Archive for the 'Colorado Governor' Category

Denver Post editor disputes GOP gubernatorial candidate’s claim that Post won’t endorse Polis

Monday, September 18th, 2017

At a Sept. 9 campaign stop in Grand Junction, GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Robinson told the crowd that the “editor” of The Denver Post informed him that U.S. Rep Jared Polis (D-CO) is “too left” for Colorado, and that the unnamed editor “can’t see [The Post] endorsing” Polis.

“This is an interesting story,” said Robinson told supporters at the meet-and-greet event. “When I announced my candidacy, the editor of The Denver Post called me. I was like, ‘Really?’ [laughter]. You know what I mean? Because they have endorsed Democrats for generations. [crowd: “Oh Yeah!”] You know what I mean? And he said, ‘Don’t write us off.’ He says, ‘We are going to endorse a candidate. And if it’s Jared Polis, I can’t see us endorsing him. He’s too left.’ [crowd: “Wow! Ohooo”]. ‘Too far out for Colorado.’ He says, ‘He may be too far out for Colorado.'”

That’s an “interesting story,” to say the least.

Asked about it Friday, Denver Post editorial Page editor Chuck Plunkett said via email that no one on The Denver Post’s editorial board, which has the job of making endorsements for the newspaper, spoke with Robinson about Polis in April, when Robinson claimed the call took place, and that The Post has “not reached any conclusions about endorsements in any of the races.”

Robinson had a phone conversation with the Chair of The Post, Dean Singleton, a few days before Robinson entered the gubernatorial race, but Singleton did not talk to Robinson about Polis at all, according to Plunkett.

Plunkett wrote:

Robinson’s account is incorrect on many levels. For one, I am the editor and I don’t even have his phone number. We’ve never talked.

Only one member of our board has talked with Robinson, and that is our chair, Dean Singleton. I have talked to Dean about the transcript you sent and learned that Robinson’s account is badly flawed.

Dean knows Robinson casually. He got a call from Robinson before he entered the governor’s race. Dean told him that he didn’t think he had a chance at winning, and suggested he might consider running for treasurer. The call came the day or so before Robinson announced, which was in late April. Jared Polis didn’t enter the race until weeks later, in mid-June.

Dean has said publicly that he doubts Polis can win the race, as he’s too liberal for a statewide contest, so Robinson must be conflating events. Dean says he didn’t talk to Robinson about Polis back in April, as the congressman hadn’t even entered the race.

Dean meets with candidates and expresses his opinions as is his right. But — and this is an important point — in doing so he doesn’t speak for our editorial board, or attempt to derail the process we take in coming to conclusions on our endorsements.

I can tell you without doubt we have not reached any conclusions about endorsements in any of the races. A long process awaits before we can get to that point.

I wish Robinson, who’s the nephew of Mitt Romney, returned my phone call or multiple emails seeking comment, but, alas, I didn’t hear back from him.

So we don’t know his side of the story, but clearly someone is confused or not telling the truth here. Or maybe Robinson talked to another Post editor–which is highly unlikely since you wouldn’t expect an editor on the news side to be offering opinions to Robinson.

But, in the absence of a response from Robinson, I’d have to say the guilty party is probably Robinson, especially because his false statement about The Post’s past endorsements punctures his credibility.

Robinson may be so upset that The Post didn’t endorse his uncle that he didn’t noticed all the other Republicans The Post has backed, including Gardner in the 2014.

In the 2014 general election, for Congress, The Post endorsed three Republicans and four Democrats. In the 2016 election, The Post backed five Republicans and five Democrats. The Post picked Obama over Robinson’s uncle in 20012.

I’ll update this post if I hear from Robinson. Meanwhile, this blog post shows, again, that you never know what a political candidate will say at a meet-and-greet.

Robinson is pictured on the right, next to  former gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis, in the above photo, which I found on former Post reporter Lynn Bartels Facebook page.

