Phil Weiser and Family

Earth Day: Protecting Our Land, Air, and Water

Our next Attorney General needs to be a leader in protecting our land, air, and water. Over the last several years, our current Attorney General has undermined Colorado's leadership in this area, seeking to undo the methane rule pioneered here in Colorado, providing bad legal advice to the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission, threatening our state's leadership in addressing climate change, and failing to protect our public lands.

We need and deserve an Attorney General who is committed to protecting our public health and environment for our children and grandchildren. I'm running to be Colorado's next Attorney General to represent our next generation and take on this challenge. From talking to my kids, I know that they worry about the future of Colorado's land, air, and water. They expect today's leaders to protect our natural resources and public health for future generations.

Colorado's Leadership on Methane Emissions

In Colorado, we have our own way of doing things. We are innovative, collaborative, and we care deeply about our land, water, and air. With regard to climate change, we are leaders in protecting our planet for future generations. Guided by our Governor John Hickenlooper and the hard work from responsible leaders here in Colorado, we developed the framework that the Obama Administration adopted for regulating the methane emissions that come from oil and gas development.

Our current Attorney General is not one of these leaders. She has sided with former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and acted against Colorado's interests. First, she challenged the EPA methane rule after President Obama adopted it; more recently, when Scott Pruitt sought to scrap this federal framework, jeopardizing the quality of our land, air, and water, she refused to represent Colorado. Consequently, our Governor had to hire private counsel to represent our State. We deserve an Attorney General who will stand up to Scott Pruitt and protect our air quality.

Undermining Protections Against Unsafe Oil and Gas Development

In a recent case (Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, often referred to as "the Martinez case"), the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission confronted the question of how to interpret the mandate that oil and gas development in Colorado should be "regulated subject to the protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources." In the Martinez case, our Attorney General mistakenly instructed the Commission that it lacked the authority to consider the petition filed in this case. The Court of Appeals told our Attorney General that she was wrong on the law and our Governor urged her to allow the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission to do its work under the proper legal standard that recognized that oil and gas development could be stopped when it harms the public health, safety, and environment. Our Attorney General rejected that call, has doubled down on the AG's office earlier bad legal advice, and has created legal confusion and delay by appealing the case to the Colorado Supreme Court.

We deserve an Attorney General who is committed to protecting the health and safety of our people. It is wrong to place drilling for oil and gas above any and all public health, safety, and welfare considerations. As Attorney General, I will provide proper legal advice to the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission and work collaboratively with localities on this important issue-not sue them as a political stunt, which is what our current Attorney General has done by suing Boulder County.

Supporting a Clean Energy Economy

In Colorado, we are national leaders in developing the foundation for a clean energy economy. As such, when President Obama acted to enforce the Clean Air Act and to protect our way of life, Colorado embraced the goals of his "Clean Power Plan." Similarly, with the United States as the only leading nation in the world to turn its back on the Paris Climate Accords, our Governor stepped up to make sure that Colorado could meet its goals. But our Attorney General has not represented us on this issue; instead, she has joined with former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, first by challenging the Clean Power Plan after President Obama adopted it and then by supporting Scott Pruitt's destructive actions when he acted to rescind the Clean Power Plan as EPA Administrator.

We in Colorado have long recognized that a changing climate threatens our Colorado way of life. Climate change threatens to increase the length and severity of droughts, reduce crop yields, reducing snowpack, and increase the risk of wildfires and flooding. Our skiing industry, for example, is vigilant on this issue and is working hard to ensure that we have skiing in Colorado for future generations. To prepare for a clean energy future, we have taken action here in Colorado to reduce carbon pollution in ways that are right for us. Most notably, we were the first state to pass a Renewable Energy Standard by popular vote in 2004, and we've since undertaken innovative policies like the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act of 2010. In addition to this, there are many cheap electric companies that can help to supply renewable energy solutions, and this should encourage more people to invest in these resources. However, that's not going to be the end of the fight against climate change. There is more that individuals can do to help lower carbon emissions. For example, people could always consider finding one of the best carbon offset providers 2020 to buy some carbon offsets and fund carbon-reducing projects, like the ones offered by Cool Effect. That is a great way for individuals to help the fight against climate change, but there is so much more that needs to be done. It's about time we all started taking climate change more seriously. As an individual, you may feel that your contributions are just a drop in the ocean, but that isn't the case. If everybody has the mindset to improve, we should see the results of our efforts. You could begin by speaking to a solar equipment supplier for example; it could benefit you as well as the planet by helping to reduce your bills.

