Archive for July, 2013

Talk-show host denies that his ethics complaint against Hick is a PR stunt

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Three weeks ago, FOX 31 aired a story about Colorado’s state-owned jet, including the fact that Gov. John Hickenlooper flew on the plane, along with businessman Ken Gart and his son, to the 2012 Pro Cycling Challenge in Durango.

The FOX 31 story wasn’t received very well.

Denver Post editorial writer Tim Hoover reviewed the story and concluded that “the ‘concerns’ outlined in the FOX 31 report were just silly.”

Editorial Page Editor Vincent Carroll concurred, tweeting:

“Nice job by Tim Hoover deconstructing an overhyped Fox 31 story on usage of a state plane.”

In his piece, “Not airworthy: FOX 31 Piece on State Airplane Usage Was Pretty Lame,” Hoover noted that Gart helped organize the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, “a large-scale, high-profile event that is important to Colorado and one a governor would be wise to attend.”

Hoover: It doesn’t seem crazy that one of the key people behind organizing the event might attend it with the governor. But in any case, the report notes Gart reimbursed the state $431 for his travel costs after FOX 31′s inquiries.

Despite this, and the fact that Hickenlooper reimbursed the state for his son’s trip, Denver talk-show host Jason Worley was so impressed with the FOX31 story that he filed a complaint Monday to the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission, in part, he said on the radio yesterday, because “nobody else wanted to do it.”

“There’s a news story backing up every bit of what I’m saying,” Worley said on the radio yesterday. “This is not a frivolous claim. We didn’t do this on a lark.”

Worley’s complaint stated that KDVR did not report when Hickenlooper and Gart paid back the state, but the station flashed Hick’s $903.75 reimbursement check for his son, and it’s dated Jan. 30, 2013. Gart’s $431 check is dated Jan. 15. That’s about four months after the trip, during the period KDVR claims it was doing its investigation, as Worley pointed out to me.

Citing an alleged precedent set in a recent Gessler case, Worley’s complaint states that “subsequent reimbursement” of funds “cannot spare a liable public official from an IEC penalty.”

Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro, however, told me via email that “Team Gessler never actually requested that the IEC drop the case based on the payment (as I fully expected they would)” and the case did not establish the precedent that “late repayment should not prevent an ethics complaint from going forward.”

[See Toro’s answers to my other questions about the case below.]

Asked by KDVR about taking his son with him to Durango, Hickenlooper said:

“The hard part about this job is I never get to spend time with my son. I feel like I’m missing his childhood. He’s about to turn 11…. We always pay his pro-rated share. So we pay the state back when he’s on there.”

“I’m glad he pays the state back for his son,” Worley emailed when asked to respond to Hick’s statement.  “Not sure why it took an investigative reporter to prompt him to do so.”

In his complaint, Worley asks the state to investigate, among other things, whether Hick used the plane to take him and his guests to Durango for non-state or political business.

“I do see that this trip could have been a ‘perk’ of being Governor,” Worley emailed me. “However taking a campaign contributor means this was a least in part, questionably political.  How much was business, how much was personal and how much political.  Why didn’t he allocate for that as was decided in the Gessler case.  It is a requirement.”

On the radio Tuesday, Worley said he plans to bring a live microphone to any ethics hearing, if one takes place, raising the question of whether this is a publicity stunt by a talk-radio host, not unlike throwing live chickens out the studio window.

“Ken and I make no bones that we are activists first,” Worley said. “No one else stepped up to file this complaint, why not me?  If publicity were our main focus we’d go off and purposely say outrageous things.  We don’t do that, we give our honest opinion.”

Luis Toro, Director of Colorado Ethics Watch, answered questions yesterday via email regarding Worley’s complaint to the Independent Ethics Commission:

Was it ok ethics-wise for Hickenlooper himself to use the state plane to go to the race?

I believe it is pretty standard for governors to attend high-profile events like the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. In this case, the governor is lucky to be the governor of Colorado where events like that happen in places like Telluride and Durango. Undoubtedly it is one of the better parts of his job, but one that fits very comfortably into what governors are expected to do. There is actually a specific Fiscal Rule (11.6) regarding travel by the Governor that says “In the case of travel by the Governor, security, protocol, ceremonial functions, and time demands may require considerations not accorded any other State official or employee.”

