Fighting for Affordable and Accessible Health Care for All Coloradans

As I travel around Colorado, I hear people share their anxieties about health care. Their stories fuel my passion to fight for better health care for all Coloradans. Affordable, quality health care is a right we must provide all residents, not a privilege for the wealthy few. Insurance Quotes would be the ideal starting point for anyone whos is currently without health insurance.

It is clear to us here in Colorado that Washington—given its current level of dysfunction—will not solve our health care problems. It’s up to us to develop and implement solutions here in Colorado. As Colorado’s next Attorney General, I will work hard to improve health care and reduce the financial burdens on Coloradans.

First, I will stand up against the Trump administration’s attack on affordable health care. I will work to protect the Affordable Care Act’s provisions that enable hundreds of thousands of Coloradans to have access to affordable and reliable health care. I will challenge the Trump Administration’s decision to cut off the Act’s cost-sharing reduction payments, which reduce health care costs for low-income Americans, joining the other states who have already done so, and I will fight to keep in place the law’s protection of consumers from fraud, mismanagement, and deception.

Second, we need to do more than protect the Affordable Care Act because the rising costs of health care, particularly in more remote areas, is an increasing threat to our residents. As one multi-state study found, Coloradans pay an average of 17% more for health care than citizens in other similar states. On the Western Slope, the situation is even more dire, with citizens now paying over $100 more per month on health care than the statewide median. Consequently, too many Coloradans are buried in medical debt or one medical hardship away from financial disaster.

Together, we can do better.

Increasing Competition among Providers and Insurers

One of the critical driving forces behind the rising costs of health care is the absence of competition and transparency in that market. One study found that communities served by hospitals with monopoly power over the market pay 15% more in hospital costs than those living in competitive environments.

As Attorney General, I will enforce competition laws, using my experience as an Obama Administration antitrust official to make sure that health care providers and health care insurers compete on cost and quality for the benefit of all Coloradans. I will do that by reviewing mergers carefully, combating predatory practices in the health care market, and addressing hidden fees.

We need our AG to review and investigate mergers of health care providers with great care. Over the last several years, mergers in health care have changed the structure of the industry. In some cases, mergers can provide valuable economies of scale, but in other cases, they increase costs or reduce quality of care by reducing the number of providers competing for patients.

Under our antitrust laws, we depend on federal and state enforcers to ensure an adequate level of competition to protect consumers. I worked on the Obama Administration’s initiative to improve our merger review standards, and, as Colorado’s next Attorney General, I will work to vigorously enforce our federal and state antitrust laws.

I will work hard to investigate and address anticompetitive practices in the health care sector. Consider how some insurers have forced providers to sign “most favored nation” agreements that prevent providers from giving better rates to other insurance companies. When I worked at the Justice Department under President Obama, we investigated this practice and brought an enforcement action to address the anticompetitive harm to patients on account of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s use of such clauses. (The Department of Justice also worked with the Michigan Attorney General on that case and the subsequent legislation that banned the practice in the state.) Similarly, the use of exclusive contracting arrangements—where an insurance plan locks up an important hospital—can prevent new providers from entering the market to provide patients with better care at a cheaper price. At the Justice Department, I also worked on an important case that, along with Texas Attorney General’s office, challenged such a practice.

Finally, we need to protect consumers by addressing the hidden fees that are imposed on them. In some cases, such fees are referred to as “facility fees,” and they are crammed into consumers’ bills without their knowledge or clear disclosure when the patient is receiving care. One recent study on Colorado’s health care costs concluded that facility fees are one of the key cost drivers in Colorado’s health care market. Such fees, as one important case concluded, can constitute fraud and be illegal.

Similarly, emergency rooms sometimes impose exorbitant fees, taking advantage of consumers who are inherently vulnerable and unaware that they can be charged additional “facility fees” of hundreds or even thousands of dollars on top of the cost of treatment for their urgent medical needs. In some cases, consumers might not be aware that they are being treated in a “pop-up” emergency room (as opposed to an acute care center), and that such fees wouldn’t arise had they visited a conventional urgent care facility. Indeed, 70% of the people who are treated at free-standing ERs could be treated at urgent care centers and the cost of procedures at such facilities are up to ten times what they cost at urgent care centers.

To add insult on top of injury, emergency room facility feesrose 89 percent between 2009 and 2015 — rising twice as fast as the price of outpatient health care, and four times as fast as overall health care spending.” As Attorney General, I will advocate for consumers, work to make such fees transparent (as required by Colorado law), and address any cases where consumers are unfairly charged such fees.