Unlike Koch gathering, Western Conservative Summit won’t try to muzzle journalists

Friday, July 7th, 2017

If you’re a progressive, you can criticize the ultra-conservative Centennial Institute for a lot of things, like being homophobic, Islamophobic, and more, but being scared of a open debate is one thing the organization is not.

Centennial Institute founder, John Andrews, began the tradition of inviting questions and discussion, and the current director, Jeff Hunt, is carrying it on.

For example, he’s enlisted a longtime Denver reporter Joey Bunch, now leading the political news site ColoradoPolitics, to ask questions of gubernatorial candidates at the July 21-23 Western Conservative Summit, billed as the “largest gathering of conservatives outside of Washington, D.C.

And Hunt has put no restrictions on his questions.

Contrast that with approach taken by the conservative billionaires, Charles and David Koch, when they held a big shindig in Colorado Springs last month of Republican politicians and donors associated with the Kochs’ Seminar Network.

As they’ve done in the past, the Kochs set ground rules for reporters, whom they invited to cover the event. One rule prohibited journalists from reporting on who was there, unless they were part of a formal program or the attendee gave permission to a reporter, according to Bunch. In other words, the presence of a person was off the record, unless permission was given or they were on the program.

Bunch said no thanks.

“A reporter’s most valuable asset is his independence,” Bunch told me via email. “It’s a tall order to tell a reporter he can’t report what he sees for the price of admission. I was very appreciative of the invitation, don’t get me wrong, and I knew I was risking losing some stories, maybe big stories, but it didn’t feel right at the gut level, so I asked and my editors backed me up. I was proud of that. A lot of editors would have said, ‘No. we want the scoops.'”

Judging from the reaction to similar, if not identical, restrictions imposed by the Kochs at other gatherings, journalists differ on whether the benefits of attending such events, even with the restrictions, outweighs the downsides.

I’d rather have a partially muzzled reporter in the room with the Kochs than none, but journalists who attend such events should inform us that restrictions were placed on their reporting, as outlets such as USA Today and the Washington Post have done in the past.

But I couldn’t find any reference to media restrictions in the coverage of last month’s Colorado Springs Koch event, including in reporting by the Associated Press, Denver Post, NBC News, Politico, and others.

Emails to the Associated Press, Denver Post, and Politico were not immediately returned. I’ll update this post if I they respond.

In any case, I wouldn’t expect the Centennial Institute to try to do this, especially at a gathering of 4,000 people, of course, but at any forum.  Hunt says there are not restrictions on journalists. They even let Samantha Bee loose at last year’s Summit.

And Hunt’s choice of a journalist to interview gubernatorial candidates at its upcoming Summit is along the same lines of openness to honest debate.

At the Summit, each Colorado gubernatorial candidate will be allowed a five-minute speech, and Bunch will ask ten minutes of questions to the group. Attendees will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite candidate, just as they did among vice presidential hopefuls last year, choosing former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The results will be announced later.

Among the Republican candidates, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler and businessmen Victor Mitchell and Doug Robinson accepted invitations to attend so far. The only Democrat to respond is U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who’s declined.

Why did Hunt pick Bunch to do the interview segment of the program?

“We’re doing the gubernatorial race,” replied Hunt. “Let’s get someone who really knows Colorado politics.  I’ve done a number of interviews with Joey, and he’s fair, and he knows Colorado really well. And he’s real entertaining. So let’s put him up there.”

But Hunt wouldn’t put just any journalist on the stage.

He said that some outlets like CNN, New York Times, and Washington Post “seem hell bent trying to delegitimize the President instead of reporting the news.”

That’s why he’s glad Trump is fighting reporters.

“Donald Trump is teaching conservatives again how fight against the media,” Hunt said, whose Centennial Institute is associated with Colorado Christian University. “Frankly, we need to learn how to fight those types of aggressive attacks against us.”

