Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Make your own election ad

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 3:11 PM

At this point in election season, a lot of people have stopped caring about who wins and who loses. They just want those stupid campaign ads to go away.

But what if you had the chance to make your own stupid ad? Because, actually you do. Secretary of State Scott Gessler is currently hosting a contest for 30-second ads that encourage people to register to vote. You have until Oct. 24 to get your submission turned in. If enough people like your ad, it could end up on the Secretary of State's web site.

Gessler Announces Video Challenge, Starring You

Deadline extended for video submissions

DENVER, October 14, 2014 – As a competitive state, Coloradans are inundated with political ads every other year. This year, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler wants to give voters their shot at producing a political ad focused on voter registration.

“We’re always looking at creative ways to reach Colorado citizens to get them registered or remind them to update their registration,” Gessler said. “Here’s an opportunity for Coloradans to share their story or encourage their friends and peer groups to engage politically.”

Aspiring directors and videographers have until October 24 to submit their 30-second videos to the Secretary of State for posting. The videos must share information about Colorado’s voter registration requirements and include a mention of the state’s online voter registration system at GoVoteColorado.com.

Voters will have a chance to cast their preference for their favorite ads and the winner will be announced after Election Day.

To qualify, your video must:

Be your original work
Be no more than 30 seconds long
Be G-rated (no violence, offensive language, or sexual activity)
Mention that voters must be: over 18 years old, United States citizens and residents of Colorado
Tell voters that they can register, or update their registration, at GoVoteColorado.com
Must not endorse or mention any candidates or issues on the November 2014 ballot

How to enter:

All entries must be received no later than 11:59 pm on October 24, 2014
Post your completed video on YouTube
Send a link to your video to Richard.coolidge@sos.state.co.us

What happens next?

If your video meets the criteria, it will be posted on the Secretary of State’s web site. Make sure to send your friends and family to the site to see your work and vote using YouTube’s thumbs up icon. After the election, the votes will be cast and we’ll declare a winner.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Business group back stormwater ballot measure

Posted By on Thu, Oct 2, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Issue 1B on the Nov. 4 ballot got a boost today when the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance board of directors announced its support.

In an emailed message, the RBA said this:
Flooding happens all over town, like in this shot in July taken in the northwest portion of the city. - DEAN LUSE
  • Dean Luse
  • Flooding happens all over town, like in this shot in July taken in the northwest portion of the city.
Vote yes on 1B - Let's fix this!

Images of flooded cars at the Citadel, mud cleanups in Manitou, and intersections closed due to flooding have become a familiar sight in the Pikes Peak region. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. After decades of neglect, our community's stormwater and flood-control systems are crumbling. A 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers report card gave the system an overall D- for safety and condition, and we have a $706 million capital project backlog and need $14 million per year in maintenance. To put that in perspective, the City of Colorado Springs typically spends about $3 million per year on stormwater. It's time to take care of our community and invest in safe, reliable infrastructure.

Based on two years of research, analysis and public input, the Pikes Peak Stormwater Task Force - nearly 200 citizens, engineers, neighborhood leaders, business people and elected officials volunteering thousands of hours - has proposed a comprehensive management plan for voter approval:

A regional stormwater authority that will address a list of stormwater capital projects (55% of funds), emergency needs and master planning (10%) and maintenance (35%).
The capital portion will automatically end after 20 years and the fee will go down.
Work will be funded by a user fee based on impervious surface, capped to avoid economic burden.

Spending on administration will be capped at 1% to minimize overhead, and work will be contracted to local vendors to maximize economic benefit.

The average homeowner would pay $7.70 per month.

The fee is fixed and will NEVER go up. There isn't even an inflation adjustment.
The money can only be spent on stormwater projects, and voters know what they're getting because of the project list, which has been reviewed by an independent engineering company.

A regional authority means all local governments will work together to coordinate efforts and maximize return on investment.

The authority is modeled on the successful, voter-approved Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA).

Addressing stormwater means:
A better local economy
250 new, high-quality jobs each year (University of Colorado Colorado Springs economic analysis)
Lower insurance rates
Well-maintained critical infrastructure - safer roads and bridges
More efficient use of taxpayer dollars because we can prevent problems
Less damage to public and private property
The RBA is but one of many influential groups in the region who are backing the measure, which has drawn strident opposition from anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce. Bruce has this to say about all those endorsements:
See the "diverse coalition" listed at the tax pushers' website. Apart from politicians (who want more taxes to spend on their campaign donors), nearly all supporters have a financial interest in getting some of the $49 million yearly tax. Look at all the contractors who want to be paid for the drainage work. Look at all the developers who want US to pay for the backlog THEY created. Look at the Gazette, which is in bed with the developers who advertise in that paper. Look at "RBC Dain Raucher," a bond dealer who wants this new layer of government to borrow money (bonds) against the $49 million yearly revenue, so they can get huge commissions (which fix no drainage projects).

