Right-leaning groups get new home near state Capitol: "The Freedom Embassy"
By Tim Hoover
The Denver Post
The number of left-leaning groups that have located offices near the Colorado Capitol are a big part of why they have so much influence in state politics, said Caldara, president of the libertarian-conservative Independence Institute.
He points to the Colorado Education Association, just catty-corner to the Capitol, while the Bell Policy Center is only a few blocks north and either nearby or downtown are the offices of various environmental groups and of Mark Grueskin, the Democratic attorney who is frequently the bane of Republicans and limited-government activists.
"We started drawing a circle around the Capitol and putting little marks where the left has a foothold," Caldara said. "When you look at the map and put in all the little red dots, it (the Capitol) looks like a medieval castle under siege."
The left, with its Colorado Democracy Alliance, is well-organized in part because various groups are located so close to each other and talk all the time, he said. Meanwhile, the other side has no similar infrastructure.
Caldara said the Independence Institute, which has been located in Golden for the last two decades, wanted to do something about it. That's why the think tank has relocated its offices to 16th and Clarkson, just blocks from the gold dome.
Here, in the organization's new 13,000-square-foot facility, the right can begin to organize itself as well as the left has in recent years, Caldara said. The building, which was constructed in the late 1960s as Episcopal church offices, was most recently used by a consulting firm.
The attractive structure has a hand-cut stone exterior and large windows, and it's roomy inside. Caldara said he hopes other like-minded groups will take up residence in offices at the building, but in any case, they are welcome to use the large basement meeting room.
There's even a "war room," as Caldara calls it, a glassed-in space with projectors and a U-shaped table arrangement for some wicked strategy planning sessions against the left.
"This is what we call our Freedom Embassy," Caldara said of the new building. "Liberty can be safe here."
There's also a vault in the building that still works and which Caldara joked (we think) is full of "guns, gold and porn."
What do those on the left think of the new fortress? Meh, said Alan Franklin, a spokesman for ProgressNow Colorado, which offices in LoDo.
"The right wing Legion of Doom is entitled to set up shop wherever they like," Franklin said, "but their ideas continue to be as intellectually bankrupt as Al Capone's vault."
In fairness to left-leaning groups, there are a number of what would be called conservative-friendly groups located close to the Capitol, too, such as the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (a block away) and a host of industry groups and lobbyists not known for their liberal ways.
And Republican law firms Hale Westfall and Hackstaff Law Group are located in LoDo, not far from Grueskin, who is actually farther from the Capitol.
In any case, though, many non-profits, trade associations, law and lobbying firms and others just consider it smart to locate near the Capitol, where they can walk over.
Besides being close to the Capitol, Caldara, a die-hard libertarian, said the building's location is pretty good for other reasons.
"Within literally two blocks, there are two liquor stores, two porn shops, one massage parlor and about 12 medical marijuana dispensaries," Caldara said. "I haven't seen (Independence Institute researcher) Dave Kopel in days."