Brad Feld

Entrepreneurship, and Brad Feld: "Why I am supporting Phil Weiser for Colorado AG"

Brad Feld: Why I am supporting Phil Weiser for Colorado AG

Over the past fifteen years, Phil Weiser and I have worked together to make Colorado a stronger, more collaborative, and more innovative entrepreneurial community. Together, we co-chaired Governor Bill Ritter’s Innovation Council, worked to launch the Startup America Partnership (when Phil worked for Obama in the White House), started Startup Colorado, brought the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network to Colorado, and helped CU become a first-class entrepreneurial university (which I discussed in a chapter in my book Startup Communities). Phil is a rare entrepreneur who can bring innovation to the government, which is just the sort of leadership we need now. I strongly encourage everyone to do what they can to help elect him as Colorado’s next Attorney General, including donating your time and money to his campaign.

Phil and I both share a background as Jews whose families came from Eastern Europe. That background, which involved a history of religious persecution, imprinted in each of us a deep appreciation for the constitutional rights and civil liberties that many Americans take for granted—the freedom of religion, the freedom of press, and a commitment to the due process of law (that is, people cannot just arbitrarily be rounded up). In Phil’s case, his mom was born in a concentration camp and came to the US when she was six. So protecting those freedoms at a time when we cannot take them for granted is a job that Phil will take seriously as Colorado’s next Attorney General, just like other State Attorneys General, who are already standing up to the Trump Administration to protect our constitutional rights.

Through hard work, his parents set up Phil for amazing opportunities, including the chance to serve as a law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and work for President Obama in the White House. In the spirit of paying it forward, Phil’s concern and caring for others is powerful and plain to see for all of those who worked with Phil during his time as the Dean of the CU Law School. During his time as Dean, he set up a range of innovative partnerships around the State, including a program that placed recent law grads as assistant district attorneys in rural areas. As our Attorney General, I know that he will be a leader for all Coloradans. I am personally excited to work with him in how to support entrepreneurial opportunities across our State, including in more rural parts of Colorado. While that might not sound like a traditional role of a state Attorney General, when it comes to fighting for access to broadband Internet technology and building partnerships that support economic success, Phil is unique. Consider, for example, his leadership as the founding Board Secretary of the CareerWise Colorado Initiative that supports apprenticeship-based learning across the State to create opportunities for skilled jobs for those without a college degree.

To have an Attorney General with an innovative mindset will mean that the Colorado AG’s office will become an engine of policy development and new thinking on a range of issues. Take, for example, criminal justice policy where some states around the country—often with leadership from the AG’s office—are taking a hard look at whether they are getting a good return on the social investment in our criminal justice system. Today, we put more people in jail than any nation in the world. Nonetheless, we are not aggressively enough addressing alternatives to incarceration that cut down on prison sentences. We are not investing enough yet in programs that make it less likely that inmates end up back in prison after they are released, such as Defy Ventures. We continue to make bail decisions in a way that keeps people in jail who are not flight risks just because they cannot afford to pay a bail bond. To ensure Colorado a leader in moving towards a criminal justice system that keeps us safe and is smarter, we need an AG like Phil.

Finally, when Phil talks about protecting our quality of life and our environment, he is someone we can count on. The whiplash from President Obama’s commitment to fighting climate change issues to today’s situation where we had Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier as the head of the EPA, is hard to take. Closer to home, our current Attorney General joined Scott Pruitt in challenging President Obama’s leadership in this area. As our next Attorney General, Phil will be a leader on environmental protection—like Governor Hickenlooper, who created a national model for rules restricting methane emissions by working collaboratively with the oil and gas industry and environmentalists. If we fail to elect officials like Phil who will stand up for our environment, future generations will ask us how we stood by and failed to act.

A core lesson I took from Trump’s election last fall is that we must be active in supporting candidates who we believe in. It’s not often that I have an opportunity to support a leader like Phil. So when I do have that opportunity, I feel the need to make the most of it. As a consequence of a SEC rule under Dodd-Frank, I am not allowed to donate to Phil’s campaign, but I am free to use my voice to encourage others to do so.

