Seriously, Is Everything About Walker Stapleton a Lie?

Walker Stapleton.

9NEWS political reporters Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman have been in rare form over the past few weeks, positively demolishing a persistent false claim from GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Walker Stapleton that he was the “only” state Treasurer to support the Trump tax cut bill. Stapleton’s obstinate refusal to make the simple edit required to correct this demonstrably false claim, arrogantly doubling down when confronted about it in a recent debate, resulted in 9NEWS affixing the rarely-used label of “liar” to Stapleton–since by that point there was no way to conclude this was anything other than knowing, deliberate deception.

Last night, 9NEWS debunked still another Stapleton campaign ad claim–and this one looks even worse:

Republican front runner Walker Stapleton is campaigning on the idea that he’s a “fourth-generation Coloradan.”

The claim is in Stapleton’s campaign videos, in the bio on his website and has been used by media outlets in their editorials.

But is it an accurate description of his lineage?

In a word, no.

Stapleton was born on the East Coast and grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, according to numerous public records 9NEWS reviewed.

The current state treasurer and gubernatorial hopeful moved to Colorado in 2003 when he was 29 years old… [Pols emphasis]

A campaign spokesman argued Stapleton, his father, grandfather and great-grandfather all called Colorado home at some point in their lives.

Obviously, for someone to claim they are a “fourth-generation Coloradan” when they were not born in Colorado, when they moved to Colorado as an adult, and their father wasn’t born in Colorado either, contradicts with the commonly-agreed definition of the term. Stapleton’s grandfather was born in the Centennial State, but that’s only because his father Ben Stapleton of Ku Klux Klan infamy (born in Kentucky) was the mayor of Denver. In short, Walker Stapleton can in no way be accurately called a “fourth-generation Coloradan”–and if he is, the term is meaningless.

It’s likely this fact-check is too late to affect the mail-in GOP primary, which Stapleton is widely expected to win. But between this and the totally self-inflicted damage Stapleton took over his silly lie about the Trump tax cuts, Stapleton has a severe credibility problem going into the general election.

At this point, it would be a mistake to accept anything Walker Stapleton says at face value.

Thursday Open Thread

“Be calm in arguing; for fierceness makes error a fault, and truth discourtesy.”

–George Herbert

BREAKING: Trump Formally Stops His Own Immigration Policy

UPDATE: As Aaron Blake summarizes for the Washington Post:

The Trump administration insisted it didn’t have a policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. It said that it was merely following the law. And it said “Congress alone can fix” the mess.

It just admitted that all that was nonsense — and that it badly overplayed its hand…

…It’s at once an admission that the politics of the issue had gotten out of hand and that the administration’s arguments were completely dishonest. Virtually everything it said about the policy is tossed aside with this executive action. It’s the political equivalent of waving the white flag and the legal equivalent of confessing to making false statements. Rather than letting Congress rebuke it, the White House is rebuking itself and trying to save some face.

—–

President Donald Trump signs an executive order to end family separations resulting from his own immigration policy. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

As Politico reports, President Trump needs some new talking points on immigration:

President Donald Trump signed an executive action Wednesday that ends the administration’s policy of separating migrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, abandoning the president’s previous stance that only Congress can fix the problem.

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office, flanked by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence. “I think anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it. We don’t like to see families separated.”

Yet Trump said that he wanted to continue enforcing a strong policy at the border, an issue he campaigned on: “We are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero tolerance. We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.”

The action came after Trump and his team faced harsh criticism from lawmakers, activists, religious leaders and former first ladies over the separation of children from their parents in custody, which was panned almost universally as cruel and damaging to the kids’ well-being.

If it seems like it was only a few days ago that Trump was blaming Democrats for this immigration policy fiasco…that’s because it was only a few days ago. That’s Homeland Security Secretary (for now) Kirstjen Nielsen in the background of the photo above.

Rep. DeGette: DHS Secretary Nielsen Must Resign

Rep. Diana DeGette (D).

A press release from the dean of Colorado’s congressional delegation, Rep. Diana DeGette, calls for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to either resign or be terminated from her position over the unfolding crisis of family separations on the southern border:

Secretary Nielsen falsely blamed Democrats for the humanitarian crisis at a Monday press briefing and also issued a tweet stating, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” This denial comes in spite of a clear effort by the Trump administration to prosecute as many undocumented border crossings as possible, regardless of whether the individuals are crossing with children or whether they are seeking asylum.

