In April, Senator Mark Udall marked the anniversary of the 1915 Armenian genocide with a strongly worded statement. But these words didn't satisfy Rocky Mountain Hye Advocates, an organization trying to get all members of the Colorado congressional delegation to support a national Aremenian genocide resolution.
RMHA has issued a report card on these efforts, and both Udall and Representative Ed Perlmutter are described as "Armenian genocide defectors" for failing to co-sponsor such a resolution, which became complicated by a border deal involving Armenia and Turkey.
As for current candidates, the group grades each on his or her statements regarding co-sponsorship of the resolution and their willingness to place such a pledge on campaign websites, where accountability can be measured. On the senate side, Andrew Romanoff and Ken Buck come in for special praise, while Michael Bennet and Jane Norton earn incompletes. Among House of Representatives hopefuls, Perlmutter is joined in the dunce-cap brigade by Betsy Markey, Doug Lamborn, Mike Coffman and Lang Sias, who has thus far failed to respond to the outfit's entreaties. And you can bet there'll be more of them.
Here's the RMHA's analysis:
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Rocky Mountain Hye Advocates announces the outcome of its nine month advocacy initiative with 2010 Colorado Delegation Members and candidates, promoting support for a national Armenian genocide resolution.
RMHA is a Colorado based non-partisan volunteer advocacy group. In 2008 it became the first Armenian American organization in the nation to successfully collect Armenian genocide resolution support pledges from every currently sitting Colorado Delegation member. Colorado's General Assembly, Governor, and Denver Mayor annually recognize the Armenian genocide as historical fact. RMHA's objective is to secure the full support of Colorado's Delegation in implementing this Armenian genocide legislative mandate, thereby representing the 'will of Colorado.'
Background: In 2009, following the posting of the Armenian genocide resolution [H.Res.215], three Colorado Delegation Members honored their pledge while four failed to uphold theirs. RMHA initiated bold action, lauding repeated praise for resolution co-sponsors Representatives DeGette [D/1], Polis [D/2], and Salazar [D/3] and, at the same time, advising Colorado Armenians of Members who had defected. RMHA's free community e-newsletter spread the message. Later, RMHA issued press releases on its two most prominent Armenian genocide defectors publicizing its pay-to-play investigation of Representative Perlmutter [D/7] and the desertion of Colorado's Senior Senator Udall [D] as a resolution co-sponsor [S.Res 316]...
Andrew Romanoff [D] was the first candidate to announce his Armenian genocide statement and pledge his original resolution co-sponsorship. His October 2009 statement was released as he declared his candidacy. It received widespread national Armenian press coverage. Romanoff reaffirmed his pledge on May 20th and posted it, with his earlier statement, on his campaign website.
Romanoff became the first Senate candidate to officially champion his pledge as an official campaign position. In his more recent statement, Romanoff referenced the unanimity of state bi-partisan legislative support and declared that it merits a strong Colorado U.S. Senate position on the Armenian Genocide. He further stated, "Efforts in Congress, however, to similarly stand together have languished. So I am renewing my pledge to vigorously work for the Senate adoption of an Armenian Genocide resolution, and I am proud to do so."
Ken Buck [R] issued his first Armenian genocide co-sponsorship pledge statement in February. He reaffirmed it in a June 2nd press release stating that, "As global leaders, we as Americans are charged with the responsibility of perpetuating statements and policies that respect the inalienable rights of every person. As the next U.S. Senator from Colorado, I will proudly co-sponsor a resolution that will finally acknowledge the brutality against the Armenians for what it was: genocide." Buck is the only Senate candidate to offer a public announcement of his pledge. It was reported in the Greeley Tribune. His pledge statements may be found on his campaign web site, confirming it as an official campaign position.
Michael Bennet [D] is seeking election to a seat he currently holds as an appointee. In February he became Colorado's only Armenian genocide co-sponsor [S.Res.316] sustaining the non-partisan tradition of past Colorado Senators Allard [R] and Salazar [D]. That same month, he issued his campaign pledge. It came with an escape clause, "...I also pledge to support similar legislation in the 2010-2011 Congress" while at the same time Bennet acknowledges "the lessons of ignoring a travesty such as this have been made all too clear." The Senate term for this seat extends to 2015. RMHA has asked Senator Bennet to issue a full six year pledge announcement and to post it on his campaign web site. Bennet is the only Colorado Senate candidate with a family Holocaust experience -- a narrative he shared in his pledge letter.