Etc. etc. Are you getting the picture? To understand political graft, "follow the money."
The proposed fee would raise an estimated $39 million annually, not $49 million, and 55 percent of the fee would sunset in 20 years. The balance would remain in perpetuity to fund maintenance.
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Monday, June 30, 2014

Halter: Itching for a fight

Posted By on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 5:43 PM

Surprise, surprise: Irv Halter, Democratic candidate for Congressional District 5, wants to debate Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn.

Halter sent out an email today congratulating Lamborn on winning the primary and asking for a series of debates. 

Lamborn, you'll remember tends to shy away from debates. But he did go head-to-head with his Republican primary opponent Bentley Rayburn recently, and may consider debating Halter as well. We'll let you know if they set a date.

Here's the letter:
Irv Halter
  • Irv Halter
Dear Congressman Lamborn,

Congratulations on your victory in the Republican primary. I’m sure you will agree that the general election is about all the voters in our district, and I hope you will join me in a series of meaningful and timely debates to assist them to better know our views and character.

We live in a world of 30 second sound bites that frequently pass for political discourse. This is part of the reason citizens are tuning out of the system and small minorities of voters are deciding the important issues of our time. At a time when the approval of Congress is at record lows, the people of our district deserve to hear an open debate.

Debates allow voters to see where we stand on issues, and a glimpse of our personalities and methods of dealing with tough questions. It can give them a sense of the character and competence of a candidate and increase their confidence that we are serious people who can make a positive difference for them.

I was encouraged to see that you debated your primary opponent and have stated to the Independent that you are willing to debate me.

I believe that a series of 3 debates will provide as many Coloradans as possible the opportunity to see firsthand our differing views for our district. These debates should be televised or streamed online so the voters can easily participate.

These debates must also be spread out over the course of the campaign. We need to provide voters with the opportunity to hear us out before making their decision on who will best represent them. Accordingly, I believe we should hold the first debate in August while Congress is in recess, one debate in September, and one in October.

Typically the candidate who is seeking debates is the one lagging in fundraising; however, as you know, my campaign has significantly more resources at this time. However, I believe that the voters of our district deserve to hear us debate a couple times and that the campaign should not devolve to solely a series of 30-second advertisements.

My campaign manager, Ethan Susseles, will be in touch with your campaign team to arrange details. I hope our teams can connect so we can quickly come to an agreement on a debate schedule that supports the voters right to hear us and be heard as we approach this important election.


Irv Halter

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dems may surprise in general election

Posted By on Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 3:19 PM

It’s election day — well, for the El Paso County Republicans, anyway.

The local Democratic party doesn’t have a single contested race in the primary this year. But the fun will soon begin for the area’s progressives, as the campaign for the general election goes into full swing. While it may not seem that most Democrats have a snowflake’s chance in the reddest part of the state, some are packing surprise punches.

Here are a few local Democratic candidates who might wow voters this season:

  • halterforcongress.com
  • Irv Halter
Irv Halter — He’s an Air Force vet who’s running for U.S. Congressional District 5, likely against incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn, a staunch Republican, but possibly against Lamborn’s staunch Republican primary opponent, Bentley Rayburn.

The odds are certainly stacked against a Democrat winning this race, but Halter is unusually good at fundraising. As of June 4, his campaign has brought in $450,388, including $37,975 from himself, while Lamborn’s campaign has raised just $391,881, including a $100,000 loan from himself. Rayburn was way behind, having raised $84,380, which included $9,697 from himself.

Jariah Walker - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Jariah Walker

• Jariah Walker – The local businessman is hoping to become the first Democrat on the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners in decades. He’s running in the most liberal-leaning district against very-conservative incumbent Peggy Littleton.

Littleton has the advantage of her party affiliation and her incumbency, but, interestingly, Walker seems to be lining up the conservative endorsements.
Recently, Walker scored the endorsement of Suzi Bach — about as close as anyone’s likely to come to getting an endorsement from Suzi’s husband, Mayor Steve Bach.

Walker was previously endorsed by City Councilor Jan Martin, and former City Council President Scott Hente. But most of Walker’s conservative endorsements have come from the local business world — people like Kelly Bain, Lynette Crow, and Joshua Green.

