Why it’s a bad idea to explain how you’d cheat the election system, especially if you’re CO’s Secretary of State

October 27th, 2016

Appearing on KNUS 710-AM Oct. 22, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams explained to host Chuck Bonniwell and co-host Julie Hayden how he’d commit election fraud, if Williams were a bad guy, an “unethical Democrat,” as Boniwell put it.

Bonniwell: What would you do if you were a nefarious person trying to cheat the Colorado System? …This is what I would do. I’m not going to. I’m not saying I would do it. But if I were an unethical Democrat trying to rig the system, what would you tell them? How would you do it? You wouldn’t do it, but just to help [inaudible]. What would you do to corrupt the system?

Williams: If I were advising someone, it would not be through the system of online voter registration, because you got to have a driver’s license for that. The easiest way to do that in Colorado is you go in with a non-verifiable ID, a utility bill, and register to vote using that. And you cast a ballot with that. That’s why I think we need photo ID. I have testified asking the legislature to pass photo ID when I was a county commissioner, when I was a county clerk, when I was secretary of state. And they’ve never done it.

Williams said 50 Colorado voters, who registered and voted same day, later did return a post card from the address provided, raising questions about who they were and where they went. But this is light years away from proving that fraud was committed, and it’s consistent with how many citizens live. That is, they move a lot.

In fact, voter fraud has been shown to be an almost nonexistent problem in states like Colorado that don’t require photo idea. A recent Loyala study gives you the details. In the wake of Trump’s accusations about voter fraud, media outlets across the country have confirmed that voter fraud is a nonissue in the U.S.

And Williams didn’t discuss the flip side, namely that photo ID laws stop legitimate voters from casting ballots. In nine states that passed such laws, it’s estimated that over 3 million voters will be affected.  That’s the real issue here.

If you look into it (I did here), you know it’s really hard for many Colorado citizens to obtain a photo ID, and a photo ID law would almost certainly stop many folks from voting.

To his credit, Williams went on to say on air that Colorado does a good job at preventing election fraud, and he’s told other media outlets election fraud is not a problem in Colorado.

In light of all this, it seems that, if you’re Colorado’s secretary of state, and you’re asked how to commit voter fraud, your fact-based-PR-person, Lynn Bartels, should whisper in your ear, “Don’t explain how almost no one does it! Say, it’s a non-issue, and tell the conservative radio hosts to focus on encouraging everyone to vote!”

Woods likes Facebook post accusing Obama of treason

October 26th, 2016

woods-likes-comment-accusing-obama-of-treasonState Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada) has apparently liked a Facebook post accusing President Obama of treason.

In a Facebook discussion Oct. 23, Woods liked this comment, which was provided by a source:

“I’ll tell you what is dangerous. Having a lying, treasonous President! Obama illegally takes millions of US taxpayer dollars, ‘launder’ them into Swiss francs, and ships them to Iran…. That in turn gives the money to ISIS to kill Americans. That used to be called TREASON!”

Woods, who does not return my calls to discuss posts like this, makes no secret of her ultra-conservative beliefs, leading The Denver Post to label her as “one of the most conservative lawmakers in the chamber.”

She’s stood by her conservative positions, despite having to defend her record in one of Colorado’s most competitive state senate districts, where she faces Democrat Rachel Zenzinger.

But aligning herself with those who accuse Obama of treason? A reporter who has access to Woods should find out what’s up. It brings up basic questions about her judgment that should be answered before Colorado’s most important state senate race is decided.


“Ubiquitous” Marcus heads to CO Springs Gazette

October 26th, 2016

More moves in Colorado’s political jounalism world. In his “Local News and Media” newsletter, Corey Hutchins reports:

Readers of this newsletter over the past few weeks likely have noticed The Gazette in Colorado Springs is making moves under its new editor, Vince Bzdek, who came from The Washington Post last spring. A bevy of new hires— Joey Bunch from The Denver Post, Jim Trotter from Rocky Mountain PBS— is forming a political team with a goal of ramping up statewide political coverage. The paper, owned by conservative Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz, is already doing its own polling, a service other Colorado newspapers have scrapped as their resources dwindle. The latest hire to the politics team is Peter Marcus, a young and ubiquitous reporter who spent the past few years at The Durango Herald and was at The Colorado Statesman before that.




