Search Results for: coffmangate

Will Steve House Ever Be Governor? (Answer: No)

houseforgopchairPeter Marcus writes for Colorado Politics:

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Steve House is unsure whether he will seek re-election next year as he continues to mull a run for governor in 2018.

House, who has served as chairman of the party since March 2015, said he doesn’t want to put the party through chaos if he does choose to enter the gubernatorial race.

“If I were to run for governor, the one thing I would not do is run for chair again,” House told ColoradoPolitics.com.

“Just because I don’t run for chair doesn’t mean I’m going to run for governor. But the one thing I wouldn’t do to the party is run for chair and then drop out and run for governor, because I think that would be too damaging for the party.”

The first and most obvious point here is that the GOP field to run for Colorado’s open gubernatorial seat in 2018 is full of bigger names than party chairman Steve House, such as Treasurer Walker Stapleton. It would be a major surprise for all of the candidates higher up the food chain to pull out or fail to the extent that House might be competitive.

As far as House running again for Colorado GOP chairman, it’s hard to see that working out much better. House’s high-profile clash with Attorney General Cynthia Coffman was enormously damaging to both House’s and Coffman’s reputations, and the unresolved bad blood stemming from that red-on-red battle strongly points to a change of leadership at the earliest opportunity. And all that before even considering the still-unresolved #NeverTrump fiasco, part of a chain of events that could leave Colorado in the proverbial doghouse during the incoming Donald Trump administration.

What was it House did before he got into politics again? That’s probably where he should be looking for his next opportunity.

Colorado Republicans Fractured and Flummoxed

Colorado Republicans are having a hard-enough time convincing supporters to vote ONCE.

Colorado Republicans are having a hard-enough time convincing supporters to vote ONCE.

As Dave Weigel reports for the Washington Post today, there is a stark difference in Colorado when it comes to GOTV efforts that does not bode well for Republicans. As Weigel writes, Republicans “are counting on voters to come home; the Democrats are simply counting voters.”:

…The gap between strategies is visible everywhere, even at the early-vote rallies the parties have held to close the campaign. On Friday afternoon, former president Bill Clinton made three stops across the state, joined by Democratic leaders. The subject, each time, was how to turn in votes. Every attendee was given a sheet with possible volunteer times, and staff members flitted around to pick them up….

The same day, the campaign of Republican nominee Donald Trump sent two of its surrogates, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), to a faith group’s get-out-the-vote event in an Aurora senior living center. There was no one at the door urging people to volunteer. Two boxes of Trump campaign rally signs in the back of the room went largely untouched. In their speeches, Carson, Fallin and state party chairman Steve House focused less on the mechanics of the election than the need to defeat Clinton…

…Despite big victories in 2014, Colorado’s Republican Party has been riven by infighting, the cruelest of it pitting House against state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. Her husband, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (Colo.), represents a district that covers Aurora. He is one of a handful of Republicans running explicitly anti-Trump ads.

Well, would you look at that: Another Coffmangate reference!

Setting aside the infighting narrative for a moment, Republican problems with field operations in Colorado (and across the country) have been a consistent theme in 2016. The GOP has had serious problems with its turnout operation in Colorado for several cycles now, and as Weigel’s story shows, not much has been done to address the issue. This was the first election cycle we can recall in which Republicans did not outpace Democrats in early voting returns, which is a problem even without a Republican Presidential nominee who is about as interested in field operations as he is in fact-checking.

You can certainly blame an enthusiasm gap for some of the GOP’s voter turnout problems, but polls have shown that Democrats aren’t all that thrilled about Hillary Clinton, either. For whatever reason, Colorado Republicans just aren’t adapting to the changing electorate in Colorado.

Cynthia Coffman On The GOP Platform: “I Am Ashamed”

Here’s a clip we didn’t want to get lost in the noise surrounding this week’s now-concluded Republican National Convention: Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, speaking at the American Unity Fund’s “Big Tent Brunch” Wednesday:

While making an attempt to differentiate between her professional responsibilities as the state’s chief law enforcement officer and her personal views,  AG Coffman offers one of the strongest condemnations we’ve seen to date by a high-ranking Republican official of her party’s official platform as adopted this week in Cleveland. This year’s GOP platform was distantly to the right of the mainstream on a host of social wedge issues, including statements of opposition to most of the gains LGBT Americans have made in recent years.

We’ve certainly had our criticisms of Cynthia Coffman, but her sincerity in this moment is above reproach. The fact that this year’s Republican platform does represent at least a large segment of the party rank-and-file shows how great the challenge of any Republican seeking to moderate the party’s position on these issues really is. What will be left of the Republican coalition should Cynthia’s personal views on LGBT rights prevail in the future?

Because with all due respect, it’s too late for 2016.

State GOP chair boots blogger seen as “risk” to Colorado RNC delegation

(The ghost of “Coffmangate” – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

houseforgopchairUPDATE: GOP Executive Director Shana Banberger responds: “Mrs. Porter has explicitly declared herself to be a member of the media and has been acting in that capacity for more than a year. After consulting state party and RNC rules we determined that should Mrs. Porter wish to attend the convention as a reporter she is required to be credentialed as press by the RNC.”  Porter had told House that she wanted to attend the convetion “so I can support our delegation and offer email updates on the presidential nominee, platform items, proposed rules changes, etc.” I’ve asked KVOR radio host Jeff Crank, another guest of the delegation, if he plans to report/blog/tweet from Cleveland.

