It’s Easier To Believe

When I talk to people or watch the news, it’s easy to sense the despair and anxiety.  Many call it a “panic,” but it’s really a mixture of so many emotions. Seeing landmarks empty or experiencing isolation at home can fill us with fear and sadness.  But I want to challenge us all to look at things from a different perspective. 

As you probably know, my Bubby was an inspiration for my campaign to serve as our Attorney General.  After giving birth to my mother in a Nazi concentration camp, she taught my mom--and later me--the importance of hope in dark times. When I asked her how she survived such unimaginable hardship, she told me simply, “It’s easier to believe.” 

That belief and hope is what we need right now. 

We are living in a time of hardship, but those empty landmarks are demonstrations of people trying to help their neighbors.  Your time social distancing might save someone else’s grandmother. This epidemic especially targets the elderly, so all those empty schools show our youngest generation helping to save their elders. 

Seen in this light, deserted landmarks are a thing of beauty because they represent us looking out for each other. 

We cannot deny the hardship and fear of these times. For those who work in food service and rely on tips to put meals on their own family tables. For those who deal with depression. For those whose age or preexisting condition makes them afraid for their lives. 

That’s why I’m so grateful that Governor Polis took quick and decisive action on testing and protective measures, and why it’s so meaningful to see many leaders in government, nonprofit, and business put Colorado’s spirit of community problem solving to work. In the Attorney General’s office, we have created a Coronavirus Task Force to confront this crisis. You can read more about our work here.

In our times of hardship, I am inspired by these words from Scripture: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”  All Coloradans will need to do what they can to limit the spread of this virus and support one another. It is challenging, and my heart is with every mother and father who is worried about paying the bills and every person who fears for their safety and the safety of their family. But I pray that we can stay positive and remember that “it’s easier to believe.” We can get through this together--even if we are keeping our social distance (staying six feet apart from one another). 

I will close with some lines from a poem that has been making the rounds online. Written by a monk in Ireland, it ends with thoughts on people in Italy who have chosen to sing across their balconies as they stay indoors for the greater good: 

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,

Sing.”

Thank you for your engagement and for supporting me in serving the people of Colorado. And thank you for all the sacrifices you are making so that we can believe in—and protect—a better future. 

Phil

https://www.colorado.gov/cdphe

https://www.cdc.gov/

 


Community During the Time of Coronavirus

In Colorado, we are committed to leading the way in responding to this crisis by developing data-driven, thoughtful, creative, and responsible measures to confront an array of new challenges.  At the Attorney General’s Office, we set up a special Coronavirus Task Force in February to coordinate our response efforts. AG’s Office team members, and public servants statewide, have been working day and night—and weekends—and under new conditions (namely, working remotely) to serve the people of Colorado during this crisis.  I am more proud than ever of their service.

Our Consumer Protection team is working vigilantly to protect Coloradans from those who would spread misinformation and take advantage of others during this crisis.  Last week, we put out our first ever Consumer Alert advisory, encouraging Coloradans to be careful of scammers and to get information about the crisis from reputable sources, including the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environmentthe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the World Health Organization websites.  And when you hear of scams—whether fake cures, fraudulent charities, or phishing attempts to gain access to your personal information—please report them to Stop Fraud Colorado at 800-222-4444 or www.StopFraudColorado.gov so we can protect Coloradans from scammers and hold bad actors accountable.

This pandemic is a new challenge that will require a strong commitment from all of us to mitigate and manage the impacts of the virus.  All of our actions—in how we care for each other—will have a direct and powerful effect on how the virus plays out. While social distancing is essential for containing the virus, we must also stay more connected as a community than ever before. Take the extra few minutes to call, text, or email a friend or neighbor to let them know you are thinking about them. As Coloradans, where collaborative problem solving is core to who we are, we will get through this challenging time together.

 

 

 


The Supreme Court Will Hear Our Case

Protecting the votes of Coloradans is fundamental to preserving our democracy. When Coloradans cast their ballots for President, they are voting for a specific candidate, not an unknown elector. That’s why when one of the 2016 Hillary Clinton electors refused to vote for Clinton in the Electoral College—as required by Colorado law—our Secretary of State removed him and oversaw the selection of an alternate elector who followed state law.

