Tipton/Gardner Fake Lands Bill Goes Over Like A Lead Zeppelin

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Westword’s Chase Woodruff follows up on legislation we wrote about earlier this week from Colorado Republicans Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner, ostensibly to protect more Colorado public land but in truth a competing measure to an original Democratic proposal to protect thousands of acres of wilderness–and, importantly close the long-fought over Thompson Divide area to new oil and gas drilling:

When congressional Democrats and a coalition of conservation groups unveiled the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act earlier this year, Senator Michael Bennet voiced his hope that the bill, a proposal to establish protections for approximately 400,000 acres of public lands across the state, might be immune to the “partisan disease” afflicting American politics.

The CORE Act, which is narrower in scope than other Colorado public-lands bills introduced in Congress in recent years, had “required compromise,” Bennet told supporters at a Denver ski-industry conference in February. He hoped that Colorado Republicans like Senator Cory Gardner and Representative Scott Tipton — who represents the West Slope’s 3rd Congressional District, where much of the CORE Act land is located — would sign on as co-sponsors, and urged conservationists to lobby Gardner and Tipton to make a “bipartisan lands package” a reality.

Six months later, Colorado Republicans have made a counterproposal, and their offer is this: nothing. Or at least very close to it, conservation groups say. [Pols emphasis]

In the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent today, locals express anger at Rep. Tipton over the omission of Thompson Divide in particular:

[T]he absence of Thompson Divide protections in the bill suggests Tipton is “not interested in helping out our community even though support for protecting the Divide spans political and social divides,” according to Mike Pritchard, board member of the Thompson Divide Coalition.

According to Tipton’s staff, the reason the proposed removal of the 200,000 or so acres of Thompson Divide area west of Carbondale from future oil and gas leasing was not included in the REC Act is because Garfield County’s position remains unclear, and because there are still questions about grazing.

According to the Post-Independent, Garfield County commissioners have indeed come out in support of protecting Thompson Divide under the terms of the Democratic-sponsored CORE Act–but Tipton’s spokesman says came too late to make it into the GOP “REC Act” as introduced. But that could all just be a smokescreen for partisan treachery, since Tipton’s spokesman alluded to the congressman’s real problem being with Democrats having the temerity to care about public lands “in another member’s district.”

As with any such impasse where there remains hope of a bipartisan agreement, it’s important to show restraint in calling these situations how they appear–not least so one doesn’t end up forestalling agreement by being uncomfortably frank to one side.

But if, as conservation groups warn, this attempt by Republicans to sidestep the bipartisan consensus Democrats are trying to reach results in no public lands bill whatsoever or a bill that woefully fails to meet the desires of non-industry stakeholders, it’s going to be painfully obvious who’s to blame. If the goal of the “REC Act” was to provide cover to Tipton and Gardner while scuttling the public lands protections they say they support, these past few days of scrutiny have made that impossible.

That’s a nice way of saying the game is up.

Get More Smarter on Friday (July 26)

It’s been a long, strange week in the land of politics — particularly if your name is Ken Buck — so let’s wrap things up. 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…

 It would seem to be inarguable that Russia (and perhaps others) interfered in the 2016 election, and it seems likely that they are going to try again in 2020. As CBS News reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is actively working to make sure that nobody in the United States is effectively able to prevent future interference:

Hours after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified Wednesday that Russians are still meddling in the U.S. political system, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the advancement of legislation to secure the nation’s election system. Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith also blocked a set of bills on election security Wednesday.

In blocking the legislation crafted by Senate Democrats to provide more funding for election security, McConnell declared the effort partisan and insisted the Trump administration has already done much to secure the nation’s elections.

One bill McConnell objected to would have both required the use of paper ballots and provided funding for the Election Assistance Commission. He also objected to legislation that would have required campaigns and candidates to report offers offers of election-related aid from foreign governments.

McConnell’s blocking of the legislation also comes as the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report identifying significant vulnerabilities — like aging voting equipment, paperless machines without backups and insecurity voter registration basis — exist in the United States’ election system.