From my long relationship working with Phil, I can assure you that it will be a great investment in Colorado’s future and will help Colorado continue to be a model for the nation. So I strongly encourage you to donate your time and money to his campaign.

Republished with permission. Original post: http://www.feld.com/archives/2017/05/phil-weiser-colorado-attorney-general.html


Phil Weiser, Candidate for Colorado Attorney General

Promoting Competition and Entrepreneurship

When powered by competition, the US economy is at its best, providing innovative products at low prices for consumers and opportunities for entrepreneurs to create new and exciting businesses and high-paying jobs.  At its worst, monopolies or oligopolies gouge consumers and stifle innovation and opportunities for entrepreneurs.

In our economy, consumers get better choices and prices when companies battle it out in the marketplace to win over customers.  By contrast, when companies merge so that they can raise prices or fix prices rather than compete, consumers lose.  The antitrust laws protect consumers and protect workers by preventing mergers that limit competition, destroy jobs, and raise prices.  The antitrust laws also ensure that entrepreneurs have an opportunity to enter new markets and are not excluded by dominant firms who use predatory practices to protect their position in the market.

I have spent much of my legal career over the past twenty years fighting for competition, consumers, and entrepreneurs.  As our next Attorney General, I will continue that fight, and I will vigorously enforce the law to protect competition for Colorado’s consumers and entrepreneurs.

Fighting for Competition

In 1996, I joined the US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division as the counsel to the Assistant Attorney General.  In that role, I participated in a ground-breaking investigation of the major credit card companies and spearheaded the Antitrust Division’s efforts to bring competition into telecommunications markets.  I rejoined the Division in 2009, when President Obama appointed me Deputy Assistant Attorney General.  There, I strengthened the rules barring anticompetitive mergers, fought for competition in agriculture so farmers could get a fair price for their crops, and worked with other federal agencies to promote competition across the economy. 

As Colorado’s next Attorney General, I will ensure that our antitrust laws are enforced effectively to protect Colorado consumers and entrepreneurs.  We need to stand up against the troubling wave of mergers and industry consolidation that have led to higher prices and lower quality offerings in many sectors—like those we have seen in the airline industry.  And I will take strong enforcement action when companies fix prices, as a number of State AGs have done against a price-fixing cartel for generic drugs, which led prices to rise from $20/bottle to almost $2,000/bottle.  That sort of price increase does not happen in a competitive marketplace, and we cannot let Colorado consumers suffer at the hands of such illegal behavior.

Supporting Net Neutrality

As our next Attorney General, I will be an advocate for competition, not only through effective antitrust law enforcement, but also by fighting for strong net neutrality protections.  The net neutrality rules ensure that the Internet remains open and that consumers can receive the content and services of their choosing.  Net neutrality also protects upstart entrepreneurs who could be relegated to a slow lane that would prevent them from offering innovations that challenge entrenched big businesses.  Recently, the Federal Communications Commissions ended the net neutrality protections I worked hard—as an Obama Administration official and as a law professor—to developAs our next Attorney General, I will fight to restore net neutrality and other pro-competitive rules to protect consumers and innovators from abuses.

Consumer Protection

Consumers deserve transparent prices, honest business practices, and fair terms of service.  And consumers must be protected when irresponsible companies fail to provide the products or services they promise.  Consider, for example, the case of Wells Fargo, which created millions of bogus bank accounts for customers that the customers didn’t ask for—and then fired the employees who attempted to blow the whistle.  This practice continued until the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) put an end to it and stood up for consumers.  But the CFPB is now lead by someone who does not believe it is important to protect consumers.  And that’s why we need a Colorado Attorney General who will stand up for consumers when they are deceived or ripped off by irresponsible businesses.

As our next Attorney General, I will be a strong advocate for consumers, workers, and entrepreneurs, fighting to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and not taken advantage of by irresponsible companies.  Without leadership from federal agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we need our Attorney General here in Colorado to be on the front lines and standing up to irresponsible companies.

