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Marianne GoodlandOctober 1, 20178min129
The question of whether someone can file an ethics complaint with a home rule city or county and the state’s Independent Ethics Commission at the same time will wait another day for an answer. On Thursday the ethics commission dismissed a complaint against a former Glendale city councilman because the commission’s official views on home […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 31, 20177min63
I got to know four of our Republican gubernatorial candidates in front of a few thousand of their friends at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver recently. The Centennial Institute, which puts on what amounts to spring break for conservatives outside the D.C. Beltway, asked me to chat up Victor Mitchell, Steve Barlock, Doug Robinson and […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 23, 20177min300

With some of the top Republicans in the nation in the Mile High City this week for the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Western Conservative Summit, news moved swiftly as D.C. came to Denver.

Here are the stories that Colorado Politics’ staff thinks had the biggest impact. Agree? Disagree? Comment below.

 

This Wednesday, July 27, 2016, photo, a biker rides along a trail in Salt Lake City. More than 100 million acres of America's most rugged landscapes designated as wilderness are off-limits to mountain bikers, but two U.S. Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, both Utah Republicans, have introduced legislation that would allow bikers to join hikers and horseback riders in those scenic, undisturbed areas. The proposal is controversial within the biking community and opposed by conservationists who say bikes would erode trails and upset the five-decade notion of wilderness as primitive spaces. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
This Wednesday, July 27, 2016, photo, a biker rides along a trail in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

5. Republican pedaling, uh, peddling a tax hike

Republican Ray Scott of Grand Junction proposes a tax hike Democrats don’t seem to like: taxing adult bicycles that use the roads the same as heavily taxed cars and trucks. Oregon recently passed a tax on bikes, but it was a Democratic governor’s plan, with Republicans howling about another new tax. Can it pass here?

Read the full story here.

 

Students at Cole Arts & Science Academy, a north Denver innovation school that is among Denver Public Schools’ school-choice offerings. (Photo courtesy of colecasa.org)

4. School choice is working in Colorado, says GOP leaders

Democratic-led protesters rallied against the visit of Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in Denver this week for the American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual meeting, but it was home-grown Republicans such as Treasurer Walker Stapleton and state Rep. Owen Hill who made the best case for more options in education. “Welcome to Denver, Colo., living proof that charter schools work,” Stapleton said.

Read the full story here.

 

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow
Jay Sekulow, a personal lawyer for President Trump, talks to reporters Saturday night after his speech at the Western Conservative Summit. (Photo by Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics)

3. Collusion? It’s whatever Donald Trump didn’t do, says his lawyer

Colorado Politics got one shot at asking the president’s personal lawyer to define collusion Saturday night at the Western Conservative Summit. Rather than the dictionary definition, “a secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy,” Jay Sekulow reached for a law book. We reported how one of the nation’s top attorneys for religious liberty tackled the word in relation to the Trump campaign’s dealings with the Russians.

Read the full story here.

 

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (BLM Photo)
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (BLM Photo)

2. Canyon of the Ancients gets a new lease on life

Attention, people who love the national monument near Cortez: The rich archaeological and environmental treasure Canyons of the Ancients is safe from being taken off the federal register for protections. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, in Colorado at the end of the week, said this week that it won’t modified by President Trump. “Canyons of the Ancients is gorgeous land,” he said.

Read the full story here.

 

iStock image / Kagenmi

1. House salad: Former party boss says no green for GOP senators 

Former state Republican Party Chairman Steve House has a way to inspire Republican lawmakers to repeal and replace Obamacare that could take a bite out of the resistance. He said people should withhold donations to re-elect GOP senators until they do the job most Republicans elected them to do on healthcare. Granted, it was only a small handful of Republicans in the narrowly divided Senate, but everybody would help pay the campaign tab.

Read the full story here.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 22, 20173min51
Despite what the culture the media lead the public to believe, conservation starts with conservatives, and farmers and ranchers are our nation’s vital environmentalists. That was the message Saturday from former Colorado Congressman Bob Beauprez, the son of a dairy farmer and a rancher. He took the stage at the Western Conservative Summit Saturday as […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 22, 20174min41
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a mainstay of past Republican administrations, doesn’t think Donald Trump colluded with the Russians. But if the Russians meddled in U.S. elections, they must be dealt with. In a powerful 20-minute speech to a few thousand people at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver Friday night, Bolton said he hasn’t […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 22, 20175min690
Western Conservative Summit
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke talked about energy development Friday night at the Western Conservative Summit. (Photo by Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics)

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told the Western Conservative Summit Friday night that America should open up its public lands and shores for more energy production.

“I can tell ya, the war on American energy is over,” said the former Montana congressman who is chief steward of the nation’s parks and public lands. He received perhaps the longest applause of the evening from the largest annual collection of conservatives outside of Washington, D.C.

