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.


Phil Weiser

Bringing Institutional Reform and Innovation Into Government

We are living in an era of declining faith and trust in our institutions. This problem, experienced acutely by our younger generations, raises important challenges for government.  Innovation is key to both reimagining and reforming how our institutions can become more trustworthy and effective. Over my career, I’ve worked in depth on issues related to innovation, entrepreneurship, technological change, and the law.  

As our next Attorney General, I’m committed to a new vision of how our Attorney General serves the people of Colorado, defends our freedoms, fights for opportunities for all, and protects our land, air, and water.

Technological change is not a choice.  It’s a reality we must embrace. The iPhone, only ten years old, has transformed commerce, is giving rise to new industries, and disrupting established ones (think: how we travel, communicate, and buy products and services).  Citizens rightfully expect that our government will get smarter and be more nimble too.

All too often, government fails to embrace the digital age.  For example, when people file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office here in Colorado, explaining that they were ripped off, they often don’t hear back for several weeks.  If you file a complaint with Amazon.com, by contrast, your complaint is acknowledged immediately and brought to the attention of a real person who can evaluate how to respond. We need to develop the same sorts of programs at the Attorney General’s office to best serve Colorado’s consumers.  To create such systems, and drive innovation in the AG’s Office more generally, I will create our State AG’s first Chief Innovation Officer position. By doing so, we will make Colorado a national model for using data analytics, engaging our citizens, and enforcing our laws effectively, creatively, and efficiently.

When I am Colorado’s next Attorney General, I will evaluate how the office can develop and support new solutions to address a range of issues facing our state—from protecting our land, air, and water to standing up for consumers to safeguarding public safety and addressing the opioid crisis.  The AG’s office can be a driver and a partner for innovation, either directly or by supporting innovative private sector or non-profit initiatives. Consider, for example, the Safe2Tell program, which allows children to report anonymous tips ranging from suicide threats to possible school attacks.  This innovative initiative began as a standalone program in 2004 and was eventually incorporated into the AG’s Office.  By supporting programs like Safe2Tell and working with innovative non-profit programs like Crime Stoppers, which provides community education outreach related to crime prevention, the AG’s Office can advance its mission in creative ways and effectively engage the community.

To tap into Colorado’s spirit of entrepreneurial leadership, I founded the Governmental Entrepreneurial Leadership Accelerator program to transform governmental approaches to problem solving.  Over the last two years, this program has worked with the State of Colorado and the City of Denver to identify challenging issues and to pioneer new solutions presented to State and City officials.  During that time, it has developed innovative solutions to addressing the opioid epidemic, transportation for homeless individuals, and getting broadband access to low-income school children.   In addition to developing innovative solutions, the teams of governmental professionals and students in this program receive valuable training and mentorship. This inspires them to innovate in their work and accelerates their professional development.  For a recent report on this program, see this article.

As our next Attorney General, I will also work with private sector and non-profit groups to provide consumers with guidance on what products and services they can trust.  One critical role government can play to ensure that claims made by companies can be certified.  After all, in industries where consumers cannot trust what some companies promise, as is the case in for-profit education, the entire industry suffers.  For certification programs—like the LEED building standard or the Energy Star program—to work, they need a watchdog on the case to look out for consumers.  As our next Attorney General, I will ensure that such certification programs work effectively, making sure that consumers get what they pay for and enabling such innovative public-private partnerships.  

* * *

We in Colorado have a great opportunity to draw on our pioneering and innovative spirit by electing leaders who are committed to an entrepreneurial approach to government.  My track record of such leadership, inside and outside of government, goes back two decades, through my work with leaders here in Colorado to start new programs and solve problems to my work in the Obama Administration.  The Governmental Entrepreneurial Leadership Accelerator program is just one of many examples.  With your help, I can bring that spirit to our Attorney General’s office.

* * *

Bernie Buescher, Former Deputy Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Representative from Grand Junction, and a lawyer in private practice and an entrepreneur

Aneesh Chopra, Former Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to President Barack Obama


Phil Weiser and Family

The Imperative of Protecting Our Land, Air, and Water in the Twenty First Century

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, and threatening our state’s leadership in addressing climate change.

We need and deserve an Attorney General who is committed to protecting the public health 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 whether they will be able to enjoy Colorado when they have kids of their own.  They expect today’s leaders to protect our land, air, and water.

