Chaffee County Republicans Spread Fake News About “Secret” Motive of “Kavanaugh Accuser”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Republican Party in Chaffee County, Colorado, spread a fake news report this week alleging that “secret revenge” is the real motivation of the woman saying she was sexually assaulted by Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The allegation, determined to be “false” by the fact-checking site Snopes, was that Brett Kavanaugh’s mother, who was a judge, ruled against the parents of Christine Blasey Ford, who says she was assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh.

Snopes reports:

Martha Kavanaugh did preside for certain parts of a 1996 foreclosure case involving Ralph and Paula Blasey, who are indeed Christine Blasey Ford’s parents. However, Kavanaugh actually ruled favorably toward the Blaseys, who ended up keeping their home. These two facts cause the logic of the conspiracy theory, such as it ever was, to collapse.

The Chaffee County Republicans, who did not immediately return a call for comment, shared the fake news in a Facebook post from Conservativedailypost.com titled, “Breaking: Kavanaugh Accuser Wants Secret Revenge.”

Pat Schroeder Strikes Back Decades After “Tailhook”

Rep. Lang Sias (R-Arvada)

An op-ed in the Denver Post today from former longtime CD-1 Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder is slow-motion rocking the Colorado governor’s race as it spreads, after Schroeder presents her firsthand experience with the infamous 1991 “Tailhook” sexual misconduct scandal involving 100 Navy pilots–including now-Lt. Gov. nominee Lang Sias:

Tailhook was an annual naval convention in Las Vegas, where more than 80 women alleged they were assaulted or harassed by officers in 1991. The behavior that took place there included, yes, acts of sexual violence much like those of Harvey Weinstein and other men whose careers were ended by the #MeToo movement. But nearly as significant — both in Tailhook and in the horrific stories that have come to light over the last year — is the culture, the group of enablers who know about the abuse but do nothing.

At the time of Tailhook, I was serving on the House Committee on Armed Services — and our efforts to investigate the matter were continually hampered by the refusal of naval aviators to testify against their fellow officers. Somehow, out of hundreds of officers who were present while women were forcefully groped on the way to their hotel rooms and while strippers were pressured into sex with party attendees, few could remember witnessing anything at all inappropriate. We called it the “Stone Wall of Silence.”

We now know that Sias attended Tailhook in 1991 when he was a lieutenant in the Navy. Even before the 1991 event became a national scandal, many naval officers were already avoiding Tailhook, because they knew the convention to be a grotesque cesspool whose central appeal was the opportunity to spend a weekend drunkenly pursuing women.

Coloradans will have to ask themselves if they share the values of a man who used taxpayer dollars to attend a drunken melee that was historically marred by repeated acts of sexual violence. [Pols emphasis]

Former Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D).

Serving on the House Armed Services Committee in the aftermath of the Tailhook scandal gave former Rep. Schroeder a unique view inside the closely-knit society of naval aviators accused of misconduct. The omerta-like code of silence she describes severely hampered the investigation, though as we discussed previously not enough to save the career of Sias’ commanding officer. But many more Tailhook aviators who committed serious misconduct escaped to go on to well-decorated careers.

In addition to this damning recollection of events Lang Sias would rather be forgotten from Rep. Schroeder, national women’s rights group Ultraviolet is calling for Sias to withdraw from the race following the original report in the Colorado Sun last week:

Shaunna Thomas, Executive Director and Co-founder of UltraViolet, a leading national women’s group, issued the following statement, calling on Sias to immediately withdraw from the Colorado Lieutenant Governor Race:

“Not only did Lang Sias participate in the largest sexual harassment and assault scandal in U.S. military history, he lied about his involvement for decades. The military sexual assault epidemic persists precisely because of toxic boys’ club codes of silence and obstruction by men like Sias—who lied about what he saw to shield his boss, a commander. The fact that Sias then cites that very same commander as proof that he did nothing wrong at Tailhook tells Coloradans the type of crony mentality Sias will bring to the Lieutenant Governorship.

“Make no mistake: Lang Sias is complicit in what happened at Tailhook, and he had ample opportunity over the last 27 years to come clean about the heinous sexual abuse he witnessed. Instead, he chose to remain silent. People who participate in mass assaults of women deserve to be behind bars—not rewarded with political office. Lang Sias must withdraw from the race immediately.”

