Archive for the 'Colorado State Legislature' Category

With collapse of Rand Paul, Dudley Brown may be cash cow for Tim Neville

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Journalists have raised doubts about whether State Sen. Tim Neville, who’s expected to announce his campaign against Sen. Michael Bennet today, can raise the $10 million or more required to unseat the well-financed Democratic uncumbant. It’s a reasonable question, for sure, but recent political shifts could be opening bank accounts for Neville that were locked just months ago.

Colorado’s own Dudley Brown has had close ties to the collapsing presidential campaign of Sen. Rand Paul (See joint photo.). Paul has signed fundraising appeals for Brown, which so pissed off the National Rifle Association (NRA) that the NRA didn’t even invite Paul to an NRA Leadership Forum, which was attended by 12 GOP presidential hopeufls in April.

Brown may now be looking for a new gun-loving federal candidate prop up with millions of dollars. And that lucky candidate could be Neville, whose close ties to Dudley are not in dispute as you can read below if you need to.

But does Dudley have that kind of money? Well, he’s president of the National Association of Gun Rights (NAGR), which raised over $16 million in 501c4 political-attack funds, according to its lastest-available federal filing. It’s impossible to know how much of that dark money could be diverted to Colorado’s Senate race, but the money is big. And for what it’s worth, back in 2013, Dudley said his organization would spend at least $1 million on campaigns.

Dudley is also executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), which played a key role in organizing recall campaigns and in mobilizing voters in senate primaries in Jefferson County. It’s credited for pushing State Sen. Laura Woods to actual victory last year. So there’s that.

Everyone knows Brown loves Neville, and vice versa, and it goes beyond their mutual dream of eliminating all background checks on anyone who purchases any gun anywhere, in this life or the next.

Tim Neville’s son, Joe, was hired as the lobbyist for RMGO, and less known is the fact that Joe Neville is also director of political affairs for NAGR.

And Neville may owe his first legislative victory to Brown, who went all in to help Neville win a 2011 vacancy committee appointment, to replace Sen. Mike Kopp. In a mean campaign, Neville beat his neighbor, then GOP State Rep. Jim Kerr.

Later, during his during his 2014 campaign against Democratic encumbant Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, Neville was endorsed by RMGO PAC and boasted about his ties to RMGO .

Neville stated on his website: “As a proud member of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, I was honored to defend your Second Amendment rights in the Colorado State Senate last year… I was proud to sponsor ‘Constitutional Carry’ legislation and be recognized by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners as the strongest defender in the legislature of your Second Amendment rights.”

That kind of talk may translate into the cash Neville needs to have a shot at Bennet. At least in theory. But money is just one obstacle for a conservative like Neville in Colorado.

Lundberg supports Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s John Frank asked Lundberg Friday whether he’d back a Colorado clerk who denied same-sex marriage licenses. “I believe that they have that responsibility as an elected official to ask themselves, am I fulfilling my job or not,” Lundberg told The Post. This comment may have led, in part, to the Post’s editorial today pointing out that Lundberg “appears confused about whether state officials can ignore laws they don’t like.” The Post called Lundberg’s stance “disturbing.”


In a string of Facebook posts beginning Sept. 3, Colorado State Sen. Kevin Lundberg hasn’t been shy about his support for Kentucky Clerk Kay Davis, who landed in jail after giving marriage licences to some loving couples but not others.

Who would expect Lundberg to be shy, given his uncompromising stances on social issues in the legislature? But he is a state senator, which is why his fringe view should be aired out by reporters and others. To wit:

On Facebook, Lundberg wrote that Davis is “abiding by the laws of God and man. The Supreme Court and their inferior courts are the ones in violation of the rule of law.”


Good for Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who is refusing to issue “marriage” licenses on the grounds that it violates God’s law, and her conscience.

Have the Federal judges become kings and queens who can fabricate law out of thin air and then throw state government officials in jail for daring to oppose their plans? What Constitutional authority does the Federal Court have to jail this elected official for exercising her best judgement in fulfilling her duties as county clerk? If the people who elected her want her to change, they can speak through any recall procedures the State of Kentucky allows, or vote her out at the next election for county clerk, but the Federal Courts should stay out of areas of law clearly reserved for state jurisdiction.

The courts have certainly seized this power and demonstrated their autocratic intentions long ago, but they do not derive this authority from the Constitution, which is the law of the land.

