April 24, 2008

Bill Ritter: Tough on SPAM

From today's Rocky Mountain News:
Gov. Bill Ritter on Wednesday signed into law the Spam Reduction Act, which provides state enforcement authority similar to federal authority against unwanted e-mails.
To Ritter's credit, Spam Reduction is an act of bipartisan goodwill, a positive headline needed to take attention away from a serious $300,000 campaign finance violation.

Bill Ritter Spam

Bill Ritter (invoking classic Monty Python): "I don't like Spam!"

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 22, 2008

Formal Complaint Filed in Bill Ritter's $300,000 Campaign Finance Violation

The Denver Post reports today the latest in Gov. Bill Ritter's campaign spending problems:
The complaint, from Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, prompts the process for reviewing campaign-finance violations. Without the complaint, it is unclear whether the Secretary of State's Office could have begun a formal inquiry.

"There are some very specific rules you've got to follow," Lambert said of campaign-finance laws. "This seemed to violate at least several of them and needs to be investigated further."

Last week, Ritter, a Democrat, announced that his former campaign manager, Greg Kolomitz, wrongly used inaugural funds to pay off more than $200,000 in campaign debt and also overpaid himself by about $83,000.
At the least, Bill Ritter's six-figure violation represents a case of grossly poor management. The investigation that follows today's formal complaint will reveal whether there's anything even more serious to be found.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 21, 2008

Denver Post Echo: Bill Ritter Campaign Violation Shows Poor Management

Last week I wrote here:
If this is the kind of oversight Bill Ritter gives to his own campaign funds, what does that say about his ability to manage how billions of taxpayer dollars are spent?
Following up on the same story about a six-figure campaign finance violation, today the editors of the Denver Post write:
The buck stops at the governor's office, and if anything this mess again raises questions over his management skills.
The Post concludes:
We think Coloradans deserve to know exactly how the misspending came to pass. Ritter so far has been open about the process, but it's in his best interest to make sure these remaining questions are answered in full and public ways.
That's about as nicely as it can be put.

Gov. Bill Ritter let a major abuse of his inaugural fund for campaign purposes go for more than a year before he caught on. That he's being open and honest about it now inspires only the smallest of confidence. The State of Colorado is not in good hands.

April 16, 2008

Pro-Business Ritter: Oh, Did I Mention This?

That I'm actually going to be charging Colorado businesses MORE in tax this year.

What, you didn't see the story? Perhaps that's because it was buried on page 2 of the business section.

That's why we're here.

It was pitched as part of a pro-business legislative package. Now it seems that a key part of Gov. Bill Ritter's agenda will create more losers than winners in the corporate community. . .

It was Rep. Douglas Bruce who ferreted out the harsh truth about the bill. Quizzing Todd Herreid of the Colorado Legislative Council staff, Bruce let it be known that the council used Department of Revenue information and estimated 70 percent of Colorado corporate filers would pay more in taxes, somewhere between $25 million and $50 million in the aggregate. The remaining 30 percent get the savings.

Oh, well. I suppose the Governor can still be said to be 30% pro-business.

What Was All That Money Doing in Ritter's Inaugural in the First Place?

The problems with Gov. Bill Ritter's $200,000-plus in misspent inaugural committee funds raises more questions beyond his apparent gross lack of oversight.

In total, about $300,000 in inauguration funds were spent on campaign expenses. Campaign manager Greg Kolomitz returned the $83,250 that was paid to himself and his company, leaving roughly $217,000 still improperly spent.

But a question I have yet to see answered is why so much money was needed in Ritter's inaugural fund in the first place. Seems quite extravagant.

A quick trip back in time to the tenure of Colorado's last Democratic governor, Roy Romer, hints at a sharp contrast. From the January 3, 1991, edition of the Colorado Springs Gazette (no direct link available):
In 1987, Romer's inaugural ball cost taxpayers $10,000 to $15,000, said Romer spokeswoman Cindy Parmenter.

