Senate President Shaffer accuses Speaker McNulty of running House members as his personal agents

Speaker of the House Frank McNulty speaking on the steps of the Capitol. (Kersgaard)

Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, today charged Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, with using House Republicans as his personal agents.

He said Republican members of the redistricting committee were merely McNulty’s agents sent to do his bidding.

McNulty last week said that Shaffer was trying to use the redistricting committee to carve out a safe district so that Shaffer could win a seat in Congress.

Shaffer, though, said Democrats worked to make districts competitive and that McNulty has spent the session remaking bipartisan negotiation attempts into a circus of partisan gamesmanship.

“What we are seeing, whether it is in the case of the Joint Select Committee [on Redistricting] or on the Joint Budget Committee is that the Republican members don’t have authority to make decisions,” Shaffer said.  “The only person who makes decisions is Frank McNulty–that is it. So these people are agents of Frank McNulty, and they do the very best they can. But as soon as they get a deal and take it back to the Speaker, Frank says ‘The deal is off. That doesn’t satisfy me.’

“The Joint Budget Committee did very good work; they had come to a consensus on the budget, then Speaker McNulty interjected himself and said this isn’t good enough, and then blew up the budget. And now we have the Joint Select Committee, which has done some very good work up to this point and as soon as they make a proposal and put the first draft of maps on the table, Speaker McNulty interjects himself and blows the whole process up and makes it an ultra partisan  process.” Shaffer said. “I think it would be easier if Frank would just sit at the table and be part of the negotiation. And that is a frustration that we all share.”

Shaffer laid out what he sees as “standard operating procedure” for the Republican party during his weekly press meeting. He said that while there has been initial agreement that there would be a bipartisan compromise on tough bills such as the Healthcare Exchange, long bill, and the redrawing of congressional district lines–in each case McNulty has played politics and turned each issue into a partisan tug of war.

“So I think that you are seeing a standard operating procedure on the Republican side here, which is to say that they are going to work in a bipartisan way and then blow bipartisan projects up as soon as they don’t get their way through the negotiations.”

McNulty upon hearing about Shaffer’s accusations did anything but back away from his declaration Friday that Democrats were working in the best interests of Democrats.

“Pres. Brandon Shaffer was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  It’s no wonder he’s upset,” McNulty said. “While Republicans produced maps that are fair with the district lines adjusted to account for population growth, the Democrat maps were drawn with personal political ambitions in mind; not the best interests of Colorado.”

On Friday, Republicans attacked Democrats for creating redistricting maps that could possibly violate some of the rules surrounding the redrawing of congressional district lines.

They said that by eliminating West Slope and Eastern Plains voting blocs and using transportation corridors to create their maps, Shaffer and Democrats sitting on the redistricting committee were splitting communities of interest, significantly altering current district lines, and making it almost impossible for rural Coloradans to get elected. As part of those accusations they accused Shaffer and Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora of carving out districts where they could personally win Congressional seats.

While Carroll told the Colorado Independent Friday that she had no intention of running for congress, Shaffer would not answer as to whether he was entertaining the possibility of a congressional run. Instead, Shaffer said that he had had little influence over the decisions to make the map and pointed to the competitiveness of districts under the Democratic plan.

Shaffer said that Coloradans were adamant about their desire to have competition in congressional districts, a feature he said Democrats focused on in their draft maps. Shaffer said that currently CD 1 and CD2 are locked down as Democratic Districts,  While CD 4, CD 5 and CD 6 are Republicans, with only CD 3 as a toss up and CD 7 leaning Democratic but competitive.

He said that while Democratic Maps give Democrats and Republicans each one solid district, CD1 (Denver) for Democrats and CD 5 (Colorado Springs) for Republicans, it also provides three “toss-up” districts and two competitive leaning- Republican districts.

Shaffer said while Rep. David Balmer’s, R-Centennial, map ultimately left Democrats in control of two districts and Republicans solidly in control of three, the maps labeled “McNulty” greatly enhanced the notion that in many cases congressional seats could be held for life.

“If you look at the Republican seats, in every case he has increased the performance in the Republican seats. So what he did was he guaranteed that in each of the Republican districts–you are looking at CD 4, 5 and 6–whoever is in that seat can be there the rest of their lives. There is no competitiveness,” Shaffer said.

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