RealPolitik

An unfair and off-balanced look at Colorado politics.

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Hick stands by budget cuts

By Charles Ashby
Thursday, February 17, 2011

In an impromptu visit to the third-floor press room in the state Capitol, where several state newspapers (including the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel) have desks, Gov. John Hickenlooper stood behind his controversial budget cuts that would leave K-12 education with about $375 million less than it otherwise would receive.

Hickenlooper also defended a plan to set aside about $140 million in a special reserve account, saying no business in the state would ever think of not having a rainy-day fund.

He said the current reserve account only would pay for about two weeks of state services before it ran out.

Pictured with the governor above, from left, are Denver Post reporters Lynn Bartles and Tim Hoover, and Durango Herald Reporter Joe Hanel.

It is the first time a governor has visited the press room since former Gov. Roy Romer was in office.

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Senate kills last Arizona-style measure

By Charles Ashby
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Senate committee killed the last, so far, measure that would turn Colorado's immigration laws into one that more mirrors a similar one in Arizona.

In killing the bill, offered by Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, Democrats said it would have cost the state money and jobs.

They said that since Arizona passed the controversial bill, it's spent about $1.5 million in a legal challenge in defending it, and seen local businesses lose money because of boycotts against Arizona-made products and tourism. They estimate those losses at about $141 million in total.

Democrats also said the measure wasn't needed because there's no evidence Colorado's laws related to the same matter, referring suspected illegal immigrants to federal authorities, aren't already being followed.

“Today we said “No” to a bill that would have hurt Colorado’s economy and cost the state jobs," said Senate Majority Leader John Morse, D-Colorado Springs. "We stood with employers who said this bill would hurt their businesses. We stood with members of law enforcement who said this bill would hurt their ability to keep Coloradans safe. We stood with men and women from across the state who said this bill is extreme, unwise, and wrong for Colorado."

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Buck launches balanced-budget group

By Charles Ashby
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Failed GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate, Ken Buck, launched a "state-based research, education and leadership" group today to push for a federal balanced-budget amendment.

Buck, who lost a bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., last fall, said his group, Balance Colorado, will be part of a grassroots effort to get citzens in all 50 states to push for a Federal Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The group is to be part of a larger organization called Balance America.

“After the last election, many D.C. politicians have finally jumped on the BBA bandwagon and that’s great," Buck said in a release. "We’ll take it. But the solutions to our nation’s problems don’t come from Washington, they come from grassroots Americans working to overcome the mess D.C. has created.”

Buck said there is no nationwide group that has any idea how many of the states would be ready to pass such an amendment, which would require two-thirds of states to do so if it is passed in Congress.

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Wadhams drops GOP chairman bid

By Charles Ashby
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams has dropped his bid for a third term.

Once known as Karl Rove's heir apparent, the man who got President George W. Bush elected, Wadhams has been known as the go-to guy within the state party to get Republican candidates elected.

But in a letter to the party's central committee, Wadhams said he did not like where the party was headed. He said a push to unit the party's conservative base would alienate it from the rest of the state. Currently, voters are nearly evenly split between Republicans, Democrats and unaffailiated.

"I have tired of those who are obsessed with seeing conspiracies around every corner and who have terribly misguided notions of what the role of the state party is while saying 'uniting conservatives' is all that is needed to win competitive races across the state," Wadhams wrote, according to a story about it by Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartles.

Wadham's departure leaves state Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch as the sole contender, though others now are expected to jump in the race.

During the last election, Wadhams had been the targeted by people within his own party, saying that he's failed to get enough Republicans elected to office in his four years of leading the party.
 

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Gessler opts not to work for former law firm

By Charles Ashby
Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Secretary of State Scott Gessler has decided not to seek outside employment with his former law firm.

In a letter to constituents sent today, Gessler said there were too many questions about working for his former law firm, now called Hackstaff Law Group.

The newly minted state lawmaker, however, says he's not seeking employment with his former employer, not that he doesn't plan to seek outside work elsewhere. Here's his letter:

Dear Friends;

I’m writing to tell you about my decision regarding my plan to earn supplemental income through my previous law firm. As recently reported in the media, my goal has been to fulfill my duties as Secretary of State, but also to meet my family obligations. To that end I planned to work about five hours each weekend for specific clients on issues that had nothing to do with the Secretary of State’s office. There were safeguards in place to avoid any conflict of interest.

At the same time, I wanted to be up-front and transparent with the people of Colorado, in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. So early on I chose to talk about this issue before doing any legal work whatsoever.

I carefully avoided recommending any higher compensation for elected officials, because it is truly an honor to serve as Secretary of State. But like many middle-class families in these tough economic times, I am trying hard to square my family obligations with my salary restrictions.

Over the past two weeks, many have asked that I publicly disclose client names. My former law firm has expressed great discomfort with this arrangement. Indeed, I cannot in good conscience expect anyone to subject themselves to public scrutiny, merely because I am doing some legal work for them.

For this reason, I have decided that I will not do any work representing clients through my former law firm. And while I have had substantial discussions with the Attorney General’s Office about outside employment, I have nonetheless asked the Attorney General to halt work on this issue. I have decided that I will not go forward with my initial plans.

At the end of the day, it is important that we focus on the things that will help Colorado. I have been hard at work finding ways to help Colorado’s businesses and protect the integrity of our elections. In the past three weeks we’ve made good progress, but there’s much work to be done.

I am confident that four years from now we will be able to look back and know that the secretary of state helped make Colorado a more prosperous state and helped make our elections more honest and fair. And over the next four years, I will work hard to make these things a reality.

Sincerely,

Scott Gessler

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