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

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?

Reporter’s work absent from Denver Post due to end of grant

August 10th, 2014

A Kaiser-Family-Foundation grant to The Denver Post has ended, explaining the recent disappearance of Denver Post articles by freelance reporter Art Kane, whose work at The Post was funded by the Kaiser grant.

“The grant has ended, and that’s why we haven’t run any stories by him in awhile,” said Greg Griffin, an editor at The Post, when asked about the disappearance of Kane’s work.

Back in March, Post Editor Greg Moore told me the Kaiser Family Foundation provided The Post with an undisclosed amount of grant money to supplement the newspaper’s coverage of health care, specifically of issues related to universal health coverage.

The Post described this project as a “partnership with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.”

Under the terms of the Kaiser grant, The Post retained full editorial control of its health-care coverage, but content produced with Kaiser support had to be posted on the Kaiser Health News website, according to Moore.

Kane, a well-known Denver journalist, was hired on a contract to write health-related stories during the grant period.

Kane did not return a call seeking comment.

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

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

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.

Coffman’s fact-free attack on a judge deserves media scrutiny

August 6th, 2014

In a blog post about a week ago, I gave conservative talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt some unsolicited information on why Rep. Mike Coffman is still so upset at losing his conservative district and now being a square peg in the round hole of Aurora.

Coffman told Hewitt that Democrats had “targeted my seat in the redistricting process.”

“A Democratic judge – you know, certainly his affiliation, I’m sure, — in Denver signed off on their map, without any amendments, and it certainly is what they call a ‘D+1’ [‘D’ plus one] district.”

An astute reader informed me that, in fact, judge Robert S. Hyatt is an unaffiliated voter, and likely has been since 1979, according to public records.

I checked this out myself, and confirmed it, with a high degree but not complete certainty, as I was unable to reach the retired judge himself–and he likely wouldn’t have divulged this information anyway.

As my correspondent pointed out, Coffman’s reckless — and fact-less — attack on the independence of the judiciary deserves scrutiny by reporters, particularly in light of Coffman’s oath to defend the U.S. Constitution.

As a progressive, I can tell you that Hyatt is no friend of progressive causes over conservative ones, as a brief examination of Hyatt’s decisions makes obvious. Remember, he ruled in favor of conservatives just last year in a case clearing the way for the recall of two Democratic state senators.

Post Editorial Page Editor’s slap at Beauprez could portend Hick Endorsement

August 6th, 2014

For the few of you looking for clues about which gubernatorial candidate will be endorsed by The Denver Post, check out this line, mocking Republican Bob Beauprez, from today’s column by Denver Post Editor Page Editor Vincent Carroll.

Still, Hickenlooper, whose persistence pushed the deal through, has bought more time for those on both sides of the divide over local control of drilling who desire a genuine compromise. His Republican opponent, Bob Beauprez, may think that any “grand bargain compromise” amounts to weak-kneed capitulation, even if acceptable to oil and gas companies, but Initiatives 88 and 89 were real threats to the state’s economy. They may have been defeated — and probably would have been — but who knows? Now they’re off the table.

Of course Carroll doesn’t make the endorsement decision by himself, but still.

Media omission: Republican volunteers quitting in response to news that fellow Republicans funded attacks on Tancredo

August 5th, 2014

Pueblo County Republican Chair Becky Mizel told KVOR’s Jimmy Lakey over the weekend that Republican volunteers in Pueblo have been quitting in response to the revelation that the Republican Governors Association apparently funded a campaign to defeat Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo in the June primary.

“I’ve had a lot of people call and say, ‘Take my name off,” Mizel told Lakey. “We’ve had about five that have withdrawn from precinct chair because they’re so ticked off at some of the things going on at the governor level…. But it really does hurt us. It’s hurt us a lot.”

The Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) donated $175,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which, in turn, contributed $155,000 to attacks on Tancredo during the GOP primary in Colorado. The indirect money path appears to have been an effort by the RGA to conceal its involvement in Colorado’s Republican primary.