In my opinion the clerk is abiding by the laws of God and man. The Supreme Court and their inferior courts are the ones in violation of the rule of law.

In a post last week, Lundberg addresses the question of why Davis shouldn’t just resign:

Additionally, many are saying that the clerk is not following the “rule of law.” I submit it is more accurate to say she is not following the rule of the Court. If anyone is actually following the rule of law, it is clerk Davis.

Lundberg did not immediately return a call for comment.

Bipartisan support for Colorado’s clean-air laws undermines accusation of Obama overreach

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

It’s irritating when officials and pundits here in Colorado grandstand about President Obama’s climate change initiatives as being overreach, without pointing out that, as a matter of fact, state efforts to regulate global-warming emissions from power plants have won bipartisan support.

An article in The Denver Post last month reported that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has decided to sue the federal government to stop Obama’s Clean Coal Plan, which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions in Colorado by 28 percent from 2012 levels over the next 15 years.

The Post reported that “Coffman describes the measure as another EPA and Obama administration authority overreach.”

To its credit, The Post added this fact:

Colorado lawmakers under a Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act in 2010 required regulated utilities to develop plans for reducing air pollution. These plans launched utilities on efforts to replace coal plants with energy generated using renewable sources and natural gas.

Omitted, however, is the crucial information that Colorado’s Clean Air, Clean Jobs of 2010 received bipartisan support, getting the votes of numerous GOP lawmakers in the Colorado legislature, including muckety-muck Republicans like former state senators Josh Penry and Greg Brophy and former state representatives Frank McNulty, Ellen Roberts, and Amy Stephens.

Thanks to the 2010 law, and other state measures, some of which admittedly had less bipartisan support, Colorado already has a plan to reach 70 percent of the reductions mandated by Obama’s Clean Coal Plan, according to Western Resources Advocates.

Colorado has worked in a bipartisan way to address climate change, and the attorney general should be asked to explain why she’s politicizing and wasting time on a lawsuit that runs counter to  Colorado’s approach to this issue.


Media omission: Conservative Jeffco education group has anti-gay lawyer

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Failed state senate candidate Tony Sanchez, who lost the SD-22 Jeffco race last year to Democrat Andy Kerr, is now directing an organization whose registered agent, Barry Arrington, has a history of making anti-LGBT comments and working for extremist groups.

Sanchez’s organization, Freedom for Education, was formed in May to “strive for greater transparency in the policy process and empower local parents/communities.”

Since then, according to its Facebook page, Sanchez has been representing the organization at Tea Party and Republican events, offering conservative perspectives on Jeffco education issues.

Arrington, the registered agent for Sanchez’s organization, surfaced earlier this year after Twin Peaks Charter Academy blocked its valedictorian from giving his graduation speech, in which the valedictorian planned to announce he was gay.

During the ensuing controversy, the school hired Arrington, who heads the Arrington Law Firm, to represent them in the matter, and Rep. Jared Polis asked that Arrington be fired because, “…some political agenda that I don’t understand might be clouding the quality of your advice to the Twin Peaks board.”

The “political agenda” was presumably Arrington’s history of anti-LGBT comments, such as his blog post last year in which he wrote:

“A man’s body is designed to be complementary with a woman’s body and vice versa. All of the confusion about whether same-sex relations are licit would be swept away in an instant if everyone acknowledged this obvious truth.”

Sanchez did not return a call seeking comment on whether his organization would be promoting Arrington’s views, given that the group’s name, Freedom for Education, is a bit of a head scratcher.

Asked by phone whether he would be promoting anti-LGBT ideas to Sanchez’s 501c4 organization, Arrington told me, “I don’t have a substantive role with that organization. I’m just a lawyer, helping them get their paperwork done.”

Arrington has served as a lawyer for a string of right-wing groups.

Arrington represented Dudley Brown’s Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, an extremist anti-gun control group, when it faced charges for inserting a gay couple’s photo in a political ad without permission.

From 2007 through 2011, he was the registered agent for Colorado for Family Values, Inc., an organization long known for its right-wing social agenda.

Last year, Colorado for Family Values produced an ugly advertisement attacking state senate candidate Mario Nicolais, who was running against Sanchez in the Republican primary in Jeffco (SD-22) last year.

In the ad (here), Nicolais was pictured next to openly-gay Democrat Pat Steadman and accused of advancing the “radical agenda of gay marriage” by supporting civil unions. The intent was obviously to turn anti-gay GOP primary voters against Nicolais.