What about bringing Gart?

It’s always fair to question whether some people get better access to the governor than others. Arguably it’s worse if only those who can afford a trip on the state plane can ride with the Governor. From the stand point of the use of public resources, which is the focus of this ethics inquiry, once the governor is taking the plane to an event, the incremental additional cost to the state of more passengers is likely very small – like the additional fuel cost from that much more weight on the plane. On the other hand, it’s obviously a big benefit to Mr. Gart to be able to travel to Telluride without having to buy a private plane ticket. It’s appropriate that he reimbursed the state for the value of the flight to him.

What about bringing his son on the plane?

It’s pretty much the same analysis as for Mr. Gart. It’s not as though the state is a private carrier looking to fill every seat with a ticketed passenger. If the child didn’t come along, the seat would likely have been empty, and the flight would likely have been slightly less expensive for the state, but we are talking very small amounts of money, maybe not even measurable. On the other hand, it’s obviously a great personal benefit for the governor to get some quality time with his son. It’s appropriate that he paid the state back for this.

Does it matter that Hickenlooper and Gart reimbursed the state for the airfare (Hick for his son)?

Of course it matters a great deal. The element of personal financial gain is essential to prove an ethics violation based on misuse of public funds, but if the money is paid back, there is no personal financial gain.

If reimbursement makes a difference, then why didn’t the IEC drop the complaint when Gessler reimbursed (at least partially) his office?

I’m the one who brought the partial repayment to the attention of the IEC and asked them for guidance. It was on May 21, 2013, seven months after we filed the complaint and just a little more than two weeks before the hearing. The Chair, Matt Smith, instructed Ethics Watch and Gessler’s attorneys to get together and see if we could reach an agreement that could be presented to the IEC for approval. That’s not unprecedented – we worked out a stipulation with the Public Trustees Association of Colorado after 32 of their members accepted a free hotel night in Black Hawk that was worth over the gift ban limit. The Trustees agreed to pay the full amount of the fine and the IEC approved the stipulation at a public hearing after making some changes. In this case, Gessler’s attorneys never offered to make the whole hearing go away, and our view was that if we were going to have a hearing, we might as well try the whole case. As it turned out, Gessler was found to have improperly used not only the $1,270 he paid back at the eleventh hour, but more money as well such as the end of year “reimbursement” to himself out of the discretionary fund. So our decision to go to the hearing was vindicated. From the IEC’s point of view, I certainly understand that it would be a bad precedent to allow a public official to spend tens of thousands of dollars of public money on legal fees, only to pay the money back after months of dragging out the process and avoid the fine of double the amount of improper personal gain that is set forth in the state constitution.

Does it make any difference, in terms of how serious the IEC should take this case, that it was filed by a radio host, who could be accused of using the EIC to promote his radio show?

It shouldn’t. The state constitution says “any person” can file a complaint “asking whether” an ethics violation has occurred. If a public official has violated ethics standards, why should it matter who filed the complaint? Personally, I welcome this filing because we at Ethics Watch are often criticized for not filing this or that hypothetical complaint, but none of our critics has ever put their money where their mouth is by actually filing a complaint themselves, which is their right under the state constitution.  For years, we have advocated a less adversarial process at the IEC, where the complaining party is not expected to put on a case like a prosecuting attorney. That would take the focus off the person who filed the complaint and on to what really matters, which is whether an ethics violation has occurred.

Anything else that you want to add?

I’m looking forward to seeing the process unfold. Assuming the Ethics Commission doesn’t simply dismiss the complaint as frivolous, will the Attorney General sign off on outside counsel for the Governor? Will the Governor run up a legal tab anywhere near the $122,000 Scott Gessler’s legal team billed to the state? Will he use public money to ask a court to declare Amendment 41 unconstitutional, as Secretary Gessler has done? It will be interesting to watch.


Talk radio interview fills out “gun kingpin’s” views on recall elections, as reported in The Denver Post

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels wrote a good blog post yesterday reminding us that “gun kingpin” Dudley Brown, who once opposed trying to recall lawmakers because of their votes on gun bills, is now buying ads in the recall election.

To fill out the story, I offer you Brown’s more expansive thoughts on recalls.

Here’s what he told KFKA talk show host Scooter McGee Feb. 19, at about the 11 minute point in the video.

