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

Coffman Refuses Interview with Huffpo Journalist, But He Loves Talk Radio!

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

Huffington Post reporter Matt Fuller tweets this morning that U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman refused to talk to him because, Coffman told him, he’s “not a legit journalist.”

This prompted former Coffman deputy Tyler Sandberg to tweet that “Huffpo is a left-wing blog, not a bastion of journalistic legitimacy.”

That might be true for some Huffpo writers, but not for Fuller, as you can see from his resume.

But even if it were true, Coffman doesn’t use “journalistic legitimacy” as his litmus test for talking to media figures, as demonstrated by the fact that he’s been on conservative talk radio shows at least seven times this year alone. And hundreds of times over the years.

I have nothing against KNUS 710-AM’s Craig Silverman, Krista Kafer, Steve Kelley, and Jimmy Sengenberger–all of whom Coffman’s talked with just this year. Ditto for KHOW 630-AM’s Ross Kaminsky.

But none of them is a “legit journalist.”

I’m not saying Coffman shouldn’t chit chat with conservative talkers, who usually, but not always, scratch his back. He just shouldn’t offer fake excuses to avoid reporters like Fuller.

Are Colorado Republicans really guaranteeing that people who have health insurance now will continue to have it under an Obamacare replacement?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Last week, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asked Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) if he could guarantee to his constituents that they’d “have coverage if you have it now.”

“The answer to that is no, right?” asked Hayes.

“Yes,” replied Sanford. “The answer is, we don’t know with precision.”

Colorado Republicans need to be asked the same question, because over the past months they’ve repeatedly implied that no one will lose their health insurance if Obamacare is repealed. But am I hearing them right? Is this a promise?

For example, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) stated KOA 850-AM Feb. 17, “And let me just say, nothing will be repealed unless it’s concurrently replaced.”

If nothing means nothing, then no one will lose their health care coverage, at a minimum, much less all the other benefits of Obamacare (e.g., coverage for under-26 family members, pre-existing conditions, no caps on coverage).

Coffman’s office sort of confirmed his stance to 9News this week.

9News: Coffman’s office told us he wants to keep the changes Obamacare made for pre-existing conditions, the ability for parents to keep children on their plans until age 26, and maintaining coverage for people who gained it under the ACA—including the Medicaid expansion, which has been criticized by some of Coffman’s fellow Republicans.

But that’s a aspiration, not a promise, and Coffman’s constituents want to know if Coffman would vote for a still-unkown Obamacare replacement that would throw people off the health insurance rolls.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) expressed the same promise in the form of an aspiration, as he likes to do when dealing with a tough question.

Gardner: “What we have to do is create a bipartisan health care plan, health insurance plan, to make sure that we can do better than Obamacare,” said Gardner on KOA 850-AM Jan. 13.

Is he saying his constituents won’t lose their insurance? I think so, but he needs to be asked point blank–and repeatedly, because that’s often what it takes with Gardner (e.g., Will he vote for Trump? And will he hold a town hall? And what about the federal personhood amendment?)

In some communications, Colorado Republicans are stopping short of promising that their constituents won’t lose their health insurance, but they’re guaranteeing that elements of Obamacare won’t be lost.

“…[U]nder the Republican replacement plans, no individual with a pre-existing condition will be denied insurance coverage or see their rates spike,” wrote Congressman Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton in The Denver Post Jan. 13.

That’s a serious promise.

But the larger question remains. What exactly are you saying? Will you vote for a bill that doesn’t guarantee health insurance for all Americans who have it under Obamacare? If not, how many are you willing to throw off the rolls or put at risk of losing their coverage?

Coffman announces Obamacare telephone calls and “meetings” but no promised town hall

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman announced yesterday that he plans to hold “series of meetings,” beginning Feb. 20-24 and continuing in March. about the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

Absent from his plans is a town hall meeting in a “very large venue” that can “handle 300 people.” He promised to hold such a town-hall-style event after his early exit from a jammed constituent meeting last month,

In place of a public town-hall discussion is a “listening tour,” which involves  1) an undefined number of “meetings” with select “healthcare providers and patients advocacy groups” and 2) “several telephone town halls to hear directly from constituents regarding their concerns about the Affordable Care Act.”

