Fact Check:  Gardner opposed comprehensive immigration reform and backed government shutdown

July 25th, 2016

In an editorial this weekend holding out U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner as the model of the way forward for the Republican Party, The Denver Post claimed Gardner “supports comprehensive immigration reform.”

In fact, Gardner opposed a 2103 comprehensive immigration reform bill, which died in the Republican-controlled House, after it passed by a bipartisan 68-32 vote in the U.S. Senate.

Gardner said at the time immigration reform has to start with border security, and he called for  “additional personnel on the border,” an “e-verify system,” and “additional security, a fence, you name it, on the border.”

Sounds much like Trump, even though The Post’s editorial, titled “How will the GOP rebuild after Trump,” aimed to contrast Gardner with Trump.

Since then, Gardner has called for immigration reform, but the issues section of his website doesn’t list immigration at all. There’s no indication that his position has changed or that he’s for comprehensive immigration reform, in any real sense of the term.

Rep. Mike Coffman, who also opposed the bipartisan U.S. Senate bill in 2013, uses the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform,” but his website says it “must first begin with the comprehensive enforcement of our immigration laws.”

To my way of thinking, if you demand undefined border enforcement first, leaving out the other elements of comprehensive immigration reform, like a path to citizenship, you’re really not for comprehensive immigration reform. It’s not comprehensive.

The Post also claimed Gardner was against the 2013 government shutdown. In fact, 9News’ political reporter Brandon Rittiman determined that in 2014, even though Gardner voted to end the shutdown once it started, “Gardner did vote in line with the Republican strategy that led to the government shutdown.”

Hickenlooper book doesn’t convey just how good journalism has been to him

July 23rd, 2016

In his new autobiography, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper offers lots of kind thoughts about journalism, which has served him well, but he doesn’t give the Rocky Mountain News the credit it deserves for launching his political career.

If you were around in 2003, you know that an early Rocky endorsement of Hick was essential to his second-place finish in the Denver mayoral primary, setting him up to easily defeat then city auditor Don Mares in a runoff election.

I documented the editorial’s unbelievable impact a few years ago, collecting quotes from numerous campaign staff and politicos about the importance of the editorial.

Even Hick told me, “I could not have possibly won without that endorsement.” His former wife Helen Thorpe called it a “game changer.”

But Hick’s autobiography gives it short shrift. The book calls the endorsement “glowing” and, in passing, “campaign-altering.” And recounts the strategic plan to land it.

Hick also provides an excerpt of the editorial, written by Rocky editorial page editor Vincent Carroll.

But the book doesn’t adequately convey just how much legitimacy and fuel that the Rocky’s endorsement gave Hickenlooper’s fledgling campaign at the time.

As such, the autobiography doesn’t do justice to what’s easily the most influential newspaper editorial in memory and probably in Colorado history.

Journalism aficionados will enjoy The Opposite of Woe anyway, as it has lots of tidbits about different scribes in Denver.

Hick writes warmly of journalism throughout the book. He became an English major with the intention of becoming an “author-journalist,” having been inspired by his journalist aunt and by Gil Spencer, who was his Little League baseball coach in New Jersey (before Spencer became a Denver Post editor).

“Also, it seemed to me that girls always went for writers,” Hick admits in the book, written with Denver journalist Maximillian Potter. “Lord knows, I needed all the help I could get in that department.” On the downside, writing required that Hick “sit down, be still, be alone.” Not what he wanted to do.

The Governor, who’s scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention, has said he’s troubled about the demise of journalism, and he repeats this in the autobiography, writing at one point that he’s come to appreciate even more during his years in public service that journalism “plays a critical role in effecting change.” (In the process of praising journalism, he slams bloggers a bit, but I’ll forgive him.)

Hick tells us about Westword Editor Patricia Calhoun being a “member of our think tank,” when he first ran for mayor. He recounts the spectacularly successful media stunts at the Wynkoop brewery, such as the running of the pigs.  And his media-driven campaign to save the name “Mile High Stadium.”

