HICK OFF THE HOOK: Hey IEC, Your Liberal Biases Are Showing

Today, the Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) dismissed Compass Colorado’s ethics complaint against liberal Governor John Hickenlooper.  The complaint alleged that Hickenlooper used state staff to plan a Democratic Governors Association (DGA) fundraiser and for accepting gifts in excess of the amount allowed by Colorado’s Amendment 41.

The vote to dismiss was four to one.  Former Republican state Rep. Matt Smith was the lone voice of dissent.  Shocking.  Or not – because the commission is comprised of Democratic-loving folks.  First, we have two former Democratic state legislators – former Rep. Rosemary Marshall and Sen. Bob Bacon.  Each has given money to Governor Hickenlooper.  Then, we have Bill Leone who also gave money to Hick and also was appointed to this position by Hick. Coincidence?  TBD.

With all of these sticky conflicts of interest, one would think that the conflicted members of the commission would recuse themselves.  But, they had the opportunity to do so and did not.  Compass Colorado filed a change of venue request to move the hearings from the IEC to an administrative law judge.  The IEC denied the request.

The dismissal is the latest in a string of questionable ethics in this fairness theater that the IEC has tried to perpetuate.  Earlier this month, it was revealed that the IEC investigator had released a draft of the investigators’ report to the Hickenlooper administration before anyone else had the opportunity to see it.

There is no word yet on whether Compass Colorado will appeal the ruling.

 

DRAFTING ERRORS: Investigator’s Report Available Only to Gov’s Counsel

In a “blink and you’d miss it” moment during yesterday’s oral arguments on an ethics complaint against liberal Governor John Hickenlooper, it was revealed that the Governor’s legal counsel has seen two drafts of the report that will be published by the investigator.  So what?  Compass Colorado, which filed the complaint, has yet to see a single version.  If the IEC is hoping to put on an over-the-top show about how fair this hearing has been, this could be a stumbling block.

We asked Compass Colorado legal counsel Geoff Blue whether a “real” courtroom (no offense IEC) has a different standard for information sharing.  He noted the most similar scenario is covered by Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 53, which allows the appointment of a Master to help the court make specific findings on an issue.  A subsection of that rule maintains that the information must be shared with both parties.  Here’s what Blue had to say:

“If [both parties' receipt of information] did not occur, a party could petition the court for help, and the court would most likely require the party who did not receive the report to have an opportunity to review and comment on it.  …I would be surprised if it ever happens that a master shows it to one person and not the other.”

So, why was the report given to Hick’s staff and not the complainants?  Are the contents so bad that the investigator felt like it had to share early so that Hick could prepare for the worst?

While the media has covered some of the procedural milestones in this ethics complaint, it doesn’t seem that anyone has taken a step back to see the larger picture.  Colorado has a governor who used his state resources to fundraise for the organization, the Democratic Governors Association, that will very likely play big in his re-election race come November.

Remember Dan Maes?  We have the DGA to thank.  The organization blasted $150,000 against Maes’ primary opponent Scott McInnis in 2010 for the primary purpose of advancing the weaker candidate.  We suspect the organization is interested in the same this go-around.

 

PEAKFEED: Compass Colorado’s Kelly Maher Appears On The Daily Show to Spotlight Idiot Obamacare Ads

Compass Colorado’s Kelly Maher appeared on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show last night to talk about the “Brosurance” and “Hosurance” (not our name) ads the ProgressNow created to try to get young people to subsidize sign up for the Colorado Exchange (aka Obamacare).

 

STAY KLASSY: Obamacare “Got Insurance” Ads Under Fire

A new set of Obamacare ads, brought to you by the embarrassing and odious “brosurance” campaign developed by ProgressNow Colorado and the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, are causing controversy due to their strident tone.  Of greatest concern is the way one ad in particular marginalizes women.  The ad reads:

“OMG, he’s hot! Let’s hope he’s as easy to get as this birth control. My health insurance covers the pill, which means all I have to worry about is getting him between the covers.”

We get it – sex sells.  That said, ProgressNow is part of a contingent that has screamed “war on women” for every Republican candidate misstep.  For the group to, then, turn around and reduce women to sex organs and one night stands is hypocritical at best.  Compass Colorado’s Kelly Maher issued a press release yesterday criticizing the ads:

“This ad campaign is desperately trying to distract from the fact that exchange sign-ups have essentially ground to a halt. While nearly a quarter of a million Coloradans have had their plans canceled, ProgressNow Colorado and Colorado Consumer Health Initiative are demeaning and belittling women with shallow sexual caricatures and making light of serious women’s health issues.”

