Hot Sheet

Sirota calls out Democrat Donna Lynne’s healthcare ties, ignores Polis’ fracktivism

Author: Joey Bunch - August 5, 2017 - Updated: August 5, 2017

Donna Lynne
Colorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne was introduced by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, background left, at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver on March 23, 2016. Lynne replaced Joe Garcia. (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/ The Denver Post via the AP file photo)

Liberal journalist David Sirota is calling out one of the Colorado left’s own in an article Friday in the International Business Times. He says the insurance industry could run “one of its own” for governor next year in Donna Lynne, the Kaiser Permanente executive Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed lieutenant governor just last year.

The far left is sweating the possibility of a business-friendly executive liked by many statehouse Republicans.

Read the story here.

Moderate Democrats, however, are sweating the exit of U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter from the Democratic primary, leaving the more liberal congressman Jared Polis from Boulder as the highest profile and likely to be the best-financed candidate in the primary. Republicans are giddy for the chance to run against Polis and welcome oil and gas money to help put a Republican in the governor’s mansion next year.

Our subscribers get the first look at Colorado Politics’ deep dive into how much money the oil and gas industry is ready to put in to oppose Polis, if he’s the nominee, and whether the greener members of the left can fight back. The article will be on our website starting Monday. (Lynne had yet to announce her exploratory committee when my magazine deadline hit, but Colorado Politics will certainly jump into her insurance industry tries as the race progresses.)

The second-in-command said she wouldn’t run for governor on the day she was introduced in the Capitol’s West Foyer. I reported was the first to report that on the day she was introduced as the nominee to replace Joe Garcia, who stepped down to take a job with the Boulder-based Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. I broke that story, too.

Sirota and his sources are wary of Lynne’s role in the race, it would appear. He and co-reporter Josh Keefe suggest Big Insurance will get behind the lieutenant governor, if she runs:

“As health insurance premiums inexorably rise and Democratic voters increasingly warm to the idea of government-sponsored health care, private insurers have funneled big money to political groups, helping ward off state single-payer proposals,” the International Business Times article begins. “Now in one of the highest-profile races of 2018, the industry appears to be taking the next step: running one of its own for governor.”

And fracktivists don’t have one of their own in Polis? Sirota and Keefe don’t go there in the Friday article.

They cite a quote from Gov. John Hickenlooper, who never embraced fracktivism and called Polis’ ideas “radical” in 2014, when Polis’ push for ballot initiatives on local control and setbacks threatened Hickenlooper’s re-election.

“She’s like a Hoover vacuum cleaner of problems,” Hick said in Sirota’s piece. “They just disappear, and everyone’s happy.”

Sirota and Keefe go on to cite Lynne’s history with the HMO that insures 680,000 people in Colorado, and the company’s history in politics.

“Under Lynne’s leadership, Kaiser was sanctioned twice by Colorado regulators for violating consumer protection laws, according to state records reviewed by International Business Times. One set of those sanctions was handed down by the administration of her current boss, Gov. Hickenlooper — a potential 2020 presidential candidate whose support Lynne may be counting on in the primary.”

Hickenlooper and Lynne opposed the single-player healthcare system for the state, ColoradoCare, that failed miserably on last November’s ballot. Only about 1 in 5 Coloradans supported it, but supporters were dramatically outspent by insurance industry opponents.

Sirota and Keefe quote Nathan Wilkes of Healthcare for All Coloradans, a group that supported ColoradoCare.

“It is difficult to imagine that a health insurance executive, whose company donated $500,000 to directly oppose (the single payer ballot measure) and affordable, quality health care for all Coloradans, would have the best interests of our citizens and their health at heart,” he said in the article.

Get your popcorn and 3D glasses, Republicans. There’s a all-Democrat wrestling match coming.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.