What happens next here is not certain, but the reality is that witnesses who know the full story of what took place inside the Las Vegas Hilton in September of 1991 are still out there. There is more to be disclosed than has been to this point, and Sias’ evasive answers to questions in the present day are not satisfactory. There’s every reason to believe the details of this will continue to be explored in the coming weeks, with a Tailhook participant seeking high elected office. What jogged memory would mark the disqualifying line?

If Rep. Sias suddenly decides to “spend more time with his family,” we’ll know it’s been crossed.

The Crowmentum is Real in CO-6

Rep. Mike Coffman (left) and challenger Jason Crow

Okay, we did it.

We adjusted “The Big Line” to move Democrat Jason Crow ahead of Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in CO-6.

We’ve resisted making this move for a long time because we’ve been burned before by Coffman. At various points over the last decade we’ve thought that Coffman was in real trouble of losing re-election, only to see him miraculously emerge victorious in November. We weren’t looking to make that mistake again, and we’ve said as much in this space on multiple occasions since the 2016 election.

So what changed? Quite simply, it is impossible to ignore the many signs that Crow has gained the upper hand in this race. Crow isn’t just inching ahead of Coffman — he’s blasting forward in a district that Hillary Clinton carried by 9 points in 2016. Crow is the Road Runner to Coffman’s Wile E. Coyote, and the finish line is in sight.

We noted earlier this week that Crow was polling with an 11-point lead over Coffman in a survey conducted for the New York Times, the second public poll of 2018 to show Crow with a significant lead. Coffman has never trailed his Democratic opponent in any public poll since first winning election in CO-6 in 2008, and now it’s happened twice in the last six months. The prognosticators at 538.com now consider CO-6 to be a “Likely Dem” seat. Not just “Leaning Democrat,” but “Likely Dem!” To anyone who has paid any attention to Colorado politics in the last decade, this prediction is astounding.

From 538.com

 

Crow isn’t just winning in public polling (and in completely unscientific Colorado Pols surveys) — he’s been beating Coffman in fundraising, too. Things look so good for Crow, in fact, that Republican leaders are reportedly looking at CO-6 as a lost cause. From Talking Points Memo:

There are almost a dozen open GOP-held House seats that Republicans are essentially admitting with their spending decisions they can’t win, getting Democrats roughly half way to the 23 seats they need to retake House control.

And some recent House polling backs up the theory that suburban Republicans are in for an absolute bloodbath on election day.

Reps. Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Erik Paulsen (R-MN) have trailed badly in recent public polls, numbers that track internal surveys. GOP strategists privately concede that they’re unlikely to be able to bounce back in their Democratic-leaning districts, [Pls emphasis] joining Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) and Rod Blum (R-IA) as incumbent Republicans that face daunting odds at returning to Congress. And they say the fact that the two battle-tested veterans appear cooked is a very bad sign for the map as a whole.

“When you have the guys who are doing everything right in trouble, that’s a really bad sign,” said one House Republican strategist.

We wouldn’t say that Coffman is “doing everything right,” but it’s true that the incumbent Republican hasn’t made many high-profile mistakes. The difference in 2018 is twofold:

  1. Voters are really unhappy with President Trump and aren’t looking favorably on Republicans like Coffman who have supported the Big Orange Guy;
  2. Crow’s background is different than other candidates that have challenged Coffman in the past.

Democrat Jason Crow and family

Coffman supporters don’t know how to respond to this changing political landscape and have struggled to inflict damage on Crow. It’s easy to point to Crow’s military background as being the key counterbalance to Coffman’s “I’m a Marine!” persona, but there’s a more important image at play here: Crow’s family. The newly-divorced Coffman has never run against a Democrat with a young, photogenic family; this unspoken distinction is an advantage that Coffman simply cannot match.

The fight for CO-6 has been one of the top Congressional battles in the country for several election cycles; this year more than $1 million is being spent on television ads every week. There is still time for Coffman to catch up to Crow before mail ballots start to arrive in a few weeks, but the clock is ticking ever louder.

The Crowmentum is growing.

Coffman’s Objections To His 96% Pro-Trump Voting Score Don’t Add Up

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) is hopping mad about a political advertisement, produced by House Democrats, claiming that Coffman has voted with Trump 96 percent of the time.

The 96-percent figure was calculated by nonpartisan statistician and journalist Nate Silver, on his FiveThirtyEight website. Silver tallied congressional votes on all legislation on which the “Trump Administration has taken a public position.”