Brown said lawmakers will be “up for re-election in 2014 anyway,” “it’s enormously expensive” to recall lawmakers, and he “might as well burn the dollars.”

SCOOTER McGEE:  All right.  Then having said that, Dudley, why are we not immediately demanding a recall of our politicians who are violating the Colorado Constitution when it comes to the unalienable right to keep and bear arms, whether it be for a tyrannical dictatorship, against each other, or hunting or sporting purposes?  Why is this madness –

DUDLEY BROWN:  Well, if you’re asking from the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners standpoint, why we aren’t asking for a recall, is because one state representative, who is going to be up for re-election in 2014 anyway, you have to go out and gather petition signatures.  And you have to gather them based on the number of votes that they received in the last election. It is a enormously expensive task.  And with all due respect, you don’t have that kind of money.  Neither does Rocky Mountain Gun Owners!  We don’t have that kind of money!  That would be inasmuch lying to people [inaudible] money for us to go out and make the effort to gather signatures of five or six or seven or eight Democrats in the statehouse.  That’s stupid! I might as well burn the dollars!

Full transcript and video here.

Blogger missed Morse’s confirmation that Morse was referring to violence as being a sickness

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Conservative blogger Ari Armstrong published a post Sunday with the headline: “Will Senator Morse clarify his remarks on gun owners having ‘sickness’ in their ‘souls’?”

This should be corrected because, in March, after Morse’s quote was being twisted by opponents, Morse did “confirm” his statement on the Colorado Senate Democrats’ YouTube page.

There, Morse confirmed the obvious, that, when he quoted Martin Luther King in a speech during the gun debate in the State Legislature, he was referring to violence in society as a “sickness in our souls.” He wasn’t referencing gun owners, he wrote.

Morse: I would like to thank you for taking the time to write me to confirm what I said during the gun debate.  The quote that is being circulated is absolutely inaccurate. The quote was from Robert F. Kennedy in a speech that he made the day after Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.  It says, “Violence breeds violence, repression breeds retaliation and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our souls.”  This quote was used in reference to the violence of our current society.  I have attached the link to the actual speech with the transcript below.  You will see that I never reference gun owners. In fact, I am a gun owner myself and deeply believe in protecting this right.  Again, thank you for your time and concern.

I criticized radio hosts John Caldara and Peter Boyles for spreading the misinformation that Morse said gun owners have a sickness in their souls, when in fact, Morse was referring to violence as a sickness in society.

As Armstrong points out, I did not quote Morse’s entire speech. I should have done this, so I’ve provided the entire text of Morse’s speech below.

Armstrong claims that Morse is insinuating that gun owners have a sickness in their souls, even though Morse is a gun owner.

Even if Morse didn’t own a gun, it would be senseless for him to make such a ridiculous accusation, given how many people in America own guns. The accusation against Morse defies both common sense and the words he used in his speech, such as: “This debate on reducing gun violence in this country needed to happen, and it finally is happening.”

Anyway, I think any fair-minded person would read the following text and conclude that Morse was not accusing gun owners of having a sickness in their souls. I’m sure Armstrong and I agree on this: You decide.

Text from President Morse’s speech on Friday, March 8.

Under current law in the United States, gun dealers and manufacturers are immune from liability even when they are negligent.  No other industry enjoys in the country this protection.  This immunity is the direct result of a powerful lobby, that ironically is subsidized by our own government and taxpayers through the military and police.  We have experienced the power of this lobby over the last three months.

In the wake of 6-year-old children being shot in the face, the gun lobby has actually argued we need more guns and managed to convince Coloradans that they will lose their guns if we impose even reasonable restrictions on firearms.  They have argued that the mental health system is broken and needs to be fixed, but have not introduced a single piece of legislation to address mental health either in Colorado or nationally.

Robert F. Kennedy, after MLK’s assassination, said:

“Violence breeds violence, repression breeds retaliation and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our souls.”

Cleansing a sickness from our souls does not come easily.  It is gruesome.  During the last three months we have experienced hatred and vitriol that I haven’t seen since I was on the street as a police officer.  This has included wishing rape, torture and death on legislators and their families.  It’s reached its heights just this week as we’ve been considering these bills in committee and we’ve been preparing to consider them today on the floor. Sickness.