In the early 2000s, a number of State Attorneys General called on the EPA to act to address the rising threat of climate change. In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled for those AGs, declaring that the EPA had a duty to regulate carbon emissions. During the Obama administration, the EPA adopted the Clean Power Plan, which provides flexibility to the states to develop pollution-reduction strategies that work for them. Because Colorado is a national leader in preparing for a clean energy economy, we were particularly well positioned to meet both the interim and final goals of the Clean Power Plan, and welcomed this step forward.

Despite our nation's pressing need to reduce our carbon pollution and prevent the disastrous impacts of climate change, the EPA is moving to rescind the Clean Power Plan. But a number of State Attorneys General, including some from states who brought the landmark Massachusetts v. EPA case, are not going to give up without a fight. Our Attorney General, however, is not representing Colorado's interest in moving toward a clean energy economy, failing to act, for example, when Scott Pruitt declared that he would undermine the existing fuel economy standards. We deserve better.

Keeping Our Public Lands Public

In Colorado, we care deeply about our public lands, which provide natural beauty, a basis of our outdoor recreational economy, and protect local ecosystems. Unfortunately, the United States' Department of Interior is not committed to protecting public lands--and keeping them public. Consider, for example, the case of Bear's Ears in Utah, where the Trump Administration is attempting to radically reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument. This action is a blow against our public lands, a violation of the Antiquities Act, and an act of disrespect against the Native American tribes who pushed for the designation. A number of State AGs are challenging this action in court, but Colorado's AG has failed to do so. Similarly, when the Interior Department has raised the prospect of developing part of the Great Sand Dunes National Park to oil and gas drilling, our AG has failed to stand up for Colorado. We need an AG who will protect and defend our public lands.

Representing Our Next Generation

The future of our air, land, and water should not be negotiable. We have a moral commitment to our next generation to protect their health, safety, and welfare. If we don't act now to protect our natural resources, ensure that oil and gas drilling is safe, act to address climate change, and keep our public lands public, our children will not forgive us-and we should not forgive ourselves. We cannot afford an Attorney General who joins Scott Pruitt to undermine important protections. We deserve an Attorney General who works with leaders across our state to continue making progress in addressing climate change and protecting our land, air, and water. Please join my campaign and spread the word about why we need an Attorney General who will do just that.

Phil Weiser

Press Release: Phil Weiser Receives Majority of Delegate Support at Colorado State Assembly

BROOMFIELD, CO, April 14 – Phil Weiser received 52.87 percent of delegate votes cast in today’s State Assembly hosted by the Colorado Democratic Party, winning top line on June’s primary ballot. He earned over 16 percent more than the next AG candidate, Colorado Representative Joe Salazar, who received 36.58 percent of votes cast. Amy Padden received 10.54 percent. In total, Weiser received 1,805 of 3,414 votes cast for Attorney General.

In an impassioned speech to the assembly, Weiser described his commitment to defend constitutional freedoms, fight for opportunity for all Coloradans, and protect the state’s land, air, and water. Weiser also discussed his visit to all 64 counties in Colorado, what he learned from listening to people across the state, and what type of leader he will be as Colorado’s next Attorney General.

Joined by his family on stage, Weiser dedicated a portion of his speech to acknowledging his mother, Estare Weiser, who was liberated from the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 14, 1945 – 73 years ago today.

