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.


Optimism in the Face of Cynicism

When I launched my campaign, I committed to being authentic, straightforward, and presenting a positive vision to the citizens of Colorado. Over the last 18 months, I have stayed true to the core optimism that animates my commitment to public service. I knew that this election would test whether I could win this race through a commitment to an elevated and positive dialogue with the voters.

In the face of the Republican Attorney General’s Association latest attack ad, which makes deceptive and sensational claims about my career and values, I had a choice to make in terms of how to respond. My belief is that cynical and deceptive attack ads seek to divide us, debase the public discussion, and undermine our democracy. In this case, the ad also sought to distract voters from the important issues–and the comparison of my and my opponent’s stance on them–that voters will face when they elect our next Attorney General.

Just this weekend, a nonpartisan fact-check by the Denver Post’s newsroom reviewed the ad and debunked every one of the claims it reviewed as “misleading.”
Source: Ad Fact Check, Denver Post, October 27, 2018

Because I am committed to fighting for our democracy and building trust with voters, I responded to this attack by explaining the truth and what is at stake in this election. (You can see my response below.)  I believe that the damage done through divisive rhetoric and attacks on our institutions threaten our democracy. They also disrespect the voters.

"[T]he ad about Weiser’s pro bono work is especially troublesome by the way it intimates that Weiser is unfit for public service for defending constitutional rights."
Source: Below the Belt, Grand Junction Sentinel, October 26, 2018

The issue addressed in the ad was my work on a pro bono civil case for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. It is a significant honor to be asked by a panel of judges to address an important issue of constitutional law. I did not choose the case or the client. And I never sought to defend the prisoner’s actions (as a criminal defense attorney or otherwise). My job was to defend his constitutional rights, in particular, equal justice under law and due process. This principle is a bedrock of our Constitution–due process is provided to everyone, even for the most abhorrent of criminals.

To suggest that defending a prisoner’s constitutional rights means you support their crimes is offensive to the concept that we are all committed to the rule of law.
Source: Anti-Weiser Ads Disrespect Our Right to Counsel and Must Be Condemned

By The Hon. David L. Wood, a lifelong Republican who is a former President of the Colorado Bar Association and elected District Attorney for Larimer and Jackson Counties, joined with former Democratic DA Stan Garnett, Denver Post, October 26, 2018

My career in the law and public service has focused on defending equal justice under law and fighting for civil rights. That’s exactly what I will do–for all Coloradans–as your next Attorney General. The rule of law and due process should not be partisan issues. For our democracy to survive, we need to defend our most basic constitutional values and reject cynical, attack politics that seeks to undermine democracy and the rule of law to win elections.

From the early responses to this appalling ad (including a powerful editorial by the Grand Junction Sentinel and a great op-ed in the Denver Post), I am more optimistic than ever that our approach will win this election and help us fight for our constitutional rights and our democracy. Please join our campaign and help us do just that.


Vistas, Valleys & Voters: Central & Southwestern Colorado

During our return to the San Luis Valley in August, we start at the Alamosa Boys and Girls Club where an organization called KaBOOM has rallied locals to build a new playground. Members of the local university's football team, county commissioners, parents, and volunteers gather in what was once an empty lot to assemble a place of community gathering. Kids paint a map of the world on the basketball court with a star on Southeastern Colorado that reads “home.” It’s hot outside (90 degrees to be exact), but everyone is cheerful under the late-summer San Luis sun.

Down the road, the sounds of community gathering fade as we pull into the Alamosa County Jail, where Sheriff Jackson has graciously agreed to give us a tour. In the jail, 92% of inmates are opioid users, and the county lacks drug treatment opportunities for the insurgency of drug users in the area. The prison is at 200% capacity; women, who were barely incarcerated a few years ago now makeup a third of the prison population, because opioid addiction doesn’t discriminate on the basis of gender; rooms that sleep two are now home to twelve. It’s dire, and the county lacks the resources to provide treatment options, in the jail or otherwise. Instead, arrivals--including addicts--are admitted into a 5x5 orange cinderblock room with a singular drain in the middle. People out in these stretches of rural America where the prisons are crowded with opioid users and treatment is two hours away are used to be ignored. For them, the only politics that matter are whether you show up to listen to them, whether you care about addressing their issues, and whether you can deliver results. It’s not about party or partisanship, it’s about a genuine need for public servants and advocates who take their concerns to heart.

