The calendar says it’s the second day of March, but my watch says it’s February 30th. Somebody’s lying to me…
Both Democrats and Republicans will party at big bashes this weekend. Democrats hold their traditional “Jefferson-Jackson” dinner tomorrow night with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the featured, er, speaker. Tickets are sold out for the event at the Adams Mark hotel in Denver.
Republicans hold their “Repaint the State Red” dinner tonight in Littleton, where the guest speaker is Republican strategist Karl Rove. Likely State Republican Chair Dick Wadhams was once called the “heir apparent” to Rove before his last candidate, former Sen. George Allen, was upset in Virginia by Democrat Jim Webb.
How far have Republican fortunes fallen in Colorado in the last couple of years? Take a look at the price comparison:
Tickets to hear Nancy Pelosi: $100
Tickets to hear Karl Rove: $50
What would Political Gravy be without a little discussion of Amendment 41? I mean, besides interesting.
As Jennifer Brown of The Denver Post reports…ah, screw it. Just read for yourself:
Lawmakers and one of the backers of Colorado’s troubled new ethics law squared off Thursday, before a House panel endorsed legislation that would clarify its intent.
“I think you’ve got a lot of courage to come here and call it your law,” Rep. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, told Colorado Common Cause executive director Jenny Flanagan. “Please don’t curse the state of Colorado with another one of these.”
Flanagan, meanwhile, accused critics of perpetrating hysteria about the law’s effects. “A lot of the rhetoric around Amendment 41 misses the point.”
The House State Affairs Committee voted 6-4 to pass House Bill 1304, which makes clear the voter-approved amendment does not restrict scholarships to government employees’ children or cash awards to state university professors.
The committee also passed a companion resolution to ask for a Colorado Supreme Court ruling on whether it’s constitutional for the legislature to clarify the voter-approved amendment.
House Speaker Andrew Romanoff acknowledged that asking the court for advice is a “politically difficult course to take,” but said: “In the interest of public policy, we’re obligated at least to try.” If not, it could take years for lawsuits to clear the “cloud of uncertainty” over the ethics law, Romanoff said.
Does Common Cause really call this “their law?” Who the hell would want to take credit for Amendment 41 at this point?
Survivors of Hurricane Katrina, President Bush says he hears you. As The Washington Post reports:
In his first visit to the Gulf Coast in six months, President Bush said Thursday that he heard “loud and clear” the growing complaints in the region that the federal response to Hurricane Katrina has become ensnared in red tape.
But in a trip designed to highlight the progress made in the 18 months since the hurricane devastated New Orleans and the Mississippi coast, the president insisted that “people’s lives are improving and there is hope.”
As billions of federal dollars have sat in state accounts untapped in part because of complex federal rules, Louisiana officials in particular have become vocal about what they called the Bush administration’s wavering interest in the rebuilding process. The frustration came to a boil when Bush did not mention Katrina during his State of the Union address, prompting Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) to observe that the “the pains of the hurricane are yesterday’s news in Washington.”
After a meeting with state and local officials in Biloxi, Miss., Thursday, Bush said he had listened as the officials described their “continued frustration with the slowness of federal response at times. It’s important for me to hear that.”
Bush says he’s listening, which would be swell if there was reason to think it made any difference. The President “listened” to the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and then went out and completely ignored them.
Few phrases do a better job of indicating bad news than this one: Slush fund.
As Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News reports:
Some departments in previous Gov. Bill Owens’ administration used vacancy savings as a “slush fund” that helped cover the cost of huge payouts to Owens’ appointees, a Democratic lawmaker charged Thursday.
Rep. Bernie Buescher, of Grand Junction, said he and other members of the Joint Budget Committee are concerned about recent revelations that Owens’ staffers received bonuses, were allowed to accrue unlimited sick and vacation leave, and might have been overpaid thousands of dollars when they exited state government in January.
Buescher said he doesn’t believe anything illegal occurred, but lawmakers might ask the state auditor to investigate.
“What we are trying to do is get a handle,” he said. “We’re the legislative branch, and we’re seeing something the executive branch has done wrong.”
Buescher and others have said it was wrong for Owens’ top staffers to collect benefits other state employees don’t receive. Owens, a Republican, left office Jan. 9, when Democrat Bill Ritter was sworn in.
Dan Hopkins, Owens’ spokesman, noted that Owens’ former chief of staff already has written a letter saying the leave policy was confusing, and that it would be appropriate for the Ritter administration to review all payouts.
Oh! He wrote a letter. You didn’t say you had written a letter. Well, nevermind then.
Democratic Presidential contender John Edwards was in Denver yesterday to speak to a group of students at Metro State College. As David Montero of the Rocky Mountain News explains:
The John Edwards apology tour continued Thursday, this time stopping at Metropolitan State College to a throng of students eager to see the former vice presidential candidate.
“First off, to anybody in the room that doesn’t know it – and you probably know it already – I voted for this war and I was wrong to vote for this war,” Edwards said. “I should never have voted for it. I take responsibility for that.”
It was the launching point for what he described as “the bleeding sore that is Iraq” and his ideas for trying to solve the crisis there.
Dressed in slacks and an open- collared blue shirt with rolled-up sleeves, he told the crowd of about 600 that escalating the war was wrong and that, if elected president in 2008, he would begin drawing down the number of troops in Iraq immediately.
Edwards also told the crowd it wasn’t complicated – outlining a simplified history of the region that basically stated the Sunnis and Baathists ran the country under Saddam Hussein and lost power when the U.S. toppled the regime. The Shiites had been out of power for more than 1,000 years and now that they’re in power, they don’t want to give it up.
“That is the cause of the violence on the ground in Iraq,” Edwards said. “However many American troops are on the ground, that violence will continue until there is a political reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite.”
He blasted President Bush for not traveling around the world promoting diplomacy and said the next president should make a concerted effort to meet with foreign leaders on their soil.
The Associated Press notes that Colorado has become a good place to stop for Presidential contenders from both sides of the political aisle.
Democrat Gwyn Green is sponsoring legislation to close a campaign finance loophole that allows one person to set up multiple LLCs for campaign donations. As The Denver Post reports:
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.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez’s campaign received 32 separate $500 contributions on the same day from 16 LLCs at the same address.
And Democratic candidate Bill Ritter reported maximum contributions from two LLCs while also getting money from their principals.
The Golden Democrat’s bill 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.
And that’s that. Have a great weekend.