Singleton rips Donald Trump

October 25th, 2016

On KNUS over the weekend, former Denver Post owner Dean Singleton called Donald Trump “an intellectual nutcase” and a “demagogue,” who “never had a chance to win.”

“The problem for the country is, [Trump] is going to take the Senate with him…” said Singleton, who nevertheless stated on air he’s voting for his friend Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. “The Republicans are going to lose the Senate, for certain.”

Singleton said, “I’m voting for Hillary Clinton, because she’s the only competent person running.”

Denver Post likes Doug Lamborn again! But why?

October 25th, 2016

I haven’t seen U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn behave any better over the past two years than he has previously, but he’s apparently impressed The Denver Post, which endorsed him yesterday, after eloquently calling for his ouster last time.

The Denver Post in 2014:

Under the headline, “Oust Lamborn, restore dignity to Colorado’s 5th CD,” The Post wrote:

Rep. Doug Lamborn last month demonstrated yet again why he should do Coloradans a favor and find another job…Lamborn was at an event in Colorado Springs recently when someone asked him about support for the military “despite the fact that there is no leadership from the Muslim Brotherhood in the White House.” At which point, Lamborn launched into an astonishing statement.

“You know what,” he said, “I can’t add anything to that, but … a lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, ‘Hey, if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation. Let’s have a public resignation, state your protest, and go out in a blaze of glory.’ ”

We don’t know what part of that response is more outrageous.

Is it the fact that Lamborn failed to rebuke — or distance himself — from someone who effectively called the president an agent of a foreign Islamist group? Rather than evince concern, Lamborn actually smiled and said, “I can’t add anything to that.” Or is the most distressing part his urging generals to politicize serious disagreements they might have with the president by taking them public in flamboyant resignations?

The Denver Post this year:

Doug Lamborn, who has served the 5th CD in the greater Colorado Springs area since 2006, has been the kind of conservative representative befitting of the district, and voters there have rewarded him in primary challenges. While we like more independent-minded representatives, this is a Republican you can count on if what you want is a reliable GOP vote.

This year’s endorsement not only fails to explain why Lamorn redeemed himself this year, but it articulates why The Post doesn’t like him–as opposed to why it’s endorsing him. Oh well.

Key state senate race starting to get media attention but more is needed

October 25th, 2016

With a few of our more bigger badder news outlets (CPR, Denver Post, Fox 31 Denver, and KMGH-TV Denver 7) finally getting around to covering Arvada’s state senate race, which is the most important contest this election, the simple point should be made: follow-up stories are needed.

The candidates, Republican Laura Woods and Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, aren’t being challenged sufficiently on their stances on the issues (See some of their positions, on abortion to guns, here) or on the politics of the race. Some outlets have returned to the races a few times in coverage, which is good, but more attention is required. Some of our state’s most prestigious news entities have essentially dropped the ball on the race.

I’m not saying Aurora’s congressional race, our ballot measures, or other races aren’t important too, but if political journalists want to help voters understand what’s at stake this election cycle, they should turn their attention repeatedly to Senate District 19—and, to a lesser extent, other key state senate races.

Here’s a video to emphasize the point.

Where the candidates in Colorado’s most important race stand on specific issues

October 24th, 2016

In a welcome Denver Post piece Sunday about the most important election contests in Colorado—the under-the-radar races that will likely determine if Democrats take control of the state senate—State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada/Westminster) is referred to as “one of the most conservative lawmakers in the chamber.”

The Post article links to Post reporter John Frank’s detailed analysis of legislative votes showing how Woods, during her first year in office, voted with seven other GOP state senators on the far right fringe of the GOP, mirroring the marginalized votes of extreme Republicans in the U.S. Congress.

The linked article matters a lot, because Woods faces Democrat Rachel Zenzinger in an Arvada/Westminster race that’s a tossup going into the final two weeks, so voters should know what’s what with these two candidates.

