Ernest Luning Archives - Colorado Politics
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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 8, 20175min4810

The Steamboat Pilot & Today reports that Brita Horn, the elected Republican treasurer of Routt County who is running to be the next treasurer of Colorado, is once again facing off with officials in her own county over how she runs her office. According the the Pilot & Today’s Scott Franz, “the work environment and top management at the county treasurer’s office” are being called out in a memo sent to Routt County’s human resources department.

Writes Franz:

The memo, which outlined the observations of Yampa Valley Regional Airport Director Kevin Booth, Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins and Clerk and Recorder Recording Supervisor Barb Houston, stated the three officials walked away from a grievance hearing for a treasurer’s office employee thinking “there is reason for concern about fair and equitable treatment of (treasurer’s office) employees below the level of Chief Deputy Treasurer.”

The memo raises serious questions about Treasurer Brita Horn’s leadership of the office at a time she is seeking higher office in the state as Colorado’s treasurer.

Horn had clashed with her county government over another matter just last August. As Colorado Politics’ Ernest Luning explained in a report at the time:

The problem … involved a computer system that calculates how much of the tax revenue the county collects gets distributed to the county, towns, schools, libraries and other taxing entities within its boundaries. When it came time for Horn’s office to send out checks for April tax receipts, it turns out, she only distributed money from a nine-day period, instead of the whole month, leaving $5.8 million sitting in treasurer coffers until July, when the error was discovered and the funds delivered.

The mistake that left local taxing entities short nearly $6 million for months. Horn told Luning then, “…not one dime of Routt County tax dollars was lost or misspent or that one Routt County program lost even one dime … And I definitely take responsibility that this issue has been corrected and, moving forward, will never happen again.”

Horn also responded to her latest round in the hot seat. Reports the Pilot & Today’s Franz:

…Horn defended the work environment at her office and said there is a “strong moral fiber” among current members of the staff.

Horn blamed a major property tax distribution error on (former county treasurer’s office employee Rani) Gilbert and fired her for other reasons, but Gilbert contested the firing and alleged unfair treatment and discrimination under Horn’s leadership.

Franz also offers more details of the latest criticism leveled at Horn:

The officials wrote in the memo they had heard enough evidence at the private grievance hearing to “substantiate reason for concern that employees below the level of Chief Deputy Treasurer fear retaliation from their supervisors if they question the actions, methods and/or directives of their supervisors.”

The officials also stated in the memo the county should be concerned about whether the workload distribution in the treasurer’s office is equitable, whether supervisors and bookkeepers have adequate training and whether Treasurer Brita Horn has adopted adequate checks and balances in the wake of a nearly $6 million property tax error her office made this summer.

In the state treasurer’s race, Horn so far is vying with five other Republicans for the GOP nomination: Brett Barkey (who is district attorney of Grand, Moffat and Routt counties), state Rep, Justin Everett, state Rep. Polly Lawrence, state Sen. Kevin Lundberg and Brian Watson. On the Democratic side of the ledger, state Rep. Steve Lebsock — in hot water over widely reported sexual-harassment allegations — state Rep. Dave Young and Bernard Douthit are running for the treasurer’s post.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 3, 20174min4690

It’s like a game of musical chairs — except, at the end, there’s one too many seats instead of too few. As our Ernest Luning reported earlier, the U.S. Senate voted 56-41 on Thursday to confirm Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, filling the vacancy created by Justice Neil Gorsuch’s elevation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Which, of course, leaves an opening on the state’s highest court. Only, this time, the U.S. Senate won’t have a say in who gets the seat; it’ll be up to the Colorado Supreme Court Nominating Commission. The commission will meet Nov. 27 and 28, interview candidates and come up with a short list of nominees from which Gov. John Hickenlooper will pick Eid’s replacement.

Here’s more via a press release hot off the presses from the Colorado Judicial Department:

To be eligible for appointment to fill the vacancy, the applicant must be a qualified elector of the State of Colorado and must have been admitted to the practice of law in Colorado for five years.  The current annual salary for this position is $177,350.  The initial term of office of a Supreme Court justice is a provisional term of two years; thereafter, the incumbent justice, if retained by the voters, has a term of 10 years.

Application forms are available from the office of the ex officio chair of the nominating commission, Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice, or from the Supreme Court Clerk, Cheryl Stevens, 2 E. 14th Ave., Denver, CO 80203.  Applications also are available on the court’s home page at: http://www.courts.state.co.us/Careers/Judge.cfm.

