Phil Weiser

The First 100 Days

Last Friday marked the 100th day of this campaign. While we have a long road ahead of us, I wanted to share some stats with you from these first 100 days (the graphic, and below, the stats are typed out).

100 Day Graphic
100 Day Graphic
  • Drove 5,748 miles
  • Held events in 31 counties
  • Drank 263 iced teas
  • Met with 2,245 Coloradans
  • Recruited 300+ volunteers
  • Won 1 bake-off with Bubby's rugelach recipe
  • Lost 1 suitcase

This adventure has broadened my perspective on our great state and the issues we are facing in the years ahead — and is a lot of fun. During the last 100 days, I have met so many great Coloradans as I have traveled all over our great state. And I’ve only lost 1 suitcase along the way (in Craig, Colorado and I have since retrieved it)!

Here’s to many more days of campaigning around our beautiful state and getting to know many truly special fellow Coloradans.


Democracy

Lessons from Charlottesville

In the wake of an act of terrorism and hate in Charleston, South Carolina several years ago, President Obama exemplified our nation’s moral compass, condemning the white supremacist who perpetrated the act, calling on all Americans to rise above our past, and famously singing “Amazing Grace” at the memorial service. This weekend, President Trump could not find the words to condemn an act of hate and terror by a white supremacist that injured dozens of people who were calling for tolerance and taking a stand against white supremacy. The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi publication, celebrated President Trump’s response to the tragedy, applauding that when he was asked to condemn the neo-Nazi marchers, President Trump walked out of the room.

President Trump’s instinct to blame “many sides” gave comfort to white supremacists who he had refused to call out for their un-American and hateful conduct and viewpoints. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, by contrast, emphasized that the “violence, chaos, and apparent loss of life in Charlottesville is not the fault of ‘many sides.’ It is [the fault of] racists and white supremacists.” Senator Orrin Hatch took a similar tone, stating that “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

For me, like Senator Hatch, the battle against Nazi ideology is personal. My mother was born in a concentration camp, bringing light out of darkness. She was named, by my grandmother, “Estare,” meaning “star” of liberation. My grandparents, after surviving the Holocaust, came to our country because of its commitment to freedom and opportunity. They appreciated our country’s tradition of supporting immigrants and giving them a fair shot.

We in Colorado value the ethos of our nation’s motto:  E Pluribus Unum, out of many, one. In Colorado, we pull for one another to thrive and believe we all deserve a fair chance to succeed in life, regardless of our religion, race, or ethnicity. In one of our proudest moments, Governor Ralph Carr opposed Japanese internment camps during World War II. Today, we must all call out evil when it emerges, condemning white supremacy and hate before they have a chance to take root.  As our next Attorney General, I will do just that and continue our nation’s fight for equality, freedom, and opportunity for all.  


David Skaggs

Guest Commentary: David Skaggs - Phil Weiser Will Protect the Rights of Coloradans as Our Attorney General

In 1999, after I stepped down from Congress, I took my experience to the classroom. That fall, I taught a seminar on separation of powers at the University of Colorado Law School with a (then) young law professor, Phil Weiser. The course offered me a chance to get to know Phil and to reflect on the importance of separation of powers and checks and balances.

That topic is more important today than ever because Congress is not exerting its “check” and holding the executive branch accountable. State Attorneys General—and not Congress—are now acting as a crucial—and often the only—check against unlawful or unconstitutional action by the executive branch. That’s one reason I am so happy Phil Weiser is now running to be Colorado’s next Attorney General.

State AGs and the Separation of Powers

Colorado’s Attorney General represents all Coloradans: defending our civil rights, protecting our land, air, and water, and fighting for consumers, workers, and citizens to be treated fairly. A central role that should be played by the AG’s office is to protect Coloradans’ rights from infringement by the federal government. So if the federal government does something unconstitutional or illegal, our AG needs to be there to protect us. The ongoing litigation over the unconstitutional travel ban—brought by a number of brave AGs (not including Colorado’s)—is a case in point.

At this challenging time, the system of checks and balances that the Constitution’s Framers envisioned has special importance and relevance. But a key element of that system is being neglected: Congress is not providing the rigorous oversight of the executive branch; Congress is not doing its job.

Of course, separation of powers, and its corollary of checks and balances, pertains not just to the relationship between the three branches of the federal government, but also to the relationship between the federal government and the states.  This federal system affords another independent check on executive authority. When the executive branch does not follow the laws faithfully and Congress does nothing, the State AGs can act as the main check on this conduct.

