Greenwood Village, CO — Crime is a crisis in Colorado and Jared Polis continues to show an inability to deal with it. Two months before the election, he is asking for the law HE signed, SB21-271, that has fueled our auto theft problem to be reversed.
Polis sent a letter (linked here) to the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice asking them to reverse the sentencing change for auto theft in the Misdemeanor Reform Bill (SB21-271), which made it a mere misdemeanor to steal a car worth $2,000. SB21-271 led to Colorado being number one in the nation in auto thefts. Colorado Gubernatorial Nominee Heidi Ganahl is calling Polis out for his election-year antics.
“It’s embarrassing that Jared Polis would use another election year ploy to pretend he’s focused on Colorado’s crime crisis. On Polis’ watch, Colorado has become the most dangerous place to raise a kid. Polis has placed criminals ahead of victims and ignored the pleas of Coloradans to deal with the fallout from his soft-on-crime policies. Polis is responsible for Colorado’s crime crisis. From passing SB21-271 which has led to the poorest Coloradans being targeted by auto thieves, to decriminalizing fentanyl and other hard drugs, to lowering the penalty for felony murder, Polis has supported criminal activity instead of victims and their families. As Governor, I will be tough on crime from Day One,” says Ganahl.
A new study from the Common Sense Institute reiterates that Colorado continues to have the WORST auto theft problem in the nation. In the first 6 months of 2022, our motor vehicle theft rate increased by another 17.2%. Cars are being stolen from those who can least afford to have their freedom taken away, single parents who cannot get their kids to school, hard-working Coloradans who cannot get to work, and families struggling with record inflation.
One of my closest friends is an artist, a kind and compassionate woman who seeks peace and smiles everywhere she goes. She is also a survivor of horrific domestic violence. Her abuser tried to murder her. He violated his restraining order 84x in Routt County.
Usually, when we talk about high crime rates, everyone points to Denver. Our streets are cleaner, our people are friendly, and our schools don’t have metal detectors at the entrance. We don’t think about crime until it hits close to home, and then those who see it up close know that our system is failing victims. The truth is, we have a dark way of handling domestic violence around these parts. Abusers are often let out on the streets on PR bonds, with no ankle monitor. They are free as they keep their victims in a prison of terror.
Local law enforcement feels helpless. I talked to one officer in Steamboat Springs who said, “The ink isn’t even dry on the arrest paperwork before they’re let out again.” What a thankless job. While rehabilitation of abusers is possible at times, the needs of victims must always come first, and law enforcement needs to be supported.
PR bonds should never be issued for violent crime. The main reason we keep violent criminals behind bars is to keep victims safe. Routt County is my backyard, and I’ve observed this locally for a few years now, but I hear these stories across the district. If you have one to share, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to keep you in mind as I work on this at the state Capitol.
Finally, I’m excited to receive the endorsement of my local sheriff, Garrett Wiggins. I’m proud that my local law enforcement friends are also backing my candidacy, putting up signs in their yards and telling their friends to vote for me. These men and women are my heroes, the ones who run towards the danger instead of away from it, and it is humbling to receive their support. They are villainized in Colorado just for doing their jobs. It was the same party who touted “defund the police,” who has also let abusers run free across the state, and seeks to disarm the innocent. I will always stand up for our law enforcement to be able to do their jobs with more training, not less funding. We need to support them as they defend the innocent.
Crime and public safety is a central and growing concern across the nation and here in Colorado. Fentanyl remains the single biggest public safety issue facing our state. While steps were taken at the state Capitol this year to try and address the situation, those steps did not go nearly far enough.
We have all seen and been angered at the headlines telling of fentanyl’s deadly toll among our young people. And it is not only those addicted to this poison who are falling victim to it. Increasingly, the deaths are coming to those who take what they consider less dangerous illicit drugs which happen to be laced with fentanyl. Now, more than ever, taking any drug is akin to playing Russian Roulette.
