Archive for March, 2016

Exit interview: Greg Moore leaves The Denver Post after 14 years as editor

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Greg Moore, who leaves The Denver Post April 1 after 14 years as editor, answered a few questions this week via email about his future, his tenure at The Post, and the state of Colorado journalism.

Moore, who was managing editor of the Boston Globe before being recruited to serve as Post editor in 2002, announced his retirement March 15, telling his staff that it was time for “new challenges.” He’s said he intends to remain in Denver.

Under his leadership, the newspaper won numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Aurora theater shooting. More impressive to me is the fact that The Post continued to produce a stream of high quality journalism in recent years, despite unprecedented budget cuts, layoffs, and general shrinkage.

(See similar interviews with departing journalists here.)

Do you think your next challenge will be related to journalism?

I do not rule out anything, but I am open to new possibilities outside of journalism. I have been in the business almost exactly 40 years. When I was 21, I told myself I would give 40 years to the business and I did. I loved it and it loved me back. Now I am looking for something else. I am interested in some strategy firms, non profits that do God’s work, corporate boards that align with my interests in journalism and diversity and are just killing it and need different perspectives, and I am very interested in education reform. But one of the reasons I needed to release from The Post was to open myself to all kinds of possibilities for the next chapter. I am wide open. The chief criterion is whatever I do has to be meaningful and fulfilling.

What do you think you’ll miss most about being The Post’s editor? The least?

What I will miss the most is the power I had to get any story done at a high level with the staff we had. I loved story identification and generation. Journalism is the best and most direct way to affect change in any community and you get addicted to that.

The least: That’s easy. I won’t miss laying off people and cutting the paper and scope of our journalism. I know it is a reality of the business today and I think I did it with my team about as well as you can do it and remain an ambitious enterprise. But it wears you down and is distracting because the end game is constantly shifting based on economic outlook. It was just time to explore other ways to use my brain.

What are a couple of your best moments at The Post? And a decision or situation you regret?

Well, winning the Pulitzer for Aurora is right up there. It was such a terrible tragedy, and the community was counting on us to help make sense of what happened. There were so many heroes and there were other big stories that year, including the Newtown school kid murders. So winning it was huge. I was so happy for our hard working, innovative staff that just put everything into reporting, photographing, editing and presenting the news smartly and sensitively.

Our coverage of the Democratic National Convention was the other. Not only was it historic with the nomination of the first black president, but all eyes were on the Denver Post and we elevated. I also think we helped show the city what it could be through our coverage: Sophisticated, lively, diverse and more than a way station between Chicago and LA. The city was electric every night during the convention. We’ll never go back from that as a city or a news organization.

Regrets: That I lost my hair doing this job! Seriously, not to be Trumptonian, but I don’t have regrets because I tried to be in the moment of the stories we covered, offering ideas and criticisms in real time. If we missed or botched something it wasn’t for lack of trying to be better. But if I had to pick something, we could have been better covering issues of race. Despite our progressive political history, there are far too many monolithic settings in this city and we could have done more to help change that, I think.

Resources aside, what are the strengths and weaknesses of political journalism, as practiced in Colorado, not just by The Post but by political journalists as a group in Colorado? In other words, how would you assess the state of political journalism in Colorado now?

Well, I think some pretty good political journalists have come out of Colorado and what is unusual is that a number of them were TV journalists. Because we are the state capital, there is some good stuff done here. The investigative work by TV and now bloggers is pretty impressive, honestly. Overall, I think the coverage is good. But in general, the environment for journalists is really shitty. You have to fight for everything. You can’t get a document without a lawsuit or paying exorbitant fees. Even when you win a lawsuit, the next time the situation comes up it’s like a brand new fight. That type of struggle wears you down and gets distracting. And you can lose focus. This is the least corrupt place I have lived in but I don’t buy that it is absent of corruption and malfeasance, misfeasance, whatever. I don’t think reporters here are guilty of cozying up to power because there really is not much access even if you wanted it. That alone should make us all even more aggressive. My charge to fellow journalists would be to ratchet up the pressure.

If The Post’s economic situation had been easier, would you have stayed longer?

Maybe another year, possibly. But 14 years is a heck of a run and you put the success we had on top of that and it really was time to drop the mike and move out of the way. Honestly, we creatively navigated the economic headwinds the last six to eight years. And we demonstrated we had developed a deep bench of talent and created opportunities for the folks on it. I was proud of that. But I have always believed that everything has a season and it was just time. I started with a big story my first day with the Hayman Fire and I had the chance to walk off with stupendous coverage of a Denver Super Bowl victory. So I did. And the Post is in good hands with people whose values I know and respect. It doesn’t get better than that.

