Archive for the 'Colorado 6th Cong. Distroct' Category

Reporters failed to correct Coffman’s assertion that the House passed immigration bills

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

CORRECTION: At least two immigration-related bills cleared the GOP-controlled U.S. House this session, so I erred below in writing that none did. One responded to the crisis created by the young migrants crossing the border. It would have boosted border security, legal processing, and support. Another would have provided more visas for immigrant students with math and science skills and reduced the number of visas for other immigrants. I discussed this bill here. Sorry for the mistake.
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It’s tough to fact-check an entire debate, if you’re an increasingly lonely reporter at a shrinking news outlet, but a journalist somewhere should have corrected Rep. Mike Coffman’s assertion, in his debate last week against Democrat Andrew Romanoff, that immigration bills cleared the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

In explaining his opposition to a bipartisan immigration bill passed by the U.S. Senate, Coffman said (@21:45):

“I think both parties have it wrong right now. I think on the left it’s, unless we get everything, then nothing will move. And in fact, individual bills have moved over to the Senate. And Harry Reid would not take it up because it was not quote-unquote comprehensive. And then on my side of the aisle, you know, we’ve got to get moving. And I’ve worked with my folks on the Republican side to get them moving. And so I think there’s got to be a middle path. And that middle path is a step-by-step approach.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Coffman would have had a complete and total brain freeze if he’d tried to remember how he voted on these immigration “bills,” because they don’t exist.

He’d have been wrong even if he’d said a singular immigration bill cleared the U.S. House. But he said “bills” plural, multiplying his apparent mistake.

A phone call to Coffman’s spokesman, Tyler Sandberg, seeking clarification was not immediately returned.

So we’re forced to speculate that possibly Coffman was referring to a bill that would have stopped undocumented immigrants from accessing the child tax credit. But no reasonable person would call this immigration reform.

And Coffman opposed the bill that would have overturned President Obama’s order allowing young undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation. So presumably, Coffman wouldn’t want Sen. Reid to push this bill through the Senate.

Coffman himself made a big deal a year ago about supporting “comprehensive” immigration reform, but now he’s calling for a step-by-step approach. But he has yet to define, in any meaningful and specific way, the legislation or steps he supports to reform immigration.

Romanoff, who supports the Senate immigration bill, said as much during the debate, when he pointed out that Coffman’s “step-by-step” won’t work if steps aren’t taken.

The Senate took a big bi-partisan step. Coffman says the House has taken steps too. What are they? And if I’m right and they don’t exist, what should the steps be, Mike? What steps were you imagining?

Coffman’s fact-free attack on a judge deserves media scrutiny

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

In a blog post about a week ago, I gave conservative talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt some unsolicited information on why Rep. Mike Coffman is still so upset at losing his conservative district and now being a square peg in the round hole of Aurora.

Coffman told Hewitt that Democrats had “targeted my seat in the redistricting process.”

“A Democratic judge – you know, certainly his affiliation, I’m sure, — in Denver signed off on their map, without any amendments, and it certainly is what they call a ‘D+1’ [‘D’ plus one] district.”

An astute reader informed me that, in fact, judge Robert S. Hyatt is an unaffiliated voter, and likely has been since 1979, according to public records.

I checked this out myself, and confirmed it, with a high degree but not complete certainty, as I was unable to reach the retired judge himself–and he likely wouldn’t have divulged this information anyway.

As my correspondent pointed out, Coffman’s reckless — and fact-less — attack on the independence of the judiciary deserves scrutiny by reporters, particularly in light of Coffman’s oath to defend the U.S. Constitution.

As a progressive, I can tell you that Hyatt is no friend of progressive causes over conservative ones, as a brief examination of Hyatt’s decisions makes obvious. Remember, he ruled in favor of conservatives just last year in a case clearing the way for the recall of two Democratic state senators.

