The FBI has arrested a 41-year-old Fremont County man on federal weapons charges, triggering a statement by the Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Region over his "alleged antisemitic and white supremacist beliefs" and "alarming apparent plans of action."
Charges allege that Chad Edward Keith possessed weapons in violation of the law.
The ADL cited a criminal complaint filed in federal court that alleged the defendant is "a self-avowed Nazi who expressed antisemitic conspiracies and planned to establish a school for children to provide weapons training and instill a white supremacist ideology."
Keith allegedly fired multiple assault weapons on his rural Cotopaxi property. He's prohibited from owning firearms after pleading guilty in federal court for possessing an unregistered firearm in 2003. Keith allegedly told a confidential federal source that he wanted to create a “white private community” on the property where he would conduct “hard core weapons training,” according to the criminal complaint.
The source also allegedly told the FBI that Keith would "make comments disparaging Jews and notes how he is unhappy that Jews control all financial and scientific aspects and run the world." When the source allegedly asked Keith if he would die for these beliefs, he told the source, "absolutely."
ADL Mountain States Regional Director Scott Levin said in a statement, "We are grateful to law enforcement for taking this case seriously and for taking steps to prevent potential future violence. The individual’s alleged antisemitic and white supremacist beliefs — and alarming apparent plans of action — are deeply concerning. Adherence to dangerous, antisemitic and white supremacist ideologies, combined with weapons, is an all-too-frequent deadly combination."
KRDO TV reported that court documents show federal Judge Kristen L. Mix denied bail, saying, "The defendant claims to have buried weapons around the country and is an avowed white supremacist. At his home, the government found a copy of Mein Kampf and other white supremacist texts and Nazi paraphernalia, including a piece of paper in a sealed plastic bag stating that gun control is a Jewish conspiracy and containing photographs of current members of Congress with the Star of David on their foreheads. Defendant expressed a desire to start a community and/or school at the mountain property to teach high-schoolers about white supremacy."
El Paso County joins tax measure lawsuit
El Paso County is among a dozen counties who have joined a lawsuit filed by Advance Colorado Institute to oppose Senate Bill 23-303 and Proposition HH — measures adopted by the Colorado Legislature to try to cushion the impact of rising property values on taxes.
The lawsuit alleges that Prop HH, referred to voters in the coming November election, violates the state's single-subject and "clear title" rules.
“Politicians need to play by the same rules as everyone else," Advance Colorado Institute President Michael Fields said in a release. "Thankfully, these local governments — from every part of the state — have stepped up to defend our State Constitution. This ballot measure clearly has multiple subjects — and the ballot language is misleading and unclear.”
Fields' release quoted several commissioners from across the state including El Paso County's Carrie Geitner.
“Rather than transparent and honest policy, this is an attempt to lure Coloradans in with a false promise of property tax relief, but is really an exploitation of struggling families," Geitner said in the release. "This bill is a sloppy bait and switch — a tiny tax decrease is the bait, but Coloradans will be worse off if they are tricked into giving up the TABOR refunds they are owed.”
We've written about the legislative measure at issue here.
Highlights from the lawsuit, as provided by Advance Colorado:
• "Colorado citizens are facing a $3 billion to $4 billion property tax increase in 2024. In response to the higher assessments, the General Assembly waited until the last day of session to pass SB23-303. Embedded in SB23-303 is a Referred Measure, Proposition HH. The Bill and the Referred Measure each unconstitutionally 'logroll' by pairing a politically popular notion (slightly reducing property tax assessment rates) with an unpopular notion (retaining an increasing amount of TABOR refunds — $10 billion over 10 years — and permanently eliminating them shortly thereafter).
• In support of the plaintiffs' contention the ballot measure isn't a single subject, the lawsuit cites statements made by Democrat Rep. Chris DeGruy Kennedy saying, the "legislation must tackle several problems at the same time."
• Moreover, the bill's title and the ballot measure language "both fail to clearly express a single subject as required by Article V of the Colorado Constitution."
• The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that SB23-303 and Prop HH are unconstitutional and, therefore, void.
Listed by Advance Colorado as supporters of the lawsuit are El Paso County commissioners Stan VanderWerf, Geitner, Cami Bremer and Longinos Gonzalez. Commissioner Holly Williams is not listed, and we've asked the county about that and will update when we hear something.
El Paso County Treasurer Chuck Broerman and Assessor Mark Flutcher are also listed as supporting the suit.