Any other comments?

I love Denver and Colorado, my children were born here and I want to do other important things in the community. Lastly, I love The Post and I hope people are starting to realize how important it is to have a robust, independent news operation as part of the community fabric. Otherwise, you risk becoming Flint, Michigan with a water crisis no one told you about. That means rolling up your sleeves and figuring out smart ways to support independent news gathering. Make demands for quality and solid customer service but fight for and fund independent fact gathering. It is the key to our democracy and we need that more than ever now.

Did 9News err in limiting its U.S. Senate debate to eight GOP candidates?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Last week, Denver Post reporter John Frank wrote that 9News’ “announcement of the first televised debate in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate is sure to create controversy: With more than a dozen candidates in the race, who will make the debate stage?”

9News stated it will include any “viable” candidate in its April 5 debate, as determined by a 5-member panel of political analysts.

“The panel may also draw scrutiny,” Frank suggested, “as the members represent establishment politics in a field with a number of outsider candidates.”

Frank swiftly outlined how each member of the panel is connected with establishment politics.

Along these lines, one detail I stumbled on is that fact that one panel member, Kelly Mahar, has close ties to former Rep. Jon Keyser, having joined with him to form “iGOP,” a “slate of young, tech savvy Republicans” who ran for Republican National Convention (RNC) delegate slots in 2012. Mahar is also a 9News commentator.

In any event, I asked Rittiman to respond to the criticism that in deciding between a grassroots and a more establishment GOP candidate, 9News’ establishment-oriented panel might be biased toward the establishment candidate. He said:

Rittiman: “We selected people [for the panel] who know what it takes to mount a successful Senate campaign and see if a candidate has anything to show besides filing an FEC form. We want people on stage who have a shot of gaining access to the primary ballot, which takes some level of organized support by this point in the process.

By now, when we’re this close to the state convention, the candidates should be able to point to something. Grassroots support is great. Show us the grassroots support you have. That’s fair game.

Just because we have some folks who have been closer to politics and know what it takes to run a campaign involved in the selection process doesn’t mean that those people wouldn’t take it very seriously if any of the candidates were to show us some metric or measure of grassroots support. We can all recognize that when we see it.

I’d again stress that we will allow any ballot-qualified candidates who haven’t dropped out to participate in our June 7 primary debate—and that we are allowing all candidates to submit up to two minutes of video to be published on and mentioned during the debate.

Yesterday, 9News announced that the panel chose eight candidates to participate in the debate. Wouldn’t voters want all of them to go at each other?

Ideally yes, but there are limits. What would all those Republican presidential candidates have looked like on the same stage, with no B-Team debate to siphon some of them off? Pretty bad. A over-crowded debate doesn’t serve the public interest. Colorado faces a similar situation.

So 9News did the right thing to limit the number of candidates, and a “viability” standard, in the absence of polling, makes sense.

You can argue that television station should have put some non-establisment folks on the selection panel — like former Rep. Tom Tancredo, former GOP Chair and KLZ talk-show host Steve Curtis, or Tea Party leader and lawyer Randy Corporon. Some people like that, with political experience.

But I don’t think it mattered. Judging from the candidates selected (see below) yesterday, 9News struck  a balance between the voters’ need to hear from 1) candidates who have a demonstrable hope of winning and 2) from the underdog candidates who deserve to be heard. It’s a tough call when you have so many odd candidates vying against each other.

9News’ announcement yester of the debate lineup seemed to reflect a fair process:

“The lineup for the debate is not yet final. Campaigns who were not invited have been given a deadline of March 31 to provide any additional evidence of viability for the panel to consider.

The panel unanimously decided that the campaigns of Charlie Ehler, Jerry Eller, Michael Kinlaw, and Donald Rosier did not demonstrate a viable path to accessing the June primary ballot.

Ehler and Rosier did not provide materials for the panel to review by the Monday deadline.

Greg Lopez, who had announced a run, told 9NEWS he’s dropped out and is endorsing Natividad in the race.”



Medicaid no longer for the “truly needy” and should be cut back, says State Sen. Laura Woods

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

If you follow my blog, you know I’ve been pointing out how Republicans are falsely blaming Colorado budget problems on healthcare costs for the elderly, disabled, and other poor people.