Coffman did not offer an explanation for backing out of his plans for a big old town hall meeting, but the replacement he’s chosen offers the Aurora Republican the opportunity to screen his audiences and weed out potentially angry questions.

In other words, Coffman can’t slip out the back door of a telephone call. But he can to the equivalent by screening callers. Ditto with meetings with healthcare providers; he’s picking both the groups and the venues.

So in terms of accountability, Coffman’s proposal doesn’t fulfill his promise to do right to all those people he left in the library Jan. 14, when he slipped out the back door early. And reporters should have asked him about it.

Here’s the entire news release issued by Coffman’s office yesterday:

Coffman Announces ACA ‘Listening Tour’

Feb 13, 2017 Press Release
Washington, DC — Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (CO-06) announced that during the district work period scheduled for Feb. 20-24, he will undertake the first phase of his planned “listening tour” regarding the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Coffman will use this series of meetings to gain the perspective of as many constituents, patients and healthcare professionals as possible.

“During this district work week, I look forward to meeting with many healthcare providers and patients advocacy groups. My objective is to personally hear from them on how the ACA has affected the healthcare system, medical professionals, and most importantly, how it has affected patients access to medical care. I will use their input not only to review my own plans on how to proceed, but also to communicate their concerns to my congressional colleagues—Additionally, I want to communicate again that no repeal will take place without first having a replacement.”

The ACA, which was signed into law in March 2010, dramatically impacted the health care of millions here in Colorado and across the country. Due to the ACA, thousands of Coloradans who were perfectly satisfied with their health insurance had their policies changed or in some cases even cancelled. In 2017 alone, health insurance rates rose more than 20% in some areas, and 14 counties in the State now have just one health insurance provider servicing their area. The ACA, did allow for some consumer protections to be codified into law, some of which Coffman strongly supports, such as preserving the pre-existing condition protection and ensuring those under Medicaid expansion access to health insurance coverage.

Coffman will commence the second phase of this listening effort in March when he plans to hold several telephone town halls to hear directly from constituents regarding their concerns about the Affordable Care Act.

More information on the tele-town halls will be made available in early March in the Congressman’s website: www.coffman.house.gov.

One month later: What about Coffman’s promised town-hall meeting in a venue that can “handle 300 people”

Monday, February 13th, 2017

One of the biggest national stories to originate in Denver this year was 9News’ piece about U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s (R-Aurora) early exit out the back door of a library full of people wanting to talk to him about Obamacare.

A few days after the story went viral, Coffman bumped into The Colorado Independent’s Susan Greene and told her that “right now” he was trying to secure a “very large venue” for a town-hall meeting. Coffman was looking for a place that could “handle 300 people.”

Yet, it’s now been exactly one month since Coffman announced his search for a venue, and nary a reporter has asked Coffman, “What’s up with your big shindig town-hall meeting?”

With Obamacare in the balance and Coffman in the hot seat, that’s obviously a legitimate question, which has news value even if Coffman has no further comment.

The last item listed on the “events” page of Coffman’s website took place Jan. 14 at the Aurora Central Library. That’s the one where 9News filmed him slipping out the back.

“Constituents are invited to come to Aurora Central Library to meet with Rep. Coffman and discuss the issues that are important to them,” states the description of the Jan. 14 event.

Given the wide attention on the Aurora meeting, shouldn’t a reporter hold Coffman accountable for his promise for a follow-up town hall–or find out if he’s now decided against it?Given the wide attention on the Aurora meeting, shouldn’t a reporter hold Coffman accountable for his promise for a follow-up town hall–or find out if he’s now decided against it?

Reporters should press Colorado’s Congressional Republicans on replacement for Obamacare

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

The Colorado Republican congressional delegation is talking a lot about a “replacement” for Obamacare, as if they have something in mind, without actually pointing to an actual factual replacement–or even any details leading in the direction of a replacement.

Reporters should be extra careful to point out that Republicans have no replacement plan, because all the talk about one can easily confuse already confused people into thinking that Colorado Republicans have a plan.

