You Can Cross the Border at Political Gravy

That’s okay, Bill. I don’t have a rich Presidential pedigree, either.

Senators put the finish touches on a new immigration reform plan yesterday, though they didn’t manage to avoid confusion. As Laura Frank and Lisa Ryckman of the Rocky Mountain News report:

No matter what their immigration views, Coloradans seem to fall into two camps on the latest reform proposal: those unhappy with it, and those just confused by it.

“This paints the picture that all you have to do is sneak in the back door and we’ll eventually give you amnesty,” said Fred Elbel, of Defend Colorado Now, which waged a failed constitutional amendment campaign that led then-Gov. Bill Owens to call a special legislative session on immigration reform.

“I think our senators are trying to give their corporate interests an unending supply of cheap foreign labor at the expense of the American worker,” he said.
The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition doesn’t like the proposal, either, but for different reasons.

“We find the elimination of the family immigration system, the creation of a new temporary worker program that would create a permanent underclass of workers with few rights and no ability to become citizens, and the limitations on due process to be anti-family, anti-worker and fundamentally un-American,” the coalition said in a statement.

Jeff Joseph, one of Denver’s top immigration attorneys, said he doesn’t like the emphasis on job skills and education over family ties in the granting of visas. He said that smacks of elitism.

“I’m not making a value judgment, but this takes people with less education to the end of the line,” he said.

Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar played a key role in the talks that forged a compromise on the issue, as Burt Hubbard of the Rocky Mountain News explains:

The 300-page immigration reform package unveiled Thursday had its roots in meetings among a handful of U.S. senators that began months ago and culminated in nearly nonstop sessions this week.

“It’s kind of a blur,” said Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., one of the architects of the proposal. “We worked on it for some very long hours for really the last two or three months.”

The first piece to fall into place involved border security.
“We kept true to the principles that have always driven me on this debate over immigration, and that’s first to secure our borders,” he said.

The plan calls for more Border Patrol agents and more effective ways to crack down on hiring of illegal immigrants.

Salazar said creating separate provisions for agricultural workers in the temporary worker program was another breakthrough.

Salazar spokesman Cody Wertz said the temporary worker program was “the toughest part.”

Finally, the group of senators addressed what to do about the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

Salazar said the package gives them a chance to get permanent residency, but puts them “at the back of the line (of those) who are waiting to get a green card in this country.”

Colorado Confidential’s Erin Rosa has more on the immigration proposal.


It sure looks as though things are going to get worse for Republican Secretary of State Mike Coffman before they get better. As April Washington of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Secretary of State Mike Coffman issued a new policy Thursday restricting election workers in his office from engaging in outside political activity.
State election workers now must sign a form agreeing to steer clear of such activities.

“It’s my responsibility, and the responsibility of every employee in this office, to make sure that this right (voting) is exercised under a process that is always fair and honest to the voters of our state,” said Coffman, a Republican.

The new policy comes a week after Coffman demoted an elections worker and longtime political ally who operated a side consulting business that sold voter information to mainly Republican interests.

Dan Kopelman, former election technology manager, was reassigned to a job where he does not have access to voter data.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Pat Waak, however, renewed her demand that Kopelman be fired, writing to Coffman: “I strongly urge you to restore the trust and integrity you campaigned on last year to your office, which will only continue to suffer under this cloud created by Mr. Kopelman, his partisan activities and his continued presence in that office.”

Also on Thursday, Progress Now Action, a politically liberal group, submitted petitions requesting an independent criminal investigation into what Coffman knew about Kopelman’s political activities and his business, Political Live Wires.

The petitions, bearing 1,000 signatures, were presented to Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, Gov. Bill Ritter and the House and Senate leadership. The complaint notes that Coffman’s campaign last fall did business with Kopelman’s consulting firm.


Speaking of cronyism, Paul Wolfowitz resigned last night from his position as head of the World Bank, unable to withstand criticism over awarding his girlfriend a hefty raise. As The New York Times reports:

Paul D. Wolfowitz, ending a furor over favoritism that blew up into a global fight over American leadership, announced his resignation as president of the World Bank Thursday evening after the bank’s board accepted his claim that his mistakes at the bank were made in good faith.

His mistakes were made in good faith? What kind of good faith? Like, the good faith that his girlfriend would be very happy with her big raise?