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 (called “the Martinez case”), the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission considered whether 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 that case, our Attorney General mistakenly instructed the Commission that it lacked the authority to evaluate whether the petition should be granted, setting the stage for an unnecessary and wasteful legal fight.  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.  Our Attorney General rejected that call and has doubled down on her bad legal advice, creating legal confusion and delays 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, when the United States became the only nation in the top 20 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 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.  Acting in response to this ruling, President Obama 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.  We deserve better.

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, and act to address climate change, 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.

====

Supporters
Alice Madden, Former Majority Leader of the Colorado House of Representatives

"In 2018, Colorado has the opportunity to elect an Attorney General committed to protecting our land, air, and water. We can count on Phil Weiser to do just that.  Working for President Obama, he spearheaded the Administration's effort to encourage smart grids to help us be more energy efficient.  As Dean of the University of Colorado Law School, he continued CU's leadership in this area and supported students going into public service.  With a unique blend of legal and leadership experience, he will transform the AG's office and make it an engine for progress for Colorado."

Elise Jones, Boulder County Commissioner

"Colorado needs an Attorney General who makes protecting our land, air, and water a top priority of the office. We can count on Phil Weiser to do that and be a partner with other leaders in our state. We need our next Attorney General to be a leader in addressing climate change, preventing unsafe or harmful oil and gas development, and protecting our public lands. With Phil at the helm, our Attorney General’s office will be an engine for progress on these and other important issues."

Tim Wirth, Former U.S. Colorado Senator

"Phil will be a leader in protecting Colorado’s land, air, and water. President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accords is contrary to America’s international standing, economic, and security interests, and our legacy of leadership around the world. In the face of this shameful abdication of moral responsibility to future generations, it is incumbent upon states and localities to protect our planet and address climate change. Unfortunately, Colorado’s current AG, Cynthia Coffman, has sided with climate change deniers, the fossil fuel industry, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to challenge the Obama Administration’s clean energy agenda and has undermined Governor John Hickenlooper’s leadership on restricting methane from oil and gas extraction. We deserve better leadership from our AG. Phil Weiser will provide it."


300 Days

300 days - Can You Believe It?!

We kicked off this campaign 300 days ago and we’ve accomplished so much together.

I want to focus on two stats that really illustrate the strength of our campaign: the number of volunteers and the number of counties I’ve visited.

So far we’ve recruited more than 800 volunteers and been to 48 counties. To me, that shows that we’re getting out and talking to Coloradans about our plans and hearing from them about what is on their minds.  And visits to the other 16 counties (and then some) are already set up and posted on my website; if you know people around the state, please encourage them to come meet me. This is how campaigns are won or lost.

I’ve said it a million times: this is a grassroots-powered campaign (with 952 iced teas splashed in) that would not be functioning -- let alone be this successful -- without your support. We have a big challenge ahead, building on our support at the caucuses last night and moving toward the state assembly -- only together will we be successful.

300 Days
Thank you for all that you have done and thank you for all that you will do,

Phil


Phil Weiser

Protecting Consumers and Fighting Predatory Debt to Enable Opportunity

Like many Coloradans, Joanie Bronson (not her real name) is working hard to build up her career. On account of her considerable student loan debt, which is gobbling up her wages, she is placed under constant stress. Sensibly, she has started to look into refinance student loans options. Matters only got worse recently when she answered the call of one of the several purported student loan debt relief companies that constantly send her text messages. Looking for help, she authorized what looked like a legitimate company to deduct three payments of $800 from her checking account. The money vanished, but her debt remained unchanged. The company never provided her with anything, leaving her deeper in debt and more frustrated than ever. All of these loans are designed to pray on the vulnerable and cause them to end up needing a company like National payday Loan Relief to help them.

Some politicians might tell Joanie that it's time for her to pick herself up by her bootstraps, but as Scott Wasserman, President of Colorado's Bell Policy Center explained, "you can't pick yourself up by the bootstraps if your feet are chained to the floor."

I agree. I'm running for Attorney General to fight for people like Joanie. We need to support Coloradans who work so hard to escape the burdens of predatory debt-whether from student loans, car loans, mortgages, or the high-cost short-term payday loans peddled by those that prey upon our economic insecurity. People with no credit rely on loans to help them make ends meet and there are taking advantage of them. A credit card for no credit might be a more feasible way to lend money for those who need to.

