Cleaning up after the party is always the worst. Apparently, Team Hickenlooper agreed. So, they just didn’t. Revealing Politics was there to catch the mess – and juxtapose it against Hickenlooper’s suggestion that Coloradans perform 10,000 random acts of kindness by July 2015. As Revealing suggested, maybe Hickenlooper should perform his first random act of kindness by kindly cleaning up his mess.
Perhaps it’s the fact that Governor Hickenlooper’s new chief of staff, Doug Friednash, has had a finger in so many controversial pies in Colorado during his tenure as Denver City Attorney and as a private practice lawyer that uniquely qualifies him for this position. But unlike Hickenlooper, Friednash has taken a strong stand on Colorado issues that might leave a some Coloradans…a tad uncomfortable.
For instance, that time in 2013 when then-city attorney Friednash dismissed excessive force claims against the Denver Police Department, calling cities “targets” for excessive force lawsuits, and that settling was a “business decision,” since “[t]he city is definitely not making out a blank check when people bring a lawsuit.” His statement seems tone deaf given the severity of some of the accusations. Additionally, a victim of excessive force successfully sued and was awarded $40,000 in damages. The city refused to pay and the police officer could not cover the cost. We hope that the victim was not just out of luck on this one.
On the (liberal) political front, Real Clear Politics reports that as lead counsel to Udall’s 2008 U.S. Senate campaign, Friednash was outraged by a Freedom Watch ad, saying in a letter to KUSA and KTFD:
The offensive representations and slanderous image directly tie Mark Udall to the use and promotion of marijuana. This is an outrageous portrayal that finds no credence whatsoever in fact.
Except that Udall was actually arrested for possession of marijuana (and some other things…) in 1973, which we can’t imagine he didn’t know as Udall’s lead counsel. Ooops. Of course, just last month, Denver Business Journal reported that Friedman himself was working with South Carolina Lawyer Mark Mason to open the nation’s first marijuana credit union in Colorado.
As Gov. Hickenlooper’s chief of staff, trust that we’ll be keeping a close eye on Doug Friednash for more truth-skirting on major state issues.
In case you missed today’s oaths of office and inauguration fun, we’ve recapped the events for you below.
Gov. John Hickenlooper’s inaugural party won’t look like any middle-class working man’s celebration. We haven’t seen a menu yet, but caviar and Dom Perignon aren’t much of a stretch thanks to the $400,000-plus donated to nonprofit event host, Colorado Up. The Denver Post reported some of the event details that include a cocktail hour and concert with The Lumineers. Somewhere in there the governor will say some vague words (that he’ll likely later deny saying – somebody get these on video).
We all know that political donors give large sums to both parties in alternative ways when candidates can’t accept the campaign money directly. Donors aren’t supposed to receive any special treatment (beyond the wine list, perhaps) for supporting the event, but something must have sparked the generosity bug during this election cycle: 13 donors each contributed $25,000 or more (Colorado Up won’t admit just how much more). In 2011, exactly three companies dishes out similar sums. That’s no small increase; this event is about as far removed as can be from the Dems so-called top priority: the middle class.
There are also over 40 — ahem —more stingy donors who gave at least $10,000, including Four Horseman club founder Pat Stryker.
For the “normal” people, dinner is $100 a pop. Proceeds will go to a festival founded by Hickenlooper himself, The Biennial of the Americas, and the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative. But first, the champagne!
Most people in Colorado don’t know who former Enron trader John Arnold is. But, we should as he’s increasingly donating to Colorado liberal causes. Over the past few years, Arnold and his wife have given $476,650 to liberal causes here, which includes $300,000 to the pro-Amendment 66 campaign and $150,000 given to the despicable Mainstream Colorado, which reached a new low by using the murder of Jessica Ridgeway to score political points. Now, he’s back for more, according to Politico, with an effort to reform Colorado’s public employee pension program. From the article:
“The Arnold Foundation is also participating in the Colorado Pension Project, chaired by former Colorado Govs. Bill Owens, a Republican, and Richard Lamm, a Democrat…. The Colorado Pension Project’s website says that recent legislative reforms to the state pension system — which reduced cost of living adjustments, raised the retirement age for new employees and increased employee salary contributions — did not go far enough. McGee said Arnold’s foundation was drawn to the state’s history of “fruitful left ideological discussions.”