On Alamosa’s Main Street, community leaders and locals gather for a roundtable on the Future of the San Luis Valley. Most strikingly, the majority of attendees say a future is hard to discuss in the face of their present crisis — specifically, the opioid epidemic. John, a career educator in the Valley, recounts a story about one of his former student’s heroin overdose: “I will never forget the pain in [a] father’s eyes as he told me about walking into his son’s bedroom and seeing the needle hanging out of his arm. His son ended up passing away. Stories like that are more common in the San Luis Valley than they should be,” John shares. They are. And to ensure a future for the San Luis Valley, we need to treat this epidemic with urgency and empathy. Similarly, there is a call for empathy towards immigrants, who are valuable workers on farms and an important part of the local economy.

That night, we sleep at Secretary Ken Salazar’s ranch under a sky so dark you can see the cloud of the Milky Way spiraling above. Secretary Salazar rises early and, in a stunning show of hospitality, makes the campaign team a hot breakfast filled with potatoes from his farm, his favorite local red chili, pancakes, and bacon. After we finish breakfast, he takes us down a dirt road in his pickup truck to the cemetery where his parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are buried. We traipse through dew-covered grass, and he tells us about the generations of Salazars that have lived, farmed, and died in the San Luis Valley.

Secretary Salazar tells us about the church that once stood near the cemetery, lost to time and the elements, and how fifty years after looters had stolen the church’s organ, an Anglo-Saxon Mormon found the organ and returned it to the Catholic, Hispanic Salazars. This is a poignant example of how local communities can reach across generational ethnic divides in a stretch of Southeastern Colorado that is at once remarkably beautiful and often overlooked by the rest of our state. The values here are those of family and history; of public service and graciousness; of the land and its power. Coloradans can and should look to the San Luis Valley and its extraordinary residents for an example of our state — of humanity — at its very best.

A few days later, we start our morning with a meeting on the Southern Ute Tribe’s reservation. Phil meets with members of the Tribal Council to talk about the complex relationship between the Southern Utes and Colorado’s government, including the Attorney General. The Ute Tribe is a sovereign nation, responsible for their own land and laws, but still maintain a relationship with the wider state of Colorado as a co-equal sovereign. The laws of the Tribal Reservation and the State of Colorado are different; take, marijuana, for example, which is not legal on the reservation, presenting complicated regulatory and enforcement challenges. At the same time, there is ample opportunity for collaboration in areas where the State of Colorado can work with the Tribe, such as in addressing the opioid epidemic, which has ravaged the Tribal population as it has ravaged the state at large. It is clear from the conversation that Phil recognizes the long and complex history of the Native American Tribes, understands their sovereignty, and is committed to working with them.

On our final day on the road, we stop in Gunnison for a meeting with members of the Upper Gunnison River Water Compact. A single issue that consistently emerges for the future Attorney General is water, and John — the General Counsel for the water district — tells us just how important the AG is in helping negotiate complex water management compacts both between Colorado’s regions and outside states. Understanding water, its nuances, and the importance of fostering collaborative relationship with surrounding states will all be key areas for our next Attorney General.

This trip is the last of our summer road trips, and as Phil and the campaign team rolls back into Denver that night, I reflect on the forty counties we visited this summer, and what we’ve learned from each. Across Colorado, people talk about things that we take for granted on the Front Range: access to reliable broadband, affordable healthcare, and a good education; opioid treatment, water rights, and empathy towards immigrants.

This summer, Phil showed up for them. As Attorney General, I am confident that he will continue to do so.


Rural Advocate of the Year Acceptance Statement

Dear Rio Grande County Democrats,

It is an honor and a privilege to receive the Rural Advocate Award this evening. I am truly sorry that I cannot be there with you in person. Please know that I am inspired by and grateful for your support. And I very much look forward to seeing many of you on my next visit to the San Luis Valley.

One of the great privileges of this campaign has been traveling to communities in places like Rio Grande County, such as Monte Vista and Del Norte, and your neighboring towns across that beautiful Valley. It’s been so valuable for me to hear from you, to learn about your concerns, and to see the amazing energy, innovation, and commitment you bring to building a better future for yourselves, for your children and for future generations. You can be a model for the state on many issues, and you can help to bridge our state’s rural-urban divide. Our rural communities and our cities are deeply connected and Colorado should not be divided along these lines. The issues are not partisan issues - they are Colorado issues, and American issues. We need one another to solve them with creativity, and mutual support.