Encouraging Innovation in Health Care

Over time, one of the important strategies for lowering the cost of health care and increasing access will be to encourage innovation in this sector. For starters, we need to enable tele-medicine solutions by ensuring that all hospitals have access to top-flight reliable broadband. When I visited Craig, Colorado, I learned that the hospital there lacks access to reliable broadband, instead depending on a single fiber line that often gets cut. That vulnerability undermines progress, and endangers lives. We need to do better. And we also need to ensure that all Coloradans have reliable broadband connections so they can benefit from tele-medicine and remote monitoring opportunities, which both increases access to health care and lowers costs. Here’s my plan for bringing broadband to all Coloradans.

Second, we need to evaluate opportunities to encourage accountable care organizations and other experiments designed to improve health care outcomes—rather than merely paying for health care services, which can incentivize hospitals to provide too many complex and expensive services without regard to their patients’ actual health care needs. We should also use innovative programs to address the shortage of family medicine doctors, and the lack of good options in many corners of our state. One promising program worthy of support is the CU School of Medicine’s rural program, which encourages Colorado doctors to practice in rural areas that are frequently underserved.

Colorado is uniquely well-positioned to drive such health care innovation, as we have a thriving health care ecosystem and the potential to be a nation-wide leader. I have worked, as the Founder of the Silicon Flatirons Center, to develop this ecosystem and would continue to do so as Attorney General (see, for example, this conference and this report).

Third, we need to liberate health care information—while also safeguarding its privacy—so patients can better manage their own care. The federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, gives patients the right to access their own health care information. But in practice, patients rarely have meaningful access to their electronic health records, which means health care intermediaries are not to help patients better manage their care.

If patients can get access to their own health care information, this will enable improved health care analytics and open up new lines of innovation that could enable cheaper, more effective, and more accessible health care, and all without providing third parties any access to such information except with the clear consent of the patient. As Attorney General, I would work to enforce the right of Coloradans to access their information, drive the development and deployment of appropriate standards, and oversee the use of such information by health care intermediaries, thereby facilitating important health care innovation.

Finally, we need to develop innovative policy solutions, like a reinsurance program that would address the high costs of rural health care. One study suggests that an appropriate reinsurance program would reduce premiums by 20% in the individual insurance market. The essence of this proposal is that, under the Affordable Care Act, states can take steps that would reduce federal spending (in this case, tax credits that support health insurance) and, through a waiver process, receive federal support on account of such savings.

Another set of innovative solutions includes considering a “public option” model where Coloradans can buy into Medicaid or a co-op plan that would allow small businesses to band together. As Attorney General, I would work with the Legislature and the Governor to consider, develop, and implement appropriate solutions (including public-private partnership models) that would bring needed relief to the many Coloradans—particularly in the 14 Colorado counties with only one provider on the health care insurance exchange—who are suffering under the weight of rising health insurance costs.

Challenging Health Care Fraud

A final opportunity to lower health care prices is to address the level of health care fraud in Colorado. The Attorney General’s office is charged with bringing cases to address health care fraud. And the AG can also work with others in the state to help improve our oversight process. Unfortunately, Colorado has fared poorly on this front, with only 3 of 28 states in a recent audit performing worse than we did on Medicaid waste. As the Denver Post put it in a recent editorial: “Colorado’s $10 billion Medicaid program is throwing away money and not doing a good enough job trying to get it back.” As Attorney General, I will work hard to turn this record around and prosecute those entities than commit health care fraud and take away money that should be spent helping out those in need.

* * *

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the United States made important strides in creating a just and equitable health care system. But we still have a long way to go, and efforts to set back the law’s protections are taking us further back. The high cost and lack of access to quality and reliable health care is a serious threat to Coloradans. By fighting for competition and innovation, and challenging fraud, I will work tirelessly to protect our citizens and provide them with the health care they deserve.

Bill Ritter

Governor Bill Ritter Endorses Phil Weiser for Colorado Attorney General

DENVER, CO, May 15 – Today, the Phil Weiser campaign for Attorney General announced another prominent endorsement, from Colorado’s 41st governor Bill Ritter.

Said Ritter, “Phil Weiser is an important leader in Colorado and will be a great Attorney General.  I have worked with Phil since 2005 and can attest to his legal mind, his leadership abilities, and his commitment to building a 21st century economy here in Colorado.”

The governor continued, “Climate change represents a pressing threat to our land, air, and water and we need our next Attorney General to be a force for progress.  Phil will be that Attorney General, leading on clean energy technologies, promoting broadband, and fighting for opportunities for all Coloradans.”

Weiser responded to the support, “I joined Bill Ritter’s 2006 Gubernatorial Campaign and worked with his administration as the Co-Chair of Colorado’s Innovation Council, promoting access to broadband, building startup communities, and supporting  a clean energy agenda. I am honored to have his support as I continue to work on these issues and campaign to be Colorado’s next Attorney General.”

