We are pleased to bring you a Q&A with Congressman Bob Beauprez. Congressman Beauprez has answered your questions over the course of the past week, and the Q&A posted below is the complete, unedited text of that Q&A.
Bob Beauprez was first elected to Congress in CD-7 in 2002, beating Democrat Mike Feeley by 121 votes to capture the first seat in this newly formed district. In 2004, he won re-election by beating Democrat Dave Thomas.
The former Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, Congressman Beauprez is now preparing a run for governor in 2006. He speaks about that race and on a number of other issues below.
*Note: Congressman Beauprez is not answering further questions at this time, so please don't submit questions in the Comments section.
Colorado Pols Q&A with Congressman Bob Beauprez
1. You've been involved in Colorado politics for many years, including serving as the Chair of the Colorado Republican Party. How has the climate in Colorado politics changed over the years? In other words, what do you think has changed, and what has remained constant?
There is a tendency to think that politics is getting more negative but I'm not sure that's really the case. To be sure, campaigns are often very personal and nasty but historically they always have been. So while the players have changed over the years, the climate really hasn't. Colorado has always been a state that admires men and women of character, and we've always had a soft spot for "bigger-than-life" personalities. The biggest changes, in my opinion, are (1) the campaign finance laws that have given rise to the influence of anonymous third parties, and (2) advances in technology. Ironically, I believe advances in technology have increased the importance and value of the low-tech, high-touch campaign. With 500 plus channels of cable television, commercial free satellite radio, tevo, etc. - it's real easy for people to tune out paid political advertising. Direct mail is still a critical tool, but there is no substitute for human contact. Candidates who are engaged in the community, willing to work the phones and go door-to-door, and who can attract an army of volunteers are always going to be at an advantage.
2. In his announcement for governor, Rutt Bridges took a swipe at candidates who form "exploratory committees" for office rather than just formally announcing their intentions to run for governor. Since you have not yet officially declared your candidacy, under what scenarios would you NOT run for governor?
I have filed a gubernatorial committee, hired a gubernatorial campaign staff, begun to raise money for a gubernatorial campaign and encouraged others to run for the seat I currently hold. I am somewhat surprised that there are still people out there who are unsure of my intentions. The bloggers on this site are (usually) a pretty sophisticated bunch. I think they understand that an "official" announcement is a unique opportunity to rally the troops and garner some earned media.
Mr. Bridges' criticism of exploratory committees is interesting given the fact that he reportedly spent some time touring the state on a "listening tour." How that differs from an exploratory committee escapes me. And with all due respect, I believe Mr. Bridges' own "official announcement" demonstrates exactly why you form an exploratory committee and make your official announcement only after some strategic planning. I think it's reasonable to be able to answer the question "why are you running?" before you announce.
3. If you do formally enter the race, why should Coloradans vote for you for governor?
I'm a third generation Coloradan on my dad's side, fifth generation on mom's. I've been a farmer, developer, and community banker, as well as a member of Congress. I'm as comfortable in the agricultural fields as I am in the corporate boardrooms. I have an understanding of Colorado's diversity that comes from living here my entire life.
I believe my life experiences make me uniquely qualified to take on the tough issues facing Colorado. We need to address the state's budget problems in a fiscally responsible way, we've got to expand our water storage capacity, and we need to do a better job preparing our children for the 21st Century global economy. I have a proven record of accomplishments and will bring a positive vision to these and the other challenges facing our great state.
4. How will you vote on Referendum C&D, and if you are against it, do you plan to introduce a different approach?
As I have said before, I appreciate the efforts of the Governor and the legislature as they have wrestled with the state budget. Reasonable people can and do disagree about how best to handle this. However, I personally have not been convinced that Referendum C is the best solution for Colorado. It appears to be a tax increase with an indeterminate impact -- i.e., some estimate $3 billion over 5 years, but it could be much more than that.
