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

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.

Media omission: how Coffman’s obstructionism in Congress has hurt vets

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

In responding to media reports, led by the Aurora Sentinel, that he voted against funds to reduce delays at Veterans Administration hospitals, Rep. Mike Coffman told reporters in a statement that he opposed the legislation because it cut cost-of-living increases for some military retirees.

But as Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols pointed out, Coffman didn’t mention anything about veterans when he cast his vote against the Murray-Ryan compromise spending bill, which contained the increased funds for the VA. Coffman issued a statement at the time saying he was opposed to breaking Pentagon spending caps.

Local media reports haven’t pointed out what else was at stake in the omnibus spending bill: the continued operation of the federal government. Coffman’s vote against this compromise spending legislation was not only a vote against VA hospitals but also a vote for shutting down the government. And as everyone who was watching at the time knows, this was the overarching concern, and Coffman apparently hasn’t been asked about how his vote for the shutdown affected veterans.

By voting for a shutdown, Coffman reduced or jeopardized a slew of veterans benefits. For example, the reviews of benefit claims of thousands of veterans were delayed; over 7,500 Veterans Benefits Administration employees were furloughed; and compensation to millions of veterans and pension benefits to hundreds of thousands of veterans and their spouses were threatened. And beyond the VA, veterans rely on lots of services like HUD housing and Labor Department training, which were affected.

Also left out of media coverage were Coffman’s votes against increased VA funding in 2009 and 2011. These large bills would have provided nearly $200 million ($119 million in 2009 and $42 million in 2011) for the VA hospital in Aurora. Coffman has been upset at the delays in constructing this hospital, even though he’s opposed funding for it in the years prior to his own criticism of mismanagement.

What’s been left out of the VA coverage, in the big picture, is a discussion of how GOP obstructionism in Congress, particularly in the House and with the support of Coffman, has exacerbated the problems for veterans.

 

Media coverage of Coffman’s attacks on Romanoff’s 2006 compromise immigration laws should note Coffman’s support of hard-line ballot initiative

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols reported yesterday that Rep. Mike Coffman has launched a web ad attcking his Democratic opponent, Andrew Romanoff, for supporting tough immigration legislation in 2006.

But Stokols omitted the fact that Romanoff’s compromise legislation came in response to a hard-line immigration ballot initiative that was endorsed by Coffman. The Coffman-backed initiative, called Defend Colorado Now, would have stopped Colorado from providing services to all undocumented immigrants, even children. One of the 2006 Romanoff-backed laws, for example  (HB-1023), specifically allowed children 18-years or younger to receive state services, like vaccinations.

Stokols piece fails to note the transparent hypocrisy of Coffman attacking Romanoff passing immigration laws, even though Coffman favored a more extreme anti-immigrant ballot initiative, which triggered the need for the compromise laws pushed by Romanoff. And Coffman’s measure would have been enshrined in the state Constitution, if it passed, which seemed likely at the time.

Stokols should have included a comment (or a no comment) by Coffman addressing his 2006 support of the extreme Defend Colorado Now initiative.

Coffman’s web ad spotlights a 2010 quote from Democratic State Sen. Jesse Ulibarri, who’s now backing Romanoff, criticizing Romanoff for the laws passed during the 2006 special session. In his piece yesterday, Stokols reports Ulibarri’s current thinking on the 2006 special session:

Ulibarri also told FOX31 Denver that he now has a better understanding, thanks in part to being a state lawmaker himself, of Romanoff’s choice back in 2006 than he did when he penned the 2010 Op-Ed, noting that the legislation passed was an effort to avoid a ballot measure that would have made it a felony for undocumented immigrants to have access to public services, including emergency room care, in the event of a health emergency.

“As Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives at the time, Andrew was faced with the choice of doing nothing and allowing undocumented children and many Coloradans to be denied emergency room care or finding an option to prevent an incredibly heinous law from being enshrined in our Constitution,” Ulibarri said.

“Speaker Romanoff fought to keep this measure off of the ballot by brokering a compromise during the special legislative session. This compromise made Colorado law consistent with federal law that denied certain public services to undocumented immigrants with exceptions for children, public health and safety. And while I don’t agree with the bills that were passed, I understand why the deal was made.”

That’s good context on Coffman’s ad. Just as important would have been an explanation from Coffman on why he supported the proposed constitutional amendment that Romanoff worked with Republican Gov. Bill Owens and others to stop.

Reporters shouldn’t tolerate Coffman’s immigration platitutes anymore

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols reported this morning that Rep. Mike Coffman will stage a press conference today calling on his Republican colleagues in the House to pass the Enlist Act, which would offer a young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship through military service.

News coverage about Coffman’s bill, which has been rejected by Republican leadership, will naturally touch on broader immigration reform, as Stokols’ piece did this morning, quoting Coffman thusly:

“There’s got to be a path down the middle,” Coffman told FOX31 Denver in an interview last week. “Let’s secure our borders, enforce our laws, let’s have immigration policies that are going to grow the economy, but let’s also be compassionate and keep families together.”

Reporters need to stop letting Coffman throw out these platitudes without asking him, what’s his specific plan? He doesn’t support the bipartisan immigration bill passed by 68 Senators, so Coffman is siding with 32 Republican opponents, led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. What’s Coffman’s specific problem with the Senate bill? What amendment(s) would he offer to fix it, to try to move it out of the House, where it’s stalled.

In his piece this morning, Stokols quoted the spokesperson for Coffman’s Democratic opponent Andrew Romanoff, who pointed out that Coffman opposes the Senate immigration bill.

That’s a good start, contrasting Romanoff’s position in favor of the Senate immigration bill to Coffman’s opposition to it. That’s something concrete for confused observers to latch onto. But it’s not enough.

We need to know what Coffman’s broader immigration proposal is, and if he can’t produce one, then it’s time for reporters to say, as a factual matter, that Coffman has no comprehensive immigration proposal, despite his rhetoric about favoring one.

For context: compromise immigration laws backed by Romanoff in 2006 deflected hard-line anti-immigration initiative backed by Coffman

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Back in 2006, then State Treasurer Mike Coffman stood in font of 200 people on the steps of the state Capitol as they launched a ballot initiative that would have stopped Colorado from providing services to all undocumented immigrants, even children.

Coffman led the group in reciting the pledge of allegiance, and then handed the microphone over to a string of speakers from an organization called Defend Colorado Now, which was organizing the extreme anti-immigrant initiative.

After the rally, Coffman told a reporter from the Longmont Daily Times- Call that he supported Defend Colorado Now’s ballot initiative.

Coffman “said afterward that he supports Defend Colorado Now’s ballot initiative,” reported the Daily Times-Call April 28, 2006.

The history of Defend Colorado Now’s initiative is worth dredging up for reporters, for context, as Republicans step up their attacks on former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff for his role is passing legislation in direct response to the ballot initiative.

If you were around in 2006, you may remember a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including then Gov. Bill Owens and Romanoff, agreed on compromise legislation to stop the hard-line initiative from being placed on the ballot.

A set of 2006 laws, passed during a special session by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and signed by Republican Owens, softened the draconian approach of the Defend Colorado Now initiative, known also as Amendment 55.

The Denver Post reported in July of 2006:

Former Mayor Federico Peña likes the special-session legislation better than the proposed Amendment 55, which would have prohibited undocumented immigrants from receiving state services that are not mandated by federal law.

“It’s far better than the negative consequences of 55,” he said.

The compromise legislation, backed by Romanoff, was more immigrant-friendly than the Defend Colorado Now initiative, supported by Coffman. This fact makes a mockery of GOP attacks on Romanoff for pushing compromise immigration bills, which are credited for keeping Coffman’s hard-line initiative off the ballot. (Amendment 55 was rejected by the CO Supreme Court on a technicality but was expected to be resurrected the following year.)

The Defend Colorado Now initiative, which was also backed by Tom Tancredo, would have denied all non-emergency state services to undocumented children, preventing them, for example, from getting vaccinations.

In contrast to some of the cruelest provisions of the ballot initiative supported by Coffman, Romanoff’s bill (HB-1023), passed during the special session in 2006, protected undocumented kids by allowing people 18-years or younger to receive state services without presenting identification.

Another law (HB-1002) supported by Romanoff specifically allowed state funds to be used for children, regardless of their “immigration status,” to receive preventative care as well as treatment, for communicative diseases, such as HIV and tuberculosis.

The immigration-enforcement laws passed in 2006 were widely considered to be tough, and were described as such both locally and nationally. There were new identification requirements, police reporting procedures, and tax provisions.

Some pro-immigrant groups and lefties like me criticized the new laws. And so did the Tom Tancredos of the world.

But no one would say, then or now, that the laws backed by Romanoff were worse for immigrants than the initiative favored by Coffman would have been.

That’s the context through which reporters should see Republican attacks on Romanoff’s 2006 immigration legislation.