Lynn Bartels’ good-bye note to Denver Post

July 15th, 2015

A message from departing Denver Post journalist Lynn Bartels, distributed to Denver Post staff this morning:

Dear Denver Post:

Folks, I am taking the buyout, coming two days short of a 35-year career in journalism. The decision wasn’t easy and I have to thank you for providing me a home after the Rocky Mountain News closed.

I appreciate your putting up with my many eccentricities: bloodcurdling screams when moths come near my desk, an almost pathological fear of driving in the snow or at night and turning in stories that say -ffect because I still can’t figure out when to use “affect” or “effect.”

When I leave, I’m going to need a 12-step program in order to break my addiction to writing for The Spot. I appreciate all the encouragement on that front, especially from Dan Petty, the wonderkid we all owe so much to.

I’ll miss e-mailing Paul Soriano late at night and Dan Boniface early in the morning, waking up Vikki Migoya on her day off to help me with Methode at the Capitol, relying on Dale Ulland to catch those grammar mistakes and calling Jim Bates at night or on Saturday about a tip.

Kevin Simpson, thanks for teaching me about the negative factor and for being a podmate for a while. Getting to know you better — after reading you all these years — was a treat.

The photo staff, wow. You guys have been so good to me from the start. Thank you.

I am forever grateful to Greg Moore for taking me on board and sharing my love of political intrigue; Curtis Hubbard and his note after the 2010 election; Chuck Plunkett’s humanity as an editor; Monica Brewer’s help doing payroll and expenses; Dana Coffield, for being able to answers questions about, oh, everything; and Lee Ann Colacioppo, for telling me to take as much time as I needed when my dad was sick.

Linda Shapley, my family loves you. Vince Carroll, I hold you in awe.

Our current political team is so much fun: thank you Joey Bunch, John Frank, Jon Murray and  Mark Matthews for all that dark humor, fixing the typos in my blogs and the technological help (Did you know you can set an alarm on your iPhone? Yes, everyone knows, but you Lynn) .

And a huge shoutout to former Posties Tim Hoover and Jessica Fender, who probably should have felt the most threatened by my joining The Post but were among the most welcoming.

There are so many more people to list, but then I would violate our new rule about shorter stories. Just know I will miss the place.

Here are the comments of Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett, which he sent to the newsroom, along with Bartels’ note this morning.

I’m sorry to announce — I am heartbroken to announce — that Lynn Bartels, long the face of politics coverage in Colorado, has decided to take the buyout and start a new career at the secretary of state’s office.

Just trying to imagine working in this important swing state without Lynn Bartels seems impossible. Her reporting on both the daily grind and the big picture stories is always inspiring. Her ability to consistently break major news is well known. From the first day she joined The Post after the Rocky’s demise, Lynn has been an important, dominant force in our offerings. People who care about politics and policy in Colorado, from the big names to the workers in the trenches to readers whose names we may never know, will miss her. Lynn’s ability to humanize the stories and people she writes about represents one of the finest examples of the importance of the work we are fortunate enough to be doing.

Her encyclopedic knowledge of even the most obscure aspects of Colorado politics is something all of us have relied on for so long now we’ll probably need counseling to recover. Her list of contacts and sources in all the right places alone is priceless. Her many eccentricities helped keep us real in the face of daunting challenges.

And there is the overwhelming fact of her character. Lynn Bartels is one of the finest people I have ever known.

Please let her know how much she has meant to us.

Stop shrugging or laughing at the collapse of The Denver Post and Colorado journalism

July 15th, 2015

I listen to a lot of conservatives and progressives, and, the overwhelming response by both to the troubles of The Denver Post has been either a shrug or a snicker. (After years of devastating staff cuts, the newspaper is laying off another 10 percent of its newsroom staff and shrinking the print even more.)

The shrug comes from people who see the newspaper as useless, even though it still serves as the primary information source for political and other news in the Colorado. And it’s the primary driver of local news that you see on TV and on social media.

I’m floored by how frequently people trash The Post as irrelevant in one breath and then spend an entire meeting or radio show discussing an article that just appeared in the paper–or, even more ironically, talking about stories that have been left out of the newspaper. If only the irrelevant Denver Post would cover [fill in the blank].

The newspaper is so small and weak already, they say, it doesn’t matter if 20 journalists or more are cut, as planned on July 20 or so, joining about 20,000 journalists laid off nationally.

The thing is, even now after all the cuts already made, if you read the print edition of The Denver Post, or just a fraction of its online content, you’ll still get the information you need to function as a citizen in Colorado–to understand the state legislature, to keep up on elections, to follow civic and cultural life. What other media source could possibly make that claim?