A Case in Point

The case of civil forfeiture (taking private property even if only tangentially involved in criminal activity and without due process) demonstrates the importance of electing State AGs who can stand up to Washington and defend our rights. Under President Obama, the Justice Department cut back on this practice, concluding that it was wrong to seize property without any accompanying criminal investigation or warrant in place.

Just recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinstituted the practice and rejected the concerns that it violates the “due process” rights of affected persons. As one conservative commentator put the issue, “By expanding government power to take property without appropriate due process, even when state laws don’t allow it, Sessions is signaling he answers to no one.” Here in Colorado, the legislature just passed protections on the use of this power, and we don’t want the federal government to override that policy. To protect Colorado’s sovereign authority, we need a State AG who will to stand up to Washington to protect our rights.

A Government of Laws, Not People

Our government is a government of laws, not of people who can simply do what they want. Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates has flagged the threat to our democracy and has explained that the fundamental independence of the Justice Department is now at issue. Similarly, the Washington Post has emphasized that “The United States has been a role model for the world, and a source of pride for Americans, because it has strived to implement the law fairly.” State AGs uphold that foundational principle of our constitutional system as well when they challenge illegal executive behavior.

We must work hard to continue this tradition. I know that Phil Weiser, as Colorado’s next Attorney General, will ensure that Colorado enforces the laws fairly and with equal justice for all.

In 1974, our nation faced a basic challenge to the rule of law: would the other branches of government stand up to an executive branch engaged in lawless conduct? After he was fired as special prosecutor, Archibald Cox stated that “Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people” to decide.

In 1974, Congress, and then the American people, spoke loudly and clearly on the need to embrace our constitutional traditions and support the “rule of law.” The result, as my predecessor in Congress Tim Wirth noted in endorsing Phil Weiser to be our next AG, was a period of political reform and renewal.

In 2018, we will face a similar test and opportunity. By electing leaders like Phil Weiser, Colorado and the nation can continue to fulfill our constitutional traditions and ideals. I encourage you to join me in supporting him.


Phil, Daughter, RBG

The Important Role of Our AG in Fighting for Equal Rights for Women

Our nation’s vision of equal opportunities for all is a core part of my life’s work. To translate that vision into reality, our country needs dedicated leadership committed to equality for all Americans. For me, a role model for such leadership is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose work as a lawyer and as a Supreme Court Justice make her a leader in the battle against discrimination and for equality. Working with her when she wrote the opinion requiring the Virginia Military Institute to admit women remains a highlight of my life.

As Colorado’s next Attorney General, I will prioritize the battle for women’s rights and equality for all through the following measures:

  • The Colorado Attorney General’s office will work hard to ensure that women are treated equally in the workplace,
  • The AG’s office will be a leader in supporting women in the workplace.
  • The AG’s office will work with the legal and business community to drive best practices around diversity and inclusion.

To work with me on this core goal, I will create a new executive leadership position on Community Engagement, Workplace Culture, and Diversity: the AG Office Leader on Culture. This position, which will report directly to me, will oversee efforts to ensure diversity and inclusiveness in the office and lead our community in driving behavior toward best practices by using the power of the AG’s office to convene leaders in our legal and business communities. In short, the Attorney General’s office will not only effectively enforce the laws protecting women in the workplace; it will also lead by example and through the use of its moral authority. While the measures discussed in this post focus on the imperative of protecting women in the workplace, many of them also will address diversity and inclusiveness concerns related to race and ethnicity as well. A subsequent post will focus more directly on these issues.

Fighting for Equal Treatment in the Workplace

Lilly Ledbetter, who was a manager at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, discovered years into her job that she was paid considerably less than men in the same position. She brought a lawsuit to challenge this discrimination. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled against her claim, saying that she failed to bring the action—which she had no way to know about—until after the 180-day filing requirement. In a passionate dissent, Justice Ginsburg sharply criticized the majority’s ruling and urged Congress to fix the problem.

The Lilly Ledbetter story underscores the continuing challenge of equality for women. When women enter a profession historically dominated by men, equal treatment doesn’t immediately follow. Here’s how Ginsburg later described Lilly Ledbetter’s situation: “It’s the story of almost every working woman of her generation, which is close to mine. She is in a job that has been done by men until she comes along. She gets the job, and she’s encountering all kinds of flak. But she doesn’t want to rock the boat.”

