Archive for the 'elections' Category

How To Deal With a Faithless State Lawmaker: The Hudak Recall

Posted by on Nov 27 2013 | Civil Rights, congress, Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, elections, guns, Politics, Second Amendment, TABOR

Advocates of freedom and constitutional rights won a victory today when Senator Evie Hudak resigned to avoid being recalled.

For years, people have asked me, “When a Member of Congress repeatedly violates his or her oath of office, what can we do?” Because Congressmen can’t be impeached (and their colleagues rarely expel them), my answer always has been, “You have no alternative but oppose him or her in the next election.”

But for Colorado elected officials, we do have an alternative: recall. And after long failure to use that tool, the voters finally have deployed it—three times this year.

Recall elections work because in recall elections, unlike general elections, issues aren’t “bundled” together in inseparable packages. You vote on one office, and on the record of one politician. Of course, the political class doesn’t like that: They like it when government is involved in so many matters and election campaigns are so muddled that you don’t really have a clear “yes” or “no” vote: So you just re-elect the person whose name you know—the incumbent.

But a recall, like a voter initiative, offers the electorate a much more focused choice. It’s democracy at its finest.

In some other states, the political class (sometimes through the courts) have gelded the recall process by requiring adequate “cause” for a recall. In those states, whether there is “cause” is decided by (guess who?) the politicians or judges. In light of what has happened this year, look for an effort to limit recall in Colorado, too. If they do try to limit recall, just remember: In a republic, lawmakers are the agents of the people, and the only judges of whether an agent has been faithful are those who hired him.

In the case of Evie Hudak, the signs were that a majority of her district believed she had been faithless: Contrary to her oath of office and contrary to her employers’ instructions (as set forth in the state and federal Constitutions), she had attacked our right to keep and bear arms. Because of this, she deserved to be gone, just as much as if she had attacked our right of free speech or our state constitutional right to vote on tax increases.

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What Made Tuesday’s Election Victories Possible

Posted by on Nov 08 2013 | education, elections, Taxes

Alright. Here’s my terrible analogy. Really, I don’t think it’s all that good, so please let me know if the point gets across.

Have you ever seen a house being built? They get the framing up, and then it looks like everything just stalls. I mean there’s like no progress, but you still see guys just milling around. And then one day, out of seemingly nowhere, the drywall goes up, and you think, “Wow, look at all that progress; it all happened overnight!”

Well, Tuesday night’s amazing election victories might seem like that, too. Amendment 66 went down to defeat by a 2 to 1 vote, and school reformers won in Dougco, Jeffco, and Loveland school boards. Wow, all that happened overnight!

What you might not have seen at the house being built were all the small and crucial tasks that MUST be completed before the drywall goes up — electricians running wires, plumbers laying pipe, HVAC guys bending sheet metal for vents, and so on. From a distance, you don’t really see any of that work,but you sure notice when the walls go up. It looks like big movement.

Conservatives, especially in Colorado, lose and lose and lose because they keep trying to put up the walls before doing the prep work first. That prep work takes years, it’s hard, it’s often boring, and it takes resources.

We at the Independence Institute are in the business of doing that political prep work. And I think folks just might be starting to get it. Without the coalition building, detailed policy work, investigative news reporting, community organizing, and educational efforts that we do, victory simply is not possible.

Take for example the story of Douglas County School District. This district, the third largest school district in the state, was the first in the nation to implement a voucher program on its own and basically de-certified its union among many other great reforms. And on Tuesday, despite a massive influx of national union money to defeat the reform candidates, Douglas County residents gave them a “thumbs up” and re-elected them.

The prep work you might not have seen started over six years ago when our education policy stars, Pam Benigno and Ben DeGrow, started working with school board members in the minority. In 2009, we worked with the new candidates before they were elected and then continued to provide assistance as they carefully crafted and implemented their reforms. Starting a year ago, we brought in community organizers and implemented a door-to-door, face-to-face educational campaign to educate the voters in Douglas County, so they could better understand the impact of these powerful reforms. When the battle to re-elect these reformers came, the prep work was done.

Well before Governor Hickenlooper launched his campaign to raise Colorado income taxes by 27% with Amendment 66, we had already been working on our “Kids Are First” educational campaign. The goal was to show that throwing even more money into a failed system was helping unions and monopolies, not children. We advocated raising expectations, not taxes.