Governor Ritter, who also served as the District Attorney for Denver, is the seventh statewide elected official and the second former governor of Colorado to endorse Weiser’s campaign. Last month, Governor Roy Romer also backed Weiser’s bid for Attorney General.  


To date,  the following individuals who held statewide elected office in Colorado have endorsed Phil:

1 year graphic

One Year on the Campaign Trail

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since we kicked off this campaign. The milestones we’ve achieved are a direct result of the incredible efforts made by you—our team of devoted supporters, including over 1,000 volunteers and 3,600 unique donors.

Now that we’ve reached 365 days on the campaign, we’re excited to share another fun graphic, illustrating this amazing year of progress, building relationships, and touching every corner of our great state. Fueled by just a little caffeine, it has been a pleasure to connect with so many engaged Coloradans across all 64 counties to talk about your dreams, the issues facing your communities, and how we can work together to create a better future.

1 year graphic

Our sights are now set on the June 26th Democratic primary, which is only 47 days away. Thank you for helping us continue to spread the word about Phil's commitment to defending, fighting for, and protecting all Coloradans.

Please proudly share this graphic with your friends on Facebook to show the successes we’ve accomplished together.

Thank you for your tremendous support during this adventure-filled year. We look forward to sharing many, many more iced teas with you and our new supporters as we fight for our democracy.

Phil Weiser

Local Elected, Nationally Appointed Colorado Law Enforcement Leaders Endorse Phil Weiser for AG

Stan Garnett, John Walsh Among Five leaders in Colorado Law Enforcement to Back Weiser, Touting his Commitment to Public Safety for all Coloradans, and Proven Ability to Collaborate with District Attorneys, Sheriffs, and Law Enforcement Across the State

DENVER, CO, May 2, 2018 – Today, the Phil Weiser Attorney General campaign released a series of endorsements from law enforcement leaders across Colorado. The supporters – including a former U.S. Attorney for Colorado, the Sheriff of Boulder County, and current and former District Attorneys from Boulder, Pueblo, Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake and Summit counties – celebrated Weiser’s commitment to collaborative law enforcement to protect public safety and fight for opportunity for all Coloradans.

Stan Garnett, who ran for Attorney General in 2010 and served as Boulder County’s top prosecutor, explained that “Phil will work well with our State’s District Attorneys, Sheriffs, and other leaders in law enforcement to protect the public, address critical issues like the opioid crisis, and ensure that our criminal justice system works effectively and fairly.”

John Walsh, appointed by President Barack Obama to oversee criminal prosecutions and federal civil cases across the state as the U.S. Attorney for Colorado, said Weiser would “fairly and aggressively” protect public safety “across every county and corner of Colorado.”

District Attorneys Jeff Chostner and Bruce Brown both highlighted a fellowship program launched by Weiser as Dean of the University of Colorado Law School, for recent law school graduates to work in prosecutor offices across the state, citing his commitment to serve all of the people of Colorado. Chostner is the DA for Pueblo County and president of the state’s District Attorneys’ Council. Brown is the DA for Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District, representing Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake, and Summit counties.       

Joe Pelle, Sheriff of Boulder County, said that sheriffs and law enforcement officials can look to Weiser as an innovative partner to help protect the public and address important issues like the opioid crisis and gun safety.

In response to the support, Weiser stated:

“We need an Attorney General who works collaboratively with law enforcement across the state to protect and represent all of Colorado.” He continued, “It has been my honor to work with dedicated public servants across the state, throughout my career, to build successful programs that accomplish just that. I look forward to continuing my successful track record of partnering with sheriffs, prosecutors, and their teams to serve Colorado as our next Attorney General.”

Full text of each endorsement appears below.

Stan Garnett, former District Attorney for Boulder County, former Democrat candidate for Colorado Attorney General

"Phil Weiser is the best choice to be Colorado's next Attorney General.  Phil's commitment to public safety, defending our constitutional freedoms, and fighting for all Coloradans will make him a great Attorney General.  In his work in the Obama Administration and as the Dean of the CU Law School, Phil demonstrated his leadership skills, his commitment to helping improve people's lives, and his dedication to the rule of law.  As our Attorney General, Phil will work well with our State's District Attorneys, Sheriffs, and other leaders in law enforcement to protect the public, address critical issues like the opioid crisis, and ensure that our criminal justice system works effectively and fairly."

John Walsh, former U.S. Attorney for Colorado, former Chairman of the national Attorney General Advisory Committee

"Phil Weiser will ensure that the Colorado Attorney General’s Office works with law enforcement across the state to protect our public safety in every county and corner of Colorado – and to do that crucial job fairly and aggressively.  He is committed to bringing 21st Century law enforcement strategies and technologies to bear on behalf of all Coloradans – and to prosecute wrongdoers and to help victims of crime and of the opioid crisis that plagues our state. I’m proud to support him." 