Hunt doesn’t accuse all journalists as being unfair. He said the Denver weekly Westword is one of the “fairest newspapers” he’s dealt with so far in Colorado. He also likes 9News anchor Kyle Clark, Denver Post Editor of the Editorial Pages Chuck Plunkett, and others.

Conservatives should give journalists (mainstream, left, or right) a chance and not initially look at media outlets as if they are “out to get me,” Hunt said.

As the media world implodes, that’s also good advice for progressives or anyone.

Reporters shouldn’t wait to tell the story of Trump’s impact on GOP gubernatorial race

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

“I want to point out something important. Everybody that stands before you moving forward, who says that they want your vote to be the Republican nominee for fill-in-the-blank, you must insist on finding out whom they voted for for president.”

That might sound like a progressive media critic urging reporters to find out where conservatives candidates stand on Trump, but it’s actually GOP gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler speaking at a celebration of Trump’s first 100 days in office.

“And I’m here to tell you I voted for Donald Trump,” continued Brauchler, saying how impressed he was with the turnout. “…If you listen to the news, you think we’re on the verge of some sort of Constitutional crisis. This tells me we’re all in pretty damn good hands right now in terms of the United States of America.”

Later Brauchler, who’s the Arapahoe County District Attorney, told a conservative radio host that Trump’s first 100 days have been “productive.” And he bashed the media as “biased” and, with Trump’s help, making “mountains out of molehills.”

Mountains out of molehills?

By grabbing onto Trump like he’s doing, Brauchler is embracing the conventional wisdom that bedding down with the right is essential to winning the GOP primary next year.

But remember that Dick Wadhams (or was it Jack Graham?) finished second behind Darryl Glenn in the 2016 GOP U.S. Senate primary last year. And who knows what impact the open primaries will have on the Republican primary, which is looking to be a crazy clash of dynasties and cash.

So, yeah, the GOP Trump base seems energized, but it’s still surprising that when Brauchler looks across the state, all he seems to see is Trump. During his KNUS 710-AM interview (below), he said Colorado Republicans see “steady progress forward on a lot of things that people care about.” And, Brauchler said on air, “within the party, when you go to the Lincoln Day dinners…you can’t find a Trump naysayer in the group.”

Not a Trump naysayer! And this was the day Trump leaked classified information to Russians in the White House.

So how far will the GOP primary candidates go in their courtship of Trump voters?

Reporters should take a cue from Brauchler and not wait until the September to tell this dramatic and high-stakes story.

Listen to Brauchler on KNUS 710-AM May

Candidates may not like the focus on family ties in gubernatorial race, but they’re a big part of the story for reporters

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Steve Barlock, the former chair of the Denver Trump Campaign, announced he’s considering a jump into the governor’s race and immediately took a shot at fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Robinson and likely GOP candidate Walker Stapleton.

“I am interested because I want to stop a Bush and stop a Romney,” Barlock told Fox 31 Denver’s Joe St. George, explaining why he wants to be governor.

Barlock was referencing the fact that Walker Stapleton, who’s expected to run for governor, is the first cousin of former President George Herbert Walker Bush, with “Walker” as the lineage connecting Walker Stapleton to the Bushes. Stapleton is currently Colorado’s Treasurer.

Robinson, an investment banker, is the nephew of Mitt Romney. His mother is Romney’s older sister.

The intersection of the Republican dynasties on the Colorado campaign trail is definitely grabbing attention, as it should. With an outlier in the White House–and voters mad at the establishment–it’s fair for reporters to point out and analyze the impact of family ties. It’s obviously hugely relevant.

You can expect that the candidates won’t like it, as Robinson indicated during a May 5 appearance on KCOL 600-AM.

“I’ve done a lot on my own. And I want people to realize that I am Doug Robinson. And yes, my mother is Mitt Romney’s older sister. And that is part of my heritage. But the Denver Post led with that. They didn’t even have my name. Mitt’s nephew.”