As Paul Waldman writes for the Washington Post, McConnell’s rationale for cutting off election security funding is essentially that Republican candidates benefit from his inaction:

Republicans have quite plainly looked at our current state of electoral dysfunction and concluded that it’s working pretty darn well for them. Donald Trump is president, isn’t he? Why would we want to mess with a system that’s producing such wonderful outcomes?

 

► We’ve spent a lot of time in this space recently discussing the various recall grifting operations taking place across Colorado — including at least one example of a recall effort convincing poor saps to part with a piece of their Social Security checks. As Politico reports, the conservative ScamPAC business is humming these days:

After recruiting thousands of donors for the American Conservative Union — the powerful organization behind the annual CPAC conference — a Republican political operative pushed the same contributors to give millions to a PAC that promised to go after then-President Barack Obama, but then steered much of their donations to himself and his partners.

The PAC, called the Conservative Majority Fund, has raised nearly $10 million since mid-2012 and continues to solicit funds to this day, primarily from thousands of steadfast contributors to conservative causes, many of them senior citizens. But it has made just $48,400 in political contributions to candidates and committees. Public records indicate its main beneficiaries are the operative Kelley Rogers, who has a history of disputes over allegedly unethical fundraising, and one of the largest conservative fundraising companies, InfoCision Management Corp., which charged millions of dollars in fundraising fees.

The saga of how politically connected fundraisers used one of the nation’s leading conservative organizations as a springboard for fundraising that mainly benefited the fundraisers themselves sheds light on the growing problem of so-called scam PACs — organizations that take advantage of loosened campaign finance laws to reap windfalls for insiders while directing only a small portion of receipts to actual political advocacy.

If only you could still make a fortune by pretending to raise money for the purposes of attacking Hillary Clinton. Those were the days, eh, Ted Harvey?

 

► Westword’s Chase Woodruff explains how Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton are actually trying to scuttle public lands legislation by introducing a new bill of their own. We waded into this topic earlier this week.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Friday Open Thread

“The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government, is to live under the government of worse men.”

–Plato

TABOR Is the “Wrong Formula,” Says Economist In Response Conservative Questioner

(Oops! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

TABOR author Doug Bruce.

Just as U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) handed Democrats a gift during his questioning of Robert Mueller, Colorado Rising Action’s Michael Fields seemed to be expecting a different answer from Rich Wobbekind, an associate dean at the University of Colorado’s Leeds Business School, whom Fields was interviewing on KDMT radio this week.

Fields, who was guest hosting, lobbed Wobbekind a question about the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), which, among other things, limits the growth of government revenue to inflation plus population.

“There are a lot of people who look at the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights negatively,” Fields told Wobbekind. “What’s your view of its impact on the state’s economy?”

First, Wobbekind said he thought voters passed TABOR so that government spending would not increase “more rapidly than it should.”

Then he pointed out that Colorado has a balanced budget amendment, requiring Colorado not to run a deficit.

“So we do have that control in any scenario,” he told Fields.

“My honest opinion is the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is the wrong formula,” continued the dean. “If you are going to have something like that it should be based on the economic growth of the economy as opposed to population plus inflation, because we have all sorts of inflation of government-provided services, like health care, that have been dramatically higher than the Consumer Price Index, [which is the the average change in cost of consumer goods].”

(more…)

Rep. Joe Neguse Gets The Goods From Mueller–On Purpose



Rep. Joe Neguse (D).

The last 24 hours of Colorado political news have focused heavily on an exchange yesterday in the House Judiciary Committee between Republican Rep. Ken Buck, who also serves as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, and retired Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in which Buck bafflingly invited Mueller to confirm that President Donald Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice once he leaves office.

That moment of unintentional help to Democrats is still making its waves, but we wanted to be sure the much more deliberate and focused questioning from freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse of Boulder, also on the House Judiciary Committee, on the subject of Donald Trump, Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer offering election dirt on Hillary Clinton in Trump Tower in 2016 received due credit–as Denver7 reports:

Neguse questioned Mueller…and stuck to the parts of Mueller’s report that focused on possible obstruction involving aides and family members of President Trump’s – specifically the Trump Tower meeting in which Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met to obtain “dirt” on the Hillary Clinton campaign.

…Neguse went on to ask Mueller about portions of his report that discuss Hope Hicks and what she knew about the meeting, as well as the statement that President Trump allegedly dictated to her after the meeting in which they lied about the purpose of the meeting, saying it was about Russian adoptions when it was really about “dirt” on the Clinton campaign.

“According to Ms. Hicks, the president still directed her to say the meeting was only about Russian adoption, correct?” Neguse asked.

“Yes,” Mueller responded.

“Despite knowing that to be untrue,” Neguse finished. “Thank you, Director Mueller,” he said as he yielded back the rest of his five minutes.

Rep. Neguse only had a few minutes to interact directly with Special Counsel Mueller, but he used his time very effectively to elucidate one of the ten instances outlined in Mueller’s report that could amount to obstruction of justice committed by President Trump. Because Mueller proceeded from the assumption that Trump can’t be charged with a crime while in office, he isn’t conclusive on whether Trump committed a crime–leaving Congress to provide the answer via their oversight power. Neguse’s questions to Mueller confirmed the substance underlying the allegation against Trump in this particular instance, that the President instructed Hope Hicks to lie about the nature of the Trump Tower meeting.

Rep. Neguse, who supports impeachment hearings, did at least as much to damage Trump and help Democrats make their case as Rep. Buck did by restating for the cameras that President Trump can be charged with obstruction after he leaves office.

The difference is, that’s what Rep. Neguse wanted to do.

Ken Buck Blames Mueller for His Own Big Blunder


It has not been a good news cycle for Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley)

The big political news all week has been about former special counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony, which took place on Wednesday in Washington D.C. As we noted yesterday, Colorado’s own Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) made quite the fool of himself — and may have opened the door to an obstruction of justice charge — when it was his turn to ask Mueller questions during a hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

Buck’s questions for Mueller made national headlines (including this gem from Rolling Stone) because of the implication of his questioning and Mueller’s straightforward response. As Joe St. George wrote for Fox 31 Denver, “Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck Didn’t Help Trump During Mueller Questioning.” Here’s how The Hill newspaper summarized the importance of Buck and Mueller’s exchange:

Former special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday said that he believes President Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice after he leaves office.

“Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) asked Mueller during the former special counsel’s testimony.

“Yes,” Mueller replied.

Buck appeared to be taken aback, and asked the question again, but adding whether Mueller believed a president could be charged with obstruction of justice after leaving office. The former special counsel again said he believed that was the case.

Welp, Congressman Buck was in full damage-control mode on Wednesday afternoon, where he was a guest on KHOW radio’s “The Dan Caplis Show” and proceeded to blame Mueller for not understanding his questions. As Eli Stokols of the Los Angeles Times (and formerly Fox 31 Denver) notes:

That’s right, dear readers! Ken Buck says old man Mueller just couldn’t comprehend this ingenious line of questioning, which went exactly like this:

BUCK: Okay, but the … could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?

MUELLER: Yes.

BUCK: You believe that he committed … you could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?

MUELLER: Yes.

Robert Mueller (left) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) on Wednesday.

Um, sorry Ken. This is really not even sorta complicated.

Here’s more of Buck’s Wednesday interview with Jon Caldara, who was sitting in for the host on “The Dan Caplis Show“:

CALDARA: Hey, congratulations on asking what seems to be the…the only news of this Mueller…testifying. Give me your first impressions. It seemed cruel that anyone had to sit through this. How bad was it?

BUCK: Well, I tell ya, I felt bad for Mueller. He just didn’t look like he was well today, and I don’t know what was going on. But his tank of gas was on empty, because he just struggled with a lot of different questions. He misunderstood my question on two different occasions. He backtracked from it. And so, it was…it was tough to watch…

CALDARA: What made you want to ask the question about the indictment?

