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What you can do to fight back this week (November 13)

Last week, shocking allegations of widespread sexual harassment in the Colorado state capitol broke. One lawmaker, Rep. Steve Lebsock, has been asked to resign by House leadership (and ProgressNow Colorado), and more elected officials could be implicated soon.

It’s not about politics. No woman should feel unsafe in our state’s capitol, and no woman should fear retribution or negative political repercussions for coming forward to call out abuse. Whether it’s the President of the United States or a construction worker on the street, sexual harassment of women in our society must stop. Men in positions of power must stop using their status to subject women to degrading behavior and avoid accountability for their actions.

From raising awareness of the right of women to live lives free of harassment and abuse to protecting access to contraception in the face of demeaning far-right attacks, the past year has been a story of both struggle and hope for the future. Even though the threat to these basic rights is more real now than perhaps ever before, the resistance in all its forms—brave women standing up to oppressive men, and the whole country standing up to Trump’s regressive agenda—gives us real hope that progress will come. We can do better. And we must.

This Wednesday, join us in defense of contraceptive rights. Donald Trump and Mike Pence demonstrated their disregard for and disrespect of women’s rights by rolling back birth control coverage under the guise of religious liberty. Last month, Coloradans protested Mike Pence’s fundraiser in Denver because of his backward views on reproductive rights. Let’s again make sure they know where Colorado stands. There will be sister rallies that will take place in Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City, and Washington, DC.

Where: 1961 Stout St, Denver
When: Wednesday, November 15 at 10:30am

Click here to RSVP.

And here are more ways to take action for the week of November 13:


A Very Special Tuesday With Coffman – Say No To Trump’s Tax Scam

Come join us for a very special Tuesday at Congressman Mike Coffman’s Aurora office while we ask him to resist the #TrumpTaxScam. Inspired by other demonstrations, we will be graced by the presence of the “Monopoly Man” and the “Koch Brothers,” and will deliver a giant payout check to the office to demonstrate how far away the GOP is in terms of prioritizing what matters to Americans – healthcare investment, student loan deductions, and other vital middle class protections.

Where: 3300 S Parker Rd, Aurora
When: Tuesday, November 14 at 12:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


It’s not just the South Part 2: Denver and the KKK

This is our second “It’s Not Just the South” program, and there’s no more apt description for a discussion of the Ku Klux Klan and Colorado. Largely thought of as a Southern movement, the Klan in fact controlled Denver politics for a number of years in the 1920s.

Where: The Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Pl, Denver
When: Tuesday, November 14 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Governor’s Town Hall-Pueblo, Colorado

Please join Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov Donna Lynne for our Pueblo Town Hall at the Union Depot, November 14th at 6:00 p.m. We look forward to seeing you all there!

Where: Union Depot, 132 W. “B” Street, Pueblo
When: Tuesday, November 14 at 6:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Out Boulder County: Major! A Documentary Screening

Join Out Boulder County for a screening of MAJOR! to kick off Transgender Awareness Week 2017! Get your tickets early, this event will sell out. A panel of local transgender leaders in the Boulder County community will follow the screening. MAJOR! explores the life and campaigns of Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a formerly incarcerated black transgender elder and activist who has been fighting for the rights of trans women of color for over 40 years.

Where: Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St, Boulder
When: Tuesday, November 14 at 6:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


One Colorado: Webinar: Working with and Supporting Transgender Students

This webinar will provide attendees an overview of gender, the experiences of transgender students in Colorado, and things peers, parents, and educators can do to make our schools and communities safe and welcoming for transgender young people.

Where: Webinar
When: Wednesday, November 15 at 3:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Colorado5050: Winning With Women

When women run for office, they win just as often as men win. So why aren’t there more women in office? Because they don’t run. We are going to demystify the process of running by holding an event that will feature a panel discussion of elected women officials along with a networking session. In the panel discussion, we will hear how women decided to run and what their experiences were both on the campaign trail and in office. After the panel discussion, we plan to move into an intentional networking session – like speed networking.

Where: All Saints Episcopal Church, 3448 N. Taft Ave., Loveland
When: Wednesday, November 15 at 6:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Out Boulder County: Sharing Transgender Stories/ Compartiendo historias transgénero

Come to OBC on Main on November 15 from 7 to 9 to listen to an amazing panel of transgender community members. They will share stories that many of you have never heard before and at the end of presentations there will be opportunities to ask questions. Be prepared to be enlightened and to leave the evening with information that will make you a better ally.

Where: OBC on Main, 630 Main Street, Longmont
When: Wednesday, November 15 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Conservation Colorado: Moments that Define Us: Stories of Our Public Lands

Please join Conservation Colorado, REI, and Colorado Mesa University’s Outdoor Program for an exciting evening of public lands inspired storytelling! The event will feature unique voices from within the Grand Valley and their stories of self discovery, adventure, and inspiration on our public lands. Stories will range from humorous to thought provoking, and they will help us to celebrate and better understand the incredible value of the public lands in our own backyard. This is a great opportunity to learn more about our public lands, the many ways we benefit from them, and the common values we share because of them.

Where: Colorado Mesa University Dominguez Hall Room 110, Grand Junction
When: Wednesday, November 15 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Transgender Day of Remembrance

Join us for a time of honoring, recognition, and remembrance. There will be refreshments, speakers, a candlelight vigil, and community.

Where: CSU Pride Resource Center, Lory Student Center 232, Fort Collins
When: Thursday, November 16 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Pueblo Ready for 100%: From The Ashes Documentary

Come watch a documentary that educates on the devastating effects of coal, and what we can do to create a clean energy future instead!

Where: Rawlings Public Library, 100 E Abriendo Ave, Pueblo
When: Thursday, November 16 at 6:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Professionals of Color Networking Event

This brand new networking event is for Professionals of Color in the Denver Metro area who are seeking to expand relationships and connections. We believe that the most robust and vibrant connections are made when genuine relationship is the foundation; here, we seek to provide the environment to make those relationships.

Where: Coffee at The Point, 710 E 26th Ave, Denver
When: Friday, November 17 at 6:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Out Boulder County: Legal Name Change Workshop

Changing your name can seem like a daunting process but it is easier than you think. We will have experts on hand to walk you through the process and answer questions- plus you get to hang out with a bunch of other super cool trans folk.

Where: First United Methodist Church of Boulder, 1421 Spruce St, Boulder
When: Saturday, November 18 at 3:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Warm Cookies of the Revolution: Boogie Down family dance party with The Reminders!

BOOGIE DOWN with the whole fam-dam-ily. Rock out with us this Sunday morning to Colorado’s own hip-hop superstars, THE REMINDERS! This program is for everyone: come on date, bring your mother, kids aged 0-99, come all by yourself, bring your book club, just make sure to come ready to dance and have fun.

Where: McNichols Building, 144 W Colfax Ave, Denver
When: Sunday, November 19 at 11:00am

Click here to RSVP.


Remember to watch your inbox for breaking news alerts! We’ll be back after Thanksgiving to keep the resistance going. Thanks as always for everything you’re doing to fight back.

Once Again, Tancredo Braces for Attacks from National Republicans

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Tancredo

Former GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo believes national Republican Party leaders and donors will “probably” attempt to torpedo his gubernatorial campaign, as they apparently did last time he ran, dropping a quarter million dollars into an attack campaign that Tancredo thinks cost him the 2014 GOP gubernatorial nomination and handed it to former Congressman Bob Beauprez, also a Republican, who went on to lose to Democrat John Hickenlooper.

Asked if he believes fellow Republicans will try this again (minus the Beauprez part), Tancredo said, “I have absolutely no doubt that they could and probably will.”

During 2014 GOP primary, Tancredo, a far-right conservative on many issues, came under attack by multiple Republican groups.

One, called the Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity (CJO), was funded by national donors. It spent $250,000 attacking Tanc, over half of which apparently came from the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA), led by GOP New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, via the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). The rest of the CJO money apparently came from GOP donors Ken Griffin, Linda McMahon, Marlene Ricketts, Paul Singer, and others.

The CJO, a national organization, is linked to former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose nephew, Doug Robinson, is running against Tancredo.

To spend the money in Colorado, CJO passed it to two groups here: $175,000 to Colorado Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity (CCJO), which has a Massachusetts address, and $75,000 to Colorado Republicans Who Want to Win (CRWWW).

The CRWWW money was spent on radio ads attacking Tancredo in the final days of the 2014 GOP primary, specifically in Mesa and El Paso Counties — a strategic move that Tancredo believes tipped the race to Beauprez, who won by about a three-point margin.

A call to Charles Gantt, who’s the agent for CCJO, seeking to find out if his group plans to attack Tancredo again was not returned.

(more…)

Civil Rights Leaders Slam Colorado GOP For “Bizarre” SPLC Attack

SUNDAY UPDATE: Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette:

A coalition of civil rights groups and left-leaning organizations on Friday demanded an apology from the Colorado Republican Party for “viciously attacking” the Southern Poverty Law Center on Twitter, but the state GOP’s chairman called the request ridiculous and doubled down on the party’s criticism of the watchdog group.