You get a sense from the book that Hick was cozy with gossip columnists like the Rocky’s Bill Husted and The Denver Post’s Dick “Mr. Beer” Kreck. But what doesn’t come through is the fact that they (and other columnists) fawned over the brew pub owner, mentioning him constantly in their columns, and making a bit of a folk hero out of him (at least among elites) before he ran for office.

Hick writes about how Denver Post Owner Dean Singleton was “adamant” and “demanded” that Hick launch a mayoral run, because, Hick writes, Singleton was angry at Mares “over management of Winter Park.”

“Dean wanted anyone but Don Mares to be the next mayor,” writes Hick. “He thought I was the only hope of preventing a Mares victory in nine months.”

Hick has a way morphing himself and others this way and that, as we all know, and it’s illustrated nicely in the book with an anecdote about KNUS 710-AM talk-radio host Peter Boyles, formerly a respected journalist-type, who now unfairly uses Hickenlooper as his poster child for evil politicians.

But Hick finds a way to be nice to Boyles in the book—and for Boyles to laud him.

Hick tells the story about how, as mayor, he called Boyles’ radio show to announce his decision not to replace “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” on the City and County Building, reversing a decision Hick had made to remove “Merry Christmas.”

Hick writes, “How refreshing, Boyles said, to hear an elected official own up to a boneheaded mistake and not try to defend it. With the best of intentions, I had made a mistake. I admitted it and corrected it. To me, it was as simple as that.”

I doubt Boyles has complimented Hick since then. And we’re stuck with Merry Christmas on the City and County Building. So it goes in reality.

And, as the book’s story-telling shows, Hick continues to be a master of the media, which has been a huge strength of his from the get-go.

Journalism been good for him, and he’s been good for journalism. And we’ve all benefited.

Klingenschmitt is a Colorado connection to Pence

July 22nd, 2016

Klingenschmitt on GOP vice presidential candidate Pence

Reporters looking for local hooks to Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence may be interested in a Facebook post from state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs), in which he wrote that Pence helped him demand that military chaplains, like Klingenschmitt, be allowed to conduct Christian services in uniform.

Klingenschmitt wrote that Pence  “personally helped me get 70 signitures on a letter to the President demanding we let military chaplains pray ‘in Jessus’ name.'”

In the Facebook post, Klingenschmitt, who goes by Dr. Chaps, claims to have met Pence “walking the halls of Congress in 2005.”

Klingenschmitt did not immediately return a call seeking details.

The pray-in-uniform campaign, which was assisted by Pence, essentially launched Klingenschmitt’s career as a Republican gadfly and social-conservative activist, anchored by his “Pray in Jesus Name” podcast.

Last year, Klingenschmitt said Pence “did the right thing” by signing an Indiana law allowing businesses to discriminate against gays. Listen to Klingenschmitt’s podcast on the topic here.

“I discern the spirit of god on Mike Pence who is standing up for righteousness,” said Klingenschmitt at 6:35.

Klingenschmitt said that the “gay left” was lying in stating that the law allows discrimination. After a national outcry, Pence revised tha law.

Klingenschmitt is widely known for his right-wing comments and actions, including his alleged exorcism on a lesbian soldier, during which he claims to have said, “You foul spirit of lesbianism, this woman has renounced you, come out of her in Jesus’ name.”

Correction: Klingenschmitt is not a former lawmaker, as an earlier version of this post stated. He gave up his state house seat to run for the state senate, but he lost. His term ends in January.

Woods’ strategy of standing behind her right-wing positions deserves more media scrutiny

July 21st, 2016

Woods shares video opposing abortion for incest

State Sen. Laura Woods continues to differentiate herself from Colorado Republicans, like U.S. Senator Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman, who’ve tried to disavow their extreme anti-choice records–or dodge questions about abortion.