Supporting Entrepreneurs

In Colorado, we have an entrepreneurial spirit and recognize that new startups are critical to the future of our economy.  Today, however, we are seeing more and more mergers, less and less competition, and fewer startups (as captured by this report).  Throughout my career here in Colorado, I have led initiatives to help entrepreneurs, by founding and leading the Silicon Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado, by founding Startup Colorado (which supports entrepreneurs across the State), and by bringing the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network to Colorado (to support scale-up companies here).

As Attorney General, I will fight for an economy and legal environment that supports entrepreneurs and eliminates barriers to entry for new businesses in our state. Colorado must be a leader in creating an environment that encourages investment and enables entrepreneurs to succeed.

Building an Economy That Works for Everyone

One result of the merger wave is that our economy works well for the few, but isn’t providing new jobs and low prices for the rest of us.  As Attorney General, I will strive to ensure that the legal system creates and protects opportunities for new and better jobs and businesses, so that all Coloradans have a chance to participate in the American Dream.


Phil Wieser

Our Democracy is at Stake

I am running to be Colorado’s Attorney General because our democracy is at risk.

For 230 years, the United States of America has provided an example of democratic governance in action.  During that time, our nation has worked hard to meet the ambitions of our Constitution’s preamble, to “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

In 2018, we must work hard to defend this tradition.  Our democracy is now at risk from the Trump administration’s ongoing attempts to undermine our constitution freedoms, discredit our independent judiciary and the rule of law, and threaten the independent press.  The threat to our democracy is grave, with a recent best-seller by two scholars of government warning that it may even die.

As Colorado’s next Attorney General, I will defend our constitutional tradition and our Colorado way of life, working hard to strengthen our democracy and your faith in it.

Defending our Democracy

I am inspired by all those who are resisting the erosion of our constitutional freedoms and democratic institutions.  Traveling across our state, I have heard from so many of you, my fellow Coloradans, about how you are defending our democracy, the Constitution, and the rule of law.

In 2018, engaged citizens can join this fight by supporting candidates who are committed to these institutions and who aren’t complicit with overreaches by the Trump Administration. Senator Jeff Flake explained that we “no longer can we turn a blind eye” to “assaults on our institutions,” adding that “a Congress that fails to act as a check on the President adds to that danger.”

One tradition we must defend is the freedom of the press.  We must, for example, call out and condemn Trump’s efforts to demonize the press as the “enemy of the people.” As Senator John McCain put it:

Journalists play a major role in the promotion and protection of democracy and our unalienable rights, and they must be able to do their jobs freely.  Only truth and transparency can guarantee freedom.

Learning from History

Challenges to our democracy and constitutional tradition are not new.  In the early 1970s, our institutions were tested by a President who threatened the rule of law and our core freedoms.  Consider, for example, the Pentagon Papers case, where the Supreme Court defended the First Amendment’s protection of the freedom of the press against the Nixon Administration.  As captured in the recent film, The Post, Justice Black’s opinion stated:

In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy.  The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government.  The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.  Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.

The rule of law was tested by President Nixon.  Nixon claimed that, as the President, he was above the rule of law and could not be held accountable for criminal activity.  The Supreme Court rejected that argument, ruling unanimously in U.S. v. Nixon that the President was subject to the rule of law and must respond to a subpoena by a special prosecutor.  Today, the rule of law may be tested again, with the question being whether President Trump will approach special prosecutor Robert Muller’s investigation, as John McCain put it, “through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows.”  The consequences of elevating politics over institutions will be dire; as Senator McCain sums it up, if “we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

In the Watergate era, our nation passed an important test and proceeded to elect leaders in 1974 who defended, reformed, and renewed our institutions, including reforming our campaign finance laws, which are once again a threat to our democracy.  That year, Coloradans elected JD MacFarlane as our Attorney General and Tim Wirth to Congress (and later to the Senate), both members of, as Tim Wirth put it, “a new generation of leaders to help repair and reform our democracy.”  (Both MacFarlane and Wirth have endorsed me as the right person to be Colorado’s next Attorney General.)