The revelation of  the RGA’s furtive meddling angered not only Tancredo but Republicans statewide. Mark Baisley, the Vice Chair of the Colorado GOP has called for an investigation.

Mizel’s statement on the radio is an indication that the controversy is affecting morale of Republican activists who, as Lakey points out below, are critical to GOP electoral efforts this fall.

Lakey: So you’ve had people this week drop out as precinct chairs and stuff like that, just as fallout from the RGA. Any fallout from the Gardner and Coffman votes? Really, it effects that locally?

Mizel: Yeah. We had two, a husband-and-wife team, drop out because of that one just yesterday.

Lakey: Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.

Mizel: It’s dramatic, and people just don’t realize what they are doing to the local party, and to the party in general.

Lakey: These candidates, they need the local party, as localized as possible, to have strong organization to help get out the vote. And when they’re chasing away your precinct chairs, they’re kind of cutting off their nose despite their face.

Mizel: Jimmy, I hate to sound a bit skeptical. I think they just think they need the money of the establishment. And I don’t think they necessarily think they need the grassroots. I hate to be so skeptical, but after being in this game a while, I’m beginning to feel that way. I hope I’m wrong.

Lakey: I hope you’re wrong too. I’m afraid you’re not that wrong Becky.

Listen: https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/co-republican-activists-quitting-over-gop-attacks-on-fellow-republican-tancredo

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

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.

CO Republican Party Vice Chair Calls for Investigation into Tancredo Attacks

August 1st, 2014

On KLZ’s nooner show Aug. 29, Freedom 560, Colorado Republican Party Vice Chairman Mark Baisley announced his support for an investigation into the Republican Governors Association’s involvement (via the Republican Attorneys General Association) in attack ads against gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo.

Ken Clark: Quite frankly, you’re right about one thing. And that is simply that it was — Who was it? It was the CREW folks that actually did dig this up — and yes they’re left leaning and yes, and they did leak this information to Lynn Bartels. However, there is one problem with all that. It’s true!!!
o It is true!
Clark: Yeah! The RGA got involved, the RGA, the establishment Republicans, the national establishment got involved in our election here in Colorado, manipulated it, and lied — flat out lied against Tom Tancredo. Now, did Bob Beauprez know this was happening? I doubt it. In this article that Lynn wrote, she claims that — or Ryan [Call] claims that he had no idea it was going on. Frankly, I don’t buy that, because right before the election, Ryan Call was putting out propaganda from the Party that used all of Bob Beauprez’s lingo on how he described himself. So, I’m having trouble with the idea that Ryan Call just didn’t know this was going on. Sorry, but he’s the chairman of the state Party
Baisley: Okay, and I don’t know the answer to that. Chairman Call and I have not spoken on this topic. And so, I’ll reach out to him today. But, regardless, the RGA has done something that is just wrong. And they obviously know that it’s wrong, because they took such great pains to hide their actions. And we need to come against them very strongly. So, I’m calling for the Republican Party in Colorado to stand up to the national influences and say, “Look, you SOBs! This is our state! We’re Western culture. We think rather independently. Stay the hell out of our world, here!” And let’s even– let’s have a local investigation. Let’s have the state Party denounce that kind of involvement and let us just do what we do best, get out the vote for our nominee, and go beat the Democrats. But stay out of our world! And yeah, even if there’s an investigation that needs to be done to bring out what were the dominoes that led us to this point, that would be great, too. I’d be all for that. [BigMedia emphasis.]
Clark: Well, yeah, because I agree with you, Mark. And you know what? I am very, very pleased to hear you come out so forcefully and strongly, and stand up and actually make the call for an inviestigation into this matter. Mark, I think that is huge. That’s the kind of leadership we’re looking for. Now, there’s a mealy mouthed press release we got from Beauprez. It really didn’t go that far. And I understand he is the candidate, but at the same time, if he didn’t know that these guys were doing this– and you’re absolutely right, Mark, they were doing everything they could to hide those dollars.

Listen to Mark Baisley on KLZ FREEDOM560 7.29.14

 

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

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?