BUCK: Well…it’s fundamentally unfair to say that the President did not commit a crime, and nobody in his campaign committed a crime, concerning Russian conspiracy. And then to say, ‘There’s all these facts about obstruction, but I’m not going to offer an opinion.’ He knew he could not prosecute that case. And finally, in the Intelligence Committee, he said, ‘I will not opine on whether there is a case to be charged on obstruction or not.’ And that’s the only way that…that’s the answer that I wanted, and it’s the answer he gave ultimately but he didn’t give it early enough.

CALDARA: Let me be really clear with you, Congressman, because that’s important. You’re telling me that he never said that there was a case for obstruction of justice. So, you really tried to pin him on this. So, is there a case…he wouldn’t say there was. Am I understanding you correctly?

BUCK: Yes, that’s absolutely correct. What he said was that the President could be charged – or ‘A’ President could be charged after he left office. But he also said he would not opine on whether the facts presented in the report warranted a prosecution.

CALDARA: And that was THE big question of the whole morning – of the last 2 and a half years, hasn’t it been?

BUCK: Well, I think it is. And I was kind of stunned that nobody asked it. You know, I was, what, 14thor 15thin line to ask questions. And that’s why I just thought, ‘I’ve got to ask this question,’ because if they proceed with impeachment and the person who has been studying this issue for a long time has not…will not opine on that issue, [then] we have a problem.

A bit later in the interview, Buck says that he changed his approach with Mueller because some other Members of Congress took what he was going to say:

CALDARA: How much preparation do you put in for something like this, or the Republican team? Obviously the Democrats were hoping for a slam dunk. They put on a great A/V show and all the rest. It didn’t materialize. Is this something that you know is political theater and you kind of suffer through, or is there a lot of preparation to make sure you get the question you got off today…out?

BUCK: Sure, we prepared for weeks for this. And, frankly, the line of questioning that I wanted to use had been developed twice before me, and so that’s why I went to a different line of questioning and asked what I asked.

This is all nonsense.

The simple truth is that Buck made the cardinal prosecutorial sin of asking questions he didn’t already know the answer to. Mueller’s answers reflected poorly on Buck and poorly on President Trump, and all he said to say was, “Yes.”

Why “Overreach” Is The Dumbest Word In Colorado Politics


Gov. Jared Polis (D).

A new poll from Republican David Flaherty’s Magellan Strategies, who since last year’s landslide election for Democrats has been increasingly frank about the bleak future of the Colorado Republican Party given the state’s demographic and electoral trajectory, is prompting much discussion today in the local political chattering class. The poll offers quotable quotes to both sides, but ends in a conclusion you already know: Republicans are in serious trouble in this state going into next year’s election, and there’s no authentic appetite for recalling either Gov. Jared Polis or Democrats in the legislature. The Colorado Sun’s John Frank:

President Donald Trump gets low marks. Gov. Jared Polis is popular. And people lean toward thinking that the state is headed in the right direction…

“I think having President Trump at the top of the ticket is not good for any Republican running,” said Ryan Winger at Magellan Strategies, which released its poll numbers Thursday.

…In its new poll, Magellan forecasted that 36% of 2020 voters would be unaffiliated with a political party, 33% will be Democrats, 30% would be Republicans and 1% would be from other parties. So it showed a 3-point advantage to Democrats.

The Denver Post’s Nic Garcia reports beneath the obligatory headline “Democrats overreached but…”

Asked if Democrats “went too far and were out of touch with everyday Coloradans,” 45% agreed. Meanwhile, 40% of voters said Democrats did not overreach.

Despite those feelings, most voters — 47% — said they’re not interested in efforts to recall Polis or state lawmakers, according to the poll conducted by Magellan Strategies, a Republican Colorado-based firm…

The survey results, released Thursday morning, mirror earlier findings: Coloradans are generally pleased with Polis, split on the direction state is going and unhappy with President Donald Trump.

And 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger:

Based on the 500 survey responses, 45% felt that Polis and the legislature overreached this past session, compared to 40% who did not think so…

Unaffiliated voters are the largest bloc in Colorado, and 50% of unaffiliateds support not recalling Polis, compared to 32% who would recall him. Of the Republicans surveyed, 62% said yes compared to 24% saying no. The Democrats responded 66% no and 21% yes to a Polis recall.

The survey also showed Polis had a job approval rating of 49%, 12 points higher than those who felt he was not doing a good job. [Pols emphasis]

Practically from the moment that Colorado Democrats won in a landslide in last year’s elections, Republicans have employed the word “overreach” to describe the Democratic agenda for 2019. The theory was that Colorado voters weren’t upset with local Republicans and Republican policies so much as they were lashing out against President Donald Trump–and that despite the clear mandate for Democrats won in the 2018 elections, they would “go too far” and provoke a “grassroots backlash.”

After relentlessly beating this word into the heads of reporters, the Republican base, and as far as their message penetrates into the plurality of unaffiliated voters in Colorado who decide elections, it’s not at all surprising to see the spurious notion of “overreach” echoed back in poll numbers, much like the polling on the Affordable Care Act that consistently showed voters hated “Obamacare” but loved what the law actually did. And yes, we’ll concede that 45% of respondents agreeing Democrats “overreached” is a message win for the GOP.

But it’s a hollow victory. Even if Republicans are correct that 2018 was a referendum against Trump, dislike for the sitting Republican President greatly exceeds voter concerns about Colorado Democrats “overreaching” according to these poll numbers. Democrats ran on and were elected to pass a Democratic agenda, and Polis’ enduring high favorability is proof that staying the course was the right decision in the face of over-the-top Republican obstruction this year.

In the end, Democrats keeping their promises will never be as offensive to a majority of Colorado voters as Trump’s chaotic Presidency and the Colorado Republicans who have enabled it. That’s what this poll says most clearly, and it’s not even close.

Thursday Open Thread


“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must man be of learning from experience.”

–George Bernard Shaw

D’Oh! Ken Buck Totally Screws President Trump


UPDATE #4: President Trump goes absolutely bananas when asked about the Mueller comments that were precipitated by Rep. Buck’s questioning. Watch the video below and then tell us: Does this sound like a guy who really thinks today was a big victory?

—–

UPDATE #3: This statement from Colorado Democratic Party Chairwoman Morgan Carroll has to sting a bit:

“Mueller confirmed that the reason he did not indict Trump was because of a DOJ policy that a sitting President could not be indicted. But, I would like to personally thank Ken Buck for confirming with Robert Mueller that President Trump could indeed be indicted and criminally charged with obstruction of justice after he is out of office. Given that the investigation resulted in nearly 200 criminal charges already filed, it’s good for voters to know that Donald Trump soon could face legal consequences for his corruption after they vote him out of office in 2020.”

—–

UPDATE #2: Dammmmmnnnnnnnnn!!!!

Rolling Stone, 7/24/19

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post uses similar language:

That is what soccer fans call an “own goal.” What Buck inadvertently argued, with Mueller’s help, was that while the evidence of Trump’s personal cooperation with Russia was insufficient to sustain a conspiracy charge, the evidence may well have been sufficient to sustain an obstruction charge, and it may have only been Trump’s current position that is saving him from an indictment.

—–

UPDATE: This is really, really, really bad for Buck.

—–

Former special counsel Robert Mueller is testifying publicly before Congress about his investigation into President Trump’s office and potential Russian interference in the 2016 election. Two Members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation are part of the House Judiciary Committee, which got first crack at Mueller’s testimony: Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).

Oddly enough, it was Buck — the man who is also the newest Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party — who ended up creating one of the biggest moments of the morning:

 

Ken Buck’s “oh, shit” face.

The Hill has more on this back-and-forth:

Buck appeared to be taken aback, and asked the question again, but adding whether Mueller believed a president could be charged with obstruction of justice after leaving office. The former special counsel again said he believed that was the case…

…Whether Trump would be charged with obstruction of justice were it not for the Justice Department guidance has been an area of focus for Democrats, some of whom are pushing to start impeachment proceedings against Trump in light of Mueller’s findings.