Change has not ever come quickly in the United States and our system is designed to make sure it doesn’t.

We have made strides today, strides that will save lives.

Strides that stop bullets piercing more children’s bodies, strides that stop criminals from getting guns, strides that stop domestic abusers from killing their partners with a gun and strides that will stop massacres of 85 people including our children with a 100 round magazine.

This debate on reducing gun violence in this country needed to happen, and it finally is happening.

I am proud to be a Coloradan and proud to represent these Colorado values.  We proudly stand here today as Coloradoans who want the killing to stop and the cleansing to start.

Mr. Chairman, I withdraw my motion and move that SB 196 be laid over until May 10th.


Partisan political activity by Chieftain GM again raises questions about fairness of Chieftain’s coverage of Giron

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Back in March, Ray Stafford, the General Manager of the Pueblo Chieftain, fired off an email to Colorado State Sen. Angela Giron, telling her “not to vote for the current gun control legislation,” and also pointing out that he was the person “responsible for the entire newspaper, including the newsroom.”

Stafford never apologized for implying that he would direct the Chieftain’s news department to retaliate against Giron, if she didn’t fall in line against the gun-safety bills, even though his email could clearly be interpreted by a reasonable person as a threat.

In fact, Stafford angrily denied that there was any implied threat in his email, which was sent from his Chieftain email account. Chieftain assistant publisher Jane Rawlings also issued a denial of any wrongdoing, actual or perceived.

A few months later, on April 13, Stafford continued his personal (and undisclosed) political campaign against Giron by signing the Giron-recall petition. (See signature below.)

Will Stafford retaliate against Giron by directing Chieftain news staff to cover the recall in ways that are unfavorable to Giron? (unfavorable story selection or placement? bad headlines? unfair sourcing? etc.)

Stafford did not immediately return an email message seeking comment, but it’s not an unreasonable question.

After Stafford’s ill-advised email to Giron earlier this year, I’d think he’d be extra careful to be thoroughly transparent about his political activities, to ensure that Chieftain readers weren’t left with the impression that the newspaper was underhandedly opposing Giron in the recall election.

But I can’t find anything in the Chieftain saying Stafford personally favors the recall effort, much less the fact that he signed the recall petition personally.

Experts on journalism ethics criticized Stafford earlier this year for not being transparent about his controversial email to Giron.

Their criticism would obviously extend to Stafford’s latest salvo at Giron, launched when he signed the recall petition.

Even if you believe Stafford’s promise not to meddle in the Chieftain’s news coverage of Giron, you have to wonder why he isn’t more transparent about his partisanship.

The Society of Professional Journalism’s ethics code has this to say about the political involvement of “publishers,” which is comparable to the job Stafford holds at the Chieftain:

Skeptics of journalistic objectivity are quick to point out that some publishers and owners of news media outlets may not follow the rules they lay down for their employees. A few get more deeply involved, and they may contribute to candidates. Is this ethical? It’s at best a double standard, and a questionable practice. But at the very minimum there should be public disclosure — in their own media — when media magnates get politically involved in this way.

Especially given his record of undisclosed partisanship, Stafford should show his readers some basic respect by coming clean and apologizing for his behind-the-scenes attacks on Giron and stating his full opinion in the newspaper.

Media omission: Western Conservative Summit spotlights the face of the anti-abortion movement that’s rocked Colorado politics

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

If you want to see the faces of the people who support the uncompromising anti-abortion positions of politicians like Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, Rep. Mike Coffman, and Sen. Rick Santorum (who won the 2011 Republican presidential caucus in Colorado), stroll around the Western Conservative Summit, held this weekend in downtown Denver.

“Folks, you can sign a pro-life petition here!” Susan Sutherland, petition coordinator for a Personhood USA-backed campaign to put a fetal-homicide bill on the 2014 CO election ballot, told Summit attendees as they swarmed through the exhibit room Saturday morning.

”Quick signature to recognize an unborn baby as a person under Colorado law,” she said.

“Most of the people here are very agreeable,” Sutherland told me. “It beats being on the streets, and we do a lot of events.”

Most Summit attendees are eager to help, she said, but “a lot of people who come by [our table] say they’ve already signed the petition at church or at another event.” Sutherland added that it’s an issue these people care a lot about and do something about it.