As Attorney General, I’ll work tirelessly to support every part of our State. I’ll be working to help get high quality broadband to every county; to create new economic opportunities statewide, not just on the Front Range; and to take on the opioid epidemic, which I know is ravaging rural communities like yours. And I know that water is absolutely vital to places like the San Luis Valley. As your Attorney General, I will do everything in my power to protect our water and work with you toward water sustainability, so that your agricultural communities and economy can thrive into the future.

I also know the importance of Colorado’s public lands— they are critical to sustaining agriculture as well, from healthy forests and watersheds that are the source of your water supply to the importance of grazing on public lands, which is key to sustaining the working ranches in your region. And all of the other ways that rural communities like yours depend upon public lands to meet your real needs and quality of life—from hunting and fishing to providing firewood for heating your homes, along with the public lands recreation that your families enjoy, as well as the ways that public land recreation can contribute to your local economy.

As you know, I have visited the San Luis Valley six times in the course of this campaign. I deeply believe in the importance of candidates showing up in person, to build direct relationships with people in communities around our great state. And while I am unable to be there with you tonight, I greatly appreciate your acknowledging my commitment to you and to advocating for rural areas. We have important work to do together. I believe that —with the right leadership and your community’s proven commitment to working together and finding solutions—the future of the San Luis Valley will be very bright. You have my commitment to help you and to work with you, in every way possible, as your next Attorney General.


A Call for Empathy Towards Survivors & Due Process in the Senate

For many Americans, the past week was a profoundly difficult and complicated time. The events in D.C. and the discussions around them have been traumatizing, overwhelming, and inspiring. We saw one woman bravely step forward to give voice to what survivors of sexual violence have experienced across the country, then watched as many members of a deeply partisan Judiciary Committee failed to grasp the seriousness of her testimony. The news cycle and conversations surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination have become symbolic of our polarized political discourse and how far we have left to go in creating a society in which all voices are heard and survivors of sexual assault or harassment are not shamed for coming forward.

Even in the face of credible testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and calls from many experts--including the American Bar Association--to conduct a fuller investigation of allegations of sexual assault, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to push through Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation without investigation. This outcome would have constituted a painful failing of the Senate to perform its constitutional role--to advise and consent on nominations, namely, to manage the responsible vetting of nominees to the highest court in the land.  Moreover, the confirmation of an individual for a seat on the Supreme Court with pending and uninvestigated serious questions about his honesty and treatment of women would threaten the Court’s credibility and its standing with the public. This is a moment of truth for our nation--we cannot allow reports of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse to be swept under the rug, give up on the importance of equal justice under law, or tolerate the elevation of partisan objectives over constitutional principle.

Over the last week, the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh focused our nation on how the Senate handles allegations of sexual assault a generation after the Senate confirmed then-Judge Clarence Thomas in the face of Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment. As Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum asked about the Ford-Kavanaugh proceedings, “Why should we risk the possibility that a sex offender, albeit uncharged, could soon be sitting on the United States Supreme Court, when we have ample means available to conduct a full investigation of the allegations before making that decision?”

For victims and survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment, the consequences of reporting their experiences--or witnessing the repercussions to others who report--are often enough to keep them quiet.  (In using the term “victim” because of its use in the relevant legal context, I do so aware that many prefer the more accurate term “survivor,” because it captures their strength, courage, and refusal to be defined as a “victim.”) The #MeToo movement represents a challenge to this conspiracy of silence and a challenge to the (almost invariably) men who commit sexual misconduct and/or bully survivors into silence. I was in law school during the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings and remember a clear explanation by a professor of mine on why Anita Hill did not come forward earlier: her testimony would have jeopardized her career advancement, would have made her a pariah, and would have revictimized her through threats and other repercussions.

There is even a more fundamental issue raised by the hearings this week, which the #MeToo movement addresses: the shaming of victims. Many sexual assault and sexual harassment victims don’t come forward because they are led to believe they are at fault or that it’s “unfair” to “ruin the life” of an often-influential assailant (as was certainly the case this week), despite the fact that victims of sexual violence must live with the the trauma of their experiences for a lifetime. In how it chooses to handle this matter, the Senate will send a message--to millions of American women and men--about what will happen if and when victims report cases of sexual assault or sexual harassment.

For victims of sexual assault, particularly those victimized as children, it takes incredible courage to come forward. One former prosecutor stated that “I learned how much unexpected courage from a deep and hidden place it takes for a rape victim or sexually abused child to testify against their assailant.”