Colorado is not the first state in which Arnold and his foundation have tried pension reform. His 2014 attempt in Phoenix failed by 13 points, which led to Forbes naming him one of its biggest billionaire political losers of 2014. He also tried in California, inspiring the ire of the Service Employees International Union, whose spokesperson said this about Arnold’s involvement, according to Reuters:
“It’s the height of narcissism for a Texas billionaire who doesn’t have to worry about his retirement to come into California and try to meddle with the secure retirement of working-class people,” said Lowell Goodman, communications director for the southern California chapter of the Service Employees International Union.
Surely, in Colorado, public pension reform is long overdue and something that conservatives should get behind. So, is the enemy of our enemy (unions) our friend in this case? Can conservatives get behind this effort? What makes us wary of Arnold and his efforts are his involvement with far left-wing organizations. Here are just a few examples from his family website:
- $200,000 to uber-liberal Wendy Davis‘ gubernatorial sacrifice (she lost by 20 points to the Republican candidate)
- $2 million to ProPublica, which is a left-leaning media organization
- Up to $5 million to each of the following organizations: ACLU, Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
- $117,800 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (compared to about $1,100 to all Republican Party organizations in total)
- Arnold donated an amazing $1.5 million to support an effort to change the primary electoral system in Oregon to the top two vote getters in each election.
- Up to $100,000 each to NARAL, Obama Victory Fund, and Kick the Can Telluride (a local soda tax – so odd for a libertarian to support?)
- Up to $50,000 each to the Colorado Coordinated Campaign, and the Democratic National Committee
- Up to $50,000 each to an assortment of left wing political candidates, including Annise Parker (the Houston Mayor on a witch hunt against pastors who disagreed with her), Rahm Emanuel (Obama’s former Chief of Staff), and more.
It’s also noteworthy that he hired Eric Sondermann, who as of late likes to stay middle of the road, but has worked as a Democratic operative. As for Arnold, he claims to be a libertarian (although, his wife is a Democrat), and says he supports issues and politicians that represent the whole electorate. Here’s what he told the AP about his backing of the “top two” voting method:
“There’s no ulterior motive here. This is about: ‘Do the politicians represent the whole electorate or a narrow slice?'”
But, here’s the catch. If he’s supporting politicians like Wendy Davis, and organizations like Planned Parenthood and the DSCC – and if those causes are failing miserably at the ballot box – is he really supporting things that represent Middle America as he maintains? Can he really be middle of the road when 99% of his political donations go to Democratic causes? Can one be a libertarian and be ok with soda taxes and support politicians who target religious groups?
Is John Arnold just another example of the rise of the pseudo-independent that we’ve seen in Colorado? You know, the independent who only supports Democratic candidates. Think Steve Shogan, Kent Thiry, and John Hickenlooper (to an extent as he’s clearly a Democrat, but pretends to be pro-business while heaping regulation after regulation on top of Colorado businesses). Or is this just the latest example of another out-of-state rich guy using Colorado as a proving ground?
This brings us back to our original question. Can conservatives get behind the Colorado Pension Project? We’ll keep you posted, PeakNation™.
This week, the legislature will convene for the 2015 legislative session and, at the helm of the Senate, is one of Colorado’s brightest spots on the political scene, Republican
Sen. Senate President Bill Cadman. Known for his sense of humor, he’s the guy you’d most like to get stuck at a boring event with. But, he’s also a complex character as The Denver Post noted in an article today about his so-called evolution.
Cadman is the kind of politician that politicians hope to be. He’s able to remain true to his principles while also reaching across the aisle. It’s that characteristic that makes him particularly effective in the legislature. Here’s Cadman’s perspective on it, from The Post:
“What I preach is ‘Build relationships.’ Partisanship doesn’t solve many things here,” Cadman said. “Your legacy is not what you leave in those books of new laws; it’s what you invested in the people you work with here.”