Explained Weiser, “It is my great honor to share my vision for the Attorney General’s office with so many of our party’s most engaged representatives at State Assembly. As someone who has never run for office, it is uplifting to win the support of the Democratic Party and receive the top line for the June primary. This accomplishment reflects the hard work of the over 1,000 volunteers who have joined me on this journey. I look forward to building on this support as we continue to engage voters in advance of the June 26th primary.”

Phil's Family

A Nation of Immigrants (with video)

We often refer to our country as “a nation of immigrants.”  For me, this concept is personal—my mom came to the United States in 1951 as a refugee, after being born in a Nazi concentration camp at the end of World War II.  My grandparents and my mom came here because of America’s commitment to freedom and opportunity for all.  Unfortunately, President Trump’s approach to immigration—including his termination of the DACA program that protected the DREAMers—threatens the foundation of what makes our nation great.  To protect our immigrants and develop a sound immigration policy at this time in our history, we need engaged citizens and responsible leaders to step forward.  I’m running for Attorney General to be one of those leaders.

During Barack Obama’s Presidency, Congress failed to pass the sort of comprehensive and sensible immigration reform that our country desperately needs and that our Senator Michael Bennet spearheaded with the bipartisan Gang of Eight.  In the wake of that failed effort, President Obama used his executive authority—and his discretion on how to enforce our laws—to make a commitment to eligible children of undocumented immigrants: they could continue to be productive members of our society and not have to live in the shadows.  These are kids who were brought here by their parents, and many cannot recall living anywhere other than in the United States. This program, the “Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals,” or DACA, enjoys wide support and makes powerful economic sense

President Trump’s decision to end DACA threatens the livelihood of hard-working individuals who have only known life here in the United States. It threatens to force them back into the shadows.  It also hurts our nation by breaking a commitment to immigrants who trusted our government to keep its word, creating a self-inflicted economic wound and causing fear and disruption for hundreds of thousands of young people in jobs, in the military, or in school.  Unfortunately, our dysfunctional Congress has failed to act in the wake of President Trump’s ending of the program.

Even with a dysfunctional Congress and a President all too willing to play political football with the DREAMers, we cannot lose hope.  Notably, a number of State Attorneys General—but not ours—have thus far had success in their challenges against  the Trump Administration’s ending of the DACA program. To date, their lawsuit and the injunction against the Trump Administration provides critical protections to the DREAMers at this time.  Here in Colorado, we need an Attorney General committed to supporting the DREAMers and working with our institutions, including our colleges and schools, to ensure that they are treated fairly.

The Trump Administration is now seeking to enlist states and cities in its effort to deport law-abiding members of our communities.  In a display of responsible leadership, Denver is refusing to cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in targeting undocumented individuals when they, for example, appear in court to testify about crimes. Unfortunately, President Trump is pushing an inhumane policy that threatens to make us less safe by intimidating potential witnesses in our criminal justice system.

As our next Attorney General, I will defend decisions by our state, our cities, and our counties to refuse to cooperate with DHS in deporting law-abiding members of our communities. I will also join other State Attorneys General to challenge the Trump Administration’s unconstitutional discrimination against Muslims seeking to immigrate to the United States.  So far, our federal courts have stopped the Trump travel ban from taking full effect.  Our Attorney General, unfortunately, has refused to join with other State Attorneys General to protect our nation’s tradition of welcoming immigrants regardless of their country of origin, religion, race, or economic background.

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Our nation’s greatness owes a lot to our welcoming attitude toward immigrants from around the world who come here to share their talent and hard work and to benefit from our freedoms and economic opportunity.  My family has lived this experience.  As Attorney General, I will fight for the humane and welcoming treatment of our immigrants, including DACA recipients and undocumented individuals living here productively.  And I will be one of the State Attorneys General standing up against religious discrimination of those seeking to immigrate here.

Economic Growth

Protecting Colorado’s Workers

Colorado's economy is booming, and our unemployment rate has plummeted to one of the lowest in the nation. But the benefits of that economic growth aren't shared by everyone. Many Coloradans still have trouble meeting mounting financial pressures from mortgages, student loans, medical bills, and other expenses.