The removed elector, Michael Baca, decided to make a federal case out of his removal. And now the dispute is heading all the way up to the Supreme Court, after the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals here in Denver decided that the Constitution affords electors the right to vote for anyone they choose, disregarding the will of the voters and overriding any state law limits to the contrary. Colorado, like the majority of states, has a law that addresses the concern of “faithless electors.” In our case, Baca v. Colorado Department of State, the Supreme Court will now decide whether states have the power under the Constitution to make sure that the will of the voters is respected.

The Constitution gives states the right to select their presidential electors through elections, which is what Colorado has done for decades. The thought of a Presidential election being decided by “rogue electors,” including ones willing to auction off their vote, is terrifying. And if elections are not decided on Election Day, but instead by free agent electors, we can expect havoc, chaos, and confusion in our election system. This is why we will be defending the Constitution and the integrity of our Presidential election system, arguing that the Constitution clearly provides to the states the power to have their electors follow state law.

The good news is that the U.S. Supreme Court is now positioned to resolve this critical question about the foundation of our democracy before the 2020 election, preventing the need for litigation on this issue in the wake of the election.

The opportunity to defend Colorado’s law and protect the will of our voters is an awesome responsibility. Every day, I am honored to serve as your Attorney General, leading our Department and contributing to our mission—“Together, we serve Colorado and its people, advancing the rule of law, protecting our democracy, and promoting justice for all.” This case is one important example of that work.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve our state.


The Rule of Law and The Case for Impeachment

The rule of law is fundamental to our nation’s core values. If the American people lose confidence in the durability of the rule of law - the principle that all persons are treated fairly and equally - then we will lose our ability to govern ourselves.  This principle was tested during Watergate. Our nation passed that test, with the U.S. Supreme Court sending a clear and lasting message in the Nixon tapes case – no person, not even a President, is above the law.  

Impeachment is a tool that is not to be used lightly.  In the wake of a complaint filed by a federal employee that President Trump used his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, there are now powerful constitutional and moral grounds to consider impeachment.  Such an act constitutes a blatant and illegal abuse of power—conducting foreign relations not with the interests of the United States in mind, but with a focus on a President’s own political and personal interests.

As Colorado’s Attorney General, I am committed to protecting and defending the rule of law.  I have spent my professional life at the U.S. Department of Justice, educating future lawyers, and advancing the rule of law.  When this principle is being tested, I cannot remain silent.  

Impeachment proceedings are the proper next step to defend our Constitution.  The Constitution calls for impeachment in the face of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  As Alexander Hamilton defined the standard for impeachment (in Federalist 65), it is the appropriate remedy for an “abuse or violation of some public trust.”  Given the severity of President Trump’s alleged actions, impeachment proceedings are the proper and necessary next step by Congress.

We are living in a time when distrust in our institutions and our elected leaders is on the rise.  In the face of shocking reports about our President’s conduct, Congress now has an important job to do.  Acting with care, rigor, and integrity, it is up to the House of Representatives to consider articles of impeachment.  In the event that such articles are adopted, it goes to the Senate to conduct a trial. By following this constitutional procedure, and defending the principle that the law must apply to everyone, our nation sends an example to the world and to future generations that the rule of law is a bedrock principle that protects our constitutional democracy.

 


All Truth is Partial

We are facing a profound challenge to our nation’s tradition of respectful and engaged discourse.  For us to live up to our Founders’ vision of self-governance and a constitutional democracy that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” we have some important work to do.  And that work starts with appreciating what former Colorado Governor Roy Romer often said: “all truth is partial.”

In today’s hyper-polarized environment, there is too little listening and too little collaborative problem-solving in our politics.  A virus that prevents collaboration—and creative problem solving—is that people are often more interested in winning an argument than solving a problem.  Or put differently, it is possible that two people can both be right—looking at different sides of an issue where both see part of the truth—and yet neither individual is able to see what the other is seeing.

To appreciate why “you don’t have to be wrong for me to be right,” as one author put it, consider a mathematical equation that recently went viral:  8 ÷ 2(2+2) = ?  Depending on how you approach this problem, the answer is either 16 or 1.  And both answers are correct, as explained in this article.

For many in our society, it is not common to hear a political leader acknowledging the truth in the argument of someone from an opposing party.  But politics should not be a world of religious views where rival tribes fight it out to the death. It should be a search for truth, for common ground, and for solutions that make the world a better place.

