Crisanta Duran Archives - Colorado Politics

Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 10, 20183min424
Rep. Leslie Herod received the legislator of the year award from the Colorado Association of Libraries last weekend. Rosemary Marshall, president of the Denver Public Library Commission, presented the award to Herod at the Juanita Gray Community Service and biennial Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 9, 20189min26151

Editor’s note: Scott Adler, the director of the American Politics Research Lab, contacted Colorado Politics to say the staff reversed the racial makeup of one of its questions. The original column is below.

The headline from the newly released Colorado Political Climate Survey is that Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, as well as the governor and the legislature, are slipping in popularity.

The report includes a buffet for politicos to chew on, hosever, including whether they believe the forecast that shows a chilly Colorado for incumbents, especially Republicans who have a 239-pound stable genius on their backs.

The findings from CU’s American Politics Research Lab, however, suggest it’s not a good year to wander too far to the right on the campaign trail, but as President Trump can tell you, polls have been wrong before.

Republican political operatives rolled out big time against the survey to undermine the findings, nicking it on methodology, first that the sample was 47 percent Democrats, 33 percent Republicans and 20 percent independents. In Colorado the three are relatively even.

Most of the CU survey doesn’t break out the results by race, but for a question about race relations, respondents who said they were a racial minority outnumbered white respondents more than 2 to 1 — in a state that’s 81 percent white.

That all can be true, but in the “cry wolf” realm, spin doctors complaining about the methodology of an unflattering poll is as much a part of the political game as a punt is to football; you shouldn’t do it too much.

The findings seem consistent with other polls. The CU survey put Trump’s approval rating in Colorado is 34 percent. That’s not significantly lower than the president’s national polling numbers, 38.4 percent approval, with includes his solid support across the Deep South.

Last November, about the same time that CU was asking questions, the Keating Colorado Poll collecting public opinions that indicated 64 percent of Coloradans had an unfavorable view of the president. Pretty close, and the Keating poll was close to evenly divided between party affiliations, plus those polled were 72 percent white.

Besides the worried Republican and giddy Democratic insiders I chat with, my experienced brain knows it’s not a great year to run as a Trump ally.

Don’t believe me? How Tom Tancredo, the most optimistic man in politics who dropped out of the race last week, as our Ernest Luning was quick to report, because he couldn’t raise money.

“It will be hard for any Republican to win this state,” he told CBS4.

This year unaffiliated voters can cast ballots in party primaries, which makes it even more unpredictable and perilous to chum up to the president’s more divisive positions on immigration, women or Russian meddling.

Trump got only 34 percent support from independent voters in a, Gallup Poll, while presidents have typically gotten 60 percent from them after a year.

Gardner has done a good job to support the Republican agenda and yet keep his distance when the president and his base steer the GOP onto the highway to the danger zone.

After a year in which the billionaire who Gardner once called a “buffoon” occupied the White House, the amicable politician from Yuma, a man perceived as politically popular, saw his approval rating slide from 43 percent to 25 percent.

But Gardner is where the cracks in the CU poll show up. The Keating Poll the same month had Gardner at 44 percent approval. A month before, the Morning Consult poll ranked Gardner one of the 10 biggest losers in approval ratings slides, down 18 points to 39 percent approval  among Colorado voters. But 57 percent before seemed a bit unlikely, as well, given a poll, flawed or not, that has him at 25. Polls are snapshots, and the scenery is always changing.

If that’s the Trump burden on Gardner, it should have the attention of politicians who aren’t nearly as skilled or well-liked as Cory. There aren’t many.

There’s all kinds of talk, which now only get louder, about which home-run establishment Democrat will challenge Gardner in 2020. Names that get thrown around: Hickenlooper, House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, off the top of my head.

But if she can put together the money and political infrastructure, University of Colorado scientist Trish Zornio is a bright, likeable candidate Coloradans have been known to embrace. And maybe her time is right. Democrats refused to break from the party’s unspoken line of succession in 2016 and funneled the nomination to Hillary Clinton, when the passion was behind a 75-year-old New England socialist named Bernie.

Congress, however, could only wish for Gardner’s numbers. Only 14 percent of the representative sample of Coloradans approved of the job performance of the legislative branch. This one is the least troubling. Americans have this innate blind spot to separate Congress, the institution, from the person they send there. Down South we say, “He may be a fool, but he’s our fool.”