After 2011, the registered agent for Colorado family Values became Mark Hotaling, who, along with his brother Jon, has been accused of orchestrating numerous shocking political tricks, including an anti-gay attack in support of Rep. Doug Lamborn in 2006. The organization also played a prominent role in running the initial 2008 personhood initiative in Colorado.


Roberts’ flawed attack on “liberal columnist” spotlights tragic defeat of LARC family-planning legislation

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Last month, The Nation magazine’s Katha Pollitt reported that State Sen. Ellen Roberts was opposed to legislation providing funds Colorado’s amazing pregnancy prevention program because Roberts was unconvinced that Obamacare didn’t already pay for the long-acting-reversible contraption (LARC) offered under the family planning initiative.

“Republican Senator Ellen Roberts told me she might have supported the bill if she’d had a good answer for that,” reported Pollitt.

In her column, Pollitt provided the widely-known fact that insurance companies are not currently paying for the services and care provided by the LARC program.

About a month later, The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reported that Roberts, who’s a Republican from Durango, was unhappy with Politt’s column:

Roberts said she should have been aware she was talking to a liberal columnist, and explained more clearly that she already had told GOP leaders if the bill made it to the Senate floor, she would support it.

If Roberts was opposed to the LARC bill because she thought Obamacare already covered the program, as reported by Pollitt, how could Roberts possibly have promised GOP leaders that she would support the bill if it came to the floor? No amount of clarifying to Pollitt could explain this inconsistency, whether Pollitt was radical communist or a hatchet-wielding or blackmailing Colorado Republican.

And, not that it matters, but Roberts had no excuse for failing to know that Pollitt is a progressive columnist. In an email prior to her interview with Roberts, Pollitt actually factually told Roberts she was with The Nation–and Pollitt says she has the email to prove it. Roberts had plenty of time to type the name “Katha Pollitt” in Google.

Pollitt told me via email: When I emailed Sen. Roberts I identified myself as a columnist with The Nation magazine. (I have the e mail.) If she didn’t know we are a liberal publication — and if she would have said something different had she known that — she could easily have found out. It’s not a secret!

I asked Pollitt if she quoted Roberts accurately and she politely responded with, “I quoted her accurately.”

Plus, bottom line, after LARC funds were rejected by a Republican-controlled State Senate committee, Roberts voted against a Hail-Mary budget amendment funding the LARC program. It was defeated on the Colorado Senate floor in a 16-19 vote, with Roberts joining all Republicans and Sen. Pat Steadman, in opposition (Here at page 650). Steadman is a member of the Joint Budget Committee, and it’s an unwritten rule that JBC members always vote against budget amendments. Roberts has supported such amendments in the past, meaning it’s not her policy to oppose them.

So it loooks like Roberts was trying to be both for the LARC pregnancy-prevention program and against it at the same time, just like she recently tried to be both “pro-choice” and “never” pro-choice at the same time– until she got called out on it by ColoradoPols, a progressive blog. Roberts, who may challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet next year, then said she’d made a mistake in claiming she was never pro-choice.

But the overarching tragedy is that funding for Colorado’s LARC program, which helped reduce Colorado’s teen-pregnancy rate by a life-affirming 40 percent and lowered our state’s teen abortion rate by 35 percent, was rejected by State Senate Republicans.

Now, with LARC money running out at the end of this month, Roberts’ flawed attack Pollitt only spotlights that tragedy.


Radio host fails to ask state senator if she’s concerned about a primary challenge

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

You need only to stick you toe into Colorado’s talk-radio world to know that state Sen. Laura Woods is a superstar on the Tea-Party airwaves, regularly receiving love from KLZ 560AM’s Ken Clark, KNUS 710 AM’s Peter Boyles, and others.

The last thing these guys want is to lose Woods in a primary next year, funded by deep-pocket Republicans. So you’d think they’d want to rally their listeners to stop this before hit happens. And Woods seems to be hinting that it will, judging from her continued criticism of establishment Republicans.

For example, in a May 14 interview with Clark, Woods said there’s “not a lot of difference” between mainstream Democrats and mainstream Republicans–raising the question of whether Woods thinks Colorado Republicans will field a primary candidate against her. But Clark didn’t ask the question.

