At Least He’s Not Your COVIDiot Representative

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX).

Jake Sherman reports for Politico:

Rep. Louie Gohmert — a Texas Republican who has been walking around the Capitol without a mask — has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to multiple sources.

Gohmert was scheduled to fly to Texas on Wednesday morning with President Donald Trump and tested positive in a pre-screen at the White House. The eighth-term Republican told CNN last month that he was not wearing a mask because he was being tested regularly for the coronavirus.

“[I]f I get it,” he told CNN in June, “you’ll never see me without a mask.”

But in a video interview today, GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert of Crazypants, Texas was not wearing a mask–and had this to say about having been made against his freedom-loving American will to wear one occasionally in previous weeks in the course of his duties:

GOHMERT: I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place that if I might have put some of the virus under the mask and breathed it in. [Pols emphasis]

After the news broke that Rep. Gohmert’s cavalier attitude about protecting himself and those in his orbit from catching COVID-19 had resulted in…well, what any sane person would have expected to happen, Gohmert catching COVID, a member of Gohmert’s staff sent this exasperated message to Sherman:

What an amazing work environment! Everyone has to come into the office and keep masks off so America looks “open”–and when the boss gets COVID, the staff finds out about it in a news story. We can’t imagine why the staff would rat Rep. Gohmert out to a reporter.

Politicians and bosses of America, this is how turnover happens.

Malkin Credits Member of White Nationalist Group for “Rescuing” Her & Colo GOP Leader From “Mob”

(Very fine people – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Michelle Malkin & Patrick Neville just before leaving rally

Alt-right pundit Michelle Malkin agreed to appear on Craig Silverman’s show Saturday, but became defensive when he asked about her connections to Nick Fuentes and the “Groypers,” a far-right group of white nationalists that includes Holocaust deniers.

The initial topic of the interview was Malkin’s headlining of the July 20 “Back the Blue” pro-police rally in Denver’s Civic Center Park, along with statehouse Republican Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock. Event attendees were met by a much larger group of counter-protesters. Despite a substantial police presence, several small fights broke out.

In the days following, both Malkin and Neville gave multiple interviews to conservative media describing the conflict and their “rescue from the mob,” as Malkin put it.

Neville told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that the rally was the most dangerous situation he’d been in since his active combat duty in Iraq. He then described his escape.

Neville: “Myself and Michelle Malkin… we were surrounded by Antifa… eventually we had to evacuate, and had it not been for someone who I’d met moments ushering her into her car, I don’t know if we would have gotten out of there unscathed.”

While showing KDVR’s news video of police in riot gear, Carlson asked Neville if the “violence” received any news coverage, Neville responded “no.”

Malkin recounted her version of events to Denver’s Craig Silverman. The former conservative radio host now has a weekly three-hour online podcast, after his previous employers at KNUS literally pulled the plug on him mid-show last November. Silverman says he was dismissed over his criticism of President Trump, a charge KNUS management denies.

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Let’s Talk About This Senate Republican “Relief” Bill

Senate Republicans finally unveiled some semblance of a plan for coronavirus relief legislation on Monday, 10 weeks after the House of Representatives approved a plan that has been gathering dust while the GOP enjoys a second bowl of crab bisque. The Republican plan appears to be going absolutely nowhere, however, and on Wednesday President Trump began advocating for a short-term fix on extended unemployment benefits and eviction protections.

There are some significant differences in the House-approved ‘HEROES Act‘ and what the Senate GOP calls the ‘Heals Act’ — particularly when it comes to extended unemployment benefits (the Senate wants to cut the amount by two-thirds). Senate Republicans rejected Trump’s idiotic insistence that a “payroll tax cut” be included in the bill, but there’s still plenty of other nonsense that made it through to the final draft that is thus far preventing badly-needed relief from reaching suffering Americans:

 

Billions of Dollars for Trump’s Border Wall

Since everybody else can get past the wall, why can’t Senate Republicans?

As The Washington Post reports:

The GOP Senate’s new $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill restores hundreds of millions of dollars in Pentagon spending that the Trump administration redirected to help pay for President Trump’s border wall.

Navy planes and ships and Air Force aircraft that the Trump administration canceled earlier this year so the money could go to pay for the wall have reappeared in the GOP bill that was introduced on Monday. The programs are part of $30 billion in defense spending in the GOP bill that Democrats are already objecting to. Republicans are defending the spending as important to protect jobs and help the Pentagon cope with impacts of coronavirus.

Senate Republicans will argue that there is no money in this bill dedicated to building a border wall, but what they’re doing here is basically treating Trump’s wall like a layaway program. If Congress is going to backfill funding for projects raided for the wall, then they might as well just allocate money directly to the wall in the first place. This is sort of like asking your mother and your father for $20 and then pretending that the source of the money is somehow different; regardless of how you receive the money, it’s coming out of the same bank account.

As you may recall, Congress balked — repeatedly — at President Trump’s demands to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, so Trump basically just stole (er, “re-directed”) billions of dollars from military programs that had already been approved; this move essentially de-funded dozens of shovel-ready projects, including an $8 million improvement slated for Peterson Air Force base in Colorado.

 

New Deductions for “Business Meals”

But where are the space travel deductions?

From The Hill newspaper:

Under a section of the package offered by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), taxpayers would be able to deduct 100 percent of the costs of business meals through the end of the year, up from 50 percent under current law, if the food and beverages are from restaurants.

Ahead of the measure’s release, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in an interview with Fox Business Network the package would include “increased business deductions for meals and entertainment.” However, Scott’s, provision focuses specifically on meals and does not apply to entertainment expenses…

… But the idea of increasing the business meals deduction has been criticized by Democratic lawmakers as well as tax-policy experts across the ideological spectrum.

Increasing available deductions for business meals and other entertainment expenses has been a priority for President Trump since celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck whispered it into his ear. But what’s the point of increasing deductions for activities that don’t really exist at the moment for very good COVID-related safety reasons? While they’re at it, maybe Senate Republicans could quadruple the deduction for meals enjoyed on the planet Saturn.

 

Billions for a New FBI Building

A new FBI building needs to be close to this hotel…for, uh, security reasons.

Here’s a sentence that has never been said in the history of ever: In order to ease the incredible financial strain on Americans related to a global pandemic, we should build a new FBI headquarters!

From POLITICO:

Several Republican senators were stunned in particular by the new FBI funds, which Democrats said were intended to boost profits for President Donald Trump’s hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, located across the street from the proposed FBI building. Though both parties agree that the FBI needs a new headquarters, several lawmakers had been pushing for the facility to be constructed in Virginia or Maryland. The White House on Monday said the building should remain near Justice Department headquarters downtown.

This has also been a longtime obsession for President Trump, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems unwilling to play along. It is odd, however, that Senate Republicans didn’t seem to know how the proposal even made it into their own bill.

 

Liability Protections for Employers

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell counts to 3

This is apparently a big deal for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, so it’s a big deal for you, too. As CNBC reports:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he will not pass a coronavirus relief bill in the Senate which does not include liability shields.

“We’re not negotiating over liability protection,” he told CNBC’s Kayla Tausche as Congress looks to craft a pandemic rescue agreement. He noted, however, that the GOP is open to compromise on other issues…

…Democrats have generally opposed the legal shield because it could take away a recourse for workers who return to an unsafe workplace as the pandemic spreads around the country. McConnell contended “there’s no chance of the country getting back to normal without it.”

McConnell’s fears of a mass of coronavirus-related lawsuits are not based on any actual facts, as POLITICO explains:

Yet data suggests that coronavirus-related litigation isn’t very contagious.

Of the 3,727 coronavirus-related cases that have been filed since March, just 185, or less than 5 percent, fall into the personal injury category that McConnell describes — plaintiffs claiming fear of exposure, potential exposure or exposure to Covid-19, according to an analysis by the American Association for Justice of a litigation tracker run by law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth. Instead, the bulk of the legal actions deal with insurance claims and civil rights, including people challenging stay-at-home orders…

…That rate of filings is relatively low, labor law experts and advocates say, considering that more than 4 million cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., and some 145,000 people have died.

 

—–

We’ll leave you with the editorial board of The Los Angeles Times:

At the moment, Congress has two tasks more important than any others: Providing the resources and leadership needed to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, and helping the country climb out of the deep recession that the pandemic triggered. Sadly, the long-awaited coronavirus relief package that Senate Republicans released this week falls far short on both fronts [Pols emphasis]…

Some Republicans have balked at the idea of providing any further federal aid because of the record-setting deficit. Such fiscal responsibility would have been more welcome when the economy was growing and the GOP was cutting taxes and throwing money at the Pentagon. The human and economic problems caused by COVID-19 are enormous and ongoing, and they demand a commensurate response.

The Senate is still scheduled to take a month-long recess beginning on August 10.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 29)

Happy “International Tiger Day.” Please don’t try to have a beer with a tiger. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

As The New York Times reports, the United States has surpassed 150,000 deaths from COVID-19.

 

Senate Republicans and the White House can barely agree on what to eat for lunch (though it’s either hamburgers or meatloaf), so they’ve made little progress on a new coronavirus stimulus bill as extended unemployment benefits are about to run dry. As The Washington Post reports, President Trump is now talking about a mini-bill:

President Trump called for a quick fix Wednesday to address expiring unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions, saying the other parts of the GOP’s $1 trillion relief bill can wait.

“The rest of it, we’re so far apart, we don’t care, we really don’t care,” Trump told reporters outside the White House, referring to divisions between the two parties.

Democrats have repeatedly rejected the idea of a piecemeal approach that would involve a stand-alone unemployment insurance bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has not embraced the idea either, insisting any bill must include a five-year liability shield for businesses, health-care providers and others — a non-starter for Democrats.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking alongside Trump, said the two sides were “very far apart.”

This is the part where we remind you that the House of Representatives passed a coronavirus relief bill (the “HEROES Act”) in mid-May. Senate Republicans have been sitting around drawing doodles in their notebooks for more than two months now.

On Tuesday, Gov. Jared Polis laid out a list of items that Colorado needs Congress to provide ASAP:

Polis warned of dire consequences to the economic welfare of millions of Coloradans and to the state’s ability to contain the pandemic in a letter sent to the state’s congressional delegation as the U.S. Senate begins deliberating the next phase of coronavirus relief while infections surge across the nation.

“The continued uncertainty regarding the extension and funding of key federal programs for Coloradans is making many of our neighbors contemplate extremely difficult choices regarding their financial futures,” Polis said.

 

Governor Jared Polis on Tuesday also called on all Coloradans to be more smarter about protecting themselves and others from COVID-19. From The Denver Post:

Coloradans who attend large events, don’t wear masks and don’t follow social-distancing guidelines are not only putting themselves but others at risk, Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday in response to concerns about a large event in Weld County over the weekend.

concert and rodeo in Weld County on Sunday drew about 2,000 people during the coronavirus pandemic in a county that has resisted the governor’s orders for wearing masks and other restrictions to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Although county commissioners may believe they don’t have to enforce orders from the governor, Polis rejected the claim at a news conference Tuesday, saying it’s the law and the way to fight it is through the courts…

…“Attending large gatherings doesn’t just put yourself at risk but also puts your job and your family and your loved ones at risk,” Polis said. “No government policy can force anybody not to be stupid, but I’m calling on Coloradans not to be stupid.” [Pols emphasis]

 

Attorney General William Barr testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, delivering a masterful performance…assuming you were expecting a disgustingly corrupt and indifferent stance on just about anything he was asked. Vox.com explains how Barr has helped to make Trumpism possible in the United States. Dana Milbank of The Washington Post marvels at Barr’s clear-eyed support for meddling in U.S. elections.

Today, the House Judiciary Committee will hear from leaders of the nation’s four biggest tech giants: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Yay Putin! Trump Pulls 11,000 Troops From Germany

President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

CNN reports while the caviar and vodka party begins at the Kremlin:

The US is moving forward with President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany, a decision that has attracted bipartisan congressional opposition and roiled key allies who see the move as a blow to NATO.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper acknowledged the plan will cost billions to execute when he formally announced the decision on Wednesday from the Pentagon. US defense officials said it will take years to relocate the troops.

The plan to pull US troops from the long-time NATO ally has been met with broad bipartisan opposition amid concerns that it will weaken the US military’s position vis a vis Russia, however the Trump Administration has decided to proceed with the move.

