John Hickenlooper

Aurora Theater Shooting Victims Outraged Over Attack Ad

udall afp


Think Progress

Koch-backed group Americans For Prosperity’s attempt to attack Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) backfired Wednesday, after it was revealed that the group used a photograph of the senator with President Obama in the aftermath of the Aurora movie theater shooting in July 2012.

The ad was part of AFP’s multi-million dollar onslaught of anti-Obamacare ads against Democrats in competitive races. Using footage of the candidate standing next to or shaking hands with the president is a common tactic. But this particular photo was taken while Obama, Udall, and Gov. John Hickenlooper (whom AFP cropped out) were visiting victims and their families at the Children’s Hospital in Aurora.

AFP retracted the ad after families of four shooting victims condemned the group for “exploiting our tragedy for political gain.”

“The use of an image taken from the President’s visit to Colorado to meet with us after our children were killed in the Aurora Theater shooting is an utter disgrace,” the families wrote in a statement. “And to insinuate the somber expressions were for anything other than their compassionate response to our heartbreak is beyond unconscionable. Americans for Prosperity is exploiting our tragedy for political gain and this ad should be pulled from the air immediately. We hope Colorado television stations will exercise sound judgment and not air this ad until AFP removes the image.”

“They took a picture showing great compassion for the parents and people of that shooting and made it twisted,” Sandy Phillips, the mother of shooting victim Jessica Ghawi, told theDenver Post.

AFP Colorado tweeted, “AFP regrets erroneously using the image; and we sincerely apologize to Aurora families.” The group reportedly spent $280,000 to run the ad for three weeks.

Udall’s campaign called on his opponent, Tea Party favorite Rep. Cory Gardner, to denounce the ad. “As someone who attended an Aurora memorial alongside Senator Udall, Gardner surely has the decency to publicly condemn the Koch brothers for this cynical ad,” campaign manager Adam Dunstone said in his statement. “Congressman Cory Gardner should do the right thing by demanding his friends and allies stop using the Aurora tragedy for political gain.” Gardner called the ad “insensitive and wrong” but asserted that “our campaigns have nothing to do with the creation of outside advertisements.”

In Colorado, Blacks Make Up 4 Percent Of The Population And 100 Percent Of Death Row

The reality is this:  The stats in the title of this article are not surprising to the African American community because:

–  54% of African Americans graduate from high school, compared to more than three quarters of white
and Asian students.

–  Nationally, African American male students in grades K-12 were nearly 2½ times as likely to be suspended from school in 2000 as white students.

–  In 2007, nearly 6.2 million young people were high school dropouts. Every student who does not complete high school costs our society an estimated $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes, and productivity.

–  On average, African American twelfth-grade students read at the same level as white eighth-grade students.

–  The twelfth-grade reading scores of African American males were significantly lower than those for men and women across every other racial and ethnic group.

–  Only 14% of African American eighth graders score at or above the proficient level. These results reveal that millions of young people cannot understand or evaluate text, provide relevant details, or support inferences about the written documents they read.

–  The majority of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails are people of color, people with mental health issues and drug addiction, people with low levels of educational attainment, and people with a history of unemployment or underemployment.


Think Progress

In March, Colorado came close to becoming the 19th state to abolish the death penalty, but the bill failed after Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) voiced opposition and suggested a possible veto. A few months later, Colorado’s death penalty is still firmly in place, and the state is poised to complete what would be only the second execution in 45 years (the last was in 1997). Few dispute that Nathan Dunlap committed a horrific crime and murdered several people at a Chuck E. Cheese. But judges, university professors, and other prominent state leaders are urging Gov. Hickenlooper to commute Dunlap’s sentence, both because crucial errors that defined his trial may have led him to get a harsher sentence than others, and because killing anyone under the perverted state system would be a miscarriage of justice. According to letters filed with Hickenlooper’s office:

  • All three people on death row are black men. In a state that is only 4.3% African American, Colorado’s death row is 100% African American.
  • All three men on death are from the same one county, out of Colorado’s 64.
  • All three men committed their crime when they were under the age of 21.
  • Two law professors who studied Colorado’s application of the death penalty concluded it was unconstitutional, after finding that prosecutors pursue the death penalty in less than one percent of the cases where it is an option, and that the state failed to set “clear statutory standards for distinguishing between the few who are executed and the many who commit murder.”

“It appears that race, geography and youth largely determines who gets the death penalty in Colorado,” wrote a group of NAACP leaders in a letter urging Gov. Hickenlooper to grant clemency. They note that not a single black juror served on the panel that sentenced Dunlap to death.

In addition to the injustices that define the Colorado system, a group of former Colorado judges also point out that Dunlap’s bipolar disorder and psychotic tendencies were not even mentioned at trial. In fact, according to their letter, Dunlap’s lawyer told the jury that there was no explanation for his violence.

The judges add that “no clear evidence exists that the death penalty deters violent crime. What it does in our current system, as in this case, is to drain our judicial system of millions of dollars as mandatory appeals drag on for decades.” Studies have shown that the death penalty does not lower the homicide rate. In fact, the murder rate is lower in states without the death penalty. Hickenlooper says he continues to wrestle with the death penalty, and whether to commute Dunlap’s sentence.

Latino Voters Deliver the Senate to Democrats

Crooks & Liars

Harry Reid’s comeback can be attributed to a strong campaign, feet on the ground, and Sharron Angle’s bizarre policy ideas, but more than anything else, he should be thanking Latino voters today. From America’s Voice Online:

Based on election eve polling of Latino voters by Latino Decisions, it is clear that Latino voters provided the margin of difference in a number of key races. Check out some of these interesting figures:

  • In the Nevada Senate race, Harry Reid’s Latino margin over Sharron Angle was 90% – 8%. According to exit polls, Latino turnout was up from 12% of the electorate in the 2006 mid-terms to 15% in 2010.
  • In the California Senate race, Barbara Boxer’s Latino margin over Carly Fiorina was 86% – 14%. Latino turnout was up from 19% of the electorate in 2006 to 22% of the electorate in 2010.
  • In the Colorado Senate race, Michael Bennet’s Latino margin over Ken Buck was 81% – 19%. Latino turnout was up from 9% of the electorate in 2006 to 13% in 2010.
  • In the California governor’s race, Jerry Brown’s Latino margin over Meg Whitman was 86% – 13%.
  • In the Colorado governor’s race , John Hickenlooper’s Latino margin over Tom Tancredo and Dan Maes was 77% – 14% – 9%

Among all the calls for the President to be chastened and humble, this is probably a stronger message: Fight for Latinos, Democrats. Fight hard. Immigration reform, the DREAM Act, and jobs. Fight.