What’s worse, after scapegoating Medicaid spending on healthcare for the poor, Republicans haven’t said how they’d cut it. Or do something else to ease the budget pressure. And reporters are letting them slide.

But one state Republican recently said she’s ready to cut Medicaid. That’s State Sen. Laura Woods of Westminster.

During a radio interview in January, Woods said Medicaid used to be “for the truly needy,” but it’s not anymore. So she wants families to be poorer to qualify for Medicaid. Currently, a family of four qualifies if it earns less than around $34,000 per year–or 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Woods agreed with KNUS 710-AM radio hosts, who suggested reducing the earnings threshold for qualifying for Medicaid.

Host Chuck Bonniwell: Well, you can change the 137 percent back to 100 percent [of the federal poverty level], I suppose.

Co-Host Julie Hayden: Right. I mean, it can’t stay the way it is, right?

WOODS: Right.

Woods told Bonniwell that “this rolling back [the] 137 percent is exactly the kind of compromise and agreement that we would push to the government, and say, ‘You know what? You want compromise, let’s talk.'”

But Woods said a healthcare cut must be done with “a lot of forethought” because “you’re sort of taking away their birthday. You’re taking away Santa Claus.”

It’s a “very difficult thing to do,” said Woods. It’s unclear whether Woods, who doesn’t return my calls, was thinking it would be tough politically to cut Medicaid or humanity-wise. The Christmas line, popular among conservatives discussing government excess, usually signals their belief that the poor are exploiting safety-net programs.

The reference to Christmas and birthdays makes it sound as if Woods thinks when poor people save money on heathcare, they turn around and spend it on nonessentials. GOP Sen. Greg Brophy, who alleged that Medicaid recipients spend their money on air conditioning, cigarettes, and Lotto, made the same allegation, which is not supportable, as far as I can tell, not to mention gross. (Or does everything come back to the War on Christmas?)

In any case, Woods incorrectly stated on air that the imperative to chop Medicaid is clear, since it is “this driver of our state budget pushing our budget over a cliff, and it’s simply not sustainable.”

During her radio interview, Woods mistakenly said a family of four “making between $70,000 and $90,000 a year qualify for Medicaid.” As you can see here, she is wrong. She may have been thinking of the threshold for a family of four to receive health-insurance tax credits under Obamacare. (Plus, Medicaid expansion under Obamacare has been paid by the feds, and many of the people covered by Obamacare in Colorado are adults without children.)

So next time Republicans are bashing Medicaid, but they aren’t saying what part of Medicaid they want to cut, reporters can turn to Woods. Hopefully, she’ll have her facts that allegedly support her opinion straightened out by then.

Weekend Wakeup with Chuck & Julie, Laura Woods, January 16, 2016

WOODS: Medicaid started out where a family of four making $20,000 a year — there’s no way they could afford healthcare. And that’s what Medicaid was for. It was for the truly needy. But when we’ve raised the poverty level so that 137 percent of the federal poverty level, I think now families of four that make somewhere between $70,000 and $90,000 a year qualify for Medicaid.

HAYDEN: What?!


WOODS: So you look around and you say, — exactly your question: “Why is anybody uninsured under Obamacare? And yet we’ve got this this driver of our state budget pushing our budget over a cliff, and it’s simply not sustainable.

HAYDEN: No. That’s what it seems to me. And it’s not – I mean, there’s really not much you guys can do about – I mean,

BONNIWELL: Well, you can change the 137% back to 100%, I suppose.

HAYDEN: Right. I mean, it can’t stay the way it is, right?

WOODS: Right.

HAYDEN: You know, because I think what we saw– and maybe I’m wrong, but this whole – Connect for Colorado, when that major insurer just went, like, bankrupt and dropped all of those people, from what I gather only a fraction of those people actually signed up the new health care because it’s such a disaster. It’s it’s so expensive. So, am I right, then? Then all of those people – they’re going to go back in to the Medicaid, right?

WOODS: Yes. And –

HAYDEN: S0, it’s going to get even worse.

WOODS: It is going to get even worse, and this rolling back 137% is exactly the kind of compromise and agreement that we would push to the government, and say, “You know what? You want compromise, let’s talk about –.” But you know, you’re sort of taking away their birthday. You’re taking away Santa Claus. I mean, I don’t know, this a very difficult thing to do, and it has to be done with a lot of forethought and –

HAYDEN: But, I would say, that you want to be careful because you’re right – you don’t want to hurt families. If a family is making $90,000 a year, there’s a good chance that they probably have some other way to get insurance rather than free from the rest of us.

