Mike May or May Not Approve of Ethics
I guess it was a little unrealistic to expect the Nuggets to sweep the Spurs, but a boy can hope…
The ethics argument continued at the state Capitol on Wednesday, and it didn’t even involve Amendment 41. As Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News reports:
An ethics brouhaha exploded at the legislature Wednesday, with the House majority leader accusing her Republican counterpart of being a “hypocrite” and violating legislative rules.
Majority Leader Alice Madden, D-Boulder, ripped Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, after he wrote a two-page letter saying he would boycott a vote to determine whether an ethics panel should review a complaint against a lobbyist.
Democrats said the letter, distributed to all lawmakers, was misleading and disingenuous. “It kills me that he used state funds to publish a political rant,” Madden said.
May said he was only trying to raise the question of whether the legislature has the right to “destroy lobbyists’ livelihoods” by ordering that they be investigated. He said the process for handling complaints needs to be changed.
Their fight comes as lawmakers have only 10 working days left before they must adjourn. May’s letter was critical of the majority and left the impression that Democrats were behind the decision to form an ethics committee to review an earlier complaint against a lobbyist. But May agreed to the review – a decision he now regrets.
“Regulating speech, in fact effectively criminalizing speech, by a majority party is a dangerous path for our state,” he wrote.
Madden said the letter reveals portions of confidential conversations that May cannot comment on under legislative rules. “I don’t know how Mike May continues as minority leader,” she said. “He’s lost his integrity. Knowing how he voted and how he’s presented it publicly, I just think he’s a hypocrite.”
Said May: “I don’t feel I betrayed their trust, but they can view this however the hell they want.” Madden suggested that Dick Wadhams, the new chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, is coaching GOP lawmakers in dirty politics.
On Wednesday congress passed a measure that includes a timetable for a pullout from Iraq, as The Washington Post reports:
The House last night brushed aside weeks of angry White House rhetoric and veto threats to narrowly approve a $124 billion war spending bill that requires troop withdrawal from Iraq to begin by Oct. 1, with a goal of ending U.S. combat operations there by next March.
The Senate is expected to follow the House’s 218 to 208 vote with final passage today, completing work on the rarest of bills: legislation to try to end a major war as fighting still rages. Democrats hope to send the measure to the White House on Monday, almost exactly four years after President Bush declared an end to major combat in a speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. That would be a particularly pungent political anniversary for Bush to deliver only the second veto of his presidency.
Last night’s vote came after a fiery, partisan debate that has grown familiar after months of wrangling, first over a nonbinding resolution opposing Bush’s troop increase, then over the largest war spending bill in U.S. history.
“How many more suicide bombs must kill American soldiers before this president offers a timeline for our troops to come home?” asked Rep. Patrick J. Murphy (D-Pa.), a freshman Iraq war veteran who lost nine fellow paratroopers this week in one of the deadliest attacks of the war. “How many more military leaders must declare the war will not be won militarily before this president demands that the Iraqis stand up and fight for their country? How many more terrorists will President Bush’s foreign policy breed before he focuses a new strategy, a real strategy? This bill says enough is enough.”
As you might expect, Colorado’s congressional delegation voted along party lines on the bill, as The Denver Post reports.
That bill wasn’t the only piece of bad news on Wednesday for the White House. As The Washington Post reports, subpoenas have been approved for Bush administration officials such as Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice:
Lawmakers approved new subpoenas yesterday for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other Bush administration officials, part of an expanding legal battle between the Democratic-controlled Congress and the administration over issues such as the firings of eight U.S. attorneys and flawed justifications for the war in Iraq.
The subpoena issued to Rice seeks to force her testimony about the claim that Iraq sought to import uranium from Niger for its nuclear weapons program. President Bush offered that as a key rationale for the war in his 2003 State of the Union address. The subpoena was approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee along party lines, 21 to 10.
The same panel also issued two subpoenas to the Republican National Committee for testimony and documents related to political presentations at the General Services Administration and the use of RNC e-mail accounts by White House aides, including presidential adviser Karl Rove.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 32 to 6 to grant limited immunity from prosecution to Monica M. Goodling, the former senior counselor and White House liaison for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. She has invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to answer questions about her role in the prosecutor firings. The panel also authorized, but did not issue, a subpoena that would compel her to testify.
And finally in the Senate, the Judiciary Committee authorized a subpoena for Rove deputy Sara Taylor, whose name has appeared among thousands of pages of e-mails and other documents released by the Justice Department in the U.S. attorney firings.
The five subpoenas and related matters, approved over the course of two hours yesterday morning, provided fresh evidence of the remarkable change since Democrats took control of Congress in January.
Congressional committees have approved or issued more than two dozen subpoenas, most of them related to the U.S. attorney firings.