During the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing, that former prosecutor--Senator Lindsey Graham--and others cast aside these very insights as well as the lessons of the Thomas-Hill hearings in attempting to undermine the significance of Ford’s account and move for Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation without any further investigation or testimony of other key witnesses. In acting in this manner, a number of Senators sent a damaging message to all victims: your experience does not matter and should be ignored. In short, this attitude disrespects the powerful motivation Dr. Ford cited in her testimony: “My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed.”

A lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be reserved for individuals who can make decisions that are viewed credibly and respectfully by the public. After all, the rule of law depends on our legal institutions operating outside the realm of partisan politics. The willingness of the Senate to rush through an appointment in the face of such serious questions demonstrates the power of partisanship over principle and a willingness to compromise the institutional credibility of the Supreme Court. And Judge Kavanaugh’s own testimony--in which defended himself in partisan terms--did not inspire confidence that he would place constitutional principle over partisan objectives if he was confirmed to the Supreme Court.

I refuse to give up on the cause of creating a world where victims of sexual violence are taken seriously and treated with the respect, integrity, and due process that their bravery demands. In this world, we would not automatically side with the allegations made by a victim--because due process means no one is judged without a fair investigation--but we would always honor the need to carefully investigate and consider such allegations. I also refuse to give up on the importance of the rule of law or the concept of principle over party. As the American Bar Association concluded: “Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate's reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court.” Indeed, even in these hyper-polarized times, we have seen moments--worthy of being celebrated--of putting principle above party.

In this case, Senator Flake demonstrated what statesmanship looks like--he followed the counsel of the American Bar Association and others, refusing to support Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court without more careful investigation. This decision was inspired by the brave women who shared their stories with Senator Flake just before his decision, including one who confronted him in a Senate building elevator, stating:

I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me. I didn’t tell anyone, and you’re telling all women that they don’t matter, that they should just stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them you are going to ignore them. That’s what happened to me, and that’s what you are telling all women in America, that they don’t matter. They should just keep it to themselves because if they have told the truth, you’re just going to help that man to power anyway.

In an action that underscores both the promise of protest and the capability for the Senate to engage in deliberation, Senator Flake took this message to heart and concluded that an FBI investigation was necessary. With the benefit of more investigation, the process can proceed with the promise of a minimal degree of fairness.

* * *

Today’s politics is one where too many leaders are willing to remain silent, follow partisan pressures, or indulge in empty talking points.  This past week was one of those moments when the public could see how leaders behave—and hold those accountable who refuse to act responsibly.  The citizens who spoke out publicly and privately to Senator Flake made clear the stakes of ignoring a credible allegation of sexual assault. They also made plain the importance of listening to victims of sexual assault and harassment and bringing such conversations out of the shadows.  As our next Attorney General, I will work hard to lead an office that insists on and stands for the respectful and fair treatment of everyone--and supports and listens to the voices of victims who are too often ignored or dismissed.

Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP


Innovation in Water

Listen to John of Gunnison County talk about how an AG can lead on water

Colorado is a headwater state. This means surrounding states look to us for their water, but I believe it can also mean they look to us for inspiration and innovation when it comes to managing this resource.

Last week, we wrote to tell you of the situation on the Yampa River—a tributary to the Colorado River that’s facing historic lows, throwing local communities into crisis mode as they deal with drought conditions. As a result of the low levels, water users are facing new limits on their supply.

Leading on water management will be one of the most urgent challenges I face when entering the Attorney General’s office. An overarching goal of mine is to bring innovation and creativity into government, which often means finding inspiration in local communities who currently lead in these areas. When it comes to water management, we should all be inspired by the City of Steamboat Springs’ foresight when developing a contingency plan for drought conditions and their strategic reliance on alternative sources of water.

By talking to those who represent the City of Steamboat Springs in a continuing effort to listen to and learn from people across the state, I discovered that the City of Steamboat Springs long ago put alternative supply arrangements in place, allowing the City to adapt to the limits imposed on the Yampa River supply. That foresight is a real credit to the City.

Unfortunately, with respect to the possibility of forthcoming reduction of our Colorado River water supply, we are not in as good a situation. Managing the Colorado River demands smart and proactive leadership here in Colorado--as well as working with surrounding states, many of whom receive water from the river. With decreasing water levels, we need to continue to engage in the sort of far-sighted planning that Steamboat Springs did.

As I travelled to rural areas of the state that have suffered from “buy and dry” situations, it is crystal clear to me what the costs of failure to plan are--the ending of communities and a threat to local agriculture. We simply cannot wait for disputes to arise—between surrounding states or between parts of Colorado—to act. If we do, we will have already lost.