The dispute centers around what the civil rights groups term “a bizarre outburst on Twitter” by the state GOP’s official account — a series of tweets and retweets questioning the SPLC’s credibility as an arbiter of hate groups and extremists…

Citing articles critical of the SPLC “from across the political spectrum” and a letter written this week by prominent conservatives that calls the SPLC a “discredited, left-wing political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a ‘hate group’ label of its own invention,” Hays told Colorado Politics he has no intention of apologizing.

“The notion that the Colorado Republican Party should apologize for joining this broad chorus of critics is ridiculous,” Hays said in a statement. “Our tweet was correct to suggest the SPLC is an unreliable source of information, and stories that cite it uncritically ought not to be trusted.”

—–

A late-arriving press release today from several local civil rights leaders including the Denver Ministerial Alliance and LGBT rights group One Colorado calls for an apology from the Colorado Republican Party–who in the last couple of days has engaged in a series of off-message attacks on the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the nation’s leading anti-discrimination organizations:

Following a bizarre outburst from the official Twitter account for the Colorado Republican Party viciously attacking one of the nation’s foremost civil rights defense and anti-hate group organizations, Colorado civil rights leaders called on the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party to publicly apologize and hold the staffer responsible for these tweets accountable.

“Today’s conservative movement under President Donald Trump is empowering and mobilizing the forces of hatred in America, threatening America’s most fundamental values,” said Superintendent Patrick L. Demmer of the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance. “The Southern Poverty Law Center’s job since 1971 has been to fight back against organized hatred, and they’ve done that job brilliantly. Less than one month since Charlottesville, the solution to the growing epidemic of hate in America is not to vilify the messenger.”

“It is outrageous to witness the Colorado Republican Party attacking an organization that has fought for civil rights and equality for over 45 years,” said Demmer. “With racist hatred and violence on the rise across America since Trump took office, the Southern Poverty Law Center is sounding the alarm that something very bad is happening. Instead of smearing the SPLC, Colorado Republicans should be reading Hatewatch—and making sure that hate is not being legitimized within the Republican Party, in Colorado or any other state.”

“The Southern Poverty Law Center’s has a long history of tracking and documenting the individuals, organizations, and funders of anti-LGBTQ extremism in this country,” said One Colorado Executive Director Daniel Ramos. “It is indeed possible that being marked as a hate group makes it harder for groups to retain their legitimacy and they may lose support from the public. That’s how it should be. Over the last two decades, we have made enormous progress in putting the days of anti-LGBTQ hate and discrimination behind us. SPLC’s ongoing work to expose hate in America is crucial to that progress.”

“Instead of denying the problem and attacking the messenger, every American should ask themselves: what am I doing to help put a stop to hatred in our country?” said Felicia Griffin, Executive Director of FRESC, Good Jobs, Strong Communities. “Sen. Cory Gardner, the top Republican elected official in this state, has repeatedly disavowed the racism that manifested in Charlottesville last month. If those words were more than platitudes, Gardner must demand that the Colorado Republican Party apologize for smearing one of the nation’s foremost civil rights organizations.”

In the aftermath of the racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last month–but really since the beginning of President Donald Trump’s administration, and even before as the GOP sought to accommodate and exploit the rise of the so-called “alt-right”–there’s been what seems to be a concerted push to de-legitimize the SPLC, as well as its mission to identify and hold hate groups accountable. Where SPLC has called out organizations that promote bigotry against LGBT Americans, they’ve been on what you might call a “civil rights frontier.” As a result, SPLC’s equation of bias against LGBT people with racial prejudice makes people who still think it’s okay to be biased against LGBT people…well, uncomfortable.

The commonality between “traditional” racial hatred and prejudice against LGBT people is not a new concept, and has been increasingly recognized in civil rights law–but there are some people out there who still don’t want to acknowledge that they are equally unacceptable in a just society. That includes, apparently, the Colorado Republican Party in its official capacity. Despite the fact that the party has on many occasions tried to soften its image on LGBT rights. And hopefully, the benefit of the doubt we’re affording them on the matter of straight-up racism is justified.

Instead of (metaphorically) shooting the messenger, maybe it’s time to consider what SPLC is saying.

(Almost) Everybody In Colorado Pans Arpaio Pardon

Tom Tancredo, Joe Arpaio.

A press release from local activist group Mi Familia Vota today contains statements from a who’s who of Colorado’s left-of-center politicos, denouncing the pardon last Friday evening by President Donald Trump of former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock stated, “There is nothing right about pardoning Joe Arpaio. This is not just. This is not righteous. This is not leadership. And this pardon is neither earned nor deserved. I am disgusted by the seeming approval of racist actions conducted by another elected official. This is politics and pandering to the base in its poorest form. So again we must resist the message the White House is sending to our communities. We must not mistake Joe Arpaio’s racial profiling and abuse of power and people as ‘tough on immigration.’ His actions were wrong and our federal courts ruled as much.”

Colorado State Rep. Joe Salazar stated, “Working with community partners and law enforcement across the state, I led the effort to repeal Colorado’s racial profiling law (Show Me Your Papers) in 2013. Colorado is now comforted in knowing that we will never have Joe Arpaio wannabes in our state. Simply put, we will not tolerate law enforcement in our state that terrorizes communities or violates constitutional and civil rights. “.

City of Westminster Councilwoman Maria De Cambra stated, “Sheriff Arpaio has a track record and was found guilty of unlawfully racially profiling and detaining Latinos in Arizona. By pardoning Sheriff Arpaio, the President continues to show his disregard of the law and his support of discriminatory practices. Sheriff Arpaio’s practices should be punished not rewarded!”

Colorado Congressman Jared Polis stated, “The hasty pardon of Joe Arpaio, a convicted racial profiler, is truly discouraging. The president has again chosen hate over Rule of Law. With this pardon, the president has sent a message to racists everywhere that their behavior is permissible, and he will have their backs,” said Polis. “I am heartened by the bipartisan criticism the president is receiving because of his pardon. We need to unify and send a clear message that we won’t tolerate hate and discrimination. We are a country that values due process and equal protection under the law.”

Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter stated, “Arpaio is guilty of racial profiling and violating the rights of Latinos. The President’s pardon is a terrible decision.”

We’ve reprinted the rest of the quotes from Mi Familia Vota’s release after the jump for posterity. As for statements from Colorado politicos supporting the Arpaio pardon? Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette has some of those:

Some national Republicans criticized Trump for granting clemency to Arpaio, arguing that the pardon “undermines (Trump’s) claim for the respect of rule of law,” as Arizona Sen. John McCain said in a statement, and threatens to diminish law enforcement officials’ responsibility to “respect the rights of everyone in the United States,” as a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said. But Colorado Republicans were either silent or said they supported the president’s use of his pardon power for the first time.

[Sen. John] Cooke said Saturday he thought Trump’s pardon was the right response to a criminal contempt charge brought against Arpaio for “doing his job.”

“I think the judiciary oversteps their bounds,” Cooke told Colorado Politics. “That’s what they did on Arpaio’s case. Sheriff Arpaio was doing his job. The courts are trying to legislate from the bench, and when he didn’t go along with it, they charged him with contempt. The president has that power to pardon, and Trump did it. Certainly, Obama pardoned a lot of people who probably shouldn’t have been, but I think Arpaio, it was more than appropriate.”

“It was great. It was wonderful,” former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a longtime Arpaio ally, said Saturday. “I think it was totally political from the start, the prosecution was, so the resolution of it should be.” [Pols emphasis]

It’s important to keep a couple of items in mind. First of all, Sen. John Cooke is the former sheriff of Weld County–so it’s not surprising at least from that perspective to see him defending Joe Arpaio. But more importantly, the point to get here is that Colorado Republicans are considerably more hard-line on immigration policy than even many fellow Republicans in other states. The best evidence for that is to compare the condemnation of Arpaio’s pardon from Arizona’s own U.S. Senators to the words of praise Arpaio is getting from Colorado Republicans. Next time you wonder how Tom Tancredo is able to gain so much traction in Republican primaries, it would be useful to remember this.

One other point to make here is that the defense of Arpaio essentially boils down to his “sovereign right” as an elected sheriff to carry out his duties free from “political interference.” The details of the case, Arpaio’s refusal to discontinue enforcement tactics considered to be illegal racial profiling resulting in Arpaio being found in contempt of court, don’t inspire much sympathy among anyone who values the rule of law and the superseding power of the judiciary. Colorado sheriffs who seem to enjoy refusing to enforce laws they don’t like (see: 2013 gun safety laws), on the other hand, will feel empowered by Arpaio’s pardon.

There’s a reason why those whose job it is to enforce the law cannot be free to pick and choose which laws they themselves will follow while enforcing the law. That path, as surely as not enforcing the laws at all, leads to very bad things historically.

More statements follow.