The American Dream is personal to me-both my parents were the first in their families to go to college and were able to graduate without debt, thanks to scholarships, hard work, and public support for higher education. Those same support mechanisms should be available for everyone and American residents shouldn't have to weigh up debt relief vs bankruptcy due to education debts or predatory loan schemes leaving them in financial distress. That's the American Dream and the Colorado promise. And it's something I'll fight for as your Attorney General.

We can't rely on the federal government to do this important work for us. Today, debt, predatory scams, and a lack of opportunity have undermined many people's faith that a better future lies ahead. And with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau eviscerated by President Trump, we must act together with other states to protect Coloradans from the forces that exploit the vulnerable every day.

Addressing the Challenges of Student Debt, Shady Servicing, and Collection Practices

As Attorney General, I will focus on student loan borrower debt. I know how stressful this debt can be. As the Dean of the University of Colorado Law School, I worked hard to lower student debt. In particular, I decreased average indebtedness of law school graduates by $16,000 through increased scholarships and by holding tuition constant.

I also worked hard to increase employment opportunities so students could pay back their debts. One such initiative was to create a multi-million-dollar loan repayment program for students who took low-paying jobs in public service or in underserved parts of our state.

I recognize that many students don't have such opportunities. Too many are taken advantage of by predatory for-profit schools, student loan servicers that make it more difficult for borrowers to pay off their debt, shady debt collectors, and scammers that prey on those who want to do something to get out from under the debt-like the ones that took advantage of Joanie.

Our Attorney General must stand up for Coloradans facing shady student debt practices.

We need our next AG to stand up for Coloradans harmed by the burdens of student loan debt. Part of the challenge is addressing the source of the debt. For example, under the Trump Administration, we are headed toward a resurgence of shady for-profit schools that have taken advantage of Coloradans (including veterans back from military service) by using high-pressure sales tactics and deceptive recruiting, while offering a low-quality degree. Indeed, one study found that some students made less money after attending certain for-profit colleges. Our AG needs to stand with other states in taking aggressive enforcement actions against these companies.

We also need to closely watch the companies that service these debts. Recently, for example, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro took action against the student loan servicer Navient for misleading borrowers, including by putting borrowers in the wrong repayment plan and leading them to pay far more than they would have otherwise.

And we need to go after the companies like the one that harmed Joanie and takes advantage of graduates with student debt through abusive debt relief scams. The FTC recently targeted such efforts by working with a number of states. They reported that such fraudulent efforts have cheated consumers like Joanie out of almost $100 million.

The Colorado AG needs to pursue these companies while also cutting off the tools of their fraud. This includes stopping the data brokers that sell information about debtors (like the cell phone number that scammers used to contact Joanie) and the banks and payment processors that facilitate fraud by allowing debt relief companies to drain consumers' accounts.

But it's not enough to hold wrongdoers accountable. We also need to present students, prospective students, and debtors with a path forward.

As our next Attorney General, I will work to develop and oversee certification and validation programs for educational programs, enable responsible companies to be trusted by Colorado consumers, and sanction irresponsible companies who deceive their customers. For a description of how such programs can work, see my thoughts on this topic.

I'll also convene stakeholders and Colorado attorneys to develop programs to provide access to justice to consumers seeking to discharge their student loan borrower debts in bankruptcy, just like Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has done in her state.

Finally, I'll continue fighting back against the Trump Administration to protect borrowers buried under federal student loans. Under President Obama, the Department of Education adopted rules to protect these consumers, including by putting responsibility for the loans on the backs of educational institutions that did not provide marketable skills. But Betsy DeVos recently acted to undermine those protections. Thankfully, a number of state AGs-but not Colorado's-challenged her action, standing up for those borrowers taken advantage of by such institutions.

Reclaiming Opportunity for All

We need to make sure that Coloradans are not taken advantage of, saddled with predatory debt, and denied the opportunity to gain the skills they need to succeed. As a professor and former dean, education is personal to me, and I have devoted my career to ensuring that students can gain real opportunities to thrive professionally. Unfortunately, not all educators or educational institutions have this same ethic.

As our next AG, I will also work with other public officials in Colorado to support an environment where everyone can get ahead. Our State values opportunity for all, and we need to work hard to create real opportunities for all Coloradans in a changing economy. To help drive this vision, please join our campaign and help us build a State where we are committed to economic opportunity for all.