If you are asking if I plan on introducing a competing plan to Referendum C this fall, the answer is no, but I certainly plan to do a comprehensive review of both state spending and revenue sources when I take office.
5. A ballot measure to ban gay marriage in Colorado is expected to be on the 2006 ballot. What role do you think this issue will play in the 2006 gubernatorial race?
Various iterations of this ballot language exist and I'm not sure of the specific language we might see here in Colorado, but I believe it is an issue that the vast majority of Coloradans agree upon. Agreeing as a state that we believe marriage is between a man and a woman isn't a radical notion and there are a lot of Democrats and unaffiliated voters out there who will vote 'yes' on such a measure.
6. You have taken a lot of criticism for alleged connections with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. If these criticisms grow, at some point you will likely be forced to answer questions about your connections and relationships with DeLay. We want to hear your side of the story. What do you say in response when you are connected with Tom DeLay because of alleged ethics violations on his part?
I haven't been in Washington for very long, but I've been here long enough to realize that the allegations and bickering surrounding Tom DeLay represent the most unfortunate and ugly side of politics. I'm just as eager as anyone else to resolve this situation so the Congress can stop politicking and start doing the people's business. In order for that to happen, this situation needs to be dealt with fairly and through the existing ethics process we have in place. Unfortunately, opponents of Tom DeLay are holding up the established ethics process by not letting the committee convene. We need to let the Majority Leader go before the committee, and if he's done something wrong then it will be dealt with immediately and appropriately.
7. Do the rules need to be changed in regards to receiving gifts from lobbyists, and if so, what changes will you recommend?
Contrary to what some people believe, there are very strict gift rules in place for Members of Congress and their staff. Members and staff cannot accept any gift, including meals, with a value in excess of $50, and they can't accept more than $100 worth of gifts from any source in a calendar year.
8. Did you support Congressman Joel Hefley's removal from the House Ethics Committee? If so, why? If not, what did you do on his behalf?
The mainstream press has done a terrible job of accurately reporting the facts surrounding this situation. Committee chairmen in Congress are subjected to term limits. Congressman Hefley's term was up in January 2003. He was not "removed" from his chairmanship. After the 2006 elections, ten committee chairmen will be term limited. Let me also be clear, I consider Congressman Hefley to be a friend and I think he did an outstanding job as Chairman of the Ethics Committee. But the assertion that he was removed from the chairmanship in some sort of retaliation for the committee's findings against Congressman DeLay are simply false.
9. You have proposed a piece of legislation that would "block $66 million in aid to Mexico if the country will not hand over accused cop-killers without strings attached," according to The Rocky Mountain News. How do you respond to critics who say this is overreaching and is an attempt to impose U.S. laws on another country?
I reject the idea that doing everything within our power to bring cop-killers to justice is "overreaching." First of all, no country in the world is "entitled" to U.S. foreign aid. Whether it's Mexico or any other nation, foreign aid is a gift from the American people, not a right of the recipient. Nowhere in our extradition treaties do we say to any foreign government that they will receive foreign aid if they adhere to the minimum standards of the treaty. The legislation we have introduced has one very simple goal: to help bring to justice those criminals who commit the most egregious of crimes - the killing of our law enforcement officers. I do not think it is unreasonable to tell foreign governments that while they may have the right to refuse to extradite cop killers, we certainly have the right to withhold foreign aid in response.
10. Obviously there are different ways you can approach the immigration issue from a federal or state angle. What would you do to address the immigration issue if you are elected governor?
There is no more important responsibility of the federal government than securing the integrity of our ports and borders. And I believe this could very well be the single most important issue in the 2006 elections. There is a growing sense among the voters that the federal government is deliberately refusing to enforce our immigration laws. Not that they are incapable of doing so, but that they are refusing to do so. When a couple of hundred volunteers can make a significant reduction in the number of illegal border crossings, it's not unreasonable to believe that a few thousand armed border patrol agents could effectively secure the border.
As governor, I would lead an effort to mobilize the National Governor's Association to petition Congress to get serious about this growing problem. Aside for the rather obvious threat to our national security that our open border policy invites, illegal immigration is a huge drain on our social services. Colorado's budget problems are bad enough without also having to pay for services for people who are in our country illegally.
Let me also be very clear that I am not against legal immigration. As a grandson of immigrants I understand that the United States are still a great beacon of hope to freedom loving people around the world. Our history as a nation of immigrants is - and should be - a great source of pride. It is critical that we have an orderly and legal system for people to come and assimilate into our country. What we have now is chaotic and counter to the values we hold as a nation of laws.
11. You have listed your former occupation as a dairy farmer. Is there a connection between milking cows and trying to squeeze support out of Democratic congressional members?
I've found that in politics sometimes "stuff" splatters around too, and that some odors are far too familiar.
The following Q&A comes from a selection of questions submitted by Colorado Pols readers. Questions are organized by the reader's name.
Will you vote up-or-down for any bill that privatizes Social Security?
To me, "privatizing" means that money would leave the Social Security system, and I am absolutely opposed to that. To be sure, there are many aspects of our Social Security program that are confusing, but the math simply isn't one of them. Put very simply, in twelve years the program becomes insolvent. That is, the total dollar amount of all the checks being mailed out will be greater than the amount of payroll taxes being paid in to fund the system. It's the same as with your own personal finances, if the total amount of your monthly bills is greater than your monthly income, then you have problems. With that in mind, what I am in favor of is giving workers more ownership of their retirement by offering them the option to invest in a voluntary, regulated, and conservative investment program maintained within the Social Security system in order to ensure that the retirement money they expect and deserve is there when they retire. A very similar model that has worked very well is the Thrift Savings Plan that is available to every employee of the federal government in the country. Whatever solution we work towards to deal with the solvency problem, it's important that there are no changes in benefits for current retirees or near retirees - those workers 55 years of age or older. As Congress wrestles with a true solvency solution for Social Security, I think it is important that we have as many options available as possible.
2. Phoenix Rising
United Airlines' default on its pension obligations has left the Pension Guarantee Fund in questionable shape and opened the door for other financially troubled companies to dump their pension loads on the taxpayers as well. How can we avert this potential crisis? Isn't this a massive breaking of contract with current and former employees? Is it right that corporations can execute such a blatant transfer of obligations without penalty?
Getting our arms around the growing problem with our country's crippled pension system is increasingly important, as highlighted by the United workers who have lost a significant amount of their expected retirement benefit. If we don't act immediately, we risk exposing more workers across the country to the fate of the United workers, and we continue to inch dangerously closer to a multi-billion dollar bailout at the expense of our nation's taxpayers. I believe that this year the Congress has a great opportunity to tackle this problem, and there fortunately seems to be a sense that we cannot wait any longer to address it. The Chairmen of the Education & Workforce and Ways & Means Committees introduced comprehensive pension reform legislation earlier this month. Further, as we examine legislative options to strengthen Social Security, there is a growing consensus that any bill should also include broader retirement reform - including pension reform. As we move towards working out legislative specifics, I believe any fix should incentivize employers to fulfill the funding obligations they owe their workers while providing much-needed improved transparency so workers always know the status of their pension plan.
3. Alan Salazar
I would like to ask the Congressman who his favorite Democrat is?
I want to thank my friend Alan Salazar for asking the question. I was flattered that Alan recently named me as one of his favorite Republicans in a Hotline interview and I want to repay the compliment. Alan Salazar is a kind and generous man who is a great ambassador for the state. I am proud to call him my friend. I am proud of the fact that I have formed friendships with a number of Democrats in Colorado as well as Washington. Mark Udall is a friend, as is John Hickenlooper. My colleague Tom Lantos from California is also a man for whom I have enormous respect. Tom is the only Holocaust survivor to have ever served in Congress and he is among the most dignified and thoughtful men you will ever meet.
Congressman Beauprez -
How would you solve the long-term budget problems facing Colorado? Is it too early to start supporting the Beauprez for President 2012 campaign???
Thanks for the question. I'll respond as I have previously to this question: I do accept the fact that the state has several pressing infrastructure needs that must be addressed in the very near future. But I am not convinced that a $3 billion tax increase is the only way to get the job done. I believe TABOR has worked well to keep government spending and taxation under control. I do have a specific concern about the ratchet effect and believe that it's worth at least looking at whether or not the ratchet provision should be modified to allow the state a little more flexibility to recover from recessionary trends.
I spent most of my life in the private sector running businesses. I learned firsthand that there is both an "income" and an "expense" side to the profit/loss statement. What matters is the bottom line and how you control the expense side, how efficient and creative you are with your resources, what you invest in, and what you decide you can do without. These are the real-world experiences I will bring to the governor's office to benefit Colorado. What government must do is create the right environment for sustainable growth of jobs and our economy. I spent my life there and I understand how it works. I'm anxious to apply my experience gained in the trenches to the governor's office.
Most people would agree that we can improve the efficiency of state government. The Owens Administration has taken several steps with e-government and other innovative ideas that we ought to build on to make sure we're being as responsible as possible to taxpayers.
5. too much green tea
I will submit the same question to you that I submitted to Senator Allard, but with one small difference. There will be an additional point concerning your Catholic faith.
When I was growing up it was considered rude to discuss religion in public because it can be so divisive. Now, the GOP seems to have become inextricably commingled with not only with the Christian faith, but with protestant evangelical sects explicitly.
How do you justify this, and how can we continue to live in a pluralistic and civil society when the GOP has identified itself so exclusively with one subjective, religious view? Do you reject the notion that democracy's strength is founded in authentic cultural pluralism?
Additionally, at some point in this alliance with the protestant evangelicals there has to be a conflict between your faith and theirs. How can you be a political ally with those who insist that Catholicism is a counterfeit faith? Is it enough that the current social values platform is the same, even though they would believe your faith will condemn you to hell?
This is an interesting question, and certainly a topic that's worthy of discussion. I will try to answer the question as straightforwardly as possible. I believe very strongly that our founding fathers' view of religion in politics was not to limit it or to exclude it from the process, but rather to ensure that our government does not impose a state sanctioned religion on its citizens. And to that end, I think we've been successful. As important as the separation of church and state is to our country, so too is religious freedom and the right to practice one's faith. As a practicing Catholic, on any given day I can go to the House floor and engage in debate with another Catholic from the other side of the isle. And on that same day we may be followed on the floor by two other members of the same faith but of opposite political parties and views, whether they be Jewish, Christian, or any other belief, practicing or non-practicing. I think that both parties are diverse in terms of the faith their members adhere to or choose not to adhere to. And so I disagree with the premise that the Republican Party, or any party, is exclusively identified with any one religion. I believe in our system, and think it's one of common sense balance that allows individuals to practice their faith as they choose while representing the rights of people who would prefer not to.
Although we have had a pretty wet year so far, the drought is likely not over. What do think are some real, implementable solutions to Colorado's water problems?
This issue is critical. I like to make the point that while we have grown significantly as a state in the past 40 years, we have added very little water storage. The bottom line is that we need to store more water and improve conservation and reuse. Hoping that it doesn't get dry again isn't going to help us in 15 years when our population is expected to hit 6 million Coloradans. I like the approach that Rep. Josh Penry, Sen. Jim Isgar, and DNR director Russ George have taken with this past session's HB 1177. Bringing together ALL the water stakeholders to come up with win-win solutions is the only way we can improve our water infrastructure while protecting both suburban and rural interests alike.
If elected Governor and a bill similar to Rep. Betty Boyd's emergency contraception bill reaches your desk, will you sign it? In other words, are you inclined to sign a bill that stipulates that if hospitals with religious foundations choose to not administer this medical treatment to rape victims that they must at least inform that patient that such a treatment exists and other facilities might offer that option?
