Secretary Williams talks to clerks about voter fraud

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Wednesday address county clerks on the state’s eastern edge, who were meeting in Sterling for training. (SOS photo)

Check out staffer Julia Sunny’s video on the visit with county clerks from the eastern regional. As Kiowa County Clerk Delisa Weeks says, “We’re small, but we’re fun.” YouTube video.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addressed the issue of voter fraud when he spoke to county clerks on the Eastern Plains Wednesday, warning them that in the coming months his office could be asking about certain constituents suspected of voting twice in the 2016 election.

“Some of you are aware there were accusations that there was rampant fraud in the elections. Some said there was no fraud,” Williams said. “The answer is somewhere in between.”

Colorado is part of a national months-long check of voter histories that flags the names of voters who appeared to have voted more than once.

“I anticipate there will be some people in Colorado who voted in multiple states. There are not tens of thousands of them. It did not change the result of the election,” Williams said.

“But there are elections that decided by a single vote. I presided over those elections as a county clerk. So we care about that issue. The message from us isn’t that vote fraud never occurs, but we make it difficult to occur and we help prosecute people when we find out about it.”

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Secretary Wayne Williams finds future and past in Little Rock

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams in front of the iconic Little Rock Central High School.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams often tells the story of how the high school he attended once shut done rather than integrate, and during a technology conference in Arkansas this week he got to see where the public showdown first began.

At the conference, Williams also got to ride in a self-driving vehicle and heard from the “Elliot Ness of cyber crime.”

As for the school, a 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling ordering the integration of public schools was met with hostility. In Little Rock, nine black students were denied entrance to all-white Central High School, forcing a very public conflict between President Eisenhower and the Arkansas governor.

Wayne Williams in high school.

At Warren High School in Virginia, where Williams graduated in 1981, the school board decided to close the school rather than allow blacks to attend, which is why there was no graduating Class of 1959.

Williams said the area was still mired in backward thinking when he first attended school, which created an economic decline in the town, which is why he first got involved in politics.

“When I was 17 years old I gathered a group of friends together and we passed out literature to everyone walking into a polling place,” Williams often tells young leaders. “And through that we were able to change the power in my area from one party to my party. So I understand the importance of youth involvement.”

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Cherry Creek Mall: Didn’t you watch Hickenlooper’s 2003 campaign ad?

John Hickenlooper’s 2003 mayoral ad “Change.”

The headline today on a ColoradoPolitics blog read, “Hyper-local politics in Denver: It’s all about parking,” referring to an “uproar” in Cherry Creek.

“Hel-lo!” Businessman John Hickenlooper taught us that lesson in 2003, when he was one of pack of candidates running in the first open Denver mayor’s race in a dozen years. An early poll showed him tied — for fifth place.

Then came Hickenlooper’s folksy, funny ad featuring his showdown with a parking meter attendant. Hickenlooper used an actual change belt tied to his waist, handed out coins to drivers and even fed money into an expired meter in LoDo.

How good was that ad? Did the spot tap in to the frustration of drivers wanting to hang out in downtown Denver? Well, now we call him Gov. Hickenlooper.

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Fracking & friendship: Dan Haley made my nephew’s day

Erin Cummings, who teaches science at Skinner Middle School in Denver, and her student, Maxwell Bungum, my nephew. (Skinner photo)

One day when cleaning out my Google account I saw an e-mail from my nephew Maxwell Bungum that I had missed. I opened it up to find an invitation to edit his fracking homework.

Fracking! Editing! I was too busy to inquire what was going on, but Max called several days later to say, “Did you get my e-mail? You’re supposed to forward it.” Then he hung up and headed for school.

I still didn’t know what the whole thing was about but I forwarded his report to Dan Haley, the president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association. What happened next made a 12-year-old happy, his parents very proud and his sixth-grade science teacher at Skinner Middle School ecstatic.

“A CEO actually took the time to write a full blown letter,” teacher Erin Cummings said. “We need more CEOs to do that. I was shocked when Max showed me the letter.”

Haley told Max his paper was “fantastic.”

“We need more people like you who take the time to research a controversial topic, in this case hydraulic fracturing,” Haley said, “and then draw your own conclusion based on science and facts, rather than what your friends or social media might be saying.”

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The Colorado legislature convenes …

Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, Tom and Laurie Kennedy of Colorado Springs, parents of Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, and Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)
Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, Tom and Laurie Kennedy of Colorado Springs, parents of Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, and Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

Today marks Day 3 of the Colorado Legislature, which convened on Wednesday amid plenty of excitement as new lawmakers were sworn in and the social calendar kicked off.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams mingled with senators and representatives and their families before the opening ceremonies Wednesday.

When he met incoming Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, he realized he knew the lawmaker’s dad. Tom Kennedy and Williams both practiced law at the same time in Colorado Springs.

Williams on Thursday attended Gov.  John Hickenlooper’s seventh State of the State speech.

“We have 725 days left together, and as the late, great, Muhammad Ali said, ‘Don’t count the days, make the days count,'” Hickenlooper said.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, on opening day. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, on opening day. (SOS photo)

I loved covering the Colorado legislature, first for the Rocky Mountain News and then for The Denver Post (except for some of those hearings or debates that never seemed to end).

My first session was in 2000 where the hottest committee was House Finance. Every lawmaker, it seemed, had an idea of how to cut taxes  to reduce that billion-dollar surplus. Yes, billion with a B. Such heady times, followed by such hard times.

Eventually the excitement of the opening days leads to exhaustion, frustration and drama.

“Often referred to as Gold Dome High School, the Capitol is a petri dish for hurt feelings, dust-ups and behavior lawmakers often regret,” I wrote in 2011, after the latest blow up.

When May finally rolls around, there’s relief and a tinge of sadness. That building really is so special, the people who work there — the lawmakers, the lobbyists, the staff, the janitors, the reporters — they all make it hum.

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