But it was the years of work before that, building relationships and coalitions, investigating the phone conversations between the Guv and Michael Bloomberg, detailing how to get a billion dollars more out of our state budget without a tax increase with our “Citizen’s Budget,” and building a network of freedom fighters around the state that made the difference. The prep work took years. The loss of Amendment 66 was a formality.

For those who invest in and are part of our long, slow, methodical political prep work, well, I just can’t thank you enough. You made Tuesday’s victories possible.

Now back to more prep work…

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Forget Waldo. Where’s Hick?

Posted by on Oct 24 2013 | Amendment 66, Economy, education, elections, Taxes

When it comes to raising debt and taxes, John Hickenlooper is a rainmaker. As mayor of Denver, he jumped out of airplanes to poke a hole in TABOR, wore a blue bear suit for tourism taxes, rode the trolley for RTD’s Fastracks boondoggle, walked with Sesame Street-like letters A through I to raise property taxes and money for Pro-comp for Denver teachers, and a new jail…

Now, in his first foray into tax hikes as governor, he is AWOL. He has worked the phones to pull in millions for the Amendment 66 campaign and said nice things about this 27.4% income tax hike at public events, but he has been missing in action when it comes to taking the lead in selling it. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

In his past anti-taxpayer conquests, he was able to build a broard coalition of diverse organizations and bipartisan support. But not a single elected Republican supports 66. His usual partners in crime at the Denver Metro Chamber won’t even stand by him. Business groups like the NFIB and Colorado Concern have endorsed a “No” vote. Even Left-leaning editorial boards like the Fort Collins Coloradoan urge defeat.

Without the comfort of the herd, Hick seems content to play only a supporting, backroom fundraising role. Could it be that, after his debacle taking Michael Bloomberg’s advice on gun control (which cost him two senate seats), angering rural Colorado with a renewable energy mandate, and being unwilling or unable to make a decision on clemency for mass-killer Nathan Dunlap, Hick wants distance from another potential embarrassing loss?

Well, we can’t stay quiet and MIA like Hick. The Independence Institute has taken the lead in spreading the truth about Amendment 66. In fact, our work has made it up to our friends on The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. Their lead editorial today warns: “Democrats and unions try to kill Colorado’s flat tax.”

Our educational effort is called Kids Are First. I urge you to go to www.KidsAreFirst.org right now. There, you’ll see many resources, including the videos we’ve been airing on television. Please share this site with everyone you know. Unlike Hick’s team, we don’t have $7 million+ to get the word out.

And our scholars have been busy actually READING this 150 page monstrosity. Learn about their findings:

Ben DeGrow’s Issue Paper: Amendment 66: Unfair and Overpriced

Ben’s op-ed: Tax Hike Won’t Deliver on its promise

Linda Gorman’s Issue Paper:
A Billion Dollars Worth of Bad Ideas: Amendment 66 Tax Hike

Linda’s Issue Backgrounder: Amendment 66: Spend More, Get Less

My debate with Senator Michael Johnston: 9News video

You know the whole country is still reeling from the last bill we “had to pass to see what’s inside of it.” Amendment 66 is Colorado’s version.

Please get involved in sharing the word. The wallet you save may be your own.

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My Act of Civil Obedience

Posted by on Sep 11 2013 | elections

I committed an act of civil obedience.

I’ve lived in Boulder for nearly 30 years, yet I just cast a ballot in the Colorado Springs recall election. I did so by legally using the irresponsibly lax new election law.

Now, we might not agree on policy or even political candidates, but I hope we all agree that everyone should know their full voting rights. Our election law changed drastically when Governor Hickenlooper signed into law House Bill 13-1303. And everyone, not just the political team that concocted and rushed it through the process, should know how the law works and their new rights under it.

My act of civil obedience proved a simple truth – under this law voters can now be legally shuffled around in the last moments of a campaign, to any district around the state where their votes are needed most.

If this law stands, the future of Colorado elections will be decided by which campaign has the most buses.

Notably, HB-1303 forced elections to use mail-in ballots. Meaning if you are registered to vote, your ballot will be flung through the mail like a grocery store coupon, whether you want it to or not. As sloppy as that is, that’s not the worst part.