She said the 1991 inauguration will cost under $6,000, compared to 1987's total cost of $25,000. "The first time we had to spend money on staff, telephones and things we already have," she explained.
I know there's such a thing as inflation, but not enough to account for $300,000 in spending. The questions I have yet to see answered are: 1) How much did Bill Ritter's inaugural committee raise? 2) How much did Bill Ritter's inaugural committee spend on legitimate expenses? 3) Why was so much money needed in Bill Ritter's inaugural committee? What cost so much at the inaugural party?

Maybe some inquisitive journalist out there can find the answers. In the meantime, the Bill Ritter Democrat seems like a far more extravagant (and irresponsible) figure than the Roy Romer Democrat.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 15, 2008

Huge Campaign Finance Violation Raises Questions about Ritter's Public Oversight

Whoops! Gov. Bill Ritter's campaign warchest is facing a serious violation to the tune of nearly a quarter million dollars:
Gov. Bill Ritter paid more than $200,000 in campaign expenses out of his inaugural account in violation of campaign-finance laws, his office announced today as March disclosures come due.

Ritter has put up his home as collateral on a $200,000 loan to repay the misspent funds, his staff said.

Former campaign manager Greg Kolomitz — who also oversaw the inaugural fund — is to blame, said Jim Carpenter, Ritter's chief of staff.

Ritter took responsibility for loose oversight, and the matter is now in the hands of the secretary of state and the Denver district attorney, staff said.
If this is the kind of oversight Bill Ritter gives to his own campaign funds, what does that say about his ability to manage how billions of taxpayer dollars are spent?

April 14, 2008

After Political Prosecution, Cory Voorhis Still Able to Say "God Bless America"

In his latest Human Events column, Colorado's own Ross Kaminsky highlights the amazing character of Cory Voorhis, the politically-targeted federal immigration agent who last week was exonerated in a case that stems back to the 2006 election:
Cory Voorhis looked me in the eye and said “God Bless America”. It was a remarkable statement from a man whose life has been turned upside down by a justice system which was hijacked by politicians and turned loose on this unsung American hero. When I said to Voorhis that it was remarkable he still felt that way, he pointed to his American flag lapel pin and said, still choked up from the news five minutes earlier, “This is what I stand for.”

Five minutes earlier, at about 1:45 PM on Wednesday, a 13-member jury unanimously returned two “not guilty” verdicts on the charges filed against Cory Voorhis by the US Attorney for the District of Wyoming. It was a case which the US Attorney’s office should never have accepted, but did so, in the view of many observers, because of political pressure trickling down from the office of Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr.

After a trial that included shoddy lawyering by the prosecution and a government investigation obviously tainted by politics, Cory Voorhis is today a free and vindicated man. But it is a bittersweet victory indeed, as Voorhis has been nearly bankrupted by the government’s outrageous abuse of power, selective prosecution, and intentionally incomplete investigation.
It was a bad week for Gov. Bill Ritter, but certainly a relief for a duty-bound civil servant who despite the financial and mental anguish can still proclaim "God bless America."

Read the entire article, including Ross's exclusive interview with Cory Voorhis. I was left with a newfound admiration for him, and if you are able and so inclined, Ross reminds us:
For those interested in helping Cory Voorhis pay off some of his $250,000 debt for legal bills, please visit http://www.corylegaldefense.com and make a contribution. My money is where my mouth is.
Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 10, 2008

Big Labor Ritter Low on Credibility

As a leading political consultant notes in the Denver Post today, Gov. Bill Ritter planted the pro-union seeds, and now he is reaping the right-to-work whirlwind:
Political observers don't have high hopes that the situation will improve.

"If (Ritter's) goal is trying to get business to back off right-to-work, I don't think he has the credibility to do it," said Katy Atkinson, a Republican political strategist, pointing out that he is seen as pro-labor.

Atkinson said right-to-work bills in the legislature never got off the ground in the past — even under Republicans — because businesses never really saw organized labor as a threat in Colorado.