Woods (at 4:15 below): “I think that for the establishment Republicans, and there is no doubt in my mind that Cory Gardner is one of them. and Democrats, there’s not a lot of difference. Where we see a difference is between conservatives and that group of people.”

Earlier in the interview, at two minutes, she referred to “squishy Republican committees,” further showing her displeasure with the GOP in Colorado.

I’m not saying this is unexpected, given Woods’ ride to power on the back of Tea-Party supporters, but I’m surprised the radio crowd doesn’t talk openly about the obvious possibility of a primary and how to prepare for it.

Businessman promoting “White Appreciation Day” now says he’s leaving Republican Party.

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Edgar Antillon, who’s twice run for the Colorado State House and is promoting a “White Appreciation Day” at his rural Colorado BBQ joint, says he’s leaving the Republican Party.

Antillon lost his latest bid for the Colorado legislature just last year, and he’s still listed as an “active” Republican candidate on Colorado Secretary of State’s website.

But Antillon said in a Twitter exchange yesterday that he plans to close his campaign accounts as soon as possible, and he doesn’t consider himself a candidate currently.

“Never will I run as a Republican again,” tweeted Antillon, who led Mitt Romney’s Hispanic outreach effort in Adams County, Colorado. Antillon’s pro-gun activism has supported state GOP legislative efforts.

Antillon explained his position in a subsequent email.

Antillon: “I support gay marriage. Support a Ronald Reagan style amnesty. Support legalizing marijuana.

I once thought I was a Republican. I now know I’m not. Republicans claim to be the party of freedom…they are not.

I’m not a Democrat either though.”

Antillon is still promising to give white people a 10 percent discount on June 11 at his Rubbin’ Buttz BBQ in Milliken.

But in a development first reported by Denver’s NBC affiliate Sunday,  Antillon is now saying he’ll give everyone, regardless of race, a discount on his restaurant’s “White Appreciation Day,” which has gained national media attention.

He insists that it was never his intention to exclude non-white races from the discount, despite telling 9News’ on tape that Hispanics like himself would not get the discount. He reiterated to 9News that the point of White Appreciation Day was to bring Americans together.

“We’re not backtracking,” he told 9News. “We’re not clarifying anything. This was the intention from the beginning.”

He’s also said he received a bomb threat at his restaurant Friday.


9News omits fact that organizer of “White Appreciation Day” appears to be a well-known conservative activist

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

MONDAY UPDATE: Using info from a ColoradoPols commenter, I’ve confirmed that the co-owner of a BBQ joint that will give “white Americans” a discount is an active Republican candidate for the Colorado State House.

Edgar Antillon, who’s promoting his restaurant’s “White Appreciation Day,” ran as Republican for House District 32 (Commerce City) last year–and for House District 35 (Westminster) in 2010. He lost both times. His House Distric 32 campaign is active, according to state records.

The story about the discount for white people, originally aired by Denver’s NBC affiliate, has gone viral nationally. But news outlets,  including an AP story today, haven’t reported Antillon’s connection to the Republican Party.

Calls to Antillon’s restaurant, Rubbin Buttz, to find out if his “White Appreciation Day” has the backing of any of Antillon’s Republican colleagues were not returned. Neither did Antillon respond to an email seeking comment.


Denver’s NBC affiliate, 9News, aired a story Thursday about a BBQ joint in Milliken, Colorado, that’s planning to give “white Americans” a discount later this month. From there, the story has gone viral nationally.

But news outlets failed to report that the co-owner of the restaurant, Edgar Antillon, who’s promoting his restaurant’s “White Appreciation Day,” appears to be the same conservative activist who ran as a Republican for the state legislature (District 35) in 2010, served as the Adams County chair of Mitt Romney’s Hispanic outreach effort, called “Juntos con Romney,” and organized extremist pro-gun events.

Calls to Atillon’s restaurant, Rubbin Buttz, to confirm Antillon’s background were not returned, but photos, as well as a Washington Times piece referencing his gun background, make me think it’s the same guy.