The 96-percent-pro-Trump score is the “bogus” work of an “East Coast blogger,” said Coffman in a news release, citing 15 votes that shouldn’t be counted as pro-Trump votes because they were passed with bipartisan support, even though Coffman voted as Trump wanted him to.

But even if you toss out all 15 votes, which indeed had the support of anti-Trump Democrats, you still find that Coffman voted with Trump 95 percent of the time.

Here’s the math.

Silver identified a total of 90 votes that Trump either supported or opposed. That’s all the votes Trump took a stance on. Coffman went against Trump’s wishes on only four votes of the 90 taken.

In his news release, Coffman lists 15 of his 90 votes that shouldn’t be counted as pro-Trump votes, because they were heavily bipartisan. (See the list of these votes cited by Coffman below.)

If you throw those 15 votes out, Coffman would have voted against trump on only four of 75 votes.

That’s 95 percent of the time.

The Democrats’ advertisement quotes Coffman as saying:

“If Donald Trump is the president, I’ll stand up to him, plain and simple. Instead, Coffman voted with Trrump, more than any other Colorado member of Congress, 96 percent…Mike Coffman didn’t stand up to Trump, plain and simple.”

If Coffman wants to show that he stood up to Trump more often, he needs to find more instances when he voted against the president. Anti-Trump members of Congress, who voted with Trump on bipartisan measures, had low pro-Trump voting scores, because they voted against Trump so often.

Via email, I asked Coffman’s spokesperson, Tyler Sandberg, if he could cite more than four anti-Trump votes by Coffman, and he didn’t respond or offer any comment, as requested.

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 19)

Have an easy fast, friends. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senate Republicans are playing hardball in their efforts to quickly confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. As the Washington Post reports:

Senate Republicans say they plan to forge ahead with a hearing next Monday whether Christine Blasey Ford is there or not, a take-it-or-leave-it gambit to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court before the end of the month that risks backfiring politically.

Lawyers for Ford, the California professor who accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, said Tuesday night that their client wants an FBI investigation before she testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The committee’s GOP chairman, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), scheduled Ford’s testimony before confirming that this day worked for her. He did, however, make sure it worked for President Trump’s nominee, who categorically denies any wrongdoing and has been holed up at the White House preparing for his second round in front of the Senate.

“The invitation for Monday still stands,” Grassley said in a statement. “Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events. Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”

This is a politically-dangerous approach for Senate Republicans to take with just weeks to go until the midterm elections. Republicans had been pushing for a Kavanaugh vote on Thursday before deciding to push the decision until next week. Grassley’s “Monday or never” approach with Kavanaugh’s accuser is a curious roll of the dice, as Chris Cillizza writes for CNN:

Lost amid the “will she or won’t she” questions is the fact that what Grassley — almost certainly in coordination with the White House — is doing represents an absolutely massive political gamble: Amid the cultural upheaval of the #MeToo moment and with an election looming in less than seven weeks’ time, Republicans are daring a woman alleging sexual assault against a nominee for the country’s highest court to either put up or shut up.

President Trump, meanwhile, says that “it is hard for me to imagine” that sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh are true. We would assume that Trump does not mean that literally. It’s also worth noting that even Trump isn’t responding to these allegations as poorly as Colorado Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert.

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) was never behind in any public poll while defending his seat…until 2018. Now it’s starting to look more and more like Coffman may not make it to another term. Prognosticators at 538.com have moved CO-6 to a “Likely Democratic” classification.

From 538.com

 

► Republican Attorney General candidate George Brauchler wants voters to believe that he should be elected in November because he is the more experienced prosecutor compared to Democrat Phil Weiser. Brauchler doesn’t normally mention the fact that he has an absolutely BRUTAL record as the District Attorney in the 18th Judicial District. Brauchler suffered two more high-profile losses this week alone.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Sen. Holbert Yucks It Up Over Kavanaugh Rape Allegation

UPDATE: The Colorado Senate GOP is responding to Bente Birkeland’s story, and it’s a disaster:

Colorado Senate Republicans today raised objections to a Colorado Public Radio report, appearing Tuesday, that falsely suggested Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert and other lawmakers made jokes on social media about allegations of sexual misconduct that have emerged in the Brett Kavanaugh case.

The Facebook posts in question did not come in response to a news story or any substantive comments on the case. They came in response to a Babylon Bee parody, widely shared on social media, that took a playful swipe at California Senator Feinstein but DID NOT mention anything about sex or sexual misconduct.