Littleton doesn’t have a list of endorsements on her campaign Web site.

  • peteleecolorado.com
  • Rep. Pete Lee
• Pete Lee — Lee is the incumbent representative in Colorado House District 18, and he’s already fought off one challenger to keep the seat.

In 2012, he beat well-funded Republican Jennifer George — 19,588 votes to 15,021.

This year, Republican Michael Schlierf, a managing member of a real estate investment company, is challenging Lee. He’ll probably need a good deal of luck to beat Pete. Lee’s got nearly $35,000 in his campaign war chest, while Schlierf has just over $2,500.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

UPDATE: Time running out to mail your ballot

Posted By on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Citizens who want to mail their primary ballots are running out of time.

Ballots must be mailed tomorrow to ensure they are received by election day and counted. You'll need at least $.70 postage if you choose to mail. The other option is to drop-off your ballot at one of the locations listed below.

——- ORIGINAL POST, MONDAY, 2:57 P.M. ——-

  • Shutterstock

By now you should have received your primary ballot in the mail if you're registered with a major political party.

But once you vote, where should you bring your finished ballot? If you don't plan to mail it in, you'll need to bring it to one of several drop-off locations. The good news is, more just opened, so you have plenty to choose from.

Read on for all the details from the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office:

More Voter Service and Polling Centers Open
Voters Urged Not to Delay Returning Ballot

[Colorado Springs, Colo. – June 16, 2014] The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office has opened the three remaining Motor Vehicle Offices as Voter Service and Polling Centers to assist voters ahead of the June 24 Primary Election. All four county Motor Vehicle Offices now offer full voting services without any disruption to regular motor vehicle operations.

Voter Service and Polling Centers (VSPCs) are a new concept to Colorado voting. At a VSPC, voters may return their ballot, get a replacement ballot, vote in person, and register or update their registration. Unaffiliated voters also may affiliate to one of Colorado’s three major political parties (American Constitution, Democratic, or Republican) and vote in that party’s primary.

Though every voter affiliated with a major political party was mailed a ballot, the Voter Service and Polling Centers are offered as an additional service. If any El Paso County resident affiliated with any of Colorado’s three major political parties has not yet received their ballot, they should call (719) 575-VOTE (8683) immediately.

All ballots must be returned to the Clerk and Recorder’s Office by 7:00 PM on Tuesday, June 24 to be counted. Voters are urged not to delay returning their ballot to the Clerk and Recorder’s Office. Voters have a wide assortment of convenient options available for returning their ballot, including by mail, 11 different 24/7 ballot drop boxes, or Voter Service and Polling Centers). If a voter chooses they may return their ballot by mail ($0.70 is likely adequate postage), but it is not suggested that a voter attempt to return a ballot by mail after Thursday, June 19.

The four Voter Service and Polling Centers open in El Paso County are as follows:

Main Office at the Citizens Service Center
1675 West Garden of the Gods Rd, Suite 2202
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Open June 2-June 24; Monday – Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM; Saturday, June 21, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM; Election Day 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Downtown Centennial Hall Office
200 South Cascade Ave
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Open June 16-June 24; Monday – Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM; Saturday, June 21, 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM; Election Day 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Southeast Powers Office
5650 Industrial Pl
Colorado Springs, CO 80916
Open June 16-June 24; Monday – Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM; Saturday, June 21, 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM; Election Day 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM

North Union Town Center Office
8830 N. Union Blvd
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
Open June 16-June 24; Monday – Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM; Saturday, June 21, 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM; Election Day 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM

The eleven 24/7 ballot drop-off locations are as follows:

1. Main Clerk’s Office at the Citizens Service Center, 1675 West Garden of the Gods Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80907 (drive-up)
2. Downtown Centennial Hall Clerk’s Office, 200 South Cascade Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
3. Southeast Powers Clerk’s Office, 5650 Industrial Pl, Colorado Springs, CO 80916
4. North Union Town Center Clerk’s Office, 8830 N. Union Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80920
5. East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80918 (drive-up)
6. Charles C. “Chuck” Brown Transportation Complex, 3275 Akers Dr, Colorado Springs, CO 80922
7. Department of Transportation Substation, 1010 Golden St, Calhan, CO 80808
8. Falcon Fire Department, 7030 Old Meridian Rd, Falcon, CO 80831 (drive-up)
9. Fountain Police Department, 222 North Santa Fe Ave, Fountain, CO 80817
10. City of Manitou Springs, 606 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829
11. Town of Monument, 645 Beacon Lite Rd, Monument, CO 80132   

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

More fracking initiatives approved for petition gathering

Posted By on Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 3:16 PM

The Colorado Secretary of State's Office has approved more initiatives aimed at the oil and gas industry for petition gathering.

We wrote about the first four initiatives that were approved for signature gathering here. Of those, three were pro-industry and one is aimed at changing the state's entire system of government. The six initiatives that were just approved, in contrast, are all aimed at reining in the oil and gas industry. Some are being supported by deep-pocketed State Representative Jared Polis.

Here's how they break down:

• Initiatives 85-88 would all create setbacks for oil and gas development. 

• Initiative 89 is the broadest of the new initiatives. It would create an environmental bill of rights that allows local communities to set and enforce more restrictive environmental laws than the state. It specifies that those laws could apply to oil and gas development, including fracking.

• Initiative 90 would give control over the oil and gas industry to local governments, meaning the state would not be able to intervene should a city ban fracking. 

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Lowderman: Wait just a second here

Posted By on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Mark Lowderman
  • Mark Lowderman
El Paso County Assessor Mark Lowderman is none too pleased at how his Republican opponent for El Paso County Treasurer, Duncan Bremer, is characterizing him on Bremer's campaign website.

Under the header "Compare," Bremer, a former county commissioner, has a chart listing his accomplishments against Lowderman's. Lowderman, unsurprisingly, comes out looking less experienced and less conservative. (Check out the chart here.) But Lowderman's camp says the chart is inaccurate and released its own version, which simply lists Lowderman's achievements.

Lowderman's campaign is eager to dispute Bremer's claims because with no Democratic challenger, the Republican primary on June 24 will decide the winner of the seat.

Interested? Take a look at Bremer's chart in the above link and check it against the one provided by Lowderman's campaign below. 

PROFESSION/WORK - Owned and operated Mark Lowderman & Associates, a real estate and consultation firm, from 1983 to 1995. In 1995, County Assessor John Bass recruited me to assist the Assessor's Office with the then new, VAX conversion project.

LOCAL CONSERVATIVE ACTIVISM - Life-long registered Republican and Colorado Springs native.I've donated to countless conservative Republican groups and organizations, including the local El Paso County GOP.

VOLUNTEERED FOR THE LOCAL PARTY - Active Republican. I've worked with Party chairs when something was needed. I served on Dan May's steering committee when he was a candidate for District Attorney. I have walked precincts, coordinated signage and volunteered on campaigns and importantly, I have donated financially to our Republican Party efforts.

KEY ENDORSER - District Attorney Dan May, Former County Assessor John Bass, Former County Treasurers Ken Kile and Sandra Damron and more...

GRASSROOTS BACKGROUND - Served as a Republican Delegate throughout the years.

PRO GUN - I am the "ONLY" candidate in this race for Treasurer endorsed by the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition, and have been endorsed both times when I ran for Assessor. I believe in our Constitutional freedoms including the 2nd Amendment!

PRO LIFE - Yes, and I believe life begins at conception.

WORKED WITH TEA PARTY GROUPS - Yes. Among my many endorsements, I am backed by David Kelly and his group, Liberty First.

VOTED ON RECORD - Yes. I am currently the Vice Chair of the El Paso County Medical Benefits Trust Board.

ADVOCATE FOR PERA SOLVENCY - El Paso County government's retirement system has nothing to do with the State's PERA system, however, I do believe the County's retirement system should provide solid investment options and solvency.


UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION OF THE OFFICE OF TREASURER - Yes. As the County Assessor I have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Colorado. I would continue my commitment to Constitutional values and have the track record to prove it.

PROPERTY TAXES - I feel very passionate about my obligation to the taxpayers by informing you of potential tax breaks for qualified citizens. Read the recent letter regarding the Senior Homestead Property Tax Exemption as your current County Assessor that was sent to senior citizens informing them of their rights to take advantage of this State funded tax exemption which was approved in this legislative session. In addition, In 2002, my opponent was the only commissioner who voted to oppose the elimination of the Business Personal Property Tax which has saved local businesses millions of dollars since it was phased out. In fact, El Paso County is the only county out of 64 counties in the State of Colorado that does not impose the Business Personal Property Tax on local businesses.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Maketa recall petition approved

Posted By on Fri, Jun 13, 2014 at 3:15 PM

El Paso County Terry Maketa has said he will not step down in the wake of scandal, but he could be ousted from his seat whether he likes it or not.