I am optimistic that we will meet the challenge of managing the demands on our water. We’re Coloradans, and we rise together — with creativity and collaboration — to the challenges that face our state. As our next Attorney General, it will be my job to help lead on making these arrangements. My background, including as founder of the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship, is in innovation. I’m excited to bring a fresh perspective, energy, and creativity to the AG’s office to lead on water.

This week is Denver Startup Week, which is a great showcase of the innovative spirit we have in Colorado, just like we see in the City of Steamboat Springs. It’s what we need to be able to lead on managing water, addressing the opioid epidemic, improving our criminal justice system, and on a range of other topics. With your help, I will bring that spirit to the Attorney General’s office.


500 Days on the Campaign Trail!

Today, our people-powered campaign marks 500 days on the campaign trail and only 44 days until the election. And it’s all thanks to you. 8,657 individuals have donated to our campaign, and our army of volunteers has written and mailed 82,893 postcards!!!! Thank you so much. Please take a look at the graphic at the bottom of this email to see the things we’ve achieved together in our campaign.
But…we all know people in our lives who have yet to focus on the 2018 election–or who never vote down ballot. Explaining why the Attorney General’s office matters (and how it affects them) is one of my biggest challenges in this race.

To make the case for why the Attorney General position is important to the people of Colorado, we made a new video to briefly explain the office and why I’m running.

To help spread the word, please share this video with your network through email and social media. It will help get the word out about why this race matters and help create energy for our work together. Your voice makes all the difference.

My latest video on building a better Colorado.

Speaking of making a difference, just take a look at everything we’ve done with your help.

I’m so grateful for those who have been with me from the beginning and those wonderful friends who I continue to make along the way.


Vistas, Valleys & Voters: Northeastern Colorado

“Colorado is a Welcoming State”
A Day in Northeastern Colorado

During our trip to the Northeastern corner of Colorado — beginning in Sterling, looping through Fort Morgan, and ending in Fort Collins — a singular topic consistently emerges: immigration. Fort Morgan is the second most diverse city in Colorado, and owes much of its vibrant culture — signs in Main Street windows are written in French, Spanish, and Somali — to a large population of immigrants from Mexico and Africa.

On the main street in Fort Morgan, we visit La Michoacana Ice Cream Parlor, which sports cheerful green walls and a lineup of homemade popsicles. Gloria, the owner who greets us with a big smile, immigrated to the U.S. at four and settled in Fort Morgan at twelve, where she’s been a small business owner and community pillar ever since. “To me, Fort Morgan is home,” Gloria explained to us over their homemade rice popsicles . “We welcome people, of all color and race. It doesn’t matter — if you come to Fort Morgan, you feel welcomed.” We’ve heard a lot of immigrant stories based on fear, and while those are poignant and important under current threats, listening to Gloria describe her positive experience living in Fort Morgan and running her ice cream parlor reminded us what American can accomplish at its best: create a welcoming community in which there is no room for discrimination or hate. “I sleep very well at night,” Gloria smiled.

Down the street from La Michoacana is One Fort Morgan, a community center for immigrants. Fort Morgan boasts speakers of over 27 different languages, and messages of support and welcoming are scrawled across a chalkboard wall in Somali, Spanish, French, and more. Susana, the executive director, shows us a project she helped spearhead called “Fort Morgan Speaks,” which tells the stories of locals and their hopes and dreams, along with reasons they love Fort Morgan. One says, “I could be the next Cher from Clueless, but more Muslim.” I can’t help but smile. Half a continent away, bigotry exists on a colossal scale, but here in Fort Morgan, people still come together to support and protect their neighbors, something the American dream was built on. Susana echoes these sentiments: “I consider Colorado to be a welcoming state and I want it to continue to be that.”

Jim, a former judge in Sterling, talks to us at a cheerful cafe across from the courthouse, where a large group of interested voters listens to Phil over steaming pots of coffee and fresh pastries. “A lot of the battles we thought had been fought and won in the 60s and 70s are still up for grabs. Attorneys are right on the front line for that,” Jim says. He’s right: our civil liberties and equal rights are at risk, and an Attorney General will lead the battle to protect, defend, and enforce our commitment to equality and fairness.

The night ends in the company of nearly 200 Phil supporters gathered both in Greeley and Fort Collins. During our trips, I always talk about the importance of Phil showing up for people, but bathed in the warmth of giddy volunteers and earnest supporters, I’m deeply grateful for the people that show up for him as well. Phil’s fond of saying that “democracy is not a spectator sport.” He’s right, and we have a great team of engaged people ready to show up and fight for the rights that matter.