The Problems of Wage Theft, Anticompetitive Agreements, and Cutting Corners

Too many workers aren't paid their lawful wages-some employers deduct fees off their workers' paychecks, misclassify workers as independent contractors, or refuse to pay their workers at all. According to recent estimates, "wage theft" costs Colorado workers around $750 million per year. And that figure doesn't even take into account anticompetitive and coercive tactics that some employers use to suppress wages-like forcing workers to enter into non-compete agreements or agreeing with their competitors to cap salaries and not hire each other's workers.

When some businesses cut corners, it harms the economy by putting responsible businesses at an unfair disadvantage. It becomes very hard, for example, for a law-abiding construction company to win contracts when its competitors misclassify their low-wage construction employees as independent contractors and pocket the savings. Moreover, small businesses suffer from wage theft and wage stagnation when working families have less money to spend at the grocery store or local restaurant.

Consumers are also put at risk when businesses cut corners and treat workers unfairly. Consider the case of home health care workers. When providers cheat home health care professionals out of wages and overtime premiums, workers are more likely to leave, creating potential risks for the seniors when they lose continuity of care and end up with lower quality of care.

My Plan to Protect Colorado Workers

As your next Attorney General, I will stand up for Colorado's workers. I will protect our workers and hold irresponsible companies accountable when they mistreat their employees.

I will also reward responsible businesses that do right by their workers. One way to do so is to develop voluntary certification programs for employers who follow the rules and pay a living wage. These programs would benefit "high-road employers" and the customers and contractors who want to do business them. These certifications could be provided to subcontractors who properly classify their employees, pay them overtime, and obtain workers' compensation insurance-as opposed to hiring shady labor brokers who do none of these things.

Certifications would signal to developers and general contractors that they have reason to trust those companies to provide reliable and high-quality labor, thereby reducing their risk of ending up on the hook for unpaid wages.

I would also encourage employers to lead employee reward schemes such as wellbeing incentives. You can learn more about wellbeing incentives by heading to the Blueboard website. Above all, research seems to suggest that these types of HR strategies lead to increased productivity, ensuring that employees feel respected and valued and therefore motivated to work.

In other states, Attorneys General are taking action and calling out predatory employers. Whether it's fighting against wage theft or encouraging companies to follow best practices in treating workers fairly, I will protect hard-working Coloradans and ensure they are treated fairly. One critical element of my plan is to protect workers who are threatened by employers to keep silent in the face of illegal activity. These workers are often told they'll lose their jobs or be turned over to immigration authorities if they confront abusive practices. As our next Attorney General, I will take action to protect workers from such practices.

Another important enforcement effort is to ensure that workers can benefit from competition for their services. When I served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Justice Department, we investigated abusive "no poach" agreements where companies agree not to recruit or hire each other's employees. Ultimately, the Obama Administration set an important precedent in this area, establishing that workers are entitled to have employers compete for their skills.

As Attorney General, I will target these "no hire" agreements and investigate employers that violate state-level protections against abusive non-compete agreements. Currently, nearly one in five U.S. workers is harmed by such agreements, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. Attorneys General in other states have already begun to target these abuses for enforcement action.

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We need to fight to make sure that Colorado remains a leader in economic growth and innovation and to ensure that everyone has a fair shot to benefit from our success. To do that, everyone must be treated fairly. Employers who steal wages or abuse their positions of power should be punished, and the high-road employers who make our economy tick should be rewarded for their choices.

Colorado's innovative spirit-and our commitment to look out for one another-makes us unique. Please join my campaign so I can be an Attorney General who leads our state under just this approach.

Phil Weiser

Our Attorney General Needs to Lead on Gun Safety

The murder of 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida using an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon was tragic—and avoidable.  From its shadow, teenagers are using their voices and rejecting complacency, insisting that we can do better. Last Saturday, March 24th, I was proud to join young people from across our state at the March for Our Lives to call for common sense measures on gun safety and to insist on protecting our classrooms from weapons of war.