* * *

Endorser: Irene Griego, University of Colorado Regent

"As the Dean of the University of Colorado Law School, Phil Weiser demonstrated that he cares deeply about student indebtedness and making sure that students receive a valuable training from higher education. At Colorado Law, he lowered the average student indebtedness by $16,000 and vaulted Colorado Law's employment ranking into the top 20. As our next Attorney General, he will work hard to make sure our students are not being cheated or taken advantage of. And he will work tirelessly with leaders across our state to make sure people are getting the training they need for the 21st century economy."


Brad Feld

Entrepreneurship, and Brad Feld: "Why I am supporting Phil Weiser for Colorado AG"

Brad Feld: Why I am supporting Phil Weiser for Colorado AG

Over the past fifteen years, Phil Weiser and I have worked together to make Colorado a stronger, more collaborative, and more innovative entrepreneurial community. Together, we co-chaired Governor Bill Ritter’s Innovation Council, worked to launch the Startup America Partnership (when Phil worked for Obama in the White House), started Startup Colorado, brought the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network to Colorado, and helped CU become a first-class entrepreneurial university (which I discussed in a chapter in my book Startup Communities). Phil is a rare entrepreneur who can bring innovation to the government, which is just the sort of leadership we need now. I strongly encourage everyone to do what they can to help elect him as Colorado’s next Attorney General, including donating your time and money to his campaign.

Phil and I both share a background as Jews whose families came from Eastern Europe. That background, which involved a history of religious persecution, imprinted in each of us a deep appreciation for the constitutional rights and civil liberties that many Americans take for granted—the freedom of religion, the freedom of press, and a commitment to the due process of law (that is, people cannot just arbitrarily be rounded up). In Phil’s case, his mom was born in a concentration camp and came to the US when she was six. So protecting those freedoms at a time when we cannot take them for granted is a job that Phil will take seriously as Colorado’s next Attorney General, just like other State Attorneys General, who are already standing up to the Trump Administration to protect our constitutional rights.

Through hard work, his parents set up Phil for amazing opportunities, including the chance to serve as a law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and work for President Obama in the White House. In the spirit of paying it forward, Phil’s concern and caring for others is powerful and plain to see for all of those who worked with Phil during his time as the Dean of the CU Law School. During his time as Dean, he set up a range of innovative partnerships around the State, including a program that placed recent law grads as assistant district attorneys in rural areas. As our Attorney General, I know that he will be a leader for all Coloradans. I am personally excited to work with him in how to support entrepreneurial opportunities across our State, including in more rural parts of Colorado. While that might not sound like a traditional role of a state Attorney General, when it comes to fighting for access to broadband Internet technology and building partnerships that support economic success, Phil is unique. Consider, for example, his leadership as the founding Board Secretary of the CareerWise Colorado Initiative that supports apprenticeship-based learning across the State to create opportunities for skilled jobs for those without a college degree.

To have an Attorney General with an innovative mindset will mean that the Colorado AG’s office will become an engine of policy development and new thinking on a range of issues. Take, for example, criminal justice policy where some states around the country—often with leadership from the AG’s office—are taking a hard look at whether they are getting a good return on the social investment in our criminal justice system. Today, we put more people in jail than any nation in the world. Nonetheless, we are not aggressively enough addressing alternatives to incarceration that cut down on prison sentences. We are not investing enough yet in programs that make it less likely that inmates end up back in prison after they are released, such as Defy Ventures. We continue to make bail decisions in a way that keeps people in jail who are not flight risks just because they cannot afford to pay a bail bond. To ensure Colorado a leader in moving towards a criminal justice system that keeps us safe and is smarter, we need an AG like Phil.

Finally, when Phil talks about protecting our quality of life and our environment, he is someone we can count on. The whiplash from President Obama’s commitment to fighting climate change issues to today’s situation where we had Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier as the head of the EPA, is hard to take. Closer to home, our current Attorney General joined Scott Pruitt in challenging President Obama’s leadership in this area. As our next Attorney General, Phil will be a leader on environmental protection—like Governor Hickenlooper, who created a national model for rules restricting methane emissions by working collaboratively with the oil and gas industry and environmentalists. If we fail to elect officials like Phil who will stand up for our environment, future generations will ask us how we stood by and failed to act.

A core lesson I took from Trump’s election last fall is that we must be active in supporting candidates who we believe in. It’s not often that I have an opportunity to support a leader like Phil. So when I do have that opportunity, I feel the need to make the most of it. As a consequence of a SEC rule under Dodd-Frank, I am not allowed to donate to Phil’s campaign, but I am free to use my voice to encourage others to do so.

From my long relationship working with Phil, I can assure you that it will be a great investment in Colorado’s future and will help Colorado continue to be a model for the nation. So I strongly encourage you to donate your time and money to his campaign.

Republished with permission. Original post: http://www.feld.com/archives/2017/05/phil-weiser-colorado-attorney-general.html


Phil Weiser, Candidate for Colorado Attorney General

Promoting Competition and Entrepreneurship

When powered by competition, the US economy is at its best, providing innovative products at low prices for consumers and opportunities for entrepreneurs to create new and exciting businesses and high-paying jobs. At its worst, monopolies or oligopolies gouge consumers and stifle innovation and opportunities for entrepreneurs.

In our economy, consumers get better choices and prices when companies battle it out in the marketplace to win over customers. By contrast, when companies merge so that they can raise prices or fix prices rather than compete, consumers lose. The antitrust laws protect consumers and protect workers by preventing mergers that limit competition, destroy jobs, and raise prices. The antitrust laws also ensure that entrepreneurs have an opportunity to enter new markets and are not excluded by dominant firms who use predatory practices to protect their position in the market.

I have spent much of my legal career over the past twenty years fighting for competition, consumers, and entrepreneurs. As our next Attorney General, I will continue that fight, and I will vigorously enforce the law to protect competition for Colorado's consumers and entrepreneurs.

Fighting for Competition

In 1996, I joined the US Department of Justice's Antitrust Division as the counsel to the Assistant Attorney General. In that role, I participated in a ground-breaking investigation of the major credit card companies and spearheaded the Antitrust Division's efforts to bring competition into telecommunications markets. I rejoined the Division in 2009, when President Obama appointed me Deputy Assistant Attorney General. There, I strengthened the rules barring anticompetitive mergers, fought for competition in agriculture so farmers could get a fair price for their crops, and worked with other federal agencies to promote competition across the economy.

As Colorado's next Attorney General, I will ensure that our antitrust laws are enforced effectively to protect Colorado consumers and entrepreneurs. We need to stand up against the troubling wave of mergers and industry consolidation that have led to higher prices and lower quality offerings in many sectors-like those we have seen in the airline industry. And I will take strong enforcement action when companies fix prices, as a number of State AGs have done against a price-fixing cartel for generic drugs, which led prices to rise from $20/bottle to almost $2,000/bottle. That sort of price increase does not happen in a competitive marketplace, and we cannot let Colorado consumers suffer at the hands of such illegal behavior.

Supporting Net Neutrality

As our next Attorney General, I will be an advocate for competition, not only through effective antitrust law enforcement, but also by fighting for strong net neutrality protections. The net neutrality rules ensure that the Internet remains open and that consumers can receive the content and services of their choosing. Net neutrality also protects upstart entrepreneurs who could be relegated to a slow lane that would prevent them from offering innovations that challenge entrenched big businesses. Recently, the Federal Communications Commissions ended the net neutrality protections I worked hard-as an Obama Administration official and as a law professor-to develop. As our next Attorney General, I will fight to restore net neutrality and other pro-competitive rules to protect consumers and innovators from abuses.

Consumer Protection

Consumers deserve transparent prices, honest business practices, and fair terms of service. And consumers must be protected when irresponsible companies fail to provide the products or services they promise. Consider, for example, the case of Wells Fargo, which created millions of bogus bank accounts for customers that the customers didn't ask for-and then fired the employees who attempted to blow the whistle. This practice continued until the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) put an end to it and stood up for consumers. But the CFPB is now lead by someone who does not believe it is important to protect consumers. And that's why we need a Colorado Attorney General who will stand up for consumers when they are deceived or ripped off by irresponsible businesses.

As our next Attorney General, I will be a strong advocate for consumers, workers, and entrepreneurs, fighting to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and not taken advantage of by irresponsible companies. Without leadership from federal agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we need our Attorney General here in Colorado to be on the front lines and standing up to irresponsible companies.

Supporting Entrepreneurs

In Colorado, we have an entrepreneurial spirit and recognize that new startups are critical to the future of our economy. Today, however, we are seeing more and more mergers, less and less competition, and fewer startups (as captured by this report). Throughout my career here in Colorado, I have led initiatives to help entrepreneurs, by founding and leading the Silicon Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado, by founding Startup Colorado (which supports entrepreneurs across the State), and by bringing the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network to Colorado (to support scale-up companies here).