Filling in the talk-radio blanks on why Coffman is still upset at being a square-peg in the round-hole of Aurora

Friday, July 25th, 2014

If you follow the 6th Congressional District race, Coffman vs. Romanoff, you know that everything we’re seeing, from Coffman’s attempts to re-invent himself (abortion, immigration) to Romanoff’s decision to run at all, goes back to the 2010 redistricting, which turned the seat from red to purple.

From day one after the new district was created, reporters referenced the question of whether, when it comes to his new district, Coffman is a square peg in a round hole, a bad fit, even a Cuckoo bird* (my friend’s analogy). The election will answer this question.

But whether you think Coffman is anything like a Cuckoo bird, you wouldn’t expect Coffman, three years after redistricting, to be bringing up the square-peg issue himself, almost hating on his own district.

As Coffman said on the Hugh Hewitt show last week:

Coffman: Well, what they did, is they targeted my seat in the redistricting process. A Democratic judge – you know, certainly his affiliation, I’m sure, — in Denver, signed off on their map, without any amendments, and it certainly is what they call a ‘D+1’ [‘D’ plus one] district. So, it’s a Democrat-leaning district. Obama carried it by five points last time. I’m the number-one target for any sitting House Republican by the Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee.  And I’m proud of it. I need the support of all the folks out there who seeks to return to a constitutional government to the United States.

Listen to Coffman’s thoughts on redistricting on Hugh Hewitt 7.18.14

Hewitt doesn’t know enough about Colorado politics to be expected to correct some of Coffman’s facts here, so I’ll fill in for him.

First, there’s the politics. I read this as Coffman admitting that he’s not right for his own district. He’s pissed at Democrats for targeting his seat, and he’s mad at the “Democratic judge” for approving it. Yet, he wants to be the representative. Fine, but how far will he go (and can he go) not to be the square peg? That’s the heart of the matter out there in Aurora.

With respect to the facts (or lack thereof), Coffman’s claim that the judge was a biased Democrat is completely baseless and, honestly, makes Coffman look sour-grapes-desperate. Aside from the fact that Judge Robert Hyatt had no choice but to accept one of the proposed maps in toto, without amendments, Hyatt is widely respected and has shown it over the years.

As The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels, wrote just before his redistricting ruling:

The Denver judge who will draw new boundaries for Colorado’s seven congressional districts already has shaped the state’s political landscape with rulings cheered and jeered by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Judge Robert Hyatt in June threw out a lawsuit from retirees who argued the state legislature had no right to reduce benefits from the Public Employees Retirement Association.

He kicked Marc Holtzman off the ballot in 2006, ruling the Republican didn’t collect enough petition signatures as required by law. That paved the way for Bob Beauprez to wrap up the GOP nomination for governor.

I’ve written a lot about media coverage of this race, but I’d forgotten just how red Coffman’s old district was at 46 percent Republican, 26 percent Democrat, and 28 independent. That’s why Trancredo happily held it before Coffman.

Before redistricting, Coffman was like a shade-loving potted plant, happy in his place under a Cottonwood tree. Then the Cottonwood tree blew down, and suddenly sunlight started streaming onto Coffman, and he has to become sun-loving or die. That’s a tough adjustment, and most plants can’t handle it.

That’s kind of stupid, but it illustrates the underlying dynamic that should inform reporting on the race.

*the Cuckoo bird lays its eggs in another bird’s nest, dumps out the other bird’s eggs, and leaves the other bird to sit on them and raise the babies. They’re imposter babies, hoping that they don’t get recognized as being nothing like the real babies.

Media omission: Coffman is Christie’s ally in saying Colorado going to pot

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

It’s one thing for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to drop into Colorado and tell us our quality of life is going down the tubes thanks to marijuana legalization.

But it’s another for our own elected officials to tell us as much. You recall Rep. Mike Coffman grumped on the KOA radio earlier this year that legal pot may scare giant corporations from coming to Colorado. (Maybe that’s a good thing, but that’s a topic for another blog post.)

Coffman: “I worry, ‘What about that Fortune 500 corporation that wants to move to Colorado?’ And the chief executive officer has young kids, and to say, ‘Do I want my children exposed to a culture where this is acceptable for adults? And will that influence their behavior as kids?’”