The snicker about The Post’s ongoing decline comes from the folks who feel the newspaper gets in their way, unfairly shifting public debate against them and their causes. Conservatives are more likely to feel this way than progressives, because they’re deeply attached to the notion of “liberal bias,” as if The Denver Post has been undermining their agenda, as well as that of the Republican Party, for decades and its disappearance will give them an opening to win over public opinion. This is so outrageous, and unsupported by evidence, that it needs no response.

And it’s not just the people crusading against gay marriage and abortion who feel this way. It’s the fiscal conservatives, too, who repeatedly say how much The Post’s news coverage is biased toward big government and social support networks.

For their part, progressives complain that the newspaper is a slave to big corporate interests, which has some truth to it but is often proven false by the reporting you actually see in the newspaper.

These people love to ridicule the shrinking news pages and say the newspaper’s demise proves them right about its skewed coverage. With the rise of social media, people now see how bad the newspaper is, they say. Well, you have to wonder what garbage these people are finding on Facebook.  Where do you find better local journalism than The Denver Post? Nowhere, except maybe itsy bitsy pieces here and there. Sometimes.

They also say The Post is getting what it deserves, having been so fat and rich for so long that it failed to see the social-media forces that have upended its business model. It’s hard to argue that newspapers screwed themselves by missing the shifting media boat early on, but is this any reason to take pleasure in the demise of an entity that uniquely informs the public and holds government officials accountable?

The truth is, if you’re not sad about the demise of The Post, you really don’t care about the elimination of local journalism, which actually factually helps people make sense of the world and be informed citizens.

I don’t mean to slight the journalism you see at local TV stations or online outfits like this dumb blog, but The Post’s Colorado-based journalism, even now but especially just a few short years ago, makes all the rest of the professional journalism practiced in Colorado look ant-like.

So where’s the discussion of what we can do about the collapsing Denver Post and the gutting of local journalism? It’s absent.

Is there really nothing to say? Can’t grandstanding politicians, maybe a few from each party, spotlight the problem and call on philanthropists to step up and fund local journalism? Or figure out something else to say? Even if it’s just to acknowledge the tragedy unfolding in front of us?

Or how about a state journalism tax, to set aside public funding for independent Colorado-based journalism?

A ridiculous idea that has no prayer, you say? Right. But do you have anything else to suggest?

The alternative, for those of us who care about local journalism, is to stand aside and watch everyone else shrug or laugh.

Singleton calls Hillary Clinton an “outstanding public servant”

July 14th, 2015

On Craig Silverman’s KNUS morning show Saturday, former Denver Post owner William Dean Singleton said Hillary Clinton has been an “outstanding public servant” and would be a good president.

“I believed that she should have been president in 2008,” said Singleton, who’s also a former chair of the Associated Press. “I thought she was the best qualified person running and was disappointed when she lost the nomination to President Obama. I think she would have been an excellent president then, and I think she would be a good president now. She’s not the only good candidate out there, but I believe she would be a very good candidate.”

Singleton, who got to know Clinton as first lady and then when she ran for president in 2008, defended Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, telling Silverman that Clinton has been an “outstanding public servant.”

“I don’t think there’s anything phony about Hillary Clinton,” said Singleton on air. “I think she’s an outstanding public servant. And she knows how to work across party lines. She knows how to bring people together.”

You may wonder why I’d waste cheap blog space on Singleton, but he still votes on The Post’s editorial board, and I’d say he represents the opinion of mainstream businesspeople in Colorado as well as anyone.

In retrospect, Singleton said he thinks Bill Clinton was an “excellent president on the merits of his work.”

“My two favorite candidates are Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush,” he said, after trashing Donald Trump, saying he’s got the biggest ego he’s ever seen.

On Colorado politics, Singleton said he thinks Walker Stapleton will run for governor in 2018

Facebook deletes Tancredo’s suggestion that ISIS attack pot smokers

July 14th, 2015

Facebook deleted a post by Rep. Tom Tancredo  in which the former Colorado Congressman advised ISIS not to attack America on July 4 but, instead, “to try something during spring break or the Marijuana smoke out celebrations on April 20.”

Tancredo said he has “no idea why it was taken down.”

“There were over 9k hits before they got around to it,” emailed Tancredo, who supports pot legalization and was attacked mercilessly by fellow Republicans for taking his pro-marijuana position. “Maybe it was based on complaints. Maybe lots of teenagers and dopers protested.  I don’t think it was because they believed ISIS takes my advice.”

I told Tancredo Facebook might take a dim view of terrorism jokes or think he’s a terrorist, and he replied, “Well I am sure some of those 5000 ‘friends’ I have would agree!”