Believe in Yourself

At the close of his presidency, President Obama made one final ask of the American people—“To believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.” 

Over the last year, I continue to be inspired by the large numbers of people standing up for our core values, resisting discrimination and white supremacy, resisting attacks on the freedom of the press, resisting efforts to compromise an independent judiciary, and resisting voter suppression and gerrymandering that erode democratic representation.

In 2018, we have the opportunity to defend our democracy and core values.  Our next election presents the opportunity to defend our democracy, stand up for our constitutional ideals, and fight for equal justice under law.  By speaking out and by electing candidates who support these ideals, we can preserve the greatest democratic republic the world has ever known.  And by demanding leadership that is not complicit in the face of threats to our core freedoms and the rule of law, we will defend our democracy and our Colorado way of life.

I am running to be Colorado’s next Attorney General because I believe in these ideals and want to protect them.  Thanks so much for helping me do just that in this campaign.


Colorado Flag

The New Separation of Powers - for Presidents' Day

The dysfunction in today’s political system would be painful for our Founders.  Under our Constitution, Article I governs the legislative branch, which is charged with passing the laws and ensuring that the executive branch (set up under Article II) follows the rule of law and respects our Constitution.

Over the course of our nation’s history, our practice has largely followed the model our Founders had in mind.  In the 1990s, for example, Congressional leaders like Colorado’s David Skaggs stood up to a President of his own party to defend our Constitution and the rule of law.  Today, as President Trump undermines the Affordable Care Act and threatens to leave many Coloradans without health care insurance, it’s a different story.  As one commentator explained, as long as the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, President Trump does “not have the right to undermine it through the use of executive power.”  Unfortunately, Congress is unable or unwilling to do its job in today’s polarized and dysfunctional environment to ensure that the President follows the Constitution’s requirement that the laws be faithfully executed.  Thankfully, State Attorney Generals are stepping up to defend our Constitution and the rule of law.

I am running to be Colorado’s next Attorney General because our constitutional freedoms and our nation’s commitment to the rule of law requires active citizens and responsible leaders.  Our current Attorney General has remained on the sidelines or has cheered on repeated challenges to our Constitution and the rule of law.  Notably, while other State Attorneys General have stepped up to challenge the unconstitutional travel ban, the ending of the DACA program, and the undermining of the Affordable Care Act, Colorado’s State AG has refused to act.  In some of these cases, she has forced our Governor to hire private counsel to represent our State.  And instead of working collaboratively in Colorado to solve problems and address challenges, such as managing oil and gas development responsibly, she has played political games, like suing Boulder County when it was working on an ordinance on this issue.  We deserve better.

The Constitutional Plan and Today’s Reality          

Under our Constitution, the founders expected Congress to exercise oversight of the executive and to check executive branch overreach.  In Federalist 51, James Madison praised the Constitution for creating a system that gave to “those who administer each department, the constitutional means, and personal motives, to resist encroachments of the others.”  As one commenter explained, “a system of checks and balance between the legislative and executive branches would use each branch’s ‘ambition’ to check the ambition of the other.”  Or, as Madison famously put it, “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”

The Madisonian innovation of separation of powers has served our nation very well.  At important times during our nation’s history—the Vietnam War and Watergate, for example—Congress has stepped up to oversee illegal actions by the executive branch.  Today, however, the level of polarization and party discipline in Congress (and fear of primaries) has led to an environment where Presidential action remains unchecked.  In the absence of Congress doing its oversight job and functioning properly, the executive branch has a greater ability to exercise its discretion on how to implement and, in President Trump’s case, whether to implement the law.

Federalism and the New Separation of Powers

In today’s environment, where Congress is refusing or is unable to act to ensure that the President “faithfully executes” the laws, State Attorneys General are playing an increasingly important role.   In the mid-2000s, when the Bush Administration refused to recognize that greenhouse gases were threatening our environment, a number of State Attorneys General stepped forward to challenge the Administration’s failure to follow the Clean Air Act.  In the landmark Massachusetts v. EPA decision, the Supreme Court recognized the role of State AGs in overseeing executive branch inaction and called on the EPA to begin regulating greenhouse gases.  Based on this precedent, State AGs now regularly oversee and take action to enforce the executive branch’s obligation to faithfully execute the laws.