While a first petition to recall the embattled sheriff failed, a second one has been approved by the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office

We called Maketa seeking comment, but haven't heard back yet. In the meantime, here's the release from the clerk and recorder:

Resubmitted Petition to Recall Sheriff Approved

[Colorado Springs, Colo. – June 13, 2014] The committee initiating a recall of El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa resubmitted a draft recall petition to the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office for approval today. The recall committee’s new draft met all legal requirements and has been approved. Recall committee members may begin to collect the 44,387 signatures necessary to recall Sheriff Maketa starting tomorrow. 

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Littleton targeted over Maketa response

Posted By on Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 5:48 PM

Peggy Littleton
  • Peggy Littleton
Once wildly popular, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa has seen his fortunes fall as more allegations of sexual relationships with subordinates and favoritism — first reported in the Colorado Springs Independent four years ago — surface.  But he's likely not the only politician who will suffer from the scandal.

Maketa was cozy with many local politicians, most of whom are doing whatever they can to distance themselves from him in the wake of the scandal.

Take County Commissioner Peggy Littleton. While the entire El Paso County Board of County Commissioners has expressed their desire for Sheriff Terry Maketa to resign, none did so as quickly as Littleton.  Littleton, who is running for reelection in November, surprised her colleagues by coming out against Maketa before the board had discussed the matter. 

She's since given multiple news interviews criticizing the sheriff.

But that hasn't been enough to discourage Littleton's Democratic opponent, Jariah Walker, from seizing the awkward moment. Walker released a scathing email this morning saying Littleton's denunciation of Maketa is "too little, too late." 

One has to wonder if that tagline could soon appear in Walker's political advertising. 

Read on for the full release:

This has been a difficult time for El Paso County. What we need right now from our elected representatives is thoughtful leadership, and not political grandstanding.

On Thursday of last week, the BOCC voted unanimously to ask for Sheriff Terry Maketa's resignation, and they did not take this step lightly.

Four of the five members of the BOCC needed time to investigate the recently published allegations against the sheriff, in order to make a calm, rational decision in the best interests of their constituents.

We need leaders who will take these necessary steps to protect our county without disregarding due process.

For anyone who believes in due process, it was shocking to see Commissioner Peggy Littleton call for Maketa's resignation prior to a proper review.

In one of her many interviews, Littleton told a Denver TV station that she had been "the recipient of a couple of letters that were rather inflated and demeaning and angry and bullying in nature from the sheriff."

“If Commissioner Littleton felt bullied by the sheriff, then why did she not take steps before now?” asks Jariah Walker, candidate for county commissioner in District 5. “How did she think his employees felt working under him all of these years? Her actions are too little, too late.”

What is needed in District 5 is a county commissioner who will do the right thing when nobody is looking — not a politician who seizes the spotlight.

"As a moderate, I don't have to play the games that some of our elected officials think they need to play," says Walker. "There is no line for me to toe. I am a business owner with deep roots in El Paso County. My sole responsibility will be to safeguard our community's interests."

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Halter, Lamborn's Democratic opponent, wants Keystone approved

Posted By on Thu, May 1, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Irv Halter
  • Irv Halter

In political campaigns, it's always best to "play to your base."

Which might explain a recent release from Democrat Irv Halter urging President Barack Obama to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. It's hard to imagine such a position will earn Halter much love from his fellow Democrats — but Democrats aren't the majority in El Paso County. Halter, keenly aware of this fact, has sought to distinguish himself as a firmly conservative Dem.

In fact, the press release goes so far as to point out that his  "Position Puts Him at odds with Obama & Democrats."    

It remains to be seen whether Halter's aisle-swapping will pay off in the November election against Republican incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn.

Major General (Ret) Irv Halter: It's time to build Keystone XL Pipeline
Position Puts Him at odds with Obama & Democrats

Colorado Springs, CO - Today Major General (Ret.) Irv Halter called for the Obama Administration to immediately approve plans to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

"This project will create jobs, spur economic growth, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It has been long-planned and thoroughly reviewed, and it is time to build the pipeline," Halter said.

Halter continued, "I'm disappointed that President Obama has continued to hold up approval of this important project. In my Air Force career, once we had the necessary information, we moved forward and made difficult decisions. After two thorough reviews by the State Department, the President has the information he needs."

The State Department review released in January found that building the northern section of the Keystone XL pipeline will have a negligible impact on the environment. The review noted that regardless of whether the pipeline is built, the oil will still be extracted from the ground. Without the expanded pipeline, this new oil will be transported by rail greatly increasing the risk of accidents.

