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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 21, 20173min331
Republican elected officials from Colorado welcomed conservative leaders from around the country Thursday, arguing that the Centennial State makes the case for school choice efforts. Speaking at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual meeting in Denver on was state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who is considering a run for governor, and state Rep. Owen Hill, R-Colorado […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 20, 20174min605

The Trump administration is coming through, after all, at the Western Conservative Summit this weekend in Denver, and in a huge way. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will speak at the mega-gathering of the country’s top conservatives at the Colorado Convention Center Friday.

On Monday Jeff Hunt, the director of the Centennial Institute, which puts on the annual gathering, lamented the lack of White House participation, given the ample stage the event has provided for Trump and other members of his inner circle in the past. Trump himself opened the event last year while he was a candidate.

Zinke is the key Cabinet member over national parks and other public lands, a major issue in Colorado and across the West.

He also is taking part in the American Legislative Exchange Council at the Hyatt Regency in Denver, but his office said Thursday his participation is not open to the press. Saturday Zinke is expected to tour Rocky Mountain National Park, where he will talk to credentialed reporters that morning in Estes Park.

Before he was tapped by President Trump to lead the agency once led by Colorado’s Ken Salazar, Zinke was a congressman from Montana and a former state senator.

Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest environmental organization, is wary of Zinke and the Trump administration’s view of public lands, particularly turning them over to the states and to allow more drilling and development.

His private participation with ALEC, an industry supported nonprofit that helps draft legislation and train legislators, “speaks volumes about the Interior secretary’s priorities,” Jessica Goad, spokeswoman for Conservation Colorado, said in an e-mail exchange with Colorado Politics. “Virtually every decision he’s made since becoming secretary is targeted at taking the public out of public lands decisions.”

As examples, she cited his canceling resource advisory councils, “a primary venue for representatives from Western communities to give feedback and input.”

He also led the Trump administration’s repeal of the Bureau of Land Management’s Planning 2.0 initiative to make decisions around public lands more efficient with extra feedback from local communities.

His review on national monuments, requested by Trump, is “making a mockery of the hard work local communities have invested to protect lands for future generations,” Goad said.

“So, the question is, is Secretary Zinke’s presence at ALEC an indication that his commitment to ‘keeping public lands public’ is nothing more than a nice talking point and political smoke and mirrors?” she asked.

We don’t know. The press is locked out.

“So far, his actions as Interior secretary have indicated that his focus is on cutting the public out of the decision,” Goad said.


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 20, 20173min396
Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman hates traffic. At least that’s what she told an audience at the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in Denver on Wednesday. Coffman, who is considering a run for governor, was feeling “disheveled” after spending nearly an hour trying to get into the downtown Denver hotel where the meeting was […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 19, 20173min313
The American Legislative Exchange Council kicks off its three-day annual gathering in Denver Wednesday to tilt state legislators from across the country toward the industry-friendly principles of free markets and limited government. Moreover, the business-supported nonprofit best known by its acronym, ALEC, helps them draft pro-business legislation to fight a ground war of sorts in […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 14, 20174min389

To (very) loosely paraphrase von Clausewitz in advance of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos’s anticipated visit to Denver next week: Just about everything nowadays is the continuation of politics by other means. At least, as far as “The Resistance” to the Trump administration is concerned.

OK, so the von Clausewitz reference was a bit clunky, but the point here is that the superheated, super-motivated opposition to all things Trump is not about to pass up any opportunity to publicly protest the administration’s agenda. The appearance of DeVos — much derided by the left for her embrace of conservative doctrine as well as her billionaire status — provides as good an opening as any.

DeVos is expected to address fellow conservatives at the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council July 19-21 at the Hyatt Regency Denver. But according to a report this week by Chalkbeat Colorado, the secretary — narrowly confirmed by the U.S. Senate amid heated debate earlier this year — first will have to run a gantlet of unfriendlies:

A “Denver RESISTS DeVos” protest, meanwhile, is planned for 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday outside the state Capitol involving multiple groups. The protest is being promoted on a Facebook page hosted by Tay Anderson, a 2017 Manual High School graduate who is running for a Denver school board seat. It’s part of a broader “ALEC resistance” effort that includes a “teach-in.”

The Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, is planning to make signs that morning, take part in the protest and then march to the ALEC meeting at a downtown hotel, according to its Facebook event page.

John Ford, president of Jefferson County Education Association and a scheduled speaker at Wednesday’s protest, said in a statement via email that “voucher schemes and other failed reforms” DeVos will promote are not welcome in Colorado.

Meaning, she will encounter two cross-currents of anti-Trump activists during her visit — those union-backed opposition to her position on education issues, and critics of ALEC. Quite a welcome wagon.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 13, 20172min447

The Trump administration’s Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta and Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke will join the speakers’ dais in Denver at next week’s annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council. The event already features Jim DeMint, Newt Gingrich, Steve Forbes, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Pete Coors, Guy Benson and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.