(more…)

Gardner Hasn’t Seen Healthcare Bill, Can’t Answer Specific Questions

UPDATE: The editorial board of the Denver Post essentially calls on Gardner to grow a spine:

Gardner needs to demand more transparency from his colleagues and be one of the two “no” votes that could stop this nonsense. The senator is a member of the panel that helped draft the bill, which put him in a place to demand much of the legislation. We’re told he’s been working behind the scenes to take input from the medical providers and experts in Colorado to make sure their concerns are reflected in the final version of the bill.

“Working behind the scenes?” That’s pretty generous to Gardner based on the Senator’s own words below…

—–

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) posing with whatever is left of his credibility.

Blair Miller of Denver7 has been quietly making noise on the political beat in Colorado for several months now, but today he made a career quantum leap with a detailed interview with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) about the Senate healthcare legislation currently — and mysteriously — winding its way through Capitol Hill.

Among the many significant revelations in Miller’s interview with Gardner comes this stunning revelation: Gardner admits that he hasn’t even seen the text of the Senate healthcare legislation. Think about that for a minute. For months we have been led to believe that Gardner was heavily involved in crafting the Senate healthcare bill as one of the original “Group of 13” organized by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. This was the next logical question to ask on the healthcare debate after Utah Sen. Mike Lee — also allegedly among the “select group” of 13 — admitted that he didn’t know what was in the legislation that McConnell is reportedly trying to rush to the floor before the July 4 holiday. Denver7’s Miller asked that question, and much, much more:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who is one of a handful of Senate Republicans working in small groups to craft the Senate’s version of the American Health Care Act, said Wednesday he has still not seen a text version of the bill just a week before the full chamber is set to vote on it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday the text of the Senate’s version of the bill will likely be released Thursday, and that a vote on the bill is likely to happen before Congress goes on its July 4 holiday recess.

Gardner confirmed that he knew only what McConnell has so far said about the timing of the bill’s release and a vote.

“I have not [seen the bill’s text],” he told Denver7. “And what I’ve been told is a discussion draft will be released tomorrow, but I’ve not seen language or finalized language.” [Pols emphasis]

This is absolutely not a good look for Gardner, who has spent weeks championing a theoretical Senate bill on Trumpcare that he may or may not have even played a role in crafting.

Denver7 has posted a full transcript of Miller’s interview with Gardner, which apparently took place at 10:00 am (Mountain Time) this morning. We’d strongly encourage you to read the entire interview yourself, but after the jump we’ll break down some of the key pieces of this explosive discussion…

(more…)

It’s “Too Soon”–But Not To Fundraise!

THURSDAY UPDATE #2: New York Daily News:

A prominent Colorado politician decided to use Wednesday’s shooting on a GOP baseball practice as a fundraising opportunity.

“The left is out of control. Their violent actions are un-American, and it needs to stop!” reads an email signed by Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.

The fundraising note went out just hours after gunman James Hodgkinson opened fire on a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., where congressional lawmakers were practicing for Thursday’s Congressional Baseball Game.

—–

THURSDAY UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark reports:

Raw Story’s David Edwards:

Neville insisted to KUSA-TV that letter’s main purpose was not to raise funds even though it asks for contributions of at least $25.

“I wouldn’t consider it a pure fundraising email,” Neville said. [Pols emphasis] “The main purpose was to encourage people not to be silenced by fear.”

—–

Local Daily Beast contributor Dave Maney directs us to a fundraising email sent earlier today from GOP Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, invoking today’s shooting at a Republican congressional baseball team practice in Alexandria, Virginia today as the tragic situation was still more or less live news. Excerpted:

Unruly protesters trashing Civic Center Park and clashing with cops in the streets.

Mock beheadings of President Trump by Kathy Griffin.

And now an ASSASSINATION attempt on Republican lawmakers!

The hate-inspired violent rhetoric against conservatives and Republicans was already at an all-time fever pitch before today, but now it just got very real.

The left is out of control. Their violent actions are un-American, and it needs to stop!

Earlier today, a radical anti-trump protester opened fire on Republican staff and lawmakers at a practice for the congressional baseball game in Virginia…

Today’s attack is tantamount to political terrorism aimed at shutting up Conservatives, Republicans, and Americans like you.

Frankly, I lay the blame squarely at the feet of “tolerance-preaching progressives” and their accomplices in the media who allowed violent rhetoric to get so out of control. [Pols emphasis]

I’m talking about so-called “journalists” like Kathy Griffin and other hollywood-elites who incentivize violence against Republicans by staging beheadings and celebrate fictitious assassinations as “artistic expression.”

No wonder why the socialist piece of trash who tried to kill Republican lawmakers today thought his deranged actions were justified…

Here’s what you can do to help:

First, join me in praying for a speedy recovery for Congressman Scalise and the staff and law enforcement who were wounded in today’s attack.

Second, join me in calling on the media to denounce horrific attacks like this and to call for an end to the violent political rhetoric on the left that they’ve inspired.

Finally, if you can, please show us that you’re not backing down by chipping-in $50 or $25 to Colorado Liberty PAC today so we can retake the State House in 2018. [Pols emphasis]

Your contribution today will help us advance our conservative values through passionate and peaceful civil discourse that makes our country great.

For Freedom,

Patrick Neville
Republican Leader
Colorado House of Representatives

The aftermath of high-profile shooting incidents in the United States very quickly turns into a political debate, as gun rights supporters struggle with gun control proponents to cast the emerging details in terms favorable to their stand on the issue. A meta-debate almost always takes place alongside this discussion, arguing whether the timing is right to talk about the overarching political issues in the immediate aftermath of a tragic event–while survivors are still grieving, or even while the event is still unfolding. Activists on the issue joke that it’s always “too soon” to talk about guns, right up until it’s “too late.”

In both of these debates, Neville and Republicans he supports via the Colorado Liberty PAC have ceded the high ground. They have politicized this man’s horrific actions in exactly the way they refused to accept with countervailing examples–like the man who walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs in November of 2015 and started shooting. We feel very confident that as many or more liberals are looking inward today at their own anger than conservatives re-examined their rhetorical excesses after the Planned Parenthood shooting.

And that rank hypocrisy still wasn’t enough. They tried to make money off it.

It’s too far. It’s too much. And we don’t want to hear how it’s “too soon” ever again.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 30)

After a long and (hopefully) relaxing Holiday Weekend, we’re here to help you get caught up on all things political in Colorado and beyond. It’s time to Get More Smarter! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► President Trump is back in the White House following his “big foreign trip.” If Trump was hoping that America had forgotten about his suspicious ties to Russia while he was gone…well, no such luck. From CNN:

Russian government officials discussed having potentially “derogatory” information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his top aides in conversations intercepted by US intelligence during the 2016 election, according to two former intelligence officials and a congressional source.

One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centered on whether the Russians had leverage over Trump’s inner circle. The source said the intercepted communications suggested to US intelligence that Russians believed “they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information.”…

…None of the sources would say which specific Trump aides were discussed. One of the officials said the intelligence report masked the American names but it was clear the conversations revolved around the Trump campaign team. Another source would not give more specifics, citing the classified nature of the information.

 

Jared Kushner’s alleged ties to Russia sucked most of the oxygen out of the room for any other news story over Memorial Day weekend. Kushner, a top advisor to President Trump (and, also, his son-in-law), has some serious ‘splaining to do about his reported quests for secret back-channel discussions with Russia. As the New York Times reports:

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was looking for a direct line to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — a search that in mid-December found him in a room with a Russian banker whose financial institution was deeply intertwined with Russian intelligence, and remains under sanction by the United States.

Federal and congressional investigators are now examining what exactly Mr. Kushner and the Russian banker, Sergey N. Gorkov, wanted from each other. The banker is a close associate of Mr. Putin, but he has not been known to play a diplomatic role for the Russian leader. That has raised questions about why he was meeting with Mr. Kushner at a crucial moment in the presidential transition, according to current and former officials familiar with the investigations.

The New York Times first reported the meeting between Mr. Kushner and Mr. Gorkov in March, but the White House at the time did not explain its aim. That article quoted a White House spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, who said that the meeting came at the request of the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak, with whom Mr. Kushner had met earlier in December at Trump Tower to discuss opening a communications channel with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

But the half-hour meeting with Mr. Gorkov since has come under increasing scrutiny. The current and former American officials now say it may have been part of an effort by Mr. Kushner to establish a direct line to Mr. Putin outside established diplomatic channels.

 

► President Trump needs a new Communications Director with the resignation of Mike Duke. As first reported by Axios this morning:

Mike Dubke, President Trump’s communications director, is leaving the White House — the start of a wave of changes as the West Wing struggles to cope with burgeoning scandals and a stalled agenda.

Dubke served for just three months before tendering his resignation May 18. He offered to stay through the overseas trip, and Trump accepted. He has been trying to help restructure the press and communications operation, and is parting on good terms, a senior administration official said.

Insiders say Dubke came in with few patrons, and never gelled with the originals. His departure is a reminder of how hard it is for newcomers to thrive in Trumpland.

