Of all the Colorado elected official choices voters must decide this year, the race most demanding clarity is that of state attorney general.
For months, Republicans have erroneously tried to make an incongruous election case in the race between incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser and GOP challenger, John Kellner, the nascent district attorney for the Arapahoe County region.
Republicans argue that electing Kellner will reduce car thefts, shootings and drug overdoses across the state.
Given that seems to be Kellner’s priority, and how little the state office of attorney general can or should directly impact that, both Kellner and voters would end up being wildly disappointed and frustrated with Kellner at the helm.
That’s only the chief reason to re-elect Weiser for another term.
It was a surprise last year when Kellner announced his intent to run for the attorney general’s job. He’s less than two years into his first term of district attorney and unexpectedly wanted to change jobs.
Oddly, Kellner’s race seems driven by his Arapahoe County predecessor, DA George Brauchler, now a right-wing talk-radio host. Brauchler lost to Weiser four years ago.
On the air and in social media, Brauchler pounds on Weiser for not doing more to stop car thieves and fentanyl overdoses. Kellner has joined that misleading refrain in his bid to unseat the first-term Democrat.
If Brauchler and Kellner are confused about the job of attorney general, it speaks poorly of their campaign. If they’re being disingenuous about what Kellner can actually do as attorney general — as opposed to what they’re promising voters — that’s reprehensible.
The attorney general is the state’s and people’s lawyer, not a criminal prosecutor. The office first and foremost advises the governor and state agencies on a vast array of legal matters.
It’s something Weiser has done admirably and impressively during his first term. He came well-qualified for the job after his tenure in the U.S. Department of Justice and as dean of the University of Colorado School of Law.
The AG’s charge is to defend the interests of residents against corporations, governments and individuals illegally or unethically usurping our rights, our property and our lives.
Weiser has done an outstanding job as a watchdog of issues threatening our health and environment, created by oil and gas companies and opioid manufacturers. Weiser has successfully worked to protect the rights and opportunities of Colorado residents and businesses against national interests and conglomerates.
Kellner wrongly intimates that the attorney general should be involved in reforming parole, sentencing or local bail requirements, which is the role of lawmakers and the Department of Corrections.
The only tool there is the bully pulpit during the general assembly. The state AG is one voice among hundreds during lawmaking sessions. Past attorneys general can apprise Kellner, and others, that expecting the Legislature to yield to the counsel of the AG is hopeful best.
It doesn’t mean the attorney general’s office can’t work to route out large-scale drug and theft operations, and Weiser’s office has.
By design, the attorney general’s office is composed of lawyers, not police officers.
There is, however, a place for the state AG’s office to further reduce the most prevalent crime in the nation: fraud. Fraud and so-called “white collar” crime by far affects the most people, and often the most vulnerable.
For decades, national crime and safety experts agree that fraud is the nation’s most pervasive and underreported crime in the country, including in Colorado. Estimates blame fraud for between $426 billion to $1.7 trillion each year, according to the Department of Justice.
Weiser’s office points to a long list of efforts made to prevent people from becoming victims of fraud and prosecuting those who commit it.
The efforts, however, pale in comparison to the need. That’s a problem more of funding than priority.
Another relatively new and critical role of the attorney general is policing local police departments, an issue crucial to Aurora.
Kellner said he’s willing to pursue the role and tenor of Weiser’s job as arbiter of the consent decree with Aurora to mandate a wide range of police reforms. Weiser, however, has shown solid leadership already in pursuing critically needed changes.
Then there’s the matter of doing what the AG’s office actually does as a litigator. The attorney general represents the interest of the people in issues made urgent by other courts, such as abortion rights.
Kellner has said that his personal beliefs in favor of restricting women’s reproductive rights would not affect his ability to defend the conflicting rights and views of the vast majority state residents, who disagree with him.
However, Kellner’s legal prowess tumbled after he touted the U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs ruling, ending decades of abortion rights under Roe vs Wade that is not suddenly the matter of states.
Weiser immediately rebuked the Dobbs ruling for what it was: political, tortured logic of judicial activists.
Kellner might prove to be a successful Arapahoe County prosecutor as his term plays out. He’s shown promise by working with other district attorneys across the state in providing web-based data and accountability, in what he calls a “dash-board” program. Such vetted and compelling data could be critical to state and local lawmakers working to find ways to protect everyone from street crimes while providing justice — and equity.
Weiser has already proved to be well-suited as Colorado’s lawyer in handling the job for what it really is, not a politically expedient ploy to rook voters into thinking it should be. His ability to garner praise and endorsements even from Republicans comes from his solid record as a pragmatic attorney and unwavering defender of individual rights.