Hundreds of former federal prosecutors and DOJ officials have signed onto a letter saying that they believe Trump would have been charged with a crime were it not for the guidance.

Buck is a former Weld County District Attorney, so he should be well familiar with the old axiom to never ask a question of which you don’t already know the answer. Folks watching the Mueller hearings caught Buck’s mistake immediately:

There’s really no way to spin this for Congressman/Party Chairman Ken Buck. This was a YUGE mistake.

How To Screw Public Lands While Pretending You’re Not


Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul takes an informative look today at a new “public lands” bill introduced by Republican Rep. Scott Tipton and expected to be supported by Sen. Cory Gardner–but rather than cheering this new legislation, the effort is raising questions about the true motives of Tipton and Gardner among public lands supporters:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Cortez Republican, took issue with parts of the omnibus Colorado Outdoor Recreation Economy Act — or CORE Act — brought earlier this year by his Democratic colleagues from Colorado. It aims to protect thousands of acres of public land with new wilderness designations and by limiting oil and gas drilling.

And on Wednesday he unveiled a draft public lands proposal of his own: the Colorado Recreation Enhancement and Conservation Act, or Colorado REC Act.

As Paul explains, the process of passing a public lands bill is long and frequently unsuccessful in today’s Washington, and when such bills do succeed it’s usually only because they enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support. That means a competing measure from Republicans up against a bill supported by Democrats is more likely to ensure that no bill passes than any other outcome.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

And in the case of the “Colorado REC Act,” there’s plenty for Democrats–or anyone actually concerned about protection of public lands–could object to:

The CORE Act calls for roughly 100,000 acres of wilderness, recreation and conservation areas in the White River National Forest along the Continental Divide and would also designate the land around Camp Hale, where the 10th Mountain Division’s roots are, as a national historic landscape.

That’s not part of the Colorado REC Act.

The CORE Act also has clauses withdrawing about 200,000 acres of public lands along the Thompson Divide from being open to oil and gas drilling. The measure also would create a program to lease and generate energy from excess methane in coal mines in the North Fork Valley.

Again, those are not components of the Colorado REC Act.

In other words, some of the biggest public lands protection priorities in the state are omitted from Tipton and Gardner’s bill! To be sure, Democrats are still talking hopefully about working with Republicans, and if both sides are able to make a deal we don’t want to prejudice their efforts. But with this weaker legislation now in the mix, the two most likely outcomes are a scaling back of the original goals to win back Republican support or (more likely) nothing passes at all until after the 2020 elections.

Either of those outcomes would be “wins” for Tipton and Gardner’s political benefactors.

As for Colorado’s public lands, which everybody claims they care about, not so much.

Weld County Musical Chairs


(Clockwise from bottom left): Lori Saine, Barbara Kirkmeyer, Perry Buck, and Vicki Marble

Four term-limited Republicans in Weld County are playing a fun game of musical chairs so that they can all hold onto the sort of government jobs that they simultaneously covet and criticize on a regular basis.

State Representatives Lori “The Historian” Saine (R-Firestone) and Perry Buck (R-Greeley) are running for open seats on the Weld County Board of County Commissioners in 2020. State Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Looney Tunes) is making the unusual move to the lower chamber — in this case, for the seat being vacated by Buck. And since Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer is termed out, she’s hoping to take her talents to Denver as Marble’s successor in the State Senate.

This is the same sort of nonsense that plagued Jefferson County for years until voters ultimately got sick of the job-hopping and tossed out the lot of them. Jeffco now has only one Republican representative in the legislature and two GOP officials in county government — incumbent Commissioner Libby Szabo and Sheriff Jeff Shrader, who was the only Republican official re-elected in 2018 by virtue of being unopposed on the ballot.

The 2020 election in Weld County is shaping up to be quite the circus. It looks like there will be a wacky Republican Primary for the right to fill Saine’s House seat. Nearby, unabashed racist Grady Nouis is taking his criminal record for a run at the State House seat being vacated by term-limited Rep. Stephen Humphrey (R-Ault).

Weld County is much more of a solid Republican area than the current iteration of Jefferson County, though Jeffco changed quickly over just a couple of election cycles in part because of the serial job-hopping among elected (and un-elected) Republicans. We wouldn’t expect a major shift toward Democrats in Weld County in 2020, but don’t be surprised if that’s where this trail of crumbs eventually ends.

Wednesday Open Thread


“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

–James Baldwin

District Attorney Brauchler: Trump’s Tweet Wasn’t Racist

(“Prosecutorial discretion” –  Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado District Attorney George Brauchler says he found President Trump’s “Go Back” tweet “problematic,” but “didn’t see it as racist.” Rather he considered it an attack on the “national origin or perceived national origin” of the four freshman congresswomen of color known as “The Squad.”

The tweet to which Brauchler is referring was one of several President Trump posted on July 14 during a racist rant attacking Congresswomen Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. All four are U.S. citizens, and three were born in the United States.

Brauchler, who ran for Attorney General last year, serves as District Attorney of Colorado’s 18th Judicial District (Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln Counties). He made his statements on talk radio station KHOW on this past Tuesday, July 16, while filling in for regular host Dan Caplis.

Brauchler made clear that he disagreed with the tweet, saying “it’s wrong to call out people for their national origin and try to tell them to leave the country, especially when they’re Americans.” However he stopped short of calling it racist.

ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director Denise Maes echoed the sentiment of the national ACLU, which last week criticized the President for “spreading vile, racist tropes.”

(more…)

Sorry Lakewood, But She’s Your Mayoral Candidate


Tyler Durden, fictional tough guy who doesn’t know a thing about climate change.

Our friend Jason Salzman has done a great job over the years holding politicians accountable for spreading fake news stories to their followers on social media–a practice that has become intensely controversial in the era of “post-truth” Donald Trump politics.

This time, though, 9NEWS’ Steve Staeger does the honors, lighting up Republican perennial candidate now running for Mayor of Lakewood Ramey Johnson after she shared fake climate change denier “news” with fellow Lakewood City Council members while debating the city’s new sustainability plan:

Ramey Johnson, a candidate for Lakewood mayor and current city councilwoman, is facing some criticism for sharing an article about climate change from a blog authored by someone posing as a fictional character from the movie “Fight Club.”

The article, from the blog Zero Hedge, was authored by someone posing as Tyler Durden, Brad Pitt’s character in the movie. It claims that a “bombshell” scientific study from Finland shows evidence that climate change is not necessarily man-made.

The study referenced was published on a website called arXiv, where scientists post unpublished manuscripts. The fact-checking website Climate Feedback rated the study as “incorrect”, pointing the Finland study was never published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Johnson, a Republican who has run for office relentlessly and generally not successfully in steadily bluing suburban Jefferson County for most of the 21st Century so far, has come under fire before for questioning the overwhelming scientific consensus that human caused climate change is real. She claims in this latest story that she doesn’t necessarily agree that climate change is a hoax, but:

Johnson said years ago she tried to convene a study session of the city council to look at all perspectives on climate change and “got crucified”. [Pols emphasis]

“The reality is we should be looking at everything, Steve, and we can make up our own mind on whether its accurate or not,” Johnson told Next reporter Steve Staeger.

To be clear, and in the era of Trumpian fake news it’s necessary to be restate again and again, critical thinking is not about “looking at everything.” We have peer review, and credibility standards for information sources, for good reasons. If this is not obvious to you, do the world a favor and don’t share anything on social media. You’re just making it worse.

Johnson’s most recent act of “sustainability” was her support for the recently-passed and hotly controversial housing cap in the city of Lakewood, which saw bipartisan opposition and is now forecast to severely hamper economic growth in one of the Denver metro area’s anchor suburbs while worsening the state’s already historic shortage of affordable housing. If there was anybody still imagining that such draconian remedies are the result of a scientific approach to Lakewood’s problems…here’s solid evidence to the contrary.