As Attorney General, I will fight for an economy and legal environment that supports entrepreneurs and eliminates barriers to entry for new businesses in our state. Colorado must be a leader in creating an environment that encourages investment and enables entrepreneurs to succeed.

Building an Economy That Works for Everyone

One result of the merger wave is that our economy works well for the few, but isn't providing new jobs and low prices for the rest of us. As Attorney General, I will strive to ensure that the legal system creates and protects opportunities for new and better jobs and businesses, so that all Coloradans have a chance to participate in the American Dream.


Phil Wieser

Our Democracy is at Stake

I am running to be Colorado's Attorney General because our democracy is at risk.

For 230 years, the United States of America has provided an example of democratic governance in action. During that time, our nation has worked hard to meet the ambitions of our Constitution's preamble, to "form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

In 2018, we must work hard to defend this tradition. Our democracy is now at risk from the Trump administration's ongoing attempts to undermine our constitution freedoms, discredit our independent judiciary and the rule of law, and threaten the independent press. The threat to our democracy is grave, with a recent best-seller by two scholars of government warning that it may even die.

As Colorado's next Attorney General, I will defend our constitutional tradition and our Colorado way of life, working hard to strengthen our democracy and your faith in it.

Defending our Democracy

I am inspired by all those who are resisting the erosion of our constitutional freedoms and democratic institutions. Traveling across our state, I have heard from so many of you, my fellow Coloradans, about how you are defending our democracy, the Constitution, and the rule of law.

In 2018, engaged citizens can join this fight by supporting candidates who are committed to these institutions and who aren't complicit with overreaches by the Trump Administration. Senator Jeff Flake explained that we "no longer can we turn a blind eye" to "assaults on our institutions," adding that "a Congress that fails to act as a check on the President adds to that danger."

One tradition we must defend is the freedom of the press. We must, for example, call out and condemn Trump's efforts to demonize the press as the "enemy of the people." As Senator John McCain put it:

Journalists play a major role in the promotion and protection of democracy and our unalienable rights, and they must be able to do their jobs freely. Only truth and transparency can guarantee freedom.

Learning from History

Challenges to our democracy and constitutional tradition are not new. In the early 1970s, our institutions were tested by a President who threatened the rule of law and our core freedoms. Consider, for example, the Pentagon Papers case, where the Supreme Court defended the First Amendment's protection of the freedom of the press against the Nixon Administration. As captured in the recent film, The Post, Justice Black's opinion stated:

In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.

The rule of law was tested by President Nixon. Nixon claimed that, as the President, he was above the rule of law and could not be held accountable for criminal activity. The Supreme Court rejected that argument, ruling unanimously in U.S. v. Nixon that the President was subject to the rule of law and must respond to a subpoena by a special prosecutor. Today, the rule of law may be tested again, with the question being whether President Trump will approach special prosecutor Robert Muller's investigation, as John McCain put it, "through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows." The consequences of elevating politics over institutions will be dire; as Senator McCain sums it up, if "we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin's job for him."

In the Watergate era, our nation passed an important test and proceeded to elect leaders in 1974 who defended, reformed, and renewed our institutions, including reforming our campaign finance laws, which are once again a threat to our democracy. That year, Coloradans elected JD MacFarlane as our Attorney General and Tim Wirth to Congress (and later to the Senate), both members of, as Tim Wirth put it, "a new generation of leaders to help repair and reform our democracy." (Both MacFarlane and Wirth have endorsed me as the right person to be Colorado's next Attorney General.)

Believe in Yourself

At the close of his presidency, President Obama made one final ask of the American people-"To believe. Not in my ability to bring about change - but in yours."

Over the last year, I continue to be inspired by the large numbers of people standing up for our core values, resisting discrimination and white supremacy, resisting attacks on the freedom of the press, resisting efforts to compromise an independent judiciary, and resisting voter suppression and gerrymandering that erode democratic representation.

In 2018, we have the opportunity to defend our democracy and core values. Our next election presents the opportunity to defend our democracy, stand up for our constitutional ideals, and fight for equal justice under law. There are still multiple issues facing America, most of them directly affecting the majority of people who call America home. To see some more of the issues that we should all be fighting to fix, this article here should summarise the things stopping all Americans from achieving total freedom. By speaking out and by electing candidates who support these ideals, we can preserve the greatest democratic republic the world has ever known. And by demanding leadership that is not complicit in the face of threats to our core freedoms and the rule of law, we will defend our democracy and our Colorado way of life.