“Enough is enough. Secretary Nielsen should resign or be fired from her post” DeGette said. “She has overseen an unprecedented humanitarian crisis ripping away thousands of young children from their parents without a clear path to reunification.

“Worse yet, she denies any culpability for this tragedy while inexplicably blaming Democrats for creating it, despite our long-standing efforts to oppose family separation and end this cruel practice. Secretary Nielsen’s complete lack of understanding of the law, total insensitivity to the plight of these families and blatant disregard for facts make her unfit to serve the public in this or any capacity.”

Nielsen’s claim that Democrats are somehow responsible for a deliberate policy change by the Trump Justice Department to charge everyone caught crossing the border without documentation with a criminal offense–echoed by President Donald Trump and other Republicans defending this highly controversial new policy–has been thoroughly debunked by every credible media outlet that has examined the question. There is no such precedent, and there is no similarity between the Trump administration’s decision to forcibly separate families and the humanitarian crisis faced by the Obama administration from unaccompanied minors arriving in the United States.

This allegation is particularly galling to congressional Democrats, who have tried to solve the underlying issues that provoked in this crisis for years, and certainly never took action against children to force the other side to “negotiate.”

In a perfect world, Republicans and Democrats who claim to oppose what is happening on the border would unite to demand this policy end–and its defenders to be held accountable. We’ll believe the Mike Coffmans of the world are serious in their protestations when they’re willing to put aside partisanship and set the record straight on this critical detail.

Because the Democrats. Had nothing. To do with this.

So Much Winning for Victor Mitchell

According to a new…Facebook poll, or something, Victor Mitchell is totally winning the Republican race for Governor.

Screenshot from Victor Mitchell’s Facebook page, 6/20/18

This “poll” is apparently similar to a “Western Journal Poll” recently conduced in South Carolina that appears to be some sort of online survey of Republicans on Facebook. We doubt this “poll” has any sort of relation to the potential outcome in the June 26 Primary, but since the world seems to do everything else on Facebook…

Mike Coffman’s Campaign Mocks, Threatens Joe Salazar

“Team Coffman” Twitter account bio.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and his staff are apparently quite sensitive about President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that has led to the forced separation of thousands of children from the families at the US-Mexico border and generally created a massive problem for Republicans everywhere.

While Coffman has been working diligently to take all sides on this debate, his campaign staff has pursued a different approach via social media. On Tuesday, the “Team Coffman” Twitter account responded to a comment from Democratic Attorney General candidate Joe Salazar by repeatedly calling him fat and challenging him to a fight, or something.

No, seriously. You can see the screenshots of the entire exchange below.

We can’t say for sure who is behind these embarrassing posts from “Team Coffman,” though Coffman spokesman/campaign manager Tyler Sandberg often gets very punchy via Twitter. We’ll update this post if and when “Team Coffman” formally challenges Salazar (or other critics) to meet them by the flag pole after school to settle this once and for all.

As to the bigger question — what in the hell is wrong with these people? — well, we can’t even begin to answer that one.

Only Mitt Romney’s Nephew Had The Courage

Mitt Romney’s Nephew.

With the crisis over President Donald Trump’s new policy to separate undocumented children from their parents at the border and house the children in internment-camp like facilities dominating the headlines, last night Republican candidates for governor of Colorado held their final debate before next Tuesday’s primary election. The issue of family separations naturally came up, and as Denver7’s Blair Miller reports, most of the responses were…disheartening:

The first question the candidates were asked was if they support the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border. If not, what would they do about it, they are asked?

Victor Mitchell said President Trump was “on the right track” to comprehensive immigration reform but said that the family separation was a “sad outcome.”

Greg Lopez said he “truly believes separating kids from their parents is something we don’t ever want to see.” But he said that parents are putting their children in harm’s way by bringing them to the border knowing they’ll be separated. “I support the fact that we’re following the rule of law,” he said. But he said they should be given the opportunity to understand they could come back legally.

The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul had frontrunner Walker Stapleton’s typically evasive answer:

Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton did not denounce the president’s action. “The last thing anyone wants to see is families broken up,” he said while blaming federal lawmakers for the problem.

