DENVER, September 24, 2013 – In Colorado, engaged citizens are raising concerns about the American Conservative Union (ACU) and their highly publicized awards for “conservative” state legislators. The ACU bills itself as “…the nation’s largest conservative grassroots organization….” and thus purports to speak for grassroots conservatives.
But does it?
In 2012, the ACU rated every single Republican state legislator in Colorado except one as either a “Defender of Liberty” with a score of 100% on their rating system, or as an “ACU Conservative” with a score of 80% or better. That’s 47 out of 48 Colorado Republican legislators who received ACU awards for “conservatism”!
In 2013, the ACU gave the same awards to 14 out of 15 Senators, as well as 25 out of 28 Representatives. That’s 39 out of 43 Colorado Republican legislators who received ACU awards for their staunch “conservatism”!
Does this pass the common sense “smell test”? Looking at a couple of other conservative or liberty-oriented groups who track Colorado legislator voting records, the Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT) gave Republican legislators scores ranging from 45% to 97% based on 31 rated bills. The Principles of Liberty (POL) gave Republican legislators scores ranging from 42% to 95% based on 238 rated bills.
Those ranges far more accurately reflect the broad range of voting records of Colorado Republican legislators. The ACU has rated Colorado state legislators for two years now, and the results (86 conservative awards given out of a maximum possible of 91) are an insult to the Republican Party Platform and a hoax on the public.
The ACU is wildly out of step with liberty or conservative minded citizens in Colorado. One has to wonder who the ACU is representing. It is certainly not representing the “conservative grassroots” in Colorado as they claim. Why is GOPAC partnering with the ACU to trump up the bona fides of legislators who, by any other credible measure, rank in the bottom quintile of their own party?
A glaring example of this ACU/GOPAC campaign is their stated attempt to promote what they describe as the “…brightest up and coming leaders in the conservative movement today. The ‘10 Under 40’ Program is an ideal way to promote each of them and the ideas they are championing.” If the ideas they want to promote include voting to pass legislation with Democrats against the will of their own Republican majority, then they are right on target.
In 2013, Colorado’s GOPAC/ACU “10 Under 40” award winner Representative Clarice Navarro voted against her own Republican caucus majority 51 times on the floor of the House. Of that, 49 times she voted FOR legislation that the Democrat majority passed against the will of the majority of House Republicans.
One out of every 7 of Representative Navarro’s “Yes” votes on the House floor sided with Democrats against Republicans. This was in a year that has been called one of the most over-reaching, ideologically driven legislative sessions in Colorado history, when Democrats ran a progressive cram-down of hard-left legislation.
If the majority of House Republicans opposed perfectly good legislation and Representative Navarro went against her own party to support that good legislation, then such a voting record should be commended. But a review of the 49 bills she voted for in opposition to her own caucus reveals no such thing.
So what were the issues that Representative Navarro crossed the partisan divide to join Democrats against the majority of her fellow Republicans? Increasing government subsidies, replacing class time with free breakfast in K-12, mandating more exercise time for K-12, expanding a failed Colorado “head start” program (the ONLY Republican in all of legislature to vote yes), transitioning to ObamaCare, codifying that no rights exist for a human being at any time prior to live birth, requiring the state to collect and publicize social data on business owners, expanding government regulation (and making appropriations, utilizing TIF-type financing, etc. to pay for such regulation), mandating that insurance companies provide certain medical procedures for “free,” mandating in-state tuition for non-citizens, imposing “user fees” (but not “taxes”) to “encourage” and fund recycling grants, studies and programs, approving a number of supplemental appropriations, expanding state funded immunization programs, and others.
Representative Navarro should certainly vote in whatever manner she sees appropriate. She’s the duly elected Representative for her district. She knows her district and only the voters in her district can provide direct feedback as to whether they agree with her legislative priorities or not.
The point here isn’t her voting record, per se. The point is the absurdity of the ACU/GOPAC award to promote “up and coming leaders in the conservative movement today.”
The ACU and GOPAC are clearly agenda-driven entities, and despite the ACU’s claim as “…the nation’s largest conservative grassroots organization…”, their attempts to dupe the average Republican voter with self-congratulatory award press releases to promote some back-room agenda in reality do nothing but undermine the party. Why is the ACU trying to create a false narrative in Colorado?
It is shocking and disappointing that the ACU would make such brazen attempts to mislead Republican voters in Colorado, awarding “conservatism” where it does not exist, and it begs the question as to who is really pushing this agenda under a phony banner of grassroots conservatism.
Richard Bratten is the Executive Director for the Republican Study Committee of Colorado (www.rscc.us), an ad-hoc caucus of conservative legislators in the Colorado legislature (both House & Senate). Bratten also manages Principles of Liberty (www.principlesofliberty.org), which is a non-partisan, principles based group that evaluates state legislation in Colorado.
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