Woods, on the other hand, has embraced a personhood abortion ban, with no exceptions for rape and incestthroughout her political career, starting in the 2014 primary and general election and continuing at the Capitol, where she not only sponsored a abortion-ban legislation but also a bill requiring women to be offered an ultrasound prior to having an abortion (and also to wait 24 hours before having the procedure).

Today, as in July 21, 2016, the stakes are higher than ever. Woods’ district will likely determine control of Colorado state government, and Woods isn’t doing the Buckpedal–or whatever you want to call the dance senatorial candidate Ken Buck, Gardner and Coffman have performed as they tried to distance themselves from right-wing positions they’d taken during their careers.

Woods, a Republican from Westminster/Arvada, isn’t trying to hide her opposition to all abortion, even for incest, even though political observers say it will hurt her in November.

Take, for example, the video Woods shared on Facebook this week from LiveAction, a anti-choice group.

It shows a woman who’s asked the question, “Do you support aborting the child if it was a case of incest?” (at 2:55 here)

“Yeah,” she replies.

Then the woman is pictured watching a video of an abortion, which convinces her that abortion should not be allowed in cases of incest.

Woods does not return my calls, so I can’t talk to her about the video or whether she thinks her no-compromise stance against abortion, even for incest, will help her hold back a challenge from pro-choice Democrat Rachel Zenzinger in November.

But, judging from other interviews, it appears that Woods thinks she need not take middle-of-the-road positions to win in her swingiest of swing districts, where she won by 650 votes in the Republican wave year of 2014. She’s vowed to stand by her conservative principles.

Woods’ anti-Buckpedal dance, which you could call a form of political chest thumping, deserves more media scrutiny than it’s getting.

Radio interview gives listeners a good overall understanding of U.S. Senate candidate Glenn

July 20th, 2016

If you’re still trying to understand Republican U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn, consider listening to the interview of Glenn that aired on Colorado Public Radio last month. It’s one of the most illuminating interviews Glenn of  so far.

Host Ryan Warner touched on a bunch of topics, first explaining that Glenn, who describes himself as an “unapologetic Christian, constitutional conservative pro-life, Second-Amendment-loving American,” is an El Paso Country Commissioner whose low-budget primary victory was fueled by a powerful speech at a Colorado Republican convention and his endorsements from Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz.

A good radio interview gives you an overall sense of the interviewee, in addition to the substance. And Warner’s interview of Glenn shows the candidate’s combativeness and confidence. So you should listen to the interview, not just read it, though you can do both here.

Warner pushes Glenn with admirable persistence on global warming, which Glenn rejects as being caused by humans. Here’s the exchange:

Warner: To get you on the record, you do not agree with the majority of scientists who say climate change has human causes. Is that correct?

Glenn: Well that’s your assumption. You’re bringing an assumption to the table and the premise to your question has me to basically adopt your position and I can’t do that without verifiable data.

Warner: Oh it’s not my position. It’s that the majority of scientists believe that climate change has a human caused component. Do you concur with them?

Glenn: Again, you are bringing facts to the particular issue that I don’t have, been presented to me. You’re saying that the majority of scientists are saying that. That’s your statement.

Warner: Right. Well, that’s a fact. Is it a fact that you agree with?

Glenn: Well that’s the fact that you’re representing and I don’t accept your premise of that question.

Warner: Do you believe that climate change has human causes?

Glenn: Well again, I would, I am a data guy, I would want to see the, a verifiable information of that.

Warner: There’s a lot out there. Have you looked at it?

Glenn: We’ve looked at a lot of things. We’ve also looked at that and we’ve also looked at the economic impact of this policy and how they are disproportionally hurting people when it comes to their livelihood. So that’s really where the focus is. We need to make sure we’re looking at policies like that that we’re looking at both sides of the equation instead of just one. And unfortunately I gotta head into another interview. But I really appreciate this opportunity. I look forward to talking to you again in the future.