So, who gets to sit in on that very special star chamber that (in conjunction with the guv) picks our state’s most powerful judges? The press release has that info, too — designated by congressional district:

  • Kathleen Lord and Daniel Ramos, 1stCongressional District;
  • Ann Hendrickson and Shannon Stevenson, 2nd Congressional District;
  • Kim Childs and Robert Scott, 3rdCongressional District;
  • Scott Johnson and Tracee Bentley, 4th Congressional District;
  • Jay Patel and Eric Hall, 5th Congressional District;
  • James Carpenter and Michael Burg, 6th Congressional District;
  • Carolyn Fairless and Olivia Mendoza, 7thCongressional District;
  • Connie McArthur, at-large.

 


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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 29, 20174min3470

Great minds think alike, and so do George Brauchler and Walker Stapleton. A careful reader pointed out to Colorado Politics on Friday that comments made by Brauchler, a Republican candidate for governor, sounded almost identical to those made by Stapleton about Jared Polis.

Polis is a congressman and Democratic candidate for governor who has spent millions of his own dollars to try to tighten regulations on the oil and gas industry in Colorado, even going up against current Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2014. Colorado Politics wrote in-depth about Polis’ and and present positions on energy production in August, if you want to learn more.

In a story Thursday by Colorado Politic’s Ernest Luning, Brauchler said in a statement:

“Extreme liberals, such as Congressman Jared Polis, have made it clear that they seek to destroy Colorado’s oil and gas sector, at the expense of Colorado’s economy and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of hard-working Coloradans With real leadership, Colorado can safely extract our natural resources, grow our economy, create jobs and preserve our environment.”

Stapleton’s campaign told Luning something strikingly similar a day earlier:

“Congressman Polis’ agenda is clear; he has been working for years to destroy the 230,000 jobs that oil and gas supports, all to appease his base of Bernie Sanders acolytes at the expense of hardworking Coloradans.”

Mix in what Stapleton’s website says:

“Together, we can safely develop our natural resources. We can have a booming energy sector, create thousands of well-paying jobs, and protect Colorado’s environment for current and future generations.”

Is that plagiarism? Technically, no. You can’t plagiarize a thought, even if you mix in a few key words. For Polis, however, it sounds like Brauchler has Stapleton’s playbook on how Republicans should talk about him. It also says Republicans see Polis as the shoo-in nominee they’ll face in next year’s general election.

Polis has some well-known Democrats to contend with in his primary, however, including Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston in the nine-candidate primary.

Stapleton and Brauchler are considered the top-tier candidates in a seven-way GOP race.

Mara Sheldon, a spokeswoman for Polis, on Friday pointed to her comment to Luning about the mud being slung in her candidate’s direction:

“While the Republican candidates compete for special interest dollars, Jared is standing up for workers and protecting the health, safety, and jobs of Colorado families, not industry lobbyists.”

(Editor’s note: This story was updated with a response from the Polis campaign.)


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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 20, 201710min910

National news, from white nationalists to Trump to town halls, ran deep through Colorado politics this past week.

Here are the stories that the staff of Colorado Politics, home to the state’s deepest coverage of the topics, thinks you should keep in mind as the issues play out.

 

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Judith Dominguez, at left, and her wife, Patricia Martinez, are suing Cherry Creek Mortgage based in Greenwood Village. (Photo via CBSLosAngeles.)

5. Armstrong’s company under fire

A lesbian couple in California say the Greenwood Village-based mortgage company started by former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong of Colorado espouses family values that aren’t their family’s values. LGBTQ activists in Colorado applauded the lawsuit against Cherry Creek Mortgage Co. this week after the couple’s spousal insurance was revoked and the insurer began trying to collect more than $50,000 in previously covered medical bills.

Read the full story here.

 

"White nationalists, white supremacists, they're not a part of anybody's base. They're not a part of this country. They're a part of hatred, they're a part of evil, and we need to stand up to that," U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said in an interview about a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, with Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union" show Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. (CNN screen capture)
“White nationalists, white supremacists, they’re not a part of anybody’s base. They’re not a part of this country. They’re a part of hatred, they’re a part of evil, and we need to stand up to that,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said in an interview about a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, with Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” show Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. (CNN screen capture)

4. One side in Colorado on “both sides”

Colorado’s congressional delegation did some rare in highly partisan politics this week: They agreed. After President Trump equivocated on who was to blame for the deadly protest in Charlottesville, Va., Republicans and Democrats said there were no ifs, ands or buts. “Statements that provide even indirect comfort to these merchants of evil are unacceptable and wrong,” said usual Trump backer Doug Lamborn, the Republican representative from Colorado Springs.

Read the full story here.