I couldn’t find The Post coverage that Robinson refers to. The lede of the online Post story about Robinson’s campaign launch reads, “Mitt Romney’s nephew Doug Robinson is running for governor of Colorado.”

Robinson shrugged off the focus on Mittens, telling Lakey, “I come from a place of wanting to make this state better and put a vision out there of where we can go.”

Listen to Robinson on KCOL May 5 here:

Brauchler’s early support of vouchers raises questions for reporters

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Education is a motivating issue anywhere in soccer-mom country, but in Colorado its force is compounded by the lingering impact of the emotional 2015 Jefferson County School Board recall election, in which voters overwhelmingly tossed out conservatives.

Republican Bob Beauprez’s outspoken alignment with the losing school board members, including his support of vouchers, during the 2014 gubernatorial election was arguably a key factor in his loss to Democrat John Hickenlooper. And Republicans have lost a string of state legislative races in Jeffco, with the winning Democrats standing against public school privatization.

So along comes the 2018 gubernatorial race, and reporters should note where Republican candidates come down on vouchers, charters, and education issues. Will they distance themselves from the positions of the losing Jeffco School Board members? Or will they align with them?

Republican candidate George Brauchler, the Arapahoe County District Attorney, has already spoken up for vouchers, agreeing “100 percent” with KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis last month that vouchers benefit kids and empower parents, particularly in low-income areas.

Caplis (11 min 30 sec below): I’m a big believer without even increasing the budget, kids would be benefited immediately by healthy education competition, and by empowering those poor and middle income parents with true purchasing power in education through vouchers, etc. Where do you come down on school choice?

Brauchler: I 100 percent agree with you, in every place, specifically inner cities and socio economically depressed areas. Every place you offer parents the opportunity at a charter school or choice, you see a mad scramble to be part of that successful system. And our family is no different. I got four kids, 14, 12, 9, and 7. They are all in charter schools. They’ve all gone to charter grade schools. Two of them are still there. I am a big believer in choice. And they are figuring out a way to put a better product on the field and turn out students with a better education, better scores than the big establishment system. That’s not an indictment of the entire big establishment system. That is a challenge. That is that kind of competition that you and I have talked about that give you a better product. I am a big believer in choice…big-time public school system, which I am a product of, my wife’s a product of, my kids are going to be a product of it, has got to look internally, but also externally at a better way to do what they are doing.”

I can’t find campaign statements by other Republican candidates on public school privatization, but it’s likely they will be coming soon–with Democrats likely to continue to oppose vouchers. In any case, it’s clearly a key issue for reporters to track, given the Jeffco history and the stakes involved.

Listen to Brauchler on KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis Show April 5:

Brauchler apparently thinks twice about marrying his fate to grassroots activists at the state GOP convention

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Reporters covering the weeds of the gubernatorial race should note that GOP candidate George Brauchler is contradicting himself about how he’ll try to access the ballot.

He told The Denver Post he’d rely solely on the decision of delegates at the State Republican convention, while telling a conservative radio host he’d leave open the possibility of getting on the ballot via the petition process that upended the senatorial campaign of former state Rep. Jon Keyser (R-CO Springs).

This is the second time in two weeks of campaigning that Brauchler has made conflicting statements to The Post and talk-radio hosts. Contradicting a 2015 statement he made to The Post, Brauchler claimed last week on air that he was on juror away from securing the death penalty in the Aurora-shooting case, when, in fact, he was three votes away.

With respect to accessing the ballot, here’s what Brauchler told The Post’s John Frank just before his April 5 campaign announcement:

Positioning himself as one of the more conservative candidates in the race, Brauchler said he plans to seek a slot on the primary ballot through a nomination at the Republican Party’s convention, rather than collect petition signatures to qualify.