Although Lilly Ledbetter’s case didn’t end well for her, Justice Ginsburg’s dissent was heard by Congress and President Obama. The first law President Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Unfortunately, even the guarantee of equal pay for women cannot be realized unless—like in Ledbetter’s case—women have access to the necessary data regarding salaries in their workplaces.

Equal pay for equal work is still not yet the norm in our country. According to one recent study, for example, the median annual pay for women working full-time year-round is $40,742, compared to $51,212 for men working full-time year-round. As Justice Ginsburg explained in her dissent in the Ledbetter case, if women cannot learn that their male colleagues with similar experience are getting paid more for the same work, they cannot claim their right to equal pay. Fortunately, in 2008, Colorado became the fourth state in the country (it’s now one of 13 states) to enact a law protecting workers who share pay information from discrimination and retaliation. But many employers and employees still don’t know about these protections. As Attorney General, I will vigorously enforce this law and the rights of workers to learn about potential pay disparities.

Gender Equity and Inclusiveness in the Legal Profession

When I interviewed Justice Ginsburg at the University of Colorado Law School, I asked her about the number of women on the Supreme Court. In answering my question, she remarked that the right number of women on the Supreme Court is nine. For a long time, she explained, all nine seats were occupied by men, so why not have nine female Justices? Thanks to President Obama, there are now three women on the Supreme Court. But there still is a ways to go before we achieve RBG’s vision for the Court.

When I graduated law school in 1994, there were an equal number of women in my class as men. My assumption was that, with the benefit of equal numbers of men and women graduating law school, we would soon overcome the historically underrepresented role of women in leadership positions, including on the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, 23 years later, women are still significantly underrepresented in the leadership ranks of nearly every sector of the legal profession: law firm partnerships, general counsel, judgeships, law school deans, etc.

During my time at the University of Colorado Law School, I prioritized diversity and inclusion, working with leaders in our community on a number of initiatives. I partnered with, for example, the Colorado Women’s Bar Association on programs that supported women in the profession and my efforts to support and mentor our Latino students earned recognition from the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association. As Attorney General, I will follow in the tradition of past Democratic Attorneys General, JD MacFarlane and Ken Salazar, by making diversity and inclusion a hallmark of my tenure.

The Attorney General’s office should and can be a proactive leader in supporting women in the workplace. Moreover, our Attorney General should be a leader in our community, encouraging law firms, in-house law departments, and companies to drive toward best practices. My newly created executive-level appointee, the AG’s Office Leader on Culture, will work with me to serve as a leader on community engagement, workplace culture, and diversity.

The AG’s Office Leader on Culture

The AG’s Office Leader on Culture will spearhead a range of activities in the office and in the community to promote diversity and inclusion:

  • First, the AG’s Office Leader on Culture will conduct bias training, identify situations where individuals are not able to participate effectively, and host bias workshops to encourage equal and fair treatment. For any workplace and particularly the AG’s office, it is important to support everyone and enable them to contribute effectively and to advance without barriers (including implicit biases).
  • Second, we need to create flexible and alternative structures that allow individuals to work effectively while taking care of children or elderly parents. At the University of Colorado Law School, I allowed for flexibility in the workplace so that professionals could thrive at home and at work; I will do the same at the AG’s office, working with the AG’s Office Leader on Culture to ensure that we have appropriate policies for all professionals to perform their work effectively.
  • During my time as Dean, I appreciated the need to mentor all of our faculty, staff, and students because I recognized that many individuals do not get the coaching, mentorship, sponsorship, and access to information they need when they are not a part of traditional networks. To ensure that the Attorney General’s office evaluates and supports individuals based on talent, the AG’s Office Leader on Culture will create and implement coaching, mentorship, and leadership development programs and ensure that they are afforded to everyone in the office.
  • Finally, I will work with the AG’s Office Leader on Culture to make clear that sexual and gender harassment will not be tolerated. Whether the harassment is a “come on” or a “put down,” it is unacceptable. Such insults have the effect of undermining women. If allowed to fester, gender-based comments can lead to lower productivity, higher job stress, lower psychological well-being, and increased turnover. To eradicate sexual and gender harassment, we will regularly survey and interview individuals working at the Attorney General’s office to assess their experiences and root out mistreatment of women.

