Sen. Owen Hill Hits a New Low

Sen. Owen Hill (R).

Yesterday, the Colorado General Assembly held a training session on workplace sexual harassment to address the issue, following an historic reckoning in the 2018 session that resulted in the first-in-a-century expulsion of a sitting lawmaker, Democratic-turned-Republican Rep. Steve Lebsock, and the eventual resignation of by some accounts the worst offender of all, Republican Sen. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs. A second Republican Senator, Jack Tate, announced that he will not run again following an investigation into his misconduct with a Senate aide.

Although politically a no-brainer, yesterday’s training was not expressly mandatory–and as 9NEWS reports, two Republican Senators chose not only to forego the training but complain about it the indignity of it all:

The training was not mandatory and two state Senators decided not to attend. 9NEWS spoke to both Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and Sen. Don Coram (R-Montrose), who gave varying reasons for not attending.

Coram said it was hinted to him the training was mandatory and said he didn’t like being bullied…

Note that the “bullying” alleged here appears to be Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, who 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger reports “strongly encouraged” Republican Senators to attend. But we’ll set aside Sen. Don Coram’s red-on-red objections to focus on the comments of another Republican, Sen. Owen Hill. Not content to simply tell reporters he didn’t have to attend, Hill launched into a hypocritical tirade over yesterday’s sexual harassment training that obliges a response:

[Sen. Owen] Hill, on the other hand, took a different tack, saying the training was “sanctimonious hypocrisy.”

“The Senate Leadership illegally fired ou[r] Senate secretary for taking a stand against sexual harassment and now they want to lecture me?” he asked. [Pols emphasis]

In order to understand just how egregiously Sen. Hill is misrepresenting the facts, let’s review. In response to the findings by multiple redundant investigations that allegations of sexual harassment at least two Republican Senators were credible, a retaliatory complaint was filed against Democratic Sen. Daniel Kagan by now-ousted GOP Sen. Beth Humenik. This complaint alleged that Sen. Kagan had used an unmarked restroom reserved for female Senators and staff. No allegation of any misconduct other than using the wrong unmarked bathroom was ever made or found by the resulting investigation.

As we wrote about when it occurred last November, the former Senate Secretary Effie Ameen who served under GOP majority leadership was fired by incoming Democrats, reportedly due to her handling of sexual harassment complaints against Baumgardner and Tate–all the while helping to throw Kagan under the bus for his comparatively minor offense. The details here are critical to understand: as Democrats pushed last spring for a vote to expel Baumgardner, the results of a second investigation validating the allegations against him were kept under wraps by GOP Senate leadership–who then rushed a vote on the motion to expel before that second investigation could be disclosed. We only know what has been reported on the aftermath of this, principally by Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland, but it’s clear that Democrats held Ameen partly responsible for this cover-up.

Either way it’s a wholesale falsehood for Hill to claim that the former Senate Secretary “took a stand against sexual harassment” with regard to Kagan, because Kagan was never accused of sexual harassment. The truth of the matter as we understand it is that Kagan had medical problems that fully account for his use of the wrong unmarked bathroom–and nothing more needs to be said.

With that established, what we have is Owen Hill disgracefully turning a blind eye to the reality of sexual harassment committed by fellow Republican lawmakers–choosing instead to falsely attack a Democratic lawmaker who did not commit sexual harassment, all the while declaring that he has no need to attend sexual harassment training.

In short, Hill just proved why yesterday’s training should have been mandatory.

Everyone Wants to be GOP Party Chair (Even Ken Buck)

Ken Buck to the rescue?

Colorado Republicans were positively demolished in the 2018 election cycle, losing their slim majority in the State Senate and giving up all four major statewide offices to Democrats (Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State). Republicans desperately need new leadership to guide their wounded flock out of the political wilderness in 2020, which means the soon-to-be-vacant role of State Party Chair is suddenly the most sought-after job in the state.

As 9News reports, there’s a new name atop the list of people vying to succeed Jeff Hays as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party:

Four sources with knowledge of the process on Wednesday told 9NEWS Congressman Ken Buck will run for chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

The replacement for outgoing party chairman Jeff Hays, who is not seeking another two-year term, will be selected by roughly 500 party insiders at a State Central Committee meeting on March 30.