“I read the Babylon Bee parody Saturday morning,” said Holbert. “It was satire, similar to The Onion, about seven-year-old Kavanaugh’s foot touching the floor while playing a kid’s game called ‘The Floor is Lava.’ I knew nothing about Dr. Ford or what she was alleging until Sunday. To claim that I was making light of those allegations before I knew about them is false.”

This explanation, of course, is nonsense. The existence of serious sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh was originally made public one week ago, on Wednesday September 12th. Those reports were the basis for the Babylon Bee satire post that House Minority Leader Patrick Neville posted on Saturday and Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert responded to. The name of Kavanaugh’s accuser may not have been made public, but enough was known about the allegations for any reasonable person to realize that joking about this is in extremely poor taste.

Understanding this in the context of the Colorado Senate’s failure to police its own sexual misconduct problem, and this silly denial is something akin to the worst possible response. It would have been far better to say nothing at all, but either arrogance or a guilty conscience forced Holbert to keep talking.

Enjoy the follow-up stories.

—–

Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert (R).

As our readers know, the past year has witnessed a major controversy in the Colorado General Assembly as staffers, lobbyists, and even lawmakers have come forward with allegations of widespread and pervasive sexual harassment by lawmakers in both parties. In the Colorado House, Rep. Steve Lebsock became the first sitting legislator in over a century to be expelled by a majority vote of the chamber.

In the Republican-controlled Colorado Senate, there was a very different result. Credible and thoroughly investigated allegations of harassment against Republican Senators were systematically downplayed the GOP leadership of the chamber. The lawmaker subject to the worst of the allegations, Sen. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs, received preferential treatment from leadership up to and allegedly including the suppression of investigative information that could have changed votes at the failed hearing to expel him.

The member of GOP leadership principally responsible for the “cover-up” of the results of further investigation of Baumgardner was Majority Leader Chris Holbert, who has aspirations to be the next Senate President if the GOP holds their one-seat majority. At the very end of the session Baumgardner was further stripped of his remaining committee assignments, but the question of his continued service was left to 2019’s Senate.

Fast-forward this to yesterday’s related story from Bente Birkeland, the journalist who first exposed the widespread allegations of sexual harassment at the Capitol–in which the same Sen. Chris Holbert lets slip his inner ugly on the matter of sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh:

Two top Republican leaders in the statehouse made jokes on social media about the circumstances surrounding the sexual assault allegation facing Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

In a Facebook post dated Saturday, Sept. 15, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville shared a link to a story from the Babylon Bee, a Christian news satire website, with the headline “Exclusive Report: Kavanaugh May Have Cheated While Playing ‘The Floor Is Lava’ As A Child.“

…Republican Rep. Kevin Van Winkle liked Neville’s post, so did Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, who responded:

“An anonymous source who may or may not have ever been associated with the Little League has allegedly stated that, at the age of nine, Kavanaugh’s right foot did not touch the base when rounding second.”

This post was made last weekend, before Republicans in Washington had fully recognized the serious of the sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh. Now that these allegations have delayed the vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, throwing his nomination into chaos, Republicans cracking bad jokes about the situation could not look much worse.

But for Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly, yes–it’s worse. Minority Leader Patrick Neville voted against the expulsion of Steve Lebsock. Sen. Holbert’s conduct in defense of Baumgardner was deeply questionable, but the situation hasn’t been resolved as all parties await the results of the upcoming election to determine who will be in control of the Senate in 2019.

What this incident, which we understand has been deleted, confirms to us is the lack of good faith we’ve already seen from Holbert on the issue of sexual misconduct against women in the Colorado Sebate. And it’s a very good indicator of what to expect if he becomes Senate President.

That is something every woman who intends to vote this year in Colorado should know.

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Kavanaugh Vote, Scheduled for Thursday, Is Officially Cancelled

Via CNN

As CNN reports, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has officially cancelled a planned hearing on Thursday that was expected to result in a vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

So what happens now? Amber Phillips of the Washington Post outlined three possible outcomes this morning, but the first one — the Senate proceeds as normal — appears to be off the table at this point.

Senate Republicans are in a tough spot trying to figure out how to proceed with Kavanaugh’s nomination process given the horrible optics that await if California Professor Christine Blasey Ford testifies about sexual assault allegations in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee that looks like this:

Image via CNN

One woman being judged on sexual assault allegations by 11 Republican men is not what you would call a good visual just weeks before the midterm election.