Voters should re-elect Weiser to another term.
I can only speak to Weiser’s complete failure as Attorney General in the area of law enforcement. Weiser’s report on Aurora PD is so badly flawed and politically correct that it has led to serious safety issues for the citizens of Aurora and ultimately, all of Colorado. He leaped to call all cases involving APD as racist and quickly bought into the politically correct path to office. Any real examination of each case shows that overwhelmingly there was no basis for racial accusations other than the fact that the people involved were black. Law enforcement cannot be fair and effective if those in the legal system cannot use facts to decide their decisions. Weiser’s politically correct consent decree has the goal of making arrests proportionate by race. Anyone who looks at the uncomfortable truth will understand that facts and data based studies do not support the idea that law enforcement is racist based simply on the disproportionate statistics. Studies have shown that blacks are disproportionately involved in crime. If you use crime data to assign officers to high crime areas, then they will be arresting blacks at a disproportionate ratio. Aurora officials proudly said that they are using crime data to assign manpower, and then, without blinking admitted that the resulting arrests were not proportionate by race. Folks, you cannot have it both ways. Thomas Sowell, a black researcher has done exhaustive work in this area. He calls the current use of disproportionate statistics the “invincible fallacy”. Weiser is using this fallacy to advance his career. He has told black activist groups that he is coming after other police departments to correct the disproportionate statistics. The statistics are disproportionate around the state. It is not due to police racism. If you believe that, then you choose to simply ignore all of the videos of large groups of blacks looting. Police departments should not police based upon race. But, they cannot ignore crime or adjust their crime fighting efforts based upon race. Weiser and the legislature have helped create an environment for the police that is dangerous and counter productive. The police reform bill has placed police officers in a dangerous position where they cannot know whether they will be fired or prosecuted for simply doing the job. Neither Weiser nor the legislature will debate their actions. No one can tell the police what the guidelines in the police reform bill mean. Police actions are now subject to the “20/20 hindsight ” that the Supreme Court criticized in their Graham versus Connor case that established use of force guidelines for the police. Officers are now forced to report actions by other officers as excessive force in the fear that the media and liberal prosecutors will later call it excessive. If at a later date, some uninformed body decides that an officer’s actions were excessive, the officer can be fired or prosecuted for not reporting. So, the police reform bill is creating the illusion of excessive force. The liberals see that as good and an example of how their policies are working. Every action by an officer is now a use of force under the vague guidelines of the police reform bill. Officers are afraid to touch someone, even when it is necessary for their own protection. Law enforcement cannot exist in any credible way under those guidelines. As a retired officer and a present law enforcement trainer, I am at a loss for what I can teach young officers that will keep them from being fired or prosecuted in the present environment. Many of my students are naive minorities. I am saddened by the fact that they don’t understand how vulnerable they are in the present environment. Experienced police officers are leaving as soon as it is financially feasible. In the meantime, most officers will tell me that they don’t stop anyone unless they are absolutely forced to do so. They will tell me that they don’t do anything. They are being replaced by inexperienced officers who are more likely to make mistakes. The great reform effort has only hurt good policing. The ideas advanced by the radical elements have not improved law enforcement. The only good move has been to more transparency through body cameras. Good supervisors now have a better way to correct, commend, and discipline officers for their actions. The idea that the Attorney General is only one voice is absurd. I have only one voice and it can only be heard in unread comment sections like this one. Weiser is using his powerful, platform to destroy good law enforcement and to advance his career through racial division. The real problem in law enforcement has always been the lack of leadership. The politicians that become chiefs have always failed to provide the training, equipment, and discipline that must be part of a police organization. Police officers are muzzled. Police chiefs are not. I will make my case for the lack of leadership with this one simple point. No police chief is standing up against the police reform bill or things like the consent decree in Aurora. They are not standing up when officers are wrongfully prosecuted. So, even though it is common knowledge among officers, it is never addressed by the police leadership. Being politically correct and keeping one’s job in the present environment is more important than doing what is right. Meanwhile, the police know they have no voice and no support. Defunding the police was never the threat that the police reform bill became. You, the public, are ultimately the losers. So, keep supporting the guy who is making your community more dangerous. You will, at least, feel politically correct and morally superior.
I have this same whine over and over throughout my life, and every time it was b.s.
It’s still b.s.
Enjoy your new reality
That’s a whole lot of text to say you don’t understand what the Attorney General does. I hope you enjoyed writing that.
Couldn’t have said it better.
I understand a good part of what he does and his effect upon our safety. I doubt that you do