Warner: Thanks for your time.

On taxes, Glenn told Warner he supports something like a flat tax.

Glenn: “And then you need to come up with a tax philosophy that’s simplified, something that’s easy for people to understand that allows people to contribute their fair share, in my opinion, probably a flat tax rate is something that we should look at.”

Glenn told Warner he does not believe that suspected terrorists on the government’s “no fly” list should be prohibited from buying guns, because the no-fly list is not accurate enough and could delay or stop innocent Americans from buying firearms.

Glenn backs Trump, yet he would not answer a series of questions from Warner about Trump policies, including whether he supports Trump’s proposal to force Mexico to build a wall on the border. And Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

 

Republican TV star’s policy stances absent from media coverage

July 19th, 2016

What does it take to score national media coverage even before you decide to run for a northwest Denver state house seat? Try being the star of ABC’s hit show, “The Bachelor.”

Bachelor star Ben Higgins has been stacking up the news coverage for his decision to run, as a Republican, for Colorado House District 4, which is an incredibly progressive northwest Denver district. I should know; I live there. Voters in HD 4 sent Democrat Dan Pabon into office with a 78 to 22 percent margin in 2014, and it’s hard to imagine his DUI arrest would turn voters to any Republican.

So how is Higgins possibly going to win in HD4? Is Higgins going to be some kind of anti-Republican Republican?

News coverage of the race didn’t illuminate his specific policy positions. So I called him with questions, and he had time to answer four on my list, leaving 21 queries for later, I hope.

This week, the biggest question for Republicans like Higgins is, will they vote for their party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump?

“How everybody votes is up to them,” said Higgins, declining to answer my question of whether he’d vote for Trump.

It’s a “good thing” that Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, is from Indiana, said Higgins, who’s also from Indiana, but he doesn’t know enough about Pence, a right-wing conservative, to comment on him.

Higgins would not say whether he’s pro-choice.

“My goal as a representative will be to listen to people’s stories,” said Higgins. “We can get in the weeds and the gray areas all the time. When it comes to any social issue, my decisions we be based on my foundation, which is my faith, and I will listen to people’s stories.”

Colorado Statesman referred to Higgins’ Christian faith, but Higgins has not detailed how it would play into the mix in his policy decisions.  From the Statesman:

While producers didn’t emphasize it on the show’s 20th season, fans have flocked to Higgins in part because of his strong Christian faith, demonstrated by a prominent tattoo that has been visible in his shirtless appearances on the show and on social media. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed — Proverbs 16:34,” the tattoo reads. (It should read “Proverbs 16:3,” Higgins acknowledges, but the tattoo artist mistakenly added a “4.”)

The business analyst from Warsaw, Indiana, was considered “such a catch” that contestants competed for his affection more intensely than in any previous season, The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss told E! News in January.

Asked about gay marriage, Higgins said, “I am about everything that makes people happy. I believe love is love.”

In another Statesman piece June 2, Higgins was praised by well-known conservatives Jon Caldara, president of the right-leaning Independence Institute, and former GOP State Sen. John Andrews. For his part, Higgins was vague, according to the Statesman:

“My objective is sparking a movement to engage people in our community, working to find common ground and making a positive impact,” Higgins said, thanking Caldara and Andrews for their advice. “I know with the blessings God has given me, I can provide some of the leadership and support for such a movement.”

“My priority is giving back to my community and serving my neighbors. Since the conclusion of The Bachelor, I have been exploring how I can best be of service,” Higgins said in a statement. “I am definitely not a politician, but I have a lot to offer through my years in the financial services industry and, more importantly, my work in charitable and humanitarian organizations.”

A new reality-tv show, depicting the life of Higgins and his fiancee, is set to air in the Fall.

“In fact, this new TV program would provide the chance for me to talk directly to an expanded number of HD4 residents, rather than face the same obstacle experienced by most candidates — having their message ignored by the news media,” Higgins wrote, according to the Statesman.