I am running to be our next Attorney General here in Colorado because our freedoms and Colorado way of life depend on a willingness to stand up to the federal government.  As David Skaggs explained in endorsing my candidacy, the threats we face from the federal government, including expanded use of civil forfeiture without following due process, must be addressed by our State Attorney General.  With Congress unable to work effectively and to oversee the executive branch, our state governments play an increasingly significant role and our State Attorneys General are a principal line of defense.

In Colorado, we pride ourselves on collaborative and innovative problem solving.  On a range of issues where our federal government’s dysfunction is undermining progress, such as providing affordable and quality health care, addressing the opioid epidemic, protecting our land, air, and water and fighting climate change, and treating immigrants fairly, our state government is a model for the nation.  Unfortunately, our Attorney General here in Colorado is not working with our state leaders on these issues and is not standing up to the failings of Washington.  In 2018, we can address this by electing a new State Attorney General who stands up for us and works with leaders in our State to make progress in important areas.  Please join my campaign to help me do just that.


Phil Weiser

“You Have a Republic, As Long As You Can Keep It”

I often repeat a line that Ben Franklin reportedly said as he left the Constitutional Convention:  “You have a republic, as long as you can keep it.”  I believe that is still the case.  Today, our constitutional project of self-governance is under threat.

As Colorado’s next Attorney General, I will fight for our constitutional democracy.  This means taking on the challenge of reforming campaign finance spending, with particular respect to the role that “dark money”—that is, undisclosed campaign expenditures—plays in our politics in the wake of the horrendous Citizens United decision.  And as a candidate, I will call on any group spending money on my behalf to disclose their donors so Colorado voters know who is seeking to influence them.

In the last election for Colorado Attorney General, the Republican nominee raised and spent around $500,000 from individuals who disclosed their occupation and employer.  But this spending paled in comparison to the approximately $2.5 million spent by the Republican Attorney General’s Association (RAGA), a group that takes in large amounts of “dark money” (from undisclosed donors).  The lack of transparency, the support from a range of corporate interests, and the unfair attacks used by such groups are threatening the foundation of our constitutional democracy.  This problem goes back to the Citizens United case, which was the height of conservative judicial activism and may well be the worst Supreme Court decision of my lifetime.

To appreciate the damage that dark money can do to our elections and public discourse, consider the recent election campaign of Rachel Zenzinger, a State Senator from Arvada.  When she ran for Senate, an outside group sent out a mailing stating that she took a taxpayer-funded trip to China.  This claim flew in face of the facts.  The facts are that, while she was “on the Arvada City Council in 2013, Zenzinger made--and then voted for--a successful motion explicitly prohibiting use of taxpayer funds for a proposed sister-city delegation to China.”  Moreover, she never actually went on the trip, as the funds were not raised.  Nonetheless, a group with an innocuous sounding name, Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government, promoted this lie.  And this group, which is technically required to report its donors, took advantage of a loophole in Colorado law by strategically raising its funds late in the election cycle so it could engage in this behavior without having to disclose who was behind this effort until after the election.  It also declined to state on flyers it circulated what group even paid for it.

There are important steps we can take in Colorado to address the efforts of “dark money” groups to influence elections and remain hidden from view.  First off, we need an Attorney General committed to doing everything we can to push for a reversal of the Citizen’s United decision.  This campaign won’t be easy, but the battle must be waged and we must prepare for the day when this decision—like other grave mistakes in constitutional law—is overruled.  Justice Stevens’ dissent in that case prophetically explained that Citizens United “threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation.”  It is now the job of State Attorneys General to demonstrate just how this is happening and make the case against this decision.  Colorado needs an AG able to lead this fight.