WOODS: You know, I agree with that. And I think that even if it’s not $90,000. You know, $50,000 a year, you can afford something on –.

BONNIWELL: Well Obamacare gives you subsidies.

HAYDEN: Right! Exactly! I mean, you have the whole–.

WOODS: At that level, right. Obamacare would give you subsidies.

HAYDEN: And you can’t be – so, then the other thing is when the governor and all that group that’s going– that’s pushed by the Denver Post – going around trying to convince people to get rid of TABOR, which isn’t going very well, I don’t think.

BONNIWELL: I haven’t heard much from them. I want to ask Laura Woods about that. I mean, you know, we heard Dan Ritchie, who is, you know The Denver Post’s favorite Republican because he is not really a Republican and therefore you can – he can front whatever left wing agenda they’ve got going, around on a listening tour, and they picled that out from my guess, probably […]–what’s her name? The famous listening tour lady. But once you go, you know, you already know what you want, and you go on a listening tour and, “Hey! They want exactly what we wanted!” But what has happened to those guys?

WOODS: Well, I actually don’t know what has happened to those guys, but I do think it has morphed into ideas like let’s rob the hospital provider fee –


WOODS: –to further fund our programs because there aren’t general fund dollars to do that.


WOODS: I think, you know, TABOR is the one piece of legislation that Colorado can lean on and depend on and stand behind as a bulwark to prevent us from becoming what California has become.


WOODS: And the conservatives in our state get that. And you know, I battle this every at every town hall I go to, every meet-and-that greet I go to where I’ve got one of my counterparts from the other side of the aisle on the stage with me and we’re back and forth over, you know, I’m standing to defend Tabor – they’re just saying we have just got to get rid of Tabor. So, it comes up. We had Andy Kerr, the senator from Littleton –or Lakewood–try to sue the state over TABOR to say is unconstitutional. That lawsuit was thrown out. So, –.

HAYDEN: […] Chuck and I talk all the time about ways to generate more revenue, but in the meantime, we’re stuck with the budget that we have. And–.

WOODS: Well, that’s what businesses and families are faced with right now.

HAYDEN: Exactly! And the government should do the same thing.

GOP to name candidates running to be Colorado delegates at the GOP’s National Convention–and which prez candidates they support, if any

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

The Colorado Republican Party will post on its website the names of all the GOP activists who are running to be Colorado delegates at July’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

In a KLZ 560-AM interview last week, State GOP Chair Steve House said the list of candidates, which will appear on the website around Friday, will also include “whether they’re supporting someone [a prez candidate] or not.”

The public list could set off a furious effort among the remaining presidential candidates to either get their supporters elected as national delegates or win over the unbound candidates vying to be delegates to get their votes later.

Under Colorado GOP Party rules, Republicans who are running for one of the Colorado GOP’s 34 national delegate slots have the option of binding themselves to a specific presidential candidate, like Donald Trump. Or they can run “unbound” to a candidate, leaving themselves free to vote for any candidate during the first vote at the GOP National convention.

They make their choice known to the Colorado Republican Party on a form, titled “National Delegate Intent to Run Form,” that must be submitted 13 days prior to the April 9 Republican State Convention or the April 8 Congressional District Convention, where delegates are selected for the national Republican Convention. Delegates to those meetings are chosen from county and congressional district assemblies.

“You will see in about a week from Friday all the candidates who have applied to be national delegates and whether they’re supporting someone or not,” said Steve House on air March 17. “That will be on our website.”

Colorado Republicans eliminated their preference poll at their March 1 caucuses, so reporters have been unable to get a handle on how the state GOP will allocate its delegates. Some caucuses held nonbinding votes anyway, raising the possibility that national delegates who voted in straw polls may be bound to their straw-poll votes, per national GOP rules.

Colorado Republicans get 34 elected national-delegate spots. Three additional Colorado delegates are determined by the Republican National Committee. By rule, those three delegates are specificied to be the State GOP Chairman (House), the RNC Commmitteeman for Colorado (George Leing), and the RNC Committeewoman for Colorado (Lilly Nunez).

After the first vote at the GOP National Convention, all of Colorado’s delegates will become unbound and free to vote any candidate, according to House, who appeared on KLZ’s “Americhicks” show.

Steve House himself is going to the convention as an unbound delegate, and he’s likely to vote for one of the candidates who are in the race now, according to The Hill’s Jonathan Easley and Ben Kamisar.