The ads’ carefree demeanor seems particularly tone deaf in light of the fact that 250,000 Coloradans have lost their health insurance as a result of Obamacare.  Unfortunately, the reach of these ads isn’t confined to Colorado as the uproar over the ads has gone national.  Let’s be really clear: this is an embarrassment to our state.

Harsha Gangadharbatla, an associate professor of advertising at the University of Colorado at Boulder, also thinks the ads are misguided.  Here’s her take in The Denver Post:

“I think it’s a strategic mistake.  Consumers could see it as a joke, making it appear not to be a serious issue. And the issue of health care is clearly a serious issue in the United States. There’s already so many negative headlines and problematic issues out there with rollout of Obamacare, so why add fuel with ads like these, if the true intent is to enroll more young people.”

It’s also worth noting that Colorado exchange enrollment rate has decreased substantially since the Brosurance/Got Insurance campaign began October 20.  So much for attracting would-be enrollees.

 

HICK HAILS BACK ROOM DEALS: Governor Blasts Transparency In Government At NGA Conference

Hick prefers only ribbon cuttings and bill signings be made public

In what may be the 2014 version of Mitt Romney’s 47% comments, Governor Hickenlooper recently said that he believes politicians should be able to operate through back room deals away from the glare of public scrutiny.

Hickenlooper’s remarks to Time Magazine underscore his entire leadership style — unwilling to take clear and decisive positions, the governor believes he should be able to keep his positions on public policy private as much as possible.

Reports Time’s Zeke Miller:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a potential 2016 democratic candidate for president, has a creative — and controversial — idea for ending Washington, D.C.’s partisan gridlock: start legislating from behind closed doors and bring back the earmark.

After decades of fights for transparency in government, Hickenlooper told TIME that those well-intended initiatives are making government and lawmakers less effective. “We elect these people to make these difficult decisions, but now they are in the full light of video every time they make a decision,” Hickenlooper said at the National Governors Association meeting in Milwaukee, Wis. on Friday. “We elected these people, let them go back into a room like they always did.”

The article was first picked up by KDVR’s Eli Stokols, and the right has quickly piled on.

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BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION: Coalition Fighting The Billion Dollar Tax Hike Launches

At a press conference yesterday, the bipartisan coalition opposing the billion dollar tax hike launched.

Led by former Democratic State Senator Bob Hagedorn, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, and education reform activist Karin Piper, Coloradans for Real Education Reform (CRER) is the official “No” issue committee for the ballot measure.

Check out their website here.

Reports The Colorado Observer‘s Leslie Jorgensen:

Coloradans for Real Education Reform officially launched their “No on Initiative 22” to fight the tax hike which the opponents assert is a bad investment that falls short of reform.

“With no safeguards in place to keep this money in the classroom, this is a bad investment,” said Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

“This bipartisan effort centers on the fact we recognize the need for real education reform,” said former Sen. Bob Hagedorn (D-Aurora). “One of the best drivers for improving student achievement is providing broad school choice opportunities, something sorely lacking in Senate Bill 213.”

Whereas the vote on the spending bill attached to the tax hike, SB213, found only party line support among Democrats, the opposition campaign is being spearheaded by a bipartisan coalition of elected leaders.

Former Senator Bob Hagedorn’s opposition is no small deal either. As the Colorado Springs Gazette‘s Megan Schrader reported:

“For the first time in my life, I’m opposing a school tax initiative,” said former state lawmaker Bob Hagedorn, a Democrat who focused on education issues while in office.

Hagedorn said he would like to see more emphasis on providing school choice to parents and funding charter schools at an equal level.

“Senate Bill 213 is a lost opportunity the legislators had,” Hagedorn said.

Supporters of the billion dollar tax increase keep pointing to Ref C as proof that a tax measure can succeed. Unfortunately for them, unlike Ref C, the notable bipartisanship is occurring in opposition to the measure, rather than in support.

 

CALLING BULLSH*T: Hickenlooper’s Historical Fiction On How He Decided To Back The Billion Dollar Tax Hike

In an attempt at badly crafted historical fiction, Governor Hickenlooper told The Denver Post last week that he decided to support the billion dollar tax increase in the middle of the very closed door meeting from where his position leaked.

From a Denver Post article highlighted in a Compass Colorado press release today:

Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 213, a school finance overhaul, into law in May, but his support of the tax that would fund it was not clear until last week when members of the Colorado Forum, a group of business and civic leaders, shared comments he made to the group with the media…

Hickenlooper said he gathered his thoughts on the proposed ballot measure for the first time last week when he met with the Colorado Forum. [Peak emphasis]

You see, it wasn’t that Hickenlooper was refusing to take a position and had his hand forced by the leaks. It’s that Hickenlooper just decided right then to back a billion dollar tax increase. 

Or as Iceman once coughed:

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STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: Conservative Group Compass Colorado Joins Forces With Teachers Union President

Governor Hickenlooper’s silence on the billion dollar tax increase campaign has created some rather strange bedfellows.

Last month, Kerrie Dallman, the president of the Colorado Education Association (CEA), took to Twitter to trash Hickenlooper for hiding on the tax increase after he signed the bill that spent the money raised by the tax increase.

Today, conservative group Compass Colorado joined the president of the largest teachers union in the state to demand Governor Hickenlooper get out from behind the bushes and take a position on the tax increase tentatively known as Initiative 22.

It’s not often, in fact rather rare, that a group like Compass would find any area of agreement with the CEA.

To say Compass and the CEA are mortal political enemies about sums it up.

If we were to guess, we’d say the political press corps would join this call too if they were able to. We can’t imagine they like being given the runaround by the governor either.

Check the full Compass Colorado release after the jump:

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WHERE’S HICK? The Governor’s PR Firm, Advisor Working On Tax Hike He’s Avoiding

Yesterday it was announced that Andrew Freedman, one of Governor Hickenlooper’s senior advisers, is leaving to help run the billion dollar tax hike campaign known tentatively as Initiative 22. Freedman will be joining Hick’s PR firm, OnSight Public Affairs, on the campaign. 

Now that so many in Hick’s orbit are not only coming out in support of the tax increase, but working on the campaign itself, it’s time that Hick finally take a stand.

To be fair to the press corps, it’s not easy to nail down Hickenlooper on, well, anything.

It’s tough to figure out exactly where Governor Hickenlooper stands on issues generally for two reasons: either he refuses to take a stand or he obfuscates to the degree it’s impossible to figure what the hell he’s saying.

Just ask any journalist who has tried to transcribe an interview with him. The man is a master of run-on sentences that, as Shakespeare might say, for all their sound and fury often signify nothing.

It’s an issue that we know annoys many reporters, but also is not acceptable to Hick’s constituents. He may try to bob and weave his way around tough decisions, but that’s no excuse for not holding his feet to the fire.

As Compass Colorado’s Executive Director, Kelly Maher, said in a recent press release:

“Despite Hickenlooper’s standard governing procedure of hiding from tough decisions, Coloradans deserve a firm answer. Does he believe Colorado families should pay a billion dollars more every year in taxes?”

It’s time the press corps turn up the heat and get the governor on the record, whether or not he threatens their access. It’s time for some tough questions.

 

FIGHTING BACK: Compass Colorado Helping Combat Voter Intimidation In Morse Recall

The right is fighting back. Today, conservative group Compass Colorado joined the fray in the Morse recall, helping to educate voters in Morse’s Senate District 11 on how to combat the voter intimidation taking place on behalf of Morse’s front group.

As we reported yesterday, A Whole Lot of People for John Morse is attempting to intimidate signers of the Morse petition to take their name off the petition, hoping they can get more than 3,000 to do so, thus invalidating the whole process.

From Compass’s press release:

Colorado Springs, Colo. (June 24, 2013) – In response to numerous reports of attempted voter intimidation from “A Whole Lot of People for John Morse”, Compass Colorado has provided tools to help Senate District 11 residents understand the signs of voter intimidation and defend their right to recall Democratic Senate President John Morse.

“Senator John Morse’s constituents spoke loud and clear in their intention to hold Sen. Morse accountable,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. “Voters must arm themselves with information in order to stop the blatant attempts by Morse and his out-of-state funders like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to disenfranchise petition signers.”

Compass Colorado is providing three ways to help SD11 residents stand up for their right to recall, including:

  • Phone calls designed to help them identify voter intimidation and bullying tactics employed by the Morse campaign.
  • An online tip sheet helping residents to understand the signs of voter intimidation, which can be found here.
  • An outlet to report acts of voter intimidation, at info@compasscolorado.org.

They also released an infographic helping residents of SD11 identify signs of voter intimidation. You can find that after the jump:

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