HB-1303 permits you to register and vote the same day in any district in Colorado you like, no matter where you were living just moments before. Basically anyone who has been, well, anywhere in Colorado for 22 days (a pleasant 3 week vacation), has an address in the district, and is over 18 can now vote in any district, anywhere in the state on election day if they affirm they have the “intention” of making that district their permanent home.

To educate voters of their new voter rights we created www.BringInTheVote.com, where you can get more details. But to drive the point home, I went to a polling location in the Springs, told them I’m living there now and I’d like to vote. I signed the form, they gave me a ballot, and I cast it. Read the Denver Post story here:http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_24040159/new-el-paso-county-resident-jon-caldara-turns

While I cast a blank ballot as a new Colorado Springs resident, I could have just as easily voted “yes” for the recall. Thankfully, enough of my new neighbors did that for me.

Did you know that a utility bill is considered legal identification to vote in Colorado? Imagine this crime – operatives from out of state go through a few mailboxes in say Denver. They bring cable, phone, or water bills down to the election in the Springs. They then can register and vote that very day. Yes, they committed a crime, but their ballots have been cast and there is NO WAY to pull them out of the ballot box. If, and that’s a big IF, they somehow get caught, any enforcement comes after the election is over. Their votes counted. Legally.

Governor Hickenlooper, the man who jumped out of an airplane to help pass a tax increase, called my legal casting of a ballot a “stunt.” One House Representative threatened that if I went through with my plan I’d better “bring bail money.” A progressive group Photoshopped me getting drug away by police, warning that’s what would happen to others if the followed suit. Funny how the usual suspects that yell “voter intimidation” didn’t scream it on my behalf. Hmmm.

Well I voted all the same. I wasn’t arrested.

Even the Denver Post editorialized that my “stunt” had a purpose. http://www.denverpost.com/editorials/ci_24053715/jon-caldaras-political-stunt-had-purpose

It is my hope that our state legislature and governor will act quickly to remedy this law that makes election manipulation legal.

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Know Your Voting Rights! Bring in the Vote Colorado!

Posted by on Sep 05 2013 | Election Law, elections, Video

I wanted to make sure you saw the media release we sent earlier today, along with the video we made. Below you’ll find the release followed by the video.


The Independence Institute president will exercise his legal voting rights in next week’s recall election, casting a ballot in a district outside his current residence.

Independence Institute president Jon Caldara’s decision to vote in the Senate District 11 recall kicks off the “Bring in the Vote” educational campaign, highlighting the significant legal changes in Colorado’s “Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act,” signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on May 10.

Calling attention to the lax new election law sponsored by Senators John Morse and Angela Giron, both facing recall elections, Caldara announced that he has the “intention” to make his permanent home in Senate District 11, currently represented by Morse.

Under HB 1303, the “intention” to establish residence along with a few minor requirements such as being 18 years of age, living in Colorado for 22 days, and having an address in the district, permits almost anyone to “Bring in the Vote” and cast a ballot in any district.

“It is my belief that this extremely sloppy new election law was designed to legally move voters into districts where their vote is most useful. I will show how this dangerous new law works by easily and legally voting in the John Morse recall election,” explained Caldara.

“John Morse sponsored this law and worked its passage through the Senate. And now, sadly, under this law future Colorado elections will be decided by which candidate has the most buses.”

To inform voters concerning their voting rights under the new law, the Independence Institute has launched an educational website: www.BringInTheVote.com.

“Though we may disagree on issues and candidates, I hope we all will agree that all Coloradans should be fully informed of their new voting rights and how to exercise them,” Caldara said.

 

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Second Amendment Results, Final

Posted by on Nov 07 2012 | elections, guns, Politics

Only reporting results which represent a change.

U.S.  Senate. Gains: Indiana (Donnelly replaces Lugar). NM  (Heinrich replaces Bingaman). ND (Heitkamp replaces Conrad).

Senate losses: Mass., Warren defeats Brown (-.5 with NRA C-rated Senator replaced by an F). Virginia, Kaine replaces Webb.

Senate net: +1.5. Ted Cruz’s win in Texas won’t change Senate voting patterns, but the former Texas Solicitor General will be an outstanding and very well-informed leader on Second Amendment issues.

House losses: AZ 9. CA 7 (C-rated Lungren ousted), 26, 36 (Mary Bono Mack), 41, 52. FL 18 (Alan West), 22 (Bloomberg-funded extremist wins), 26. Il  8, 18. MD 6. MN 8. NH 1 & 2. NY 18, 24.

