Part 1: Criminal Justice Overview and Priorities

The issue of criminal justice is complex, and it impacts the life of every Coloradan. This blog is the first in a series of three that introduces my priorities and outlines my goals for a system that improves on our current one. In two additional posts, I talk about specific actions my office will take so that we can build a criminal justice system that supports law enforcement, treats people fairly, and keeps our communities safe.

It is essential for the Colorado Attorney General to prioritize the humane and just treatment of all citizens. This includes both victims of crimes and those individuals interacting with law enforcement.  My goal as your next Attorney General is to build trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve and to ensure that everyone who interacts with our law enforcement system is treated fairly.

We can do better in how we manage our system of criminal justice.  In particular, we are incarcerating many people—especially young men of color—who do not belong in jail or prison.  Those who are a threat to public safety, such as those who are illegally manufacturing or selling drugs, for example, whether through pill mills, heroin sales, or otherwise, should be held accountable and deterred from continuing to act in violation of the law.  But the individual misuse of opioids (and other drugs) is more properly managed as a public health matter.  In short, we need to make sure that our criminal justice system distinguishes between the sources of illegal drugs and those who use them.  More generally, we should focus on incarcerating criminal drug producers and traffickers while diverting individuals with substance use disorders toward appropriate treatment programs—and we need to fund such programs so alternatives to incarceration exist.

Improving our criminal justice system also means developing data-tested policies for reducing the rates of crime.  One important way to do that is to reduce or eliminate the likelihood that those currently incarcerated will again turn to crime once released by investing in programs with a demonstrated track record of success.  By doing so, we will protect public safety and use our criminal justice resources for the good of all the people of Colorado.

Supporting Colorado’s Law Enforcement and Prosecutors

The Colorado Attorney General’s ability to help protect the public depends—in no small part—on the office’s support for the state’s law enforcement officials, first responders, and prosecutors.  As Attorney General, I will work hard to ensure that our dedicated public servants—in every corner of Colorado—have access to the latest tools, trainings, and technologies that will enable them to respond fairly and effectively to growing threats to the public safety as well as isolated natural or human-caused disasters.  I will also work to support victims and enable them to report crimes, particularly sexual assault or domestic violence, without fear of further harm, humiliation or embarrassment.

The Attorney General plays a significant role in law enforcement statewide.  Colorado Police Officer Standards and Training (POST), which was founded by Ken Salazar, is housed in the Attorney General’s office.  This program is responsible for law enforcement training standards for the entire state.  Whether someone is a cadet for Denver Police Department or the Gunnison Sheriff’s Office, the training requirements come from POST.

Improving an Overburdened Criminal Justice System

Arrest and incarceration are not always the only or the best options for all individuals who come into contact with our criminal justice system.  As noted above, for example, some diversion approaches—such as drug treatment options—can be more humane and more effective in protecting public safety.  As Attorney General, I will strongly support alternatives to arrest and incarceration for individuals who would be better served by mental health services, substance abuse treatment programs, or other community resources.  To support this direction, I will stand up to Jeff Sessions’ agenda to recriminalize marijuana.  In short, we need to be tough on crime where appropriate as well as be smarter about how we approach public health and criminal justice.

Building Statewide Cooperation and Coalitions

The Attorney General has the authority to prosecute cases that cross county and jurisdictional lines.  The office is uniquely situated to lead the effort on crimes that often cross borders, including human trafficking and large-scale drug operations. In practice, this means that the Attorney General’s office teams up with local District Attorneys to work on these cases across the state.  The Attorney General cannot and should not seek to be a “King DA”; our Attorney General needs to be a collaborator with local DA offices, partnering with them and providing them with the support they need to be successful.

Becoming a National Example of Innovation

As Attorney General, I will work to drive meaningful criminal justice improvements and data-tested innovations.  I will, for example, support experiments like the Transforming Safety initiative (which is designed to keep communities safer without incarcerating as many people), the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program (which moves low-level offenders into diversion programs outside the criminal justice system), and Defy Ventures (which prepares inmates through entrepreneurial training for lives after their release that do not include a return to crime).  For all such cases, we can and should test what works, putting more energy and resources behind proven programs.  If we can pull together and develop more effective strategies for reducing incarceration, we can at once keep people safe, treat victims of crime respectfully, and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Emphasizing the Fair and Humane Treatment of all Coloradans

Ensuring that all those who interact with law enforcement and the criminal justice system are treated fairly and with dignity is crucial to keeping Coloradans safe.  It is important that we honor our Victims’ Rights Act and support victims during the legal process.  It is also important that we use our jails appropriately, not escalating situations unnecessarily to result in arrests or holding people in jail when they are not a threat to the public. Alternatives to incarceration must be developed and implemented, particularly those enabled by technology.  As Attorney General, I will take a tough, but smart, approach to law enforcement, treating every Coloradan with humanity and respect.

