MIA KXL: Udall and Bennet ‘Noticeably Absent’ from Letter Urging Obama to Approve Keystone

According to a Wall Street Journal article, 11 Democratic Senators have sent President Obama a letter urging him to approve the construction of the Keystone pipeline, an issue that most Republicans (and Coloradans, for that matter) support. Contained in the letter is a deadline for Obama to make a decision – by the end of May.  Tick-tock, tick-tock.

While embattled Senators like Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Warner of Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska all signed on to the letter, our fair Democratic Senators from Colorado, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, felt no need.  The Journal‘s commentary on Udall and Bennet:

Notably absent from the letter are Colorado’s two Democratic senators: Mark Udall, who is up for reelection this year, and Michael Bennet, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and voted yes on a symbolic measure last year that was supportive of the project (though it didn’t technically force approval). A spokesman for Mr. Bennet’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment, and Mr. Udall’s spokesman reiterated that he supports the administration’s process.

Udall is in a tough spot on this one.  Polling found that votes are less likely to back Udall if Keystone is rejected; however, Udall is BFF with Tom Steyer, one of Keystone’s largest opponents and potentially major funder of his campaign.  While families in Colorado support this measure, it looks like Udall is supporting Steyer.


GRAND SLAM: Gardner Q1 Fundraising Knocks it Outta the Park

Tis that time of the year when candidates begin announcing their quarterly fundraising totals, and all eyes are on the U.S. Senate race.  Everyone knows that sitting Sen. Mark Udall would be able to raise big bucks.  Such is the advantage of incumbency.  The question was how much money would challenger Rep. Cory Gardner bring to the table?  Until now the GOP Senate hopefuls had suffered from lackluster fundraising.  Would Gardner be able to give Udall a run for his money? 

With the announcement of Gardner’s $1.4 million fundraising haul, the answer is a decisive hell yeah!  From Gardner’s campaign:

In March alone, his first month in the race against 16 year incumbent Mark Udall, Gardner raised $1.24 million. Gardner raised $1.4 million during the entire first quarter of 2014.

Yes Peak Nation, you read that correctly.  Gardner raised $1.24 million of that in the four weeks following his entrance into the race.  The outpouring of support shows just how hungry Colorado is for real leadership.  In total, Gardner has $2.1 million cash on hand.

Overall, $1.4 million is exactly where Gardner needs to be.  At the end of the day, he doesn’t need to outraise Udall, and no one expects him to.  He just needs to raise enough money to stay competitive and fund a statewide campaign infrastructure.  After all, outside money is ultimately going to dominate the paid media effort.

What Gardner’s Q1 numbers prove is that his fundraising machine can hold its own against Team Udall and that the buzz surrounding his decision to run wasn’t for naught.  It won’t be long before Udall starts to feel like maybe his heart is not really in it this time around, and he’d rather spend his free time hiking.


HARD PRESSED: Hickenlooper Administration Wilting under Tough Questions

Does liberal Governor John Hickenlooper have toddlers working for him?  That’s the sense one gets when a spokesman for Hickenlooper would rather walk away from a question then actually answer something that might be pertinent to the people of Colorado.

In the first of multiple disturbing stories about Hick’s administration in The Denver Post today, it’s revealed the Colorado Department of Human Services has been abusing a waiver system to hire out-of-staters for jobs specifically meant for Coloradans.  The most blatant of the violations?  Giving a no-bid contract to get an out-of-state worker here, then hiring her as the contract expired saying she was now a Coloradan:

CDHS gave Nikki Hatch, who served under Bicha in Wisconsin as the director of performance and quality assurance, a $72,000, no-bid contract for which she moved into the state, thereby gaining residency.

Eighteen days later, after signing the contract for Hatch to conduct an analysis of strategic outcomes and data, CDHS posted an opening for a deputy director of operations and chief of staff, which noted it was only open to Colorado residents.

In July, a month before the contract was to be completed, Hatch was hired for the position at $138,000 a year under a Senior Executive Services contract. [the Peak emphasis]

It’s obvious that Hickenlooper and his cronies know how bad this looks because they threw up so many road blocks to prevent stories like these from coming out.

“From what I have gathered, very recently our residency waivers have come under scrutiny through a CORA request so (DPA is) going to be more selective on approving these,” wrote CDHS human resources staffer Daryn Ridenour in a March 6 e-mail.