You could call it the Mike Coffman Effect, because the independent-minded congressman from a diverse swing district has proven hard to beat. If it’s a wave year for Democrats, the tide would have to rise pretty high to take out buoyant Mike. That could be the watermark for what kind of year this is.

Incumbent Republican legislators — in a small pool of competitive districts — will need to conjure up some magic Mike, looking at the CU report. A year ago the General Assembly had a 51 percent approval rating. This year it’s 43 percent. Democrats are still at 60 percent, but Republicans got only 27.

Look, it’s still four seasons until next November, and nothing is as unpredictable as politics and weather.  The mind of the voter  is like chasing autumn leaves, but right now they’re blowing to the left.


Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 8, 20184min2200

Colorado lawmakers began laying the bricks of a firewall for consumers who might be victims of identity theft as a result of such breaches as the Equifax hack last year. They started with children and at-risk adults.

Most children don’t have credit histories, and often their clean credit is used in “family fraud,” by someone who knows the child or at-risk adult

The State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee voted 7-2 to pass House Bill 1233, sponsored by House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Republican Rep. Polly Lawrence.

“Securing personal information is a growing priority for adults,” parent Jessica Duke told the committee. “And it should be for children, too.”

Reps. Tim Leonard, R-Evergreen, and Stephen Humphrey, R-Severance, voted against the bill “for today,” because they want to be sure the legislation doesn’t create a credit report for a child simply by a parent asking the credit reporting agency if one exists.

The bill appears broadly supported, however.

The legislative effort this session is driven by the last year’s Equifax data breach. Hackers gained access to 145 million Americans’ Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses, a trove for identity thieves to create phony credit accounts. At least four bills are expected this session, in response.

The Duran-Lawrence bill would allow parents or guardians to freeze, at no charge, credit reports opened in the name of a child 16 and younger or an at-risk adult.  Children’s Social Security numbers can be stolen from schools, doctor’s offices or even cell phone accounts.

“This bill gives parents a lock and a key for their children and dependants’ credit,” said Danny Katz, director of the Colorado consumer advocacy group CoPIRG. “Most importantly that lock and key are free of charge. Parents and guardians should not have to pay to protect their children and dependants from problems they didn’t create.”

Equifax already is waiving any fees to place a credit freeze on its credit reports until June 30.

Rich Jones of the Denver-based Bell Policy Center was pleased to see the bill includes older Coloradans, who have a designated financial guardian.

“We think given the aging of our population here in Colorado, a growing number of people are going to need some of that protection,” Jones said.

Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, sought to give consumers more protection over their data by requiring consent. He cited the power and, clearly, the vulnerability of bureaus such as Equifax. House Bill 1063 wasn’t voted on Wednesday, as Williams sought more time to amend it.

A half-dozen opponents said it was too broadly written and would create unintended consequences, including making it harder to do employee background checks and impeding earnest consumers’ ability to get credit.

“Our concern is the consumers who have the most to hide will hide the most,” Eric Ellman of the Consumer Data Industry Association told the committee.


Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandFebruary 7, 201810min3680

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission has two big challenges this year. One is a decision from a conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court that some experts believe will overturn the commission’s ruling on a discrimination case. The second might be bigger: just keeping their authority to continue.

The Civil Rights Commission and the civil rights division within the Department of Regulatory Agencies are both up for a sunset review in the 2018 legislative session. At least one prominent Senate Republican is hoping to see changes in the commission’s appointment structure and to make the work of the commission and division more transparent.

Civil Rights Division director Aubrey Elenis declined an opportunity to comment for this story.

A sunset review means the agency must seek reauthorization from the General Assembly, frequently every five years or so. The Civil Rights Division conducts investigations and decides complaints involving discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.  The commission does the rule-making, reviews appeals on cases dismissed by the Civil Rights Division, decides whether to hold hearings on cases for which there is probable cause, directs the division to investigate discrimination cases “and advises the Governor and the General Assembly on civil rights issues,” according to an October 2017 review.

The Department of Regulatory Agencies’ Office of Policy, Research & Regulatory Reform (OPRR) conducts the review of a state agency to determine if it’s fulfilling its mission as set by state law. The OPRR review of the civil rights commission recommended the division and the commission continue for another nine years, until 2027, when it would be up for review again.