Fighting for Equality Is a Team Effort

As Colorado’s next Attorney General, I will work with our community to make Colorado a model of fighting for diversity and inclusion. This means that we must address pay inequities and work to provide women with equal opportunities to advance and succeed. For the Attorney General’s office, and the legal and business communities, a more respectful and inclusive work environment is long overdue and will lead to a more productive and effective workplace. But it will not happen without dedicated leadership and a vigilant focus on achieving this important goal.

Under my leadership and the AG’s Office Leader on Culture, the Attorney General’s Office will not only enforce the laws requiring equal treatment of women in the workplace, we will lead the community by example. Moreover, the Attorney General has tremendous power to convene and to lead through the moral authority of the office. This means that successful programs developed at the Attorney General’s office—or elsewhere in our State—need to be celebrated and disseminated to other workplaces. As our next Attorney General, I will engage with employers across our state to develop and spread best practices in the treatment of employees and I will champion diversity and inclusion efforts.


Four Generations

My Bubby’s Rugelach

One of the unexpected benefits of entering the campaign to be Colorado’s Attorney General is the opportunity to reflect on my own journey and what inspires me to serve. At the core of my inspiration to serve is my grandparents’ journey and their story of survival, faith, and renewal.

In April, 1945, as World War II was coming to a close, my grandmother gave birth to my mom in a concentration camp in Leipzig, Germany. In July, 1944, my grandparents had a moment together before my grandfather was shipped off to a different concentration camp (Terenzin). In the winter of 1945, my grandmother sent a note to my grandfather, telling him, “You have what to live for.”

The miracle of my grandmother surviving in a concentration camp while pregnant, and my mom being born healthy is matched by the miracle of their renewed dedication to their faith and their future. After the War, my grandparents looked to their future—and my mom’s future—and decided that they wanted to live in the United States of America, where they treasured our commitment to freedom and opportunity.

In 1951, my grandparents came to the U.S., not speaking the language and without a high school education. My grandfather got a job in a factory that made coats and my grandmother, or my Bubby, as I called her, was a seamstress. In making a life for themselves in the U.S., they were committed to providing an opportunity for my mom, who was the first in her family to get a college education. My dad was also the first in his family to go to college and, like my mom, lived at home, went to a local college, and received scholarship aid.

I always had a special relationship with my grandparents, respecting their fight for survival, their appreciation for our country, and their love for my brother and me. When I could, I would join them for Friday night dinner, where my Bubby’s meals always came with special desserts. When I could not be there in person, including after I moved to Colorado, I called them every Friday. I fondly remember how my Bubby got such pleasure feeding me. My favorite food was always her rugelach. When I got married, she made a special point of teaching my wife Heidi and me her recipe.

My Bubby provides an inspiring example of the power of faith. She always had faith in her future and took joy in watching me build my future—graduating college and law school, moving to Colorado, serving as a law clerk for Justices Byron White and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and working for President Barack Obama in White House. During my personal and professional journey, I adopted her positive attitude and approached life as an adventure, knowing I could weather any challenges I faced, learn from experience, and never take for granted the opportunities our country offered me.

Like my grandparents, many Coloradans are immigrants, are facing challenging times, and are holding onto their faith that they can build a better future. As I take on this campaign to be Colorado’s Attorney General, I am inspired by my grandparents’ example and my faith. In scripture, it teaches that “our job is not to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not permitted to desist from it.” For me, that means fighting for our freedoms and for opportunity for all Coloradans and leading the Attorney General’s office so that it serves as an engine for progress and represents all Coloradans effectively.

To serve our great State, I need your help on this journey. I am most appreciative of those who have invested their time and money in this campaign. Please join us. And as a token of my appreciation, I have shared my Bubby’s rugelach recipe. Please enjoy it in good health and share it with the ones you love.

My Bubby’s Rugelach Recipe

Ingredients

Zest of 1 lemon

2 whole eggs, 1 egg yolk

1 cup sugar, plus extra for filling

½-pound Crisco or margarine

½ cup vinegar

¼ cup water

3 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

Cinnamon, chopped walnuts, and raspberry jam for filling

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare a baking sheet with butter, oil, or cooking spray.