It goes without saying that the deaths inflicted by this pernicious synthetic opioid are the most serious, tragic, and important part of the equation. But what is often not understood, or is understated, is fentanyl’s role in driving crime overall.
The numbers from the federal and the Colorado bureaus of investigation paint a disturbing picture in the state: crime is up across the board, a trend which started well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and which continues its devastating rise. Violent crime went up 17% between 2019 and 2021. Murder went up by 42%, making this one of the deadliest years in Colorado in decades. Property crime is up 20%. And vehicle theft, up a staggering 86%. A great deal of this increase can be attributed directly or indirectly to the importation, distribution, and use of fentanyl.
Distributing fentanyl is not merely a disorganized amateur undertaking, but a complex and sophisticated enterprise involving organized crime with their own hierarchies, networks, and resources. Over the past few months in the 18th Judicial District alone we have seized hundreds of thousands of deadly fentanyl pills from cartel-linked distributors, along with dozens of guns. The DEA conservatively estimates that 40% of those pills contain a potentially lethal dose.
To take a bite out of the cartel’s operations, district attorneys and law enforcement would benefit from the establishment of a statewide information fusion center that links cases between jurisdictions. With this kind of central coordination, intelligence developed from a case in, for example, Arapahoe County could be linked to an investigation of a distribution network in Mesa County.
In addition, the grant funding provided for in the Fentanyl Accountability Act, which goes into effect today, should be made available to local law enforcement agencies immediately. We can’t be bogged down by red tape when lives are on the line; police need the resources to fight this scourge now, instead of 10 months or a year from now. We must also leverage federal laws and the resources of federal partners to cover the many gaps in our state law.
The impact of all of this fentanyl-driven crime is devastating on individuals, families, businesses, and communities. More and more Coloradans leave their homes in the morning to find their vehicles missing, or to find their car’s catalytic converter has been sawed off while they were in the grocery store, costing them thousands. More and more Coloradans dare not go to a show or a restaurant in downtown Denver for fear of being mugged or worse. More and more Coloradans are terrified to send their kids to the store or a friend’s house, not knowing what might happen on the way. More and more businesses are shutting their doors or moving elsewhere after being broken into one too many times. Some businesses that choose to take their chances and remain in the downtown area are even charging “crime surcharges” to try and help cover their losses.
It is a shame that so much of this crime and social devastation is to finance and support an organized fentanyl distribution network that leaves a trail of death and hopelessness in its wake.
Political leaders at the state capitol recognized the seriousness of the fentanyl problem, if some did not quite grasp its full scope. A bill was passed in the final days of the legislative session to try and address the problem, and it included some good things – providing resources for the addicted, expanding access to Narcan, and other measures to try and reduce the harm done by this deadly drug. It also took a first step towards giving law enforcement the tools they need to combat this scourge by partially reversing the lamentable decision made two years ago to essentially decriminalize fentanyl by reducing possession of up to 4 grams of it to a misdemeanor. But so much more remains to be done.
The focus in recent years on the demand side of the equation – the addict – has been laudable, and those efforts need to continue. But just as the much-maligned “War on Drugs” over-focused exclusively on the supply side of the problem to the exclusion of addressing the problem of addiction, so does the new approach overlook the realities of fentanyl and its relationship to street crime.
This is not an academic exercise. Fentanyl is killing our young people, and the crime it spurs is impacting all Coloradans. Colorado’s neighborhoods should no longer be used as laboratories for exotic social experiments. Our political leaders need to recognize this is a crisis fueled by transnational criminal enterprises – cartels – and provide law enforcement and prosecutors the tools and support we need to be able to effectively combat it. This is our state, and it’s time we take it back from the dealers.
Joe O’Dea is running for the US Senate to attack inflation, cut the debt, support the police and military, and end the cycle of petty partisanship in Washington, D.C.
