Mountains, Molehills and Olathe

It turns out I am not the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby.

Colorado Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany says that critics are making a “mountain out of a molehill” about the Republican Senate communications office and its connections to a partisan website. He says this, of course, even as he scrambles to cover up the damage.

As April Washington of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Colorado Senate Republicans have yanked an unauthorized Colorado state seal from their Web site a week after revelations that they hired a controversial GOP operative to create the site.

Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs, earlier removed “Hosted by Brad Jones LLC” from the bottom of colo radosenatenews.com, because “He’s doing some blatantly partisan things.”

Jones made headlines recently by exposing Rep. Mike Merrifield’s inflammatory e-mail on Jones’ personal blog, facethestate.com, that forced the lawmaker to give up his House Education Committee chairmanship.

McElhany said Tuesday that he used $2,700 in private contributions from the Senate Majority Fund, a GOP campaign account, to pay Jones to design and build the Web site and run it from his computer server…

… McElhany said liberal blogs and the press are “making a mountain out of molehill” over the Senate Minority’s relationship with Web-designer Jones.
“He has no access to the content,” McElhany said. “He’s just a vendor.”

But a government watchdog said she’s troubled by lax rules that allow lawmakers to use campaign money to create a Web site that is staffed by state-paid employees.

“What concerns me is that a political committee is funding the creation of a Web site that purports to be a news and information site (that was) bearing the Colorado state seal,” said Chantell Taylor, director of Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government.

“Nowhere does it indicate that it’s the Web site of the Minority office. It just says it’s the “Senate News,” she added. “I think that is misleading and disingenuous, because clearly the Senate Majority Fund has a very partisan motive.”

The ColoradoSenateNews.com site did in fact once say that it was a service of the Colorado Senate Minority office, but that notice was curiously removed two weeks ago. You can read Colorado Confidential’s original story on this controversy by clicking here.

Or here.

Or even here.


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A committee has been formed to probe an ethics complaint against a veteran lobbyist. As Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News explains:

A veteran Democratic senator and a rookie Democratic representative were appointed Tuesday by legislative leaders to a committee that will review an ethics complaint against a lobbyist.

It is the third time this decade that Sen. Stephanie Takis, of Aurora, has been appointed to an ethics committee formed to handle a lobbyist complaint.

Takis and the other appointee, Rep. Claire Levy, of Boulder, will name a third member to their committee today.

Under legislative rules, that lawmaker can be from the House or the Senate but must be a Republican.
The complaint centers on deceptive phone calls about a construction defects bill that went out to voters in Democrats’ districts.

Rep. Alice Borodkin, D-Denver, filed the complaint against William Mutch, a lobbyist and executive director for Colorado Concern, a low-key but high-powered group of top executives statewide.

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Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean will be in Denver tomorrow for the first of what figures to be many visits in advance of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. As Leslie Robinson of Colorado Confidential explains:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean hasn’t been in Colorado on political business since Denver was officially in the running for the Democratic National Convention site. Starting this Thursday, chances are that Colorado–and labor organizers–will see a lot of the governor leading up to the convention Aug. 25-28, 2008.

There will be a free public “convention celebration” with Gov. Dean at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Colorado Convention Center, but that’s not all on his schedule. Reportedly,  Dean is also meeting with labor leaders.

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The U.S. Senate is debating stem cell research, a key issue for Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette. As the Los Angeles Times reports:

In 2003, federal officials inspected California-based Advanced Cell Technology. They rummaged through refrigerators, scrutinized labs and checked microscopes to make sure the firm wasn’t using federally funded equipment to work on embryonic stem cells.

Similar scenes have played out across the U.S. since President Bush issued an executive order banning federally funded research on embryonic stem cells created after 2001.

The president and other religious conservatives believe such research is unethical. Scientists like those at Advanced Cell Technology, meanwhile, say that the limitation has hampered the search for cures and put them at a competitive disadvantage.

That debate played out on the floor Tuesday as the Senate began two days of debate on stem-cell research, the latest battleground on which Democrats are challenging the president.

A bipartisan Senate bill that would make more stem-cell lines available to scientists, with certain limits, is expected to pass with broad support and face a veto from Bush, who rejected a similar bill last year.

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Governor Bill Ritter is backing a measure that would extend the term limits for Denver’s district attorney to three. As Lou Kilzer of the Rocky Mountain News notes:

Gov. Bill Ritter Tuesday threw his support behind a measure that could give Mitch Morrissey, his replacement as Denver district attorney, an extra term.

Ballot Issue 1A is on the ballot for the May 1 city election.

Ritter says a third term for Mitch Morrissey would benefit Denver residents.

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The town of Olathe has a new mayor. Wherever Olathe is.

From The Montrose Daily Press:

Former Olathe Mayor Pro-Tem Woody Palmer took the oath of office for mayor Monday evening at the town board meeting.

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve,” Palmer said.

He was not present at the previous meeting March 26 when Mayor Wayne Blair resigned.

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Colorado Lieutenant Governor Barbara O’Brien was in Pueblo yesterday to talk about the future of education. As John Norton of The Pueblo Chieftain reports:

Colorado’s lieutenant governor on Tuesday outlined a strategy to improve education during a talk to the Pueblo County Bar Association.

Barbara O’Brien, whose work as an advocate for children predates her election as Gov. Bill Ritter’s lieutenant governor, called for better financial aid and lower costs for higher education, enriched curricula, better trained teachers and full-day preschool programs.
Citing the Colorado paradox, a state with high levels of education but near the bottom in education spending, O’Brien said that other states have invested in the success of many of Colorado’s residents.

While she acknowledged that may not be the case in Pueblo with a more stable community, much of the growth in other parts of the state has been from people moving here, she said.

Colorado ranks second in entrepreneurial development and patents, third in high-tech jobs and the education level of its work force and ninth in the atmosphere for tech-related startup companies.

In spite of that, only 15 percent of Colorado children attend a daylong kindergarten class compared to 59 percent nationally. Only 20 percent of ninth-graders can be expected to graduate from a two- or four-year college and more than half of minority students drop out of high school.

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Jason Bane

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