Cut Crisco or margarine into flour, then add lemon zest and wet ingredients (including eggs). Stir or beat until the dough reaches a smooth consistency. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/8-inch thick. Cut into squares (large or small depending on your preference). Sprinkle one teaspoon of sugar and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon onto each square. Top each square with chopped walnuts and a dab of raspberry jam. Roll up squares and place onto baking sheet one inch apart. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.*

*Bubby never set a timer for her rugelach. She watched the rugelach until they were perfectly browned each time.


Phil Weiser - 4th of July Parade

Holding Onto Our Traditions in a Changing World

Last week, we celebrated July 4th, the anniversary of one of the world’s great experiments in democracy. The Declaration of Independence famously announced “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The American experiment, in other words, established a commitment to protect our freedoms and enable opportunity for all.

Defending Our Constitutional Freedoms

The Constitution was adopted to enforce and advance the vision set out in the Declaration of Independence. Under our Constitution, we have established a set of core freedoms—the freedom of the press, the freedom of religion, equal protection for all, and the due process of law (which means people must be treated fairly by their government and legal system). These freedoms, however, are not self-enforcing and require institutions, citizens, and leaders to enforce and advance them.

Today, we face a challenging environment that is testing our constitutional and democratic institutions. As one conservative commentator has put it, President Trump is an “institutional arsonist,” threatening to do grave damage to our democracy and legal system. What will enable our democracy and constitutional system to endure? Active citizens and leaders stepping up to protect our constitutional freedoms and traditions. For me, this imperative is a central reason I am running to be Colorado’s next Attorney General.

Fighting for the American Dream

Another powerful reason I’m running to be Colorado’s next Attorney General is my belief in the American Dream. The American Dream is the promise that each generation should be able to look forward to building on the progress of their parents and building a better life for themselves—the pursuit of happiness, in other words. I experienced this promise firsthand because my parents, who came to this country as immigrants (my mom after surviving the Holocaust), were the first in their families to go to college and climb the ladder of opportunity. And I, in turn, benefited from the opportunities they had.

Today, many Coloradans experience a world where their lives are getting harder, and they are not being treated fairly as citizens, workers, and consumers. When I talk about fighting for opportunities for all Coloradans, I mean that we must develop strategies and institutions to change this equation—whether it is protecting Coloradans from voter suppression efforts, fighting wage theft from workers, or standing up to pharmaceutical companies engaging in price fixing that leads to higher drug prices for consumers. And we will need to do more than that to adapt to today’s changing economy, including enabling all Coloradans to have broadband Internet access, developing skills training opportunities for those not going to college, and supporting an environment where businesses can be started around our State. Thankfully, Coloradans are not afraid of change, are adaptable, and willing to experiment.

Safeguarding Our Land, Air, and Water

Finally, to thrive in the 21st century, we must protect our land, air, and water so that our children can live healthy lives in an era where climate change will transform our world. We can manage and address climate change by, for example, developing strategies for overseeing oil and gas development that restrict methane emissions. Colorado proudly developed the template for managing methane emissions—through collaborative and innovative leadership from our Governor—that the EPA later adopted. Unfortunately, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt initially challenged those rules as the Oklahoma Attorney General and has led an effort for the EPA to abandon them. Our Governor John Hickenlooper and others successfully challenged this effort by EPA Administrator Pruitt, but our AG stayed on the sidelines in this battle, forcing the Governor to hire private counsel.

Joining This Mission

In 2018, we can elect an Attorney General who is committed to protecting our freedoms, fighting for opportunity for all Coloradans, and safeguarding our land, air, and water. This is going to require engaged citizens and a campaign inspired by and true to our nation’s ideals. I look forward to running such a campaign and welcome you to join me however you are able to support our mission.


Colorado Flag

Representing Colorado and Our Clean Energy Future

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 Governor John Hickenlooper and the hard work from leaders here in Colorado, we developed the framework that the Obama Administration adopted for regulating methane emissions from oil and gas development.

Recently, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt started a process to scrap this federal framework, jeopardizing the quality of our land, air, and water—because emissions from other states affect us here in Colorado. In response, a number of State Attorneys General have stepped up to challenge Pruitt’s actions. Our current Colorado Attorney General is not one of them. Because of her lack of leadership on this issue, Governor Hickenlooper filed yesterday--using private lawyers because Attorney General Coffman refused to represent our state--a motion to join this lawsuit.  Because we need our Attorney General to protect our land, air, and water and to work with national and state leaders on this imperative, I am running to be our State’s next Attorney General.  