Contrast Coffman’s fact-free brain puff with what Christie said in April:

Christie: “For the people who are enamored with the idea … the tax revenue from this, go to Colorado and see if you want to live there.”

Coffman is saying Colorado’s lifestyle/culture is so diminished by pot that rich people, in particular, may not want to live here.

Coffman stands with Christie.

Yesterday, Christie didn’t back down:

Christie: “I’m not backing off an inch from what I said.”

Coffman’s not backing down either. Talking to Hugh Hewett Friday, Coffman slammed pot legalization:

Coffman:You know, I think it’s a horrible decision that Colorado made.”

Coffman added that he’s trying to help pot businesses get bank accounts because operating in cash makes the industry “even more prone to criminality.”

You don’t see too many top elected officials singing the praises of pot shops. Many blandly say they’re opposed, but will try to make it work. But Coffman has distinguished himself as being on the far end of the pot-hating scale, which is weird since 55 percent of voters approved legalization.

Some buzz-kill swing voters, who don’t like legalized pot, might be motivating politicians like Coffman, who’s facing Democrat Andrew Romanoff in one of the most competitive congressional races in the country. Romanoff is no pot cheerleader, but he’s been more restrained.

No one knows where this will go, but it’s a beautiful Colorado morning outside, and I think I’ll go on a quick bike ride.

Post reporter does good job sorting out past (and present) Romanoff-Coffman immigration positions

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Denver Post reporter Kurtis Lee did a good job over the weekend of sorting out the past immigration positions of Rep. Mike Coffman and his Democratic challenger, Andrew Romanoff.

Lee noted that Romanoff pushed compromise immigration legislation through the Colorado legislature in 2006, in order to deflect a more extreme immigration measure from making the Colorado ballot and being locked in the state Constitution.

Lee is among the only journalists who’ve reported on the context of Romanoff’s 2006 immigration legislation, which was opposed by some immigrant advocates.

During the summer of 2006, in his first term as state House speaker, Romanoff faced a critical decision: Have a broadly worded initiative appear on the November ballot that would strip state benefits and even some medical services from those in the country illegally — including children — or strike a legislative compromise.

Lee reported that Romanoff “chose the latter option and staved off a late effort to revive the ballot initiative,” which was supported by Coffman.

Among the proponents of the ballot initiative that didn’t make it to voters was Coffman, the state treasurer at the time.

Coffman later headed to Congress to represent the then staunchly conservative 6th Congressional District, touting positions as a hardliner on immigration reform and following in the footsteps of his predecessor and a man he called his “hero” — Republican Tom Tancredo

Moving forward in time, Lee again correctly reports that Romanoff supports the comprehensive-immigration-reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate, while Coffman backs, in Lee’s words, “piecemeal reforms.” Lee does a good job of clarifying that Coffman doesn’t just stand for vague “reform” but a piecemeal approach, with the pieces glaringly undefined.

Lee should have noted that just over a year ago, Coffman announced his grand support, in a much-read Denver Post op-ed, for “comprehensive immigration reform.” This startled the three people paying attention because it ran counter to Coffman’s past positions.

But now Coffman’s “comprehensive immigration reform” is out the window, and he wants piecemeal legislation. Coffman has said that a “comprehensive approach doesn’t have to be a comprehensive bill,” but if you’ve ever had a conversation about immigration among people with differing views on the topic, you understand why that’s not true. Comprehensive reform allows for compromises to be folded together, with different pet issues included, so everyone can hold a nostril or two and vote yes, like Senators in their compromise by a 68-32 margin.

Lee, who’s leaving The Post Wed., probably won’t be able to delve into the question of whether piecemeal reform, with only a small piece (citizenship for minors via military service) actually on the table, is more than empty rhetoric, especially with the Senate bill ready to go. But maybe another reporter will pick up the thread.