Of the four Republicans running for governor, only one had the courage to say what every person with a conscience should have no problem saying loud and clear–Doug Robinson, who our readers know better as Mitt Romney’s Nephew, via Denver7:

Doug Robinson said he doesn’t support Trump’s policy. “This is not who we are as Americans. It’s not who we are as Republicans,” he said. [Pols emphasis] He said that families should be allowed to stay together and the criminal process should be expedited. Robinson said he believes Hickenlooper’s executive order was “political.”

Walker Stapleton said that the “last thing” anybody wants is to see families broken up. But he said he agrees with Trump’s actions. [Pols emphasis] He called for comprehensive immigration reform and said Congress needed to fix the policy.

Robinson is of course not expected to win next Tuesday’s primary, which may have relieved him of the obligation to follow the party line on this issue. And that’s a critical point: even though many Republicans in Washington have at least rhetorically turned against the Trump administration’s child separation policy, the only segment of the American public who supports what is happening here according to polls are base Republican voters. And those are exactly the voters these Republican primary candidates are competing for.

The Republican base has been so heavily radicalized in recent years that a policy like family separations, roundly condemned and seemingly at odds with fundamental American values has a haven of majority support within that party. While federal Republican officeholders blanch at the horrific video coming from the border camps, the Republican base revels in it. And Republican candidates are forced to embrace utterly toxic situations like the present humanitarian crisis on the border–or risk alienating the voters who decide Republican primaries. The winner is then left to explain themselves to a horrified general electorate.

All we can say is good for Mitt Romney’s Nephew–and God help the rest of them come November.

Wednesday Open Thread

“History repeats itself, and that’s one of the things that’s wrong with history.”

–Clarence Darrow

Mike Coffman Takes All Sides in Immigration Debate

If Rep. Mike Coffman was a horse…

Congressional Republicans have been flailing around in the last few days trying to both express concern over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy while also making sure to avoid proposing any sort of actual change to enforcement efforts that are separating thousands of children from their families (well, except for Rep. Ken Buck, anyway). Democrats, meanwhile, are uniting behind legislative efforts to put a stop to the growing humanitarian crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, but there’s not much they can effectively accomplish without the support of some Republican lawmakers.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) popped up in several national stories on Monday after he released a statement indicating that he supported Senate Democratic efforts to stop Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy. This move surprised exactly no-one who has ever paid attention to Coffman; over his 30 years in elected office, Coffman has developed a well-deserved reputation for generally taking all sides of all issues at all times.  But a new story today points out a particularly-egregious example of Coffman’s doublespeak on immigration.

As CNN reports for the first time, Coffman quietly signed on to the Goodlatte bill on March 18; nine days later, Coffman voiced a request on the House floor to remove his name from the legislation. The reason this is important is because the Goodlatte bill was widely understood to be THE CONSERVATIVE OPTION for dealing with immigration reform. This, of course, is not at all consistent with Coffman’s attempts at forging a moderate image on immigration, let alone Coffman’s stated public support for offering undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

How does Coffman’s office explain this doublespeak? Here’s CNN:

A spokesman for Coffman said his initial support of the Goodlatte bill, which until now had not been reported, was his attempt to explore all options for an immigration fix. [Pols emphasis] The congressman withdrew his support, the spokesman added, once he realized the bill would not offer a permanent solution for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers.

“We were exploring all legislative avenues and that came aboard,” said Daniel Bucheli, a Coffman spokesman. “Then, looking at the details closer, it was clear there would be no permanent protection for DREAMers and at that point he took his name off it.”

Mike Coffman demonstrates the proper hand position for riding the fence.

This explanation is more than a little absurd, as CNN continues:

But the Goodlatte bill never offered DREAMers permanent protection, raising questions as to why it took Coffman nine days to realize the bill did not meet one of his primary immigration objectives. [Pols emphasis] The bill, which was widely known at the time as the conservative option to ongoing debates over immigration, was also rolled out on January 10, 2018, months before Coffman decided to attach his name to the proposal.

As part of that rollout, a one-page summary from House Judiciary provided on the bill made clear it would not offer a pathway to citizenship.

A spokesperson for the progressive group “Organizing for Action” told CNN that if you don’t like where Coffman stands on immigration, “just wait a few days.” It’s not intellectually honest for Coffman to pretend this isn’t accurate.

You In? Asks The Boob-Grabbin’ Senate GOP Majority

The Republican Colorado Senate Majority Fund kicked off their campaign to hold the GOP’s one-seat majority in the one chamber of the Colorado legislature they control last week–an uphill battle after sexual harassment scandals dominated the headlines from the past session, and the Republican leadership of the Senate in particular failed in dramatic fashion to confront the problem.