When Antillon made his legislative run in 2010, the progressive blog ColoradoPols drew on reporting from The Denver Post and provided some background on the Republican candidate,:

Antillon pled guilty to perjury after being arrested on two counts of felony impersonation in 2004. Antillon’s record includes fully 18 failure-to-appear counts on numerous mostly minor charges. Antillon told Bartels that family troubles as a youth made it difficult to appear in court, but he apparently has time to maintain a Youtube pseudonymous identity as “Juan a Be the Luchador” where he frequently poses with assault weapons (above). Antillon was personally introduced at the GOP state assembly by Frank McNulty, highlighting Antillon’s race as one they can, uh, win… “

In 2013, Antillon appeared again to organize a “Guns for Everyone” rally at the state Capitol. He and others vowed to pack concealed heat at the event, which turned out to be a bust but managed to capture the media spotlight anyway. Last year, he grabbed attention by advocating that legal marijuana users get gun permits. 

9News reported Antillon’s thoughts on his “White Appreciation Day:”

“We have a whole month for Black History Month,” Antillon said. “We have a whole month for Hispanic Heritage Month, so we thought the least we could do was offer one day to appreciate white Americans.”…

Antillon says the discount isn’t meant to discriminate, but instead bring people together. He added that he has been the target of racism in the past. He hopes opening up the discussion will prompt others to think differently about race.

“We’re all American, whether you came from a different country, or you were born here,” Antillon said. “We’re all American.”

“White Appreciation Day” is meant to bring people together? Looks more like a media stunt from a guy using his conservative-activist background to draw attention to his business. That should have been part of the news stories.

Eight great stories on the Colorado legislative session

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Below I’ve listed some of my favorite reporting about Colorado’s legislative session that ended Wednesday.

My favorite: The Denver Post’s John Frank wrote an accessible yet detail-rich article on the failed effort to secure funding for a wildly successful teen-pregnancy-prevention program. Read it here: IUD Jewelry Emerges at Colorado Capitol to Demystify and Educate on Birth Control

The Post’s Joey Bunch and John Frank teamed up to show how middle class reality connects to the legislature. Read it here: Fear and Worry in Colorado’s Middle Class Lures Politicos.

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby provided a cool look at the flaming arrows launched at Republican Rep. Dan Thurlow. Read it here: Thurlow Defends Record

Colorado Public Radio reporter Megan Verlee’ provides an outside-the-Capitol perspective on the teen-pregnancy issue. Listen here: For Colorado Teen Moms, There’s Help but Daunting Statistic

Colorado Public Radio’s Verlee demystified the complicated debate about the Earned Income Tax Credit. Listen here: 5 Things to Know about the Earned Income Tax Credit, a Proven Poverty Reliever.

Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels explained how a bill offering help for the middle class was killed over one lawmaker’s concern that his rich constituents wouldn’t like it. Read it here: Upper Class Protected During Debate about Saving for College. 

Great in-depth reporting by the National Journal’s Nora Kaplan-Bricker about Colorado’s latest birth-control battle and teen pregnancy program. Read it here: The Big Battle Over a Little Device.

And finally, I can’t resist adding the Aurora Sentinel’s outstanding editorial on the failed teen-pregnancy prevention measure. (Sorry for the repeated citations of coverage of this legislation, but it generated the most inspired reporting.) Read it here: The birth of ignorance; get science right before voting on teen pregnancy bill.

Reporter uses measured language to spotlight repeated GOP infighting during legislative session

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Hey, the three of you out there who were following the state legislature. How many of you thought state senate President Bill Cadman was going to be able to control his own caucus this session? Seeing no hands, I’ll say none of you.

Still, if you’re a reporter, you can’t just say, “No one in their right mind thought Republicans would get along with each other and compromise with their leader. Are you kidding me? The party is ripped apart by wild ideologues who would rather see Cadman go down in flames than face the wrath of tea-party talk-radio hosts Ken Clark, Randy Corporon, and Kris Cook.”

If you’re a reporter, you don’t say it that way. But you can say that GOP infighting was surprising. That’s what Denver Post reporter John Frank said on The Denver Post’s TV video program, DPTV: On the Spot.

Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plankett: John, what were some of the biggest surprises you saw this session?

Denver Post reporter John Frank: At the start of the session, all eyes were on the senate Republicans. They had just taken power for the first time in 10 years in the senate, and President Bill Cadman was in the spotlight, trying to lead a caucus that had numerous divisions. So one of the surprises that I saw throughout the session was how many times his caucus split on major bills. It actually took President Cadman and the GOP leadership [help from] the Democrats to pass a number of these measures, whether it was major efforts on red lights or major fiscal bills. And how many times that caucus fractured was something we didn’t quite expect going in but there certainly wasn’t a lot of caucus discipline.”