Jeff Chostner, District Attorney for Pueblo County and President of the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council

"We need an Attorney General in Colorado who will work effectively with District Attorneys, Sheriffs, and other law enforcement officials across the state to protect the public and keep us safe.  Phil Weiser will be that Attorney General.   As the Dean of the University of Colorado Law School, he worked with District Attorneys across the State to develop a fellowship program that brought recent law school graduates into DA's offices across the state.  And as both as a Dean and as a candidate, he has demonstrated his commitment to all of the people of Colorado."

Bruce Brown, District Attorney for the Fifth Judicial District of Colorado, representing Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake, and Summit Counties

"Our Attorney General is our state's chief law enforcement officer and it is important to find someone of the utmost integrity, commitment to equal justice for all, and an ability to collaborate effectively with leaders across the state.  Phil Weiser has demonstrated his values, legal knowledge, and leadership ability in a range of positions, including as the Dean of the CU Law School.  In that position, he also showed that he cared about supporting law enforcement in rural areas, developing a unique fellowship program that placed recent law school graduates into prosecutors' offices.   He also demonstrated that he cares about the whole state, building relationships across Colorado and working to support access to broadband Internet access across Colorado.  As our next Attorney General, he will be a great lawyer for all Coloradans."

Joe Pelle, Sheriff of Boulder County

"Colorado needs Phil Weiser as our next Attorney General.  Phil will work with sheriffs and other law enforcement officials across the state on a range of important issues, including addressing the opioid epidemic, enforcing Colorado's common sense gun safety laws, and improving gun safety by banning bump stocks. We can also count on Phil to look for innovative ways to help law enforcement officials protect the public. This is the sort of leadership Phil will provide as our next AG."

Phil Weiser and Family

Earth Day: Protecting Our Land, Air, and Water

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

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

Colorado’s Leadership on Methane Emissions

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

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

Undermining Protections Against Unsafe Oil and Gas Development

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

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

Supporting a Clean Energy Economy

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

We in Colorado have long recognized that a changing climate threatens our Colorado way of life.  Climate change threatens to increase the length and severity of droughts, reduce crop yields, reduce snowpack, and increase the risk of wildfires and flooding.  Our skiing industry, for example, is vigilant on this issue and is working hard to ensure that we have skiing in Colorado for future generations.  To prepare for a clean energy future, we have taken action here in Colorado to reduce carbon pollution in ways that are right for us.  Most notably, we were the first state to pass a Renewable Energy Standard by popular vote in 2004, and we’ve since undertaken innovative policies like the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act of 2010.

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

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

Keeping Our Public Lands Public

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

Representing Our Next Generation

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

Phil Weiser

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

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

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

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

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

Phil's Family

A Nation of Immigrants (with video)

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

Economic Growth

Protecting Colorado’s Workers

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

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

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

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

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

My Plan to Protect Colorado Workers

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

Phil Weiser

Our Attorney General Needs to Lead on Gun Safety

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

Colorado’s Laws Are Under Attack

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

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

Our Attorney General Should Fight for Gun Safety

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

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

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

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

Our Attorney General Should Develop Creative Partnerships to Protect Youth

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

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

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

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

Phil Weiser and female volunteers

Equal Pay for Equal Work

During Donald Trump’s first year in office, he has worked to set back the clock on achieving equal rights for women, from rescinding the requirement that employers provide contraception coverage to overturning a rule designed to close the gender pay gap.

In 2018, we will have the opportunity to defend important civil rights protections that are under attack and make new progress towards achieving equal rights for women.  I started my career working for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose lifelong battle for equal rights is an enduring inspiration to me.  I am running for Attorney General in Colorado in 2018 to continue this fight. 

In one of her most impassioned arguments for equal rights for women, Justice Ginsburg’s dissent in the Ledbetter case challenged the injustice of a rule that denied recovery for women who did not know they were paid less than men for the same work.  Ultimately, Ginsburg’s moral clarity won out:  in 2009, Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which provided for protection against pay discrimination and was the first bill Obama signed into law.

I am running for Attorney General to protect equal rights for all, to fight for equal pay for equal work, and to fight against sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination against women.  I will not only protect those rights through law enforcement, I will make the Attorney General’s office a model in recruiting, supporting, and promoting women and people of color.  

Over my time as the Dean of the University of Colorado Law School, I made such efforts a top priority, working with the Colorado Women's Bar Association, among other organizations, to advance women in the profession.   I will similarly prioritize such efforts as Colorado’s next Attorney General.  Please take a look at and share with others my plan for doing that, which includes establishing a leader on inclusive excellence in the office.

Please join me on this journey and help make sure that we make 2018 a year we advance equal rights and equal justice for all.