Colorado’s 2008 Senate race remains the top pickup opportunity in the country, according to The Washington Post blog “The Fix”:

1. Colorado: Republicans (finally) have their man. Former Rep. Bob Schaffer quietly announced his candidacy last week and all indications are that he will have the Republican primary field to himself. Democrats quickly sought to portray Schaffer as a conservative extremist, citing as evidence some of the positions he advocated during his three terms in Congress in the late 1990s. There’s no question that Schaffer is more conservative than the average Colorado voter, but he also built up a grassroots following based on the “straight-shooter” reputation he maintained during his tenure in the House and before that in the state legislature. In our mind, Schaffer’s biggest problem is fundraising. When he ran in the GOP Senate primary in 2006, he was never able to compete financially with beer magnate Pete Coors in the primary and wound up losing badly. Assuming the party is lined up behind him this time, Schaffer may benefit from a slew of national GOP money. Rep. Mark Udall will be the Democratic nominee. Expect Republicans — Dick Wadhams we are looking at you — to try and paint him as a “Boulder liberal” in the months to come. (Previous ranking: 1)

Expect Republicans to paint Udall is a “Boulder liberal” in the months to come? They’ve already been doing that for months.


Rocky Mountain News columnist Peter Blake reports today on something that Colorado Confidential first reported about a month ago. First, from Blake:

There won’t be a big primary fight between Reps. Michael Garcia and Morgan Carroll, both D-Aurora, when term limits force Sen. Bob Hagedorn’s retirement after next year’s session.

Garcia will be term-limited in the House, and Carroll will have two more terms available to her in the House. So she’s going to let him take the first shot at the Senate seat. She gave him credit for carrying, like herself, tough legislation, “not little baby bunny bills.”

He hasn’t committed to the race, but concedes it’s “likely.” The district is heavily Democratic, and winning the nomination is tantamount to election.

But will Garcia – sponsor of House Bill 1072, the vetoed labor measure – want to serve more than one term in the Senate? Friends say possibly not. He’s about to get married and hopes to raise a family, and that’s not easy on the $30,000 a year the legislature pays.

In 2012 he may want to run for the Arapahoe County commissioner seat that former Democratic legislator Frank Weddig will have to give up – presuming his re-election next year. It pays twice as much.

Carroll noted that Speaker Andrew Romanoff and Majority Leader Alice Madden will have to leave office after next year. Carroll didn’t exactly say so, but she hinted she may try for a leadership spot in the House as long as she’s not going for the Senate.

Now here’s what Colorado Confidential reported first on April 26:

State Sen. Bob Hagedorn is term-limited in 2008, and all indications were that Democrats were headed for a difficult primary battle to succeed him in SD-29 (Aurora) between Rep. Mike Garcia and Rep. Morgan Carroll. But Carroll may be backing off with the belief that she might be able to get a leadership position in the House in 2008.

House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, Majority Leader Alice Madden and other longtime Democrats such as Rep. Cheri Jahn are all term-limited in 2008, and if Carroll wins re-election, she’ll be starting her third term in the House. Whether or not she can actually get a leadership role is another question, but one Democratic source says that Garcia has promised Carroll that he will only serve on term in the state senate if elected.

That’s why you come to Colorado Confidential, right? To get the good stuff first.


The scandal over fired U.S. Attorneys that has had Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the hot seat has potential tentacles in Colorado. As Bruce Finley of The Denver Post reports:

A former acting U.S. attorney for Colorado who reportedly was considered by the Bush administration for firing said Thursday that he presumed he didn’t get the permanent job for “political reasons.”

“If you do that job well, and do it long enough, you’re going to make some people angry. That just comes with the territory. I don’t know if that happened, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it did,” said William Leone, now in private practice after acting as Colorado’s top federal prosecutor from December 2004 through August 2006.

McClatchy Newspapers and The Washington Post, citing sources familiar with secret documents, separately reported Thursday that Leone was one of at least 26 U.S. attorneys that the Justice Department considered dismissing in 2005 and 2006.

U.S. district judges in Denver voted unanimously to keep Leone on the job while White House officials and senators weighed candidates for an official appointment. Instead, Troy Eid was confirmed in August as permanent U.S. attorney.

Leone said he was proud to work as acting U.S. attorney and wanted to continue as long as possible but lacked the “rich presidential pedigree” required for an appointment.

“I was hopeful that, if I hung in there and did a good job, I might be allowed to continue until the end of the administration,” he said. “It didn’t work out that way. I assume that was for political reasons. I was never told I was on any list; never told I displeased anybody.”

Republican Sen. Wayne Allard told the Rocky Mountain News  that he found it “strange” that Leone was not named the official U.S. Attorney in Colorado:

U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard thought it was “very strange” when the White House in early 2006 rejected William Leone, his latest pick for U.S. attorney for Colorado.

Leone had been serving on an interim basis for more than a year, and the senator had heard no concerns about him, Allard’s chief of staff, Sean Conway, recalled Thursday.

“It was just kind of weird to us,” Conway said, adding that the White House gave no reason for the decision.

You can ponder that strangeness all weekend long if you’d like. That’s it for this week’s Political Gravy.


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