——-

Colorado Republican Party Chair Steve House has booted Republican activist and blogger Kathryn Porter from the group of Colorado Republicans who are going to the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveleand July 18 because House thinks her blogging poses a “risk” to the Colorado delegation.

Porter, whose work appears on the Politichicks blog and was among the first to report details on efforts to oust House as GOP chair, was slated to attend the RNC as a guest of delegate Mike McAlpine, Porter said, under rules which allow each delegate to take a guest.

But in an email to Porter, House wrote it’s his “job to protect the delegation” and Porter’s “actions as a media representative in the past year and especially the past month and a half clearly represent risk to this delegation that we do not need to take at this critical convention in Cleveland.”

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 14)

Get More SmarterStock up now, Coloradans; we could get “up to” 35 feet of snow this weekend. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Supporters of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump are pretty angry about what took place in Colorado last weekend, when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz captured all 34 delegates at the GOP State Convention. We can understand their frustration to a degree, but death threats against State Party Chair Steve House are completely absurd. Besides, anybody who follows politics in Colorado should know that House is having a hard enough time just keeping the State Party functioning at all (just ask Cynthia Coffman.)

Meanwhile, as our friends at “The Fix” explain, His Hairness is actually making some pretty smart political moves lately.

 

► El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn has indeed taken control of the Republican race for U.S. Senate. Now, can he hold on through the June 28th Primary?

 

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

Tim Neville Driving Colorado GOP Senate Clown Car

They too would like to be your Senator.

They too would like to be your Senator.

The Denver Post’s John Frank has a good story up this week on the large field of relatively low-level Republican candidates now competing for the chance to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in this year’s U.S. Senate race. Frank’s story is doing a good job defining the players early for a national audience unfamiliar with most of them, in part by aligning them with quasi-equivalent presidential candidates who are offering similar messages:

The presidential contest is defining the early outlook on Colorado’s race, creating an opening for a political outsider, putting the focus on national security and foreshadowing a messy campaign in the months ahead.

“You are going to end up seeing some similar factionalism and similar rhetoric coming out of the Senate candidates,” said Ryan Call, the former state GOP chairman. “And it will be difficult to reconcile those ideological factions and get them to pull together in support of the nominee for president or U.S. Senate.” [Pols emphasis]

The candidate that emerges from the Republican Senate primary will influence the party’s chances for victory in November, up and down the ballot.

In a separate blog post, Frank outlines the similarities between the messages of presidential and Colorado U.S. Senate candidates: Ryan Frazier with Ben Carson, Peggy Littleton and Carly Fiorina, as well as Marco Rubio with Jon Keyser and either Rand Paul or Ted Cruz with Tim Neville. Some of these comparisons strike us as a little…well, superficial, but there are some valid parallels between the messages of Rubio and Keyser–like there are with Cruz and Neville. Cruz and Rubio are also the two candidates working the hardest to win support in Colorado, with Jeb! Bush flatlining and Donald Trump having little presence here away from television screens.

Frank oddly doesn’t mention this, but the same Republican strategists who are working in Colorado on behalf of Rubio, including Rob Witwer and Josh Penry, are also principally responsible for elevating Jon Keyser. The trouble for Keyser’s supporters is that Keyser has not made anything like the room-clearing splash with his entry into the race that Cory Gardner did in 2014–indeed, news of Keyser getting in the race was met with more candidates jumping in, not a field looking to clear for him in any way. At this point Keyser is totally undifferentiated from the rest of the dozen candidates in the primary, except for some negatives Democrats pinned on him right out of the gate–and that’s not good news for his handlers.

On the other hand, Neville’s built-in advantage in this race is increasingly evident. Neville didn’t raise a stellar amount in his first partial quarter–around $120k–but it was certainly enough to launch a functional primary campaign. Neville’s real strength lies in the ideologically committed and fiercely loyal “Tea Party” and gun activist grassroots that look to him as a leader–and with Colorado Republicans in a continuing state of internal strife, Neville is perhaps in a position to wield more power today than any other individual Colorado Republican.

Looking ahead, we do think the “clown car” will drop most of its passengers in the coming months. We would nonetheless expect as of now to see 4-5 candidates on the June primary ballot, with the final battle coming down to Neville versus either Keyser, Littleton, or self-funding Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha. Should any significant candidates either rise to prominence out of the current pack or enter the race, Keyser is the one with the most to lose, with Neville’s base being the least transferable.

All told, and for a host of good reasons, it’s Neville’s race to lose as of this writing.

Top Ten Stories of 2015 #9: Coffman Stumbles, Carroll Rises in CO-6

Rep. Mike Coffman (R), Sen. Morgan Carroll (D).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R) faces a tough re-election challenge in state Sen. Morgan Carroll (D) .

As we wrap up the political happenings of 2015, we can glance ahead to this time next year and make a prediction: Whatever happens in Congressional District 6 will end up as one of the Top 10 stories of 2016. And if next year continues along the same trend line as 2015, the outcome of CD-6 will easily crack the Top 3.

It is quite possible that 2016 will be the end of the line for Mike Coffman after three decades as an elected official; if so we’ll look back on 2015 as the year when everything started to go wrong for the four-term Aurora Congressman.