Shouldn’t they have been selective with the waivers the entire time?  You must be doing something wrong if you change your behavior only when you know someone is now watching you.

The obfuscation was so bad on this issue, The Post wrote a second article just on the hoops they had to jump through to get this information:

While touting transparency, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s staff delayed access to state appointment records and asked for hundreds of dollars to provide additional documentation of the people who moved from protected to at-will positions.

When asked about the tactics, Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown said the requests were not relevant to the state employment system.

When The Post pressed on the lack of transparency, Brown walked away from the discussion. [the Peak emphasis]

This isn’t the first time that the Hickenlooper administration has acted like a child when pressed by the media.  He threatened to cut off media access to 9News and Jace Larson for asking about Hick’s connection to Evan Ebel, the former inmate who murdered the state’s corrections chief, Tom Clements.

Nonetheless, it’s refreshing to see The Denver Post isn’t going to be bullied by Hickenlooper’s administration that has skated too long on his “I’m just a drunk bartender” story.  And it looks like Colorado has a new Kyle Clark in Arthur Kane, a man who isn’t afraid to ask tough questions.


SHOCKING REVELATION: Impossible to Buy Private Insurance until November

In another major unintended consequence of Obamacare, not only are people unable to buy health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges now that the enrollment deadline has passed*, but the possibility of buying health insurance through a private carrier also won’t be possible until November.

For a law designed to insure the uninsured, making it impossible to buy health insurance for a majority of the year seems quite stupid.  Before Obamacare, if you wanted to buy health insurance any time of the year, you could.  Now?  Private insurers will follow the enrollment period of Obamacare, which only lasts for a couple of months every year.  As The Denver Post reports:

[I]nsurers are refusing to sell to individuals after the enrollment period for HealthCare.gov and the state marketplaces. They will lock out the young and healthy as well as the sick or injured. Those who want to switch plans also are affected. The next wide-open chance to enroll comes in November for coverage in 2015.

It’s a little-noted consequence of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, which requires nearly all Americans to be insured or pay a fine and requires insurers to accept people with health problems.

I have people that can buy insurance, but the companies shut them down. They won’t take the applications,” insurance broker Steve Bobiak of Frackville, Pa., said. “We’re a free country. You should be able to buy anything anytime you want.” [the Peak emphasis]

PeakNation™, we’ll be honest with you, with everything that has come out about Obamacare, we thought there was nothing left about it that could shock us.  We were wrong.  Now, even if you had the desire and the money to buy insurance—which, let us remind you once again, was the entire point of the law—you will be unable to until November.

You can’t keep your plan, you can’t keep your doctor, you can’t buy health insurance even if you wanted to.  This bill is a monstrosity that should never have happened in the first place.  Knowing what we know now, how Senator Mark Udall has the audacity to say he’d vote for it again, we have no idea.

What about Sen. Michael Bennett, would he vote for it again?  Because Obamacare appears to be lingering worse than a stale fart and will still be an issue in 2016.

*Well, no one really knows for sure, Obama may have changed his mind this morning


BIG SPENDER: Hick’s Employment Overhaul More Like Spending Spree

Ooops! Another Hicken-Blooper!

The Denver Post dropped a bomb on liberal Governor John Hickenlooper this morning.  Remember that employee overhaul that we all voted on that he promised wouldn’t cost Colorado taxpayers money?  Yeah, not surprisingly, it actually costs taxpayers money – tens of millions, in fact. The bait and switch happened on Amendment S, which allows the Governor to staff up quickly to more “effectively” implement the policies that he’s charged with implementing.  Hindsight being 20/20, of course that would translate into a bloated bureaucracy.

While the blue book that accompanied the voting suggested that the financial impact would be minimal, The Denver Post‘s analysis found the reality to be far different:

However, new hiring and moving worker positions from rank-and-file to at-will, while also increasing rank-and-file levels, resulted in a net increase of more than 300 at-will employees — who serve at the pleasure of their bosses and don’t receive traditional state worker protections — in executive branch employees between November 2012 and January of this year, The Post’s analysis found….

…The increase for at-will executive branch salaries jumped more than 91 percent over total at-will salaries in 2012 — from $31.4 million to $59.5 million — for the period.

The natural question is who will pay for all of these salaries.  This analysis also brings up an important point – Hick is batting zero for two on the amendments.  He backed this in 2012 and, then, Amendment 66 – the billion dollar tax increase – in 2013.  Can Colorado afford another term of Hick’s hikes?


DEVOID OF CONTEXT: Udall Staff’s Defense Shows Absurdity of the Very Statistic They Love to Cite

Sen. Udall gives thumbs up for equal pay unless he actually has to comply himself

Guess what PeakNation™, we must have struck a nerve.  We haven’t seen this much dancing since seeing a cat tossed on a hot tin roof.  Literal references aside, the hypocrisy of liberal Senator Mark Udall was on full display yesterday.  Lynn Bartels of The Denver Post was all over it:

Udall told supporters in an e-mail that in Colorado “a working woman makes 78 cents for every dollar a male makes.” He said it’s time women earn equal pay for equal work [the Peak emphasis]

We, along with many other outlets, showed just how completely absurd this “78 cents” statistic is the other day.  Basically, they took every full-time female worker in Colorado, regardless of job, industry, education, work hours, experience, job tenure, and averaged their salaries.  They did likewise with every full-time male worker in Colorado.  They then compared those two very basic numbers.

Well, we thought, if that method is good enough for Udall to cite repeatedly, then it’s good enough for us to judge his staff by.  So when we looked at the last available pay period and compared all the salaries for Udall’s staffers who were with him for the entire pay period, we see that on average his female staffers make only about 84 cents to every dollar his male staffers earn.

This is how his campaign responded when confronted with this:

Udall’s campaign spokesman, Chris Harris, noted five of the senator’s BLAH BLAH BLAH, are women. His BLAH BLAH BLAH in Colorado — the state BLAH — is a woman. And the BLAH of Sen. Udall’s staff, top to BLAH, are women. And Harris said, men and women working the same BLAH receive the same BLAH.

“Mark believes that if two people with the same BLAH do the same BLAH, they should get paid BLAH,” Harris said. “He ensures the Senate office meets that standard by BLAH BLAH BLAH.” [some the Peak edits]

You know what those “BLAHs” in the above blurb are replacing?  Context.  The exact thing Udall leaves out every time he cites 78 cents.  If he won’t use context for the rest of Colorado’s labor market, why does he feel entitled to context to justify paying his own female staffers 84 cents to every male dollar?  President Obama had this to say to his critics yesterday:

“They say it’s a myth. But it’s not a myth. It’s math.”

See Senator, it’s the exact same with you: it’s math that says you pay 84 cents to your female staff.  Don’t like it?  Then don’t use the same tactic.


OY VEY: Obamacare Causes Spike in Small Group Premiums, Colorado’s Increase 29%

News about the disastrous implementation of Obamacare has become so widespread that, to be honest, we’re having a hard time keeping up with all of it.  We’ve written extensively about the canceled plans that failed to meet Obamacare coverage requirements, and we’ve written about how Sen. Mark Udall tried to cover it all up.  

Now, we’re seeing reports that if you weren’t one of the unlucky souls whose small group plan was cancelled because of Obamacare, your premiums have likely increased by 29 percent instead.  Colorado is among the top ten states seeing the biggest increases in health insurance premiums for small group plans, according to a new survey of brokers who sell to that market.  Forbes reports:

The April survey shows the largest acceleration in small and individual group rates in any of the 12 prior quarterly periods when it has been conducted….

…The analysts conducting the survey attribute the rate increases largely to a combination of four factors set in motion by Obamacare:  Commercial underwriting restrictions, the age bands that don’t allow insurers to vary premiums between young and old beneficiaries based on the actual costs of providing the coverage, the new excise taxes being levied on insurance plans, and new benefit designs.

Democrats will no doubt point their fingers at insurance companies over rate increases, but they will only have themselves to blame.  After all, when you let those very same insurance companies write the overhaul of your healthcare system behind closed doors, what else can you expect?


CHEAP TALK: Coffman and Gardner Show Dems What Equal Pay for Equal Work Looks Like

To piggy-back off of our post last night in which we exposed the hypocrisy of liberal U.S. Senator Mark Udall’s call for equal pay for equal work despite the females on his staff only making $0.84 for every dollar one of his male staffers earn.

We’ve expanded our research to include this year’s most competitive races in Colorado.

In the Republican Rep. Cory Gardner versus liberal Udall match up, when we look at Gardner’s most recently reported salaries for non-shared workers who were with him for the entire pay period, we see female staffers who work with Gardner earn an average of $1.04 to every dollar that a Gardner male staffer makes. That’s nearly 25% more than Udall pays his female staffers compared to his male staffers.  The absurdity of a man who “fights” for equal pay, but can’t pay his own female staffers a fair wage is off the charts.

Even more impressive are the numbers that come from Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, who is in the closest House race across the nation.   When we here at the Peak crunched his female staff salaries, they are making an incredible $1.12 for every one dollar Coffman male staffers are making.  Perhaps if Udall and his fellow Democrats focused on treating their own employees equally first, then we wouldn’t have to legislate a solution.  It shouldn’t be that hard, as two of Colorado’s top Republicans show how easy it is to do.

But, Democrats can’t resist the siren song of the equal pay gender politics.  Just today, Minority Leader Bill Cadman tried to tack on an amendment that the resolution include Udall and President Obama (both of whom pay women less) to the Democrats’ equal pay resolution political stunt in the state Senate.  This should have received a resounding “yes”, but, instead Dems laid the bill over until Friday (when nobody would pay attention).  Revealing Politics caught it all on video.

But cheer up Udall, at least you weren’t the worst offender the Colorado Congressional Delegation in terms of paying your female staffers for all their hard work; that award belongs to Rep. Jared Polis who, on average, pays his female staffers a measly $0.65 to every dollar that his male staffers make.  Equal pay for equal work should start with leadership.


CUTTING CRITIQUE: Peggy Noonan Illustrates Why Udall and Romanoff Are Unfit to Represent

The eloquence of Peggy Noonan is rarely matched in politics today, and her most recent column on Obamacare is no different.  She thoroughly details what was promised by Obamacare—like your plan, keep it; will reduce the deficit; that the law that was passed has been changed substantively 30 times— and the ever-increasing downward trajectory the law has taken.  Through this she dismantles the argument most vulnerable Democrats are making to defend Obamacare now:

Finally, the program’s supporters have gone on quite a rhetorical journey, from “This is an excellent bill, and opponents hate the needy” to “People will love it once they have it” to “We may need some changes” to “I’ve co-sponsored a bill to make needed alternations”

She wasn’t talking specifically about Colorado’s most liberal Senator, Mark Udall, or embattled CD6 liberal candidate Andrew Romanoff, but the narrative fits them to a ‘T’.  Yet, the most devastating part of the article is when Noonan compares the Obamacare quagmire to the Iraq war quagmire.  She makes one important distinction: at least those who voted for the Iraq war had the decency to admit their mistake and would not vote for it again, if they knew then what they knew later.

I will never forget a conversation in 2006 or thereabouts with a passionate and eloquent supporter of the decision to go into Iraq. We had been having this conversation for years, he a stalwart who would highlight every optimistic sign, every good glimmering. He argued always for the rightness of the administration’s decision. I would share my disquiet, my doubts, finally my skepticism. One night over dinner I asked him, in passing, “If we had it to do over again, should we have gone in? would you support it?” [sic]

And he said, “Of course not!”

If only Colorado had a Senator with such decency.  Just last week Udall said, despite knowing everything he knows now, he’d still vote for Obamacare.  And, earlier this year, Romanoff doubled down and said he’d still support it.  Then again, we can’t get a straight answer on this one from him – he’s all over the map.

Colorado deserves better.


PEAKFEED: Democrat State Rep. Ginal Says Fracking Study is Political

When the Colorado State House debated a bill to conduct a study on fracking, Republican Rep. Lois Landgraf asked the bill’s sponsor Democrat Rep. Joann Ginal whether the study would be scientific or political.  Rep. Ginal, a scientist herself, offered a, ahem, revealing answer and Revealing Politics was there to catch it on camera:

From the video:

Landgraf: “The bill’s sponsor has said that this is not biased, yet on lines 9 and 10 on page 5, we’re having four people out of six from one party and two people out of six from the minority party. And, if that does not speak to bias, I’m not sure what does.”

Landgraf (later): “I’d still like an answer to why this is, in my opinion, very political.”

Ginal: “Yeah, it’s political.  I mean it… the Governor is you know… choosing some people… but what we’re trying to do as far as the majority and minority is let everyone have a chance at choosing someone.”

Ooops, we bet she wishes she could take that all back.

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