No, We Are Not Sending You Text Messages

This here website has been around for 15 years, and during that time, we’ve been accused of harboring bias in favor of pretty much every politician and political belief imaginable.

And that’s okay — it comes with the territory. We’ve never blocked or disallowed any comments centered around any specific gripe, and we never will. If you want to accuse us of being secretly funded by George Soros, knock yourself out. If you want to voice your belief that Colorado Pols is overseen by Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, have at it.

But whatever you read at Colorado Pols is because YOU came HERE to read it. We’ve received a few emails recently complaining about some anonymous text messages that either look like they came from ColoradoPols.com or contain a link to a Pols post. We haven’t sent anyone anything. If we were doing this, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to be advocating for both Democratic U.S. Senate candidates, John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff. Take a look at two examples we’ve been forwarded:

 

As you can see above, the first example is an anti-Hickenlooper message that looks like it came from “coloradopols.com” but links to a story from ColoradoPolitics.com; the image is of a real Tweet sent in January by Betsy Ankney from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). The second example appears to be a pro-Hickenlooper message that links to this post of ours from January that also included a screenshot of Ankney’s tweet — though for an entirely different reason.

We’re not the only ones being spoofed in political communications — the same thing is happening to The Colorado Sun, apparently.

Anyway, if you’re receiving these text messages, we are very sorry about that — but we have NOTHING to do with this. Colorado Pols is not sending you text messages or emails or any other communications about the June 30 Primary. In fact, we’ve never sent text messages or emails about any political race in the 15 years that we’ve been floating around the Internet tubes.

It’s pretty easy to spoof a text message, from what we understand, so there’s not much we — or anyone — can do about this. All we can tell you is that it’s not coming from us.

At Least He’s Not Your City Councilman

Guy Phillips, Republican member of Scottsdale City Council in Arizona.

In another edition of our long-running feature, “At Least They’re Not Your Legislator,” we take you to Scottsdale, Arizona, to meet one of the most tone-deaf dipshit politicians you’ll ever come across.

As The Washington Post explains:

Taking the stage Wednesday at an anti-mask rally in Scottsdale, Ariz., Councilman Guy Phillips (R) appeared in a black face mask. The crowd’s applause tapered into shouts.

Take the mask off!” they yelled. Phillips stood looking at them for a moment.

Then, in a monotone voice, he said into the microphone, “I can’t breathe.” 

He said it again, louder: “I can’t breathe” — echoing the dying words of George Floyd that have become a rallying cry in nationwide protests against police violence. [Pols emphasis]

Then Phillips ripped off the mask, rolled his eyes and feigned relief as the crowd cheered for him. “Insanity!” he said of the mask mandate.

Now, he’s facing calls to step down, as critics on both sides of the aisle have condemned his “callous” insult to Floyd’s memory and the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) called Phillips’s “I can’t breathe” comment “despicable” while Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said “despicable doesn’t go far enough” to describe Phillips’s behavior.

When you’re a right-wing Republican being called out by fellow right-wing Republicans like Sen. Martha McSally and Gov. Doug Ducey, you know you really screwed up.

Of course, this goes beyond politics. Just don’t be an asshole, okay?

Denver’s (Union) Civil War Monument Comes Down

As the Denver Post’s Shelly Bradbury reports, a statue on the west side of the Colorado Capitol building with a decidedly mixed legacy was torn down late last night:

The Civil War monument erected in 1909 outside Colorado’s Capitol that commemorated, in part, the Sand Creek Massacre was toppled overnight, the latest act by protesters across the nation to tear down statues honoring perpetrators of racist acts.

Trooper Gary Cutler, spokesman for Colorado State Patrol, which polices the Capitol grounds, said “individuals” brought the statue down around 1:30 a.m. Thursday…

[State official Doug] Platt also said he believes this is the first statue to be toppled during the protests since Floyd’s death, but said “just about everything in the complex has been vandalized.”

One the one hand, the Civil War Monument at the Colorado State Capitol honors the Union side of the conflict, which although the motivations are a bit murkier in retrospect is generally considered by history to be a war fought to end slavery in the United States. Colorado forces loyal to the Union played a key role in stopping the north and westward advance of the Confederate Army at the Battle of Glorieta Pass in New Mexico, known rather exaggeratedly as the “Gettysburg of the West.”

Unfortunately, however, the history of the Colorado military forces organized to fight in the Civil War does not end with that conflict. On November 29, 1864, the “hero” of Glorieta Pass Col. John Chivington led an attack on a peaceful encampment of Cheyenne and Arapaho people at Sand Creek, killing over 150 people, mostly women, children and the elderly. The Sand Creek Massacre forever sullied the reputation of the Colorado military forces who fought at Glorieta Pass, and eventually resulted in an additional plaque on Denver Civil War Monument placed by the state senate in 1999 acknowledging that the “Battle of Sand Creek” was in fact a massacre, not a battle as monument’s original inscription claimed.

However you may feel about the campaign across the nation to take down monuments commemorating Southern Civil War leaders and other unrepentant racists in American history, it’s very important to understand the full history of this particular monument in order to fully grasp the controversy. It’s true that this is/was a monument to Union forces who fought on the side of ending slavery. But it also commemorates what could be the greatest crime against humanity committed on Colorado soil.

We don’t condone property destruction, and would prefer to see any such changes occur by peaceful means instead of late-night vandalism. We simply try to understand the full truth of these events, which in this case is more complicated than first appearances indicate. With that, readers, tell us what you think about this event.

Is this erasing history, or setting history right?

Thursday Open Thread

“Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.”

–Mark Twain

Once Again, Colorado Springs Gazette Is KK-Klueless

Wayne Laugesen.

Wayne Laugesen, editorial page editor of the conservative Colorado Springs Gazette, has a well-earned reputation for making the most absurdly misguided observations imaginable in response to just about any news event that’s inconvenient or otherwise uncomfortable for political conservatives in Colorado. Back in 2018, Laugesen responded to controversy over then-GOP gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton’s KKK great-grandfather by claiming the media was “ignoring” now-Gov. Jared Polis’ own supposed “connection” to the Klan–membership in the Democratic Party. In Laugesen’s zeal to protect Stapleton after Stapleton refused for months to address this ugly component of his family legacy, Laugesen simply ignored the intervening period of American history in which the Democratic Party rejected racism and racists fled into the arms of a waiting Republican Party (see: the Southern Strategy).

Today, as the campaign to remove monuments honoring Confederate leaders and other unapologetic racists in American history gains steam, Laugesen is back with another too-clever-by-half opinion piece, once again omitting whatever inconvenient facts get in the way of his single-minded goal of making Democrats look bad:

Demand removal of dozens of memorials to former Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W. Va., starting with his portrait in the U.S. Capitol.

Because black lives matter, activists and politicians are cleansing the landscape of symbols with any nexus to racism. They topple and burn statues of Confederate officers who died more than a century ago. They destroy statues of founders and former presidents who lived in an era predating the Civil War, the Civil Rights Act, and most other efforts to pursue the vision of freedom and justice for all.

TV executives have canceled “Cops,” “Live PD,” “Dukes of Hazzard” reruns, and other shows deemed racially inappropriate in the wake of Minneapolis police killing George Floyd, a black man suspected of a $20 crime…

First of all, Laugesen’s tone makes it obvious (in case you didn’t already know) that he doesn’t support “cleansing the landscape of symbols with any nexus to racism.” So we know from the outset this suggestion that it’s time to get rid of Sen. Robert Byrd’s legacy is totally disingenuous “whataboutism.” Neener neener, Democrats! You’ve got racists too!

Except, as The Hill reported ten years ago next Monday on the day Sen. Byrd died, there’s something very important Wayne Laugesen is leaving out of the story:

“Senator Byrd reflects the transformative power of this nation,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. [Pols emphasis] “Senator Byrd went from being an active member of the KKK to a being a stalwart supporter of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and many other pieces of seminal legislation that advanced the civil rights and liberties of our country.

“Senator Byrd came to consistently support the NAACP civil rights agenda, doing well on the NAACP Annual Civil Rights Report Card. He stood with us on many issues of crucial importance to our members from the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, the historic health care legislation of 2010 and his support for the Hate Crimes Prevention legislation,” stated Hilary O. Shelton, Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy. “Senator Byrd was a master of the Senate Rules, and helped strategize passage of legislation that helped millions of Americans. He will be sorely missed.”

In reality, Senator Robert Byrd is a perfect example of the history Wayne Laugesen doesn’t want to talk about: the realignment of the political parties from the middle 1960s onward that saw the Democratic Party give up power in Southern states in order to rid itself of a pre-civil rights movement legacy of racism. Robert Byrd became a steadfast supporter of civil rights legislation, and repudiated his former racism in powerful terms that make Laugesen’s cheap revisionism look downright fraudulent:

In an interview with The Post about his book, Byrd said, “I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times … and I don’t mind apologizing over and over again. I can’t erase what happened.” [Pols emphasis]

In the end, lumping Robert Byrd in with unrepentant racists whose monuments are coming down around the nation today demonstrates only one thing: Wayne Laugesen’s own limitless ignorance.

The only shock is that Phil Anschutz continues to pay for this embarrassing dreck.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 24)

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

 

A new poll from The New York Times and Siena College shows that President Trump is absolutely cratering:

Joseph R. Biden Jr. has taken a commanding lead over President Trump in the 2020 race, building a wide advantage among women and nonwhite voters and making deep inroads with some traditionally Republican-leaning groups that have shifted away from Mr. Trump following his ineffective response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new national poll of registered voters by The New York Times and Siena College.

Mr. Biden is currently ahead of Mr. Trump by 14 percentage points, garnering 50 percent of the vote compared with 36 percent for Mr. Trump. That is among the most dismal showings of Mr. Trump’s presidency, and a sign that he is the clear underdog right now in his fight for a second term…

…among a striking cross-section of voters, the distaste for Mr. Trump has deepened as his administration failed to stop a deadly disease that crippled the economy and then as he responded to a wave of racial-justice protests with angry bluster and militaristic threats. The dominant picture that emerges from the poll is of a country ready to reject a president whom a strong majority of voters regard as failing the greatest tests confronting his administration.

Trump gets crushed in this poll on questions about how he has handled the coronavirus pandemic. According to the poll, the only demographic where Trump has any advantage over Biden is among non-college educated white voters.

 

 Tuesday marked the highest number of new coronavirus cases in the United States since late April. The United States is doing such a poor job of containing the pandemic that the European Union may soon block travelers coming from America.

The coronavirus news isn’t all bad, fortunately. In Colorado, mortality rates are declining among people infected with the virus.

 

Two federal prosecutors are testifying in front of a House committee today about the high-level political pressure placed upon their work by the Trump administration and Attorney General William Barr. As CNN reports:

Two prosecutors in the Justice Department will ratchet up the criticism of Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday with remarkable congressional testimony accusing senior Justice Department officials of politicizing DOJ investigations and the sentencing of a friend of President Donald Trump.

Aaron Zelinsky, a prosecutor on former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, plans to testify that the sentencing recommendation for Trump’s longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone was watered down due to political pressure from the “highest levels” of the Justice Department, according to Zelinsky’s prepared remarked released Tuesday. Zelinsky, who now works in the Maryland US Attorney’s Office, said the pressure came due to Stone’s “relationship with the President.”

John Elias, a career Justice Department prosecutor in the Antitrust Division, accused Barr of ordering investigations into 10 mergers of cannabis companies because he did not like the industry, according to a copy of his testimony. Elias also charged that political leadership in the Antitrust Division pushed an investigation into California’s emissions standards last year following a tweet from the President attacking the state.

Wednesday’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee comes amid a new flurry of questions surrounding Barr’s decision to fire Geoffrey Berman, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which has investigated Trump and his associates. Berman initially refused Barr’s request for his resignation, vowing to remain until the Senate confirmed his replacement sparking a chaotic situation that ended after Trump and Barr fired him and Berman agreed to leave.

 

In not-unrelated news, a federal appeals court has ruled that a criminal case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn should be dropped. From The Washington Post:

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan cannot scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its long-running prosecution of President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and must dismiss the case, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

In a 2-1 decision, the court said it is not within the judge’s power to prolong the prosecution or examine the government’s motives for its reversal in the politically charged case. Flynn twice pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his pre-inauguration contacts with Russia’s ambassador before the Justice Department moved in May to dismiss the charges.

 

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

 

(more…)

What We’ve Been Saying About The Senate Primary All Along

John Hickenlooper, Andrew Romanoff.

Six days before an unexpectedly vigorous Democratic U.S. Senate primary comes to an end next Tuesday, a hard-hitting story for underdog challenger Andrew Romanoff from the Colorado Sun today recounts in detail the problem we’ve been talking about in this space for months now: although Romanoff’s campaign in 2020 has run hard to the left of the presumed nominee Gov. John Hickenlooper, his long record stretching back to the early 2000s reveals that Romanoff has for most of his career been a considerably more conservative lawmaker than Hickenlooper was a governor:

“You can say his views have changed and evolved, and whether it’s convenient to do it in that particular circumstance is a big question,” [Pols emphasis] said Jim Carpenter, a former chief of staff in Democratic Gov. Roy Romer’s office where Romanoff worked.

In the 1990s, Romanoff epitomized the centrist movement within the Democratic Party, serving as adviser to the Democratic Leadership Council and co-chairman of the Colorado affiliate. The organization, aligned with former President Bill Clinton, called for the national party to “expand opportunity, not government” and policies “punishing criminals instead of explaining their behavior.”

As a state lawmaker for eight years starting in 2001, Romanoff charted a pragmatic political course working with business interests to deliver on legislation and even touted passage of a bill he called the “toughest illegal immigration package in the nation.”

For those of us who have been following Colorado politics for the two decades required to have been present for Romanoff’s time in office, the decidedly non-“progressive champion” elements of his long record are well known. But we’re willing to bet that the trending younger self-identified progressive voters backing Romanoff are not aware that he was once a leader of the much-reviled Democratic Leadership Council, widely blamed by the party’s left wing for “selling out” the Democratic Party during the Clinton years.

“In a brief interview, Romanoff acknowledged the shift in political direction. Asked if he once considered himself a moderate, he replied: “‘On some issues, I suppose.'”

The Colorado Sun (6/24/20)

Some of the more problematic moments in Romanoff’s past, like the 2006 anti-immigrant special session which passed crackdown bills into law that were later repealed by Gov. Hickenlooper, have received plenty of coverage. But another resolution supported by Romanoff back in 2003 as America went to war in Iraq highlighted in this story is making fresh waves nationally today:

That Romanoff was one of only seven Democrats in the Colorado House to join all 35 Republicans in passing a resolution in support of the Iraq War blows a gaping hole in his “progressive champion” image, and it’s something that even the most disgruntled lefty Intercept reader can’t ignore. When you combine this with Romanoff’s willing agency in cracking down on undocumented immigrants back when that was fashionable policy, it’s much more difficult to defend Romanoff’s shrill attacks on Hickenlooper’s left flank.

And the list goes on beyond what’s cited in this story. In 2014, Andrew Romanoff swore off support for single-payer health care while running against Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman, saying “I don’t think we can afford to disrupt the country now.” That same year, Romanoff joined with Hickenlooper to oppose ballot measures to regulate the oil and gas industry backed by now-Gov. Jared Polis.

None of these historical points of fact are presented here to cover for John Hickenlooper’s very well known record on energy development, or his consistent and often painfully awkward triangulation off of tainted buzzwords like “socialism”–both problems we’ve criticized in this space that instinctively repel many Democratic primary voters. Hickenlooper’s blind spots and message stumbles have obscured for many Democratic primary voters a record that overall trends quite progressive on issues from gun safety to expanding access to health care.

The point that we have made in this space is that Romanoff’s actual record is in no substantive way more progressive than Hickenlooper’s, and that his attempted distinction from Hickenlooper in this regard is destructive and misleading. That being the case, Democratic primary voters need to consider every other metric in this race, from fundraising to name recognition to the clear result in polling matchups, that shows Hickenlooper is the candidate with the better capacity to take on Cory Gardner–in a race crucial to Democratic hopes of retaking the U.S. Senate. Republicans know this very well, and that explains their extraordinary spending to intervene in the Democratic primary.

This has been our read of this race from the moment Hickenlooper entered it, and unlike Andrew Romanoff’s platform, it has not changed. This is a story should have come out weeks ago, and it helps explain the rally of support to Hickenlooper from top progressive Democratic leaders like Sen. Elizabeth Warren in recent days.

Now it’s up to Democratic voters to show what they’re paying attention to.

Wednesday Open Thread

“Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.”

–Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Former Colo Republican Activist Wants Trump Out

(He’s not wrong about Trump, but this word salad is something else: “On this side of the looking glass, we find ourselves in the year 2020, it seems as though nothing is as it was, and that nothing will be as we were promised.” — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A conservative activist, once regarded in Colorado as a partisan Republican, is now saying Trump has “failed in even the simplest of pursuits in his role,” and wants the president defeated in November.

Jonathan Lockwood, who worked for former U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), has aligned himself with the Lincoln Project, a Republican-lead organization working to defeat Trump.

“The president has failed to elevate our collective consciousness, and he has failed in even the simplest of pursuits in his role,” said Lockwood when asked why he’s turned against the president. “The antics are not just campaign tactics, they are character flaws. The cover-ups and insidious events are alarming.”

Lockwood insists he wants Democrats and Republicans to come together to solve problems.

‪“America is in crisis,” he wrote in a statement to the Colorado Times Recorder. “We need leaders on both sides of the aisle to stand up to profligate personalities occupying positions of power. I will continue to speak out on division and lawlessness, and advocate for policies that advance a fairer and freer society. My purpose is to manifest a new world—one not imprisoned by chaos and revolution, but evolution and order. “Our future is at stake, we must fight not only for survival, but for survival. Imagine a world without war, poverty and suffering—even just for a moment—we need leaders to capture that spark, the imagination of our nation, and aspire for better by appealing to the best in all of us, not the worst humanity has to offer. On this side of the looking glass, we find ourselves in the year 2020, it seems as though nothing is as it was, and that nothing will be as we were promised.”

Those may not sound like words you’d expect from a former spokesperson for Colorado House Republicans and Oregon House and Senate Republicans or from someone who concocted a nuclear-bomb-themed attack advertisement targeting Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, but Lockwood is seriously disappointed by Trump.

“I voted for the president because the stakes were high, and the partisan warfare was real,” he wrote. “I took him at his word that he would be fiscally conservative, but he has delivered a fiscally irresponsible administration. He’s advanced the Pelosi spending agenda. He promised a smarter foreign policy and he has delivered a more vulnerable America due to his nefarious volatility.”

Lockwood was among the leaders of campaigns to recall Colorado Democrats for passing gun control laws. And he worked for GOP candidate Casper Stockham, who’s currently running for Congress in the Seventh Congressional District.

He directed Advancing Colorado, a now-defunct conservative multi-issue advocacy group in Colorado and was a fellow both for the Charles Koch Institute and legislative fellow with American Legislative Exchange Council

“It is not too late though, and while I don’t expect people on the other side of the aisle to be waving and holding open arms — we need to seriously come together and unite for humanity,” Lockwood wrote.

Republican Congressional Candidate Hopes QAnon Is Real

We’ve been following the upstart congressional campaign of Lauren “Yosemite Samantha” Boebert, owner of the Shooters Grill in Rifle who is also known as the “Beto Mom” after clapping back on camera at former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on the always-lively subject of taking yer guns, from its humble beginnings, through high-visibility court battles to prematurely reopen her “COVID Cafe,” and on to the present day–where Colorado Public Radio reports that Boebert is now embracing the right-wing conspiracy theory known as “QAnon.”

Boebert placed first in the Colorado GOP district assembly, but she faces an uphill fight against the incumbent. She doesn’t have the support of the party and her fundraising has trailed Tipton’s.

Yet, as her campaign ad points out, she is pro-Trump and pro-gun. In fact, she owns Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colorado, a restaurant known for servers who are armed and open carry.

The upstart candidate claims the true Trump mantle. And just as the president has been known to promote conspiracy theories, Boebert isn’t dismissive of QAnon, a conspiracy theory alleging a “deep state” attack on Trump, and other allegations against Democratic politicians. On a Q-friendly web show, Boebert, based on what she heard about Q, said: “I hope that this is real.” [Pols emphasis]

“It only means America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values and that’s what I am for,” she went on to say.

Lauren Boebert.

Under different circumstances, we would call this a serious detraction from Boebert’s viability as a challenger to the uninspiring but durable incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton. But as the Washington Post pointed out earlier this month, endorsing the far-fetched “QAnon” narrative of a secret war against global socialist pedophilia rings waged by Trump and not-dead JFK Jr. is not a disqualifier for Republican candidates in 2020. In fact,

In May, Jo Rae Perkins won a Republican Senate primary in Oregon after saying she supports the conspiracy theory. And on Tuesday, Marjorie Taylor Greene made it to an August runoff in a competitive Republican congressional primary in northwest Georgia. Greene is now a pretty sure bet to make it to Congress: She beat her runoff opponent by 20 points in the primary, and the district is a safe Republican one.

Experts on conspiracy theories and political psychology warned about reading too much into these wins. “Two is not a trend,” said Joseph Uscinski at the University of Miami, who has written a book about why people believe in conspiracy theories.

He said there is probably more we can take away from the roughly 50 QAnon supporters who are running for Congress this year. Their campaigns suggest adherents of a fringe theory feel emboldened to come out of the shadows under Trump.

Because Republicans from the President on down have either endorsed this fictional conspiracy theory or at least neglected to debunk it in consideration of the voters it motivates, we’re now in a situation where it’s almost certain that QAnon believers will be serving in Congress in 2021. Presumably, they’ll figure out that QAnon is fiction once they get to Washington. But it’s another sign of how the Republican Party has fallen victim to what was once the irrational fringe.

If Boebert manages to oust Rep. Tipton in next Tuesday’s primary, and then get through the general election in a district that admittedly hasn’t elected a Democrat in a decade, it looks like she would have some QAnon-believing company in Congress. A “QAnon Caucus,” if you will! And while certain murky corners of the internet will feel tremendously validated by all these congressional candidates paying them lip service, psychologically well-adjusted Republicans can’t be happy about this prospect.

They’ll probably keep it to themselves though, lest they join “the pedos” too.

The Wheels are Coming Off the Trump Train

The White House is broken

We wrote yesterday about how Sen. Cory Gardner’s past statements were at odds with President Trump’s declarations that he instructed officials to “slow down” testing for COVID-19 because Trump didn’t think it looked good that so many people were getting sick. As POLITICO reports today, Trump made it clear to reporters that he was not joking around when he made his “slow down” comments at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday:

President Donald Trump on Tuesday insisted he was serious when he revealed that he had directed his administration to slow coronavirus testing in the United States, shattering the defenses of senior White House aides who argued Trump’s remarks were made in jest.

“I don’t kid. Let me just tell you. Let me make it clear,” Trump told reporters, when pressed on whether his comments at a campaign rally Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., were intended as a joke…[Pols emphasis]

…Administration officials as high ranking as Vice President Mike Pence have scrambled in recent days to clean up Trump’s statements on Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., where he reprised his dubious logic regarding testing rates before an arena of supporters.

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people,” Trump said during the rally. “You’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’”

Now, here’s where things start to get really weird. As NBC News reports:

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that the federal government is trying to expand testing, not slow it down it as President Donald Trump has suggested in recent days. [Pols emphasis]

In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fauci was asked about the president’s recent comments and whether he agrees that it makes sense to limit the number of COVID-19 tests.

“It’s the opposite, we’re going to be doing more testing, not less,” said Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, who has played a key role in the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.

On the same day that President Trump reiterated that he instructed officials to “slow down” COVID-19 testing, the top infectious disease expert in the United States was telling Congress that health officials were “doing more testing, not less.”

What in the hell is going on here? Did Trump just have a dream that he instructed officials to “slow down” on testing, or did he really make that request and it was completely ignored? Have federal government officials stopped listening to Trump altogether?

This is very strange, even for an administration that is already well beyond normal.

Sorry, Steve House: Feds Pull Plug On Hydroxychloroquine

Former Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

As NPR reports, and it’s worth a mention in this space:

The National Institutes of Health has halted its study of hydroxychloroquine, a drug President Donald Trump has promoted as a possible treatment for COVID-19 and once claimed to be taking himself.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the agency said that although it did not appear hydroxychloroquine caused harm to patients in the study, it was also “very unlikely to be beneficial.”

“The data from this study indicate that this drug provided no additional benefit compared to placebo control for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients,” according to the NIH.

The end of the National Institutes of Health’s study of hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19 comes a week after the Food and Drug Administration withdrew its emergency authorization to treat coronavirus patients with the drug, citing danger from side effects with no measurable benefit.

The ignominious conclusion of months of low-information hype about this particular drug comes after President Donald Trump’s enthusiastic promotion of it as a treatment for the COVID-19 pandemic, stunning medical experts in May by announcing in a press conference that has was taking the drug “preventatively.” Misinformation over the supposed efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in treating the disease in turn contributed to conspiracy theories on the far right that the COVID-19 pandemic was overblown–and even being exploited in the service of nefarious leftist geopolitical aims.

Well folks, that all looks pretty stupid now, doesn’t it? Donald Trump took a drug that could have killed him for no medically valid reason and encouraged Americans to do the same, the federal government stockpiled millions of doses that it doesn’t need–and here in Colorado, Republican congressional candidate Steve House wishes he could mash the delete button too, as the Colorado Times Recorder reported in April:

Colorado Republican Steve House is encouraging the use of the malaria and lupus drug hydroxychloroquine to treat people stricken with COVID-19. [Pols emphasis]

Via his Congressional campaign, the health care consultant and former chair of the Colorado Republican party also paid for Facebook ads for a virtual event promoting the drug. The ads were served primarily to Coloradans aged 65 and over: “We look forward to discussing the latest research surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic and the early positive medical data concerning the use of Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19,” stated one of House’s Facebook ads…

House invited a conservative activist and physician specifically to praise hydroxychloroquine as his guest for a Facebook townhall event. The physician, Dr. Kelly Victory, not only promoted the drug, but dismissed the two primary concerns about its use for COVID-19: making it harder for patients currently taking the drug for other diseases to fill their prescriptions, and a documented risk for those with certain heart conditions.

To be clear, Steve House is not a doctor. We knew House well enough before this to know not to take medical or most any other form of advice from him. We also know not to let him run anything important like a Republican state party organization, though Colorado Republicans have yet to learn that lesson it seems.

You can add bogus hydroxychloroquine hype to the list of reasons Mr. House won’t be going to Washington.

The GOP’s Latest Shady Senate Candidate

Suzanne Staiert, left, and IEC member Debra Johnson

The 2020 election keeps looking worse for Colorado Republicans.

Republicans need a net gain of at least two seats in 2020 to take control of the State Senate, but before they can even think about a Senate majority, they absolutely must defend GOP-held seats in SD-8 (Carbondale-ish), SD-25 (Adams County), and SD-27 (Arapahoe County). Republicans have Sen. Bob Rankin in SD-8 (assuming he survives a Primary challenge) and Sen. Kevin Priola in SD-25, but they don’t have a well-known incumbent in SD-27, where incumbent Sen. Jack Tate declined to seek a second term following sexual harassment allegations.

The Republican candidate in SD-27 is Suzanne Staiert, whose name you may recognize as the attacking attorney for the “Public Trust Institute” regarding ethics complaints levied against former Gov. John Hickenlooper. As Marianne Goodland writes today for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Staiert is, shall we say, ethically challenged:

Colorado Politics has learned of a long-standing relationship between Suzanne Staiert, the attorney who represented the Public Trust Institute, and Independent Ethics Commissioner Deborah Johnson, who ruled in favor of complaints lodged by Staiert’s employer against former Gov. John Hickenlooper earlier this month.

The relationship, which was not disclosed during the Hickenlooper hearings, involves how Johnson was named to the board and that she contributed to Staiert’s campaign for state Senate…

…Neither Staiert nor Johnson have disclosed their relationship or the campaign contribution in any ethics commission meeting dealing with the Hickenlooper complaint, nor in the hearings on June 4 and 5.

As Goodland reports, Staiert was actually one of the people who recommended that Johnson be appointed to Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) last spring. It is pretty damning that neither Staiert nor Johnson divulged this conflict of interest at any point in the last 18 months of discussions about Hickenlooper’s ethics charges.

But this isn’t Staiert’s only moral lapse, as Goodland continues:

Staiert also is currently under a campaign finance complaint for failing to fully disclose her personal financial information in the run for Senate District 27.

Candidates are required to file that information with their candidacy. Staiert claims she filed the updated information but TRACER, the secretary of state’s campaign finance database, has not updated that information. The deadline for “curing” her information was June 4.

Staiert said she filed the correct information, but not as a cure. She is challenging the complaint because the Secretary of State’s office is applying the same rules to a candidate that it applies to an incumbent. “My finances aren’t complicated,” she told Colorado Politics. 

What those disclosures would be expected to show is how much she was paid in 2019 as executive director of the Public Trust Institute as well as how much she made working for Johnson. [Pols emphasis]

Suzanne Staiert is also the attorney for the “Due Date Too Late” abortion ban initiative.

If it is true that Staiert’s finances “aren’t complicated,” then it shouldn’t have been that hard to properly disclose that information as a State Senate candidate, right? This isn’t a particularly complex argument. Staiert also can’t really claim ignorance here; she served as Deputy Secretary of State under Republicans Scott Gessler and Wayne Williams.

When she’s not being asked to comment about Hickenlooper, Staiert has always been vague about her job with Frank McNulty’s “Public Trust Institute.” The Colorado Times-Recorder tried asking Staiert about her work with PTI in a story published in April:

Reached by phone via a contact number from a PTI press release, Staiert declined to comment, saying only that she isn’t the spokesperson for PTI before hanging up.

Staiert doesn’t speak for PTI, but she answers the phone number listed on the PTI press release? Makes sense.

Staiert’s ethics problems complicate an already difficult challenge for Republicans in SD-27. As Republican polling outfit Magellan Strategies explained in April, voter registration data doesn’t favor the GOP:

…if the 2018 Democratic victories are indeed the new normal, with less split-ticket voting and Republican voters only making up one-third of all votes cast (and in reality higher turnout due to the presidential election probably means it will be even lower), it will be challenging for Republicans to hold this seat.

Staiert will face Democrat Chris Kolker in the General Election.

Cory Gardner Has a Coronavirus Testing Problem

Say anything? Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

President Trump held his first campaign rally in three months on Saturday when he dropped in on Tulsa, Oklahoma. In case you missed it, there were two big storylines that emerged from Saturday’s rally.

The first big story was the crowd size. After touting more than 800,000 RSVPs and promoting a huge crowd in Tulsa, only about 6,200 people actually showed up to a venue that seats 19,000. The Trump campaign anticipated an additional 40,000 people to fill an outdoor overflow area; instead they got about 25 stragglers and ended up scrapping a planned Trump speech outside.

The second big story came from Trump’s eventual speech inside the Bank of Oklahoma Center, when the President literally bragged to the crowd that he instructed officials to SLOW DOWN COVID-19 testing because too many people were testing positive for the virus. From The Washington Post:

“Here’s the bad part … when you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people; you’re going to find more cases,” Trump told his supporters. “So I said to my people, slow the testing down please.”

Today, Joe St. George, National Political Editor & Washington Correspondent for Scripps (and formerly of Fox 31 News in Denver) asked President Trump — twice — to confirm this statement. Trump dodged both questions:

Here’s St. George’s follow-up question about slowing down coronavirus testing:

ST. GEORGE: But did you ask to slow [testing] down?

TRUMP: Uhhh…if it did slow down, frankly, I think we’re way ahead of ourselves if you want to know the truth. We’ve done too good a job, because every time we go up…with 25 million tests you’re going to find more people, so then they say, ‘Oh, we have more cases in the United States.’ The reason we have more cases: Because we do more testing than any other country by far.

We’ll take that as a ‘Yes.’ (BTW, The New York Times already fact-checked Trump’s claim that the U.S. is the coronavirus testing champion of the world).

When the coronavirus outbreak first became a daily news headline in March, President Trump paid lip service to the importance of increasing COVID-19 testing in the United States. When it became clear soon afterward that said testing was not happening and was not likely to be taking place anytime soon, Trump started to poo-poo the idea that testing was important at all (here’s just one example of Trump saying that widespread testing is “overrated”).

“I’ve encouraged the President and Vice President to get the testing where it should be.”

   — Sen. Cory Gardner (Ft. Morgan Times, 3/27/20)

All of this puts Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) in a very awkward position, because Gardner has consistently stated that “widespread testing will be key” to American’s recovery from the pandemic. If they can find him, reporters will be asking Gardner what he thinks about Trump’s claim that he ordered COVID-19 testing to be scaled back. Gardner does NOT want to criticize Trump publicly, so he’ll likely pretend that he was in a coma all weekend and was unaware that Dear Leader Trump said anything controversial. And then Gardner will dive into an elevator just as the doors slam shut.

“Widespread testing will be key to reopening our economy.”

   — Sen. Cory Gardner (Twitter, 5/8/20)

The problem that Gardner is eventually going to be forced to square is that he himself has been unambiguous about the importance of COVID-19 testing in the United States. It was less than two months ago, in fact, that Gardner was talking about how he wanted every American to be able to get a COVID-19 test along with their Slurpee. As Gardner told the publication formerly known as The Colorado Statesman on April 24:

“We’ll continue to make sure that this Manhattan Project funding that we put into testing achieves what we need — and that is a ubiquitous, low-cost, rapid test that’s available everywhere in first aid kits and 7-Elevens.”

When workers at the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley were getting sick from COVID-19, Gardner and Vice President Mike Pence loudly proclaimed that they had come to save the day with boxes of tests in tow. As it turned out, that didn’t actually happen, but Gardner has continued to talk about coronavirus testing.

“I will continue fighting every day to increase our testing capacity.”

   — Sen. Cory Gardner (Grand Junction Sentinel Op-Ed, 5/9/20)

Last month, Gardner penned an Op-Ed for The Grand Junction Sentinel that was almost entirely focused on the “importance” of widespread coronavirus testing:

Without effective, widespread testing and a corresponding strategy that leverages and improves public health infrastructure to support monitoring, we cannot have a real-time response to the virus. Rapid testing and the ability for public health departments to inform individuals with positive cases quickly so they can take appropriate action and prevent further spread is critical to making sure that our entire economy is not forced to shut down in the future.

I’d like our country to get to the place where COVID-19 testing is available at the local corner store. Every doctor’s office should have the capability to screen patients for COVID-19. Families at home should be able to order tests online. Every business should have COVID-19 tests in its first aid kits and be able to offer on-site testing for employees. Every student should be able to go to the nurse’s office and get a test.

Gardner has the same problem here that he has with DACA and many other issues: Either he’s lying about the work he’s doing to actually ramp up COVID-19 testing — “I will continue fighting every day to increase our testing capacity” — or he’s been completely ineffective at his job. Actually, as Gardner’s record has demonstrated, BOTH of these statements might be true.

Now that Trump has flat-out admitted that he’s trying to hamstring coronavirus testing efforts in the U.S., Gardner has a choice to make. It’s time to put up or shut up.

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