At this time last year, Coffman was basking in the glow of a November beatdown of Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff. National pundits had agreed that CD-6 was a “toss-up” race in 2014, but then Coffman went ahead and thrashed Romanoff 52-43 in one of the bigger political surprises in Colorado. Buoyed by such a dominating re-election victory, Coffman entered 2015 as the top Republican recruit for the 2016 U.S. Senate race. Republicans were licking their respective chops over the idea of taking out incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet – just one cycle after Republican Cory Gardner defeated Sen. Mark Udall – and they believed that Coffman was the man to make it happen. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell personally wooed Coffman on multiple occasions, including a much-publicized breakfast meeting that was intended to seal the deal once and for all.

Coffman ultimately decided against running for Senate in 2016, and in retrospect, Republicans may be glad that he declined. A year that began with such promise for Coffman devolved quickly, and he now heads into another re-election effort with all the momentum of a two-legged turtle.

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Stay Classy, Tom Tancredo: Blame “Diversity” For Paris Edition

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports today:

Tancredo, a Republican who has long fought for tougher immigration standards, said he was glad to “start a conversation” about the risks of allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

“I’m referring to the fact that this tragedy (in Paris), this horror, is something you cannot contain to one country is you don’t do something meaningful about immigration — a subject I’ve been involved in for some time — these are the kinds of things that result when you don’t protect your citizens,” he told The Denver Post.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was not amused.

“That’s beyond comment,” he said, dropping his shoulders after seeing the meme during a stop at The Post. “Come on.” [Pols emphasis]

—–

As posted to former Congressman, gubernatorial candidate, and most recently “Coffmangate” co-conspirator Tom Tancredo’s Facebook page a short while ago:

tancparis_blur

For the record, this isn’t the original image. We’ve digitally obscured what appear to be a number of dead bodies and streaks of blood in the highly gruesome unedited photo Tancredo posted. The photo appears to be the interior of the Bataclan Theater in Paris, France after the terrorist attacks last Friday. The caption on the photo, “Celebrating Diversity One Massacre At A Time,” may or may not have been added by Tancredo personally, but clearly that’s the message he endorses.

We’re pretty sure the original photo violates Facebook’s terms of service, so we wouldn’t be surprised if it disappears at some point soon. But as much as he frequently embarrasses his erstwhile fellow Republicans, Tancredo has a considerable following on the anti-immigrant right–and his views are representative of enough of the conservative movement that he can’t simply be ignored.

And folks, sometimes that is a damned shameful fact.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Nov. 2)

Get More SmarterIf you forgot to set your clock back one hour on Sunday, you could always just save yourself the trouble and move to Arizona. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► DON’T MAIL THAT BALLOT!!! If you still have your ballot for the 2015 election, which concludes tomorrow, please don’t put it in the mail. Instead, click one of the following links for more information on ballot drop-off locations.

Visit GoVoteColorado.com to check your voter registration status or to print out a sample ballot. You can also check out JustVoteColorado.org for more information. For more details on local school board elections, check out ProgressNow Colorado’s voter guide.

 

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) played his role today in a political theater production about his endorsement of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for President. Gardner tried to downplay a growing controversy about Rubio’s clear disinterest in doing his actual job of U.S. Senator, but this is the same guy (Gardner) who in 2014 criticized then-Sen. Mark Udall for a handful of missed meetings. D’oh!

 

► Gardner voted ‘NO’ on a two-year budget bill that was passed on Friday, and Marco Rubio even showed up to work to add his own ‘NO’ vote. Colorado’s other Senator, Democrat Michael Bennet, supported the legislation that keeps the U.S. from falling off of another fiscal cliff.

 

 

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On This We Agree: Cynthia Coffman is Silly

Silly

Silly

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is a big supporter of the new federal Clean Power Plan. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is not a fan, however, and that’s okay…to a point. The Governor thinks that Coffman is breaking the law by forcing Colorado to join a multi-state lawsuit challenging the Clean Power Plan. As the Associated Press reports:

Gov. John Hickenlooper said Monday he will ask the Colorado Supreme Court whether it was legal for the state attorney general to sue the federal government over new air pollution rules even though Hickenlooper supports the rules and is trying to implement them.

Hickenlooper said he should have made the final decision on whether Attorney General Cynthia Coffman joined 23 other states in suing the Environmental Protection Agency. Coffman said the rules are an illegal overreach.

“The law makes it clear that except in limited circumstances — which don’t exist here — the attorney general is not permitted to file such lawsuits unless directed to do so by the governor,” Hickenlooper said.

Former Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar backed up Hickenlooper’s comments today during an event in Boulder, telling Bruce Finley of the Denver Post that Coffman’s legal opinion is incorrect in this matter:

“What the attorney general is doing here is clearly illegal on her part,” he said. “We’ll see what the Supreme Court has to say.”

And what does Coffman herself have to say about the subject? That leads us to this little gem that just made it into a story from the Colorado Statesman (which also references a Colorado Pols story from last week):

“And finally, I would say to people who would think that I have been influenced by the energy industry, that they must not know me that well, because I am not that easily influenced,” Coffman concluded. [Pols emphasis]

Not. That. Easily. Influenced.