Dubke is still coming in to work, and his last day hasn’t been set. His job is likely to remain open for a bit.

As Politico reports, a larger staff shakeup at the White House appears to be on the horizon.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Tracy has done music for soundtracks and commercial work, including tracks you will hear on survivor. Years of experience can get your child started on the right foot. Not only can they learn how to be a great guitarist, but with the commercial experience accumulated by their instructor they will learn the ins and outs of the industry, and over time, learn how to put their great musical talent to use in real world applications. Would it not be awesome to hear your child’s music on your favorite television show, or in one of the commercials you hear on television or radio numerous times per day? Your child can learn to play riffs, chords, and jam along with a true professional guitarist in private lessons; something that you don’t find often. Get your child started today and watch them bloom into a true musician taught by one of the greats. You are not likely to find this kind of experience anywhere else, so what are you waiting for, get your child started today. Kids love music, it stimulates the brain and provides them a form of expression that is loved by many. How great would it be to have your child playing along at your holiday parties, performing live shows and more? Get them started today and enjoy a talent that will give your child an edge in the music world. If they are interested in other instruments besides guitar, you can get them in drum lessons, and even piano lessons, all by instructors who are some of the best in the industry.

Politico: Coffman Nearing Yes Vote on Trumpcare

UPDATE #3: Rep. Mike Coffman’s updated statement–we can now confirm he’s either a yes or a no.

“Republicans promised to fix the Affordable Care Act mess, and we must. The current bill has a lot of strong elements — giving the states more flexibility is sound public policy.  Colorado knows better than Washington, DC and anyone who suggests otherwise hasn’t been to Washington lately. But we need to tighten some protections for those with preexisting conditions. The critics of the House bill are being totally disingenuous when they say the bill dooms those with preexisting ailments. Individuals with preexisting conditions are guaranteed coverage under the House bill and I like the idea of giving the states flexibility to meet that requirement. But I worry that, under the current language, a small percentage of those with preexisting conditions may not be adequately protected. If House Leadership will work to tighten protections for those with preexisting conditions, I’m a yes on sending this bill to the Senate for further consideration. If not, I’m a no, and we’ll go back to the drawing board to clean up the mess created by the Affordable Care Act.”

Notice how Coffman says Republicans promised to “fix” Obamacare. Not repeal and replace — just “fix.”

Sure thing.

—–

UPDATE #2: Colorado Consumer Health Initiative says “hell no” to Rep. Mike Coffman:

“Recently proposed changes to marginally increase funding for high-risk pools in the American Health Care Act just throw money at a failed policy idea. Coloradans have experience with high-risk pools from before the Affordable Care Act, and it doesn’t work. Before the ACA, Coloradans trying to access our high-risk pool got stuck on waiting lists for coverage, faced higher premiums and limits on coverage, and couldn’t get the care they needed. This only flushes money down the drain and removes protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”

“What’s worse is that Colorado’s Representative Mike Coffman has forgotten his promise to Coloradans with pre-existing conditions to protect them. Time and again, he has promised to maintain these protections. However he has flipflopped and now says he will support the American Health Care Act that waives pre-existing condition coverage and guts $14 billion from Colorado’s Medicaid program leaving 600,000 Coloradans without coverage and a gaping hole in our state budget. The bill makes insurance less affordable while giving giant tax breaks to millionaires and insurance and pharmaceutical CEOs.”

“An additional $8 billion doesn’t magically make high-risk pools work, and Coffman, as a fiscal conservative, should know better than to throw money at a failed idea. Republicans in the House can do all the backroom vote-trading they want; their bill will still harm millions of people in America and hundreds of thousands of Coloradans, and this bill breaks the promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions.”

“This isn’t what people in America or Colorado want. It is time for the GOP to drop this crazed fixation on repeal — and move on.”

—–

UPDATE: Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calls out the latest version of “Trumpcare” as a sham:

We’ve added this mostly because we know how much Rep. Mike Coffman worries about her.

—–

The latest in the rapidly-developing story as Republicans make another attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act–Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, who has alternately promised to repeal Obamacare wholesale and more recently to protect Americans with pre-existing medical conditions while he does, is apparently near the persuasion point on a yes vote for the latest version of the bill. Politico:

Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Billy Long (R-Mo.), whose defections this week rattled rank-and-file Republicans, emerged from their session with the president and said that an amendment to add $8 billion to help cover people with pre-existing conditions would return them to the “yes” column on the bill…

The last-minute talks appeared to pay dividends with some fence-sitting moderates in the House. Shortly after Upton and Long’s White House visit, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said in a statement that if House leaders “work to tighten” protections for people with preexisting conditions, he would support the bill. [Pols emphasis]

Unfortunately, the $8 billion concession on the table is by most estimates not nearly enough to cover the need. The go-to mechanism for covering Americans with pre-existing conditions in this new bill, particularly in red states who would opt out of the ACA’s protections, remains “high risk pools” and other troubled programs that were eliminated by the ACA’s guaranteed-issue requirement.

With Republicans only a few votes away from the House majority they need to move the bill on to the Senate, Coffman’s next move is being anticipated. On both sides. Very, very nervously.

We’ll update as events warrant, which they undoubtedly will.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 13)

Politics can be terrifying at times — but nothing like this horrifying furless Tickle Me Elmo doll. It’s time to Get More Smarter! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) finally held a town hall meeting on Wednesday. The event, held at the Anschutz Campus of the University of Colorado in Aurora, drew scores of national media outlets and generated a narrative that was not at all kind to Coffman and his fellow Republican Members of Congress. Here’s Rachael Bade reporting for Politico:

During a roughly two-hour town hall here on the outskirts of Denver Wednesday night, nearly every other constituent brought up health care.

But not a single one did it to thank Rep. Mike Coffman for backing the beleaguered House GOP Obamacare replacement. Instead, dozens of local inhabitants in this swingiest of swing districts — both Democrats and Republicans — pummeled the Colorado Republican for supporting legislation they believe would harm their community…

“I voted for you because I thought you’d be a leader,” said one angry constituent. “I don’t see you leading.” [Pols emphasis]

The chaotic scene that unfolded Wednesday foreshadows the problem dozens of centrist Republicans will face during the 2018 mid-term elections in swing districts across the country. While Coffman was one of the few moderates to brave a town-hall setting during the two-week Easter recess, his colleagues will hardly be able to dodge constituent blowback at the polls.

Coffman was a full-throated supporter of the Trumpcare efforts that failed spectacularly in Congress last month, even going so far as to praise the bill “in its current form” literally hours before a Congressional Budget Office appraisal estimated that more than 24 million Americans would lose health coverage if the bill were passed. Coffman walked straight into this political buzzsaw of his own volition, and he’s paying the price for it now.

 

► Coffman also created national news on Wednesday by saying that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer “needs to go.” As CNN reports:

The pointed question to Coffman came from a woman who said her great-grandparents died in Auschwitz…

…”I need to hear from my congressman that these things are unacceptable,” the woman said.

“Spicer made a terrible mistake yesterday. If you’re not familiar with what he did is that he…” Coffman began to say, but the audience made clear that it didn’t want to hear excuses.

Throwing up his hands, Coffman said: “He needs to go.”

 

► State Senator Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood) became the first candidate to make a big splash in announcing his campaign for CD-7 on Wednesday. As Ernest Luning writes for the Colorado Statesman, Kerr had some big names on hand for his kickoff announcement — including outgoing Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s wife, Nancy:

For Kerr, who went to Dunstan and then taught social studies there for nearly a decade after he became a teacher, his campaign launch had the air of a homecoming shared with an enormous extended family. He introduced his parents, his brother, his 101-year-old grandmother — born before women had the right to vote, Kerr said, she was glad she could vote for a women in last year’s presidential election and can’t wait to vote for her grandson for Congress next year — and his immediate family, his wife, Tammy, and their children, Braden, 13, Kennedy, 11, and Griffin, 8, who stood alongside Kerr during the speeches.

In the audience, Perlmutter’s wife, Nancy, stood near members of Kerr’s family, a big smile on her face as Kerr spoke. She made clear to The Colorado Statesman, however, that her presence didn’t signify an endorsement in the primary or anything other than wanting to share an important moment with a decades-long friend…

…“Our friendship is a deep and abiding one that’s been maintained for many years,” she told The Statesman. Then, prompted to relate the nearly apocryphal tale surrounding her first date with Ed Perlmutter — the two met and married a decade ago, “later in life,” as the congressman says — Nancy Perlmutter smiled and leaned in slightly. “The story goes that at one of the events when I was introducing Andy during that vacancy process, there was Ed Perlmutter, who took note of the speaker — me — and said, ‘Maybe I want to ask her out for coffee sometime.’ And the rest, as they say, is history.”