Second, we need to effectively enforce our existing campaign finance laws.  In 2016, former Congressman Bob Beauprez was fined a record-breaking sum for setting up a complex corporate structure that shielded the identities of his donors who supported his so-called “charity” that he used to influence state legislative races. Such cases are rare, however, because it is up to private citizens to bankroll investigations and file civil complaints.  We need our Attorney General’s office to help support and pursue such investigations and complaints.  As AG, I would push for legislation authorizing the AG’s office to pursue such actions.

Finally, Colorado should pass a Disclose Act, modeled on a law passed in Montana, that would directly restrict the ability of firms to spend money in Colorado elections without disclosing their donors.  Montana passed such a law, on a bipartisan basis, after press accounts of how prior “dark money” campaigns in Montana (and Colorado) had sought to influence elections and coordinate with candidates (in violation of the law).  Colorado should also tighten up its campaign finance laws, fixing the loophole that allowed the group that falsely attacked Zenzinger to disclose its donors only after the damage was done.  In a move to stop this sort of abuse, Denver recently adopted an ordinance designed to address the fear that “a proliferation of anonymous attack ads and mailers that try to puff up one candidate or cut down another without disclosing who’s behind them” will influence our local elections.  Notably, the Denver law introduces three important fixes to campaign finance: (1) Groups would be required to identify themselves on advertisements; (2) donors (of $25 or more) to any group spending money to influence elections would have to be identified; and (3) spending of more than $1,000 on electioneering would require disclosure within two days.

Our constitutional democracy is under threat from a number of challenges, including how campaigns are financed.  I believe voters need to know who is seeking to influence them and that the continued growth of dark money is leading to more attack ads and more cynicism.  We in Colorado need to do our part to protect our democracy.  As our next Attorney General, I will make this a top priority.


Phil and Steve in GJ

Broadband Internet: Protecting the Future of Colorado’s Rural Communities

For Colorado to thrive in the 21st century, we want to grow our own Einsteins of the future.  Today, only 77% of those living in rural areas (11% of Colorado’s population) have high-speed—or broadband—Internet connections. Being stuck in the internet slow lane costs these Coloradans job opportunities, hurts businesses, and deprives our communities of education and health care.

As I’ve travelled our state, I’ve heard from leaders and citizens in communities like Sterling, Craig, and Telluride.  One message has come through clearly during these conversations:  slow internet service undermines local job opportunities and it hurts families. No candidate is better prepared to address this issue than I am. I fought to improve internet for rural and poor communities as a Senior Advisor for Technology and Innovation at the National Economic Council for President. As Colorado’s next Attorney General, I will work with communities around our state to address this important issue.

The Electricity of the Twenty-First Century

Students who lack access to broadband at home are at an extreme disadvantage, forced to do homework someplace else, sometimes even being forced to sit in the cold outside of a closed library.  The reason broadband is called the electricity of the twenty-first century is that access to high-speed Internet connections is crucial to everyday life in today’s information age.  As the Denver Post put it, “the lack of high-speed connections can hamper how efficiently and effectively schools, hospitals, and technology-driven businesses operate.  Reliable broadband can mean the difference between residents staying or leaving.”

Across Colorado, communities (such as Rio Blanco County) are taking matters into their own hands by developing broadband networks where the market does not attract private providers.  I visited Rio Blanco and studied its network--it is a great example of public sector leadership.  Similarly, a number of localities are looking at public-private partnerships, such as those proposed by Centurylink.

Bringing fast internet to the entire state is the sort of effort that can unite and benefit all Coloradans, regardless of party.  Failing to bring every Coloradan into the information age will widen the gap between our urban and rural areas and will prevent families and small business owners in many parts of our state from having an opportunity to succeed (as captured well here).  Supporting rural broadband also benefits urban communities because better rural connectivity translates into economic activity for urban businesses that can sell to new markets (as explained in this report).  While satellite internet broadband can help for some uses, it is not sufficient for many uses (such as schools and hospitals) and thus cannot replace the need for wired connections.

The Attorney General’s Office Can Facilitate Broadband Deployment

When I worked in the Obama administration we developed a bipartisan movement to spur broadband deployment across the United States. I want to bring that valuable experience to Colorado.  As our next Attorney General, I will ensure that the office acts as a problem solver and enforcer to support broadband deployment for rural communities.

As our next Attorney General, I will work the State’s broadband coordinator and other officials to help develop a playbook for helping communities around our State.  When I visited Routt County and learned about the broadband network it is building, I asked County Commissioners whether the AG’s office was helping them.  The answer was no. At present, the AG’s office is only checking legal boxes (and slowly at that) rather than being creative and helping solve problems.  We can and must do more.

By bringing together community and business leaders to create plans for deploying broadband, the AG’s office can provide a playbook of best practices, rather than placing bureaucratic obstacles in the way.  It can also remove legal, administrative, and other barriers to broadband deployment. As our State’s Attorney General, I will provide support for broadband mapping, procurement, distance learning, tele-medicine, and community engagement initiatives.  When we encounter barriers such as a lack of access to rights-of-way for Wireless Internet Service Providers (and others), I will be firm but fair in my efforts to remove them.

There are many things I’d start addressing on day one. Take the red tape blocking communities that want to solve their own problems: Colorado law (SB 152) requires voters to approve action by governments to build broadband networks. This law slows down communities who want to help themselves after they’ve been ignored by the private sector.  The vote requirement is a waste of everyone’s time and energy given the fact that voters consistently approve such projects.  The vote requirement portion of the law should be repealed.  At the same time, the AG’s Office should protect full and fair competition, ensuring that governmental entities don’t use their authority to gain an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

Another change we need to make is to enable access to existing electrical easements.  Indiana recently dealt with this very issue in passing the “Facilitating Internet Broadband Rural Expansion (FIBRE) Act.”  This law makes it more economically viable for broadband to be extended to rural areas by limiting the liability of broadband providers to owners of overhead lines, which are crucial for connectivity to rural areas.  We need to pass such a law here in Colorado.

Colorado’s state budget is always tight, but we can do better in supporting broadband with the resources we have. Colorado has developed a state “universal service fund” that is similar to a federal fund designed to support broadband deployment in rural areas.  As Attorney General, I will work with the Legislature, the Public Utilities Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that we use this money as creatively and efficiently as the law allows, including exploring possibilities like bonding against universal service funds.  In addition, the AG’s Office can and should ensure that companies that get public support dollars actually use those taxpayer dollars to get broadband services to rural Coloradans.  Finally, the AG’s office should help ensure access to federal programs, especially those subsidizing connections to schools and libraries, so that Colorado institutions and citizens are able to take full advantage of all available opportunities to make progress in this area.

Protecting Broadband Quality for All Consumers

As Colorado’s Attorney General, I will fight to ensure that Coloradoans get the quality access to the Internet services that they are paying for, including speed, reliability, and access to content.  For an example of such oversight, consider the New York Attorney General’s action against Time Warner when it failed to provide consumers with the broadband access service they paid for.  The attorney general sued Time Warner executives for, among other things, lying to customers about the speed of its internet service.  I will fight against such unacceptable conduct if it takes place here in Colorado.

Finally, as Attorney General, I will champion “network neutrality,” the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must treat content passing through the Internet equally, without favoring or blocking any of that content. As the Internet drives more and more of our lives, including our civic engagement, employment, commerce, and entertainment, we must protect competition in this space.  Indeed, the very term “network neutrality” was coined at a conference that I hosted.  Over the years, I have advocated for this principle, including during my work in the Obama Administration, and I will continue to do so as Colorado’s Attorney General, leading the charge against the Federal Communication Commission’s decision to end these important protections.

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Coloradans are pioneers.  We value our independence and our self-sufficiency.  We ask for a fair shot to make it on our own.  For all Coloradans to thrive in the twenty-first century, access to high-speed Internet connections is as critical as electricity was many years ago.  This issue impacts all of us—families, farmers, businesses, police, firefighters, educators, and hospitals.  As your next Attorney General, I will fight for broadband for all Coloradans as a top priority.

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Read Phil's op-ed in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. 

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David St. John Larkin, IP Attorney