At its best, religion, too, recognizes that all truth is partial.  Many religious traditions are fond of noting that only the Creator sees all truth; humans can only grasp a glimpse of it.  That’s why in the Talmud, which captures hundreds of years of debate among leading rabbis, there is a common refrain of two rabbis arguing a point, only to settle the issue by concluding “they are both right.”

In the scientific world, the concept of two opposing truths is also a familiar one.  Most famously, the argument as to whether light travels in waves or particles was settled by concluding “it’s both.”  And as Niels Bohr famously concluded, “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”  

It is not an accident that our politics are abandoning this awareness at the same time that our society is struggling with pluralism.  A politics that stokes fears of integration, that rallies against inclusion, and that insists one group is supreme is a threat to the American project of self-governance.  In a recent article, David Brooks defended inclusion and pluralism, explaining that:

"Pluralists believe that culture mixing has always been and should be the human condition. All cultures define and renew themselves through encounter. A pure culture is a dead culture while an amalgam culture is a creative culture. The very civilization the white separatists seek to preserve was itself a product of earlier immigration waves."

Finally, pluralism is the adventure of life. Pluralism is not just having diverse people coexist in one place. It’s going out and getting into each other’s lives. It’s a constant dialogue that has no end because there is no single answer to how we should live.

Our Founding motto is “E Pluribus Unum,” out of many, one.  This spirit captures why we have historically seen immigration—and new waves of people and viewpoints—as a strength.  The attacks on this spirit present an existential challenge to our society and to our democracy. I believe we shall overcome this challenge, as we did in earlier ones, such as the fight for civil rights and equal justice for all.  But that will only be true because engaged citizens elevate our politics and live our values at a challenging time for our nation. I will continue to do my part and believe Colorado will be a model for our nation.

 


A Time to Mourn

PHOTO: HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO - MAY 15: Robots are set up along the pathway at Cherry Hills Community Church for a Celebration of Life service for Kendrick Castillo on May 15, 2019 in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Two gunman stormed the STEM school last week where Castillo was a student. Castillo with the aid of two friends took one of the gunman down before being shot and killed. 8 other students were injured in the attack. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

There is a time to talk about gun safety and mental health and all of the work that the AG's office is doing to try to save the lives of Colorado students. But today is the time to talk about Kendrick Castillo, the young man who lost his life to protect his classmates. Today is the time to talk about Brendan Bialy and Joshua Jones, who tackled one of the shooters in the school as they saved lives.

Today is the time to think of the little ones leaving classrooms with their hands above their heads in surrender. Their crying faces haunt us. We see our own children in them, and we experience fear and mourning that has, to our terror, become commonplace. Today is the time to think of teachers, who go to work knowing that their classrooms could become a scene of tragedy. Today is the time to think of our eighth graders, seniors, kindergartners, third graders, and every other grade and year from preschool to college and know that they finish their cereal, put on their backpacks, and step into that same reality every single day.

Today is the time to think of them because they asked us to. They want us think of the victims and to mourn with them.

So we mourn for Kendrick. We mourn for those injured. We mourn for the fear and trauma that will never completely heal.

We mourn for the loss of innocence in our own backyards.

Please know that we are working on policy and fighting for better legislation. We came prepared to fight that battle. But we were not ready, and we never will be, to lose more young lives to this violence.

They asked us to think of them. So today, carry their fears with you. Carry their hopes and dreams that will be forever shaken and altered. And know that 20 years from Columbine we have let down an entire generation. Think of them today and carry some of the burden in whatever way you can, so that, maybe, they don't have to bear it alone.

We can and must do better.

Phil


Only Love Can Do That

Last night, I spoke at the Colorado Muslim Society for an Interfaith Vigil in Solidarity with New Zealand's Mosques. I wanted to share some of my remarks from the vigil with you as we stand together against hate:

In Colorado, we stand with our Muslim friends and neighbors.
In Colorado, we recognize that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.
In Colorado, we are united in addressing rising hate crimes and bigotry.

In America, we honor our national motto, E Pluribus Unum—from many, we are one.
In America, we work together to form a more perfect union.
In America, we believe that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
And in America, we welcome those fleeing religious persecution, as my family was welcomed after surviving the Holocaust.

We all must channel that essential American spirit, a nation founded on the principle of religious freedom and tolerance. That spirit is what Dr. Martin Luther King had in mind when we said, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Our love, compassion, and empathy for one another—which we must strengthen in the face of such attacks—is how we do the work of moving toward a more perfect union.


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.