A Colorado Success Story

The Colorado rules for methane emissions in oil and gas development offer a case study in innovative and principled leadership. Here’s how Newsweek described the Colorado rules:

In 2014, Colorado became the first state to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas drilling, with the goal of shrinking its carbon footprint and improving local air quality. While a couple industry trade groups fought the rules, some producers, including Encana, Devon Energy and Anadarko, supported the measures. They even helped write the rules with the state and the Environmental Defense Fund. A couple years in, even the trade groups agree that the rules are reasonable and effective. This is about as close as the environmental regulatory world ever gets to kumbaya.

These rules were rightly celebrated, and they provided the template for the EPA’s national rules. They’ve also led to tremendous results. As Newsweek reported, methane leakage has dropped by 75 percent since they were adopted and many producers (seven out of 10) have concluded that the benefits of the rule outweighed the costs (because recaptured methane can be sold).

Why Colorado Benefits from the EPA Rules

Colorado benefits if the EPA rules stay in place for two reasons. First, because pollution travels across state lines, and methane becomes well-mixed in the atmosphere, Colorado cannot protect its land, air, and water by acting alone. If other states don’t follow these rules, Coloradans will suffer the consequences. Indeed, in Colorado’s filing to join the lawsuit brought by other State Attorneys General, it explained that ⅔ of all pollution in the state comes from sources outside our state.  Second, Colorado companies benefit from the EPA rules because they level the playing field with out-of-state businesses. Without the EPA rules in place, Colorado companies face a disadvantage by competing with those who don’t have to comply with rules as effective as ours.

Even though the national EPA rules protect Coloradans and help Colorado companies, our Attorney General challenged them in court (over Governor Hickenlooper’s fervent objection) when President Obama spearheaded these rules. The rules survived that lawsuit, but they are now threatened by EPA Administrator Pruitt, who is looking for ways to undo them. He recently waived the requirement—without any explanation—that companies come into compliance with regulations governing new oil and gas operations by June 3, 2017.  Ignoring the powerful rationale for keeping them in place, Pruitt has proposed a two-year suspension on the rules to allow the EPA time to reconsider them.  In instituting the suspension, the EPA itself acknowledged that the risk posed “by this action may have a disproportionate effect on children.”

Environmental groups and a number of State Attorneys General are challenging EPA Administrator Pruitt’s actions in delaying the rules as illegal and Governor Hickenlooper has hired private counsel to join this lawsuit. Given Colorado’s interest in defending these rules, our Attorney General should lead this effort rather than force our Governor to hire private counsel at additional cost to the State. Cynthia Coffman, however, in line with her other decisions that undermine our Governor’s collaborative and innovative leadership, has refused to join the State Attorneys General who are challenging Pruitt’s actions and has refused to work with our Governor to represent Colorado’s interests.

What You Can Do

In November 2018, you will have the opportunity to elect an Attorney General who puts Colorado’s interests first. Please join my campaign for attorney general to elect a leader who is committed to protecting our land, air, and water.


Phil Weiser at Pride Fest

My Lessons From the Notorious RBG: The Fight for Tolerance and LGBTQ Rights

Last Sunday, I marched with a group of volunteers at Denver’s PrideFest Parade. It was an inspiring show of support for equality.

The battle for equality and social justice is a fundamental part of the American experience.  It’s also the path of the law in our country. During my time working for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG), I had the privilege of witnessing that path firsthand.  And I continue to be inspired by her example.

Pride and the Legacy of RBG’s Career

During my clerkship with RBG, the Supreme Court issued two landmark decisions in this country’s longstanding battle for equality for all: Romer v. Evans and U.S. v. Virginia. In Romer, the Court declared illegal Colorado’s anti-homosexual ballot measure (Amendment 2) that barred localities from protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination.  Significantly, the Romer case set the stage for later rulings on marriage equality and expanded civil rights protections for gays and lesbians.   In U.S. v. Virginia, RBG authored the opinion invalidating the Virginia Military Institute’s (VMI) ban on admitting women. For Justice Ginsburg, the VMI case represented a significant accomplishment in her life’s work—the fight for equal treatment of men and women.

As our nation continues to fight for equality and acceptance for all citizens, RBG’s lifelong battle for equality inspires me. She also remains a very important mentor. RBG’s leadership embodies a core message: we cannot get complacent as we fight for equality, including the rights of LGBTQ individuals and women. Now, more than ever, we need activated citizens and leaders to protect and build on decisions like Romer v. Evans. What I saw at PrideFest is that Colorado is up for the challenge.

RBG’s Personal Life: Civil Rights and Civility

When I reflect on our society’s current challenges, PrideFest’s focus on tolerance reminds me of an example from RBG’s personal life: her friendship with Justice Scalia. Their relationship was a rare “example of warmth and professionalism across traditional divides,” as the author of the Notorious RBG put it. To be sure, RBG and Scalia often disagreed, including on the US v. Virginia case, where Justice Scalia was the sole dissenter. In that case, RBG reported, Scalia “absolutely ruined my weekend, but my opinion is ever so much better because of his stinging dissent.”

RBG’s willingness to learn from an opposing viewpoint is a quality that is in short supply today. As one commentator remarked recently, “We have often dehumanized the leaders who result from our free choices — men and women, on the whole, of public spirit, with a talent for friendship and persuasion.” This dehumanization runs against the standard set by Justice Ginsburg; even when she disagreed with Justice Scalia, she still believed that she could learn from him.

RBG’s friendship with Scalia echoes what our former Governor Roy Romer often preached: “all truth is partial.” Romer told me that he lived his political career according to this maxim. When he disagreed with someone he asked, “What part of the truth are they seeing that I am not?” He was hesitant to judge and demonize others, viewing disagreements as a chance to learn and sharpen his thinking.

During a time when our society is growing more tolerant in general, it is a painful irony that acceptance for those who hold different political views is at an all-time low, with more people than ever viewing those who hold different viewpoints as evil. Indeed, one commentator has concluded that animosity based on party identity is one of the few socially acceptable forms of discrimination.

The current level of polarization and the demonization of other points of view is a threat to our country’s—and Colorado’s—future. When Roy Romer spoke to Coloradans in the wake of the passage of the discriminatory Amendment 2, he called on Coloradans to “learn together and appreciate our diversity as a people.” Those words still ring true today. This call—and RBG’s lifelong battle for equality—inspire me to be an Attorney General for Colorado who fights for a more inclusive society and protect the civil rights of all Coloradans.


What Does the State Attorney General Do?

It’s hard to explain why the Attorney General’s office matters so much when many people wonder what the AG does in the first place.  Let me take this opportunity to clarify what this office does and why Coloradans need to elect a new AG in 2018.

For starters, our AG leads the way when the federal government acts out of step with our best interests and our values. After the Trump Administration tried to ban immigration on the basis of religion, a number of brave AGs stood up to the federal government to defend our constitutional rights. Our AG also stops companies from cheating consumers and protects our State’s land, water, and air. Finally, in what I have made a central part of my life’s work, our AG should lead the fight for opportunity and innovation to ensure a bright future for all Coloradans. I’m running for Attorney General of the State of Colorado because I want to work for Coloradans and because I believe in the promise and potential of this office.

The Attorney General Works for You

Not so long ago, races for Attorney General didn’t get much attention or support. But the Republican Party has changed that. Funded by the Koch Brothers and others, the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) has targeted AG races around the country to move their agenda, even in progressive states. Here’s proof that the office of State Attorney General matters, and the Republicans know it: in Colorado’s last AG election, RAGA put five times as much money into the race as Cynthia Coffman raised herself. That’s part of a nation-wide trend. In 2000, Republicans only held 12 of the 51 AG positions. Today, they control 29 of them! Republican AGs–and those funding their campaigns through RAGA–recognize the power of leading the Attorney General’s office.

Why make the effort to win AGs 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 and committed AG, the office defends our constitutional freedoms (like the challenges we’ve seen to the Trump administration from AGs around the country), stands up for consumers when their homes are foreclosed on illegally, and protects our land, air, and water from polluters. Sadly, in Colorado, the AG office is not focused on solving problems or serving all Coloradans. Instead, our current AG, Cynthia Coffman, is wasting time and money filing suits that make a political statement, such as the one against Boulder County for its management of oil and gas development.

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. During a time when President Trump has proposed an illegal travel ban and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently raised sentences for non-violent drug offenders, it is the States–and not the Congress–who are providing a check on Presidential power and overreach.  In particular, the State AGs are leading the fight to preserve our cherished American values and, with new leadership in the Colorado AG’s office, we can stand up to what is happening in Washington and make Colorado a model for the nation.

