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

August 26th, 2014

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

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

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

Media omission: State Senate candidate Sanchez accuses Kerr of narcissism and abuse

August 22nd, 2014

About a week after State Rep. Chris Holbert alleged that Gov. John Hickenlooper “treats us like his abused spouse,” State Senate candidate Tony Sanchez said people “feel like they’ve been in an abuse relationship” with lawmakers like Obama and Sanchez’s Democratic opponent Andy Kerr, both of whom Sanchez called “narcissists.”

Even within the mean-world politics that surrounds us, it should be news when one candidate accuses his opponent of narcissism and abuse.

Sanchez did not return my call yesterday asking to discuss the comments, which were made Aug. 12 on KLZ 560-AM’s nooner show Freedom560, and to explain why he thinks the extreme accusations of narcissism and abuse are warranted.

Sanchez: “If we keep talking about those that should not be named, we empower them, their narcissism. We don’t want any more narcissists, whether it’s Obama, whether it’s Andy Kerr. We want people who are there to listen to us and understand that we matter. That’s what people are feeling, like they don’t matter. They feel like they’ve been in an abuse relationship and that we’ve enabled that abuse relationship. Here I am saying, people matter. We matter. And that’s exactly where we need to be going, I think.”

By saying, “we’ve enabled that abuse,” Sanchez shows he agrees with the characterization.

In June, Sanchez prevailed in the GOP primary over attorney Mario Nicolais, in a race marked by comparable extremism, unaddressed by Sanchez.

For example, in one flyer produced by Colorado Campaign for Life, Nicolais was pictured next to Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia doctor convicted of murdering babies, above the caption: “Kermit Gosnell and his ‘House of Horrors’ abortion mill operated in secrecy for 17 years before his murderous crimes became infamous. Ask Mario why he won’t publicly defend the unborn? Call Mario…”
A similar flyer targeting GOP state senate candidate Lang Sais was first embraced by Sais’ opponent, Laura Woods, then denounced by Woods, who reportedly wrote that she had “more respect for my opponent than what was implied” in the Gosnell comparison.

But I can’t find any record of Sanchez denouncing the Gosnell flyer targeting Nicolais.

Listen to Sanchez on KLZ Freedom560 8.12.14

See the Colorado Campaign for Life 2014 GOP Primary Mailer Targeting Mario Sanchez Opponent Mario Nicolais.

Stapleton cry of biased judges goes unchallenged on KLZ radio

August 21st, 2014

Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton took to the airwaves of KLZ 560-AM yesterday to raise the specter of judicial bias in Monday’s Colorado Supreme Court decision not to release records on the top PERA recipients.

Speaking on KLZ’s nooner show, Freedom560, hosted by Ken Clark, Stapleton said:

“It’s worth pointing out, call me a cynic, that every single member of the judicial branch is also a member of PERA. And that means that every single judge that heard my case had a vested economic interest in doing nothing about the problem, in maintaining the status quo, in feeling that their pension would be somehow released to me and not wanting that to be the case. I mean it’s mind-boggling to think our judicial branch is aiding and abetting a lack of transparency. It really is.”

Commenting via Twitter on Stapleton’s remark, Luis Toro, Director of Colorado Ethics Watch, wrote dryly: “Shocking admission that the point of his suit is to undermine PERA. If his suit was to strengthen PERA, the ‘vested interest’ would be to support him, wouldn’t it?”

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/stapleton-cites-possible-judicial-bias-in-his-pera-lawsuit

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

August 20th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So does anyone detect a hole in the reporting here?

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

Reporters failed to correct Coffman’s assertion that the House passed immigration bills

August 19th, 2014

CORRECTION: At least two immigration-related bills cleared the GOP-controlled U.S. House this session, so I erred below in writing that none did. One responded to the crisis created by the young migrants crossing the border. It would have boosted border security, legal processing, and support. Another would have provided more visas for immigrant students with math and science skills and reduced the number of visas for other immigrants. I discussed this bill here. Sorry for the mistake.
—————–

It’s tough to fact-check an entire debate, if you’re an increasingly lonely reporter at a shrinking news outlet, but a journalist somewhere should have corrected Rep. Mike Coffman’s assertion, in his debate last week against Democrat Andrew Romanoff, that immigration bills cleared the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

In explaining his opposition to a bipartisan immigration bill passed by the U.S. Senate, Coffman said (@21:45):

“I think both parties have it wrong right now. I think on the left it’s, unless we get everything, then nothing will move. And in fact, individual bills have moved over to the Senate. And Harry Reid would not take it up because it was not quote-unquote comprehensive. And then on my side of the aisle, you know, we’ve got to get moving. And I’ve worked with my folks on the Republican side to get them moving. And so I think there’s got to be a middle path. And that middle path is a step-by-step approach.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Coffman would have had a complete and total brain freeze if he’d tried to remember how he voted on these immigration “bills,” because they don’t exist.

He’d have been wrong even if he’d said a singular immigration bill cleared the U.S. House. But he said “bills” plural, multiplying his apparent mistake.

A phone call to Coffman’s spokesman, Tyler Sandberg, seeking clarification was not immediately returned.

So we’re forced to speculate that possibly Coffman was referring to a bill that would have stopped undocumented immigrants from accessing the child tax credit. But no reasonable person would call this immigration reform.

And Coffman opposed the bill that would have overturned President Obama’s order allowing young undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation. So presumably, Coffman wouldn’t want Sen. Reid to push this bill through the Senate.

Coffman himself made a big deal a year ago about supporting “comprehensive” immigration reform, but now he’s calling for a step-by-step approach. But he has yet to define, in any meaningful and specific way, the legislation or steps he supports to reform immigration.

Romanoff, who supports the Senate immigration bill, said as much during the debate, when he pointed out that Coffman’s “step-by-step” won’t work if steps aren’t taken.

The Senate took a big bi-partisan step. Coffman says the House has taken steps too. What are they? And if I’m right and they don’t exist, what should the steps be, Mike? What steps were you imagining?

Fact check: Gardner demanded defunding Obamacare to avoid government shutdown

August 18th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media omission: Holbert stands behind statement likening Hick actions to spousal abuse

August 13th, 2014

In a Facebook posting yesterday, state Republican Rep. Chris Holbert wrote that Gov. John Hickenlooper “treats us like we are his abused spouse.”

In explaining why he’d vote for gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, Holbert wrote in response to a Facebook post of one of Holbert’s Facebook friends:

Because Hickenlooper treats us like we are his abused spouse. He smiles and tells us that things will be better, signs bills into law that trample on the freedom and prosperity of the People, apologizes, becomes angry when we don’t forget, swears at us, then promises to abuse us again.

Don’t put Hickenlooper back in office for another four years. That ONE person can cancel out anything that a Republican Senate might accomplish. Don’t allow ONE Governor to cancel out 18 or more Senators who would work to repeal eight years of Democrat control.

Reached by phone this afternoon, Holbert stood behind the comments.

Asked if he thought his comparison to spousal abuse could be offensive to actual abused spouses and others concerned about domestic violence, Holbert said:

Holbert: “I think there are various kinds of abuse, and what I am pointing to is verbal. I’m not comparing it to physical abuse. People would have greater respect for the governor if he would have one story and stick to it.”

“He tells us one thing and tells his supporters another thing,” Holbert said, explaining his Facebook post further. “He suggested to the sheriffs that he didn’t talk to Bloomberg and records show he did. He apologized for signing bills that he claims he didn’t understand were so controversial. And then he talked to Eli Stokols, I believe, and says he’d sign the bills again. So which doe he mean? I feel that’s abusive to the people of Colorado who look to him for leadership.”

Media omission: Beauprez threatens to sue feds if immigration laws not enforced

August 13th, 2014

Speaking on a Denver radio show yesterday, gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez threatened to sue the federal government if it doesn’t enforce the nation’s immigration laws.

Asked by KNUS host Steve Kelley whether he’d “build a coalition with the Jan Brewers and the Rick Perrys” and “put this state on the line if it requires a lawsuit” to enforce immigration laws, Beauprez replied, unequivocally, “yes.”

Beauprez, who’s facing Democrat John Hickenlooper, added that he’d sue the federal government on other issues as well, such as federal lands.

Beauprez said he’d seek a “coalition” of governors to demand that the “federal government, one, enforce the laws, in this case secure the borders, modernize legal immigration so people can get an answer and so that we can enforce employment laws in Colorado and in America, and that we know who’s here, that they’re legally here and what they are doing here; that’s why you have rule of law.”

Listen to Beauprez on KNUS Kelley and Company 08-12-14

Beuprez stated last month that states should enforce federal immigration law themselves, in the absence of federal action, “as Jan Brewer tried to do in Arizona.”

He later told the Colorado Statesman that his point wasn’t “as much about Jan Brewer’s policy as much as Jan Brewer standing up for her citizens and saying if the federal government’s not going to protect them, somebody needs to.”

He did not directly denounce an Arizona law, signed by Brewer and later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, that allowed Arizona police to detain any person suspected of being an undocumented immigrant.

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

August 12th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?