Colorado’s Laws Are Under Attack

In 2013, after the Aurora and Sandy Hook massacres, Colorado took action on gun safety, limiting magazine capacity, requiring background checks for anyone wishing to purchase a gun, and closing the gun show loophole.  Today, our common sense laws are under attack, with the National Rifle Association (NRA) arguing that these protections violate the Second Amendment.   In 2018, we will either elect an Attorney General committed to defending our gun safety laws—or one who will follow the lead of the NRA.

Colorado’s gun safety laws provide important protections, but they are not perfect.  Future legislation should provide for a ban on bump stock devices (like the one used in October’s shooting in Las Vegas) and raise the minimum age for purchasing to 21.  In the wake of the recent shooting in Parkland, and the leadership of the students who demanded action at their State Capitol, Florida passed a law with both of these restrictions.  Colorado should follow this example.

Our Attorney General Should Fight for Gun Safety

A fundamental responsibility of our Attorney General is to keep Coloradans safe.  That means we need our Attorney General to defend, enforce, and build on our existing gun safety rules.  In Colorado, the requirement that those purchasing a weapon undergo a background check has kept weapons out of the hands of those who should not have them.  

It has, as Governor Hickenlooper put it, “stopped hundreds of people -- convicted felons and others who can’t legally own guns -- from purchasing them.”   More than 200 people who tried to buy guns had warrants out for their arrest—and were arrested attempting to buy a weapon. To ensure that our law is enforced effectively, I will work with our state’s dedicated law enforcement community to ensure that background checks are conducted on every firearm purchase in accordance with Colorado law.

We need to ban bump stock devices and fight for greater restrictions on access to military-grade weapons and devices that serve no legitimate purpose in civilian life. We also need to advocate at the national level because if weapons of war are available in neighboring states, our laws won’t be fully effective in addressing gun violence. And here in Colorado, we can implement other common sense reforms, such as adopting a “red flag” warning (also called a “gun violence restraining order”), allowing courts to require individuals who pose a credible danger to temporarily surrender their weapons.  In one study evaluating this approach, researchers estimated that a life was saved for every 10-20 such orders.

To push for a national solution, I will join forces with other Attorneys General to call on Congress to enact common-sense gun safety measures and support efforts by the relevant agencies to conduct research into gun violence to ensure effective prevention going forward.

Our Attorney General Should Develop Creative Partnerships to Protect Youth

Although the homicides tend to receive the most press attention, we also need to address the risk that guns will be used to commit suicide.  In 2016, 56 Coloradans younger than 19 years of age died from firearm injuries. The majority of those cases were suicides, with most of the guns taken from their parents. From 2006 to 2016, 449 youth in Colorado died because of gun deaths, with 56% of them classified as suicide, 36% as homicides, and 7% as “unintentional” or “undetermined” causes, (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Fatal Injury Data).  

To protect youth from the risk of accidents and suicides, we need to work together—gun owners and non-gun owners—to recognize the risks of suicide and ensure the safe storage of guns.  This requires effective intervention programs, like Safe2Tell, that identify those who are the victims of bullying and at risk of behaving dangerously.  As Attorney General, I will develop new creative partnerships that sponsor educational programs focused on suicide prevention and sensible gun storage practices.  

Consider, for example, the national model “Safe Storage Saves Lives Campaign” developed by Washington State as part of its comprehensive gun violence prevention plan. As Colorado’s next Attorney General, and as part of my general commitment to innovative problem-solving, I will support such a program in Colorado.  This model emerged from a bipartisan effort in Washington State and its collaborative implementation underscores the promise of this approach.  Similarly, Colorado can learn from other innovative efforts to support pilot programs and experiments designed to address the complex problem of gun violence.

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The students in Parkland and those at the March for Our Lives last week have catalyzed a national discussion on gun safety that focuses on a single message:  We cannot give up hope and cannot be complacent.  I’ve heard the same message in my discussion with high school students here in Colorado.  I’m inspired by their courage and tenacity. I promise to never stop fighting alongside them and for them once I am Colorado’s next Attorney General.