House said that even if one of the candidates arrives with a strong plurality of delegates, he wouldn’t feel obligated to push that candidate across the finish line solely by virtue of them coming the closest.

“I’m looking at whether the candidate is a conservative and whether they can win in November,” he said. “I’m voting for the candidate that meets that criteria, period.”

House also said he will likely only support a candidate who is still running for president, rather than a “white knight” candidate, like Mitt Romney or [Paul] Ryan, who could be put forward in later ballots.

House told the Hill he’s being heavily lobbied:

“I’ve received hundreds of emails, and I’m getting phone calls from people telling me who they think should be president and why,” said Steve House, the chairman of the Republican Party in Colorado and an unbound delegate.

Radio host says a “good argument can be made” that America can’t survive with “Islam within our borders”

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Caller “David” told the world Friday, or at least the universe listening to Denver’s KLZ 560-AM, that “the only way that America can survive long term is to not have Islam within our borders.”

“If you have any amount of Islam, even if it’s 1 million or 2 million or 3 million, it will only grow because people are born into Islam, and they can’t leave Islam,” continued “David.” “There’s a death penalty for leaving Islam.  So whether it takes 100 years or 500 years, eventually that number will grow big enough that they will just vote out the Constitution.” Listen to KLZ’s Dan Muerer here 3.11.16

KLZ’s afternoon host David Muerer didn’t vomit, gasp at this, or lose his voice, or anything.

“You know, that is really a possibility,” Muerer responded to “David” on air, “Because, you know, like others have said:  you can’t beat a birthrate.  And I just don’t think we’re converting them to our side good enough. David, I really appreciate the call.  Thank you so much!”

When he responded to David, Muerer seemed to be hustling toward a commercial break, so I asked him if he really agreed with caller David’s bigotry.

“As far as the conversation with (Caller) David goes whether he’s a bigot or a man simply stating his fear I have no way of knowing. However, a good argument can be made for everything he is stating in his comments,” Muerer told me via email, inviting me to discuss the topic or any topic on his show.

Muerer went on in his email to partially contradict himself, saying there are “good patriotic American Muslims.” This despite the textbook bigoted believe that a certain religion should not be allowed in our country.

Muerer’s own inconsistency reflects what you find a lot on talk radio: bigotry manifested more as an amorphous reaction than a concrete thought. But the amorphous bigotry can be focused into a dangerous force by the right fascist.

In any case, here’s the rest of Muerer’s email to me:

“America can’t survive as the founders intended or even as we know it today if radical elements are successful. I do believe there are good patriotic American Muslims. In my opinion [American Islamic Forum for Democracy’s] Zuhdi Jasser is one of them. Do I agree with everything Mr. Jasser claims? No. Some, in my circles consider Mr. Jasser a threat. I do not. Am I against people from the Middle East? No. I have friends and acquaintances either from the Middle East or that is their heritage. I believe America has a unique culture that is worth preserving and defending.  Am I against the theocracy of Islam as I am against Progressivism, Socialism, and Communism? Yes. I don’t want to see America go down the same path as Europe. Islam needs to be stopped before it gets a stronghold in the US.”


Partial transcript of KLZ host Dan Muerer’s conversation with “Caller David” on Friday, March 11.

HOST DAN MUERER:  Well, you know, and you’re right.  George Bush started that lie that, you know, Islam is the religion of peace. It was an out-and-out lie.  It is not a religion of peace.  I tell you, it’s kind of –did you ever watch Star Trek?  It’s kind of like the Borg.  You know, we’re all peaceful as long as you become part of the Borg, you become part of the collective.  Islam is the same way.  You have to become part of the collective in order to be peaceful.  And then, in reality –


MUERER:  Say that again.

CALLER DAVID:  Eloi.  There is there something called that in one of those science-fiction–.  Somebody used to write about that, how those –.

MUERER:  I’m not familiar with that.

CALLER DAVID:  Yeah, Eloi.  Yeah, they’re the people that just sort of like go along, like you say, like zombies, and that’s what the non-Muslims who are going along with the Muslim invasion of the West are.  They just go along with the program and unfortunately they just don’t even have the sense to realize that it’s not them– it’s not this people living now, [they] are not the ones that are really going to suffer.  It’s 50 years from now, when Islam has really taken hold and they’re going to look back at our generation, people who were alive during 9/11, and they are going to curse us to hell, if they have the sense even then to see what has happened to them and they’ll realize that we still had a chance to stop it. And we didn’t.  Because everybody was afraid to be called a bad name.