Trump defended the decision Wednesday, saying the troop drawdown was taking place because Berlin was not spending the NATO target of 2% of its GDP on defense and because Germany was taking “advantage” of the US…

As is typical, there’s some confusion: although President Donald Trump says the motive is to punish Germany for their perceived failure to pay for their own defense, Defense Secretary Mark Esper says no, it’s not about punishing one of our closest allies at all:

The Pentagon chief, who previously publicly opposed Trump when he considered deploying the military to quell domestic protests, pushed back Wednesday on recent assertions from the president that the U.S. will withdraw forces from Germany as punishment for being “delinquent” in its “payments” to NATO. That repeated claim from Trump misrepresents a goal the allied countries set in 2014 to each dedicate 2 percent of their own domestic budgets to defense spending by 2024…

Once again we’re left with the choice of believing the President of the United States, or a top-ranking official subordinate to the President who disagrees with him. Although the U.S. will still have significant forces stationed in Germany after these troops depart, and the U.S. is still required to defend Germany and all other members of NATO in the event of attack, there’s no question that Trump’s capricious attacks on these closest of allies have badly damaged America’s once unquestioned leadership of the world’s most powerful military alliance.

The principal beneficiary of infighting within NATO is of course President Trump’s original supporters in Russia, who have along with China been eagerly asserting leadership into the global vacuum left by Trump. Moving these troops out of Germany is not going to lead to Russian tanks rolling across the North European Plain by itself, but it’s bad enough that Republicans and Democrats alike fiercely criticized Trump’s plans back in late June when originally announced.

But not Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado’s man on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee! You can imagine the hue and cry from Gardner that would have ensued had Barack Obama acrimoniously pulled 11,000 troops out of a key NATO ally, but once again Gardner has to keep his head down lest he upset the ever-watchful big boss.

Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, is seeing a return on his investment beyond the best-case scenario.

Assume a D President with D Senate and House in January 2021 – what first?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

2009 – Obama is inaugurated (to a sizeable live crowd) and had a D Senate and House.
D Senate for 15 or 16 months, D house until January 2011.

He chose healthcare and passed the ACA.

He had other big accomplishments. But ACA was the thing that he did with that D majority.

At the time, I agreed addressing healthcare was a good choice. (shouldda kept the public option, shouldda stabilized Medicare, shouldda wouldda couldda)

Assuming Biden has a D majority:

– healthcare?
– DACA/immigration reform?
– fix Social Security?
– fix Medicare?
– Fix voting rights and election security?
– restore control to COngress or weaken the office of the president
– fix the tax code?

Lindsey Graham Headlines Gardner Fundraiser Today

(Besties! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s “Special Guest” at a “Video Conference” fundraiser that costs $1,000 for political action committees and $500 for personal attendance.

The event starts at 5 p.m. today via a Zoom link.

Graham is the latest Republican who’s raising money for Gardner recently.

Efforts learn more about the event from Gardner’s office were unsuccessful.

Last month, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell urged fellow Republicans to chip in to Gardner’s campaign and, “Help him fight off Schumer and the radical left.”

In a recent fundraising email, Gardner not only spotlighted his support from McConnell but also Donald Trump, Jr., U.S. Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona, and Joni Ernst of Iowa—all of whom implored Gardner backers to donate to his campaign now or risk seeing the Democrats take over the U.S. Senate.

Graham, who’s become known as one of Trump’s staunches defenders, was once a harsh critic of Trump, just as Gardner once was.

Gardner once promised not to vote for Trump, and Graham once called Trump a “race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot.”

Now Gardner votes with Trump 89% of the time; Graham is with Trump on 87% of votes.

Mayor Mike’s “Domestic Terrorist” Slip Going Over Badly

Mayor Mike Coffman’s foot has met his mouth before.

The Denver Post’s Shelly Bradbury followed up the story originally broke by Kara Mason at the Aurora Sentinel over the weekend, former Republican Congressman now Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman’s now-deleted outburst on social media following more protests over the killing of Elijah McClain calling a faction of the protesters who smashed windows at the Aurora municipal complex “domestic terrorists” who “must be treated as such.” Coming from a guy who celebrated his love for the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention center in Congress, this had the effect of understandably freaking out the good citizens of Aurora.

With that said–and never able to be unsaid–Mayor Coffman wants you to know calling protesters who smashed windows “domestic terrorists” “was not appropriate.” If that’s deja vu you’re experiencing, hold that thought!

The mayor in an initial statement Sunday called that smaller group of demonstrators “domestic terrorists,” but deleted that phrase in a revised statement.