 

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Big Scandal in Adams County Spells Trouble for Republicans

Holly Hansen, the now-former Director of the Brighton Chamber of Commerce

In the last few decades, the Adams County government has been working hard to unseat Jefferson County as the epicenter of cronyism and corruption at the local level in Colorado. In recent years, Adams County has really upped their game when it comes to scandal — at the same time that Republicans have been picking up new seats in county government — and it looks like they’re gunning for the mythical “corruption title” in 2017.

As the Brighton Blade reports, former GOP House candidate Holly Hansen (who is married to two-time Adams County Commissioner Erik Hansen) has resigned from her role as director of Brighton’s Chamber of Commerce because she may have gotten her hand caught in the ol’ cookie jar:

Greater Brighton Chamber of Commerce Director Holly Hansen resigned recently, after discrepancies were found during a financial audit, according to Larry Barnaby, the chamber board’s chairman.

Authorities have been contacted and the matter is currently under investigation, Barnaby said in a letter that went out to chamber of commerce members via email Wednesday, Jan. 4. [Pols emphasis]

The amount of the discrepancies was not immediately available, according to Charmaine Weis, board member and designated spokeswoman. Weis declined to release Hansen’s resignation letter because of the investigation. Authorities have said the investigation could take months, Weis said.

The board is taking the matter “very seriously” and will immediately implement added safeguards and procedures to “close any identified loopholes,” Barnaby’s letter said.

“Trust was broken and the board is deeply disappointed, but we are committed to protecting our members, the integrity of the Greater Brighton Chamber of Commerce, and will continue to bring value and service to our business community in 2017 and beyond,” the letter said.

According to the story in the Blade, nobody is publicly using words like “embezzlement,” but it’s not difficult to read between the lines here.

The Hansens are a prominent family in Adams County political circles, and Erik Hansen is rumored to have his eyes on running for higher office sometime soon (Hansen was re-elected to a second term in 2014). This latest scandal could become a significant story for a lot of different Republican candidates in 2018, because Adams County has trended recently toward the GOP. As Lynn Bartels wrote for the Denver Post in 2014:

Republicans won seats for sheriff, clerk, assessor and treasurer. Adams County next year will have a Republican in the state Senate for the first time since 1992. A Democratic state representative lost her seat.

“The sweep, it just blew me away,” said former Adams County Commissioner Marty Flaum, a Republican.

The election featured a kaleidoscope of factors favorable to Republicans, starting with a national climate that revved up the GOP. Mix in a changing county, a Republican ground game and publicity over local Democratic scandals — and the results stunned both parties.

“I think the big question is ‘Is this a momentary blip or does Adams County become a purple county?’ ” said Erik Hansen, a Republican elected to his second term as county commissioner. “If Adams becomes a purple county, that has huge implications for statewide politics. That means the Democrats can’t count on Adams County anymore.”…

…“I think the election,” Hansen said, “sent a pretty clear message that people want Republicans to have a greater role in governing.”

Adams County Commissioner Erik Hansen

One of the reasons that Republicans have been able to make gains in Adams County is because they could highlight years of corrupt practices in county government that included some well-known local Democrats (Hansen’s official bio on the Adams County website highlights his goal of ethics reforms). But since that 2014 election, Republican elected officials have been mired in their own scandals, including an ethics complaint involving the Adams County Assessor…who was publicly defended by none other than Erik Hansen. As we wrote in December 2015:

We’re hearing word of fresh controversy in Adams County, this time involving the county’s elected Assessor Patsy Melonakis (R)–spouse of longtime local judge Chris Melonakis. The story as we understand it is that Patsy Melonakis is refusing a routine annual internal audit of her office–a normal and necessary exercise that all other offices of Adams County government have already either completed or scheduled.

Obviously, this invites big questions about her transparency. But even more curious is that GOP Adams County Commissioner Erik Hansen is reportedly running cover for her as questions grow about the situation. In particular, Adams County Commissioners Eva Henry and Chaz Tedesco are questioning Melonakis’ decision to allocate over $150,000 of her budget to remodel her own office.

These are the sort of local controversies that can lead to significant political changes up and down the ballot for years to come. Upheaval in Adams County was a huge boost for Cory Gardner’s Senate campaign in 2014, and it has also benefitted the re-election efforts of Rep. Mike Coffman in CD-6. Conversely, Republicans in Jefferson County are still reeling from the 2015 recall of conservative school board members Julie Williams, Ken Witt, and John Newkirk.

For any candidates looking at statewide office in 2018 — and even for the fight over control of the state legislature, where Republicans maintained a one-seat majority in the state Senate because of Adams County — this story will have major ramifications.

 

Jeffco School Board Candidate Won’t Say if She Actually Lives in the County

Jeffco School Board candidate Regan Benson may not live anywhere near the district.

Jeffco School Board candidate Regan Benson may not live anywhere near the district.

There was an interesting story in the Columbine Courier on Wednesday that you definitely need to read — particularly if you are a Jefferson County Voter.

Republican Regan Benson is running for a seat on the Jefferson County School Board in District 5. If School Board President Ken Witt is forced out in the recall election, Benson could end up being his replacement in District 5. This could lead to even more drama in Jeffco School Board politics, because it appears likely that Benson actually lives about 150 miles away — in Akron, Colorado. 

As Doug Bell reports for the Courier:

Benson has not directly responded to repeated questions about whether she lives in Jefferson County. She told Evergreen Newspapers in 2012 that her family had moved to Akron, a town in eastern Colorado, in part because of dissatisfaction with the Jeffco school district. Since declaring her candidacy, however, Benson has said only that she is still a registered Jeffco voter in District 5.

“I don’t believe it prudent to the issues of running for a local school board position to publish my address,” Benson said. [Pols emphasis]

Beth Clippinger, assistant to Jeffco Clerk Faye Griffin, said state statute requires school board candidates to be registered voters for 12 consecutive months before the election, and that Benson registered as a Jeffco voter in November 2013.

Regan Benson could have one hell of a commute if she is elected to the Jeffco School Board.

Regan Benson could have one hell of a commute if she is elected to the Jeffco School Board.

It may not be particularly relevant to publish Benson’s exact address(es), but it is certainly worth noting if she doesn’t live anywhere near Jefferson County, which appears likely. Benson apparently answered questions from the Columbine Courier via email — the story notes that she declined a telephone interview — and says that she decided to run for Jeffco School Board even though she opposes the recall effort.

While we can’t say for sure where Benson might rest her head at night, voter registration information is a matter of public record and fairly easy to check. Benson is a registered Jefferson County voter with an address in Morrison (Willow Springs), but her voter registration record also lists an address in Akron, Colorado — about 150 miles to the east. When there are two separate residences listed for a particular voter, it usually means that the second address is the destination for mail ballots.

Benson probably collects her mail ballot in Akron, and she refuses to say if she actually lives in Jefferson County, which is a weird thing to do if she really does live in Jeffco — what would be the point of dodging that question otherwise? And then there’s this:

Benson, who said she has never before run for office, said all three of her sons have in the past attended Jeffco schools, although her youngest son now attends school in another district.

The law doesn’t mandate that Benson actually live in Jefferson County so long as her voter registration is there, but why would you want to run for a school board position in an area that is 150 miles from your home? Jeffco has seen Republican candidates for school board in prior years who home-school their children, so it wouldn’t be new for someone to seek a Board spot with no obvious connection to the school district. But this — well, we’ve got to admit that we’ve never seen this before.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Sept. 4)

Get More Smarter

Friday is “National Wear Teal Day” to promote awareness of ovarian cancer; can we skip the teal if we just tell a few people to be aware of the signs of ovarian cancer? 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…

► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is expected to publicly announce his support today for President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. As Mark Matthews reports for the Denver Post, Bennet is also announcing a new legislative plan to improve the Iran deal:

As part of his declaration, the Colorado lawmaker and former Democratic party leader also will unveil a new legislative plan that Bennet says will strengthen the deal while steering more money to Israel for its national defense…

…By coming forward now, Bennet still is able to register his support while avoiding the political fallout that comes with being the “deciding” vote, a label that was used to great effect in past elections to target Senate backers of the Affordable Care Act.

Which is why Bennet’s roll-out of a new legislative package that includes funding for Israeli security is also significant.

 

 

► State Sen. Tim Neville is “in it to win it” in the race for U.S. Senate, and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler is sounding less and less like a potential candidate.

 

► Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis seems a bit confused about the purpose of her continued refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses. From the Associated Press:

A defiant county clerk went to jail Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, but five of her deputies agreed to comply with the law, ending a two-month church-state standoff in Rowan County, Kentucky.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning said he had no choice but to jail Kim Davis for contempt after she insisted that her “conscience will not allow” her to follow federal court rulings on gay marriage…

…”Her good faith belief is simply not a viable defense,” Bunning said. “I myself have genuinely held religious beliefs … but I took an oath.”

“Mrs. Davis took an oath,” he added. “Oaths mean things.”

Judge Bunning told Davis that she could go free as long as she promised not to interfere with issuing marriage licenses to all couples, but she chose to go to jail instead, according to her attorneys (her counsel also compared Davis to a “Jew living in Nazi Germany,” because, you know, somebody had to make the inevitable Nazi comparison).

To recap, Davis is now sitting in jail while Rowan County clerks are issuing same-sex marriage licenses, so her protest is accomplishing very little. Maybe she just likes the food in jail.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter (Thursday, Feb. 5)

Get More Smarter

It's time for the first Get More Smarter in Colorado Pols history. We're more excited than Tim Neville in a room full of men (no, not like that).
 

TODAY IS THE DAY…

► State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton) will try to explain his "Parent's Bill of Rights/No Rights for Children" (SB15-077) legislation in the Senate Education Committee today. Republicans will likely let this train wreck of a bill make it out of committee so that the full State Senate can continue to ruminate on why SB-077 is a political disaster for 2016.

► Speaking of really terrible ideas, Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) is in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee today to discuss SB15-070, which would drastically reduce regulations on small child care facilties and operations. Child welfare advocates are baffled by Lundberg's bill and say it would present a serious safety risk to children. Lundberg says that parents should figure out on their own whether or not a child care facility is safe; you know, because pedophiles readily identify themselves and all.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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BREAKING: Lang Sias Finally Wins An Election (Sort Of)

UPDATE: It's worth taking a moment to acknowledge the long-sought triumph Lang Sias' appointment to the Colorado House represents for his high ranking GOP kingpin supporters, who have been trying to get Sias into office–any office–for several years. Sias lost the 2010 7th Congressional District primary to Ryan Frazier, who went on to be pummeled by Ed Perlmutter. Sias then lost two successive bid for an Arvada state senate seat, one to Democrat Evie Hudak and the other last year to now highly targeted Sen. Laura Waters Woods. One consequence of Sias' appointment to HD-27 is that Waters Woods is now operating without a net–if she melts down at the Capitol as many expect before going up again for election in 2016, Sias is already busy holding down this House seat.

But for today, it's enough to celebrate along with what's affectionately known in some circles as the "Sias Zombies." After years of rejection by the voters, they've finally found a way to get Lang Sias into the club.

Treehouse-of-Horror-XXIV-Couch-Gag-by-Guillermo-del-Toro-3

"Must…elect…LANG!"

—–

Lang Sias (before and after).

Lang Sias (before and after).

As the Denver Post reports, three-peat election loser Lang Sias has finally won a ticket to the Colorado General Assembly, appointed today to the HD-27 seat being vacated by Libby Szabo. Szabo was herself appointed to the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners to replace "serial office jumper" Faye Griffin, setting the whole game of musical chairs in motion:

Former Top Gun pilot Lang Sias has finally won an election after a vacancy committee on Saturday elected him to former Rep. Libby Szabo's seat in the state House.

"I'm very excited and humbled — and hoping to stay that way," he said.

The 14-member committee selected Sias over mortgage banker Christine Jensen. The vote count was not announced.

Says Lang Sias,

"I've taken my poundings, that's for sure," Sias said. "I finally found an election where I could actually speak to every voter." [Pols emphasis]

Congratulations Rep. Sias, and may all your elections be decided by fourteen voters.

That's unlikely, of course.

Old, New Names Floated To Replace Libby Szabo

Lang Sias and the vanishing Tea Party endorsement.

Lang Sias and the vanishing Tea Party endorsement.

With newly appointed Jefferson County Commissioner Libby Szabo's resignation from the Colorado House taking effect at the end of the month, Republicans in House District 27–and, of course, Republican kingmakers in their respective high places–are hard at work sorting through the prospective candidates to replace her. The word is there is a pretty good mix of candidates in the running for this seat, but we'll focus today on a by-no-means comprehensive list of four contenders we've been advised to watch:

1. Lang Sias. That's right, folks, "the Republican Democrats fear," or at least that how his story went before he lost three consecutive bids for elective office, is in the hunt for this appointment to the Colorado House. What we've heard, though, is that Sias is doubly tainted by his loss to Laura Waters Woods last year in SD-19–both by having lost in that primary and by being branded a moderate "squish" by his hard-right opponent in the process. By all accounts this is a very conservative vacancy committee, which at this point puts Sias at a real disadvantage.

2. Christine Jensen, a mortgage broker who ran for Arvada city council in 2007. We know less about her, except that she is popular among Arvada Republicans, and is a strident religious conservative in the similar mold of Szabo. Based on our limited information, this is a candidate who could prove favorable to both this vacancy committee…and, looking ahead, Democrats (if you know what we mean).

Larry Queen. Wazzap!

Larry Queen. Wazzap!

3. Larry Queen, the failed SD-20 GOP candidate last year running against Sen. Cheri Jahn. Pulling in Queen's favor is the close race he ran against Jahn, losing by fewer than 500 votes in the final tally. But under the surface of that close win, there was chatter about an inept campaign that could have, and should have say his detractors, been able to close the gap in a heavily targeted GOP pickup attempt.

4. John Bodnar, the more-or-less placeholder Republican candidate for the HD-27 seat in 2008 against Democrat Sara Gagliardi. Bodnar was one of a number of low-profile losing GOP candidates in 2008, who didn't raise much money, didn't have any public profile, and went down to defeat quietly, but he has been active in Republican Party politics in the district.

Like we said, this is not a comprehensive list, and other names could yet emerge before the HD-27 vacancy committee makes its decision next weekend. We'll update as and if we learn about new developments. Since playing musical chairs with appointments suits Jefferson County Republicans much better than letting those pesky voters decide on their representation, our coverage is as close to this process as even most citizens of HD-27 will get.

BREAKING: Libby Szabo Selected as Jefferson County Commissioner, Creating Vacancy in HD-27

UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

Szabo will take the seat of Republican Faye Griffin, a serial job jumper who resigned from the board after being elected county clerk in November.

Another GOP vacancy committee, for House District 27, will meet and appoint someone to take over Szabo’s seat. And the House GOP caucus will meet to elected someone to Szabo’s leadership post; she is the assistant minority leader.

Szabo said she did not know when she would be sworn in as a commissioner.

The liberal blog ColoradoPols has called into question the vacancy committee process, including the fact that it refused to release the names of other contenders for the post. Szabo, who has pushed for transparency, said she was not involved in how that committee operated.

—–

Libby Szabo

Libby Szabo

Republican State Rep. Libby Szabo, the Assistant Minority Leader in the GOP caucus who was just re-elected in November, has been selected by a Jefferson County Republican Party vacancy committee to become the new County Commissioner in District 1. A formal announcement is expected to come as early as this afternoon.

If you were wondering, Szabo never bothered to say anything publicly about seeking a new job one month after being re-elected to the State Legislature; nor did Szabo say anything on Dec. 15th, when she was named the top Republican on the influential House Business Affairs and Labor Committee. Szabo was one of 9 applicants to submit their names for the vacancy created by the early departure of Commissioner Faye Griffin, a serial office jumper who was elected Jeffco Clerk and Recorder (again) last November.

The 75-year-old Griffin has become notorious for failing to finish her elected term in office in order to prolong her time on the taxpayer's dole. Even the editorial board of the Denver Post ("Enough is Enough, Faye Griffin") was incensed at Griffin's apparent contempt for actually finishing her job in the office she was elected to serve. As the Denver Post wrote in October:

We asked Griffin why she would leave the commission two years early, and she was candid in saying it was due to term limits. Griffin is in the middle of her second term, and if she stayed in the position, she couldn't run for the commission again — and there would be no other palatable options for her, in her mind.

"In two years, there's no county office that is open," Griffin said. So, she is seeking the office she held for eight years, starting in 1998. [Pols emphasis]

Political blog JeffcoPols pointed out Griffin's move and speculated that it could be part of a larger shuffle of Republican politicians in Jefferson County intended to avoid open-seat elections. Even if it is wrong about the specific moves, the blog makes a valid point about how Griffin's action would cede power to the GOP vacancy committee in Jefferson County.

Faye Griffin

Who needs elections when you have a Faye Griffin?

Szabo's appointment will trigger yet another Republican vacancy decision — yet again leaving the voters out of the process. By state statute, Jeffco Republicans have 10 days to pick a replacement for House District 27 once Szabo officially resigns her legislative seat, and if history is any indication, they'll keep the process a secret for as long as they can get away with it. Take a look at what Ramsey Scott wrote in the Canyon Courier on Tuesday:

Natalie Menten, who works for the Jeffco GOP, said the party wasn’t releasing the names of the nine applicants. The seven-member vacancy committee was working to narrow the list to a few finalists. [Pols emphasis]

Menten said the party had received more than 50 comments from the public on the process, mostly recommending someone for the vacancy. 

The Republican vacancy committee refused to release the names of applicants to one of the most powerful elected positions in Jefferson County. Why is that okay? You are required to put your name on the ballot if you want to run for office in every other scenario involving elected officials, but once a vacancy committee convenes, it all becomes a big secret?