Jane Norton [R] issued her campaign pledge in January and wrote, "I am honored to pledge that if elected to serve the citizens of Colorado as their Senator, I will co-sponsor an Armenian genocide resolution until our nation affirms this tragic historical event." RMHA has requested Ms. Norton take the next step and post her statement on her campaign web site.
RMHA hopes its media effort will sensitize absent Delegation members on both sides of the aisle -- and Senator Udall -- to public scrutiny broadcasting their failure to honor their 2008 campaign pledge on this human rights issue, the Armenian genocide. The organization urges every Member who broke their oath to our community to take this opportunity to rectify their omission of support and become a resolution co-sponsor.
See below for an Armenian genocide position review of district Members and challenging candidates.
Representative Diana DeGette [D/1] honored her 2008 Armenian genocide campaign pledge and co-sponsored H.Res.215 in April 2009. As a gesture of respect, RMHA has not sought 2010 campaign pledges in District 1.
Representative Jared Polis [D/2] honored his 2008 Armenian genocide campaign pledge and co-sponsored H.Res.215 in April 2009. As a gesture of respect, RMHA has not sought 2010 campaign pledges in District 2.
Representative John Salazar [D3] honored his 2008 Armenian genocide campaign pledge and co-sponsored H.Res.215 in April 2009. As a gesture of respect, RMHA has not sought 2010 campaign pledges in District 3.
Representative Betsy Markey [D/4] provided her 2008 campaign pledge to support the Armenian genocide resolution. To date, she has failed to act on that pledge. She has remained silent since April 2009 when H.Res.252 was introduced. Ms. Markey broke with the human rights record of her predecessor, a two-term Armenian genocide resolution co-sponsor.
Cory Gardner [R/4] has pledged to sustain his General Assembly record of Armenian genocide co-sponsorship, if elected to serve in the House of Representatives.
Representative Doug Lamborn [R/5] provided his 2008 campaign pledge to support the Armenian genocide resolution. While a member of Colorado's General Assembly, Lamborn co-sponsored an Armenian genocide resolution and continued in that tradition during part of his first term in the House. He later withdrew his name in the 110th session and, despite his '08 campaign pledge, has not renewed his co-sponsorship. He is unchallenged.
Representative Mike Coffman [R/6] provided his 2008 campaign pledge to support the Armenian genocide resolution. To date, he has failed to act on that pledge.
John Flerlage [D/6] has pledged to co-sponsor an Armenian genocide resolution if elected to serve in the House of Representatives. In April 2010, he included his pledge statement to RMHA in his campaign newsletter and subsequently posted it on his campaign web site. He was the first candidate to take this action and his leadership served as an example to other candidates who subsequently replicated his action.
Representative Ed Perlmutter [D/7] co-sponsored an Armenian genocide resolution in the General Assembly and in his first House term. He pledged in 2008 to continue that 9 year level of activism. In April 2009 he announced he would not co-sponsor H.Res.252. Later that year RMHA released the results of its pay-to-play investigation. It revealed the Congressman had accepted nearly $30,000.00 in campaign contributions from American military contractors publicly exposed as lobbying against an adoption of the Armenian genocide resolution. Perlmutter is not on any House committee associated with the military or veterans. The investigation was reported in two articles published in the Eastern Colorado News (2009) and subsequently in the national Armenian media.
Ryan Frazier [R/7] seeking to represent Congressional District 7 in the general election issued his Armenian genocide co-sponsorship pledge in February declaring, "I will add my voice to the national effort to recognize the historical facts of the atrocities that occurred and co-sponsor a House Armenian Genocide Resolution." Mr. Frazier is facing a primary contest and is the only district candidate to have provided an Armenian genocide pledge statement. Mr. Ryan issued a second statement this April for the RMHA Genocide Commemoration issue, "If evil is not recognized and confronted, atrocities like this one could happen again."
Lang Sias [R/7] has not responded to repeated requests to provide an Armenian genocide resolution pledge statement.