“I took it right down after I put it up,” he said. “The reason I took it down is it’s not appropriate. When we think about domestic terrorism in the United States, it’s the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, or the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, where the target is human beings, and certainly that was not the case here,” he said. “It’s hard to define what this is, so out of frustration I put that up, but I took it down right away.”

“It’s hard to define what this is?” Having seen the same pictures everyone else has, it looks to us like some protesters smashed some windows. That’s bad. We don’t condone smashing windows. But smashing court house windows during a protest is not “terrorism” by any commonly accepted definition of that inflammatory word. Given what Coffman has justified in the past doing to “terrorists” as a “War on Terror” Republican member of Congress, this was a disturbing betrayal of far more negative sentiment toward the protesters against the killing of Elijah McClain than anyone could have imagined.

As our readers know, this is not Mike Coffman’s first trip to the woodshed after letting his inner asshole slip out into the permanent record. In 2012, then-Rep. Coffman told Elbert County Republicans, “I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don’t know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he’s not an American. He’s just not an American.” Once Coffman realized these remarks had been recorded for posterity, Coffman issued a series of successively more abject apologies–the second one coming after a humiliating on-camera ambush in which Coffman robotically recited the words “I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize” over and over.

When Coffman said President Obama “is not an American,” despite his apology it was difficult to accept the suggestion that Coffman had simply “misspoke.” The specificity and contemplative delivery of those words shows that Coffman did not “misspeak”–he said something objectively horrible, with deliberation, was caught saying it, after which the only thing he could do to save himself politically was apologize. Sometimes such incidents end political careers. But today, Mike Coffman is Mayor of Aurora.

And still…misspeaking. The one thing we can’t call that is surprising.

Republicans Call for Special Session to De-Fund Schools

Colorado Republicans try not to let too much time go by each week without offering up some sort of cockamamie idea on one policy or another. Today the state GOP Senate caucus managed to combine the coronavirus and vouchers — coronavouchers! — into the same ridiculous demand. Senate President Leroy Garcia was having none of it:

This is a rather silly thing to request in general, let alone via social media exclusively, so what’s the point? In a word: Vouchers.

Senate Republicans are making a half-assed attempt to get media coverage for requesting a special legislative session so that they can introduce a bunch of school voucher proposals. The GOP wants to argue that vouchers — or “school choice” as Republicans like to call it — would make sense during a pandemic because then parents could redirect the tax money they pay for public schools into some sort of imaginary home schooling or private school “solution.”

The coronavirus pandemic didn’t make school vouchers (sorry, “school choice”) into a better idea any more than a hurricane should encourage you to reinvest all of your money into plywood manufacturers. The GOP says it wants a special session “to provide clarity to Colorado parents regarding the future of their children’s education during #COVID19,” but unless Republicans figured out a way to kill the coronavirus by re-writing the tax code, there’s really nothing to discuss here.

The coronavirus will sicken private and home-school teachers just as well as it will infect public school teachers. What “clarity” can Senate Republicans possibly provide to change this basic fact? We could take the money generated for all public education needs and light it on fire for all that would do to fix our pandemic problem.

As Sen. Garcia noted, this is nothing but a ridiculous political stunt from Colorado Republicans — and not a particularly clever one, either.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (July 28)

Happy “World Hepatitis Day.” Please, um, celebrate responsibly. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Attorney General William Barr is testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee today. The Washington Post previews the fireworks:

As he makes a highly anticipated appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General William P. Barr is expected to face critical questions from Democrats about the government’s response to anti-police brutality protests across the nation, his controversial interventions in high-profile cases and an array of other matters.

Barr will tell the House Judiciary Committee that President Trump has not inappropriately intervened in Justice Department business — even though Barr has more than once moved in criminal cases to help the president’s allies — and he will defend the administration’s response to civil unrest in the country, according to a copy of his opening statement.

Barr, according to the statement, will take a defiant posture as he testifies before the panel for the first time since Democrats took control of it, alleging that they have attempted to “discredit” him since he vowed to investigate the 2016 FBI probe of possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, and the media has been unfair in covering unrest.

Two Members of Colorado’s Congressional Delegation sit on the House Judiciary Committee: Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, the word of the day will be “obfuscation.”

Click here for live video and updates on Barr’s testimony.

