Katie touched on this story earlier in the week, but new developments demand a follow-up. Initially, the story was that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, had apologized to a group of sheriffs for failing to meet with them prior to signing a controversial package of gun control legislation into law. The issue whipped up such a tempest in the state that two Democratic Colorado Senators were recalled from office by gun rights supporters, including the chamber's president. Against that backdrop, and with his own re-election contest on the horizon, Hickenlooper is eager to reclaim his brand as a rugged independent with Colorado values. During his mea culpa session with the sheriffs, the governor claimed that he never discussed gun control with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an anti-gun crusader. He wanted to set that record straight. One small problem: Phone records prove that he wasn't telling the truth. Revealing Politics nailed him to the wall with this video:
"Well, let's stick to the facts. I never talked to Mayor Bloomberg. Again, that's been out in the press and all this stuff…"
When official records exposed Hickenlooper's lie, he turned tail and changed his story:
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper acknowledged that he did indeed speak with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg during last year’s protracted political battle over gun control legislation, something he appeared to deny while addressing a group of Colorado sheriffs on Friday...Complete Colorado, which first reported the governor’s statement, had already obtained phone records from Hickenlooper’s cell phone showing that he did speak with Bloomberg last year...On Monday afternoon, Hickenlooper’s office acknowledged that the governor spoke carelessly. “The governor often jokes about his ability to put his foot in his mouth, because he does,” said Eric Brown, the governor’s spokesman... In no way did the governor intend to mislead the sheriffs or anyone else.”
This was all just a humorous misunderstanding, really, not an effort to mislead. Sure. Unfortunately for the governor, the videos weren't behind him. At the same forum with sheriffs, Hickenlooper became exasperated when another attendee called him out for ducking a meeting with them before the fact. He blamed his scheduling staff for the oversight, claiming that he had no idea the sheriffs were trying to secure a meeting with him. When a questioner pushed back on that assertion, the governor dropped an f-bomb (content warning):
To recap: Hickenlooper lied about talking with Bloomberg, stated he had no idea law enforcement officials were trying to get a face-to-face with him during the controversy, then used some salty language when challenged on that point. Perhaps worst of all, however, was this answer, which betrays appallingly poor judgment. Hickenlooper admits that he didn't have the relevant facts about his own law before he signed it, conceding that it's been ineffective:
“I think a lot of people didn’t know how much emotion was gonna come out of the high-capacity magazines. [We] probably would have looked for something different or a different approach. One of my staff made the commitment that we would sign it it got passed. To be honest, no one in our office thought it would get through the legislature…In the end, how important really was it? After all the kerfuffle, I went back to try to get some facts we should have had at the beginning. They told me there are roughly 300,000 magazine that carry more than 15 rounds in the state of Colorado already…How’s a police enforcement officer going to tell which is the old one and which is the new one? How much of a difference is it gonna make if there are that many? Some punk kid in Aurora wants to go out there and start spray shooting his neighborhood, which is still happening, in Aurora, in Denver, in Colorado Springs. It’s not like you’re gonna have a hard time finding a magazine.”
Fact gathering…after the fact. Bravo. And who's to blame for that epic failure of governance? Don't look at me, Hickenlooper pleads. My staff made me do it. From sensitive scheduling to bill-signing pledges, the governor would like Coloradans to believe that like his staff is calling all the shots. That would be the same staff that wrongly predicted that the bill would never make it through the legislature, and the same staff that…wasn't elected to make important decisions. You'd think Hickenlooper's dishonesty, buck-passing and terrible choices encapsulated in this one meeting alone should serve as sufficient cause for Colorado voters to show him the door in November. We shall see. The Republican gubernatorial primary is currently a very close race between two former Congressmen: Rep. Bob Beauprez and anti-illegal immigration hardliner Tom Tancredo, who ran for governor and lost four years ago. Democratic groups are running ads boosting Tancredo, a meddling tactic that may sound familiar. Voters will make their choice next Tuesday.