Yes, friends, we are talking about the same Cynthia Coffman who played a central role in trying to blackmail State Republican Party Chair Steve House last summer. You may have heard about the scandal, which has been dubbed “Coffmangate.” It would be difficult to be any more persuadable to political arguments.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Sept. 14)

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Shanah Tovah, everyone. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► We’ve got a little more than two weeks to go before facing perhaps the second federal government shutdown in three years. The Denver Business Journal thinks that there is a 50/50 chance that a shutdown will occur. The Denver Post takes a look at how calls to defund Planned Parenthood could complicate problems with finding additional money to complete the Aurora VA Hospital project. Elsewhere, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) talks to Politico about being behind the wheel of a rapidly sinking ship.

 

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is speaking out in support of repealing Net Neutrality, as 9News reports:

Gardner called the relatively new regulations an overreach by the federal government, on behalf of the FCC…

…Net neutrality regulations were passed in February by a narrow party-line vote, 3-2, with three Democrats voting for and two Republicans voting against the rules.

The new regulations are designed to ensure that Internet Service Providers play fair when it comes to broadband bandwidth and speeds, preventing companies such as Comcast and CenturyLink from creating Internet “fast lanes” for content providers, such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, which can pay more for bandwidth than smaller streaming services or consumers can.

Cory Gardner is on his “anti-regulation” high horse, but how can he really think it is a good idea to allow Internet Service Providers to essentially control consumer’s access to the net?

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (Sept. 11)

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 15 years already. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Republican efforts to scuttle President Obama’s foreign policy deal with Iran have officially failed, so apparently it’s time to put all of the stupid chips on the table. Republicans are now attacking Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) over his support for the Iran deal with one of the more ridiculous arguments we’ve seen in some time:

An Associated Press report yesterday noted that embattled U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet was one of two Senators supporting the Iran deal whose family members were victims of the Holocaust. It’s almost as if we are expected to excuse Bennet his bad policy decision that would empower Iran, which has threatened to obliterate Israel, because his family experienced the Holocaust.

Uhhhhhh…we’d try to walk you through this logic if we could, but we can’t help you here. It’s not easy to be this dumb and so horribly insulting.

 

CNN announced yesterday that they have decided on the 11 candidates who will get to participate in the Varsity version of the Republican Presidential Debate next week. CNN used some sort of formula based on combined national polling averages over the last two months, and somehow Carly Florina made it into the Final 11. According to CNN, famous rich person Donald Trump is now polling at 32%, making him the Republican frontrunner by a very large margin (Ben Carson is next at 19%, with Jeb! Bush a distant second at 9%).

As usual, we’ll be live-blogging the GOP Presidential debate(s) next Wednesday, Sept. 16.

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) stepped in quite the political turd when he signed onto the NRCC’s “Patriot Program” and promised to divulge his policy positions in exchange for top-tier incumbent support.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (Sept. 3)

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On this day seven years ago, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin formally accepted the Republican nomination for Vice President at the GOP convention in Minnesota; things went downhill from there. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

It’s time to warm up the Ultrasound Bus; state Sen. Tim Neville is beginning a “listening tour” around Colorado in preparation for a U.S. Senate run. Neville says his plans for Senate won’t be influenced by whether or not Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler decides to run, and we’d guess that Brauchler is now more likely to skip the race to focus on his own re-election instead. 

► Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis will appear before a federal judge today to try to explain why she should be allowed to ignore the law and continue her refusal to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Several Republican Presidential candidates are weighing in on the story, with some predictable results:

“I salute her today, and I stand with her,” Mike Huckabee said, explaining that he called her up to thank her for standing up to “judicial tyranny.” Huckabee added: “I thank God for Kim Davis, and I hope more Americans will stand with her.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was less effusive in his praise but also supports Davis, as does Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. In other words, Republicans who are least likely to get elected to the Presidency are the most vocal about supporting someone who is openly breaking the law (Carly Florina, to her credit, has said that Davis should resign).

► Denver voters will not have to decide on allowing some public use of marijuana after activists decided to pull the proposed ballot measure. Legal marijuana activists instead will focus their efforts on trying to secure an ordinance from the Denver City Council.

 

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Colorado Republicans Choose Irrelevance for 2016

Rick Santorum.

Colorado Republicans have enacted “The Santorum Rule” for 2016.

Colorado Republicans have decided not to formally select a candidate for President in 2016 so that they can (theoretically) play a bigger role in selecting a candidate for President in 2016.

Confused? You should be. Colorado is currently the only state in the country where Republicans are essentially taking a pass on participating in the early nomination process, in large part because there are too many bad Republican candidates for President. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post:

Colorado will not pick a Republican candidate for president in its 2016 caucus after party leaders approved a little-noticed shift that is likely to diminish the swing state’s clout in the most open nomination contest in the modern era.

The GOP executive committee voted Friday to cancel the traditional presidential preference poll at the caucus after the national party changed its rules to require a state’s delegates to support the candidate that wins.

What in the name of Ronald Reagan’s ghost is going on in Colorado? There is some actual logic behind Friday’s decision — though not necessarily good logic:

State Republican Party Chairman Steve House said the party’s 24-member-executive committee made a unanimous decision — six members were absent — to skip the preference poll. He said the move would give Colorado delegates the freedom to support any candidate eligible at the Cleveland convention in July. Republican National Committee officials said the change complies with strict party rules.