Buck is presumably making his intentions known because the line for the job is already getting pretty long. Among those who have expressed interest in taking the reins of the State GOP are former Jefferson County Republican Party Chair Don Ytterberg; former State Senator Tom Wiens; current Republican Party Vice-Chairman Sherrie Gibson; El Paso County Republican Chair Joshua Hosler; and State Rep. Susan Beckman of Littleton.

The jockeying to become the next person thrown under the bus Chair of the Colorado Republican Party has always been filled with intrigue, back-stabbing, and complicated rivalries. The job itself isn’t nearly as important as it is made out to be — the 2002 passage of Amendment 27 basically neutered the influence of State Parties in Colorado — but the mythology of the position persists for the GOP.

Buck and others appear to be looking at the chairmanship as a stepping stone to a statewide run in 2022 (Bob Beauprez, you’ll recall, was GOP Chair before running for Congress and Governor). It’s easy to understand the narrative when you consider that Colorado Republicans can’t really do much worse than they did in 2018. As long as the next GOP Chair doesn’t plunder the bank accounts or get somebody killed, they’ll be able to claim ownership of whatever resurgence Republicans can muster in 2020.

“The Republican Party is dead.”

Rep. Ken Buck (7/31/17)

Nevertheless, it is unusual for a sitting Member of Congress to be attempting to take the lead of the State Republican Party. Beckman would likely resign from the legislature if she succeeds in her bid for Chair, but it’s not clear that Buck would do the same. As 9News reports:

Colorado Republican Party spokesman Daniel Cole said he was unaware of any reason why a currently elected official, on the state level or federal level, could not simultaneously lead the state party. Cole could not recall a recent time when the chair of the state GOP was also in elected office.

State Party Chairman used to be more of a volunteer role until Republicans turned it into a full-time salaried position for Dick Wadhams in 2007. It’s hard to see Republicans being interested in the idea of Buck serving as Chair while maintaining his seat in Congress, but that’s not Buck’s biggest problem.

Buck’s biggest hurdle to becoming State GOP Chair is that he already declared the patient to be deceased. Here’s what Buck wrote in a guest commentary for the Denver Post on July 31, 2017:

The Republican Party is dead.

At one time, the blood of the people coursed through its veins, enlivening the party with their values and virtues, their goals and dreams. The party became its own energizing force, compelling people to sacrifice for a higher moral purpose.

But today’s Republican Party abandoned these people. It no longer represents their values. It no longer has a vision for a better America. And no one is stepping up to provide that vision.

Yikes! Good luck walking that one back, Congressman.

The Republican Party is dead. Long live the Republican Party.

Rich Guys Get Un-Deputized in Yuma County

Billionaire Republican megadonor Robert Mercer

Bloomberg News has a fascinating update to a story that we followed regularly in this space last year about Republican mega donor Robert Mercer and his pay-to-play posse scheme in Yuma, Colorado. As Zachary Mider writes for Bloomberg, Mercer will have to go play cops and robbers somewhere else:

The New York hedge fund magnate and conservative donor had his status as a volunteer deputy sheriff revoked by Yuma County, Colorado, Sheriff Chad Day on Monday, his last day in office. Day lost his re-election bid last year after Bloomberg News reported on Mercer’s role and his purchase of a new pickup truck for the sheriff’s official use. [Pols emphasis]

The arrangement provoked controversy in the prairie county that borders Kansas and Nebraska. Day submitted papers last week ending the appointments of Mercer, 72, and at least a dozen other volunteer posse members, effective Jan. 7, according to documents signed by Day and filed with the county clerk. Day also revoked the appointment of William Koch, 78, though a spokesman for the billionaire industrialist said he was never a posse member.

County records that became public in recent months show that four Mercer associates, including a bodyguard who says on LinkedIn that he’s a former “Cuban Special Operations Commander,” had also received badges from Day and that the value of Mercer’s donations of cash and equipment to the sheriff’s office totaled more than $135,000. Mercer declined to comment, and Day didn’t respond to multiple inquiries.

Chad Day is now the former Sheriff of Yuma County (and presumably the outgoing President of the Colorado County Sheriffs’ Association) in large part because he sold out his county in exchange for a new truck and a bunch of stun guns so that Mercer — who owns one of the world’s largest private collections of machine guns — and his buddies would be able to carry concealed weapons anywhere in the country. Day had insisted to Blair Miller of Denver7 that there was no quid, pro, or quo in this deal, but that’s not how it looks from Bloomberg’s follow-up investigation.

Much like Robert Mercer, Chad Day can now only pretend to be in law enforcement in Yuma County.

Mercer was apparently connected to Day via Rocky Mountain Gun Owners head honcho Dudley Brown, who is also associated with a certain U.S. Senator from Yuma. A spokesman for Sen. Cory Gardner told Miller at the time that “he didn’t know anything about the story aside from what he’d read in Bloomberg.”

For his part, Day had refused to answer detailed questions about the arrangement when it was first reported last spring, making the absurd claim that some of his “volunteer resources” were “directly involved in confidential undercover operations that involve direct ties and associations with the Mexican Cartel which has a presence in [the Yuma area].” No doubt the 78-year-old William Koch (yes, that Koch brother) was also a tremendous deterrent to any potential Mexican cartel operations.

The Bloomberg update to this story also provides more disconcerting details on some of the individuals involved in the arrangement Mercer had with Day and Yuma County.

In 2016, a foundation Mercer controls bought the pickup truck for Day’s agency. The foundation’s goals include educating local police forces about H.R. 218. At a county meeting, Day reported that he’d connected with Mercer through Brown, according to minutes of the meeting. It was a nicer truck, Day remarked, than the county would have spent its own money on.

That November, county records show, Mercer and four associates took oaths of office in Yuma, swearing “before the ever living God” to support the U.S. and Colorado constitutions. The crew included a Mercer son-in-law and three employees with backgrounds in bodyguard work, including the Cuban veteran; a self-described martial arts master; and a former Army Ranger whose LinkedIn page says he once guarded Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

The Cuban, Julio Garcia, had recently accompanied Mercer’s daughter Rebekah to the 2016 Republican convention. Garcia’s LinkedIn page boasts of training by Russian and Vietnamese special operations forces. An essay posted on a martial-arts website says he once served as a bodyguard to Fidel Castro. Garcia declined to comment.

In exchange for a shiny new truck and some other toys, Yuma County’s Sheriff deputized a guy who once guarded Afghan president Hamid Karzai and another man who served as a bodyguard to Fidel Freaking Castro!

Viva la revolución, Yuma County.

While Shutdown Rages, Cory Gardner Raises

American Bridge alerts the world to a fundraiser that took place a short while ago this morning in Washington, D.C. in support of Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado hosted by the ubiquitous Denver-headquartered law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck:

A tracker from Bridge caught Gardner headed into the “undisclosed location”:

Needless to say the optics of Gardner holding a high-dollar D.C. fundraiser while federal employees in Colorado file for unemployment and the first missed payday for hundreds of thousands more cross the nation rapidly approaches are extremely poor, and undermines his credibility after nominally breaking with President Donald Trump over the shutdown. Every day the shutdown drags on now, Gardner proves himself ineffective at the one thing a majority of Colorado voters might value: persuading fellow his Republicans to do the right thing. Meanwhile, the Republican base fumes.

And when Gardner is cashing checks instead of taking every possible action to force a vote on reopening the government, he’s simply part of the problem–and he doesn’t deserve the praise he got a week ago.

Senator Owen Hill: Poetry Critic

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Owen Hill (R).

UPDATE: Senator Hill replied with a statement at the end of this post.

Governor Jared Polis took the oath of office today on the west steps of the state capitol. The ceremony featured a diverse group of speakers, religious leaders, poets and performers, all celebrating the inauguration of Colorado’s 43rd governor.

State Senator Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) attended the event. The Senator is known to like yoga but apparently not poetry, or at least not the poetry he heard today. Hill used Facebook to dismiss at least one of the two poets who read their work at today’s inauguration ceremony for Governor Jared Polis, saying, “Just because you dress funny and no one understands what you are talking about, it doesn’t make you a poet.”

The two poets on the inaugural agenda were Anne Waldman and Toluwanimi Obiwole. Both have received considerable acclaim for their work.

(more…)

Gov. Jared Polis Takes Office

UPDATE: Watch live:

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UPDATE: Incoming Gov. Jared Polis’ vanquished Republican opponent Walker Stapleton sends his regards…from jury duty:

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KDVR reporting on preparation and road closures around the state capitol building for today’s inauguration of Gov. Jared Polis:

Polis will be sworn in as the 43rd governor at 11 a.m. Tuesday on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol.

Most of the road closures will begin at 10 p.m. on Monday night and last until around 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The Colorado State Patrol recommends planning accordingly and avoiding the area.

Grant Street: Two lanes between Colfax Avenue and 14th Avenue
Lincoln Street: Complete closure between 13th Avenue and Colfax Avenue
Sherman Street: Complete closure from 13th Avenue to 14th Avenue
14th Avenue: Complete closure at Broadway to Grant Street

We’ll update this post with coverage, and watch the inauguration live here at 11:00AM.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 8)

The 2020 election is 665 days away. In the meantime, 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Democrat Jared Polis will officially take over as Colorado’s Governor today. Polis’ 2018 opponent, Republican Walker Stapleton, will be reporting for jury duty. Denver7 has more on today’s inauguration festivities.

 

► President Trump will deliver a prime time address tonight about his fictional border crisis; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will follow with a Democratic rebuttal. As James Hohmann writes for the Washington Post, Trump’s rhetoric on immigration is not at all related to facts on the ground:

Leaks from inside the government continue to undercut the administration’s misleading spin on crime and terrorism vis-à-vis immigration:

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered only six immigrants at ports of entry on the U.S-Mexico border in the first half of fiscal year 2018 whose names were on a federal government list of known or suspected terrorists, according to CBP data provided to Congress in May 2018,” NBC News’s Julia Ainsley reports.

Six people. Six. That’s quite a bit fewer than the 4,000 that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted were stopped at the border in 2018. And then there’s this:

“Despite their portrayal of Mexico as a teeming portal for terrorists,” the AP’s Calvin Woodward reports this morning, “the State Department issued a report in September finding ‘no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked with Mexican drug cartels or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States.’” (Read the State Department report for yourself.)

Here in Colorado, we’ll be anxiously waiting to see how Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) responds to Trump’s speech tonight. Gardner’s recent shutdown waffling has angered his Republican base (or what’s left of it) and prompted new talk about a “circular firing squad.”

 

► The New York Times examines the toll of the government shutdown on day 17:

The impact of a partial government shutdown began to ripple across the economy as it stretched into Day 17, with mortgage applications delayed, public companies unable to get approval to raise capital and thousands of Secret Service agents expected to show up for work without pay.

President Trump and congressional Democrats have made little progress in negotiations to end a shutdown that has affected about 800,000 federal workers, many of whom will miss their first paycheck this week, and who owe a combined $249 million in monthly mortgage payments, according to the online real estate firm Zillow…

…The standoff is beginning to inflict pain on Americans, whose lives are affected, in one way or another, by the federal government. It is already the second-longest shutdown in history, behind the one that started in December 1995 and lasted 21 days.

More than 600 federal employees in Colorado have now filed for unemployment benefits, as 9News reports.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Bunny Boilers and Primary Challengers: Gardner’s Shutdown Statement Angers GOP Base

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado’s conservative activists are furious at U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s call to end the government shutdown without funding for President Trump’s wall. County GOP officials and Tea Party leaders are talking openly about the need for a primary challenger in 2020.

One official went so far as to joke about boiling a bunny on Sen. Gardner’s stove.

Jefferson County Republican Vice Chair Steve Dorman vehemently disagreed with a post written by a member of the Arapahoe Tea Party group that stated. “Sorry, we need to accept Cory Gardner.”

Dorman replied “this betrayal is too huge. I don’t care about 99.9% of the time. And yes….the wall and border security are very important.”

In another comment, the JeffCo GOP Vice Chair added “I don’t want him to come home and find a rabbit’s head boiling on his stove….but…….”
The author of the original post replied, “That’s a good idea.”JeffCo GOP Vice Chair wants to boil Sen. Gardner's bunny

Though presumably tongue-in-cheek, this quip is particularly dubious in light of a threatening video of a beheading Gardner’s wife received via text message back in October.

Pueblo County Republican Party Treasurer George Mayfield posted his call for a primary on the group’s Facebook page,

Our RINO U.S. Senator Cory Gardner just announced that he would vote to re-open the complete federal government, with no money for a wall. I think it’s time that he gets ready for a primary in 2020. He won’t win in blue Colorado by trolling for Democrat votes.

Pueblo GOP Treasurer: Primary Gardner in 2020

On Friday, Anil Mathai, chair of the Adams County Republicans, agreed with radio host Peter BoyleS that Sen. Gardner is a “useful idiot,” or easily manipulated pawn, presumably of establishment conservatives.

(more…)

2018-19 #TrumpShutdown Day 18 Open Thread

“If you say who gets fired, it always has to be the top. Problems start from the top, and they have to get solved from the top, and the president’s the leader.”

–Donald Trump

GOP Tries To Swap FAMLI With “SCAMLI”

Sen. Faith Winter (D).

As the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reported late last week, one of the top Democratic policy priorities in the Colorado legislature for 2019 is the passage of a paid family medical leave system, known as the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Act:

A paid family- and medical-leave bill is among the Democrats’ priorities this year. They’ve focused discussion on how to ensure that all Coloradans have the ability to get paid time off work when they have a newborn or become sick.

[Sen. Faith] Winter, who is leading the charge, called the measure “a social insurance program.” It’s not clear yet who will pay and how much, although preliminary estimates show employees and employers each paying about $1 to $2 a week into a fund. Initial costs would be covered by bonding.

Similar legislation has been introduced by Democrats for several years running now, only to meet its end in the single-seat majority GOP-controlled Colorado Senate. In 2018, Democrats including now-Sen. Faith Winter campaigned heavily on the passage of paid family medical leave and Republican obstruction of this popular idea.

With Democrats now in firm control of both chambers of the Colorado legislature, there’s little Republicans can do at this point to stop the FAMLI Act from becoming law. With that in mind, Republicans have switched tactics from a frontal assault on popular family leave, which is politically a train wreck, to more of a bait-and-switch approach:

Republican Rep. Lois Landgraf of Fountain plans to introduce her own paid-leave legislation, which would reimburse workers through tax credits.

The Republican counterproposal to FAMLI in 2019 is House Bill 19-1058, which just became available to read on the state legislative website over the weekend. Although this legislation purports to create a paid family medical leave system, that’s not the reality–this is a bill to let workers create their own savings accounts subject to a state income tax deduction, combined with a voluntary employer match that would qualify for a nonrefundable tax credit. The revenue reduction from these credits would presumably come from other programs.

In practice, this bill would do almost nothing to solve a serious problem faced by a large percentage of Colorado households. The incentives to save money for medical leave in this bill are simply not enough to motivate widespread participation, and the reality is that working people already have major challenges to establishing savings of any kind, let alone savings for such a specific purpose. The whole point of family medical leave is to provide relief to workers unexpectedly unable to work, but the GOP’s plan would only help those who already have the resources to prepare in advance.

As debate proceeds over the FAMLI Democratic plan for a family leave insurance system, look for Republicans and their mouthpieces to push hard on their “SCAMLI” alternative legislation as evidence that they are responding to the problem. Under the hood, however, these two plans could not be more different, and only one will actually accomplish the stated goal. Much like Ivanka Trump’s ill-fated idea to let workers drain their Social Security benefits to cover parental leave, it’s a naive solution–proposed without an understanding of the real problem.

Arapahoe Tea Party to Address Gardner and “The Problem of the Circular Firing Squad”

(Good luck with that – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.

At a meeting Tuesday, Arapahoe County Tea Party members will discuss ways to win (and lose) elections in Colorado, including the “problems of a circular firing squad,” according to the group’s Facebook page.

Republicans have been lashing out at U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) this week, in circular-firing-squad fashion, after Gardner called for passing legislation to open the federal government, without providing funds for a border wall.

In the political context, the term “circular firing squad” refers to members of a political party attacking members of their own party, inflicting damage and inciting intra-party anger.

Such firing squads can lead partisan activists to skip voting altogether for a controversial candidate.

After taking shots from a GOP circular firing squad, Gardner might be seen as lacking principles, which is a recurrent complaint of GOP Tea Party activists about Gardner, whom a prominent Republican recently called a “total [whore] for the Chamber of Commerce,” a “Mitch McConnell stooge,” and, “just like” U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a “traitor to every [position] he held in 2010.”

In Colorado, with so many Unaffiliated voters who appear hostile to the Republicans, a GOP candidate can ill afford to lose GOP votes and hope to win statewide, say pollsters.

GOP activist Gary Kirkland will lead the discussion about the firing squad and Gardner. Kirkland wrote on Facebook that “Cory Gardner will be one of the topics” of discussion at the Tues. meeting, which takes place at 9195 E. Mineral Ave. in Centennial from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Also at the Jan. 8 meeting, failed GOP congressional candidate Casper Stockham will discuss “his message for a winning strategy.”

State Rep. Susan Beckman (R-Littleton), who’s rumored to be running for GOP state party chair, will offer an “in-depth look at the Democrat playbook that was used to turn Colorado.”

Donald Trump is Not Really Just Like You

Keyser Soze

We are currently in the midst of the third-longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history. Roughly 800,000 federal employees are not receiving paychecks.

President Trump says he can feel your pain.

Chris Cillizza of CNN finds this statement hard to believe:

But the most amazing trick Trump has pulled as a politician — and now as president — is to convince lower-middle class, predominantly white voters that he is one of them. [Pols emphasis]

I was reminded of that trick on Sunday when Trump was asked whether he can relate to federal workers not being paid due to the ongoing government shutdown. Here’s how the President responded:

“I can relate, [Pols emphasis] and I’m sure that the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustments, they always do, and they’ll make adjustments. People understand exactly what’s going on. But many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100% with what I’m doing.”

Donald Trump was born into a wealthy family in New York City. After graduating from a private high school, Trump eventually ended up at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he had a part-time job at a family business called “Elizabeth Trump & Son.” After earning his undergraduate degree at Penn, Trump received a $1 million “loan” from his developer father, Fred Trump, to “get him started” in the business world. All told, Trump inherited somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million from his father, at least some of which was generated from questionable tax and accounting schemes.

Raise your hand if you can “relate” to any of this.

Worst Possible Mag Limit Repeal Sponsor Strikes Again

Legislation filed for debate in the 2019 session of the Colorado General Assembly is starting to appear on the legislature’s website, and here’s one every Colorado voter should be aware of, regardless of how you feel about the hot-button underlying issue:

Rep. Lori Saine (R), in custody after being caught with a loaded gun at DIA.

House Bill 19-1021 is a bill to repeal Colorado’s 15-round limit on gun magazine capacity. This bill is scheduled for certain death in the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee at an unspecified time in the next few weeks.

But the point is not really the bill, which Republicans in the Colorado legislature have introduced every year since the magazine limit became law. It is worth noting that the 15-round mag limit in particular outraged the gun lobby nationwide and helped drive the 2013 recall elections which ousted two Democratic Senators and promoted the resignation of a third. In 2014, gun-rights groups managed a reasonable crowd to testify in hearings on repeal bills, but since then turnout has steadily dwindled.

The real problem here is the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Lori Saine. In December of 2017, Rep. Saine was boarding a flight at Denver International Airport to receive an award from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) at that organization’s annual conference. A search of her purse at the airport revealed a loaded 9mm semiautomatic handgun that Saine had “forgotten” and brought with her. Saine was arrested when she stopped cooperating with security officers, but avoided charges by profusely claiming ignorance of the loaded gun in her purse.

Because this incident did not result in a criminal conviction, Rep. Saine’s right to possess guns–and presumably the concealed carry permit that allowed her to carry one in her purse–was not affected. But in every political sense, the event renders Saine the worst possible legislator of any serving in the Colorado General Assembly to carry a bill to weaken Colorado’s gun laws. We legitimately do not understand why Republicans would allow Saine to so perfectly undermine legislation we assume they would actually like to pass.

If anyone has an explanation that doesn’t boil down to some kind of bad joke, we’d like to hear it.

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