In fact, Tancredo has proposed that America “take out” Mecca and other Islamic “holy sites” in response to a terrorist attack on the United States. That’s terrorism.

Conservative radio station holding “auditions” to replace disappeared host

July 13th, 2015

Putting its competitive principles where its microphone is, KLZ “The Source” is conducting live “auditions” to replace its morning show host, Randy Corporon, who resigned last month after management pulled the plug on further interviews with former Rep. Tom Tancredo, who was at the center of an attempt to oust Steve House, the leader of Colorado’s Republican Party.

KLZ owner Don Crawford, Jr., insisted on grilling Tancredo about his beef with House prior to airing Tancredo’s familiar voice on his radio station, prompting Corporon and KLZ’s other “liberty lineup” talk-radio hosts, Ken Clark and Kris Cook, to quit.

Crawford told the media he was worried about whether Tancredo was telling the truth about the attempt to oust House. He also temporarily banned Steve House, according to Corporon.

Crawford hasn’t said whether he also banned interviews Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who joined Tancredo and Pueblo’s GOP chair Becky Mizel in leading the coup charge. There wold have been no reason for Crawford not to have banned Coffman and Mizel as well.

In any case, now Crawford appears to be personally spearheading an unusual process to replace Corporon. He’s selected seven conservatives (no relation to the seven dwarfs) to audition live, on air through Wed. from 6 to 8 p.m., on KLZ 560-AM.

Some take-no-prisoners conservatives have already tried out, including: “Americhicks“ Kim Monson and Molly Vogt, Steve Laffey, a GOP gubernatorial candidate, who’s a familiar voice on conservative talk radio, Dan Meurer, who’s been a guest host, and Jim Pfaff, a former KLZ radio host.

Here’s what Crawford had to say about the auditions:

Let the auditions begin!! I am thrilled to announce we have some very talented, bright, and insightful people, auditioning for the New KLZ morning show.

Your valued opinion on whom you think is most worthy and will surely eternalize your and our critical principles on our airwaves, such as our unbreakable support of the Constitution, returning political power to the states, and a very limited Federal government, to name some more, is imperative to our decision-making.

Email me at 4Crawford@gmail.com, or post your preferences on our Facebook page if you wish. Every single one will be read, respected, and factored. Those auditions will be from 6PM to 8PM each weeknight beginning Monday, July 6th. The last audition will occur on Wednesday, the 15th. Shortly after, we hope to and should have your new host ready and able to carry the morning torch for those endangered conservative values we so very much cherish and MUST protect.

We thank you in advance for your essential help in this cause. I’m Don Crawford Jr., Station Manager of KLZ.

I’m not sure this job will “eternalize” conservative principles on the airwaves or anywhere, and I’m not sure the radio station successfully carries the “morning torch” for endangered conservative values.

But I admire what Crawford’s doing here, subjecting the would be hosts to everything the audience can toss at them, whether it be blackmail, extortion, or their views on shutting down the government or booting out nice Hispanic families from America.

I emailed Crawford with a few questions, like whether he was telling prospective hosts that he has the right to screen guests on their show, as he did during the Tancredo controversy.

But Crawford hasn’t gotten back to me.

Maybe he sensed my unhappiness with his booting Clark, Cook, and Corporon in the first place, as they were admirably standing behind their principles (and their listeners trust) in not accepting censorship from their own station. They might have quite prematurely, but you gotta admire their stand.

I also asked Craford whether he’d consider adding a show with a progressive bent. All the fighting and salacious whispering on conservative talk radio is getting to be overwhelming, even for a junkie like me.

It’s time for those conservatives to take a break from each other and air a kind, well-mannered, thoughtful progressive show.

CORRECTION: This story initially omitted Corporon’s information that Steve House was also temporarily banned from KLZ.

Media omission: document details numerous allegations against State GOP Chair Steve House

July 10th, 2015

During a six-hour Republican Party meeting, held June 26 to gauge support for GOP State Chair Steve House, Tom Tancredo sat with Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman in the hallway outside the meeting room. Tancredo was holding copies of a document that listed grievances against House.

Coffman was eventually given the chance to talk briefly to the executive committee, but, as I reported last week, Tancredo said that House blocked him and Pueblo County GOP Chair Becky Mizel from distributing the document to committee members, who voted 22-1 to support House.

Yet, mysteriously, given the speed at which GOP allegations can fly around Facebook, I couldn’t find the document anywhere until someone graciously leaked it to me yesterday. (See below.)

But is it the real thing? The document Tancredo wanted to hand out at the meeting?