Joe will put country ahead of party. And O’Dea supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage because on social issues like these, his philosophy is simple: “You live your life, I’ll live mine.”
As the polls tighten, Michael Bennet is getting desperate. Bennet’s running a TV advertisement about Joe’s position on abortion — it’s untrue.
Joe was adopted as a baby. This issue is personal to him. Take a minute to read this Q and A that describes Joe’s views and why Bennet’s ad is so dishonest.
And when you’re done here, do your own research. Google: Joe O’Dea abortion. All of the major national publications have written about Joe and abortion extensively.
QUESTION: WHAT’S JOE’S VIEWS ON ABORTION?
Answer: Joe O’Dea supports Roe vs. Wade and opposes the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn it. At multiple debates and public forums during the Republican Primary, O’Dea said he opposes a ban on abortion, and would vote to codify a woman’s right to choose early in pregnancy and in the case of rape, incest and the life of the mother.
Joe’s record on abortion is indisputable. Just ask Google.
“O’Dea is a rare Republican supporter of most abortion rights.”
“Joe O’Dea stood before hundreds of social conservatives and uttered words they were unaccustomed to hearing from a Republican candidate, let alone someone running for the U.S. Senate: “I know my position on abortion isn’t the same as all of yours.” O’Dea, a businessman who has spoken publicly about his support for abortion rights, told the crowd that he backs a ban on late-term abortions and government funding of abortions. But, he said, the decision to terminate a pregnancy in the initial months is ‘between a person and their God.’”
“…a relatively moderate candidate supportive of some abortion rights…O’Dea does not favor abortion bans early in pregnancy, and he supports exceptions in cases of rape, incest and certain health circumstances.”
“And while many Republican candidates support restrictive abortion policies, even in bluer-leaning states, that is not universally true. If Colorado Republican Joe O’Dea wins the Senate primary, that would scramble the typical politics of abortion in that race: O’Dea, a businessman, supports the right to an abortion in the early months of pregnancy.”
QUESTION: DIDN’T DEMOCRATS SPEND MILLIONS ON MAILERS IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY SAYING JOE O’DEA SUPPORTED ROE VS. WADE TO KNOCK HIM OUT OF THE GENERAL ELECTION?
Answer: Yes. Michael Bennet and the Democrats are desperate, dishonest, and pure hypocrites. Democrats sent mail in the June 2022 primary that called Joe O’Dea “pro-abortion” and said “He supports a national law to guarantee legalized abortion.”
QUESTION: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN O’DEA’S AND BENNET’S POSITION ON ABORTION?
Answer: O’Dea opposes elective late-term abortion, opposes taxpayer funding for abortion, and supports a parental notification requirement like the one in place in Colorado and most other states.
Bennet does not support any limits on late-term abortion. It is not clear whether Bennet supports a parental notification law for minors like the one in Colorado.
O’Dea says both political parties — and especially Michael Bennet – are too focused on social issues, and not focused enough on kitchen table issues like inflation, the cost of energy, and crime. O’Dea says both Democrats and Republicans want to keep the controversy alive, while most Americans support abortion rights early in pregnancy while wanting reasonable limits on late-term abortion.
QUESTION: HOW CAN THIS BE? MICHAEL BENNET IS RUNNING A TELEVISION AD SAYING O’DEA OPPOSES A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE.
Answer: Michael Bennet’s re-election prospects are souring because the public is worried about inflation, the growing national debt, and crime. With President Biden and the Democrats losing support, Bennet is trying to change the focus of the election by twisting O’Dea’s words and flat-out lying about his position.
In the words of Tayler O’Dea, Joe’s daughter: “Michael Bennet is a sleazy politician who will say anything to win an election.”
QUESTION: BUT MICHAEL BENNET SAYS JOE O’DEA TALKS ABOUT BEING ENDORSED BY PRO-LIFE LEADERS.