That sentiment was echoed by top Democrat and Brownstein lobbyist Mike Feeley:
“The best thing is his sense of humor. It’s hard to keep up with him,” Feeley said. “Our politics might be different, but he’s a very practical, thoughtful guy who is trying to work out a compromise. He doesn’t compromise his principles, but he’s always looking for common ground.”
But, his popularity among Coloradans is different. It really stems from his ability to relate to the everyman in Colorado. His upbringing was tumultuous and he described domestic violence in his childhood on the floor of the Senate in 2013 during the gun debates. Further, the way he bootstrapped his way to his position is encouraging when so many are wondering whether opportunity exists in our country. Or, as former State House Majority Leader Amy Stephens more succinctly described his tenacity:
“Through sheer determination and street smarts, he has pulled himself up. Bill is funny as get out, but the guy has a ton under the hood.”
Naturally, he’s made mistakes along the way. The Post was kind enough to point out a 2004 driving while ability impaired charge for which he pleaded guilty, performed community service, and paid a fine. Cadman said about the incident, “I chose poorly, but I tell you, it was a great lesson.” The incident happened a decade ago (apparently, a decade-old incident ago is ok to mention, but Udall’s felony drug arrest in the 1970s is not – not that we’re bitter). Of course, Cadman would be in good company as liberal Gov. John Hickenlooper also received a DWAI in 1989. It’s funny that didn’t come up in the 2014 election, but we digress.
While the article spotlights some of Cadman’s faults, we say bring it. We love a reformed sinner, and who better to fight for the everyman than the man who has stumbled once or twice, but pulled himself to the top in the end?
To say this year has been great for Colorado is an understatement. Republicans seized the majorities in the Colorado State Senate and U.S. Senate, serving as a stop-gap for crazy legislation from the left. Some blogs pick their favorite posts. We let you vote with your views. Here are the top ten most-read articles from 2014. We think they represent a great snapshot of what happened this year.
Thanks for making this year the most successful yet – we love you.
10. Personhood never had a chance – stop with the scare tactics, Planned Parenthood.
Those “vote no” Amendment 68 ads were confusing at best as Planned Parenthood tried its best to convince Colorado that Amendment 68, this year’s personhood bill would pass. The scaremongers refused to produce polling to back up their claims – proving what we knew all along that the left was desperately using this issue to try to scare women into voting for Democrats.
9. That time Eli Stokols swallowed whole the left’s talking points and looked like a clown (sorry Eli).
We know you might be wondering which particular instance we’re talking about – it happens more than (we assume) he’d like to admit. KDVR’s Eli Stokols decided to go with cheap sensationalism in a February story on the Aurora shooting tragedy in which Sen. Bernie Herpin wondered if it was a good thing that James Holmes had a 100-round magazine as it was his only ammunition and it jammed. Herpin was echoing a sentiment by a victim’s family. Stokols was all too eager to jump on Herpin. We set the record straight (so did the rest of #copolitics who heaved a collective WTF at him).
8. Read the job description, Betsy.
Remember that time when Democratic candidate for State Treasurer Betsy Markey couldn’t define a basic financial concept? This is definitely an awkward moment worthy of the top ten list. This gaffe only foreshadowed her massive loss to State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.
7. Does Hick think we don’t have roads, too?
All-knowing Governor John Hickenlooper lamented the lack of appreciation of rural Coloradans for his efforts to raise their energy costs with an unrealistic renewable energy mandate. Maybe 2015 will be the year that rural Coloradans finally learn to appreciate government subsidies from rural families to Hick’s green buddies.
6. Team Udall tried to fudge Obamacare numbers.
Former U.S. Senator Mark Udall tried to cover for Obamacare’s failures by bullying the Colorado Division of Insurance into changing the reported numbers of cancelled insurance policies in Colorado. Forget diplomatic: this encounter was “very hostile.” This was really the beginning of the end for our doomed Senator.
5. Jared Polis’ hell on earth looks like everyman’s idyllic country home.
Rep. Jared Polis’ melodramatic rant about the tragedy of a new fracking well is funny enough by itself, but when you see an actual picture of the offending monstrosity, you’ll understand why this post made the top ten posts of 2014. Of course, then there’s the issue of his lies about a guest house and potential tax implications.