Here’s a few more details on the candidates stands, retrieved from various sources.


Woods wants to pass a personhood abortion ban, making all abortion illegal, even after rape or incest.

Zenzinger is pro-choice, favoring the option of abortion for women.


Woods opposes criminal background checks for gun purchases at gun shows and elsewhere, and she wants citizens to be allowed to openly carry a gun in public.

Zenzinger backs laws requiring criminal background checks prior to gun purchases, and she opposes open carry.


Woods backs vouchers, allowing parents to use public tax dollars to pay for private schools for their kids. (And Woods has been endorsed backed by ousted Jeffco school board member Julie Williams.)

Zenzinger opposes vouchers.

Planned Parenthood

Woods proposes de-funding Planned Parenthood, forcing the organization to turn away about 1,000 patients in Arvada.

Zenzinger supports federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Teen pregnancy

Woods voted against a successful teen-pregnancy prevention program.

Zenzinger backs the teen pregnancy prevention measure.

Same-sex marriage.

Woods opposes same-sex marriage.

Zenzinger supports it.


Bush cousin Stapleton doesn’t denounce Trump

October 24th, 2016

In an appearance on KNUS 710-AM’s Kelley and Kafer Oct. 11, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton chose not to disavow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump–as Stapleton’s second cousin, failed presidential canidate Jeb Bush, has done.

Asked by host Steve Kelley for a “quick comment” about the “top of the ticket,” Stapleton stopped short of denouncing the mogul:

Stapleton: “Well, you know, I think it’s a messy situation. It’s an unfortunate situation. I think it’s a lost opportunity to expose the many, many flaws that Hillary Clinton has.  I think she’s a very duplicitous individual. And I just wish we could find a way to pull it together. And in the last month of the campaign, we should be uniting Republicans, not dividing Republicans. So, I’m pretty frustrated, as you might imagine, with the ‘macro’ — I guess — state of affairs on the national level, which is why I am really redoubling my efforts to focus here in Colorado on what’s at stake on the ballot this election cycle.”

The radio appearance marks the second time Stapleton, who’s mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2018, has passed on a chance denounce Trump. Last week, the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland posted a story about the reaction of Colorado Republicans to Trump, and Stapleton did not return the Independent’s request to comment.

Other Replicans rumored to be considering future runs for statewide office,  Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and District Attorney George Brauchler, did not returns calls and/or emails from The Independent.

With Trump unlikely to disappear from the national Republican stage after the upcoming election, the current stance of future Republican candidates toward Trump could prove important next year and beyond.

Stapleton is the second cousin of former President George W. Bush and of failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who sparred with Trump repeatedly during the Republican presidential primary. Jeb’s and W’s father, and Stapleton’s first cousin, is former President George Herbert Walker Bush, with “Walker” as the linneage connecting Walker Stapleton to the Bushes.

Jeb Bush has stated that he will not vote for Trump, and neither will his mother Barbara Bush.

Jeb Bush, whom Stapleton supported of course, wrote on Facebook:

Jeb Bush: The American Presidency is an office that goes beyond just politics. It requires of its occupant great fortitude and humility and the temperament and strong character to deal with the unexpected challenges that will inevitably impact our nation in the next four years.

Donald Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character. He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution. And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy.

The reaction of Colorado Republicans to Trump has spanned the full spectrum, from enthusiastic support to denunciation.

Woods apparently thinks twice about thanking Democrats

October 21st, 2016

Woods deleted Facebook postRepublican State Sen. Laura Woods of Arvada has removed a post from her Facebook page, in which she thanked alleged “supporters from the Democrat Party.”

It appears that Woods was referring to members of a Facebook group called, “Democrats for Senator Laura Woods,” who joined with Woods at a parade last month. “It was awesome to have you there,” Woods wrote on Facebook.

As I posted last week, none of the group’s members have been shown to actually live in Woods’ district and so they cannot vote for her, with one member registered to vote as far away as Boone, North Carolina.

Another group member, pictured on the site, was registered as a Republican, until asked about his voter registration last week, at which time he registered as a Democrat, saying it was a mistake.

Woods did not return a call seeking an explanation for removing the post.

In addition to possible concerns about the group’s members who can’t vote for her, Woods may worry that promoting Democrats on her site would turn away Trump supporters, whom she says are a key part of her path to victory in her district.

Woods, who’s long supported Trump and forgives him for his lewd comments, told a Denver radio station last week:

“I think if Donald Trump wins my district, I’m likely to,” Woods said on air. “And if Hillary Clinton wins my district, my opponent is likely to win.”


Forget the rabbit hole, Coffman is opposed to a path to citizenship for immigrants

October 20th, 2016

9News anchor Kyle Clark did an excellent job interviewing U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman Tuesday, and his Democratic challenger Morgan Carroll Monday, pressing them on a range of issues.

On immigration, Clark asked Coffman what he’d propose for adult undocumented immigrants:

Coffman: “As long as they haven’t violated criminal laws to give them a legalized status that would allow them to work here without fear of deportation.

Clark: “Not citizenship but legal status?”

Coffman: “Legal status.”

Clark: “Any path to citizenship for those people?”

Coffman: “No. No.”

But without skipping a beat, Coffman kind of contradicted himself, with the camera rolling, saying he could possibly support a path to citizenship.

Coffman: “I don’t want to box myself in. If we get into negotiations, and there’s everything that I like, and it would be a very long path, and very selective. You know, I don’t want to totally back myself—but ideally I would say no.”

If you’re a journalist, what do you do with Coffman’s qualifier? Do you say he’s opposed to a citizenship path? Against it, unless he’s for it?

In a news segment yesterday based on the interview, Clark contrasted Coffman’s stance against a path to citizenship with Carroll’s position in favor of it. He didn’t mention Coffman’s qualifying comments.

In an email, I asked Clark why he apparently concluded that Coffman is against a path to citizenship.

Clark: “I took Representative Coffman’s answer to mean that he is not in favor of a path to citizenship but stopped short of saying he’d never support it,” wrote Clark.

Clark could have gone down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out, specifically, what Coffman means by theoretically favoring a citizenship path if negotiations produce “everything that I like.”

But it’s a rabbit hole other reporters have tried to go down without coming up with specifics on what Coffman wants for citizenship. And besides, Coffman’s statement, especially with “ideally no” tacked on, is clear enough as it is.

So Clark was right to conclude Coffman opposes a path to citizenship.

Plus, it’s consistent with Coffman’s stance historically. When a specific proposal for a path to citizenship was on the table, and negotiations were possible, as part of the bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill that passed the U.S. Senate in 2013, Coffman opposed the bill.

But Coffman said at the time he might support comprehensive reform, piece-by-piece, some other time. But, over three years, we’ve seen no specifics from Coffman on a citizenship path for adults.

As Lizeth Chacon wrote in an Aurora Sentinel op-ed yesterday:

For Republicans grappling with immigration in 2013, opposing the Senate’s Gang of Eight plan was more than just splitting hairs on the particulars of a bill – or advocating a “slower” approach, as the Post characterized it.  Rather it was a decision that doomed reform in an attempt to appease anti-immigrant hardliners in the conservative base.

For Mike Coffman, it also meant that this so-called “leader” on immigration reform placed himself squarely to the right of Republicans like John McCain and Marco Rubio, senators who actually took a position and passed legislation.

Coffman has since tried to cover up for his opposition by saying he believes comprehensive reform can be done in pieces. What the media in general has failed to understand, however, is that this procedural talking point represents Coffman’s biggest and most craven reversal on the issue.

Congress usually passes landmark pieces of legislation by clearing the deck of all sticky issues at once and including give-and-take compromises designed to attract enough supporters from both parties to ensure passage. That’s why the word “comprehensive” in immigration reform is so important.

The good news is, thanks to the intersection of an election and journalism, we can now definitively conclude, after years of equivocation, Coffman is against a path to citizenship.