By noon Saturday, Sutherland and her fellow activists got hundreds of signatures on their petition and handed out dozens of petitions for people to take home.

Called the Brady Amendment, after an unborn child killed by a drunk driver, Sutherland’s initiative aims to change the definition of “person” under Colorado law to include “unborn human beings.” This would enable law enforcement officials to bring charges, for example, against a drunk driver who recklessly hits a pregnant woman and ends her pregnancy.

A Colorado law passed this year does exactly this, but the Personhood-backed initiative would go further, likely giving broader legal status to fetuses at the earliest stages of human development.

The phrase “unborn baby” isn’t defined in the language of the initiative. The vague wording has led Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains to conclude that the effort is a “back door” effort to codify human life as beginning at conception , thus banning all abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest.

Sutherland, whose personhood movement has arguably had a greater impact on Colorado politics than any other single issue, told me her signature-gathering campaign is “very much on schedule,” compared to past personhood signature-gathering efforts, to turn in the required signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office by the end of September. They’re asking activists to return petition forms by Sept. 7.

“It is so grassroots,” Sutherland said. “We have thousands of petitions out throughout the state. The petitions flood in during the last two weeks. We’ll be doing a lot of scrambling.”

Talk-show host should ask El Paso election chief why he’s all excited about election-modernization provisions he once trashed

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Back in May, just before Colorado’s new election law was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams moaned in The Denver Post about how lousy the law’s expanded voting options would be, how dangerous and counter-productive.

“The proponents of this bill blatantly disregard your choice as an individual to choose how you exercise one of your most protected rights, and that is a problem,” Williams wrote, adding that the law is filled with “needless mandates.”  “If you, like me, love America’s sacred tradition of honest, fair, and transparent elections you should be scared,” he wrote.

But Williams sounded downright excited about the new voting options, required under the new law, when he spoke with KVOR talk-show host Richard Randall July 19.

Williams: “We absolutely want everyone who is legally entitled to vote to have that opportunity to do so.  And so, those [mail ballots] ballots go out. But then we’ll also have a series of voting service and polling centers.  That’s a new provision under the law.  And those are open beginning  – and yes, you’ll love this, — on Labor Day!

Randall: Oh, my gosh!  [laughs]

Williams: We’re going to have all four of our motor vehicle offices as the voter service polling centers.  That puts more than 99% of the voters in Senate District 11 within 10 minutes of a voting service and polling center.

Randall: Wow!

Williams: And they will be open from 8 to 5, Monday through Saturday, and then the Monday and Tuesday of the election, and actually on the Election Day itself, they will be open 7 to 7.  So, we are going to provide a lot of opportunities for folks to come in and vote in person.  So, if you get your mail ballot, you don’t like to vote by mail, you still have that opportunity to vote in person.  If you want to vote it by mail you can mail it back in, you can drop it off at any of our four offices.  And we’re actually going to have for the first time, 24 hour drop off at all four of our offices….

We will then continue to send mail ballots up until deadlines are reached.  And at that point, folks will need to register in the office, or come into one of the voter service and polling centers for that — those eight days of voting,  that Monday through Saturday and that Monday /Tuesday.  And they can register to vote and get a ballot at the same time. [Editor’s note: This type of quick-and-easy voter registration, referred to as “same-day registration,” was a provision of the election-modernization bill.]

Randall: Yeah, and I’m a procrastinator.  I do not want to encourage people to do this, but I know that part of that procrastination for me and a lot of other people is just that we’ve got very, very busy, hectic days and lives.  If somebody were in a situation where it was within those eight days, am I right to assume that they could actually show up at the office and say, “Look, I need to register,” and then I can go ahead and vote after I do that?

Williams: Absolutely.

I give a lot of credit to Williams for accepting Colorado’s expanded voter conveniences, and being so excited about them!

But I wish Randall had asked Williams if he’s had a change of heart about the new voting law since he trashed it a few months ago, or if Williams is just putting on a happy face.

Chieftain does a good job expaining dispute over salaries of Dept. of Corrections employees

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

The Pueblo Chieftain published a good article this morning making sense of an exchange of salvos between Republicans on one side and Democrats and state employees on the other. The Chieftain reported:

[A] July 19 letter, signed by all 17 Senate Republicans, says the state’s latest salary plan — due to be finalized Aug. 1 — wrongly implies that state [Department of Corrections] workers are underpaid and fails to point out they receive 33 percent more money than private prison workers.