I will fight for our constitutional rights because our freedoms are deeply personal to me. I am the first in my family to be born an American citizen; 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. So I welcome the opportunity to vigorously defend our civil rights, including those of women, LGBTQ individuals, and immigrants.

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. I will also reject U.S. EPA head Scott Pruitt’s denial of climate change and agenda to undermine U.S. international leadership to protect our planet. Instead, 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 water, land, and air, like 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 do just that.

The Attorney General Fights for Opportunities for All

I worked with President Obama in the aftermath of the Great Recession to make life better for all Americans, and I’ll be an AG who fights for opportunities for all Coloradans. 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.  That’s why I am a founding Board member and Board Secretary of CareerWise Colorado, which is pioneering an apprenticeship-based education model here in Colorado.  As your AG, I will continue this leadership, with a powerful platform, the ability to work with leaders around the State, and a commitment to making Colorado a model for the US.

Join Me

I can’t lead the Attorney General’s office without your help. Please join me in convincing all Coloradans of the importance of electing a new AG in 2018. I am delighted by the support we are getting from around the state, but we need more help to make this campaign successful. Please email info@philforcolorado.com to join us.

With the Koch Brothers poised to contribute substantially to defeat me, I need real people willing to make contributions to support my campaign. Every dollar counts and I welcome your support at philforcolorado.com/donate-to-phil. Thanks for joining me in this journey. It matters.


Tim Wirth

Guest Commentary: Tim Wirth - The Battle for the Rule of Law and What Comes Next

I first ran for Congress in 1974 in the wake of the “Watergate scandal.” The scandal was not about a botched burglary at a Washington hotel. Rather, the malfeasance by President Nixon and White House associates raised serious questions about the integrity of the democratic institutions and rule of law that have historically made the United States of America an example to the world.

After the campaigning was done, it became clear that the American people voted for a new generation of leaders to help repair and reform our democracy. And that is what those of us elected to Congress did. Together, we championed the rule of law and brought about historic reforms that made government more transparent and more accountable to the people. We initiated campaign finance reforms, consumer protections and other initiatives intended to advance the economic, environmental, and security interests of the American people.

Today, we confront a similar crisis around the rule of law and a similar opportunity for civic renewal. As the actions of the Trump Administration remind us, we cannot take our constitutional freedoms for granted and our democracy depends on active citizens and responsible leaders. That is why I am pleased to see new leaders stepping up to run for office for the first time, as I did in 1974.

One important leader we can support in Colorado is Phil Weiser. Since coming to Colorado in 1994, Phil has served our community and nation well. At the University of Colorado Law School, he has mentored hundreds of lawyers and helped launch the careers of young men and women from all backgrounds across our State, and he has served with distinction in important positions in the federal government. Now, Phil is running to be the next Attorney General for Colorado, a job which is more important than ever. He deserves our strong support.

As our next Attorney General, Phil will fight for our constitutional freedoms, for working people against special interests, for the rule of law and a vibrant democracy. When Ken Salazar was our Attorney General, he stopped an unconstitutional effort to gerrymander our congressional districts. Ken has endorsed Phil’s candidacy, and I know that Phil will be a leader, like Ken, in protecting our democracy from gerrymandering and voter suppression, and working to end the corrupting influence of “dark” undisclosed money in our politics. I believe he will be a leader of the national effort to overrule Citizen’s United, which undid—by judicial activism—some of the campaign reform efforts we passed after Watergate.

When I was in Congress, I fought hard to support the antitrust lawsuit helped break-up the AT&T telephone monopoly and to encourage competition in the telecommunications industry. While serving in the Department of Justice and President Obama’s White House, Phil fought for enhanced competition and innovation to give consumers better services at lower prices. In Colorado, he is a recognized and respected leader in our technology community, supporting the innovators and entrepreneurs who are bringing good-paying jobs to our State. At a time when the federal government cannot be counted on to fight for competition and consumers, we need an Attorney General like Phil who will stand up for our interests.

Finally, Phil will be a leader in protecting Colorado’s land, air, and water. President Trump’s recent 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.

We are living in scary and challenging times. As Benjamin Franklin said upon leaving the Constitutional Convention, “you have a republic, as long as you can keep it.” In the next election cycle, as in 1974, we have the opportunity to revitalize our civic institutions and elect leaders who care deeply about our values, our Colorado traditions, and our democracy—and who can fight for them effectively. Phil is just that type of leader. I urge you to join me in supporting his campaign in any way you can.