Media omission: Gardner un-cosponsored legislation in 2011, showing how how can un-cosponsor personhood legislation now

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

One of the biggest election-year hypocrisies hanging out there, waiting for a civic-minded reporter to jump on, is the fact that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner remains a cosponsor of federal personhood legislation, even though he’s told the world, both in interviews and even in a paid advertisement, that he’s “learned more” about “personhood” and changed his mind about supporting it.

To un-cosponsor the federal personhood bill, the Life at Conception Act, Gardner must give a speech from the floor of the House of Representatives. Why hasn’t he done this?

Now is the time for the aforementioned civic-minded reporter to jump in and remind Gardner that he’s trotted down to the floor of House and un-cosponsored at least one bill before.

Back in 2011, Gardner, along with fellow Colorado Congressmen Coffman and Tipton, cosponsored legislation offering tax credits for natural-gas-powered vehicles.

But the oil-loving Koch brothers caught wind of the legislation, and pressured co-sponsors of the bill to withdraw their names.

As the Sunlight Foundation reported at the time:

But some companies, led by the oil refining conglomerate owned by the politically influential Koch brothers, have campaigned against the legislation, according to a report in The Hill newspaper. Their efforts have resulted in 14 members of Congress withdrawing their support for the bill.

Gardner, Coffman, and Tipton apparently felt the Koch pressure, and speaking from the floor of the House, one by one, they asked that their cosponsorship of the natural-gas bill (HR 1380) be ended. Click at the bottom of the page here, on “Show cosponsors who withdrew.”

Here’s C-Span video of these exciting acts of remorse and regret. In the first video, Gardner is not pictured, but you hear Gardner say:

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: For what purpose would the gentleman from Colorado like to address the House?

GARDNER: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I ask unanimous consent that my name be removed from [H.R.] 1380.”

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Without objection.

Then you see Rep. Scott Tipton make the same request. In the second video, you see Rep. Mike Coffman do it.

WATCH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj7VRXfTKg0&feature=share&list=UUSj-lO7VwQBYZBK-56FXN7w

WATCH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMq3Ya_OjFw&list=UUSj-lO7VwQBYZBK-56FXN7w&feature=share&index=2

If Gardner can do this in 2011, why won’t he do it now?

During an interview on with CBS4′s Shaun Boyd in April, Gardner went out of his way to distinguish between state and federal personhood proposals, as gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez has also done, indicating that he may not take back his support of federal personhood, even though the state and federal measures would do the same thing. And Gardner has defended his anti-abortion record on the radio.

It was only June of 2013 when Gardner first added his name to the list of cosponsors of the Life at Conception Act. Maybe he’s fine with it. It’s a question that deserves to be asked.

Fed falsehoods by Coffman spokesperson, Univision should air videos of Coffman’s admiration of Tancredo

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Last month, Univision Denver’s news show requested an interview with Republican Mike Coffman to get his reaction to Democrat Andrew Romanoff’s accusation that Coffman’s immigration policies reflect those of former Congressman Tom Tancredo. Coffman sent his spokesman, Tyler Sandberg, to talk to Univision, and here’s an excerpt from the piece that aired.

Univision reporter Karen Vega: … We asked if, in reality, Coffman shared the anti-immigrant opinions and practices of his predecessor, the former Congressman and current state gubernatorial candidate, Tom Tancredo.

Sandberg: Absolutely not. On the issue of immigration, Tom Tancredo and Mike Coffman represent two different extremes of the Republican Party. As such, with all respect to Tom Tancredo, Mike Coffman does not have the same anti-immigrant policies.

Left out was a reference to Romanoff’s point that Coffman introduced Tom Tancredo as his “hero”at a 2010 Tea Party Rally:

Coffman: “It is a great honor for me to introduce somebody who is my hero, someone who has served this country with honor and integrity and courage… and that is former Congressman Tom Tancredo.”

