Colorado House Republicans’ Private ‘Group Chat’ May Violate Open Meetings Law

(Rules for thee, but not for Matt Soper — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Despite telling a radio host that he used a “group chat” to direct his House Republican colleagues to walk out on the Legislature’s final day, state Rep. Matt Soper (R-Delta) now claims he has no record of that chat message. The same goes for all members of the House Republican leadership, who jointly responded to the Colorado Times Recorder’s open records request by saying they have “no responsive records.”

Speaking to KNUS radio host Deb Flora on May 9, Soper claimed credit for leading the GOP protest on the final day of the legislation session, when Republicans walked out of the House chamber. Soper said he directed his GOP colleagues to leave via a group chat.

Soper: “They were running an amendment. So we have the Rule 16 vote. We were talking. Do we walk out? Do we not walk out? And we have a group chat. And I wrote, ‘Walk, Walk now.’ And there was still some negotiations about, well, do we wait for two more of these votes? And I just packed up my bag, stuck my laptop in it, walked around to the front, and I walked straight down the center aisle.”

So how can Republicans say they have no records after one of them publicly described the content, date, and time of a specific message he says he sent?

The question highlights a glaring hole in Colorado’s Open Records Act (CORA): there isn’t any requirement for lawmakers to preserve emails or other digital communications. In fact, the state Legislature recommends its elected officials delete their emails after 30 days.

“CORA does not contain a specific requirement regarding the length of time a custodian must maintain a public record,” explains the state office of Legislative Legal Services. “Custodians and agencies can make their own determination of the appropriate length of time a record must be kept or archived. For example, the policy adopted by the Colorado General Assembly recommends the deletion of electronic mail messages within 30 days in most circumstances.”

Furthermore, open records requests can only be fulfilled if the requested records still exist. Most common messaging apps such as Signal can be set to delete messages automatically after a certain number of days, hours, or even immediately after reading. Presuming that Soper and his colleagues were using one of these apps, the messages could very well no longer exist.


Democrats and Winner Take All Primaries

With all the differences that exists between Republicans and Democrats politically, it’s easy to overlook the differences between the respective parties’ nomination processes.  Republican delegates are awarded in a variety of ways ranging from proportional allocations, to winners of specific congressional districts, to the winner-take-all system.  Democrats are more consistent, with delegates generally awarded proportionately if a candidate gets more then 15% of the voter (yes, there are exceptions).  

So what would happen if the Dems awarded delegates more like Republicans?  What if they used a winner take all system?  The result may surprise you.…

This RasmussenReports story shows how a simple change in how delegates are awarded would change the dynamics of this race.

As RasmussenReports points out, no one is trying to say that the rules should change for this race (but as a Haners side question, would you put it past Hillary to try?), my question to everyone is simple: should Democrats switch to a winner-take-all system for awarding delegates?

Poll follows….

Should Democrats award delegates on a winner-take-all system?

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