An ALEC press release today announcing the additional speakers quotes ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson:

“We look forward to welcoming Secretary Acosta and Secretary Zinke to Denver for the ALEC Annual Meeting. As the federal government returns power to the states, there is no better place than ALEC for administration officials to share their vision.”

For 44 years, the conservative, pro-free market organization has been an advocate of limited government and a resource for model legislation and public policy to generations of (mostly Republican) state legislators in Colorado and across the country.

Meanwhile, liberal critics cite the group’s close ties to assorted industries and accuse it of doing the business world’s bidding in America’s statehouses. (See the “ALEC Exposed” website set up by the left-leaning Center For Media and Democracy.)

In its own word:

The American Legislative Exchange Council is the largest 501(c)(3) non-profit association of state legislators dedicated to limited government, free markets and federalism.

The July 19-21 event will be held at the Hyatt Regency Denver. Here’s a link to the meeting’s full agenda.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 11, 20174min350

As noted here last week, Denver will host this year’s annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council. Better known in political circles as simply ALEC, the national conservative, pro-free market group has been an advocate of limited government and a resource for model legislation to state legislators in Colorado and around the country for 44 years.

And that hasn’t sat well with assorted critics on the left for almost as long. Among them is venerable liberal group Common Cause, which has scheduled a “teach-in” this Saturday for the press and the rest of the public “to discuss the national secret lobbying group’s influence in Colorado politics” in advance of ALEC’s July 19-21 gathering at the Hyatt Regency Denver. A Common Cause media advisory promoting its teach-in promises:

Expert panelists will discuss how ALEC’s agenda on healthcare, workers’ rights, public education, climate change, media access, voting rights, and criminal justice have found its way into the Colorado legislature. The event will also focus on an upcoming Colorado Common Cause report on ALEC’s influence in Colorado politics, explore ALEC’s lack of transparency, and highlight ways ALEC is abusing its public charity tax status as a lobbying group.

As we noted the other day, liberal critics and some mainstream media long have been critical of ALEC. They cite its close ties to business and accuse it of doing the business world’s bidding in America’s statehouses. There’s even an “ALEC Exposed” website set up by the left-leaning Center For Media and Democracy.

Common Cause also is touting another website meant to counter the ALEC meeting; site visitors are greeted with the warning, “ALEC is not your friend; the biggest threat to America you’ve never heard of.”

Here are more details of the Common Cause presentation from its announcement:

WHAT:

Teach-In about the American Legislative Exchange Council’s influence in Colorado

WHEN:

10am-2pm, Saturday July 15

WHERE:

First Baptist Church of Denver

1373 Grant Street

Denver, CO, United States

WHO:

Carla Castedo (Colorado Director for Mi Familia Vota)

Pamela Resendiz (Executive Director of FRESC)

Gena Ozols (Political Director at NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado)

Ilana Spiegel (Colorado Public Education Advocate)

Paul Booth (President of Take a Stand for Democracy)

Luis Toro (Director of Colorado Ethics Watch)

Thamanna Vasan (Economic Policy Analyst at the Colorado Fiscal Institute)

Hilda Nucete (Program Director at Conservation Colorado)

Dr. Blake Reid (University of Colorado-Boulder Law School)

Elena Nunez (Executive Director of Colorado Common Cause)


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 6, 20173min442

Lawmakers who lean right — and hope to reinvent government accordingly — have had a friend named ALEC for 44 years. The conservative, pro-free market American Legislative Exchange Council has been an advocate of limited government and a resource for model legislation to generations of (mostly Republican) state legislators in Colorado and across the country.

In ALEC’s own words, it “… facilitates interaction between public and private sector leaders, think tanks and citizen groups through meetings and model policy development.”

This year, Denver hosts the organization’s annual, national meeting, and the lineup of featured political and business celebs who will address the gathering won’t disappoint those who attend. Says an ALEC press statement announcing the July 19-21 event at the Hyatt Regency Denver:

Members will have the opportunity to attend workshops, plenary sessions and task force meetings and hear from notable speakers, including the Honorable Jim DeMint, Newt Gingrich, Mr. Steve Forbes, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Mr. Pete Coors, Mr. Guy Benson and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.

Liberal critics and some mainstream media long have been critical of ALEC, citing its close ties to business and accusing it of doing the business world’s bidding in America’s statehouses. There’s even an “ALEC Exposed” website set up by the left-leaning Center For Media and Democracy.

ALEC’s own take on itself and its role in American politics is, of course, substantially different. From the press release:

“ALEC brings together the best and brightest minds in policy to learn from one another,” said ALEC CEO Lisa B. Nelson. “For 44 years, our annual meeting has been a place where legislators, business owners and hardworking, everyday Americans can come together in one place and offer their suggestions insights on what is happening on the ground in the states. After all, that’s where we see the most impactful change.”