August 2018: Looking at Marc Catlin’s Dismal Record

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August 9

There are just 88 days to the election.  As of today, I’ve knocked on 4,669 doors.  It will be tough to hit my goal of 10,000. But I’m not slowing down!

Last week I traveled to Denver for a video shoot.  A group of female filmmakers have embarked on a project called “One Vote at a Time.” They got started last November with the Virginia election, when they made videos for 19 progressive candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates.  Ten of those candidates won.  Now they are shooting videos for 250 legislative candidates in ten states. I am pleased to be one of those candidates.  I look forward to seeing the finished videos, which are now being edited, and will get them online just as soon as I can.

I also had my website rebuilt and upgraded.  I’m preparing for forums and debates with my opponent Marc Catlin.  And I’ve decided on my next series of emails and diary posts: discussing Catlin’s record and contrasting my positions with his.

Truth is, Catlin does not represent the people of 58th House District.

Almost every single person I speak to favors affordable health care. Almost every single person favors more spending for public schools. Almost every single person wants to protect public lands and public access to public lands.

Marc Catlin’s proudest accomplishment as a state legislator is that he sponsored a bill to make harming a police horse a felony, instead of a misdemeanor. He told a group in Montrose last month that members of his Republican caucus were skeptical at first, opposed to any new regulations or spending. Catlin was able to show them that they needed to approve adding a single word, “horses,” to an existing law that protects police dogs.  By God, Catlin got it done!  His bill passed unanimously, and I would have voted for it, too.

But just a few months later, in May, Catlin voted against a bill to expand the state’s free school lunch program. The program already provided free lunches to children whose family can’t afford school lunches in grades P-K through 5.  I guess Marc felt that children in grades 6-8 are old enough to concentrate on their lessons even if they are hungry because they can’t afford lunch.

I only wish Marc had as much compassion for children as he has for police horses.

Notably, Catlin’s mentor, Sen. Don Coram co-sponsored the horse protection bill. But he voted in favor of expanding the free school lunch program. Perhaps Catlin was just demonstrating his independence?

There is more, much more, in Marc Catlin’s legislative record that is out of step with his voters. I’ll be drilling down this month into Catlin’s clear inability or unwillingness to focus on the big issues. Our middle class is being crushed by stagnant wages, high health care costs, and underfunded schools. Our forests are quite literally burning up and Catlin voted against a bill setting goals for statewide reductions in carbon pollution.

I look forward to asking him if he believes that climate change is caused by human activity.

August 15

A packed Colorado State House of Representatives before a rare vote to expel State Representative Steve Lebsock as he faces accusations of sexual harassment at the Colorado State Capitol on Friday, March 2, 2018. Rep. Marc Catlin was “excused.”

Sexual harassment was the biggest issue in the Colorado House of Representatives this past session.

That’s what my opponent Marc Catlin told the Heidi’s Forum group in Montrose in June.

I wasn’t taping Catlin or taking notes, so I paraphrase. He described the expulsion of State Rep. Steve Lebsock, who was accused by five women of harassment. Lebsock was the first Colorado House member expelled by his colleagues since 1915. The vote was 52-9, following a seven-hour debate. This was traumatic, Catlin said, given the gravity of the charges against Lebsock, which were found to be credible by an independent investigation, and the equal gravity of expelling a democratically elected official from office.

But here’s what Catlin didn’t tell the crowd. He was one of just three members of the House, including Lebsock, who did not cast a vote on the expulsion. Catlin was “excused.” Which begs the question: What do you make of sexual harassment, Marc? Why did you miss the vote, and if you were ill or otherwise unable to participate in what you yourself describe as the most momentous debate in the legislative session, then can you tell us how you would have voted if you had been there?

Catlin wandered into an explanation that his wife is his top aide in Denver, as if this somehow shields him from matters related to sexual harassment. To be honest, I didn’t really understand the point he was trying to make.

I can’t help wondering if it’s a coincidence that Catlin also got himself excused from a vote on a bill – later killed by a Senate committee – that would have required institutions of higher education in the state to adopt, periodically review, and update their policy on sexual misconduct.  Catlin toes the Republican line that new regulations are almost always bad, but he didn’t vote against this bill. Instead, he was one of just three legislators who was excused.

I get it. Sexual harassment can be an uncomfortable issue. But don’t we deserve a state representative who is not afraid to stand up against it?

And here’s the thing. The Lebsock expulsion and higher education harassment bill were not the only times Catlin dodged a voting on tough issues this past legislative session. He was also excused from the vote on the “red flag” bill, which would have allowed families and law enforcement to seek a court order to remove firearms from persons found to pose a “significant risk” to themselves or others. The bill was passed by the House, 37-23 (and was later killed in a Senate committee). Catlin was one of five representatives who were excused.

This bill was supported by 81 percent of voters, according to a poll, including 73 percent of Republicans, 77 percent of households where there is a gun, and 79 percent of rural voters. But it was opposed by the NRA and, of course, a majority of Republican legislators.

I can understand why Catlin dodged the vote. It was another tough one. I would like to think that Marc punted because his personal beliefs were at odds with his party. But if that’s right, it would have been nice to see him stand up for something.

The 58th House District deserves a representative who is not afraid of the tough issues.

Sexual harassment and gun rights are tough issues. But so are affordable access to health care in rural Colorado, increased funding for education, and stronger protections for our environment.

We need a representative who will step up to all of these issues, without fear or favor.