* * *

We in Colorado are innovative and pride ourselves on fairness.  In criminal justice policy, we have considerable room for more innovation and a system that is both tough on crime when appropriate and smart about how best to keep our communities safe.  When we allow our criminal justice system to be stripped of empathy—and be divorced of humane solutions—we are not doing justice to the affected individuals or for our society.  Colorado can lead the nation in reforming our criminal justice system so that it serves its intended purpose—keeping people safe—without needlessly destroying lives.  Together, we can work together making Colorado a model for our nation in criminal justice improvement.

 


Vistas, Valleys & Voters: Southeastern Colorado & The San Luis Valley

Vistas, Valleys & Voters: A Campaign Staffer Reflects on the Trail with Phil
A Portrait of Southeastern Colorado

Two-lane Colorado 96 runs east for what seems like endless prairie, snaking its way through abandoned railroad towns and places that haven’t seen bust or boom since the coal mining days. An old sign points to a Fairground. A rusty, abandoned mill floats by us. A sign, flanked by iron horses, welcomes us to Ordway.

Conestoga Park has a playground that wouldn’t look out of place in suburban Denver, and a new skateboarding course. A sign outside Crowley County High School tells us it’s 102 degrees. The shade of scrubby elm trees doesn’t do much for the late July heat, but Joe Zemba, the chair of the local democratic party — there are only 432 registered democrats in Crowley County — greets us with cool drinks and a warm smile.

Over plates of coleslaw and burgers fresh off the grill, Joe tells us the story of Crowley County. Phil actually starts telling the story, as he visited Crowley County earlier — perhaps the only statewide candidate in memory to visit here twice during a campaign. It is a cautionary tale. In the 1970s, Crowley County sold its water rights and, unlike the neighboring counties, has no agriculture here. Now, prisons — one state, one private — are its main source of employment, and they loom out of the grasslands like isolated pockets of civilization on the road to Ordway.

John Stulp meets us at the end of the barbecue for a water tour of Crowley; he’s a wheat farmer, a former Prowers County Commissioner, and Governor Hickenlooper’s water advisor. He looks at ease in suspenders and a cowboy hat. I ride in the back of his pickup, Phil in the front seat, as he shows us places that used to be farms, now dry brown patches of dirt that haven’t hydrated since the late 70s when the county sold off its rights to the already-sparse irrigation ditches near the Arkansas River. Now, the county’s second-largest source of jobs — the local feedlots — has to import even the crops to feed its cattle, which are sent to Kansas for slaughter.

At Knapp’s farmstand, right on the edge of an irrigated area over the Otero county-line, the smell of melon fills the air along with country music and the excited chattering of customers. We buy cantaloupe and cans of diet coke and drink in the green before it’s back in the truck, and the country music fades away in a cloud of tractor dust on the road behind us.

While we’re on the road, Conservation Colorado endorses Phil, so we visit Lathrop State Park, just outside of Walsenburg, to say why. The sun is setting as we arrive. My writing teachers tell me “golden hour” is a cliche, but there’s no other way to describe it. Golden doesn’t just encapsulate the light, yellow and clean, streaming through storm clouds on the Eastern plains, but the feeling, too — that everything is possible, bathed in that late-day glow when everything feels like buzzing and laziness all at once. There’s a hovering moment between work and more work that Phil picks up a stone, and skips it across the lake, the reflection of the Spanish Peaks rippling as the stone jumps across the water. The campaign team stands on the shore and skips stones for a few minutes, watching those last bits of golden hour glint out over the horizon.

The next morning, after coffee in a cheerful storefront in La Veta, our new friends Sam and Deb take us to Uptop, Colorado. En route, victims of the Spring Fire — burnt aspen trees and ashe on the ground — roll across the hills for as far as we can see. Folks here call Uptop a ghost town, but this place feels alive. And it was just saved because a dedicated team of local firefighters committed themselves to saving it during the fire. Uptop remains a peaceful reminder of the American West’s fierce, independent spirit.

During a Meet & Greet at Milagro’s in Alamosa, we talk to Honey. Honey’s daughter has a rare and life-threatening condition that, at the time of her birth, was the only case in Colorado. After almost losing their house as they sought to care for their daughter, Honey’s family now relies on the protection for those with pre-existing conditions guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act, and lives in fear of what would happen if this protection–and her health insurance–was taken away.

That night, down the road in Canon City, a one-hour event dissolves into two with deceptive ease. We share stories over Italian food, and I’m struck once more by what it means for Phil to come here, and listen to the people who tell us their stories, asking for a public official that can help. “There are some of us in this community who see the barn burning and are not afraid to go and say ‘hey, the barn is burning.’ The kind of courage is rare, and I am seeing it more and more,” Jeri — her eyes alight with the promise of another fight, another election cycle — says. We need an Attorney General who will have their backs.

In Pueblo, we talk about opioids. That’s much of what we’ve talked about on the road this time, as studies show that opioid overdoses affect Southeastern Colorado significantly more than other areas of the state. At every interval on this trip — in coffee shops with Honey, on water tours with John, over hamburgers with Joe — I have learned something about the crucial role an AG can play to make the lives of all Coloradans better, but hardly has it been so obvious as during a roundtable on opioids here in Pueblo. We hear stories of overdoses and irresponsible drug companies; bureaucratic red tape and overcrowded prisons; pleas for empathy and the way this epidemic ravages families, communities, and the state at large. Phil listens, intently, and continues to do so at Meet & Greets and over lunch and at every campaign stop.

Rural Colorado is warm and friendly, brave and stunning. I think about Sam and Deb back in Uptop as we arrive home to the Front Range. “We’re beginning to understand just how much an Attorney General can do for the health of our little community here, for the environment of our little community, for the prospects of our little community,” they said. “The rural people can’t be forgotten: we love Colorado.”


Vice President Biden Endorses Phil Weiser

“Phil Weiser is a true innovator and dedicated public servant. We need more people like Phil in public office and that’s why I am proud to join President Barack Obama in my endorsement. I’ve seen firsthand his commitment to the values that make Colorado a leader in protecting our land, air, and water, and building a clean energy future. The people of Colorado deserve an Attorney General like Phil to protect those values, fight for hard-working Americans, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly and with equal justice under the law.”

– Joe Biden, Former Vice President of the United States

What I Learned from Joe Biden

Working with Vice President Joe Biden in the Obama White House was a highlight of my career.  His approach to public policy taught me the importance of understanding issues from the perspective of hard-working people — from farmers to police officers to family members.  Vice President Biden always sought to ensure we developed policies that are fair and easy to understand.  I continue to admire his deep and genuine interest in people, which makes him such an outstanding and highly respected public servant.

Vice President Biden oversaw the Recovery Act, which included working to promote broadband deployment across the United States, encouraging energy innovation, and building an interoperable wireless broadband network for first responders.  I had the great opportunity to spearhead the broadband initiative with the VP’s office, and under his leadership, we brought a sense of urgency and valuable human element to the mission — focusing on the police officer or firefighter whose life could be saved by such a network.

The Vice President was famous for asking “how would I explain this to my grandmother?” – something I could easily relate to. When I joined Vice President Biden on stage in Colorado to highlight our state as a center of energy innovation, he asked me how he could explain the importance of energy innovation to his grandmother.

Like Vice President Biden, I often think of my grandmother, who I called Bubby. Indeed, my Bubby, like Vice President Biden, was positive and resilient in her disposition.  She believed in a better future, and as an immigrant to the United States, she deeply appreciated what our country stands for—treating everyone equally and being fair to all.  Those are the values Vice President Biden stands for, my family stands for, and the very values that are at the heart of my campaign.  I am honored to have the support and endorsement of Vice President Biden – one of our country’s most inspiring leaders.


Our Next Attorney General Must Take Action to Address Colorado’s Opioid Epidemic

Across our state, the opioid epidemic is destroying lives and ripping families apart.  On average, another Coloradan dies from an opioid overdose every 17 hours. In 2016, across the whole country, more people died of drug overdoses—the vast majority of which were from opioids—than American casualties in the Vietnam and Iraq Wars combined.  All across our state, Coloradans are becoming dependent on opioids and dying from overdoses.  And, in many cases, we are responding to this crisis by putting opioid users in jail.  We need to do better.

The essence of the opioid crisis was described by Jason Chippeaux, COO of Health Solutions, “the crisis is a wildfire with zero containment — growing, but lacking unified command. In the meantime, people are dying.”  He added that “it will not be a single silver bullet; it will be a multi-faceted solution” to address the crisis.  I agree.  Today’s crisis has many causes, and calls for innovative and compassionate responses.

As our next Attorney General, I will address the opioid epidemic by approaching it as a public health crisis.  While punishing drug dealers is appropriate, the jailing of opioid users—now widespread in Colorado—is harsh and ineffective.  We need our leaders across state and local government to use a range of innovative strategies to support drug treatment options.  And we also need to work to decrease the likelihood that people become dependent on opioids in the first place.

A critical first step in addressing the crisis is to hold accountable the pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors who encouraged the use of opioids—even though they knew the risks they posed.  In too many cases, an oversupply of these drugs found their way into the market—sold illegally by drug dealers and pill mills.  An initial response — which is important, but inadequate to wholly address this crisis — is to hold these drug dealers accountable for their unlawful behavior.  Also, we must try to understand the impact of the availability of legal cannabis, which, according to a preliminary study, may be providing an alternative source of pain management and may be associated with a reduction in the number of opioid-related deaths by 6.5 percent since 2015.

Under the leadership of our Governor, Colorado has taken some key steps to reduce the likelihood of individuals becoming dependent on opioids.  Colorado has recently restricted access to opioids under its Medicaid program and has established locations where people can safely dispose of unused opioids.  We are also—and must continue to step up—training our first responders on how to use the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

Holding Pharmaceutical Companies Responsible

Over the last 20 years, the increased access to opioids was highly profitable for many pharmaceutical companies (as explained in this article.)  In Colorado, we saw a 100 percent increase in the number of opioid prescriptions between 1999 and 2016.  And during that time, the number of overdoses also went up drastically: over 200 percent by 2014.

As the Washington Post reported, a number of distributors didn’t take the Drug Enforcement Agency’s efforts seriously. They went to Congress to override the DEA’s authority to regulate this dangerous behavior. Thankfully, a number of State Attorneys General’s offices have either opened investigations or brought actions against these companies for distributing opioids that they knew or should have known would end up creating dependencies and/or end up in the hands of drug dealers.  Similarly, a number of Colorado counties, including Denver, Huerfano, and Pueblo have already filed suit.  And for good reason—companies like Purdue Pharma knowingly lied to patients, leading them to take opioids and destroying lives in the process.  As Attorney General, I will take action to hold these companies accountable.  After we win this lawsuit, Colorado will receive financial support that it can use to support drug treatment, which is an important part of addressing this crisis.

Addressing Illegal Drug Trafficking

We must hold those engaging in illegal drug trafficking accountable.  From 2011-15, the amount of heroin seized annually in Colorado rose over 2,000% as the number of heroin-related deaths more than doubled. As Attorney General, I will investigate and prosecute bad actors in the prescription opioid supply chain, and collaborate with local, state, and federal law enforcement to punish those making money by selling such dangerous drugs.  The Attorney General’s Office can support the prosecution of drug dealers by assisting rural counties in investigating, prosecuting, and preventing the manufacturing, trafficking, and distribution of opioids.  Finally, we need to oversee the opioid supply chain, ensuring that excess amounts of opioids are not allowed to be diverted to illegal uses.  One way to do that, as piloted in other states, is providing collection points for people to drop off—and have destroyed—unused pills.

Moving to a Public Health Model

For those who are using and addicted to opioids, the essence of a public health mindset is to evaluate how to approach opioid users with an eye toward providing treatment opportunities, not a jail sentence.  Under the Governmental Entrepreneurial Leadership Accelerator program I founded, a team developed a model for reaching out to opioid users who congregate in the Denver Public Library.   This team, which had two law enforcement officials on it, developed a strategy for pairing a police officer with a mental health professional.

We need to encourage experimentation and innovation around the state in addressing opioid use.  Consider, for example, the Longmont Department of Public Safety now supports the Police-Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative, which connects low-level offenders with law enforcement officers specially trained to help them obtain treatment.  In Pueblo and Alamosa, the communities have received Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) grants, enabling case workers to work with opioid users as an alternative to incarceration.   For Alamosa, this response is critical because of the acute overcrowding in its jail, over 90% of whom are opioid users.  As Attorney General, I will work hard to encourage best practice and support intiatives around the state who are responding to the crisis with innovative solutions (such as IT MATTRs).

A number of communities in Colorado have developed drug courts, enabling those abusing opioids to get the help they need rather than face a prison sentence.  As Attorney General, I will work with leaders around the State—including our District Attorneys, County Sheriffs, public health officials, and mental health professionals to encourage diversion efforts to drug treatment as opposed to criminal sentences wherever possible.  I will also seek to bring drug treatment and mental health services to jails and prisons for those who present a threat to society or have committed serious crimes and need treatment.

Providing Support for Drug Treatment

As our next Attorney General, I will support drug treatment through a multi-faceted approach. In addition to obtaining money from successful suits against pharmaceutical companies, I will work to protect the Affordable Care Act, which provides some Medicaid-funded treatment options for people who are dependent on opioids.  I will also work to strengthen Medicaid, providing more support for those in drug treatment.  I will take steps to make sure that insurance companies support drug treatment, and I will ensure that they do not defy federal laws that require them to provide parity in access to life-saving substance abuse treatment.  Finally, we need to develop ongoing peer support and other programs beyond intensive 2 month programs because, as Judy Solano, the Executive Director of the Southern Colorado Harm Reduction Association explained, it takes 6-12 months for the addicted brain to heal and truly rewire itself.

Cutting Through Bureaucratic Red Tape

When clinicians seek to create centers where patients can be treated for opioid addiction, they frequently encounter bureaucratic obstacles that leave healthcare professionals frustrated and patients without critical care. As Attorney General, I will work to simplify the permitting process, prioritize responsiveness, and ensure that care providers have access to efficient customer service and transparent information.  One clinician I spoke to in Crowley County told me of his experience with red tape while attempting to open a treatment clinic.  This is unacceptable and we need a sense of urgency on this issue.  I will bring that mindset and work to create a fast-track licensing system.

Few issues involve the trauma and raw emotion of the opioid epidemic.  In many groups I speak with, a large number of those in the room are directly affected by this crisis, with family members’ dependent on opioids or a casualty of an overdose.  We need our next Attorney General to make this issue a top priority, collaborating with leaders across our state to hold the pharmaceutical companies accountable for their part in this crisis, working effectively to punish drug dealers, and treating those dependent on opioids with a public health mindset.  That’s why creating and supporting drug treatment opportunities will be a central goal of my leadership on this issue.

This post, originally written in January of 2018, was revised in August of 2018 based on a roundtable discussion of community leaders hosted by Action 22 in Pueblo in July of 2018. 


Vistas, Valleys & Voters: Roaring Fork Valley & the High Country

Vistas Valleys & Voters: A Campaign Staffer Reflects on the Trail with Phil
A Family Road Trip to the Roaring Fork Valley

The front range dissolves into granite and pine as the altimeter counts up. The minivan, packed with yard-signs and literature and cameras, rumbles through the Eisenhower tunnel, the gentle tap tap tapping of keyboards ticking through the miles. Paola, ever-cheerful, drives, Phil working in the front seat. Jono, the photographer, snaps photos of the byways. Sammy, Phil’s 10-year-old son, occasionally leans forward to ask us for help on iPad word games. It’s a family road trip, with a purpose.

In Edwards, we talk to Gerry, who’s soft-spoken and articulate. We sit on a fountain outside an ice cream shop just off the highway, discussing Eagle’s marijuana tax that funds mental health resources, and what an Attorney General can do to ensure that the revenue goes to the right places. Ice cream melts in the early-evening heat, and a group of curious people stop to share their first political memory, ask questions, tell stories, and have a conversation about what an Attorney General can do for Eagle county. I suddenly grasp what it means for Phil to come here and listen to these stories.

The next day, our morning in Garfield starts at the Bluebird Cafe. Matt greets us with coffee and the kind of easy-going laugh that only comes from living in the mountains. We get to talking about the Opioid crisis in this area. “When somebody has any other kind of disease we don’t throw them in jail,” he points out. “We throw them in a hospital.”

These days, people think politics is all lies and spite, all campaigns and mysterious donations that come from somewhere else. At the coffee shop in Garfield county, it’s about the people who show up, tell stories, and listen. We can see the midterms — and elections in general — as a fight. But elections also offer people a chance to talk about the things that go unnoticed in the day-to-day of news cycles and Twitter exchanges. And stops like this give Phil an opportunity to listen and learn from people around the state. On this day, in Garfield county, I witnessed real empathy in politics.

Down the road in Carbondale, we don’t see the fires, but we can smell them, a faint haze of smoke clinging to the county like a sinister reminder of a threat barely kept at bay. Mount Sopris, nearly 13,000 feet into the sky, looms over us. Here, we talk about immigration, and there’s fear in every story; fear of the end of DACA, fear of a government in D.C., and fear of being separated from one’s families. Maria, an immigrant worker, tells me “we are looking for the right person who can fight for our rights…we are here to work and to do something good for our children, and we only want an opportunity to show them that we are looking for a safer place to live.”

That evening, driving out of the mountains and back to the front-range, I can see the Sawtooth of Mount Evans silhouetted against the deepening blue of twilight. Last time I drove this road, it was to scale that mountain; this time, it’s for an equally big climb, but one that finds us with more than a view at the end.

On the trip, we learned about opioids and immigration, taxes and the power of empathy in politics–and the importance of a good team. The line that runs through my head all night on the way back to Denver is from The West Wing: “Decisions are made by those who show up.” Thank you to the people who showed up for us in the Roaring Fork Valley.


450 Days on the Campaign Trail!

August 4th—Today marks 450 days on the campaign trail, and our momentum continues to build thanks to your incredible support! Even President Obama is now a part of Team Phil. Our latest milestones give you a peak into the action. As you can see, we have been on the road in July talking with voters about their hopes and concerns, and how Phil can help as Attorney General. Stayed tuned to hear more about these stories from the people of Colorado.

We only have 94 days left until election day. Please help us keep spreading the word about how Phil will defend, fight for, and protect all Coloradans. Thanks for sharing this journey with us. Go Team Phil!


Phil Weiser Raises Over $245,000 in First Month of General Election

Weiser Vows to Overcome Dark Money Election Influence with People-Powered Campaign

DENVER, Thursday, August 2 – Phil Weiser’s campaign for Attorney General raised over $245,000 in monetary contributions in the first month of the general election. These funds came from roughly 900 unique donors, more than 75 percent of whom hail from Colorado. In total, Mr. Weiser’s campaign has received contributions from nearly 5,000 unique donors, 80 percent of whom live in Colorado. His campaign begins the month of August with over $267,000 cash on hand.

In an election where the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) has already spent well over $500,000 on behalf of his opponent George Brauchler, Weiser highlighted the significance of his donor-base and volunteers:

“I am proud to run a transparent and people-powered campaign. I am inspired by the enthusiastic engagement of our supporters who have embraced our vision of principled and innovative leadership. As a candidate for office and as Colorado’s next Attorney General, I am deeply committed to fighting for our democracy. Together, we will overcome the corrosive influence of dark money that is eroding confidence in our elections, sowing distrust in our institutions, and undermining good governance.”

RAGA has already spent over $535,000 in television advertisements on behalf of Brauchler. By contrast, the Brauchler campaign reported less than $30,000 raised from disclosed donors during this most recent reporting period.

Last cycle, RAGA invested a historic amount–approaching $3 million- in the 2014 campaign of Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. The Washington, D.C.-based organization collects and spends large amounts of “dark money,” including from out-of-state companies seeking to influence elections without disclosing their involvement.

Earlier this week, Weiser’s campaign was endorsed by Fight for Reform, the non-federal arm of End Citizens United, the largest grassroots organization dedicated to fighting against dark money in politics, for campaign finance reform, and for the overturning of the Citizens United decision.


President Obama endorses Phil Weiser

Today, President Barack Obama endorsed me to be Colorado’s next Attorney General.

I had the honor of serving in the Obama Administration as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice and as Senior Advisor for Technology and Innovation at the National Economic Council. In the Obama White House, I experienced firsthand the values that animated President Obama’s campaigns and his Administration—his commitments to bring people together, build a better future through creative problem solving, and fight for equal justice for all. President Obama’s example will guide me as I lead the Colorado Attorney General’s office.

In today’s statement — which announced President Obama’s first wave of endorsements for candidates across the country — he praised me and others for their role in “upholding our fundamental commitment to justice, fairness, responsibility, and the rule of law.”  In running to be your next Attorney General, these ideals are my True North.  I will remain dedicated to serving with fairness and integrity once elected.

The President also reiterated his belief that “our long-term challenges can be addressed best when we all take a more active role in our democracy.”  I am proud to join those Obama administration alumni who took to heart his call to “grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.”  It is a great honor to move forward on my campaign with President Obama’s support.


We Need Our Attorney General to Stand Up For Women’s Reproductive Rights and Health Care

As your next Attorney General, I will defend women’s reproductive rights and autonomy because quality health care and reproductive choice are fundamental to women’s lives and equality for all. We are now facing an attack on Roe v. Wade–and my opponent wants to lead the charge.  We cannot let that happen.

As our next Attorney General, I will join other State Attorneys General in the fight to preserve Roe v. Wade. Colorado had the opportunity to join a number of states who successfully urged the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a Texas law that dramatically cut back on women’s access to abortion services, but our Attorney General refused to join that fight. Before the Supreme Court struck down the law, half of the clinics in Texas had to close–and access to safe services was cut dramatically–because of the state’s attacks on women’s reproductive health.

Colorado deserves an Attorney General committed to fighting for women’s reproductive health. We were the first state that passed women’s suffrage and an early leader in legalized abortion care.  We need an Attorney General who represents our consistently pro-choice values and our commitment to equal treatment of women.

If women are forced to carry unintended pregnancies to term because of a lack of access to birth control and abortion services, they are in an inherently unequal position to men. As part of my broad commitment to equal justice under law, I will defend Roe v. Wade, protect a woman’s right to choose, and ensure access to birth control.

As Attorney General, I will work tirelessly to make sure that women have accurate information about their reproductive choices. To protect women’s free and informed choices, California passed a law requiring that women receive accurate information about all of the reproductive health care services available to them. California’s law, “The Reproductive FACT Act,” required entities that hold themselves out as clinics serving pregnant women to provide them with information about the availability of free or low-cost family planning services, prenatal care, access to abortion, and to inform them of any licensed health care providers on site.

In a blow to women’s health, a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling put that law on hold this past June, ruling that the First Amendment likely forbids states from requiring that those that hold themselves out as health care facilities share truthful information with pregnant women considering their options.  Unlike my opponent, I will fight to make sure that women have accurate information about all of their reproductive choices.

As Attorney General, I will challenge the efforts by some Republican leaders at both the state and federal level to roll back basic health coverage for women. The Trump Administration, for example, is now seeking to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers include contraceptive coverage in the basic health insurance plans that they provide their workers. This effort, if successful, would permit employers’ religious beliefs to restrict women’s access to contraceptive coverage in violation of the Constitution. My opponent will follow our current Attorney General’s lead and remain on the sideline in this case, refusing to defend the rights of women in Colorado from these discriminatory policies.  As our next Attorney General, I will fight for women’s health care.

I will defend women’s right to reproductive choice and quality health care from threats from the federal government and also from any assaults here in Colorado. For example, I will vigorously defend Colorado’s funding that supports all women’s health providers’ work to provide women with comprehensive medical services like breast and cervical cancer screenings.  Fortunately, the Colorado Supreme Court recently rejected one attack on our freedoms in Norton v. Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood. In that case, the challengers claimed that Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, Governor Hickenlooper, and other state officials had violated the unjust and discriminatory state law that prohibits the state from spending public funds on abortions – even though the state’s funding supported Planned Parenthood’s work to provide women with important medical services unrelated to abortion. The challenge was brought by former Colorado state official Jane Norton, who is now a Trump Administration official working to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I will stand up to any such challenges or attacks on women’s health providers.

Finally, I will defend women’s reproductive rights from any efforts to erode them in the state legislature. It’s shocking that a law was proposed last session that would have required Colorado’s Attorney General to create a targeted registration system that singled out clinics that provide abortions for more burdensome regulation, forcing them to file annual detailed reports about the services they provide, to identify the doctors providing the services, and to be inspected regularly. This law would have impacted women in Colorado by subjecting their providers to onerous regulation. Colorado needs an Attorney General who is committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and who will stand up to efforts to undermine that right.

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Colorado has a long history of protecting the rights of women. Today, with Roe v. Wade at risk, we must elect an Attorney General who shares that commitment. The decision to have an abortion is a personal one that pregnant people should have the choice to make. The autonomy, dignity, and equality of all people depends on protecting the right to control our bodies and reproduction. I am the only candidate in this race committed to defending Roeand protecting women’s health care choices. Please join us to elect me as Colorado’s next Attorney General.