The letter notes a recent study showing state prison employees average $51,357 a year while private prison staffers average $34,500. It also says DOC employees have other benefits, such as retirement, overtime and access to government vehicles.

The article, written by Peter Roper, is mostly behind the pay wall on the Chieftain’s website. It goes on to explain that Republican signees of the letter asked that the benefits of DOC workers be added to their average pay in the state salary plan. But Sen. Larry Crowder is quoted as saying that a pay cut for DOC workers based on this information might apply to future hires, not current employees.

The Chieftain reported that this year State Sen. Angela Giron pushed through a bill, which was opposed by most Republicans, granting overtime pay to DOC workers.  Giron was quoted as saying:

“As we’ve tragically seen, these officers put their lives on the line in our prisons,” she said Wednesday. “I don’t know why the Senate Republicans want them working for lower pay.”

Radio host should invite Brophy back on the show to explain how his family photo squares with proper gun-handling techniques

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

CORRECTION: The “metrosexual liberals” quote was originally attributed to Sen. Brophy, when it was in fact stated by the KNUS host Kirsta Kafer.


Last week, ColoradoPols posted a publicity photo of Sen. Greg Brophy and his family, all brandishing big guns.

The Pols post caught the attention of Brophy, who commented on KNUS’ Backbone radio over the weekend:

Brophy: And then those goofs – you know, those lefty goofs over at ColoradoPols — pitched a fit oh, sometime this past week, over a family photo that we have from back in 2011, where every member of the [sneezes] – excuse me, out in the country, — every member of the family is holding [whispers] a scary black gun, a scary black gun.  And it’s a beautiful photo, and we had a great time.  We shot hundreds of photos that day, right after Christmas when we had the whole family together for the first time in ages.

And they had to make a big deal out of it, you know.  And, you know, my guys, [inaudible] wanted to clean some of that up, and I said, “No.  You know what?  Firearms are part of the culture of rural Colorado. It’s a part of the culture of my family, and if you follow me on Twitter, which is @SenatorBrophy, or on Facebook – Greg Brophy.  You know, we’re out at the farm right now today.  My brother happened to come down for a family reunion, and guess what we’re doing.

Brophy told the Backbone audience that he was proud of the photo and even promoted it on social media after Pols posted it.

Host Krista Kafer responded: “I looked at that photo, and my first thought was, “It’s kind of like a family ‘Charlie’s Angels’, you know?”  Because you have all the guns at different levels, or different kind of pointing – no gun is pointing at a human being, but they’re all pointing in different directions.  And then I had this vision of these Metro-sexual liberals in Denver looking at that photo and being horrified. And being like, “Oh no!  He’s got guns!” [BigMedia emphasis]

I have to say, Brophy’s family looks nice, even with the firearms, but there’s a big problem here: Kafer is wrong about the guns not “pointing at a human being.”

I guess the fact that I’m an aspiring metrosexual gives me the ability to see that the girl on the left is almost certainly pointing his gun at the leg of the boy next to him.  (H/T to Pols commenter Ross Cunniff, who pointed this out on Pols.)

This is one reason I’m scared of guns and proud of it. Accidents happen, even when pros like Brophy or Dick Cheney are in charge.

Brophy hands out the guns to his family, and he has no clue that one of his kids is pointing a big black gun at the other one–or if not at him, way too close for comfort. Yes, it could happen.

Brophy’s daughter could have shot his son.

Yet, on the radio, Brophy said: “You treat guns like they’re loaded all the time…. the reality is, that those of us who have grown up handling firearms – you know you treat them all like they’re loaded, whether they are or they aren’t.”

Brophy: And we have a lot of fun doing [the photo].  I’ve got[ten] a lot of response.  You know.   I’m just going to punch back, because – you know, I am what I am, and I’m proud of who I am and I’m proud of where I come from.  And so I actually re-shared that photo on Facebook again yesterday and it just exploded!  I mean, people were just sharing it all over the place and commenting about it all over the place.  And, you know, it’s—the hard core Left can want to take away everybody’s guns and think that guns are demonic.