 

 

Adams County GOP chair did not mean that all Black Lives Matter protesters are “Punk ass bitches”

July 18th, 2016

Sampson Facebook Post

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Adams County Republican chair John Sampson called Black Lives Matter “Punk Ass Bitches,” but in an interview the next day, he said he was only referring to those “who assault us, who burn, who loot, or who destroy property, because they’re having a temper tantrum.”

I called Sampson after reading his Facebook post, which stated:

To Black Lives Matter, I say this. ALL lives matter. But then again, you should already know this. Somehow you feel as if anyone of color should be held in a higher regard than those who are “not of color”.

That somehow, Black Lives Matter MORE than any WHITE or ASIAN person’s life. Say what??? And that’s the one word missing from your group’s name. It should be, given your agenda, “Black Lives Matter More”. More than “whitey”. More than “Asians”. More than Society as a whole. You’ll understand when I say you are, to use the current vernacular, “Punk Ass Bitches…”

To the “Punk Ass Bitches”, you will not destroy us. You WILL, however, destroy yourselves. with a little help from the rest of us. You are either WITH us, or AGAINST us.

But Sampson said emphatically that he did not mean to disparage all Black Lives Matter protesters, whose right to protest he respects.

“The punk-ass bitches are the ones demanding that we destroy society without having any idea of how to resolve the problem and what to replace it with,” he said. “They are out there simply to destroy it, simply for the sake of destroying it. Those are the punk-ass bitches.”

Last month, Sampson, who believes Obama uses the Social Security number issued to a now dead Connecticut man in 1977, posted anti-Islamic bigotry for the sake discussion, he said.

Adams County is widely regarded as a critical battleground in November’s election.

Reporter should have asked candidate why Palin’s speech was “just spot on”

July 13th, 2016

Colorado state senate candidate Nancy Doty praised Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s speech in Colorado last week, calling it “just spot on” and “very, very good.”

Doty made the comments to KNUS 710-AM’s Julie Hayden, who bumped into Doty at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver July 2.

“I thought Sarah Palin was right on, just spot on!” Doty told Hayden when asked for her “thoughts” on the speeches. “She was very, very good – brought a clear message that people need to get on board.  And I really enjoyed hearing [Donald] Trump.”

Given that she’s a reporter for Fox 31 Denver, Hayden knows that people want more details about Doty’s assessment of Palin. “Spot on” is exuberant and laudatory, but what really stood out for Doty, beyond the message to get on the Trump train? And what did Doty “really” enjoy about hearing Trump?

Doty, who’s an Arapahoe County Commissioner running against Democratic Rep. Daniel Kagan to represent Colorado Senate District 26, didn’t return a call to explain, so I’m forced to speculate.

Palin’s speech amounted to a semi-understandable endorsement of Trump. So it’s not surprising that Doty, who’s said she’ll back Trump, would like it.

But Palin went beyond expressing support for Trump. She raved about him.

She derisively referred to Republicans who oppose Trump, the #NeverTrump people, as RATs (Republicans Against Trump).

If you look at the folks who vote in Doty’s district, you have to think Doty needs to win over a lot of ticket-splitting RATs to defeat Kagan. Is Doty worried about offending the RATs by, well, calling them vermin? Or saying it’s spot on to do so?

Then there was the part of Palin’s speech when she said Trump “really connects.” “We found a messenger!” said Palin.

That’s “spot on” only if you’re not a woman, not a Hispanic, not African-American, or not just about everybody.

I guess it’s spot-on true, as Palin said, that Trump is a messenger for the Tea Party.

Trump, Palin said, is the standard bearer for a “grassroots, populist movement that’s fertilized by the still passionate Tea Party, in all its glorious independence.”

Does Doty think the Tea Party is spot-on in its “glorious independence,” as in shutting down the federal government, denying global warming, blocking bipartisan immigration reform, etc?

I could go on, but I won’t.

And I haven’t even touched on why Doty “really enjoyed” hearing Trump.

Lots for Hayden dig into during her next interview with Doty.

LISTEN TO DOTY HERE:

Statesman freelancer calls on Mizel to come clean

July 12th, 2016

Colorado journalist David O. Williams has a great post in RealVail.com today, based on his decades of newspaper-industry experience up there, beautifully illustrating the dangers and weirdness of anonymous political journalism and calling on Republican mega-donor Larry Mizel, who’s been raising cash for Donald Trump, to come clean about whether he owns the Colorado Statesman.

I’ve shown that Mizel, in fact, controls the Statesman, which makes Williams’ post today all the more admirable, because Williams is a Statesman freelancer, whose last Statesman piece appeared in June 15. He’s written a handful of stories for the political weekly this year, one of them co-authored by John Tomasic.

Here’s part of what Williams wrote about Mizel in his post today:

“For me, the issue of ownership now raises the question of what Colorado political stories the Statesman is choosing to cover, and what stories the venerable political journal is ignoring.

And if you’re scratching the checks for a publication these days, why not just put your name on it and end the mystery, even if your agenda really is just about getting one person or a group of like-minded people elected to political office? Then let your readers judge whether your reporting is biased based on your agenda or fairly reflects the views of the opposition.”

You should take a moment to read Williams’ entire post, but it will be interesting to see how Williams is received by the Statesman, now that he’s challenged Mizel. I honestly wouldn’t expect any repercussions for Williams.

But wouldn’t it be nice if Mizel took this issue off the table by laying out his relationship with the Statesman?

Correction: an early version of this blog post indicated that Williams’ last Statesman article appeared in May. It was actually June 15.

“Really, there’s no ground game,” says Adams County GOP Chair of Trump efforts

July 12th, 2016

After Colorado Trump campaign director Patrick Davis said last week that Trump will rely on the “robust operations” of the Colorado Republican Party to mobilize voters in November, a key county Republican chair said Saturday there’s no signs of any Trump ground game in Adams County, a critical battleground in our state.

ADAMS COUNTY GOP CHAIRMAN, ANIL MATHAI: Honestly, I have not seen [the Trump ground game] in Adams County.
KNUS RADIO HOST CHUCK BONNIWELL: [chuckles, knowingly]
MATHAI: It’s consistent with what happened before caucus. Really, there’s no ground game. There’s no campaign here in the state. I know that [Republican donor and Colorado Statesman owner] Mr. Mizel is helping with fundraising here in Colorado. Also, I believe Mike Shanahan and Pete Coors are helping to raise major donations for Mr. Trump.
CO-HOST JULIE HAYDEN: Right.
MATHAI: So, there is activity going on. It’s going to ramp up. But honestly, there is no real solid ground game here.And that needs to be increased. And the state party, [Sate GOP Chair Steve House], I believe, is working on that.
BONNIWELL: Well, you better get to it one of these days. [laughs]
HAYDEN: I agree with you, there, too. I was worried that that was going to be your answer because, you know, just as a reporter, having covered it and sometimes seeing the difference in sort of the Democratic Party’s ground game and the Republican Party’s ground game – it seems to me it can make a big difference.
MATHAI: It can. And we expect – I expect the state party, and I believe, will set the tone on this and set the leadership on this. They’re having a unity tour for, uh, Darryl Glenn up and down the state, going to different places, here. Yeah, it starts in Larimer at, I believe, nine o’clock, and then all the way down to Pueblo County. So, they are making attempts here to make sure that we win all of our races.

Adams County is widely regarded as one of the most important counties in the state, so the total absence of a Trump ground game there in mid-July is not good for Republicans, who’ve been facing the same problem nationally, according to an Associated Press piece yesterday titled, “A lot of holes in GOP ground game in key states.” The AP reported:

“In Colorado, recent staff departures have left about two dozen employees, far short of the 80 that were to have been in place.”