I believe the Governor did the right thing by vetoing this legislation. If it were sent to my desk in the exact same form, I'd be inclined to do the same thing he did.
If you can, could you please name 2 issues that you are more conservative than Gov. Owens on and 2 issues where you are less conservative than him? Thanks.
From an ideological standpoint, the Governor and I share a very similar, mainstream conservative outlook. I'm certain that there are some issues on which we disagree but we are talking different shades of grey, not wholesale philosophical disagreements.
9. HR Repub
How do you respond to those that find you better suited serving your district, the state, and the party by continued service in the 7th? You are on a powerful committee and even if we keep the 7th in GOP control, we lose the efforts and work you have established, as well as the committee appointment. I will take two wins (you in the 7th, Holtzman for Guv) over risking losing both.
I appreciate the expressions of support that I've received from those who would like me to continue serving in Congress. And I love my job as a member of the House of Representatives. I believe I've been effective and successful in Congress and that it has benefited my constituents as well as the rest of the state. But I also firmly believe that the skills and experience that have allowed me to be a successful member of Congress will also make me an effective and successful Governor. I firmly reject the idea that I am the only Republican capable of winning the Seventh Congressional District. There is already a very strong Republican candidate in the race and there are many possible talented Republicans who are very capable of winning and serving the Seventh District.
Thank you for participating in this Q&A. My question is more in line with your work in Congress as opposed to the upcoming Governor's race.
Recent polls show that the public is becoming more and more disenchanted with the American war in Iraq. Not only are more Americans now questioning whether this effort was worth it at all, more Americans also now feel it's time to bring U.S. troops home. It also seems Republican Members of Congress are adding their voices in agreement.
Do you see a weakening of support for the effort in Iraq among Republicans, particularly those in Congress? And, is there more concern behind the scenes in Congress now that the public seems to be turning against the American mission in Iraq?
I recently returned from my second trip to Iraq and can report firsthand the great progress that our men and women in uniform are making. There's no denying that it's a difficult job in a dangerous environment. As we see reports of our men and women being killed in Iraq, it puts an increasing amount of pressure on not only the political leaders here in Washington, but also on the American people. Many of the American people, including a few members of my own party, appear to not have the stomach for what this effort is going to take. But we can't lose sight of the fact that we are at war, and that pulling out of Iraq prematurely is our worst option right now.
There has been great progress in building a free, democratic Iraq, and it's apparent that in doing so the seeds of democracy have blown across the Middle East. And as they grow, so too will the level of peace and stability in the region. The fruits of this labor are already evident, as witnessed by events such as: eight million Iraqis voting in their first free election in 30 years, the most free and competitive election ever to elect a new Palestinian Authority president, the men and women of Afghanistan electing their first president in their country's history, and Egypt and Saudi Arabia taking their first steps towards democratic election reform. These are historic achievements that aren't happening by coincidence and are too significant to be ignored. There are certainly going to be difficult times ahead in Iraq, which makes it increasingly more important for both the American people and the political leaders in Washington to acknowledge the progress that's being made and continue to support our troops so they can finish the job and come home.
Much has been sacrificed to date in this war. Over 1,700 Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice. To leave early and allow Iraq and the Middle East to regress back to the dark ages of terror would be the ultimate disservice to the men and women who have done so much.
In 2000 you signed the SAFE gun control ballot initiative to ban private sales of firearms at gun shows. Do you still maintain that position?
During the fall of 2002 when I was running against Mike Feeley for Congress, I was attacked for being too strong of a supporter of gun rights. Earlier that same year, I was attacked because some thought I did not support gun rights strongly enough. The fact is I have received an 'A' rating from the NRA because I believe in the right to bear arms and have voted accordingly.
I do not, nor have I ever supported "banning" gun sales. I do support reasonable measures, such as background checks, which keep guns out of the hands of criminals because I believe that is the best way to ensure law-abiding citizens' right to bear arms is protected.