The political gamble is paired with a not-so-subtle dig at his expected rivals. “Every single one of them is a potential self-funder or has long family connections to politics. I’m not that guy,” he said without noting Stapleton’s ties to the Bush family. “I’m the guy who has spent his entire life in Colorado, and I’m going to get around this state and win it through the grassroots effort.”

And here’s what Brauchler said to KHOW’s Ross Kaminksy the next day, Thursday, April 6:

Kaminsky–One interesting thing, you have said that you plan to get your position on the primary ballot by going to the convention rather than getting signatures. This is a little bit of insider baseball, but I think it says something about you as a candidate, as well.  Can you explain, please?

Brauchler–And I’ll say this:  I haven’t publicly foreclosed the possibility of petition. But honestly – and this is the way I got to be District Attorney – I’m invested in the grassroots aspect of getting elected. I think we have reached a place with campaign-finance and social media where you can have people who have the means — either their own or through third-party efforts — to simply bypass the individual, face-to-face requirements of going out and earning votes. You just show up on TV, show up on the Internet, you put things into people’s mailboxes.  Now, we’re going to do all those things.  But at the end of the day, there’s only one process to get on the ballot that guarantees you are going to get around the state and do retail politics, to press the flesh, look people in the fac,e and answer their questions about who you are and what’s important to them.  And so, I’m invested in really trying to look hard at how we’re going to accomplish getting on the ballot through the assembly process.  But I haven’t foreclosed any other options.

He hadn’t publicly foreclosed the petition option? That’s not how I read The Post interview, which hasn’t been corrected.

Frank was correct that, for Brauchler, relying on Colorado’s State Republican convention would be a “political gamble”–which is probably why the Arapahoe County District Attorney thought twice about it. The outcome of convention is predictably unpredictable, as demonstrated the jaw-bouncing decision of Republicans there last year to hand the GOP senatorial nomination to Darryl Glenn, who went on to lose to Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

Well-heeled candidates like Brauchler usually try to access the ballot via both the convention and petition routes, giving them a backup if they get Glenned, so to speak. Colorado State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton) eschewed the petition process and watched his U.S. Senate dreams die when he was upset by Glenn at the convention last year. Brauchler wants to avoid Neville’s fate.

But the state convention is the stronghold of the GOP’s grassroots contingent, whose support is critical to winning the Republican nomination, even in an open primary–even more so this year because Trump seems to have energized and emboldened Colorado Republicans.

So, by initially saying he’d skip the petition process Brauchler was sending a love note to GOP grassroots activists. But it turns out Brauchler isn’t ready to commit to the marriage. Honestly, I don’t blame him. They can be so difficult and hard to live with.

Listen to Brauchler on KHOW April 6:

If Trump isn’t among the most important interview topics for gubernatorial candidates, what is?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews obviously got it right on Sunday when he reported that the fallout from the presidential race will affect Democrats and Republicans who want to be Colorado’s next governor.

With respect to possible Republican gubernatorial candidates, like Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Matthews reported:

How [Republican] party members view the start to [Trump’s] presidency could have an impact on which candidates they support. Stapleton, for example, backed distant relative Jeb Bush in the GOP primary, although he later voted for Trump.

Some Republican candidates, like Stapleton, probably don’t want to be asked 1) about their presidential vote, or 2) what they think of Trump’s actions/behavior. (See Stapleton dodge the topic here last year.)

But that’s why reporters should continue asking both questions–and because they are of ongoing relevance and an inescapable part of the story line leading up to next year’s election.

As for other possible GOP gubernatorial candidates, in addition to Stapleton, Matthews mentioned state Sens. Tim Neville and Ray Scott, who are both on record as supporting Trump, as well as Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who appeared to signal her backing of the president-elect by cheering “Go Trump!” on election night, and George Brauchler, whose presidential vote is apparently still unknown.

9News‘ anchor Kyle Clark missed a chance to ask Brauchler about Trump during a Next with Kyle Clark interview last week, but undoubtedly the topic of Trump will come up repeatedly as Republicans and Democrats dither about whether to officially launch gubernatorial campaigns.