 

► After recessing for a three-day weekend, Senate Republicans returned to Capitol Hill and introduced their half-baked proposal for a new coronavirus relief package. Vox.com explains the details:

The GOP bill arrives as Congress faces a pressing deadline: Enhanced unemployment insurance (UI) is set to expire this week, with millions receiving their final federal unemployment payments allotted by the Cares Act this past weekend. A federal eviction moratorium has also elapsed, and state and local governments increasingly feeling the strain of both dwindling tax revenues and rising coronavirus costs are looking to Congress for help.

Republicans have long chafed at spending more money on stimulus, and this reluctance is apparent in the new bill. Currently, UI recipients are receiving an extra $600 per week on top of their standard benefits, an amount Republicans would like to cut to $200 through September. Additionally, GOP lawmakers have prioritized the inclusion of liability protections for businesses, which would shield them from coronavirus-related lawsuits, while appearing to shy away from more funds for state and local governments.

Republicans introduced their stimulus bill, dubbed the Heals Act, 10 weeks after House Democrats passed their version, the Heroes Act, in the lower chamber. While the two proposals have some overlap — including support for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks — lawmakers have many other differences they still need to work out.

The headline here is that Senate Republicans are seeking to cut the amount of money provided for extended unemployment insurance by two-thirds. Colorado Public Radio looks at the impact on the Senate’s failure for some 330,000 Coloradans.

 

 The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is making a fool out of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) by deciding to keep running a controversial TV ad centering on the explosion of a home in Firestone in 2017. The NRSC had agreed to pull the ad last week after multiple complaints, including a half-hearted plea from Gardner himself to drop the spot.

Gardner, meanwhile, is facing a new set of campaign finance complaints related to his appearance at a $1,000-a-bottle champagne tasting in Palm Beach, Florida in late February.

 

► Colorado hit a new weekly high for COVID-19 cases, but it is unclear if these numbers indicate a troubling trajectory. Elsewhere, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock warned in his annual State of the City address that the battle with COVID-19 is far from over.

 

 New polling in Colorado shows Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden with a double-digit lead over President Trump. The same poll shows Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper maintaining a solid advantage over incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). Hickenlooper also boasts a 13-point advantage over Gardner among Unaffiliated voters in Colorado.

As Morning Consult explains, Democrats are leading Republicans in key races across the country.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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Morning Consult: Biden Up By 13, Hick Up By 6

Sen. Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper.

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports:

The latest poll in Colorado’s U.S. Senate contest shows a tightening race, with Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper ahead of Republican Sen. Cory Gardner by six percentage points.

The Morning Consult survey of more than 600 likely Colorado voters shows less of a contest in the presidential race. Democrat Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by 13 percentage points, 52% to 39%, in the Centennial State.

Polls dating back to last year have consistently shown Hickenlooper, a former governor, with a double-digit lead over Gardner. Tuesday’s poll shows a much narrower contest between the two political heavyweights with 98 days to go. Hickenlooper received 48% of support to Gardner’s 42% in the poll…

Although this poll does indicate a somewhat closer race that most other polls of Colorado’s U.S. Senate race up to now, it’s not really accurate to claim that Morning Consult or any other individual pollster shows a “tightening race” until a second poll with consistent methodology establishes that trend. Tightening observed in other polls with prior results to compare to would bolster the argument, but that hasn’t happened yet. Otherwise you could just as easily say that Gardner is losing ground from a poll in 2015 that showed him doing well…but that would be silly.

Until then, what we have is another poll showing the Republican incumbent down by a substantial margin, with less than 100 days before the election. In the absence of corroboration this poll is an outlier in Cory Gardner’s favor, and he’s still losing.

The poll also has plenty of good news for Hickenlooper. Not only does he lead the incumbent Gardner as July comes to a close, but unaffiliated voters who were polled favor Hickenlooper over Gardner by 13 percentage points, 48% to 35%.

In the very difficult situation Gardner is in today, anything that can be even remotely construed as good news is going to be hyped relentlessly by the GOP as evidence of shifting momentum. But the dynamics of this race have not changed: an incumbent running in a state that has “walked away” from Gardner’s party and political agenda in every election since Gardner narrowly won, holding on tightly to the coattails of a President loathed by the voters Gardner somehow must persuade to split their vote.

Tuesday Open Thread

“When the severity of the law is to be softened, let pity, not bribes, be the motive.”

–Miguel de Cervantes

Republicans Put Controversial Firestone Ad Back on the Air

Pretty much

There was a lot of discussion about 10 days ago related to a controversial television ad put up by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) that attempts to damage Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper by (inaccurately) referencing the 2017 explosion of a home in Firestone that killed two people and severely wounded others. Erin Martinez, whose husband and brother were killed in the explosion, was incensed by the spot and demanded that the NRSC take it off the air.

Four days after Martinez reportedly called Sen. Cory Gardner to ask for his help in pulling the ad, Gardner finally returned that call and pretended to be equally dismayed that the spot was in heavy rotation on Colorado television stations. Gardner, who directed the NRSC during the 2018 campaign cycle, called for the ad to come down but insultingly claimed to Martinez that he didn’t have the “power” to get it taken off the air. A few days later, as Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post reported on July 24, the NRSC eventually did make a change.

9News also confirmed that the NRSC was taking the ad off the air. At some point over the weekend, however, the NRSC decided to make ANOTHER change, putting the Firestone ad right back into its rotation in Colorado.

Days after Gardner himself asked for the ad to come down, the NRSC reluctantly swapped it out for a different spot. As Marshall Zelinger reports for 9News, the NRSC took the ad down on Friday…only to put it back up a day or so later.

This is pretty much the worst possible outcome for Gardner, who is theoretically supposed to benefit from television ads produced by the NRSC. When the Firestone ad first went on the air, Gardner had a couple of options: 1) Appear insensitive by not responding to calls from Erin Martinez to remove the ad; 2) Appear insincere by pretending to be powerless in the decision to air the ad; and/or 3) Appear incompetent and ineffective if the NRSC ultimately refused to take the ad down. By putting the same ad BACK on the air just a day or so after taking it down, the NRSC essentially awarded Gardner a fourth option: ALL OF THE ABOVE.

If the NRSC’s goal here was to make Gardner look like an asshole, then they succeeded spectacularly.

At Least He’s Not Our State Treasurer

Brian Watson, thankfully NOT Colorado’s State Treasurer in 2020

Democrat Dave Young defeated Republican Brian Watson in 2018 in the race for State Treasurer. What looked initially like a close race ended up with Young defeating Watson by a seven-point margin, so perhaps Colorado was never that close to ending up with Watson in charge of the state’s finances. But we came close enough to what could have been an absolute disaster for the state.

Watson has always been a shady character with a litany of financial-related problems in his past, none of which were a very good selling point for a candidate for State Treasurer. We learned more about Watson’s troubles in April after the FBI served a search warrant at his home for information related to potential fraudulent activity tied to Watson’s Northstar Commercial Partners business.

We haven’t heard much since then about the FBI’s investigation, but as the website BusinessDen reports today, Watson could be in serious trouble:

Amazon has sued Denver-based real estate firm Northstar Commercial Partners over what the retail giant is calling “a significant fraud and kickback scheme,” providing details on what likely prompted an April FBI raid at the home of Northstar CEO Brian Watson.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Virginia, where Northstar was developing multiple data center projects for Amazon, the retail giant said the April 2 raid “was executed on the same day that Watson and other Northstar-related Defendants received notice that their roles related to developing several properties in the Dulles corridor were being terminated based on evidence of their misconduct.”

“The evidence revealed that Defendants paid millions of dollars in kickbacks to obtain non-competitive contracts that Defendants used to obtain tens of millions of dollars in illicit gains from development projects at Virginia real estate sites Amazon leased or purchased since 2018,” the lawsuit read.

According to BusinessDen, court filings detail nine kickback payments totaling $415 million. Amazon is accusing Northstar Commercial Partners of racketeering and fraud.

We noted just before the November 2018 election that Watson’s shady past indicated that he could be a Scott Gessler-like figure if elected as State Treasurer. We’re reminded of what Susan Barnes-Gelt told The Denver Post about Watson in October 2018:

“If I had cash, I’d bury it in my mattress and run the risk of my mattress catching on fire before I’d give him a dime. He’s a snake-oil salesman. He belongs in a carny show.”

Keep this in mind in 2020 when you see endorsements from individuals and editorial boards — including the Colorado Springs Gazette — that touted Watson in 2018. Nobody could have predicted the kind of trouble that Watson faces today, but it was always pretty obvious that he was a questionable choice to hold public office in Colorado.

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