I can’t say for sure, but my source says so, and I emailed it to Tancredo, who responded with, “Looks like the same one to me.”

Tancredo pointed out that there was nothing secret about the document, as evidenced by the fact that he and others gave it to various reporters at the meeting and elsewhere. The document asks House to resign.

I asked Owen Loftus, communications director for the state Republican Party, to respond to the allegations in the document. I’ve been waiting since yesterday and have heard nothing from him.

Without the cooperation of Loftus, it’s hard for me to assess whether many the grievances are true–but since reporters haven’t posted the document or reported on it, omitting a key piece of information in the story, I’ve posted it for all to see. It’s a big part of the story, and reporters were remiss by failing to get it out there.

It addresses Dick Wadhams’ sniper-like comment in The Denver Post, in which he told the folks who want House to resign to “reveal the charges.”

“They need to put up or shut up,” Wadhams told The Post.

As you can see, the document describes numerous failures by House, relating to party finances, communication, personnel, and more.

For his part, Tancredo told me, “What’s inaccurate is the allegation that we wanted [House] to hire Ted Harvey and that if he didn’t, we would go public with his dalliances.” Tancredo told me. “That is totally, completely untrue. It’s a false narrative. There was an issue with Ted Harvey, but it had nothing to do with him not getting the job.”

Tancredo says House’s actions after the private meeting where Tancredo, Coffman, and Mizel asked him to resign, have been “even more egregious than what he did up to that time.”

Statement of Friends and Supporters to Chairman Steve House

June 25, 2015

Chairman Steve House
Colorado Republican Party

Dear Chairman House:

The controversy swirling around you and your leadership of the party is taking a toll on the party’s health. With the great potential and challenges ahead of us for 2016, we must find a leader who can regain the confidence of the stakeholders of the party and repair the damage you have caused. We request that you tender your resignation immediately for the reasons listed below.

Party finances

Trust is essential for donors large and small. The following jeopardizes the trust needed for successful and sustained fundraising.

  • You claim to have inherited over $300,000 in debt, but supporting information is required on campaign finance reports and does not appear there.
  • May expenditures exceeded donations by $21,974. May donations decreased $28,464 from April’s donations.
  • The budget, which was due June 15, has not been provided to the Executive Committee as required by the bylaws. A draft was presented to them at the last meeting. Required quarterly financial statements have not been provided to the Central Committee.
  • You were informed in writing that the $100,000 line of credit with a $60,000 draw had disappeared from the FEC reports, that there were no payments listed and that amended reports needed to be filed.  However, you did not see that they were.
  • The most recent FEC report lists $10,000 paid to American Express. The individual charges must be listed as “memo entries.” No memo entries were reported.

Lack of consistency and clarity in communication

The state party must be clear and consistent in its public policy positions. The chair must behave professionally and not undermine elected Republicans. We are aware of many such instances on your watch—too many to repeat here. Examples include:

  • You gave mixed, confusing, and changing statements to legislators, the general public, and the press regarding a presidential primary. This publicly embarrassed Republican legislators and led to a scathing Denver Post op-ed.
  • After you rescinded your intent to resign on June 15, you issued a press release that included: “If I refused to meet their demand to resign, they threatened…that false rumors that I have been unfaithful to my wife would be made public.”  The Colorado GOP issued a statement, one you later paraphrased, that said, “These false rumors are coming from the same people who continually try to bring down the party for their own gain, year after year.”  It is inconceivable that a state party chair would refer to the Republican Attorney General that way and attempt to cause severe damage to her stellar reputation.
  • You refused to call a special Executive Committee meeting for June 22, well before this weekend with all the national press and attention surrounding the WCS.  You did so after committing to Douglas County Chair Jim Pfaff that you would and after receiving the requisite signatures. Defiance of the wishes of the members requesting a special meeting is unacceptable. The result has been more discord than had you called the meeting as promised.  Though the call was late, you possessed the authority to waive the delay.
  • We have recently heard that you claimed to national media that there was a grievance process that should have been utilized. We are aware of no such process.
  • You have made commitments both for and against a straw poll that would bind Colorado’s delegation. In email you have expressed a willingness to hold caucus in February and reduce Colorado’s delegation from 34 delegates to 9.

Donors, volunteers, appointees, and employees have shared many other examples. These same people have expressed frustration in your rapidly changing direction in decisions and communications, from the mundane to issues of national significance like the primary bill. A loss of confidence has ensued for those who work closely with the party. That loss of confidence must reverse under new leadership.

