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Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 1, 20173min69113

Democrat Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, a captain in the Colorado Army National Guard and a civil rights attorney, declared on Tuesday that he’s running for Denver’s Senate District 34 seat represented by term-limited Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver.

Kennedy-Shaffer, 33, made news recently when he successfully sued President Trump on behalf of a Libyan college student to overturn portions of the president’s travel ban. He also served U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner with subpoenas to appear in court to answer questions about the arrest, at Gardner’s request, of five disability advocates who were staging a sit-in protest at the Republican senator’s Denver office.

Following unsuccessful 2015 bids for the Harrisburg School Board and the Harrisburg City Council in Pennsylvania, Kennedy-Shaffer won an appointment to fill a vacancy on the school board in January 2016. He moved to Denver later that spring to pursue a Ph.D. in public policy at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs.

“We need progressive leaders who will be out front fighting for justice for all, education for all and healthcare for all,” said Kennedy-Shaffer in a statement. “We must preserve our planet, protect immigrants who make America great, defend women’s rights, worker’s rights and the Constitution. I will fight for you.”

The Senate district is dominated by Democrats, amounting to almost exactly half of the active registered voters, according to the most recent report by the Colorado secretary of state’s office. Just 12 percent are Republicans, and 36 percent are unaffiliated. Guzman won re-election in 2014 with 74.4 percent of the vote over Republican nominee Stuart Siffring, who polled 19.6 percent, and Libertarian candidate Brian Scriber, who received 6 percent of the vote.

Kennedy-Shaffer is the first candidate to announce in the district, although state Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, is said to be considering a run. Pabon didn’t respond to Colorado Politics’ request for comment.

Kennedy-Shaffer has worked as an attorney specializing in criminal justice policy for seven years and serves as a judge advocate, or JAG, with the Colorado Army National Guard. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and a law degree from William & Mary Law School in Virginia. He also received a master’s degree from the College of William & Mary.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJune 30, 20177min63203

Protesters at congressional offices have become old hat, but the disability rights group  Denver ADAPT rewrote the script with a 58-hour sit-in that ended Thursday night as police removed about 10 people, some in wheelchairs, from Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s downtown Denver office.

As Denver officers moved them out of the office lobby, protesters chanted, “Rather go to jail than to die without Medicaid,” according to a video posted on Facebook by protest leader Carrie Ann Lucas. The Denver-based National ADAPT reported on social media that Lucas’ wheelchair was damaged as she was removed.

In a video, officers ask for her help with the wheelchair to remove her from the small lobby at about 7 p.m. She told them it was a $35,000 chair but officers would have to find someone who could push it or operate it, because she would not help them.

“You can Google, you can call someone, I’m not resisting but I’m not cooperating,” she told officers before she was formally arrested. Lucas then resumed chanting, “Rather go to jail than to die without Medicaid.”

Within two hours, the video had nearly 10,000 views.

Lucas called the protest “Camp Gardner.”

Lucas is a lawyer and executive director of nonprofit Disabled Parents Rights.

Like other protests across the country ahead of the Senate vote on the American Health Care Act, the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, Denver ADAPT wants Gardner not to support the plan, and specifically oppose the proposed $834 billion in cuts to future Medicaid appropriations.

The disabled say they will be disproportionately affected by the cuts, especially by caps with fixed amounts per Medicaid recipient. People with expensive dire care have a lot to fear, said Josh Winkler, a 36-year-old quadriplegic from Aurora who participated in the protest on Tuesday but was not one of those removed by police Thursday night.

“We’ve been trying to meet with Sen. Gardner for months on all these health reforms they’re talking about, which is really just health care repeal,” Winkler told Colorado Politics.

Called a “die-in” by supporters, the protest started Tuesday morning.

Gardner’s office said ADAPT leaders have met in-person or by phone with his healthcare policy adviser  16 times — and once with Gardner personally — since January, and as recently as last week.

“The top priority throughout this protest has been allowing these individuals to exercise their First Amendment rights in a safe environment,” according to a statement released Thursday night. “In order to allow this, staff have slept in the office for two nights and assisted and aided these individuals with several matters to ensure they were comfortable and safe. At the request of the building, Denver police were forced to remove them earlier this evening due to several factors, including serious concerns for their health and safety.”

Denver police said a member of Gardner’s staff signed the complaint to have the protesters removed, but Gardner’s office said other tenants were demanding and end to the around-the-clock presence in the 25-story office tower at 17th and Lawrence streets.

Gardner is a member of the working group that drafted the Senate health care legislation. His spokesman told Colorado Politics’ Ernest Luning this week that the delayed vote announced by Majority Mitch McConnell Tuesday offers an opportunity to fine-tune the Obamacare replacement.

“The organization currently in the office has spoken to Senator Gardner several times and are in constant contact with his healthcare policy staff regarding requested reforms to our healthcare system,” Gardner’s office said in a statement released Wednesday, the second day of the protest. “Senator Gardner wants the constituents that are in his office to have quality healthcare. He has concerns that our current system is imploding and won’t be able to provide quality care if nothing is done to fix it.”

Protesters staged a different kind of die-in at Gardner’s Colorado Springs office.