January 28, 2009

"Chicago-Style" Politics Becomes Entrenched In Colorado; Shady Deals Exposed

Republicans: Remove a ballot initiative in exchange for compensation = bribery.

Democrats: Hey, it's just free speech!

From Face The State:
Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, testified in favor of the bill. He was a primary backer of Amendment 49 and told the committee that on the eve of the deadline to remove initiatives from the ballot, he was offered $800,000 to pull the initiative. “What an idiot I was not to take that $800,000,” Caldara said, sarcastically adding he now has incentive to put bad measures on the ballot in order to gain financial benefit. Committee member Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, was notably disturbed by Caldara's story and suggested further investigation into his allegations.

But the bill also had its share of detractors. Democrat go-to attorney Mark Grueskin, who served as legal counsel for the unions during the 2008 election, testified in opposition. He argued the bill would violate free speech by banning a monetary exchange for removing a ballot measure. “Like it or not money is speech under both [the Colorado and U.S.] Constitutions,” he said.

Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who also spoke before the committee, fired back at Grueskin. “The act of paying someone money might be an act of free speech, but it might also be an act of bribery," he testified.

The bill was ultimately killed on a 6 to 5 vote, with McCann being the only Democrat to vote in favor. Stephens was disappointed, but said she would continue to pursue the issue. "Now that we know those are the terms, we have a new Chicago-style politics," she said.

Sen. Mike Kopp, R-Littleton, was the bill's Senate sponsor and called its defeat the "Blagojevich-ization" of Colorado.
Props to McCann for opposing what Ben describes--quite accurately, in my estimation--as "political blackmail."

But then again, think of the unions!

Speaking of corruption, here is a somewhat-related story that should be drawing more attention and is not:
The Lakewood Housing Authority bought its new headquarters for $3.1 million - $300,000 more than the seller paid for the property the same day as the sale.

The July 23 transactions have raised a few eyebrows, including those of one Lakewood City Council member.

But Bill Lunsford, the housing authority's development manager, points to an appraisal that valued the office building at $3.2 million - $100,000 more than the quasi-public agency paid.

Lunsford said he had no way of knowing that the firm selling the property was closing on it the same day for $2.8 million.

"If we obviously had this opportunity to buy it from the previous guy at what I hear now is $300,000 cheaper, we would have done it," Lunsford said Monday.
Oops, our bad.

Yeah, right.

Thanks to the Independence Institute for providing first-hand testimony on behalf of the anti-corruption bill defeated by union-enslaved Democrats, and for shedding light on the type shenanigans exposed in the housing authority's operations.

I have a feeling that not only will a similar bill come up again (especially if this type of activity occurs again) under a Republican-controlled legislature, but that many more exposés of sketchy deals involving government or quasi-governmental/public assistance organizations. The questionable circumstances of the Lakewood Housing Authority's purchase are probably only the tip of the iceberg.

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