“If we do a binding presidential preference poll, we would then pledge our delegates … and the candidates we bind them to may not be in the race by the time we get to the convention,” House said in an interview Tuesday. [Pols emphasis]

You might call this “The Santorum Rule,” the result of a strange 2012 cycle whereby former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum somehow ended up with the support of the Colorado delegation not long before his entire campaign cratered. The solution to this problem, according to House and other Republicans, is to skip the “preference poll” part of the GOP caucus so that Republicans don’t feel compelled to support a campaign that no longer exists by the time the Republican National Convention convenes in late July.

In other words, Colorado Republicans don’t want to be forced to select — and continue to support — a bad candidate in a field of bad candidates. There is some disagreement about whether or not this will cause Republican candidates to largely avoid Colorado through 2016; you could argue that Republicans will actually work harder in Colorado in order to make sure that they hold on to delegates who could change their mind at any time.

The upside, if you can call it that, is that Colorado Republicans could wield a lot of power if the 2016 GOP nomination comes down to a brokered deal at the National Convention. Of course, we haven’t seen a brokered convention in this country in more than 60 years, and the likelihood that it will happen in 2016 is about as probable as Donald Trump growing a new head of hair.

The Colorado Republican Party has had an odd year in 2015. They elected Steve House as their new State Party Chair in March, despite a fairly successful 2014 election cycle under Ryan Callthree months later a group of GOP leaders, including Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, tried to blackmail House into resigning from the job (and as it turns out, efforts to oust House probably began on the very day he was first elected). Republicans continue to insist that incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is beatable, yet they can’t find anybody to actually run against him in 2016. Oh, and don’t forget…this?

When viewed with the proper amount of perspective, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that GOP leaders decided against participating in the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary…

…On second thought: Nope, it’s still really, really weird.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Aug. 24)

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If the kids aren’t starting school this week…have fun with that. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is the chief law enforcement officer for the State of Colorado. With any luck, Coffman will eventually decide that it would be a good idea to, you know, learn the law. Here’s the money quote from the Colorado Independent on claims that Coffman tried to convince Durango elected officials to participate in a closed-door meeting about the Animas River mine water spill (such a meeting would violate Colorado’s “sunshine” laws):

Talk about awkward – being asked by the attorney general herself to violate the law,” Mayor Dean Brookie told The Colorado Independent. “We were all pretty taken aback that she would have created that situation.” [Pols emphasis]

 

► Enjoy it while it’s happening before your very eyes, Polsters: The Coffmangate Scandal may very well be the most inexplicably ridiculous political scandal you are ever likely to witness. The group of Republicans who allegedly tried to blackmail State GOP Chair Steve House decided to throw a party for themselves on Friday — and, naturally, somebody thought it would be wise to take a bunch of pictures. Cynthia Coffman was either not invited, or was at least wise enough to not show up in the photos.

 

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GOP activists allege that Republican State Chair is concealing dire financial problems from donors

(The Coffmangate red-on-red backstabbery continues – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

UPDATE: GOP activists have clarified and corrected a couple issues in this blog post, but the central points still stand.

—–

In an email distributed Friday by GOP activist Marilyn Marks, three GOP Central Committee members express dismay over the financial health of the state Republican Party and accuse State Chairman Steve House of concealing outstanding liabilities from donors.

The letter was signed by Nicholas Lundberg and Doug Childress. They did not immediately respond to my request to verify the letter, but other sources have verified it.  It was addressed to members of the Republican Central Committee.

The email lists 11 specific items, and it requests that the Executive Committee, which beat back an effort to oust House, address the financial concerns at its Aug. 19 meeting.

Most of the points focus reporting failures; others allege deception:

3.        Chairman House acknowledged that he concealed and failed to report outstanding liabilities and bank debt to avoid donors learning that the party was in “dire financial straits.” Such failure to disclose violates campaign finance laws, violates bank covenants, and is unethical with respect to reporting obligations to the CRC.

4.        Chairman House states that at least $188,000 in unrecorded liabilities have intentionally not been disclosed. He states that unpaid legal bills make up a significant amount of the liability and relate to the Independent Expenditure Committee (IEC) legal issues. He further states that it is undetermined whether the party will ultimately pay for this liability.

An email seeking comment from the Colorado Republican Party was not immediately answered.

The letter asks that the Committee insist that an “independent CPA firm be immediately engaged to audit the books and records and prepare financial statements as required” by the bylaws of the state Republican Party.

The letter summarizes the situation this way:

We write you as concerned legal and financial professionals to explain our growing concerns about the Colorado Republican Party’s financial reporting and disclosures. The party appears to be materially out of compliance with federal and state reporting requirements, bank loan covenants, and bylaw financial reporting requirements. This situation is exacerbated by Chairman [Steve] House’s disregard for basic requirements of financial transparency, decisions to conceal material liabilities, and his lack of candor regarding financial matters…

Repeated efforts made by several other CRC members to persuade Chairman House to address the issues have been unsuccessful. Instead, he has demonstrated a lack of basic business knowledge and financial literacy resulting in significant financial reporting problems and reputational damage to the party.