Speaking of the U.S. Attorney firings, the liberal group Progress Now is calling on Sen. Ken Salazar to push for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. As an e-mail sent out yesterday explains:
In his testimony last Thursday, Gonzales astonished senators when he testified that he could not remember the recent Nov. 27, 2006 meeting at which he says he approved recommendations for firings. He didn’t dispute being there – he just couldn’t recall it. (Salt Lake Tribune, 4/22/2007)
Many Republicans, including those who voted to confirm Gonzales, have joined Democrats in saying Gonzales should resign–including Senators Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Gordon Smith of Oregon, and John Sununu of New Hampshire, and others in the House including Rep. Tom Tancredo. (Boston Globe, 4/9/2007)
Yet Senator Ken Salazar most recenty stated he “has not decided whether to continue supporting” Gonzales. (Denver Post, 4/19/2007)
Join our petition to call on Senator Salazar to ask Gonzales to resign
I would imagine that trying to understand the state budget can sometimes be like trying to learn to count backwards in Chinese. Apparently Colorado can either pay for more judges or more roads, but not both. Or something. April Washington of the Rocky Mountain News has the unenviable task of trying to sort it out:
A Democratic bill to add 43 judges to Colorado’s backlogged court system might limp to passage this week, but only after what is sure to be one of the toughest budget battles of the legislative session.
Some Senate Republicans oppose the measure, saying it will strip money from roads. And some Democrats fear the battle over House Bill 1054 could interfere with another proposal that shifts $30 million in transportation dollars to college construction projects.
“It’s competing with other programs that need funding,” said Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, chairman of the Joint Budget Committee. “I’m in favor it. It’s something we need to do. I hope we get it out this year.”
The bill passed the House two months ago, but has languished in the Senate while the sponsor, Sen. Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, tries to round up votes. It’s set to be debated in the Senate as early as today…
… The price tag to add new judges, along with support staff of 101 full-time employees, is roughly $47 million. The bulk of the money would come from a projected $2.1 billion in state funding to flow into road projects through 2011.
Most Senate Republicans have vowed to block the bill, including those from El Paso County, which stands to get five new judges under the plan.
“I’m torn, but they’re shifting money from roads to give us judges,” said Sen. David Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs. “We’re taking money from transportation so next year the Democrats can tout how desperate our roads are and go for a big tax increase,” he said.
Yes, Mr. Schultheis, it’s all a big conspiracy to raise taxes, because Democrats love to pay more taxes themselves. Love it!
Former Presidential candidate Alan Keyes was in Denver yesterday to speak out against abortion. As Colleen Slevin of The Associated Press reports:
Likening abortion to terrorism, conservative commentator Alan Keyes on Wednesday called on abortion opponents to remain committed to ending abortion completely without compromise.
In legalizing abortion, Keyes said, the United States abandoned the principle that every person is created equal, a right that comes from the “hand of almighty God,” and allowed innocent babies to be killed just as terrorists kill innocent people. He likened judges who have allowed abortion to serial killers who take a false premise and logically work their way to a conclusion justifying their killing.
Keyes delivered a fiery speech to about 200 people gathered at the state Capitol to mark the 40th anniversary of the signing of a Colorado law that expanded abortion rights. Colorado was the first of 15 states to either allow abortion under more exceptions or to completely decriminalize it before Roe vs. Wade legalized it nationwide.
Keyes criticized the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the federal “partial birth” abortion ban because it was based on the premise that there is a constitutional right to abortion.
Keyes later lamented the fact that if those 200 people who showed up at the Capitol had voted for him for President in 2002, he would have ended up with 201 votes.
All jokes aside, you know there’s not a lot going on in Denver when 200 people show up to hear Alan Keyes speak about anything.
The Denver Post runs down more of the legislative action at the State Capitol, including these two measures:
Felony-threshold changes gain in Senate
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would increase the threshold for making a variety of crimes felonies, a measure aimed a saving the state prison system millions of dollars.
For example, the bill would increase from $500 to $1,000 the value of items required for a felony charge of theft. A charge of aggravated vehicle theft would require the auto involved to be worth at least $20,000, up from the current $15,000.
The bill was introduced by members of the Joint Budget Committee in an effort to reduce the number of inmates in state prisons.
Protections for workers perceived to be gay
A bill to protect employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation passed the House Judiciary Committee.
The bill also protects workers from being fired for their religious beliefs, which some church groups objected to as an infringement of their rights.
Jim Pfaff, president of Colorado Family Action, testified that the bill was unnecessary and noted that anyone could claim to be homosexual because gays and lesbians don’t have any “immutable characteristics.”
The committee added an amendment to clarify that the bill applies to those who are discriminated against by someone who “perceives” them to be gay.
The Senate has already passed the bill, which has been introduced for more than a decade. Similar measures passed in 2005 and 2006, only to be vetoed by Gov. Bill Owens. Gov. Bill Ritter has said he would probably sign the bill.
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