The report found that construction of the pipeline would create 42,000 jobs, both direct and indirect, over a two-year period. And the project would contribute an additional $3.4 billion to the economy.    

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Waller drops out of AG race

Posted By on Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 3:17 PM

Rep. Mark Waller
  • Rep. Mark Waller
State Rep. Mark Waller (R-Colorado Springs) has dropped out the race for Colorado Attorney General.

Waller, who had hoped to replace the term-limited John Suthers,  barely received enough delegate votes in the Republican assembly to force a primary against rival and Chief Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who received 69 percent support from delegates. 

Waller, however, is popular in El Paso County, where many of the state's Republicans live. It was thought that name-recognition might help him fare better in a primary.

With Waller out, Coffman will now face Democrat Don Quick, a former District Attorney from Adams and Broomfield counties, in November.

Waller issued the following release after dropping from the race: 

Waller Withdraws from Attorney General's Race
Promotes Unity Behind Republican Ticket

State Representative Mark Waller announced today that he is withdrawing from the race for Attorney General to unify the Republican Party and keep the office in Republican hands.

“After much thought and prayer, Jennifer and I believe the best decision moving forward is to step aside and clear the way for Cynthia Coffman. I've enjoyed the opportunity to promote the need for a Constitutional conservative to serve as our next Attorney General," said State Representative Mark Waller.

"I am now confident that Cynthia, as the last line of defense against an overreaching Federal government, is committed to promoting our conservative values and protecting our Western Way of Life," stated Waller.

Representative Waller will continue his focus on promoting effective public policy for the citizens of the state.

"I am looking forward to finishing my term representing the people of Colorado Springs by making our streets safer while defending our Constitutional rights," concluded Mark Waller.

Mark Waller lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Jennifer and two kids Truman and Camille.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Meet Jariah Walker

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Jariah Walker - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Jariah Walker
In February, we told you about Jariah Walker, the political newbie who is trying to become the first Democrat to serve as an El Paso County commissioner in decades. Walker is challenging Republican incumbent Peggy Littleton in the November election for the District 5 seat. 

Want to know if he has what it takes to beat her? You can meet Walker this afternoon or tomorrow night at the following appearances:

• Today, at Her Story Cafe (2356 S. Academy Blvd.), from 2 to 3 p.m., where he will be meeting constituents and discussing their concerns.

• Tomorrow, at SouthSide Johnny's ( 528 S. Tejon St.), from 5 to 7 p.m., where he will be discussing his "hopes and vision for our county."
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Friday, February 21, 2014

Gessler under fire for budget problems

Posted By on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 8:24 AM

Secretary of State Scott Gessler
  • Secretary of State Scott Gessler
Secretary of State Scott Gessler is known as "the Honey Badger" for his tenacious political dealings. But the liberal group ProgressNow has given him a new name as of late: "the Money Badger."

The nickname stems from a rather animated debate on who is to blame for the budget problems in Gessler's office. Gessler, who is running for governor, entered his office with a surplus of about $7 million, but is now scrambling to make ends meet. A big reason for that is that Gessler slashed fees on business registrations and other services performed by his office.

But Gessler says he's not to blame for the money problems, and he refuses to raise fees. For insight into just how ugly this has gotten, check out some of the press releases that have come out this month.

From Gessler's office on Feb. 5:

Democrats Sling Mud at Gessler

While Democrats demand respect at the Capitol, today they descended into petty insults, at one point equating Secretary of State Scott Gessler to a pig.

During a briefing by the legislature’s non-partisan budget staff, Democrats questioned why Gessler wouldn’t raise fees on Colorado businesses to offset the legislature’s spending appetite. JBC Vice-Chair Pat Steadman (D-Denver) went so far as to say that the JBC should file a lawsuit to force Gessler to increase fees on non-profits, charities and small businesses.

“As Colorado small businesses claw their way out of this recession, the Democrats’ answer is to raise fees to pay for their partisan election bill and pet projects,” Gessler said. “My office submitted a fiscally responsible budget that meets the spending obligations of the legislature without raising fees on our businesses and non-profits. If the Democrats want to spend taxpayer money to get a judge to force fee increases on Colorado charities and businesses, I will fight it tooth and nail.”

Democrats rejected the non-partisan staff’s recommendation and instead chose to insult Gessler, who wasn’t in the room. When asked about collecting more information from the Secretary of State’s office, some members requested Gessler explain in-person at their next meeting. But Vice-Chair Steadman disinvited him and referred to Gessler as a pig saying “When you wrestle with a pig, you get dirty.”