Zinke has actions behind his mission.  Last month the department  issued an order to speed the permitting for oil and gas drilling on federal lands. And President Trump signed an executive order in April to boost offshore drilling.

The secretary made his case Friday night in Denver with numbers, needs and patriotic emotions.

He said national parks are about $11.5 billion behind in maintenance and repairs, and public lands and wildlife refuges are about $15 billion in need. The year before President Obama took office, the department made about $18 billion a year from offshore drilling, but the figure had fallen just $2.6 last year.

Zinke said the decline was a consequence of putting 94 percent of the nation’s shores off limits to drilling, of not harvesting trees and the “consequence of locking and shutting American energy, access and recreation off of our lands.”

Conservation Colorado predicted accurately what Zinke might say, when Colorado Politics reported he was scheduled to speak in private to the pro-business American Legislative Exchange Council gathering in Denver Thursday.

Jessica Goad, the spokeswoman for the state’s largest environmental organization, said it spoke “volumes about the Interior secretary’s priorities,” meaning opening up more public lands for production. Friday night he left no doubt.

Zinke shifted from numbers to emotions. A Navy SEAL for from 1996 to 2008, he told the crowd he never wanted their grandchildren to see what he’s seen.

“I’ve fought in a lot of countries, and I never want to see our children have to go to war … over resources we have here,” Zinke said.

Zinke said it’s better to produce energy in this country with reasonable regulations than around the globe where there could be none.

A geologist (who also was a starting center for the University Oregon football team) said when he was being educated he was taught “definitively” America would run out of domestic energy by 2003.

“God has a sense of humor,” Zinke said. “He gave us fracking.”

He said fracking has made the difference. “We don’t have to be held hostage by our foreign  enemies.”

When a heckler began shouting inaudibly at Zinke, the Interior secretary gave the person a lingering look, a sly smile and cocked his head as he leaned back.

“I can tell you something,” he said, raising his index finger, pointing then leaning his head forward, as the crowd began to chant “Trump, Trump, Trump.”

“We won,” Zinke said with pauses for added punctuation. “We won. For the right reason.”

The summit continues Saturday with speeches from Reagan Education Secretary William Bennett, former Colorado Congressman Bob Beauprez, Colorado Ken Buck and Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow.

On stage at different junctures over the weekend, Colorado Politics interviewed Republican gubernatorial candidates Victor Mitchell, Steve Barlock, Doug Robinson and George Brauchler.

Colorado Politics will fill you in on what they said and how they compare Sunday, after summit participants complete a straw poll of the gubernatorial candidates.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 21, 20174min520

Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner told a crowd of thousands at the Western Conservative Summit Friday night that Republicans in Congress, as early as next week, will address healthcare.

The Senate GOP’s effort to repeal and replace Obamacare collapsed last week. Gardner never said how we would have voted on that bill, even though he was in a group that helped draft it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pulled the legislation when  it became evident Republicans didn’t have the votes to pass it.

But Friday night Gardner never said exactly what Republicans will do next, beyond giving states more flexibility to design their own programs, “to get Washington out of the way.”

“Those are the kinds of things we can all work together to do,” Gardner said in his speech.

He left after the speech, before Colorado Politics could catch up to ask more questions. Stay tuned.

Gardner said the GOP must “rebuild a healthcare system in this country that increases the quality of care, decreases the cost of care and does it by giving consumers more options, more choice and more freedom.”

He told thousands at the opening night of the summit at the Colorado Convention Center that Obamacare represented a bloated broken promise and endangered the social safety net programs for the people Democrats are using as props to get in the way of reform.

During Gardner’s speech a small group of protesters, who paid at least $120 each for a day pass to get in,  tried to interrupt by chanting “Don’t cut  Medicaid,” before they were ushered out were shouted down  by chants of   “USA.” He briefly shuffled the papers of his speech while the protesters were led out.

Gardner was unfazed and even complimented the dissenting voices.

“That’s what makes a nation great … the strength of each other to listen to the disparate voices, to listen to the people who have differing opinions, because that is what makes our nation strong,” Gardner told the audience. “That is who we are and those are values the Western Conservative Summit celebrates.”

Gardner said Americans, such as those protesters, have serious concerns about healthcare, and it would be important “to make sure we focus our efforts on those who need it the most.”

“What’s happened the last several years is a government that’s tried to grow so much that it’s created instability in our most important safety net programs and what we have to do is make sure they’re sustainable to protect those who are truly in need,” he said.

The conservatives at the summit were down on Senate Republicans for washing out on their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

After a dance party to open the show, Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, which has put on the summit in Denver for eight years, made the failure part of his opening address.

“No more excuses, it’s time to repeal  Obamacare,” Hunt said. “Get it done. We sent you there for a reason.”