George Brauchler Whiffs Two More Cases

George Brauchler.

Republican Attorney General George Brauchler has always talked a big game when it comes to his skills as a prosecutor, but as we’ve recounted in this space a number of times in recent years, the talk hasn’t always been matched by a record of courtroom victories–particularly in recent high profile cases involving fellow Republicans and law enforcement.

Westword’s Michael Roberts documents two more losses for Brauchler this week alone:

District attorneys from different jurisdictions don’t usually take each other on in court. But that’s what happened in regard to Denver DA Beth McCann and 18th Judicial District DA George Brauchler, whose face-off involved a disagreement over life-without-the-possibility-of-parole sentencing of juvenile offenders.

The Colorado Supreme Court has now sided with McCann. The Supremes found that McCann’s expansive strategy toward LWOP resentencing, which Mitch Morrissey, her predecessor as Denver DA, called “illegal” in this space, doesn’t actually run afoul of the law.

The matter gets into the legal weeds pretty quickly, but the short version is that Denver DA Beth McCann’s interpretation of the law prevailed–and more juvenile offenders may potentially be considered for a shorter sentence after the legislature eliminated life without parole for juvenile offenders. The second case this week, also via Westword’s Michael Roberts, concerns a mistrial in the death of State Trooper Cody Donahue:

Last week, a mistrial was declared in the case of Noe Gamez-Ruiz, a commercial truck driver charged with criminally negligent homicide for a November 2016 accident that killed Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cody Donahue.

Now, political insiders are speculating that the way the proceedings were short-circuited — the judge took action after defense complaints that prosecutors withheld relevant evidence [Pols emphasis] — could impact one of the biggest races on the November 2018 ballot. Why? Because the high-profile embarrassment took place on the watch of 18th Judicial District DA George Brauchler, the Republican nominee for Colorado Attorney General, and a new hearing in the matter is scheduled to take place shortly before election day.

Especially since Brauchler has turned his focus to running for higher office in recent years, his career has been marked by complex failures like the ones above. In all of these cases, Brauchler is ready to long-windedly defend himself and pay lip service to whatever victim is getting short shrift. But the failures aggregate: add these to Brauchler’s controversial plea deal sparing prison time for a cop who created and solicited child porn, the failure to win a meaningful conviction (twice) against former El Paso County Sheriff “Shirtless” Terry Maketa, and the loss of the death penalty phase of the Aurora theater shooting trial–resulting in months of needless suffering by survivors and families.

The point is that George Brauchler is wrong a lot, and loses. A lot. And that’s a poor case for promotion.

FACT CHECK: Coffman Says He Differs With Trump On Healthcare But He Actually Favors “Straight Repeal” of Obamacare

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora told a reporter Monday that Coffman broke away from Trump on healthcare.

That should sound familiar, if you’ve been following Coffman, because he’s been saying it early and often since last year.

In fact, it’s only partially true. Coffman supports what’s essentially a Trump proposal to repeal Obamacare now–but implement the repeal at an unspecified later date.  In other words, Congress would pass legislation now with a deadline/date for repealing the law sometime in the future.

After the U.S. Senate’s dramatic failure to kill Obamacare, Coffman told a Denver TV station he’d have backed a bill to do away with the national health care law–a move that would likely have pushed millions off the health insurance rolls.

Asked by 9News’ Marshall Zelinger last year (at 1:30 here) if he’d support a “straight repeal” of Obamacare, Coffman said yes.

Zelinger: “What about a straight repeal?”

Coffman: “If you said, ‘Well, okay, we’re going to repeal,’ and the date certain for the repeal was long enough out, where it wouldn’t disrupt the markets, and it gave Congress adequate time, I think that would be appropriate.”

(more…)

Walker Stapleton on PERA Reform: Eight Years of Zilch

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton

Long periods of inactivity occasionally interrupted by pointless platitudes.

If you were going to summarize Republican Walker Stapleton’s history with his self-professed signature issue of PERA reform, this is about where you’d end up.

As Brian Eason writes for the Colorado Sun, Stapleton has spent the last eight years as State Treasurer talking about the importance of reforming PERA (the Public Employees’ Retirement Association) but rarely bothering to actually do much to support his rhetoric. This won’t likely come as much of a surprise to anyone who is even remotely familiar with Stapleton, but the details are still pretty damning:

“Everything I said about the need to fix this problem seven or eight years ago I think has been borne to be true,” he told The Colorado Sun in an interview. “I’m proud of the fact that I was right on a lot of the things that I said were wrong.”

