Archive for the 'Colorado U.S. Senate' Category

Fact check: More evidence that Gardner tried to stop Obamacare by threatening government shutdown

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

In a blog post last week, I noted that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner threatened, during a radio interview in August of last year, to shut down the government unless Obamacare was defunded. This is in 180-degree-contrast to what a Gardner spokesperson was quoted as saying last week, that “Gardner had warned against requiring Democrats to defund the Affordable Care Act as a requirement for keeping government open.” It turns out Gardner also launched the defund-Obamacare-or-we-shut-down-the-government warning from the floor of the House of Representatives. And he did it the day before the shutdown occurred:

Gardner: “Over the weekend, this House worked to find a solution to the impasse over the Continuing Resolution, sending over various options to the Senate to try to jump start negotiations to work through an agreement to find a solution to keep our government funded. In the early hours of this morning we finally said to the leader of the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid, let’s find a way to meet face-to-face, through a conference committee, to negotiate a solution and avoid a government shutdown. We passed three times now measures to keep the government funded and a way to find solutions to this critical issue. But there are many people in Colorado who are struggling now because of the shutdown and who are worried about what happens to their situation, particularly those who may have been impacted by the flood. And that is why we must find a way to get government funded, to find a solution to get government going back on track, while preventing policies that we know are bad for the economy.”

Here, Gardner acknowledged the concern that the shutdown could affect flood recovery, and he blamed Harry Reid for the impasse, but he insisted that a budget deal must prevent “policies that we know are bad for the economy” (i.e. Obamacare riders in the Gardner-supported funding resolutions to keep the government open). This contradicts his spokesperson’s statement that Gardner warned Republicans not to shut down the government to try to stop Obamacare. I don’t see any such warning in Gardner’s floor speech, and, in fact, the government shut down the next day.

Who will be first reporter to get Gardner (and Beauprez) to explain why they support federal personhood?

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

It’s not just senatorial candidate Cory Gardner who’s taken the endlessly puzzling position of being opposed to personhood at the state level but supportive of the federal version.

Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez draws a false distinction between the two as well, saying he’s opposed to the state amendment but supportive of federal legislation. Even though they aim to do the same thing, according to yours truly and, more importantly, Factcheck.org.

Despite the obvious relevancy of personhood on the campaign trail, I can’t find a local reporter who’s asked either one of them the simple question of why they favor federal personhood legislation over the state version.

Instead, multiple reporters, including Mark Matthews at The Denver Post and Bente Birkeland at Rocky Mountain Community Radio, listened to Gardner’s spokespeople tell them that that federal personhood legislation is essentially a toothless symbol–without asking for an explanation. On Tuesday, the Hill’s Elise Viebeck reported Gardner’s position, apparently without seeking an explanation. So did The Post’s Anthony Cotton.

CBS4′s Shaun Boyd taped Gardner himself implying that there’s a distinction between federal and state personhood legislation, without asking him why.

At least Politico’s Paige Winfield Cunningham asked the Gardner campaign about the discrepancy. But she got no response, and she’s apparently let it drop.

A question about the federal personhood bill was reportedly put to Gardner on KRDO radio’s Morning News March 24, but, again, he wasn’t pressed for an explanation when he said it’s a “Democratic talking point” and an “incorrect characterization of the federal legislation” to call it a personhood bill.

So does anyone detect a hole in the reporting here?

Who’s gonna be the first reporter to get the details on why Gardner (and Beauprez) support one personhood bill and not the other?

Fact check: Gardner demanded defunding Obamacare to avoid government shutdown

Monday, August 18th, 2014

The Associated Press’ Nicholas Riccardi reported Aug. 15 that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s spokesman, Alex Siciliano, “noted that, before the shutdown, Gardner had warned against requiring Democrats to defund the Affordable Care Act as a requirement for keeping government open.”

Maybe Siciliano doesn’t listen to Gardner much on talk radio. Maybe he’s too busy talking to reporters on behalf of his boss.

But when I read Riccardi’s piece, I recalled hearing Gardner advocate for, as opposed to against, demanding Dems defund Obamacare or face a government shutdown.

On August 1, 2013, two months before the government shutdown, Gardner told KOA’s Mike Rosen:

Rosen: “Perhaps we can talk about some other items on the agenda, such as the current dispute, even with the Republican Party, about whether Republicans, who have a majority in the House, ought to take a stand now, as the continuing resolution question comes up, take a stand on Obamacare, and refuse to fund it, while at the same time, agreeing with a continuing resolution that would allow the rest of the federal government to operate. Have you got a position on that?

Gardner: I want to do anything and everything I can to stop Obamacare from destroying our health care, from driving up increases in costs. Whether that’s through the continuing resolution, I want to defund everything that we can….

Rosen: There’s a political concern that if the Republicans stand their ground on this [repealing Obamacare], they are going to be blamed for shutting down the government.

Gardner: Well, I think if the government gets shut down, it’s going to be the President’s decision to do so. I believe that we don’t need to shut down the government because we ought to just lift this health-care bill out of the way and let America work. [BigMedia emphasis]

If that’s a warning “against requiring Democrats to defund the Affordable Care Act as a requirement for keeping government open,” then mushrooms aren’t popping up in our mountains right now (and they are).

Next time Gardner’s Siciliano tells me something, if I’m a reporter, I think I go the extra mile to make sure it’s accurate.

Media omission: Under Gardner’s abortion bill, doctor could have faced more jail time than rapist

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

It’s been widely reported that Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner sponsored a bill in 2007 that would have outlawed all abortion in Colorado, including for rape and incest.

But there’s a detail about the ramifications of Gardner’s legislation that’s gone unreported, and it’s important because it illuminates, in a tangible way, just how serious his bill was about banning abortion.

Let’s say a woman was raped, became pregnant, and wanted to have an abortion.

Under the Gardner’s proposed law, a doctor who performed her abortion would face Class 3 felony charges.

If the raped woman found a doctor willing to break the law and perform an illegal abortion, and if both the rapist and the doctor got caught by police, what would have been the potential charges and punishments against the rapist and the doctor?

I put that question to Mark Silverstein, Legal Director of the ACLU of Colorado.

“A class 3 felony is punishable by 4-12 years in the penitentiary,” Silverstein told me via email. “Sexual assault is at 18-3-402 of the criminal code. It is a class 4 felony (18-3-402(2)), except when it is a class 3 felony (18-3-402(3.5)), or when it is a class 2 felony (18-3-402 (5)).

“When sexual assault is a class 4 felony, it is punishable by 2 to 6 years in the penitentiary.

“A class 2 felony is 8 – 24 years in prison. These penalties can be found at 18-1.3-401 (1)(a)(III)(V)(A).

“It looks like to get sexual assault into the class 2 category, there has to be serious bodily injury to the victim or the crime has to be carried out with use of a deadly weapon, or the assaulter made the victim believe there was a deadly weapon (even if there was not one).”

So, as I read Silverstein’s answer, it looked to me like a doctor who performed an abortion on a raped woman could actually have gotten in more serious legal trouble than a rapist.

To make sure I had this right, I asked Silverstein if he agreed with me that under Gardner’s bill, the doctor could have faced a more serious charge than the rapist, though this would not always be the case.

“Yes,” replied Silverstein, “the least aggravated category of sexual assault is a lesser category of felony.”

(An early version of this story stated that the hypothetical rape was also incest.)

Media omission: Gardner says “legal ambiguities” motivated immigration vote

Monday, August 11th, 2014

In what appears to be senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s first direct comment on his vote against ending an Obama policy of allowing young undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation for at least two years, Gardner emphasized the legal “ambiguities” in ending Obama’s initiative, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Gardner said on KNUS radio Sept 4 that the bill overturning DACA “had some serious legal ambiguities to it…you create a significant legal ambiguity problem that’s going to lead to children having the rug pulled out from underneath them, winding us in court, and creating a judicial ambiguity that is unacceptable in this country.”

Listen to Cory Gardner talk about his DACA vote on KNUS Sengenberger 8.2.14

It makes sense that in his conversation with KNUS radio host Jimmy Sengenberger Sept. 2, Gardner de-emphasized the human costs of deporting the young immigrants, called dreamers, who were brought here as children and know only the United States as their home. It was mostly legal ambiguities that apparently troubled him.

This is consistent with Gardner’s longstanding view that border security issues need to be solved to his unspecified satisfaction before consideration is given to the dreamers.

And that’s still Gardner’s position, as reported by The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews over the weekend:

There’s a story that Rep. Cory Gardner likes to tell when he’s asked about his position on illegal immigration. Although the details sometimes vary, it always involves a high school student from rural Colorado whom he met several years ago. When they meet for the first time, the young woman — whom Gardner doesn’t mention by name — is on pace to become valedictorian. But because she was brought into the U.S. illegally as a baby, she’s unable to attend college in Colorado at in-state rates. So she asks Gardner whether he supports changing the rules right away so she can afford a higher education. His response then — as it is now — is no. “Allowing passage of such a policy was avoiding the real problem,” Gardner recounted in testimony to Congress last year. “We can’t start with in-state tuition because we have to pursue meaningful immigration reform first.”

Fast-forward a few years. Gardner meets the young woman again — this time working at a restaurant in that same rural town. “The valedictorian of her high school, waiting tables,” he said with a downward glance.

The lesson, according to Gardner, is that Congress needs to get serious about passing immigration reform. But in such a way that it addresses security first — before tackling the needs of students such as that valedictorian-turned-waitress.

In light of this, what doesn’t make sense is another Gardner quote in the same Denver Post article, in which Gardner explains his June 6, 2013, vote to end DACA, subjecting the dreamers to deportation.

Gardner told The Post in a statement, “The immigration debate is in a different place than it was.”

Then why does Gardner still stand opposed, as Matthews put it, to “tackling the needs of students such as that valedictorian-turned-waitress?”

Why is Gardner still talking about “legal ambiguities” rather than the dreamers’ humanitarian plight, if, indeed, immigration reform is in a different place than it was?

What different place is it in now, versus last June? What gives?

Politico is latest media outlet to let Gardner slide on personhood inconsistency

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

The latest reporter to ask senatorial candidate Cory Gardner about why he’s un-endorsed the state personhood amendments but has yet to un-cosponsor a proposed federal personhood law is Politico’s Paige Winfield Cunningham, who reported Wednesday:

Gardner now says he was wrong to back personhood because it could ban some forms of contraception. He’s even urging the Food and Drug Administration to make birth control pills available without prescription. But he is still listed as a sponsor of a federal personhood bill. His campaign didn’t respond to questions about the discrepancy.

In the absence of a response by Gardner, or his spokespeople, Cunningham should have cited the Gardner campaign’s previous erroneous statement that the federal personhood bill, called the Life at Conception Act, is simply a declaration that life begins at conception, and it would not ban abortion, even for rape and incest, like Colorado’s personhood amendments aimed to do.

Here’s what Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano told The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews July 15.

“The federal proposal in question simply states that life begins at conception, as most pro-life Americans believe, with no change to contraception laws as Senator Udall falsely alleges.”

And here’s what Gardner himself told untold numbers of TV viewers in an advertisement last month, ostensibly stating that he’s against all personhood legislation, state and federal:

Gardner: “They’re attacking me for changing my mind about personhood, after I learned more and listened to more of you.”

But did he change his mind on personhood? Before he made the ad, Gardner was careful to say he opposed personhood in Colorado, leaving open the possibility that he supports it at the federal level. He told CBS4′s Shaun Boyd:

Gardner: “In the state of Colorado, the personhood initiative I do not support.”

But prior to this, on KNUS radio April 22, shortly after he backed off Colorado personhood amendments, Gardner said he stood behind his anti-abortion record in Congress, which includes his co-sponsorship of the federal personhood bill.

Gardner: “I remain a pro-life legislator who believes that my record actually speaks for itself while I’ve been in Congress.”

I like to fill in media gaps, left open by reporters, but Gardner’s office doesn’t return my calls, and so all I can do is look at these inconsistencies and speculate about what’s going on in Gardner’s mind.

A reporter who happens to be speaking with Gardner should straighten things out.

Fact checking the fact-checkers: “Mostly true” not “mostly false” that Gardner blocked immigration reform

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

In a fact-check last week, Politifact concluded that it was “mostly false” for SEIU to assert, in a radio ad, that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner “blocked immigration reform.” A fairer conclusion would have been, “mostly true.”

Politifact’s logic:

So far the House has not acted [on immigration-reform legislation], and prospects are dim for action before the fall elections. That means Gardner hasn’t had the opportunity to actually vote on legislation, making it hard to attribute any blame to him. It’s not as though he holds any leadership positions where he could have advanced legislation or held up the process.

Hard to attribute “any blame” to Gardner? Please.

Gardner went from publicly backing comprehensive immigration reform to publicly opposing it. It’s safe to say that he was making the same arguments against comprehensive reform to fellow House Republicans, including Eric Cantor, who was a close Gardner ally, having taken a personal interest in Gardner during his first term in office. Gardner was on everyone’s list for House leadership, and he was already a Vice Chair of the National Republican Campaign Committee.

But regardless of what he said to House leaders, Gardner never produced a specific immigration reform plan of his own, relying instead on his platitudinous lines about the need for more border security.

If you attack a plan that’s on the table, and you have no specific plan of your own, that’s blocking, maybe not total blockage, but blocking nonetheless.

So, while it would be false to say Gardner blocked immigration reform all by himself, it’s at least “mostly true” to assert the he blocked it nonetheless.

One solution to the unsolved mystery of Gardner’s continued support of federal personhood legislation

Monday, August 4th, 2014

I may be the only person in the universe who spends his quiet moments in the shower trying to figure out the puzzle, left unsolved by local and national reporters, of why Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner hasn’t un-cosponsored federal personhood legislation, which aims to ban all abortion, even for rape and incest.

Gardner’s been jumping up and down and screaming that he no longer supports personhood amendments here in Colorado, even saying so in a TV commercial, but he’s not backing off the federal personhood bill, called Life at Conception Act.

Gardner spokespeople have told reporters that the federal legislation  “simply states that life begins and conception,” and it would have not real-world impact on abortion or contraception.

But if you take one minute and read the bill, you’ll see that it actually factually aims to make personhood the law of the land. And other co-sponsors of the bill agree.

So what’s up with Gardner?

Gardner was perfectly happy to un-endorse the personhood amendment here in Colorado, and send personhood supporters into conniptions (justifiable  conniptions, given that Gardner powered his political career with support from the religious right).

But if Gardner declared the federal personhood bill a well-intentioned mistake, like he did here, he’d be throwing the 153 members of Congress, 132 in the House and 21 in the Senatewho also co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act under the bus.

And you can bet some of those Congresspeople, who actually believe in personhood, would come down on Gardner mercilessly, like hardline abortion opponents are known to do. They’d undoubtedly denounce Gardner for claiming their bill is toothless when it would make personhood the law of the land. They see a holocaust unfolding as I write, so Gardner’s political expediency wouldn’t fly with them.

And how bad would it look for members of Congress from around the country to be bashing Gardner? That’s a lot messier, visually and politically, than Gardner taking heat from local pastors and churchgoers who’ve tirelessly pushed the personhood amendment.

Complicating matters for Gardner, who’s challenging Democrat Mark Udall, are congressional rules dictating that he’d have to declare his un-endorsement of the Life at Conception Act in a speech from the floor of the House of Representatives, making a Friday news dump via a vague spokesperson impossible.

The political fallout would run deep, stirring up poison, for example, for potential Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul, who’s the sponsor of the Senate version of the personhood bill.

When he introduced his Life at Conception Act on March 15 of last year, Paul said in a statement that his bill “legislatively declares” that fertilized human eggs (called zygotes) are entitled to “legal protection.”

Four days later, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Paul if he was aiming to overturn Roe v. Wade. Paul replied:

“I think it’s probably designed even more philosophically than that. It’s designed to begin the discussion over when life begins. And it’s not an easy discussion. And we’re divided as a country on it. So, I don’t think we’re in any real rush towards any new legislation to tell you the truth.”

So, here, Paul is sounding a lot like Gardner, which makes sense because Paul, like Gardner, knows that a personhood abortion ban is seen as whacky/scary by most people. As Paul winds up to run for president, he’s trying to broaden his appeal, just as Gardner is trying to appeal to a wider audience here in Colorado. But Paul still has a GOP primary in font of him, so he can’t veer too far to the center yet. Hence his way wishy washy language above.

Unfortunately, Blitzer didn’t ask Paul why he thinks his bill is “probably” designed to begin a philosophical “discussion.”  And why would Paul launch such a discussion by proposing a law that actually aims to ban abortion by re-defining a person under the 14th Amendment? He also didn’t ask why he’d previously said the legislation would have legislative force. And what, in Paul’s view, do fellow House and Senate co-sponsors of the legislation think the legislation would do?

So Blitzer failed to ask Paul some of the same questions Colorado reporters aren’t asking Gardner.

Meanwhile, with these questions are hanging, I’m stuck wasting my time in the shower thinking about this.

Gardner’s attack on Udall for supporting Senate immigration bill is part of immigration spin cycle

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Senatorial candidate Cory Gardner has been hitting the radio airwaves recently with his thoughts on immigration, and I’ve discerned a pattern, nothing too complex, but a pattern nonetheless:

Start with point number one here: 1. Sound like you’re for immigration reform. 2. Attack others for immigration-reform failures. 3. Sound like you have an actual factual immigration-reform plan, when, in fact, you have nothing specific to offer. 4. Go back to point number 1.

Here’s how it works in action, as delivered during a Hot Air interview July 26, so real reporters can be prepared, if they interview Gardner on immigration.

Gardner: We have a humanitarian crisis at our Southern border that underscores the broader need for responsible immigration reform.

[That's point one: He's sounding like he wants rational reform.]

Gardner: My opponent, Senator Udall, voted in favor of the Senate legislation that the Congressional Budget Office estimates would decrease illegal immigration by as little as 33%. Our current problems require long-term reform, not short-term Washington fixes.

[Point two: He's blaming others. And, by the way, the bill would cut illegal immigration by 33-50 percent.]

Gardner: I believe we should move forward with an immigration policy that prioritizes border security, and that includes a viable guest-worker program that capitalizes on the benefits of legal immigration to this country.

[Pont three and four: He's sounding like he has a plan. But where is it? Judging from his utterances, you'd think he supports the bipartisan Senate bill, which he's just slammed Udall for supporting. What does Gardner support?

In another recent interview, on KFKA's Amy Oliver show, Gardner rattled off his immigration spin cycle in a slightly different order, but the points were there.

Gardner, sounding like he's for immigration reform: "First we have to have Senate, House, and president working together to solve these problems."

Gardner blaming others: "We have the Senate saying, 'Our way or the highway." This is the bill. They refuse to work with the House, saying this is the only thing we can have. We have certain members of the House, including Republicans, who are refusing to work with Democrats, and that’s unacceptable. And we have a president who just wants to blame people.

Gardner sounding like he has a plan: "And I think we have to have people willing to work together to work with our neighbors to make sure we put policies in place that don't end up with them sending family loved ones to have this horrible journey because the conditions in their country are so bad."

Similarly, back in February, Gardner said:

Gardner: I think there is need for reform [point one], but the bottom line is the President has to show a willingness to make sure that the law is enforced and to be able to work with Congress. And really, it’s unfortunate that the fact, this president put no effort into building relationships with Congress over the past four years on either side of the aisle. It’s really starting to hurt his policy efforts now.

So the  pattern is pretty obvious, but the question is, will Gardner be challenged, even by talk-radio hosts, when he tries to roll it out?

Reporters should call other co-sponsors of federal personhood bill

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s spokespeople are saying that a federal personhood bill cosponsored by Garder, called the Life at Conception Act, is not a real personhood bill because it “simply states that life begins at conception” and would not actually outlaw abortion or contraception.

If so, you’d expect other co-sponsors of the Life at Conception Act to agree with Gardner. But this is not the case.

After co-sponsoring the same Life at Conception Act in March, 2013, four months before Gardner signed on, Rep. Charles Boustany, (R-LA) issued a statement saying:

“As a Member of Congress, I take the cause of fighting for the unborn just as seriously. That’s why I cosponsored H.R. 1091, the Life at Conception Act. This bill strikes at the heart of the Roe v. Wade decision by declaring life at conception, granting constitutional protection to the unborn under the 14th Amendment.”

Boustany’s comment comports with the actual factual language of the bill. It’s an attempt to outlaw all abortion, even for rape and incest, via the 14th Amendment.

I’ve made multiple attempts to reach the House sponsor of Life at Conception Act, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), for his take on his own bill, but I have yet to hear back. [Hint to a reporter who might be reading this: Would you please give him a call?]

But Sen. Rand Paul is the Senate sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which is identical to the bill co-sponsored by Gardner. And this is how Paul described his own bill in March of last year.

“The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known-that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore is entitled to legal protection from that point forward.” [BigMedia emphasis]

In January of this year, Paul released a statement saying:

“Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, 55 million abortions have taken place in America. The question remains, can a civilization long endure if it does not respect Life? It is the government’s duty to protect life, liberty, and property, but primarily and most importantly, a government must protect Life,” Sen. Paul said. “In order to protect the unborn from the very moment Life begins, I introduced the Life at Conception Act. Today, our nation wavers and our moral compass is adrift. Only when America chooses, remembers and restores her respect for life will we re-discover our moral bearings and truly find our way.”

You can argue that Jordan’s personhood bill–and its Senate counterpart–would lead to a major court fight with an uncertain outcome. And anti-choice crusaders have different views about the most effective way to enact abortion bans. But the clear intent of the Life at Conception Act is to establish personhood as federal law, as co-sponsors and sponsors of the bill have stated.