Congressman, do you believe either John Hickenlooper or Ken Salazar will be running for governor in '06?
I take both of them at their word that the Mayor isn't planning on running and the Senator hasn't ruled it out. If I had to guess I suspect neither of them will run in 2006.
13. Wash Park
Last month, 50 of your Republican colleagues, including Reps. Drier, Thomas, Pryce, Castle voted to give hope to millions of Americans by expanding federal support for stem cell research. In the Senate, Orin Hatch, a pro-life Republican from Utah is a lead supporter of this effort. With so many pro-life Republicans supporting stem cell, aside from putting your party loyalty ahead of sick Americans, how can you justify opposing stem cell research?
I appreciate having the opportunity to discuss this important issue, though I disagree strongly with the premise that this is an issue of politics over people. I realize the importance of stem cell research and remain a strong advocate for adult stem cell research. However, I have real concerns with embryonic stem cell research, specifically with the use of taxpayer money to effectively kill human life in order to try to save human life. This issue is an extremely emotional one, and I realize that reasonable people will disagree. I understand that embryonic stem cells may hold more potential for treating disease and ailments compared to adult stem cells. However, developing this technology by harming or killing human embryos is unethical and unnecessary. Both sides of this debate wish to see stem cell research help ease human suffering, we just simply have different means to the same end. I'm currently cosponsoring legislation that I hope will help get us around these moral and ethical concerns. The Respect for Life Embryonic Stem Cell Act would provide funding in order to attempt to establish an embryonic stem cell line by using a single cell from an early stage animal embryo - the hope being that we can successfully create embryonic stem cell lines without harming or killing the embryo.
14. Richard L. Naff
According to your foreign travel filing, you made a trip to Israel to speak at the Jerusalem Summit. The cost of this trip, $21,226, was picked up by the Michael Cherney Foundation, which also sponsored the Summit. Michael Cherney, also know as Mikhail Chernoy, is a Russian oligarch who, along with several other oligarchs, cornered the Russian aluminum industry under Yeltsin in the 1990's through bribery and murder [1,2,3]. As he is under indictment for these crimes in Russia, he has taken refuge in Isreal. Recently Cherney was indicted in Israel for money-laundering and fraudulent receiving evidence for his part in the purchase of a 20% stake in state-run phone company Bezeq [4,5]. Mr. Cherney has been associated with a number of international fraudsters, including Marc Rich  of the New York Bank scandal. The Cherney Foundation is seen by Israeli investigators as a public relations ruse .
My question is, given the background of Michael Cherney, how is it that you are willing to accept money from his foundation?
 David Satter, A Low, Dishonest Decadence: A Letter from Moscow, Center for Citizens Initiative, Summer, 2003
 Richard Behar, Capitalism in a Cold Climate, Fortune, June 19, 200
 Stefan Lemieszewski, Jamestown.org, December, 2002
 Haaretz, July 2, 2002
 Sami Perez, Chernoy who?, The Marker.com, August 12, 2002
 Scott Thompson and Jeffrey Steinberg, Did `Mega' Bucks Help Sharon Steal Israeli Elections?, Information Clearing House, Nov., 2001
I did not accept money from Michael Cherney or his foundation. Mr. Cherney's foundation helps underwrite the costs of putting on the annual Jerusalem Summit. The Jerusalem Summit paid the cost of our travel. The Summit is a highly respected organization that attracts distinguished scholars and diplomats from around the world. I'm unsure of the intent of this question, but I will add that I find the growing willingness in many areas to attack Jews, demonize Israel and trot out the age old anti-Semitic stereotypes repulsive. It was an honor for me to have been invited to address the organization. I invite Mr. Naff and others to visit my official web site http://www.house.gov/beauprez and click on the Newsroom / Speeches section to read the text of my speech on tolerance.
Please join us in thanking Congressman Bob Beauprez for participating in the Q&A with Colorado Pols. For more information, visit http://www.house.gov/beauprez