The text of the letter, without attachments, follows:

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (Aug. 6)

Get More SmarterOkay, Polsters — it’s almost time to put on your debate pants. Let’s Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Famous rich person Donald Trump will be center-stage, literally and figuratively, during the first major debate of the 2016 Presidential election in Cleveland tonight. The Washington Post previews the big event(s):

By virtue of his polling lead, Trump will be positioned at center stage, flanked by Bush and Walker, who have averaged second and third, respectively. The rest of the top 10 candidates will fan out from there, while the remaining seven candidates will participate in a 5 p.m. undercard debate. (One of the seven, Carly Fiorina, dubbed it the “happy-hour debate.”)

The Cleveland showdown opens a new phase of direct combat for the Republicans. A debate once envisioned as an introductory forum has become an un­predictable drama, thanks to Trump’s rise. Millions of voters are expected to tune in — and most of the candidates have privately acknowledged the high stakes.

“Debates are great levelers,” said veteran GOP consultant Alex Castellanos. “There is a physics to this. . . . Somebody is going to have a big moment where they show their best and true self.” Everyone wonders, he added, “Who is that person going to be?”

This debate is probably too much, too soon for a Republican Presidential field that has barely begun to sort itself out, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Remember: Early debates in the 2012 election cycle provided momentum for the likes of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and all but ended the Presidential hopes of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Colorado Pols will be running our traditional Debate Diary during both of the debates today. We’ll be live-blogging the big event at 7:00 pm, of course, but  we can’t resist watching the Junior Varsity debate, which is scheduled to start at 3:00 (5:00 pm EST).

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General faces charges over an alleged grand jury leak. Governing magazine wonders why there are so many state Attorney Generals facing serious legal problems in 2015…including Colorado’s own Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman.

A striking number of current and former state AGs are facing criminal charges or investigations. The five cases, which range from allegations of corruption to campaign finance violations, are unrelated and differ in levels of seriousness…

…And in Colorado, critics accused GOP Attorney General Cynthia Coffman of extortion, saying that she and a former congressman and a county party chair warned state GOP Chair Steve House that if he didn’t resign, word would get out about an alleged affair.

“I think this is something that will follow her,” said former GOP state House Speaker Frank McNulty.

Colorado Pols has been closely following the Coffmangate Scandal — click here to get caught up.

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 22)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Maybe we need to do this in reverse — just raise your hand if you are not seeking the Republican Presidential nomination. Let’s Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The petition drive in Jefferson County to recall three far-right Jeffco School Board Members is nearly complete — after only a few weeks of signature-gathering. Activists appear to be close to collecting more than 15,000 signatures well ahead of the September 8 deadline. 

► The August Congressional recess is just around the corner, but there’s a lot left to be done before everyone flees Washington D.C. One of the biggest looming decisions, finding money for federal highways and infrastructure, appears to be heading nowhere in the House despite Senate support.

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GOP activist claims to have letter listing legal issues facing the state Republican Party

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

UPDATE 5 p.m.: Here is the letter referenced below, without any deletions, as provided via the Secretary of State’s Office. It’s from Richard Westfall, not Ryan Call, as alleged below. A couple items of note are 1) a matter under investigation by the Federal Election Commission and 2) a matter involving the notorious Jaxine Bubis, who appears to have turned against the state party.

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Kathryn Porter, who wrote a lengthy Politichicks post yesterday illuminating Republican efforts to protect GOP Chair Steve House, appeared on a Denver radio station this morning claiming that the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is refusing to release a letter allegedly outlining ten legal issues possibly faced by state party.

Porter told Boyles that the letter was sent to Steve House from Ryan Call, whose law firm, Hale Westfall, had apparently been representing the state Republican Party. When House defeated Call, Call allegedly sent the letter to House, informing him that Hale Westfall would no longer be representing the state party, according to Porter.

For some strange reason, the letter was sent to the Secretary of State’s office, and it was heavily redacted and released, under CORA, to Porter, as she explained it to Boyles below.

Among other things, Porter questions the grounds on which the SOS redacts the alleged letter from Call to House.

Porter (@10:15): I did a CORA with the Secretary of State’s office on Steve House, regarding election issues, and a letter came back. It was a letter from Ryan Call to the Secretary of State’s office. And you know, Ryan Call is our former state chair. It was a letter to Steve, not the Secretary of State, saying that we inform you that we are immediately no longer representing you, basically, is what it says. So it’s a very interesting letter. And, of course, all the contents were redacted. And there were 10 legal issues that Hale Westfall listed that they were representing the state party in or that they were aware of. So I found that very interesting. And what I found even more interesting is that the Secretary of State’s office refuses to give me the unredacted version…We have basically the first two sentences and the closing sentence. And the number of how many things they redacted.

Boyles: They treat this like Watergate or something. Like an atomic secret.

Porter: It raises so many more questions. It makes me wonder, is the Secretary of State hiding something? Or covering something up for the Colorado Republican Party? They claim deliberative process and they claim attorney-client privilege. And we know Hale Westfall was not sending this letter to the Secretary of State’s office. There is no attorney-client privilege between Hale Westfall and the Secretary of State. So the only leg they have to stand on is deliberative process. And in order to not give me that information, they need to show me that irreparable harm would occur if they share that information with me. Is there some type of legal issue involving the Secretary of State’s office and the Colorado Republican Party? This opens up a whole new can of worms, a whole new set of questions.

