Jenna Ellis Pathologically Defiant Following Censure For 2020 Lies

UPDATE: The New York Times takes note of Jenna Ellis’ lack of contrition:

In a message posted on Twitter Thursday morning, Ms. Ellis sought to split hairs concerning her agreement with officials in Colorado, saying that she never admitted to lying about election fraud, which she asserted “requires INTENTIONALLY making a false statement.”

But in her stipulation with bar officials, she agreed that censure was merited when lawyers “knowingly engage” in any “conduct that involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.”

“It appears that Ms. Ellis is continuing in her pattern of knowing misrepresentations and falsehoods,” Michael Teter, the managing director of the 65 Project, said on Thursday. “If she continues down this path, it will not be long before she is subject to further disciplinary action.”

—–

Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis during the December 2020 campaign to overturn the presidential election.

Colorado Newsline’s Quentin Young broke the major news just after 5:00pm yesterday that former couptorney for ex-President Donald Trump, Jenna Ellis, has been formally censured by the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel for her many false statements about the 2020 presidential election leading up to the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021:

The public censure order was signed Wednesday by Presiding Disciplinary Judge Bryon M. Large, who oversees lawyer discipline cases in Colorado.

As part of an agreement in the case, Ellis admits that multiple statements she made in late 2020 about the presidential election being stolen were “misrepresentations.”

Those statements were part of an effort by Trump to reverse President Joe Biden’s victory, and they helped fuel the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. A majority of Republicans, including those running to chair the Colorado Republican Party, continue to doubt the 2020 election results…

In an opinion accepting a censure agreement between Yates and Ellis, Large noted that Ellis has agreed that her statements about the election being stolen were misrepresentations, which he said were made “with at least a reckless state of mind.” Ellis also agreed that she, “through her conduct, undermined the American public’s confidence in the presidential election, violating her duty of candor to the public,” Large wrote, adding that “a selfish motive” and “a pattern of misconduct” were aggravating factors in the case.

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog:

Ellis acknowledged in the agreement released on Wednesday that she violated a professional rule that prohibits attorneys from making “reckless, knowing, or intentional misrepresentations.” Large wrote in his opinion that she did so “with a mental state that was ‘at least reckless,'” describing a legal standard for assessing disciplinary options.

A longtime luminary in Colorado’s conservative political circles, Ellis shot to national prominence as part of the team of Trump’s lawyers and legal advisors who attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including by filing dozens of failed lawsuits alleging election fraud.

Ellis taught classes for several years at Lakewood-based Colorado Christian University and is currently a fellow in constitutional law and policy at the school’s Centennial Institute.

Here is the heart of the censure agreement between the state and Ellis. The precise language is important:

Respondent and the People agree that Respondent made ten misrepresentations on Twitter and to nationally televised audiences in her capacity as personal counsel to the then-President of the United States and as counsel for his reelection campaign. The parties agree that Respondent made these statements, which violated Colo. RPC 8.4(c), with at least a reckless state of mind. [Pols emphasis] The parties agree that Respondent was not counsel of record in any lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results. The parties agree that Respondent, through her conduct, undermined the American public’s confidence in the presidential election, violating her duty of candor to the public. Finally, the parties agree that two aggravators apply—Respondent had a selfish motive and she engaged in a pattern of misconduct [Pols emphasis]—while one factor, her lack of prior discipline, mitigates her misconduct.

Make no mistake, this is a major development: one of Trump’s closest attorneys admitted in court documents that Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud in 2020 were false. That’s at least as significant as the recent revelations stemming from court filings in the libel suit from Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems that the prime-time hosts at FOX News were all aware that Trump’s election fraud claims were garbage–yet continued to push them for political and financial motives. When you consider how pervasive and widespread the “Big Lie” has become, with a majority of Republicans still convinced two years later that Donald Trump should be President, these admissions that everybody involved either knew or should have known it was a lie are incredibly damning.

After a disgrace of this magnitude, most people would take a step back and re-evaluate their life choices. But in a defiant extended Twitter screed early this morning, Jenna Ellis made it clear that she is…well, not most people:

The politically-motivated Left failed miserably in their attempt to destroy me. They’re now trying to falsely discredit me by saying I admitted I lied.

That is FALSE. I would NEVER lie. Lying requires INTENTIONALLY making a false statement.

I never did that, nor did I stipulate to or admit that…

Ellis goes on to make a load-bearing distinction between “deceit” and “misrepresentation.”

As has become sadly typical, the opposition-controlled media is intentionally twisting the truth, conflating the full RPC standard with the actual stipulation. The standard reads, “dishonesty, fraud, deceit, OR misrepresentation.”

Now for starters, just like Rupert Murdoch in the FOX News defamation trial we’re way past arguing over whether the 2020 presidential election was actually stolen from Donald Trump. All parties concede it was not. What we’re arguing about apparently is whether Ellis knowingly made the numerous false statements attributed to her while she was working for Trump. The language of this censure was negotiated between regulators and Ellis’ attorneys, and it looks like the kindest interpretation Ellis could get the court to agree to was “at least a reckless state of mind.”

It’s just gobsmacking to us that after conceding that the entire basis of her campaign of lies “misrepresentations” was false, Ellis still thinks there’s value in arguing whether her actions were intentional or merely “at least reckless.” After admitting that the 2020 presidential election was not stolen from Donald Trump, and that her repeated claims to the contrary amounted to a “pattern of misconduct,” nobody cares whether Ellis “intentionally” lied or not. Ellis has no credibility either way. Ellis was a bit player in a much larger conspiracy to undermine American democracy, and that’s the only reason we’re talking about her at all.

All the same, let the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel know that Ellis isn’t exactly repentant.

Boebert Goes All In On January 6th Historical Revisionism

Last night, FOX News host Tucker Carlson released a few select bits of the thousands of hours of video collected during the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol his “research team” was controversially given access to by GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, in an attempt to recast the violent attack that day to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory as “mostly peaceful chaos.” CNN reports that the U.S. Capitol Police are leading the pushback against this audacious attempt to rewrite the history painstakingly reconstructed last year by the House Select Committee:

US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger on Tuesday ripped into Fox News host Tucker Carlson over his commentary about footage from the January 6, 2021, insurrection that he aired Monday night, saying the host “cherry-picked” from the footage to present “offensive” and “misleading” conclusions about the attack.

“Last night an opinion program aired commentary that was filled with offensive and misleading conclusions about the January 6 attack,” Manger wrote in an internal department memo obtained by CNN, adding that Carlson’s show didn’t reach out to the police department “to provide accurate context.”

“The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video. The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments,” Manger said.

It’s not just the Capitol Police and Democrats denouncing Tucker Carlson’s mischaracterization of the events of January 6th. As NBC News reports, a number of Republican U.S. Senators are not willing to participate:

“I think it’s bullshit,” [Sen. Thom] Tillis told reporters in the Capitol. [Pols emphasis]

“I was here. I was down there and I saw maybe a few tourists, a few people who got caught up in things,” he added. “But when you see police barricades breached, when you see police officers assaulted, all of that … if you were just a tourist you should’ve probably lined up at the visitors’ center and came in on an orderly basis.”

…Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota conservative, said he was in the Capitol on Jan. 6 and firmly rejected Carlson’s portrayal of that day as “some rowdy peaceful protest of Boy Scouts.”

“I think that breaking through glass windows and doors to get into the United States Capitol against the borders of police is a crime. I think particularly when you come into the chambers, when you start opening the members’ desks, when you stand up in their balcony — to somehow put that in the same category as, you know, permitted peaceful protest is just a lie,” Cramer said.

Sen. Mitt Romney was, as he tends to be, even more blunt:

“It’s a very dangerous thing to do, to suggest that attacking the Capitol of the United States is in any way acceptable and it’s anything other than a serious crime, against democracy and against our country,” Romney said. “And people saw that it was violent and destructive and should never happen again. But trying to normalize that behavior is dangerous and disgusting.” [Pols emphasis]

The best rebuttal to Carlson’s selectively edited clips we can think of is the original Select Committee compilation of video from the insurrection:

 

Watch this video again, and tell us how Carlson can get away with calling what happened “sightseeing.” A few edited moments of relative calm highlighted by Carlson do not negate the violence and destruction documented exhaustively by the Select Committee. The swift rebuttal from Senate Republicans is a possible sign that Carlson, whose popularity has increasingly hinged on his embrace of the fringe right–including Colorado’s own election conspiracy theorist and indicted ex-county clerk Tina Peters–has finally gone too far.

But the bipartisan chorus of outrage over this attempt to rewrite the history of an event we all watched unfold live just over two years ago does not include…you guessed it, Colorado’s intractable sophomore mayhem multiplier Rep. Lauren Boebert:

In response to Carlson’s report last night, Rep. Boebert exploded in pent-up glee this morning over what she clearly believes is vindication–for the January 6th insurrectionists, and also Republican politicians like herself and Donald Trump who incited the violence by refusing to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election. On January 6th, Boebert threateningly referred to her constituents “outside the building right now” moments before they smashed their way into the Capitol, after announcing “Today is 1776” to her hundreds of thousands of followers that morning. Boebert has every interest today in downplaying the violence on January 6th she helped bring to pass, even as she continues to defend the underlying “Big Lie” that Trump won.

But this isn’t vindication. Too many of Boebert’s fellow Republicans who were shaken to the core by the events of January 6th are refusing to let the truth of what happened that day be whitewashed. It’s a falsehood too far, and Boebert is on the wrong side of bipartisan disgust.

Boebert Politely Tells DeSantis To Wait His Turn

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Last November, Colorado’s most Ultra MAGA of-them-all Rep. Lauren Boebert raised eyebrows when she extolled the virtues of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a potential candidate for President in 2024:

“I love Governor Ron DeSantis. He is America’s governor, and he has the same policies,” she said, adding that 2024 remains “in the far future.”

Yes, Boebert also effusively praised former President Donald Trump in the same November interview, which came just after Trump announced his 2024 re-election campaign. But by allowing for even the possibility of someone other than Trump as the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2024 — after Trump was in the race — Boebert was treading dangerously close to MAGA disloyalty. That disloyalty was further underlined at the beginning of January when Boebert defied Trump’s pleas to end the drama over Kevin McCarthy’s speakership.

In the intervening months, Trump has plowed ahead with his campaign while DeSantis has delayed getting in the race, and Trump seems to be consolidating his position once again as the favorite to win the GOP nomination in 2024. For evidence of this, we turn once again to Rep. Lauren Boebert at this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC):

Though still effusive with praise for Gov. DeSantis, Boebert announced at this weekend’s CPAC conference that she is “backing Trump all the way.”

I want [DeSantis] to be President someday. He’s an amazing man with a lot of strength and a lot of character, but right now we need President Trump back in the White House. [Pols emphasis]

This years’s CPAC was by all accounts dominated by supporters of the former President, and Trump easily won this year’s straw poll of CPAC attendees. As one of the clearest endorsements of Trump over DeSantis by name offered by any nationally prominent Republican so far, Boebert’s public reaffirmation of loyalty to Trump is a big deal that will carry considerable weight with the Republican base.

It may be the last thing “Never Trump” Republicans want to hear, but the stars are aligning for Trump to walk away with the GOP nomination once again. Whatever that means for America’s future, and that of Colorado Republicans at the brink of total political annihilation, in Colorado you have Lauren Boebert to thank for it.

Why Jamie Raskin’s Dismantlement of Lauren Boebert Matters

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) and the former occupant of the White House.

Some of the most-viewed clips of video from this week in Congress feature a running exchange between Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin and Colorado’s maven of misinformation Rep. Lauren Boebert, beginning when Boebert seized on the “low confidence” assessment by the Energy Department that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in a Chinese lab leak, and proceeded to fictionalize the response by former President Donald Trump to both the pandemic and Chinese leadership. Newsweek’s Ewan Palmer:

In a series of videos that have gained millions of views on Twitter, Raskin used his time during a meeting of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which both lawmakers are part of, as well as the House floor on Tuesday to launch a series of attacks against Boebert…

Boebert, the indefatigable Donald Trump stan, tried to make the case that Trump had blamed the Chinese for the virus’ still-unknown origin from the beginning. But Rep. Raskin wasn’t having Boebert’s historical revisionism:

Raskin said there are two facts that she “should be alerted to” before trying to defend Trump with regards to how COVID broke out.

“One is that Donald Trump, on more than 20 different occasions defended the performance of Chinese government and specifically President Xi in terms of his treatment of COVID-19 and said he was doing a wonderful job and a great job and they were working closely and they were constantly in touch,” Raskin said. [Pols emphasis]

“So if there’s a problem with the Chinese government unleashing the virus—which has not been proven anywhere, but it certainly could be true—You would have to pin that on your favorite President Donald Trump, not on Joe Biden.”

“The second thing is President Trump’s own special adviser on COVID-19, Deborah Birx, said that the lethal recklessness of Donald Trump’s policies about COVID-19 cost Americans hundreds of thousands of lives.

During the State of the Union address last month, Rep. Boebert Tweeted in all caps “YOU CLOSED THEM” in response to Biden mentioning the closure of schools during the pandemic. The problem was of course that Trump was President when schools were ordered closed during the early vaccineless phase of the pandemic, and it was state officials who made those decisions in any event. Similarly, to praise Trump for blaming China for the pandemic ignores the long period in which he not only refused to do so but extolled Chinese authorities for their cooperation. Only later on the campaign trail did Trump begin to refer to COVID-19 as the “China virus” as a way of shirking blame for his own administration’s mishandling of the crisis.

After Raskin’s effortless dunking on Boebert in committee, the action moved to the House floor the next day, where Raskin schooled Boebert on her impish insistence on dropping the -ic from “Democratic,” and embraced Boebert’s expressed preference to be called “Ultra MAGA” over “MAGA extremist” with a smile–since either work fine for Democratic branding purposes. With Boebert’s higher profile this session resulting from her plum committee assignments–and above all, vulnerability that no one could count on until Boebert almost lost her seat last year–we expect to see Democrats crank up the pressure, publicly challenging Boebert’s easily-disproven falsehoods and forcing her to squirm under the bright lights. That’s the best way to turn Boebert’s higher profile within the GOP caucus into a liability ahead of her next election.

At some point, Boebert might even have to admit who was in charge when all that bad stuff happened.

When All Else Fails, There’s Always RT And The Colorado GOP

Colorado’s relentlessly crazy Q-uintessential conspiracy theorist Joe Oltmann, who has only in recent years managed to attract the most dubious kind of media attention as the target of a massive defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems and a regular public proponent of political violence, finally found a media outlet with global heft willing to carry his message:

Joe Biden is a demon! “Armed conflict on our own soil” is coming! Arm yourself! Say what you want about Joe Oltmann, this is exactly the kind of destabilizing message that Russian state television wants to project about American politics. The “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump isn’t even about Trump anymore to someone like Oltmann–it’s just another “proof point” in a much bigger conspiracy. No amount of factual evidence to the contrary will ever convince a guy like Oltmann, which is why in American media he gets no attention other than to point out his increasingly violent extremist rhetoric.

Which is not to say Oltmann lacks a domestic audience, and even support from local Republican elected officials:

Like Alex Jones himself, Joe Oltmann has a business model behind his rhetoric. As the co-owner of DCF Guns, Oltmann is in a position to personally sell you the guns you need to “arm yourself” with in order to be ready for “armed conflict on our own soil!” And last month, right after Oltmann’s debut on RT, GOP Reps. Scott “There Is No” Bottoms and Ken “Skin” DeGraff were the stars of a “Second Amendment Rally” at Oltmann’s gun store.

Which seems more like a church bake sale, except for guns. You’re practically obligated to buy one.

At this point, we’re not so naive as to imagine Reps. Bottoms and DeGraff are unaware of Joe Oltmann’s regular violent threats to start a civil war, as well as hang and otherwise lethally dispatch disfavored politicians from Denver to Washington, D.C. Since Oltmann is not referring to these two elected officials personally, they probably just don’t feel threatened.

Someone should probably ask House Minority Leader Mike Lynch what he thinks about his members hanging out with Oltmann just to be safe–after all, we haven’t heard definitively that Lynch is off Oltmann’s death list. It’s said to contain plenty of Republicans. The one thing we know for sure is that there is no analogue on the left to this collusion by Republican elected officials with Oltmann’s calls for violence and murder.

We never want to hear about “Antifa” from Colorado Republicans again.

Legal Experts: Dominion Defamation Suit Should Succeed

“I think that Dominion both will and should prevail.”

     — Laurence Tribe, former Harvard law professor

We wrote last week about internal communications made public as a result of a defamation lawsuit filed by Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News Corporation.

One of the key points in any successful defamation claim is proving that there was an intention to defame the victim. Dominion has long claimed that Fox News deliberately amplified false claims of voter fraud and provided a platform for guests to make similar accusations; internal communications from some of the top names at Fox News seems to make clear that the network knew damn well that it was promoting nonsense claims of voter fraud in order to appease its rabid right-wing audience.

As The Washington Post reports today, legal experts were stunned by the extent of evidence against Fox News and are now of the opinion that Dominion will ultimately prevail in its defamation lawsuit:

“You just don’t often get smoking-gun evidence of a news organization saying internally, ‘We know this is patently false, but let’s forge ahead with it,’” said RonNell Andersen Jones, a University of Utah professor who specializes in media law. [Pols emphasis]

Under New York Times v. Sullivan, a 1964 Supreme Court ruling that has guided libel and defamation claims for nearly 60 years, a plaintiff like Dominion must show that a defendant like Fox published false statements with “actual malice” — meaning that it was done “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

Based on the messages revealed last week, “I think that Dominion both will and should prevail,” said Laurence Tribe, a former Harvard law professor. “If anything, the landmark this case is likely to establish will help show that New York Times v. Sullivan” is not an impossible legal hurdle to clear, as some critics have claimed. [Pols emphasis]

“While it’s true that the Supreme Court [in Sullivan] has set a high bar for plaintiffs, a high bar doesn’t mean no bar,” said Sonja R. West, a First Amendment scholar at the University of Georgia law school “What we’re seeing in this case looks an awful lot like the exception that proves the rule. The First Amendment often protects speakers who make innocent or even negligent mistakes, but this does not mean they can knowingly tell lies that damage the reputation of others.”

Even if Dominion does succeed in its defamation suit, there are some questions about how much Fox News Corporation will ultimately be required to pay up (or whether it will attempt to play a corporate shell game that includes some form of bankruptcy).

Regardless of the financial impacts, a victory by Dominion would be a big win for things like “truth” and “facts” in the overall media landscape. That’s the kind of outcome in which everyone wins.

Former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis faces imminent formal complaint in Colorado

(Been waiting for this shoe to drop — Republished under CC license by Colorado Pols)

by Quentin Young, Colorado Newsline
February 22, 2023

Rep. Lauren Boebert with reality-based friends MyPillow Guy, Rudy Giuliani, and couptastic attorney Jenna Ellis (right).

Colorado attorney Jenna Ellis, one of the central figures in former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, is the subject of a formal professional misconduct complaint that’s expected to be filed in the coming weeks.

Ellis had been under scrutiny by the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, which investigates allegations of professional misconduct against Colorado attorneys. The office’s Legal Regulation Committee reviews reports from the attorney regulation counsel and determines if reasonable cause exists to seek disciplinary action against attorneys before the presiding disciplinary judge.

The committee has now authorized Jessica Yates, the attorney regulation counsel, to file a formal complaint against Ellis with the presiding disciplinary judge, according to Yates.

Filing of a complaint “typically takes 2-3 weeks after getting authorization,” Yates wrote to Newsline in an email Wednesday evening.

Yates declined to answer questions about the nature of the complaint. But in May, States United Democracy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, asked Yates to investigate Ellis for multiple alleged violations of professional rules and impose possible “substantial professional discipline.” In December, Yates indicated to Newsline that her investigation was related to the States United Democracy Center complaint.

That complaint says Ellis when she represented Trump “made numerous public misrepresentations alleging fraud in the election — even as federal and state election officials repeatedly found that no fraud had occurred that could have altered the outcome and even as Mr. Trump and his allies brought and lost over 60 lawsuits claiming election fraud or illegality.”

(more…)

Democrats are Very Good AND Republicans are Very Bad

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The tide keeps turning…

—–

Governor Jared Polis

In the aftermath of the 2022 election, there was a question that kept coming up among political observers — particularly in Colorado — that went something like this: Are Democrats really good at campaigning and governing, or is it just that Republicans are SO BAD at both? 

Nearly four months later, the answer seems pretty clear.

While Republicans remain hamstrung by MAGA extremists, Democrats are focusing on governing and proving to future voters that they are more than capable of being the adults in the room.

As The Colorado Sun reports today via its “Unaffiliated” newsletter, new polling numbers from a noted Republican pollster show that Coloradans are pretty happy with their Democratic leaders:

The poll, commissioned by the conservative education group Ready Colorado, revealed that 61% of participants view Governor Jared Polis favorably, compared with 35% who said they view him unfavorably, 3% who had no opinion and 1% who said they had never heard of him. It’s notable that so few participants didn’t know or have an opinion of the governor.

Additionally, 53% said they think “things in Colorado” — that’s how the question was worded — are headed in the right direction, while 41% said they think the state is on the wrong track and 6% said they were unsure.

That’s a solid majority of Coloradans who both approve of Gov. Jared Polis and believe that Colorado is headed in the right direction. 

Polling numbers aren’t as favorable for President Joe Biden, but that might be more of a casualty of the partisan/tribal nature of a post-Trump era of Presidential politics.

Via Bulwark (2/21/23)

As Jonathan V. Last writes today for Bulwark, the Biden administration is deftly handling perhaps the three most significant governing issues of the day:

Inflation is coming under control and we may be headed for a soft landing; which would be a tremendous achievement.

Biden’s response to Ukraine is the most deft handling of foreign policy by an American president since Reagan and H.W. Bush’s handling of the Cold War endgame.

And immigration?

Here’s the headline from CATO’s Alex Nowrasteh: “Biden’s New Border Plan Slashes Illegal Immigration.”

Writes Nowrasteh:

The total number of encounters along the southwest (SW) border with Mexico dropped by 37.9 percent in the month following President Biden’s new immigration and border plan.

Over the weekend, Biden made a surprise and unprecedented visit to Ukraine to reaffirm American support for its war against Russia. With air-raid sirens blaring in the background, Biden walked the streets of Kiev with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. As images of leadership go, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with something more powerful than this:

President Biden in Kiev, Ukraine

 

And how did Republicans respond? With the only note they know how to play: Blindly criticizing Biden. Former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the GOP’s nomination in 2024, even praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Via Rolling Stone (2/20/23)

There is no arguing that 2022 was a devastating cycle for Colorado Republicans. The top of the GOP ticket saw candidates for Governor (Heidi Ganahl) and U.S. Senate (Joe O’Dea) get hammered by double-digit margins. Elsewhere, Republicans spent more than $13 million to lose two seats in the State Senate and now holds the ignominy of the smallest legislative minority in state history (only 31 of 100 seats are held by the GOP).

On a national scale, Republicans fumbled a favorable Senate map by nominating nutball candidates, which allowed Democrats to actually gain a Senate seat and avoid having to rely on Vice President Kamala Harris as a tie-breaking vote. Republicans avoided a complete disaster by managing to eke out a smaller-than-expected five-seat majority in the House of Representatives. Just how unexpected was this squeaker? Eight months earlier, then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy confidently predicted, “We’re going to win the majority, and it’s not going to be a five-seat majority.”

“We’re going to win the majority, and it’s not going to be a five-seat majority.”

 — Kevin McCarthy in March 2022

McCarthy would end up being part of history in January…though not in a good way. McCarthy needed 15 different roll call votes to secure his role as Speaker of the House — something that hadn’t been seen in Congress since before the Civil freaking War.

Republicans are locked in a “Circle of Strife” here in Colorado as they look ahead to an increasingly-crowded field of candidates vying to lead the State GOP into 2024. Things aren’t much better elsewhere; Republicans chose an “election-denying demon hunter” as GOP Chair in Michigan and an ally of Donald Trump to be the new State Republican Party leader in Florida.

Over the weekend in Montana, former two-term Republican governor and onetime chairman of the Republican National Committee Marc Racicot was informed by the Montana Republican Party that a resolution had been approved in which it was declared that Racicot “would no longer be considered a Republican.” Racicot apparently had no idea that such a resolution was even being discussed.

The Republican Party is making national headlines for mostly bad reasons. At the same time, a Democratic President is racking up one policy win after another (and leaving plenty of oxygen in the room for other Democrats to claim their own victories), and elected Democrats in Colorado are proving voters correct for trusting them to govern the state effectively.

So, we ask again: Are Democrats really good at campaigning and governing, or is it just that Republicans are SO BAD at both? 

The answer is simple: “Yes.”

Podcast: Why Biden and Trump are Still Linked (feat. Eli Stokols)

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, POLITICO White House Correspondent Eli Stokols returns to the show to talk with hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii about the differences between covering the Trump and Biden administrations; how the White House is dealing with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives; and whether or not President Biden will seek re-election in 2024.

Later, Jason and Ian dig into the disastrous results from the El Paso County Republican Party elections and what it means for the future of the Colorado GOP. We also talk about efforts by Republicans to get others to clean up their mess; and a very strange first television ad in the race for Denver Mayor.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher |

Dominion Lawsuit: Fox Knews it Peddled Crap

Donald Trump and Sean Hannity: Fair and balanced(ish)

Following endless and largely fact-free claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential election, Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 BILLION defamation lawsuit against Fox News and parent company Fox Corporation. As the case winds its way through the American legal system, it has regularly revealed information demonstrating the fallacy of election fraud claims perpetuated by former President Donald Trump and his minions.

One of the key points in any successful defamation claim is proving that there was an intention to defame the victim. Dominion has long claimed that Fox News employees deliberately amplified false claims and provided a platform for guests to make similar accusations. A new batch of internal communications made public on Thursday reveals that attorneys for Dominion seem to have pretty strong evidence that Fox News personalities knew damn well that their election fraud claims were complete and utter horse excrement.

As The Associated Press reports:

“Sidney Powell is lying,” about having evidence for election fraud, Tucker Carlson told a producer about the attorney on Nov. 16, 2020, according to an excerpt from an exhibit that remains under seal…

…Carlson also referred to Powell in a text as an “unguided missile,” and “dangerous as hell.” Fellow host Laura Ingraham, meanwhile, told Carlson that Powell is “a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy,” referring to former New York mayor and Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani.

Sean Hannity, meanwhile, said in a deposition “that whole narrative that Sidney was pushing, I did not believe it for one second,” according to Dominion’s filing.

Attorneys for Fox News are trying to wrap themselves in the First Amendment in their defense. The Fox attorneys filed a counterclaim that continues the same dumb narrative that we’ve seen in Colorado from failed candidates such as Heidi Ganahl (Governor 2022) and Joe O’Dea (U.S. Senate 2022). That narrative basically goes like this: We’re just talking here and asking questions. What’s wrong with talking and asking questions?

“Dominion brought this lawsuit to punish FNN for reporting on one of the biggest stories of the day— allegations by the sitting President of the United States and his surrogates that the 2020 election was affected by fraud,” the counterclaim states. “The very fact of those allegations was newsworthy.”

Indeed

The very fact that some people said there was fraud in the 2020 election is news? If you break this “argument” down to its fundamental pieces, you’re essentially arguing that “words = news,” which is just plain stupid. Under this theory, we hereby demand that Fox News run a feature story this evening about what we had for lunch. We’ll even sit down for an interview about our meal!

Attorneys for Fox are also arguing that the network has no obligation to fact-check anything it reports, which is a depressing admission that speaks volumes about the Fox News business model in general. The AP reports on a related argument that doesn’t seem to be as compelling as Fox attorneys might think:

Fox attorneys warn that threatening the company with a $1.6 billion judgment will cause other media outlets to think twice about what they report.

My stars! This lawsuit might push other news outlets to try harder at being factually accurate? That would absolutely not be a bad thing, especially when you consider the results of a new Gallup poll showing that half of Americans believe news organizations are deliberately misleading.  

It is basically impossible to root for Fox News in this case when they are openly saying that they should have the right to do and say whatever they want, regardless of the harm it causes. How many people participated in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection based primarily on what they heard from Fox News? More than a few.

The right to free speech, just like every other constitutional right, is not absolute. If Fox News chooses to operate without boundaries, it’s up to others to put some guardrails in place.

[Click here to read more details about Dominion’s motion for summary judgment]

Brauchler Promises To Vote for Trump Again if He’s the 2024 GOP Nominee

(Tainted is as tainted does — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In her Denver Post column yesterday, Krista Kafer is correct when she says that the Colorado Republican Party needs to “elevate” leaders who aren’t tainted by Trump.

“The party also must resuscitate its image by elevating leaders untainted by Trump, election conspiracy theories, or other asininity,” writes Kafer, a conservative. “Unfortunately, thus far contenders to replace Kristi Burton Brown for the GOP chair check those boxes.”

Brauchler

But who does Kafer see on the GOP bench who’s allegedly untainted by Trump?

She throws out the name of KNUS radio host George Brauchler, a former Arapahoe County District Attorney who was beaten by Democrat Phil Weiser in a 2018 race to be Colorado’s top attorney.

You can say some good things about Brauchler (e.g., his rejection of election conspiracies) but being untainted by Trump isn’t one of them.

He’s clearly struggled with the question at times, as he did during a conversation with his daughter he recounted to podcast host Craig Silverman during an Oct. 2021 interview.

As reported by the Colorado Times Recorder at the time:

On Silverman’s podcast, Brauchler told how his daughter Amanda had asked him at the time whether what Trump had said was okay. Brauchler assured Amanda that it was most certainly not okay. Her next question was ominous when Brauchler understood the implications of his answer to his 14-year old daughter: “Are you going to vote for him?” “And that will stick with me forever,” Brauchler said, “not because she won’t be a Republican, but because that awkward moment between a father and a daughter where I got stuck in this position, having to explain something I should have never, ever been asked to explain to my daughter. And that is, how can someone who says such horrible, ugly things about women still be worthy of being president of the United States? But there it was! And it’s in my head, and it will be there till I go to my grave.”

Brauchler’s point at the time was that, despite all Trump’s flaws, he still voted for him. Eighteen months later, despite an insurrection and Trump’s relentless attacks on our democracy, it appears nothing’s changed.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Brauchler went out of his way to promise to vote for Trump again if Trump is the Republican Party’s nominee for president in 2024.

“And for those of you who are like, ‘Oh, Brauchler’s a never Trumper,’ you know that’s not true, because I voted for him twice, and if he’s the Republican nominee, I’m going to end up voting for him again because the alternative is just unthinkable,” Brauchler told his audience on Feb. 3, echoing what his past praise of the former president.

Kafer wrote that the “GOP needs someone like George Brauchler.”

In Colorado, if you look at the trends, you’re on safe ground saying that’s probably not true. Safer to say Wyoming needs him.

Listen to Brauchler on his KNUS show Feb. 3.

The Revolution Probably Won’t Start Saturday

But we’re dutybound to advise potential visitors to the Colorado Capitol this coming Saturday at noon that some of the most hardcore of the hardcore nether-right conspiracy set will be out in…well, we can’t say for sure they’ll be out in force, but in some quantity:

As a general rule, when the stated goal of a protest in the United States of America is a “tribunal” you know you’re not dealing with serious individuals. But they are mad as hell about pretty much the entire canon of modern-day conspiracy theories, from COVID-19 to Pizzagate. We don’t speak conspiracy fluently, but we assume that’s what they mean by “bioweapons” and “pedophilia.” Lest you think this is just one-off crackpottery, the event in Denver is set to coincide with protests at noon allegedly set for all 50 states:

Now we have to see if the crowd lives up to the hype, which it usually does not. The usual warnings about mingling with large unvaccinated crowds apply, though if this latest protest follows the trend it will likely consist of half a dozen people complaining to each other about the pitiful turnout.

Just remember patriots, no open carrying in Denver. And when the revolution doesn’t start, go home quietly.

Podcast: Please Stop Yelling at the SOTU (feat. Christy Powell)

It’s her.

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, the State of our Union is….WEIRD. Ian Silverii back from the worst seats in the House Gallery because Jason Bane wasn’t invited.

Later, the great Christy Powell joins us with a new game where we try and explain the inexplicable, for prizes (metaphorical ones). Overtly racist pro-claymore mine lobby Rocky Mountain Gun Owners flies its overtly-racist flag. There is still no bottom with Representative Scott Bottoms. And our 8th favorite member of Congress from Colorado, Lauren Boebert, has some loud thoughts about WHO TURNED OFF MY TWITTER MACHINE???

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher |

Tina Peters Gets Months More To Loom Over GOP’s Future

Tina Peters on the red carpet at Mar-a-Lago last year.

As Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports, the upcoming trial of former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters on felony tampering and misconduct charges, which was provisionally set to begin next month, has been delayed until the summer as both sides process a huge dump of information from the federal side of the investigation:

The defense said it needs more time to examine a trove of new information and data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation related to the case. Peters faces ten state criminal charges but a federal investigation is ongoing.

The trial was originally scheduled to begin March 6 in Grand Junction, before the judge agreed to the delay. The prosecution and defense are expected to meet Feb. 22 to set a new trial date, likely this summer…

Peters has been charged with identity theft, criminal impersonation and official misconduct, among other things, over allegedly using [another man’s] identity to create an office key card that a different man then used to access secure parts of the Mesa County elections office during a system update of the voting equipment.

Tina Peters, who enjoyed freedom to travel as a candidate for Secretary of State in 2022 that allowed her to be honored at Mar-a-Lago and the star of conferences dedicated to election conspiracy theories across the country, is to our knowledge generally restricted now from leaving the state as a condition of her pre-trial bond. Peters not only asserts her innocence, but claims to be both morally and legally justified in her actions as a “whistleblower” exposing the supposed theft of the 2020 presidential election from Donald Trump. Peters is of course far from alone in that belief despite none of her actions supplying any such evidence, and in general Peters’ support and opposition break consistently with belief in the larger “Big Lie.”

That means for as long as Peters remains an unconvicted felon, she will retain a base of unshakable support and remain influential in party politics. All three of the major candidates to be the next chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, Erik Aadland, Aaron Wood, and Casper Stockham are on-the-record election deniers–and since Peters no longer has a trial starting up next month, she’ll have time to campaign for one of them. Peters’ criminal trial, in which she is innocent until proven guilty but also does not appear to be a close case with co-conspirators singing like canaries and Peters readily admitting to most of what’s alleged, looks to be the only thing that can put an end to Peters’ pernicious influence on her party.

Which is why, for all of Tina Peters’ complaints, the lack of a speedy trial won’t be one of them.

2023 State of the Union Open Thread

CNN reports, the law has been allegedly laid down:

Ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy warned members during a closed-door meeting to behave themselves, reminding them that the “mics are hot” and the “cameras are on,” according to a source in the room.

House GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik issued a similar warning.

Tonight, President Joe Biden is expected to take a victory lap after a historically productive first two years in office, punctuated by the best midterm performance by a sitting President’s party in two decades. Republicans in narrow control of the House are unlikely to see things so positively, of course, necessitating Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s warning to be on their best behavior. Will Rep. Lauren Boebert make it through tonight’s address without a spectacle? We’ll be watching to see how Boebert’s ongoing feud with fellow controversy magnet Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene impacts their willingness/ability to make a scene like they did last year.

Catch the address live below, and watch this space for updates and antics:

Is Kanye’s Colorado Cabal Sorry Yet?

Former Cory Gardner staffer Rachel George.

As the New York Times reports, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West has been re-suspended from Twitter today after violating the site’s terms of service so egregiously that controversially laissez-faire new owner Elon Musk was obliged to step in:

Elon Musk, Twitter’s chief executive, said late Thursday that Kanye West would be suspended from Twitter after the rapper and fashion designer tweeted an image of a swastika inside the Star of David. Mr. Musk said the post violated the social media outlet’s rule against the incitement of violence.

The tweet was deleted shortly before Mr. West’s account became no longer accessible. His page was soon replaced with a label: “Account suspended.”

So continued the controversy stirred by Mr. West — who goes by Ye — and his string of antisemitic remarks on social media. Instagram blocked him from posting after he suggested on the platform that Sean Combs, the rapper known as Diddy, was being controlled by Jewish people. Ye has also lashed out against Jewish people via Twitter.

The indefinite Twitter suspension happened on the same day that Ye had appeared on a podcast hosted by the Infowars conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones, during which he told Mr. Jones, “I like Hitler.”

Kanye West, Donald Trump.

Kanye West’s extremely public slide toward inevitable and very much called-for cancellation accelerated in October after he appeared at a Paris fashion show wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words “WHITE LIVES MATTER,” and then threatened to go “DeathCon 3” on “Jewish people.” Kanye reacted poorly to deserved criticism of these statements and the loss of lucrative business deals that accompanied public criticism, spiraling further into disgrace until West proceeded to kneecap his alleged friend former President Donald Trump by inviting his Nazi incel friend Nick Fuentes to Mar-a-Lago. Trump dining with the openly white supremacist anti-Semitic Fuentes has been very widely condemned, including by some longtime political allies like local developer and pro-Trump GOP funder Larry Mizel through the Simon Wiesenthal Center–an organization that bent over backwards to excuse Trump’s misdeeds while in office.

If there’s anyone in Colorado politics who should be squirming today while Kanye West embarrasses everyone who has ever been associated with him, it’s the Republican operatives who helped qualify West for the presidential ballot in Colorado in 2020. Whatever Kanye imagined he was doing, the purpose behind GOP usual suspects signing up to support West for President was peeling away some number of votes from Joe Biden–perhaps not many, but perhaps enough to be worth the effort. Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland named all the names in August of that year:

The possible electors listed on West’s paperwork include Seth Jacobson, Kittrick MacLean, Shelley Kon, Joseph Peters, Stanley Pence and Matthey Zielinski, all from Denver. The final three are from surrounding suburbs including Adam Johnson of Centennial, Emily Daniels of Golden and Mark Polk of Brighton. [Pols emphasis]

Vice News reported that Rachel George, a Republican political strategist who formerly worked for Republican Sen. Cory Gardner when he was a representative in the House, had reached out to her contacts to try and help West get on the ballot in a last-minute bid.

It was painfully obvious from the beginning that West’s campaign was nothing more than a diversion to peel away low-information votes from Biden, but of course none of Republican participants in this plot could say so at the time. Instead, Birkeland quoted some of them the next day preposterously insisting they were supporting Kanye because of the “issues.”

“The reason I signed was because I think that both major parties have let a lot of Coloradans down,” said elector Seth Jacobson. He’s registered as unaffiliated but worked for former Republican Senate candidate Darryl Glenn and now works for the conservative social media site, CaucusRoom.

Jacobson said he had already decided he wasn’t going to vote for President Trump or Joe Biden. “Kanye has all the requirements to be on the ballot and I did a fair amount of research before I agreed to do this. He’s talking about issues that no else is talking about. I’m very serious about voting for him.” [Pols emphasis]

Organized by longtime local Republican staffer Rachel George, Kanye West’s Colorado electors included one of the principals behind the much-balleyhooed CaucusRoom conservative organizing platform, Seth Jacobsen, as well as the spouse of another CaucusRoom employee and 9NEWS Republican commentator Kelly Maher, Mark Polk. After last June’s Republican primaries, Maher complained bitterly about so-called “Democratic primary meddling” to boost fringe Republicans even though it could be argued Democrats got the idea from the Kanye West for President campaign (they didn’t, of course, but they may as well have).

Today, Kanye is a disgrace to everyone around him, including Colorado Republicans who helped him to run for President.

It’s nothing we’d want on our résumé.

Shellacking Or No, Looks Like Trump’s Gonna Jump

Despite the unexpectedly poor showing for Republicans across the nation in last week’s midterm elections, especially but not limited to Republicans loyal to and boosted by ex-President Donald Trump, all news reports as of this writing indicate that Trump plans to proceed with his “very big announcement” tomorrow at Mar-a-Lago that he’ll be running for President once again in 2024. CNBC reported Saturday:

“We had tremendous success — why would anything change?” Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

Longtime Trump aide Jason Miller said Friday morning that Trump will definitely be announcing his campaign next Tuesday.

“I spoke with the President Trump this morning. He was on the golf course and I talked to him about Tuesday which is really his focus,” Miller said on the podcast of Steve Bannon, a former senior Trump advisor, NBC reported.

“He said, ‘There doesn’t need to be any question. Of course I’m running. I’m going to do this and I want to make sure that people know that I’m fired up and we got to get the country back,’” Miller said.

As the New York Times reports, Trump’s determination to get back in the ring seems to have only hardened since last Tuesday’s election despite the bad night for his favored candidates–meaning Trump is not listening to Republicans begging him to put off this announcement until after the U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia next month:

Mr. Trump’s plans to run for president, which he is expected to announce on Tuesday, could force the issue in ways not seen since his first campaign, as party leaders are asked to declare their allegiances to him or to other potential rivals…

Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, the third-ranking House Republican, endorsed Mr. Trump for president on Friday ahead of his anticipated campaign announcement on Tuesday.

“President Trump has always put America First, and I look forward to supporting him so we can save America,” Ms. Stefanik said on Twitter.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, as readers recall, tried to expand her sphere of influence to include the Republican nominee in Colorado’s brand-new CD-8 by endorsing both Barb Kirkmeyer and primary rival Jan Kulmann. Stefanik is still considered upwardly mobile in the House GOP caucus, and a candidate to someday replace GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy. Last week, Trump endorsed McCarthy’s re-election as GOP Leader and Stefanik as GOP caucus chair, and it’s hard to imagine McCarthy not returning the favor.

And we assume Colorado’s Rep.-by-a-thread Lauren Boebert will be on hand tomorrow evening in Palm Beach.

From there, Trump’s campaign will impose a loyalty test that every Republican will have to reckon with for themselves. After the violence on January 6th and many Republicans including McCarthy turned against Trump briefly only to come crawling back, realistic hope that this party might someday stand up to Trump was largely dashed. If Trump blows through his primary opposition this time as he did in 2016, Republicans will face the question Joe O’Dea stumbled over disastrously on the campaign trail: whether to vote for Trump if he wins the nomination, or commit the greatest sin any Republican can.

In the end, even Joe O’Dea was prepared to dance with the Trump who brought him.

Pam Anderson’s Selective Opposition to Election Deniers

Republican Secretary of State candidate Pam Anderson on Monday evening

Last night, Colorado candidates for Secretary of State took part in one of the few public debates in that contest. The forum televised by 9News featured a lot of detailed discussion about elections and voting that was about as interesting as it sounds, but there was one key exchange between incumbent Democrat Jena Griswold and Republican challenger Pam Anderson that is worth highlighting.

We’ve written several times in this space about Anderson’s selective opposition to election deniers (HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE). Anderson, the former Clerk and Recorder in Jefferson County, launched her campaign for Secretary of State by claiming that Griswold was “too partisan” while standing herself up as a true Republican champion of fair elections. Anderson likes to say that it is “critically important” to inform the public “that elections are safe and secure” and that she will be a Secretary of State that “both sides can trust.” This all sounds great, except that Anderson’s deeds do not always match her rhetoric.

The sad truth is that Pam Anderson is totally against election deniers…except when she is not.

On Monday evening, Anderson was asked to explain how it is that she talks about opposing election deniers while also regularly campaigning with election deniers. Her response was pretty bad:

 

 

KYLE CLARK: Ms. Anderson, you in fact have campaign alongside election deniers, including the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Danny Moore. But you recently criticized a scheduled event featuring Moore and fellow election denier, FEC United’s Joe Oltmann. You called him ‘reprehensible.’ Can you explain to us why you are comfortable keeping company with SOME election deniers but not other election deniers? [Pols emphasis]

PAM ANDERSON: So, I am a registered Republican and a center point of my campaign is to go to voters where invited to push back on false, misleading information and conspiracy. It’s been a real honor to go and go talk about my campaign for 10 minutes and then answer questions for an hour and 45 minutes. Now, I haven’t seen my opponent doing that. Thirty-second spots saying, ‘Trust me, I’m your government’ isn’t going to get us through this.

I have pushed back against President Trump, former President Trump, candidate President Trump, and anyone who seeks to mislead it [sic]. My opponent won’t even stand up to her party when they spent millions of dollars propping up the candidates, saying exactly what she says she hates. So I’ve done it when it’s difficult. I will continue to do that against either party that misleads our voters.

Anderson’s initial response here is to provide a similar answer to what Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl has said about 2020 election denialism. It’s the Why can’t we just have a conversation? argument. Or Danny Moore’s I’m just saying… explanation.

Pam Anderson (left) with Danny Moore (center) and Joe O’Dea (right)

 

To his credit, Clark was not satisfied with Anderson’s gibberish about her opposition to multiple iterations of Donald Trump, which will also come into play again in a moment.

CLARK: But I’m trying to understand the difference. Why will you literally stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate, Danny Moore, who is an election denier…but then another election denier, Joe Oltmann, you said that the two of them campaigning together is reprehensible. Where’s the line? [Pols emphasis]

ANDERSON: Actually, when Danny Moore was appointed by the Governor candidate, Heidi Ganahl, I said that I was disappointed in that appointment because of his comments. What I will continue to do is not, um, wag my finger and lecture people about their questions, but talk to them. I don’t think that we…if we vilify people with good conscience, like voters, we should push back on candidates. I’ve reached out to all of them to provide information, opportunities to visit with county clerks, to learn more about elections. And I think that’s made a difference.

I will continue to run my own race, who I am, representing all voters, regardless — in a non-partisan way — not dividing people and vilifying them.

Election denier Heidi Ganahl (left) and Pam Anderson. Also, Lang Sias.

At this point, Griswold asks if she can add a comment.

JENA GRISWOLD: I just want to explain how dangerous this is to Colorado elections and why it’s so personal to me. You know, the “Big Lie” is why Tina Peters breached her election infrastructure. The “Big Lie” is why the Chafee County Clerk works behind bulletproof glass. The “Big Lie” is why a man was just sentenced to 18 months in prison for threatening my life. This has real effects. These lies are destabilizing our democracy. And Coloradans can always expect from me never to campaign with election deniers, to stand up…if there’s a Democratic election denier, I will stand up to them. If there is a Republican, I will stand up to them.

Coloradans can also expect me to very clearly state I will never vote for someone trying to take away our right to vote. That’s another distinction between my opponent and me. She refuses to say that she will not support Donald Trump if he runs again.

CLARK: (to Anderson) Is that the case?

ANDERSON: That is absolutely false. I’ve said as a principled election official that I won’t tell you who I will vote for but I will continue to push back. I will also tell you that there is no nuance for me, ever, on this issue. [Pols emphasis]

Gah!

It’s a really bad look to spend three minutes providing nuanced answers about your opposition to election deniers and THEN proclaim “there is no nuance for me, ever, on this issue.”

What might be worse is talking at length about your opposition to Donald Trump and THEN refusing to say whether or not you would support Trump in 2024. Why would you do this?

In fact, Anderson’s answer reminds us of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012. From CNN:

Asked on his charter plane whether Donald Trump’s questioning of President Barack Obama’s birthplace gave him pause, Romney simply said he was grateful for all his supporters.

“You know, I don’t agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in,” Romney said. “But I need to get 50.1% or more and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”

Anderson doesn’t really have the political courage she claims to possess. People who oppose election deniers don’t campaign with election deniers, just like people who oppose white supremacists don’t take pictures with Klan members. It’s not more complicated than this.

Likewise, people who say they oppose conspiracy theories don’t promote conspiracy theories in order to win elections…which is exactly what Anderson did in April 2022 when she claimed that she would “crack down on ballot harvesting” despite the fact that “ballot harvesting” isn’t a real thing that actually happens.

Pam Anderson may be perplexed that others find it odd that she claims to oppose election deniers but regularly campaigns with them. Colorado voters will likely be less confused.

One Year of Running in Circles

The editorial board of The Denver Post formally backed incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis on Sunday, joining every serious newspaper in Colorado that plans to make endorsements for public office in 2022.

We’d guess that supporting Polis was not a particularly difficult decision for the Post editorial board given the persistent lunacy of Republican gubernatorial nominee Hiedi Heidi Ganahl. You could no more craft a logical endorsement of Ganahl than you could advocate for replacing your car tires with giant wheels of cheese. It is nevertheless instructive to look at what the Post had to say because of three critical paragraphs at the very end of the endorsement:

Ganahl is asking voters to look past the current Republican realities. While presenting herself as a law-and-order supporter, Ganahl has linked herself too closely to a fringe Republican movement — led by former President Donald Trump — aiming to undermine America’s democracy and turn Americans against one another with outrageous claims that a vast conspiracy of Democratic Party operatives have rigged our elections.

Ganahl did not want to talk about the issue when asked if she was concerned about Trump’s actions.

“I’m concerned about a media that is completely biased and out of control … I know who you are going to endorse, so we don’t have to complete the conversation if this is how it’s going to go,” Ganahl said. “Danny (Moore) and I have both said loud and clear that Biden is the president, the media just doesn’t want to cover it, and we are focused on beating Jared Polis.” [Pols emphasis]

If you have been following the 2022 race for Governor in Colorado, this will all sound very familiar. Ganahl is ending her gubernatorial campaign in basically the exact same place she began.

When Ganahl formally launched her bid for Governor in September 2021, she talked with a group of reporters and immediately set the precedent for a combative relationship with Colorado media outlets based on her non-answer to one simple question: Do you think there was fraud in the 2020 election?

This was, and remains, an important topic for any 2022 candidate — particularly a candidate for statewide office. It is no small thing to acknowledge that you believe in the system of democracy in which you are seeking to take part. Ganahl whiffed on the question when asked by multiple reporters (including The Denver Post). She followed that up with a disastrous interview with Marshall Zelinger of 9News in which she tried (and failed) to change the subject.

Weirdly exasperated by the same question she had already failed to answer, Ganahl responded: “Why all the divisive questions?”

When Zelinger did not just allow Ganahl to change the subject, she followed up with this:

“Oh my goodness, Marshall. Let’s talk about what’s important to the people of Colorado. And that’s kids, it’s skyrocketing crime. I just said that kids are killing themselves at record rates and we want to talk about other things that aren’t that important to many people.”

Sitting down with the editorial board of The Denver Post one year later, Ganahl seems to be utterly incapable of understanding that the reason people keep asking her this question IS BECAUSE SHE NEVER PROVIDES AN ANSWER.

This is not rocket surgery. If you don’t answer a question, you can bet that journalists will keep asking — particularly when you simultaneously select a noted election denier as your running mate.

Ganahl and her Lieutenant Governor choice, Danny Moore, now say that “Joe Biden is the President,” which is not an answer to a question about election fraud. Ganahl won’t elaborate on this no matter how many times she is asked. The only logical conclusion to make amid this defiance is that Ganahl truly believes in Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

This is strange, because surely Ganahl had to understand that being a full-fledged election denier would make her unelectable in Colorado. The alternative is even weirder: If Ganahl actually does NOT believe in the “Big Lie,” then she flushed her credibility down the toilet for no reason at all.

Whatever the answer, the end result is the same. This entire campaign was a complete waste of time for Ganahl and every one of her supporters. When you’re running in circles, you always end up right back where you started.

Triangulate This: Joe O’Dea Finally Earns Trump’s Wrath

TUESDAY UPDATE: As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

What Trump is doing here is actively sabotaging O’Dea’s chances.

In order to have a chance at pulling off an upset against Bennet, O’Dea needs the Trumpist Republican base fully behind him and the support of independents and moderates across Colorado. He can’t win without both parts of that equation – and Trump just made it much harder for O’Dea to keep the GOP base strongly aligned behind him.

The back and forth is just the latest example that Trump cares about himself first, second and third – and does not put what’s best for the Republican Party anywhere in that mix.

—–
UPDATE: Count loud and proud “ultra MAGA” Rep. Dave Williams out:

—–

Joe O'Dea

GOP Senate candidate Joe O’Dea.

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union yesterday morning, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea was asked about his evolving position on former President Donald Trump, progressing from promising to support Trump in 2024 if Trump wins the GOP nomination to walking this back after winning the Republican primary–though very careful to avoid promising not to vote for Trump if he wins the GOP nomination. As reported by Business Insider:

O’Dea, who is running as a center-right candidate, called Jan. 6 “a black eye on the country,” adding that he has been “very vocal” in saying he thinks Trump “should have done more to keep the violence from heading towards the Capitol.”

“I don’t think Donald Trump should run again,” O’Dea said.

He continued: “I’m going to actively campaign against Donald Trump and make sure that we’ve got four or five really great Republicans right now.”

First of all, as readers know, O’Dea had a very different view of January 6th during the  primary:

“I had friends that were out at January 6, they went nowhere near the building,” O’Dea said. “That’s a rally in my opinion.”

But we’ll set that aside for a moment. Joe O’Dea is certainly not unique in “evolving” away from deeply unpopular ex-President Trump after winning his Republican nomination in order to appeal to the general election audience. But voicing this opinion on the national Sunday morning news appears to have finally put O’Dea on Trump’s radar. This morning, Trump personally responded to O’Dea’s disloyalty with a trademark nastygram sure to cost O’Dea support among the Republican base:

Trump’s broadside against O’Dea this morning is prompting some hot takes suggesting this attack from Trump might be helpful to O’Dea. There may be some number of swing voters in Colorado not yet aware that O’Dea is running a triangulation game in this blue-state underdog race, but at this point there probably aren’t that many. On the other hand, there is a very large segment of Republican MAGA base voters who have resolved to hold their proverbial noses and vote for O’Dea despite his feints to the left, and they all just got told in the clearest terms Trump can manage not to vote for Joe O’Dea.

It’s a dicey game that O’Dea has been playing from the beginning, and the calculation has always been that triangulating off the former President’s unpopularity was worth more in attracting swing voters than it cost O’Dea with the loyalist Republican base. The great risk in running this kind of counter-brand campaign is that one can end up with no base of support at all, or a base so tepid after being maligned that they’re demoralized and unmotivated.

The one thing we can say for sure is that if Joe O’Dea loses as every poll predicts, Trump will want the credit.

Wait, What? (Erik Aadland Edition)

Yeah, not so much

We were taking our time, catching up on our political news today, when a sentence just reached out and socked us in the face like one of Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s out-of-left-field batshit insane theories on education reform.

Sandra Fish did a comparison of the candidates in CO-07 for The Colorado Sun that was mostly a “she says this, he says that” kind of piece. Democrat Brittany Pettersen and Republican Erik Aadland explained their positions on a number of issues (admittedly, “explained” is a very generous term when it comes to Aadland’s policy proposals). Aadland also generally took the opportunity to flat-out lie on multiple occasions.

This isn’t the thing that smacked us in the face, but for example:

The Sun asked Pettersen and Aadland, who have each talked about their mothers’ battles with opioid addiction, how Congress could address drug addiction and recovery.

Aadland falsely claimed that Pettersen “started a clean injection site.”…

…Aadland didn’t offer a federal solution to the issue.

Kudos to Fish for pointing out here that Aadland’s words were not at all true. Unfortunately, Fish didn’t always take the time to, um, “correct” Aadland’s misperceptions.

The big smackaroo came at the end of the Sun article, in response to the following question: “Did Joe Biden legitimately win the 2020 presidential election?”

Because she is not a lunatic, Pettersen answered that yes, she believes Biden legitimately won the 2020 election. And then it was Double-A’s turn to respond:

Aadland acknowledged that Biden “is the legitimate president. I have said that many times.”

The Sun asked about reports that he said the election was illegitimate. In June, he told a Republican group the election was “undermined by fraud, how they were corrupted, and now how we have an illegitimate government in power.” The Washington Post included him on a list of election deniers.

“I said it was rigged,” he told The Sun. “That’s different.”

First of all, this is complete horseshit from Aadland. Dating back to June 2021, when the political world was first learning of his existence, Aadland has publicly questioned the integrity of the 2020 Presidential election at least seven different times. As recently as June 21, 2022, Aadland told members of the Mountain Republicans Club that he was concerned by how the 2020 elections were “undermined by fraud, how they were corrupted, and how we have an illegitimate government in power.”

The Sun made the following correction later in the day:

Via The Colorado Sun

Okay, now that we have that first part out of the way, let’s examine the rhetorical punch to the face we mentioned at the top:

 

“I said it was rigged. That’s different.”

 

Whaaaaaaaaa?????

If you believe that the 2020 Presidential election was rigged…but you ALSO claim that President Biden is “the legitimate president,” then there may be several words at play here that have simply eluded your comprehension.

If you are sure that you understand the meaning of all the words and you STILL think the election was rigged AND you think the winner of that election is “the legitimate president”…then we are sad to inform you that you are most likely an absolute fucking moron.

Seriously. We have had it with these election denier candidates who make it to the General Election and try pretending that they didn’t really question the integrity of the Presidential election. If you truly believe that the 2020 Presidential election was rigged, then own it. If nothing else, owning it is a gazillion times better than making it appear as though you are too stupid to understand simple questions that require basic logical reasoning.

 

“I said it was rigged. That’s different.”

 

Aadland knows that it is bad for his election hopes if people know he is a full-on “Big Lie” believer. Why do we know he knows this? BECAUSE HE SAID IT HIMSELF. Out loud. In public. In front of a camera.

So what does Aadland do when confronted with this question by the Sun? He reaffirms, for all intents and purposes, that he is both an election denier AND a complete goddamned idiot. Frankly, the two are probably one in the same anyway, but you get what we’re throwing down here.

In an election cycle that has been unusually dumb, Erik Aadland persevered and somehow found a way to make #copolitics even dumber.

Jan. 6 Committee Drops Bombshells, Votes to Subpoena Trump

UPDATE #2: In a unanimous vote, the committee voted to subpoena Trump himself. From The New York Times:

“He is required to answer for his actions,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, at the end of what was possibly the panel’s final public session. “He is required to answer to those police officers who put their lives and bodies on the line to defend our democracy.”