This nonsense has been going on for years in Jefferson County, with elected officials leaving office early as a way around term limits and to allow a Republican Party vacancy committee to choose the successor. We have no quarrel with the process of filling a vacant seat in general, but something needs to change when it is being so blatantly abused as it is in Jefferson County. A committee of just 7 members selected Szabo to an office that normally requires winning the votes of the entire county; there are more than 256,000 people in Jeffco who voted in November but will now have no input into who will serve as one of three County Commissioners — or who will decide their representative in one of a handful of House Districts in Jeffco.

We've been following this story closely for a very long time; remember, dear readers, that you heard it here first.

Jeffco Commissioner Vacancy Attracting Lots of Interest

Faye Griffin

Last week we told you about the upcoming Republican vacancy committee in Jefferson County to fill the seat of serial office-jumper Faye Griffin (left). We've since heard a number of rumored candidates who may apply before the Dec. 29th deadline, as well as some interesting — if not terribly surprising — news about the vacancy committee itself.

First off, the Jefferson County Republican Party website claims that they have a 7-member vacancy committee that will decide Griffin's replacement (once she is sworn-in, again, as Clerk and Recorder on Jan. 13). But the vacancy committee could be ripe for a challenge itself; according to results from a Central Committee Meeting in June, the Jeffco GOP only appointed five people to its vacancy committee after Bill Tucker resigned as Party Chair following a bitter and contentious battle with supporters of Dudley Brown's Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) group. E.V. Leyendecker is the current chair of the Jeffco GOP, which makes county government matters particularly sticky given that Leyendecker publicly called on Republican Assessor candidate Ron Sandstrom to resign as a candidate in September when it was revealed that Sandstom owes the federal and state government nearly $100k in back taxes.

This could create quite a conundrum for Jeffco Republicans as the list of potential County Commissioner candidates grows longer. Current County Treasurer Tim Kauffman is indeed eligible to be selected by the vacancy committee, having met the minimum residency requirement. Two other well-known Republican names surfaced over the weekend as likely applicants to fill the vacancy: HD-27 Rep. Libby Szabo and failed 2014 State Senate candidate (SD-20) Larry Queen.

As we have discussed before in this space, Jeffco Republicans could actually end up filling two of the top county government jobs depending on how things shake out. If Republicans elect to go with Kauffman as Griffin's replacement, they would then need to fill (via vacancy committee) the County Treasurer position that Kauffman would subsequently vacate. In that scenario, term-limited Jeffco Assessor Jim Everson will likely campaign to replace Kauffman as Treasurer. Of course, all of this assumes that there is not a mix-up with the formation of the vacancy committee, which would only bring more clowns to the circus.

There's a good reason why you should care about all of this — we're talking about a complete runaround on Democracy that Jeffco Republicans have been influencing for the last decade-plus. Jefferson County is home to more people than the entire state of Wyoming, yet a 3-person majority may soon decide how to fill 2 of the 7 countywide elected positions in Jeffco. We understand that this is how the process has been set up to deal with vacancies, but maybe it's time to take another look at those rules and regulations. For a Republican Party that spent countless hours crowing about ballot integrity in 2014, they've been awfully quiet about a pending vacancy committee that will effectively disenfranchise every voter in Jefferson County.

Jeffco Republicans Set Application Deadline for Commissioner Vacancy: Dec. 29th

The Jeffco Shuffle: Government by Vacancy Committee

The Jeffco Shuffle: Government by Vacancy Committee. Don’t be surprised if this is how things shake out in January.

Jefferson County Commissioner Faye Griffin was elected (again) in November to serve as Clerk and Recorder, marking another move for the serial office-jumper and yet another Republican Party vacancy committee. We wrote before about the absurdity of the 75-year-old Griffin failing to complete an elected term for the second time in 6 years, and even the editorial board of the Denver Post criticized Griffin's political incontinence.

According to the Jefferson County Republican Party, a GOP vacancy committee has 10 days to appoint a new county commissioner once Griffin resigns and is sworn-in as Clerk and Recorder on Jan. 13:

The candidate selection will be determined by the Jefferson County Republican Party County Commissioner Vacancy Committee. The seven members of this panel were elected by the Jefferson County Central Committee to represent them in this matter.

In order to ensure a transparent, open and fair process for applicants – all qualified, interested parties are encouraged to apply for this position. The deadline to apply for this vacancy appointment is midnight on December 29, 2014. Applications received after this deadline will not be accepted.

**Applicant requirements** Must be a eligible elector registered with the Republican Party. Must have resided within Jefferson County Commissioner District 1 for at least the past twelve months.

It's interesting to note a change in the "Applicant Requirements" that mandates candidates to live within Commissioner District 1 for "at least the past twelve months." You can call this the "Odom Rule."

This change no doubt occurred thanks to former Republican Commissioner John Odom, a man who was largely absent during his first term before losing his bid for re-election to Democrat Casey Tighe in 2012. Odom was appointed to fill a vacancy in March 2011 when then-Commissioner Kevin McCasky resigned mid-term to take another job, and there was plenty of dispute at the time as to when Odom became a resident of Commissioner District 2. A search of publicly-available property records shows that Odom didn't close on a new home in District 2 (he was previously a resident of District 1) until literally 24-48 hours before the vacancy committee selected him to replace McCasky.

Republicans apparently didn't want a repeat of Odom's musical homes game, which is why applicants for the District 1 vacancy must have resided within the district for at least 12 months. We haven't had a chance to check the specifics of Treasurer Tim Kauffman's residency requirements, but it's possible that Kauffman (a frontrunner to claim the vacant Commissioner spot) may be just outside the boundaries; that would be quite the political irony, since Kauffman was appointed to his job through (you guessed it) a Republican vacancy committee when Griffin was sworn-in as County Commissioner in 2009.

But if Kauffman is eligible and does receive the vacancy committee nomination, he'll have to resign from his position as County Treasurer…giving the GOP vacancy committee yet another countywide seat to fill. There are just 7 members of the Republican vacancy committee, and it's more likely than not that these 7 people will get to fill two countywide seats that should otherwise be decided by the 422,691 registered voters in Jefferson County. Yay Democracy!

 

New York Times USA Today covers Colorado / Jefferson County Student Protests

In Colorado, the newly conservative Jefferson County School Board has made headlines because the board seeks to remove information about civil disobedience from the High School AP history class. Ironically, this has actually created real time civil disobedience among students.

And this story is no longer local, it is being covered Nationally by the New York Times

As well as in USA Today
From the New York Times

A new conservative school board majority here in the Denver suburbs recently proposed a curriculum-review committee to promote patriotism, respect for authority and free enterprise and to guard against educational materials that “encourage or condone civil disorder.” In response, hundreds of students, teachers and parents gave the board their own lesson in civil disobedience.

“It’s gotten bad,” said Griffin Guttormsson, a junior at Arvada High School who wants to become a teacher and spent the school day soliciting honks from passing cars. “The school board is insane. You can’t erase our history. It’s not patriotic. It’s stupid.”

From USA Today

“I think it’s awesome that students understand and recognize their First Amendment rights and they’re taking action,” John Ford, president of the Jefferson County Education Association, told KUSA.
“Trying to create a board that in some ways purifies our curriculum is a little bit concerning and somewhat chilling,” Ford said.

I learned a word in High School – irony – or ‘poetic justice’ which is what I think this next sentence sums up…

(Mr. Witt) said that some had made censorship allegations “to incite and upset the student population.”

That would be your doing sir.

Almost from the outset, the three conservative newcomers to the five-person board clashed with the two others, and a steady stream of 3-to-2 votes came to represent the sharp divisions on the board and in the community. Critics of the new majority have assailed the board for hiring its own lawyer, calling it a needless expense, and accused them of conducting school business outside of public meetings….

“We’ve had conservatives on our board before,” said Michele Patterson, the president of the district’s parent-teacher association. “They were wonderful. These people, they’re not interested in balance or compromise. They have a political agenda that they’re intent on pushing through.

(As of this post the USA Today article has over 1700 Shares and The New York Times has over 900 comments)

Reporter’s work absent from Denver Post due to end of grant

(For more on Kane's shoddy work on Obamacare, click here – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Art Kane.

Art Kane.

A Kaiser-Family-Foundation grant to The Denver Post has ended, explaining the recent disappearance of Denver Post articles by freelance reporter Art Kane, whose work at The Post was funded by the Kaiser grant.

"The grant has ended, and that's why we haven't run any stories by him in awhile," said Greg Griffin, an editor at The Post, when asked about the disappearance of Kane's work.

Back in March, Post Editor Greg Moore told me the Kaiser Family Foundation provided The Post with an undisclosed amount of grant money to supplement the newspaper's coverage of health care, specifically of issues related to universal health coverage.

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How GOP Brass Punked The Colorado Grassroots Once Again

UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

“Now that we know who was behind many of the false and slanderous ads that were purchased in Colorado in the final days of our primary season, there are many questions that Colorado Republicans deserve to have answered,” Tancredo said. “Voters deserve transparency and they deserve to have a full accounting as to why the RGA would secretly funnel money into our Colorado Republican primary.”