Counties that have signed on as co-plaintiffs are: Cheyenne, Douglas, El Paso, Elbert, Fremont, Kit Carson, Logan, Mesa, Phillips, Prowers, Rio Blanco and Washington. Highlands Ranch Metropolitan District also has signed on.
Meantime, Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill into law today (May 24), saying if voters approve the ballot measure, they'll "prevent significant increases in their property taxes."
But Douglas Bruce, the author of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, says all the hoopla is over nothing, because TABOR has a provision that assures property tax bills can't skyrocket. It's called revenue caps. Read his explanation here.
Who voted in the mayor's race?
Patrick Davis, owner of Patrick Davis Consulting, who worked on Sallie Clark's mayoral campaign as a consultant and strategist, has released his analysis of who cast ballots in this year's mayoral race, compared to past mayoral elections.
Davis notes that there were 85,648 more ballots mailed in 2023 than in 2015, with the total issued this year at 313,697.
"The long-standing narrative in Colorado Springs has been that in run-off elections for Mayor, the Republican aligned candidate defeats the Democrat aligned candidate. Evidence of this is John Suthers defeating Mary Lou Makepeace in 2015 and Steve Bach defeating Richard Skorman in 2011.
"The partisan turnout in 2023 is resetting this narrative with Unaffiliated and Democrat[ic] registered voters turning out over 60%, giving Unaffiliated Yemi Mobolade a victory over Republican Wayne Williams.
"The 2023 results would also seem to suggest that mainstream registered Republicans and Democrats were focused more on locally driven common-sense solutions delivered by the Mobolade campaign v. the hyper-partisan rhetoric coming from the Williams campaign.
"With 85,648 new voters in Colorado Springs since 2015, this narrative is being further rewritten to reflect the values of these voters. These voters did not live through the Suthers and Bach Republican turnout driven campaigns. They have lived in Colorado Springs during a time that both Republican and Democrat[ic] local party organizations are becoming less effective and reflecting more extreme on both ends of the political spectrum stemming from our national politics."
Mayor Suthers jumps into another spotlight
Mayor John Suthers, who leaves office June 6 after eight years, has been hosting a lot of media ops lately, and now we have news of two more:
• 9 a.m. Thursday, May 25, Suthers will be on hand for a ceremonial ribbon cutting of the completion of the Sand Creek Trail. It's located at Hancock Expressway and Sand Creek Trail. The project was funded by the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) sales tax program, Stormwater Enterprise (SWENT), and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA).
Also on hand will be Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services assistant director Kim King and Trails and Open Space Coalition executive director Susan Davis.
• 11 a.m. Thursday, May 25, one-year mark for THE-ZEB shuttle service, at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, 200 S. Sierra Madre. Also on hand will be Public Works Director Travis Easton, Chelsea Gondeck with the Downtown Partnership, and David Beckhouse, Federal Transit Administration.
Part of the Survive & Thrive program, Accelerate COS will also provide small businesses with mentorship and learning opportunities to help accelerate their economic growth, along with creating and retaining jobs, the release said.
The announcement was staged at Weidner Field.
“The City is thrilled to continue its partnership with Exponential Impact through the Accelerate COS — Small Business Loan Fund,” Suthers said in a release. “Colorado Springs small businesses have told us that access to capital is a major challenge. Accelerate COS will fill a need in the local ecosystem and provide low barrier loans for innovative small businesses with a good business model and opportunity for growth”.
Vance Brown, executive director of Exponential Impact, said in the release, "This initiative will build off the early success of the Survive and Thrive loans distributed immediately following the COVID shutdown, as the initial $2.3 million in loans resulted in an economic impact of $156 million in return on investment.”
The loan program will offer micro loans up to $10,000 and growth loans up to $50,000. This fund is a non-traditional loan process, with a focus on addressing gaps in access to capital in the Colorado Springs business support ecosystem.
Yowza! Rent rises again
Zumper, an online rental information site, has released its National Rent Report that covers 100 cities nationwide, with data aggregated from over one million active listings.
- Zumper’s National Index showed one-bedrooms increasing 0.6 percent to $1,504, while two-bedrooms rose 0.8 percent to $1,856 in May. Both bedroom types are up about 6 percent year-over-year.
- Colorado Springs ranked as the 59th most expensive rental market in the nation last month with the prices of one and two bedrooms settling at medians of $1,270 and $1,590, respectively.
- Notably, the price of two bedrooms in Colorado Springs is up 14.4 percent since this time last year.