But when it came time to actually fix it? Stapleton — by his own admission — was largely absent from the public debate. [Pols emphasis]

By his own admission…

By Stapleton’s own admission, he wasn’t even conscious when lawmakers were voting on the most significant piece of PERA legislation (SB12-200) in the last decade. This is a direct quote from Stapleton via Colorado Public Radio:

“I was not physically even at the legislature. I think I was asleep by the time they finally passed the deal.”

It’s been pretty clear for awhile now that the Republican nominee for Governor is not a good candidate, but Eason’s story reinforces a more fundamental problem voiced by Democrats and Republicans alike: Walker Stapleton just doesn’t show up, and he’s not really interested in arguing otherwise. His legacy at the State Capitol is an empty parking spot.

Stapleton’s poor attendance as State Treasurer has been well-documented. Eason’s story in the Colorado Sun is different in that it takes a more focused look at Stapleton’s “involvement” with the one cause he has championed above all others:

In the fall of 2017, he trashed the board’s plan in interviews and editorials. In December, he offered suggestions of his own. But in the spring of 2018, when lawmakers set about to craft the final product, he went uncharacteristically silent.

He wasn’t at the negotiating table when the bill was drafted. Nor did he testify publicly on the measure, as he’d done on pension-related bills in years past.

“At the time it was really hard to tell whether he was a critic of what was being proposed or whether he was supporting it,” said Terry Campbell, PERA’s lead lobbyist.

Largely absent” will be the inscription on Stapleton’s political gravestone. 

Hate Group Rally At Capitol Features Colorado Republican Speakers and Stapleton Super PAC

(Holy crap – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Winkler speaks at hate group rally
Rep. Alexander Skinny Winkler (R) (top right, speaking).

Dozens of far-right conservatives and hate group members held a rally on the west steps of the Capitol Saturday afternoon to protest what they perceive to be censorship by Facebook. One Colorado Republican state rep helped produce the event and Walker Stapleton’s Super PAC was there to recruit staff.

Proud Boy rally at Capitol, 9.15.18 The event was hosted by Major League Liberty, a far-right pro-Trump social media podcast, along with the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s organization that describes itself as representing “Western chauvinists.” The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Proud Boys as a hate group “whose leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.”

hate group Colorado Proud Boys post promoting far-right anti-censorship rally, 9.15.18Officially titled the Rally To Protest Internet Censorship, the event drew approximately 60 people as well as 40 or so counter-protesters. Nearly as many Colorado State troopers maintained a wide perimeter between those attending the event and those protesting it.

Speakers included State Rep. Alexander “Skinny” Winkler (R-Northglenn) and Republican Congressional candidate Mark Barrington, who is challenging Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter. In his speech Rep. Winkler said he supported free speech and liberty unequivocally. He mentioned that his sound company provided the audio equipment and that he was “happy to help out.”

Stapleton Super PAC recruiting staff at hate group rallyAlso in attendance was a representative of Better Colorado Now, the Super PAC supporting Republican Walker Stapleton’s campaign for governor. Wearing a Better Colorado Now polo shirt that read, “Elect Walker Stapleton,” Ben, who did not give his last name, said he was hoping to hire people to knock doors for his group. He said they “help elect Republicans.” According to the group’s registration with the Secretary of State, its purpose is to “Oppose Democrat candidates for governor and support Walker Stapleton for governor.”

Two of the attendees sported a popular Proud Boys T-shirt that reads “Pinochet did nothing wrong!” with the letters “RWDS” on the left sleeve. The acronym stands for “Right Wing Death Squad.”

The back of the shirt, kept covered by both men during the rally, depicts people being murdered by being dropped from a helicopter.

Stapleton SuperPAC staffer at rally w/ hate group close up

Stapleton Super PAC representative looks to hire canvassers at hate group rally. Man on right’s sleeve displays RWDS: “Right Wing Death Squad”

Many of attendees wore protective clothing, from tactical gloves with hard plastic knuckles to helmets and various types of arm padding. One man sported a set of hockey pads. Two others wearing street clothes said they fought with some “black bloc” types in Civic Center Park on the way to the event, with one saying he was struck in the head by a baton. He noted that the attackers were not part of the protestor group on the sidewalk.

The rally was livestreamed by Major League Liberty as well as many attendees.

Weird And Creepy In SD-15

SD-15 GOP candidate Rob Woodward.