With that in mind, we respectfully submit a small change to the Senate Majority Fund’s “Defend the Majority” campaign logo — with the infamous “Boob Grabber” in mind:

We think this helps clarify the stakes in the 2018 elections…quite well.

Ballot Return Numbers Increase Compared to 2016

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office has released updated ballot return numbers for the June 26 Primary. As of this morning, 425,377 ballots had been returned, with slightly more Republicans (166,529) than Democrats (162,721) having already voted. A total of 96,127 “Unaffiliated” ballots have also been returned, though a sizable percentage of those ballots may ultimately not be counted because of voter error (or, “Proposition 108 error“, to be more specific).

Ballot return numbers were at about 12% for both Democrats and Republicans at roughly the same point in 2016. Here’s how the totals compare between 2016 and 2018, approximately one week out:

Year Democrats Republicans
2016 119,614 121,183
2018 162,721 166,529

Former Federal Prosecutors Call for End to “Zero Tolerance” Policy

John Walsh served as U.S. Attorney in Colorado from 2010-16.

As CNN reports:

A bipartisan group of more than 70 former US attorneys are calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse the Trump administration’s policy of prosecuting all people who cross the border illegally, saying it is “dangerous, expensive, and inconsistent” with the values of the Justice Department.

“Like the majority of Americans, we have been horrified by the images and stories of children torn from their families along our nation’s Southwest Border. And like a majority of Americans, we are appalled that your Zero Tolerance policy has resulted in the unnecessary trauma and suffering of innocent children,” the prosecutors wrote on Medium in a post published Tuesday morning.

The most visible byproduct of the Trump administration’s practice, known as “zero tolerance,” has resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents when apprehended at the border, because unaccompanied minors can only be held in immigration detention for a short period of time…

…the prosecutors in Tuesday’s letter say requiring 100% enforcement of the policy, without exceptions, was an “ill-conceived” plan.

“US Attorneys under both Republican and Democratic administrations have for decades been given discretion to determine how and when to charge misdemeanor illegal entry cases to address the needs of their districts,” they added. “Now, under your policy, because children cannot accompany their arrested parents to an adult criminal detention center, these children, apparently including infants and toddlers, are routinely separated from their parents.” [Pols emphasis]

Among the signers of the letter, which you can read in full at Medium.com, is former U.S. Attorney from Colorado John Walsh.

Yes Virginia, Proposition 108 is a Total Clusterfuck

Small print: no really, please, don’t.

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, a potential electoral disaster is unfolding before our eyes as the disruptive unintended consequences of 2016’s ill-conceived Proposition 108 begin to become apparent–threatening to cloud the outcome of partisan primary elections that unaffiliated voters are voting in for the first time ever.

The reason? No matter how many times you explain the rules when you’re doing something extremely counterintuitive like sending a voter two ballots, though they can only return one: hundreds of people are returning both! And, as we’ll explain, that causes a rift in the spacetime continuum that makes their vote incurably disappear!

We’re actually not kidding about that last part:

That’s because those voters failed to follow rules for the first-ever Colorado primaries opened to the unaffiliated bloc, specifically one mandating unaffiliated voters can only send back a Republican or Democratic primary ballot — not both.

The Denver Elections Division says of the 6,185 unaffiliated voters’ ballots they’ve received thus far, 3.4 percent — or 214 — have been rejected because of voters trying to cast ballots in both primaries.

In Larimer County, the percent of rejected ballots for the same reason is 3.15 percent, while it’s 4.3 percent in Arapahoe County.

In El Paso County, 7 percent of unaffiliated voters ballots have been rejected.

Here’s the deal: in an ordinary case of a voter making a mistake on a ballot, in a close election it’s possible to go back to that voter and “cure” their ballot of the offending error so that it can be tabulated. The cure process could prove decisive in (for example) legislative races, which are frequently decided by fewer than 1,000 votes–and sometimes much smaller margins.

But in the case of an unaffiliated voter who submits two primary ballots under the rules of Proposition 108, there’s no way to determine the voter’s intent, and no way to trust any clarification from the voter afterwards. As a result, both ballots are disqualified and there’s no way to “cure” it.

