Archive for the 'Colorado State Legislature' Category

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.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/laura-woods-is-a-guest-on-freedom-560-am

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/laura-woods-is-a-guest-on-freedom-560-am

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.”

Statesman reports Governor’s plan to try again on budget tweak–but the road through Senate will be tough

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

In a great article summarizing the death of a bill, changing the definition of the “hospital provider fee” under TABOR and thus freeing up $167 million for transportation and education, the Colorado Statesman’s Marianne Goodland reported that the Hickenlooper Administration hopes to bring the legislation back early next session possibly using a dramatic double-budget visual to spotlight the importance of the measure:

By next year, this will be more of an “on the ground” issue for legislators, [Hickenlooper budget director Henry] Sobanet said Tuesday. Once the budget request for 2016-17 comes out in November, people will start to see the impact of the hospital provider fee on available dollars. “It will be more real than an intellectual issue.”

Sobanet said the 2016-17 budget will be developed based on current law. However, he said he would work with the governor throughout the fall and decide if they would do a “budget A” and “budget B” that would show the impact of changing the provider fee.

Unfortunately, it looks like Hick’s dual budgets will have to be extremely persuasive to convince Republican Senate President Bill Cadman, whose party sent the bill to a kill committee after it passed the Democrat-controlled House on a party-line vote.

Goodland didn’t quote Cadman, but the GOP leader told KNUS 710-AM’s Krista Kafer Tuesday that the hospital-provider fee was the number-one bad idea proposed by Democrats.

Kafer:  I’m so glad Republicans have the state senate…  What is the number one bad  idea you guys stopped?

Cadman: Oh my god. How much time do you have left? Let me put my list together and come back on. I will tell you though, my predecessor said, you’re better to be known for the things you defeated here, than the things that you pass. I’d hate to say it right now, but probably wouldbe  the hospital-provider fee, as written, which was a multi-hundred million dollar hit into the TABOR situation, that died actually just as I was calling in.

Listen to Cadman discuss his opposition to the Hosp Prov Fee on KNUS 5.5.15

Goodland reported on a committee hearing Tuesday, during which the hospital provider fee won the support of most everyone who testified, including business interests. Those opposed? Only entity: the ideological anti-tax Colorado Union of Taxpayers.

Goodland reported on what’s at stake:

Hickenlooper’s budget director, Henry Sobanet, told the committee without passage of HB 1389, three out of four general fund dollars available in 2016-17 will have to go to K-12 education, to keep the negative factor from growing. The negative factor is a budgetary device, first employed in 2010, to allow the state to cut funding to K-12. The total cut was about $1 billion; it was reduced by $100 million last year and will be reduced by $25 million in the recently passed 2015-16 budget.

If HB 1389 were to pass, Steadman told the committee, it would free up $167 million for appropriations in 2016-17. That could go for transportation projects or to reduce the negative factor. Otherwise, in 2016-17, the budget will be bleak. “This isn’t how the state’s budget priorities should go,” he said.

 

 

Cadman’s claim of bipartisanship goes unchallenged on radio

Monday, May 4th, 2015

KOA 850-AM Morning News anchor Steffan Tubbs wouldn’t be expected to know all the ins and outs of the state legislative session, which ends Wednesday.

But if you’ve been following Colorado’s Republicans at all over the past three months, you know they’ve used their new-found Senate leadership to prioritize legislation (anti-choice, anti-immigrant, anti-working class) that’s divisive, at best.

Yet, Senate President Bill Cadman told Tubbs this morning:

“In a split legislature, you have to stay focused on the things that matter to both sides, and frankly to the 5.3 million people  who we represent,” Cadman told KOA at 2:45 below.

But that’s not what Cadman did.

Recall Cadman’s Republicans opened the legislative session by stripping money from the budget for a program to provide drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants–a program widely thought to make driving safer in the state.

Next, Republicans–upset over the use of birth control–deleted funds for an award-winning state-run program that reduced teen pregnancy by 40 percent and teen abortions by 35 percent.

They went on to block legislation to forcing corporations to pay taxes on profits currently hidden in overseas tax havens–and spending this money on schools. Similar legislation received bipartisan support in other states, yet it was torpedoed by the GOP here.

Onward Cadman went, finishing things off by taking advantage of a horrible Longmont murder to introduce fetal personhood legislation, modeled boiler-plate style, after a bill promoted by a national anti-choice group.

Democrats had partisan legislation of their own, for sure, but for Tubbs to let Cadman say he “focused on things that matter to both sides” defies how Republicans actually used the power handed to them by voters in November, when control of the state senate went to the GOP.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/cadman-on-koa-morning-news-discussing-legislative-session

Denver Post editorials contradict each other on necessity of new law

Monday, April 20th, 2015

At the heart of Thursday’s Denver Post editorial supporting a personhood bill introduced by State Sen. Bill Cadman is the argument that Colorado needs a new law to penalize people like Dynel Lane, who faces over 100 years in prison for her alleged attack on Michelle Wilkins, who was pregnant and lost her fetus.

But just last year, The Post argued that existing Colorado law, specifically addressing crimes against pregnant women, was sufficient for cases like Wilkins’. The 2013 Crimes Against Pregnant Women law balances severe penalties for crimes harming fetuses with the preservation of abortion rights and the protection of pregnant women from criminal investigation.

Here’s what The Post said last week in its editorial endorsing Cadman’s bill:

A 2013 law made it a felony to unlawfully terminate a pregnancy, but it is a Class 3 felony with a sentencing range of 10 to 32 years unless the mother dies — when it becomes a Class 2 felony. The Class 3 felony is utterly inadequate.

But when The Post opposed last year’s personhood amendment, the newspaper argued that even a “horrific incident” did not justify a new law because “the state legislature already made the necessary statutory fix.” Here’s what The Post wrote last year:

The horrific incident laid bare a gap in Colorado law that did not allow authorities to charge the drunken driver with anything for the loss of Brady [an eight-month-old fetus].

The Yes on 67 campaign attempts to capitalize on this circumstance, saying the amendment is needed to protect pregnant mothers from violence. Proponents conveniently ignore the fact that the state legislature already made the necessary statutory fix.

It’s because of this 2013 “statutory fix” that Lane faces the 100-year prison term, because the 2013 Crimes-Against-Pregnant-Women law allows charges to be added on top of one another, over and above the Class 3 felony.

This severe penalties of Colorado’s 2013 law were apparently good enough for The Post last year, but now the statute is suddenly inadequate? What gives?

Clearly, both Cadman’s bill and Amendment 67 are attempts to take advantage of nightmarish incidents to pass different versions of “personhood.” Colorado’s 2013 law, considered the gold standard in balancing women’s rights with criminal justice, was a good argument against Amendment 67, as The Post understood at the time.

Newspaper editorials are supposed to be consistent and above-the-fray, so you’d expect The Post to point again to the 2013 Crimes Against Pregnant Women law and argue against Cadman’s personhood bill. But, alas, no, and the logic of the inconsistency escapes me.