Brian-Watson-1.jpg

Ernest LuningErnest LuningOctober 20, 20178min7480

Declaring he's the only candidate with the right business and financial experience to serve as Colorado state treasurer  — including bouncing back after losing almost everything when the economy crashed — Republican Brian Watson on Friday jumped into a GOP primary that already includes three state lawmakers, a county treasurer and a prosecutor.


unnamed-1024x323.png

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 8, 20175min2130

 

Remember that high school teacher or college prof who was known as “an easy A”? The one you didn’t have to worry about too much around finals?

No such luck for the 100 members of Colorado’s General Assembly — at least, not when it comes to the report card just issued on the lawmakers for the 2017 session by tax-hating, spending-cutting, government-curbing conservative advocacy behemoth Americans for Prosperity-Colorado.

Only six lawmakers — all of them in the state Senate, all of them members of the GOP majority — earned an A grade. The six “Champions of Freedom,” as AFP dubs them, are Sens. John Cooke, of Greeley; Vicki Marble, of Fort Collins; Tim Neville, of Littleton; Jim Smallwood, of Parker; Jerry Sonnenberg, of Sterling, and Jack Tate of Centennial.

In stark contrast, 17 state senators — basically, all of the upper chamber’s Democrats — flunked. That’s right: a big, fat F.

Things look even worse in the House. All 37 of the lower chamber’s majority Democrats — plus three Republicans:  Reps. Marc Catlin, of Montrose; Polly Lawrence  (currently running for state treasurer), of Roxborough Park, and Lang Sias, of Arvada — rated an F.

And AFP handed out no A’s to House members. Not a one.

The grand total: six A’s and 57 F’s.

Of interest: Sonnenberg and Tate were among the Republicans to vote for Senate Bill 267, the “rural sustainability” measure that raised revenue for a number of budget items while raising the ire of the political right.

Also noteworthy was who didn’t make the Senate’s A-list: longtime fiscal conservative stalwarts like Sen. Kent Lambert, of Colorado Springs, who earned a B, and Sen. Kevin Lundberg, of Berthoud, who came home with a C.

Some of the House’s reputed righties also didn’t seem to impress AFP. Rep. Perry Buck, of Windsor — whose significant other is swamp-draining 4th Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Ken Buck — got a D. Rep. Justin Everett, of Littleton — another candidate for state treasurer whose Wikipedia page says he “has been described as a ‘Combative Conservative,’ and is one of the most constitutionally conservative members of the Colorado House” — got a C. Rep. Tim Leonard, the Evergreen Republican? Also a C. Rep. Dave Williams, of Colorado Springs: C. Even House Republican Minority Leader Patrick Neville, of Castle Rock, only got a B.

What’s the basis for the grades? The organization issued a press release accompanying the report card today, offering insights on methodology:

In an effort to provide the most comprehensive accountability tool to citizens, AFP-Colorado scored nearly 1,800 individual votes on a wide variety of legislation. Bills scored include those that relate to our Budget Colorado Public Policy Agenda: SB 267, the “Sustainability of Rural Colorado” bill, HB 1242, a sales tax increase for transportation funding, and SB 61, a bill that sought to equalize funding for charter schools from local property taxes.

AFP-Colorado State Director Jesse Mallory — who not long ago worked closely with the Senate Republicans as their chief of staff — was quoted in today’s press release:

“We are excited to release this year’s scorecard, a tool we use to hold members accountable and commend those who advance economic freedom … We plan to promote this scorecard throughout the state to inform Coloradans on how their legislators voted. …”

In other words, he thinks the F students might have some ‘splainin’ to do.

Depending, of course, on how much their constituents care.


Lawrence-Everett-W.jpg

Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 25, 201710min1480

The gloves are off and the fur is flying in the Republican primary for Colorado's next state treasurer. In a series of emails sent to state GOP activists and donors Thursday, state Rep. Polly Lawrence accused her fellow state treasurer candidate state Rep. Justin Everett and his allies — "his minions" was the phrase she used — of spreading lies and mounting "traitorous attacks" on her, while an independent expenditure committee backing Everett blasted Lawrence for "lying to get re-elected, only to conspire with liberals and vote like Democrats."


Main_Campaign_Photo.jpg

Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 16, 20173min1450

The state treasurer’s race has a new contender, Democrat Bernard Douthit. He cited his background in business and his education in finance, accounting and economics as reasons to choose him from an ever-crowding field in next year’s election.

“You wouldn’t hire a plumber to fix your teeth, and you shouldn’t hire a career politician to manage our money,” Douthit said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “The state treasurer manages a portfolio of $6.5 billion and provides important leadership and expertise to a number of important organizations including PERA and the state Medicaid program.”

A Colorado businessman for 25 years, Douthit grew up in Fort Collins and has lived in the Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood since 2003, according to his website.

“Colorado needs a state treasurer with a deep knowledge of finance and accounting, and experience building and running businesses in this state, to face the challenges of an underfunded PERA system in addition to working with the legislature to solve key priorities like financing for infrastructure and education,” Douthit said.

He cites no previous experience as a candidate for public office.

Douthit joins a Democratic primary that already includes state Rep. Steve Lebsock of Thornton. The Republican field is much more crowded: state Reps. Polly Lawrence of Roxborough Park and Justin Everett of Littleton, as well as Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn are in the race. Sen. Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud and Brett Barkey, the district attorney for Grand, Moffat and Routt counties, have also announced they’re running.

Incumbent Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a Republican, is term-limited and expected to run for governor next year.

Douthit said in a press release Wednesday afternoon that taxpayers are frustrated with inaccurate government projections “that have negatively affected the state’s finances as demonstrating the importance of his financial, accounting and economic background.”

“Leveraging my broad business background in both small and large companies, I want to collaborate with state leaders to ensure our money is being invested, tracked and spent as wisely as possible,” he stated.


Brita-Horn-Treasurer-Office.jpg

Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 3, 20177min430

Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn, a Republican candidate for state treasurer, fired back Wednesday at county commissioners questioning the way she’s handled a mistake that left local taxing entities short nearly $6 million for months. Horn also denied the incident might damage her statewide campaign, telling Colorado Politics the imbroglio demonstrates she has the skills to handle problems in a treasurer’s office when they arise.


Brita-Horn-Treasurer-Office.jpg

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 2, 20174min690

Schools, libraries and other public services in Routt County were shorted millions of dollars in tax revenue for months due to an error by the county treasurer’s office, and questions about the snafu are now dogging county Treasurer Brita Horn — who is campaigning for state treasurer.

Steamboat Today reported on Tuesday that Horn acknowledged and took responsibility for the episode in a July 20 letter to the more than 100 taxing entities that were affected. But the newspaper said she declined as recently as Tuesday to explain how the breakdown occurred, “…other than to make references to a software vendor and a personnel issue she said she couldn’t discuss in public.”

The office had failed to distribute a total of some $5.8 million that had been collected through the various public entities. All the entities in question have since been made whole, but it took until July 24 — well over two months late.

Routt County commissioners, among others, want answers:

The commissioners have now sent two letters to Horn in recent days seeking answers about the incomplete tax payments.

In the second letter, sent late Tuesday afternoon, the commissioners took a stronger tone and called Horn’s previous responses to their questions in a Friday letter as “unacceptable.”

Horn responded to the initial letter from the commissioners by saying in an email her office is “taking this issue seriously and we will get back to you and the BCC as soon as we can with how the treasurers’ office will be handling the situation at hand.”

Affected tax entities left in the lurch included the likes of the Hayden School District, which had to go without over a half-million dollars during the period in question.

(The school district’s) Finance Director Jnl Linsacum said before the mistake was discovered, the district borrowed some money from an interest-free loan program and was also considering reaching out to the Colorado Department of Education about a contingency loan.

The Steamboat Today account says Horn :vowed the mistake wouldn’t happen again”:

“I don’t call it an issue, I call it a concern,” Horn said of the incomplete payments. “Routt County has some of the most amazing people that work for the citizens, and we’re finding these people are humans and make mistakes. I definitely take responsibility for the staff, and I’m ensuring it’s not going to happen again.”

Horn announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination for state treasurer in June.

“I’m the grassroots girl on the ground who will roll up her sleeves and start looking for solutions that’ll work for everyday Coloradans,” she said at the time.

Three other Republicans are also in the running: state Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton, state Rep. Polly Lawrence of Roxborough Park, and state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, of Berthoud. State Rep. Steve Lebsock of Thornton is the only Democrat so far in the race.

The current state treasurer, Republican Walker Stapleton, is term-limited and is expected to run for governor.