Political Gravy: More Accurate than the Weatherman

Today is Friday the 13th. On behalf of all of the other Jason’s in the world, it’s really not that funny.


Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean was in Denver yesterday. As Stuart Steers of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Organizers of the Democratic National Convention made progress Thursday in resolving labor disputes that threatened to overshadow the event.

Labor officials were granted a seat on the Denver 2008 host committee that they had sought since last summer. The leader of one of the state’s largest unions said it was time to “move on,” and national AFL-CIO President John Sweeney flew into Denver to “tone down the rhetoric” that has surrounded the debate over labor issues in Colorado.

Other issues – such as the unionization of more downtown hotels – remain on the table.

This came on a day when hundreds of people gave Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean the rock star treatment, wildly applauding Dean during a celebration of Denver’s selection to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Dean made it clear that he chose Denver to highlight the Democrats’ push into the Rocky Mountain states.

Democratic candidates have made strong gains in the interior West in the past two elections, and Colorado and several neighboring states will be targeted by the Democrats’ presidential nominee.

“We believe that the road to the White House leads through the West,” Dean told the crowd at the Colorado Convention Center.

Colorado Confidential’s Leslie Robinson talked to Dean about Denver and the 2008 convention.


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The battle over Amendment 41 continues. If you’re thinking of the same word I’m thinking of, then I have to figure out how to spell “interminable.”

As Cara DeGette of Colorado Confidential fame explains:

The off-again, mostly on-again battle over implementing Amendment 41 is back on again, with proponents renewing calls on the state Senate to quit “dragging their feet” – or risk a statewide ballot amendment this year that would clarify the muddied language, as well as impose a $50 occupational tax on lobbyists.

The renewed warning comes three weeks after the state House of Representatives and the state Senate reached a compromise and announced that lawmakers who had been at odds over implementing Colorado’s voter-passed ethics in government amendment had agreed to work toward implementing it into law.

But on Thursday, Mark Grueskin, a Denver attorney who has been working with its original sponsors, including Jared Polis and Colorado Common Cause, said that if the legislature hasn’t referred an “appropriate” interrogatory to clarify a portion of the amendment’s language to the Supreme Court by close of business this coming Tuesday, April 17, his group will move forward with an initiative for this November’s ballot.

Grueskin and his group originally announced plans to push an amendment this year on March 21, the day after state Sens. Andy McElhany and Peter Groff announced their own proposal to send portions of Amendment 41 back to voters in ’08. When Grueskin’s group upped the ante, leaders from the House and Senate majority and minority parties agreed to a compromise. But, three weeks later, Grueskin says, the Senate has still been slow to move – especially on the interrogatory to be sent to the Supreme Court.

“If the Senate refuses to act in a timely way, then the public will have to step in,” Grueskin said.

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President Bush has shown on more than one occasion that he’s pretty much going to do whatever he wants. So it’s no surprise to read this from  Ann Imse of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Lawyers in Denver are arguing that President Bush has the right to remove from an audience people who disagree with him. The case involves two people ejected from a taxpayer-funded Bush speech two years ago.

Leslie Weise and Alex Young were removed from a Bush address on Social Security after a staffer for Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., pointed them out as suspicious because they had arrived in a car with an anti-war bumper sticker. Weise and Young sued, arguing that the ouster violated their First Amendment right to free speech.

Attorneys for Michael Casper and Jay Klinkerman, who were involved in removing them, have filed an appeals brief saying the ouster was legal.

“The president’s right to control his own message includes the right to exclude people expressing discordant viewpoints from the audience,” states the brief, filed by attorneys Sean Gallagher, Dugan Bliss and others representing Casper and Klinkerman.

The White House declined comment, citing the ongoing lawsuit. Three White House staffers have also been sued in the case for ordering the ouster. Gallagher said the White House was not involved in developing the argument.

The appeal centers on “whose speech is at issue – the president’s or the plaintiffs’?” the brief says.

Weise responded, “My read of the Constitution does not give the president free speech rights greater than the citizens he serves.”

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The Washington Post blog “The Fix” says that Colorado still represents the top pickup opportunity in the country in regards to the 2008 U.S. Senate race:

Our No. 1 race stays the same as last month’s, as former Rep. Scott McInnis’s (R) decision not to run for the open Colorado seat leaves the GOP without an announced candidate. But change is rampant elsewhere on The Line, as Democrats’ recruiting prospects in New Hampshire and Oregon are looking up.