Answer: In a letter from pro-life leaders endorsing O’Dea, they openly acknowledged Joe’s support for abortion rights and push their fellow Republicans to rally around Joe anyway, knowing a centrist candidate like O’Dea had the best shot at beating Bennet.
“Joe’s position on abortion is not the same as our own. Joe does not support a ban in the case of rape, incest, or the life of the mother or early in the pregnancy. Some of us do not agree with this part of his position.”
Indeed, O’Dea won national headlines for a speech he gave to the Western Conservative Summit, where O’Dea told a room full of pro-life advocates that he disagreed with them on abortion, and called for them to rally to his campaign anyway because of their agreement on inflation, the debt, securing the border, and energy independence.
“Joe O’Dea stood before hundreds of social conservatives and uttered words they were unaccustomed to hearing from a Republican candidate, let alone someone running for the U.S. Senate: ‘I know my position on abortion isn’t the same as all of yours.’”
QUESTION: WHY DID JOE O’DEA OPPOSE THE RECENT COLORADO ABORTION LAW?
Answer: O’Dea opposed the new law because it went significantly farther than Roe vs. Wade by authorizing elective late-term abortion in Colorado. Abortion rights were never in jeopardy in Colorado anyway, and the law simply went too far. O’Dea supports a national law legalizing abortion early in pregnancy and in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother along with limits on late-term abortion. He says the country needs to find a balanced approach to end the political fight surrounding abortion so that women can have certainty and so that the country can move forward.
QUESTION: WHICH SUPREME COURT JUSTICES WOULD JOE O’DEA HAVE VOTED TO CONFIRM? SENATOR BENNET SAYS THIS IS A KEY DIFFERENCE.
Answer: This is a key difference, but here especially, Bennet is trying to deceive voters. O’Dea has said he would have voted to confirm a number of Justices appointed by Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump.
“I would have supported conservative justices including Neil Gorsuch, more centrist, institutionalist justices including John Roberts, and Democratically-appointed justices like Elena Kagan because they all had the qualifications, record, and temperament to serve.”
O’Dea believes the Senate needs to end the partisan blood sport surrounding judicial appointments. Bennet’s approach to confirming Supreme Court Justices is case in point of what is wrong — Bennet has opposed the confirmation of every Republican nominated to the Supreme Court, and supported every Democratic nominee. Everything is about political party to Bennet. On all things, he just votes the party line.
Judges and justices decide literally thousands of cases and controversies. Confirming judges based solely on the party registration of who appoints them is a recipe for partisan gridlock in the judicial branch of government, too.
It isn’t the way the system is supposed to work. The President of the United States’ job is to appoint and the Senate’s constitutional duty is to “advise and consent.” In O’Dea’s view, that responsibility is an up or down vote to confirm qualified judges with a record and temperament to uphold the duties of the job.
Commentators, historians, and legal analysts on all sides have said reflexive partisanship in the appointment and confirmation process is threatening the independence of the federal court system.
Joe O’Dea’s commitment to ending the stranglehold of partisanship in Washington, D.C. extends to judicial confirmations.
Colorado is in the midst of an epidemic, and the fight against fentanyl is truly life and death.
Since 2015, Colorado has suffered 1,578 fentanyl deaths — a number equivalent to the enrollment at Denver South High School — and amounts to a staggering 1,008% increase. Since 2019, the increase in fentanyl deaths in Colorado has outstripped every state except Alaska — surging 382% during that time. Nationally, overdose deaths from opioids exceeds homicides by 307%. In 2021 alone, more than 800 Coloradans lost their lives to fentanyl.
The Centers for Disease Control recently announced that fentanyl is the leading cause of death among adults aged 18 to 45. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reports that nearly half of counterfeit pills they tested contain a lethal dose of fentanyl, and Colorado has seen a 403% increase in the number of pounds of fentanyl seized between 2017 and 2021 on Colorado highways.
Unfortunately, the bill introduced fails to meet the moment. Fentanyl is flooding into our state and the number of Coloradans dying from this poison is growing exponentially. This bill will not change either of those facts.
As the elected district attorneys serving nearly a third of Coloradans, we’ve seen the devastation caused by fentanyl. We’ve worked closely with our state and federal law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations who bring fentanyl and other illicit drugs into our communities. With that experience and background, we can confidently say that the bill put before the Legislature is not enough to turn the tide on Colorado’s fentanyl epidemic for three key reasons.
First, it does not treat fentanyl like the incredibly dangerous drug that it is. In 2019, Governor Polis signed a bill into law that lowered possession of 4 grams or less of fentanyl from a felony to a misdemeanor. Every year since Polis touched his pen to paper on that fateful day, Colorado has seen fentanyl overdose deaths double. This bill does nothing to reverse that horrific mistake. Under this proposed new law, fentanyl possession of up to 4 grams — an amount sufficient to kill 2,000 people — will remain a misdemeanor.
Second, for the first time in Colorado history, the bill extends what the drafters call a “Good Samaritan” immunity to drug dealers. The immunity created by this bill enables a dealer to sell fentanyl to someone who then dies from an overdose to avoid prosecution so long as they report the incident and “cooperate” with the investigation. This broad immunity is not an abstract concept — it has real consequences that will protect dealers who peddle this poison.
Third, despite bipartisan support to the contrary, this bill fails to materially increase penalties on dealers whose poison ends up killing someone. Rather than creating a sentence enhancer for dealing drugs that kill, it ties such enhancers to the amount of the drug sold. Under this bill, selling less than 4 grams of poison that kills someone is still a probation eligible offense. Whether their victim dies from 2 milligrams of fentanyl or 5 grams, the penalty should be a mandatory prison sentence. Anything less devalues the life lost.
Most Coloradans are familiar with two recent fentanyl horrors that the gaps in this bill and the immunity it creates would only make worse. Only a month ago, five people in Commerce City were killed by a dealer who provided them with less than 4 grams of fentanyl. In Colorado Springs, a dealer sold less than 4 grams of fentanyl to three high school students, killing one of them and hospitalizing the other two. Under the provisions of this bill, both drug dealers would be immune from prosecution if they had called the police to report the overdoses and cooperated with authorities. After answering a few questions, they would be free to go and would never spend even one night in jail for the lives they took and the drugs they sold. In fact, neither dealer would face more than a misdemeanor if they had been caught in possession before selling the poison that killed those six people.
Colorado’s Legislature has waited too long to address this frightening epidemic. While some aspects of the bill are helpful — including increased funding for education and tools for DAs to implement treatment options rather than imprisonment for addicts — it is a far cry from the legislation we need to address Colorado’s significant fentanyl crises. Coloradans deserve more.
Michael Allen is the district attorney for Colorado’s 4th Judicial District in El Paso County. John Kellner is the district attorney for the 18th Judicial District, which includes Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties.
March 14, 2022 – The Affordable Care Act will notch its 12th birthday later this month. To get the measure through Congress and to President Obama’s desk for his signature, Democrats had to cut one of progressives’ signature proposals—a public health insurance option.
But the public option didn’t die all those years ago. President Biden campaigned on the idea during his run for the White House, in contrast to his rival Sen. Bernie Sanders’s proposal for Medicare for All.
Biden and Democrats in Congress haven’t been able to advance a public option at the national level. So several states have picked up the baton. Three have green-lit their own state-level public option plans. Over a dozen more are considering similar schemes.
The public option’s champions argue that a government-sponsored plan can increase competition in the marketplace and keep insurance premiums in check. Who could oppose more competition and lower prices?
But the public options that have taken root thus far aren’t delivering on those promises. Consider Washington, which became the first state to implement a public option in 2019.
Last year, the state’s Cascade Care plans cost up to 29% more than private exchange plans. According to reporting from Bloomberg Law, Washington’s “program is resulting in higher premiums than private-sector plans in many instances, the opposite of what was forecast about a ‘public option’ by proponents.” It’s no wonder only 2.5% of Washingtonians enrolled in Cascade Select plans in 2021.
Advocates of the public option are perturbed the rollout didn’t go as planned. They’ve blamed its failures on hospitals, some of which have declined to accept the public insurance plans.
Why would they? Public option plans reimburse providers at a rate that’s just slightly higher than Medicare’s. Hospitals nationwide claim they receive just 84 cents for every dollar they spend treating Medicare beneficiaries. In 2017, private plans paid hospitals 241% of what Medicare paid, according to research from the RAND Corporation.
Rather than raise reimbursement rates to try to incentivize providers to participate in the public option, state leaders are just ordering them to do so. Last May, Governor Jay Inslee signed Cascade Care 2.0 into law, which essentially mandates that providers contract with public option plans and establishes “enforcement mechanisms” if they refuse to comply.
Despite Washington’s public option troubles, other states are following its lead. Last year, Nevada lawmakers passed a law requiring the state to implement a public option by 2026.
The Silver State legislation mandates that premiums be 5% lower than the benchmark Affordable Care Act premium in every zip code in the state. It also requires any provider who accepts Medicaid or participates in the state’s employee benefit system to take at least one public option plan.
In other words, Nevada isn’t even trying to make an attractive reimbursement offer to the state’s providers. It, too, is requiring them to participate.
Doctors have several years to prepare for that reality. Some may decide to limit the number of public option patients they’ll see. Others may leave Nevada for states without a public option—or decide to retire early.
The result will be less care for everyone. The waits may be particularly bad for people with low-paying public coverage.
Colorado’s public option proposal is the most extreme yet. Starting next year, all private insurers will have to offer a standardized plan subject to rules set by the state. The premiums must be at least 5% lower than they were in 2021. In 2024, premiums must be 10% lower; and in 2025, 15% lower. If insurers miss those targets, they will be hauled before state officials and forced to justify their premiums.
As part of those premium reviews, Officials could also dictate provider reimbursement rates. Those price controls could cause providers to cut staff or curtail service. And that could lead to lengthy waits for care.
Whether on the state or national level, a public option will lead to the same results: higher costs, fewer providers, and rationed care. That should give pause to officials in the 16 states—from Maine to California—where a public option is on the table.
August 16, 2022 – Colorado Rep. Dylan Roberts was one of the prime sponsors of HB21-1232, the Colorado Public Option, which was signed into law in June 2021. This law will prove to be destructive to the Colorado economy and especially those on the Western Slope and in rural Colorado.
Instead of making health care more affordable, the public option makes health care more expensive and less available for many Coloradans. Dylan Roberts’ public option is a cost-shifting scheme that robs Peter to pay Paul.
To subsidize the cost of the public option, the cost difference is placed on private health insurance plans, which makes the price of coverage for millions of Coloradans more expensive. A report by FTI Consulting found that 37 Colorado counties could see private insurance premiums drastically increased.
At the same time, private insurance providers will be forced to cut premiums or potentially lose licenses and certificates of authority to operate, according to the Common Sense Institute. As doctors’ and nurses’ reimbursements are capped and more people are forced onto public option plans, there is fear those providers will leave the state. Under Roberts’ public option, the CSI found that 3,900 to 4,900 health care jobs could be lost in Colorado mainly impacting rural communities with hospitals operating on tight margins.
Roberts’ Colorado Public Option will prove a disaster for Coloradans, especially those on the Western Slope and rural counties as health care services become more expensive for most and less available for everyone. Roberts values and policies are aligned with the Denver-Boulder liberal elites, not those of the Western Slope and rural Colorado.
It’s time to elect a leader who has decades of experience running small businesses, serving as a first responder, and championing public service. Elect Matt Solomon as our next Senator for Senate District 8.