Defamation of character in your official capacity

The state party chair must be above gossip and defamation of character. Yet we have seen many instances including:

  • You made irresponsible false claims about Ted Harvey’s personal life and finances to members of the media and others in the context of your official reasons for not offering Harvey employment. You fabricated and promoted the notion that Harvey’s personal circumstances could lead him to embezzle from the party. None of your statements are true.
  • You falsely asserted another state party officer would be resigning soon because of personal financial stress and alleged pending bankruptcy. Spreading such information about another party officer is inexcusable.
  • After the meeting with your former key supporters, you communicated to 9News that no “criminal charges” would likely be filed. This incorrectly implied that Coffman, Tancredo, and Mizel had been involved in illegal acts.  Your themes of blackmail and extortion were picked up widely in the press causing unnecessary harm to the party and respected members.  Now, a formal request for investigation against the three has been made with the Denver District Attorney as a result of your statements and actions.
  • Through Colorado GOP spokesman Owen Loftus, you communicated that attorneys for the party had contacted the US Attorney’s office and, according to KUSA 9News, the Denver District Attorney. This public announcement gave the impression that there is merit to the “criminal charges” you have been promoting. At that time, the Denver District Attorney categorically denied that they were contacted and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has stated they are not involved in any aspect of this.  This was an attempt to defame through innuendo. You used of party funds and resources to further your personal agenda and caused significant damage within the party.
  • You told many people that both Ted Harvey and Kim Herzfeldt threatened the Attorney General. A friend contacted the Attorney General and was told that was false.

In all of these instances and others, your behavior exposes the party to substantial legal liability. Additionally, the state party cannot tolerate the chairman engaging in character defamation of any person or using party resources for a personal agenda.

Personnel

No one wishes to second guess the hiring of Tyler Hart or the retention of Shana Kohn. However, significant concerns have been raised by your handling of employment discussions with other individuals.

  • You promised Ted Harvey the Executive Director’s job in front of others. Almost immediately after your election when this decision was questioned, you posted on Facebook that no one had been promised a job.
  • You continued to string Ted Harvey along with promises of the Executive Director’s job at a later date.
  • You mischaracterized the position of the Attorney General to explain why you rescinded the job offer to Ted Harvey. When called on it, you resorted to defaming Harvey.
  • You also have represented that on June 15, Tancredo, Coffman, and Mizel demanded you hire Harvey on the state party staff.  This is untrue; the discussion of Harvey concerned the slanderous statements you made about him.
  • You told at least 3 members of the transition team, who expected to be paid, that no pay would be forthcoming because of the serious nature of the party’s debt. You then paid 2 of the 3. Not only did you pay 2 of the 3, but this contract labor was not disclosed to the Executive Committee nor disclosed in the budget.
  • Because of your conflicting communications, there is confusion about who is on the state party payroll, who may have a side deal, and who may speak for the party.

In all of the above instances and others, such behavior exposes the party to substantial legal liability. Additionally, the party cannot tolerate the chairman engaging in character defamation of any person, particularly in the context of employment denial.

Untruthful statements concerning your extra-marital affair and unethical reaction to exposure

Everyone has a right to privacy in their personal life. You made your extramarital liaison with a Colorado Springs woman the fodder for unseemly gossip and public scrutiny, now implicating the reputation of the party. Your false and proactive denials of the affair to the press escalated your private unprofessional and duplicitous behavior to a public level and created an unnecessary specter of scandal marring the party’s reputation.

  • Your involvement in the affair has not been discreet or separate from party business. The affair was known in wide enough circles to generate inquiries and investigations from the press, including at political events where you were representing the party.
  • You denied an affair which is unquestionably true and the source of distractions in your official capacity.
  • We understand that at your direction, Adams County Vice Chair John Sampson contacted the woman involved. She followed your demand that she deny the affair on an audio recording Mr. Sampson made. When the chairman engages in this level of duplicitous and unethical behavior, such tactics escalate the scandal and increase damage to the party’s reputation. It is impossible to separate your private actions as an individual and the actions you were taking to purportedly protect your official position.

Ongoing indiscretions and lies about those indiscretions can only result in further injury to the party.  We refuse to knowingly allow such indiscreet behavior to become ammunition for our opponents in the 2016 elections.

Summary

While we could list many additional seriously damaging examples and complaints from volunteers and donors, the above examples alone are more than enough to have shattered our confidence in your ability to lead this party in crucial years. The party’s goals cannot be met if our members, the Central Committee, the Executive Committee, and Colorado voters have lost confidence in our chairman. We therefore ask for your immediate resignation. We wish to avoid the process to involuntarily remove you from office, but we will pursue that if needed.

We regret the necessity to take this action.

cc: Exec Comm
County Chairs
Reince Priebus

What matter(s) did the state GOP refer to prosecutors?

July 9th, 2015

In a Facebook post Monday, GOP activist Marilyn Marks called on a Republican Party committee to “due diligence to inform themselves of what matters the state party has referred to prosecutors.”

Responding to Monday’s article in the Colorado Statesman, stating that a “Republican Party spokesman said on Friday that the state party’s attorney had contacted prosecutors about ‘another matter,’ though he declined to specify what that was,” Marks wrote on Facebook:

Marks: The party says (in the article below) that they have referred “another matter” to prosecutors, implying that it is not the matter that they previously claimed they had referred to prosecutors apparently targeting Coffman, Tancredo and Mizel. Now House says that he NEVER THOUGHT he was being extorted or blackmailed. If that is true, did he go to prosecutors falsely alleging a crime?

I urge Executive Committee members to conduct appropriate due diligence to inform themselves of what matters the state party has referred to prosecutors.

In the comment thread, Marks observes that House is now saying he was not subject to extortion or blackmail, yet something had been reported to prosecutors.

Marks: I hope that someone on the ExComm or a reporter will try to get to the bottom of this, and what matters have been reported to the prosecutors. If [House] did not think it was blackmail, where is the apology to [Cynthia] Coffman, [Tom] Tancredo and Becky [Mizel]?

A good suggestion.

Media omission: workshops at Denver “summit” spotlight conservative organizing tactics

July 8th, 2015

The three-day Western Conservative Summit, which recently drew six GOP presidential contenders and over 4,000 participants to Denver, featured debates, galas, and speeches by high-profile conservatives.

But outside the media spotlight, the gathering offered 30 “Citizen Action Workshops,”  most focusing on nuts-and-bolts tactics that conservatives believe will help them advance their agenda. Examples: “Social Media Secrets for Winning Online, with American Majority,” “Run for Office with Victory Guaranteed (Almost), with American Majority,” and “How to Deal with the Media, with Tea Party Patriots,”

In one such workshop, titled “Energize Your Church for Civic Engagement,” Gayle Levin, Associate Director of Salt and Light Council, outlined ways conservative churches can organize to make a difference in the public sphere.

“We’ve had a one-two punch from the Supreme Court, and there’s only one place to turn, God,” said Levin, after presenting a video to workshop goers lamenting that “homosexuality” is considered “normal” in America, abortion is “accepted” and, generally, the Bible has be set aside is by secular society.

“If churches would rise up, we could turn things around in one election cycle,” continued Levin, adding that her anti-choice organization, founded by, among others, Mathew Staver of the right-wing Liberty Council, trains pastors and churchgoers in 23 states.

Levin said her group helps pastors craft two-minute messages designed to be delivered “from the pulpit,” and pastors are asked to encourage church attendees to stop by a Salt and Light table, as they leave the service. At the table, church volunteers get instructions on how to take action on the pastor’s message from the sermon.

For example, in 2012, Levin said, her organization worked with churches whose members were directed to other organizations which, in turn, sent them to rallies, organized by the Liberty Council and other organizations, in swing states.

The Salt and Light Council also encourages churches to provide voter guides, organize candidate forums, and to register and transport voters to the polls. And if a church runs afoul with the law or needs anything else, the organization will provide “legal and background support,” said Levin.

Though IRS rules limit political work by religious entities, both left- and right-leaning groups encourage political involvement by the religious community. Left-leaning organizations, such as Sojourners, organize with allies across the country.

The conservatives American Renewal Project and right-wing activist David Lane has set up meetings with pastors and GOP presidential candidates in swing states, including Colorado.

Also here, conservatives have organized a July 12-15 conference in Colorado Springs, called Breaking the Silence, which features prominent right-wing evangelicals from across the country.

Some right-wing conservative activism focuses on church practices. One conservative organization, Alliance Defending Freedom, has published a guide, titled Protecting Your Ministry from Sexual Orientation Gender Identity Lawsuits, to help churches and institutions use loopholes to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Here’s an excerpt from the manual:

A new concept – that “sexual liberty” trumps religious freedom – has begun to impact churches, ministries, and individual Christians across this nation. This concept has led to the passage of sexual orientation, gender identity ordinances (SOGIs). SOGIs elevate sexual special interests over our cherished fundamental freedoms, especially religious freedom. These ordinances place terms like “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in the same category as race or religion. But they are not designed for the innocent purpose of ensuring all people receive basic services. Rather, their practical effect is to legally compel Christians to accept, endorse, and even promote messages, ideas, and events that violate their faith.

Those promoting these ordinances use public sympathy – gained through misleading rhetoric about “discrimination” – to silence dissenting voices. And no ministry will remain immune if they remain true to Scripture’s teachings about sexuality and gender. Alliance Defending Freedom created this manual to help you prepare for the legal intrusions some of your fellow believers and Christian leaders around the country have already faced, and for other threats on the near horizon.

At Denver’s Western Conservative Summit, Levin discussed a number reasons churches reject help from her organization, ranging from, “The rapture is coming,” and “I don’t want to scare people away,” to, “You’re being too political,” and, “Separation of church and state.”

“We do need to stand up,” said one workshop participant, Pastor Mark White of Park View Bible Baptist Church in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, referring to recent Supreme Court decisions. “It is our fault, as Christians, that we are in the state we’re in.  We’ve sat on our hands too long.”

“This [Western Conservative] Summit is here for a reason,” said Levin. “We are looking for who will stand for god.”

Though most of the workshops offered at the Summit focused on developing practical skills, like the one on church organizing, others were broader or agenda-driven. These included, “Young Voters Meet Team Carly, with Fiorina for President (under-30s only),”  “Lessons from the Left, with Americans for Prosperity,”  “Trump the Race Card, with Frederick Douglass Republicans,” and “We’re the Millennials, Give Us a Look, with Turning Point USA.”

Media not responsible for Roberts’ campaign problems

July 7th, 2015

Those of you who’ve been following the strange public downfall of State Sen. Ellen Roberts will thoroughly enjoy her interview last week on KNUS 710-AM.

If you don’t know, Roberts quickly went from being a rarity in Colorado, a Great Republican Hope to defeat Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet, to being just another common Colorado Republican implosion, in the tradition of Ken Buck, Scott McInnis, Bob Beauprez, etc, etc.

Now Roberts is saying everyone made too big a deal of her contemplation of a U.S. Senate run, especially the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus, who first broke the news that Roberts was “in the process of thinking” about challenging Bennet. Roberts told KNUS radio-host Krista Kafer last week:

Roberts: I had honestly answered a question to my local hometown reporter after the session ended. He said, “You know, your name keeps getting floated out there as a possible candidate for the Republicans in the U.S. Senate race.” And he said, “So, are you going to think about it?” I said, honestly, thinking of the average person’s definition of ‘thinking’ — not a Hillary Clinton ‘no-I’m-not-thinking-about-it-while-you’re-developing-your-whole-campaign-years-ahead — actually meant I was going to go home to Durango, unpack my boxes, reintegrate with my family and my community, and think about whether that was a choice that I would make. And from there it went gangbusters, because he put it in the newspaper and the Democratic machine went – and I would say, ‘the Democratic nasty machine’.

…And apparently, just by thinking about whether I might get into the U.S. Senate race was enough to send people to the moon and back. So, yeah, it was a – it hasn’t been a pleasant experience

He put it in the newspaper! Can you believe it? A leading Colorado Republican tells Peter Marcus she’s “thinking” of running U.S. Senate, and the stupid journalist actually tells us!

God knows what trick Marcus will play on Roberts next time he interviews her.

And there’s more there, as you can see. Roberts is trying to make us believe she wasn’t serious about a Senate run, and she’s implying Marcus’ lede paragraph, stating that Roberts was “seriously considering a run for U.S. Senate,” was somehow misleading.

But all you have to do is read Roberts’ own statements in Marcus’ article to see that she was definitely serious about running, as you’d hope would be the case if she’s telling one of the state’s few remaining political reporters about it.

She told Marcus she 1) was worried about surviving a primary, 2) pointed out that she’d have to file paperwork before making an official announcement, 3) lashed out at Bennet, indicating she’d thought about the campaign’s end-game, and 4) said nothing about not being serious, such as, “Hey, Peter, I’m telling you all this but I’m not serious about it.”

Then she went on to tell The Denver Post’s John Frank:

Roberts: “I’m not ready to announce yet, but I’m certainly exploring it pretty closely or I wouldn’t be talking about it.”

Then she seriously told KNUS radio’s Dan Caplis, “I’ve never called myself pro-choice as a politician.” Then ColoradoPols posted a video proving this to be false, and Roberts soon said she was no longer considering a U.S. Senate run.

Or, as she told KNUS last week, “I would say I have since stopped thinking. So, because I publicly said I’m not thinking about it anymore, all of a sudden it has magically disappeared from the Democrats.”

That’s almost as surprising as a reporter who actually takes notes when you say  you’re thinking about running for U.S. Senate.

At least Roberts is not progressive blogs for factual errors.

Roberts: Well, when I said on the radio show, as a politician, I don’t—I’ve never called myself pro-choice, I forgot that in 2011 in the heat of battle, I did said that because I was trying to drive home a point to the Democrats. Well, within twenty-four hours, the blogs had pieced together that time in 2011 and the radio show clip to say that I was wishy-washy, or flip-floppy, or whatever.  As far as I’m concerned, put me in category number three.

Whatever. That’s the category Roberts now wants to be in. That’s fine, but hopefully she won’t claim that her new”whatever” category is the radio’s or media’s fault. The media were not responsible for any of the catastrophes we witnessed during Roberts short, but serious, contemplation of a U.S. Senate run.

 

Republican Talk-Show Host Calls for Investigation of Cynthia Coffman

July 2nd, 2015

UPDATE: In response to the request of a commentator on ColoradoPols, I asked Crank if he still holds the opinion below, which he expressed over two weeks ago. Here’s his response.

CRANK: Yes, I still believe that Cynthia Coffman should welcome an investigation by an independent authority.  I don’t know if what she did rises to the legal definition of blackmail or extortion.  Only a legal expert would know that.  There should be an investigation and, if she is cleared, she should apologize for using bad judgement.  If the investigation finds that she participated in an effort to extort or blackmail, she should resign.

I try to hold the same standard regardless of party.  That is more than those on the left usually do.

Amazes me that the folks on the left who are calling for Coffman to resign were eerily quiet about Eric Holder’s gun running operation and the IRS targeting people based on their political views.  Perhaps you should write about that too, unless that just cuts too close to home.

——-

Some of my friends might throw stones at me, but, love him or hate him, Colorado Springs radio-host Jeff Crank tries to hold the Republican Party to basic standards.

When Crank, a Republican, ran for Congress back in 2006, Crank was the victim of GOP shenanigans himself, so he seems to really hate it when the Republican knives come out behind the scenes.

Shortly after the news broke that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and others had allegedly threatened House in an effort to push him out of his position as state GOP chair, Crank took to the airwaves with this:

CRANK: “Now, to me, if that happened, that’s blackmail,” said Crank, who’s worked over the years for Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, during his June 20 KVOR show. “Could it be extortion? I don’t know what the law says about the threshold for extortion or blackmail, but I’m pretty sure that the Attorney General shouldn’t participate in it. I’m pretty sure of that. In fact, I’m pretty sure that an Attorney General would want to prosecute rather than participate in an effort to blackmail the chairman of the Republican Party.

Now, I just say this. If this happened, Cynthia Coffman, the Attorney General, needs to resign. She’s a Republican, and she needs to resign. Because if this happened, she either at worst, participated in it, and at best, was a witness to it, in her office – in your office, in the Attorney General’s office of the state of Colorado. It’s uh — this is what needs to be investigated. Not whether Steve House did this, that, or the other thing. What is really troubling here to me is that the Attorney General of the state of Colorado, who already played politics once and took the opposite side of her husband in supporting someone for Party Chairman, now shows up and decides that that’s, all of a sudden, — he needs to go because maybe he hasn’t hired somebody. But participates in a meeting like this – was either a witness to, or participated in blackmail. There you go.

Who in the world do people think they are, walking into the Chairman. The Chairman was duly elected as the Chairman of the Republican Party. He can hire or not hire whoever he choses as his Exectuvie Director. Tom Tancredo, who again, has been a friend of mine, supported me when I ran for Congress when he was a member of Congress. I appreciate his support. Tom, of all people, was the guy that everybody in the Tea Party hated because he ran against Dan Maes, left the Republican Party, ran as an Independent, and now he’s trying to tell the Chairman of the Party who he has to hire as the Executive Director. And it’s all unseemly.

But here is the biggest problem I have with this: Cynthia Coffman is the chief law enforcement officer of the state of Colorado. And it’s lonely when you’re a Republican calling out another Republican. And I’m sad to say that. […] But I will say this: I have built a career doing that, and I will call you out if I think you’ve done something unethical, if you’ve done something wrong. And I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. And I think that’s what people respect about the positions that I take—is that I take them and I hold firm to them. And I’ve got to tell you, I need to know more about what Cynthia Coffman’s role was here. If she participated in or saw an attempt to blackmail the Chairman of the Republican Party, she needs to resign. Because if that’s the case, if that happened, she is Eric Holder of the state of Colorado. And I can’t think of anything worse to say about somebody than being the Eric Holder of the state of Colorado. She can’t just sit silently. There has to be an investigation. There should be an ethics complaint filed.

Barring a sentence or two, Crank actually sounds like a real attorney general here, unlike the one we have now.