Backbone Radio host Krista Kafer, who interviewed Brophy, owes it to her listeners to get Brophy back on the show and ask him about how his family photo could possibly demonstrate the proper safety rules for guns that Brophy told her he lives by. It’s a serious question.

Incidentally, don’t you think Brophy is a bit of an aspiring Metro-sexual himself? He’s even moved temporarily to Denver. Kafer should ask him if he thinks there’s any chance he’ll be giving up his guns as soon as the Capitol Hill, Metro-sexual culture seeps into him.

Immigration reform without citizenship: A hole for immigrants vs. a path of opportunity

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Mostly lost in the media coverage of the immigration-reform bill is what life would look like for undocumented immigrants if America doesn’t offer them a path to citizenship.

Republicans like Rep. Cory Gardner of Ft. Collins, who oppose giving undocumented immigrants tangible hope of becoming U.S. citizens, should be asked to explain how their version of immigration-reform comports with the basic American image of itself as a place of opportunity for hard-working people who’ve powered our country from the get-go.

Gardner told The Denver Post’s Allison Sherry Tuesday:

“We have to focus on border security first and enforcement of the law, and then we can move onto questions about citizenship. There is no bill right now, so let’s start with the border and then go from there.”

So Gardner wants to create a hole in our country, as opposed to a path, that would hold millions in fear of deportation or, at best, like indentured servants of yesteryear.

Is this what American opportunity looks like for Gardner? Sit tight in your hole; maybe we’ll get back to you?

What does he have to say to President Obama, who told Telemundo Denver last week that immigration reform without an opportunity for citizenship would create a country of “full citizens and people who are assigned to a lower status.” This isn’t “who we are as Americans,” he said.

Journalists who are writing about people like Gardner should flip their perspective and also report that, de facto, GOP opponents of immigration reform favor the creation of an underclass of American workers.

We all know that Gardner’s quest for air-tight border security could be endless.

If so, what is the GOP vision of America with a class of people who are fundamentally unequal to the rest of us–and lack the opportunity that’s at the foundation of our country.  Let’s hear more from reporters about that.

A version of this op-ed was distributed by the Other Words syndicate.


Media omission: Who called Bernie? And are they ok with his position on TABOR?

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Update 7/24: Self-described “GOP Rabble-Rouser” Dave Williams of Colorado Springs tweeted, in response to the question of who recruited Herpin: @BigMediaBlog Bernie was personally asked by EPCGOP Chair Jeff Hays. Hays told a crowd of about 20 precinct leaders that he made that call.




In her Facebook post, first reported by ColoradoPols yesterday, explaining why she dropped her campaign to run in a recall election against Sen. John Morse, Jaxine Bubis cited pressure from “high-ranking legislators” and “the Party.” She said she was sorry for caving.

Ironically, just a couple days before Bubis’ apology yesterday, her Republican opponent, Bernie Herpin, was on the Jeff Crank show bragging about how the Republican muckety-mucks were essentially begging him to run against Morse, even after Bubis was in the race.

Herpin was happily in California, he said, with his wife and grandkids. He was slowing down, even took the train out to the Golden State.

Then, Herpin responded to a phone call:

Herpin: “…I get a call from a person I know and respect saying, Bernie, we need you. I came back into town, met with the Republican leadership and some folks. This issue was too important for me to say no and sit on the sidelines.”

Herpin on the KVOR Crank Show July 20 2013

Who called Bernie? Crank didn’t ask, but I’m sure a lot of people would like to know.

But the internal party politics here can distract from issues near and dear to the GOP heart, and TABOR is certainly close to the left Republican ventricle, including, you’d think, the left ventricle of GOP stalwart Jeff Crank, who sat down with Bubis “over a glass of iced tea” and pressured her to get out of the Morse race.

So I was surprised that Crank, who told listeners he’s a “long-time friend” of Herpin’s, Crank said nothing when Herpin told him “there are some issues with TABOR that even folks who support TABOR will stand up and say, like the ratchet-down effect, those kinds of things, but TABOR has helped Colorado survive.”

So maybe there’s more that divides Republicans in El Paso County than just gossipy details like the name of the person who phoned Herpin, after he’d “hopped the train” to California, and told him how much the Republican Party needed him back in the Springs.

Herpin on the KVOR Crank Show July 20 2013

Follow Jason Salzman on Twitter @bigmediablog