MUERER:  Well, you know, David, we’ve been trying to put out the warning here. I mean, we talk about what’s going on in Germany, —

CALLER DAVID:  Oh, I know it!

MUERER:  –about that even the road signs now are in both German and Arabic.  Uh, you know, you see what’s going on France. You see sharia law zones in Great Britain. You see what’s happening in Dearborn, Michigan.  You know, and for me, coming from Minneapolis — to see what’s happening in south Minneapolis, in the southern suburbs.

CALLER DAVID:  Oh, yeah!

MUERER:  It’s a cultural change.  We reported earlier this week — or maybe it was last week – that, you know, there’s scheduled that 1600 of the Syrian refugees are due here in Denver.  So, you know, it is a problem.  And I really–.

CALLER DAVID:  And, like one out of 1000 of them are Christian.  It’s all Muslims they’re bringing in.

MUERER:  No, none of these are Christians, as far as I know.  These are all Islam – as a matter of fact, the Christians are having one heck of a time getting out of there.  Our State Department is not letting the Christians in.  I would say for every hundred thousand Islam or Muslims they let in, they might let in one Christian right now.  Now, they may be opening that up a little bit because there’s been a lot of pressure applied, but in the middle of last year they were not allowing any of the Christians in the persecuted Christians into the United States.

CALLER DAVID:  They – they — I mean, I don’t know – I’ll say it.  I guess people can start mulling it over in their mind and coming to grips with it in their own way.  But the only way that America can survive long term is to not have Islam within our borders.  If you have any amount of Islam, even if it’s 1 million or 2 million or 3 million, it will only grow because people are born into Islam and they can’t leave Islam.  There’s a death penalty for leaving Islam.  So whether it takes 100 years or 500 years, eventually that number will grow big enough that they will just vote out the Constitution.

MUERER:  That – you know, that is really a possibility because, you know, like others have said:  you can’t beat a birthrate.  And I just don’t think we’re converting them to our side good enough. David, I really appreciate the call.  Thank you so much!

Woods joins Trump and Coffman in opposing citizenship for undocumented immigrants born in the U.S.

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

In a Facebook post last week, State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Westminster) came out against birthright citizenship, the U.S. policy granting citizenship to people born on American soil, even if their parents are not citizens.

The debate about birthright citizen was largely confined to hard-right conservative circles, until Donald Trump came out against it in August, as part of his immigration platform, sparking high-profile debate among Republican presidential candidates and pundits.

Woods, who has said Trump is her second favorite presidential candidate, “liked” a Facebok post, sponsored by Numbers USA, which read:

LIKE if you agree with Trump. Illegal aliens should not be awarded birthright citizenship!

A graphic shows a photo of Trump with the text, “End Birthright Citizenship.”

Trump’s immigration platform also calls for the rounding up and deportation of  America’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants to their country of origin. From there, they’d be free to apply to become U.S. citizens.

Woods’ office did not immediately return a call for comment on whether she agrees with Trump’s immigration policy in its entirety–or whether she’d want to rescind citizenship from millions of immigratns who’ve become U.S. citizens under America’s birthright-citizenship law.

Most other Colorado politicians have been silent on birthright citizenship, but as recently as 2013, Rep. Mike Coffman confirmed his opposition to the policy, in an interview with The Denver Post, saying “sure” he’d like to abolish birthright citizenship.

Back in 2011, Coffman cosponsored a bill that would have abolished birthright citizenship.

Both Woods and Coffman represent swing districts where anti-immigration positions could turn off immigrant voters. About 20 percent of Coffman’s district is Latino.

Woods won her Westminster seat by about 650 votes in 2014, while Coffman has been seen as vulnerable since his district was re-drawn after the 2010 census. Coffman narrowly defeated a Democrat in 2012 and won by a larger margin in 2014.


On radio, GOP U.S. Senate candidate flubs pot quiz and more

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jack Graham, who’s the former Athletic Director at Colorado State University, appeared on KNUS 710-AM Saturday, spreading uncorrected falsehoods about marijuana and Islam.

During a segment on policy issues, KNUS host Craig Silverman asked Graham about Amendment 64–but he failed to correct Graham’s obviously incorrect answers.

Graham: I’m very very concerned about it. I don’t like the fact that the state of Colorado is standing out like a sore thumb, as functionally the only state in the country that’s legalized recreational marijuana. We have attracted lots of vagrants to our state. There are lots of crime issues associated with that. Marijuana is not a consequence-free drug. I’m concerned about it. At the same time, there is a grassroots movement to legalize marijuana across this country. I just don’t like the state of Colorado sticking out the way it’s sticking out.