Saja Hindi and Nick Coltrain of the Fort Collins Coloradoan report on what we sincerely hope was a random incident in which a Democratic Colorado Senate candidate’s car was apparently shot at last week–with the candidate inside:

It’s not clear if Rebecca Cranston, a Democrat running for a district that largely covers Larimer County outside Fort Collins, was targeted or if the shooting was related to other reported shootings in northwest Fort Collins.

Cranston had just pulled into her driveway Wednesday night and was on her phone when she heard something hit her truck. She first thought it might have been a rock.

“It didn’t occur to me that it would be a gunshot at first, until we saw the bullet hole,” Cranston said Monday morning.

Now, Rebecca Cranston is running to succeed Sen. Kevin Lundberg, one of the most conservative members of the Colorado Senate. In 2014, Lundberg cruised to re-election by almost 20 points, so this is not a race that Democrats are depending on to retake the chamber from Republicans in November. With that said, Cranston is doing everything she can to make the race competitive, one of two dozen Emerge Colorado-trained candidates on the ballot this year.

With regard to this shooting incident last week, as of this writing there are no suspects, and Cranston herself makes it clear that it could be a completely random act. There are been a number of unexplained random shootings in Northern Colorado in recent years, and it’s entirely possible that’s the explanation–enough that we weren’t initially sure this story rose to the level of coverage.

But then something rubbed us the wrong way:

Cranston wondered if she was targeted in Wednesday’s shooting because of her campaign, though she did not accuse her opponent of having anything to do with it.

However, she accused supporters of Republican Rob Woodward’s campaign of harassment tactics such as staking out her house and at one point almost driving her off the road while fleeing earlier in the summer. She said her mail — including campaign donation checks — was also stolen around that time…

And Republican Rob Woodward, who was accused of voter intimidation in 2012 after he basically said if Barack Obama was re-elected he would fire a majority of his employees, doesn’t completely deny her allegations:

[Woodward Campaign manager JD] Key said the Woodward campaign took a photo of Cranston’s home early on in the election only to settle a question about district residency. [Pols emphasis]

Full stop, folks. You do not need to physically travel to anyone’s home and photograph it in order to “settle a question about district residency.” You can find out if someone owns a home, and what district(s) that home resides in, from the comfort of any desk with a computer and an internet connection. However, if you’re looking to harass someone about their residency by tracking their comings and goings from home, that would be more of a stake out-type operation.

We don’t know if this “one-time photo session” of Cranston’s home occurred at the same time as she says somebody staking out her house almost forced her off the road while fleeing, but if this all happened, either at once or as multiple incidents–and we have no reason to doubt Cranston’s word–it would create a backdrop of creepy that a bullet hole in Cranston’s car cannot help but make worse. 

Obviously, we hope it’s a coincidence. But we’ll be watching closely for any more “coincidences.”

Lang Sias Dedicated To Backing Trump Now And Re-Electing Him In 2020

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Colorado Republican Party’s candidate for lieutenant governor apparently backs Trump not only now but also in the 2020 election.

State Rep. Lang Sias (R-Arvada), who’s Walker Stapleton’s running mate, became a “new member” of a Facebook group called “MAGA Trump Colorado” last week, according to a Facebook post obtained from a source.

MAGA Trump Colorado describes itself as “dedicated to supporting President Donald Trump and committed to his reelection in 2020.”

“Let’s work together to fulfill his vision of making, and keeping, America great,” states the group’s Facebook page.

Recent posts on the MAGA Trump Colorado website show bigotry to Muslims and hostility toward people of color generally.

For example, one post states, “WHY WOULD ANYONE BELIEVE THAT ISLAM CAN BE PART OF A MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY.”

Another post states, “AS A WHITE PERSON, I AM SICK AND TIRED OF BEING JUDGED BY THE COLOR OF MY SKIN BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE COMPLAINED FOR DECATES ABOUT BEING JUDGED BY THE COLOR OF THEIRS.”

Stapleton’s campaign did not return an email to confirm his MAGA Colorado membership and seeking to know if Sias 1) was aware of the bigotry on the MAGA Trump Colorado site and 2) would consider withdrawing his name from the site.

Another question for Sias that went unanswered: Is there anything Trump could do, or information that could be revealed, that would stop Sias from voting for Trump again, as Sias is apparently committed to doing?

(more…)

Tuesday Open Thread

“We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.”

–John F. Kennedy