“While the Democrats on the committee pat themselves on their backs for their partisan performance in the people’s house, Coloradans are left wondering, ‘These are the people we elected?’” Gessler said. “I would be more than happy to explain how our reduced fees have benefitted Colorado businesses and charities while keeping our fees the lowest in the country. It’s a sad state of affairs when our majority party is insulting individuals, broadcasting those insults and denying any chance of responding.”

Gessler’s written response is due to the committee on February 17.

# # #
From ProgressNow on Feb. 17:

So much for the “party of fiscal responsibility.”

Colorado’s Secretary of State Scott Gessler has never been one to play by the rules. Since taking office in 2011, Gessler has faced scandal after scandal over his own efforts to tilt the playing field to his and his party’s advantage. Gessler is the only statewide politician in office today in Colorado who has been found by the state’s Independent Ethics Commission to have “violated the public trust for private gain.”

Now we learn Gessler can’t even manage his own department’s budget. After slashing fees on business registrations and other services performed by his office, news reports have revealed that the Secretary of State’s office is millions of dollars in the red. Gessler blames political opponents, but these were his decisions. Cutting fees on business is a great way to pander while running for higher office, but taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for it ...

Don’t take my word for it. Even the conservative Grand Junction Sentinel [1] says Gessler is wrong to blame others for his own mismanagement:

"Unfortunately for the [Joint Budget Committee], Gessler loves an audience and he will undoubtedly use the grandstand the budget committee is providing him to loudly proclaim his victimhood. But the JBC holds the higher moral ground in this dispute. Gessler got himself into this predicament by sharply cutting business fees for his cash-funded office, when his office had a large surplus several years ago, refusing to put a portion of the surplus into the state general fund as lawmakers demanded."

Over the past three years, Scott Gessler has caused more controversy, and been hit with more ethics scandals, than any politician in this state. By simple yardsticks of scandal and mismanagement, he’s the worst Secretary of State Colorado has seen in decades—maybe ever. Enough is enough: tell Scott Gessler to withdraw his request for millions more taxpayer dollars to cover his office’s avoidable shortfall. He’ll receive your message instantly, and we’ll share your comments with the media and other public officials.

The only thing Scott Gessler is better at than getting into trouble is making excuses. If Gessler can’t manage the finances of a single department, how could anyone even consider entrusting him with more responsibility? It just doesn’t make sense. Let Gessler know you’re not buying it, and that you expect better.

Thank you,

Amy Runyon-Harms

From Gessler's office Feb. 18:

Secretary of State filers deserve the truth on budget

By now, many of you have heard wild accusations, insults and downright fabrications about the Secretary of State’s office budget. I want to assure you my budget is sound, and while tighter than in previous years, I’m committed to maximizing and preserving your low filing fees.

When I became Secretary of State, one of my goals was to bring the department’s budget into compliance with state law. No department can maintain a surplus exceeding 16.5% of its spending. Beginning July 1, 2012, my office accumulated a $7 million surplus when state law only allowed $2.2 million in excess.

To reduce the excess surplus, I dropped filing fees across the board to chip away at those excess funds. I’m proud to say many of our filers took advantage of the reduction. Our fees are already among the lowest in the country, so reducing them may seem like a small deal, but we ultimately returned $3.5 million back to our filers. That’s $3.5 million that businesses can use to grow, or nonprofits can use to better serve their communities.

We coupled those fee holidays with long-term planning aimed at prolonging our federal election grant funds by bringing some of those costs in-house. In total, we absorbed $1.6 million from the declining federal funds and moved that responsibility to our cash fund.

Through both of these efforts, we brought our budget in line with state law, leaving $1.9 million in our surplus account. Unfortunately, the legislature sprung an election re-write bill near the end of the fiscal year that wiped out those surplus dollars, challenging our budget. Since a full 25% of our filing fees pay for elections in Colorado, this will have an impact on our ability to serve our paying customers.

As many of you know, the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee governs my department’s spending level, while I set the revenues through fees. Recently, through cooperation with the non-partisan committee staff, I revised my budget request to include less spending. Shockingly, the committee members rejected this reasonable approach and granted a higher spending amount wanting to force my hand to raise fees. One member even went so far as to threaten to sue my office to force me to raise fees.

To be clear, our office is operating within our budget. I will not be raising fees.

I want to reiterate my commitment to keep our fees the lowest in the country. My office will not have a shortfall and we’re going to meet our obligations to my customers and stakeholders. That means delivering top-notch customer service while charging as little as possible in fees.