In fact, pot is currently available for recreational use in the states of Washington and Oregon. Alaska and the District of Columbia have also legalized it, as well as some municipalities. More are expected to approve it in the coming years.

I also can’t find data supprting the view that pot attracts vagrants to Colorado. And while there are crime issues associated with pot, the crime rate has not increased.

Graham went on to say he wouldn’t join efforts to repeal Amendment 64, saying it’s “not a senatorial issue.”

This again, is incorrect. Colorado lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been trying to move legislation through Congress, allowing the marijuana industry to conduct banking operations without fear of federal prosecution. The U.S. Senate could vote on bills such as this.

On Islam, Graham said 15 to 25 percent of the world’s 1.7 billion people who practice Islam are have been “radicalized” and do “awful, horrible things.”

This is inaccurate. In fact, less than one percent of the world’s Muslims are at risk of becoming radicalized, according to one 2015 intelligence estimate–and the key phrase there is “at risk.” They aren’t all doing awful things. A tiny minority.

On abortion, Graham said the government shouldn’t fund “morning-after pills.” He did not say whether he’d want the government to supply such pills to women who’ve been raped.

After Silverman told Graham he’d heard Graham was self-funding his campaign, Graham said, “I’m not self-funding, Craig. I deposited $1 million into my account when we started this process, because I wanted to make sure we were adequately funded. And $1 million is not enough money to run this campaign, and part of this process is raising more money. And we are in that process right now, looking for small, individual donations from people who know us and respect us and want me to be in the U.S. Senate. So it’s a combination—”

Graham, who hopes to take on Democrat Michael Bennet, told Silverman that his anger over the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran drove him to enter the race.

TrumpWatch: Where Colorado Republicans Stand on Trump

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

With Trump’s wins last night, the question of whether Colorado Republicans will vote for the mogul, if he’s the nominee, became even more relevant, as we inch toward the Republican Party’s July 18 national convention in Cleveland.

Here’s an update of my handy TrumpWatch guide for reporters tracking the local GOP response to Trump.

The mogul still apparently has only one GOP elected official who, based on public statements, affirmatively likes him and would vote for him as nominee. That’s State Sen. Laura Woods, the Republican from Westminster (though her candidate-of-choice is Ted Cruz). You recall, Woods “narrowed” her choices to Cruz and Trump after the GOP debate in Boulder.

Other high-profile Republicans in Colorado don’t share Woods’ enthusiasm. Even a brash politician, like former CO Secretary of State Scott Gessler, is turned off by Trump. Asked last week by 9News’ political reporter Brandon Rittiman if he’s “comfortable with Trump being the face of the Republican Party,” Gessler said:

Gessler: “My sense with Trump is, he certainly could beat Hillary Clinton, but he could end up being a complete disaster. Obviously, he’s been a lot ruder and cruder than other candidates to date. Does that alienate a lot of the electorate? I think there’s a really high probability of that. And his style is certainly not my style. And that’s in part why I’m not real comfortable with him.”

Still, as you can see below, I can only find a couple former or current Republican elected officials or candidates who will say, flat out, that they won’t support Trump.

One of them is former State Sen. Shawn Mitchell, who wrote on Facebook last week:

Mitchell: “I can imagine Hillary representing me on the world stage before I can stomach His Blondness performing on my behalf. I won’t vote for her, but I will not vote for him. Supreme Court be damned. America has recovered from worse, and if we don’t recover, God is in charge.”

A larger number of prominent Republicans have said they’ll back Trump as nominee.

Here’s the latest summary.

Elected Republicans Who Are Declining to Say If They’ll Back Trump

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (though he called Trump a “fraud.”)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman(But campaign spokeswoman Kristin Strohm told the Colorado Statesman Feb. 2, “Will Mike Coffman support the Republican nominee over Bernie or Hillary? The answer is obviously yes.”)

State House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso.


Elected Officials Who Actively Like Trump

State Sen. Laura Woods has said Trump is one of her two favorite prez candidates (here at 25 min 50 sec), but she’s backing Cruz.


Elected Officials Who Will Back Trump, if He’s the Nominee.

State Sen. President Bill Cadman.

Sen. Cory Gardner (even through called Trump a “buffoon.” ) (even though only answered after being asked seven times) (even though he seems to be backtracking.)