House gains: AZ 2. IA 3 (incumbent vs. incumbent). NC 13 (F-rated incumbent retired). OH 16 (incumbent vs. incumbent).

House net: -12.5.

Governor Loss: Montana (although not officially called yet; winner Steve Bullock has a B- rating). Waiting for results in WA, a possible gain.

Ballot issues. Strengthen Louisiana state right to keep and bear arms, to require strict scrutiny. Win, very important reform, that will be a model in other states. Constitutional right to hunt  and fish passes overwhelmingly in Kentucky, Nebraska, and Idaho.

In short, as Barack Hussein Obama, the Juan Domingo Peron of the 21st century, leads America to fiscal collapse, you can at least keep your guns.

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Second Amendment election results

Posted by on Nov 06 2012 | elections, guns, Politics

As the results come in tonight, I will blog here about the results as they affect the Second Amendment. In an article last week for National Review Online, I previewed all the Senate and Governor races, and all the competitive House races. Election night starts with a net +3 for the Second Amendment in the Senate, regardless of which party wins the Senate races in New Mexico, North Dakota, and Indiana. In all these states, both major party candidates are strong on Second Amendment issues, so the winner will replace retiring anti-gun Senators (Bingaman in N.M., Conrad in N.D.) or an anti-gun Senator who lost in the primary (Lugar in Ind.).  To summarize the rest:

The three gubernatorial races that are close and that feature major differences between the candidates on Second Amendment issues are Washington, Montana, and New Hampshire.

. . . In four states — Arizona, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Virginia — there are serious risks that Senate seats could be taken by new senators hostile to gun rights. Plausible opportunities to gain seats for the Second Amendment exist in Maine, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. In these eight swing Senate states considered together, the possibility of a net loss probably exceeds the possibility of a net gain.

As for the U.S. House, a rough estimate would be that if the net gain for Democrats is x, then the net loss for gun owners will be about one-half or two-thirds of x. In swing districts, most candidates are unwilling to forgo the 5 percent of the vote that can be lost by opposing Second Amendment rights. So, in these districts, candidates of both parties tend to support the Second Amendment. Thus, the net change in House composition on the gun issue tends to be smaller than the net party change in any given year.

In addition, Louisiana has a ballot referendum to strengthen the state constitution’s right to arms. Idaho, Kentucky, and Nebraska will vote on adding the right to hunt and fish to the state constitution.

 

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Colorado’s November 2012 Ballot, Explained

Posted by on Nov 02 2012 | denver, elections, Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC, Taxes

Still trying to figure out that ballot? Then tune into Devil’s Advocate tonight for an explanation of some of those badly worded ballot measures. First, former Denver City Councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt joins me to explain Denver Measure 2A, the forever property tax increase. Then Miller Hudson swings by to discuss Colorado Amendment S, the personnel reform amendment. It just doesn’t get much more spine tingling than that. That’s tonight at 8:30PM on Colorado Public Television 12.

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Louisiana amendment to strengthen right to arms, on November ballot

Posted by on Oct 03 2012 | Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, elections, guns, Militia, Popular Constitutionalism, Right to carry, State constitutional law

In state elections, the most important vote this November will be in Louisiana. A referendum there would significantly strengthen protection of the right to keep and bear arms in the state, and would set a very significant national precedent.

Before the Civil War, the Louisiana Constitution did not mention a right to arms. The Louisiana Supreme Courts, however, viewed the federal Second Amendment as directly applicable to state government. So in State v. Chandler (1850), the court held that the Second Amendment protected a general right to carry arms, but that a legislature could ban concealed carry.

A new state constitution, adopted in 1879, provided: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged. This shall not prevent the passage of laws to punish those who carry weapons concealed.” La. Const., art. 3. The first sentence is, of course, nearly verbatim from the Second Amendment.

A century later, firearms prohibitionists had convinced some courts to reinterpret the Second Amendment so as to make it practical nullity. Supposedly, the Second Amendment right was not an individual right, but instead a “state’s right” or “collective right”–which meant that individual gun ownership could be entirely outlawed. Because the Louisiana Constitution’s language so closely paralleled the Second Amendment, there was a danger that a Louisiana court could interpret the state constitutional language to protect nothing at all. Indeed, some courts in other states had already done so, regarding state law language that copied the Second Amendment.