Remember: The No. 1 ranked race is the one most likely to switch parties in the 2008 election…

…1. Colorado: McInnis’s no-go decision surprised many Republicans, since he has long pined for the chance to serve in the Senate. With McInnis out, it seems as though the establishment will coalesce around former Rep. Bob Schaffer, who ran and lost the 2004 Republican Senate primary to beer magnate Pete Coors. Schaffer has said little publicly about his future plans since McInnis dropped from the contest. Rep. Mark Udall (D) continues to lay low and collect cash. It’s tough to handicap this race until the Republican field shakes out a bit more, but regardless of the eventual GOP nominee, Udall will enter the general election as the favorite. (Previous ranking: 1)

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An effort to strengthen seat belt laws in Colorado failed yesterday after heated debate. As Ed Sealover of The Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

One of the most strident debates of the 2007 legislative session ended Thursday with the House voting, once again, to kill a bill that would have allowed police to pull over motorists for not wearing seat belts.

Senate Bill 151 was rejected by two votes after a roughly twohour tussle that left one legislator near tears and sponsor Rep. Joe Rice, D-Littleton, charging that opposing the bill was a vote to kill children.

Wearing a seat belt is required under state law, but it is classified as a secondary offense, meaning police can ticket someone for not wearing a seat belt only if they’ve been stopped for another offense.

The bill passed the Senate by an 18-16 vote in February.

Rice argued Thursday that making seat belt violations a primary offense could save 30 lives a year, based on statistics from the 24 other states that have such a law. It would also bring Colorado a $12 million one-time grant from the federal government for highway safety.

Rep. Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, argued it would infringe on residents’ liberty in a state that has seen seat belt usage rise from 65 percent in 2000 to 80 percent last year. While Rice and others said it might serve as an extra incentive for kids who might not listen to mothers telling them to buckle up, Cadman said the state should not attempt to be a parent.

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Another week, another scandal. The White House is apparently “missing” a whole bunch of e-mails. As The Washington Post reports:

A lawyer for the Republican National Committee told congressional staff members yesterday that the RNC is missing at least four years’ worth of e-mail from White House senior adviser Karl Rove that is being sought as part of investigations into the Bush administration, according to the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

GOP officials took issue with Rep. Henry Waxman’s account of the briefing and said they still hope to find the e-mail as they conduct forensic work on their computer equipment. But they acknowledged that they took action to prevent Rove — and Rove alone among the two dozen or so White House officials with RNC accounts — from deleting his e-mails from the RNC server. Waxman (D-Calif.) said he was told the RNC made that move in 2005.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Waxman said the RNC lawyer, Rob Kelner, also raised the possibility that Rove had personally deleted the missing e-mails, all dating back to before 2005. GOP officials said Kelner was merely speaking hypothetically about why e-mail might be missing for any staffer and not referring to Rove in particular.

The disclosures helped fan the controversy over what the White House has acknowledged to be the improper use of political e-mail accounts to conduct official government business.

Democrats are suspicious that Rove and other senior officials were using the political accounts, set up by the RNC, to avoid scrutiny from Congress. E-mails already in the public record suggest that at least some White House officials were mindful of a need not to discuss certain matters within the official White House e-mail system.

Yesterday, congressional Democrats denounced the White House after administration officials acknowledged this week that e-mails dealing with official government business, including the firing of U.S. attorneys, may have been lost because they were improperly sent through political messaging accounts. Twenty-two White House officials — and a total of about 50 over the course of the administration — have been given such accounts to avoid doing political work on government equipment.

I love this part: “In a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Waxman said the RNC lawyer, Rob Kelner, also raised the possibility that Rove had personally deleted the missing e-mails…”

Really? You think that’s a possibility?


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The House approved a measure to restrict campaign donations from LLC corporations yesterday. As The Denver Post notes:

The House on Thursday endorsed a bill to crack down on campaign contributions by limited liability corporations.

The measure would close a loophole exposed during last year’s elections when a number of donors used LLCs to get around the state’s contribution limits for individuals.

House Bill 1323 would prohibit donations to candidates, small- donor committees and political parties if one or more of the members of the LLC is a corporation, a labor organization, a lobbyist or foreign citizen or government.

Those LLCs contributing to campaigns would have to provide the names and addresses of its membership, confirmation of eligibility to make the donation, and information as to how the contribution is to be attributed among its members.

“Clean elections require transparency. Any attempt to conceal contributions to candidates is an effort to hide the truth from the American people,” said bill sponsor Rep. Gwyn Green, D-Golden.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the no-snow.

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Jason Bane

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