As an example of how Republicans try to disguise their absence of a plan as a plan, check out this passage from a Jan. 13 Denver Post opinion piece, authored by all of Colorado’s GOP members of Congress (with the glaring exception of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.)

And speaking of replacement plans, the narrative that Republicans have offered no plan to replace Obamacare is false. Republicans have introduced multiple alternative health care plans since 2010, and we encourage you to review them. The most recent replacement plan was offered by the Republican Study Committee, called the American Health Care Reform Act. The Empowering Patients First Act was a plan put forth in the 114th Congress by future Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Tom Price. Our Better Way Agenda also includes a blueprint for replacing Obamacare that is centered on more choices, lowers costs, and greater flexibility.

Many plans does not mean you have a plan. Gentlemen, which plan do you favor, if any?

Even though Gardner didn’t join his colleagues in the Denver Post opinion, he made a similar statement on KOA 850-AM Jan. 13 (audio below):

Gardner: We have introduced several bills — hundreds of bills, really — small and big over the past several years to replace Obamacare. Some are very targeted, some are much more comprehensive: legislation by Tom Price –soon to be the Secretary of Health; legislation by Dr. Grasso, a Senator from Wyoming who is a physician; legislation from Bill Cassidy, a physician himself from Louisiana that will be introduced next. These are all going to be considered as part of the replacement once it’s repealed.

Hundreds of bills! Small and big! Very targeted! All will be considered! (But, alas, still, no plan.)

But, it’s worth noting, and it’s in fact newsworthy, that  Colorado’s congressional Republicans are saying the Price plan is in the mix, because analysts say that millions of people would lose their health insurance under Price’s proposal. And Price is Trump’s nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Cassidy plan, also mentioned by Gardner, would leave millions of people uninsured or underinsured, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In fact, Trump’s promises aside, I can’t find someone who’s making a credible case that any of the floated Republican plans, either individually or combined with one another, won’t throw millions of people off the health insurance rolls. (Here’s a look at a few more GOP plans.)

9News anchor Kyle Clark noted Gardner’s awareness of the problem, reporting that Gardner “would not commit to having an Affordable Care Act replacement that covers everyone with insurance now.”

But the big numbers involved might explain why Gardner literally turned and walked away from Vox.com editor Sarah Kliff when she asked about coverage under the Price plan, because millions lose it.

The numbers and obfuscation also are the reason reporters should press for an answer to the questions about a replacement plan and its impact. And not mince words in informing us of non-answers.

Listen to Cory Gardner on 850-KOA Jan. 13.

Fake news accusation rings false

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Conservatives tweeted “fake news” in response to the 9News story, now spreading across the country, that U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) made an early back-door exit from a crowded “constituent meeting,” while scores of people were waiting to talk to him about his intention to repeal Obamacare.

How could the story be fake? The news outlet? Real. The crowd in Coffman’s office? Real. The early exit? Real. Sneaking out the back door? Real. The yellow police tape stretching from the back door to Coffman’s car? Too real (and too bizarre).

In support of the accusation of fakeness, @COPeakPolitics pointed to a Denver Post story indicating that Coffman did not leave the constituent meeting early. But later The Post corrected its story with:

CORRECTION: This story was corrected at 10:28 p.m. Jan. 17 to show that Rep. Mike Coffman left his 90 minute constituent meeting early. The meeting was scheduled for 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Others speculated that organizers were involved in getting some of the people to Coffman’s office and letting the media know. Gasp. If it’s true, and we don’t know, that’s politics and community organizing, not fake news.

Journalists often want to know, what’s the back story of an event. How did it come to pass? It’s a fair question, but that doesn’t make what actually took place any less real.

Fake news is a fabricated falsehood made to look somehow like real journalism–and identified as false by credible fact checkers.

It’s not a story (with video) of Coffman leaving early from the back door of a building full of people clamoring to talk to him about an upcoming vote.

Coffman, Doty, Woods offer reporters localized election-night Trump material

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Doty Tweets from Trump Rally 10-16The story of Trump’s impact on down-ballot races Colorado is unfolding in front of us in the strangest ways, with Colorado Republicans going every which way when it comes to the mogul.

A unique approach to Trump has been taken by Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Doty, who’s running against Democrat Daniel Kagan in a Cherry Hills state-state race that Democrats must win to take control of the chamber.

Doty said in June that she’d support Trump, and later called Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Trump “spot on.”

But then she told the Aurora Sentinel last month that her vote is a “private decision.” The Denver Post reported most Oct. 23 that Doty’s not commenting on Trump.

But lo, Doty tweeted a photo Saturday from her apparent appearance at the Trump rally in Golden, without comment, as if to say, “Look! I’m still voting for Trump, but a secret is a secret.”

But in any case, on election night, reporters should reflect on what’s worked Trump-wise for Colorado Republicans in tight races. The Doty approach?

State Sen. Laura Woods’ I-Believe-Trump-Will-“Lead-our-Country-to-Greatness-Once-Again” strategy.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s strategery of dodge trump (December), then yes Trump (February), then maybe Trump (May and August), then no Trump (October). And possibly no one (October).

We’ll never know Trump’s exact impact in Colorado’s down-ballot races, but that shouldn’t stop reporters from having fun trying to figure it out anyway on Tuesday night, using our abundant local material.

Best local journalism of the 2016 election season

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Here are my favorite election stories by local journalists:

Denver 7’s Marshall Zelinger of course gets the top prize in both the journalism and entertainment categories. His series of stories showing forged signatures on the ballot-access petitions of former GOP state Rep. Jon Keyser had a game-changing impact on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race and reflected everything you want from journalism, especially at a time when it’s going to the dogs. (Don’t miss your chance to see Zelinger’s Keyser interview again here.)

Without the state-senate campaign coverage by Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Independent and Ernest Luning and John Tomasic at the Colorado Statesman, we would’ve had little reporting—until the final weeks—on the key state senate races that will determine control of Colorado government. Other outlets weighed late, which is great, but these races were so pivotal and important to the entire state this year, they deserved the early and sustained focus they got only from the Statesman and the Independent.

Luning also exposed a Democratic state legislative candidate who basically made up his entire resume and was later defeated in his primary race. In a similar vein, Goodland’s piece revealing the potential jail time faced by state house candidate Tim Leonard also deserves high praise. So does former Post reporter Joey Bunch’s treatment of Darryl Glenn’s legal troubles as a young man.

Denver Post reporter John Frank’s series of inside-view articles on the revolt by Colorado Republicans against Trump at the GOP National Convention informed the national debate on the growing #NeverTrump and plain-old anti-Trump movement among Republicans.  (Frank’s prodigious output generally also deserves mention.)

The Denver media’s political-ad fact-checkers have my eternal admiration because their job is tedious and difficult but really valuable. So, a shout out to Denver 7’s Alan Gathright, The Denver Post, 9News’ Brandon Rittiman, and  CBS 4’s Shaun Boyd. Reporters, like the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby, who dip into this territory, deserve credit too.

She got ribbed by fellow reporters for burying the lede, but former CO Springs Gazette reporter Megan Schrader gets credit for reporting U.S. Senator Cory Gardner’s off-the-cuff comment that he planned to vote for Trump after all. The story generated national buzz and shows what’s lost as we shed campaign-trail journalism.

The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins’ story about anonymous campaign flyers may later play a role, in a small way, in a legislative fix that all sides would welcome.

I thought the debates moderated by 9News’ Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman were particularly informative.

It’s the little things that can make politics fun, so hats off to Molly Morrison at KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs for revealing that Trump was rescued by the Springs’ Fire Department after the head-strong mogul had insulted the Springs’ fire marshal. Nice.

Kudos to 9News‘ Rittiman and Denver’s 7‘s Zelinger for asking U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, after he released an ad critical of Trump in August, who he’d vote for. The fallout from his response—that Coffman would still consider voting for Trump or for the Libertarian candidate–got national coverage. And it t turned out to be a harbinger of Coffman’s troubles later, as he’s tried to both support and oppose Trump at the same time, ultimately opposing Trump. We all love it when journalists follow up beyond the canned statements and ads.

Finally, can you beat the editorials in the Aurora Sentinel? No. Even if you like U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), you still have to love the writing in the Sentinel’s endorsement of his Democratic opponent Morgan Carroll, as well as the fire in its other editorials on any political topic.

Forget the rabbit hole, Coffman is opposed to a path to citizenship for immigrants

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

9News anchor Kyle Clark did an excellent job interviewing U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman Tuesday, and his Democratic challenger Morgan Carroll Monday, pressing them on a range of issues.

On immigration, Clark asked Coffman what he’d propose for adult undocumented immigrants:

Coffman: “As long as they haven’t violated criminal laws to give them a legalized status that would allow them to work here without fear of deportation.

Clark: “Not citizenship but legal status?”

Coffman: “Legal status.”

Clark: “Any path to citizenship for those people?”

Coffman: “No. No.”

But without skipping a beat, Coffman kind of contradicted himself, with the camera rolling, saying he could possibly support a path to citizenship.

Coffman: “I don’t want to box myself in. If we get into negotiations, and there’s everything that I like, and it would be a very long path, and very selective. You know, I don’t want to totally back myself—but ideally I would say no.”

If you’re a journalist, what do you do with Coffman’s qualifier? Do you say he’s opposed to a citizenship path? Against it, unless he’s for it?

In a news segment yesterday based on the interview, Clark contrasted Coffman’s stance against a path to citizenship with Carroll’s position in favor of it. He didn’t mention Coffman’s qualifying comments.

In an email, I asked Clark why he apparently concluded that Coffman is against a path to citizenship.

Clark: “I took Representative Coffman’s answer to mean that he is not in favor of a path to citizenship but stopped short of saying he’d never support it,” wrote Clark.

Clark could have gone down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out, specifically, what Coffman means by theoretically favoring a citizenship path if negotiations produce “everything that I like.”

But it’s a rabbit hole other reporters have tried to go down without coming up with specifics on what Coffman wants for citizenship. And besides, Coffman’s statement, especially with “ideally no” tacked on, is clear enough as it is.

So Clark was right to conclude Coffman opposes a path to citizenship.

Plus, it’s consistent with Coffman’s stance historically. When a specific proposal for a path to citizenship was on the table, and negotiations were possible, as part of the bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill that passed the U.S. Senate in 2013, Coffman opposed the bill.

But Coffman said at the time he might support comprehensive reform, piece-by-piece, some other time. But, over three years, we’ve seen no specifics from Coffman on a citizenship path for adults.

As Lizeth Chacon wrote in an Aurora Sentinel op-ed yesterday:

For Republicans grappling with immigration in 2013, opposing the Senate’s Gang of Eight plan was more than just splitting hairs on the particulars of a bill – or advocating a “slower” approach, as the Post characterized it.  Rather it was a decision that doomed reform in an attempt to appease anti-immigrant hardliners in the conservative base.

For Mike Coffman, it also meant that this so-called “leader” on immigration reform placed himself squarely to the right of Republicans like John McCain and Marco Rubio, senators who actually took a position and passed legislation.

Coffman has since tried to cover up for his opposition by saying he believes comprehensive reform can be done in pieces. What the media in general has failed to understand, however, is that this procedural talking point represents Coffman’s biggest and most craven reversal on the issue.

Congress usually passes landmark pieces of legislation by clearing the deck of all sticky issues at once and including give-and-take compromises designed to attract enough supporters from both parties to ensure passage. That’s why the word “comprehensive” in immigration reform is so important.

The good news is, thanks to the intersection of an election and journalism, we can now definitively conclude, after years of equivocation, Coffman is against a path to citizenship.

What principles allow Coffman to be who he is?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo’s string of attacks against U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman raise questions again about what underlying principles motivate Coffman, who’s a Republican from Aurora.

Tancredo now says he doesn’t know if Coffman has “any real set of principles” at all.

But reporters haven’t really explored the question, about how Coffman can go from being, for example, opposed to all abortion, even for rape, to being okay with some abortions. Or from embracing Tancredo as a “hero” to apparently ignoring Tancredo’s criticism of him. Or from saying the Dream Act is a “nightmare” to allegedly supporting it.

It’s time for reporters to help us understand the set of principles that allow Coffman to act this way.

To illustrate the point, I offer this video.