I have yet to see a copy of this alleged letter, so we need to take this odd allegation with some serious grains of salt. But I’ll stay on this. Maybe The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels can help us out, when she starts over there.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (July 21)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Do not be alarmed — it’s supposed to look like that. Let’s Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Coffmangate Scandal rages on as infighting in the State Republican Party continues to escalate. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has an odd media strategy, which includes ignoring the Washington Post but giving an exclusive interview to the right-wing Politichicks blog.

► Vice President Joe Biden is in Denver today to give a speech about college education and the Obama Administration’s overall economic policy.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (July 17)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Hey, it beats Getting More Dumber. Let’s Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Aurora Theater Shooting trial lasted 49 days. The jury deliberated for less than 13 hours before returning with a “GUILTY” verdict on all charges (and there were a lot of charges — 165 in total). Next week, jurors return to the courtroom for the sentencing phase of the trial, as the Aurora Sentinel and the Associated Press report:

The verdict came after 2 1/2 years of legal skirmishing between prosecutors and Holmes’ public defenders and 11 weeks of grueling testimony. The upcoming sentencing phase could easily take another month.

“I’m glad we’re at this point, but at the same time, we have a long way to go,” said Marcus Weaver, who was injured in the attack and whose friend Rebecca Wingo was killed.

Experts say the sentencing phase could prove even more emotionally wrenching as survivors describe the impact of the shooting on their daily lives. It will be a harder decision for jurors, who will have fewer instructions to guide them, said defense attorney Karen Steinhauser, who is not involved in the Holmes case. That jurors swiftly rejected Holmes’ insanity defense doesn’t mean they’ll come to a speedy conclusion about his punishment.

All 12 jurors must agree on the death penalty for James Holmes; if there is even one dissenting juror, Holmes will instead be sentenced to life in prison.

► The Coffmangate Scandal is making waves nationally after a front-page feature story in the Washington Post on Thursday. Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Coffman turned in his worst fundraising quarter in nearly four years in reports filed on July 15.

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Mike Coffman Has Worst Fundraising Quarter in Four Years

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Fundraising reports from the second quarter of 2015 are now becoming available publicly, and the most surprising figure we’ve seen thus far comes from the campaign of Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora).

From April through June, Coffman’s re-election campaign raised just $271,163, the worst quarterly fundraising amount from Coffman since Q3 in 2011.

In fact, Coffman has raised a total of just $615,065 in all of 2015. These are not terrible numbers for a Member of Congress, but Coffman hasn’t performed this poorly in fundraising since the boundaries of CD-6 were re-drawn in advance of the 2012 election. The numbers are particularly striking when you compare Coffman’s fundraising to that of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver); Coffman was thought to be the GOP’s top challenger for the 2016 Senate race, yet Bennet has now raised $2 million in successive quarters. Heck, Coffman had a highly-publicized breakfast meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell back in May — you would think he would have picked up some big checks just because of that meeting.

It’s possible that the Coffmangate Scandal is really starting to impact Mike Coffman’s ability to raise money, or perhaps Coffman’s grandstanding on the Aurora VA Hospital is having an adverse effect on his public profile. Whatever the reason, it would seem that Coffman’s campaign was not exaggerating when it sent a fundraising email on July 8 that said “Mike is in trouble”:

Yesterday, Mike told you about our Democratic challenger, Morgan Carroll. And now, political analysts have changed this race to a “Toss Up” due to Carroll’s connections with big-spending liberal groups. That means Mike is in trouble — and we have to fight back now.

Rep. Mike Coffman's lowest quarterly fundraising totals since 2011, the year before CD-6 boundaries officially changed.

Rep. Mike Coffman’s lowest quarterly fundraising totals since 2011, the year before CD-6 boundaries officially changed.

 

 

 

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 15)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Bartels!!! Let’s Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Veteran political reporter Lynn Bartels is taking a buyout offer and leaving the Denver Post and journalism after 35 years. Colorado is better off because of her dedication to political reporting.

► The Aurora Theater Shooting Trial concluded on Tuesday after 49 days. The 12-person jury begins deliberations today on whether or not they agree with the defense’s argument that alleged killer James Holmes should be declared not guilty be reason of insanity. If the jury agrees with the insanity plea, then Holmes will be remanded to a state mental hospital; if the jury finds Holmes to be guilty, the case moves to a sentencing phase where jurors will discuss the death penalty.

Colorado’s Republican Congressional delegation is going bananas over a foreign policy deal between the U.S., Iran and five other nations. Many, many Republicans immediately jumped to condemn the Iran deal — even if they admittedly hadn’t even read it yet.

 

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All Roads Lead to Nowhere: The Elephant in Mike Coffman’s Room

Mike and Cynthia Coffman pose with the elephant in the room.

Mike and Cynthia Coffman pose with the elephant in the room.

All press is good press, as the saying goes, so long as they spell your name correctly. It’s a neat saying…but it really isn’t true. For example, take a look at this lede from ace political reporter Lynn Bartels in Sunday’s Denver Post:

Extortion. Blackmail. Infidelity. Incompetence. Defamation of character. The soap opera surrounding Steve House, the newly elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, exploded in mid-June but appeared to fizzle when the GOP executive committee voted 22-1 in support of House on June 26 after a marathon closed-door session.

