An unfair and off-balanced look at Colorado politics.

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Ethics inflation

By Charles Ashby
Monday, April 11, 2011

Seems like no one is immune from inflation in these tough economic times. Even the cost of ethics has gone up.

Colorado's Independent Ethics Commission, established in 2006 when voters approved Amendment 41 limiting what gifts politicians can accept, announced today that the $50 cap on gifts to government officials was going up.

As required under the amendment, the commission has for the first time applied inflation to that amount. Now politicians and government officials can't accept gifts that exceed $53.


State indicts Douglas Bruce

By Charles Ashby
Friday, April 8, 2011

The state's well-known anti-tax crusader, Douglas Bruce, has been indicted by a state grand jury on suspicion of failing to pay income taxes for a three-year period from 2005 to 2007.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced that the indictment is based on a suspicion that Bruce attempted to evade paying taxes by funnelling money into Active Citizens Together, a nonprofit he created in 2001.

The 61-year-old Colorado Springs resident, well known for getting the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights into the Colorado Constitution in 1991 and his backing of numerous anti-tax measures since then, is also suspected of filing a false tax return on income he earned during the 2005 tax year and failing to file returns in 2006 and 2007.

“State law requires that citizens who live in Colorado and enjoy all of the benefits of being a resident pay the appropriate taxes,” Suthers said in a statement. “No one is exempt from that obligation.”

According to the indictment, Bruce is suspected of evasion of taxes administered by the Colorado Department of Revenue, a class-five felony; filing a false tax return, a class-five felony; attempt to influence a public servant, a class-four felony; and failure to file a return or pay a tax, a misdemeanor offense. Bruce could face up to six years in prison or up to $500,000 in fines if convicted of attempt to influence a public servant, a class-four felony.

The state investigated and referred the case to Suthers' office, who convened a statewide grand jury. State prosecutors will present the state’s case in Denver District Court.


Governor’s April Fools joke

By Charles Ashby
Friday, April 1, 2011

Gov. John Hickenlooper's April Fool's joke:

Gov. Hickenlooper appoints new Director of Paper Distribution in the Department of Natural Resources

DENVER ­— Friday, April 1, 2011 – Gov. John Hickenlooper announced today the appointment of Michael Scott to serve as the new Director of Paper Distribution for the Department of Natural Resources.

“Scott’s success in selling paper will help Colorado effectively and efficiently move the large amount of bark beetle lumber from the forest and into the marketplace, creating tons of jobs and making lots of money,” Hickenlooper said. “This is a unique opportunity to resolve Colorado’s forest health and budget issues.”

Scott, of Scranton, Pa., recently announced he is leaving his job as the regional branch manager for Dunder Mifflin Paper. Scott has served in this position since 1994 and is moving to Colorado to join his fiancé, Holly Flax, who is returning home to care for her elderly parents.

Scott was also a small business owner, having successfully started the Michael Scott Paper Co. in 2009. The company was later purchased by his former employer, Dunder Mifflin, which restored Scott and his employees Pam Halpert (née Beesley) and Ryan Howard to their previous positions.

Scott has a unique management approach, where he spends 80 percent of his time “distracting others,” 19 percent of his time “procrastinating,” and 1 percent of his time “critical thinking.”

“Scott will be a wonderful addition to our paper team, focusing particularly on the use of beetle kill in paper production,” Hickenlooper said. “We hired him based on his skills, personal drive and love for ‘That’s what she said’ jokes.”

Scott’s appointment is effective April 28, which is his final day on “The Office.”


Pro-life group pressured Bradford

By Charles Ashby
Thursday, March 17, 2011

It was a hardcore pro-life group that primarily was behind the pressure that got Rep. Laura Bradford to withdraw her own measure to add criminal penalties to the state's criminal code against anyone who kills a pregnant woman.

The Denver-based Christian Family Alliance of Colorado hated the measure because of fears it would remove any state law against criminal abortions "thereby ratifying abortion-on-demand" in the state, the group's executive director, Joe Neville, said Thursday.

Thing is, there are no such laws in Colorado.

Earlier today, Bradford, R-Collbran, and Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, asked the GOP controlled House Judiciary Committee to kill their bill to add felonies to anyone who kills or injures a woman because she is pregnant.

The Alliance, however, called the measure "deceptive," saying it was designed to subvert Colorado's voter-passed pro-life laws.

“It saddens CFAC to know that even House GOP leadership seemed prepared to nullify all of Colorado’s voter-passed pro-life laws and therefore ratify abortion-on-demand in the Centennial State,” Neville said in a statement. “We’d expect that from a Planned Parenthood lobbyist like Senate sponsor Pat Steadman, but not from those who claim to value the lives of unborn children.”

The only abortion laws Colorado has center on what is a legal abortion, where they can be performed and who can perform them. That is to say, certified clinics by licensed doctors. Beyond that, the state does require girls under the age of 18 to get their parents permission to have an abortion.

Waller and Bradford, said the bill never had anything to do with any of that. They said it was always about protecting women who become targets simply because they are pregnant, such as a father who doesn't want to be a father.

"I have said all along, this is a criminal justice issue, and I still believe it is," Bradford said. "This bill was never intended to move the abortion debate in one direction or the other. I only want to criminalize horrible acts committed against women and their unborn children."


Budget tour

By Charles Ashby
Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Legislative Democrats are planning a "listening tour" around the state this weekend to talk to voters about the state's budget woes.

Currently, the state is facing a $1.2 billion revenue shortfall for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Though Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, is hopeful some positive things will be revealed in this Friday's revenue forecast, the one the Legislature bases its next budget on, others still expect to have to cut the state's spending plan by millions.

Because the tour really isn't  a tour because it just involves local Democrats in their own House districts, there won't be one in Grand Junction (they only have Republican lawmakers.)

As a result, the nearest one will be in Glenwood Springs at the Garfield County Administration Building, 108 8th St., Ste. 100. It is actually only one of two events on the Western Slope.

No word from Republicans yet if they plan something similar.

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