Rep. Doug Lamborn.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton.


Former Elected Officials Who Will Back Trump, if He’s the Nominee

Former Colorado Senate President John Andrews.

Former Rep. Bob Beauprez.


Former Elected Officials Who Actively Like Trump

Former State Rep. Spencer Swalm is an “out-of-the-closet” endorser.


Former Elected Officials Who Will Not Vote for Trump

Former State Sen. Shawn Mitchell.



These GOP U.S. Senate candidates told the Statesman they’d back Trump as nominee: businessman Robert Blaha, activist Charlie Ehler, Ryan Frazier, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, former CSU athletics director Jack Graham, former Rep. Jon Keyser, El Paso County Commissioner Peg Littleton, and State Sen. Tim Neville.

Casper Stockham, who’s challenging U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, says he will vote for Trump if he’s the nominee.


Notable Republicans Who Think “We May Be Seeing the Final months of the Existence of the Republican Party”

Former Rep. Bob Schaffer


Please send me any additions to this list.

Denver Post editor’s resignation likely another sign of paper’s spiral downward

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Denver Post editor Greg Moore’s resignation today is probably yet another depressing sign that the newspaper faces serious troubles and decline.

If things had been going well, or even stabalizing, at The Post, which faces a broken business model, Moore wouldn’t be walking away–unless there’s some personal reasons that aren’t widely known right now. It sounds like more cuts are on the way.

The unprecedented budget cuts, layoffs, and other shrinkage and reductions have to take an incredible toll on the guy at the top, no matter how thick-skinned.

That’s not what Moore had to say in his resignation statement, as quoted in The Post, but I don’t see much optimism floating up between the lines.

“The Denver Post will continue its outstanding work,” he said. “There is strong and stable leadership in place. But it’s time for a fresh voice to lead from the corner office. After 14 years, I’ve decided it’s time for new challenges and I will step down as editor of this great newspaper.”

Publisher Mac Tully said a national search for Moore’s replacement will begin soon. In the interim, news director Lee Ann Colacioppo will lead the newsrooom. She also is a candidate for the job.

Moore has his detractors, but, bottom-line, the newspaper under his leadership still managed to still produce quality journalism, despite the industry decline. Of course, it could be better. But you can bet we’ll miss today’s Denver Post next year, when things will likely be worse.

Sounding like Trump, Brophy says unnamed “efficiencies” are needed to solve Colorado budget woes

Friday, March 11th, 2016

The latest Republican to stand in front of a camera and complain about state spending on health care for the elderly, disabled, and other poor people, without offering any alternatives, is former state Sen. Greg Brophy, who’s freshly back from a job with Rep. Ken Buck in Washington DC.

Brophy appeared on Politics Unplugged, 7News’ interview show, last month to say that Colorado is being forced, under TABOR rules, to refund taxes to citizens due to the hospital provider fee.

“The hospital provider fee and the other expansions of, well, it amounts to Obamacare, have committed spending on that area at the expense of every other area in state government,” said Brophy.

In 2009, Colorado tapped federal funds, used to match a “hospital provider fee” collected by hospitals, to expand Medicaid coverage to around 300,000 low-income people and children. It allowed kids, for example, from families of four making $45,000 annually to qualify for state Medicaid coverage. Later, Obamacare kicked in, reimbursing the state to cover more poor people in Colorado.

So yes, Colorado has expanded its Medicaid program. It’s one of the major functions of the state government, along with k-12 education, higher education, transportation, and prisons.

Brophy thinks the state has gone too far in helping the elderly, disabled, kids, and other poor people get medical coverage. If we weren’t covering more uninsured people, we could prioritize spending “on education and transportation where the people, I think, want it.”

So, reporters should ask how he wants to cut Medicaid. Knock off some of the disabled people? Keep in mind that the state isn’t paying for coverage of the newly added people anyway, since the feds pick up the tab for Obamacare and the hospital provider fee. So what would Brophy have us do? Charge poor people co-pays, which Brophy advocated in the past, saying poor people aready spend their money on, Lotto, cigarettes, and air conditioning? Would he have Colorado lower eligibility thresholds? Are we too generous?

Brophy didn’t return a call to explain.

“I really think we want to force the state of Colorado to find efficiencies in what they spend money on,” Brophy told 7News’ Marshall Zellinger, sounding a lot like Donald Trump.

Where are these efficiencies? Where’s reality? Or is it like, I’ll force Mexico to build the wall. Trust me, they will.