The review said that in 2015-16, the Civil Rights Division received 989 complaints; mediated 114 of those complaints and settled 69 cases. In that same year, the commission reviewed 88 appeals and remanded one case back to the division for further investigation. The cost to the state for both the division and the commission is approximately $2.5 million, including $438,000 in federal funds.

The sunset review comes at the same time that the commission is dealing with the highest profile legal case in its history: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. That case began when the owner of the Lakewood-based Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The commission ruled in favor of the same-sex couple who made the complaint. Bakery owner Jack Phillips, backed by the Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, has continued to challenge the commission’s decision all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court heard oral arguments in the case in December; a ruling is expected sometime this spring. Some experts have opined that the commission could be on the losing end, based in part on comments by Justice Anthony Kennedy during the Dec. 5, 2017, hearing that the commission is hostile to religion.

The Civil Rights Commission is also the trigger for a bill that is at the heart of a dispute between Senate Republicans and Gov. John Hickenlooper, over his authority to make appointments to boards and commissions and the Senate’s authority to reject them. Senate Bill 43 will be heard Wednesday in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

Commissioners on the civil rights board are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate to serve four-year terms. But last year, Hickenlooper’s nomination of Heidi Hess, who at the time was the commission’s chair , was rejected by the Senate on a party-line vote, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

Hess, of Clifton and the only rural representative on the commission, was appointed to the board in 2013 and is a Western Slope organizer for the LGBT organization One Colorado. She was appointed as an at-large representative, but the commission’s website had her listed both as at-large and as a representative of small business. Hess has never owned a small business, and that drew the ire of Senate Republicans, who claimed she had advocated against business interests, the Daily Sentinel reported.

*Hess remained on the commission after the session was over, given that the constitution requires an appointee remain on the body until their replacement is named. In Hess’s case, she had already been on the commission since 2013 and was technically her own replacement. She later resigned and the governor’s office continues to accept applications for her replacement.

But her continued presence on the commission prompted Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham of Cañon City to draw up a bill that would make it clear that once the Senate has rejected an appointment, the governor cannot go back and re-appoint that person.

In most states, Grantham told reporters last month, once rejected, a person cannot continue to serve, But he said the governor’s counsel had said the language in the constitution about appointments is unclear. “I think that’s wrong,” Grantham said. “The intent is clear.”

Senate Bill 43 faces an uncertain future, should it reach the Democratic-controlled House. “This shouldn’t be a D or R issue,” Grantham said. The rules should be clear, he added; if a person is rejected they shouldn’t serve. The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs green-lighted the bill Wednesday.

At the same time, a bill to reauthorize the commission and the division is expected any day in the House, and will be sponsored by Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran of Denver.

The first step in reauthorizing a commission in the sunset process is a hearing. The House is moving through sunset reviews this week but has not yet scheduled the hearing for the civil rights commission and division.

Once the bill to reauthorize the commission and division makes it to the Senate, at least one prominent Republican is gunning for an opportunity to make changes. Senate President Pro tem Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling led the fight three years ago over reauthorizing the Office of Consumer Counsel. That led to a late-session stalemate in 2015, and in the end the consumer counsel lost its authority over consumer telecommunications issues in exchange for its continued existence.

This year isn’t quite that fight all over again, Sonnenberg indicated, but he does have ideas about how appointments should be made for the seven-member civil rights commission. He said the governor should not be the only person to appoint members to the board, and suggested that the majority and minority leaders of each chamber could also make some of those appointments.

Sonnenberg also believes the commission has a transparency problem that should be addressed in this year’s bill. “When you have letters submitted to the commission to help them makes decisions, and no one can see those letters, that’s a problem,” he said.

Duran told Colorado Politics that “reauthorizing the Colorado Civil Rights Division and Commission is critical to ensuring that the people of our state are protected against hate and discrimination. We are a nation built on the principles of fairness and equality and must continue to strive to expand opportunities for all.”


Correction: Due to incorrect information from a source, a previous version said the governor reappointed Hess to the commission after the 2017 session ended.


Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandFebruary 1, 201810min236
The point of getting better (or in some cases, any) broadband service to rural Coloradans isn’t about downloading movies from Netflix or checking a Facebook status. It’s about the high school student who stays at school until 8 p.m. because it’s the only place where internet service is fast enough to do homework. The Senate […]

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