So in 1974, the Louisiana constitutional right was strengthened, with new language: “The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons.” La. Const., art. I, sect. 11. The new language made it indisputable that the state constitution’s right to arms was an individual right, belonging to each citizen.

Unfortunately, Louisiana’s Supreme Court, like some other courts of the late 1970s, was hostile to the right to arms. According to a 1977 Louisiana Supreme Court decision, “The right to keep and bear arms, like other rights guaranteed by our state constitution, is not absolute. We have recognized that such rights may be regulated in order to protect the public health, safety, morals or general welfare so long as that regulation is a reasonable one.” State v. Amos 343 So.2d 166, 168 (La. 1977).

It was unexceptional for the court to observe that the right to arms is no more “absolute” than any other right. But the court went much further, and essentially stripped the Louisiana arms right of any meaningful judicial protection. According to the Amos court, any form of gun control was constitutional, as long as it was “reasonable.”

In 2001, the Louisiana Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling that held: “The right to bear arms is established by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, § 11 of the Louisiana Constitution. The State of Louisiana is entitled to restrict that right for legitimate state purposes, such as public health and safety.” State v. Blanchard, 776 So.2d 1165 (La. 2001). The Blanchard court cited Louisiana state and federal cases from 1986 through 1999 for this proposition.

So Blanchard adopted an even weaker standard of right to arms protection than had Amos. Under Blanchard, any restriction is alright so long as the government has a “legitimate” purpose.  Blanchard‘s legitimate purpose test copies one prong of the weakest standard of judicial review, the “rational basis” test, which was originally created for Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection cases. Under this test, every law is constitutional so long as the government has a “legitimate” purpose, and the law has a “rational” connection to that purpose.

Fortunately, gun control has not been politically popular in Louisiana in recent decades. So even though the state’s courts have essentially nullified the constitutional right to arms, Louisiana’s firearms statutes are not, in general, oppressive.

In the November 2012 referendum, Louisiana citizens will be given the opportunity to remedy the wrong decisions in Blanchard and Amos. Voters can adopt new constitutional language: “The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall not be infringed.  Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”

If adopted, the referendum would make two direct changes:

1. For the first time in Louisiana, concealed carry would be constitutionally protected. This makes sense, because in the 21st century (unlike in the 19th), concealed carry is most common way that Louisiana citizens exercise their right to carry handguns for lawful protection. Like most other states, Louisiana has a statutory system by which concealed carry permits are issued under fair and objective standards.

2. The judicially-imposed “legitimate purposes” test (the weakest test) of judicial review would be replaced by the strongest test: strict scrutiny. Under “strict scrutiny,” the burden of proof is reversed; the government bears the burden of proving that a gun control law is constitutional. To pass strict scrutiny, a law must be proven to serve a “compelling state interest” (not merely a “legitimate purpose”). Even if the law does advance a compelling state interest, the law is constitutional only if the government additionally proves that the law is “narrowly tailored” and is the “least restrictive means” to advance the compelling state interest.

Louisiana would be the first state to write the “strict scrutiny” standard into its constitution. This would become the model in other states for significantly strengthening protection of their own constitutional right to arms. So it is unsurprising that the proposed amendment is strongly supported by the National Rifle Association, the Louisiana Shooting Association, and Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is the most pro-right to arms Governor in Louisiana history, and a national leader on the issue.

Surprisingly, some people in Louisiana are opposing the Amendment on the grounds that it supposedly promotes anti-gun laws. For example, at this website, the author remains invincibly ignorant, even when the facts are patiently explained an attorney from the Louisiana Shooting Association. The website author wants to live in a world of absolute rights. Be that as it may, Louisiana today is not a state of absolute rights; it is a state where the right to arms essentially does not exist, as a matter of state constitutional law, as mis-interpreted by state courts. The amendment would remedy the misinterpretation, and make it drastically harder for future courts to uphold anti-gun laws.

A victory for the Louisiana referendum will profoundly strengthen the right to arms in Louisiana, and have significant positive effects nationally. A defeat would validate the actions of previously Louisiana judges in recent decades who deigned that the right to arms was unworthy of judicial protection.

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Eli Stokels, Lynn Bartels on Colorado 2011 Election Results

Posted by on Nov 09 2011 | elections, Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC

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