4. Meet John Morse, Colorado’s Sorest Loser.
After his own recall, former Democratic Senate President John Morse hilariously set up a committee to tighten recall regulations. Nobody likes a sore loser.
3. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Superintendent Stevenson.
While Jefferson County School Board Superintendent Cindy Stevenson used her planned retirement to create animosity between the new reform board and pro-union forces, we reported the truth. Instead of a forced departure, Stevenson was offered a new job and wiggled her way out of her Jeffco contract. Nice try.
2. Liar, liar pants on fire. Sen. Udall whitewashes his arrest in the 70s.
We caught Senator Mark Udall red-handed in a lie to cover up the severity of his 1973 drug arrest. Conveniently, he never mentioned the months-long legal battle, seizure of his car, probation time, or transportation of amphetamines. Ooops. Maybe he should have checked his privilege.
1. Liar, liar pants on fire. Again. Team Udall lied about his opponent’s record.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Senator Udall’s press team, led by spox Chris Harris, falsely claimed that Rep. Cory Gardner voted against a bill that the senator-elect actually supported. In fact, Udall even praised Gardner’s efforts at the time. Ooops.
Photo credit: Starboard Facebook page
When Gov. John Hickenlooper was more worried about being reelected than doing what was best for Colorado, he probably envisioned this was how his so-called magic bullet, blue-ribbon taskforce would end: just more gridlock. Such a scenario wouldn’t need to be the case, had Hick any type of backbone to stand up to Rep. Jared Polis. Rather, if rumors are true, certain Polis hand-picked members on the task force are preventing a consensus of what is abundantly clear to those task force members without an agenda: there is already more than enough local control.
Even former Colorado Secretary of State, Democrat Bernie Buescher can read the writing on the wall, as he told The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:
Task force member Bernie Buescher, a former Colorado secretary of state from Grand Junction, for one, doesn’t think the group’s work so far is leading down the path of new regulations.
“The conversations we’ve been having these past few months have been more about cooperation and collaboration, not about more regulation,” Buescher said during the break-out session. “That’s just not been the conversation we’re having.”
That would certainly be the preference of many Western Slope representatives who spoke during the meeting Wednesday… [the Peak’s emphasis]
In fact, the taskforce is only paralyzed because certain members of it came in with an already set agenda that they are having a hard time pushing since the facts on the ground don’t support their preconceived beliefs. Chief among them is co-chairwoman Gwen Lachelt. Such a failure is her partisan-hack leadership that the taskforce couldn’t even agree on an agenda for their next meeting, let alone recommendations for the state legislature. As Peter Marcus at The Durango Herald reported:
In fact, the task force – with La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt serving as co-chairwoman – had a bit of a breakdown at the end of its two-day meeting in Rifle, failing to agree on an agenda for its next meeting scheduled for Jan. 15 in Greeley.
Some members wanted to limit the upcoming hearing to two panels, focused on health impacts and input from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. But others on the panel pointed out that since the meeting will be in energy-heavy Weld County, there should be local points of view, as well.
Interesting, Lachelt and people of her ilk want to let “local points of view” be heard when they know they have activists in the area who could never qualify as experts, but, when the shoe is on the other foot, and locals who benefit from Colorado’s current regulation want to be heard, suddenly there is no time.
If it wasn’t clear before, it certainly is clear now: This task force is nothing more than a swindler’s shell-game put on by Hickenlooper to grease his way to reelection. Now, at best, this taskforce will produce nothing of value, and at worst, they’ll be used as an excuse to place even more burdensome regulations on our already most-regulated-in-the-country energy development industry.
With new issues raised by the addition of Mary Ellen Denomy to today’s task force agenda, plus previous revelations by Complete Colorado that Task Force Co-Chair Gwen Lachelt would prefer to ban fracking, plus the addition of DU’s
resident fractivist environmental law prof, Kevin Lynch, who is an intervenor in the Longmont attempt to ban fracking – is it time to pop this circus tent? In case you’ve forgotten just how radical Lachelt really is, here’s an excerpt from the Complete Colorado piece that reveals how, um, inspired she is by fractivism:
Gwen Lachelt, a La Plata County Commissioner tapped by Gov. John Hickenlooper to head the state’s fracking commission, provided a venue for the planning of the “day of action” according to one of her Earthworks colleagues, heavily promoted the anti-fracking rally on her own blog, and served as the master of ceremonies for the event on July 28, 2012.
As the crowd loudly chanted “ban fracking now” for approximately 30 seconds, Lachelt, then Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project (OGAP) director, asked the crowd, “Are you fired up?”
“Yes!” the crowd enthusiastically responded.
But, it doesn’t end there. Lachelt frequently claims that she is not opposed to fracking, but that it must be done
with so many regulations that no rational person would ever consider taking it on right. That’s a lie. Her own buddy talks about her efforts to ban fracking in La Plata County, according to Complete Colorado:
“A clarification. It is untrue to state that no task force members have endorsed bans for moratoriums on oil and gas drilling. Gwen Lachelt pursued a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in La Plata County. It was after the moratorium effort failed that Wester[n] Colorado Congress and San Juan Citizens Alliance pivoted to work on creating and strengthening regulations,” the posted “Dan Olson” wrote.”
It’s pretty safe to say that Lachelt is overseeing the most disingenuous “task force” ever. Is she legitimately going to suggest a reasoned approach when she has advocated to ban fracking in the past? Apparently, we aren’t the only ones who see this task force as a three-ringed circus. A cartoon was submitted to us that pretty much sums up what nearly all of Colorado is thinking.
How is a woman who doesn’t even own minerals allowed to speak on behalf of mineral owners? How is an environmental lawyer an expert on takings claims? Will anything the task force recommends be actionable with a split legislature? And, more importantly, with Speaker Dickie Lee Hullinghorst aligned with fractivists, can she put forth anything less than radical without expecting pitchforks? So, what is the point? We still have failed to identify a problem that this task force is trying to solve. Well, a problem other than the fact that overgrown child Jared Polis is annoyed that someone fracked within a 100-mile radius of him. Is it time for this task force to move on to the next city?
When tasked with writing a postmortem right after you and your friends got your ass handed to you, one would think brutal honesty would be the best policy; as in, this is where we royally screwed up, we failed here, here, and here, and frankly if we don’t do X, Y, and Zed, we might as well concede next time as well. What makes it even the more puzzling is why national Democrats think tapping Colorado Democrat Chairman Rick Palicio to do such a task is a good idea.
Here’s a guy who would still give himself a passing grade despite the abysmal performance of his party in Colorado in 2014. Hell, it was so bad for Colorado Democrats that Palacio didn’t even wait for his hangover to kick in the next morning before firing a key member of his team. Yet, even now as he talked to KDVR’s Eli Stokols about his new appointment Palacio failed to fess up to how bad his party flopped this year. As Stokols writes:
Democrats have put together a small, independent review panel to assess what went wrong in the 2014 election and how to get back to winning — and Colorado Democratic Chairman Rick Palacio will be among its 10 members.
…Palacio told FOX31 Denver Thursday. “While Colorado Democrats had significant wins and losses, this last election was not good to many Democrats across the country.” [the Peak’s emphasis]
This is like asking Neville Chamberlain to lead the war effort, or asking Alferd Packer to help stretch your hammies (“Alferd, is that drool dripping out of your mouth all over our thighs?” Nom nom nom). The bottom-line is Palacio did not lead Colorado Democrats to any wins they shouldn’t have won, and certainly lost many races they shouldn’t have lost. Likeable candidates such as Joe Neguse with his interesting background story, and Don Quick with his willingness to face corruption even in his own party, never were put in a position to win by Palacio. As for when Palacio says Colorado Ds had “significant wins,” can we get someone to double-check the tape to make sure he meant the plural there, because beyond Hick doing his Hick thing, no one can point to another single race in Colorado that Democrats can honestly say went well for them.
But, maybe the bigger story is just that. That despite how horrendous of a year it was for Colorado Democrats, shockingly, it was even worse for their brethren across the country. If that’s the case, Democrats will need more than a postmortem report, they’ll need Dr. Frankenstein to reanimate their limp electoral corpse.