better returns. Liberals should be ashamed of their refusal to consider personal accounts as part of the Social Security mix. But clearly the fear is that when those are available for a person’s first investable dollars (which are now taken as payroll tax), nobody will want the government program. Which should tell you all you need to know about it. It is a scheme that only still exists because government compels participation.

Coffman is right. I’m right. It’s not a close call.

They’re Coming For You, Mike Coffman

Team Politico reports on results from the final special election before this year’s fateful midterms, in Ohio’s 12th District:

Tuesday night ended with Troy Balderson narrowly ahead in the closely watched special election for a congressional seat in Ohio, and Republicans — including President Donald Trump — declaring victory.

But the photo finish — Balderson is ahead by 1,754 votes, with thousands of absentee and provisional ballots left to tally — in what has been a solid-GOP district shouldn’t provide much comfort for the party as it clings to an increasingly fragile House majority…

The National Republican Congressional Committee spent $1.3 million. Congressional Leadership Fund, the top House GOP super PAC, spent $3.2 million.

It was likely enough to vault Balderson over the top. But Republicans running in competitive districts against well-funded Democrats shouldn’t expect the same level of support.

Because this district was easily carried by Donald Trump in 2016, and Republican Pat Tiberi won that same year with a lopsided 66% of the vote, the apparent victory by Troy Balderson by fewer than 2,000 votes indicates a massive swing in support in this safely Republican district that can only be attributed to the unpopularity of the President and Trump’s party as a unit. It’s also worth mentioning that Republicans have held this seat for 35 years.

The math is very simple: if the same swing holds true in other congressional districts around the country this November, an historic number of Republicans in the House will be defeated by their Democratic challengers. In Colorado, the principal threat is to GOP Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, who has won repeatedly in his district while the same voters elected Democrats up and down the ballot. Mike Coffman’s strategy of publicly triangulating off his own party on certain high-profile issues while remaining a 95%+ loyal vote for the GOP in order to retain party support faces the ultimate test in this environment.

After Coffman won in 2016, defeating his opponent by a substantial margin even as Democrats once again won the district in the presidential and U.S. Senate races, we and many other observers were willing to declare defeating Mike Coffman a lost cause for smart Democrats. Coffman’s ability to survive in a district his long hard-right political record should not tolerate has been tested against well-supported challengers, and you’d be a fool to write him off–even now, in what is unquestionably the toughest election Coffman has faced as a member of Congress.

Today, what we can say with certainty is that Democrats will never get a better shot at Coffman than they have right now. The wave in OH-12, like what we’ve seen in other special elections both won and barely lost by Democrats in the era of Trump, is big enough to take Mike Coffman down too.

Conservative Radio Host Joins Coffman in Calling Social Security a “Ponzi Scheme”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Conservative talk-radio host Ross Kaminsky dredged up an old conversation Tuesday, saying Social Security is “clearly” a “Ponzi scheme” and a “fraud.”

To his credit, Kaminsky didn’t just proclaim the 80-year-old program a “Ponzi scheme” and move on. Instead, he had a six-minute debate with Max Richtman, director of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Listen here..

A search of Colorado politicians who agree with Kaminsky that Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme revealed U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), who told a radio host a few years back that Social Security is “obviously” a “Ponzi scheme.”

In fact, a Ponzi scheme is defined as an “investment swindle in which supposed profits are paid to early investors from money actually invested by later participants.” Maybe that’s what Social Security sounds like to people who think government shouldn’t collect taxes and devise programs to help people, because the program relies on the ongoing collection of Social Security taxes.

But if you’re ok with basic taxation for the benefit of yourself and others, you probably understand that Social Security is no swindle, but actually a successful government-run retirement system based on a funding formula that’s worked, with rational adjustments, for 80 years.

Asked about his Ponzi-scheme comment later, Coffman told Fox 31 Denver’s Ron Zappolo:

Zappolo: You are never afraid to say controversial things.

Coffman: It’s true.

Zappolo: I’ll give you just a couple. You went on somewhere the other day and said that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. You’ve also talked about how all ballots should be in English. Correct?

Coffman: Right.

Zappolo: Do you ever think about, as a politician, some of these things, I might be better off steering away from?

Coffman: You know, no. [smiles] My staff wishes I would. [laughs]

Zappolo: The honesty comes out. [laughs]

Coffman: But I don’t. The thing with Social Security. I think it is, although I agreed with Ponzi.

Zappolo: You scared people in your district who are 65 and over.

“Social Security is social insurance,” said Richtman Kaminsky, who’s the morning host on Denver’s KHOW 630-AM. “You need to try to wrap your head around that, Ross. Social Security is a program of insurance for families. Social Security pays old-age survivor and disability benefits. A third of Social Security benefits goes to non-retired workers, spouses, survivors, disabled, children. About 3 million children get by because of Social Security. So this is insurance for families. [With Social Security,] you are buying insurance in the event that something happens to your framily and to have some modicum of decent living when you do retire.”

“Insurance is a contract,” countered Kaminsky. “You don’t have any contract with the government. They could change this. The only thing that’s keeping them from changing it, ending it, whatever, is political realities, which political realities, which is better than nothing I suppose.”