But that view changed, she said, after the passage of an amendment in 2006 to increase the minimum wage with a yearly cost-of-living index, efforts to get a bill passed last year to make it easier to unionize workplaces and Ritter's executive order in November allowing a form of collective bargaining for state employees.
Last week I noted:
Since Ritter helped to set the wheels in motion that got Colorado to where it’s at now, I guess he really had no choice but try to step in and stop it: for his own sake, for the Democratic Party’s sake, for the sake of Big Labor.
Colorado's Democratic governor has aligned himself with union leaders, and now he's stuck. Bill Ritter's attempt to portray himself as a business-friendly moderate candidate in 2006 has been exposed as the charade it was. Katy Atkinson is right: Ritter doesn't have enough credibility left with business leaders to convince them to stop the ballot initiative that would protect workers from mandatory union fees.

Look forward to a bitter and costly political showdown this fall. It's hard to see how business and labor are going to holster their weapons now.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 3, 2008

Big Labor Has Ritter Running Scared

Writing over at Politics West, my Independence Institute colleague Jessica Corry (no, we didn't collaborate) calls out Gov. Bill Ritter's plea for business and labor to get along as one-sided and politically motivated:
A battle over labor issues could cost Ritter and the Democratic Party serious political capital. And with national Democrats coming to Denver this August for their national convention, the last thing Ritter needs is an extremist union agenda to impede his party's effort to appeal to moderate small- and medium-sized business owners.
It's no surprise really then that Ritter is being ignored.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 2, 2008

Ritter Throws Weight Behind Big Labor, Says: "Holster Your Weapons"

Yesterday we learned that Big Labor has pulled out some more big guns to blast a hole in Colorado's economy, in the form of five new anti-business ballot initiatives. Supporters of right-to-work - who are well on their way to getting their measure on the ballot - and union bosses - who appear to be calling their bluff - may be loading up for a real duel, High Noon-style.

It didn't take long for Governor Bill Ritter to come riding into town, telling everyone to "holster your weapons":
Hoping to avoid an ugly confrontation between business and labor this fall, Gov. Bill Ritter wants the two sides to withdraw their competing ballot measures, his spokesman said Tuesday.

"The governor believes the best thing for all of Colorado would be if none of these measures were on the ballot in November," said Evan Dreyer, the Democratic governor's spokesman. "The governor has had conversations with both sides and will continue trying to bring everyone together and find common ground to get to a place that's good for the entire state."
In 2007, union leaders unleashed House Bill 1072, the original bomb that prompted the right-to-work response. Now that the initiative is almost ready for the ballot, union leaders are throwing a bunch of economically harmful proposals up against the wall to see what will stick, but mainly as a giant threat to get the right-to-work supporters to back down.

Bill Ritter is taking his script from the Big Labor playbook. Step in as the third-party arbiter telling both sides to back down, when that tactic gives an advantage to the union boss side more than the worker freedom side. Besides, it's hard to see Ritter as a neutral third party after his executive order empowering union leaders to play a greater role in state government.

But if you want to know the biggest reason why Ritter felt impelled to intervene and do it quickly, political analyst John Straayer let the cat out of the bag:
He predicted that money would flow in from all across the country to back issues on both sides. Such a nasty fight could bring unwanted attention to Colorado and to Denver as it hosts the Democratic National Convention in August, Straayer said.

Political leaders are going to try to avoid that, he said.
Since Ritter helped to set the wheels in motion that got Colorado to where it's at now, I guess he really had no choice but try to step in and stop it: for his own sake, for the Democratic Party's sake, for the sake of Big Labor.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 1, 2008

Democrats Use Your Money to Defend Ritter Taking Your Money without Asking

Democrats in the state legislature are pushing a line item in the state budget that would give $150,000 in taxpayer funds to pay Gov. Bill Ritter's legal costs. For what, you ask? To defend a policy Ritter promoted and signed that levies a property tax increase on thousands of Colorado homeowners and business owners without a vote of the people, in violation of the state constitution.

So let's get this straight: Bill Ritter thumbs his nose at the state constitution, choosing to force through a widespread property tax hike.

Then he gets sued by taxpayers because he didn't get their permission as the state constitution requires.

Now his Democrat allies are working to make sure the very people hit by the tax hike will foot the governor's legal bills to defend the tax hike.

With chief executive Bill Ritter in charge, our officials in state government are working to defend their power against citizens' interests. They want to use taxpayer resources to persuade a judge why they shouldn't have to ask taxpayers to take more of their resources.

This is rich, indeed.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus