Attorney General-Elect Phil Weiser Announces Transition Team

DENVER, Colo. -- Today, Attorney General-Elect Phil Weiser announced his transition team as he prepares to take office on January 8th.

These team members and groups will be responsible for providing valuable guidance on the transition process, developing the office’s leadership team, and shaping priorities for the first months of Weiser’s tenure.

“I am committed to protecting the people of Colorado and building a law office that will serve all Coloradans effectively. That starts with assembling a talented and experienced team that reflects the diversity of people, places, and ideas across our great state,” Weiser said. “I am deeply honored by the opportunity to serve all Coloradans as their lawyer. I will work tirelessly to defend our freedoms, protect our Colorado values, and provide opportunities for all. I appreciate the investment of time and energy by a talented group of professionals who have agreed to volunteer their time and support me during this transition.”

Kathryn Besemer, a former Apple Computer and NeXT executive, and former Vice President of People and Director of Strategic Planning at Celestial Seasonings, will direct Weiser’s transition, along with Deputy Director Suzanne Stoller, Director of People Operations, Google and former head of HR for Google Sales, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, who will lead organizational development.

Further oversight of the transition will be led by a committee of three co-chairs:

  • Alan Salazar, who currently serves as chief of staff to Mayor Michael Hancock, and previously advised Governor John Hickenlooper as chief strategy officer
  • Meg Porfido, who served as chief of staff and general counsel to Governor Roy Romer and currently sits on several boards of directors, including as chair of Global Education Fund.
  • John Walsh, who is currently a partner at WilmerHale and formerly served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado

“Phil campaigned to be the lawyer for all Coloradans. Establishing this diverse and inclusive transition team reflects that commitment, and demonstrates how he will serve as our Attorney General,” said Transition Committee Co-Chair Alan Salazar.

To fulfill his commitment to serve as the “People’s Lawyer,” Weiser will engage representatives from across the state, soliciting the insight of stakeholders and community members from diverse backgrounds, communities, and regions.  To help him do that, and bring the best possible ideas and people into his Administration, the following individuals have agreed to serve on the Attorney General’s Office Transition Team (in alphabetical order):

  • Wil Alston, Interim President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver
  • Fiona Arnold, President of MAINSPRING Developers and former Executive Director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade for the State of Colorado on Governor John Hickenlooper’s Cabinet
  • Rich Baer, Chief Legal Officer of Liberty Media Corporation and Chair of the National Jewish Health Board of Directors
  • Bernie Buescher, former Colorado Secretary of State and current counsel at Ireland Stapleton Pryor and Pascoe
  • Diane Carman, Colorado Sun columnist and former Director of Communications at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs
  • Jeff Chostner, District Attorney for Colorado’s Tenth Judicial District (Pueblo County)
  • Audrey Danner, Principal and Owner of Mountain Connect Broadband Development Conference and former Moffat County Commissioner
  • Rio de la Vista, Founding Director at Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center at Adams State University
  • Steve ErkenBrack, former Colorado Chief Deputy Attorney General, and former Mesa County District Attorney
  • Katharine Ferguson, currently with the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, former Chief of Staff to the Domestic Policy Council in the Obama White House
 and to Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Russ George, former Speaker of the House in Colorado, and Executive Director for both the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
  • Franz Hardy, former President of the Denver Bar Association and partner at Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani
  • Pastor Terrence H. Hughes, President, Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance
  • Gail Klapper, Director, The Colorado Forum
  • Monica Lang, Chief of Staff at the Zayo Group and former senior advisor to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock
  • Michelle Lucero, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado and former Acting City Attorney of Denver
  • Joelle Martinez, Executive Director of the Latino Leadership Institute and co-founder of the Colorado Latino Forum.
  • Karen Middleton, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, former President of Emerge America, and former Colorado State Legislator, House District 42.
  • Stephanie O'Malley, former Denver Executive Director of Public Safety, former elected Denver County Clerk and Recorder,  and current Senior Advisor to Mayor Michael Hancock
  • Garrison Ortiz, Pueblo County Commissioner
  • Luis Ponce, Strategic Campaign and Research Director, SEIU Local 105
  • Sean Smith, La Plata County Sheriff
  • Eric Roza, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Oracle Data Cloud; former CEO of Datalogix, and founder and owner of CrossFit Sanitas
  • Stephany Rose Spaulding, founder of Our Children's Children Enterprises and Associate Professor at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
  • David Wood, former District Attorney for Colorado’s Eighth Judicial District (Larimer and Jackson counties) and former president of the Colorado Bar Association

“Phil has consistently demonstrated a dedication to our entire state, fighting for 21st century opportunity in every community and devoting the time necessary to learn about the important issues affecting communities across our state,” said Russ George, former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives and cabinet member under Governor Bill Owens. “I look forward to working with him to turn the promises of his campaign into real solutions for Colorado.”

“During the campaign, Phil Weiser was a frequent visitor to rural Colorado, earning him the Rural Advocate of the Year Award from the Rio Grande County Democrats.  Now, it’s a privilege to support and advise him on the issues that concern our agricultural community, from protecting our water and public lands, to the challenges of opioids,” said Rio de la Vista. “Together, we’ll work to ensure that every corner of Colorado enjoys equal opportunity and that we conserve and manage our precious natural resources for future generations.”

The transition process is comprised of 8 working groups led and supported by the following dedicated team:

  • Matt Baca (lead), attorney at Colorado Legal Services, former associate attorney at Earthjustice and U.S. District Court law clerk
  • Alya Besemer, campaign Deputy Director of Communications
  • Jeff Blattner (lead), president of Legal Policy Solutions and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, US Department of Justice,
  • Anne Castle, Getches-Wilkinson Center, CU, former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science.
  • Roxanne Jensen (lead), founder of EvolveLaw and former Managing Partner of Morrison & Foerster's Denver office
  • Marty Katz (lead), Chief Innovation Officer at the University of Denver, former Dean of the University of Colorado Denver School Sturm College of Law
  • Melanie Kay (lead), Director of Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at University of Colorado Law School and former Earthjustice attorney
  • Viva Moffat, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at University of Denver — Sturm College of Law
  • Jessica Neumann, Associated Director of Innovation at the University of Denver
  • Diana Noyes, former Director of Research in the Office of the White House Counsel, campaign Press Secretary
  • Tim Rastello (lead), founder and owner of Timothy Rastello Law Firm
  • Tom Raynes, Executive Director of the Colorado District Attorney’s Council, former District Attorney in the 7th Judicial District, former Deputy Attorney General
  • David Romer, campaign Finance Event Director
  • David Seligman, Director of Towards Justice, former attorney at the National Consumer Law Center
  • Monty Sooter (lead),co-founder of Intelivideo, former COO of ClickBank, former CIO Corporate Express, Associate Partner at Andersen Consulting, and Naval Officer
  • Keri Ungemah, Assistant Dean of Communications and Marketing at University of Denver - Sturm College of Law
  • Ken Weil (lead), Principal at Social Impact Solutions, former Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Bill Ritter

“I appreciate the important cooperation and support offered to me by our current Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and her whole team.  With the support of Attorney General Coffman, the talented professionals in the AG’s office, and our Transition Team, I anticipate a smooth and transparent transition into the Attorney General’s office.  I am eager to begin the critical work Colorado voters elected me to carry out: fight the opioid epidemic, protect our valued natural resources, defend equal treatment under the law, and working hard to address the important issues facing Colorado,” Weiser said.

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This post was updated 12/7/18.

If you would like to offer feedback, insight, or ideas to the Weiser transition team, please email weisertransition@gmail.com

For all press inquiries, please email aylabesemer@gmail.com


Phil Weiser Elected Attorney General of Colorado

Tonight, Colorado voters elected Phil Weiser as the state’s 39th Attorney General. The victory once again emphasizes the appeal of the first-time candidate’s authenticity, integrity and message of justice and equality for all Coloradans. In the general election, Weiser’s “people-powered campaign” overcame over $5.8 million in attacks funded by out-of-state, dark money interests.

Addressing his supporters, Weiser reflected on the campaign trail and the opportunity ahead:

“We in Colorado have a unique opportunity to be a model for our nation during a challenging time. The hard issues we can confront—building an inclusive Colorado, managing our water in the face climate change, addressing the opioid epidemic, and providing accessible and affordable health care, to name a few—are challenges that are not being addressed in Washington.

“By working to bring people together to address these issues, we will demonstrate the best of what our nation stands for. I look forward to working with an amazing group of leaders in this room and around our state, along with dedicated professionals in the Attorney General’s office, to do just that.”

Thanking his opponent, George Brauchler, Weiser noted that the election presented voters with a clear choice between different visions for the office. He also thanked Joe Salazar, his opponent on the primary ballot, for a substantive primary debate and support that helped achieve victory in the general.

He concluded his remarks with a call to action for supporters, to remain engaged and collaborative:

“I needed your engagement to win this campaign, but I will need you even more to work with me as we take on important challenges together. I am eager to work with anyone who has good ideas to help move Colorado forward. Because together, as your Attorney General, we have some work to do.”

Since declaring his candidacy in May 2017, Weiser ran a substantive and people-powered campaign, visiting all 64 Colorado counties and engaging over 1,000 active volunteers. In total, over 70 officials and organizations endorsed Weiser for Attorney General, and more than 8,500 individuals backed his campaign financially.


What does the Attorney General do?

During this campaign, I have engaged people around Colorado, listened to their concerns, and talked about why the Attorney General’s office is the most important state office that nobody knows about.  The Attorney General is the People’s Lawyer–and, working together, our AG can lead on a range of challenges facing our state.  My campaign to be our next AG has prepared me even better to take on those challenges and, through the authentic relationships I have built around the state, I am more inspired than ever to work with leaders across Colorado to make our democracy work for everyone. To be able to get to work, we need to win this campaign by communicating what the AG does and why this role is so important to protecting our rights and our state.

First and foremost, the AG — as the People’s Lawyer — protects Colorado, its people, and the sovereignty of our state. The Attorney General leads an office of 500 people, 300 of whom are attorneys working on your behalf. In addition to serving as the lawyer for the state of Colorado and most of its governmental organizations, the Attorney General is a leader, managing an $80 million budget and working with communities statewide.

Our AG stops companies from cheating consumers, protects our state’s land, water, and air; and  leads the way when the federal government acts illegally in ways that hurt Coloradans.Over my 24-year legal career — working in the Justice Department, the White House, the Supreme Court, and here in Colorado — I have worked on consumer protection cases, civil rights cases, regulations that protect consumers, and advised our Governor. And, in what is my deepest personal commitment, I will fight for opportunity for all Coloradans.

As our next Attorney General, I will be the lawyer for all the people of Colorado, demonstrating the promise and potential of this office to serve our state.

The Attorney General Protects Our Natural Resources

As your next Attorney General, I will continue Colorado’s leadership on protecting our land, air, and water, which includes rejecting former U.S. EPA head Scott Pruitt’s denial of climate change. I’ll defend rules we have recently developed to address methane emissions during oil and gas development, and I’ll follow Ken Salazar’s example of reinvigorating environmental enforcement at the Colorado AG’s office. When Ken was our AG, he established an environmental crimes unit and brought cases that protected our land, air, and water, such as his action to address the water contamination involving the Summitville Mine. And Ken Salazar has endorsed me in this race because he believes I am the best candidate to protect our water (including helping the negotiations related to the Colorado River Compact), fight to keep our public lands public, and stand up to the EPA when they undermine protections that keep Colorado’s air clean.

The Attorney General Fights for Opportunities for All

I worked with President Obama–who has endorsed me–in the aftermath of the Great Recession to make life better for all Americans.  Over the past 20 years, I’ve worked hard to build an environment where Colorado entrepreneurs can create new companies, where all Coloradans have access to broadband Internet service,  and where, even without a college degree, Coloradans can have access to good-paying jobs. As a candidate, I’ve travelled to all 64 counties, most of them twice, and visited places like the Western Slope and the San Luis Valley on numerous occasions, learning about what Coloradans need and want from their public officials. As your AG, I will continue this leadership, working with leaders around the State, and making Colorado a model for the US.

The Attorney General Upholds American Values on the State Level and Beyond

For those of us who are angered by the developments in Washington, we need leadership at the state level to represent our values and protect Colorado. During a time when President Trump has proposed unconstitutional attacks on immigrants, Jeff Sessions has failed to uphold the critical protections of the Affordable Care Act, and the EPA has undermined  environmental policies that protect Colorado’s clean air, it is states like Colorado that are providing a check on federal overreach. In particular, State AGs are leading the fight to preserve our cherished American values and, with new leadership in the Colorado AG’s office, we can make Colorado a model for the nation, ensuring all Coloradans are treated fairly and afforded the protections provided by federal and state law (such as the ban on discrimination in health care insurance for those with pre-existing conditions).

Protecting the freedoms of all Coloradans is deeply personal to me. I am the first in my family to be born an American citizen — a right, guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, which our President has threatened to undermine.  My mom was born in a concentration camp at the end of World War II and came to this country for its freedoms and opportunity when she was six. Early in my career, I worked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when the Supreme Court struck down Colorado’s anti-gay law (Amendment 2) and when women were first admitted to the Virginia Military Institute.  As our next Attorney General, I welcome the opportunity to vigorously defend our civil rights, including those of women, LGBTQ individuals, and immigrants.

The Attorney General Works for You, Not Special Interests

Not so long ago, races for Attorney General didn’t get much attention or support. But with the funding from special interests groups,  the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) has targeted AG races around the country to move their agenda, even in progressive states. In Colorado’s last AG election, RAGA put five times as much money into the race as Cynthia Coffman raised herself. In my election this year, RAGA has spent close to $6 million dollars of out-of-state dark money from undisclosed special interests groups, outpacing my opponent’s fundraising and spending by close to 10  to 1.

Why do these special interests care so much about AG races?  Because the Attorney General’s office can either be a powerful engine for protecting people or be used in counterproductive ways. Led by an innovative AG committed to protecting people, the office defends our constitutional freedoms, stands up for consumers when insurance companies or irresponsible businesses take advantage of them, leads on reforming our criminal justice system, and protects our land, air, and water from polluters. Recently, however, our AG’s office has focused less on solving problems and more on advancing AG Cynthia Coffman’s political agenda.  That agenda included suing Boulder County for its management of oil and gas development, failing to even talk with them or give them a heads up prior to filing a lawsuit. That type of action–focused on scoring political points rather than solving problems–is the wrong sort of leadership from our AG for Colorado.

What You Can Do

The election is only four days away.  That means your involvement is more important than ever. Democracy is not a spectator sport, and we need all players on the field in these final days.

Up through 5pm on election night, we will be launching canvasses across Colorado. Your time and energy to knock doors and make phone-calls is precious to us. Potential voters who have face-to-face contact with volunteers are 30-40% more likely to vote. Click here to sign up to volunteer.

Voters are still educating themselves and making critical decisions about which candidates they support up through election day, and media buys are an important resources to help us reach them. Every dollar counts in helping us reach our goals in these final days. If you can, please consider donating; even $20 to help us reach over 1,000 voters on digital media.

If you’re taking the time to read this blog and find out how you can help, I know you’ll vote. But your friends might not do the same. You can sign up for Voter Chase, an interactive app that allows you to see if your friends have voted, and encourage them to if they haven’t. People are more likely to vote when someone close to them encourages them to, so call your friends, neighbors, and parents to make sure they’ve cast their ballot!

And finally, vote as if your rights depend on it — because they do.