My frustration is that more of the office’s resources will be devoted to my elections division than to supporting the department’s filers. We have exciting initiatives underway focused on increasing the efficiencies for our filers. These projects will be delayed because of resources necessary to meet the deadlines in the legislature’s election re-write.

That said, I’ve submitted a fiscally responsible budget that’s been endorsed by the non-partisan committee staff.

I will vigorously fight any attempts to force fee increases for businesses, nonprofits, charities, notaries public or bingo and raffle filers.

My aim is to provide clarity for my filers, so thank you for reviewing this and please contact my office with any additional questions or concerns you might have.

Thank you,

Scott Gessler

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Gessler unveils first political ad

Posted By on Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Miss all those political ads?

Never fear, Secretary of State Scott Gessler is here and he's just unveiled his first attack ad on Gov. John Hickenlooper in advance of the Nov. 2014 election.

The ad first portrays the governor as lazy, then goes on to attack his achievements and failures. Among the issues targeted are: the stricter gun control laws the governor signed into law; the temporary reprieve the governor gave to death row inmate Nathan Dunlap; a bill the governor signed that created renewable energy standards for rural utilities; and the governor's support for 2013's failed initiative Amendment 66, which would have pumped $1 billion a year into the state's school system.

The ad also vaguely states that the governor "pushed good jobs out of Colorado," which may be a reference to the recent announcement that gun-maker Magpul Industries will move its headquarters from the state — a reaction to the state's new gun laws.

Check out the  ad here:

While Gessler is throwing punches now, it's hard to imagine he'll go unscathed in the coming campaign. The Secretary of State was found to have misused public money on a political trip following an ethics investigation, and his efforts to loosen the rules for political contributions and weaken transparency have been rebuked by the courts. 
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Court: Gessler can't loosen campaign finance

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Scott Gessler
  • Scott Gessler
The  Colorado Court of Appeals has reaffirmed and expanded a previous ruling that rejected looser campaign finance rules enacted  by Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

The  ruling means greater transparency in elections from issue and political committees and 527 organizations.

The controversial Secretary of State — who was also found to have committed an ethics violation for charging the state to pay for his attendance at a partisan conference —  had sought to loosen many rules, based off state law, that allow voters the chance to see who is contributing to election efforts. 

Colorado Ethics Watch executive director Luis Toro, whose group was one of the original plaintiffs in the case, says the ruling restores the transparency called for in the state constitution. He also says the ruling sets boundaries for the next Secretary of State, by showing that the Secretary of State cannot rewrite state law to his liking.

"These decisions have already been made by the voters ... or by the state legislature, and its not for the Secretary of State to say 'I don't like this,'"  Toro says.

Gessler is running for governor, seeking the Republican nomination.

Ethics Watch released the following information about the ruling:

Today, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that several changes to campaign finance disclosure regulations made by Secretary of State Scott Gessler were invalid as exceeding his authority. The Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling that struck down Secretary Gessler’s 2012 rules that reduced or eliminated disclosure requirements for issue committees, political committees, and 527 political organizations, and capped penalties for failure to file major contributor reports in the days before an election.

The Court of Appeals also ruled in favor of Colorado Ethics Watch and Colorado Common Cause on their cross-appeal asking the court to strike down Secretary Gessler’s 2012 rule that narrowed the definition of “electioneering communications,” ads that mention a candidate during the last weeks before a primary or general election without necessarily urging a vote for or against that candidate.

“The Court of Appeals affirmed that the people at the ballot box, and not the Secretary of State through a bureaucratic procedure, make campaign finance policy in Colorado.” said Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro. “Secretary Gessler has consistently attempted to rewrite the law to make it easier to hide political spending from public view, contrary to the wishes of the people. We hope this decision will finally put an end to his overreaching.”

“The Court of Appeals rejected Secretary Gessler’s ongoing attempts to reduce transparency in elections,” commented Elena Nunez, executive director of Colorado Common Cause. “Today’s ruling is a big victory for the people of Colorado, who have made it clear that they want to know who is spending to influence elections.”

Ethics Watch and Common Cause filed a lawsuit challenging the rule changes in April 2012. The case was consolidated with a second lawsuit filed by a group headed by David Paladino. Both sets of challengers argued that Gessler exceeded his authority by enacting rules that effectively amended the Colorado constitution or campaign finance laws passed by the General Assembly. Denver District Judge J. Eric Elliff overturned all of the challenged rules except the one narrowing the definition of “electioneering communications.” That decision in favor of Secretary Gessler’s rule was the only portion of Judge Elliff’s order that was reversed by the Colorado Court of Appeals.

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