Tancredo called on Christie to release all communications between the RGA and RAGA, disclose who authorized what appears to be $175,000 funneled into the primary, and to say who was involved with coordinating efforts between the RGA and two issues committees formed to help Beauprez through the primary.

“Governor Christie was previously accused of using political power as governor of New Jersey to block bridges as an act of political retaliation. So I’m sure he will relish this opportunity to ‘come clean’ and to ‘clear the air’ to avoid new allegations of using his elected position at RGA to carry out a political vendetta in Colorado.” [Pols emphasis]

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UPDATE: We have yet to confirm this report from AM radio host Ken Clark, but very interesting if true–Colorado Republican Party vice-chairman Mark Baisley, a "Tea Party" insurgent, calling for an investigation?

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tancgov

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post breaks an important, if unsurprising development–the Republican Governors Association worked actively behind the scenes to ensure one-time Colorado GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Tom Tancredo did not win that party's primary. Far from a neutral observer, it looks like the RGA was in the tank (pardon the pun) for Bob Beauprez the whole time, and pretty darn sneaky about it too:

Tancredo, considered the front-runner for much of the primary, finished second in the June 24 four-way GOP primary for governor. Beauprez faces the Democrat incumbent, Gov. John Hickenlooper, in November.

"The RGA wanted to play in the Republican primary without anyone knowing about it," CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said.

"To avoid any fingerprints, the group ran the money through RAGA, an organization that typically doesn't weigh in on gubernatorial races. Despite a public posture to the contrary, it seems the RGA is, indeed, willing to pick sides in at least some Republican primaries."

beauprezdemsfear

​There were plenty of signs during the GOP primary that the RGA was actively working against Tancredo and for Beauprez. Early press reports after Beauprez's entry into the race described him as the "prohibitive favorite" of the RGA, and Beauprez himself made it clear he was getting in because the field of candidates as it stood then wasn't considered competitive. As we've discussed at length, Beauprez's loony-tunes record since leaving electoral politics in 2006 makes him almost as great a liability as Tancredo–the biggest difference being that Beauprez's nutty statements haven't been as widely publicized. But the judgment of GOP insiders at the time was that Beauprez hurts them less.

Either way, as Bartels continues, Tancredo is not a happy camper now that the truth is out:

"I am trying my very, very level best to figure out how to deal with my anger with them and exactly what to do about this without hurting Bob," Tancredo said. "I want Bob to become governor, but I want to blow the whistle on these people. They are despicable."

Tancredo said he's certain Beauprez knew nothing about the funding behind the attack ads, and Beauprez's campaign on Monday agreed.

Now folks, without getting too far into the whys and wherefors, let us just postulate right here that Bob Beauprez knew full well the RGA would back him in this primary. When Tom Tancredo says he's "certain" Beauprez didn't know the RGA was helping out, we submit Tancredo knows it's not true. Everybody with an ounce of political understanding knows it's not true. Tancredo can't say that, of course, because that would "hurt Bob." But the report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) demonstrates clearly how the money flowed from the RGA into the Colorado GOP gubernatorial race:

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Field of Candidates for Jefferson County Offices (Almost) Set for June Primary

With both the Democratic and Republican county assemblies behind us, the field is set for the slate of races in Jefferson County. Here's the rundown for every race and candidate that will appear on the June Primary ballot, with a few notable exceptions (SD-16 and HD-23)…

STATE SENATE
SD-16 (Republicans will hold the SD-16 assembly this weekend)
Sen. Jeanne Nicholson (D), Incumbent
Tim Neville (R)
Richard Wenzel (R)

SD-19
Sen. Rachel Zenzinger (D), Incumbent
Laura Waters Woods (R) — top line on GOP ballot
Lang Sias (R)

SD-20
Sen. Cheri Jahn (D), Incumbent
Larry Queen (R)

SD-22
Sen. Andy Kerr (D), Incumbent
Tony Sanchez (R) — top line on GOP ballot
Mario Nicolais (R)
 

STATE HOUSE
HD-22
Rep. Justin Everett (R), Incumbent — top line on ballot
Loren Bauman (R)
Mary Parker (D)

HD-23
Rep. Max Tyler (D), Incumbent
Nate Marshall (R), expected to resign as candidate; Republicans have until April 17th to choose a replacement.
 

HD-24
Jessie Danielson (D) — top line on ballot
Kristian Teegardin (D)
Joseph DeMott (R)

HD-25
Jonathan Keyser (R)
Janet Heck Doyle (D)

HD-27
Rep. Libby Szabo (R), Incumbent
Wade Norris (D)

HD-28
Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D), Incumbent
Stacia Kuhn (R)

HD-29
Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D), Incumbent
Robert Ramirez (R)
 

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
CD-1
Taggart Hansen (D)

CD-7
Jane Goff (D), Incumbent


BOARD OF CU REGENTS
CD-2
Linda Shoemaker (D)
Robert Weverka (D)

CD-7
Irene Griego (D), Incumbent
 

COUNTY COMMISSIONER
District 3
Don Rosier (R), Incumbent
John Flerlage (D)


ASSESSOR
Louis DAurio (R)
Ronald Sandstrom (R)
Andrew Hassinger (D)

 

COUNTY CLERK AND RECORDER
Faye Griffin (R)
Michael Snow (D)

 

TREASURER
Tim Kauffman (R), Incumbent

 

CORONER
John Graham (R), Incumbent

 

SHERIFF
Jeff Shrader (R) — top line on ballot
Jim Shires (R)
 

The Loneliest Number? 3

The citizen's group Jeffco 5 has been lobbying the Jefferson County Commissioners to consider a proposal to add two new county commissioner seats. As we wrote in August:

The argument for 5 commissioners is difficult to refute. Jefferson County has about the same number of residents as the entire state of Wyoming, and Wyoming has two U.S. Senators and one member of the House of Representatives on top of dozens of county commissioners. It makes little sense for a county the size of Jefferson to have a government controlled by just 3 elected officials, particularly when all are approved countywide; what ends up happening is that local constituencies (such as the mountain communities of Evergreen and Conifer) have no designated commissioner fighting for their concerns, since each commissioner is ultimately accountable to the entire county.

Two of the three Jefferson County Commissioners (Don Rosier and Faye Griffin) have been cool to the idea of moving to 5 commissioners, making absurd excuses about a lack of available office space as a primary argument to stay with 3 commissioners. They've tried to avoid the discussion, enough so that they have buried it in a planned Telephone Town Hall this evening. According to Jeffco 5, getting on the call list might be tough, so you'll want to call in yourself:

This Wednesday, October 9, from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m., the commissioners are conducting a telephone town hall to take feedback from Jeffco citizens about "priorities for budget dollars as well as the county’s mill levy, requests for added funding for the sheriff’s office, and an initiative by a group to increase the number of county commissioners." The call will go out to 100,000 randomly selected phone numbers, but you can also dial in to join the town hall at (877) 229-8493 using PIN 110646 (click here for more information).

 

he argument for 5 commissioners is difficult to refute. Jefferson County has about the same number of residents as the entire state of Wyoming, and Wyoming has two U.S. Senators and one member of the House of Representatives on top of dozens of county commissioners. It makes little sense for a county the size of Jefferson to have a government controlled by just 3 elected officials, particularly when all are approved countywide; what ends up happening is that local constituencies (such as the mountain communities of Evergreen and Conifer) have no designated commissioner fighting for their concerns, since each commissioner is ultimately accountable to the entire county. – See more at: http://coloradopols.com/diary/48331/jefferson-county-officials-being-asked-to-add-commissioners#sthash.q3mOlCUt.dpuf
he argument for 5 commissioners is difficult to refute. Jefferson County has about the same number of residents as the entire state of Wyoming, and Wyoming has two U.S. Senators and one member of the House of Representatives on top of dozens of county commissioners. It makes little sense for a county the size of Jefferson to have a government controlled by just 3 elected officials, particularly when all are approved countywide; what ends up happening is that local constituencies (such as the mountain communities of Evergreen and Conifer) have no designated commissioner fighting for their concerns, since each commissioner is ultimately accountable to the entire county. – See more at: http://coloradopols.com/diary/48331/jefferson-county-officials-being-asked-to-add-commissioners#sthash.q3mOlCUt.dpuf

Stay Classy, Ted Harvey

Talking Points Memo reports on the Stop Hillary PAC, getting significant attention for a group fronted by the relatively obscure Colorado Sen. Ted Harvey of Highlands Ranch. Though not an ingratiating kind of attention:

The Stop Hillary PAC, which just unveiled its leadership team earlier this week, posted the image (shown below) on July 18. The top half of the image includes a photo of the former New York senator and first lady next to the caption "Hillary Clinton 2016," while the bottom half shows Stewie Griffin — the precocious baby in the hit animated comedy "Family Guy" — holding a gun in his mouth. 

A spokesman for Stop Hillary PAC did not immediately respond to TPM's request for comment.

After the jump, since some folks are rightfully sensitive about these things. 

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