I am running to be Colorado's next Attorney General because I believe in these ideals and want to protect them. Thanks so much for helping me do just that in this campaign.


Colorado Flag

The New Separation of Powers - for Presidents' Day

The dysfunction in today’s political system would be painful for our Founders.  Under our Constitution, Article I governs the legislative branch, which is charged with passing the laws and ensuring that the executive branch (set up under Article II) follows the rule of law and respects our Constitution.

Over the course of our nation’s history, our practice has largely followed the model our Founders had in mind.  In the 1990s, for example, Congressional leaders like Colorado’s David Skaggs stood up to a President of his own party to defend our Constitution and the rule of law.  Today, as President Trump undermines the Affordable Care Act and threatens to leave many Coloradans without health care insurance, it’s a different story.  As one commentator explained, as long as the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, President Trump does “not have the right to undermine it through the use of executive power.”  Unfortunately, Congress is unable or unwilling to do its job in today’s polarized and dysfunctional environment to ensure that the President follows the Constitution’s requirement that the laws be faithfully executed.  Thankfully, State Attorney Generals are stepping up to defend our Constitution and the rule of law.

I am running to be Colorado’s next Attorney General because our constitutional freedoms and our nation’s commitment to the rule of law requires active citizens and responsible leaders.  Our current Attorney General has remained on the sidelines or has cheered on repeated challenges to our Constitution and the rule of law.  Notably, while other State Attorneys General have stepped up to challenge the unconstitutional travel ban, the ending of the DACA program, and the undermining of the Affordable Care Act, Colorado’s State AG has refused to act.  In some of these cases, she has forced our Governor to hire private counsel to represent our State.  And instead of working collaboratively in Colorado to solve problems and address challenges, such as managing oil and gas development responsibly, she has played political games, like suing Boulder County when it was working on an ordinance on this issue.  We deserve better.

The Constitutional Plan and Today’s Reality          

Under our Constitution, the founders expected Congress to exercise oversight of the executive and to check executive branch overreach.  In Federalist 51, James Madison praised the Constitution for creating a system that gave to “those who administer each department, the constitutional means, and personal motives, to resist encroachments of the others.”  As one commenter explained, “a system of checks and balance between the legislative and executive branches would use each branch’s ‘ambition’ to check the ambition of the other.”  Or, as Madison famously put it, “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”

The Madisonian innovation of separation of powers has served our nation very well.  At important times during our nation’s history—the Vietnam War and Watergate, for example—Congress has stepped up to oversee illegal actions by the executive branch.  Today, however, the level of polarization and party discipline in Congress (and fear of primaries) has led to an environment where Presidential action remains unchecked.  In the absence of Congress doing its oversight job and functioning properly, the executive branch has a greater ability to exercise its discretion on how to implement and, in President Trump’s case, whether to implement the law.

Federalism and the New Separation of Powers

In today’s environment, where Congress is refusing or is unable to act to ensure that the President “faithfully executes” the laws, State Attorneys General are playing an increasingly important role.   In the mid-2000s, when the Bush Administration refused to recognize that greenhouse gases were threatening our environment, a number of State Attorneys General stepped forward to challenge the Administration’s failure to follow the Clean Air Act.  In the landmark Massachusetts v. EPA decision, the Supreme Court recognized the role of State AGs in overseeing executive branch inaction and called on the EPA to begin regulating greenhouse gases.  Based on this precedent, State AGs now regularly oversee and take action to enforce the executive branch’s obligation to faithfully execute the laws.

I am running to be our next Attorney General here in Colorado because our freedoms and Colorado way of life depend on a willingness to stand up to the federal government.  As David Skaggs explained in endorsing my candidacy, the threats we face from the federal government, including expanded use of civil forfeiture without following due process, must be addressed by our State Attorney General.  With Congress unable to work effectively and to oversee the executive branch, our state governments play an increasingly significant role and our State Attorneys General are a principal line of defense.

In Colorado, we pride ourselves on collaborative and innovative problem solving.  On a range of issues where our federal government’s dysfunction is undermining progress, such as providing affordable and quality health care, addressing the opioid epidemic, protecting our land, air, and water and fighting climate change, and treating immigrants fairly, our state government is a model for the nation.  Unfortunately, our Attorney General here in Colorado is not working with our state leaders on these issues and is not standing up to the failings of Washington.  In 2018, we can address this by electing a new State Attorney General who stands up for us and works with leaders in our State to make progress in important areas.  Please join my campaign to help me do just that.