What’s more, Coffman endorsed Tancredo in the 2010 gubernatorial election. (And vice versa here.) Apparently aware of this, Vega asked Sandberg about the “admiration that Coffman supposedly has for Republican Tom Tancredo.” Sandberg replied to Vega by saying that Coffman respects Tancredo for his views on economic issues and not at all for his views on immigration. Too bad Vega didn’t have this video of Coffman’s introduction of Tancredo in 2010, when Coffman offered hero-like praise for Tancredo’s extreme opposition to Republican-led immigration reform in 2006.

Coffman: “In 2006, I was a disillusioned Republican because of what was going on in Washington DC when Republicans had the White House, when Republicans had the House and the Senate, and they ceased to govern by the conservative principles that they ran on. But there was one Republican in Washington who refused to stand with them, who stood on the same conservative principles that he ran on, and that was Tom Tancredo. When Republicans in the Congress ceased to govern by the values that got them elected, when the Republican President of the United States, with the Republican leadership and their Democrat allies, came up with a so-called immigration reform bill that did nothing to secure the borders of the United States and provided amnesty for those who had broken our law, Tom Tancredo refused to stand with those Republicans.”

If Coffman, or more likely his spokesman, appears again on Univision, let’s hope he gets time to explain why he thinks his boss is so far apart from Tancredo’s immigration positions, when in fact they share both an anti-immigrant record and fighter’s posture on the issue.

CORRECTION: A early version of this post incorrectly stated that the piece aired on Telemundo Denver.

Journalists should call out Coffman’s ban on using all recording devices in his office

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

It’s hard to miss this warning sign posted by the door as you enter the district office of Rep. Mike Coffman on South Parker Road.

“The use of video recording devices, still cameras or digital recorders are NOT permitted inside the office.”

You’d think this sign would insult reporters who stand for free, open, and on-the-record communications between peasants and their elected representatives. Not only that, if you take the sign seriously, even reporters visiting Coffman’s office could record neither peep nor pushup from Coffman.

I asked Tom Kelley, longtime Denver media attorney and partner at Levine Sullivan Koch & Schultz, about the sign:

“Assuming he welcomes journalists in the office to meet with the Congressman, why is he barring them from showing the public in real time what actually is going on there?” asked Kelley. “I think it’s bad policy. It suggests that there’s something to hide inside that office. If he would bar disruptive behavior or something like that, it would be different. But clearly his intent is to prevent being embarrassed, which he’s had some experience with recently over the gaffe on the President’s citizenship. It’s hard not to wonder if this isn’t in response to that. All of which doesn’t speak well of the Congressman’s willingness to be transparent and accountable.

“I would hope that he or any Congressman on either side of the aisle would reconsider,” said Kelley, adding that if someone were to take Coffman to court to force him to allow recording devices in the office, he or she would likely lose.

Journalists aside, you wonder what Coffman would say to the Aurora elementary school kids who might stop in for a visit and want a photo with their Congressman?

Drew Kerin, a staffer at Coffman’s Aurora office, told me that the policy of banning recording devices came at the “strong recommendation” of the U.S. Capitol Police. Kerin added that he personally spoke to the U.S. Capitol Police about the matter.

After speaking with Kerin, I requested information on the U.S. Capitol Police’s recommendations on recording devices. I’ll update this blog when I hear back.

To be fair, other congressional offices may sometimes ask visitors to restrict the use of recording devices, depending on the circumstances. But in a limited survey, I couldn’t find any that totally bans them, like Coffman does.

The photo immediately below was taken this month at Coffman’s office. The other one was shot in December.

Context in Associated Press story helps readers understand nuances of immigration issue

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

An Associated Press article last week reported on the clashes between Sen. Mark Udall and his Republican opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, on immigration issues. The AP piece, by Nicholas Riccardi, not only presents the two candidates’ current positions on the topic but also adds info about what the one of the  candidates is not saying.

Gardner last week said that he did support citizenship for people here illegally who served in the military. But he would not give any more specifics about who else should be granted citizenship.

Information about what  candidates aren’t willing to say allows readers to make meaningful comparisons.