Folks, if any of the primary races next Tuesday are decided by a margin smaller than the number of disqualified unaffiliated primary ballots cast within that district, we’re looking at an electoral crisis. The legitimacy of the whole process of sending unaffiliated voters by default two ballots, whether the instructions provided to voters on what to do with those two ballots were sufficient, whether individual voters were were making honest mistakes or gaming the system–look for all of this to play out in a courtroom near you, with the language of Proposition 108 useful as a guide only to what went wrong.

And while far be it from us to question the wisdom of Colorado voters, maybe this is why parties have primaries in which only party members vote. We’re compelled to offer, as meekly as we can, the suggestion that Proposition 108 was an inherently stupid idea, and a sensible statutory fix like only sending primary ballots to unaffiliated voters on request, and they only get to request one, should be considered at the first convenient opportunity.

In the meantime, well, we’ll just have to see what happens.

Tuesday Open Thread

“An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded.”

–Pope John Paul II

Republicans Do Nothing as Children Pulled from Families

UPDATE: As NBC News reports, it’s getting increasingly difficult for the White House — and Congressional Republicans — to deflect blame for this crisis:

The idea of separating migrant children from their mothers was discussed during the earliest days of the Trump administration as a way to deter asylum-seekers, according to notes from a closed-door DHS meeting.

—–

John Moore/Getty Images

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration has led to thousands of children being forcibly separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. Every single Democrat in the U.S. Senate has now signed onto The Keep Families Together Act, which is intended to put a stop to this horrific policy. While many Republicans have spoken out against the practice of forcible separation, they aren’t taking any real action to force a change.

As Politico explains, this could be a telling moment ahead of the 2018 election:

Even as the White House blames Congress for the crisis at the border,GOP lawmakers are struggling to craft a proposal that unites their own party, let alone one that can win bipartisan support and become law. And with no congressional solution in sight, Hill Republicans worry that Trump’s immigration crackdown could swamp their success on the economy and overshadow all the things they want to run on in the midterm elections…

…And the renewed focus on immigration is almost all self-inflicted, from Trump’s decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to his relentless focus on the border wall to his “zero tolerance” policy for border-crossers, which has already led to more than 2,300 children separated from their parents.

But the decision by the administration to separate children from their parents has elevated the issue to one now consuming national politics. Hugh Hewitt, a leading conservative media voice, raised the prospect that the family separation crisis could become “the Republicans’ new Katrina and the president’s new Katrina” in an interview with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) on Monday.

“The White House can fix it if they want to.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

Understanding why Congressional Republicans refuse to act on this growing humanitarian crisis is depressingly obvious. The results of three new polls are telling.

Polling data released in the last 24 hours by Quinnipiac University, Ipsos, and SSRS all show that the general public disagrees strongly with forcible separations. All three polls also show Republican support for these actions.

According to Quinnipiac, 66% of voters — including 91% of Democrats and 68% of Independents — oppose the Trump immigration policy, but 55% of Republicans support the “zero tolerance” decision:

Quinnipiac University (6/18/18)

 

According to Ipsos, 55% of respondents overall disagreed with the “zero tolerance” approach, with 46% of Republicans expressing support. Finally, a CNN/SSRS poll finds that 67% of Americans disapprove of the Trump immigration policies, while a majority of Republicans stand in support.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, when Republicans like Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) blame the parents of undocumented immigrants for being separated from their children. Some Republicans, such as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), don’t go as far as Buck but won’t do anything beyond issuing statements:


Senator Gardner thinks that Congress should do something. Democrats are doing something. It’s Republicans who are sitting on their hands.

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin makes a similar point about Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse in the Washington Post today:

The larger issue for Sasse and for other Republicans who have from time to time taken issue with the president is their abject refusal to translate rhetoric into action. [Pols emphasis] In legislation, in oversight and in the confirmation process, they routinely shrink from confrontation with the White House or their own leadership. Republicans do, after all, have the majorities in both houses and long ago could have voted to end child separation. They could, at any time, cease confirming judges or even refuse to go forward on any business until the wicked policy is ended.

Sasse, a former university president who holds a PhD in history from Yale, surely is familiar with the admonition, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil  [or wicked, in his telling] is for good men to do nothing.” Speaking, posting and tweeting don’t count as “doing.” Unless Sasse starts doing, he is enabling.

Republican elected officials do nothing because they are paralyzed in fear of their right-wing base and President Trump. As we’ve said many times in this space, refusing to take action is a choice in itself.