Phil Weiser

“You Have a Republic, As Long As You Can Keep It”

I often repeat a line that Ben Franklin reportedly said as he left the Constitutional Convention:  “You have a republic, as long as you can keep it.”  I believe that is still the case.  Today, our constitutional project of self-governance is under threat.

As Colorado’s next Attorney General, I will fight for our constitutional democracy.  This means taking on the challenge of reforming campaign finance spending, with particular respect to the role that “dark money”—that is, undisclosed campaign expenditures—plays in our politics in the wake of the horrendous Citizens United decision.  And as a candidate, I will call on any group spending money on my behalf to disclose their donors so Colorado voters know who is seeking to influence them.

In the last election for Colorado Attorney General, the Republican nominee raised and spent around $500,000 from individuals who disclosed their occupation and employer.  But this spending paled in comparison to the approximately $2.5 million spent by the Republican Attorney General’s Association (RAGA), a group that takes in large amounts of “dark money” (from undisclosed donors).  The lack of transparency, the support from a range of corporate interests, and the unfair attacks used by such groups are threatening the foundation of our constitutional democracy.  This problem goes back to the Citizens United case, which was the height of conservative judicial activism and may well be the worst Supreme Court decision of my lifetime.

To appreciate the damage that dark money can do to our elections and public discourse, consider the recent election campaign of Rachel Zenzinger, a State Senator from Arvada.  When she ran for Senate, an outside group sent out a mailing stating that she took a taxpayer-funded trip to China.  This claim flew in face of the facts.  The facts are that, while she was “on the Arvada City Council in 2013, Zenzinger made--and then voted for--a successful motion explicitly prohibiting use of taxpayer funds for a proposed sister-city delegation to China.”  Moreover, she never actually went on the trip, as the funds were not raised.  Nonetheless, a group with an innocuous sounding name, Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government, promoted this lie.  And this group, which is technically required to report its donors, took advantage of a loophole in Colorado law by strategically raising its funds late in the election cycle so it could engage in this behavior without having to disclose who was behind this effort until after the election.  It also declined to state on flyers it circulated what group even paid for it.

There are important steps we can take in Colorado to address the efforts of “dark money” groups to influence elections and remain hidden from view.  First off, we need an Attorney General committed to doing everything we can to push for a reversal of the Citizen’s United decision.  This campaign won’t be easy, but the battle must be waged and we must prepare for the day when this decision—like other grave mistakes in constitutional law—is overruled.  Justice Stevens’ dissent in that case prophetically explained that Citizens United “threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation.”  It is now the job of State Attorneys General to demonstrate just how this is happening and make the case against this decision.  Colorado needs an AG able to lead this fight.

Second, we need to effectively enforce our existing campaign finance laws.  In 2016, former Congressman Bob Beauprez was fined a record-breaking sum for setting up a complex corporate structure that shielded the identities of his donors who supported his so-called “charity” that he used to influence state legislative races. Such cases are rare, however, because it is up to private citizens to bankroll investigations and file civil complaints.  We need our Attorney General’s office to help support and pursue such investigations and complaints.  As AG, I would push for legislation authorizing the AG’s office to pursue such actions.

Finally, Colorado should pass a Disclose Act, modeled on a law passed in Montana, that would directly restrict the ability of firms to spend money in Colorado elections without disclosing their donors.  Montana passed such a law, on a bipartisan basis, after press accounts of how prior “dark money” campaigns in Montana (and Colorado) had sought to influence elections and coordinate with candidates (in violation of the law).  Colorado should also tighten up its campaign finance laws, fixing the loophole that allowed the group that falsely attacked Zenzinger to disclose its donors only after the damage was done.  In a move to stop this sort of abuse, Denver recently adopted an ordinance designed to address the fear that “a proliferation of anonymous attack ads and mailers that try to puff up one candidate or cut down another without disclosing who’s behind them” will influence our local elections.  Notably, the Denver law introduces three important fixes to campaign finance: (1) Groups would be required to identify themselves on advertisements; (2) donors (of $25 or more) to any group spending money to influence elections would have to be identified; and (3) spending of more than $1,000 on electioneering would require disclosure within two days.

Our constitutional democracy is under threat from a number of challenges, including how campaigns are financed.  I believe voters need to know who is seeking to influence them and that the continued growth of dark money is leading to more attack ads and more cynicism.  We in Colorado need to do our part to protect our democracy.  As our next Attorney General, I will make this a top priority.