The bigger question is the impact on the career of Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and whether any fallout affects her husband, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, who now faces a formidable challenge from Democratic state Sen. Morgan Carroll. [Pols emphasis]

Whatever the circumstances may be, you never want your name used in the same sentence as the words “blackmail” and “extortion.” After more than a month, the Coffmangate Scandal continues to percolate and may ultimately signal the demise of the political careers of both Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Congressman Mike Coffman.

When the Coffmangate Scandal was first breaking, it was obvious that the first casualty of the attempted coup against State Republican Party Chair Steve House was the political career of the recently-elected Colorado Attorney General. Even if Cynthia is somehow able to survive a federal corruption/fraud investigation, she’ll never convince Colorado Republicans to stand behind her in a future campaign for elected office. This isn’t about whether or not voters will hold the scandal against Cynthia — she’ll never be able to hire a decent staff and raise significant money for another campaign, as we explained back in June.

We know that Cynthia Coffman’s political career is kaput, but what about that of her husband, Rep. Mike Coffman? There has been no indication thus far that Mike Coffman was at all involved in the ill-planned coup attempt against House, but a cloud of suspicion and cover-up will continue to follow him around like he was Charlie Brown, and he has no good options for avoiding the storm. In fact, it is Cynthia Coffman’s own words from her 2014 campaign for AG that has Mike Coffman stuck in a political corner. 

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. Photo taken back when she had a political future.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

In August 2014, Cynthia was a guest of the “Pueblo Pachyderms,” where she spoke about her campaign for Attorney General and about her curious marriage to Mike. We’ve provided a copy of that audio recording below, and here’s a brief transcript:

“We’ve been through eight campaigns together by my count. [Mike] is running against for his congressional seat in the sixth congressional district…and I’m running for Attorney General. Now some people say, ‘Now how on earth does that work?’

It actually works very well, because both of us are so busy that we don’t pester the other one about going to the movies or dinner, or ‘when can we go on a bike ride?’ We both know that we are obsessed with politics and with elections. We give each other advice, and we’re sounding boards for each other[Pols emphasis]

…I like to tease Mike that I ran for office because he wouldn’t take all of my great advice, and now it’s payback time because he gives me good advice. I take some of it, and some of it doesn’t fit…

…I love my husband, and I respect my boss (then-Attorney General John Suthers), but I am my own woman. I get asked a lot of times [sic] about the opinions of Mike, or positions that John Suthers has taken on issues, and I have great admiration for both of them.”

Mike Coffman has thus far refrained from speaking about the Coffmangate Scandal in public, though reporters are increasingly casting glances in his direction as details continue to emerge about efforts to force House to resign as Party Chair (on Friday the full “list of grievances” against House was leaked to Jason Salzman). It is only a matter of time before the heat is turned up on Mike Coffman and he is forced to comment on the Coffmangate Scandal…but what can he say?

Cynthia has talked on several occasions about the political discussions she has with her husband, which makes it very difficult for Mike to attempt to claim that he was kept in the dark on a subject as fascinating as this one. Did Mike know in advance that Cynthia was planning on luring House to a meeting in an attempt to force his resignation? Did he voice his opinion on the matter privately? After all, Mike was a vocal supporter of former GOP Chair Ryan Call, whom he backed for re-election over House last spring.

“The Coffmans, both Cynthia and Congressman Coffman, came with a lot of unknowns and risks, and I think that was one of the reasons why it wasn’t a bad thing that they both decided not to run for Senate.

“I think behind the scenes this is sort of a scary public display of what the rumors had been; it’s pretty troubling that the attorney general is going around threatening people.”

     – Unnamed Republican source quoted by Roll Call (both here and here)

It is possible, however unlikely, that Mike Coffman was unaware of his wife’s involvement in the alleged blackmail of House. Regardless, there is absolutely zero chance that Mike can make it through the 2016 election without having to address the Coffmangate Scandal at some point. We continue to hear whispers about a criminal (likely federal) investigation of Cynthia Coffman and her merry band of extortionists, which would obviously escalate questions about Mike Coffman’s involvement. Federal law enforcement officials have declined to discuss details with reporters about any investigation, giving Coffman supporters hope that this whole affair will just go away in time, but there is little realistic chance of that happening.

Remember: Steve House has publicly accused Cynthia Coffman of participating in attempts to use the threat of an alleged affair to resign as Party Chair — and Cynthia has publicly acknowledged that she took part in the alleged discussions. As Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman is THE chief law enforcement officer in the State of Colorado. Every criminal charge that comes out of the AG’s office has Cynthia Coffman’s name on the document. There is no way that Cynthia can avoid a criminal investigation because of the combination of her official title, House’s detailed allegations, and Cynthia’s admission that she was involved in the attempted coup in some form or another. How could law enforcement officials explain not investigation Cynthia’s involvement given the pile of evidence that has already been publicly discussed? There’s no rug large enough to sweep this underneath.

At some point in the near future, law enforcement officials are going to have to talk about an investigation into Cynthia Coffman’s involvement in this scandal. When that day comes, Cynthia will immediately face overwhelming pressure to resign so as not to taint all of the work being done by the AG’s office. Cynthia’s political career is certainly done, but can she do enough to salvage her husband’s re-election efforts in 2016? Or is the Coffman name forever sullied?