I mean, if Trump isn’t among the most important topics in an interview with almost any candidate, what is?

Rolly Fischer, whose honesty and integrity helped sink a Republican gubernatorial candidate, dies

Friday, November 11th, 2016

Rolly Fischer, who bravely fought off 2o1o GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis’ attempts to blame him for McInnis’ plagiarized water articles, died last week in Glenwood Springs.

Fischer went from “irascible” water nerd to cult hero in Colorado political circles after some of McInnis’ articles, commissioned by the Hasan Family Foundation, on Colorado water issues turned out to be substantially lifted from the writings of then Colorado Supreme Court Judge Gregory Hobbs.

After the plagiarism came to light, McInnis blamed Fischer, who was 82 years old at the time.

“I had staff assistance, I had research, and as you know, the research – that’s where the problem is here,” McInnis told Denver 7 at the time. McInnis added on the radio that his assistant felt “very remorseful” and “sick about it.”

But, oops, Fischer soon told the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, “Scott’s responsible for it.”

The piano fell through the floor when Fischer spoke with then Denver 7 reporter John Ferrugia in one of Colorado’s greatest political TV-news moments.

Ferrugia asked, “Rolly, is Scott McInnis lying to us?”

After some thought Fischer said, “Yes.”

The 82-year-old said, “I never knew about the foundation or any foundation Scott was associated with.”

“Did you know how he was using these?” Ferrugia asked, referring to the articles.

“No. I had this sophomoric assumption that he wanted them for his own inventory,” said Fischer.

Turned out, McInnis even tried to get Fischer to sign a letter saying the plagiarism was Fischer’s fault.

After the Ferrugia interview, McInnis sort of took responsibility for the plagiarism, telling The Denver Post, “I made a mistake. . . . I immediately owned up to it. It’s my responsibility. I’ve got to fix it. I’ve told my side of the story. So that’s where we are on that. I’d love to talk to you on jobs and some of these other things.”

He gave his two-year stipend of $300,000 back to the foundation. (He’d paid Fischer a few hundred dollars per water article.)

But in 2014, McInnis appeared to throw Fischer under the bus again, telling the Grand Junction Sentinel that he “didn’t plagiarize, period” and that he’d “used ghost writers my whole career” and “didn’t make the mistake.”

Still, in a Nov. 7 obituary in the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, McInnis had kind things to say about Fischer.

Scott McInnis, a former U.S. representative and current Mesa County commissioner, called Fischer “a water giant in his time,” who prepared the district for the issues it faces today…

Fischer figured in the collapse of McInnis’ campaign for governor in 2010, but McInnis said he never held the incident against Fischer.

“That’s water under the bridge now. I always thought Rollie was one of the brightest water people on the Western Slope,” McInnis said.

Did McInnis really say water under the bridge? A new water musing?

In any case, Fischer’s uninvited but starring role in the story of the downfall of McInnis deserves more than an asterisk in Colorado history. It was game changing.

If you were around at the time, you know that McInnis’ treatment of Fischer was far more damaging politically to McInnis than the plagiarism itself. It lead directly to McInnis’ loss in the GOP gubernatorial primary to Dan Maes, whose many flaws (and despite the best efforts of Tom Tancredo) paved the way for Hickenlooper to be governor.

Unlike now, Hickenlooper, you may recall, was weak and flailing during the 2010 election, and Hick would might have lost to McInnis in a general election. And McInnis might have won the GOP primary had Fischer lied and taken fake responsibility for the plagiarism, as McInnis asked him to do. I mean, Tancredo and Maes, who both ran for governor in 2010, together had nearly as many votes as Hick.

It clearly wasn’t easy for Fischer, who served as a Colorado Water District Chief, to stand up to his long-time friend McInnis, but apparently in keeping with his personality, he did, and it brightened the spotlight not only on the plagiarism but on a nasty side of McInnis that GOP voters didn’t like. Can you blame them?

We owe Fischer our collective gratitude for his honesty and integrity.

Fischer’s memorial service will take place tomorrow, Saturday, November 12, at 10:30 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs. Contributions should be sent to the National MS Society, in care of S. Reel, 521 Rood Avenue, Suite B, Grand Junction, CO, 81504.

Brauchler announces possible gubernatorial run in 2018

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

In an interview on KNUS 710-AM Saturday Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler announced he’s considering a run for governor in 2018.

Asked by host Craig Silverman what he thought about going for the governor’s job in 2018, Brauchler said:

Brauchler: “I am going to consider it, Craig, of course. I am going to look hard at it. And I have been really encouraged by a bunch of different people across the spectrum… It’s surreal for people to be saying, ‘Hey, you should consider taking a stab at the biggest statewide office in Colorado.’ That’s kind of bizarre.”

When Brauchler announced his decision in September, 2015, not to run for U.S. Senate, he told The Denver Post he “”had gone pretty far down the road” toward running but had decided against it for family reasons.

But now, looking ahead to 2018, he said:

Brauchler: “It’s something I would definitely consider. I wouldn’t say no. I love this state. I’ve been here almost every minute of my life. And I want my kids to want to be here. I want other kids from across country to move to Colorado and have the same opportunities I had. And I’m concerned that that may not be the case. So for those reasons, yeah, I will definitely consider it.”

Brauchler is the first candidate, Democrat or Republican, to announce a possible gubernatorial run.

Listen to Brauchler on KNUS 710-AM here:

Predatory-lending bill shouldn’t fly under journalists’ late-session radar

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Sometimes reporters ignore bills in the state legislature that look like they would surely die quickly in the hands of divided government. But here’s a piece of right-wing legislation that surprisingly cleared Colorado’s divided legislature last year, before a being vetoed by Gov. John Hickenlooper: a “predatory-lending” bill.

Similar legislation, introduced just last week, should be scrutinized by journalists, despite the end-of-session onslaught on top of the usual onslaught.

This year’s predatory-lending bill (SB16-185), which could be heard this week, would allow for an increase in interest rates on subprime “personal loans,” which are sold to people whose credit problems preclude them from obtaining loans with more favorable interest rates.

Such loans are convenient–and can actually help struggling families improve their credit ratings. But they’re costly, with the potential to be devastating economically for low-income people.

Lenders are getting 36 percent on the first $1,000 in a personal loan, and 21 percent on such loans from $1,000 to $3,000. Yet the senate bill would set up a mechanism to jack up the rates even more. Last year’s failed bill aimed to set the interest rate at 36 percent for all personal loans up to $3,000.

Personal loans average $6,000 in Colorado. They shouldn’t be confused with pay-day loans, which typically carry an even higher interest rate and can be no more than $500, under state law. So these are completely different types of loans.

In vetoing the measure last year, Hickenlooper was “particularly struck” by the Colorado Attorney General’s assessment that higher interest rates on personal loans would not make them more readily available to consumers.

This validates statements by the bill’s opponents that lenders of personal loans are profitable and thriving–despite allegations by the bill’s opponents last year that higher interest rates are needed to keep lenders from abandoning the business. And the number of personal loans sold last year is the highest since 2009, so the market is actually growing under the current regulatory structure, opponents say.

A number of groups have lined up against the predatory lending bill, including AARP Colorado, Bell Policy Center, Center for Responsible Lending, CLLARO, Colorado Catholic Conference, Colorado Center for Law and Policy, Colorado Council of Churches, Colorado Fiscal Institute, Gary Community Investments, Company, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, One Colorado ProgressNow Colorado Small Business Majority.

Given what happened last year, and the public’s well-known demand to know what lawmakers are doing to help (or in this case hurt) working families, journalists should keep a close eye on this year’s predatory-lending legislation.