It helps voters distinguish, in this case, a narrow immigration position, like Gardner’s, from a broader one, like the comprehensive immigration reform supported by Udall. (Reporters covering Rep. Mike Coffman should also point out his unwillingness to offer a specific immigration plan, beyond vagaries–unlike his Democratic opponent Andrew Romanoff, who’s a backer of the bipartisan Senate bill.)

Riccardi’s piece clearly states that Udall supports the bipartisan immigration bill passed by the Senate, and Gardner does not.

Gardner has long opposed any immigration reform, even reduced college tuition for undocumented young people, until unspecified border security measures are in place.

Gardner attacked Udall for supporting a 2005 bill that would have made it a felony to be in the United States illegally, Riccardi reported.

For context, as he did with the two candidates’ current immigration stances, Riccardi should have contrasted Gardner’s own positions back then to Udall’s.

Gardner, for example, was part of an organization called State Legislators for Legal Immigration, according to a May 22, 2007 Greeley Tribune article. Among other extreme immigration positions, Gardner’s group wanted to prohibit the children of undocumented immigrants from attending school, even elementary school, and from receiving all other public assistance.

This comports with Gardner’s 2006 vote in the state legislature against providing any benefits, including preventative care, like immunizations, to undocumented children as well as adults. At the time, Gardner was allied with the lawmakers in Colorado who thought the tough compromise legislation, passed during the special session in 2006, didn’t go far enough.

Pundit who first noticed Beauprez’s support of Obamacare mandate is still unhappy about it

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Colorado political writer Ari Armstrong was apparently the first media figure to notice, back in 2007, Bob Beauprez’s unqualified support for the central tenet of Obamacare, the requirement that everyone have health insurance. That’s called “the individual mandate.”

Armstrong, who writes from a pro-free-market perspective, wasn’t happy with Beauprez’s position on the individual mandate back in 2007, writing at the time:

Armstrong: Some of Beauprez’s proposals (none of which are original to him) are fine, such as reducing the tax distortion that has entrenched employer-paid insurance. But his call for mandatory health insurance overwhelms anything positive he might have to say. “Both Ways Bob” simply does not understand the nature of individual rights, the meaning of free markets, or the proper purpose of government.

Now that Beauprez’s Obamacare position has blown up into a major issue in the GOP gubernatorial primary, I asked Armstrong if he sees any lessons for the Republican Party, flowing from his original piece.

Armstrong: As for the Republicans, the lesson is that they should stop advocating policies that violate individual rights. Republicans hardly ever even mention individual rights, much less work toward a government that protects people’s rights. As a consequence, the typical Republican politician is an ineffective, unprincipled compromiser who surrenders the moral high ground every time he opens his mouth. That is why Beauprez likely will lose, and that is why he deserves to lose.

Here are more of Armstrong’s thoughts on the topic today, in response to my questions, including whether he thought Beauprez was making a policy recommendation in 2007.

Armstrong: Obviously Beauprez intended his remarks as a policy recommendation. The title of his article is, “Health Care Reform—The Battle is Joined: A Case for Patient First Health Care Reform.” In the article, Beauprez explicitly calls on government to force people to buy health insurance. On the issue of mandatory coverage, Beauprez anticipated the position of Hillary Clinton and of post-election Barack Obama. (Of course, prior to his election, Obama opposed the mandate of Clinton’s plan.)

It is worth noting that Beauprez was hardly alone in this. (He’s not an original enough thinker to come up with something like that on his own.) Many conservatives, and even some libertarians (see Reason magazine), supported an insurance mandate. It was only after ObamaCare became so unpopular (a result that quite shocked many Republican leaders) that conservatives and libertarians finally got consistently on board with the idea that forcing people to buy any product is wrong.

I do not know whether Beauprez has changed his mind on this or not. If he has retracted his support for an insurance mandate, I am not aware of it. Of course, I am not one of those people who pretends that any time a politician changes his mind, that’s a bad thing. If a politician is wrong, he should change his mind.

Armstrong was way out in front on this story in 2007, we’ll see where the issue goes now.