 

"I may be the only Republican attorney general in the country who walks in a Pride parade, and if that is true, I’m going to be challenging all of my colleagues to do this," says Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman at the Denver Pride Equality Rally on Sunday, June 18, 2017, on the west steps of the state Capitol. Among those on stage with her are Assistant House Majority Leader Alec Garnett and state Reps. Paul Rosenthal and Chris Kennedy, all Democrats. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)
“I may be the only Republican attorney general in the country who walks in a Pride parade, and if that is true, I’m going to be challenging all of my colleagues to do this,” says Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman at the Denver Pride Equality Rally on Sunday, June 18, 2017, on the west steps of the state Capitol. Among those on stage with her are Assistant House Majority Leader Alec Garnett and state Reps. Paul Rosenthal and Chris Kennedy, all Democrats. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

3. Well, that kinda answers it

The will-they or won’t-they question is getting a bit silly for state Treasurer Walker Stapleton and, perhaps a little less certain, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, for next year’s governor’s race. Both showed up at the Republican Governors Association meeting, our Ernest Luning reported (as usual for Colorado Politics, ahead of everyone else). Maybe they just wanted to see what a Republican governor looks like. It’s been awhile since Colorado had one. Peter Marcus all but pinned down a slippery Democratic Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne this week, as well.

Read the full story here.

 

White nationalist demonstrators walk into Lee park surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police dressed in riot gear ordered people to disperse after chaotic violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protestors. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
White nationalist demonstrators walk into Lee park surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police dressed in riot gear ordered people to disperse after chaotic violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protestors. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

2. Cheyenne Mountain reconsidered after Charlottesville

A convention at Cheyenne Mountain Resort next spring of the alt-right group VDARE, which has direct connections to the organizer of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., drew a strong backlash in El Paso County. Ultimately Cheyenne Mountain took sides, too, cancelling the conference without condemning the group or even saying why VDARE wasn’t welcome. In the immediate aftermath, former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo said VDARE was unfairly maligned, though VDARE’s leader ultimately stood with Jason Kessler, the white supremacist rally organizer.

Read the full story here.

 

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, answers a question about his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, answers a question about his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

1. Cory Gardner never had a chance

For months liberal activists have demanded Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner hold a town hall meeting to “face” his constituents. Gardner appeased them on Tuesday in Colorado Springs, Greeley and Lakewood. So what did the people who so desperately wanted to hear from him do? They refused to listen, instead booing and shouting such political discourse as, “You suck.” The protest spectacle that left Gardner looking like the reasonable and cooperative side of the discussion. “I’m trying to answer,” he said to the frequently disruptive crowd in Colorado Springs. “But I don’t get the chance.” Liberals overplayed their hand and crowned Gardner the political winner.

Read the full story here.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 13, 20177min1330

It’s been a busy week in Colorado Politics, with campaign cash, coal’s slow-motion collapse and the ever-evolving candidacy of Ed Perlmutter in the headlines.

Our staff re-evaluated the week, and here are the stories we think you should keep in mind in the days and weeks ahead:

 

In this Sept. 26, 2011 file photo, raw coal from a coal mine pours off of a conveyer belt, near Trinidad, Colo. Cole production is reportedly down in the state. (Mark Reis/The Gazette via AP, File)
In this Sept. 26, 2011 file photo, raw coal from a coal mine pours off of a conveyor belt, near Trinidad, Colo. Cole production is reportedly down in the state. (Mark Reis/The Gazette via AP, File)

5. Coal communities need a new engine, Bennet says

U.S. Sen Michael Bennet is proposing legislation that could steer federal grants into six Colorado counties struggling since King Coal was deposed. The money would help support economic development, as well as job training for ever-diminishing workforce of miners in the Colorado.

Read the full story here.

 

Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, and House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, display “The Deal” on the afternoon before the release of a long-awaited bipartisan transportation funding package on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in a photo tweeted out by the Colorado Senate Repblicans. (Courtesy Colorado Senate Republicans press office)

4. Road money still rumbles in the Colorado House

Bipartisanship only goes so far, and apparently it ends where the rubber meets the road. After House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, a Republican from Castle Rock, called out Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran, a Democrat from Denver, on transportation funding, Duran reminded her counterpart it was the GOP that killed the bipartisan House Bill 1242 (and couldn’t come up with a serviceable replacement).

Read the full story here.

 

An election worker collects a mail-in ballot from a voter in Denver. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

3. Hold off on hyperventilating over the primary, says GOP chief

Our Ernest Luning told readers to dial back their angst and outrage about Colorado Republicans cancelling their primary, rather than let unaffiliated voters participate. State Party chairman Jeff Hays told us that it’s a long shot, not the looming reality our competitor suggested it might be.

