Sen. Mark Udall
WASHINGTON — A new poll conducted by National Public Radio that shows Republicans leading Democrats by three points in Colorado has prompted an urgent fundraising plea from the camp of Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall.
The June 19th poll of 12 battleground states at the center of the fight for control of the U.S. Senate including Colorado shows Republicans ahead of Democrats 46 to 43 percent.
Another recent poll conducted by the National Mining Association on June 12 shows Republican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner leading Udall 47 to 45 percent.
“This is good news for Congressman Gardner who will surely seize on these poll results to boost his fundraising for the Federal Election Commission (FEC) primary deadline tomorrow,” Udall’s Campaign Manager Adam Dunstone said in an email to Rachel Gordon, the campaign’s finance director.
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WASHINGTON — Lawmakers here Monday will press the nation’s top tax collector to explain how two years of emails disappeared from Lois Lerner’s computer – the time period in which conservative groups were targeted by her agency for increased scrutiny.
Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen was defiant during the first day of questioning Friday as to why he remained silent about the computer malfunction for months after Congress began its investigation and demanded the documents be delivered to Capitol Hill.
Koskinen is expected to face tough questioning from Republicans when the hearing resumes at 7p.m. before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Read more »
Gunnison Sage-Grouse by Noppadol Paothong
WASHINGTON — The federal government’s decision to ban energy development across a wide swath of Colorado and eastern Utah to protect the Gunnison sage grouse habitat has raised concerns the action would inflict economic damage.
Although the Obama administration was not expected to make its decision as to whether the bird warrants the endangered listing until November, the Bureau of Land Management’s decision this week effectively puts an oil, gas and coal moratorium on 400,000 acres – roughly 90 acres per bird.
The final decision was “pushed back until after the election, because when people understand the impact on jobs, people get mad,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of the Western Energy Alliance.
“They know they’ve got a tight Senate race and they know that people in Colorado who are going to vote for the next senator are upset by actions that put jobs and economic growth off –limits,” Sgamma said. Read more »
Sen. Mark Udall
WASHINGTON –- Top GOP officials are concerned that missing among the IRS’s internal emails are communications with Sen. Mark Udall and a dozen other Democrats who received campaign contributions from the federal agency’s union.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) first issued Freedom of Information Act requests to the IRS last year seeking all electronic and written documents between top officials there and the Democrats who received the campaign funding, but the attempts have been repeatedly stonewalled.
Udall has accepted $13,000 in donations from the National Treasury Employees Union that represents IRS employees, according to the Center For Responsive Politics.
“Mark Udall hasn’t said a word about the missing emails and is sitting back rather than demanding answers,” said Brook Hougesen, NRSC press secretary. Read more »
WASHINGTON — Thumbs-up from Alec Baldwin, Ron Burgundy’s Action News team jumping for joy, and a face-planting Stephen Colbert are part of the Colorado GOP’s humorous multimedia presentation on Sen. Mark Udall’s Keystone pipeline vote.
The witty take on a serious election season issue is a tumblr of the top five things to know about the controversy, including how many times Udall has voted against construction of the pipeline – Wednesday’s vote will mark the fourth.
The collage also notes that 66 percent of Coloradans support the pipeline, and that the State Department has reported “no major environmental objections.”
“If Mark Udall voted in favor of building the Keystone pipeline, he would risk losing financial support from radical environmentalist groups supporting his reelection campaign – including those sponsored by climate activist Tom Steyer,” the collage said. Read more »
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday admitted that “trust has been broken” between the White House and Congress during a hearing that examined whether the president broke the law in the Bowe Bergdahl exchange.
By releasing the Taliban Five from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for the sergeant without the 30 day required notice to Congress, the Obama administration has sparked a controversy in Washington that has some in his own Democratic Party questioning the wisdom of the president’s decision.
Rep. Adam Smith, the Democratic ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, did not quibble when he told Hagel the administration was wrong in its handling of the situation. Read more »
Vail after an April snow. However, some Democrats say climate change is causing reduced snowpack and shorter winters.
WASHINGTON – Democratic lawmakers supporting the Obama administration’s plan to cut carbon emissions at coal-fired electricity generating plants are banking on the new rules to change destructive weather patterns across Colorado.
Colorado Rep. Jared Polis criticized power station emissions for causing global warming and creating “historic flooding,” while Sen. Mark Udall blamed it for “severe drought and reduced snowpack.” Both lawmakers blamed destructive wildfires on climate change.
“The dangerous and costly effects of climate change are already upon us,” Polis said.
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet also held emissions responsible for drought and wildfires, but also blamed it for shortening winters and ski seasons, and creating longer summers. Read more »
Sloan Gibson is the new acting VA Secretary
Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on Friday stepped down from his post in the wake of a health care scandal linked to the deaths of 40 veterans, and demands from more than 100 Democrat and Republican lawmakers that he resign.
“We don’t have time for distractions,” President Barak Obama said in announcing his decision to accept Shinseki’s resignation. “We need to fix the problem.”
Shinseki told the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans during a speech Friday morning, “I can’t explain the lack of integrity amongst some of the leaders of our health care facilities.”
“This is something I rarely encountered during 38 years in uniform, and so I will not defend it, because it is indefensible. I can take responsibility for it, and I do,” Shinseki said.
Shinseki said that senior leaders at Arizona VA hospital would be removed and that bonuses would be suspended this year for health administration senior officials.
Just moments after delivering the speech, Shinseki attended a hastily scheduled White House meeting with Obama where his resignation was announced. Obama said Shinseki will be replaced by VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson. Read more »
WASHINGTON — Western lawmakers are collaborating on legislation to block the Interior Department from listing the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act for a decade allowing for states including Colorado to develop conservation plans.
Critics of the rushed proposal to list the species say the affected states have different needs to protect the bird based on unique geographical differences, as well as concerns about the impact on local economies. An estimated two million acres in Colorado would be affected by the proposed listing.
The bill is sponsored by Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner and cosponsored by Colorado Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, as well as key House leaders from Utah and Montana.
The Senate companion measure is sponsored by Republican Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming and cosponsored from Senators in Utah and Idaho. Colorado Democratic Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet are not cosponsors. Read more »
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki
WASHINGTON — Rep. Mike Coffman is pressuring the Obama administration to create a bipartisan commission and investigate fatal bureaucratic failures at a veteran’s hospital and whether the problems have spread to facilities in other states including Colorado.
“It is my firm opinion that the problems within the (Veterans Health Administration) are so pervasive that they truly represent a crisis to those who have worn the uniform in defense of our nation and are seeking the health care benefits they have earned,” said Coffman, a Marine Corps combat veteran.
The scandal unfolded after media reports last month that a phony waiting list was created at an Arizona VA hospital to conceal that patients were not receiving timely health care. At least 40 veterans caught in the backlogged process died before getting treatment.
It has since been revealed that a Fort Collins VA health clinic was also cooking the books to hide excessive wait times for treatment, and that some employees were punished for refusing to comply with the cover-up. Read more »