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UPDATE:

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The final pre-election hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection is taking place as we type this sentence, and it looks like they may be close to reeling in the biggest fish of them all.

As The Washington Post reports:

The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is planning to vote during Thursday’s hearing to subpoena former president Donald Trump, according to three individuals with knowledge of the vote.

The individuals did not say whether they are seeking the former president’s direct testimony or more documents beyond those the committee has already received.

The chances of Donald Trump actually heeding a subpoena are probably not good, but this is still a major step in the investigation of Trump’s coup attempt.

Today’s hearing is also revealing some startling new information about Trump’s direct involvement in the insurrection. The Jan. 6 committee said today that Trump directly participated in an effort to use fake electors to overturn the election. Again, from the Post:

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel told the committee that Trump’s attorney, John Eastman, called her asking her to arrange for the fake electors to meet and rehearse the process of casting their fake votes.

“I don’t remember the exact date it was,” she said. “It was from the White House switchboard, and it was President Trump, who in turn contacted and he introduced me to a gentleman named John Eastman.” 

“And then essentially, he turned the call over to Mr. Eastman, who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors,” McDaniel added. [Pols emphasis]

The House committee also presented evidence that the Secret Service KNEW that armed Trump supporters were going to show up to the U.S. Capitol.

We’ll update this post with more information as it becomes available.

Dark Brandon Arrives in Colorado

UPDATE #2: Live from Vail:

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UPDATE: Via Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Colorado fashion shot if there ever was one:

Rep. Joe Neguse is the most Colorado dressed of the bunch, with Hickenlooper in second and Sen. Michael Bennet coming in a bookish but respectable third. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack gets it totally wrong without a trace of denim or corduroy, and Gov. Jared Polis has, no surprise here, the flashiest shoes.

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President Joe Biden is in the house!

As Denver7 reports, Biden will speak in Colorado about designating the Camp Hale/ Continental Divide National Monument — his first such national monument designation as President:

Biden signed a proclamation Wednesday designating Camp Hale and the area of the Continental Divide that surrounds it as a national monument, and his administration moved to protect 225,000 acres of the Thompson Divide from mining and oil and gas production…

…Wednesday’s proclamation has been expected since last week, when sources first confirmed Biden would be making Camp Hale – where soldiers trained to fight in the Alps during WWII – a national monument.

The moves announced Wednesday include designating 53,804 acres including Camp Hale and the surrounding Tenmile Range as a national monument that will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service, which will develop a plan to protect and manage the land and the historical significance of the area, the White House said.

Click here to watch live coverage of Biden’s remarks.

Kellner Throws RAGA, and His Election Hopes, Under the Bus

Republican John Kellner

As we approach the final days of the 2022 election cycle, a similar theme is playing out across many of Colorado’s top contests. Democratic candidates who have significantly outraised their Republican opponents are now up on television with a bevy of advertisements; underfunded GOP challengers, meanwhile, continue to twiddle their thumbs hoping that some sort of national money will be spent in Colorado on their behalf. 

In the race for Attorney General, incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser started running this ad last week and will likely maintain a presence on television through Election Day. 

As of the last fundraising period ending Sept. 14, Weiser had raised $4,160,692 and reported $1,130,285 in the bank. Republican John Kellner, meanwhile, has raised a total of $242,116 and reported a cash-on-hand amount of just $97,867. This is enough money to produce a TV spot but not enough to make an ad buy that will come anywhere close to reaching enough voters to give him a chance against Weiser.

As we’ve written before in this space, Kellner’s only real chance at making a dent in Weiser’s support would likely have to come via funds from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), the group that spent more than $5 million in 2018 trying to boost the chances of GOP candidate George Brauchler (whom Weiser defeated 52-45). While RAGA does have a committee open in Colorado that could receive and spend money in the race for AG, as of this writing there is no indication that any significant expenditure is forthcoming.

Yet even if RAGA were to make a last-ditch effort in Colorado, it would put Kellner in a very difficult position given an answer he gave at a candidate forum last week. 

RAGA has been floundering trying to fix its reputation after it was widely reported in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection that the group had spent big money trying to help the very folks who were intent on overturning the results of the 2020 Presidential election. As a result of its zeal in pushing election fraud conspiracy theories and funding robocalls to urge “patriots” to attend the Jan. 6 insurrection, donations to RAGA fell off appreciably in the months that followed. 

During a candidate forum sponsored by the Lowry United Neighborhoods on Sept. 20, both candidates for Attorney General were asked a very specific question about taking help from election deniers. Here’s that video and the transcription:

 

QUESTION: Would both of you pledge to commit to accepting no campaign funds and holding no fundraisers with anybody that gave to the Jan. 6 insurrection and worked with election deniers?

 

KELLNER: That’s a great question, and it’s absolutely appropriate to ask. I think anybody who violated the law that day on Jan. 6 should be held accountable, [and] should probably go look at jail or prison [time]. I don’t support the folks that denied the outcome of the election in any way, shape, or form. [Pols emphasis] 

What I’m gravely concerned about, honestly, is the amount of money – upwards of $10 million dollars – spent by the Democrat Party to try and uplift people that they also simultaneously said are a true threat to our democracy. I think that amount of hypocrisy is probably something that we’ve never, ever seen before. I think it is fundamentally wrong.

So, to answer your question, no, I don’t support that. I support the peaceful transition of power as a Marine, as an officer. I was commissioned under George W. Bush. I went to war under President Obama. I served under President Trump in the reserves. I continue to serve under President Biden in the reserves and I’m proud to do it.

Kellner’s statement — “I don’t support the folks that denied the outcome of the election in any way, shape, or form” – would absolutely apply to RAGA, and it would put him in a very weird position if RAGA decided to start spending money in order to assist his campaign for Attorney General. Perhaps Kellner went ahead and gave the answer he did because he already knows that RAGA isn’t coming to his rescue, but this is still a problem for him. 

Kellner’s statement last week also means he has some explaining to do regarding his attendance at the RAGA “Summer National Meeting” in Colorado Springs in August; on the final day of that retreat, Kellner held a RAGA-sponsored fundraiser for his campaign. This is a question he’s going to have to answer at some point in the next few weeks. 

Kellner needed RAGA’s money to give him a chance in November, but after last week, any help from the national group would come with new problems for the District Attorney from the 18th Judicial District. And if RAGA needed an excuse to stay out if this race, they got it from the candidate himself.

“Dark Brandon” Makes The Trains Run On Time

Engineer Dark Brandon.

CNN reports on another big win for President Joe Biden with crucial midterm elections right around the corner–an announced tentative deal averting what would have been an economically catastrophic nationwide railroad worker strike:

President Joe Biden proclaimed a huge win for rail workers and organized labor Thursday after his administration brokered a tentative deal with freight bosses on long-sought improvements in working conditions and averted a potentially disastrous strike…

[Biden’s] intervention — including calls with union leaders and bosses in the critical run-up to the deal on Wednesday night — helped lift the threat of a dispute that could have had serious consequences for the economy and still-roaring inflation after talks, led by his Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, lasted all through Wednesday and into the middle of the night on Thursday.

The agreement in principle was a validation of Biden’s support for unions, a politically significant factor given the movement’s role supporting Democrats in November’s midterm elections. But it also averted a prolonged shutdown of freight rail that could have hammered the economy and hurt the President and his party politically and exposed him to Republican criticism.

A railroad strike would have tremendously compounded supply chain issues that have plagued the economy since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and shut down both long-distance Amtrak rail lines running through Colorado. Union rail workers won a big raise retroactive to 2020 and other important concessions that reflect the industry’s massive profits reaped during the last few years.

Stacking this latest win on a growing pile of tangible victories for Democrats to campaign on in the rapidly approaching midterm elections, a dramatic improvement in public approval for President Biden supplies fresh hope that the traditional curse of being the party in power during a midterm election could break (or at least retreat) in 2022:

Support for Biden recovered from a low of 36% in July to 45%, driven in large part by a rebound in support from Democrats just two months before the November midterm elections. During a few bleak summer months when gasoline prices peaked and lawmakers appeared deadlocked, the Democrats faced the possibility of blowout losses against Republicans.

Their outlook appears better after notching a string of legislative successes that left more Americans ready to judge the Democratic president on his preferred terms: “Don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative.”

Like Vince Lombardi famously said, “winning is habit.” The change in fortunes for Democrats, and not a moment too soon, is undeniable.