Read the fuller story here.

 

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Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton will speak at ALEC’s lunch Thursday in Denver. (Colorado Springs Gazette file photo.)

2. A whole lot of money waiting on Stapleton’s run

If state Treasurer Walker gets in the race for governor — he will — he has a well-heeled group of people waiting to help him. That’s the takeaway from the leaked invitation to an Aug. 21 fundraiser in Cherry Hills Village with names such as Elway, Coors, Anschutz and Mizel attached.

Read the full story here.

 

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, an Arvada Democrat, declares he's running for governor of Colorado on Sunday, April 9, 2017, in Golden. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, an Arvada Democrat, declares he’s running for governor of Colorado on Sunday, April 9, 2017, in Golden. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

1. Perlmutter retirement sputters

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter said in April he was leaving Congress to run for governor. The he said in July he didn’t have the fire in his belly and dropped out. This week he said he might run for re-election the 7th Congressional District. Stay tuned. You can bet the Democrats who jumped in to replace him are.

Read Peter Marcus’ big scoop here.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 6, 20174min1170
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Democrat Levi Tillemann said Thursday evening he will kick off his campaign for the 6th Congressional District seat Sunday in Aurora. (Photo courtesy of the Tillemann campaign)

Billed by his campaign Thursday as an “Obama alum,” Levi Tillemann said he would formally kickoff his campaign Sunday at 6 p.m. at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant in Aurora. The event is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“This isn’t about me” Tillemann said in a statement Thursday. “This is about the future of our communities, our state and our country so I wanted to make sure my neighbors were on board.”

“What I heard is that Coloradans want a candidate who will fight for progressive values. They want a candidate who will bring the jobs of today and the jobs of the future to our district. They want a candidate who cares about the issues they care about — healthcare for families and protecting the environment.”

Colorado Politics’ Ernest Luning was the first to report in May that Tillemann was considering the race. Luning reported last week that Tillemann would run.

Tillmann joins a field of political newcomers that includes two local lawyers, Jason Crow and David Aarestad, as well as Littleton resident Gabriel McArthur.

Tillemann, 35, is a former Obama administration energy policy adviser and and the inventor and developer of the high-efficiency IRIS Engine for vehicles. He is author and a contributor to The New Yorker, Slate, Fortune and other publications, his campaign said He is the managing partner at the tech consulting company Valence Strategic.

He brings a family name to the race. He is the son of the late Timber Dick, a well-known Denver businessman and inventor, and the grandson of Nancy Dick, the state’s first lieutenant governor. His maternal grandfather, the late Tom Lantos, was only Holocaust survivor to serve in the U.S. Congress.

“Combating Donald Trump’s far right-wing agenda is the urgent mission of our time,” he stated in his announcement. “We need to stand up and fight for our values and the kind of community, country and world we want to leave to our children. That fight starts right here and now by taking back Colorado’s 6th Congressional District and the U.S. House in 2018.”


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 3, 20176min940

ColoradoPolitics.com’s Ernest Luning gave us all the details on the nuptials Saturday of Democratic star couple Brittany Pettersen and Ian Silverii at the Colorado governor’s mansion. And political-junkie-and-journalist-at-heart Lynn Bartels — off duty from her weekday job at the Secretary of State’s Office — brought us the mood of the moment via Twitter. Darned near every moment, in fact, as well as color commentary in a succession of tweets from the wedding of the state rep cum congressional candidate and the ProgressNow Colorado executive director. Plenty of pix, too, capturing a host of Colorado political luminaries who attended.

Here’s a sampling:


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 30, 20173min810

Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman got a big attaboy for taking on President Trump via Twitter Thursday — but the praise didn’t come from one of the usual stuffy and self-important politicos or pundits inside the Beltway.

You’ll recall ColoradoPolitics.com’s Ernest Luning reported here that Coffman and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner had rebuked the president — Coffman did so in a tweet — over another one of Trump’s now-ritual Twitter tantrums. This time, two TV news hosts were the targets. Trump had taken to Twitter earlier in the day to tear into MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” team of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, mocking Brzezinski’s intellect and appearance.

Coffman tweeted:

… Which drew this response from reality-TV personality and onetime Playboy playmate Ariane Bellamar, whose Twitter profile describes her as, “FORMER Trump Model Now #BlockedByTrump”:

Bellamar, who also describes herself as a #MensaBarbie, tends to tweet left and hurls her share of invective at The Donald and his defenders: